Monday, 22 September 2014

Who funds the European Science Foundation?

US Senate Committee
reveals questionable influence from an environmentally active
Club of Billionaires.

[This is my translation of the largely German newsletter by Kalte Sonne. http://www.kaltesonne.de/?p=20772
 Quotations in italics are direct copies of the English originals.]  

Climate realism in Germany depends largely on volunteers. Activists for Kalte Sonne, EIKE, Notrickszone, ScienceSkepticalBlog and other groups give much of their time to this direly needed service, driven by much civil courage. One issue becomes clearer day by day: a whole branch of science has obviously departed from the real world, tempted by financial inducements, career prospects, political influence and prestige. Climate activists are similarly well funded. The PIK-Institut [Potsdam Institute for Climate-research] has a separate public relations department to spread its alarmist news far and wide. The climate activist platform “Klimaretter” [‘Climatesaviours’  http://www.klimaretter.info/] asks its viewers for regular donations to fund its IPCC inspired authors.

The Republican members of the US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) have published, at the end of July 2014, the results of their investigation into the funding streams of the extreme left-wing environment movement. The result is deeply distressing:  supposedly independent environment organisations turned out to be billionaire-directed marionettes. Additionally, large public funds were channelled into activist groups. Similar to the German situation, the US federal environment administration is astonishingly close linked to the extreme left-wing environment movement.  



Some excerpts from the Press Release:

The Chain of Environmental Command
Key points from the report:

• The “Billionaire’s Club,” an exclusive group of wealthy individuals, directs the far-left environmental movement. The members of this elite liberal club funnel their fortunes through private foundations to execute their personal political agenda, which is centered around restricting the use of fossil fuels in the United States.

• Public charities attempt to provide the maximum amount of control to their donors through fiscal sponsorships, which are a legally suspect innovation unique to the left, whereby the charity essentially sells its nonprofit status to a group for a fee.

• Public charity activist groups discussed in this report propagate the false notion that they are independent, citizen-funded groups working altruistically. In reality, they work in tandem with wealthy donors to maximize the value of the donors’ tax deductible donations and leverage their combined resources to influence elections and policy outcomes, with a focus on the EPA.

• Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA) is a place where wealthy donors meet and coordinate the distribution of grants to advance the environmental movement. It is a secretive organization, refusing to disclose their membership list to Congress.

• The Obama Administration has installed an audacious green-revolving door among senior officials at EPA, which has become a valuable asset for the environmental movement and its wealthy donors.

• Former environmentalists working at EPA funnel government money through grants to their former employers and colleagues.

• Under President Obama, EPA has given more than $27 million in taxpayer-funded grants to major environmental groups. Notably, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense Fund – two key activists groups with significant ties to senior EPA officials – have collected more than $1 million in funding each.

• EPA also gives grants to lesser-known groups. For example, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade received hundreds of thousands of grants under former Administrator Lisa Jackson despite challenges by state regulators over the use of such grants.

• In New York and Colorado, a pseudo grassroots effort to attack hydraulic fracturing has germinated from massive amounts of funding by the NY-based Park Foundation, as well as CA-based Schmidt Family Foundation and Tides Foundation.

• Bold Nebraska is another example of faux grassroots where a purportedly local organization is, in fact, an arm of the Billionaire’s Club. It is a shield for wealthy and distant non-Nebraskan interests who seek to advance a political agenda without drawing attention to the fact that they have little connection to the state.

• The circumstances surrounding the flow of money from 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) groups, and the likelihood of lax oversight, raises questions as to whether 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundations and charities are indirectly funding political activities.

• 501(c)(4) Green Tech Action Fund receives millions of dollars from green 501(c)(3) organizations, then distributes the funds to other 501(c)(4) groups that donate to political campaigns.

• The Billionaire’s Club knowingly collaborates with questionable offshore funders to maximize support for the far-left environmental movement.

In Europe, the extreme left-wing climate movement is directed by the European Climate Foundation (ECF). According to its own annual report [http://europeanclimate.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/ECF-2013-annual-report-web.pdf ], p.42, the ECF in 2013 had 23.2million Euro at its disposal, of which 15.3millinon Euro were spent on activists and projects. Where on earth are such sums coming from?  The annual budget of this KalteSonne newsletter amounts to 25 Euro; in other words, the ECF has about one million times as much money for its activism than our blog.

ECF names six main sponsors for the year 2013: The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, ClimateWorks Foundation, McCall Macbain Foundation, Oak Foundation, Velux Fonden und die Nationale Postcode Loterij. For a large part, this sounds rather American. So let’s have a closer look at the EPW report where we find on page 47:

Activist Organizations Serve as Pass-Throughs, Leveraging Additional Influence While Creating the Appearance of Diverse Support
The Energy Foundation is a prime example of a “pass through” public charity, which receives massive amounts of funding from private foundations. The Energy Foundation then funds a variety of activist organizations. As opposed to a fiscal sponsor that assesses a fee to collect money on behalf of unrecognized groups, a pass through foundation contributes money to recognized charities. The Energy Foundation was formed as a pass through with a $20 million endowment donated by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Rockefeller Foundation and the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.311 Currently, the Energy Foundation’s website lists the following partners: ClimateWorks Foundation, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Grantham Foundation, Lakeshore Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, Oak Foundation, Pisces Foundation, Robertson Foundation, Schmidt Family Foundation, Tilia Fund, TomKat Fund, TOSA Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Yellow Chair Foundation.

In the US, the ‘Energy Foundation’ serves as a money collection and transmission vehicle. Billionaires control smaller foundations, which pump funds into the Foundation, from where they are forwarded to fund activist projects. On the old continent, the European Climate Foundation was created mirroring the US set-up. Three US foundations are active in ECF as main sponsors, namely ClimateWorks Foundation, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and Oak Foundation. It becomes obvious, that emanating from the US, a world-wide network of climate activists is to be established with which to steer global energy policy.

Where do these plentiful ECF funds actually end up?  The ECF website provides this information:

Beispiele für geförderte Projekte
Mehr in kürze!”
“Examples of funded projects
more soon!”

That appears a bit very sparse and mysterious, considering the ECF was founded as long ago as 2008 – that’s six years ago!  At another part of their website the veil is lifted a little:
           
“ECF supports many socially active organisations, e.g. WWF, Naturschutzbund (NABU) [nature protection association], Deutsche Umwelthilfe [German environment assistance], Germanwatch, Forum Ökologisch-Soziale Marktwirtschaft [forum for socio-ecological market economy] and the Klima-Allianz. In addition, we support progressive enterprises like Stiftung 2° [Foundation 2°] and the Deutsche Unternehmensinitiative Energieeffizienz e. V. (DENEFF) [German Enterpriseinitiative for Energyefficiency e.V. = registered society].”

WWF is known as one of the most problematic activists in IPCC climate reporting, because WWF has managed in the past to place many of its activists in IPCC teams of authors. Instead of openly reporting on scientific facts, the WWF team were mainly concerned to create a smokescreen of dangerous scenarios with which to hammer home their aim to further the elimination of carbon-hydrogen energy sources. The Canadian journalist Donna Lafromboise described the extent of the IPCC infiltration by environment activists in an article for the Wall Street Journal http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323981304579079030750537994 in Septmeber 2013:

The problem is that numerous IPCC personnel have ties to environmental groups, many of which raise funds by hyping the alleged dangers of climate change. This relationship raises a legitimate question about their objectivity. The examples are legion. Donald Wuebbles, one of the two leaders of the introductory first chapter of the Working Group 1 report (a draft of which may be released next Monday), has been writing awareness-raising climate change reports for the activist Union of Concerned Scientists for a decade. Another chapter of the full IPCC report, “Open Oceans,” is led by Australian marine biologist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, who has written a string of reports with titles such as “Pacific in Peril” for Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Astrophysicist Michael Oppenheimer, in charge of another chapter of the IPCC report, “Emergent Risks and Key Vulnerabilities,” advises the Environmental Defense Fund (after having spent more than two decades on its payroll). University of Maryland scientist Richard Moss is a former fulltime WWF vice president, while Jennifer Morgan used to be the WWF’s chief climate change spokesperson. Both are currently IPCC review editors—a position that’s supposed to ensure that feedback from IPCC external reviewers is addressed in an even-handed manner. My own examination of the 2007 IPCC report found that two-thirds of its 44 chapters included at least one individual with ties to the WWF. Some were former or current employees, others were members of a WWF advisory panel whose purpose is to heighten the public’s sense of urgency around climate change.

In other words, the ECF also supports these dubious activities, when the actual task of the IPCC is to provide a neutral scientific description and assessment free from political viewpoints. No wonder that projects at the Potsdam PIK-Institute were also supported by the ECF, as can be seen at their Förderliste https://www.pik-potsdam.de/forschung/klimawirkung-vulnerabilitat/projekte/dm-rd2/externally-funded-projects/completed .

It appears that the ECF is not really interested in a strictly scientific assessment of the climate conundrum.  If it were otherwise, this foundation would long have contacted  us at the Kalte-Sonne-Team to inquire about support for research projects concerning natural climate influences, like ocean cycles and solar activity fluctuations.

Our contact form is here:  http://www.kaltesonne.de/?page_id=45



Sunday, 14 September 2014

THORIUM


Twilight of Abundance
In this book by David Archibald, he weighs in heavily about thorium-burning molten-salt reactors [p163ff] : 
 “But it is what China is undertaking in thorium that is of greater interest and concern. China’s curiosity was triggered by a July 2010 American Scientist article on thorium reactors written by two American physicists, Robert Hargraves and Ralph Moir…. Amazingly, it was only six months from reading the Hargraves-Moir article article to [China] committing to a major new thrust in nuclear research. This is in stark contrast with the billions of dollars spent in the United States, Europe, and Australia in recreating medieval fear and superstition, and calling it climate science.
Hargraves followed up the 2010 American Scientist  article with a book titled Thorium: Energy Cheaper than Coal, an exhaustive analysis of thorium technology and the economics of alternative technologies, both nuclear and renewable. Meanwhile, China has announced that it intends to patent as much intellectual property on thorium reactors as possible. After all the pioneering work undertaken at Oak Ridge at U.S. taxpayer expense, China is set to reap most of the benefits of commercializing this technology.”
 Copyright 2012 by Robert Hargraves, Hanover NH 03755
Printed in Great Britain by Amazon.co.uk, Ltd, Marston Gate, no date given.

An article in The Economist has this to say on the subject of thorium:


 My tuppence worth:
“Homo sapiens (modern humans) is the only surviving species in the genus, all others having become extinct,”  advises Wikipedia.  The only activity that enables us to continue remaining ‘sapiens’ is the acquisition of information to continue our survival advantage, as hinted at in  http://cleanenergypundit.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/brainology-101-midwives-hold-thenewborn.html . Acquiring information requires energy, and there being no limit to our ignorance, there is theoretically no limit to our needs for energy.

In the light of Dr John Morgan’s CATCH-22 OF ENERGY STORAGE http://cleanenergypundit.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/reality-check-6-saturday-13-september.html 
an account of the EROIE  “the ratio of the energy produced over the life of a power plant to the energy that was required to build it” and the possibility of sustainable renewals for the life of our grandchildren’s grandchildren and beyond, if feasible.

I suggest that more use of Sankey diagrams might best illustrate these energy ins and outs, as in http://altenergymag.com/emagazine.php?art_id=1673  ,perhaps.



Saturday, 13 September 2014

REALITY CHECK   #6

Saturday, 13 September 2014
recieved from:


THE CATCH-22 OF ENERGY STORAGE
Written by Dr John Morgan, theenergycollective.com/

Pick up a research paper on battery technology, fuel cells, energy storage technologies or any of the advanced materials science used in these fields, and you will likely find somewhere in the introductory paragraphs a throwaway line about its application to the storage of renewable energy.
.
  
Energy storage makes sense for enabling a transition away from fossil fuels to more intermittent sources like wind and solar, and the storage problem presents a meaningful challenge for chemists and materials scientists… Or does it?
Several recent analyses of the inputs to our energy systems indicate that, against expectations, energy storage cannot solve the problem of intermittency of wind or solar power.  Not for reasons of technical performance, cost, or storage capacity, but for something more intractable: there is not enough surplus energy left over after construction of the generators and the storage system to power our present civilization.
The problem is analysed in an important paper by Weißbach et al.1 in terms of energy returned on energy invested, or EROEI – the ratio of the energy produced over the life of a power plant to the energy that was required to build it.  It takes energy to make a power plant – to manufacture its components, mine the fuel, and so on.  The power plant needs to make at least this much energy to break even.  A break-even powerplant has an EROEI of 1.  But such a plant would pointless, as there is no energy surplus to do the useful things we use energy for.
There is a minimum EROEI, greater than 1, that is required for an energy source to be able to run society.  An energy system must produce a surplus large enough to sustain things like food production, hospitals, and universities to train the engineers to build the plant, transport, construction, and all the elements of the civilization in which it is embedded.
For countries like the US and Germany, Weißbach et al. estimate this minimum viable EROEI to be about 7.  An energy source with lower EROEI cannot sustain a society at those levels of complexity, structured along similar lines.  If we are to transform our energy system, in particular to one without climate impacts, we need to pay close attention to the EROEI of the end result.
The EROEI values for various electrical power plants are summarized in the figure.  The fossil fuel power sources we’re most accustomed to have a high EROEI of about 30, well above the minimum requirement.  Wind power at 16, and concentrating solar power (CSP, or solar thermal power) at 19, are lower, but the energy surplus is still sufficient, in principle, to sustain a developed industrial society.  Biomass, and solar photovoltaic (at least in Germany), however, cannot.  With an EROEI of only 3.9 and 3.5 respectively, these power sources cannot support with their energy alone both their own fabrication and the societal services we use energy for in a first world country. 


These EROEI values are for energy directly delivered (the “unbuffered” values in the figure).  But things change if we need to store energy.  If we were to store energy in, say, batteries, we must invest energy in mining the materials and manufacturing those batteries.  So a larger energy investment is required, and the EROEI consequently drops.
Weißbach et al. calculated the EROEIs assuming pumped hydroelectric energy storage.  This is the least energy intensive storage technology.  The energy input is mostly earthmoving and construction.  It’s a conservative basis for the calculation; chemical storage systems requiring large quantities of refined specialty materials would be much more energy intensive.  Carbajales-Dale et al.2 cite data asserting batteries are about ten times more energy intensive than pumped hydro storage.
Adding storage greatly reduces the EROEI (the “buffered” values in the figure).  Wind “firmed” with storage, with an EROEI of 3.9, joins solar PV and biomass as an unviable energy source.  CSP becomes marginal (EROEI ~9) with pumped storage, so is probably not viable with molten salt thermal storage.  The EROEI of solar PV with pumped hydro storage drops to 1.6, barely above breakeven, and with battery storage is likely in energy deficit.
This is a rather unsettling conclusion if we are looking to renewable energy for a transition to a low carbon energy system: we cannot use energy storage to overcome the variability of solar and wind power.
In particular, we can’t use batteries or chemical energy storage systems, as they would lead to much worse figures than those presented by Weißbach et al.  Hydroelectricity is the only renewable power source that is unambiguously viable.  However, hydroelectric capacity is not readily scaled up as it is restricted by suitable geography, a constraint that also applies to pumped hydro storage.
This particular study does not stand alone.  Closer to home, Springer have just published a monograph, Energy in Australia,3 which contains an extended discussion of energy systems with a particular focus on EROEI analysis, and draws similar conclusions to Weißbach.  Another study by a group at Stanford2 is more optimistic, ruling out storage for most forms of solar, but suggesting it is viable for wind.  However, this viability is judged only on achieving an energy surplus (EROEI>1), not sustaining society (EROEI~7), and excludes the round trip energy losses in storage, finite cycle life, and the energetic cost of replacement of storage.  Were these included, wind would certainly fall below the sustainability threshold. 


It’s important to understand the nature of this EROEI limit.  This is not a question of inadequate storage capacity – we can’t just buy or make more storage to make it work.  It’s not a question of energy losses during charge and discharge, or the number of cycles a battery can deliver.  We can’t look to new materials or technological advances, because the limits at the leading edge are those of earthmoving and civil engineering.  The problem can’t be addressed through market support mechanisms, carbon pricing, or cost reductions.  This is a fundamental energetic limit that will likely only shift if we find less materially intensive methods for dam construction.
This is not to say wind and solar have no role to play.  They can expand within a fossil fuel system, reducing overall emissions.  But without storage the amount we can integrate in the grid is greatly limited by the stochastically variable output.  We could, perhaps, build out a generation of solar and wind and storage at high penetration.  But we would be doing so on an endowment of fossil fuel net energy, which is not sustainable.  Without storage, we could smooth out variability by building redundant generator capacity over large distances.  But the additional infrastructure also forces the EROEI down to unviable levels.  The best way to think about wind and solar is that they can reduce the emissions of fossil fuels, but they cannot eliminate them.  They offer mitigation, but not replacement.
Nor is this to say there is no value in energy storage.  Battery systems in electric vehicles clearly offer potential to reduce dependency on, and emissions from, oil (provided the energy is sourced from clean power).  Rooftop solar power combined with four hours of battery storage can usefully timeshift peak electricity demand,3 reducing the need for peaking power plants and grid expansion.  And battery technology advances make possible many of our recently indispensable consumer electronics.  But what storage can’t do is enable significant replacement of fossil fuels by renewable energy.
If we want to cut emissions and replace fossil fuels, it can be done, and the solution is to be found in the upper right of the figure.  France and Ontario, two modern, advanced societies, have all but eliminated fossil fuels from their electricity grids, which they have built from the high EROEI sources of hydroelectricity and nuclear power.  Ontario in particular recently burnt its last tonne of coal, and each jurisdiction uses just a few percent of gas fired power.  This is a proven path to a decarbonized electricity grid.
But the idea that advances in energy storage will enable renewable energy is a chimera – the Catch-22 is that in overcoming intermittency by adding storage, the net energy is reduced below the level required to sustain our present civilization.
BNC Postscript
When this article was published in CiA some readers had difficulty with the idea of a minimum societal EROI.  Why can’t we make do with any positive energy surplus, if we just build more plant?  Hall4breaks it down with the example of oil:
Think of a society dependent upon one resource: its domestic oil. If the EROI for this oil was 1.1:1 then one could pump the oil out of the ground and look at it. If it were 1.2:1 you could also refine it and look at it, 1.3:1 also distribute it to where you want to use it but all you could do is look at it. Hall et al. 2008 examined the EROI required to actually run a truck and found that if the energy included was enough to build and maintain the truck and the roads and bridges required to use it, one would need at least a 3:1 EROI at the wellhead.
Now if you wanted to put something in the truck, say some grain, and deliver it, that would require an EROI of, say, 5:1 to grow the grain. If you wanted to include depreciation on the oil field worker, the refinery worker, the truck driver and the farmer you would need an EROI of say 7 or 8:1 to support their families. If the children were to be educated you would need perhaps 9 or 10:1, have health care 12:1, have arts in their life maybe 14:1, and so on. Obviously to have a modern civilization one needs not simply surplus energy but lots of it, and that requires either a high EROI or a massive source of moderate EROI fuels.
The point is illustrated in the EROI pyramid.4 (The blue values are published values: the yellow values are increasingly speculative.) 



Finally, if you are interested in pumped hydro storage, a previous Brave New Climate article by Peter Lang covers the topic in detail, and the comment stream is an amazing resource on the operational characteristics and limits of this means of energy storage.
References
1.    Weißbach et al.Energy 52 (2013) 210. Preprint available here.
2.    Carbajales-Dale et al., Energy Environ. Sci. DOI: 10.1039/c3ee42125b
3.    Graham Palmer, Energy in Australia: Peak Oil, Solar Power, and Asia’s Economic Growth;Springer 2014.
4.    Pedro Prieto and Charles Hall, Spain’s Photovoltaic Revolution, Springer 2013.
Bio: John Morgan:  John is Chief Scientist at a Sydney startup developing smart grid and grid scale energy storage technologies.  He is Adjunct Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at RMIT, holds a PhD in Physical Chemistry, and is an experienced industrial R&D leader.  You can follow John on twitter at @JohnDPMorganFirst published in Chemistry in Australia.

Read more at theenergycollective.com  -- 
the existing large discussion alone is worth it [LMH]