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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Extraordinary powers triggered: Blackout threat from rooftop solar panels in Western Australia

Solar Panels, Rooftops, Perth.

Panels are going in everywhere in Perth.

In Western Australia the uptake of solar panels has rocketed as electricity prices leaped — there’s a slow motion solar train-wreck underway. Solar PV panels are now on more than one in four houses and growing at a phenomenal rate.

The South West Grid is small, with around one million customers and a daily peak of around 2 – 3,000 MW. But the solar generation now totals as much as 1,000MW, and is growing at blistering 180MW a year. Already, there are times solar can be the largest “single” source on this grid, and the AEMO has no control over it, which is why emergency notices are being issued more and more. The AEMO suggests the answer is more batteries, but we are still subsiding the installation of these unnecessary panels making the problem worse, and electricity prices are forecast to rise another 7% this year. As readers TomOMason and TonyfromOz say, so much for cheap solar — watch out: “Batteries Not Included”. The hidden costs get you every time, and the cost of the impact on the rest of the grid is only becoming known as we do this live experiment.

Solar panels are becoming an emergency in WA, equivalent to a bushfire

The growth of panels is so disruptive the AEMO sometimes has to invoke the “hisk risk state” and force the baseload coal and gas generators off the grid for fear of an overload. This is supposed to be something triggered only in exceptional circumstances. The rapid change to the grid generation will create a regular state of emergency in WA in a few years unless something changes.

Rooftop solar poses blackout threat to WA’s main power grid

Daniel Mercer in The West Australian

Extraordinary powers designed for emergencies such major power plant failures or bushfires are being triggered to protect WA’s main grid from soaring output generated by rooftop solar panels.

In comments to a Parliamentary inquiry, the body that runs the south-west electricity system has warned the market can no longer cope with the solar power being pumped out during certain conditions.

Experts have warned a looming crunch may lead to increased risks of blackouts and higher power costs for consumers.

There is now almost 1000MW of solar powered generation across the south west interconnected system — the biggest single source on the grid — with about 200,000 installations on households.

Solar spells “disastrous” trends for conventional power stations

From a January news report: Solar may overwhelm the WA Grid

Daniel Mercer in The West Australian, Jan 8th, 2018

It is believed solar power could displace 100 per cent of traditional generation such as coal- and gas-fired plants for short intervals within as few as five years based on current trends.

While this would happen initially only during specific weather conditions, such as mild, sunny days when demand for electricity was low but production from solar panels was high, the trend could be disastrous for conventional power stations.

This is one of the hidden costs of solar power.

The uptake of solar panels here has accelerated due to painful electricity prices and an ongoing subsidy. Here in the sunny state they work well but not well enough to make them worth installing without the subsidy. If they aren’t economic in most of WA, they won’t be economic anywhere other than remote off-grid locations.

In the even smaller North-West grid of Western Australia, the powers-that-be have limited the uptake of solar subsidies in Broome to 10% of the towns power for fear of grid fluctuations. (Thanks to RickWill for reminding me).

The SWIS grid is not connected to the whole NEM in Australia. The market rules are different, so is the structure. It’s largely government controlled. Therefore I’m very interested in hearing from anyone with insight into our system. Please, if you can help, get in touch through comments below or email joanne at this site domain.

h/t to Vic, Pat

Other posts on Solar Power

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Weekend Unthreaded

Jo Nova
Last chance to book for the Friedman conference!
Science is nothing without free speech. Join the ATA and friends — people who fight for it. I’ll be speaking with Ian Plimer next weekend on How to Destroy an Electricity Grid.

It’s a great line up of speakers on May 25-27, or come for the Gala dinner. Get a 10% discount with the code Nova18.

Bookings close today.

As Senator David Leyonhjelm penned in his most recent oped:

“[The Friedman Conference] is a true festival of dangerous ideas, where people can voice their vision of the future and not find themselves in hot water because someone is offended.

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James Cook Uni goes nuclear on free speech: Professor Peter Ridd sacked

UPDATE Watch Peter Ridd on Sky News. I’ll be on the show myself next Sunday. – Jo

Peter Ridd was a student at JCU. Photo, James Cook University.

Peter Ridd as a first year undergraduate science student at James Cook University back in 1978.

This is so much bigger than just one man and one university. Academic staff everywhere will be watching, most to see if they can say what they really think, but others, conversely to see whether James Cook University can get away with this. Can they squelch opinions they don’t like this easily?

James Cook Uni needs to be punished, mocked and heads should roll. We didn’t ask for this test, but it’s here. JCU don’t deserve a single dollar of taxpayer funds while they maintain this ridiculous anti-intellectual and political pogrom.

Peter Ridd wants his job back and he’s willing to fight to get it. Let’s help him!

Peter Ridd’s new website.                             Donate at his GoFundMe page.

Summary of Allegations with brief explanation

First they tried to punish Peter Ridd for daring to question divine institutions and sacred peer review. These are the words JCU wanted banned:

 ”…we can no longer trust the scientific organisations like the Australian Institute of Marine Science, even things like the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies – a lot of this is stuff is coming out, the science is coming out not properly checked, tested or replicated and this is a great shame because we really need to be able to trust our scientific institutions and the fact is I do not think we can any more.”

Then it became an order for him not to discuss their campaign to silence him. Now this is about his right to free speech to discuss their effort to stop free speech. JCU objects to him raising funds to defend himself — Did he breach a confidentiality agreement that James Cook Uni had no right to ask for? Does he have a conflict of interest by accepting money from the IPA given to help him defend himself?

This is a pure free speech battle — uni’s can accuse, but victims can’t defend

This taints all research James Cook University puts out. We know all reports will be pre-filtered or self censored.

It’s nothing but a legal hammer to stop the uni being exposed for behaving like a parasitic political tool. JCU accepts funds as a scientific institution but if it sacks people for saying the wrong thing, it proves it is really producing political documents disguised as unbiased research. Obviously no JCU researchers are free to “discover” anything that threatens the grand gravy train or suggests taxpayers are not getting good value.

This taints all research the institution puts out. How do we know that any news they announce is the whole truth — we must assume every result is put through the political filter and inconvenient conclusions or implications are removed.

It’s become a parody — JCU are denying they curtail academic freedom while they shift to an Academic-DefCon1 level, and type in the launch codes to stop him not only speaking about scientific matters, but also legal and free speech matters. JCU are nice people but Ridd should be sacked for talking to his wife and using words like “amusement”. The mildest irony is illegal!

JCU say he was making things up when he claims they told him not to talk to his wife but it was “misconduct” to email her:

(d) [James Cook University] Claims that Ridd was wrong to state in the GoFundMe campaign that the university did not allow him to tell his wife about the original allegations. It is certainly true that after a couple of months the university finally relented and allowed Ridd to talk to his wife. Then shortly after, the university made two allegations of serious misconduct about emailing his wife information relating to the case.

Ridd is free to speak, as long as he says the right things. He is not free to trvialize, satirize or parody JCU:

(e) Accused Ridd that he “trivialised, satirised or parodied” the disciplinary process by sending a copy of a newspaper article about the case to an old friend with the subject line “for your amusement”.  The university particularly objected to the use of the word “amusement”.  Naughty word apparently, but the university thought-police got it totally wrong. Ridd sees nothing amusing about what is happening to him. The strain and pressure is constant and potentially crushing – he was being ironic.

JCU claims he intimidated them after they intimidated him: It is so unfair!

(f) At the initial, and very frightening, serious misconduct interview in August 2017 when Ridd was handed by the Dean and HR representative the first set of allegations, and where there was a clear and imminent threat of dismissal, Ridd made it clear that he was going to fight the allegations all the way. Ridd said the words, “You should look at me as a poisonous fruit” and “[the University] could eat me…but  it will hurt; I will make sure it hurts”.  The university claims that this “language used is threatening, insubordinate, disrespectful”. In context, Ridd had just been told he was going into a procedure where the university is the judge, jury and probable executioner.  He was simply being defiant against the odds.

Peter Ridd‘s GoFundMe page for Donations.

Of professors, there are only a few,
Who dare challenge or doubt peer-review,
Of all topics climatic,
Which is so problematic,
For alarmists who think it taboo.



Jennifer Marohasy battles on: University Professor Sacked for Telling-the-Truth:

To be clear, the university is not questioning the veracity of what ex-professor Ridd has written, but rather his right to say this publicly. In particular, the university is claiming that he has not been collegial and continues to speak-out even after he was told to desist.

New allegations have been built on the original misconduct charges that I detailed back in February. The core issue continues to be Peter’s right to keep talking – including so that he can defend himself.

In particular, the university objects to the original GoFundMe campaign (that Peter has just reopened) because it breaches claimed confidentiality provisions in Peter’s employment agreement. The university claims that Peter Ridd was not allowed to talk about their action against him. Peter disputes this.

Of course, if Peter had gone along with all of this, he would have been unable to raise funds to get legal advice – to defend himself! All of the documentation is now being made public – all of this information, and more can be found at Peter’s new website.

The Institute of Public Affairs published Climate Change, The Facts 2017, and continues to support Peter’s right to speak the truth. For media and comment contact Evan Mulholland on 0405 140 780, or at

Buy the book if you haven’t already: this is another way of showing your support.

Just yesterday (Friday 18 May), Peter lodged papers in the Australian Federal Court. He is going to fight for his job back! 

If you care about the truth, science and academic freedom, please donate to help bring this important case to court.

It doesn’t matter how little or how much you donate. Just make sure you are a part of this important effort by donating to Peter’s GoFundMe campaign.

There is more information at my blog, and a chart showing how much some reef researchers have fudged the figures.

Marohasy has a lot more about Ridd’s scientific importance, read it all.

See also WattsUp. “Climate skeptic professor Peter Ridd fired for his views by James Cook University @jcu”

“Let’s make them miserable using every legal method available.        – Anthony Watts”

Graham Lloyd at The Australian: Marine Science Rebel sacked at James Cook Uni

Suspending him from duty last month, JCU deputy vice-chancellor Tricia Brand said Professor Ridd had engaged in serious misconduct, including denigrating the university and its employees.

Terminating his employment, Vice-Chancellor Sandra Harding said he had “engaged in a pattern of conduct that misrepresents the nature and conduct of the disciplinary process through publi­cations online and in the media”.

“You have repeatedly and knowingly breached your obli­gations to maintain the confidentiality of disciplinary processes,” Professor Harding wrote in a letter to Professor Ridd. “You have repeatedly and wilfully denigrated the university and your colleagues, and in doing so damaged the reputation of the university.”

Ridd is fighting back:

Professor Ridd responded by lodging new legal documents with the Federal Court. He said he would fight the sacking alongside 25 charges behind JCU’s “final censure” of him last year.

After already raising $100,000 from international donors in one day, Professor Ridd has turned again to the public for support.

“JCU appears to be willing to spend their near unlimited legal resources fighting me,” he said.

Professor Ridd claims he had been censured because he had “questioned the reliability of science coming from some of our most prestigious organisations who are claiming that the GBR is badly damaged”.

“All I am saying is we need to check this ‘science’,” he said.

Handy contacts:

Share your thoughts. Speak now while we still can:

 Peter Ridd‘s GoFundMe page for Donations.

The group-thinking warmists who preach,
A consensus, will censure free speech,
And those who might dare,
Have their science laid bare,
They would gladly dismiss and impeach.


Jo Nova
Last chance to book for the Friedman conference!
Science is nothing without free speech. Join the ATA and friends — people who fight for it.  I’ll be speaking with Ian Plimer next weekend on How to Destroy an Electricity Grid. It’s a great line up of speakers on May 25-27, or come for the Gala dinner. Get a 10% discount with the code Nova18. Bookings close tomorrow.

h/t Jennifer, Steve H, Pat, Another Ian, Albert Parker, William Happer, David B.

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Global Patsy Australia — largest coal exporter in world — still has 300 years of coal left

Australia must surely be The Global Patsy

Is any country acting so decisively against its own interests?

Jo Nova
Last chance to book for the Friedman conference!
I’ll be speaking with Ian Plimer next weekend. It’s a great line up of speakers on May 25-27, or come for the Gala dinner. Get a 10% discount with the code Nova18. Bookings close this Sunday.

We, the Global Crash Test Dummies of Renewable Energy, have the fourth largest known reserves of coal in the world. We have so much coal we can keep digging it up at the current rate for the next 294 years (assuming we don’t discover more, which we will)1. If we didn’t export three quarters of our coal, but used it all ourselves, it could power Australia for the next 1,000 years. (But we’d miss the money– better to sell the stuff before nukes make it worthless).

We have so much more coal than we need, most years we are the world’s largest exporter of coal.[2] Indeed, Australia contributes fully one third of the entire global coal export trade. (Three other countries, China, India and the US — dig up more than we do, but they use it themselves.)

Coal also makes up 3% of our entire GDP, employs near 50,000 people, is one of our top two exports, and brought in $54 billion dollars last year.[3]

If any nation was going to ask hard questions about the need to abandon coal it should be us. Instead, our leaders (bar Abbott) trip over themselves in the rush to sell out the national interests. All for the glorious pursuit of symbolic achievements in planetary air conditioning.

Our industrial competitors beam with joy as they pat us on the back, praise our greenness, and burn our coal.

Coal is not dying in the rest of the world either

The US and Russia have about 400 years of coal left at current production but China only 70. Countries with lower reserves are Indonesia (59 years) and the UK (17 theoretical years) which is as good as “run out”. The world as an average has 150 years left.  All of this is just a best estimate based on assumptions that no one will discover more coal, and nor will they use more (or less) than they do currently. But you get the idea.


These are the countries with the most coal

EIA, Graph, Map, Coal reserves by country.

EIA, Graph, Map, Coal reserves by country.

These are the countries digging it up

Coal production, Map, EIA, country.

Coal production, Map, EIA, country.


These are the countries burning it up

These are the countries exporting it

Worldwide coal exports, graph, EIA, 2015.

No end to coal:

We will never run out of coal because sooner or later we will go nuclear, and sometime people will figure out fusion. No one will bother digging out the last coal. It will truly be a stranded asset then. We should use our coal now, while it’s still worth something.


[1^]BP Energy Statistics 2017

[2^] EIA – Australian coal production

[3^] Austrade

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Burn coal not wood if you care about the climate

Greens protect coal deposits, destroy forests. Cartoon.

Go Coal. Wood-fired electricity produces *more* CO2 for the next hundred years…

h/t NoTricksZone

Any day now the giant tree-eating-machine called Drax will be shifting back to coal as Greens and politicians realize they’ve made a planet killing mistake. Lordy! At the moment, Drax is supposed to be saving the world and making electricity for the UK by burning trees cut down and shipped from the US.

This temple to carbon neutrality happens to be the largest plant in the UK . It generates about 7% of all the megawatts used there. But a new study by Sterman et al, suggests the Drax plan is backfiring badly.

When is carbon neutrality not neutral? When the carbon debt is not paid off in our lifetimes…

Burning forests instead of coal deposits raises CO2, and in so many ways:

  1. Wood is a less efficient fuel. Megawatt for megawatt, wood produces more CO2 than coal. In terms of efficiencies, the combustion efficiency of wood is 25% compared to coal at 35%.
  2. Processing losses to supply wood are around 27%, while losses to supply coal are 11%. (NEA 2011, IEA 2016, Roder 2015)
  3. This is the slow road to carbon neutrality. It takes 40 – 100 years to grow the trees.
  4. In a century, lots of things can go wrong. The natural forest may never grow back thanks to disease, development or fires. Cleared land may be converted to pasture. There are many ways to leave a permanent carbon debt.
  5. If the slow-growing hardwood forest is replaced with fast-growing pine, the site can only soak up 60% of the carbon “lost”. Oak-Hickory forest stores 211 tC/ha compared to 131 tC/ha for pine plantations. A managed plantation can’t store as much carbon as an unmanaged one. After 500 million years of evolution, nature has fine-tuned carbon extraction in ecosystems. In an unmanaged forest, biology fills every carbon-sucking niche and doesn’t leave gaps for heavy machinery.
  6. If power stations don’t use as much coal, the coal price may fall, and other people may use the same coal elsewhere anyway.
  7. The kicker: As long as biofuel use is expanding so are CO2 emissions. All biomass burning from an existing forest creates an immediate carbon debt.  And if you are continually chopping down more forests, the carbon debts accrue…


The next pair of graphs shows that Shortleaf Lobilly (a pine) regrows quickly, while Oaks take 80 years to recoup the CO2 lost.

Oak, Pine, regrowth, carbon emissions, graph. 2018.

Click to enlarge and read the caption.

The real kicker

It’s all very well thinking about how long it takes one year’s wood-pellet electricity to become neutral, but power stations need more fuel every year and if we keep razing more land, the carbon debt keeps growing. In the two scenarios below the biomass industry keeps growing linearly every year. But in S8 people settle down on the whole biomass idea and stop razing extra forest in 2050. Even so, the total industry carbon debt keeps accruing for another 56 years until presumably the regrowth reaches a point where it is pulling in more carbon that the yearly raze produces. It takes 144 years after the industry stops expanding before the net carbon debt is back to zero.

What other industry today won’t produce a net benefit (its whole reason for being) for one and a half centuries?

Biomass burning, compared to coal burning, carbon emissions, 2018, Graph.

“Scenario 8 (S8), CO2 continues to rise for 56 years after bioenergy production growth stops and only falls below initial levels 144 years after growth stops”  Click to enlarge and read the caption.

If razing forests for electricity makes any sense at all (in the world of climate voodoo) it only begins to “help”, maybe, in 150 years or more. Would anyone let me buy carbon offset futures for 2168 and get a refund on the RET/carbon tax/electricity bills now? Who are we kidding?

If you believe that CO2 is a threat, then you’d have to also believe that biomass burning makes the next century even hotter than burning coal. Most greens will choose the biofuel. What’s more important – to be pro-climate or anti-coal? We all know the answer to that…

Even under a best case scenario burning wood is “not good” for the climate

The numbers are so clear here, every single pin needs to line up in the right way for forest to be useful as a fuel:

using wood in electricity generation worsens climate change for decades or more even though many of our assumptions favor wood, including: wood displaces coal (the most carbon intensive fossil fuel); all harvested land is allowed to regrow as forest with no subsequent conversion to pasture, cropland, development or other uses; no subsequent harvest, fire or disease; no increase in coal demand resulting from lower prices induced by the decline in coal use for electric power; no increase in N2O from fertilization of managed plantations; and no increase in CO2 emissions or methanogenesis from disturbed land. Relaxing any of these assumptions worsens the climate impact of wood bioenergy.

It is quite difficult to imagine a way that burning forests for electricity could possibly make sense while the world has hundreds of years of coal underground and thousands of years of uranium and thorium. But if the aim is not to change the climate but to hurt independent companies that stand on their own two feet, then burning wood in power plants is just the thing.

The Australian Climate Sceptics gave the UK govt the Inaugural Gorebel Prize (for inconvenient outcomes) thanks to Drax

The winner of the Inaugural Gorbel Prize is the UK government whose green policies aim to make it uneconomic to burn coal. So the tax-payer funded Green Investment Bank has loaned £100 million to help convert the huge Drax coal-burning power station in Yorkshire to burning “sustainable biomass”. This is part of a huge finance package of one billion pounds to get the biomass green tick, earn renewable energy subsidies, and avoid the need to buy carbon credits.
Where do they plan to get the “sustainable biomass”? Each year 7.5 million tonnes of wood chips will be imported from North American forests to replace 4.5 Mt of coal.

How much land does it take to sustainably generate electricity?

Keep reading  →

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Midweek Unthreaded

Oops, forgot yesterday.

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Cricket will be sport hardest hit by climate change “fundamentally changed” by summer rain

Forget the plight of snow skiers who won’t know what snow is – it’s cricket that will be hit hardest.

That’s why the sport must take notice of a report published by Climate Coalition, …

The document names cricket as the sport that will be hardest hit by climate change in England, stating that “wetter winters and more intense summer downpours are disrupting the game at every level”.

God forbid. This is a death spiral:

.. Glamorgan Head of Operations, Dan Cherry, …warned that climate change could “fundamentally change the game”.

“The less cricket we play, the fewer people will watch it, the less they will come to the ground and pay to enter, the less chance there is for young people to be inspired,” said Cherry.

This change, it seems, has already begun.

Wait til you see the evidence:

In international cricket, 27 percent of England’s home one-day internationals since 2000 have been played with reduced overs because of rain delays. The rate of rain-affected matches has more than doubled since 2011, with five percent of matches abandoned completely.

By crikey. That is a six year weather trend. Statistical significance p < 1 ( ± 4 or  6! ).

Hmm. Strange clue here in the first paragraph of this story:

Cricket has always been a sport at the mercy of the weather. In the 1930s, county cricket clubs in England were headed for financial ruin after a succession of wet summers. Twenty years later, persistent rain saw desperate clubs experiment with blankets, rubber mats and suction pumps.

So wet summers happened before, CO2 didn’t do it, and cricket survived. Hmm?

We’re talking about a game that is played from 45 degrees South to 54 degree North limiting it to about 90% of the population on Earth. But hey, it’s not like people play cricket in hot countries like India or Jamaica

Photo top:  Autographed photograph of the English batsmen, Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe, 1928. Hobbs and Sutcliffe were the opening batsmen for England in the cricket test match held in Brisbane in 1928. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

Claiming fans would not buy a ticket,
To support their own team at cricket,
Because rain on the day,
Could have postponed the play,
Is a climate-change real sticky wicket.


Hope to see you in Sydney the weekend after next!

Jo NovaI’ll be speaking with Ian Plimer at the ATA Friedman18 conference. It’s a great line up of speakers on May 25-27, or come for the Gala dinner. Get a 10% discount with the code Nova18. Bookings close this Sunday.

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Old GOP voters are skeptics, so it takes 20 years to recover from education and wise up to the media

From Jo: Bookings close this Sunday.
Jo Nova

Hope to see you in Sydney the weekend after next!

I’ll be speaking with Ian Plimer at the ATA Friedman18 conference.

It’s a great line up of speakers on May 25-27, or come for the Gala dinner.

Get a 10% discount with the code Nova18.

On Climate, There’s A Sharp Generational Divide Within GOP

USNews, Alan Neuhauser

A Pew survey exposed a stark gap between younger and older Republican voters on global warming and energy policy.


Neuhauser doesn’t mention it but the implications are pretty dire — look how long it takes to recover from school:

Republican millennials – people roughly ages 22 to 37 – are far less likely than older generations to support the use of coal, oil and other fossil fuel sources. By one count, while three-quarters of Republican baby boomers and older generations supported more offshore oil and gas drilling, fewer than half of millennial Republicans felt the same way.

At least most Republicans grow up:

Among [young and old] Democrats, by contrast, there was only a small divide.

If half the population is shifting in the same direction as they age, this suggests…  something…   what could it be?

There can be a tendency for younger voters to become more conservative as they age. The divide on energy and climate is so broad, however, that experts expect it’s one that will not significantly narrow.

So young believers will not grow up to be old skeptics?

This must be why the numbers of believers in global warming has grown cumulatively since 1990 as young believers grew into old believers, and old believers died… except, that didn’t happen. Over the last quarter century, the only group that has grown in Gallup polls on climate issues  are the skeptics.

Young believers become old skeptics, climate poll, Gallup, 1990 - 2015, Graph.


But let’s ask the experts:

I’m not aware of any evidence that they’ll become more like the 65-plus types now and adopt their worldview,” says Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

It’s research like that that gets you to Yale.

For a democrat journalist there is always hope:

But even with a president occupying the White House who has repeatedly called climate change a “hoax,” the findings may also be a sign of a shift to come within the party: Millennials are set to overtake baby boomers as the largest generation of Americans eligible to vote.

Good luck with that theory.

Here come the excuses.  I mean reasons:

As with those other policy areas, the results in the Pew survey may reflect the different experiences and far greater access to information that younger voters have enjoyed, experts say.

Yup. Young people have more info because old people live in shoeboxes.

And when it comes to experiences –  old people just built companies, raised kids, and paid off houses, but young people have built entire civilizations in MineCraft TM.

Hear them roar:

“I am a millennial – we grew up at a time when the air has been relatively clean and Earth Day existed and the general idea that the planet as a resource that should be preserved is not uncommon,” says Joseph Majkut, director of climate policy at the Niskanen Center, a libertarian think tank. “Millennials also didn’t directly experience things like the fuel crisis in the 1970s, so there’s no hangover from there being fuel controls and other issues like there were for boomers and other folks.”

Old folk are obviously hungover because they’ve been through tough times. But since the real world is a fluffy buttercup, young naive people are so much better placed to understand it.

Note how the experiences of millenials that help them are the experiences they didn’t experience.

This process of growing up and getting wise is now a “fault line”:

The results are the latest to highlight fault lines within the Republican Party, which – even with control of the White House, both houses of Congress and a majority of state legislatures – has struggled to find common ground amid what can seem an ever more fractious caucus.

The fault line in the GOP is that the representatives keep lining up with the young and gullible instead of the old and wise.

The fault line in the Democrats is just between them and the real world.

Keep reading  →

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Is this the start of the death-spiral for old windfarms in Europe

Wind farms need subsidies, Josh.

The subsidy that flows whatever the weather  |  by  Josh.

How do you know when an industry is a loser? When even repowering old turbines, which were put in the best spots, is not worth the trouble unless they get a subsidy, I mean, even more subsidies.

Remember the days when subsidies were needed to get a project going?

Maintenance is not an option

Europe is full of old windfarms. The original subsidies have run out and there’s not much appetite for new ones. Without more free money from taxpayers the most economic option for older turbines is to run them into the ground and give up on them. Maintenance costs are the silent plague. But so too is red tape and legal approval. The age of the European turbines is reaching the point where half of the entire fleet is facing do or die decisions.

John Constable of the GWPF wonders if the wind industry in Europe may be on the point of collapse.

And Europe’s fleet is old:

By 2020, 41% of the currently installed capacity in Germany will be over 15 years old, 44% in Spain, and 57% in Denmark.

John Constable is responding to a renewables policy cheerleaders, the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), who recently released the hopeful vested fantasy study: Repower to the People. But the days of ripe subsidies are over, so even the industry sympathizers have to admit that owners of old turbines face a set of no-fun decisions.

Sites with existing wind farms are often impossible to repower due to lack of availability of the site, legal consent, changes in subsidies, environmental protection, public acceptance, or insufficient wind conditions. (p. 1265)

And there’s not much empty space to allow for new and larger gaps between turbines and houses. Residents have wised up to the price of living to close to them:

…the state of Bavaria has even “introduced in 2014 a regulation that sets a new minimum distance of ten times the tip-height between a wind turbine and the closest residential areas” (L. Ziegler et al.). A modern machine can be upwards of 120 metres (nearly 400 feet) to tip, so this implies a separation of over three quarters of a mile, and would rule out many existing onshore wind farms in the UK, particularly in England, where at present there is no formally required separation distance.

Read it all at GWPF: Wind farm Lifetime extensions and repowering

Keep reading  →

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Australia’s national energy market is run by a lawyer and climate changey activist

Audrey Zibelman

Audrey Zibelman

No wonder our national electricity grid is in deep. Audrey Zibelman is the CEO of the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). The former New York based woman is a lawyer with an MBA who thinks we can change the weather with our power supply. She was appointed in March 2017. Thank Malcolm Turnbull. Apparently in 2016 she was a favourite for the future Team Hillary in the US.

Audrey the activist

Just to make her motivation clear. Her words last year:

I believe we’re the last generation on earth who can really do something about climate change.

The manager of our electricity market thinks wind and solar are actually competitive:

And the good thing is that technology has evolved so that we don’t have to worry about sacrificing economics for good environmental policy.”

Notably, what she isn’t dreaming of is cheap electricity:

Her dream is of a grid dominated not by big power suppliers and their fossil-fuel generators, but rather a system of “distributed energy” that delivers better supply security by storing solar and wind power in batteries for later use. She wants a market that better rewards people with rooftop solar panels and other renewables; with incentives for more efficient power use in peak times; that harnesses idle energy, instead of building more large power stations for short periods of peak demand in hotter months.

You might think the Australian national grid should be providing electricity rather than being a tool to reward people for buying uneconomic equipment in the hope of stopping Antarctica from melting. Silly you.

Oops? How do you mistake a 100% artificially forced transition with a natural one

Zilbelman talks about the energy transition as if it is some natural change thrust upon us, instead of an artificial bubble, like a giant marshmallow man, inflated entirely and pumped relentlessly by government dollars to keep it from collapse:

Resisting energy transition like trying to resist internet says Zibelman

“This is not a judgement about anything. It’s just the reality that the economics have changed, and technology has changed, and resisting this change is a little like trying to resist the internet. It’s just going to happen because of where technology is going.”

How many governments had to offer $5 billion in subsidies to convince people to try the internet? Zero.

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Zibelman hasn’t done any research. Everywhere government subsides are withdrawn, renewable investors flee the market at light speed. In Germany, after 20 years of subsidies, half to three quarters of the wind industry was forecast to disappear as the subsidies end and another 80,000 solar jobs are gone. It happened in Australia too where 97 percent of renewables investment suddenly dried up without subsidies.

Audrey Zibelman — a lawyer with a BA and MBA

At university, she spent no years studying physics, chemistry or engineering.

  • Doctor of Law (JD)  [Hamline University School of Law]
  • Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) [Penn State University]
  • MBA [University of Minnesota]

But she did marry an electrical engineer:

Her husband, Phil Harris, is the chief executive officer of Tres Amigas, a New Mexico-based company that is seeking to raise more than $1 billion to connect the nation’s electric grids and allow for greater growth of clean energy.

Which raised other questions in 2015. Journalists asked about potential conflicts of interest with her then role as head of the NY Public Service Commission. After that, she recused herself.   h/t Beachside at Catallaxy.

June 16, 2015:  ALBANY—As New York’s top energy regulator, Audrey Zibelman is in a position to influence a market worth billions of dollars and help set the policy that governs it. At the same time, Zibelman, who worked in the private sector before Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed her chairwoman of the state Public Service Commission in 2013, has unusually close ties to energy companies vying for work in New York.

She cofounded Viridity Energy  which sold software to help people with batteries and panels minimize their electricity bills. How uneconomic are batteries? It would only take $60-90 billion to back up South Australia. Yes, 100% renewable is possible — though not at the same time as having an economy.

The issue is “not technology” says the non-technologist

Storage, price, efficiency, frequency stability? Wave a magic wand, other people who understand these things will definitely absolutely solve this and with other people’s money.

Zibelman also believes she is in the best place to solve them. “The issue is not so much the technology; technology is happening,” she said. “It’s the regulatory regimes and the market regimes that need to be adapted to the future power system.”

It’s all just a question of rules. If we change the system and don’t worry about how much it costs, anything can be solved. We just need to use the right language when we talk to baby electrons.

 Zibelman was apparently on Hillary Clinton’s hot-list:

Australian Fin Review:

One of Hillary Clinton’s hot picks to lead the United States Department of Energy has been appointed as chief executive of the Australian Energy Market Operator, as part of the political and corporate exodus in the wake of Donald Trump’s upset election victory.

No surprise then, that she was so appealing to Turnbull who is on the same side of politics as Hillary.

For the record, AEMO is 60% owned by taxpayers

Just so we all know who is ultimately responsible for the AEMO:

AEMO is a public private partnership between government, which owns 60% and industry members (including generators, transmission companies, retail and distribution businesses, resource companies, and investment companies) who own 40%. AEMO operates on a cost recovery basis as a company limited by guarantee under the Corporations Act (2001). AEMO fully recovers its operating costs through fees paid by participants.

I was unable to find the salary package used to tempt her to move to Australia. From the 2017 AEMO Annual Report, total wages and salaries of their employees add up to $76m (unless I am reading page 56 incorrectly –can someone familiar with accounting check?)

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Rating: 9.6/10 (83 votes cast)