Have you ever seen the documentary Pandora's Promise? Perhaps you would find it insightful.
Welcome to this forum, Dave. I don't want to scare you away, but it seems we are getting off on the wrong foot, so to speak. Let us begin.
Before I discuss your post, please look at this pie chart. If you claim the subsidies on that chart are inaccurate, then I can prove you are mistaken. It's a bit dated. The subsidy swag for polluters has actually gotten even more outrageous in comparison with the pittance that Renewable Energy has gotten.
I certainly have seen that Propaganda film called, "Pandora's Promise". It is chock full of very clever half truths that manage to completely cloud the actual issues of cause and effect in regard to cost/benefit (i.e. POLLUTION COSTS to the biosphere) in the generation of energy for human civilization. Renewable Energy is totally misrepresented as being "insufficiently reliable" to power civilization, too "expensive" and so on. The derisive icing on the cake is the totally false claim delivered in 'I'm your friendly Doctor telling you this for your own good'
tone that those that support a 100% Renewable Energy powered world are to be pitied for their "wishful and unrealistic thinking".
Uh Huh... Nuclear Industry Welfare Queen Profits have absolutely nothing to do with it, of course...
A very insightful and fact filled critique was made of the writings of those nuclear industry propagandists who pitch that film and every half truth uttered in that film by objective energy analysts. I posted on it here years ago in the Nuke Puke board.
Here is a repost (Originally posted November 08, 2013, 02:42:15 pm): The Breakthrough Institute – Why The Hot Air? PART 1 of 2 parts
June 17, 2013 Thomas
I’ve recently stumbled upon a number of articles by the Breakthrough Institute (BTI) that aimed at discrediting renewable energy on the one hand and on the other preaching about nuclear energy as the solution for the global energy crisis of the 21st century. With their hearts and minds pre-set on pushing their narrative, that some kind of a nuclear salvation is being held back by leftish environmentalists (sinister!), the so called German “Energiewende” (Energy Transition) has apparently become a regular target of the Breakthrough Institute staff’s publications.Pandora's TURD
Public displays of ignorance and misrepresentation of facts are neither new nor rare when commentators try to discredit the feasibility of a shift to a renewable energy supply. This most regulary includes unscientific pandering to conventional wisdom. In the case of the Breakthrough Institute’s recent articles on Germany and solar energy, all of the above are certainly the case.The Straw Men Army
As I mentioned at the top, I am writing this because I’ve recently stumbled upon a couple of Breakthrough Institute articles — I wasn’t too familiar with the “Breakthrough Institute” before that. In the middle of May, the Breakthrough Institute (BTI) published an article comparing the alleged costs of what its analysts call “the German solar program” and the costs of a Finnish nuclear project currently under construction and which is plagued by cost overruns. A couple of weeks later, Michael Shellenberger (BTI President) & Ted Nordhaus (BTI Chairman) published an article defending the previous article against unspecified criticism and making a couple of incredibly silly claims in the process.Reason I wrote this post.
So here’s a roundup of a few straw men, dubious connections, distortions, and stuff that’s plain and simply silly.#1 – Irrelevant “Cost” Comparison[unscientific pandering to conventional wisdom]
Comparing the alleged gross-price tag of Germany’s solar policy with a Finnish nuclear project might seem like a very clever thing to do, but in reality it’s simply silly. The comparison suggests a non-existent equality in circumstances, goals, and preconditions that simply isn’t there.
What I am trying to say is, that if you want to judge two policies or projects, you should judge them foremost by their goals and motivations, not by an unrelated number game.
The motivation and the goals of Germany’s unprecedented solar policy are neither a secret nor hard to research (EEG 2004, Article 1). For decades, the main problem of solar had been identified as it being too expensive to deploy. But, at the same time, only deployment and mass production would lead to significant cost reductions. To overcome this barrier, the German parliament adapted the Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) in 2004 to incentivize the installation of solar PV systems, thus creating the first uncapped mass market for solar power. It was the goal to reduce the technology’s cost through deployment, innovation, and market forces
within the solar industry. The plan has succeeded a lot faster than anticipated and the cost of PV is expected to decline by at least another 50% by 2020.
The development of feed-in-tariff rates for solar power (actual production costs / kWh are a bit lower).
In contrast, the goal of the Finnish nuclear power plant
had been to have a fully operational 1.6 GW Generation III+ nuclear reactor by 2009 for $4.2 billion. Since the decision for the new nuclear plant was made in 2000, that would have been 5 years of planing and permitting and 4 years of construction. Since the current estimate is that it might enter commercial operation in 2015 — 10 years after construction began — and at a price of approximately $11.1 billion, it can with no doubt be considered a massive failure.
Everyone can judge for themselves what they want to think about the two political projects.
On one side, a German policy that may have come with a price tag to consumers, but has successfully triggered the global commercialization and industrialization of an energy technology that sat dormant for far too long. (In addition, Germany’s solar industry — far more than solar cell manufacturing — still provides 100,000 high-paying jobs and is registering more patents than ever before.)
On the other side, the newest commercial product of the veteran nuclear industry failing miserably at delivering what it promised.
But there’s no arguing about the outcome.
In most places around the world (including Germany), installing solar technology onsite can now lower the bill for households, businesses, and even industries. It takes only a few weeks/months from making the investment decision to producing a relatively certain monthly amount of peak-load power.
For any new nuclear power project, there is no such certainty nor is there a similar market-driven investment incentive at the horizon — even after almost 60 years of commercial nuclear power. (This is all something the BTI didn’t care to mention.)
I won’t delve into how nuclear and solar operate in different technological and economic paradigms at this point, but it should be obvious to everyone that neither solar panels nor a nuclear reactor represent a complete energy system. #2 – A Dubious Source as the Main Witness[Questionable Motives]
I was not surprised to find the “100 Billion Euro disaster” paper written by Dr. Frondel of the RWI at the heart of the the first BTI story. What’s amusing is the naïve sort of “a German wrote it, it must be true!” attitude that is rather prevalent in many articles/comments that quote his work. Rarely does any journalist follow the money or intentions, nor does the American press care about the criticism of Dr. Frondels’ work.
In reality, Dr. Frondels’ analysis is nothing more than a simple calculation of a price tag. He then chooses to equate the price tag with macroeconomic costs, by overly simplifying and ignoring the complexity of the economic reality. Basically, the study was written to give lazy journalists easy-to-copy-&-paste headlines and snippets in order to attack solar energy (which is controversial, of course, which brings in readers and makes the journalists look “critical” and “smart”).
Undoubtedly, those economic interests that have commissioned the RWI study and fund the work of people like Dr.Frondel are very pleased to see the BTI making such “good” and uncritical use of their investments.
I’ve created this little infrographic below to illustrate some background information on the history of Dr. Frondels’ study and other somewhat related information. See what you can find.
To give you an even better understanding of the general nature of Dr. Frondels’ work in recent years, I would just like to refer you to the RWI’s publication called “Positionen Nr. 45” from April 2011. The title of this particular RWI paper was, “The Cost Of Climate Protection – A Look At Electricity Prices.” In it, Dr. Frondel comes to the surprising (Who pays the piper, calls the tune) conclusion that German household electricity prices in 2011 could have remained at their 1998 levels if it wasn’t for all that nasty climate action!
I personally find it fascinating how the BTI chooses to utilize Dr. Frondels’ work to discredit renewable energy and attack people like Bill McKibben, while at the very same time, the whole Keystone XL decision is an increasingly important issue in the US.
Well, whatever reasons the BTI may have for its recent urge to make renewables look bad, it did choose not to mention the dubious connections of its main source on the alleged economics of Germany’s renewable energy policy. Its reasoning for withholding this relevant background information is obvious though: A study comissioned by the American Oil & Gas industry, written by a guy who is involved with a German version of the Heartland Institute
simply isn’t a very convincing main witness when you are try to make a simplistic case against renewables in favor of nuclear energy.#3 – The Emissions Blame Game [Misrepresenting & Oversimplifying]
The good folks at the BTI love to foster the myth that less nuclear must lead to higher emissions, and that Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear will kill the climate. Unfortunately, there is no denying the fact that emissions did in fact rise in 2012.
However, not mentioning the colder-than-usual winter (including the related French electricity crisis in February 2012) and the increase of coal-powered electricity exports due to the collapse of the European emissions trading system is a willful choice.
For the record, with 317 Mio tons of CO2, the 2012 emissions from electricity generation are still well below the 5-year pre-recession average (2003-2007) of 330 Mio tons. If you consider that the German economy made a strong comeback after the global recession in 2009, with record-breaking employment and export levels, this becomes even more significant (i.e. energy productivity increased).
In fact, 2012 emissions per kWh were almost 10% lower compared to 2002, which was the year with the highest nuclear output in Germany. More info on total GHG emissions (not only the 30% caused by electricity generation) is included below.#4 – Renewables have had no impact![Clown Territory Loss of Reality Disorder(?) / Pandering to conventional wisdom]
In their opinion piece titled “No Solar Way Around It,” Shellenberger and Nordhaus get carried away and make the following remark:
“In reality, there’s little evidence that renewables have supplanted — rather than supplemented — fossil fuel production anywhere in the world. Whatever their merits as innovation policy, Germany’s enormous solar investments have had little discernible impact on carbon emissions.” – No Solar Way Around It, BTI
This statement is a showcase example of the smartass microcosm the BTI president has chosen to populate with his fact-free wisdom. I don’t know what he was trying to say, but the only thing he could have hoped to accomplish is to reinforce anti-renewable mythology. By doing so, he obviously disqualified himself as a reasonable member of the energy debate. But
I am hopeful that he’ll correct his claim….
Here are the facts, plain and simple, for you to judge:Click here for PART 2