Wednesday assorted links

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#3: "no government subsidies!!!" says the journalist

"3. The Uruguayan shift to clean energy."

I'm a fan of renewable power, but I'm also a pragmatist. I find these deceitful pro-clean energy stories detestable. You aren't going to win people over by misleading them.

Most of Uruguayan electrical power comes from hydropower and has for decades.

"Hydropower provides around 60% of installed production capacity in Uruguay, almost all of it produced by four hydroelectric facilities, three on the Rio Negro and one, the Salto Grande dam shared with Argentina, on the Uruguay River. "

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_sector_in_Uruguay

"Between 2003 and 2007, 68% of Uruguay’s energy needs were met by hydroelectric dams on the Uruguay River."

https://www.worldenergy.org/data/resources/country/uruguay/hydropower/

These hydro plants aren't new and pretending like Uruguay just recently switched to renewable power at little cost is disingenuous.

"All the potential for large hydro in Uruguay has already been developed. ... During the 1980s almost all of Uruguay’s incremental generating capacity was in the form of hydropower, notably through the commissioning of the bi-national Salto Grande (1 890 MW) plant on the river Uruguay; the republic shares its output with Argentina. No hydro plants are reported to be presently under construction and only about 70 MW is planned: future increases in generating capacity are likely to be largely fuelled by natural gas."

Agreed. It's deceptive to lump hydro in with "renewables" and then claim that it's proof that solar and wind can supply everyone's energy needs. Not everyone has access to enough viable locations ot build hydroelectric plants. Nevermind that environmentalists often dislike them because they disrupt salmon runs and river ecosystems and contribute to mercury pollution.

Hydro isn't 'renewable'

Dams silt up.

Then what?

You dredge them.

'You dredge them'

Its not that simple: http://www.hydro-international.com/content/article/dams-and-lakes-problems-and-possibilities

+1

"Uruguay relies primarily on hydroelectric sources to meet its power needs. In 2014, 82% of the 10.3TWh consumed in the country came from large hydro plants, while 13% came from other renewable sources (biomass, solar and wind). The remaining 5% was supplied by plants burning oil, diesel and natural gas."

http://global-climatescope.org/en/country/uruguay/#/details

It's worse than you think. Bishophill had a post on this the other day. The entire increase in renewable energy came from an increase in hydro due to more rain.

No feel good shift to renewables. It just rained more.

One of the eye opening developments of the Internet was, for me as an avid newspaper reader, was how much crap we were being fed. I had bought the global warming alarmist position until I stumbled across Steve McIntyre's site.

"the main attraction for foreign investors like Enercon is a fixed price for 20 years that is guaranteed by the state utility"

What could possibly go wrong?

This is the one that caught my eye. "No subsidies" indeed.

I don't know what they are doing in Urugauy (I don't even know how to spell it properly) but in the United States it is not uncommon for Power Purchase Agreements to have a period of 20 years. For US wind power these agreements can come in at under 4 cents a kilowatt-hour which is cheaper than electricity from gas or new coal power stations. Power Purchase Agreements exsist for electricity produced from many sources and so aren't a subsidy but just a purchase contract. This is not to say there can't be a subsidy from another source. Anyway, when a state utility is making a Power Purchase Agreement, I would certainly expect the state utility to guarantee that agreement. I certainly wouldn't want to make one with them if they didn't.

6. Feng Fei provides an excellent description of the problem but then becomes evasive when asked what China will do about it ("step up . . . research and survey work, find out the true situation, and figure out the major difficulties and problems"). Not all that different from government officials in the U.S. And corporate officials in the U.S. China has become the U.S.!

The Zombie companies are uneconomic but are propped up by direct government money or loans from government controlled banks. That's not comparable to the US. (Oh certainly you could point to the US Car company bailout, but that was relatively short term.)

When Friedman (supposedly quoting Nixon) said "we are all Keynesians now", I don't believe he had China in mind. Oddly, China is far more Keynesian now than the U.S. is now. We'll see if it makes a difference.

I don't understand how you can "trial" UBI. If it's not virtually guaranteed to never end, the trial is meaningless. There's an enormous difference between getting 800 this year then 0 forever, and getting 800 forever. Nobody's going to stop working due to a temporary UBI.

I find that less objectionable than the fact the participants aren't paying for it. It's effectively free money, because their taxes aren't going up. Any kind of realistic test needs to involve the group being taxed at higher rates as well.

"Finland will now experiment, measure and scale": http://www.demoshelsinki.fi/en/2015/12/08/this-is-why-finland-is-able-to-implement-the-basic-income-experiment/

"2. What questions do refugees ask when they arrive in Europe?"

"Some of the most common questions aid workers get are also the most unexpected."

I didn't find any of the questions particularly unexpected. Where am I? Where do I buy food and water? Where is the Free WiFi? How do I get to Germany? Those questions all look completely predictable.

Where can I change money and Can I get a taxi seem a little odd to me.

You know, assuming they are actual refugees and all.

I bet few refugees in Sudan ask about wi-fi

Just because you flee your country due to a vicious war doesn't mean you have no money. Isn't the model you sell what you can and take the family and go?

If I had to flee you can bet I would bring my smart phone and tablet at a minimum, and probably my laptop.

Sure. That is because you are not a refugee. Suppose the SS/NKVD/Whatever were at your house. Or at least watching it. And you had to go NOW. What would you go back for? The wife? The children? Sure. Your tablet?

Seriously? Artillery is falling on your neighbors' homes, their cars are burning, you can hear civilians being gunned down. But your family can't leave until you find your recharger?

You could also leave the day before the soldiers come.

I am rarely more than five feet from my phone and I definitely would grab it. Seriously, it's no good getting your kids out of the house if you can't call someone to pick you up or at least let them know you survived.

A lot of this has to do with language.

The volunteers mostly speak English, German, French, etc.
Most refugees only speak their native tongues.
The ones who speak a Western language are more likely to have money, use WiFi, know where Germany is, etc.

The same selection process also greatly affects media coverage.
This is why refugees quoted on TV tend to be architects, veterinarians, graphic designers and the like.

Similar to a story in the Singapore media today. As an example of how Singapore had to adapt after the British left a former aide de camp said they no longer had a horse and carriage to transport foreign dignitaries to the president's residence at the Istana.

The example of nimble adaption was?

They used a car.

Things that make you go ... I gotta stop reading the Straits Times.

I love the weasel words that are the basis of the article : "Many refugees were successful professionals".

No doubt MANY are successful professionals, depending upon how you define many. But a majority? Doubtful. A double digit percentage? Doubt it.

The entire article is bullshit. It is attempting to say that most refugees have the characteristics of a single digit percentage of the refugees.

I'm not optimistic about Venezuela. Maduro has never failed to disappoint, so I expect the worst from him in the coming weeks and months.

Oil prices stay low -> Venezuela's economy remains weak -> people lose faith in the new government and move back to Chavism

Oil prices stay low -> Venezuela’s economy remains weak -> people lose faith in the new government and move back to Chavism -> economy continues to collapse -> people start starving -> mulp blames this on Bush, p_a on GMU's economics department but the rest of the world finally accepts reality -> Chavezismo dies a death -> Venezuela goes back to its corrupt, incompetent but not entirely irrational normal self.

You can drive the Gods of the Copybook Headings out. But they always come back

but the rest of the world finally accepts reality -> Chavezismo dies a death

Hahahahahahahahahahaha. In your dreams. Leftism never dies. It's zombie corpse keeps coming back in new and more gruesome disguises. It is like some rotten mushroom, springing eternal. And American and European leftists will invariably celebrate it's latest reanimation and declare that by god, it looks 20 years younger and they'd love to date it.

"..will invariably celebrate it’s latest reanimation and declare that by god, it looks 20 years younger and they’d love to date it"

You & Ray Lopez.

Hazel Meade December 9, 2015 at 2:03 pm

Hahahahahahahahahahaha. In your dreams.

Well there is that. It will die, for a generation, among Venezuelan voters. It is the great thing about Reagan's Latin American policy. In the past, the US would have looked the other way while Venezuela dealt with this in the traditional way - through a coup d'etat. Reagan said that more democracy was the proper solution. So when the military did try it, Condi Rice told them to go back to the barracks.

Which means the voters have got what they voted for and got it good and hard. They cannot say socialism has not been tried. They cannot say the Army cheated them out of a bright future. This is what they wanted, this is what they voted for. Maybe next time they will think again.

But I agree there is nothing to do be done for Western intellectuals. They will use the Paris Conference as an excuse to resurrect the corpse of Pol Pot.

"mulp blames this on Bush"

I think mulp would blame it on Reagan.

I think mulp would blame it on a secret Reagan/Obama conspiracy, designed to propagate free lunch economics which fundamentally does not understand that government monopoly in currency debasement is crucial to developing a Keynesian/Friedman synthesis which holds the secret to inflationary deflation and inverting the price level, it's all explained very clearly in my book Beyond Dianetics which explains the life force and also why chewing gum loses its flavor so quickly.

While it is true that we may not know with certainty which recent Republican President Mulp will blame, but this does not mean there are no verities or other cosmic certainties, for indeed Prior Approval will blame GMU.

They invade Guyana.

The secret to renewable energy seems to be "become a small country whose geography supports lots of dams".

In the United States, of course, we tend to be destroying dams rather than building them. Dams were once seen as signs of progress, today they are seen as environmental disasters.

I can see the UN's Climate Action Plan:

Step One: Create the Andes mountains ....

I fear you are confusing the UN with God.

Wind and solar aren't dispatchable resources. So, even if they become the cheapest form of electricity, they'll have to be paired with another form of dispatchable power (natural gas, hydroelectric, etc) or a form of storage (pumped hyro, batteries, etc). They can't just be affordable, they have to be affordable after paying for the cost of maintaining idle reserves or storage.

The assumption is much better batteries in the 2020s. Engineers who scoff at future solar seem to assume no improvement with battery storage.

"The assumption is much better batteries in the 2020s."

Then will see solar and wind dominate after that point. But until cheap storage becomes a reality then all non-dispatchable energy sources are constrained by that factor.The current cost of solar/wind is for practical purposes the cost of solar/wind + cost of the idle dispatchable reserve. Much of the current build out on the US grid has been concurrent with a switch over to natural gas, which is conveniently (often) a dispatchable source of power. However, using natural gas to power a peaker plant comes at a reduced thermodynamic efficiency. So, the loss in efficiency most be charged against grid supplied power and if effectively an additional cost of using solar/wind.

Generally, engineers that scoff at future solar realize this is an issue and realize that battery improvements have been slow to come. Historically battery improvements have been on the order of 2% per year at a given cost level.

The state of South Australia went from basically no wind and solar capacity to generating electricity equal to 40% of its consumption from wind and solar in 10 years. In that time the state had no increase in the amount of ancillary services (spinning reserve). This is because the amount of spinning reserve is generally set by the largest generator on the grid and has to be large enough to cover it in case it suddenly goes offline.

We have an electricity market in Australia and private owership of a lot of generating capacity. And in Australia people who own generating capacity are free to use their private property as they see fit and can use it to provide electricity to the market or not provide it as they desire. They are under no compulsion to supply power to customers or to aid or compensate other generators that they might inconvenience or cost money. In fact, it's illegal for them to even communicate in an attempt to avoid costing each other money. The system may be indicative of how primitive our society is, but it does seem to do a reasonably good job of keeping average wholesale electricity prices low. In fact they are some of the lowest in the world, although that's not entirely due to our combination of an electricity market plus the freedom of generators to do as they please.

Anyway, the upshoot of all this is I can provide electricity from wind or solar or any generating capacity to the market at the market price and not have to pay a cent for those times when I'm not providing electricity. I will have to pay a levy to cover the cost of ancillary services, but that's the same with any utility scale generation.

South Australia:
Area 1,043,514 km² or 402,903 sq mi
Population 1,682,600 (5th)
Density 1.67/km² or 4.3 /sq mi

Huge, empty and windswept.

It's like judging fossil fuel based countries by the Kuwait statistics.

Would you prefer Denmark which generates about the same portion of electricity consumption from wind? I understand their deserts are much smaller.

I also think there is a US state that is generating an even greater portion of its electricity consumption from wind than either Denmark or South Australia, but that's not surprising given that the United States of America leads the developed world in low cost wind power. The US wind industry is very impressive.

"The state of South Australia went from basically no wind and solar capacity to generating electricity equal to 40% of its consumption from wind and solar in 10 years. "

Get back to us when you can talk about the entire country instead of one state.

Hope you don't mind waiting a while. One of the two main parties has a 50% renewable electricity by 2030 goal, while the other, the Coal-ition, well, they are the ones that removed the carbon price Australia used to have and reduced our Renewable Energy Target by a third, so they're in no hurry. On the other hand, most of our existing fossil generating capacity is very old and will never be replaced since renewable capacity is much cheaper, so no matter who is in power it is just a matter of time before we generate 40% of electricity from renewables nationally.

Ronald Brak December 9, 2015 at 9:20 pm

In that time the state had no increase in the amount of ancillary services (spinning reserve). This is because the amount of spinning reserve is generally set by the largest generator on the grid and has to be large enough to cover it in case it suddenly goes offline.

No, it is because they have built two power connectors to Victoria and to New South Wales. Two very large states with large growing economies that rely on coal. Essentially the state is now parasitic on someone else's coal.

The system may be indicative of how primitive our society is, but it does seem to do a reasonably good job of keeping average wholesale electricity prices low. In fact they are some of the lowest in the world, although that’s not entirely due to our combination of an electricity market plus the freedom of generators to do as they please.

No, it is to do with the enormous amounts of coal mined in Australia. The Saudi Arabia of coal as it is sometimes put. It is worth noting that South Australia, a rust-belt economic disaster zone, now has the most expensive electricity in Australia. In other words, they have committed economic suicide. Not only do they have no economy left except government welfare, they will never have an economy except government welfare.

Anyway, the upshoot of all this is I can provide electricity from wind or solar or any generating capacity to the market at the market price and not have to pay a cent for those times when I’m not providing electricity.

Which is absurd.

Jwatts, Murrylink is the world's longest underground HVDC transmission line and was built in 2002. That's more than 10 years ago. The Heywood interconnector was built in 1988, which is a lot more than 10 years ago. So if you are suggesting that South Australia didn't need to increase its ancillary services while increasing its wind and solar generation from next to none to producing electricity equal to 40% of the state's consumption because it built new transmission capacity, that's just silly.

You mentioned coal. South Australia doesn't have cheap and convenient deposits of coal. It has one small coal mine which will shut in March when the state's last remaining coal power plant closes. As a result of the lack of convenient coal the cost of generating electricity in South Australia has always been higher than in other states. And surprise, surprise, the state with the highest generating costs ended up as the state with the most wind and solar capacity. Amazing how that works, isn't it? It's almost as if there is some kind of invisible hand guiding us. And the presence of renewable energy on the grid has lowered wholesale electricity prices. This is because it has zero, or close to zero, fuel cost and always provides electricity to the grid regardless of the market price.

You say that our electricity market where anyone can provide electricity to the grid at any time and receive the market price for it is absurd. If you could quickly outline how they do things where you are, that would be great.

Ronald Brak December 10, 2015 at 5:13 pm

Murrylink is the world’s longest underground HVDC transmission line and was built in 2002. That’s more than 10 years ago. The Heywood interconnector was built in 1988, which is a lot more than 10 years ago.

So essentially South Australia's experiment in wind and solar is a massive boondoggle with no real effect except to add a crippling debt burden to a state that is going down the tubes anyway.

South Australia doesn’t have cheap and convenient deposits of coal. It has one small coal mine which will shut in March when the state’s last remaining coal power plant closes.

Leigh Creek is producing 2.5 million tonnes of coal a year. It is being closed for political reasons, not economic ones. South Australia does have cheap coal deposits. The government has just decided to switch to wind and solar.

It’s almost as if there is some kind of invisible hand guiding us.

Sure - away from the pointless gesture that is renewable.

This is because it has zero, or close to zero, fuel cost and always provides electricity to the grid regardless of the market price.

The former is irrelevant and the latter is a problem, not a benefit. We need power when we need it. Not when it feels like it.

You say that our electricity market where anyone can provide electricity to the grid at any time and receive the market price for it is absurd. If you could quickly outline how they do things where you are, that would be great.

Electricity providers usually have an obligation to provide power. They have to add capacity to deal with peaks. Not simply tell their consumers that they will have to shut their factories and do without their life support machines because they do not feel like providing power today.

Everyone needs power but they need reliable power.

Okay. Sure. Sure South Australia has cheap coal. Cheap coal as far as the eye can see. And the only reason that South Australia has never exported coal in the 144 years that Australia has been doing so and has forgone hundreds of billions in export earnings is that they wanted to promote the developement of the then non-existent wind and solar industries. In fact, it goes all the way back to 1836, soon after the proclamation of the colony of South Australia when Governor Hindmarsh got all his cronies together and said, "You see all this cheap coal lying around? Don't tell anyone about it, otherwise China will never have an industry devoted to promoting galvanism via the exposure of plates to the rays of the sun and we shall never be able to purchase windmills made of glass fibre from Daneland."

#2 Are we there yet??

#4 A study on Molenbeek Brussel showed that in Belgium, Brussel has the highest economic return from education. However the study concluded that that was underminded by the high availability of financial social supports resulting
in high number of immigrant students not finishing high school. Finland already has the highest ratio of radicalization
in Europe, double that for Belgium. This will probably make the situation much worse.

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