JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).



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Would you like to throw billions at solar?

Have you wondered just exactly how much money you could pay for the feel-good factor of knowing that your electrons came from fashionable sources?

Thanks to the Victorian government we can get the hard numbers in the Victorian Auditor General’s Report.

In a nutshell, most alternatives are 2-3 times as expensive, except for solar which is 5 times the price.

(Luckily at the moment, renewables only produce 3 – 4 % of all energy in Victoria. Be grateful. You Victorians could be a lot poorer.)  As it is, it cost Victorians $415,000 to tell you this, but it may be the most effective money spent on renewable energy in the last ten years. (Though oddly they didn’t produce this helpful comparative graph below. I did that for free.)

The Full PDF

In 2002 the State government of Victoria decided to aim for 10% renewable energy by 2010. You can see how well that worked out for them:

The light blue line (at 10%) was what they were aiming for.

The report is 48 pages. Basically it found that nobody thought too hard about how these aims would be done. Nobody assessed how useful it was to toss lots more money at solar. The targets are not even close to being met, and it will all cost billions: specifically something like $6 – $8b. Next time, a cost benefit analysis would be handy.

Findings

• Setting the targets and planning for how they would be achieved lacked rigour.
• No assessment has been undertaken to support and substantiate the 2010 solar
energy targets or time frames for achieving them. There has also been no
assessment of the full costs and benefits of achieving the solar targets.
• Renewable energy generation targets established in 2002 have not been met by
their original target date of 2010. Renewable energy generation has increased by
only 0.3 per cent over seven years, compared to a target of a 6 per cent increase.
• The interim 2014 solar targets are not likely to be achieved given the lack of
available and planned generating capacity.
• The cost of achieving the 2 500 gigawatt hour target is estimated at
$5.6–$8 billion in nominal terms over 27 years, or $2.4–$3.4 billion in net present
value (NPV). The direct cost is estimated at $842 million in NPV.

Recommendations

The Department of Premier and Cabinet should undertake:
• a cost-benefit analysis for the solar energy targets and the Victorian Large Scale
Solar Feed-in Tariff
• the outstanding business impact assessment and an assessment of
constitutional, commercial, legal, financial and technical issues associated with
the Victorian Large Scale Solar Feed-in Tariff.

My thought for free: Would the Victorian people be better off spending those billions on medical research?

Hat tip to George W in Victoria. Ta!

REFERENCES

Victorian Auditor-General’s Report, Facilitating Renewable Energy Development, April 2011. 2010-11:27. PP No 21, Session 2010–11 [PDF]

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.0/10 (3 votes cast)
Would you like to throw billions at solar?, 7.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

Tiny Url for this post: http://tinyurl.com/4482tet

115 comments to Would you like to throw billions at solar?

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    Cost benefit analysis?

    The cost comes out of the rate and tax payer’s pocket so that is not a consideration for the political elite. The benefit to them is that they get to pretend they are doing something important, get their expenses paid for conferences in exotic locations, and have endless photo and PR opportunities. From their perspective, it is a good deal.

    For the rest of us? What the rest of us think about it does not enter into their calculations. Our only purpose, according to them, is to pay the bills while they think higher thoughts and plan our futures in minute detail.


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    3x2

    Those recommendations would put an end to the entire subsidy farming industry. What were they thinking?


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    Jack Savage

    Shout it from the rooftops.
    Maybe someone will hear it here in the UK.


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    Phillip Bratby

    Jack Savage. Yes, the UK has also introduced renewable energy targets with no cost benefit analysis. All politicians seem to do the same stupid things wwen it comes to energy production. Solar receives enormous subsidies in the UK, and yet it has been shown to be a disaster in Spain with its much better sunshine. Why are policians so stoopid?


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    co2isnotevil

    Of course nobody wanted to do a proper cost benefit analysis. It doesn’t take an accounting genius to know that there’s no benefit for lots of cost and to point this out up front would just raise questions they don’t want to answer. Here in sunny California, we have more renewable power than any other state and as a result, we have among the highest electricity rates in the country.

    This bureaucratic failure is not uncommon. Consider the ‘summer’ gasoline blend we are mandated to use here. Nobody did the cost benefit analysis for this either. As a result, our gasoline is more expensive than anywhere else in the US, except perhaps Hawaii and smog levels are unchanged. Someone forgot to mention that there was a summer time smog problem here long before cars were even invented. Besides, modern cars are so clean, that the only effect on emissions is that we need to burn more fuel for the same amount of horsepower, producing more emissions offsetting any perceived gains.

    The problem that must be overcome is that when one thinks they are doing something for the ‘common good’, they don’t want objectivity. What makes this so wrong is that relative to climate, what they think is for the common good is really for the common detriment.

    George


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    Popeye

    @ Phillip B #4

    “Why are policians so stoopid?”

    Politicians are as “stoopid” as the idiots that vote for them and (in Australia) as stupid as the balance of power independents allow them to be.

    Don’t forget the NBN ($40 – 80 billion) has been commenced WITHOUT a cost benefit analysis and we have politicians that can support this without screaming for due process to be carried out.

    Due process and CBA should also be required to take into account the MASSIVE costs of cleanup in China where rare earth magnets are manufactured for “clean, green” wind power.

    Link here

    “The reality is that, as Britain Australia flaunts its environmental credentials by speckling its coastlines and unspoiled moors plains and mountains hills with thousands of wind turbines, it is contributing to a vast man-made lake of poison in northern China.”

    The hidden costs of “green energy” are NEVER referred to by Brownout or Combet (or by our favourite leftie bloggers either) – why not??

    Cheers,


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    Bulldust

    I see they are advertising Andrew Bolt on Channel 10 now … I didn’t catch the time slot but I believe there is a Sunday morning talk show coming up featuring him as the host. Hopefully we shall start to see a lot of CAGW debunking to balance all the mindless warmist dribble in the media.

    I found it:

    http://www.yourtv.com.au/guide/event.aspx?program_id=267641&event_id=39151934&region_id=73

    10am this Sunday is the premiere.


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    Bulldust

    We have our very own (Western Australian) producer of rare earths firing up their operations in Q3 this year – Lynas @ Mount Weld. They are intending to ship concentrates to Malaysia for processing. Ever since China announced they would start to limit rare earth exports the prices have shot up:

    http://www.lynascorp.com/page.asp?category_id=1&page_id=25

    Needless to say there are companies looking to find deposits and de-mothball operations all over the world now.

    BTW rare earths is a bit of a misnomer … they aren’t particularly rare.


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    Bulldust

    Just came across this Newspoll in The Australian:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/voters-abandon-julia-gillards-carbon-pricing-plan/story-fn59niix-1226049447761

    60% of those polled said they were NOT in favour of introducing the price on carbon (sic) next year. I bet Bolta mentions that on Sunday :)


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    F Brown

    The table above omits the nuclear option. As a Canadian I know you have a great reluctance to use this energy source but the fact is it is safe and cheap. You also have the most of this energy source in the world and I think that you are missing a great opportunity by just shipping it off-shore instead of making use of it yourselves.


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    [...] good news is that Victoria is producing less than 5% of its energy from green [...]


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    Damian Allen

    Shocker: Solar panel manufacturing creates potent Green House Gases !!

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/10/27/shocker-solar-panel-manufacturing-creates-potent-ghgs/


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    Damian Allen

    This is OT (sorry) but totally off the wall.

    Stunning discovery by USFS and AP – “dead trees burn faster”:-

    Who would have thought it eh?

    Wonders will never cease !!!!!!

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/05/02/stunning-discovery-by-usfs-and-ap-dead-trees-burn-faster/#more-39176


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    The Loaded Dog

    Damian Allen: @10

    Tim Flannery 100 per cent wrong about that 60 per cent

    Ha ha ha. This guy is a comic genius. If he says it over and over in his head enough……it WILL come true.

    Mind you, eventually he’s got to get a prediction right. I mean, the law of averages folk. Surely…


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    cohenite

    I’m sure the Kwh comparison between the various power sources would show the renewables [excluding hydro] as being far more expensive than fossils and nuclear than is shown in the above government graphs; Tonyoz and Peter Lang have done good work in this respect and I would be interested in their view; in NSW for instance the feed in tarrif for solar roof panels was 60c per Kwh, which was about 20x the power from coal.


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    Lawrie

    The Land last week, 28 April, carried a story about another 3000 wind turbines in NSW. I really thought barry O’Farrell had more sense though he does blame the Federal Government Renewable Energy Target (RET) of 20% by 2020. The way Victoria is going that goal isn’t acheivable. A quick look at http://windfarmperformance.info/ shows an Australia wide average of 31% of installed capacity. What it fails to show is the fact that the power is not always available when it’s needed. For example during the SA heatwave last summer one Friday afternoon the state was drawing 3000MW of which wind was supplying a measly 49 MW from an installed capacity of 1070 MW. That’s 4% when the chips are down. Like all your mates start a fight and then leave you to it.

    Green energy should go the same way as Osama bin Laden.


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    Grant

    Lionel @ 1

    The cost comes out of the rate and tax payer’s pocket

    Here n New Zealand if a tax cut is mooted the media report that it will “cost the Government $xmillion”. I always find that (I was going to say amusing) but tragic is the real response. I think Governments regard private citizen’s incomes as 100% theirs to be enjoyed. They graciously allow some citizens to (temporarily) have private enjoyment of some of what they earn.


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    Grant

    I was thinking about the alternative energy conundrum earlier today. Whenever you mention to an AGW believer the problems of alternative energy production they resort to saying that “science will sort that out”. Hey! On the one hand they believe junk science. On the other they disbelieve anything that contradicts their beloved belief system. And then they think that science and technology is going to sort this out.


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    val majkus

    TonyfromOz has some great posts on PA Pundits about renewables

    This post relates to wind power (in Australia) http://papundits.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/what-a-clean-energy-future-looks-like-an-absolute-nightmare/

    And for Australians concerned about the ‘carbon dioxide’ tax http://papundits.wordpress.com/2011/02/25/the-carbon-price-and-coal-fired-power/

    For a run down on how much power renewables are producing in the USA check out http://papundits.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/electrical-power-statistics-renewables-fail-to-deliver-january-2011/
    In brief:
    WIND POWER TOTAL POWER DELIVERY RATE – 7 hours per day on average for this Month.

    SOLAR POWER TOTAL POWER DELIVERY RATE – 1 hour and 30 minutes per day on average for this Month.

    WIND AND SOLAR PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL POWER – 2.45% of the total power consumed in the U.S. for this Month.

    This post relates to wind power (in Australia) http://papundits.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/what-a-clean-energy-future-looks-like-an-absolute-nightmare/

    And for Australians concerned about the ‘carbon dioxide’ tax http://papundits.wordpress.com/2011/02/25/the-carbon-price-and-coal-fired-power/


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    For more than three years now, I’ve been blogging about what this called for reduction in the emissions of CO2 will lead to.
    I’ve covered so many bases in my now more than 800 Posts.
    Concentrating Solar, (referred to as Solar Thermal, and even more erroneously as Solar Baseload, something it is patently incapable of providing) is just one of those bases I have covered.
    I understand this could be a lot of reading, but this is just four of those numerous Posts on Concentrating Solar Power,which explain that while it ‘seems’ to be a viable option, it is most definitely not.
    I apologise for placing in so many links here, but this will give you just some idea of how miserably this form of Renewable Power fails utterly to do what the Hype tells us it will do.

    The Problem With Solar Thermal Power

    The Major Physical Impossibility Of Solar Thermal Power

    Renewable Power – Clean And Green – Well, Not Really

    Kerry Lieberman American Power Act – Unintended Consequences

    Again. sorry about the number of links.

    Tony.


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    For those of you debating the worth of Household Solar Power, eg those panels on your rooftop, read this and then make your decision.
    I can tell you right now what that decision will be.

    Household Solar Power – Don’t Believe The Hype

    Tony.


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    cohenite

    Thanks Tony, sterling work; I was looking around for some kWh comparisons and found this:

    http://nuclearfissionary.com/2010/04/02/comparing-energy-costs-of-nuclear-coal-gas-wind-and-solar/

    The comparison still seems light for the wind and solar rates, what do you think?


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    Bob of Castlemaine

    The comparative costs per megawatt hour given in Figure 1B of the Victorian Auditor-General’s Report are claimed to be based on “general market information”. I wonder what “market” VAG consulted with to come up with the “rose coloured glasses” comparative numbers for renewables?
    Similarly, what crystal ball did their consulted “market” look into to provide the figures for Victorian geothermal?


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    Gerard van Rijswijk

    Billions more to be wasted on ‘green’ schemes. The Senate is currently considering the Product Stewardship Bill 2011 which enables the government to set up recycling schemes for a wide variety of products – even though such schemes produce little or no environmental benefit. The money will come from levies (taxes) on the products concerned. The first will be for TVs and computers – at a cost of an estimated $1 billion – even though there is little worth recovering and they are safe in landfill. Oher products to be targeted include tyres (even though the cost benefit analysis suggest the recovery is not viable) batteries and mobile phones.


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    Matt b

    To be honest I’m surprised that the graph is so kind to solar. To be fair I don’t think you can fault investment to date but there has to come a time that we abandon the BZE illusion.


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    cohenite

    Bob, I saw that, but I reckon that’s too high for coal and not high enough for the renewables.


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    val majkus

    Thanks Tony for those links and for your work
    Now how loud do we have to yell before anyone hears


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    Thanks cohenite, (earlier, and at 22 for this comment)

    In one or two of those Posts I linked to, I have some cost analysis, and I have so many Posts, the right ones are hard to find.
    This Post was part of the Series I did on Nuclear Power, but it has some costing analysis in it as well.

    Nuclear Electrical Power Generation – Why The Fuss? (Part 8)

    Keep in mind that at no time have I ever tried to go over the top with costing analysis, and the figures I quote and quote often are conservative by nature, and even so, the cost of Renewables, (any of them) are still considerably higher than for even new technology coal fired power.
    Also keep in mind that existing coal fired technology is old, as no one in this age would even consider a thought bubble to construct a new coal fired plant.
    The average age now for most existing large scale coal fired plants is just under 50 years.
    The only place that is building new coal fired power plants is China, and we here in the Western World have almost lost the technology for the construction of new coal fired plants.
    In China, new coal fired plants on the large scale, 2000MW and larger, are half the size of our older ones, and burn coal more efficiently in new critical furnaces. The boilers are more efficient, as are the turbines driving the new and smaller generators.
    An equivalent sized new coal fired plant in China can produce from the one generator twice the power, and overall, the plant burns half as much coal, thus emitting only half the CO2.
    For us now to turn against current thinking and go ahead and construct a new coal fired power plant, we would have to go and look at China for the technology.
    This is the absolute stupidity of this whole argument.
    Renewables can NEVER supply the levels of power that coal fired power is already providing.

    Tony.


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    Willaim Gray

    Tony hi I don’t have time yet to read and find answers to these questions so if there relevent to other minds could you provide any answers please.
    This is a modern plant – Coal ash contains the debris from ‘scrubbing’ most of polutants. Mostly lots of C02 is released. Is it expensive to install these scrubers on older stations? What is done with the coal ash?
    One more question. When at say 2am theres a lot of wind power that is not needed what happens to it? Is it true that if not used it must still be paid for.


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    mullumhillbilly

    Tony @30,
    NEVER is a long time indeed. What do you think about Bjorn Lomborg’s argument that solar costs are on a downward trajectory (similar to ‘Moore’s law’ of computing power and costs, but with a longer interval) and may (by projection) reach oil-equivalent costs/MJ by mid mid-century…. thence the Hydrogen economy… ?


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    incoherent rambler

    Off topic, but I am annoyed.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/commentary/wholl-weather-a-harsh-climate

    Nikki Savva has a rather terrible article on the carbon dioxide tax. I posted a comment response. The Australian have chosen to remove from my response my questions asking the author to declare their level of education in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry.
    I figure if someone is going to comment on AGW, they can at least declare that they understand the basics of science.
    The Australians un-acknowledged editing of comments is disturbing.


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    Ken Stewart

    My neighbours have just installed solar (2.5kWhr?) and my brother reckons I should too because it will save money. But someone has to pay, and that someone is everyone who doesn’t have solar, by raising their tariffs. And it doesn’t make any difference! No thanks.


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    cohenite

    mull, the only way solar will be viable is if they solve the problems with this source of solar power:

    http://www.innovationnewsdaily.com/space-based-solar-power-decade-110201html-1775/


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    John Brookes

    incoherent rambler@33:

    How is that a terrible article? It read well, and described reasonably accurately the political situation. Nowhere that I could see did she push a pro-AGW barrow, or even discuss the science. From your own description of them, your comments were tasteless and would have contributed nothing to the discussion.

    However, comments don’t appear immediately in The Australian (or “The Skeptics Best Friend”, as I call it), so maybe your comment will yet appear. Also, after a while, they simply don’t add new comments.

    One of the nice things about this blog is that your comments appear straight away, and are only very rarely censored.


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    val majkus

    John @ 36 I agree that article didn’t push a pro AGW barrow
    I did have a comment published there today http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/voters-abandon-julia-gillards-carbon-pricing-plan/story-fn59niix-1226049650911
    (quoting)
    I wonder what does Oakshott perceive is the public good that will be achieved with this useless ‘carbon dioxide’ tax. Where’s the substantive direct evidence that a measurable amount of the late 20th century warming was caused by human carbon dioxide emissions Where’s the benefit (to Australia) of ‘going it alone’ before our major trading partners It is not in the national interest for this Govt to introduce this tax which will damage the economy and it will cost jobs and result in cost of living increases without any benefit to the national interest I know the Govt needs it for its ‘smoke and mirrors’ budget and possibly so as not to lose Greens support but surely the national interest should have priority with a Govt of whatever political persuasion


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    The Loaded Dog

    One of the nice things about this blog is that your comments appear straight away

    Yes, that’s what I like too Johny boy. You can whack the trolls a lot quicker..


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    Helen Armstrong

    Can anyone tell me the energy price of full coal powered energy(no gas mix) AND paying the carbon tax? I was wondering if that too, would be less than the cost of solar?


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    janama

    TonyFromOz – the latest coal power station built in Australia was commissioned in 2007 at Kogan Creek, Queensland. It is a single furnace model producing 750MW from one furnace – all the other power stations only produce 500MW from a furnace. It is also air-cooled so uses minimum water and is built next to it’s own coal mine. It has huge scubbers which remove 98% of particulate matter plus SO2 etc. We need a new range of these to be built across the country.

    http://www.csenergy.com.au/content-%2842%29-kogan-creek.htm

    It cost $1.2 billion.


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    MaxL

    Ken Stewart@34
    Yes, I think you’re right, it’s those of us that can’t afford the expensive solar panels that are “paying” for those that can afford them.


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    Crowbar of Daintree

    So, TonyfromOz, the corollary of what you say @27 is that Australia could halve its emissions from coal-fired power generation by replacing all of its existing old-technology plants with the latest technology? Rough estimate – what would that cost? And what % of our total emissions are represented by coal-fired power generation?


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    incoherent rambler

    John Brookes#32

    Against my better judgement, I thought I would respond.

    Savva clearly makes the assumption that there is some touch of reality about the premise of CAGW. She consistently uses the “Climate Change” tag. Just to remind you, the reason we are scheduled for a carbon dioxide tax is not because the “climate is changing” but because mankind is supposedly causing a catastrophic warming of the planet.

    The section that was removed from my post was related to me politely inquiring (surveying?) the authors credentials. I wrote “Given the commentary on ‘Climate Change’, may I ask to what level you successfully studied Mathematics, Physics or Chemistry at a tertiary, secondary or primary level?”

    It was (methinks) an innocent enough question.
    I theorize that the journalists that support the CAGW hypothesis (even implicitly) have insufficient Mathematical skills to understand that statistics supporting CAGW are flawed(ref. M&M), or that IPPC model behaviour reflects neither the physics of the atmosphere or the chemistry of CO2. Statistics alone places the CAGW hypothesis in the failed category.

    It is a question I could also ask of you John?


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    Damian Allen

    It always make me Laugh outrageously when I see home with these rubbish solar panels and solar hot water installed, yet the owners have a chimney belching so called “evil” carbon Dioxide from their wood fire place !!!
    Hypocrites !
    If they were genuine believers in their global warming Religion they would simply wear warmer clothing and not have fire place.


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    pat

    u can vote on this page…it’s running at the usual 87% opposed, but that won’t stop the govt. please explain why newspoll would think we would believe 49% of ALP voters would be FOR a tax!!!

    4 May: Courier Mail Australia: AAP: Julia Gillard launches carbon tax offensive
    It’s been reported guests at the dinner will represent companies including AGL, Shell, Origin Energy, Wesfarmers and Alcoa, but chiefs from many of the large mining companies won’t be appearing.
    A Newspoll published in The Australian today showed 30 per cent of those surveyed were in favour of Labor’s plan to price carbon while 60 per cent were opposed.
    Even among ALP voters support is relatively low with 49 per cent in favour and 41 per cent against…
    http://www.couriermail.com.au/business/julia-gillard-launches-carbon-offensive/story-e6freqmx-1226049761524


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    Denis of Perth

    Thank you Jo and your H/T.

    Once again you have rended the real numbers and placed them in an obvious order.

    Thank you
    Kind regards
    D


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    John F

    I dont want any more cost benefit analisys, or consultants reports or royal commissions not ever, I want intelligent common sense politicians, who have run a business, not lame duck consutants or commissionors that are only there because they cant survive in real business, governments only select consultants who agree with them, no more ex lawyers, ex mayors, they dont have common sense, until that happens we will have these massive departments such as climate change departments wasting millions, put a farmer in charge of this country for 3 years and watch it turn around, they solve problems with common sense.


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    Matt b

    In 44 Damian you fail to recognise that burning timber in an Australian fireplace does not add to CO2 emissions, as they grow another tree in place… Timber from a sustainable source is actually a fairly greenhouse-friendly fuel… local particulate pollution aside.


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    Charles

    Something fishy about the hydroelectric costs. Hydroelectric is often the cheapest form of energy going around. Aluminium smelters, the biggest consumers of electricity in the world, often gravitate to hydro areas, e.g. Tiwai Point NZ, Bell Bay Tas. Figures I’ve seen make it cheaper than coal.


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    Bob of Castlemaine

    janama:
    May 4th, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Bayswater PS NSW consists of 4 x 660MW coal units.
    It’s true that air cooled condensers such as Kogan Creek has do not require cooling water but they do have a significant cost in terms of additional auxiliary power required for the fans. This significantly reduces the overall generation efficiency i.e. increases the coal burnt per MW of output.
    Bear in mind also that coal power stations normally have a design life of at least 30 – 40 years. To prematurely retire such an asset would inevitably have a large impact on the cost of electricity. That’s assuming the State would compensate the owners for their financial loss and that Australia’s progression towards banana republic status hasn’t yet extended to the nationalisation of private assets.
    Another point discouraging new coal power stations – the Australian approval process is hopelessly mired in red and green tape and legislative certainty so lacking that very few corporations have an appetite for such risk. This obviously does not apply in China.


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    Bulldust

    This poll “analysis” appeared on The Australian:

    http://blogs.theaustralian.news.com.au/mumble/index.php/theaustralian/comments/newspoll_climate_change_detail/

    My response:

    None of the polls mean anything because they are exceptionally poorly framed. This is due mostly to the fact that the politicians and media have completely warped the meaning of the terminology.

    Climate change = any change in climate whether humans or nature cause said impact or some mix of both.

    The question “do you think climate change is occurring?” is therefore completely moot. Of course it is occurring, and has always occurred, and barring massive geoengineering to keep it stable, will always continue to change until the sun goes supernova.

    As for adding “enitrely” and “partly” caused by human activity, and labelling it “total caused by human activity”… I would fire any statistician who presented such an analysis. Better to call it “total of those who believe humans have some impact on climate change.”

    The last survey question is entirely disingenuous because even if Australia ceased all emissions of GHGs today, using the IPCC models we would decrease the global temperature by such a small amount that it would not be measurable. Hence the question is moot.

    None of the poll results have any meaning whatsoever. Mind you, that is typical of polling on a contentious issue. I won’t link the Yes Minister video on polls as I am sure you have all seen it by now :)


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    Geoff Sherrington

    Jo, when we discovered Ranger in late 1969 (I joined the Company soon after), we had a steep learning curve about uranium fuel prices. It was then that we learned quite quickly that a major determinant of price to consumer was energy density at the point of production. The ratios of alt eng and fossil to nuclear costs have hardly changed since we did our studies, because of the strong influence of PHYSICS.
    What has changed is the external costs, the lead in the saddle trickled in by generations of greenies and a few gullible pollies. If you take a look at China, which has major acticity in all sectors of power generation, you will see that they pay less weight to the greenie social factors. Their figures are closer to those of the 1970 ratios.
    If Australia wants to think its way out of a looming mess, it has to go nuclear and it has to be ruthless when pruning the social costs.


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    Geoff Sherrington

    Bob of Castlemaine: May 4th, 2011 at 3:28 pm Re Kogan Creek, Queensland.

    IIRC, they have designed a largish solar facility to pteheat the water that coal buring turns to steam to turn the generators. But then, they have condensors to return the stean to lower temperature water, before sending some of it off to the solar heaters again and some straight into the coal fired part. This is because different input temperatures are needed for different water functions.
    There is thus a fight of technology, with solar to heat up water and condensors to cool it, which sounds Irish. The economics must be rather much affected by the temperature differences, so I’ve written to the Government owners asking for more details on the energy balances, including the cost of a unit of electricity from coal buring alone versus one from solar heating alone. Too early for an answer yet. If ever.
    Does this summary agree with your understanding?


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    GBees

    Cost vs Benefit …

    For wind they’d better bloody factor in the cost of destruction of wildlife (aka migrating birds, eagles and bats)see SaveTheEagles. I’m sorry, but I’m getting really p*ss*d …. these scars on the environment are destructive to the environment, produce no useful power, are cost prohibitive, make people sick, require acres and acres of productive land … what a joke … I’ve had enough …. we’ve got to stop this madness …..!!


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    Geoff Sherrington

    Peter Lang has had more relevant experience with Australian power costs than anyone I have read. I think he will not mind that I have put some of his articles on my rudimentary web site so you can share them. Hope I did not duplicate any, it’s a rush.

    http://www.geoffstuff.com/Lang%20Hazlewood%20replacement.doc

    http://www.geoffstuff.com/LangZCA2020%20Critique.pdf

    http://www.geoffstuff.com/Avoided%20by%20Wind%20Generation_Lang.doc

    http://www.geoffstuff.com/Cost%20of%20Alt%20Energy%20Aust.doc


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    Stephen Garland

    Re: Jo’s free thought

    Jo, how much more money needs to be spent on medical research? We already know that a good diet, not being overweight, regular exercise, and an appropriate work/life balance (plus infectious disease control) will make most of us healthier. If this basic knowledge was applied we could reduce health budgets and there would be a reduced need to increase medical research funding. I suggest it is the sick social system that needs the research focus and dollars.


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    Damian Allen

    “pat” (45),
    Thanks for the link.
    I just voted Against the ridiculous carbon Dioxide (Plant Food) tax !!


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    Damian Allen

    “Matt b”,
    You must have been born on Planet STUPID…….

    Please quote one, just one, Peer Reviewed Scientific Paper, which PROVES, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that human beings and carbon Dioxide (Plant Food), are/is causing global warming.

    PS Computer Models do not constitute either Proof or Evidence.


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    Damian Allen

    “pat” (45),
    “Offensive” is a synonym for “gillard”……..


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    Andy G

    @mattB #49

    doh. and if everyone chose to burn timber…. you really are an i…t, y’know.


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    Andy G

    Damian #62.

    Asking MattB for some actual evidence is sort of like ask Mann for some data !!

    If it isn’t erased already, it soon will be.


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    Bob Malloy

    incoherent rambler:
    May 4th, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Off topic, but I am annoyed.

    Rambler, on this one I have to support Brooks! having read the article I find nothing to be annoyed about, the only statement that I find erroneous is this.

    Climate change (as distinct from carbon tax) believers, non-believers, sceptics and zealots seem to break pretty evenly along conservative and liberal lines.

    As a person that considers himself just left of centre polically, the above statement, and “Nikki is not the first to express it”, is too simplistic. If it was that easy to attribute belief or scepticism, on political bias, how do you explain the recent poll of a two to one vote against this tax.


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    Richard S Courtney

    Can any advocate of solar power for electricity generation tell me what proportion of people want to turn their lights off (and not on) when the sun goes down?

    Richard


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    Richard S Courtney

    Bob Malloy:

    Re: your comment at #64.

    Concerning AGW, ou correctly say of Australians

    If it was that easy to attribute belief or scepticism, on political bias, how do you explain the recent poll of a two to one vote against this tax.

    The only place where AGW scepticism aligns with political views is the US, and this alignment tends to distort American views of the subject.

    Richard


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    Ian Hill

    Thanks TonyfromOz @22 for your article on Solar Panels

    You say:

    They also advise you to keep the panels clean, and by clean, the actual intent is completely pristine, because any dust or smearing from rain will decrease the efficiency of power generation.

    The recommended cleaning frequency is once a week.

    I must say I’ve never seen anyone cleaning the panels. What about bird droppings, insects, falling leaves etc?

    Another point you make – to install them you really need to stay put for 26 years to break even – with subsidies. Seeing as half the population changes address every five years it simply isn’t a viable proposition for the majority of the population.

    I recently spoke to someone I knew had installed them. He said it was a good deal and the only drawback was that he had to do his clothes washing at night. Didn’t make sense to me but I didn’t tell him that.


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  • #

    Ian at comment 67
    re the comment you made about washing clothes at night.

    That’s where a lot of people fall into the trap with solar panels.
    They think that because they are ….. Revenue neutral, they think that they are in fact generating all the power they need to run their house.
    The average household residence consumes between 20 and 30KWH per day over the full 24 hours.
    You need to purchase a large scale rooftop solar unit to produce that amount of electricity, not a piddling little 2 panel unit, but 12 panels or more, plus the large Inverter to convert what is generated into the normal 240V 50Hz that ‘comes out’ of the ‘hole in the wall’ plug.

    The panels only generate their maximum power during daylight, and here I mean a bright sunny Summer daylight with pristinely clean panels.

    The household uses what it normally uses during the day, and as soon as the Sun sets, the power you use in that same house with those panels is like everybody else, power FROM the grid.

    The excess, over and above what is used, is returned to the grid during the day, and for this the panel owner is subsidised (feed in tariff) anything up to 3 times what an ordinary grid connected consumer pays for each unit of electricity.

    Hence it becomes revenue neutral only.

    The average household residence consumes its electricity one third during the day and two thirds during the night.

    During the night the panel owner is a net consumer of power FROM the grid.

    The grid is not returning to that user the power he generated during the day.
    The grid is not a solar panel battery.

    That power being consumed from the grid has to be generated by conventional means, and here in Australia, the bulk of that is from coal fired power.

    So, overall, the household with a large panel system on the roof is still a net consumer of power from the grid.

    It’s only REVENUE neutral.

    Tony.


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    TonyFromOz @68,

    Thanks for the example of how the grand plans of the CAGW alarmists work only if you ignore reality, rob one to give to another, and fail to keep all costs and benefits properly accounted for.

    The solar energy scam is revenue neutral like a bucket of water with a hole in the bottom and using a pump to put the water back into the bucket. The water level stays the same. There is no loss if you don’t include the cost of the pump and the energy used to pump the water back into the bucket. The fact that someone else has to pay for pumping the water back into the bucket is not supposed to be seen.

    Interestingly, there is not only the cost of pumping the water there is also the lost opportunity cost of not being able to use that expended wealth for more productive activities than pumping the water back into the bucket. There is even a more costly loss: the loss of property and liberty of the individual from whom the wealth is taken to make up the difference. This is the true cost of all that “free” energy from the sun. This cost is unsustainable.

    The bottom line is that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Somewhere, someone is paying for it somehow.


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    Tom

    Sorry, folks, you’re just too stupid to know what’s really going on and we’ll keep attacking the “toxic cultural meanings” that have led you to question our objective, high-quality science. If you’re unsure of just how stupid you are, go to this link to see how the CAWG elite despair that they have lost control of the public debate.

    http://www.climatecentral.org/blogs/can-catastrophe-galvanize-action-on-global-warming/


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    Tom

    … That’s the CAGW elite… pardon the typo.


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    Bulldust

    Seem like The Australian’s Peter Brent (see post 52) doesn’t like valid criticism of polls either. The post never made it up. Someone please explain to me where it may have violated posting guidelines. Maybe JtI is the moderator LOL … we have history.


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    Bulldust

    On the plus side, the inefficient solar panel program which subsidises middle and high income groups at the expense of the poorer tax payers with inefficient energy supply, is being scrapped a year earlier than originally planned:

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/combet-ends-solar-panel-subsidies-early-20110504-1e8jm.html


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    Popeye

    Bulldust # 72

    They will only post what THEY want people to read.

    I tried to post this three times at the Telegraph in response to Paul Howes backflip on “if ONE job is in danger we won’t support the carbon tax” and of course it didn’t get a response.

    Ah – Paul Howes

    WHAT WAS YOUR PRICE????

    A week ago you wouldn’t support this tax if it was to cost even ONE solitary job.

    So I ask again – WHAT WAS YOUR PRICE????

    Paul – one more question – please provide ONE peer reviewed, irrefutable paper/item that PROVES ABSOLUTELY that manmade CO2 (a minor trace gas comprising 0.039% of the Earth’s atmosphere) is responsible for all this warming (which incidently now proven – it’s NOT warming any more).

    See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmosphere_of_Earth

    & here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_gas

    WHEN ARE LABOR GOING TO INTRODUCE A WATER VAPOUR TAX (water vapour MUCH more prevalent as a greenhouse gas than ALL the others combined)???

    Remember Paul, this is the age of the Internet – the information age – you should get ALL your Labor stooges together and inform them of this – I don’t think they are aware of it (or of much else for that matter)!!!!!!!!!

    IF LABOR AND THE REST OF YOU DON”T GET YOUR ACT/STORY/LIE TOGETHER YOU ARE DOOMED – oh – you’re doomed anyway – we’ve woken up to the BS!!

    MANY people facing MANY long terms in the pen (worldwide) for this DELIBERATE AND FRAUDULENT LIE!!!!

    Cheers,

    All I can presume is that the MSM is the Left’s censorship mechanism but as I say in my attempted post “this is the age of the internet” and THE TRUTH WILL EVENTUALLY OUT!!

    Cheers,


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    janama

    Geoff Sherrington: – There was a guy from the University of NSW who experimented with solar at the Liddel Power station in the Hunter Valley – he ended up moving to the US and formed a company called Ausra – they claimed that they could power the whole of the US with their solar power generation. They established a factory to build the curved reflectors and built their first power station – 5MW. Nothing more happened for years and eventually new management appeared and took over the company. Ausra has recently been sold to an new company AREVA. Areva has been awarded the contract to add the solar factor to Logan Creek – in full sun it will add an addition 44MW to Logan Creek’s 750MW.

    http://www.areva.com/EN/solar-119/areva-solar.html


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    Alternative energy, hybrid and electric cars etc are for people who can’t do maths. I mentioned this on another group and yesterday one alternative energy enthusiast posted an except from a blog where someone was saying their Prius supplied power to his and his neighbour’s house when the power was out due to the tornadoes in the US a few days ago. Fantastic! Pay $20,000 extra for a tricked up Toyota Corolla to save $1000 on buying a really good emergency generator, something you might want to have if you live in a disaster prone area.

    The household solar panels are rubbish for the nation but may make sense for individual householders *if* you get the installation at the right price. The subsidy peak is for 1.5KW peak systems. Mine cost $2000 installed to me. A 3KW peak system would cost me an extra $9000 or so and that’s just for the extra panels as the inverter is already a 3kW one.
    All a scam but if the voters keep voting for green policies they can help pay my electricity bill.


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    Bulldust

    New article in The Australian about Windsor:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/westpac-joins-carbon-revolt/story-fn59niix-1226050289507

    It seems he is quite at ease lying about statistics, or at the very least spouting incredibly disingenuous messages with the likes of:

    Mr Windsor – the most cagey of the crossbenchers on whether he’ll eventually support the policy – said it was “incredible” that nearly 80 per cent of voters still believed in climate change, given Tony Abbott’s “ferocious” anti-carbon tax campaign.

    I think he needs to be educated about opinion polls and misleading language.


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    pat

    Bulldust, if u think Tony Windsor or Newspoll is being disingenuous, try to top this one:

    4 May: Seattle Post Intelligencer: Richardson: Bin Laden death should lead to cap-and-trade
    Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson hopes that Osama bin Laden’s death will spur President Barack Obama to promote climate change legislation…
    The former energy secretary and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the Clinton administration called for a comprehensive nationwide greenhouse gas reduction program in addition to a national renewable energy standard.
    Richardson suggested Obama offer Congress two options: an economy-wide cap-and-trade program with stringent timetables over several decades and a carbon tax. And if Congress fails to do either of those, EPA must plow ahead with climate change regulations, he said.
    “I’m still one of those who supports cap and trade, but it’s good I believe to offer choices,” he said.
    This article first appeared on POLITICO
    http://www.seattlepi.com/default/article/Richardson-Bin-Laden-death-should-lead-to-1364835.php


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    Mia Nony

    I have been following solar for years waiting for it to come down in price in Canada. Per watt solar has gone from $6.70 a watt to 50 cents a watt. Now those truly dangerous “smart” meters are the incentive to go off grid. Solar used to be too expensive. Now the price has often been grossly over inflated in a so called “green” market to capitalize on the trend. the mistake I made was to let the solar company know that I knew the drastic price drop and therefore what current rate per watt has become. I pretty much was given the not so subtle brush off by the only player in town, after that, since they were quoting about $40,000 not counting labour to render an average house off grid..


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    brc

    On solar power – I suspect there would be more greenhouse benefit if everyone who currently used a clothes dryer to dry their clothes instead used the sun and wind. A ban on clothes dryers would probably have a greater effect on co2 production than the complicated business of solar power and feed in tariffs, particularly when you factor in the construction, transportation and installation of the panels, plus the greenhouse emissions of the office where they process all the application forms and mail out all the cheques.

    Mind you, you need a massive stockpile of clothes if you live in one of the dismal weather states, for that one perfect day every couple of months.


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    Bulldust

    Pat: That is just downright weird… Oasama ==> ETS legislation… /boggle

    Meanwhile Christine Milne, the economically illiterate, states Australia should go 100% renewable:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/greens-call-for-100-per-cent-move-to-renewable-energy/story-fn59niix-1226050534456

    I bet she gets real excited when the BZE dog-and-pony show comes to town.


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    Bob of Castlemaine

    Geoff Sherrington:
    May 4th, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Geoff my direct knowledge of Kogan Creek is limited to the very early stage feasibility.
    The reason that cooling is required for steam turbine condensers is to cool and condense the exhaust steam to water after it leaves the low pressure stage of the steam turbine. The resulting condenser water is at low temperature and low pressure (vacuum) – required for good steam cycle efficiency.
    As far as the economics of solar versus coal you would need to look at the life cycle cost per MW of output. In addition while the solar energy is “free” its availability is cyclic and unreliable therefore plant capital cost becomes relatively high if for no other reason than the low utilisation factor.
    On the face of things it would seem that the Kogan Creek Solar Project isn’t the sort of project that would happen based on any rational cost benefit study. As is the norm with these save the planet token projects it owes its existence to the MRET gun held at the head of the power generation industry and to truck loads of taxpayer funded grant money. From what I can see it is a solar driven steam generator intended to generate some of the steam required for boiler feed water heating, so replacing some of the heat normally provided by bled steam from the turbine. At a cost of $100 – 150M for 44MW of steam, at say 15% capacity factor, this steam generator looks dam expensive. Presumably it supplies steam direct to Kogan Creek’s existing feed water heaters and as such includes no turbine, electrical generator or other power station auxiliary plant required for grid connection. So to turn your 44MW, 15% CF steam generator into a complete power station you would be looking to at least double the $100 – 150M price tag. Not sure this stacks up too well against the original coal power station which produces 750MW at 90%+ CF for a captal cost of $1.2B.
    But I guess it does provide a good photo opportunidy for Juliar Gillard while she spins her carbon dioxide tax deception.


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    David

    Bulldust – good mental picture of Christine Milne – hopefully she may reach Beyond Zero Intellect!

    She gets exicted about lots of Green / Brown things!

    Don’t show her this picture – she’d go into a spin


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    David

    O/T – Just found an order form for Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan – only $30.00 hard copy (printed) plus $4.00 postage.

    These people are BRAIN DEAD with this AGW and BZE rubbish.

    But – maybe I can claim it as Carbon Storage Credits – and all my books, newspapers etc????


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    David

    Forgot to enter link to picture in 85 for Christine Milne -

    link


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    Bulldust

    Best news all day … the NT Parliament has passed a bill seeking a 50-year exemption from carbon taxation, or until world consensus on a system is reached:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/climate/northern-territory-wants-50-year-carbon-tax-exemption/story-e6frg6xf-1226050377204

    Jooooolya is losing support left and right …


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    Bob of Castlemaine

    Bob of Castlemaine:
    May 5th, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    A couple of typos. Third para MW should read MWh. Fourth para dam should read damn.


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    lmwd

    O/T but this speech given by Clive Hamilton further confirms he is one scary dude.

    http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/doomed-planet/2011/05/clive-hamilton

    I can now more fully appreciate how civil wars have started – no sanctimonious twit is going to take my right to live in a democracy away and shove his nutcase ideology down my throat. He’s one step away from advocating outright violence. I cannot forgive Gillard for letting the Eco-Taliban get a foothold in power.


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    mullumhillbilly

    cohenite @35, mia nony @80, tony from oz @68

    cohenite @35: Putting solar arrays in space makes no energetic/entropic sense. “..a focused laser could deliver enough collectible energy to such a receiver to power a village” …well whoopee. Surely a ground based array could do much the same thing without all the expense and potential to incinerate the villagers if the GPS was a little erratic. So why do you think that space concentrators are “the only way”? I think there’s a powerful imperative driving us towards solar, and its not ideological nonsense of any particular hue, or taxpayer subsidies, or abiotic oil enthusiasts.

    Mia Nony @80 has pointed to it :- the steep decline in panel costs. There’s a lot of voices here talking about the dis-economies of current solar tech, but given the ‘Moore’s law’ -type progress on costs and efficiency, oil-price parity within the next few decades seems entirely achieveable for solar, even without a carbon tax. And once it does, the technology will bootstrap into swift domination of the energy market, and our main human development problem will become one of how to manage a limitless, cheap, clean energy source without breeding and partying like there’s no tomorrow.

    Tony from oz @68, do you have a comment on future solar costs and whether or when solar might hit oil parity $/MJ? (and by extension, the prospects for a hydrogen economy)? (see my post@32)


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    pattoh

    from the above mentioned article……( IMWD @90)

    “Clive Hamilton is an Australian author and public intellectual”………….

    ….Is this Australia’s Education Nation???? I am so proud.

    Go Julia!!! just go


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    mullumhillbilly

    Well whaddya know? Not that these folks are always reliable, but if I could print extra zeroes as fast as Helicopter Ben can, I’d be betting one or two of them on the predictions made here.


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    mullumhillbilly:

    Are you sure you actually know what energy and entropy are?
    Ground based solar is bullshit. Get a quote on solar hot water. That even has a built in storage feature. You’ll barely make 5% return on capital before amortising the cost of the system. I did the same numbers back in 1976 when I was at a university helping teach environmental science. It was 5% then too.

    I’ve seen numbers that suggest that even if the panels cost zero, the cost of installation and maintenance make them uneconomical. So much for that. That was MIT Tech Review who are bleeding hearts for alternative energy. So a Moore’s Law cost reduction won’t help, not that that’s happening anyway.

    Hydrogen on its own is hopeless. Best way to use it is to attach the hydrogen to some carbon atoms. Real good solution to the storage problem. It’s called petrol and diesel. Nice engineering infrastructure already exists to support that.

    To get back to the space based solar: It works at night and on cloudy days. No atmospheric absorption at the collector. It is possible to leverage the mass in GEO by going to the Moon for the materials to build the space segment. Search for Gerrard K. O’Neill and read all about it. No laser beams, just microwaves collected by rectenna farms. The beam drift problem has been thought of and handled. I dearly love everything about it. Spaceships, space habitats, beamjacks, Moon miners, moon bases and a new constellation in the night sky, “The Powerline”. There have been songs written about this – “the Earth is clean as springtime dream, no factory smokes appear, for they’ve left the land to the gardener’s hand and they all are circling here”. Search Youtube for “Minus Ten and Counting”.

    Fortunately or unfortunately, I think all Earth’s energy needs can be met by ground based nuclear fission for as far as we care to realistically project. Damn.


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    David

    Mullimbimby Hippy

    You’re joking – You must not pay for electricity – and 50 years from now???

    Reuters print anything, anytime, to anyone – and you happened to believe it???


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    janama

    Bob of Castlemaine: the additional solar does not ADD 44MW of power, it somehow tries to claim 44MW of the 740MW output of the turbine.


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    Richard S Courtney

    Bob of Castlemaine:

    I agree all that you say in #84, but I write to comment on your statement saying;

    In addition while the solar energy is “free” its availability is cyclic and unreliable therefore plant capital cost becomes relatively high if for no other reason than the low utilisation factor.

    All energy is “free”, and fossil fuels (i.e. coal, oil, gas, etc.) are the most efficient use of solar power.

    All usable energy derives from the “big bang” which initiated the universe. All energy flows capable of conducting work are stages in the process from that event to the heat death of the universe.

    Fuels are stores of energy. They are commodities which can be stored, transported when and where desired, and used as required. Thus, they can be used to provide energy which can be distributed as electricity when and where it is wanted.

    Electricity is a form of energy. It is not a commodity. It cannot be stored in significant amounts and must be used at its existing distribution system when generated.

    Only three processes provide energy flows which can be sampled by humanity. They are
    • the residual energy which was concentrated in ancient – now dead – stars,
    • the residual energy from the formation of the solar system, and
    • the energy flowing from the sun.

    Processes which initiated during the lives of ancient stars have generated radioactive substances notably uranium. Amounts of these substances were part of the material which accreted to form the Earth, and they may be utilised as fuel in nuclear power plants.

    Residual energy from the formation of the solar system is observed in the power of the tides and geothermal forces. Indeed, it can be argued that the Earth and Moon system is still forming because these processes still continue.

    Energy flowing from the sun consists of radiations and particles. To date, only sunlight and solar heat have been utilised as energy sources by humans.

    All the three sources of energy have been suggested for provision of so-called ‘renewable’ energy.

    All these sources provide “free” energy, but collecting energy and concentrating it to form useful amounts and fuels is expensive.

    Fortunately, nature has collected solar energy for us so it is available to us in the form offossil fuels.

    Fossil fuels are the most effective use of solar power. They represent the remains of energy collected by photosythesis conducted by living things over long times (geological ages) and large areas then compressed into small volumes of dried material. This high collection efficiency makes fossil fuels the most economic form of solar power.

    Richard


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    Tel

    The best value solar panel at Jaycar right now is CAT. NO. ZM9098 which costs 2396.00 for 480 Watts (if you buy 4 panels).

    ( 2396.00 * 0.07 ) / (( 480 * 365.25 * 5 * 60 * 60 ) / ( 1000 * 60 * 60 ))

    Gives about 19c per kWh of low voltage DC.

    Where:

    0.07% is the typical Australian interest rate on the capital.

    ( 2396.00 * 0.07 ) is the cost for a year of operation.

    ( 480 * 365.25 * 5 * 60 * 60 ) is Joules delivered in a whole year, presuming 5 hours of operation per day.

    ( 1000 * 60 * 60 ) conversion from Joules to kWh

    Note that this does not include the price of any batteries. Typical 12V lead-acid battery costs $145 and you probably would need 4 of them, to charge off the 4 panels so that becomes:

    (( 2396.00 + 580 ) * 0.07 ) / (( 480 * 365.25 * 5 * 60 * 60 ) / ( 1000 * 60 * 60 ))

    And we are up to 24c per kWh but haven’t got any management system in place. Also, you now need to convert your equipment to run on either 48 VDC which is easy enough for lighting, and not all that difficult for computers. Everything else (e.g. cooking and hot water) might as well run on natural gas.

    Also, I’ve not included aging of the batteries here, so you can add a bit more for that.

    It is viable, but not good value for people with grid connections. If I was out in the bush somewhere with no infrastructure, I’d probably go for 48 V solar and bottle gas.


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    Tel

    Space concentrators have the advantage of large amounts of free realestate and longer hours of operation. However, you still need to manufacture the cells and get them up into space which is a very expensive process. It’s only worth considering after we have some sort of manufacturing facility on the moon (which no doubt will eventually happen), and it would all have to be built by robots because the price of human labour (and all the associated life support) would blow the whole project.

    I’m not convinced that the rectenna system will be efficient, seems to me that no one has demonstrated high efficiency microwave transmission on Earth over distances of even a mile or two.


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    L5Rick

    The worst thing about our greenies is that they will eventually be right about running out of oil. We will run out of oil someday unless it isn’t a fossil fuel. Besides burning that wonderful chemical feedstock is a really dumb idea.

    We probably should throw billions at solar, but we should be throwing it at solar power satellites built with extraterrestrial materials. If we can just get over being terracentric regarding power generation and mining raw materials we can have a future of universal wealth.

    I despair that the west will have the courage or foresight to embrace high tech power generation and the wealth of the high frontier. With the shortsighted Luddite flower children in charge our great grandchildren may be back to living hardscrabble lives on a depleted earth.


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    Richard S Courtney:
    Depends whether you believe in the organic origin of “fossil” fuels. Tommy Gold didn’t think so and the presence of large amounts of hydrocarbons on Titan would seem to indicate large abundance of these things in the proto solar system. Hence I don’t find it unbelievable that large amounts of hydrocarbons were present when the Earth was formed, long before life got started.

    Tel: It’s wikipedia but fairly non controversial so probably Ok https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Microwave_power_transmission#Microwave_power_transmission
    It is straightforward physics, no unknowns, to calculate the transmitter antenna required for any given beam angular width.


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    Tel,

    You forgot to depreciate the cells so the cost is much higher.


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    mullumhillbilly

    MikeB @94
    Yes I know what entropy and energy are, thanks for asking. I am making the simple point, expanded by Tel@99 (thanks) that putting large structure into space is going to use a lot of energy, and the i/o ratio wouldn’t be as good as simply using ground based solar, night periods notwithstanding. And in quoting current costs, which I realise are not viable cf current grid supply prices, you’ve completely missed the point about technology having a major impact on costs over time.

    Your emphatic opinion that “Hydrogen is hopeless” doesn’t make it so; do you have any factual empirical reasonings to go with that?

    Microwave transmission from space needs collector areas 100x size of transmitter… not efficient in any sense.

    Nuclear fission… hmmm. In 30 years time, young people around Louisiana will be asking “what’s Deep Horizon?” The children of Chernobyl will still be outside the barbed wire at 30km. Technology is no cure for stupidity or unforeseen “perfect storms” like Fukushima. If the chance of a serious nuclear accident is 1:10,000, then when we have 10,000 fission plants around the globe, 1 will be going “pop” every year or so. Will that be the one in your backyard, Mike ?

    david@95 Never mind Reuters, but did you happen to notice the report was by IPCC? I think this would be one of their more reasonable projections.


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    mullumhillbilly

    mike@95

    “.. even if the panels cost zero, the cost of installation and maintenance make them uneconomical”

    So remind me again why electricity costs are likely to triple in the next ten years in NSW.??

    I read the MIT Tech Review article, some good info there thanks. The only place I found any reference to zero-cost panels still being non-viable, was in a reader’s comment, together with the very reasonable and balanced observation that nuclear power plants are also VERY expensive because they require a lot of construction materials, and “installation and maintenance cost”. If you think nuclear fission is economic compared to (future) solar, try getting some insurance quotes for a 100MW nuclear plant, even one based in a country where tech knowledge is up to speed and no-one has a mission statement which involves bombs.


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    A 100MW nuke is tiny. Try 1 GW or more.
    Electricity costs are going to triple because idiots have bought into the CO2 causes global warming tripe and didn’t build coal fired plants in the last 20 years. Interference by governments is another reason.
    Yes hydrogen is hopeless. First you need to make it using some other energy source. Read losses. Then you need to compress/liquify it and store it. More losses. It is horrible stuff to keep confined. Even the rocketeers don’t like it much and will use kerosene where possible. I’ve seen the numbers on the energetics. Makes batteries look good.

    As for the cost of getting into space: As I said you use off planet resources. I’d expect the first main export of the Lunar Republic to be materials and components for Solar powersats. The “inefficiency” of the rectenna is a red herring. Have a look at the wikipedia article and the link to solar powersats in it.
    I’d rather have a nuke in the backyard than a natural gas pipeline/storage tank/pumping station/processing plant. Those things blow up every week.
    In 1958 when the US was struggling to orbit a few Kg Freeman Dyson and Ted Taylor’s team working on Project Orion were asked what they thought they could do. They figured around 4000 tons was the minimum they’d like to orbit. They did also say that 4 million tons would be more economical. Look it up. I’ll await your reaction. Heh.
    Funny how all the wildlife in the Chernobyl exclusion zone is doing so well isn’t it? The IPCC is a fair bit less than reputable as a source for anything.
    You claim technological improvements will make solar cheaper. Why don’t you think the same applies to nukes(as well as safer)? There’s a common misunderstanding about Moore’s Law. Microprocessors and memory have become cheaper because smaller and smaller scale structures could be built. This is not at all the same problem as solar PV panels and wind isn’t going anywhere. Windmills are already so close to the technical limits it doesn’t matter. You can’t get more than about 60% out of the wind. Unless you can reduce the price of carbon fiber and epoxy resin(both made from oil)wind isn’t getting any cheaper.


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    Richard S Courtney

    Mike Borgelt:

    At #101 you say to me:

    Depends whether you believe in the organic origin of “fossil” fuels.

    No, not in the case of coal. I do not know enough about oil formation to argue about that, but it is certain beyond any reasonable doubt that coal is the remains of ancient forests.

    Every process of coalification is observed to be happening now and the constituent parts of coal can be observed under the microscope.

    Those parts are called macerals and they are the fossilsed, compressed components of plants (bark, leaves, spores, etc.) together with remains of char from forest fires.

    Ancient forests differed from place to place as do modern forests) so analysing a coal for its maceral concentrations can identify its origen; e.g. South American coals contain a high proportion of spore remains.

    I used to run a laboratory that conducted maceral analysis. The technique is so sensitive that it can identify coals from different parts of the same coal seam. It is a useful forensic tool for ensuring that a purchased coal is what was ordered.

    So, coal is fossilised plant material. The energy released by burning coal is solar energy that the plants collected by means of photosynthesis.

    Richard


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    mullumhillbilly

    MikeB@105
    Yes OK, 1000MW.. 100 was a typo… but what would the insurance cost add to nuclear $/KwH? An actuarial approach might go something like this…take all the nuclear electricity ever produced, estimate its current-day wholesale value, and divide by sum total of all the clean-up costs ever spent on nuclear mishaps. What’s the ratio of $produced to $cost of clean-up? Now add that empirically-calculated insurance premium to the wholesale cost of nuclear electricity, and tell me that it’s still “cheap”. Even if technology reduces the cost of construction etc (but there is absolutely no evidence of that happening; nuclear plant construction is getting more expensive in real terms not cheaper), the real cost when the shadow price of insurance is factored in, is very, very expensive. Oh, and don’t forget the cost of decommissioning the old plants in 30-40 years, and looking after the spent fuel until at least the next Ice Age hits.

    My reading of rising electricity costs in NSW is that is overwhelmingly due to infrastructure and distribution upgrades, nothing to do with carbon tax. In other words, even if coal-fired electricity was free, then the cost of “installation and maintenance” (which you thought was a killer for future cheap solar panels) shows that what currently appears to be cheap domestic coal-fired electricity, is an illusion:- its real cost is several times higher than what is being charged at the consumers gate because we haven’t been paying for depreciation. So I was citing that as a reason to not be concerned about solar “installation and maintenance” still being significant even if panel prices drop.. the same factors are in the equation be it solar, nuclear or coal.

    “the Lunar Republic”..Jo’s latest post on the opportunity costs of foregone medical research is a pointer to the flaws in that pipe-dream. As to putting 4 million tonnes into orbit… I assume you are an intelligent man and have some idea of the fuel quantity (energy) required to put just 4 kg into orbit ? And, yes, I’m staggered that you would think bouncing a rocket upward off mini A-bombs (Proj Orion) is a smart thing to try.

    “nuke in the backyard” yes, probably safe enough until something goes a teensy bit wrong, then SOP is to climb under a desk, put your head between your knees, and kiss your a&*%# goodbye. At least with a gas plant/pipeline you can isolate the risk with a small exclusion zone. “wildlife in Chernobyl”… sure, low-level radiation is not instantly lethal, but the odds of any mammals staying healthy for three-score plus ten years in that environment will be pretty low for generations to come.

    “This is not at all the same problem as solar PV panels”. Actually its very similar. Processor grade Si is quite a similar material to that used for solar panels, and I am sure I will live to see the day when nanotech Si coatings on cheap flexible film are being mass-produced (and I was born before humans got into space).

    Wind and the IPCC … agree on both.


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    Richard S Courtney

    mullumhillbilly:

    At #107 you say;

    Wind and the IPCC … agree on both.

    That makes sense to me: flatulence stinks.

    Richard


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    Ted O'Brien

    Here in Australia solar has huge untapped potential without needing new fangled, complicated technology. Intelligent use of existing technology to harvest and retain solar heat can greatly reduce the need for electric or fossil powered heat. And this without huge cost.

    For housing the same infrastructure could harvest nighttime “coolness” to reduce the need for daytime powered cooling.


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    Ted O’Brien @109

    An entirely content free most making completely unfounded assertions that are in fact dead wrong. Better go find some lefty warmist blog, you’re in the wrong place here.


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    Pertinent to note a story late last week in the back pages of The West Australian newspaper …

    Green rules ‘harm’ coal power stations
    The managing director of WA’s biggest electricity generator has claimed the Government-owned utility is being forced to “trash” its coal-fired power plants to accommodate the demands of wind and solar energy.

    Following evidence to a Senate committee on Friday that the Federal Government’s proposed $20-$25 per tonne carbon tax would do nothing to reduce Verve’s emissions while pushing up its costs as much as $200 million a year, Verve managing director Shirley In’t Veld said yesterday that wind power was causing Verve’s plant to be run inefficiently.

    She claimed Verve’s carbon emissions were actually rising as it sought to accommodate renewable energy projects designed to cut emissions, including big private wind farms that generate most electricity at night when the State’s power demands were at their lowest.

    Ms In’t Veld told radio 6PR that renewable energy projects were causing Verve to “cycle” their coal-fired generators – constantly turning the giant turbines on and off – as Verve tried to balance the amount of energy being produced in the system.

    “For example, wind blowing overnight at a time we don’t need it – our (carbon) emissions are going up because we’re having to run our coal-fired generators inefficiently,” she said. “We’re having to cycle them – turn them on and off – which they weren’t designed to do.

    “We’re trashing our power stations. It’s having a huge impact on them in terms of the additional maintenance required, the wear and tear and the design life of the plant.”

    Under the WA electricity market’s complex structure and rules, Verve, which produces about 60 per cent of the State’s power, is required to “balance” supply and demand.

    This means the company must turn off its plant first when supply exceeds demand.

    Verve’s total generating capacity is 2967 megawatts but only about 600MW can be utilised overnight when all wind farms are operating.

    Ms In’t Veld said coal-fired power stations worked most efficiently when they were running continuously and cycling meant their efficiency fell as much as 20 per cent, producing more carbon emissions per unit of power generated.


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    [...] — figure this — is that we as a nation have “decided” to voluntarily^ pay somewhere from 2 – 5 times as much for our energy, and there are no cheap “technologies” on the horizon unless [...]


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    [...] but solar and wind occupy vast areas, and don’t produce base-load reliable power. (See here for the lower best case estimates of renewables costs from the Victorian Auditor General.)   Comparing the cost of different [...]


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    [...] The Victoria Auditor General showed large scale solar costs about 5.5 times as much as coal, and by the figures here, it appears that at best, rooftop solar costs at least 9 times as much. And in some contracts the “state” — possibly your state — is paying 60c a KWH for solar power when it could be buying coal power at 3 cents. [...]


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    Michael

    You really should separate different types of solar-
    PV
    Solar Thermal Power
    Solar Thermal.


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