All Dutch Electric Trains are Wind-Powered & other Advances Trump’s US will Miss out On

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Although Donald Trump has complained about America’s failing airports, bridges and roads and expressed admiration for those of Dubai, his opposition to green energy will deprive Americans of efficient, clean new vehicles and buildings that would have saved them billions of dollars, created hundreds of thousands of jobs, and resulted in trillions of dollars of profits for American companies. Who will get those benefits instead? China and the European Union. Even Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates, is going green, with the UAE Masdar green energy company investing in wind projects in e.g. Scotland. What will Americans get? Lung disease, mercury poisoning, high energy prices and joblessness. (There are already 100,000 wind energy-related jobs in the US; there can be more, or less, depending on Trump’s policies).

The future is here, with regard to green energy. The ridership for electric trains in the Netherlands is over two hundred million a year, about half of all train ridership in this country of 17 million. Those electric trains are now 100% fueled by wind power. This goal had been announced only two years ago and the achievement was originally scheduled for 2018. But new wind farms have opened in Holland and Finland that made it possible to get there a year early. Once the wind turbines have paid for themselves, the energy they generate is virtually free, so the Dutch train system will avoid the cost of expensive and dirty petroleum forever after. The Netherlands is also thereby reducing its carbon emissions, reducing the damage to the environment from global warming and sea level rise. (The Dutch are especially vulnerable to sea level rise).

Donald Trump campaigned against wind turbines in Scotland because of his golf course. Too bad for him, he lost, and now is losing big time. For four days in a row this Christmas season, wind turbines generated more electricity in Scotland than it needed. In the month of December, wind provided about half of Scotland’s electricity. Scotland had had a goal of 50% of its electricity from renewables of all sorts by the end of 2015, but got to 60%. By now, about 3/5s of electricity consumption is met by renewables. Scottish green activists are now pressing to get household and business heating off of natural gas and onto the electric grid, so that expanding renewables can replace hydrocarbons across the board. It just got in 70 new electric trains, which can be run off renewables. But note that these trains were bought from Japan, not from the United States. That is the sort of opportunity cost American workers will increasingly bear under Trump. Scotland’s last coal plant closed last May, in a death knell for that industry. Scotland is not resting on its laurels. It has innovative projects for offshore floating wind turbines and for current-driven undersea tidal turbines (Scotland has an unusual underwater opportunity here; dependably fast currents aren’t all that common).

Wind power is up to 9% of India’s electricity production, but that is only the beginning. The country of 1.3 billion with a gross domestic product of $2.2 trillion (roughly the same as France) is a coming world power and has big plans for wind power. By the end of 2017 India is expected to have added another 4,300 MW of wind power, a 30% increase. A 30% increase in 18 months! Imagine the more distant future. If the industry falters in the United States, will it be able to provide the turbines that will power much of the world?

Ethiopia is planning to become the wind powerhouse of Africa. As a rapidly growing economy in a country of 94 million citizens, where 80% of the population does not have electricity, it is typical of the dilemmas facing the global South. It has enormous energy needs, necessary to the well-being of its population. But its leaders want to avoid becoming beholden to dirty hydrocarbons as they electrify and grow the country. As a Christian majority country in an area where Islam is prominent, they may worry about Saudi influence. In any case, Addis Abababa is going green. It built Africa’s largest wind farm in 2013 and gets 7.5% of its electricity from wind. But now it plans to sink $3 billion into building 5 more wind farms that will generate 5200 megawatts. The country’s total electricity output at the end of 2015 was only about 4,000 megawatts. It is going for a total output of 17,000 megawatts by 2020.

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

Newsbeat Social: “Wind Now Powers All Electric Trains in The Netherlands”

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10 Responses

  1. Trump is going to take the US back into the dark ages, while other nations forge ahead. It will be a sad day when he is sworn in as President. The lunatics will be running this asylum.

    • The problem is, none of the nations forging ahead are human rights-respecting democracies either, except South Korea, which is now in crisis precisely because the citizens refuse to tolerate the kind of cronyism that is now embraced by Trump as normal.

  2. As a scientist I do not hesitate to say that climate change is a complex issue but global warming is very simple to understand. If you put another blanket on your bed you will be warmer when you are in bed than before. If you put more greenhouse gases into the upper atmosphere the lower atmosphere where we live will get hotter.
    Global warming is by far the greatest danger facing mankind.

  3. E. Scott Pruitt is an attorney, not a scientist – has expressed doubt regarding the integrity and accuracy of established climate science, said the current EPA’s aggressive enforcement of federal anti-pollution rules during the Obama administration “reflects inappropriate overreach” that he would change. Meanwhile, the already made ineffective regulations by the secret Energy Task Force are contributing to the terraforming of our planet into a hot toxic cesspool of fossil fuel detritus at a record rate.

    Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Atty. Gen. E. Scott Pruitt is a bought-and-paid-for fossil fuel industry RENT-BOY! who prosecutes(prostitutes) in a state where rampant fracking wastewater injection is spawning frequent earthquakes with ever-increasing magnitudes. A 2015 report from the Oklahoma Geological Survey found a direct link between oil and gas mining and increased destruction and property damage from earthquakes, Pruitt has done nothing, even though as attorney general he is responsible for protecting Oklahomans property and safety. link to earthquakes.ok.gov

    Pruitt sued the EPA to block enforcing rules limiting regional smog and airborne mercury pollution. He brazenly copy-and-pasted a letter from an oil company onto official state letterhead, added his signature, and mailed it to the agency he will soon be running. link to theatlantic.com

  4. Linda K. Brown

    The Dutch often have sheep and Scottish highland cattle grazing–used like lawnmowers– in public places, and recycling just about everything is a norm–AND no plastic bags except reusable ones. Shoppers carry their own bags (often cloth) and supermarkets save their cardboard boxes for shoppers to use as well.

  5. The thing Trump and his 19th century cronies fail to realize is that electric cars are coming MUCH sooner than people expect. Look around your neighborhood right now. You may not see a Volt or a Tesla, but you WILL see a few hybrids. The near future is electricity and new powerplant growth is fastest now for wind and solar for PRACTICAL reasons– you build it, the “fuel” is right there for the taking. And the sector creates jobs in numbers similar to extractive fuels. The incoming Menace may try to discourage renewables and incentivize dead dinosaur fuels, but economics will have its say. As will rural farmers who like the idea of making more off their open lands than they do now.

  6. Kevin Phillips’ 2005 book, “American Theocracy”, issued many dire prophecies based on the history of other declining empires. While all of it is relevant to our situation in 2017, I would like to note his discussion of technological decline near the end of the book. His premise is that empires fall in love with the technologies that once put them on top, and then they are in denial about the need to move on to other technologies. Specifically, that the Dutch were slow to move to coal power, and Britain was slow to move to oil power, because their financial commitment to the previous energy technology had become emotional.

    So it is not surprising that there is an irrational love of oil in America that keeps finding objections to the new energy sources that other countries are quickly exploiting. The problem is that we would have to accept that our empire is in decline, and that others are obtaining advantages that will harm us. Trump only defines the former problem as a lack of conventional military power and smokestack industries, as you’d expect of an old man. And he can’t define the latter problem because he only sees China as a threat in the form of conventional military power and smokestack industries, not the much greater changes being caused by electronics and eventually genetic engineering.

  7. Two curves that republicans can not understand . . .

    – The technology capability curve is mostly EXPONENTIALLY up and to the right and there is NOTHING any political leader can do to even bend the curve down a little, let alone stop the progress. This is what has so many people in the flyover states so filled with fear – they are no longer employable. While the USA coasts try to be on the PROFITABLE bleeding edge in competition with humans with equal brains all over the world, the “flyover” Luddites are trying to stop everything because they consider everything that is being done on the USA coasts (and in Asia and Europe) as “black magic.”

    – The technology cost curve is more linear, but is down and to the right (decreasing costs). The two big drivers on the coasts are increasing capability and lower costs because both drive profitability. Do you need a fully functional 64-bit 1 GHz computer to accomplish some task (for example, replacing a human) You can get a quad core one from the Raspberry Pi Foundation for US$35. This computer can do EVERYTHING your desktop/server could do less than five years ago.

    While humans on earth need lots of energy to live decent lives, the technology leaders are very rapidly figuring out ways to provide that energy by harvesting energy from the sun and the earth in human usable forms at costs that are approaching zero.

    By focusing on “protecting” the old sources of energy (hydrocarbon) instead of investing every penny in new forms of energy, the USA is ensuring that there will be no viable USA energy sector within a decade because by the time the USA invests, the other countries on earth will be so far ahead of the USA, the USA companies will not be able to catch up, let alone compete.

    One of the lessons I learned by doing start-ups inside a big company was that the sooner our group made another group obsolete, the better it would be for all of us (the company just had the folks from the dead product groups start inventing new stuff). Note that if my group didn’t “kill” the older groups, then competitors outside our company would.

    If Americans were half way smart, they would tax the hydrocarbon producers as much as possible and use the money to fund start-ups with promising futures.

    But . . .

    NO group of humans will ever willingly give up power and wealth – they will fight to the bitter end.

    • Your first point is exactly why it is important that the Military-Industrial Complex has become White Man’s Welfare. Not just the creation of a crisis situation that requires that otherwise-useless rural Whites get paid out of the taxes of those they despise. But the elevation of these armed parasites into “heroes”, and their subsequent indoctrination and training for a life as a caste elevated over their peers.

      You put them thru the military to give them status (and violence skills), then thru the mercenary firms to pay them off. Or make them police. By the time they retire, they have far more cash than their neighbors, and inevitably become a sort of knighthood/gentry, establishing local political influence for the hierarchy.

      I guess the ones too pathetic for that become prison guards. Who they will be guarding is the rest of the story of how this absurd reactionary economy will function while the world moves on without us.

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