Energy

Tesla – zero emissions and zero registrations

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An eagle eyed reader spotted this article in the South China Morning Post today showing that private EV registrations in Hong Kong fell to ZERO in April 2017 from 2,964 in March. The SCMP noted; “Since the April 1 introduction of the first registration tax on EVs, vehicle prices have shot up by 50 to 80 per cent, depending on the model, with tax relief now capped at HK$97,500. A Tesla S was HK$570,000 (under the new tax regime, the price is more than HK$900,000)…the domination of Tesla means zero-emissions motoring in Hong Kong has been largely an elitist activity.” HK is 6% of Tesla’s global volume yet the share price is pricing in blue sky.

Yet more evidence that Tesla product can’t stand on its own without massive subsidies. In previous Tesla dispatches the argument has been the car is an ostentatious fashion accessory to show the world one’s commitment to climate change but only if the price is right.

The NY Times’ Bret Stevens pilloried for pointing out facts

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The NY Times has been pretty much permanently on 50-60% off for a subscription since the election. I’m really surprised why they don’t openly publish the growth in subscribers. In order to redress the balance the paper hired a conservative journalist Bret Stevens whose first Op-Ed piece looked at the dangers of data. Unfortunately he picked climate change as a topic and the alarmists fired a salvo of toxic verbatim. To be honest I am glad to see The NY Times look to redress the criticism that is clearly impacting subs growth despite claims to the contrary.

So what did Stevens write that so angered the Twitterati? Let’s take a look.

There’s a lesson here. We live in a world in which data convey authority. But authority has a way of descending to certitude, and certitude begets hubris. From Robert McNamara to Lehman Brothers to Stronger Together, cautionary tales abound.

We ought to know this by now, but we don’t. Instead, we respond to the inherent uncertainties of data by adding more data without revisiting our assumptions, creating an impression of certainty that can be lulling, misleading and often dangerous. Ask Clinton.

With me so far? Good. Let’s turn to climate change.

Last October, the Pew Research Center published a survey on the politics of climate change. Among its findings: Just 36 percent of Americans care “a great deal” about the subject. Despite 30 years of efforts by scientists, politicians and activists to raise the alarm, nearly two-thirds of Americans are either indifferent to or only somewhat bothered by the prospect of planetary calamity.

Why? The science is settled. The threat is clear. Isn’t this one instance, at least, where 100 percent of the truth resides on one side of the argument?

Well, not entirely. As Andrew Revkin wrote last year about his storied career as an environmental reporter at The Times, “I saw a widening gap between what scientists had been learning about global warming and what advocates were claiming as they pushed ever harder to pass climate legislation.” The science was generally scrupulous. The boosters who claimed its authority weren’t.”

Can someone point out why Steven’s article was deserved of

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What ever happened to reasoned debate? What happened to arguing where his article is wrong without resorting to expletives.Libby Watson, by the way, is a journalist. Didn’t she have facts to refute Stevens? Other comments were less charged but he was criticized for not writing something they wanted to read. Isn’t that the first rule of journalism- engage the audience?

We shouldn’t be surprised at the reaction though in today’s twitchy typing finger world. As many forget in the digital world, social media posts have a half-life of infinity.

Steven’s article made salient points. If only 36% of Americans care about climate change then perhaps the message delivery is the problem. Indeed I’m all ears to the debate if it were delivered with raw facts, admissions of failure and culpability when deliberate acts of deceit have been committed and sensible strategy to combat on a settled scientific problem, indeed if necessary. That’s  the problem. It isn’t settled. Were it such a slam dunk then that 64%  would be runnning to the other side of the room.

As it stands countries like Australia are committing acts of tokenism on the back of virtue signaling. Even chasing the most aggressive renewable energy targets have shown using the most alarmist projections that our impact on rising global temperatures is so minuscule that the investment case makes no sense. Then again I always argue the true test of a person’s true commitment to climate change is reflective of consumption patterns. Leo DiCaprio is the poster child of that hypocrisy.

In any event well done to The NY Times for seeking balance.

The Guardian thumps Trudeau and (sort of) praises Trump

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I almost fell over backwards when I saw the headline although it was three words too long to be honest. The Guardian convulsed and regurgitated politics’ commander in chief virtue signaler and gave a backhanded compliment to Trump for keeping a promise. Ironically this was the first Trudeau policy that actually made sense to me. Everything else from the ridiculous Bill M-103, taxing Canadians on almost everything conceivable, calling for Friday off for parliamentarians, the $370mn Bombardier grant which ended up lining the board’s pockets, talking up his record of 65% of judges being female which would help influence (all judges should be impartial) the outcome of victims of sexual violence etc shows him up for identity taking precedence over substance. Yet The Guardian wrote:

“when it comes to the defining issue of our day, climate change, he’s a brother to the old orange  guy…Trudeau says all the right things, over and over. He’s got no Scott Pruitts in his cabinet: everyone who works for him says the right things…But those words are meaningless if you keep digging up more carbon and selling it to people to burn, and that’s exactly what Trudeau is doing. He’s hard at work pushing for new pipelines through Canada and the US to carry yet more oil out of Alberta’s tar sands, which is one of the greatest climate disasters on the planet…Last month, speaking at a Houston petroleum industry gathering, he got a standing ovation from the oilmen for saying: “No country would find 173bn barrels of oil in the ground and just leave them there.”

In what must mark the first time Trudeau has done something sensible, the climate alarmists are up in arms. “The sell out!”, they cry. Perhaps Trudeau realizes that virtue signaling when the global economy is on the ropes mustn’t take place of pragmatism. We have too many examples of the push for renewables backfiring where economies are suffering due to blackouts causing some companies to relocate to more stable grids. South Australia is a perfect example of green madness gone wrong. It is home to the highest unemployment, slowest growth and most expensive electricity prices in the country.

We should not forget Trudeau has a carbon tax on tomato farmers in Canada. The Conservatives argued that the carbon emissions to ship cheaper Mexican tomatoes exempt from the tax is factor fold higher than the savings squeezed out of local producers.

We’ve seen Trudeau’s popularity sink in recent months with polls suggesting he’d be thumped in the 2020 election. Losing the endorsement of a liberal rag like The Guardian is about as  horrid a testimonial there is possible. What is worse is the tacit admission that as much as they hate Trump he hasn’t lied on his promises to ditch climate change targets. The Guardian continued,

Trump is a creep and a danger and unpleasant to look at, but at least he’s not a stunning hypocrite.”

However not even our selfie loving PM Turnbull escaped the paper’s lashing,

Canada’s got company in this scam. Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull is supposed to be more sensitive than his predecessor, a Trump-like blowhard. When he signed on his nation to the Paris climate accords, he said: “It is clear the agreement was a watershed, a turning point and the adoption of a comprehensive strategy has galvanised the international community and spurred on global action…Which is a fine thing to say – or would be, if your government wasn’t backing plans for the largest coal mine on Earth. That single mine, in a country of 24 million people, will produce 362% of the annual carbon emissions that everyone in the Philippines produces in the course of a year. It is obviously, mathematically and morally absurd.”

As livid as the climate alarmists may be they must understand the value of climate summits is pointless because harshening economic realities mean people are worried about their futures today not some inaccurate forecast on how we’re all doomed. As I say to all climate alarmists – what are you doing personally in your day-to-day consumption to offset climate Armageddon? The answer invariably is next to nothing. They’re probably among the 50,000 hypocritical pilgrims belching greenhouse gases from the hundreds of 777s flying them to the next climate junket to tell us to run for our lives. Just be sure to prepare an extra bed for Leo DiCaprio’s eyebrow technician.

Giving power back to the people by giving power back to the people

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Is it any wonder AGL has scrapped its plans to build a 200-400MW gas-fired plant in South Australia (SA). Once again SA Premier Jay Weatherill’s complete failure to roll out sensible and sustainable energy policy is on full display. Instead of admitting his plans have caused SA to have the country’s most expensive, yet most unreliable electricity supply he used AGL’s common sense strategy to boast his own $550mn plan to offset the catastrophic failure of his own making was nothing short of a master stroke. Weatherill boasted,

“If there are big power companies squealing, the plan is working…it is a finely calibrated plan, it’s been carefully crafted to go as far as we can to actually drive competition but also not scare away investment…We’ve been screwed for too long by large power companies, it’s as simple as that…We’re taking the power back for the people of South Australia. A few people are upset about that because they’re not going to be able to make their enormous profits out of South Australians and if they’re squealing about that we’re happy…Large power plant companies screw ordinary South Australians. Increased competition is what drives down prices, not somebody just essentially maintaining their current monopoly position by upgrading plant and equipment.”

SA scrapped its coal-fired power and relies on wind power for 40% of its electricity. When the wind doesn’t blow, SA relies on backup power from neighboring Victoria, which has its own ridiculous renewable energy targets. Victoria has announced the closure of the Hazelwood coal-fired electricity plant which constitutes 20% of Victoria’s power on March 31st. So Victoria’s ‘pipe’ of backup will all but disappear.

What gets me is that it was Weatherill, not the private sector that “took power away from the people” (literally). Weatherill’s virtue signaling by means of thrashing private industry is a woeful attempt to take the moral high ground when in reality he is just being sanctimonious.

The bigger risk is this ‘back-up gas-fired generator’ should it ever be built will be run on an intermittent basis when power becomes a problem. The batteries don’t have anywhere near enough life to power a blackout for any reasonable period of time. Sadly, large scale machinery like this can’t run on an intermittent basis. It is much like a commercial aircraft. If aircraft sit idle on a tarmac for a sustained period of time, high precision parts get gummed up and require expensive maintenance to get back to working order. Those planes parked in the Arizona desert at the end of GFC that airlines thought to bring back into service cost $1.5mn/year each to maintain. Tyres have to be rotated every two days to prevent flat spots, fuel tanks have to be kept full, engines run and hydraulic controlled surfaces moved daily and windows require special sealants to prevent premature aging.

Same for a gas-fired power plant. It isn’t like switching on the Weber BBQ and expecting the thing to ignite. It would paradoxically call for higher running costs to operate periodically than run at constant load. So even if Weatherill can hand South Australians cheaper prices for their electricity at the plug (highly doubtful) they’ll be slugged through higher taxes elsewhere to pay for the higher upkeep of the gas-fired plant.

Is the finely calibrated plan working? If this is a finely calibrated I would hate to see what a half-baked plan looks like to Weatherill. Giving power back to the people is exactly that – give power back to them.