In December we were treated, if that is the word, to the sorrowful and accusatory screed of an earnest Swedish teenager, as she cast gloom and guilt globally while comfortably ensconced in a heated auditorium at the latest United Nations Climate Change Conference in the heart of coal country in Katowice, Poland.
The crusading young woman, Greta Thunberg, asked what the rest of us will say to our children and grandchildren as they have to deal with the catastrophic effects of ‘Climate Change’, previously known as Global Warming (the climate is always changing; we just are not absolutely certain how – except the Elect and Elite, apparently).
Here is what one nation, the United States did about Global Warming, over the past year: nothing, and carbon dioxide, CO2, emissions, went down by 0.5%, while the economy expanded by about 2.5%. In the European Union, bastion of those who ‘really care’ about polar bears, horrific droughts and wildfires, not to mention rising sea levels, CO2 emissions rose 1.5%, while economic growth was barely higher than that.
The difference between the two large emitters is that the former large economy has allowed the private sector to find and exploit vast reserves of tight natural gas via hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, whereas the latter, more ‘noble’ large economy has tried to engineer lower emissions via government mandates, restrictions, taxes and subsidies. The result, for the EU, is much higher energy costs, closed-down no-carbon nuclear plants, and greater reliance on dirty coal and the tender mercies of Vlad the Invader’s natural gas.
The rejoinder could be, and has been, that wind and solar power need some subsidies to be established, but that they are competitive with any of the cheaper forms of conventional, traditional electrical power. However, that is only true of these ‘green’ alternatives’ marginal cash costs, which, of course, are close to zero, other than cleaning, repair and maintenance. The only thing that makes them viable at the present time is direct subsidies to the buyers, or forced or fixed buying by utilities, compelling the latter to buy expensive power elsewhere when the sun or wind are not so cooperative.
What could make these forms of power viable is something that, if, and only if, the Warmistas were sincere, honest and actually know what they are talking about, would help store such energy from times when it is abundant and almost free, to when and where it is needed. Usually, this is some form of battery. The silence from the Climate lobby on this topic is notable.
There are several new forms of batteries that could be good contenders for this viability role, according to the website Pocket Lint, including solid state lithium metal, Grabat graphene, aluminum air, Ryden dual carbon, carbon ion, liquid sodium, and the ever-faithful fuel cell. Other major hopes include vanadium redox flow, now fully commercial, and zinc ion, from the University of Waterloo, Ontario.
While there has been testing and pilot projects using many or all of these, it would make a lot of sense, even if one does not accept the hysterical extreme of the Anthropogenic Global Warming, ‘AGW’, projections, to use some such storage to smooth out output and consumption of electric power, for utilities and corporate and institutional users alike. Also, the cost of such roll-outs are far less than the Warmistas’ other grand, disruptive schemes, such as ending the use of all internal combustion engines.
Exploring how and where to use these, by installing them in the grid or on site at power plants and major power buyers, and some smaller consumers, to test their technical and economic merits would seem to be a relatively low-cost and shrewd way to see which of them would be best to deploy on a much larger scale to help make solar and wind actually commercially self-sustaining in the future. That there is so little discussion of this, let alone agitation on this, engenders suspicion that the true motive of the Climate Change Crusaders is not clean, green energy, but something else: either end fossil fuel use, Western industry, or even capitalism itself.
These sorts of suspicions also arise because the AGW avenging angels see nothing wrong with China, India and other major developing nations being given a free license, according to the Holy Writ of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, to build and start as many new coal-fired power plants as they like, even as the rest of the world is told to drastically change its industrial structure to conform to the Paris strictures. Fracked gas and batteries can change the world for the better. Emotionally overwrought accusations and ill-informed jihads against ordinary consumers and citizens will only generate mistrust.