TIR Lëtzebuerg 2016: the Rifkin report (part 6)


Part 1: ..ENERGY (1/2)
Part 2. ..ENERGY (2/2)
Part 3: ..MOBILITY
Part 5:  ..FOOD
Part 6:  ..INDUSTRY
Part 7:  ..FINANCE
Part 12: My conclusion



This 6th comment covers the chapter INDUSTRY (p. 201-249).

This chapter, perhaps even more than the preceding ones, gives a strong impression of déjà-vu. If I would resume the contents, it would be like this: Luxembourg’s industry should cover all its available roofs with solar panels, and should embrace 3D printing as the savior of its future.

6.1. 3D printing

This printing techniques is nothing new, but I agree that it will overturn a great chunk of traditional mechanical work: this mostly in the design and prototyping period of new products, and possibly in the replacement business, as making on the fly a replacement part will be cheaper and quicker than keeping an abundant stock. At page 202 there is a rather tedious rehashing of what 3D printing is (an additive technology to be compared with the traditional subtraction of material in lathes). What is absolutely missing is that 3D printing of strong metallic objects is still in its infancy, a very flexible but slow process. Stumping surfaces out of a metallic sheet surely will be for a long time a much faster and probably cheaper procedure. As the FIR report insists constantly that Luxembourg will be a smart green economy, it is refreshing to find a more sober remark in the 3D printing chapter. The authors acknowledge that 3D printing today  is very energy intensive and far from emission free, so that much has to be invented to change these features.

The chapter goes into glowing perspectives about the many, many new jobs that will be created by adopting the IoT for the industry; only at page 235 we find a rather well hidden comment on the de-skilling caused by digitalization: one paper by Bruegel (2014) prognosis a whopping 50% destruction of jobs, a German ZEW report from 2015 puts that percentage at 12%.

6.2. An energy rehash

Page 206 is a good example of déjà-vu, and the rehash on energy that can be found here becomes tedious. There is one sentence that leads to head-scratching and a big smile: “Transforming Luxembourg’s energy regime from fossil fuel and nuclear power to renewable energies is extremely labor intensive and will require thousand of workers…” I am not aware that Luxembourg has any nuclear power station, and most electricity is a mix of German origin with an ever decreasing part of nuclear… I also do not quite understand why renewables should be extremely labor intensive, as they are constantly hailed through the report as energies with near zero marginal costs. Go figure!

6.3. No fear of change

Page 210 enumerates recommendations by the Working Group Industry. These principles are no nonsense and will probably accepted by everyone. I especially applaud the principle “Drive and embrace change…. We must learn not to fear change…” .  Could this courageous endeavor also apply to climate change, a change that in the report always appears as particularly dangerous, insidious and nasty!

6.4. Energy and efficiency.

It is suggested (p.216) that total energy use could be cut in half in 2050. Concerning industry, the suggestion is to recoup waste heat (nothing new here) and, as said at the beginning “to use all available space on roofs and parking lots to produce solar energy”. Storage is mentioned again in passing, without any precision on how such large intermittent solar energy could be stored for the large period of poor sunshine that are a familiar feature of Luxembourg’s weather.

We are told that wind and solar have a small footprint, but the comparison is made with biofuels, whose photosynthesis naturally demands big surfaces. When on other chapters it is suggested that 182 km2 of PV surface is needed, and that farmers should install large solar farms, I do not quite see the logic here.

I made a little inquiry to get real numbers concerning the land use of solar, wind, biofuels (I use ethanol from corn) and nuclear. The numbers (with some supplementary calculations for the biofuels) are from here and here, and correspond to real data of the total USA. The numbers tell how many km2 land surface is needed to produce an energy of 1 TWh during 1 year.

solar:     7.53
wind:      45.6 (area spanned) and 1.37 (area disturbed)
biofuel:  460
nuclear: 1.02 (area spanned); the record at Onofre was 0.017

As Luxembourg has no extremely sunny regions as Arizona or New Mexiko, the number for solar should be noticeably higher. How come that for a country as limited in land surface as is Luxembourg nuclear energy with its minimal footprint is simply ignored?

6.5. Industries IoT

At page 231 it is written that every industrial component, down to individual motor, pump, valve etc. should have its embedded sensor with wireless capability. Now today many of these items have some sort of information feedback, but usually they do not communicate by clearly insecure and vulnerable (both from a physical and a security standpoint) wireless channels. I really question this 100% openness of security relevant items; the suggestion goes counter the idea that security relevant networks should be isolated from the global internet. Rifkin seems naively to expect a future miracle solution that would make all these Internet things immune against tampering and malevolence.

6.6. A global inventory

The INDUSTRY chapter closes by two suggestions I agree with:

  1. all product should be included in a global database
  2. a blockchain should be used to track all (bi-directional) energy transactions

But I am not sure, if existent and future legislation on privacy and data protection will allow to introduce such big tracking software.

(end of part 6)

2 Responses to “TIR Lëtzebuerg 2016: the Rifkin report (part 6)”

  1. TIR Lëtzebuerg 2016: the Rifkin report (part 7) | meteoLCD Weblog Says:

    […] A weblog on climate, global change and climate measurements « TIR Lëtzebuerg 2016: the Rifkin report (part 6) […]

  2. TIR Lëtzebuerg 2016: the Rifkin report (part 8) | meteoLCD Weblog Says:

    […] back to part 7, part 6, part 5, part 4, part 3,  part 2, part […]

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