Renewable 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.

Tesla – when the plug is pulled on subsidies

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It seems that the removal of generous electric vehicle (EV) subsidies in Denmark shows the true colours of those willing to buy a car in order to signal their willingness to save the planet. While Musk has been one of the most effective rent seekers around, it seems that if consumers aren’t given massive tax breaks they aren’t as committed to ostentatious gestures of climate abatement. In Q1 2017 alone it seems that Danish sales of EVs plummeted 60%YoY. In 2015 Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen announced the gradual phasing out of subsidies on electric cars, citing government austerity and evening up the market. Tesla’s sales fell from 2,738 units in 2015 to just 176 in 2016. The irony of the Tesla is that it is priced in luxury car territory meaning that taxes from the less fortunate end up subsidizing the wealthy who can afford it!

Naturally if internal combustion engines (which by the way are becoming more efficient by the years as new standards are introduced) are taxed the same as EVs then it is clear they’d sell many more. Do not be fooled – car makers have not heavily committed to EVs for a very good reason – brand DNA. That is why we see so many ‘hybrids’ which allows the benefits of battery power linked to the drivetrain, which outside of design is the biggest differentiator between brands.

While many automakers missed the luxury EV bus, Tesla has opened their eyes. The three things the major auto makers possess which Tesla doesn’t are

1) Production skill – much of the battle is won on efficiency grounds. Companies like Toyota have had decades to perfect production efficiency and have coined almost every manufacturing technique used today – Just in Time, kanban and kaizen to name three.

2) Distribution – the existing automakers have been well ahead of the curve when it comes to sales points. Of course some argue that there is no real need for dealers anymore, although recalls, services (consumables such as brakes) and showrooms are none-the-less a necessity.

3) Technology – The idea that incumbent auto makers have not been investing in EV is ridiculous. Recall Toyota took a sizable stake in Tesla many years ago. Presumably the Toyota tech boffins were sent in to evaluate the technology at Tesla and returned with a prognosis negative. Toyota sold Tesla because the technology curve was too low. Toyota invests around $8bn in just hybrid technology alone per annum. Tesla spent $830mn last year as a group across all products. A ten fold budget on top of decades of investment in all available avenues of planet saving technology gives a substantial advantage.

Tesla is a wonderful tale of hope but it rings of all the hype that surrounded Ballard Power in fuel cells in the early 2000s. Ballard is worth 1% of its peak. As governments around the world address overbloated budgets, trimming incentives for EVs makes for easy savings. Now we have a good indicator one of the electric shock that happens when the plug is pulled on subsidies.

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Most US voters don’t want to pay for climate abatement

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Rasmussen Reports note “US voters tend to agree the Paris Climate accord would have led to increased energy costs, and most remain unwilling to pay much, if anything, more to fight global warming…41% of Likely U.S. Voters think the accord’s requirement that the United States reduce fossil fuel emissions by nearly 30% by 2025 would increase energy costs…20% believe the requirement would decrease the cost of energy, while 23% say it would have no impact…16%..are not sure.”

As the Turnbull government toys around with a 42% renewable target by 2030 from 16% today, it wants us to believe that power prices will fall. It is a farcical pipe dream. We have a good yardstick for renewables known as South Australia. It has the highest electricity prices, frequent blackouts and has to build a gas fired back up plant and is mulling a battery storage facility for $600mn odd. Oh and the jobs creation baloney of renewables can be seen here. Businesses are pulling out of South Australia because of the energy farce. Who can blame them?

America IN or OUT makes no difference to a dud Paris Climate Accord where 75% aren’t onboard anyway

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Across social media there are dozens of posts from Americans apologising to the world for abandoning the Paris Climate Accord. “There are millions more like me.” Yes you are probably right but there are millions like him too. What people should question is the ‘real’ commitment to the accord. If we were to replay the video tapes of the Paris COP summit we were hearing wails and gnashing of teeth that there was no agreement pending. Then in the final throes we were led to believe that an agreement was reached. The joy! The triumph! We did it! Here is the catch! It was agreed by ‘politicians’ not ‘scientists’. Politicians are renowned over the millennia to making compromise and commitments way beyond the scope of their likely hold on power.

Climate commitments are the ultimate level of virtue signaling and tokenism. Politicians can say in their legacies that they tried to save the planet for their great grandchildren even if nothing is achieved. Remember how the long held 2 degree upper limit target was  heralded as a no quid pro quo line. At Paris it became 1.5. In order to accelerate alarmism the upper band had to be cut to get countries to redouble their efforts. All of a sudden, decades of climates science that told us that 2 was acceptable (bearable) became 1.5 degrees with the stroke of a pen.

As I wrote yesterday, the garage of your neighbour was more telling of individual climate commitment. In Australia one energy company offers a service which gives you the opportunity to pay a premium over fossil fuel based power to source your energy in green form. Take up rate? Less than 5%. Who elects to tick the carbon offset box when they fly commercial? I don’t think many airlines even bother with this such is the low take up. Not to mention carbon calculators are so inaccurate. A passenger has no idea what the load factor, headwinds/tailwinds, holding patterns and conditions en route are that the figure you pay would be more accurate if spewed out of a bingo wheel.

Let’s check reality of the climate game. 75% of the evil gas that helps plants grow are caused by 4 countries – America, China, India and Russia. Let’s tackle them one by one.

America. Well the commitment to the Accord was so flimsy to begin with, It was laced with out clauses such as being exempt from being sued for any environmental damage caused in the past or future. Obama decided to tick the box himself after lawyers breathed on the fine print – remember the US was the last to commit.

China. China, China, China. The commitment is so robust they don’t have any intention to  get serious until 2030 (likely peak emissions). China has explicitly said it will raise the coal share of power to 15% by 2020 from 12% and this will keep climbing. China’s pollution problems have stuff all to do with global warming but public health however it can virtue signal under the banner of climate change mitigation and win brownie points.

India. The construction of 65 gigawatts worth of coal-burning generation is under way with an additional 178 gigawatts in the planning stages in India will mean they’ll not achieve Paris targets.

Russia’s commitment at Paris would have been more serious if drafted on a hotel napkin such was its lack of substance. 4 pages of nothing.

The accord is worthless. It was rushed at the end by bureaucrats not scientists. If it is really such a binding pact there will be no need to have 50,000 climate pilgrims kneel at the altar of the next religious cult meeting. They should thank America for its action because it will guarantee the hypocrites get to keep the junkets in exotic tourist locations going.

To double up on the stupidity, hearing virtue signaling politicians blather about remaining committed to a target that is now so fundamentally broken shows how untenable it is. Think about it. If America (at c20% of the supposed problem) quits then the remainder of countries have to fill in the gap not stick to existing commitments, Sure Merkel said she’d up Germany’s targets to offset the evil Trump which is pretty unachievable given the already high level of renewables.  China said they’d chip in but don’t think those comments are any more than empty platitudes trying to puff up the image of commitment when economic resuscitation is priority #1.

The irony is that Trump said he’d consider another deal. Another deal is what is needed. Because as it stands, the Paris Accord has all of the hallmarks of political manifestos across the globe – uncosted  broad based promises made against flimsy but overwhelmingly positive/negative assumptions.

So before I read more garbage about Americans having an imperative to take power back, perhaps they should examine the realities rather than the figment of imagination floating around inside their heads. Millions more like you is actually the problem why the message never gets sold properly.

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.

Melenchon could well do this

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Jean-Luc Melenchon may seem to be the polar opposite of Marine Le Pen but my bet is that the run off in the French presidential election is between these two and the left-wing candidate may end up the next President of the Republique. Social media feeds have these two well out in front. To the French voter they both bring the promise of ending decades of high unemployment (especially youth) and ‘nationalist’ fervor. Both are anti-EU. Melenchon wants to pull France out of NATO. Melenchon is not dissimilar to Le Pen on immigration either suggesting he’d want to bring in 10,000 doctors rather than unlimited migration which he openly says steals French jobs. Melenchon is anti-Merkel and her Eurozone policies. He wants a 100% tax on salaries over 400,000 euro and bump minimum wages 16%. He wants to be 100% renewable by 2050 promising 100,000s of green jobs in the process which have shown elsewhere (e.g, Australia) to fall well short. Either way the markets are not pricing a polar outcome. If either wins, it is a loss for the EU although expect Juncker to champion it as a victory for the club if Melenchon is anointed.

Le Pen has had much longer to form her base. She speaks eloquently, forcefully and carries a consistent policy line unlike Fillon or Macron who have shifted stance with the wind. People who are struggling around the world are seen tiring of spineless bureaucrats. Traditional party lines are increasingly irrelevant. They want a reversal of fortune not served a buffet of convenient lies which in no way reflects the life they struggle with everyday. Melenchon is not removed from this phenomenon. Nor is Le Pen.

One could be forgiven for thinking that Melenchon is channeling his Beppo Grillo than Hugo Chavez. I can see his appeal to the battler. The question is whether the French people, should they be given these two to choose between on May 7, stay at home in abject apathy or tap their inner-revolutionary to carry the tricolor. Melenchon maybe trailing on social media feeds but his growth is faster than Le Pen, something that was striking in the US election.

The only certainty in my view is another torpedo to the hull of Brussels, the viability of the euro project and the euro itself. That will only play in Theresa May’s favour on June 8. Think of the French presidential election much like the national rugby team. They play hot or cold and you can never be sure until the whistle blows.

When the dust settles I will be fascinated to see which areas vote which way. Let’s accept the views from both Le Pen and Melenchon are broadly similar (although getting there will be totally different) so the vote may swing to how sick and tired French are becoming of giving up their freedoms.

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.