Natural Gas Now Best Picks of the Week, August 17, 2019

natural gas nowTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.

Natural Gas NOW readers pass along a lot of stuff every week about natural gas, fractivist antics, emissions, renewables, and other news relating to energy. As usual, emphasis is added.

This week’s selection of Natural Gas Now picks begins and ends with climate issues; how to not to address global warming scientifically, how not to get it done and how to get it done without government help or coercion. The case for natural gas now couldn’t be stronger, in fact.

“Just Shut Them Up” Is No Way to Win Friends and Influence People

Dr. Judith Curry is a highly respected climate scientist, She’s fed up with “consensus enforcement” in global warning discussions, perhaps best described as “just shut up.” She recently reviewed a new junk science study entitled “Discrepancies in scientific authority and media visibility of climate change scientists and contrarians,” and calls it “the worst paper I have ever seen published in a reputable journal.” She also states that “apart from the rank stupidity of this article and the irresponsibility of Nature in publishing this, this paper does substantial harm to climate science.” This is what got her worked up:

We juxtapose 386 prominent contrarians with 386 expert scientists by tracking their digital footprints across 200,000 research publications and 100,000 English-language digital and print media articles on climate change. Projecting these individuals across the same backdrop facilitates quantifying disparities in media visibility and scientific authority, and identifying organization patterns within their association networks. Here we show via direct comparison that contrarians are featured in 49% more media articles than scientists. Yet when comparing visibility in mainstream media sources only, we observe just a 1% excess visibility, which objectively demonstrates the crowding out of professional mainstream sources by the proliferation of new media sources, many of which contribute to the production and consumption of climate change disinformation at scale. These results demonstrate why climate scientists should increasingly exert their authority in scientific and public discourse, and why professional journalists and editors should adjust the disproportionate attention given to contrarians.

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Summarized in non-academic language, the message is this; “those who don’t agree with us are getting half the attention in the mainstream media and 49% more in other outlets, which must stop.” Putting aside the obvious—that global warming worriers are getting almost all the attention of mainstream media, not half—this “just shut them up” is amazingly bad politics and, as Curry also notes, “trying to silence or delegitimize…voices is very bad for science.” I’ll say.

Solar Road Turns Out to Be A Road to Nowhere
(Unlike Natural Gas Now)

An imitation gray brick solar road in Normandy, France, “has turned out to be a colossal failure that’s falling apart and doesn’t generate enough energy.” So says a recent Business Insider article:

Covering 2,800 square meters, Normandy’s solar road was the first in the world, inaugurated in 2016, in Tourouvre-au-Perche, France.

Despite the hype surrounding solar roads, two years after this one was introduced as a trial, the project has turned out to be a colossal failure — it’s neither efficient nor profitable, according to a report by Le Monde.

The unfortunate truth is that this road is in such a poor state, it isn’t even worth repairing. Last May, a 100-meter stretch had deteriorated to such a state that it had to be demolished.

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According to Le Monde’s report, various components of the road don’t fit properly — panels have come loose and some of the solar panels have broken into fragments.

On top of the damage and poor wear of the road, the Normandy solar track also failed to fulfill its energy-production goals. The original aim was to produce 790 kWh each day, a quantity that could illuminate a population of between 3,000 and 5,000 inhabitants. But the rate produced stands at only about 50% of the original predicted estimates.

In its second year, the energy production level of the road further dwindled and the same downward trend has been observed at the beginning of 2019, indicating serious issues with efficiency.

Even rotting leaves and thunderstorms appear to pose a risk in terms of damage to the surface of the road. What’s more, the road is very noisy, which is why the traffic limit had to be lowered to 70 kmh.

Not good; not good at all, but it’s France, of course, so it’s hardly unexpected. They should have fracked and have had natural gas now. They would have at least gotten some good roads. Anyone need a yellow vest?

But, there is a fabulous alternative to energy failure—natural gas now:

Amid all the brouhaha over climate change, a major milestone has been ignored — namely, that America’s greenhouse gas emissions are 13 percent lower today than in 2005, even with an economy that is a third larger. This achievement isn’t the result of environmental regulations or the huge subsidies available to wind and solar investors; rather, it has been the increased use of natural gas that has helped reduce GHGs in the U.S.

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It is a well-known fact that natural gas burns a lot cleaner than coal or oil. At the same time, thanks to the “shale revolution,” natural gas is abundant, inexpensive and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.

Consequently, the power generation sector, which is responsible for about 25 percent of GHGs in the U.S., has moved quickly to adopt natural gas. Electric utilities have shuttered more than 250 coal plants since 2010 and a dozen more will be closed this year. A decade ago, coal-fired generation accounted for about 50 percent of the electrons coursing through the nation’s power grids but by last year, that percentage had dropped to 27. No utility in the nation has plans to build a new coal plant.

Opponents of fossil fuels acknowledge that gas has a smaller carbon footprint than coal but nonetheless object to its use because of methane (CH4) releases associated with its production and transportation. Because the heat-trapping characteristics of methane are 20 times greater than carbon dioxide, environmentalists have good reason to be concerned. But here again they fail to acknowledge the tremendous progress that has been made in recent years to contain methane emissions.

According to recent data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Information Administration, methane emissions from onshore oil and natural gas production fell 24 percent between 2011 and 2017, even as production increased by almost 50 percent and 730,000 miles of new transmission and distribution pipelines were added. What’s more, the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI), a coalition of global energy companies, has committed to cutting average methane intensity by at least 20 percent and total GHG emission levels by one-third by 2025. Already, participants have conducted more than 156,000 leak-monitoring surveys across 78,000 production sites in the U.S.

It just doesn’t get much better than natural gas now does it?

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