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When a new market is "made" there is always a rush — gold rush, dot-com, and our current "Green Rush" is certainly no different — there's plenty of room on the green bandwagon. Market makers and bankers will be turning on the money to grow green markets, but will the green grown be greener?
After the Bush apocalypse, many failed zombies were quick to start feeding on fresh herds of unsuspecting consumers buying into the new green culture and economy; the green speakers, the green marketers, the green lobbyists, the green sales. If there's green to be made, trust me, there's someone ready to take it, regardless of results. Cheating the consumer hasn't changed — it's greenwash. Solar powered animatronic butterflies? Nuclear energy?
With the recent flourish of green spending from Ottawa, what percentage of this spending will translate into green and not greenwash? I can't honestly answer this until some dust settles and tea leaves are closely analyzed. I'll be watching Justin Trudeau and Catherine McKenna's progress on green given that Canada was junked by Stephen Harper Government. Is any change a real change? Is real change smart change?
The analysis of greenwash, in some cases, can be a very simple process, other cases it requires testing and due diligence to quantify. The green way to perform analysis is using physics-based methods and simulation — but it's still fun to apply practical destructive testing to confirm theoretical analysis. One project that I worked on required the design team to crash test a minivan on a digital platform and compare results with two physical minivans to crash. Digital is always cheaper, but insurance companies like to see the crumpled metal for their magical insurance mathematics. When theoretical and practical concur, an answer just might make itself cognisant. Due diligence pays — building thousands of faulty minivans gets expensive, ask a banker. The same tools that are used to design are also used by insurance companies.
If a green solution doesn't deliver an optimum green return does it become greenwash? With the amount of investment into green, if solutions deliver no clear advantage, why are we wasting time? We need to focus and invest on green solutions that will deliver the best ROI* for Canada, not what is being sold as green. Is government doing enough? For now, I do not think so.
With climate change neatly spotlighted in the Justin Trudeau showcase of environmental spending, a lot of money is leaving fossil fuels and innovating towards green energy. Even the big dogs are buying into solar and wind energy, even after the big dogs were recommending another Stephen Harper Government for Canada. Funny how those that fought green energy are now buying in and getting grants with our tax dollars. Should Canada allow corporations that fought climate, pollution and basic economics benefit from Canada's new manifesto? Can we trust groups that thoughtlessly delayed critical action? Is it smart to risk our only chance to succeed with teaming up with the groups that delayed and fought all progress?
When it comes to green energy, the next generation in poor ideas is being touted as a climate saviour — the same folks that denied climate change two years ago are now recommending nuclear energy as a solution for climate change. Big nuclear has been quietly patient. Nuclear energy has a carbon footprint that's hidden — just because there are no smokestacks doesn't mean complex analysis finds nuclear energy is a poor long-term solution. As I say on Twitter, "#DoTheMath". The nuclear lobby has been quietly doing the green dance, waiting for the next gravy wave to cut-in with their "green" climate solution.
I have noticed the nuclear lobby slowly working the room for the past 5 years, minting new cheerleaders, some asserting that #Fukushima had no health impacts. One nuclear troll even asserted that nuclear pollution doesn't hurt people — wow. Aside from nuclear being more expensive, having a larger carbon footprint than renewables, the large grid model of modern energy distribution seems to be obsolete. Large generation and large transmission seem elegant by design, but are expensive, and less profitable, versus smaller local distributed generation that leverage green energy storage systems and #smartgrid energy management technology.
Is building new transmission lines a smart future model? I assert no. Centralized generation models are becoming unworkable in competitive green energy markets. Transmission costs are expensive, waste energy in the process, and do not add value to remote locations. The modern grid is smart, nimble, and green. Local management of energy makes cities more secure and efficient. Connecting Canada from east to west in transmission lines isn't more secure than cities and communities that integrate green energy generation into their local revenue streams. Of course, the big dogs don't like competition.
I am glad that Justin Trudeau didn't announce big investments in new nuclear, but the nuclear lobby is still working our room. Recently hearing Paul Wells spoke at the Canadian Nuclear dog and pony show — mostly smearing Justin Trudeau, he fails to make a clear case for nuclear energy. A ten year old girl can probably tell you why solar energy is cleaner than fossilfuels, but Paul doesn't seem to have a home run case for nuclear — telling. Watch below:
I noticed Paul didn't provide any hard metrics to quickly and clearly demonstrate why nuclear is a superior choice for Canada. Has Paul been reading up on a nuclear greenwash site? I respect his consideration towards improving climate and energy security, but being in a position of influence, I thought he would bring a strong argument — missing, just cheerleading from what I saw.
I thought his endorsement was weak. It isn't easy to compare solar, wind, and nuclear energy, I will give Paul Wells that. Seeing his talk empty of any valid analysis makes me wonder how he came to his conclusions. Is Paul using the latest in LEAN Manufacturing Business Intelligence systems? Does Paul think it's Justin Trudeau's responsibility to help support the future failure of nuclear energy? We see fossil fuels suffering this fate now, can't compete on price — green is cheaper and doesn't create pollution while generating energy.
When it comes to comparing nuclear to the "others", it's smart to remember that big nuclear is being idled in America as it's not cost competitive with mixed energy markets. Nuclear loses money when competition is added. For me, a manufacturing specialist, it is easy to understand why nuclear is more expensive — more complexity, security & risk equals a higher cost of energy delivery. Understanding how big nuclear energy is a poor fit in future mixed energy markets is a good method to see that nuclear isn't green, it's greenwash.
* - ROI; Return on Investment.