There’s scarcely a place in the modern world that will not be feeling the high cost and discomfort of a shortage of energy supplies and their increasingly soaring prices. Lebanon already is. Due to a shortage of oil, the two power plants that supply 40% of that country’s electricity shut down. There is no electricity in Lebanon and will not be any for some days.
It’s an extreme case, but even the United Kingdom, the EU, the U.S., and China are running up against diminishing ability to obtain the necessary energy supplies to keep things running smoothly. Some of the shortages are due to accidents, like the cutting of an undersea cable to the UK, but most are due to green policies and stupid political choices, ironically shutting down oil and gas-fired power plants and fossil fuel exploitation and transport at the demand of the greens, who grossly overestimate both global warming and the ability of air, sun and water to take their place. Ironically, this means coal — the dirtiest possible fuel — is back in huge demand,
Despite an import ban on Australian coal, China relented and has begun unloading Australian coal because of an extreme power crunch. Coal is now in demand in Europe as gas prices soar and the EU’s energy policies are in large responsible:
The ideological split will drive a wedge between the European Union, a long-time champion of a coal phaseout, and corporate interests as market conditions favour gas-to-coal switching. The switching ratio has slid in coal’s favour in the last weeks of June 2021 and judging by the current futures structure, it will stay in place until at least Q2-2022 [snip] Given the natural limitations to further coal utilization, in Germany the main interaction in the upcoming weeks will be between coal and wind. Coal-fired electricity generation rose to multi-year highs in the first weeks of September when every single day saw wind generation only a fraction of its usual strength and speed. Now, the situation has changed somewhat as wind started blowing again, dropping hard coal generation to an average generation rate of 7.5-8 GWh, still some 30-35% higher than at this time of the year in 2020. Yet still, Germany’s travails are far from over, especially with December looming large on the horizon. According to preliminary plans, that month alone three nuclear plants will stop operating in Germany — Brokdorf, Grohnde and Gundremmingen — with a combined (non-intermittent) capacity of 4 GW, representing the penultimate wave of nuclear phase-out closures before 2022 sees the last 3 reactors decommissioned. Such substantial capacity would need to be replaced with either coal or gas, with profitability skewed overwhelmingly towards the former. [snip]
The current coal demand surge should force the European Union to reconsider its position on coal — as polluting as it might be, it could still help alleviate energy crunches across Europe when the situation demands it. As things stand today, the upcoming four years would see at least seven countries phasing out coal: Portugal (2021), France (2022), UK (2024), Hungary, Italy, Ireland and Greece (all 2025). As Europe has seen nine consecutive year-on-year increases in aggregate coal burns, perhaps more switching flexibility and less bans could still be the way forward.
It’s no secret that the cleanest most reliable fuel – nuclear — was murdered by the greens. Then natural gas, the second cleanest, became their target, so now many places are desperate for coal, the dirtiest option.
Noah Rothman agrees with me — the greens are largely responsible for the present energy crunch and its consequences:
The intended consequence of these [Biden] policies was to create artificial energy scarcity and incentivize alternative fuel producers to enter the marketplace. “If you restrict the supply (of oil and gas), you alter the market and you create a better environment for more sustainable fuels,” New York University professor Max Sarinsky told the Associated Press. This was all part of the plan, to the extent there was a plan.
So, yes, there’s a lot of blame to go around if what Friedman forecasts to be a dark, cold, and scary winter materializes. No small share of that blame should be apportioned out to the central planners who sought to kneecap the existing energy market in favor of an insufficient alternative.
Was there any point to the war on fossil fuels? Probably not. Judith Curry, one of the most reliable climate researchers, explains how even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) admits finally that the dire climate models off of which they were working were in substantial error. The latest report (AR6) from the IPCC indicates previous models were predicting a hotter climate than warranted.
A substantial number of the CMIP6 models are running way too hot, which has been noted in many publications. In its projections of 21st century global mean surface temperatures, the AR6 provides ‘constrained’ projections (including climate models with reasonable values of climate sensitivity that reasonably simulate the 20th century). [snip] With regards to fitness for purpose of global/regional climate models for climate adaptation decision making, an excellent summary is provided by a team of scientists from the Earth Institute and Red Cross Climate Center of Columbia University:
“Climate model projections are able to capture many aspects of the climate system and so can be relied upon to guide mitigation plans and broad adaptation strategies, but the use of these models to guide local, practical adaptation actions is unwarranted. Climate models are unable to represent future conditions at the degree of spatial, temporal, and probabilistic precision with which projections are often provided which gives a false impression of confidence to users of climate change information.” (Nissan et al.)
GCMs [Global Climate Models] clearly have an important role to play particularly in scientific research. However, driven by the urgent needs of policy makers, the advancement of climate science is arguably being slowed by the focus of resources on this one path of climate modeling. The numerous problems with GCMs, and concerns that these problems will not be addressed in the near future given the current development path, suggest that alternative frameworks should be explored. This is particularly important for the science-policy interface.
Worldwide fuel shortages and rising costs aren’t the only concerns this winter, and they aren’t the only concerns of China, whose aggressive air flights near Taiwan and marine actions in the South China Sea have unnerved many.