Friday, March 11, 2011

Neither Scientific nor American (but all Business)

I have been a fan of Scientific American forever. I used to spend hours leafing through back issues stacked on a bookshelf in my old man's office; I could not understand much, but the pictures were interesting and it was not long before I got in trouble electrolyzing a caustic soda water solution with a 48V 100W DC power supply scavenged by a friend.

Much to my chagrin I just cancelled my long-standing subscription, ending a collection going back to the 50's. The reason is simple: I have had enough propaganda conveniently interspersed amongst always interesting articles.

Science can be controversial or hard to understand but this is not about science, or even controversial science, it is about years of non sequitur statements, opinions presented as conclusions, all with a common objective: For me to "believe" that (1) the climate is changing, (2) climate change is anthropogenic, (3) I can and must do something about it, (4) I should support local and global legislation to that effect and, oh by the way, every solution available to mankind on the matter is made in Germany.

Scientific American has been lobbying quite openly for matters which are being discredited and has received criticism from several sources and that must have hurt as they felt obliged to answer, which put them more on the spot.  This is not a scientific magazine, it is a 25 year marketing effort of the German Green Business Plan.  Subtle innocuous articles on bleaching corals, the disadvantages of free trade, arbitrary opinions presented as God-provided truths, planning, planning, planning and solutions.  With no due respect, the language is similar to wind lobby handouts, Greenpeace propaganda and German Ministry of Industry sites (and I have studied quite a few).  Here is a casual sample from 1993:

And here I decided to get cute and turn the stone under author Henry N. Pollack, visitor of Zambia in the 1970's and Chairman of the "International Heat Flow Commission", presumably back in 1993... What is the International Heat Flow Commission?

It is some German outfit exploring the planet from a geophysical heat transfer point of view.  In late June to early July year they will be in Melbourne peddling the same old hogwash:  low carbon!  How convenient... The Australian government appears to be in trouble with the proposed carbon tax and the master lobbyists and "scientific research" sponsors are coming to the rescue. Same pattern, same colors, same methods, similar NGO support.

The Germans absolutely positively need an Englisch speaking country to impose the carbon tax on itself lest they suffer from euro-loniless. The Australian PM is from here. The cuckoo birds happened to be passing by.  I swear, I have nothing to do with Australian politics... I just turned the stone over a bizarre 1993 Sciam article...

I wonder... isn't "Scientific" "American" in violation of the 1966 Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Carbon Guilt and the Green Redemption

“Doing good while making money” is the carefully cultivated theme of the Green Business Plan. The underlying ideology is the venerable recipe of "Guilt, Redemption and Salvation", something that Europe has excelled at as recently as the 17th century witch-hunts. Of course, the redemption for being a witch is no longer politically correct as it emits excessive CO2; we now have modern, efficient and tradeable instruments instead.

Since it was conceived in Germany in 1985, the Green Business Plan has built an empowering scientific framework, provided positive reinforcement here, scare tactics there, touches of messianic salvation from imminent doom and a fair amount of obfuscation on technical matters. It has also built political legitimacy among liberal, social democratic or simply well-intentioned people. The ideological mental construct driving the plan is the Salvation of the Planet from Anthropogenic Global Warming, as adjusted and amended by the cooling realities and falsifying climatologists. The scientists have opined that the Planet is in danger, it is our fault, let us repent by taxing ourselves and, oh by the way, we can offset taxes by buying wind-generators. And, coincidentally, the arbitrary carbon quotas will appreciate in value the more we tax ourselves.

There are various and distinct components of profit which include product sales, after-market service, ancillary add-ons, proprietary services, complete with artificial shortages, redeemable coupons, commissions from market making, political power, etc. These all have been allocated to suitable purveyors who automatically became the network of allies. They include the manufacturers of wind generators, connecting lines, proprietary network management, assorted photovoltaics, and smart meters; the designers and market makers of carbon credits; the electrical utilities acting as intermediaries and revenue collectors. Of course, politicians who find themselves in power and scientists who discover recognition are facilitators, each with their distinct motives.

The carbon market is the element that facilitates the globalization of the endeavor and makes allies of a new breed of financial intermediaries. It is just like the tulip market but instead of tulips, the object of desire is “salvation”. Just like in older European times, this promises to be big business, unless electricity consumers see it as nothing more than a money grab and just simply say “no”.

I found the carbon certificate here, the indulgence here

Good news from Ontario


Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Price and False Promise of Green Power

"British families have been told the shocking truth about the price of green energy. They must prepare to go without electricity for extended periods, warns UK’s top electricity boss". Source

The False Promise of Green Energy

Atlas Shrugged -- Desertec

"...In the 1930s the fascist superpowers each launched grandiose land grabs – the Germans to the East, the Japanese in Manchuria, and the Italians in North Africa. The Italian venture began with a violent re-imposition into Cyrenaica (eastern Libya). Italian military movement across the southern Mediterranean coast was checked by the British, leading to the arrival of Rommel’s Afrika Korps. After the climactic second battle of El Alamein (July 1942) German and Italian forces retreated headlong to Tunisia where they held out until late 1943. North Africa was then under British-French-American control until the above-mentioned independence dates..."

I would add that it looks, smells, sounds and feels that the Environmental movement, at least as we witness it today, was also Made in Germany between 1985 and 1989.  I cannot prove it but evidence can be found here and here.

I would further add that the German acquisition of media companies in the US and, what I suspect is increasing German influence on US poltical parties, demystifies any obscure scenarios of World Orders and bizarre Clubs.

Some suspected that the Brave New World was of Soviet inspiration.  It smells, looks, tastes and feels quite Central European, thank you very much. Who are the Master Planners after all?  The top picture has quotes from this source. The last picture is a collection of CSP firms.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Sad Truth about Wind Power

Wind power is neither viable nor “sustainable”. If the whole planet were covered with wind “farms”, one would still need backup power. 1,000 wind generators by themselves cannot produce enough energy to manufacture a single ball bearing. 10,000 wind generators cannot be relied upon to power a single hospital. They need backup power which is best provided by natural gas.

Wind is free, but wind power costs two or three times that of conventional power. What wind power effectively accomplishes is the substitution of inexpensive coal or nuclear power with gas power. Gas power is fine but it can be expensive, and for many countries it carries significant political risk. In any event, gas power alone is cheaper than gas power plus wind power.

Wind power would never exist without subsidies. Unlike other subsidies for energy, this subsidy is counterproductive. The subsidy results in many installed wind generators but not in plentiful or readily-available electrical energy. It does though go towards employment and exports for two or three select European countries and possibly China, while it impoverishes everybody else.

The environmental impact of wind power is dubious at best. Gas is a cleaner fuel than coal, but most coal power plants could be easily improved with proven fly-ash filters and sulfur scrubbers.

Natural gas is claimed to be preferable to coal because it emits less carbon dioxide and therefore does something to prevent climate change. In spite of years of quasi-religious climate propaganda, the questions persist:

  1. It is not clear that the climate has been changing in any way different from the way it has been changing over the last 1,000,000 years; it is not clear in which direction it is in fact changing.
  2. If the climate has been changing, it is not obvious at all that such change is anthropogenic.
  3. If the climate has been changing and if such change is anthropogenic, there is no evidence whatsoever that installing many wind generators will make any difference.
  4. Nor is there evidence that such effort is worth the cost.
Expensive wind electricity only contributes to inflation and recession. The infamous Green jobs to be had are in Germany or Denmark (or China). Tourist destinations are decimated by large scale wind “farms”.

Wind power is promoted as environmentally-friendly and as a substitution for fossil fuels. I consider the first argument doubtful and the second absurd. Southern European politicians market it to their constituencies as a means to offset the “carbon tax”. The carbon tax is an administrative invention that will cripple non-nuclear states but it will subsidize German exporters. In the last 12 months, Holland, Turkey and Poland have decided to turn to nuclear power.

The Truth about Wind Power according to E.ON

E.ON has published an interesting document, titled "Wind Report 2005", with the best arguments against wind power, but with several arguments for weather forecasting, more planning, high-voltage grids and pobably other value-added solutions. As it is in English, I do not need to add many comments.

Sometimes it blows, sometimes it does not.

The stated rating of 6.000MW is a utopian number most of the time. I calculated the average feed-in over the year at 18% of the nominal rating (the report says "one fifth").

Christmas 2005 in Germany must have been like Christmas 2010 in the UK.  I failed to see in the report how the 8 x 500MW coal plants provided back-up power. I assume that they were on hot stand-by.  If the feed-in-rate is high enough, the extra cost is irrelevant.  I do not believe that E.ON or the Germans really care about CO2, it is probably just a marketing trick driving the exports business and the carbon trading scheme.

This one is my favorite. It shows that the more wind generators are installed, the more their percentage contribution diminishes. 8% in 2003, forecast at 4% in 2020; in 2009 it is actually 6.5%, better than the 2005 study suggested. The sources for the 6.5% figure are here and here.

The same two sources mention 21,164 wind generators for 2009 with an installed capacity of 25.777MW and production of 38TWhr of electricity corresponding to 6,5% of elecricity consumption for 2009.  I believe that for the same capital expense the Germans would have 25.000MW of nuclear (or coal) capacity providing 200TWhr which would satisfy 37% of their electricity consumption.

The explanation for this oddity may be that Germany has a 30% market share of the wind generator market corresponding to German turnover of €6.6 billion of which €5.3 are exports and provide 100.000 related jobs in Germany.  The profits from the grid business, photovoltaics and the European Carbon Trading scheme would be on top of that. That is what we call "synergies".

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A German Green Business Plan

My working hypothesis is that most of what we see, hear and experience today in Renewable Energy, Sustainability, Green jobs and Climate Change theories, is part of a brilliant, masterful and elegant German plan.

Germany re-emerged as a unified country around 1990 with its own set of political and geopolitical constraints. If I were a German planner around that time, I would be looking for ways to continue the West German Wirtschaftswunder (Economic Miracle) in a post-Cold War, European Union context. I would be trying to capitalize on German competitive advantages and maximize German wealth and employment. Research, development, design, engineering, efficiency and quality have been stereotypical German competitive advantages. Premium pricing was a weakness that had to be addressed.

What Germany implemented was (i) a Green Marketing Plan to mass market its goods and services and (ii) a mechanism to offset their high prices.

The marketing plan capitalized on existing popular predispositions. Germany did not invent the environmental movement, nor did it invent human desire for a better life, nor did it invent the concept that “good” is preferable to “bad”. However, I believe that Germany encouraged sympathetic opinion leaders, rewarded outspoken proponents, effectively influenced academia by sponsoring research, ever so subtly accommodating and rewarding findings that suited its purposes. I cynically surmize that prestigious international awards such as the Nobel Prize have been recruited to further the cause. The marketing plan probably financed NGOs and special projects, everything in a proper and admirable humanistic way, with a steady nurturing of the desirable bias.

Germany also found or created business partners and allies in ancillary and complementary businesses, thus broadening the community of avid supporters of its plan. It fostered financial market participation by providing the framework for low-risk, high-return Green investments, embellishing them with lavish Green advertizing and actively maintaining a carbon exchange: "Making money while doing good". What could be more desirable than a good motive to justify Greed?

The combination of (i) distributed business and financial interests, (ii) pervasive and continuing propaganda and (iii) old-fashioned jawboning in poorer countries created "believers", "stakeholders" and Green politicians in the Brave Green World.

The mechanism to offset the high price of German goods and services has been quite simple: Subsidies, mandatory high prices and taxes. Siemens has been admonishing the US government to subsidize Green activities. If European and German taxpayers were not already strained, politicians would continue lavish subsidies for Green (German) products, but this is no longer politically palatable. Instead we still have "feed-in-tariffs". Feed-in-tariffs are nothing less than mandatory high prices. To justify feed-in-tariffs, the concept of cap-and-trade and carbon rights was created. This is simply a carbon tax. Carbon rights, either in the American or European version, would be worth "zilch" without a tax or the threat of a tax. As soon as it became apparent in the US that cap-and-trade would be politically unacceptable, carbon rights on the Chicago exchanged collapsed. In Europe, carbon rights prices are kept alive artificially through the looming threat of a carbon tax in two or three years. I would hope that a European tax would be politically unacceptable.... But we Europeans still have the planet to save, being a mere 12 or 13% of the World's population.

A European carbon tax would be indifferent or positive to Scandinavian countries, France, and all countries that are or will become nuclear. It will impoverish non-nuclear countries. It will assist German exports and German employment. It also will favor expensive and politically volatile gas over inexpensive and riskless coal. This is why Antropogenic Global Warming scaremongering is key.

I have not proven that Germany is behind the Green Scam. It is a working hypothesis supported by the fact that the major beneficiaries are German companies. It is also supported by the circumstantial evidence of German sponsoring of Green NGOs that amounts to indirect funding of Green politicians, which may be less offensive than old-fashioned bribing.

We know that Germany is behind Desertec. Up until now, Desertec was to save the Planet by bringing free and plentiful solar energy from the Sahara. In the wake of recent North African turmoil, Desertec is already being promoted as an agent for stability in North Africa. Just like Rommel's Unternehmen Sonnenblume... Sunflowers, solar energy... Recurring themes.


Desertec -- The modern Operation Sunflower

Operation Sunflower (Unternehmen Sonnenblume) was the deployment of the German Afrikakorps to North Africa in 1941.  By coincidence the sunflower is also the symbol of the Green Party.  Desertec is an ambitious German plan to create a supergrid around Northern Africa, to install many solar thermal units in the desert and wind generators along the Atlantic coast, and to transport the electricity to Europe. The theoretical assumption is that a small fraction of the Sahara receives huge amounts of energy.  No mention has been made about the cost of such electricity which is expected to exceed 10 times the cost from conventional sources.  The following document suggests that German planners expect the North Africans to incur most of the cost.  The North Africans may not have the cash for such ventures, but the implication  from the source of this post is that the Germans might gladly get paid in oil and gas (or other concessions).

The Desertec studies have been commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and were conducted by the German Aerospace Center between 2004 and 2007. The Desertec consortium includes Munich Re, Deutsche Bank, Siemens, ABB, E.ON, RWE, Abengoa Solar, Schott Solar, EDF and others.

Political unrest casts a shadow over Desertec energy project Posted on February 23, 2011 by mat

The Desertec project aims to supply Europe with renewable energy from North Africa. Construction of the first solar plant is due to begin soon, but unrest in the region has put a question mark over the project’s future. North Africa and the Middle East experience some 3,000 hours of sunshine every year – three times as much as Germany. So why not turn some of that sunshine into electricity and export it to Europe? The Desertec initiative was hoping to achieve just that. It’s an ambitious project which aims to boost development in North African countries and secure Europe’s energy supply at the same time. But as political turmoil unfolds across the region, analysts are now asking what the future holds for Desertec? Could the grand plan to generated electricity in the desert be consigned to the past before the first power station is connected to the grid? Up to 400 billion euros will be needed over the next four decades to realize the idea of sustainable electricity generation from the desert. Why invest such sums into a politically unstable region? Paul van Son, Desertec’s CEO, has had to answer this question on a daily basis lately. But he sees opportunities in the new political environment. It’s now, he says, that investments need to be made. “You can improve stability by intensifying collaboration between Europe and these countries,” he said. “And that stability will benefit companies.” Now more than ever The goal of the Desertec initiative is to build large solar power plants and wind parks in North Africa and the Middle East to satisfy a large share of local energy needs as well as 15 percent of European electricity demand. The German government has been supporting the project from its very inception. German companies such as Deutsche Bank, Siemens, Munich Re, SCHOTT Solar as well as energy giants E.ON and RWE are all involved in the project as well. Desertec is currently planning to build a pilot facility in Morocco that would use solar thermal and photovoltaic technology to produce some 500 megawatts of electricity. Production is expected to begin within five years, with one third of the energy staying in Morocco and the other two thirds being exported to Europe. The kingdom has also come up with its own plans to expand solar energy generation, and recently issued an invitation for bids to construct a power station near the city of Ouarzazate. The German government has already offered Morocco its support with the project. In January this year, the Moroccan energy minister visited Berlin and according to Germany’s Federal Minister for Economics, Rainer Brüderle, concrete deals were struck. Africa and Europe grow closer together Brüderle has made it clear that Germany will not give up the Desertec vision or pull out of the project because of the recent political instability in the region. “Germany wants to establish an extensive partnership with Morocco in the field of energy generation,” the minister said, pointing at the possibility of more such alliances in the future. “The energy partnership with Morocco could become the model for partnerships with Tunisia, Egypt or Algeria.” Klaus Töpfer, former German environment ministerBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Klaus Töpfer, a former German environment minister, is now a consultant for Desertec Brüderle called on Europe to send clear signals reminding everyone that Desertec fulfils several purposes at the same time: it could secure energy supply for Europe, boost economic development in North African countries and stabilize the region. Transmission of electricity from North Africa to Europe remains problematic, however, with just one cable link currently in operation between Morocco and Spain. There are plans to lay another cable between Tunisia and Italy, as well as discussions to link Algeria with Europe. But many critics question the operational efficiency and the cost of maintaining such long distance transmission routes. According to Klaus Töpfer, a former German environment minister turned Desertec consultant, the efficiency issue is manageable. He argues that China has successfully built cable links that transmit electricity over distances of more than 5,000 kilometers. Who pays the bill? The Desertec consortium, which involves some 50 companies from Europe and North Africa, hopes to obtain funding from both public and private sources. There is no business plan yet which could reveal how much money will have to be paid by the World Bank or the German Bank for Reconstruction (KfW) and how much private donors will contribute. Man working on a solar panelBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Germany is a leading producer of solar technologyOne thing is clear, says Klaus Töpfer: the electricity generated in the desert cannot solely be paid for by the consumers in Europe because it’s not an all-European project. “It’s a project in Africa and largely for Africa, which is refinanced through the export of electricity to Europe. The project’s success depends on whether or not it gets accepted there.” The project’s initiators may choose to apply for European funds for renewable energy to subsidize the project. But they might be disappointed. Brüderle opposes the payment of feed-in tariffs – currently laid out in the German Renewable Energy Sources Act — for Desertec energy fed into the German grid. He fears such a move would overwhelm German energy consumers, who are already paying some 13 billion euros in subsidies for renewable energy sources this year alone !!!!!!!!!! The German-French University, Saarbrücken, Germany

A not so random walk through various Green (and not so Green) sites

Here are some findings and links as I ran across them over the last ten months, in the chronological order in which they appeared in this blog.

Renewable energy jobs soar in Germany, April 2008
"The systematic expansion of renewable energy is not only good from the environmental and climate policy point of view but also for innovation, growth and employment in Germany."
-- Sigmar Gabriel, the German Minister for Environment

Primary Energy sources in Germany through 2007
Renewables are barely visible; practically insignificant.

A nice MAN-Ferrostaal advertorial, complete with plans for many gigawatts of solar thermal power in North Africa, gifts to Palestinian schools, etc. A cursory search on Ferrostaal will reveal a large presence in manufacturing and installation of solar projects.

Siemens probably has the nicest and most thorough brochures with solutions related to wind, solar and many other energy and environmental technologies. The brochures designed for the US market are the most attractive.

This Siemens, March 2010, Green Jobs advertorial in the Economist was an eye opener for me, as it disclosed the Green Jobs carrot of the Green Strategy. Each reader may see different interesting issues; I focused on the following statements:

Q: How do you define a "green job"?

A: There's no single, definitive answer, so many prefer as broad a definition as possible: i.e. any job that puts America back on the path to a cleaner, more energy-efficient future

Siemens' perspective
The question is not if tomorrow's green jobs will arrive, but when. The engine of job growth in America's economy lies in the entrepreneurial spirit of the private sector. But for the greening of America's economy to truly take root, government needs to send strong signals, create incentives, and construct rules of the road so the private sector can invest-and job growth can occur. Various government incentives, such as tax credits, are already helping spur the investment needed to begin creating the green jobs of the future. More needs to be done.

There are two curious things about these statements: (i) Siemens is promoting central planning in the economy (which is a political matter) and (ii) Siemens is almost a sole provider of goods and services that would be purchased with taxpayers’ money should the US Administration and US taxpayers decide to agree with this point of view. As we know, the Obama administration and several UK and Australian officials agree with Siemens’ perspective. US taxpayers have begged to differ. I know it is probably unfair to remind the reader that in non-Anglo-Saxon countries such as Greece, Siemens may have practiced less noble methods to enforce its goods and services.

As early as June 2010, it was apparent that a Democrat-Republican rift was evolving over the matter of “Climate change”. When I added this hyperlink today, the page was sponsored by AREVA with little icons of nuclear, wind and solar energy. Needless to say that the amount of power generated by these three alternatives differs by orders of magnitude.

Now, for a little break on seemingly unrelated historical subjects: Here is a little history on the founding of Deutsche Bank, by a Siemens nephew. More history on the Indo-European Telegraph Company. A little piece on the origin of the Great War. Some trivia on the Berlin Baghdad Railway. My non-expert summary from these historical briefs is that after about 1870, there was a concerted effort for imperial expansion on the part of European nations and, on behalf of Germany, that effort was assisted or spearheaded by Siemens and Deutsche Bank. Nothing obscure about that, I could probably identify British companies with similar prerogatives.

What I found rather interesting, however, is that there is a project called “Desertec” with Siemens and Deutsche Bank, among others, in its founding group, with an ambitious program to create a massive electrical grid around the Mediterranean to bring solar and wind energy from the Sahara and Western Africa to Europe. The ambition and complexity of this project reminded me of the Berlin Baghdad railway and the Indo-European Telegraph Company, and I could not help but note the similarities between the drive for Iraqi or Kurdish oil in 1900 and what seems to me as a drive for Northern African oil and gas. I hypothesize that if Northern Africa has the fossil fuels that it is supposed to have, it would be preposterous to install expensive and high maintenance optics and wind power equipment to ship renewable energy back to Europe. But, I might just be a little too cynical.

If you look into the Desertec foundation and its scope, it appears to be a rather well-planned exercise to introduce European-engineered products and lots of electrical wiring to North Africa, the Middle East, Iran, Central Asia and Australia. If you believe Wikipedia, Desertec is the brainchild of the German Aerospace Center and the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. I may have been seeing too many WW2 movies but I can't help but suspect a Green, Peaceful, Sustainable and Grand version of the Afrikakorps in all this… But, then again, the Club of Rome is also behind Desertec, so it cannot be that bad. Or can it? And I am truly curious to assess any relation to, or consequences from, the current turmoil in North Africa.

This strategic interlude is over, and we are back to more mundane details related to wind power. Surprisingly, a most eloquent document on the shortcomings and limitations of wind power came from E.ON, a major German electrical utility. I understand that this document may have been saved and posted by a UK anti-wind group.

Here are Keys to Survival: Climate, Energy and the Environment from the German Information Center in Pretoria, South Africa.

One of my most popular posts has been a quotation from an article highlighting renewable energy problems in Germany. This article written by a German, together with the E.ON report mentioned above, is the best I have seen against the renewable energy craze. The following excerpt should be at the top of any anti-wind power brochure:

"In 1991 the government of Helmut Kohl enacted the so-called Power Feed-in Act, which was later amended by the Socialist-Green coalition government of Gerhard Schröder to become the EEG Act (Energy Feed-in Act). This Act, chalk-full of tricks, forced disliked power companies to buy renewable energy no matter the circumstances, and to do so at exorbitant state-regulated prices. But in a trade-off, the power companies were allowed to pass the higher costs on to the consumers. The state—the driver behind the price spiral—was then able to capitalise by collecting more revenue from energy taxes while dubiously claiming not a single subsidy is paid out. Is it any wonder that this tricky law has since become one of Germany’s biggest exports (so named with delight by Environmental Secretary Michael Müller of the SPD Socialist Party)? This is how the EEG Act was either fully or partly exported to over 46 countries worldwide. Governments assume, and rightly so, that there are enough masses of stupid people, and that they won’t be going extinct anytime soon."

If the mandatory feed-in-tariffs mentioned above are paying for the higher cost of green electricity, you may ask yourself, "who is providing the financing required in addition to the banks"? I accidentally found the answer in this Holding Company in Zug Switzerland. One of its subsidiaries is called Good Energies. The principals in this Holding Company are also in the Private Wealth Council; Al Gore is in this group. The Private Wealth Council looks like a think tank for wealthy individuals. There is absolutely nothing obscure or improper in the entities or individuals in this paragraph. They are investing "billions of dollars" in Green Ventures, including wind projects in Greece, and an offshore wind power line along the East Coast Atlantic seaboard.

The Zug company has published a Responsible Wealth Review, very similar in look to the Harvard Business Review. It shows its readers "How to Make Money while Doing Good" (assuming one is rich to begin with). On p.8 it has a most interesting article by Günter Grass. I noted the disdain expressed by Günter Grass on the "American Way" referring to the end of the United States' lifespan. This in a brochure published by an organization that has Vice President Al Gore as a member.

Here is information from the German Ministry of Economics and Technology about Renewables - Made in Germany.

And here is Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisors, complete with a carbon counter. I live in Greece, a quasi-bankrupt country, and I would guess that the international banking community has many problems more pressing than greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. I would also argue that Deutsche Bank is misleading us as it ignores water vapor, which I understand is also a greenhouse gas in our atmosphere.

There are German concerns over phasing out solar tariffs in Germany, offset by expectations that photovoltaic exports will keep growing to sustain German employment, which is a political priority in Germany.

The section labeled "Part 5 Opportunities" in this link is as explicit as possible about the importance of Renewable Energy to German employment.

A Nobel Cause: An agglomeration of Nobel prize winners not related to Climatology or Energy, lending their glory, fame and names to Global Sustainability Gobbledygook, sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research "in partnership" with WWF, co-sponsored by the Otto Group, Honda, Lufthansa, and the Technologie Stiftung Brandenburg. President Obama, three months into Office also received a Nobel Prize and that may be justifying his Green Obsession.

I started this not so random walk with Germany's energy sources. Here is an update: hydro, wind and photovoltaics currently amount to 1.5% of total energy requirements. Hydro, wind, and photovoltaics amounted to 10.5% of electricity production in 2008.

All the above do not prove that Germany is behind the Green Craze, but, excluding some academics and most Democrats in the US Senate, I failed to see other nations so deeply involved in Green Business. I will now revisit Strategic Planning, except, this time, it shall be Green.


Strategic Planning (and Strategic Marketing)

I thought that this general post might be useful for the two subsequent ones.

Strategic planning is about formulating goals and objectives and about accomplishing those objectives using one's strengths, offsetting one's weaknesses, identifying opportunities, making the best of allies, dealing with threats and eliminating enemies. It is an iterative process in which the goals and objectives are adapted to the resources available or made to be available, and the external environment as it exists or as it may be shaped. Strategic planning is relevant to anything from waging a war, or launching a new breakfast cereal product line.

Most corporate business plans deal with these issues. Corporations typically aim for markets, market shares, revenues and profits. They start with their fundamental competencies which may include technology and knowhow. They review the external environment (who else is out there to assist or hamper the process) and the internal environment (what initial resources are available or may be obtained, who will do what). External allies are important as they may provide synergies and allow for leveraging of shared resources. No process is without obstacles or "enemies", which may involve competing products or interests. Obstacles may be dealt with either head-on effort or by side-stepping, or unique positioning in the market, or with intelligent marketing.

A simple corporate business plan is centered on the three P's: Product, Price, and Promotion. These have their own strategies and they are also iterative. You need a product, it needs a price, and the price is a function of cost and what the market can bear. Some products compete on price, but if a low price is not inherent or desired, premium pricing may be justified with premium market positioning. Sometimes premium pricing is established by quality or fashion, as may be the case with branded clothing; sometimes it is established by regulations or laws, as with automotive catalytic converters. You need to educate the market to promote the product or to make its price acceptable. You need a distribution channel and conditions that perpetuate demand. Generating demand for most products is sustained by marketing, which may be seen as establishing a need for that particular product.

It is not realistic to describe all aspects of strategic planning in a few short paragraphs, but there are a few additional notions that are interesting. It is always more efficient to embark on a venture that has market synergies. The best synergy is to ride on the marketing effort and success of a larger entity. The classic example is the marketing of personal computer software at the time when the largest computer company decided to sell personal computers. Few people may remember today that a large, worldwide PC software industry was created just by the decision of IBM to introduce its Personal Computer.

If synergies are helpful to a strategic plan, fads are extremely powerful marketing tools. A most interesting example is the introduction of health foods and vitamin supplements. These were driven by the demographics and lifestyle of the maturing and relatively affluent post WW2, western, baby-boom generation. If people in this population group became convinced that popping vitamin C pills could prevent cancer or the common cold, a huge and profitable vitamin supplement market would be developed.

Linus Pauling dealt with certain of his personal health problems through diet and vitamins in the 1950's. Linus Pauling was a respected scientist who had received a Nobel Prize on his work on chemical bonds, totally unrelated to vitamins or health. Vitamin C has been known for many years and its possible role as a dietary supplement had been discussed by others, as early as the 1960's. Linus Pauling's work on Vitamin C in the 70's and '80's has actually been deemed "controversial", but most people did not pay attention to the controversy. Vitamin C was and still is a relatively harmless and inexpensive supplement that may have some benefits and is part of a huge food supplement business.

Please note the leap of faith from a scientist with a well-intended opinion, who digressed into unrelated subjects more related to lifestyle than his science. The commercialization of opinions attributed to Linus Pauling is yet another matter, but his book has been on the NYT bestseller list. The vitamins industry did not create Linus Pauling, nor did it create human desire for longer life and better feelings. Linus Pauling was quite happy publishing his book, I own a copy, and this is Strategic Marketing based on a fad.

Regardless of your personal vitamin popping habits, please note that vitamins are NOT mandatory, nor are there taxes, tariffs, or UN rules that stipulate their consumption. Not yet, anyway.


A Green Power Primer

I don't like wind generators. I don't like their looks, I don't like their sound, I don't like their damage to the landscape, I don't like their cost. I don't like the bogus arguments that they will prevent cancer or save the Great Barrier Reef. I don't like the messianic fervor with which they are being promoted. But most of all, I don't like their being mandatory.

There are several blogs objecting to industrial-scale generation of electricity from wind power. The arguments propounded by these blogs typically include the following:

(i) The fundamental drawback of low “availability” of wind power and the need for backup generation capacity; in fact, wind power is tantamount to gas or oil power which can provide backup, unlike coal or nuclear.

(ii) The high cost of electricity produced and high initial capital costs; electricity from chicken manure is cheaper. With high enough carbon taxes, and stiff penalties, you too may choose a German or Danish windmill, willingly.

(iii) The undesirable side effects (visual, audio, property values, landscape aesthetics) of industrial windfarms.

(iv) The fallacy of anthropogenic global warming, climate change, and “extreme” weather; Nostradamus as a key energy policy agent.

(v) Global and national energy use patterns and the utopian goal of substituting conventional power with “green” power; the proponents of Desertec claim that a little square in the Sahara is able to collect all the energy required by Europe. I doubt that Rommel or Montgomery were fighting over that little patch of Sahara for its sun.

vi) National and transnational policies devised to address subsidies, taxation and externalities as well as market or quasi-market mechanisms involved, e.g. carbon taxes, feed-in-tariffs, cap and trade, pilfered carbon rights, the Mafia and carbon rights, the Holy Inquisition and carbon rights, etc.

(vii) Local and international politics related to most of the above; the Green War as a sequel to the Cold War, WW2, WW1, the Great Game, etc.

The issues itemized above are quite diverse and interdisciplinary and somewhat convoluted. The proponents of wind power do not rely on any facts or figures, for that matter. They mention installed megawatts, and megawatt-hours over a year, and number of homes, and tons of CO2 -- all interesting but irrelevant and misleading measures, that have limited economic meaning and would not fit in a traditional business plan, or a consumer cost-benefit analysis calculation. What we are innundated with instead are polar bear cubs and images of imminent apocalyptic catastrophe, followed by rolling green hills with serene windmills set against blue skies and pink sunsets, with religious and messianic overtones. Monty Python material... Would be amusing, if we had the choice to pay for it, or not.

Some of my best friends are solar bears.


The Green Business Plan

This blog initially set out to document the fundamental and inherent weaknesses of wind power from a technical and financial point of view which I had always considered as self-evident. These weaknesses notwithstanding, and despite universal objections to wind power from NW Canada to Greece and New Zealand, wind projects seem to persist. In trying to understand the buzz behind what I consider a dubious energy or environmental venture, I digressed into other territory, including the possible financial interests behind wind power. In looking at financial interests, there were coincidences are hard to ignore.

Most companies actively promoting “green solutions” to problems, ranging from light bulbs to power generation, are German. (Vestas, of course, is Danish). Most green blogs in the US (including the NYT Green blog) appear to have been sponsored by Siemens throughout 2009 and have since been sponsored by mostly European utilities. Numerous NGOs that are promoting Green causes have been sponsored by Siemens or Vestas. Even Deutsche Bank appears to worry about global CO2! Prominent and wealthy German businessmen from unrelated fields are investing in and promoting Green energy projects. Siemens marketing brochures share a common language with environmental NGOs in Europe and the US. German feed-in-tariff legislation is being forced upon EU countries. These observations prove absolutely nothing in and of themselves. However I will present various public documents that I have come across and let the casual reader draw his or her own conclusions.

I have to state upfront that I have not been seeking, nor have I uncovered, some obscure or sinister grand plan. Nor do I consider shared financial gain as "conspiracy"; all commercial and business ventures are based on financial interests, some are simply more obtuse than others. I think, looking back at ten months of casual posts, that I discern a pattern which resembles an elegant, well-thought out, and masterfully executed business plan, straight out of a second-year Business Strategy course in any MBA program.

This is one of three or four posts that I am writing in English, for the sole purpose of sharing these thoughts and subjecting them to scrutiny by English speaking readers.


German Scientists reject man-made global warming

Growing body of evidence shows anthropogenic CO2 plays no measurable role

"More than 60 prominent German scientists have publicly declared their dissent from man-made global warming fears in an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The more than 60 signers of the letter include several United Nations IPCC scientists.

The scientists declared that global warming has become a “pseudo religion” and they noted that rising CO2 has “had no measurable effect” on temperatures. The German scientists, also wrote that the “UN IPCC has lost its scientific credibility.”

This latest development comes on the heels of a series of inconvenient developments for the promoters of man-made global warming fears, including new peer-reviewed studies, real world data, a growing chorus of scientists dissenting (including more UN IPCC scientists), open revolts in scientific societies and the Earth's failure to warm. In addition, public opinion continues to turn against climate fear promotion.

The July 26, 2009 German scientist letter urged Chancellor Merkel to “strongly reconsider” her position on global warming and requested a “convening of an impartial panel” that is “free of ideology” to counter the UN IPCC and review the latest climate science developments"...  more, source

Professor Lindzen and Climate Change

There are many internet sites addressing Climate Change or Antropogenic Climate Change, in the context of the Green Fraud. Some relevant links are found at the end of this post.

Here is an interesting speech by Professor Lindzen of MIT which describes in a most eloquent way the not so subtle science politics of climate change.

Lidzen has co-authored an article, in February 2010, "On the observational determination of climate sensitivity and its implications". The article, as best as I can understand it, demonstrates that ERBS and CERES satellite atmospheric temperature readings show that any increase in Earth's temperature is largely offset by Earth's radiation to outer space, countering the catastrophic predictions of Climate Alarmists.

Here is a limited sample of internet sites that deal with climate change issues, ice caps, glaciers etc:

Cold facts on Global Warming
Heliogenic Climate Change
The Resilient Earth
Watts Up With That?

There are several volumes of information on CO2. Interesting statistics on global sources may be found on Wikipedia.  An interesting article suggesting that increased CO2 may be the consequense rather than the cause of global warming may be found here.  There are several ocean bugs and algae whose relation to CO2 may be fascinating, but it is definitely beyond the scope of this collection of posts.

The ExxonMobil Outlook for Energy to 2030

We are been inundated by claims from NGOs like WWF and Greenpeace, or energy-expert auditing firms, that a World relying on Renewable Energy sources is feasible in the next 40 years.  I happen to believe that ExxonMobil, the big bad energy company, is better qualified to offer opinions on the matter.

There is a recent energy outlook report by ExxonMobil, which may be found on its site, or here.

We are used in thinking of ExxonMobil as a US-based oil company.  The summary of ExxonMobil's report is that future growth is in Asia and it is powered by coal.

The report also includes a chart that confirms most other published information on the cost per kilowatt-hour of electricity. Coal-generated electricity is the least expensive.  Solar electricity is the most expensive.  Wind power (with the necessary cost for backup) is comparable to, or more expensive than, nuclear.  If coal were to taxed with a tax high enough to double its cost, it might become more expensive than either wind or nuclear.