Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Against Winston Dang (陳重信) 2

The remainder of Winston Dang's editorial in this morning's Taipei Times is also largely bunk...
"Many small advanced nations, such as Denmark and Luxembourg, have used renewable energy sources to replace nuclear energy."
Comparisons of Taiwan to countries like Denmark, Luxembourg (!) (or even Norway) are bunk for two reasons: the first is that their electricity demand is only a fraction of Taiwan's; the second is that their geography is significantly different, thus large-scale hydro-electricity projects which may be possible in Norway are that much more difficult to instantiate in Taiwan.
"Denmark has 25 million pigs and uses electricity from recycled waste water from pig farming and compost to solve the problem of waste-water pollution. Taiwan only has 6 million to 7 million pigs, so there is no reason why we cannot do the same. Liukuaicuo (六塊厝) in Pingtung County has initiated an experimental plan to generate electricity from biogas produced from pig excrement as well as a project to generate hydroelectricity."
Whatever is being done in Liukuaicuo (六塊厝) doesn't change the facts, and the two salient facts here are first, that the amount of energy that can be generated from the effluent of Taiwan's 7 million pigs is insignificant on a national scale (just over 1,000 MW hours per year, or less than 0.2% of Dang's renewables target of 58 TW hours per year); second, as a commenter on this blog noted four days ago, the distribution of pigs in Taiwan is such that it would be uneconomic anyway to attempt to produce electricity from biogas produced from pig effluent.
"Denmark raised the price of gasoline, levied taxes on carbon dioxide emission and took energy-saving policies to the household level. The result was that energy consumption remained unchanged and unemployment fell below 2 percent. By 2007, 16 to 18 percent of Denmark’s energy came from solar power and wind energy."
What a foolish illustration: so the government of Denmark instituted policies to raise the cost of living and this is to be taken as a model for Taiwan to imitate? Winston - have you not seen the queues at gas stations the night before the petrol prices are due to go up? Were the cost of electricity to rise suddenly for the many small manufacturers here in Taiwan, the effect might well be enough to put some of them - already operating on tight profit margins at best - out of business; and then you must consider the effect this might have upon those businesses (including other manufacturers) who rely on those smaller manufacturers for supplies. Such policies in Taiwan would likely raise unemployment as well as reduce material standards of living for the vast majority of Taiwan's working poor.

And actually, nearly all of that 16% - 18% of Denmark's electricity came from wind, not solar.
"An eco-friendly science park in Liuying Township (柳營), Greater Tainan, is in the initial stages of planning the use of a solar power generator with a Dual-Axis Tracker System to show how this method can increase power generation efficiency by 11 percent."
沒關係! They could improve the efficiency of those solar cells by 100% and they'd still be insignificant on a national scale.
"In another eco-friendly science park in Greater Kaohsiung’s Gangshan Township (岡山), private companies are replacing natural gas and gasoline for cars with hydrogen from pure water."
Then I bet they aren't "private" companies - for to do that you have to find a way to store hydrogen, which is expensive (que: subsidies, que: government control).
"The question of whether the right environment exists for developing green energy is a matter of political determination and has nothing to do with whether the natural environment will permit it."
Agreed, but that isn't the argument. The argument comprises three questions:
  • (a) How much it will cost - financially, politically and economically - to develop green energy?
  • (b) On whom would those costs disproportionately fall?
  • (c) Would those costs be voluntarily undertaken or coercively imposed?
That third question is the big one. Of course, judging by the tenor and tone of Dang's editorial, I already have what I think would have to be his answers for all three of those questions.

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