Monday, 18 June 2018

Guy McPherson's predictions

After watching this I feel there is little more that I want to say. Everything else falls into insignificance

Biologist Predicts how Civilization Collapses Soon

In this video I interview Guy McPherson a biologist and professor emeritus of the University of Arizona. He currently resides on a homestead in Belize. 

Dr. McPherson believes that the biggest threat facing mankind is global warming, that the threat is being downplayed and that its long past the point of being resolved as a phenomenon called 'runaway climate change' has already been put in motion.

See this expressed slightly differently

More energy is used to make solar photvoltaic systems than is ever recovered

The Energy Return of Solar PV

9 May, 2018

A new study by Ferroni and Hopkirk [1] estimates the ERoEI of temperate latitude solar photovoltaic (PV) systems to be 0.83. If correct, that means more energy is used to make the PV panels than will ever be recovered from them during their 25 year lifetime. A PV panel will produce more CO2 than if coal were simply used directly to make electricity. Worse than that, all the CO2 from PV production is in the atmosphere today, while burning coal to make electricity, the emissions would be spread over the 25 year period. The image shows the true green credentials of solar PV where industrial wastelands have been created in China so that Europeans can make believe they are reducing CO2 emissions (image credit Business Insider).

I have been asked to write a post reviewing the concept of energy return on energy invested (ER0EI) and as a first step in that direction I sent an email to my State-side friends Charlie Hall, Nate Hagens and David Murphy asking that they send me recent literature. The first paper I read was by Ferruccio Ferroni and Robert J. Hopkirk titled Energy Return on Energy Invested (ERoEI) for photovoltaic solar systems in regions of moderate insolation [1] and the findings are so stunning that I felt compelled to write this post immediately.
So what is ERoEI? It is simply the ratio of energy gathered to the amount of energy used to gather the energy (the energy invested):
ERoEI = energy gathered / energy invested
Simple, isn’t it? Well it’s not quite so simple as it appears at first sight. For example, using PV to illustrate the point, the energy gathered will depend on latitude, the amount of sunshine, the orientation of the panels and also on the lifetime of the panels themselves. And how do you record or measure the energy invested? Do you simply measure the electricity used at the PV factory, or do you include the energy consumed by the workers and the miners who mined the silicon and the coal that is used to make the electricity? Ferroni and Hopkirk go into all of these details and come up with an ERoEI for temperate latitude solar PV of 0.83. At this level, solar PV is not an energy source but is an energy sink. That is for Switzerland and Germany. It will be much worse in Aberdeen!
Why is ERoEI important? It is a concept that is alien to most individuals, including many engineers, energy sector employees, academics and policy makers. The related concept of net energy is defined as:
Net Energy = ERoEI – 1 (where 1 is the energy invested)
Net energy is the surplus energy left over from our energy gathering activities that is used to power society – build hospitals, schools, aircraft carriers and to grow food. In the past the ERoEI of our primary energy sources – oil, gas and coal – was so high, probably over 50, that there was bucket loads of cheap energy left over to build all the infrastructure and to feed all the people that now inhabit The Earth. But with the net energy equation for solar PV looking like this:
0.83-1 = -0.17
.. Brussels we have a problem!
So how can it be possible that we are managing to deploy devices that evidently consume rather than produce energy? The simple answer is that our finance system, laws and subsidies are able to bend the laws of physics and thermodynamics for so long as we have enough high ERoEI energy available to maintain the whole system and to subsidise parasitic renewables. Try mining and purifying silicon using an electric mining machine powered by The Sun and the laws of physics will re-establish themselves quite quickly.
In very simple terms, solar PV deployed in northern Europe can be viewed as coal burned in China used to generate electricity over here. All of the CO2 emissions, that underpin the motive for PV, are made in China. Only in the event of high energy gain in the PV device would solar PV reduce CO2 emissions. More on that later

Energy Return

The calculations are all based on the energy produced by 1 m^2 of PV.
Theoretical calculations of what PV modules should generate made by manufacturers do not take into account operational degradation due to surface dirt. Nor do they take into account poor orientation, unit failure or breakage, all of which are quite common.
The actual energy produced using Swiss statistics works out at 106kWe/m^2 yr
We then also need to know how long the panels last. Manufacturers claim 30 years while empirical evidence suggests a mean scrapage age of only 17 years in Germany. Ferroni and Hopkirk use a generous 25 year unit life.
Combining all these factors leads to a number of 2203kWe/m^2 for the life of a unit.

Energy Invested

The energy invested calculation is also based on 1 m^2 of panel and uses mass of materials as a proxy for energy consumed and GDP energy intensity as a proxy for the labour part of the equation.
Two different methods for measuring energy invested are described:
  • ERoEI(IEA)
  • ERoEI(Ext)
Where IEA = methodology employed by the International Energy Agency and Ext = extended boundary as described by Murphy and Hall, 2010 [2,3]. The difference between the two is that the IEA is tending to focus on the energy used in the factory process while the extended methodology of Murphy and Hall, 2010 includes activities such as mining, purifying and transporting the silicon raw material.
In my opinion, Ferroni and Hopkirk correctly follow the extended ERoEI methodology of Murphy and Hall and include the following in their calculations:
  • Materials to make panels but also to erect and install panels
  • Labour at every stage of the process from mining manufacture and disposal
  • Manufacturing process i.e. the energy used in the various factories
  • Faulty panels that are discarded
  • Capital which is viewed as the utilisation of pre-existing infrastructure and energy investment
  • Integration of intermittent PV onto the grid
And that gives us the result of ERoEI:
2203 / 2664 kW he/m^2 = 0.83
The only point I would question is the inclusion of the energy cost of capital. All energy produced can be divided into energy used to gather energy and energy for society and I would question whether the cost of capital does not fall into the latter category?
But there appears to be one major omission and that is the energy cost of distribution. In Europe, about 50% of the cost of electricity (excluding taxes) falls to the grid construction and maintenance. If that was to be included it would make another serious dent in the ERoEI.
This value for ERoEI is lower than the value of 2 reported by Prieto and Hall [4] and substantially lower that the values of 5 to 6 reported by the IEA [5]. One reason for this is that the current paper [1] is specifically for temperate latitude solar. But Ferroni and Hopkirk also detail omissions by the IEA as summarised below.

IEA energy input omissions and errors

a) The energy flux across the system boundaries and invested for the labour is not included.
b) The energy flux across the system boundaries and invested for the capital is not included.
c) The energy invested for integration of the PV-generated electricity into a complex and flexible electricity supply and distribution system is not included (energy production does not follow the needs of the customer).
d) The IEA guidelines specify the use of “primary energy equivalent” as a basis. However, since the energy returned is measured as secondary electrical energy, the energy carrier itself, and since some 64% to 67% of the energy invested for the production of solar-silicon and PV modules is also in the form of electricity (Weissbach et al., 2013) and since moreover, the rules for the conversion from carrier or secondary energy back to primary energy are not scientifically perfect (Giampietro and Sorman, 2013), it is both easier and more appropriate to express the energy invested as electrical energy. The direct contribution of fossil fuel, for instance in providing energy for process heating, also has to be converted into secondary energy. The conversion from a fossil fuel’s internal chemical energy to electricity is achieved in modern power plants with an efficiency of 38% according to the BP statistic protocol (BP Statistical Review of World Energy, June 2015). In the present paper, in order to avoid conversion errors, we shall continue to use electrical (i.e. secondary) energy in kW he/m2 as our basic energy unit.
e) The recommended plant lifetime of 30 years, based on the experiences to date, must be regarded as unrealistic.
f) The energy returned can and should be based on actual experimental data measured in the field. Use of this procedure will yield values in general much lower than the electricity production expected by investors and politicians.
Of those I’d agree straight off with “a”, “c” and “f”. I’m not sure about “b” and “e” I’m sure this will be subject to debate. “d” is a complex issue and is in fact the same one described in my recent post EU and BP Renewable Electricity Accounting Methodologies. I agree with Ferroni and Hopkirk that units of electricity should be used throughout but if the IEA have grossed up the electricity used to account for thermal losses in power stations then this would increase their energy invested and suppress not inflate their estimates of ERoEI. Hence this is a point that needs to be clarified.

Environmental impacts

The main reason for deploying solar PV in Europe is to lower CO2 emissions. The European Commission and most European governments have been living in cloud cuckoo land allowing CO2 intensive industries to move to China, lowering emissions in Europe while raising emissions in China and making believe that importing steel from China somehow is emissions free.
The example of solar PV brings this into sharp focus. Assuming the main energy input is from coal (and low efficiency dirty coal at that) and with ERoEI <1, making electricity from solar PV will actually create higher emissions than had coal been used directly to make electricity for consumption in the first place. But it’s a lot worse than that. All of the emissions associated with 25 years of electricity production are in the atmosphere now making global warming much worse than it would otherwise have been without the PV.
And it gets even worse than that! The manufacture of PV panels involves lots of nasty chemicals too:
Many potentially hazardous chemicals are used during the production of solar modules. To be mentioned here is, for instance, nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), (Arnold et al., 2013), a gas used for the cleaning of the remaining silicon-containing contaminants in process chambers. According to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) this gas has a global warming potential of approximately 16600 times that of CO2. Two other similarly undesirable “greenhouse” gases appearing are hexafluoroethane (C2F6) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).
The average weight of a photovoltaic module is 16 kg/m2 and the weight of the support system, inverter and the balance of the system is at least 25 kg/m2 (Myrans, 2009), whereby the weight of concrete is not included. Also, most chemicals used, such as acids/ bases, etchants, elemental gases, dopants, photolithographic chemicals etc. are not included, since quantities are small. But, we must add hydrochloric acid (HCl): the production of the solar- grade silicon for one square meter of panel area requires 3.5 kg of concentrated hydrochloric acid.

Comparison with nuclear

The paper offers some interesting comparisons with nuclear power. Looking first at materials used per unit of electricity produced:
  • PV uses 20.2 g per kW he (mainly steel aluminium and copper)
  • A nuclear power station uses 0.31 g per kW he (mainly steel) for a load factor of 85%
kW he = kilowatt hours electrical
Looking at labour, the authors observe:
The suppliers involved in the renewable energies industry advertise their capability to create many new jobs.
While of course the best forms of energy use as little labour as possible. At the point where ERoEI reaches 1, everyone is engaged in gathering energy and society as we know it collapses!
  • Solar PV creates 94.4 jobs per MW installed, adjusted for capacity factor.
  • Nuclear creates 13 jobs per MW installed covering construction, operation and decommissioning.
This may seem great to the politicians but it’s this inefficiency that makes solar PV expensive and kills the ERoEI. And looking at capital costs:
  • Solar PV needs CHF 6000 per kW installed (CHF = Swiss Franc)
  • Nuclear power CHF 5500 per kW installed
But normalising for capacity factors of 9% for solar and 85% for nuclear we get for effective capacity:
66,667 / 6471 = 10.3
Solar PV is 10 times more capital intensive than nuclear.

Energy transformation

When ERoEI approaches or goes below 1 we enter the realm of energy transformation which is quite common in our energy system. For example, converting coal to electricity we lose approximately 62% of the thermal energy. Converting coal and other raw materials into a PV panel may in certain circumstances make some sense. For example PV and a battery system may provide African villages with some electricity where there is little hope of ever getting a grid connection. Likewise for a mountain cabin. Individuals concerned about blackouts may also consider a PV battery system as a backup contingency.
But as a means of reducing CO2 emissions PV fails the test badly at temperate latitudes. It simply adds cost and noise to the system. In sunnier climates the situation will improve.

Concluding comments

The findings of this single study suggest that deploying solar PV at high latitudes in countries like Germany and the UK is a total waste of time, energy and money. All that is achieved is to raise the price of electricity and destabilise the grid. Defenders of RE and solar will point out that this is a single paper and there are certainly some of the inputs to Ferroni and Hopkirk that are open to debate. But there are reasons to believe that the findings are zeroing in on reality. For example Prieto and Hall found ERoEI for solar PV = 2. Looking only at cloudy, high temperate latitudes will substantially degrade that number.
And you just need to look at the outputs as shown below. Solar PV produces a dribble in winter and absolutely nothing at the 18:00 peak demand. There is a large financial cost and energy cost to compensate for this that RE enthusiasts dismiss with a wave of the arm.

Figure 1 From UK Grid Graphed. The distribution of solar production in the UK has grown 7 fold in 4 years. But 7 times a dribble in winter is still a dribble.  The large amount of embodied energy in these expensive devices does no work for us at all when we need it most.
Energy Matters has a good search facility top right. Insert solar pv and I was surprised to find how many articles Roger and I have written and they all more or less reach the same conclusions. I have added these links at the end of the post.

Figure 2 A typical solar installation in Aberdeen where the panels are on an east facing roof leaving the ideal south facing roof empty. This is a symbol of ignorance and stupidity that also pervades academia. Has anyone seen a University that does not have solar PV deployed? I’ve heard academics argue that orientation does not matter in Scotland, and they could be right. I dare say leaving the panels in their box would make little difference to their output. Academics, of course, are increasingly keen to support government policies. Note that sunny days like this one are extremely rare in Aberdeen. And in winter time, the sun rises about 10:00 and sets around 15:00.

Two years ago I fulminated about the random orientation of solar panels in Aberdeen in a post called Solar Scotland. And this random orientation will undoubtedly lead to serious degradation of the ERoEI. PV enthusiasts will no doubt assume that all solar PV panels are optimally orientated in their net energy analysis while in the real world of Ferroni and Hopkirk, they are not. A good remedy here would be to remove the feed in tariffs of systems not optimally deployed while ending future solar PV feed in tariffs all together.
But how to get this message heard at the political level? David MacKay’s final interview was very revealing:
The only reason solar got on the table was democracy. The MPs wanted to have a solar feed-in-tariff. So in spite of the civil servants advising ministers, ‘no, we shouldn’t subsidise solar’, we ended up having this policy. There was very successful lobbying by the solar lobbyists as well. So now there’s this widespread belief that solar is a wonderful thing, even though … Britain is one of the darkest countries in the world.
If the politicians do not now listen to the advice of one of the World’s most famous and respected energy analysts then I guess they will not listen to anyone. But they will with time become increasingly aware of the consequences of leading their electorate off the net energy cliff.


[1] Ferruccio Ferroni and Robert J. Hopkirk 2016: Energy Return on Energy Invested (ERoEI) for photovoltaic solar systems in regions of moderate insolation: Energy Policy 94 (2016) 336–344
[2] Murphy, D.J.R., Hall, C.A.S., 2010. Year in review-EROI or energy return on (energy) invested. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. Spec. Issue Ecol. Econ. Rev. 1185, 102–118.
[3] Murphy, D.J.R., Hall, C.A.S., 2011. Energy return on investment, peak oil and the end of economic growth. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. Spec. Issue Ecol. Econ. 1219, 52–72.
[4] Prieto, P.A., Hall, C.A.S., 2013. Spain’s Photovoltaic Revolution – The Energy Return on Investment. By Pedro A. Prieto and Charles A.S. Hall, Springer.
[5] IEA-PVPS T12, Methodology Guidelines on the Life Cycle Assessment of Photovoltaic Electricity – Report IEA-PVPS T12-03:2011.

Energy Matters solar posts

A debate between Paul Beckwith and Dane Wigington

The following reflections are just that and largely rendered irrelevent by fast-moving events in the world climate.

This is bio-mimicry. This is just trying to help Nature do something that it has been doing for a long time.Instead of trying to destroy Nature and working against Nature this is about looking at methods to getting Nature to help us”

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"?”

-attributed to Albert Einstein

A discussion on geoengineering

Geoengineering is usually a topic that I try to avoid like the plague largely on the grounds that it is has usually been a method for people who are essentially climate change deniers to distract and say "look here, don't look there".  In other words it can be a fine method from distracting people from the responsibility of the oil companies (who have known about this for longer than anyone else) and of industrial civilisation (as a heat engine) as a whole. I have therefore quite aggressively deflected attempts to introduce this into the narrative for that reason.

For that reason alone.

I have never totally denied that some form of geoengineering is going on and the devastating fires in Northern California and the strange way in which they destroyed homes whole leaving vegetation largely intact persuaded me that something in addition to climate change as it is most commonly described is indeed happening.

The other day my trusted friend, Juanita, pointed me to Dane Wigington's Geoengineering Watch. Out of respect for her I decided to have a look. I had a listen and found to my surprise that Dane is in fact talking about many of the things I am talking about on my blog, including on the nature of geopolitics and US imperialism. Indeed there was a congruence in what he is saying that I would be hard-pressed to ignore.

What surprised me was that he was not denying anthropogenic climate change at all but in effect he is saying that "climate engineering is not mitigating the unfolding abrupt climate shift, it is exacerbating it."

Further. "The power structure and the geoengineers who serve it are increasingly desperate to mask the unfolding Arctic cataclysm. Why? To avoid panicking populations in order to maintain the current paradigm (and thus their stranglehold on power) till the last possible moment."

If I could summarise (in Dane's words):

"Massive methane eruptions are pushing the planet toward Venus Syndrome. The climate engineering cabal is completely committed to chemically ice nucleating the polar regions in an unimaginably desperate and destructive attempt to cover up the unfolding methane catastrophe. For well over 70 years global powers have been consistently ramping up covert climate engineering programs that have now all but completely derailed the planet's life support systems. Without the knowledge or consent of their populations, governments around the world colluded and collaborated on the organization and deployment of incredibly destructive climate "intervention" programs that are further fueling the catastrophic consequences of anthropogenic activity on planet Earth."

That does not sound or feel like a denial of anthropogenic climate change to me - rather a different emphasis and an attempt to introduce another factor.

"The massive elephant in the room has been, and still is, "stratospheric aerosol geoengineering" (SAG), AKA "solar radiation management" (SRM)."

Much of what Dane Wigington says I would have to say I agree with.

I do not have the time or the mental energy to go deeply into the evidence he presents but I have seen enough to convince me that some form of weather modification is going on. The changes that I have observed, the disappearance of the pristine blue skies we used to get in New Zealand, the solid banks of cloud day-after-day, week-after-week, the whiplash weather - have certainly demonstrated to me that the climate is changing far, far more rapidly than anyone (bar very few) are willing to admit.

As Dane Wigington says "no ifs, may be's or perhaps, ..." - it's happening NOW and it's happening quickly.

I can also testify that the powers-that-be - the government, scientists and media are all lying through their teeth and as far as I can see (and I have reported on this) they are even lying about the weather and even recorded temperature in a way to hide the extent of the damage and to deflect people's attention away from the reality.

How many times have I pointed this out?!

So,it seems Dane Wigington and I are on the same page in more ways that I would ever thought.

However, for all I find myself resistant to what is perhaps his central tenet.

"Of all the forms of decimation the human race has inflicted on our formerly thriving biosphere, the ongoing geoengineering assault is mathematically the most ominous and destructive."

When I contemplate two centuries of human activity and the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses spewed out by the world's industries I indeed find i difficult to imagine that this can be the most significant element in the destruction of the ecosphere.

I have always been averse to reductionism in western science and the inability that there is a web of non-local causation. It is not a case of 'either-or' - the world is simply not that way.  There is no reason why there can't be abrupt climate change as described by those who have the courage to speak the truth AND some form of geoengineering.

Because I have this view of the world and perhaps because I have been poisoned by toxic pesticides (just as people have been poisoned by aluminium injected into the atmosphere coming down in the rain) and a health condition that reductionistic medicine fails (perhaps even refuses) to diagnose I am sympathetic to the argument. The counter-argument from people who identify with 'Science' reminds me of the people who will poo-poo the idea of toxins in the environment that are making people sick.

A debate between Dane Wigington and Paul Beckwith

I have always held Paul Beckwith in high regard for being one of the few voices that is speaking out about the nature of the climate change emergency. However, some of that regard has been eroded through his altercations with Guy McPherson, his insistence that near-term extinction is impossible because people will live in nuclear submarines and the like - and more recently since his broader world view has come out since the 2016 US elections.  His pro-Hillary position and his embracing of the Russiagate lie - and overall support for the Empire has become very clear.

I don't mind people having a different opinion but when it goes so deep it does mean that I can't take what Paul says at face value.

About a month ago Paul took part in a radio debate with Dane Wigington. Speaking for myself whatever the merits of the geoengineering argument he demonstrated himself to be deeply immersed in the reductionism I refer to above.

He ain't no ecologist! That much is sure.

But perception is everything and you may hear something completely differently from me so here is the full 2-hour debate so you can make up your own mind.

If I could make one observation which should be non-controversial and that is that (agree with him or not) Wigington does cite actual historical documents while Paul tends to rely on his authority as a scientists - something I have always been averse to in scientists who seek to softpeddle abrupt climate change.

One (non) argument Paul uses against Wigington is that "no scientist will agree with you". That does not hold water for me because I am fairly sure that it would be difficult to find a consensus of scientists talking on the record who would agree with his interpretation with regard to the climate change emergency.

The absence of a consensus does not mean something is not true.

Dane Wigington cites various pieces of evidence for his contention that weather modification (and he does not mean cloud seeding as argued by Paul!) has been going on since the 1950's

For example, I was unaware of this excerpt from a speech by (then) vice-president Lyndon B Johnson in 1962

"He who controls the weather controls the world"

And then there is this from the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation in 1978.

These documents and more can be found at the website

Material on the purported connection between geoengineering and the polar meltdown can be found here

Global Weather Modification Assault Causing Climate Chaos And Environmental Catastrophe


In conclusion, I am only providing some reflections about the ongoing debate and am trying to be as non-judgemental as I can and to report that I am somewhat agnostic about the question so am not willing to enter the chorus of voices who say that “the chemtrailers are nutcases

If you are talking about the mass of people who populate social media then the above label is certainly true.

In truth, if Guy McPherson is anywhere near right about what might happen to global grain crops and the world economy this debate is irrelevant.

We can argue forever, it seems, about closing the gate. The truth is that the horse has bolted and is not coming back.

In this context I will leave the last word to Guy McPherson.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Update on Tommy Robinson

It looks (as we might have expected) that the orders to move Tommy Robinson have come from the very top.


Friday, 15 June 2018

7% More Water Vapor Fuels Storms Today

Scientist Reveals 7% More Water Vapor Fuels Storms Today

Jennifer Francis, Ph.D., Research Professor I, Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University, speaks about weather changes. And how are those related to climate change?

In this presentation, Dr. Francis will explain new research that links increasing extreme weather events with the rapidly warming and melting Arctic during recent decades. Evidence suggests that Arctic warming is causing weather patterns to become more persistent, which can lead to extremes such as droughts, cold spells, heat waves, and some flooding events.