Note to wind developers. Getting  Donald Trump to oppose your project could speed the approval process.


Scottish ministers have given the go-ahead to an experimental offshore windfarm site near Aberdeen after ignoring Donald Trump‘s angry threats of legal action to block the project.

Trump has repeatedly attacked the European offshore wind deployment centre (EOWDC) proposal, alleging the turbines will ruin the view from his £750m golf resort, which overlooks the North Sea and sits several kilometres north of the site’s boundary.

The billionaire property magnate again threatened to use his financial muscle to oppose the 11-turbine project in the courts using “every legal means” to defeat it. Despite recently announcing plans to build a second 18-hole golf course at his resort, he repeated his threat to put his entire project on hold because the windfarm threatened the financial viability of his resort.

trump2The decision also confirms Aberdeen city and shire’s status as a world-class energy hub, bringing with it significant economic benefits which will be pivotal to ensuring the region’s long-term prosperity.” But he added that the project was chiefly designed to test and evaluate advanced new offshore wind power designs, potentially helping to find new breakthrough technologies. Scottish and UK ministers, who also support the project, believe it could be crucial to helping the UK exploit the £100bn offshore wind industry.

Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “Offshore wind will be a huge part of our energy future and this scheme is a big step forward.

“Well done to the Scottish government for standing up to Donald Trump’s threats and bluster.”

John Abraham

John Abraham, a professor at St Thomas college in St. Paul, Minnesota, is best known for his utterly devastating takedown of His Splendiferous Weirdness, Lord Monckton.

Now, Abraham has responded to a high profile interview with climate denier and high school graduate Anthony Watts. Mr Watts is  known as a reliable supplier of denialist helium to residents of GlennBeckistan.

Abraham’s response is factual, thorough, and, well, rather brutal. As for the interview with Watts, I’m not going to give him the attention he craves, find it yourself if you have time to waste.

John Abraham: The fact is that Mr. Watts is not a pragmatic sceptic. Real scientists are sceptical by nature. We don’t believe what our colleagues tell us until we verify it for ourselves.  Scientists honestly develop views of how the world works and they test those views by experimentation. As a result of approximately 150 years of climate science, the vast majority of scientists are convinced that humans are a major cause of climate change. Mr. Watts, on the other hand, dismisses evidence that is counter to his viewpoint. That is not scepticism–that is plain denial.

Let me expand on this by going back to his interview. Mr. Watts’s claimed that:

“’Global warming’ suggests a steady linear increase in temperature, but since that isn’t happening, proponents have shifted to the more universal term “climate change,” which can be liberally applied to just about anything observable in the atmosphere.”

First, scientists have never predicted a linear increase in temperature–we are not that naive. Things are much more complex than that.

Mr. Watts also argues that “proponents” have shifted from using the phrase global warming to “climate change”. He didn’t bother telling you that this was actually suggested by a conservative consultant, Frank Luntz, as a way to reduce public concern. Ironically, “climate change” is a better description of what is happening, and climate scientists use it to be more accurate. Let me give you some examples….

•         We are causing the ocean chemistry (pH) to change–that isn’t warming or cooling.
•         We are causing some areas to become wetter and others to become drier–again, not warming.
•         We are increasing humidity in the atmosphere.
•         We are cooling the upper part of the atmosphere (the stratosphere).
•         We are making weather swings more severe.
•         We are losing polar ice at a rapid rate.
•         Warmer oceans make hurricanes more severe here and here.

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The latest in my series for the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media.

Todd Tanner has an offer for you. Convince him that climate change is not real, and he’ll give you his gun.

Field and Stream:

The Conservation Hawks is a new group dedicated to harnessing the power of sportsmen to address climate change. Stop. Before you give in to anger, or to the “conservation fatigue” that can fall upon us like a giant wet carpet whenever climate change is mentioned, consider this: If you can convince Conservation Hawks chairman Todd Tanner that he’s wasting his time, that he does not have to worry about climate change, he will present to you his most prized possession: A Beretta Silver Pigeon 12 gauge over/under that was a gift from his wife, and has been a faithful companion on many a Montana bird hunt. I know the gun, and I’ve hunted and fished with Todd for years. He’s not kidding. You convince him, he’ll give you the gun.

tannertoddConservation Hawks has an all-star board of directors, including my friends Bill Geer and Katie McKalip, who both work for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and have a deep understanding of the issues we face as sportsmen. I talked with Todd Tanner recently about what the Conservation Hawks hope to accomplish.

Hal Herring: First, are you serious about the Beretta?

Todd Tanner: I am serious. If somebody can convince me that I don’t have to worry about climate change, I’ll give it them. Or I’ll auction it off and donate the proceeds to the charity of their choice. But it will have to be a real argument, with real facts. I don’t think that argument exists, but I’m willing to be surprised.

HH: Why the Conservation Hawks?

TT: Let’s say you are walking down a trail in the wilderness with your wife and kids, and you come upon a grizzly sow, standing on a carcass. She charges, flat out. You’re in front of your family. What do you do? Just give up? Pretend it’s not happening? Let her maul you and everything your care about? Of course you don’t. You take action. That is how I see climate change. It’s real, it’s threatening everything we love. Not taking action is not an option.

HH: Why now?

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The reason we call deniers deniers, is that they solve problems by simply pretending they don’t exist. Anthropogenic climate change doesn’t exist. No problem.

Another problem that simply does not show up on climate denial radar screens is the problem of water supplies. We constantly read glowing press accounts about plans for massive development of new exotic fossil fuel sources in the US, very often in western states, with no balanced consideration of some very serious constraints on those processes. One big one is water.

We’ve seen numerous instances in the past decade of power plants being shut or derated during the very times we need them most, big heat waves in the summertime, because they can’t continue to operate at full power without boiling away the rivers that cool them, or cooking all the fish therein.  Likewise, we also continually hear that China and other developing countries are going to continue building thousands of new thermal power plants, in the face of already critically limited water supplies.

It ain’t going to happen. The evidence is all around. I discussed the issue at the American Geophysical Union with water expert Peter Glick – part one above, part two tomorrow.

Scientific American:

SHANGHAI — The world’s biggest coal consumer now has a new incentive to take a cleaner energy path, as China’s coal-fired power plants are drying up the country’s already scarce water resources.

A report published today by Bloomberg New Energy Finance notes that the top five Chinese power generators — China Huaneng Group, China Datang Corp., China Huadian Corp., China Guodian Corp. and China Power Investment Corp. — have hundreds of gigawatts of coal-fired power plants in the country’s dry north and that retrofitting them with water-efficient solutions could cost billions of dollars.

“Today, 85 percent of China’s power generation capacity is located in water-scarce regions and 15 percent of this still relies on water-intensive, once-through cooling technologies,” said Maxime Serrano Bardisa, one of the report’s authors as well as Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s water analyst.

At the same time, the nation is seeing less and less water. According to separate research by the China Environmental Forum, an initiative of the U.S.-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’ global sustainability and resilience program, China’s total water reserves dropped 13 percent from 2000 to 2009, with the water shortage being particularly severe in the north.

The coal industry has played a big role in the shortage, the report says. Northern China has 20 percent of the country’s freshwater supply, but its coal mining and coal-fired power generators are thirsty for water. Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that in 2010 alone, the two sectors combined withdrew 98 billion cubic meters of fresh water across the region — or nearly 15 percent of China’s total freshwater withdrawals in the year.

If the five Chinese power giants continue their current development of coal-fired plants, the report predicts, the sector’s water withdrawals will exceed 25 percent of China’s 2030 target to cap its national water withdrawals at 700 billion cubic meters per year. Some Chinese regions have already extracted underground water faster than it is being replenished, and any increase in water withdrawals could further push China away from an environmentally sustainable future.

There are solutions to ease the water stress, but each comes with major trade-offs.

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It has the ring of snake oil, and there are tech hurdles to be overcome, but seriously serious people are working on air-to-fuel concepts that may have application down the road where liquid fuels remain the most practical option.

Three examples. Video above is a little dull, but demonstrates a startup firm in the UK that is working on a process for pulling co2 out of air, with the eventual goal of creating gasoline and liquid fuels. If ambient co2 is the feedstock, and renewable energy powers the process,  these fuels could be carbon neutral.(more description below)

My own take is that while electricity will eventually be the power of choice for personal vehicles, there is a liquid fuels challenge for air transport, and seagoing vessels. See more lines of exploration here – I’m sure this is a partial list.

US Navy:

Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory are developing a process to extract carbon dioxide (CO2) and produce hydrogen gas (H2) from seawater, subsequently catalytically converting the CO2 and H2 into jet fuel by a gas-to-liquids process.

“The potential payoff is the ability to produce JP-5 fuel stock at sea reducing the logistics tail on fuel delivery with no environmental burden and increasing the Navy’s energy security and independence,” says research chemist, Dr. Heather Willauer.

NRL has successfully developed and demonstrated technologies for the recovery of CO2 and the production of H2 from seawater using an electrochemical acidification cell, and the conversion of CO2 and H2 to hydrocarbons (organic compounds consisting of hydrogen and carbon) that can be used to produce jet fuel.

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Let the Wise Men Speak

March 27, 2013


Controversy equalizes fools and wise men –
and the fools know it.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.


Paul Gipe in WindWorks:

…at the request of a reader, I am updating my charts on the electricity mix in Germany from 1990 through 2012. These charts are from public information, easily accessible with rudimentary German.

First, the total mix.

As can be seen, renewables continue their steady increase. No surprises there. Hard coal arrests its decline and there’s a slight uptick in brown coal generation.

Total generation of electricity in Germany remains relatively constant at 617 TWh in 2012.

In 2012 there was a slight uptick in coal-fired generation, mostly from brown coal. Generation from hard coal increased from 112 TWh to 118 TWh, about as much as the 117 TWh produced in 2010. Generation from brown coal increased from 150 TWh in 2011 to 158 TWh in 2012. Total coal-fired generation has increase about 25 TWh from a low of 254 TWh at the height of the Great Recession in 2009.

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