Tidal Energy - an Almost Untapped Major Energy Source

Tiistai 29.11.2022 klo 13:39 - Mikko Nikinmaa

Moon gravity creates tides, felt everywhere in oceanic coasts. Tides have immense energy, probably more so than the inland waters, which have been used for generating electricity for years. Furthermore, as flowing water, tides are very regular, occurring regardless of sunshine or wind. Thus, the tidal energy does not suffer from the problems with solar and wind power, i.e., marked daily or seasonal variation. Further, huge tides wash the coasts of many of the world’s rich countries, and in principle the technology for generating electricity from tidal energy is already available.

Because of the above, one would imagine that tidal power features strongly in the renewable energy sector. But no, so far there are only a couple of experimental tidal power plants in function. The main reasons for this are probably the following: First, there was no tradition of converting tidal energy to usable power. In contrast, windmills have been around for at least a thousand years, as also riverine power stations. Second, since coal and oil have been cheap, generating energy using the fossil fuels has been the preferred way for energy production.

The situation must change now that we shall combat climate change. A major argument of the fossil fuel lobbying groups has been that the green shift is not really possible, since wind and solar power have marked production fluctuations. The same argument is used by nuclear power advocates, who maintain that in order to get assured constancy of energy production, nuclear power plants are required. However, tidal energy power plants will produce energy at a predictable rate, and building them is both cheaper and more rapid than nuclear power plants. Also, they do not generate carbon dioxide emissions thus representing a true green shift.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, electricity, energy production, green shift, fossil fuels

Climate Promises from Glasgow - It was all talk

Keskiviikko 26.10.2022 klo 16:13 - Mikko Nikinmaa

Last year 193 countries solemnly agreed in Glasgow to speed up climate actions to decrease the negative effects of climate change. A year has gone and the next climate meeting in Egypt is just around the corner so it is good time to evaluate, if the pledges made have been fulfilled as promised for the year 2022. This is even more important, as the year 2022 has been characterized by huge wildfires, record-breaking heat, extreme drought, melting of glaciers and devastating floods. In addition, deliberate natural gas leaks have been generated and Russia’s war in Ukraine has caused fossil fuel use that much exceeds peace-time consumption.

Further, now that energy price is high, the populistic politicians everywhere demand that more electricity should be produced using subsidized fossil fuels. One would have thought that the pronounced adverse signals that things are going wrong with climate at an alarming rate would have made governments to take mitigation measures of climate change more seriously than a year ago, but no. “Blaah, blaah, blaah, it is all talk”, said climate activists disappointed after the Glasgow meeting.

Indeed, only 26 countries, i.e. 13 % of nations who made pledges to do something extra in 2022, have fulfilled their promises. This means that climate change can continue almost as nothing had happened. For a large part the inactivity is said to be due to actions being economically too expensive. This claim does not hold, as there are funds to repair the climate-caused damages. Indeed, proper combatting climate change could currently turn out to be cheaper than repairing the damage done by climate-related catastrophes.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, wildfires, fossil fuels

Air pollution increases stroke risk

Perjantai 7.10.2022 klo 13:44 - Mikko Nikinmaa

Today, only climate change effects of fossil fuel burning get attention. While climate change is undoubtedly the ultimate stress, it does not seem to reach the minds and be accepted by many people even today when the heat waves, hurricanes, floods and wildfires all testify that climate change is happening. The people with the highest percentage of climate sceptics are also the most susceptible to stroke: overweight, with low education, not exercising and driving a lot. They are not likely to be worried about something that may happen to the next generation or to other people as long as they can live their comfortable life.

But they may get stroke! That is something they are worried about when they drive to work in the congested highways of towns with high nitrogen oxide and elevated small particle levels. In a recent article in Neurology, Tian et al. (DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000201316) showed quite conclusively that this kind of air pollution increases stroke risk. Earlier studies have shown that air pollution causes all sorts of lung-related problems. Thus, there is quite clear evidence that fossil fuel use should be stopped even if one is only worried about one’s own health and wouldn’t care at all of the well being of future generations.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, fossil fuels, climate sceptics, nitrogen oxide, traffic

Fish kill in Oder river - blame the climate change

Maanantai 26.9.2022 klo 15:11 - Mikko Nikinmaa

 

The temperature measured in Oder river was exceptionally high, when the mass mortality of fish occurred. Although other factors certainly also had a role, this was the primary reason for the fish kills. This is because the difference between the tolerated upper temperature and the temperature causing death is small regardless of fish species. There are cold water species, species which have very small temperature range where they live, warm water species, and species which live in a wide range of temperatures. However, regardless of their temperature preference or tolerance, when fish are close to their upper critical temperature, the difference between tolerable and lethal temperature is small.

Thus, Oder river fish kill is something we are going to see with increasing frequency, if urgent actions are not carried out to combat climate change. They cannot wait until energy price comes down. And, actually the huge increase in energy price as a result of Russian energy war shows that Europe has been too slow in green conversion. If it had been rapid enough, the stop of Russian gas export to Europe would not have affected energy price at all. Now we are suffering from the slow replacement of fossil fuels by green energy. The Oder fish kill shows that we must tolerate the high energy price and speed up the transfer to green energy.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: temperature tolerance, temperature, fossil fuels, green energy

Oil Exploration Boom Is Heating Up

Maanantai 25.7.2022 klo 13:19 - Mikko Nikinmaa

With huge forest fires raging more carbon dioxide is emitted to the atmosphere than the present restrictions in fossil fuel use diminish the emissions. The net result is further heating, leading to further forest fires, leading to further heating…and so on.

One would imagine that at least now the world leaders would start markedly diminishing our dependency on oil production, but no. It is only last November that virtually every country in the world pledged in Glasgow to do quite a bit to combat climate change. Notably, though, leaders of Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Iran (and a couple of other nations, which I don’t mention as they are not major global players in the production or use of oil) did not attend the Glasgow Summit. Well, the leaders made pledges, but what has recently happened?

Putin has started the war against Ukraine and ridiculed the European aim to shift from oil to green energy production. Since EU, UK and USA are stopping or have stopped to use Russian oil, oil production elsewhere is increasing. For example, President Biden visited Saudi Arabia, asking them to increase oil production. Norway is increasing oil production and offshore drilling. In view of these incidences, it is no wonder that Congo is slipping from its Glasgow pledge. In Glasgow, Congo agreed to protect its large rain forest for the next ten years. In exchange for this pledge, the international community promised to give Congo 500 000 000 USD.

Promises are made to be broken. Congo has now started an auction for oil exploration in its rainforest. It is expected that the oil production of Congo could increase 50-fold. At the same time the rain forest of Congo as a carbon sink would clearly decrease.

The poor countries like Congo maintain that the rich industrialized countries are again being colonial – trying to keep themselves rich and using poor nations as “carbon dioxide sinks” preventing them from economic growth if they have their way. There is some truth in this claim. After all, who are most likely to use the oil drilled from the rain forest in Congo. And the companies getting most of the profits from oil drilling are hardly from Congo. Notably, Elon Musk would rather spend his money on Mars than help people on Earth. He has already spent much more on space travel than the international pledge of funds to Congo is. I wonder which is more important for humankind – or even to him, his space travel or combatting climate change?

All in all, the best way to combat climate change would be to markedly reduce economic inequality.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, fossil fuels, economic inequality

Profits before Planet

Keskiviikko 20.7.2022 klo 19:57 - Mikko Nikinmaa

This summer in the industrialized north has been hotter than ever. Temperatures over +40 C have been reached even in England. And the heat is not restricted to one area, but above-average temperatures are measured everywhere in Northern Hemisphere. On top of the acute heat waves it is now estimated that the present trend for temperature increase to 2.7 C above preindustrial values causes 40 % of world’s human population to live outside the thermal niche.

One would imagine that the heat and wildfires would wake up even the climate sceptics, but no. And, unfortunately, many of the people who have much influence on fossil fuel production and consumption belong to the group that does not care about what is happening to the climate. It is profits before planet. These people often say that they are worried about leaving debt to the future generations. However, a little more debt hardly matters, if one can have tolerable climate instead of scorching heat.

Oil price has recently rocketed, and consequently oil companies are making huge profits. It is naturally too much to ask that instead of lining the owners’ pockets, the profits would be used for combatting climate change. Putin’s Russia is one of the countries benefiting from high oil price, even if the sales to Europe and North America are stopped. Putin has throughout his reign been known as climate sceptic, so it was no surprise that he recently ridiculed the European aim to turn from fossil fuels (where Europe is dependent on Russia) to green energy. In the USA the Supreme Court ruling made it virtually impossible to carry out climate actions. The final blow to President Biden’s climate plans came when the “Democratic” Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia decided not to support any legislation supporting climate action. Needless to say that his major donors are companies depending on coal (and oil). What is common to the above people is their age: people around 70 or older hardly need to suffer the scorching heat that younger people must suffer 30-40 years from now.  Unfortunately, even younger people in politics do not seem to take climate change seriously. For example, the candidates for Conservative Party leadership did not have climate change among the important topics they need to address.

And it was +40 in London.

Lue lisää »

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, fossil fuels, heat waves

Climate Change and US Supreme Court

Maanantai 20.6.2022 klo 15:16 - Mikko Nikinmaa

President Trump was able to nominate three Supreme Court judges during his presidency. This changed the Court to a significantly more conservative direction than earlier. This is now seen in the likelihood that the Roe vs. Wade decision from 1973 guaranteeing abortion right to women throughout USA will be overturned.

But maybe even more terrible to the world is the West Virginia vs. EPA case, which the conservative Supreme Court judges likely decide in favour of West Virginia. That decision would mean that EPA would not be allowed to limit the carbon dioxide emissions of power plants. This would effectively mean that USA will not be able to combat climate change unless coal and oil industry wishes.

In addition to this, there are several lower court cases, which would, e.g., limit the possibility of federal government to restrict carbon dioxide emissions of traffic or require that electricity production shifts from the use of fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Altogether the conservative court cases may mean that the worst producer of greenhouse gases will not be able to carry out any meaningful actions in combatting climate change. Ironically, the conservative circles are working against any climate actions at the same time that the temperature in almost every part of USA has increased to highest level ever. And it is only mid-June. But, according to conservative circles, there is no connection between burning of fossil fuels and heat waves. Or is there?

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: global warming, fossil fuels, EPA, carbon dioxide emissions

Energy Production to Mitigate Climate Change

Maanantai 30.5.2022 klo 16:53 - Mikko Nikinmaa

We must get rid of burning fossil fuels. Especially two things have happened in recent past, which speed up the conversion from fossil fuels to other ways of energy production. As terrible as it is, the attack of Russia to Ukraine is the first. Russian economy has been centered around oil and gas export. With the attack, Europe, by far the biggest market, is decreasing its dependence on Russian energy. Putin’s Russia is imagining that China’s huge market will offer an alternative. However, there is not available transport infrastructure, and building it would take years during which China is investing mainly on decreasing fossil fuel use. So, what is happening to Russia is that it is rapidly becoming a huge loser in everything: it is currently under heavy sanctions, and soon nobody will buy oil and gas from it. And innovative people have emigrated which precludes the generation of new products, which would be bought after the sanctions are lifted. Second, the elections in Australia threw out the climate denialist Morrison and gave clear support to candidates who were for climate actions. Because of this, one can expect that Australia changes from being one of the biggest per capita carbon dioxide polluters (only behind some small Arabian oil producers) to a country that is actively promoting the use of fossil-free energy.

As one is moving away from fossil fuels, nuclear power has been advocated as an important alternative. At the moment the only place, where this is already happening is China, where more than 50 nuclear power plants are in different stages of construction. One cannot expect that any nuclear power plants which are not already being built will make a contribution at the time that fossil fuels need to be replaced, i.e., next ten years. Approximately only 30 % of the power plants, where construction was started 10 years ago, produce energy today. Besides, the traditional nuclear power plants are excessively expensive, with the cost of several billion €. As an alternative, the nuclear power lobbyists advocate the production of small, modular power plants, which could be placed to the sites liberated from coal power plants. However, there is the problem that no such power plant currently exists except in the planners’ drawing tables, although according to the lobbyists the first should have been in use already several years ago.

The reason for advocating nuclear power is that energy production from them is constant, not fluctuating as that from the much cheaper wind and solar energy. In view of this, one should either find ways of producing green energy at constant level or storing it so that the excess energy can be used during the time that production is limited. Both alternatives are already known, and the needed infrastructure is certainly much cheaper and more rapidly built than a full-scale nuclear power plant. With regard to constant fossil-free energy production, the use of geothermal energy is easily done. In fact, Iceland’s energy production depends almost fully on it, and  its use is possible everywhere. The expense for kWh may presently exceed that of using fossil fuels, but it will most likely get cheaper as wind energy has. Tidal energy and ocean current energy are constant. It has been estimated that about 30 % of total energy demand in UK could be produced with tidal energy quite easily. Also, turbines for ocean current utilization would be quite similar to those in hydroelectric power plants.

The simplest way of achieving effective energy storage is to pump water to a storage site during the time that more energy is produced than is needed. When the stored energy is required, the storage site can function as hydroelectric power plant. The second good alternative is not actually storage, but utilizing the fact that the wind blows and sun shines always somewhere. Making electric grids interconnected so that electricity can be transported from where it is overproduced to where it is needed is a way of stabilizing global production/utilization. While this way of making ends need appears vulnerable today with Russian aggression, such globalism is required if we are to effectively combat climate change.

So, probably nuclear power is not needed because of its heavy investment costs and long building time. The alternatives can be built much more rapidly and do not require as extensive investments. However, if fusion power ever comes into controlled being, that changes everything. After all, the sun is only a massive fusion power plant.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: nuclear power, wind energy, hydroelectric power, energy storage, fossil fuels

IPCC Report: an immense amount of information that climate change already affects the earth

Tiistai 1.3.2022 klo 19:06 - Mikko Nikinmaa

Another IPCC report has become available yesterday (February 28). They keep becoming larger, the full report now has 3685 pages. Its main findings are summarized in 35-page summary for policymakers. I am not going through the impressive amount of information, it can all be read at https://report.ipcc.ch/ar6wg2/index.html, but giving my musings about why this information is not accepted by almost a half of the people in industrialized countries. The publication of the IPCC report has been relegated to a secondary news item, because of the attack of Putin’s Russia to Ukraine, but the two have surprising links.

Russia’s main income is from oil and natural gas. Since the world is trying to diminish the use of fossil fuels, Russia’s incomes will be diminishing in future. Furthermore, since quite a few buildings have been built on permafrost, which is melting, there is a huge need for investments on new grounding of them. Together these facts mean that Putin saw his window of opportunity to restore the might of Russian empire to be now or never. I suppose he imagined that Ukraine could be easily conquered and puppet government installed there. That did not happen. He also supposed that Europe and NATO would be split. That did not happen, either. Rather, the unity of the Western World has increased, and resulted in so massive sanctions that Russian economy is reeling. This increases the economic problems that I alluded to above.

But, going to the climate deniers’ arguments. They are stating that government should decrease the price of fossil fuels and slow down the replacement of fossil fuels by carbon-free energy sources. Since already now the temperature increase is causing irreversible problems, the delay on the stop of fossil fuel use would cause increased climate-related problems. Besides, that would play in the hands of Putin regime, as it would increase the sales of natural gas and oil from Russia. In Finland, an argument is presented that one should continue the use of peat in the name of national fuel/energy security. However, peat can be equated to fossil fuels in the time range of climate change. Furthermore, the national energy production security can be obtained by wind power, because no foreign nation can stop the wind. Third, the climate deniers always say that there have always been changes in earth’s climate. This is naturally true, but the sheer speed of the change is unprecedent. In addition, predictable weather has actually enabled the development of present civilizations. Climate change is causing unpredictable heat waves, droughts, heavy rains and also cold spells in places they have seldom occurred.

Climate change already affects the lives of three billion people, and one of the most terrible things happening is the increase of sea level, which will affect a couple of billions more. One of the major points made in the IPCC report is that most of the predicted ill effects of climate change can still be avoided, but the actions against climate change need to be speeded up.

 

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: fossil fuels, sea level, temperature, natural gas

Russian Ukraine aggression - and the loser is Russia

Keskiviikko 23.2.2022 klo 19:45 - Mikko Nikinmaa

Russia has remained as a nation exporting fossil fuels and raw materials, which other nations turn into more advanced products. Now that Russia is attacking Ukraine, virtually all nations are placing economic sanctions on Russia. As the major one is the decision of Germany to stop the approval process of Nord Stream 2. The dependence of Europe, especially Germany, on the largely Russian natural gas has hampered combatting climate change seriously. However, there would be an alternative to Russian natural gas already available, and Putin’s actions may be enough to change even the minds of Germany’s greens. One could just start the nuclear power plants already in place until there is enough windmills and solar power available. Doing this would have two major beneficial effects: first, it would immediately reduce the carbon dioxide emissions so much that the EU goals would easily be achieved. Second, it would really hurt Russia, as their major export income would disappear. That could stop Putin, or cause him to be replaced; I think the reason for his aggressive behaviour towards Ukraine is because he is afraid that even Russian people start seeing that a democratic country has developed from the earlier Soviet Union mainland (I am not counting the Baltic nations here, because they were democracies before being forced to become part of the Soviet Union).

The skeptical reader here says that it would not make a difference to Russia, if gas export to Europe would decrease, as it can be replaced by sales to another autocratic country, China. However, I don’t believe that China would want to severe its ties to Europe and USA for the simple reason that they are much more important to Chinese economy than Russia. Chinese exports to EU and USA are about 15 times greater than to Russia. This has actually already become obvious in the UN Security Council discussions, where China indicated that it was of the opinion that the souvereignty of a nation (Ukraine) should be respected.

Thus, in my opinion, Putin is shooting himself in the stomach by his aggression against Ukraine. So far, he has developed unprecedent unity of EU and NATO, and he will further speed up the transformation of Europe to fossil fuel-free area faster than has been planned, depriving Russia from export income. And Russia is not known to produce anything which could be called high tech.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, fossil fuels, nord stream 2

Subsidies to green energy production: a mechanism to reduce peak energy prices

Tiistai 25.1.2022 klo 15:33 - Mikko Nikinmaa

The energy and electricity price has increased immensely during recent past. Invariably the climate sceptics, deniers or “realists” have said that it is because overambitious climate goals, we should not aim at reducing the use of fossil fuels. Well, we have not so far succeeded in reducing fossil fuel use – 2021 was the year with the highest combined coal, natural gas and oil use. The increased, not the decreased consumption of fossil fuels is the major reason for increased energy price. Because the coronavirus pandemic decreased the fossil fuel consumption in 2020, their production and storage were decreased in 2021. As the economic activity increased markedly in 2021, fossil fuel supply could not fulfil the demand, and their price increased markedly, driving also the price of electricity up. So the increased cost of electricity is not caused by increased shift away from fossil fuels, but fossil fuel producers producing less when the consumption was increasing.

Thus, increased green energy production is, in fact, reducing the price increase. Also, subsidies to wind and solar energy production do not increase the energy price, rather the opposite. In many cases, the wind and solar energy producers are given subsidies, if the energy price is below an agreed level. If it goes above the agreed sum, a part of the profit is paid back. This sum could then be used to offset the increasing cost to the consumer. Therefore, building more wind mills would dampen the energy price increases, which are largely caused by imbalance between fossil fuel production and consumption.   

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: fossil fuels, climate change, energy production

Ban Bitcoin Mining to Combat Climate Change

Maanantai 10.1.2022 klo 19:02 - Mikko Nikinmaa

One would imagine that electricity use in a rich dark Scandinavian country is excessively high and should be reduced to decrease the use of fossil fuels. However, in comparison to the electricity use of bitcoin mining the consumption of electricity by Scandinavian countries pales. On yearly basis bitcoin mining uses as much electricity as Denmark and Finland put together. And what is the whole bitcoin or other cryptocurrency craze needed for? Nothing. The whole concept is needed for nothing.

China banned bitcoin mining a couple of years back. While I disagree with many of the decisions made by the authoritarian state, I wish that the ban would be made global – it could become a UN resolution, I cannot see that any nation claiming to combat climate change could be against banning this completely unnecessary major electricity use.

What happened when China banned bitcoin mining? Much of the mining went to Kazakhstan, which is very rich in gas and oil resources. Consequently, the huge electricity use of bitcoin mining there has completely been generated with fossil fuels. Not surprisingly, the Chinese ban increased the gas and oil use in Kazakhstan by up to 20 %. It was a major reason for the increases of fuel prices which were the final straw causing the recent civil unrest in the authoritarian, corrupted country of Kazakhstan.

So, in addition to causing climate change, bitcoin mining has contributed to the more than 150 deaths so far caused by the civil unrest. Because the whole cryptocurrency concept is completely unnecessary and speculative, world action could easily be taken to abolish this source of fossil fuel consumption. The smartphone and computer world uses enough electricity even without harmful parasites such as cryptocurrencies.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: cryptocurrency, fossil fuels, electricity consumption, Kazakhstan

Promises, promises - COP26

Torstai 11.11.2021 klo 19:00 - Mikko Nikinmaa

The Glasgow climate summit has again brought a lot of promises of future actions in combatting climate change. Nations have agreed to stop deforestation by 2030, to generate carbon-free shipping and to become carbon-neutral generally by 2050 (except for India by 2070). However, so far virtually everything is just talk of future actions. And even the promises fall short of the 1.5oC temperature increase limit, which is the preferred target of the 2015 Paris Agreement. At present, the promises made (for 2030) would limit the temperature increase to 2.4oC.

And these are almost totally just promises. Since the electricity use has increased markedly in the 21st century, the proportion of it produced using renewable sources has increased only about two percentage points, from 37 to 39 %. Many countries, such as Australia are building new coal mines and oil exploration continues virtually everywhere. The social media are filled with climate-denialist propaganda, and what is very worrying is that close to 20 % of the biggest oil product companies are running ads with misinformation about climate change. Many Facebook and Twitter users believe these ads. In contrast, they say that scientists are spreading lies about climate change. It is amazing that after the heat waves, wildfire, storms and floods of this year, about 45 % of people, e.g., in Finland deny that there is any human influence on climate – and Finland is supposed to have high education level.

The fact that it is all promises with little action is shown by a couple of examples. In COP26 an alliance committing to ending oil and gas extraction was formed. As members it has Costa Rica, France, Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, Quebec, Wales and Greenland. None of the countries are significant oil and gas producers and only Denmark has committed to immediately stop issuing new oil and gas licences. The other countries have not set a date to when they will stop permitting new oil and gas projects. In Finland subsidies of peat extraction were not stopped and worldwide subsidies to fossil fuels amount to hundreds of billions of euros. An alliance for generating non-carbon shipping by 2030 has been formed, but present changes from the use of diesel oil to the use of LNG actually increases greenhouse effect, because of the engine type used. The greenhouse gas emissions could be curbed by a different type of engine. However, they would cost more, as they require catalytic converters for removing nitrogen oxides.

It appears that despite their urgency, climate actions are not accepted, if they cost anything. This is a huge problem, since a small cost now could prevent a huge, if not insurmountable cost by 2050.  

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, fossil fuels, shipping, oil extraction

Methane limits to shipping - a climate action that could be done immediately

Tiistai 9.11.2021 klo 16:36 - Mikko Nikinmaa

The low pressure dual fuel engines used in most LNG-fuelled ships are more or less the same as the two-stroke engines (Otto motors) of old Wartburgs and Trabants, or present-day lawn mowers and leaf blowers. Typical for all two-stroke engines is that a lot of unburnt fuel is emitted to the environment. For example, 8-hour use of a leaf blower emits about the same amount of hydrocarbons in the environment as driving a car around the world. Thus, it is no surprise that the use of low-pressure dual fuel LNG engines cause a massive increase in the emission of the very powerful greenhouse gas methane.

What is worrying, though, is that the governmental response has been that even though the negative climate effects of most LNG-fuelled ships are clear, it does not pay to set emission limits to methane in ships for two reasons. First, LNG is only a transition-phase fuel from diesel oil to hydrogen or ammonia. Second, acceptance of the limit in International Maritime Organization would take up to ten years, and even then the requirement could be enforced only for new motors/ships. Consequently, any climate effect would not be seen before 20-30 years have passed.

The situation is somewhat funny, since the most important reason for replacing diesel fuel by LNG was to decrease air pollution. Compared to diesel oil, LNG causes virtually no sulphur oxide emissions and decreases nitrogen oxide emissions drastically. The latter is actually the reason for the use of low pressure dual fuel engines: the alternative LNG-fuelled engines, high pressure dual fuel engines have higher nitrogen oxide emissions, and would require external catalytic converters for removing the nitrogen oxides like cars have. Since nitrogen oxides have emission limits, decreasing their emissions has been priority in ship building.

However, the inability of governments to do anything not only with regard to this but in general in combatting climate change is alarming. In the case of shipping, this can mean that the climate effects double if LNG becomes a major fuel. The major problem is that any climate actions should be done immediately, but most responses require 20 years or more with devastating results.

 

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, fossil fuels, diesel oil, shipping

Renewable energy and electricity demands

Torstai 21.10.2021 klo 13:52 - Mikko Nikinmaa

Bitcoins, electric cars and other vehicles, green hydrogen production, household appliances, heating and cooling of apartments with electricity etc. The list of places/appliances where electricity is needed is increasing almost daily. Because of this, it is estimated that the use of fossil fuels will increase for several years to produce enough energy for electricity generation.

A climate change-conscious person buys an electric car thinking that doing it will decrease carbon dioxide emissions. However, it only does that, if electricity production is fossil-free, and because of the increasing electricity needs and simultaneous decrease of energy production using nuclear power plants, a large portion of electricity is produced using fossil fuels. In most countries with high energy consumption, most electricity is still produced using fossil fuels. Although this situation is concerning, there is one silver lining: about three quarters of new electricity is produced using renewable sources. But because electricity needs increase all the time, the production from renewable sources cannot keep up with consumption increase.

Thus, the major way to both prevent energy crisis and decrease the use of fossil fuels in electricity production is to decrease electricity consumption. The first, very simple solution would be to ban bitcoins altogether. Who needs them? Bitcoin mining uses as much electricity per year as Finland and Denmark together. The second, also easily implemented solution would be to decrease lighting, when it is not needed. Technological advancements such as automatic movement and light sensors make this much easier than 50 years ago, when most streetlights were shut down because of oil crisis. With regard to neon lights, they could be automatically shut down, e.g., between 23 and 5. Third, the car use should be decreased; most of work traffic could be done with collective traffic, which could increasingly use the same principle as school taxis in Finland, i.e., have a set group of employees picked up near their homes. The cost could be partly covered by the employer, partly by the state/community and partly by the employee. The cost would probably not be higher than for driving to work today. Fourth, do we really need all the electric appliances we are using? The manufacturers have actually done a good job in decreasing the energy consumption of household machines, but we are having more and more of them. Fifth, presently the dream of using green hydrogen as fuel is problematic, since it requires a large amount of electricity. Current research is trying to overcome this problem by splitting water to hydrogen and oxygen directly with the use of sunlight.

There are thus multiple ways to decrease the consumption of electricity, and many could be implemented immediately so that fossil fuel use could be diminished faster than planned. Ultimately, renewable energy must fulfill the electricity production completely. One almost infinite energy source is almost always forgotten: tidal energy. If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on that it becomes a major energy source within the next twenty years.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, tidal energy, bitcoin mining, fossil fuels

We have got a long way to go

Lauantai 21.8.2021 klo 17:48 - Mikko Nikinmaa

To keep temperature increase at 2 degrees Celsius, the world needs to become carbon neutral by 2050. This means that the use of fossil fuels must virtually stop by that date. We have a long way to go to achieve it. The world’s energy use is still increasing, and about 85 % of it is produced using fossil fuels. What is even worse for climate is that to cover the increased energy needs also the use of fossil fuels has increased apart from the use of coal, which has decreased. In absolute terms, the total energy production using fossil fuels has increased more than that using renewable sources.

The use of energy per capita is greatest in Canada, out of which about 65 % is produced by fossil fuels. Compared to Canada, the energy use per person in India is only 1/20. However, coal use in both countries is approximately the same. Behind Canada, USA and Australia use most energy per person. And what is worse, in USA about 80 % of energy is produced using fossil fuels and in Australia more than 90 %. Australia leads the world in per capita energy production using coal. Against this, it is disappointing that the present Australian government is not planning to decrease its dependence on fossil fuels. The two countries with greatest dependence on coal energy are China and South Africa. Still, their energy use per person is only one third of that in USA, which means that total energy consumption in China and USA is about the same.

In global energy production Europe, especially the present-day EU is in the class of its own. Most EU countries produce less than 50 % of their energy with fossil fuels. Further, the energy used for a given gross national product is much smaller than in North America, China and Australia. Europe is also the only big economic area with marked decrease in energy consumption per capita. These statistics indicate that Europe is a clear front runner in decreasing the use of fossil fuels.

But even Europe has a long way to go to reach carbon neutrality. And what is worse, there are several political parties, and a lot of voters to them, who do not think that the use of fossil fuels should be restricted. If economic growth requires, we should not do any actions to decrease their use.

It is the people, who do not accept that the world climate is changing despite the wildfires, heat waves, draughts and hurricanes, that we should get convinced about the need for a change in the way we produce energy. Only that way the fossil fuel use could be phased out and climate change be combatted. The scientists are starting to be afraid that the climate of Venus represents what climate change gone awry may have in store for Earth. The thing is that we would have the means needed to prevent further climate change, but the technology is not used, because so many people are so greedy and egoistic.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, energy use, fossil fuels, coal, oil

Big Oil Is Past

Perjantai 11.12.2020 klo 13:08 - Mikko Nikinmaa

In the 20th century, finding oil made you rich. The prosperity of many people and nations has been generated with oil profits. Oil as a source of wealth is now rapidly becoming to its end, although oil companies still try to maintain their status. Their methods remind me very much of what tobacco industry did in the latter part of the 20th century: although the scientific community has been quite unanimous about Climate change and the role of burning oil in generating it since 1970’s, the oil lobby has denied Climate change and presented pseudoscience suggesting that there is no interaction with oil burning and temperature change.

However, the oil companies are now seeing the end approaching. As a major indication is that investment companies are advising against buying oil stocks. As the latest big institutional investor, the New York Pension Fund (226 billion dollars) has indicated that it will sell all its oil and coal company stocks by 2040. Because oil use has dropped, so has oil price. Denmark just recently indicated that it will stop oil drilling by 2050 and also stop oil prospecting. In Finland, the national oil company is closing its second oil refinery next year.

Whenever any oil refinery, coalmine or power plant using fossil fuels including peat is closed, the local media are full of news complaining about the employment losses. It is naturally sad that people lose their work, but since the use of fossil fuels is not sustainable, it must be done. If the oil-dependent companies had prepared for the future, they would have started to develop commerce, which is not oil-dependent.

So big oil is past. What happens to the Middle Eastern countries, which are in the desert, but have become rich drilling oil?

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, fossil fuels, investments

Hurricanes more long-lasting after landfall because of climate change?

Maanantai 16.11.2020 klo 13:23 - Mikko Nikinmaa

Hurricanes or typhoons – tropical cyclones cause immense damage because of the high-

Valimeri_2.jpgvelocity wind and heavy rain. A commonly accepted consequence of climate change is that the number of tropical cyclones per time period and their average strength increase both in North America and in East Asia. This is caused because the increase of oceanic temperature. Since the cyclones are fuelled by the moisture of air, and increased oceanic temperature increases air moisture above the ocean, the increased frequency and strength of hurricanes and typhoons is easy to understand.


Most of the damage is caused to coastal communities immediately after the landfall of the cyclones. Hurricanes weaken quite rapidly after the landfall, but a recent study in Nature (Li & Chakraborty, Nature 587, 230-247; 2020) suggests that hurricanes may weaken more slowly in a warmer climate. During the past fifty years the time taken for hurricane decay has virtually doubled. This appears to be due to the increase of moisture of the warmer air.

If hurricanes dissipate slower after landfall in warming climate, they cause damaga to larger areas than earlier. This adds to the need to increase actions against climate change. Even in fossil fuel energy were cheaper than renewable energy without taking into account the expenses caused in repairing hurricane damage, adding them to the costs would certainly stop fossil fuel use rapidly. Such climate tax could and should be added to the fossil fuel price at least in Europe, North America, Australia, Russia and China.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: temperature, fossil fuels, typhoon, tropical cyclones

The duo living in the past (Trump and Putin) are a major threat to sustainable life

Maanantai 19.10.2020 klo 17:50 - Mikko Nikinmaa

Both Putin and Trump are anchored in the past, and hope to make decisions on 50-year old premises. Nothing can hurt the environment and, consequently, our future more than living in the past. For Trump it is the days on glorious 1960’s America, sending man to the moon. Those days American cars were the envy of every European: they were big, lean and fast. Although they used twice as much petrol as the small European cars, it did not matter, there was plenty of oil to burn. At that time the fossil fuel industry, and other industries were firmly rooted in industrialized west. There was no globalization, China and even Japan were not any commercial competitor, and the world population was 2-3 000 000 000.

The world had two major powers, USA and Soviet Union. Putin still dreams that he is leading the great Soviet Union, which has always had czars. Until the time of 1917 revolution they were called czars, but Stalin and other ruthless leaders did not rule democratically. Communist Soviet Union considered environment only as a commodity for the benefit of the party. One could do whatever, change the direction of rivers, drain lakes etc. just as long as it helped the top officials of the party.IMG_20170807_0057.jpgdeeply rooted in the past. When Trump says the science does not know, if there is climate change, it is only one of his 20000 lies. There is more unequivocal evidence of anthropogenic influence on the state of the environment than for any other scientific endeavour. Climate change is taken seriously by all the American industries apart from the oil and coal industries. Even most of the energy sector sees that oil and coal belong to the past: the use of renewable sources has exceeded the use of oil and coal this year. So when Trump and Pence are talking about the excellent environmental record of the present government, they are telling lies, which even the commercial circles do not accept. It is almost worse with Putin, since he does not have any opposition. For him climate change is only an opportunity. Temperature increase will make the Arctic Ocean ice-free and navigable. As a result, the huge gas deposits of Siberia are easier to utilize than hitherto. It does not matter to him that the same temperature increase, which makes the Arctic Ocean ice-free, also causes permafrost thawing and liberation of immense methane deposits to the atmosphere. Since methane is much more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, methane liberation may lead to vicious circle speeding up temperature increase even if humans tried to restrict greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere. Not that it matters to Putin, since he is of the opinion that even if there is climate change, it is not caused by human actions.

With these two science-denialists in power, it is all the more important that Europe steps up. Europe’s lead with backing from China and hopefully next year from USA will be needed. The only way to get Putin change his mind is to show that his fossil fuels cannot be marketed anywhere.

That’s what comes from living in the past – no decisions fitting the future.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: fossil fuels, climate change, temperature, Arctic Ocean, methane

Why the investments should now go to railroads and renewable energy?

Keskiviikko 27.5.2020 klo 14:19 - Mikko Nikinmaa

During the coronavirus lockdowns the energy consumption has decreased markedly so that carbon dioxide emissions have decreased measurably. This has mainly been caused by reduced traffic, since heating and production of electricity have continued close to pre-coronavirus time. Now, the leaders/economist/politicians looking in the past suggest that when the economies are opened, the climate actions, including changes in energy production, should be delayed until a better time. However, there will never be a better time than this to increase investments in renewable energy.

First, all countries are giving massive stimulus funds. One of the most important sectors is improving infrastructure. When improving infrastructure, two directions stand out: railroads and power plants. With improvements of rail traffic, one could change most transport from road transport to rail transport. It would only require that in addition to improvement of rails one would build goods terminals to facilitate container transfer from trains to trucks. With this done, all long-distance goods transport would take place in railroads, and road transport would be restricted to the travel between the place of production/use and rail terminals. Such a change would have several benefits. One would decrease oil use markedly in transport, since trains are mostly electrical. One would also decrease the use of roads by heavy traffic, and thereby reduce the need for repairing them, also reducing oil consumption (in asphalt). Finally, tyre wear is currently the most important source of microplastics. Thus, reducing road traffic would reduce this universal environmental contamination. Developing bullet trains with international route planning would diminish passenger transport in air traffic, and improvement of railroads would increase local passenger train traffic, also reducing oil consumption.

One of the things with investment is that virtually all political and economic circles say that the corona support should be for a fixed time period, not taking place forever. Building power plants to harness renewable energy fulfils this criterion. Power plants prodIMG_20170730_0073.jpgucing energy from renewable sources, wind, sunlight, waves, tide or water flow, only carry costs during building. Thereafter virtually no costs are associated with energy production, so energy production becomes cheaper and cheaper with time. This is in stark contrast with power plants using oil, natural gas, coal or peat, which all require continuously buying the fuel. Further, whereas much of the traditional fuels must be imported, thus generating problems with security of supply, the renewable resources are truly local, and can be used even in the direst of crises.

In conclusion, investing in climate-friendly railroads and renewable energy makes sense both politically and economically. Such investments are going to the future, which we should do instead of reverting in tha unsustainable past.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, fossil fuels, investments, energy production

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