What do I think, What can I do?

Posts tagged ‘fossil fuels’

Is Sweden such a good example for the USA?

Climate Progress mentioned Obama’s praise to Sweden regarding their energy policy. And the same post shows a figure explaining the very low contribution of fossil fuels in the Swedish electricity production mix and some reasons that led them there. It is interesting and clearly reasonable as it is true that Swedish emissions from power stations are low based on hydro power and nuclear and total emissions per capita are a third of Americans. Even more the Emissions / GDP ratio, or the emission per economic unit are among the lowest in the world and certainly between rich countries, and they have improved a lot since the seventies in this emissions intensity (from 0.4 to 0.12).

But, and this is the problem, it is not enough. The problem is that it is not enough to be efficient as the Swedish, because their emissions per capita are in the 5 CO2 tons figure, 1 ton more than world average, 12 tons less than USA, close to China but 4 tons per person more than acceptable to stabilize carbon flux (data from IEA, 2010). Or, in other words, 5 times more than the reasonable objective for humans.

It is not enough to improve as the Swedish, we have to be really committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and we have to start fast if we do not want to reach too far. Although of course Sweden is still a good example for the USA and many others, an example to start moving.

Last chapters in Spanish energy politics regression

definanzas.com.wp-content.uploads.energias-renovablesI started this post many time ago. And every now and then there are novelties, so it is like an never-ending post. Therefore, I have decided to stop and publish.

There was a time, not so far ago when Obama considered Spanish energy politics as a good example. A favourable Feed-in-tariff helped the development of a strong industry capable of exporting technology and an amazing 44% of electrical generation from renewables in January 2013 is an example of what was done. But this panorama, quite succesful, in fact, started to decline some time ago, concretely with the previous socialist government. And the current one, from the conservative party is deepening the problem and forcing the companies to look only abroad for new contracts.

After stopping feed-in-tariff for new installations the subsequent changes have attacked the installed solar panels and wind mills. The suggestion of removing the TUR tariff (the fixed tariff for most small consumers 99.6% of the consumers but only 50% of the KWh) was just a step. The general 6% new tax for all electricity generation followed.  And, last week a new change in feed-in-tarif for the active installations was designed with the tariff deficit in mind again.

But it does not stop there, efficiency measurements have been stopped too in a way quite difficult to understand. In one way european building efficiency directive has not been converted in law (it should be long ago) and this could be clearly an impulse for a collapsed building sector and certainly a help to save petroleum and gas expenditure and many of the programs from IDAE institute have been cancelled to support car sales (PIVE plan). The result is a record expenditure in fossil fuel imports. Is it not a bit contradictory with tariff deficit reduction philosophy? The only two good news are that el Hierro will not be affected nor a thermosolar central (just one).

It is clear from the beginning that Soria (industry and energy minister) has been mainly worried to reduce a very strange concept called “tariff deficit” , i. e. the difference between the attributed energy production costs and the final market value (TUR for most of the consumers). This difference has been steadily increasing in the last years and it is considered a debt of the consumers (or government I am snot sure) towards energy producing companies. Even if they have earned considerable money in spite of not getting all the attribution costs. Nowadays, with a terrible financial crisis this kind of debt is a heavy burden and Soria blames the renewables for it. Yet, there are data that  say the blame should be shared by many others as gas. Meanwhile the electricity demand continues falling with the economy and Soria is afraid this will continue to harm main energy companies.

I agree that the system was flawed, and that currently installed renewables are more expensive than some other energy types in direct costs but at the same time I think the whole electricity production and paying system should be redefined. It should be more transparent, clear and new renewables should have a reasonable possibility to enter as currently they are cheaper than ever, had a consolidated industry behind and produce many other benefits as jobs and reduction of CO2 footprint (Spain’s vulnerability to climate change is not low). By the way:

  • why not electrify transport to increment electricity demand but not energy demand?
  • or, why so much delay in self-supply regulation? If solar panel are expensive only the really convinced will install them and it they are not.
  • or, even better, why not simplify the system and introduce a carbon tax instead of the many other taxes to rightly account for actual externalities of the  different energy production processes?

Finally, the biggest problem with all this is the uncertainty it produces for other countries to start ambitious programs of  renewable energy. Spain was an example for energy transformation and it is at risk of becoming an example about how such a process could be spoiled. Nevertheless, the game is not over yet, a 44% of renewable electricity production in January (not based on Hydro power) is still a great number.

Climate Change Snapshots from my Canary Island Holydays (IV)

This summer I was lucky to enjoy some vacation days in the very nice Canary Islands, concretely in Tenerife and La Palma. It was just holidays but Climate Change appeared, subtly in certain occasions I want to share with you again in this post as did in the previous ones.

In this case I share a fact, slightly negative but an opportunity at the same time. We hired a car in Tenerife. Certainly the cost was very competitive and it was with Hertz company. But it contained a disagreeable surprise, the deposit was full of gas and it was directly charged to us. This condition was not clear when we booked the car and supposed a considerable increase in the price for a three-day use of car but in my opinion the worse thing is related to one story the seller explained me at the desk:

As one customer was so committed to “use” all the product bought, that before returning he finished making rounds in the parking lot of the hiring company until depleting the car fuel

This customer was quite extreme, even ridiculous to waste his holiday time this way but he was just following the feelling created in most of us after facing one of those experiences: to waste the fuel because it is paid, because I hava been forced to pay it.

I have nothing in particular against Hertz company, there were very nice otherwise and I was told that this kind of practise is widespread in Tenerife nowadays due to the low earnings of the hiring companies. I even had  a very good surprise in the past with Hertz when the offered me a Prius car (like mine) in sustitution of another smaller one a trip some time ago, showing some commitment with Hybrid cars. But those commitments are of no use if you incite customers to burn gas without sense and add some more Kgrs of CO2 to the atmosphere, this kind of small actions show clearly that our conscience of climate change is still quite theoretical in the best case and that there are many opportunities for improvement of energy efficiency, without doubt the most CO2 saving of any energy source and cases like this, the most profitable one too.

Even big oil companies detect risks from climate change.

Oil ExtractionMost important things usually involve contradictions, but this one is really incredible. This post explains with some examples the risks that big  oil companies are detecting for their business due to climate change, and they are clever to think in this way and forget all the propaganda that are helping to generate against climate change. But if they want to be really clever they could do better and research renewable energies shifting their current and profitable business. It would make sense economically, at least for all in the long-term.

The problem is that maybe they are more worried for their profits and the short-term. Climate change really needs a change of point of view regarding time perspective.

 

By the way, I have not read it anywhere but renewable energies could be quite vulnerable too due to climate change, for example hydro and wind energy. Solar could even improve in many locations. I think this deserves some attention with the long-term perspective.

Subsidies for fossil fuels, I signed to finish with them

One of the most interesting campaings around Rio+20 has the goal of ending fossil fuel subsidies, as explained in Huffintongpost. It can be supported in this web . I supported it convinced of the opportunity and ethic value of this message even if I do not know very well its origin but supported by the signature of many NGOs.

Some data are really impressive, for example from climate progress  one of those cases involving $29.000 million  in carbon from public lands is denunced. Current miners strike in Spain due to a reduction of carbon subsidies is another example, although the difficult social contest in this case would require a different treatment like deviating this great amount of money to production of new sources of energy as a job source for the miners. As shown in the picture renewables are not the only ones subsidized now, and if the historical data are considered the balance goes even more to the fossil fuel side because energy has always been a state issue. This would be a question of fair bussiness in another contest, though not with climate change calling to our doors.

It is really stupid to hinder renewables expansion due to the costs whereas current mature technologies that are driving our climate mad get huge amounts of money. I really think that renewables are more expensive and that we will need sacrifice to cope with climate change; but, at least, we have to start with some minmum requirements like not subsidizing the source of the problem. This way it will be easier to measure the costs.