JoNova

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



The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper


Advertising

micropace


GoldNerds

The nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX



Solar Panel subsidies: A billion dollars to provide cheap electricity to wealthy households

A billion dollars that could have been used for housing, schools, hospitals and health programs was drawn into solar subsidies to provide electricity that could have been produced in far cheaper ways.

There is no sunnier first world country than Australia. If solar was going to be a raging success anywhere, surely it would be in the land of the Sunburnt Country. Instead the Australian government has poured in more than a billion dollars to install solar panels on the roof tops of private homes.  It’s a text book case of misdirected spending.

In the end the government drew money from the population-at-large to help Chinese solar panel manufacturers, and to provide “cheap” electricity to 107,000 households in mostly medium-high wealth areas. It reduced Australia’s emissions by a piddling 0.015 per cent, at an exorbitant carbon price of $300/ton.

Solar power is clearly not viable yet. So that billion dollars could have been spent on research to make solar power economic (in which case no subsidies would be needed). It could have made us world leaders with a product to patent and sell (or it might not). Instead governments of both major parties chose to pour a billion dollars into a program that never had any chance of helping the environment, or our export industry. Mere feel-good window dressing.
The program gifted up to $8,000 dollars as a rebate to encourage people to install solar panels on their roofs, but it had to be canceled suddenly last year because the bill for the overly generous scheme was blowing out. Another different rebate for solar generated electricity promised to pay 60c a kwhr (compared to the usual 20 c/kwhr) and met the same fate. It too was suddenly canceled. In both cases the local solar industry had to deal with rapidly changing rules and rewards, leading to bubbles and overnight busts. It makes a mockery out of the “free market” driving small businesses to the wall, and discouraging long term planning and employment.

Renewable energy makes up only 6% of Australia’s energy needs, and fossil fuels, 94%. Solar PV panels provide 0.1% of all our electricity. There is no nuclear energy industry here, despite Australia having one third of the worlds uranium. Roger Pielke, Jr. has looked closely at Australia’s emission targets and calculated that it would need 35 nuclear plants, or 8,000 “Cloncurry plants”, finished and operating in nine years time in order to meet the targets. Ponder that the single Cloncurry “plant” those numbers are based on, has been beset with set-backs. After three years in development, when I last looked, the project had only 4 mirrors of the 8,000 it was supposed to have. It was due to be finished in early 2010. Possibly not the raging success it was hoped to be.

Having a solar panel on the roof used to be a badge of pride for the green-minded. But as people realize the panels took money from the poor to give cheap electricity to the wealthy and achieved almost nothing for the Australian environment or economy, surely they will become seen as the mark of the parasitic, the selfish or at best, the silly…

Even progressive activists know that this doesn’t make sense. D. Brady Nelson explains that a left-leaning group at the ANU, which accepts all the assumptions of the man-made global warming (government funded) “science”, just can’t justify the exorbitant waste for so little gain.

Solar power subsidies are under attack from an unexpected source, as the Australian National University’s Centre for Climate Law and Policy (CCLP) released a November 15 report criticizing the government’s efforts to subsidize solar energy.

In its report prepared for the activist Australia Institute, titled The Australian Government’s solar PV rebate program: An evaluation of its cost-effectiveness and fairness, the likewise left-leaning CCLP documents more than a billion dollars wasted on costly power systems that economically benefit wealthy consumers while producing few if any environmental benefits.

Out-of-Control Subsidies
The report notes the Australian government between January 2000 and June 2009 administered a program that provided rebates to households and owners of community-use buildings who acquired solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems. Originally called the Photovoltaic Rebate Program (PVRP), it was rebranded to the Solar Homes and Communities Program (SHCP) after a change in government in November 2007. It was discontinued in June 2009.

Little Return on Investment
Even though CCLP did not question the asserted scientific justification for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, CCLP criticized the fairness of the distribution of the rebates; the limited extent to which the program increased the use of renewable energy; the modest emissions reductions achieved by the program; the high cost accrued per unit of emissions reduced; and the extent to which the program assisted the development of Australia’s renewable power industry.

CCLP’s report directed its sharpest criticism at the program’s high costs and limited emissions reductions. According to the report, the program by 2008 had reduced the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions by only 0.015 percent, at an average social abatement cost of $257 Australian to $301 Australian per ton of reduced carbon dioxide emissions. CCLP noted if a primary object of PVRP-SHCP was to increase public awareness and acceptance of renewable energy, it could have been obtained at a fraction of the cost through other strategies.

Dr Alan Moran, director of the Deregulation Unit at Australia’s leading free-market think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), explained how money was wasted in the program.

“Victorian energy retailers have to pay households … tenfold its worth. Other state governments require even greater payments. In New South Wales that price must be paid even for the electricity the consumer uses in their own house,” Moran said. “The costs of this are paid for in the electricity bills of consumers without solar panels.”

Source: Heartland Institute

D. Brady Nelson’s blog

The Australia Institute (ANU)

Image adapted from A solar panel in Marla, Cirque de Mafate, Réunion, David Monniaux

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.0/10 (3 votes cast)
Solar Panel subsidies: A billion dollars to provide cheap electricity to wealthy households, 7.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

Tiny Url for this post: http://tinyurl.com/32vv4l3

108 comments to Solar Panel subsidies: A billion dollars to provide cheap electricity to wealthy households

  • #
    Henry chance

    Nothing works better than solar for making one impress the neighbors.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Rereke Whaakaro

    The financial benefit/cost ratios of photovoltaic cells (or whatever the current generation of these devices is called) is always quoted in terms of energy saving to the consumer. But a lot of variables are ignored in that discussion (never let the truth interfere with a good marketing pitch).

    It is always assumed that the environmental impact from manufacture are somehow included in the purchase price, so it is excluded as an extra factor on the cost side of the ratio.

    But if you look at the competitive pricing model, you find that the environmental impact is not included. In fact, that is one of the primary reasons why these devices are primarily manufactured in China, and one of the reasons why China can be so competitive (low wages are only part of the story).

    China is very keen for the world to go green. But they are content to be a follower rather than a leader. It is good for business.

    We are constantly being told that climate is not weather, so we also need to consider the global manufacturing impacts of these technologies for the entire supply chain.

    The purchase price only reflects the tangible financial variables in the equation, not the intangible or indirect variables.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Phillip Bratby

    The subsidies in the UK for solar farms are so high that even in the cloudiest areas, big profits are to be made by the cowboys. Existing systems have a load factor that averages <6%. Of course they produce no electricity when it is most needed – in winter when it is dark. But we have 3 main parties that are full of the technologically-challenged eco-loons.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    janama

    we could also save a bundle if we scrapped the Australian National University’s Centre for Climate Law and Policy (CCLP.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Amr

    To provide a warm inner glow to the chattering classes no amount of taxpayer money is ever enough.
    Amr
    Manly Beach.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Ken Stewart

    Solar hot water systems make better sense as they store the daytime energy for use at night, and reduce power bills, but are still far too expensive.

    Meantime, Brisbane for the first time on record, has not reached 30 degrees this spring. At Mackay Longreach and Mawson (Antarctica),and many other places, if December maximum temperature does not go well above average, 2010 will be below average maximum.
    Ken


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Bob Malloy

    There is no sunnier first world country than Australia. If solar was going to be a raging success anywhere, surely it would be in the land of the Sunburnt Country. Instead the Australian government has poured in more than a billion dollars to install solar panels on the roof tops of private homes. It’s a text book case of misdirected spending.

    Jo, I can tell you as much as I agree this spending is misdirected, If I’d had some spare cash in the bank I would have been part of it. Who wouldn’t when my state gov was willing to give me 60 cents a kilowatt hour, now down to 20 cents per kilowatt hour.


    Report this

    01

  • #
    Lawrie

    Now we have some major Labor politicians admitting that nuclear must be a consideration for future power. Naturally Greenpeace have swallowed their tofu in their haste to condemn the proposal. The Greens know that renewables don’t work and that nuclear does just as they know coal is not dirty. They are hell bent on ruining our economy. The Victorians were the first to work out that the Greens are dangerous and voted accordingly also telling the ALP not to cosy up to the watermelons.

    Meanwhile the BoM and CSIRO have been so corrupted by the AGW scam and have in turn so corrupted our temperature records in order to show warming that their predictive tools have been rendered totally unreliable.
    http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/is_the_bureau_model_too_primed_to_predict_a_warming/

    01

  • #
    LINDA

    Solar and windpower, little is ever said of the global footprint in shipping all this technology from one side of the world to the other,and who really is gaining the benefits, the people, the environment or the elite.
    Ironic that WA has a $750 mil wind station, and now the price of power is sky rocketing.
    Now also in WA the lab rats for the Nation , we are getting POO water.
    But our Ministers take pride in guarding our well being, and for our childrens future.
    Ministers also forget that all the money they apply to grants and subsidies comes from hard working tax payers, and it is not A BOTTOMLESS PIT.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Ross

    The other developed country where solar should work is Spain. But their scheme is an absolute disaster , financially.
    I think the problem with all these alternative energy schemes is that the promotors use the “one solution fits all” argument. I am all for economic alternative energy but firmly believe that it is a case of ” what suits your situation best”. Not solar for all Queensland , for example. Solar hot water heating may suit someone , a wind generator out the back paddock might suit someone else and no current alternative energy source might be the best “solution” for others.
    But if the economics don’t stack over a reasonable time period without Govt. handouts then forget it for the time being.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    PeterD

    A few days ago my partner accepted a telemarketing offer for a visit from a solar panel ‘consultant’.

    The sales pitch was that if we signed the contract an ‘engineer’ would come to assess our requirements and only the highest quality Australian made panels and converters would be installed. The question as to whether our requirements should be assessed before the contract was agreed was adroitly evaded.

    The proposal was to install eight panels for $15,000-odd, with rebate for net return to the grid at 60-something cents/unit. This would effectively neutralise our daytime electricity bill if we returned 1/3 of our daytime use, because the rebate is three times the price we’re being charged. We’d still have to pay for our peak use at nighttime.

    The question as to why we would be paid three times what we’re charged was explained as not being what the suppliers want but what the government wants, and the contract is guaranteed for 15 years, with the rebate to increase in proportion to escalating costs.

    The $15,000 became $8,300 due to Renewable Energy Certificates (160 at $32 each) and an allowance of $1,800 for ‘advertising’ on our property. Effectively we pay $252 per month for 30 months, then our (daytime) electricity is free.

    Well, ‘free’ except for the tax required to pay for the REC’s.

    I’ve had better sales pitches for encyclopedias, which I think might have been better value.

    Question is, can I get into the scam if I source my own panels and converter? I’m thinking it should cost less as a DIY.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Mark D.

    Solar electric will probably never be economically feasible. There is one exception and that is if you can’t get a “grid” hookup. The sun angle and short days in winter (when needed most) make it silly. If you live off the grid with wood heated hot water (or don’t bathe) and a with large enough battery you might get by.

    Subsides will only lead people to financial ruin because they are truly unsustainable (just ask the poor folks in Spain that are poised to lose everything because the government “experts” lied about the subsides).


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Vess

    As a recipient of one of these grants I can certainly agree with this article. I got one of the 1 KW units before they changed the subsidy to 1.5 KW units.
    As an “investment” the return is very poor. Taking into account the interest I would have earned on these $4400, 2 years later only about 10% of the cost have been recovered. So in another 15 years it will pay off.
    Without that subsidy I would be better off keeping the money in the bank and use the interest to pay for the electricity.
    The main reason I wanted it was to have some power redundancy – I was hoping the thing would power the home (up to 1 KW) during blackouts. Well, I was wrong. The inverter has this safety feature that turns it off during blackouts. Apparently line repairmen don’t want to be fried by somebodys solar panel after they have shut down the power to an area in order to carry out line repairs.
    There are some other nice side effects though:
    -As part of the roof is shaded the home is not heating up as much, therefore I don’t need to cool it as much, reducing the airconditioning costs.
    -The credit for the exported energy is income tax free
    -I don’t pay tax (GST) on the energy I produce for myself
    I find it amusing that the government gave me a subsidy that helps me reduce my tax. Thanks :-)


    Report this

    00

  • #
    bunny

    The notion that wealthy Australians who invested in solar panels are somehow stealing from the poor is a very cheap shot. Nor is it true to say that those with the solar panels are getting cheap electricity.

    I am not wealthy, but I can recognise a good investment when I see it. I withdrew money from my superannuation which was paying me next to nothing and invested in a 10kw solar system on the basis of a 60c gross feed-in tariff. I pay exactly the same amount for the electricity I consume as everyone else in my area, so no, my electricity is not cheap. I get paid 60c for every kwh that my system feeds into the grid, and currently I’m averaging a return of $1850.00 per quarter. The system cost $50,000 after the RECS payment, so the return on my investment is very good (close to 15%).

    I had no say in the decisions by the state and federal governments in regard to the generous solar schemes, but if they want to pay me to produce electricity, I’m happy to take the money. My decision to invest in solar has not made any difference to power prices in this country. They were always destined to rise dramatically – particularly in NSW where the infrastructure is very run down, and the state Labor government has used the energy suppliers as a cash cow for years.

    If I had invested my money in shares in say Woolworths, and the company made a profit and paid me a dividend, would I be accused of stealing from the poor? After all the poor have to buy food.

    If there are criticisms of the government solar schemes, then level those criticisms at the government, not at the individuals who have taken up the government’s offer.

    [OK. A fair point Bunny. Given the way the system works, it's rational to do what you did, and yes, the greater fault lies in the government policy -- but knowing it was subsidized heavily means that it is nothing like owning shares in woolworths where you take the risk, pay all the cost and also pay the tax. My point was especially aimed at those who take up the solar offer and then boast that they are doing their bit for the country, and try to insist that the government should keep these irrational schemes going and that everyone else should go solar.

    Rational? -- yes. As for civic mindedness though, you said -- " I'm happy to take the money." -- JN]


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Bruce of Newcastle

    To be charitable, there may be a specific Oz justification for the solar stampede: air conditioners. Power distribution companies have to pay high $/MWh for the marginal peak power, which in Oz happens particularly in the afternoon when the temperature is hottest. Cheap Chinese air conditioners have bred like rabbits during the last decade, and if I were a power guy I’d be wondering how to avoid 3pm blackouts given no one will let me build a power station anymore.

    So photovoltaics may be providing peak power just at the time the grid needs it most, and therefore might be slightly more economic than the numbers suggest, by chopping the top off of price spikes.

    On the other hand two wrongs do not a right make. Solar PV is still fairly useless until someone bothers to put some effort into battery R&D. And only sodium sulfur batteries can possibly make economic sense, since all the other battery types require metals which will rapidly hit supply limits and spike in price, given the vast amount of battery capacity that would be needed.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    pat

    a humourous aside:

    Wiki-liars
    Posted by Jeff Id on November 29, 2010
    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/11/29/wiki-liars/

    Climate Audit:
    Assange on Climategate
    by Steve McIntyre
    http://climateaudit.org/2010/11/30/assange-on-climategate/


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Rereke Whaakaro

    Vess: # 13

    The inverter has this safety feature that turns it off during blackouts.

    Well, that is certainly useful – not.

    The other thing you might find is that some electronic equipment will have a shorter life expectancy. PC monitors (at least the older ones) assumed that the power voltage will be a perfect sine wave because that is what AC turbines produce as a function of the rotation of the magnets within the generator windings.

    Cheap inverters tend to produce a square or triangular wave form that is then “smoothed” into an approximation of a sine wave electronically. But these sine waves are not perfect, and may introduce interference spikes that could damage sensitive electronic equipment.

    But note the use of the words “tend”, “may”, and “could”. I am starting to sound like an alarmist (deity forbid), but you get the gist – DIY power generation is not “as pure” as the professional stuff.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    val majkus

    Peter Lang has a paper titled “Solar Power Realities” that gets down to the nitty-gritty about solar power.
    http://co2insanity.com/2010/05/08/solar-power-realities/#comments
    He’s a retired geologist and engineer with 40 years experience on a wide range of energy products throughout the world, including managing energy R & D and providing policy advice for government and opposition. His experience includes coal, oil, gas, hydro, geothermal, nuclear power plants, nuclear waste disposal, and a wide range of energy and end use management projects.

    Here is the abstract.

    This paper provides a simple analysis of the capital cost of solar power and energy storage sufficient to meet the demand of Australia’s National Electricity Market. It also considers some of the environmental effects.

    It puts the figures in perspective by looking at the limit position, the paper highlights the very high costs imposed by mandating and subsidising solar power. The minimum power output, not the peak or average, is the main factor governing solar power’s economic viability. The capital cost would be 20 times more than nuclear power. The least-cost solar option would require 400 times more land area and emit 20 times more CO2 than nuclear power.

    Conclusions: solar power is uneconomic. Government mandates and subsidies hide the true cost of renewable energy but these additional costs must be carried by others.

    He’s also written an annendum to that paper comparing costs of solar and nuclear and his conclusion is The Capital cost of solar power would be 20 times more than nuclear power to provide the NEM demand

    There are links to both papers from the above website


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Bob in Castlemaine

    While the people who have taken up the generous government subsidies for Solar PV systems should not be criticised for having done so. Undoubtedly in many instances it makes economic sense to do so.
    However, when it comes to reducing CO2 emissions (irrespective of whether you believe in the CAGW orthodoxy) these schemes are a horrendous waste of public money obviously at the expense of worthwhile expenditure such as hospitals and schools for example. Gas generation or maybe even windmills would be a more cost effective means of reducing CO2 emissions.
    But it would be nice if more people came to understand that taking part in these schemes is generally destructive to interests of the majority of electricity users and the community in general.


    Report this

    00

  • #
  • #
    Bruce of Newcastle

    Martin Ferguson gets my hypocracy of the week award for saying on ABC News today lunchtime:

    “Nuclear power does not stack up economically.”

    So Mr Ferguson…solar c/kWh at 14 times coal c/kWh?


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Bulldust

    Bruce in Newcastle:

    I suggest that Martin Fergusen has probably been reading too much Diesendorf. Diesendorf is at it again, and what timing:

    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/energy-smart/nuclear-power-failing-price-test-20101130-18fjb.html

    This is the same chap that thinks decreasing uranium grades means nuclear power will have a similar CO2 footpring to coal in the future… (I won’t touch his other hairbrained papers lest I be accused of ad hom attacks LOL).

    The timing of Diesendorf’s paper seem politically expedient considering Julia has been admonishing her party colleagues for even thinking about nuclear:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/julia-gillard-plays-down-nuclear-power-push/story-fn59niix-1225963754094

    Meanwhile in other trivial news, Hugo Rifkind bemoans the lack of news coverage for Cancun… awww didums… its the economy stupid!

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/boring-maybe-but-its-deadly-serious/story-e6frg6zo-1225963491312

    As an aside, and running on from the economy thread, I am starting to wonder if the predicted Wikileak for next year may prove to be the trigger for the next downturn. Economies are teetering, but it usually takes some “push” to get the economic ball rolling downhill. Asange’s claim to have bank killing leaks of a major bank in the USA might well provide that push:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20024094-503544.html

    Can’t say I didn’t warn you…

    PS> Yes, Itotally agree with the original thread. Backing small scale solar PV is the biggest waste of money imagineable. They could have put it towards more realistic research or projects… large scale solar thermal or geothermal maybe. Heck, more research on biofuels from cellulose even. Anything would have been better than small scale solar PV.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Grumpy old fart

    Ok, so carbon emissions are meaningless/trivial and we don’t need solar to reduce them.
    But Peak Oil is very very real, and we need to find an answer for that pretty quickly. Nuclear’s good, and we’ve got something like 25% of all the mine-able uranium on the planet kicking around the outback, but we don’t have a home-grown nuclear power industry. And ultimately it’s just prolonging the problem…we’ll run into Peak Uranium then Peak Thorium, etc, albeit decades down the track.

    Solar would be better. It’s tough to imagine Peak Sunshine happening (and rising efficiency should offset rising demand). It’s been estimated that using current technology we could supply the world’s electricity using a 100km square solar array. WA has got to be a candidate for ‘best possible spot in the world to site a 100km square solar array’, no-one would even notice it was out there.

    Jo’s point about spending on research instead of subsidies is a good one, getting a home-grown solar manufacturing industry would be good (getting a home-grown manufacturing industry for anything would be a step up, instead of just flinging our once-only resources away at rock-bottom prices untaxed). We also have the rare earths required for the technology (we just don’t mine them yet) reducing the dependence on China further.

    But we do also need to encourage the use of domestic solar. The lunacy of building huge single-story houses with a vast roof area to soak up heat, no insulation, and total reliance on air conditioning to cool them down is immediately apparent to any visitor here. Solar really works for this, as we need it most (to run the air conditioning) on sunny days. Given the vast cost of the shoddily-built housing going up at the moment, surely adding a requirement for solar panels wouldn’t be too ridiculous?


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Bulldust

    Grumpy:

    I wouldn’t spend too much time or give too much credit to the “peak ” crowd. I have two words for them: technology and substitution. The whole concept of peak oil (for example purposes only), while intuitively appealling as a model, is very simplistic and the forecasts are invariably wrong.

    The people who spruik peak oil are usually the same types that thought the Club or Rome and Malthus were onto something. Once again, they were all wrong. Nice model/idea, but woeful application.

    I highly recommend “Scarcity and Growth” by Barnett and Morse. It is an oldish text but the theory is as relevant today as it was back then. You could always amuse yourself by reading “Limits to Growth” first and then Barnett and Morse’s counter.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    cohenite

    Ah yes, peak oil, so we must pull up the socks and live under a rock; apart from this particular strain of ecoism also having no faith in technological development, as Bulldust observes, it also appears, like AGW, to have a few empirical inconsistencies:

    http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2008/02/14/2162556.htm

    I wonder when Titan had forests.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    John from CA

    Here’s the part I really don’t understand about all this.

    The Southern Hemisphere is predominately ocean which requires more energy to raise temperature than in the Northern Hemisphere.

    Australia is unlikely to see much of any climate change — it will occur in the North. So, why is Australia worried about Climate Change when the US and Canada aren’t? Also, any CO2 generated in Australia will simply end up in the Ocean and you don’t generate that much of it to begin with.

    Why global mean temperature is not a valid scientific measure for global climate change.
    By Birger Wedendahl with comments by Frank Lansner
    http://hidethedecline.eu/pages/posts/why-global-mean-temperature-is-not-a-valid-scientific-measure-for-global-climate-change-174.php


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Bulldust

    Cohenite:

    Interesting about all hydrocarbons on Titan, but a such a distance away. Maybe they will be a handy source of carbon one day, but I can’t imagine us using them as a fuel source in the same way we do today. I think we shall have moved on somewhat from “fossil fuels” by then.

    As an aside I am torn between two thoughts at the moment. On the one hand I am quite pleased about the media silence on Cancun (which loosely translates to “throne of the snake” in Mayan, which is strangely appropriate for the IPCC mob, but I digress), and on the other hand worrying about those kids being so quiet…. what are they up to?

    I skimmed through Choochoo Pachcauri’s speech yesterday… can’t believe he is still spruiking alarmist rhetoric with a straight face. Perhaps his mind is still stuck in fiction mode after writing his smutty novel? He hasn’t clued in to the fact that this kind of rhetoric is unhelpful to his cause… so more power to him, I say. The longer he keeps spouting the claptrap the more discreditted the whole IPCC becomes.


    Report this

    00

  • #

    Well my solar panels are getting installed next week. If the people of this country are dumb enough to elect governments who buy into the green hogwash, refuse to build coal or nuclear plants and subsidise this stupidity, well screw them. They deserve to have money taken out of their pockets. With the subsidy I can get a 15% return p.a., rising to 25% after 10 years after amortising the panels and when power prices rise the return gets even better. Dumb bogans.

    Cohenite and Bulldust: I’m trying to imagine a *large* and I do mean large, Project Orion derived scoopship, harvesting the atmosphere of Titan.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Bruce of Newcastle

    GOF #22:

    Peak oil is a myth. How do I know this? I read ASX company releases. Many smaller coal companies have been looking at coal-to-liquids (think Sasol in RSA). It is now economic to convert coal to crude oil, the only thing stopping it is the CAGW meme and politics.

    We have a lot of coal, peak coal is centuries off.

    There’s even more tar sand, shale oil and shale gas around:

    On 60 Minutes, Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon told correspondent Lesley Stahl, “In the last few years, we’ve discovered the equivalent of two Saudi Arabias of oil in the form of natural gas in the United States. Not one, but two.”

    I’m well aware of the environmental issues, but it really doesn’t take that much R&D to overcome such, if there’s a will.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Bulldust

    Bruce of Newcastle:

    Thanks you illustrate the points made by Barnett and Morse perfectly – substitution (coal for oil) and technology (coal-to-liquids for example).

    Human ingenuity > resource scarcity.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    bunny

    Sorry Jo, I disagree. You’re saying that I’m not civic minded because I have invested MY money in a government scheme and I’m happy to be paid dividends for that investment. Should I be miserable?
    I’m not doing anything illegal or immoral and the fact that it was subsidised is irrelevant. There are plenty of industries/companies that receive government subsidies. The health insurance industry is also heavily subsidised by the government, and since I have health insurance, I accept the subsidy.
    I pay taxes, I pay my health insurance premiums and I also pay for my electricity usage therefore I’m also subsidising these schemes.

    I think my analogy of woolworths shares was an apt one, but a better comparison might be bank shares. The banks are backed by a government guarantee, so they could be said to be subsidised to some extent. Do you think those who invest in the banks are not civic minded because they are also happy to accept the dividends, even when interest rates rise creating problems for some people with mortgages?

    I agree with almost everything you say on this blog, but I object to being demonised for investing in a scheme of which you do not approve.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Mark D.

    Bunny, continue to do exactly as you have done for yourself. As Jo has said. “it is rational”. I don’t think anyone has demonized you.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Bulldust

    I certainly wouldn’t demonise rational decision-making Bunny. My only regret is that I don’t have a roof to place a panel on… I live in a low-environmental impact apartment in the heart of the city… silly me. I love it when the greens get all preachy and live in the suburbs with 2-3 cars and a few hectares of land…

    I did buy a washing machine with low water usage and get the $150 rebate a few years back.

    If a Government puts ill-thought out policies which provide incentives individuals to act a certain way then we would be foolhardy not to act if there is a net personal benefit. It’s like finding tax rebates come tax time (which reminds me, i must get around to that).


    Report this

    00

  • #

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michele Whitney, Erica Woodson. Erica Woodson said: Solar Panel subsidies: A billions dollars to provide cheap …: Having a solar panel on the roof used to be a ba… http://bit.ly/eXw1FI [...]


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Rereke Whaakaro

    Guys.

    I deeply respect all of you, but you are missing the point over “renewables”, in terms of the Green fantasy.

    Solar power, and wind power will only work when the sun is shining, or the wind is blowing, or both. If neither is happening then it all stops.

    But most of the electricity requirements are continuous: commercial ovens, computer systems, manufacturing production lines, medical systems, navigation aids, defence systems, et cetera. These things represent somewhere between 80 to 90 percent of the demand, depending on the local economic mix. Most of the stuff that keeps the economy functioning.

    Continuous supply requires generators that are constantly spinning. Sources for these are hydro, thermal, coal, gas, oil, and nuclear. These systems keep the generators spinning, and supply the base load for the economy.

    So yes, we will have to face peak oil, peak gas, and peak coal. Even Hydro and thermal have a finite capacity. But “renewable energy” is not the answer.

    The only way you can replace this constant supply with “renewable” technology is to find some way of storing the electricity – buffering it – to meet the demand when nature is not being co-operative. Admittedly, you could use “excess” renewable energy to pump water back up into hydro lakes, as a way of storing the energy, but that is hideously inefficient, and would require considerable excess capacity to make it reliable.

    Or you could use batteries to store the excess energy until such time as it is needed, and this is the preferred “green” solution.

    But batteries with the capability to do that today, require rare earths – notably Lithium – and the sources for these is finite. The majority of the known reserves are in China and the Peruvian Andes. So battery technology is not sustainable in the long term either, although for obvious reasons, China sees it as the preferred option.

    So that leaves us with Nuclear – and particular with the modern nuclear reactors similar to the ones used in France.

    Let me restate that: If society is not to be reduced to a medieval level economy, we have to use nuclear power. Today, there is no other known alternative that will meet the demand for energy at the point and time when it is demanded.

    And forget any conspiracy theories about an elite holding all the power, while we peasants live in our medieval squalor. If the elite were to “take full centralised control”, the world economy would collapse, and with it all of the infrastructure that the “elite” take for granted today.

    Think about the food you (and they) eat. Most of it is transported from where it is grown to where it is consumed. Without the infrastructure – without trade – you would only be able to eat what you could grow locally, and only in the season when it is harvestable. And what if the crop got some type of infection? Without chemical manufacturing, how would you be able to fight the infection? Think of the Irish Potato Famine.

    This “game” that is being played out in the UN (and in the EU) is tremendously dangerous, and it is being played out by bureaucrats and career politicians who have never done anything else in their working lives, are therefore naive, have no real perception of reality, and are bloated by a sense of their own importance.

    The climate will not destroy mankind. Mankind’s stupidity will destroy mankind. And friends, it is our job to make sure that does not happen.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    John Brookes

    Hey Bunny@14: You’ve got a good point there. Every time someone buys an air conditioner, the power companies have to increase their peak capacity. Air conditioners and other high power consumption items should have an “electricity generator” tariff on them, which is passed on directly to the power companies for investment in new generators.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Lawrie

    Bulldust @ 27,

    Combet took 35 to Cancun; Kev took 114 to Copenhagen. Few journalists going except for Giles Parkinson from the Climate Spectator. Maybe the cold NH has dampened their spirits or maybe it’s La Nina. Either way more and more people are waking up to the farce.

    I see Jo’s good mate Oev Whatever of dying reef fame is at it again with dead patches in the sea. (I’d give a link but my wife threw today’s Australian out by mistake). He blames overfishing, ag run-off and, wait for it, climate change. The paper was released to co-incide with Cancun of course. Luckily few will report it and fewer will read it.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    John from CA

    Hi Joanne,
    I ran across this the other day and just noticed an article on AGMates about the government buying up water rights. If the following forecasts pan out, you’re in for a lot of rain on 2011.

    ECMWF Seasonal Forecast
    Probability of perception > median (1-4 month lead time)

    http://www.ecmwf.int/products/forecasts/d/charts/seasonal/forecast/seasonal_range_forecast/group_public/seasonal_charts_public_rain!rain!1%20month!East%20Asia!201011!prob%20exceeding%20median!/


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Joe Lalonde

    Jo,

    I’m tired of trying to vote for the lesser of the two evils with no choice in a candidate who isn’t pushing for this “green” crap.
    Governments have yet to realize how much damage they are creating with borrowing against the future.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    OzWizard

    If we are going to go nuclear, let’s do it with Thorium … NOT Uranium. Please!


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Hasbeen

    R W at 34, it would appear that the con is working, even on you.

    Your suggestion that only nuclear can supply future base load power is surely assuming that we have to reduce CO2 emissions. It appears to even work on me. I almost typed greenhouse emissions.

    We still have enough coal to supply both our power generation, & our liquid fuels, if necessary, well into our future.

    I agree we should be developing a nuclear industry, & taking advantage of our capacity to store nuclear waste, but we don’t really need to do it to have reliable power generation.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Mervyn Sullivan

    In 1938 the nationwide broadcast of the teleplay of HG Wells’ novel “The War of the Worlds” led to hysteria, with many Americans believing that a Martian invasion was actually taking place.

    Today, it’s the same with the global warming scare, except that:

    1. we have the hoaxers warning that the alien onslaught is destroying more of the planet every year;
    2. we have the skeptics reassuring people that the takeover is not to be feared; reports have been exaggerated; and
    3. we have a few (who have proven that the greenhouse gas theory is false, and that CO2 is not responsible for global warming) who are pointing out the simple fact that no Martians have landed at all.

    (Based on quote by Alan Siddons – Slaying the Sky Dragon: Death of the Greenhouse gas Theory)


    Report this

    00

  • #
    observa

    Let’s get my 2.1kwatt solar system straight here. I didn’t install it to pose about being Green. My Govt put an economic gun to my head giving me an $8000 tax clawback plus $1500 in some RECs for Morgan Sachs, etc to help make their bonuses on, as well as getting 50c/kwhr for my net ‘reshiftable’ energy from my fellow power users, to give me a risk free after tax return around 10%. I simply said I give up, you win, don’t pull the trigger and up it went. It doesn’t produce anything at night and produces a measly 50 watts around midday on a cold, overcast, wet, rainy day but no matter in SA, the lads at the Northern Power Station shovel Leigh Creek burnable dirt a bit faster than on the bright sunny days.

    Not my problem as I’ve got an economics degree and run my own building company, although that’s largely for the lad’s benefit nowadays. Like most baby boomers winding down, I had the readies and power bill proofing the freehold seemed pretty logical with that economic gun to the head. I’ve advised a number of friends and associates to do likewise taking advantage of the 1.5kwatt maxm REC benefit system available nowadays for around $1900 with a 1.5 yr payback period. It’s every citizen’s fundamental right to put their hand up for every bit of pork going down, albeit I openly tell anyone who wants to listen, that’s exactly what it is. I’ve had the odd librul, progressive, watermelon tell me that’s all a bit amoral if I’m not a true believer, but my answer is simply- Fine, if you want to start lecturing the acres of single mums out there with 3 or 4 kids to the same number of spernm donors about the morals of claiming welfare, I might be prepared to take the high moral ground with your proposition also. Their silence is as golden as the power bills.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Roy Hogue

    When you see the government subsidizing, offering tax or other incentives for doing something, follow this rule. Run the other way.

    The chance is real good that it’s either not technologically or not economically viable, maybe both. Nothing gets slipshod merchandise to market faster than the government’s promise to subsidize it for the consumer. I know, I fell for solar water heating along with quite a few of my neighbors. It was a flop from the first day but since you sink $3 thousand dollars and high expectations into it the truth takes a while to settle in. Even if it had all kept working up to this very day it would not have saved enough to justify itself.

    I suspect solar electricity will be troublesome too. After the collector panels have been on the roof a couple of years and subjected to summer and winter temperature extremes there’s a good chance they’ll leak.

    [I don't know how this ended up in the previous thread. I was in this one when I started. So much for my computer expertise! Dimwit sometimes!]


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Brent

    For all you nice folks in Australia, if you’re looking to invest money in solar, please consider Ontario, Canada. Here our current liberal government is paying farmers and rural residents 80c/Kwh when our current peak price is 9.9c/Kwh and the government has entered into an agreement for 20 years with Samsung to build a 2 billion dollar windfarm
    and who knows how much we’ll pay for the wind to blow.
    The below information is for investors. OPG= Ontario Power Generation

    OPG’s generating portfolio has a total capacity of over 21,000 megawatts (MW) making us one of the largest power generators in North America. Our generating assets include:

    3 nuclear generating stations
    5 thermal generating stations
    65 hydroelectric generating stations

    OPG also owns two other nuclear generating stations which are leased on a long-term basis to Bruce Power L.P.

    In 2009, OPG generated 92.5 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity.

    Regulated Price Plan (RPP) – Tiered Prices

    Lower-tier Price: 6.4 ¢/kWh
    Higher-tier Price: 7.4 ¢/kWh
    Current Tier Threshold: Residential winter threshold: 1,000 kWh per month
    Regulated Price Plan (RPP) – Time-of-Use (TOU) Prices

    Off-peak Price: 5.1 ¢/kWh
    Mid-peak Price: 8.1 ¢/kWh
    On-peak Price: 9.9 ¢/kWh
    * Weekends and holidays are off-peak during both the Winter and Summer periods.

    So enjoy investing in Ontario, where our commie pinko liberal watermelons are selling us up sh@ts creek for the forseeable future


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Rereke Whaakaro

    OzWizard: # 40

    Thorium works for me. But there is also new technology being developed that will, if successful, consume the depleted nuclear waste produced by weapons manufacture – that can’t be bad, surely. I am really agnostic regarding what the nuclear technology actually is, I only know that going backwards will not be the answer if we want to keep a civil society.

    Hasbeen: # 41

    … it would appear that the con is working, even on you.

    “… even on you …” Hmm, I will take that as a back-handed complement – thank you.

    And you are quite right, of course. The whole CO2 thing is a total con, so for me to repeat that in this forum is really preaching to the converted.

    Propaganda has to do five things if you want to change behaviours:
    1. You have to identify a problem that falls outside of the general expertise of the population;
    2. You have to state that problems in the simplest possible terms – in a sound bite;
    3. You have to frighten them – you need the consequences of the problem to relate to things that people hold dear to their hearts;
    4. You have to identify a solution that, “will save us all”; and finally
    5. You have to identify some actions that individuals within the population need to perform, in order to prevent the problem from occurring.

    And for a bonus point, it is better if the results of the remedial actions, “will only become apparent in the longer term”.

    We – the sceptics – are very good at pointing out the flaws in the first three of these things.

    My comments at 34 were addressed to the fourth requirement – the “saving solution” – which is really just a variation of the old pea and shells trick. By pointing out that their list of preferred solutions won’t work, for various reasons, I then mention the elephant in the room – nuclear energy.

    Nuclear has no CO2 emissions, therefore it attacks the first point, if that falls there is no problem to be solved, and the rest of the propaganda is moot.

    This has never been about the climate, it has never even been about science (in the physical sense). It has been all about extending a series of experiments in “behavioural management”. These started during the first world war; hung around as advertising between the wars; came into prominence again during the second world war; achieved a series of break-through’s during the cold war, and is now approaching its pinnacle, with mass communication and the “always-connected” society.

    I do not believe that any of this was planned, there isn’t, and never was, a conspiracy. But the world does have a lot of people in politics and the bureaucracy, who recognise a good opportunity when they see one, and will do what they can to nudge it in their preferred direction. Of course, not all preferred directions lead to the same place, so the more confusion people like me can create, by pointing out how big and grey and friendly the elephant is, the better.

    We all take small steps. What is important, is where you place your feet.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Mark D.

    observa @ 43:

    It’s every citizen’s fundamental right to put their hand up for every bit of pork going down

    I accept that. It’s similar to using any legal method to lower ones tax liability. If the gubment is too stupid not to throw money around then I’ll stand by with a net.


    Report this

    00

  • #
  • #
    Mark

    Bloody hell! Wouldn’t want to be around when this happens.

    http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2010/12/what-energy-shortage.html


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Mark

    And if there are still misguided souls around who believe that the EU will usher in a new era of financial honesty and sundry other kumbahyah virtues.

    http://thebureauinvestigates.com/2010/11/29/top-story-4/


    Report this

    00

  • #
    val majkus

    apologies if this has been posted but one sensible country
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/dec/01/cancun-climate-change-summit-japan-kyoto
    The delicately balanced global climate talks in Cancún suffered a serious setback last night when Japan categorically stated its opposition to extending the Kyoto protocol – the binding international treaty that commits most of the world’s richest countries to making emission cuts.

    The Kyoto protocol was adopted in Japan in 1992 by 16 major emitting countries, who committed themselves to cut emissions by an average 5% on 1990 figures by 2012.

    However the US congress refused to ratify it and remains outside the protocol.

    The brief statement, made by Jun Arima, an official in the government’s economics trade and industry department, in an open session, was the strongest yet made against the protocol by one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases.


    Report this

    00

  • #

    OzWizard: Let’s do thorium AND uranium. Once this gets underway further R&D will make reactors cheaper, more efficient and safer and the waste so-called problem goes away too.
    Imagine if Australia instituted a large scale power reactor program. Lots of opportunities for skilled jobs, engineering training etc and if the rest of the world continues with the CO2 madness we simply point to our pending 40% CO2 emission cuts then rotate finger upwards towards critics while using our cheap reliable electricity to give us economic advantages.

    observa: I’m with you. Sounds like we’re around the same age and similar circumstances.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    tim

    I was going to install solar power system on my home, but I was giving advises my utility company legal department in contract when signing that indemnity and liability apply.

    what good is this if I loss my home to pay compensation to other in court of law were case law apply, I have no leg to stand on legally when something fails with the solar system on my home.

    The advice that the utility company gave, as a friend was to run do not do it unless you want to lose your home. The utility company said, I was the first person to ask these questions, it goes to show that Australians will sign any thing to save money even if it cost them their home.

    Tim


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Brian G Valentine

    Such cynicism directed toward those revered religious artifacts, Solar Panels, which, together with wind mills, have such transcendent significance within the Church of Global Warming [Christine Milne, their patron saint]


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Roy Hogue

    Bravo for Japan!

    There must be something in the water down there in Cancun. How else could so many people become such braying jackasses all at the same time?

    I’ve called some of these warmers morons. In retrospect however I think I was only half right. They’re morons to be sure but they all seem to be furiously studying to become total idiots. Unfortunately they’re all flunking the course. What is going on in this world of ours?


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Grumpy old fart

    Re: peak oil…the whole point about peak oil is not that we’ll run out, or that substitution isn’t possible, even practical in some cases. The point is that it’s more expensive than conventional oil (and how do we know that? because if it was cheaper we’d already be doing it). More expensive oil = more expensive everything else, and the current system of (for example) shipping ore to SE Asia for them to smelt into cars and then buying the cars back from them becomes economically infeasible as the transport costs overtake the savings in manufacturing costs.

    There is also the point of capacity. If the whole centre of the earth was full of an infinitely-replenishing supply of oil, but we could only get it out through our existing wells, then we’d still be facing Peak Oil because we couldn’t increase our supply while our demand continues to grow. You can discover as many Saudi’s of gas as you like, but if you can’t build the gas->oil refineries quickly enough, you still hit Peak Oil.

    Yes, I agree, human ingenuity will solve this problem. In the long term. But that doesn’t mean that oil going to $200/barrel over the next decade isn’t going to do an awful lot of damage to an awful lot of people in the short term. Oil futures are currently selling at $100/barrel. Last time we went over $80/barrel was 2007/2008 and that got pretty hairy.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Brian G Valentine

    I think it is anti-Hindoo, somehow, to assign blame for global warming on steer cattle


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Tim

    These energy subsidies are at odds with the laws of supply and demand. If something offers a real benefit at an acceptable price, it sells. I see no need to prop anything up with artificial subsidies unless it’s not viable.

    Using Australian taxpayers’ money to enrich Chinese manufacturing and the upper middle class here would seem to go against the principles that the Labor Party was founded on.


    Report this

    00

  • #
  • #
  • #

    Oh gosh. I though this was a post about Canada — or Spain…

    In Canada, we pay about $500 MWH to $850 / MWH for solar power through a feed in tariff (FIT) program.

    But to amuse you here is a link to Dr. Calzada who has spoke and lectured about the Spanish Experience.
    http://www.juandemariana.org/?q=calzada&x=0&y=0&op=busqueda&idioma=es

    Some in Spanish some in English. If you can understand Spanish it is a truly entertaining site as it details the path to bankruptcy through Green Madness. It has a search function — have fun!


    Report this

    00

  • #

    Ontario Canada — Green Energy Policy explained — a cartoon movie. Amusing. Then go to the home page and look for the Solar power articles.

    http://windconcernsontario.wordpress.com/2010/11/30/ontarios-green-energy-initiative-explained/

    Let us know if the Australian Madness parallels the Canadian Madness. One colonial to another and all that good stuff…

    Feel free to comment on our experience and your parallels.

    Although the site is mostly about Wind Power Solar Power viability has become a hot topic.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    wendy

    “John Brookes” (36),
    YOU need to measure the “emissions” from your mouth as well as your posterior. They would certainly be well in excess of average!

    You need to take heed of the following vitally important message from Cancun and action it ASAP to “save the planet”!!

    ‘Mass suicide now the only option left’ say Cancun scientists……

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100065917/mass-suicide-now-the-only-option-left-say-cancun-scientists/#disqus_thread


    Report this

    00

  • #
    wes george

    John Brookes @ 36 may be finally on to something: Air con positive feedback on global warming!

    Every time someone buys an air conditioner, the power companies have to increase their peak capacity.

    Global warming increases the use of air conditioners, which then force energy providers to build new coal fired power plants, which then further adds to the evil carbon pollution, which pushes temperatures even higher causing more people to install air conditioners and so on until we have a runaway Greenhouse effect! We’re all gonna DIE!

    This could be what occurred on Venus, folks. Be afraid, be very afraid.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Brian G Valentine

    Tim Flannery hates humans so much he actually blamed the extinction of large carnivores such as the sabre-toothed tiger and its cousin in Australia on hominids.

    Yes he did, indeed, claim that ancestral humans were responsible for hunting these poor beasts to extinction, and so proto-civilization began its long march toward ruining everything.

    Never mind that these large carnivores probably could not compete with smaller beasts for their food supply and thus could not sustain themselves, it was anything that resembled a human that came along that wrecked earthly Paradise from the beginning.

    People like Flannery are pathologically misanthropic, and continue to have a following of guilt-lovers and sociopaths.

    And are heralded by governments too, I think, for the express purpose, of making the population ill


    Report this

    00

  • #
    wes george

    Oh, Mr. Grumpy Old Fart, ;-)

    Thanks for making my day a perfect trifecta. 1. Aussie interests rate won’t rise for awhile after weak consumer spending. 2. Global equities surged on strong economic numbers out of the US, plus Republican resolve to reverse Obama’s failed economic policies. and now #3. Oil futures are soaring!

    If oil futures are now over $US100 a barrel (I didn’t check before punching the submit button) that’s great. It means a couple of things. Most of all is that the smart money is worried about tight fuel supplies going forward, ie the US economy begins to expand dramatically. That’s means a second revisit to recent economic and equities lows is unlikely. Whoo Hoo!

    Also, Mr. Grumpy, the definition of Peak Oil has absolutely nothing to do with supply constraints. Don’t confuse the two. The eco-nutters do that all the time. Greenies push to limit drilling and refinery expansions then when fuel prices go up, say it must be Peak Oil. We’re all Doomed! But Peak Oil refers to the amount of hydrocarbon deposits remaining to be extracted from the crust of planet Earth, an estimate that is constantly increasing as exploration and drilling technologies rapidly advance. Supply constraints, such as lack of refinery capacity, self-correct as the price of oil soars, politics permitting. That’s the beauty of (semi-) free markets – supply can respond to demand.

    Real Peak Oil isn’t likely to occur even in your grand-children’s lifetime.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Mark

    Good article in the Financial Times by Soon and Khandekar on the Indian monsoons.

    Link here


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Mark

    Aaaargh! Sorry, Financial Express, not Times.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    wes george

    Actually Brian V,

    I really like the idea that ice-age mega-fauna went extinct due to archaic human culture.

    It puts the lie to the Romantic nonsense of the noble savage in balance with nature, unlike us evil white sinners cast out of the Garden of Eden because we adopted Enlightenment values, ie took a bite from the Apple of Knowledge inventing reason and science leading to capitalism, democracy and rule by law.

    We now know that a pristine natural wilderness wasn’t exactly what the English found when they arrived at Botany Bay. The indigenous people had been burning and hunting the landscape for tens of thousands of years altering Australian eco-systems dramatically. Humans didn’t hunted saber-tooth tigers to death so much as competed with them for the mega-fauna necessary for survival. When the giant wombats, or whatever, were gone, human culture adapted to smaller prey. Marsupials with teeth like sabers could not.

    That’s the cool thing about having cognition as your primary adaptive tool rather than, say, a set of rather over specialized teeth. Homo Sapiens specialized at being generalists. Mega-fauna gone? No worries, mate, we’ll eat bugs until we can work out a better menu….

    There is fair evidence that the great ice age hunting cultures, the Clovis in North America and the Magdalenian culture in Paleolithic Europe truly did hunt mega-fauna to extinction over the course of thousands of years, albeit with the help of…gasp!…Climate Change….. Agriculture wasn’t invented until the great hunting cultures were in decline due to lack of herds to follow. As usual evolution is driven by necessity rather than fashion. If the Greens only understood that.

    Just like today, paleolithic culture preferred beefsteak followed by honeycombs over muesli and greens. I suppose the only thing that made sedentary agriculture life bearable was the invention of BEER and cattle rustling!


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Andrew Marinucci

    We are doing the same thing in the united states. There is a tax on fuel bills and it is used to subsidize solar panels. Roughly 50% of the costs are borne by the state (state and federal). A typical installation is about $70000 US. The homeowner only has to come up with $35000 and he can sell excess power back to the power company. Those that can’t come up with the $35000, usually the lower class and poor subsidize the wealthy. And you should hear the arguements justifying the program from those benefiting.


    Report this

    00

  • #

    Grumpy old Fart and others.

    I would’nt worry too much about peak oil or any other scare story involving the planet running out of (fossil) fuels.
    It’s not a question of oil or coal or gas per se, but a question of carbon availability. That’s what we burn to extract energy for our use. THIS PLANET AIN’T RUNNING OUT OF CARBON ANYTIME SOON.

    For lots of political and enterprise reasons, the furphy of unsustainability is allowed to flourish. But when push comes to shove, self interest, by nations and corporations, will ensure that various forms of carbon will always be made availabe for conversion to energy.

    As an example, see THIS ARTICLE over at Chiefios regards methane clathrates by E M Smith. Japan desperately needs to liberate itself off of energy imports, i.e. self interest.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Bruce of Newcastle

    Grumpy #54

    The point is that it’s more expensive than conventional oil

    It isn’t more expensive than conventional oil since producers sell at the world oil price. Sasol is doing coal-to-liquids in RSA now, and is making good money doing so. Aussie coal companies would do it too, profitably, but pollies won’t let them. NHC already has a pilot plant for example. More here.

    Any plant has to meet all appropriate environmental requirements – for example no pongy smells like SPP’s demo plant in Gladstone. Limits to CO2 emissions though do not in my view qualify as an ‘appropriate environmental requirement’ Mr Combet. If CO2 had a statistically signficant warming effect maybe I’d change my view but a 2XCO2 of 0.6 C or less is not enough to significantly warm a small dog house let alone fry a planet.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Bernd Felsche

    I’m gobsmacked at the “rationalisation”. It’s akin to the rationalisation of “settled climate science” where the only factors considered are the ones that you want.

    When people install these PV solar systems, where do they think that the money comes from? Who puts the money in the trough so that you can slurp it up?

    It’s NOT the government. It’s the taxpayer and the electricity consumers; the latter by way of increased electricity prices charged by the “energy” companies.

    The electricity that you “generate” is sold at a premium prices; which nobody but the electricity company pays; because the government forces them to pay that much. The “energy” campanies pass on those costs to all consumers, hiking up the prices. Which means that those with the least money to spend have to live in the cold and the dark because they cannot afford a bright future.

    If everybody had their snout in the trough, then everybody would be out of pocket by the amount of the subsidy plus the cost of operating the bureaucracies and supporting the inevitable corruption; then nobody could afford to use any electricity off the grid. Which rules out just about business activity.

    The price paid to the PV generators for the insignificant amounts of electrical energy actually produced is pretty close to the cost of running a diesel generator. If not greater; once one deducts the diesel fuel excise costs for off-road “producers”. Market forces will be evident from the sound of back-yard diesel generators kicking in when the sun doesn’t shine.

    Australia is in a position to learn from the mistakes of others; like Germany where analysis of “alternative” energy production has shown that not one tonne of CO2 production has been averted by all the obscene, taxpayer-funded, government-mandated schemes. Millions of real jobs lost because the cost of energy makes manufacturing too expensive and hard-earned savings shifted into the pockets of a few bankers and other “carbon traders”.

    Some say that it takes wisdom to learn from the mistakes of others.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    wendy

    Cancún climate change summit: Japan refuses to extend Kyoto protocol……..

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/dec/01/cancun-climate-change-summit-japan-kyoto


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Rereke Whaakaro

    Bernd Felsche: # 70

    Market forces will be evident from the sound of back-yard diesel generators kicking in when the sun doesn’t shine.

    I have seen some reports about some enterprising people in Europe who were connecting electric motors back-to-back with electric generators, and feeding the output back into the supply grid. The efficiency was not that bad, and they were making a profit by paying standard rate for the electricity, but getting paid a premium “feed-in” tariff rate for the electricity they “generated”.

    The law of unintended consequences is supported once more.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Brian G Valentine

    During the 1970′s in the USA, President Jimmy Carter issued a Tax Credit to home owners for putting up some sort of “renewable” energy appliance.

    Many home owners had solar heat and electricity panels put on their roofs – by fly-by-night outfits that could not continue to operate in the aluminum-siding business – only to have leaks in the roofs and zero power output from the panels appear within two years,

    all to discover that the “businesses” that put them up either ceased to exist or were busted as an ongoing criminal enterprise.

    Many home owners paid out close to double their initial out-of-pocket costs just to get the damned things off the roof, hauled to the dump, and get the roof fixed.

    Many similar activities have been funded under the Obama-inspired American Reinvestment and Recovery Act,

    Ladies and Gentlemen, liberal economic and social engineering thinking doesn’t sink any lower than this


    Report this

    00

  • #

    Brian G Valentine:
    December 3rd, 2010 at 3:20 am

    Ladies and Gentlemen, liberal economic and social engineering thinking doesn’t sink any lower than this

    Hah!!! Brian I’ll see your Jimmy Carter social engineering and raise you the Australian Pink Batts disaster. People died, homes burned down and billions flushed down the toilet.
    google it


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Brian G Valentine

    I did know about the insulation batts probe from Bob Carter or someone (funny they have the same surnames and Bob is the antithesis of Jimmy Carter)

    Let’s keep our fingers crossed that Krudd can accomplish similar miracles when people start addressing him as Mister Secretary General! (He’ll be right at home at the UN, won’t he though)


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Eddy Aruda

    Regarding “Peak Oil” it will occur and the only question is, when? What most people fail to realize is that coal can be converted to oil and it is economical to do so as long as oil is over $70 per barrel. As the scale of manufacture increases the price per barrel of oil converted from coal will decrease. We have enough coal to convert to oil to power up the world for a couple of centuries. Also, we have plenty of oil left to develop.

    The real concern is geopolitical peak oil. A few decades ago the amount of world spare production capacity was approximately 8%. In 2008, when oil prices peaked, spare capacity dropped to less than 1%. Currently, the world’s economies are in the financial doldrums and demand is still weak. As demand increases so will prices. This will cause us to eventually hit an “oil ceiling” and the world’s economies will probably stall, again. No cheap reliable energy means no long term economic recovery. As world demand grows due to population increases and the demand created by the growth of the economies of developing nations, we will see shortages that could have been avoided.

    Most of the world’s latest oil finds, although impressive, are in areas difficult, expensive and risky to develop. Also, certain other strategically vital fields are located in areas of political unrest or in countries that hate the West. It isn’t a matter of having adequate oil supplies, we do. The real challenge lies in being able to maintain a consistent and reliable supply of oil while avoiding economy killing oil price swings.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Farmer Doug 2

    Bernd
    Gotta suport that. Had to retreat from the Farmers Assn. to support my conscience. (Follow the money). I personaly couldn’t support something stupid just because it’s legal.
    Doug


    Report this

    00

  • #
    anthony cox

    I’ve just had this article on the joint proposals by Gillard to introduce carbon trading and not to introduce or entertain any thought of nuclear power posted here:

    http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/41816.html

    Thanks to Jo for the image and the many suggestions by commentators about solar panels, carbon trading etc especially Rereke Whaakaro’s information about the EU carbon trading scams which I have liberally referred to in paragraph 3.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    val majkus

    Good on you Anthony, I’ve put a comment on the site (not published yet so might not get past the censor) but upshot was my preference is $0 per tonne of CO2 and a premium price for pontificators who moralise about how to save the world from a non existent problem; so hope a lot of others leave a comment on the site


    Report this

    00

  • #
    pattoh

    Eddie @ 79

    Why do developed economies with trade deficits & coal put off the move?

    Who is pulling the strings?( or jerkin’ the chains)


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Brian G Valentine

    Eddy has the correct solution to energy independence for the USA and a lot of other countries

    Coal -> coal gas (H2 and CO mixture) -> methanol

    and methanol to gasoline OR

    gas-> Fischer-Tropsch oil that substitutes as diesel fuel.

    This coal gas can be used to fuel combine cycle gas turbines for electricity generation.

    Produces anywhere from about a quarter to half kilo CO2 waste in the overall process depending on the coal, also the NOx,SOx, coal ash etc waste that you get from any coal.

    Enviros hate things like this. Tough luck.

    Someday, industries are going to get brave enough to stand up and say: Government and greenie weenies, this is private property and we’ll do here as we like. GET LOST


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Brian G Valentine

    quarter to half kilo waste CO2 per US gallon of gasoline, that is


    Report this

    00

  • #
    BobC

    If anyone’s interested, I have a design for a thin (< 2 microns on a reflector) solar cell that should, at least, double the current efficiency (~10%) and might triple it or better using < 1% of the silicon currently used (or whatever — the design is not dependent on a particular diode structure). Almost got a DARPA grant last year, but they really wanted "nanostructures", and while this is technically a "1-D nanostructure" (otherwise known as a thin film structure) it wasn't as sexy as they wanted.

    All the concepts can be found (with some difficulty) in the open literature of the last 50 years (like a lot of "new" optical ideas), but nobody has put it all together yet, although I see papers that are edging closer every few years.

    I find it interesting that, while no reviewers have disputed the physical model, no one is really interested either. Almost makes you think that solar is a stalking horse or something.

    Tell Jo to send me your email and I'll send you a paper (Trolls excepted). Maybe you know someone who would want to build it.

    Of course, the real problem with large-scale solar is storage.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    co2isnotevil

    Brian, re 76.

    Back then, I got suckered into the green hot water thing myself. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time, Sure enough, the system lasted about 4-5 years and when it broke, the company had gone out of business after the tax incentives evaporated. so I was SOL. It definitely never paid for itself and IMHO, the pre-rebate price seemed excessive for what it was, which also seems to be a comon attribute among other ‘green’ and ‘co2 footprint’ sensitive products and activities subject to government incentive rebates. When the government wants to nudge the population in an uneconomic direction using incentives, someone always figures out how to redirect those incentives into their pockets. Some people don’t like capitalism because it works this way, but what many fail to understand is that capitalism works because it works this way. Anytime the free market is pushed, it pushes back. Going against it is like rolling a rock up an endless hill.

    George


    Report this

    00

  • #
    pattoh

    Brian V @79

    I reckon Kev went green with envy when Helen Clark got her gig on the Development Fund


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Tim

    Wendy@74
    You have some good reference sites, but how about trying birdflu666.wordpress.com
    Go to EMERGENCY UPDATE and play the video from the first response comment. It may not be around for long. Us octagons need to stick together. Impressed with your passion for the truth.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Mark D.

    Bernd Felsche: @73

    I’m gobsmacked at the “rationalisation”. It’s akin to the rationalisation of “settled climate science” where the only factors considered are the ones that you want.

    When people install these PV solar systems, where do they think that the money comes from? Who puts the money in the trough so that you can slurp it up?

    It’s NOT the government. It’s the taxpayer and the electricity consumers; the latter by way of increased electricity prices charged by the “energy” companies.

    The electricity that you “generate” is sold at a premium prices; which nobody but the electricity company pays; because the government forces them to pay that much. The “energy” campanies pass on those costs to all consumers, hiking up the prices. Which means that those with the least money to spend have to live in the cold and the dark because they cannot afford a bright future.

    If everybody had their snout in the trough, then everybody would be out of pocket by the amount of the subsidy plus the cost of operating the bureaucracies and supporting the inevitable corruption; then nobody could afford to use any electricity off the grid. Which rules out just about business activity.

    You are right and it’s fine if you are willing to stand on your principles. However, isn’t it financially illogical to not take the government subsides? Why? because if you do not take them, you still are a taxpayer paying in to the artificial market. You HAVE to take the hand out if you want to stay financially on par with those that take them. Yes the bureaucrats will skim and get the overhead but what choice does anyone have?

    The true rational approach is to throw the bureaucrats and politicians out of their offices for creating such nonsense. But that hasn’t happened.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Roy Hogue

    Bernd @73,

    Some say that it takes wisdom to learn from the mistakes of others.

    Yes! But wisdom is in short supply these days and probably always has been.

    It has also been said that,

    Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

    Governments muck up everything they touch. For every measure there is a counter measure scam to take advantage of it as Rereke points out.

    I have seen some reports about some enterprising people in Europe who were connecting electric motors back-to-back with electric generators, and feeding the output back into the supply grid. The efficiency was not that bad, and they were making a profit by paying standard rate for the electricity, but getting paid a premium “feed-in” tariff rate for the electricity they “generated”.

    The law of unintended consequences is supported once more.

    The wasted money comes out of the pocket of everyone but the scammers and the governing class. I keep wondering what will happen if the investment value of subsidized solar installations goes bust. If the truth suddenly hits the fan and more real full time generating capacity is built, the buying of trivial amounts of power from so many small producers just might be ended.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Roy Hogue

    Mark D.,

    I just put in double pane windows. They’re now of good enough quality to last and I did it before the tax credit expires. You’re right, take the money and run. And the windows are actually beneficial to me.

    But I wish the government had never offered an incentive to do anything. You and I are paying for it. Remember cash-for-clunkers? What was the real value of that? How many billions for absolutely nothing gained for the country?

    The true rational approach is to throw the bureaucrats and politicians out of their offices for creating such nonsense. But that hasn’t happened.

    Now maybe we have a chance to throw more of them out.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Mark D.

    Rereke @ 75:

    I have seen some reports about some enterprising people in Europe who were connecting electric motors back-to-back with electric generators, and feeding the output back into the supply grid. The efficiency was not that bad, and they were making a profit by paying standard rate for the electricity, but getting paid a premium “feed-in” tariff rate for the electricity they “generated”.

    The law of unintended consequences is supported once more.

    Such a good Idea!
    I have a 5kw stationary generator fitted to run on natural gas. It actually is WWII surplus (makes it even more delicious). Perhaps I should properly install it in a sound proof basement room, with the well muffled exhaust plumbed to the second story roof. If I ever have such a chance to have solar electric subsides, how long before anyone figures out why my solar panels produce more than the manufacturer ratings and maybe at night too!


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Mark D.

    Roy @ 92 Good for you, putting in windows. If Crap and Trade passed you would have been forced to do it anyway.

    Consider what you did as insurance.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Roy Hogue

    Mark D.,

    But I think crap-and-trade would only require it to be able to sell your house. Imagine that. You need government permission to sell your own property. Crap-and-trade is dead I think but good old Taxifornia is going ahead with their own plan about it. So I’m in it regardless.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Brian G Valentine

    There’s hope for California, still, Roy – it will just take a little longer, when the jobless rate hits like 20%, and people just can’t stand being told what to do by sickening green “celebrities” any longer.

    Welfare queens, posers, surfers, bong heads, gang bangers, and illegal residents don’t make up the ENTIRE population of California, you know


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Mark D.

    Brian @96

    Welfare queens, posers, surfers, bong heads, gang bangers, and illegal residents don’t make up the ENTIRE population of California, you know

    Quite right, that is the composition of the GOVERNMENT of California.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    . :)


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Brian G Valentine

    That’s only a portion of them, Mark – you left out, porn stars


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Roy Hogue

    Brian,

    I know it well. Unfortunately a whole lot of damage will be done before it gets the right attention. Bringing the state back to prosperity from there isn’t what I would call a pretty picture.

    Mark,

    The name San Francisco says it all about Sacramento. The intellectual rot in SF has spread out through the delta and all the way across the valley to the capitol. There’s nothing else to say. Just multiply Nancy Pelosi by some large factor (like maybe your phone number?) and there you have the la-la-land crowd running California.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Mark D.

    Brian, I know but this is a “family” blog (there is a whole list of other inappropriate descriptors)

    Roy, would that be my phone number with or without area code?


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Roy Hogue

    Mark,

    By all means add the area code!


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Farmer Doug 2

    George @87
    I have elect and water panels installed for over 20 years. They work lust as well (poorly). My remoteness distorts the economic mathamatics from the general population. I recomend hot water but not elect. Given different circumstances gas might make better sence.
    Capitalism is good but the poor and disadvantaged need some protection.
    Doug


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Wilko

    Cause and effect are so demonstrably linked here it seems far too kind to call this distortion in the market an ‘unintended consequence’. At some stage before the implementation of the subsidies someone surely must have put two and two together and realised what the likely consequences were?

    I also note that because consumers are beating down the doors of suppliers the customer service is becoming pretty lousy; the line-up of willing customers means they can afford to spurn those who aren’t so easy to work with.

    Legislators on the Left and the Right seem incapable of learning from the continued and abject failure of subsidies. I guess when all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail.

    It did occur to me that the lack of alternative policy Abbott has been so often criticised for (Mat leave, WTF?!) might actually be very deliberate. Of course, you can’t win an election by promising to do nothing but I very much like the idea of three years with no new legislation.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Bernd Felsche

    Wilko:

    As Parliament settled into its Chrismas break, the leader of government business seemed proud at the number of laws passed. Perhaps he’s too young to have ever appreciated Never Mind the Quality Feel the Width.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Tel

    http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2010/12/02/3081889.htm

    Solar advocates are sick of hearing that “baseload power” is a requirement, so they have decided to delete the concept. There you have it, we no longer need baseload power.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Roy Hogue

    Solar advocates are sick of hearing that “baseload power” is a requirement, so they have decided to delete the concept. There you have it, we no longer need baseload power.

    Nice graphs. /sarc off


    Report this

    00

  • #
    GBees

    Solar panels are only any good at the moment for putting power back into the grid unless you install massive battery backup. Early adopters are paid 60c/kWh by the govt. now its 20c/kWh for grid power. This is subsidised by the Govt. This power source is inefficient, ugly and costly. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, propping up inefficient energy sources (aka solar, wind) using a taxed based regime (CO2) is not a free market solution. These energy sources need to stand on their own as profitable and efficient and must compete on a level playing friend with coal. If the Govt. wants to spend money on renewables it should be by way of tax incentives for R&D. I had dinner with a Greenie friend of mine on the weekend. She thinks that renewables should be done at any cost but has no concept of where the money for that would come from.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Bush bunny

    Well our NSW electricity prices have hit the roof, and I’m mean.
    Some pensioner’s are getting $900 bills for three months. OK if you have the money (i.e., who does?) But the Feds now are talking nuclear.
    Personally, I don’t like nuclear at all, as I remember Chenobyl, although that was a mistake and old reactor. But it is the amount
    of water one reactor needs to keep cool. 200,000,000 litres per day?
    I think we talked about that once, and someone suggested use our sea
    water. Don’t know much about that, but we are getting wind turbines
    near me, yet a friend in UK, says they are useless. Especially worrying
    for Northern Hemisphere who are suffering a very cold winter again,
    and 60 deaths in Europe for people dieing from the cold?


    Report this

    00