My, isn’t this good news?
Central to the lobbying effort is a report claiming that the EU could meet its 2050 carbon targets €900bn more cheaply by using gas than by investing in renewables.
The argument is all over whether we should use shale gas or not.
If we do, we can meet the targets that 900 billion more cheaply than if we don’t.
Stragenly, those who insist the most forcefully that we must meet the targets are those who are insisting most forecefully that we don’t do it at the least cost. Which is rather puzzling.
Almost as if they want to insist that we don’t simply meet the targets, but that we must comform to their detailed vision of the good society instead.
For example, take this:
Some in the gas industry are careful to argue that its fuel is complementary to renewables, as it can be relatively easily turned on and off to provide flexible back-up power when the wind is not blowing.
Well, yes, that’s obvious. We really do need to have back up power to support windmills. And gas really is the only power generation system we’ve got that can be cycled up and down quickly enough to do so. Almost by definition going for wind means that we have to go for gas as well.
And yet those in favour of wind seem to be those decrying the use of gas. How can you possibly do oppose gas and back wind is having gas is necessary to have wind?
A new gas-fired power station would be expected to have a useful life of about 25 to 40 years. So although switching from coal to gas would help countries meet their short term emissions targets, in the longer term they would be left with fleets of redundant, high-emitting fossil fuel power stations – unless they were fitted with expensive technology to capture and store the carbon dioxide underground.
Hmm, we’re in 2011 now so 40 years time (plus a bit to build the fleet), say 2055, they’ll all stop being used? Sounds like they’d be very helpful indeed to meet the targets then really. Certainly gives us another generation to play with solar, wave, tidal, windmills, pumped storage, fuel cells and all the rest. None of which, note, are actually ready for prime time yet. It simply isn’t possible to fuel our civilisation on any mixture of those at the current stage of technological development.
I really do suspect that there’s something ideological in this opposition to shale gas. The whole set of arguments, we’ve got to do this by 2050, this by 2030, this by 2020, boxes us in. None of the alternative, renewable, technologies can possibly fuel our curent civilisation, let alone provide the rising energy consumption which a growing economy is likely to require. Which, to a certain flavour of green (and Green) is just fine. For they don’t want our current socio-economic system to endure, let alone grow.
So when along comes a new source of energy which will allow precisely that of course they’re horrified. As they are.
They’d be just as horrified if high efficiency solar cells, the electroysis of water and solid oxide fuel cells were economic (it already works, just won’t be eonomic for a decade or two more) today. It wouldn’t be necessary to curtail growth to meet the targets then and thus the ability to bend the system to their desired low growth, low consumption model would be gone.
And that, I’m increasingly sure, is the real goal. Climate change be damned, that’s just an excuse. And if the excuse vanishes, then what will they do?