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« Not so simples | Main | Suppressing the good news »

Environmentalists trashing the environment, part 729

As greens steadily persuade governments to intervene more and more often in energy markets, the unintended consequences flow ever thicker and faster. In a delightful example today, we read that chemical companies are trying to deal with the steadily increasing price of energy by installing their own power generation facilities, burning ultra-dirty but dirt-cheap lignite.

For example, a power plant operated by Allessa Chemie using pulverized lignite recently entered service at Fechenheim east of Frankfurt, Germany. A similar facility will be completed next year by the WeylChem chemical company in nearby Griesheim. This plant will be capable of firing lignite, natural gas, or “white powder”, an inexpensive biomass substitute. Three truckloads of finely pulverized lignite per day will be supplied from the Rhineland about 200 km northwest near Cologne, with ash returned for mining reclamation.

And if you thought that green hurdles would be put in their way, you would be quite wrong:

An electronic capacity control limits both plants to 19.5 MW operation, alleviating the need to purchase EU Allowances (EUA) for emissions trading. Public hearings are also required only for capacities exceeding 50 MW, and environmental impact assessments per Directive 2014/52/EU above 300 MW.

Well done greens.


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Reader Comments (98)

I don't suppose the advocates of going off grid quite had this in mind. The next thing will be all those old factories that were built alongside of a canal will be re-opening the wharves in order to keep their boilers supplied . Everything that goes around, comes around.

Jan 2, 2016 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterBloke down the pub

Again it is not ultimately the greens behind this .
It is European energy policy .
European energy policy is in reality the policy of finance capitalism.
To drive up prices at all costs.
Especially since EEC entry of the British isles transport as a % of TFC has increased.
It would be cheaper to use the oil directly rather then engage in further work.
But this "work" adds to prices so.........

Typically you get a increase in activity (GDP) which is of no human value.
The use of GDP to measure expansion goes back to the Bretton woods conference of 1944 where its was given official sanction.
Now it has merely reached absurd levels.
Irish /american biomass stations replacing locally supplied peat stations etc etc.

Social credit writings on Industrial sabotage pretty much cover this area and are now very old indeed.

Jan 2, 2016 at 10:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Not only are energy costs extremely high in Germany, and hence puts their energy intensive industries at a disadvantage, the grid has many problems due to the high penetration of renewables (solar and wind) and the unreliability and non dispatchable nature of such energy.

Germany is going to very much regret its rush towards green energy as it becomes clearer, with every passing year, that this energy does not result in the reduction to any significant extent of CO2 emissions, and merely hikes prices and leads to grid instability.

Germany will look very foolish should growing observational evidence suggest that Climate Sensitivity has been very much over hyped by the failure to take proper account of the extent of temperature changes caused by natural variation. Unless there is a long lasting step change in temperatures coincident with the current 2015/16 Strong El Nino, as there was coincident with the Super El Nino of 1997/98, then as early as AR6 is published, the then most recent papers probably will all be putting Climate Sensitivity at less than 1.5 degC, and some close to the no feedback scenario of 1.2 degC. If that is the case, AR6 may need to look more closely upon what evidence supports a positive feedback scenario, or whether (as common sense would suggest), it is more likely that the net feedbacks are negative.

Interesting times lie ahead within the next 5 years since there is evidence to suggest that this current El Nino is running out of legs and may only deliver a short term spike as did the 2010 El Nino, and in which case, it is likely that a following La Nina will drive temperatures back down and there is every prospect that the temperature anomaly will then settle once again at around the 2001 to 2003 level such that coming into AR6 the 'pause' will be over 21 years in duration and well over a third of manmade CO2 emissions having occurred with no impact at all on temperatures! And should by chance temperatures begin to fall (perhaps due to a quiet sun or ocean cycles) then what then?!!.

Jan 2, 2016 at 11:02 AM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

The Law of Unintended Consequences? The curious thing is that commitment to reducing CO2 is so weak that nobody seems overly bothered by mass efficient energy generation turning into distributed dirty generation. I suspect that the difficulty monitoring it is a plus for the authorities. It ties in nicely with the religious nature of climate hysteria - where what you actually do is less important than what you are seen to do.

Could I despise greens any more than I already do?

Jan 2, 2016 at 11:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

It is definitely the law of unintended consequences (but only unintended consequences as far as politicians and the Greenblob are concerned). Genuine scientists and engineers could see the consequences coming years ago and warned against it - but as usual were ignored. Think banks of DGs for STOR.

I note that on Radio 4 this morning (so I'm told) Prince Philip said that more attention should be paid to engineers as they were the people who had given us all our infrastructure on which we are totally dependent (power, communications, transport etc) and there should be a Nobel Prize for engineering.

He won't be on Radio 4 again after such heresy. The BBC thinks that engineers are the people who fix your washing machine or car. The BBC thinks you should only heed the Greenblob.

Jan 2, 2016 at 11:46 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Was it Einstein who said that there are only two things that are infinite – the universe and the level of human stupidity? However, he did have doubts about the universe.

On an anecdotal level, I have shown the ability to perceive patterns with very little data: one pattern I see is a push for One World Government, using the cAGW scare as its principle driver – what those doing most of the visible pushing (i.e. most of the western politicians) are unable to perceive is that they will be the first victims of OWG; having deceived and betrayed their own citizens, they will not be entrusted with any power, most likely meeting an early demise á la Robin Cook and Dr David Kelly. The main thing that might prevent this drive is should the temperatures drop (which they certainly seem poised to do), and the sham of AGW is shown; the general belligerence of Vladimir Putin and his desire to keep Russia Russian may also be a key factor. Nigel Farage and his contemporaries in Europe might be slowing the process sufficiently for the global cooling to become undeniable, and reality to assert itself.

Jan 2, 2016 at 12:06 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Rudolph Diesel invented an engine that could be run on coal dust, as Germany had no oil.

Pulverised lignite sounds as though it is coal dust. It is not clear whether 'compression ignition' is the method of generating power in this instance, but it is good to know that the Germans are generating power from an abundant natural resource.

What is "white powder"? Surely it is not pulverised newspaper, or other material collected for 'recycling'?

Perhaps we could go back to making gas from coal, and storing gas bags on the roofracks of cars? The gas pressure/regulator technology for this was developed in France during WW2, and involved a Monsieur Gagnan. He teamed up with a French Naval Officer to develop the design further, calling it the 'Aqualung', which had rather more commercial success after the war.

Jan 2, 2016 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

richard verney. The people of what is now known as Germany were rather late in embracing the industrial revolution, but were very quick to industrialise when they did.

Modern German engineering seems to have realised that 'Green Power' is going nowhere, politically or financially. It now depends on German politicians to learn from previous mistakes, and help remove their legacy from European history.

Jan 2, 2016 at 12:38 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

No economic expansion and STOR diesels become viable again.
GDP has become more and more about transport over the years an not human consumption.

You are not following the logic of our pointless 20th century industrial Odyssey to its conclusion.
Think of Richard Burtons father perplexed attitude to his sons fortune.
Both were in agreement that it was obscene .
His fathers world orbited the mine , the pub and perhaps the allotment.
Richard found it impossible to drink his fortune.
To dispose of his surplus he travelled by private jet ,kept high maintenance wives etc etc.

I find stories of his childhood most fascinating .
The dichotomy between his two lives was extreme to say the least.

Jan 2, 2016 at 12:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Blimey - if Prince Philip said that - surely the time has come for him to take his eldest son to one side, shake him warmly by the throat, and suggest that he gets some opinions that actually relate to the real world....

Jan 2, 2016 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

So - presumably, all you have to do (as a German industialist) is line up a bank of (say) fifty generators utilising powdered lignite, all with 49MW capacity - and - bingo..! you have generating capacity of 2450MW without anyone in environmental governance being able to raise so much as an eyebrow....

Jan 2, 2016 at 12:54 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

Well don't blame the 'Greens', blame the pandering, not very bright politicians who dance to their tune.

Jan 2, 2016 at 1:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

I do not underestimate the power of the dark side of British bureaucrats.

They also have a deeper antipathy to industry than their German counterparts.

Jan 2, 2016 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Hmm but yes Kermit the frog even knows why.
The 20th century is no more is it?
Because why use apostrophe's?
For our journey has no end for it travels along without any.
Yoda I am turning into.

Jan 2, 2016 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterA pork of mork and mindy

It's a mad, mad world.

"BRITAIN’S green energy barons are getting huge taxpayer subsidies to install diesel generators — exactly the kind of polluting energy source their wind and solar farms are meant to replace.

"It is richly ironic that owners of heavily subsidised solar and wind farms, which create the need for back up capacity, then make more money from consumers by supplying it!"

Jan 2, 2016 at 1:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon B

A pork of mork and mindy, you forgot to mention how the discovery of the potato was proof that capitalism always planned to oppress the Irish peasant and has been the tool of the oil industry * ever since. The fishing fleets of the EU are in on the plot and don't get me started on the salt mines and vinegar cartels.

* vegetable.

Jan 2, 2016 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

The dissonance in thought of the alarmists has turned into absurd or contradictory action. This social mania has indeed been an extraordinary popular delusion and madness of the crowd. There are seven billion of the crowd now recovering sanity one by one.

Jan 2, 2016 at 1:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

[snip O/T}

Jan 2, 2016 at 2:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Might have known it. Johnny foreigner, up to no good. It's Jurgen Klinsmann all over again.

Jan 2, 2016 at 2:25 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

'objective of capitalism'

Reification fallacy.

Jan 2, 2016 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterGamecock

Libtards have a static view of the world. As TinyCO2 said, unintended consequences. But seldom unforseen.

Making central supply of electricity expensive and unreliable will perforce produce decentralization of supply, along with all problems associated with it.

Jan 2, 2016 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterGamecock

@richard verney: positive feedback in the IPCC models is an artefact from using ~double real low level cloud optical depth. This artificially increases evaporation whilst hind-casting temperature is correct. The 1988 claims by Hansen to Congress were based on this and other 'mistakes', the worst being mythical 'negative convection' controlling atmospheric lapse rate. This is obvious to any professional who reads the early literature, much of which should never have passed peer review.

Jan 2, 2016 at 2:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

A pork of Mork and Mindy,

luckily we didn't have a Duck from Muck

Nanoo, nanoo

ps, whatever happened to Mindy?

Jan 2, 2016 at 2:56 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I assume you see capitalists as independent agents seeking maximum return. ( totally incorrect in my view )
Not a very small band of brothers in total control of the political economic and social affairs .
These guys draw the map you see.
In effect their fictional world has become a reality for you and me.

Jan 2, 2016 at 2:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Mindy ran off with Special Agent Jethro Gibbs.

Jan 2, 2016 at 3:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Drivel bollocks.
Nonsense drivel rubbish incomprehensible drivel.
Heap of old tosh.
Senseless rantings.
Meaningless points unintelligibly made.
See? Any old fool can do it.

Jan 2, 2016 at 3:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterMork of Nork

There's more about the Prince Philip interview here. It was an interview by guest editor Lord Browne, which is how he got away with such heresy on the Today programme.

Also covered in the Telegraph.

Jan 2, 2016 at 3:30 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Is lignite only ultra-dirty due to the amount of CO2 emissions, i.e. not dirty at all, or are there real pollutants emitted?


Jurgen Klinsmann is not a Johnny foreigner, he is God, which, as we know, makes him English.

Jan 2, 2016 at 3:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterDocBud

TinyCO2, didn't Jethro Gibbs invent the seed drill, or was that his cousin, Turnip Tull, accompanied by Ian Andersen and Pete Townsend on lead vocals? The seed drill is much underrated in urban myths about rural poverty in Irish Country and Eastern legends.

Luckily I am only 25% Irish, well short of a full consensus of logic.

Jan 2, 2016 at 4:03 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Dieter Helm (IET Lecture) noted that. the Germans would not reach their 2020 emissions targets. He's right. All the renewables they've built (over 80 GW) matches, in production terms, the cut in nuclear production. And since the remaining nukes will close by 2020, they'll have to build another 100GW+ Of renewables to avoid increasing their emissions! Meanwhile they're avoiding nasty coal by building biomass and lignite stations! See: there's always someone worse off than yourslref.

Jan 2, 2016 at 4:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

" .................. An electronic capacity control limits both plants to 19.5 MW operation, alleviating the need to purchase EU Allowances (EUA) for emissions trading. ....................."

So does that mean I could open a small coal fired power station in the UK without being hampered by green taxes? It might give me a competitive advantage against the majors.

Jan 2, 2016 at 4:49 PM | Unregistered Commenterschober

Why does diesel transport dominate the energy balance of euro countries yet does not do much work. ?

Skoda is currently offering cars at 0% finance.
No basic income is available.
In practise those who receive 0% finance also receive cash flow from the connected corporates.
The corporates are attempting to starve the real economy so as to sustain their racetrack economy.

Its not rocket science folks.
The corporate sector is front running / destroying consumption.
Without the cars & planes energy use economics in all other spheres would be turned on its head.

Jan 2, 2016 at 4:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Capell, how many German Greens on exercise bike powered generators would it take to produce 1 GW of electricity?

This is the sort of real data the Green Blob don't want the public to know. Would their output go up with expert advice from Lance Armstrong?

Jan 2, 2016 at 5:01 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Re: DocBud

> Is lignite only ultra-dirty due to the amount of CO2 emissions, i.e. not dirty at all, or are there real pollutants emitted?

Back when they actually taught you about these things (1970s) I learnt there are 3 types of coal:

Anthracite, Bitumen(?) and Lignite. With the best being Anthracite and worst lignite. This is mainly due to moisture content
If I remember correctly nearly half the weight of lignite is due to the moisture content.

Jan 2, 2016 at 5:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS


Anthracite, Bitumen(?) and Lignite.

I think it's Bituminous. Bitumen is more like tar/asphalt (although bituminous coal apparently does contain some bitumen, hence the name).

Jan 2, 2016 at 5:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil R

In 2009 there was an interesting BBC episode of Bang Goes the Theory, where they powered a house of 4 for a day. At the end they showed what 100 or so cyclists equated to in coal or oil and the amounts were very small. It's no wonder they didn't revisit this.

Jan 2, 2016 at 5:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

"What is white powder?"

Jan 2, 2016 at 12:17 PM | golf charlie

I do hope it isn't any illegal sort of white powder. The electrons will be spinning!

Jan 2, 2016 at 6:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterAllan M

Sorry to be OT but last night I watched a very far fetched but hugely entertaining action movie called Kingsman. The villain was a global warming nut who's evil plan involved wiping out the entire human race apart from a handful of 'elites' who could afford to buy themselves a ticket to his secret hideaway. This movie has been out long enough to be on the telly so presumably there must be some green types that are aware of it. Why are they not outraged at this portrayal of a green type as a genocidal lunatic? It couldn't be because they think that he has the right idea surely.

Jan 2, 2016 at 6:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterStonyground

I hereby announce the 2016 'Dork of Cork' haiku competition.
My entry:

Potatoes are good.
Grammar is much confusing.
Punctuation too.

Jan 2, 2016 at 6:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterPink of link


Great. I'll have a look. It's a very similar plot to both Batman Begins and Utopia (Channel 4 series).

Jan 2, 2016 at 6:18 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Allan M, I was getting a bit concerned as to whether Europol Narcotics disposal might be used a a cover for smuggling into Germany.

Jan 2, 2016 at 6:20 PM | Unregistered Commenterthe guardian of cardigan

"I think it's Bituminous. Bitumen is more like tar/asphalt (although bituminous coal apparently does contain some bitumen, hence the name)." --Phil R

Correct. People used to refer to it as "by-two-minutes coal," as in "By two minutes, the house is full of smoke." It does burn smokier--less coal, more water and dirt. .

Jan 2, 2016 at 6:29 PM | Unregistered Commenter The Dook of Kook

Jan 2, 2016 at 6:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

Is this the first time that German lignite has been transported 200km by truck?

Net energy figures must be interesting.

But activity including depreciation of the truck is added to Gdp so everything is nice and dandy.

It seems to be not understood on this site but banks go bankrupt if you engage in real distribution.
So obviously they must engage in Industrial sabotage so as to maintain concentration.
Keep that hamster wheel turning.

Jan 2, 2016 at 6:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

I don't know enough to be certain, but I think think I understand what's going on here. While in the UK the interests of the financial industry and property prices have dominated economic policy since the '80s, it seems that in Germany manufacturing industry is still king. So in Germany it's fine and wonderful to chase the dream of renewable electricity, but not at the expense of industrial competitiveness, thank you! Upshot: German industry gets big rebates to protect it from the cost of electricity, pushing the burden of higher electricity prices on to consumers. (Incidentally, this kind of thing—policy choices which suppress German consumer demand while protecting industry—is the reason why Germany is such a strong net exporter.

This would be great if every country could be a net exporter at the same time; but since they can't, it's apparently just as destructive as the UK's supplication to the City.) But now the industrial users' grid-electricity rebates are beginning to be trimmed back (partly due to pressure from the EU, which I'm pretty sure isn't supposed to tolerate demand-suppression wheezes but has been very slow to act in the case of Germany), so it's time for Plan B. And so it's likely that the blatant absurdity of German heavy industries burning their own lignite will be allowed to continue for some time, because when you have unresolved contradictions from mutually incompatible policy imperatives then the bump in the carpet has to go somewhere.

Jan 2, 2016 at 7:01 PM | Unregistered Commenteranonym

DocBud/TerryS etc,

From the OU Earth's Physical Resources course: Lignite is around 50% volatiles, compared to bituminous coal (35%) and anthracite (<10%); its dry matter is around 60% carbon compared to 85% and 90% for bituminous coal and anthracite.

The volatile component of all three does contain aromatic cyclic and non-cyclic compounds that are known to be toxic and carcinogenic.

Jan 2, 2016 at 7:05 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

TinyCO2, thank you for the update. Do you know whether the life expectancy of Greens would be decreased, by pedaling some generators, as opposed to peddling lies about how hard they work, and how they justify their existance?

Across Europe we are bombarded with how many people have Green jobs. As no one would notice if any of them went on strike for a year, they ought to be able to take 6 months off paid unwork, to do unpaid real work and establish any negative consequences of them actually doing something useful.

Jan 2, 2016 at 7:47 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Golf Charlie asks-
"Capell, how many German Greens on exercise bike powered generators would it take to produce 1 GW of electricity?"

Someone in good condition can generate about 100 Watts. So 1GW needs at least 10,000,000 cyclists on stationary peddle generators.
Probably need to double to 20,000,000 to account for breaks, protesting, showering, etc.

And then the cyclist's remuneration will be wholesale electricity price or about 2.5 kWh x 0.10 €/kWh = 0,25 € per day.

What's not to like?

Jan 2, 2016 at 7:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris y

Being more then slightly unfair to the true greens.

Residential heating forms the bulk of northern European energy inputs in the home.
Agrarian greens simply burn local available biomass (its only viable use)
The one electric bulb and wireless of a 1950s Irish peasant requires minimal electrical inputs.

The problem with mass produced electricity is trying to find a market for it.
Typically a market is created from scratch.
For example in France after nuclear build electrical heaters were promoted.
Light pollution from streetlights increased exponentially ....etc etc .

Peasant cultures use bikes for transport rather then waste production.

Jan 2, 2016 at 8:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Re: Phil R

> I think it's Bituminous.

Considering I was recalling a 45 year old memory from a school lesson it wasn't a bad guess!

Jan 2, 2016 at 9:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

So on the one side we have mass electricity, diesel cars, gas fired homes under the evil capitalist rule and under the other we'd have a bike, a light bulb and FREEDOM!

Oooooh decisions, decisions.

Errr, can I be a capitalist wage slave please.

Jan 2, 2016 at 9:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

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