In a bizarre presentation at the April 25 London conference of the IEA the agency held fast to the now heavily shopsoiled doctrine of catastrophic global warming, and used that as its main plank to put out the begging bowl for $5 trillion. This is the IEA's estimate of what is needed for its unreal mix and mingle of energy gimmicks and real energy solutions, that it calls Clean Energy Progress.
“We have a responsibility and a golden opportunity to act,” said the IEA's deputy director, Ambassador Richard H. Jones. “Energy-related CO2 emissions are at historic highs; under current policies, we estimate that energy use and CO2 emissions would increase by a third by 2020, and almost double by 2050. This would likely send global temperatures at least 6°C higher..... a legacy that I know none of us wishes to leave behind.”
Fewer and fewer of us, ordinary persons able to read and write, believe global temperatures are likely to be "sent" at least 6 degrees higher. Over the last 150 years they increased by 0.75 degrees, that is three-quarters of one degree. The rest is hockey stick meddling with real world data - to a rather large and ever growing number of us. Even the arch priest of supposed runaway catastrophic global warming, Britain's James 'Gaia' Lovelock, has thrown in the towel on his doom mongering, this week.
Perhaps the Ambassador does not read very recent interviews by what is with no possible shadow of doubt one of his favourite Comfort Scientists, Lovelock: the doom mongerer who so ably peddled global warming snakeoil for so long. If that is the case, the Ambassador should shape up or move out. Global warming is failed propaganda. Try peddling Lysenko's genetic theories, instead.
Unabashed to the extreme, the IEA has now launched what it calls its Sustainability Indicator, and this meal ticket for its 30-nation government sponsors, its corporate and business partners comes to $5 trillion. In what is an overblown, almost hysterical quest for supposed "energy security and low environment impact" the IEA says this spending on renewable power and energy efficiency will be needed by 2020, about 7 years and 7 months from today. One thing is totally sure: it wont happen
DETAILING THE FANTASY
"To contain climate change", as it repeatedly states, the International Energy Agency demands the spending of $5 trillion in much less than 8 years. With Bloomberg New Energy Finance, it compares this quest with handy gauges like the $90 billion stash of the richest 70 members of China's National People's Congress and the more modest $7.5 billion held by all 660 top officials in the three branches of the US federal government. Both of these gee-whiz totals are of course entirely dwarfed by the IEA's energy spending goal.
The IEA lays on thick with the gosh-and-golly numbers, for example that Wal-Mart saved 13 million tons of CO2 last year (we hope it invested it wisely), and that world sea levels rose by a not too impressive 0.7 millimetres solely because of melting Greenland ice, last year, while also in 2011 Chinese drinkers quaffed 130 billion pints of beer.
You mean you didnt know all this ?
The IEA however steers well away from making any comparisons which show the laughable, total impossibility of their crazy energy spending hopes. In 2011, the total for world oil and gas exploration and production activity probably nudged $245 billion: the IEA is talking about way above $600 billion-a-year being needed, it says, in renewable and alternate energy spending - - on top of anything else the world spends on fossil energy development.
Like the IEA at least does allow us to know, its estimate of current and recent global spending on renewable energy possibly totals $250 billion-a-year, but this also needed $66 billion each year on government subsidies. The energy return was in fact not at all impressive, compared with the energy yield from the $245 bn spent on world oil and gas E&P.
For the IEA the big hope is already contained in those two keywords "government subsidies". It suggests, or clamors for the removal of all fossil fuel industry and consumer subsidies - which it estimates at $409 billion in 2011 - and the "switching" of this to renewable and alternate energy. Attentive readers already noted the IEA's estimate of current subsidies to renewable energy, $66 billion-a-year, so the theoretical total wishlist amount of the IEA, as new, state organized and funded renewable energy subsidies would be around $475 billion per year. Nice, but the question is not only how but also when ?
THE MEGA SUBSIDY GAME
Surprising to some, perhaps, the IEA notes there were 134 earthquakes last year in central U.S. states, linked to fracking, compared with an average quake incidence of 21 per year in the period 1970-2000 in the same states. The overtly 'climate conscious' Obama administration is rooting for shale gas, and shale oil too, simply because they create jobs and in the case of shale gas, drive down gas prices to almost nothing. But the IEA thinks that smells of subsidies, which should go to clean energy.
The newstyle IEA's definition of "subsidy" is outright special, but we can go the distance: Asian and European importers of LNG and pipeline gas regularly pay $16 per million BTU, but US gas consumers presently get it at $2. So if US gas prices went to $16 through a new and special Energy Independence tax levied by Mr Obama, the difference could be hived off to spending on windfarms and solar plants, maybe electric cars and super grids, anything is possible ! The important thing is that less ice would melt in Greenland, and perhaps Chinese would drink less beer - we aren't sure.
Showing a complete disconnect with the real world, the IEA's London conference made almost no references to the massive debt-and-deficit crises ripping through the majority of its member state governments. How are they supposed to crank up subsidies for renewable and alternate energy by such massive amounts ? Also, if they suddenly cut all subsidies to fossil energy, the economic collateral damage would be a lot more impressive than a 0.7 millimetre rise of sea levels, sane persons know.
The dangerous mix-and-mingle of the sane and insane is like a layer cake in IEA publications, these days. Its conferences are the same. While the London meeting noted that onshore wind energy production has seen 27% average annual growth over the past decade, and solar PV output grew at 42% a year as prices literally imploded, with a 75% reduction in system costs in as little as 3 years, it still thinks carbon capture is a massive need for Humanity. It said: "Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is not seeing the necessary rates of investment to develop full-scale demonstration projects, and nearly half of new coal-fired power plants are still being built without CCS". The technological and scientific feasibility of CCS, let alone its financing, are near zero as many persons now know - but the IEA has to pretend that throwing money at it will do miracles. Continuing in that vein, while also claiming the forecasts are "possibly overambitious", the IEA talks about as many as 20 to 25 million all electric cars and vehicles in member states by 2020. The real world feasibility of that is very close to zero, but the IEA chooses not to know, Queen of Hearts style.
IT WONT HAPPEN - IT WILL HAPPEN
2020 is a lot nearer than the IEA thinks: it talks about 7 years and 7 months ahead like it was 2050 or 1980, somewhere far off the cursor. Getting there doesnt really matter because everything can only change with such a generous time gap. Like it proudly signals, on April 16, Spain got 61% of its total electricity supply from its windfarms, with a rated capacity of around 28 500 MW, dwarfing Spain's 7 400 MW of nuclear capacity: that is mushroom growth. Windpower can literally sweep away nuclear power, coal power and gas power - on the right days and when the wind blows.
Due to Spain's huge excess of windpower capacity, on certain days, its most urgent need is high capacity grids for exporting power when it has too much. This is happening: the Spain/France 340 kV HVDC line of 1.4 GW capacity is being built now - at an estimated 700 million euros for 75 kilometres. The same problem is happening and will happen all over Europe - meaning that some time in a totally predictable future, there has to be a pan European super grid. Yes, but only perhaps. Alternately, because it is so expensive to build super grids, even national power grids could be shattered down into local self-reliant microgrids. No pan European grid would be needed.
For the IEA (and exactly the same for European Commission bureaucrats) this kind of epic choice is going to be made by unexplained and automatic forces - even market forces ! These no doubt well intentioned bystanders use coded language, talking about "level playing field prices which reflect the true cost of energy". This is wildly impossible, in fact. As the spending-and-subsidy game works itself ever upwards, like a tropical cyclone feeding off its own energy, there is no remaining thing called "true cost". What happened in Spain and to Spain was a kind of "shop til you drop" explosion of alternate energy spending and subsidies, which has imploded like the country's insane real estate bubble. Spain's energy demand is contracting, also. The IEA refuses to accept all this as a dangerous sign that hard-edged decisions have to be taken really soon. Without them, the worst is almost certain.
It prefers to playact about global warming doom being almost upon us, but that worst is a hoax, like its arch priest Lovelock has started admitting, as he worms his way offstage. At the IEA London conference there was plenty of talk about the 15 000 temperature records broken in the U.S. during March, but almost nothing about 8 out of the 10 biggest solar PV manufacturers in the world being bankrupt or in receivership, right now. Boom and bust seems unknown to the IEA, which is a pity, but this is the real future of alternate and renewable energy - until and unless hard edged decisions are made.
By Andrew McKillop
Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights
Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012
Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.
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