Category Archives: Climate Politics

Projecting sea level 300, nah, 1000 years in the future

On the same day that I published the post on the IPCC, the political organization that is mistaken for a scientific organization, an article was published in a Belgian newspaper, titled Belgian expert: “It’s inevitable: large parts of Flanders are going to be under water”, in which exactly the same error was stated (translated from Dutch, my emphasis):

The highborn professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele is a regular at the United Nations as a climate expert, advises Presidents on the rising sea level and was for many years Vice-President of the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This is the most important scientific climate panel in the world, that was awarded with the Nobel Prize.

It is an interview with van Ypersele about sea level rise and its influence on the Belgian coastal region. Some excerpts (translated from Dutch):

And those negative effects will also be felt in Flanders. “We can’t prevent large parts of the region will be under water. Within three hundred years, maybe earlier: it will happen. Much of the region doesn’t lie much above sea level.”

Did he really say 300 years?

Luckily, there is some hope … (translated from Dutch):

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The IPCC, the world’s leading scienti…, err, political body

A new communication handbook for IPCC scientists is published. It is compiled by Climate Outreach and was commissioned by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Working Group I Technical Support Unit. They want this handbook out “ahead of the IPCC’s 1.5 degrees special report later this year”.

Interesting.

The handbook also comes with a video explaining the 6 principles to help IPCC scientists better communicate their work. They already lost me in the second sentence in that video though:

The facts are there, thanks in great part to the IPCC – the world’s leading scientific body on climate change

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Wind and solar in Belgium: among the best in the EU, maybe even the world?

From the department of everyone-gets-a-price comes this tweet (translated from Dutch)::

Also in the field of wind energy, we are currently at the top in Europe

Huuuurrrraaaah! Belgium is at the top in the EU for something!

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Do our politicians realize that wind and solar are intermittent power sources?

Something I have wondered for a long time: do the politicians who want to go for 100% wind & solar realize that these power sources are intermittent and therefor balancing and/or storage is needed in the transition? When I look at the competencies of the Minister of Energy, his crew and the energy experts among the politicians, then I fear for the worse. The need for balancing/storage is completely absent in the discussion. We only hear that we need more wind and solar in our energy mix, but never about measures to overcome intermittency.

My initial guess was that they don’t realize it, that they consider intermittent energy sources to be dispatchable energy sources and go from there. Then I saw this tweet from the spokes woman of the Minister of Energy. It seems a statement of the Minister himself:

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Who cares about a lack of PV in December when there is plenty of wind and more sun to come in the coming months?

On the last day of 2017, our Minister of Energy (who is fiercely promoting solar energy) posted a tweet to thank all people who installed solar panel on their during 2017. He got a prompt reaction from someone asking how much electricity those solar panels produced in December. The Minister of Energy replied with this remarkable tweet:

Translated from Dutch:

December 2017 was indeed historically low on sunshine. But there was wind and the sun will compensate plentifully in the coming months #HappyNewYear

Basically, solar energy production sucked really bad in the previous month, but, hey, there was more wind and there is more solar energy to come in the coming months anyway.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I would glad to laugh if it was a joke, but his guy is our Minister of Energy and I am afraid that he was serious about it.

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Could a nuclear power plant be closed when households save 1 percent of energy?

The subject of this post is a statement made in a current affairs program on the Flemish television back in February. In that program there was a debate on smart meters and one of the arguments against was that a savings of only 1% was expected which would not be in proportion to the costs. The reaction was this remarkable statement:

1% savings of energy, if all households do that (we are not even talking about the industry), then you can close one nuclear power plant. That is how much that 1% is.

Apparently, his reasoning was that a 1% savings as a result of that smart meter is already a huge achievement since it would be enough to close a nuclear power plant. Even with some basic knowledge of our energy infrastructure, it should be clear that this is an absurd claim. It didn’t take long before it was debunked, even on national television (which shows that it is an absurd claim indeed).

However, it kept bugging me. How could someone come to this absurd conclusion? I wanted to understand the reasoning that one has to follow to come to such a conclusion. It would be interesting to know where that statement came from, especially because the guy who made the claim is apparently viewed as an “energy expert” of his political party…

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The “We Close Doel” campaign … and the result is?

Almost two years ago, I wrote a series of posts on the “We Close Doel” campaign of the Flemish Greens. To recap, they ran this campaign to “break the monopoly” of energy provider Electrabel (the owner of the nuclear plants in Doel). They wanted to close the two smallest reactors (Doel 1 and 2) and because the government wasn’t keen on taking that decision (it was decided that these reactors will be kept open longer), the Greens claimed that they would close those reactors since the Government failed to do it. Hence this campaign.

They claimed that people could make the difference by switching from “gray to green”, meaning switching (from Electrabel) to a green energy provider. Participants who signed the petition declared that they would do the switch and also had to provide how much electricity they consumed per year. A counter on the campaign pages then kept tally of the yearly energy consumption of those who declared that they would go fro gray to green. The more kWh on the counter, the bigger the “signal” to Electrabel and to the Government.

What caught my attention during this visit was that no starting date was shown on the campaign pages. This means that visitors didn’t know whether this campaign had just started or it could well be that is at its end. There is no way to know. When I was blogging about this campaign two years ago, this didn’t matter since I knew when it started. Now after those years it seems odd that this campaign page was still there, as if it was still running. The two forms still seem to be active and nowhere was said that this was a campaign of the beginning of 2016 and therefor might not really be relevant today.

More importantly, there was also no mention of the result of this campaign. It has been almost two years ago, so the impact should be rather clear by now. Did the campaign eventually succeed in what it wanted to achieve? Did the Government and Electrabel received some signal? How clear was that signal? How many costumers left Electrabel over this campaign?

Since the Flemish Green party didn’t provide such an analysis, let me just do this for them. Since I started this blog, I am used to figuring out things. Finding an answer to these questions should be rather simple.

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