Revealed on October 21st, 2018 |
by Joshua S Hill
October 21st, 2018 by Joshua S Hill
It ought to come as no shock that the fossil gasoline business has many defenders prepared to step as much as the plate and bat for them — it’s, in any case, a multi-billion-dollar business with long-standing relationships and a want to not collapse into infamy and oblivion.
The easy actuality is that, for a big a part of the planet, the fossil gasoline business is on its final legs. Developed nations are wholesale turning to renewable power — both by federal impetus or by means of the work of sub-national gamers corresponding to native governments and firms — and creating nations want to renewable power as a way to leap over the fossil gasoline step altogether, avoiding the necessity to construct up pricey nationwide infrastructure and stopping additional emissions will increase.
Worry & Ignorance
This new actuality, nevertheless, is seemingly troublesome for some individuals to grasp. Most just lately, BP CEO Bob Dudley, talking because the “Petroleum Executive of the Year” on the Oil & Cash convention in London, raised his fears of the worldwide divestment and disclosure actions which are impacting the fossil gasoline business, suggesting that they “could lead to bad outcomes.” His rationale, nevertheless, was based mostly on defective assumptions and blind ignorance of the realities.
Nevertheless, Dudley can no less than be given credit score for admitting the necessity for change, and presenting a path ahead which he claimed was “not a call for business as usual” and one which “requires significant and rapid disruption to our industry.”
The similar credit score can’t be given to Lawrence Solomon, nevertheless, a columnist for Canada’s Nationwide Submit part (which bears the identify Monetary Publish after the enterprise newspaper of the identical identify) and the Government Director of Power Probe, the buyer and power analysis staff of Canada’s Power Probe Analysis Basis.
Writing an op-ed just lately for the Monetary Submit, Solomon put aside any dignity or skilled integrity he might as soon as have grasped to and penned what can solely be described as a hit-piece on the renewable power business with all the interior consistency of a moist tissue. Solomon’s article — entitled “Trudeau stands alone as Canada — and the world — abandons green energy” — ran with the witty lede, “Wind and solar have become the fossils of the energy industry; oil, gas and coal remain the fuels of the future.” A whole fact-check article could possibly be written concerning the opening paragraph by itself — not dangerous, contemplating it boasts solely 109 phrases in 4 sentences.
Solomon’s article was delivered to our consideration right here at CleanTechnica by a annoyed reader who requested that we examine the claims Solomon made in his piece — described by the reader as “so untruthful and so far from reality that I think it deserves to be called out.”
More than merely “calling out” Lawrence Solomon, nevertheless, I feel it’s value being utterly upfront and trustworthy about Solomon and his opinions — and opinions they’re, make no mistake about it, within the true spirit of the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of the phrase — “A view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge” — for, it might seem that Solomon’s opinions have by no means even heard of the idea of “facts” and “knowledge.”
Lies, Lies, & More Lies
To be truthful, the difficulty just isn’t a lot with Lawrence Solomon in and of himself, quite, he’s merely consultant of a lot of such pundits who occupy their very own little area of actual property in magazines, newspapers, and on tv the world over. Solomon is on no account notably particular for the absurdity of his views, however he serves as a handy instance of the forms of lies which are unfold, and the best way through which individuals against renewable power and in denial about international warming make their arguments.
In his opinion article, Lawrence Solomon makes an attempt to make the argument that renewable power isn’t solely on the again foot all over the world, however that it’s in full retreat. To help this argument, Solomon refers to a number of items of so-called proof which he has pulled kicking and screaming out of context. I’ll deal with them one by one.
Solomon claims that China has “begun to throw in the towel by cutting subsidies to renewables, an augur of the demise of investment in its renewables sector.” Solomon additionally factors to current reporting from inexperienced campaigners CoalSwarm which claimed that 259 gigawatts (GW) of latest coal capability are presently underneath development.
Whereas Solomon precisely reported the findings from CoalSwarm’s new satellite tv for pc imagery report — which confirmed development ongoing at coal crops throughout the nation, the results of a allowing surge between late-2014 and early-2016 — he incorrectly blames the rationale for China’s determination to chop subsidies to renewables.
It’s essential to recollect the context of China’s present reliance on coal. The new capability at present beneath development is the results of native authorities approving new tasks, and truly flies within the face of China’s Central Authorities’s selections to halt development of latest coal-fired energy crops. Towards the top of 2016 and over the primary few months of 2017, China introduced the cancellation of 30 giant coal-fired energy crops amounting to 17 gigawatts (GW), adopted quickly after by the cancellation of 104 extra under-construction and deliberate coal tasks amounting to 120 GW. In March of this yr, a report confirmed that the event of latest coal crops in 2017 had declined in China, thanks partially to the Central Authorities’s determination to droop development throughout lots of of tasks.
Sadly, CoalSwarm’s current report may recommend that China’s Central Authorities not has the management it as soon as needed to make these sweeping cuts, however a report revealed earlier this month by Carbon Tracker exhibits that 40% of China’s coal crops are already dropping cash and that the nation might save almost $390 billion by closing crops as an alternative of retaining them operational.
Additional, it’s essential to take a look at the entire of what’s occurring in China. In September, China’s Nationwide Improvement & Reform Fee (NDRC) wrote a draft coverage that paved the best way to extend the nation’s renewable power goal from 20% to 35% by 2030.
Later that very same month, China’s Nationwide Power Administration (NEA) issued draft tips that may look to part out energy era subsidies — simply as Solomon highlighted, besides, the intention of the choice was to offer the nation’s renewable power sector with additional technological and coverage help in order that these applied sciences can compete towards different applied sciences on their very own. Particularly, the draft tips search to incentivize renewable power applied sciences in areas the place they will function with out assist from authorities subsidies.
“The reason China’s cutting subsidy is mainly because of the huge deficit in the national renewable subsidy fund,” defined Yali Jiang, a photo voltaic analyst with Bloomberg New Power Finance, who spoke to me by way of e mail. “By the end of 2017, the deficit amounted around $19 billion including those for wind and solar projects. As a result, the government expects to, for instance, restrict new solar installations that require national subsidy immediately.”
“China’s solar installation contracted in 3Q due to the policy change,” Jiang added. “The grid-connected PV capacity halved in July and August compared with last year. But the country remains to be the largest investor in clean energy in 3Q ($26.7 billion), a fraction above the same period of 2017.”
Removed from being “an augur of the demise of investment in its renewables sector,” as Solomon so dramatically put it, China’s determination to chop subsidies is definitely based mostly in a want to attenuate the monetary pressure brought on by subsidizing new energy era, whereas on the similar time offering technological and political help that may assist renewable power compete by itself — a lot because it does in different elements of the world, resembling all through Europe and North America.
Lawrence Solomon, removed from being proud of one instance, determined so as to add one other to the combination, explaining that, “With the cutting of subsidies to renewables in the [European Union], investment last year dropped to less than half of its peak six years earlier.”
Once more, Solomon appropriately seemed on the chart, sourced from Bloomberg New Power Finance and highlighted by the World Financial Discussion board in Might of 2018 — an article, thoughts you, which highlights the success of the funding in China’s renewable power sector, and betrays Solomon’s rivalry that China has suffered a decline in funding in its renewables sector (made actually the sentence beforehand).
Whereas it’s true that funding in Europe’s renewable power business has fallen off in current occasions, it’s doubly essential to take a look at the area’s capability installations over the identical time. Between 2011 and 2017 — the six-year interval Solomon highlighted — era from renewable electrical energy throughout the 28 Member States of the European Union skyrocketed.
The share of renewable power sources within the ultimate consumption of power has additionally steadily elevated over the previous decade, as might be seen within the desk under.
Full renewable power capability additions for Europe are troublesome to return by — unsurprising, given the character of a supranational governing physique — however we will mitigate that considerably by wanting particularly on the two dominant renewable power applied sciences, wind, and photo voltaic.
Annual wind power installations throughout Europe have steadily ticked up annually, declining solely as soon as since 2011, in 2013.
It’s value noting, although, that new capability additions for 2018 are on a worrying downward development, as seen by half-year figures revealed by WindEurope in July.
Europe’s photo voltaic business has equally suffered from current funding figures, as may be seen within the graph under, revealed by SolarPower Europe in June (as a part of a worldwide outlook).
Evolution of International Annual Photo voltaic PV Put in Capability 2000-2017
So whereas from a sure perspective, Lawrence Solomon can declare that Europe’s clear power funding has fallen, leading to decrease photo voltaic capability additions and average wind additions, it’s value seeing this in mild of the entire. Photo voltaic has begun rising once more throughout Europe — with a complete of 9.2 GW value of latest capability added in 2017, a 30% improve on the yr earlier than — and offshore wind continues to extend its share. Europe was additionally one of many first areas to double-down on photo voltaic, and accounts for 28% of the worldwide complete, with a complete of 114 GW value of put in capability.
Moreover, although investments have decreased, this doesn’t essentially converse to a bigger fall-off for the renewable power business. Moderately, as applied sciences comparable to photo voltaic PV and onshore wind mature, their prices have decreased, which signifies that much less cash is required to construct much more capability.
Lawrence Solomon might have struck nearer to the mark with this specific instance, however it doesn’t serve to bolster his argument any, contemplating the influence of Brexit and the UK’s shift away from photo voltaic in the direction of wind, the declining value of mature applied sciences, and pure market dynamics and political malfeasance from politicians who share Solomon’s perspective.
Funding in Japan’s clear power business has certainly slowed since 2016 — primarily falling off a monetary cliff on the finish of 2015. Very similar to China, nevertheless, Japan’s state of affairs shouldn’t be as clear-cut as a graph may present.
“After years of record-breaking investment driven by some of the world’s most generous feed-in tariffs, China and Japan are cutting back on building new large-scale projects and shifting towards digesting the capacity they have already put in place,” stated Justin Wu, head of Asia for BNEF, stated in January of 2017.
“China is facing slowing power demand and growing wind and solar curtailment. The government is now focused on investing in grids and reforming the power market so that the renewables in place can generate to their full potential. In Japan, future growth will come not from utility-scale projects but from rooftop solar systems installed by consumers attracted by the increasingly favorable economics of self-consumption.”
It’s ironic, nevertheless, that Solomon determined to make use of Japan as throwaway proof of “a worldwide trend rejecting renewables.” If he had made the argument even a yr in the past, it may need held extra weight, however given current strikes by Japan’s authorities, and firms and utilities inside Japan, it loses all significance.
In July, the Tokyo Electrical Energy Firm, higher often known as TEPCO, introduced that it intends to pursue the event of between 6 and seven GW value of renewable power capability value tens of billions of dollars in an intentional transfer away from nuclear energy. Chatting with Nikkei, TEPCO’s president Tomoaki Kobayakawa introduced his firm will look to develop 6 to 7 GW of renewable power throughout Japan and abroad in a transfer anticipated to yield 100 billion yen ($eight.98 billion) in revenue. “We must gain a competitive advantage in renewable energy,” he stated.
In the meantime, in September, Japan’s Electrical Energy Improvement Co., higher generally known as J-Energy, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with French multinational electrical utility ENGIE to collaborate on energy tasks, particularly offshore wind and floating offshore wind tasks — an extra signal of Japan’s flip away from nuclear, and particularly in the direction of contending with Taiwan as an offshore wind hub. And solely final week, the Fitch Group revealed a forecast which anticipated Japan so as to add 17 GW value of latest photo voltaic capability by the top of 2020, earlier than the sector begins to sluggish.
For Lawrence Solomon, Japan additionally doesn’t show his perception that renewable power is on the again foot.
The UK, et al
I might go on. Solomon factors to Germany, the UK, and Australia as additional proof that the world is popping away from renewable power. Whereas each Germany and Australia function good examples of this, they’re about the one two nations that do — and solely from a nationwide viewpoint, with sub-state actors serving to select up the place the nation’s governments left off (or, in Australia’s case, by no means picked as much as start with).
Solomon’s citing the UK for instance of a flagging renewable power business, nevertheless, really beggars perception. Not solely is the UK residence to one of many world’s most persistent and dominant renewable power nations, Scotland, however the UK can also be the world’s offshore wind power chief, boasting a portfolio of tasks in operation, underneath development, or in improvement, of 35.2 GW.
Agreed, the UK’s funding is more likely to fall, some extent made by the Inexperienced Alliance in January of 2017, analyzing the UK Authorities’s personal numbers. The authorities has confirmed lackluster at greatest in relation to getting ready for a post-Brexit world, and it has completely mishandled commitments to varied applied sciences (onshore wind and photo voltaic, particularly). Nevertheless, it’s necessary to take a look at the long-term — the Inexperienced Alliance’s evaluation solely seems to 2020, and a July announcement from the Division for Enterprise, Power, and Industrial Technique might mitigate a few of these short-term losses, by setting a timeline for brand spanking new offshore wind auctions ranging from 2021.
“The renewables sector in the UK has seen pretty dire policy from government: solar and onshore wind projects have been effectively blocked, despite the fact that they’re now the cheapest form of new power,” defined Dustin Benton, Coverage Director at Inexperienced Alliance. “By contrast, dirty power stations, supported by the UK’s flawed capacity market, have seen several hundred million pounds of government contracts over the past few years.”
“The exception to this generally gloomy picture is in offshore wind: despite irregular auctions, the sector has reduced prices by two-thirds over the past two years, and the government has committed to procuring around 16 GW of new offshore wind during the 2020s, putting the country on track for 30 GW by 2030 – a level consistent with meeting the UK’s carbon targets.”
It’s additionally value remembering that Nice Britain presently boasts its lowest ever share of fossil fuels in its power combine, accounting for less than 41% of complete era, down from 71% solely 7 years in the past.
How Do You Clear up A Drawback Like Lawrence? Lie!
An argument towards renewable power and local weather change isn’t full, nevertheless, with out mentioning the most important elephant within the room — america. Solomon reserves a whole paragraph for the US however barely manages to return near the reality.
Solomon units the scene — the Democrats are out of energy and Donald Trump is in, and shortly strikes to exit from the Paris Settlement. What did the nation handle to do with this new paradigm shift?
Proper out of the gate, Solomon … properly, he just about rushes headlong into the gate. Solomon begins out by claiming that the US has revived its coal business. One wonders precisely the place to start out on this. In January, Reuters obtained preliminary US authorities knowledge which confirmed that the coal business continues to shed jobs. In February, figures revealed by the US Federal Power Regulatory Fee (FERC) revealed that not solely had there been no new coal capability added throughout 2017 (and solely three models in 2016) however that coal’s complete share of producing capability has declined by 17.83% over the previous 5 years. Actually, in response to figures revealed in June by the US Power Info Administration, coal has dropped to offering solely 27% of complete electrical energy era.
The trigger for coal’s steep decline? In response to researchers from North Carolina State College and the College of Colorado Boulder writing in Might, the accountable get together just isn’t renewable power however is actually the decline in pure fuel costs. And solely this week, the White Home — the very middle of Donald Trump’s energy — has reportedly shelved a plan to bail out the coal (and nuclear) sectors.
The remaining level to make is, probably, probably the most absurd. Written and positioned as if it was the ultimate nail in Solomon’s argument, he writes that “The once-powerful United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, formerly a fixture in the news, is defanged and forgotten, having lost its US funding and its relevance.”
Solomon’s article was revealed on September 28, solely 11 days earlier than the Intergovernmental Panel on Local weather Change (IPCC) revealed a report warning that limiting international warming to 1.5°C will “require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.” Placing apart the truth that the IPCC works in long-term cycles and isn’t beholden to publish materials frequently (nor has it ever), Solomon should have regretted that specific sentence.
It takes one thing particular to have the ability to so blatantly and casually lie in public as Lawrence Solomon manages. To so clearly and repeatedly mishandle the information and misconstrue the proof requires both an virtually champion degree of ignorance, or an entire disregard for the reality. Solomon squeezes no less than a dozen lies and half-truths into solely 750 phrases — that’s a minimum of one each 62 phrases.
Is the worldwide renewable power business on the again foot? No — in reality, in lots of elements of the world, it’s progressing quicker than ever earlier than, and nicely above another power know-how. The business is maturing, nevertheless, and with that naturally comes some bumpy patches — stagnation, political intervention and misappropriation, and financial fluctuations; to assume in any other case is naive.
However to assume that these bumps within the street characterize some international shift away from renewable power is to disregard all widespread sense and historic proof. Renewable power isn’t going away, neither is it declining in reputation. It’s the future — not simply because we’d like it to be, however as a result of it’s economically higher.
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