Energy Notes

Reporting on the rolling epic fail of renewable/alternative energy schemes has taken on a Groundhog Day feel: what, another story of subsidy cuts and common sense backlash against hamster-wheel energy systems?  Still, we do it here at Power Line so you don’t have to.

German power plants may shut down because government policy deliberately makes them unprofitable to run (memo to Obama: we know this is what you intend to copy here), but there will be serious power supply problems if they do.

Over in Britain, the news of abundant shale gas resources and fiscal reality is putting green energy schemes under pressure, and the Cameron government is slowly backing away from the whole mess while trying not to acknowledge this publicly.  But the most fun new story comes from Daily Mail columnist James Dellingpole, who reports that the backup power source for when the wind doesn’t blow is increasingly . . . diesel generators.

I’ve been meaning to note the demise of one of the better—though still wrongheaded—anti-fossil fuel websites, the Oil Drum, which has had the sense to say “never mind” to the whole “peak oil” enthusiasm.  But my pal Mark Mills beat me to it:

The notion of imminent exhaustion of hydrocarbons has been a core tenet of alternative energy pundits and rent-seekers. But considering geophysics, this has always been, to put it politely, silly. Sure, the world consumes a lot of energy; annually some 80 billion barrels in oil-equivalent terms, wherein 80% comes from hydrocarbons. But the Earth’s known, never mind unknown, quantities of hydrocarbons are countable in the tens of thousands of billions of barrels. The scale of the resource itself is bottomless.

In the end, what is available is mainly about technologies (and of course, whether governments permit one to use them). To believe oil had peaked you also had to believe that technology had peaked, which is even sillier.

Meanwhile, is Reuters starting to shift its coverage of climate change issues in a more skeptical direction?

Winds of change are blowing through Reuters’ environmental coverage. One of its three regional environment correspondents “is no longer with the company” and the other two have been ordered to switch focus, people inside the agency say.

A perceptible shift in Reuters’ approach to the global climate change story has attracted international attention. Scientists and climatologists as well as non-governmental and international environment bodies have detected a move from the agency’s straight coverage towards scepticism on the view held by a vast majority of scientists that climate change is the result of human pollution of the atmosphere and environment. They see generally fewer stories on the issue. Some say they have been taken aback by Reuters’ new direction and are concerned that this could contribute to a change in government and public perceptions of climate change.

It is just as I have predicted.

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