Posts Tagged ‘CO2’

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Not much of Chinese energy is from wind or solar.

December 2, 2013

A few days ago I wrote about the pollyannish belief that “China is slowing its carbon emissions.”  An essential element of this ridiculous meme is that the Chinese are producing significant portions of their energy via wind and solar. Not true.

Consider just electricity.   Here is a breakdown of China’s installed electricity capacity by fuel type in 2011 and their electricity generation by fuel type for 2000 to 2010 from the The United Stages’ Energy Information Administration’s evaluation of China’s energy consumption (2012)…

"China's installed electricity capacity by fuel, 2011," from the US Energy Information Administration's evaluation of China's energy consumption

“China’s installed electricity capacity by fuel, 2011,” from the US Energy Information Administration’s evaluation of China’s energy consumption

"China's electricity generation by fuel type, 2000-2010" from the US's Energy Information Administration

“China’s electricity generation by fuel type, 2000-2010″ from the US’s Energy Information Administration

What do these charts tell you?

These two charts are drawn from the same data set and appear next to each other in the same document.

As you can see from the top chart, 6.2% of China’s installed electricity capacity is in wind or solar.  That is over 60 gigawatts installed.  Compare that the the US’s 60 gigawatts of installed wind and 10 gigawatts of installed solar.

Alas, the top chart shows installed capacity, not actual production.  There is a little thing called the “capacity factor.”  The capacity factor is the fraction of the time that particular power source can actually produce power at its rated capacity.  For example, a one gigawatt capacity nuclear power plant will have a capacity factor of about 90%, meaning it can produce one gigawatt 90% of the time.  Wind and solar capacity factors tend to be much lower, simply because sometimes the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.  The capacity factor for wind in China is 22%

The second chart shows the amount of electrical energy actually produced using the various “fuel types”.  Do you see that very, very thin yellow band along the top of the second chart?  That represents the Chinese electricity generation due to that 6.2% of installed wind and solar.  Can’t see the yellow line?  Let me blow up the last year of the chart for you…

Chinas electricity generation by fuel type blown up 3

That 6.2% of installed capacity in the form of wind and solar yields less than 1.5% of the actual energy.

China’s energy future

The Energy Information Administration document tells us…

China is the world’s second largest power generator behind the US, and net power generation was 3,965 Terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2010, up 15 percent from 2009. Nearly 80 percent of generation is from fossil fuel-fired sources, primarily coal. Both electricity generation and consumption have increased by over 50 percent since 2005, and EIA predicts total net generation will increase to 9,583 TWh by 2035, over 3 times the amount in 2010.

Wow!  three times as much as 2010, a mere 21 years from now!  Where will all this energy come from?

Again, the Energy Information Administration…

Total fossil fuels, primarily coal, currently make up nearly 79 percent of power generation and 71 percent of installed capacity. Coal and natural gas are expected to remain the dominant fuel in the power sector in the coming years. Oil-fired generation is expected to remain relatively flat in the next two decades. In 2010, China generated about 3,130 TWh from fossil fuel sources, up 11 percent annually.

Let me be clear, I am not knocking the use of wind and solar.  I have been personally working on solar energy for 17 years.  But I am knocking unrealistic expectations and quasi-religious environmentalist beliefs.  And I am not criticizing the Chinese for their increasing energy consumption.  They understand, correctly, that abundant energy is the key to prosperity.

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The Guardian: “China is slowing its carbon emissions.” Huh?

November 27, 2013

Left-wingers in the US have a need to see everything European as superior to American.  But it may be a necessity of left-wingers in general see some other culture as preferable to their own.  So if you are a European left-winger, who do you look up to?  Certainly not the United States!  That’s what China is for!

So a few days ago Jennifer Duggan, in her Guardian column said “China’s action on air pollution is slowing its carbon emissions.”  Maybe Duggan doesn’t know the difference between first and second derivatives and meant to say “China is reducing its acceleration of carbon emissions,” but even that wouldn’t be true.

Duggan tells us…

The latest Climate Change Performance Index published by Germanwatch and Climate Action Network Europe suggests that China is taking action to clean up its act as it tries to deal with its hazardously high levels of air pollution.

The report states:

“Recent developments indicate a slower growth of CO2 emissions and a decoupling of CO2 growth and GDP growth. Both, its heavy investments in renewable energies and a very critical debate on coal in the highest political circles, resulting from the heavy smog situation in many towns, give hope for a slower emission growth in the future.”

OK, sure, “slower growth of CO2 emissions.” Whatever you say Jennifer.

There is rhetoric – and there is reality.  Here is some reality.

From ChinaDaily.com

BEIJING — China’s coal consumption is expected to hit 4.8 billion metric tons by 2020, the China National Coal Association (CNCA) forecast on Sunday.

CNCA data showed that China’s coal output increased to 3.65 billion tons last year from 2.35 billion tons in 2005, representing an annual increase of 190 million tons. Consumption in 2012 stood at 3.52 billion tons.

So, going from 3.65 billion tons this year to 4.8 billion tons in 2020 represents neither a decrease in usage (first derivative) nor a decrease in the rate of increase (second derivative).

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From Trends in Global CO2 Emissions: 2012 Report from PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, here are the CO2 emissions per region from 1990 to 2012…

Global CO2 emissions per region

By the way, how does Chinese emission acceleration compare to US emissions acceleration?

China vs US

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From the 2014 China International Electric Power & Electric Engineering Technology Exhibition webpage

China’s five-year plan ending in 2015 envisions adding 520 GW to its current power production, expanding its capacity by 54%. Coal will be the primary source of energy in this increase…Coal-fired plants will contribute 58% of the increase in 2015 to remain the largest contributor to China’s power generation.

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From Reuters, October 14th 2012

Coal, propelled by rising use in China and India, will surpass oil as the key fuel for the global economy by 2020 despite government efforts to reduce carbon emissions, energy consultancy firm Wood Mackenzie said on Monday…

The two Asian powerhouses will need the comparatively cheaper fuel to power their economies, while demand in the United States, Europe and the rest of Asia will hold steady.

“China’s demand for coal will almost single-handedly propel the growth of coal as the dominant global fuel,” said William Durbin, president of global markets at Woodmac…

China – already the top consumer – will drive two-thirds of the growth in global coal use this decade. Half of China’s power generation capacity to be built between 2012 and 2020 will be coal-fired, said Woodmac…

“If you take China and India out of the equation, what is more surprising is that under current regulations, coal demand in the rest of the world will remain at current levels,” Durbin said.

In Southeast Asia, coal will be the biggest winner in the region’s energy mix. Coal will generate nearly half of Southeast Asia’s electricity by 2035, up from less than a third now, the International Energy Agency said in early October…

This will contribute to a doubling of the region’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions to 2.3 gigatonnes by 2035, according to the IEA.

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The United Stages’ Energy Information Administration’s evaluation of China’s energy consumption (2012) shows us the breakdown of the fuel types for China’s electricity production for the last two decades.  Do you see the difference in trends for “Total Fossil Fuels” and “Other Renewables?”  You may need a magnifying glass to see it.

2010 china electricity by type from EIA

Air Pollution is out of control in China.

There is no doubt that simply breathing in many Chinese cities can be hazardous to your health.  But CO2 is not the source of that hazard – it is other gasses and particulates that are destroying people’s lungs.  There is also no doubt that China will continue full-bore toward energy-consuming industrialization.

I expect that improvement (if any) in Chinese air quality in the near future will come in the form of particulate removal.   But CO2 emissions will grow and grow and grow in China.

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James Delingpole, please correct this mistake

November 23, 2013

The only thing that bugs me more than when climate alarmists get things wrong is when skeptics get it wrong.

A case in point is the assertion by James Delingpole that a recent volcano in Iceland put more CO2 into the atmosphere that all of human activity since 1950.

Delingpole is a vocal supporter of the skeptic community, and the fact the he has a widely viewed blog , writes for several publications and authored several books, all give his words wide dissemination.  The problem is that when a fence-sitter who is trying to make up his mind about the global warming issue realizes that somebody like Delingpole is asserting and defending an indefensible claim, well, that fence-sitter is likely to fall off the fence to the side of the alarmists.  This will happen even if Delingpole is correct on other points.  Fence-sitters don’t necessarily have the time or inclination to sort out and weigh all the arguments, and something like this can easily tip their judgement scales one way or the other.

Delingpole appeared as a guest on the Mike Rosen Show on Denver’s AM station KOA.  This is a 50,000 Watt station and tens of thousands of people probably heard this exchange.  Rosen is a pretty smart guy and usually nobody’s fool, but he let this bogus assertion slide by…

Audio version: Rosen/Delingpole 11/20/13 MP3

Rosen: 713-8585 our telephone number in Castle Rock. Cliff, you’re on 850 KOA. James Delingpole our guest. Hi Cliff.

Cliff: Mike and James, good morning.

Rosen: Morning

Delingpole: Hi Cliff.

Cliff: Hey, I finally think I have somebody who can actually answer this question.

Rosen: Alright.

Cliff: Ah, you know we’ve got, the greenies are all against cars and the exhaust, and you know, all this pollution that we put in the air. Ah, whats the equivalency of a volcano that’s erupting and spewing stuff into the air thirty miles high.

Delingpole: That’s a good question. You remember that volcano that erupted in Iceland a couple of years ago?

Cliff: Yep, that’s the one that made me start thinking about it

Delingpole: Yeah, I think that, I think that that – that volcano produced more CO2 than I think humans have produced in the last, in the last fifty years.

Cliff: Watta we gonna do about that? (…unintelligible…)

Delingpole: We should ban volcanoes.

You  can hear the entire interview (Wednesday, 10AM, 11/20/13) on KOA’s podcast

What are the facts?

The facts are well know, easily accessible, and have been presented to Delingpole before now.  Here it is summed up by the USGS…

Do the Earth’s volcanoes emit more CO2 than human activities? Research findings indicate that the answer to this frequently asked question is a clear and unequivocal, “No.” Human activities, responsible for a projected 35 billion metric tons (gigatons) of CO2 emissions in 2010 (Friedlingstein et al., 2010), release an amount of CO2 that dwarfs the annual CO2 emissions of all the world’s degassing subaerial and submarine volcanoes (Gerlach, 2011).

The published estimates of the global CO2 emission rate for all degassing subaerial (on land) and submarine volcanoes lie in a range from 0.13 gigaton to 0.44 gigaton per year (Gerlach, 1991; Varekamp et al., 1992; Allard, 1992; Sano and Williams, 1996; Marty and Tolstikhin, 1998). The preferred global estimates of the authors of these studies range from about 0.15 to 0.26 gigaton per year. The 35-gigaton projected anthropogenic CO2 emission for 2010 is about 80 to 270 times larger than the respective maximum and minimum annual global volcanic CO2 emission estimates. It is 135 times larger than the highest preferred global volcanic CO2 estimate of 0.26 gigaton per year (Marty and Tolstikhin, 1998). 

It is an embarrassment to me, as a skeptic, that the alarmist site “Skeptical Science” gets it right while Delingpole, a well know mouthpiece for skepticism, gets it wildly wrong.  This meme has been around for years and was long ago thoroughly debunked.  

I would forgive an acquaintance at a coffee shop or around the water cooler for making this mistake.  Then I would gently try to set him straight with the facts  But if you are going to put yourself forth as some kind of expert, then you need to get your facts straight.  This type of mistake may win converts to your side in the short run, but when people realize how wrong you have were, then they will not believe you even when you are right.  Worse yet, they will also be less inclined to believe other skeptics when they are right.

So, James, please fess up on this issue.  Admitting this mistake will only improve your credibility in the long run.

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By the way, this reminds me of another misinformed claim:that underwater volcanoes in the Gakkel ridge were causing reduced sea ice in the Arctic.

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