Environment

The dirt on solar panel recycling

According to Forbes, solar panel recycling is a dirty business. Given wide spread solar installations around the world, experts predict in two to three decades there will be large scale waste and ecological damage when they’ve hit the used by date. To quote the article,

Were these statements made by the right-wing Heritage Foundation? Koch-funded global warming deniers? The editorial board of the Wall Street Journal?…None of the above. Rather, the quotes come from a senior Chinese solar official, a 40-year veteran of the U.S. solar industry, and research scientists with the German Stuttgart Institute for Photovoltaics.

“…The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in 2016 estimated there was about 250,000 metric tonnes of solar panel waste in the world at the end of that year. IRENA projected that this amount could reach 78 million metric tonnes by 2050…

…“We estimate there are 100,000 pounds of cadmium contained in the 1.8 million panels,” Sean Fogarty of the group told me. “Leaching from broken panels damaged during natural events — hail storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. — and at decommissioning is a big concern.”  

…Chinese and Japanese experts agree. “If a recycling plant carries out every step by the book,” a Chinese expert told The South China Morning Post, “their products can end up being more expensive than new raw materials.

There is an irony when fighting to save the planet. All we’re told is the positive side of renewables being good for the futures of our children and grandchildren. Just goes to show that these panels of virtue have side effects too. There is a sort of belief that solar panels and wind turbines have an infinite life when installed.

Governments are now thinking of pushing recycling costs back on the manufacturers. That would be a great idea. Drive up costs and send more businesses saddled with overproduction closer to bankruptcy.

Australia should go nuclear. If we want cheap, reliable, CO2-free electricity generation it is the only way to go. Yet our politicians fear treading on such ground.

If we go through history Chernobyl and Fukushima were ALL caused by human error. The systems functioned according to spec.

Solar and wind have proved epic failures, not in installation terms, but as reliable energy sources in operation. South Australia and Victoria are beta test cases of weakening the grid yet we wish to pursue a doubling down of this madness.

In Australia, the environment is ranked 4th in terms of election issues behind income growth/cost of living, affordable housing and power prices. At the 2016 election, the environment was ranked 9th. Do we read this as Aussies becoming decidedly more green in the last 3 years or is it they see all the environment policies being championed affecting issues 1-3? It would seem the latter is more plausible. Yet our politicians are reading it the wrong way. What a surprise!

German car makers in trouble with the EC environmental regulator

While governments around the world champion the idea that auto makers are “all aboard” when it comes to climate change mitigating tech, it appears the VW Group (incl Porsche & Audi), BMW and Daimler have been raked over the coals by European Commission (EC) officials for deliberately withholding it.

Why doesn’t the EC understand that advanced pollution cutting technology costs more the tougher the emissions regulations get? That cost gets passed onto consumers.

If auto makers met all the appropriate legislative hurdles at the time, why should they be punished? The law didn’t mandate it. Furthermore consumers put safety and utility at a premium to exhaust fumes.

The EC might complain these auto makers colluded but even if they hadn’t met in secret the outcome would have been exactly the same. Focus on shareholders wouldn’t change. Why can’t we accept it is a 100% reflection of the car makers’ true feelings about the environment. They don’t care! VW even cheated the tests.

What more evidence do we need? Automakers push narratives that they’re big on saving the planet so as to not catch the wrath of the activists. Actions tell the real story.

Perhaps we should question the regulator for not introducing tougher standards earlier rather than beat manufacturers over the head for their inability to provide adequate oversight?

Ocasio-Cortez took bank bashing to new levels

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took bank bashing to new heights yesterday. While questioning Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan she suggested that the banks that financed fossil fuel companies which cause environmental damage should pay for cleanups. Sloan correctly said WF doesn’t “operate” the pipelines of their customers.

She also accused Sloan of Wells Fargo lending to publicly listed corrections companies which operate ICE detention centers which detain children.

So basic is her level of understanding of how banks work, perhaps she might understand the ridiculousness of her own attacks better if she is told she has to accept financial punishment for any failures that are a result of implementing the Green New Deal.

The Democratic leaders really need to rein her in before she damages the brand any further. Left to her own devices she’ll provide hours of video gaffes come election time. Attacking Sloan had no basis let alone substance.

If we’re so keen to stick to Paris should we feel guilty about nuclear power?

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Australia seems keen to stick to the Paris Accord. Despite knowing whatever we do on saving the planet through following the politics of Paris will result in no palpable change in world temperatures at considerable economic cost to overstretched taxpayers. If we seem so keen to do our bit for tokenism, why not copy so many signatories and build nuclear plants? After all if we don’t want to be censured for abandoning the accord should we feel any sense of guilt if we adopt the very same CO2 limiting measures of others? Safety in numbers – literally.

CM was privy to a meeting with a former US Navy officer who was speaking about how negative PR can create false narratives. Nuclear power was one of them. He argued that the US & Japan were losing the PR war hence technological leadership on civilian nuclear power. The likes of Toshiba-Westinghouse are now shrinking minnows whose dwindling order book looks like the victim of a sunset industry when in reality it has been terrible program management. However why should it?

Nuclear power is set to be 14% of global electricity generation by 2040 from 11% today. Emerging Asia get the practicalities of nuclear power. Affordable and sustainable baseload with virtually no emissions.

Of course the horrible outcomes of poorly managed nuclear plants has come at great financial cost as experienced most recently  with Fukushima but the safety record of nuclear power is astonishingly good. Quantum levels more people die in coal mine accidents every year than the combined deaths from radiation from Chernobyl or Fukushima meltdowns since either occurred.

The misplaced fear of Fukushima was so high at the time that Americans across the Pacific were stocking up on radiation masks and Geiger counters in preparation of impending irradiation. It seemed the further one got away from the reactor the more hysteric people became. Deaths in the US as a result of the Fukushima meltdown? Zero!

As it stands, the US has two nuclear plants under construction at present which are saddled with delays and costly overruns based on incompetent execution. The Chinese have twenty in the build phase. India 7. Korea and the UAE 4 each. Russia 3. Even Bangladesh & Pakistan have two in the pipeline using technologies outside of the US/Japan.

There are about 150 power reactors with a total gross capacity of about 160GWe on order with about 300 more proposed. Where are the former world leaders in power technology? Next to nowhere. Cowering in a corner and allowing themselves to be beaten up senseless over false statistics. Where is the PR reporting reality? It’s as if they’ve given up. Where is the media lambasting China, India and other nations for putting our lives at risk? That’s right – nowhere.

What probably escapes many people is that for all the negative news cycle around nuclear power and the thirst for renewable alternatives, many Americans are already surrounded by active nuclear plants. While they visit a zoo or the beach they are blissfully unaware that at all the naval ports dotted around the mainland (e.g. California, Connecticut, NY, Florida, DC, Texas, South Carolina etc) and islands (e.g. Hawaii, Japan) there are 100s of nuclear reactors sitting safely in close proximity to millions of civilians. Yet where is the outrage? Not a peep.

Shout from the hilltops at the efficiency of renewables all you want. Then explain why those with higher levels of renewables as baseload power end up with the highest incidents of blackouts and steepest prices.

South Australia is the case in point. Australia is home to the cheapest materials (gas, coal and uranium) to make affordable electricity but we have caved to the green madness and saddled ourselves with punitive power prices to meet goals based on unproven and often whistle blown manipulated science. If climate scientists were subject to the same punitive damages that players in the financial industry are then it is likely the “targets” leading to our ecological disaster would be pared back to such a degree we’d just keep calm and carry on. Yet because there is no risk of jail sentences the tax dollars get misappropriated, funding an industry whose survival and growth depends on fear. Talk about a lack of ethics.

Even worse we want to double down on this inefficient renewable technology (where claims are often made on 100% capacity rather than the 20% they truly operate on) despite having empirical evidence of its all too obvious shortcomings. Virtue signaling actions such as blowing up old coal fired power stations has ironically proven the stupidest of moves in that all the while demand hasn’t changed reductions in reliable baseload supply makes us vulnerable.

Throw on the desire to electrify the automobile  and we already know that existing base load won’t cope with the increased demands. Take a look at Britain as an example. Apart from the risks of losing massive fuel tax levies (around 5% of total government revenue) the power industry’s current projections of new electricity generation additions can’t meet the expected demand if we all plug our EV in overnight.

So Australia should quit worrying about what others think and act in its own best interests. Maybe Canberra needs a PR agency more than the nuclear industry does. High time to look at real data and sustainability.

 

Blowing the whistle on NASA over climate data

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Jo Nova has an excellent piece exposing the scams inside NASA with regards to their climate models and allegations of misappropriated taxpayer funds. She notes whistleblower Dr Duane Thresher who worked seven years at NASA GISS “describes a culture of self serving rent-seekers, mismanagement and incompetence. These are the top experts in the climate science field that we are supposed to accept without questioning. Those who say they are working to “save the planet” care more about their junckets than they do about the data or their “best” model…NASA GISS’s most advanced climate model is run from the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). Thresher recounts a story from someone on the inside:“NASA GISS’s climate model — named Model E, an intentional play on the word “muddle” — is called the “jungle” because it is so badly coded.” I know this to be true from my own extensive experience programming it (I tried to fix as much as I could…)…”

Of course I can hear the alarmists cry  that Thresher is a ‘discredited’ scientist as they do for anyone who disagrees,. Much in the spirit of the Harvard piece I put out last week, venerable organizations like NASA (which has put humans into space) carry almost untouchable status. This is the problem. Do we just suck up aything we are told by these organizations or do we need to add an extra layer of skepticism because of the ‘reputation’?

It is truly hard to imagine that the brain’s trust that makes up an organization that can launch rockets and space shuttles can be guilty of such sloppiness. Such whistleblowing will  lead to a congressional testimony which will bring many things to light. It wasn’t long ago that NOAA was subpoenaed after a whistleblower said the group had rushed a report ahead of the Paris climate summit with obviously fiddled data that fit a narrative. NOAA refused to hand over the emails for months on the grounds of privacy  when the head of House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith explained the reality that they worked for the government and had no choice.

Smith noted, “According to Dr. John Bates, the recently retired principal scientist at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, the Karl study was used “to discredit the notion of a global warming hiatus and rush to time the publication of the paper to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy…I thank Dr. John Bates for courageously stepping forward to tell the truth about NOAA’s senior officials playing fast and loose with the data in order to meet a politically predetermined conclusion. In the summer of 2015, whistleblowers alerted the Committee that the Karl study was rushed to publication before underlying data issues were resolved to help influence public debate about the so-called Clean Power Plan and upcoming Paris climate conference. Since then, the Committee has attempted to obtain information that would shed further light on these allegations, but was obstructed at every turn by the previous administration’s officials. I repeatedly asked, ‘What does NOAA have to hide?’

Once again whenever people try to use the ‘credibility’ argument to sway debate, there is a treasure trove of evidence to show in this case that it is politics not science. With billions if not trillions at stake, such fraud has not resulted in any of these climate scientists being fined, deregistered or jailed for the very things that have happened to people in the financial sector. What is the difference I wonder? Maybe because the government has been in on the act…

Even Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology has been recently exposed for divisive behaviour in temperature measurement. Putting hard floors on cold temperatures with no such restrictions on warm weather. We’re supposed to trust these bodies? More on that tomorrow.

Well as the old adage goes, “there are lies, more lies and then there are statistics”

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.

Flake News

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Fake news, very fake news or in many cases it is just flake news. Flake news? The lack of context and perspective and trying to draw parallels with irrelevance. Take this piece from Robert Reich taking a trademark swipe at Trump rationalizing it with a very poor understanding of the industry he seeks to convince his audience he is an expert in:

“I just watched Trump give a speech at South Carolina’s Boeing facility where the new 787 “Dreamliner” is being unveiled. Trump said it was “built right here” in South Carolina, and that “our goal as a nation must be to rely less on imports and more on products made here in the U.S.A.” He also called for “a very substantial penalty to be paid when they fire their people and move to another country, make the product, and think that they are going to sell it back.” And said he’ll lower taxes and get rid of regulations that send our jobs to those other countries. “We want products made by our workers in our factories stamped by those four magnificent words, ‘Made in the U.S.A.'”

All fantasy. In fact, almost a third of Boeing’s Dreamliner comes from abroad — from countries with high taxes and high regulations, good wages, strong unions, excellent schools including technical education, and universally-available health care.

1.The Italian firm Alenia Aeronautica makes the center fuselage.

2. French firm Messier-Dowty makes the aircraft’s landing-gear system.

3. German firm Diehl Luftfahrt Elektronik supplies the main cabin lighting.

4. Swedish firm Saab Aerostructures manufactures the access doors.

5. Japanese company Jamco makes parts for the lavatories, flight deck interiors and galleys.

6. French firm Thales makes its electrical power conversion system.

7. Thales selected GS Yuasa, a Japanese firm, in 2005 to supply it with the system’s lithium-ion batteries.

Oh, and the first delivery of the Dreamliner is scheduled to take place next year – to Singapore Airlines. Currently there are 149 orders for it from worldwide customers including British Airways and Air France.

In other words, contrary to Trump, the Boeing Dreamliner is made all over the world and will be sold all over the world.

His “America First” economics is total demagoguery. We get a first-class workforce by investing in their education, training, infrastructure, and healthcare — not xenophobic grandstanding.

What do you think?

Well Mr Reich. Here is what I think.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has been one of the biggest program failures in the company’s history. While a technical marvel it was three years late, largely exposed by Boeing’s disintermediated supply chain, a break with decades of practice.

Aircraft production is a precise business. It requires that all parts arrive on time and to achieve that all suppliers must be on board. The 3-month delay of a $1 plastic fastener can mean a plane can’t be fully completed let alone delivered. So multi million dollar wing set production gets impacted. So do landing gears, engines and stabilizers. Everything is affected. Boeing’s delays sent many suppliers into financial distress. In some cases it was so bad Boeing had to step in to buy out suppliers (e.g. Spirit) to prevent further delays and cost overruns.

The second big flaw in Mr Reich’s article is that Boeing is a multi-nation aircraft for a reason. It is what is known as risk and revenue sharing partnerships (RRSPs). Companies bid to be on the project and pay a part share in it. It is an investment. They are shareholders to all intents and purposes. Companies like Mitsubishi Heavy and Kawasaki Heavy bought a stake in the project. Boeing was the project manager and designer. In short international companies bought themselves a ticket to be on the 787 with the hope if it was a success they’d be higher up the technology curve when 777 or 737-Max went to similar production materials and processes.

Boeing enthusiastically embraced this outsourcing, both locally and internationally, as a way of lowering costs and accelerating development. The approach was intended to cut the 787’s development time by 30% and with it, development cost from $10 to $6 billion. Estimates show that cost ended up being $20bn and 3 years late and is expected to break even in its 10th year. It is far from the success it was meant to be.

Another thing with aircraft suppliers is their scarcity. Aircraft manufacture comes at huge fixed costs and low lot volume. Around 120 Dreamliners are made a year and the reason the supply chain is like it is makes perfect sense. Suppliers need guarantees to ensure production levels meet their financial objectives. Parts certification is a tricky business.

Boeing needs to be sure suppliers meet certification requirements. If people think pharmaceutical companies going through the FDA process to sell a new drug is a nightmare, they should try to get a new aircraft past FAA regulations. While a drug might have minor side effects like drowsiness, a plane has to fly safely every time in almost any condition. Therefore the quality, durability and safety aspects for a plane that flies for up to 40 years is second to none. There are no short cuts.

The Boeing 787 was also made with all new production processes and materials not used before on this scale. The wings were carbon fibre composite. Mitsubishi Heavy not only agreed to be a RRSP but was willing to invest to meet Boeing’s production goals. Toray, the maker of the composite material was seen as the most reliable and stable supplier. These were cold hard facts and when building a new aircraft, airline customers want to minimize risk. Boeing needs to guarantee risk minimization and made rational decisions based on that. Had those suppliers been all in the USA you can be assured US suppliers would have been picked. Sadly many have lost competitiveness. An unknown fact is that Lockheed Martin called in Toyota to help it finesse its production processes for its disastrous F-35 programme.

So while Reich points to the ‘social’ qualities (education, healthcare, strong unions and good wages) of what goes to make an airliner they are generalizations to say the least. Japanese unions are far from strong and definitely not militant. Mitsubishi Heavy wing workers would be paid the same as their elevator assembly brothers across the hall. They wouldn’t necessarily be on high wages. I would imagine that many of Boeing’s designers have Ivy League or similar pedigrees. Assemblers would also possess serious qualifications.

In any event the point Trump was making was the same jawboning at election time. Make America First and keep jobs at home. Ideally he would be saying to Boeing that following Airbus’ example of assembling a portion of A320s in China is not his wish. In fact Boeing now has a joint venture with a Chinese entity that installs interiors and paint exteriors on 737 airliners. Is he a criminal for requesting companies stay at home?

Yes Mr Reich, President Trump is not perfect but he is doing his level best to turn around the fortunes of a country sold out by the establishment over many decades. Indeed if he cuts corporate taxes and incentivizes companies to stay at home because of a rational reason to do so that will be key. Instead of sticking it to him Mr Reich, try look beyond your prejudice to see why 64mn Americans put him in charge of their future. He may well fail but voters took that risk when they put him in office. They care not for the petty issues you raise in your articles.

This article seeks to take pot shots without assessing the full facts of an industry. What you wrote wasn’t fake news but flake news.