JoNova

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Australian floods show how cutting electricity use doesn’t reduce CO2

Coal power provides most of our electricity and despite widespread floods these plants have to keep working day in and day out to provide our baseload power.  | This one above is the old decommissioned “New Farm” Coal Power Station (1942)  |  Queensland State Library

Anton Lang cuts the numbers, and finds that while the Australian floods cut power consumption by 9% on the Eastern seaboard they only reduced CO2 emissions by 0.9%.

Even if cutting CO2 emissions was useful, it’s much much harder than most people realize. Electricity use is so pervasive that even though whole towns were off-the-grid due to floods, and real consumption fell, it didn’t make any difference to emissions. That’s because the baseload consumption is still so high, and is mostly still a coal powered load. Reducing the peak use of electricity by a whopping 9% hardly makes any difference to the total daily curve of electricity demand. The electricity for the peak load comes from natural gas, a bit from hydro, and some from intermittent unpredictable renewables. Coal can’t be switched up and down quickly, and it isn’t efficient to do so, even if it were possible to ramp up or change the massive coal-fired electricity stations on an hourly basis.

Here Anton wrote to me saying how surprised he was that, in the end, all those people who were cut off from electricity at home or at work during the East Coast flooding in January didn’t help reduce the Australian carbon footprint. This perverse result shows that many “green” energy saving projects are a waste of time. The only thing that counts are long term reliable reductions in baseload electricity.

Jo

———————-

Guest Post: Anton Lang (TonyfromOz).

Sounds hard to believe doesn’t it? Electrical power consumption can be cut by what seems to be a large amount, and yet it results in a barely noticeable reduction in CO2 emissions.

While researching data on power consumption, I was looking at the data for power consumption during January 2013, looking at all the daily power load curves for every day, and from that, noting the Base Load, The Peak Power and the Average Power consumed during each day.

While I was looking at this data, I noticed that around the Australia Day Long weekend, peak consumption and the daily average fell off somewhat, and curious, I realised that this was the week of the major flood event on the Eastern Sea Board.

Look at these two graphs. One is for the Tuesday immediately prior to the flood, and the second is for the following Tuesday, when the flood event was at its peak.

 

Electricity demand before the flood.

 

Electricity demand during the flood. Spot the difference.

 

While this shows just one day during the flood, there was a large drop in power consumption, both for the Daily Peak, and also the average power consumption for the day, and this lasted for the rest of that week. So, here I had power curves for 7 days during the flood, and I could compare those 7 days with the 3 weeks prior to this flood event.

The data for the 24 days up until the flood started showed the minimum constant at 18000MW, and that Base stayed the same for weekends as well. As that is the minimum, everything below that is the absolute requirement for every day, and is the same all year round, and has been at that level for almost four years of data that I have access to. This is the Base Load.

[Note from Jo: I asked Anton if the baseload fall to 17,000MW seen in the graph was significant. He replied that the generation of the coal fired plants would have been the same regardless, saying: "Those coal fired plants stay running at their maximum operating speed all the time, burning the same amount of coal no matter what, hence emissions from that sector stay the same. " - Jo]

The Peak load average for those 24 days came in at 27333MW. The highest was 32000MW, and the lowest was 24000MW, twice, both days on weekends. The average daily power consumption came in at 24200MW. The highest was 27000MW four times, and the lowest was 22000 three times, all on weekend days, except for one low of 20000MW on January 1st, the New Year’s Day Public Holiday.

Now, for the 7 days during the Flood event, the Base load was again 18000MW, excepting two days at 17000MW, the Sunday, and the Australia Day Monday Public Holiday.  The Peak Load average during the flood came in at 25000MW, an average daily reduction of almost 9% over the 24 day average prior to the flood. The average daily consumption came in at 22000MW, also a 9% reduction.

So then, can we work out any emissions reduction from that data?

Here, we work on Peak Power only, as this is where the reduction is.

Note how even during the flood, the Base Load remained the same at 18000MW. All of that is supplied from coal fired power, with a small amount from Hydro and Natural Gas Plants.

Peaking Power is everything above that daily minimum. This power is provided, in the main, by Natural Gas Fired Power plants. These plants come on line as required, and that usually tops out at about 6 hours a day, for the Peak consumption periods of time. These Natural Gas (NG) Fired Plants emit (on a MW for MW equivalency) only one third of the CO2 emitted by equivalent MW size coal fired plants.

That reduction in Peak Power came in at around 2000MW, which amounted to that 9% reduction.

So, using an equivalent emissions calculation, then that means the equivalent of one 2000MW coal fired plant with only one third of the emissions and for a quarter of each day. So now we have this calculation:

6,000,000 (tons of coal per year) X 2.86 (average CO2 per ton of coal) X 0.333 (one third the emissions of coal) X 0.25. (required for only one quarter of the day) and then divide that figure by 365. (days in a year)

This gives us the reduction in emissions per day that a 2000MW reduction in power consumption delivers.

So, the result is a reduction of 3913 tons of CO2.

Now all we need to know is the total daily emissions for that Base Load component.

That Base Load of 18000MW is the equivalent of 9 large scale plants, and here we use the average of 6 million tons of coal burned per annum by an average 2000MW plant, so the calculation for that is:

9 (plants) X 6000000 X 2.86 and divided by 365, which gives us a daily emissions from coal fired power of around 425,000 tons of CO2 per day.

Part of that Peaking Power comes from Wind, solar, hydro, and Natural Gas, and some extra from those large scale coal fired plants over and above the Base Load, so let’s say two thirds of that (non flood average Peak) 9300MW is NG, so daily NG emissions added to the coal fired power come in at around 12000 tons of CO2, so now we have an average daily emissions from the generation of electrical power of 437,000 tons of CO2.

During the flood, there was a reduction of 3913 tons of CO2 on average each day.

So the reduction in CO2 emissions comes in at 0.9%, less than 1%.

So here we have a 9% reduction in power consumption and yet we have less than 1% reduction in CO2 emissions.

This was a major flood event, and the reduction was due to tens of thousands of consumers from all sectors, Residential, Commerce and Industry having their power cut off, which, in effect, is the same as any reduction in electrical power consumption.

CONCLUSIONS.

What can we learn from this?

What is plain to see is that any reduction in consumption comes off the Peak power total, and a large percentage of Peak Power is provided by Natural Gas Fired plants, the lesser of power plant emissions, and they operate for only part of the time as well, so any reductions in CO2 emissions are always going to be only minimal, even for large reductions in power consumption.

The Base Load is all supplied from coal fired power, the source of the largest emissions in the power generation sector, so to make any inroads into CO2 reductions, you need to reduce the power provided from that sector. However, note that Base Load of 18,000MW. That figure is not just the power these plants generate. That is power that is actually being consumed. It has been at or around that figure of 18000MW for the 4 years of data that I have access to. That power is being consumed 24/7/365.

You cannot replace that level of 24/7/365 power with renewables, as their power delivery is only tiny by comparison, and variable at best.

As shown with what happened because of this flood event, you can have a relatively large reduction in power consumption, and an almost negligible reduction in CO2 emissions, so cutting back on consumption has proved to not be the answer, if there is a problem with CO2 emissions in the first place.

So, when politicians with a barrow to push tell you there has been a reduction in power consumption, and from that, their CO2 Tax is having an effect, be totally aware that any cuts in CO2 emissions are all but negligible. The main reason there has been any reduction in power consumption, if at all, is because people are consuming less because their power costs more, and why does it cost more? Because electrical power is more expensive because of the added cost of that CO2 Tax, a tax that I have shown here is doing nothing to actually lower emissions by anywhere near what they hope it will do.

Related posts (mostly by Anton Lang)

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88 comments to Australian floods show how cutting electricity use doesn’t reduce CO2

  • #
    Dave

    So over the 7 day flood – there was only a 1% reduction on the CO2 emmisions per day – so the revenue lost on the CO2 Tax is the same – only 1% per day for the 7 days even though consumption dropped by 9% per day for the 7 days.

    Shouldn’t the government that collected the extra 8% revenue over the 7 days, spend that revenue on flood relief to those areas.

    This CO2 Tax is almost criminal in the fact it still earns at very little affected rates while those suffering get nothing from it.

    If anyone had a business model like this – that reducing consumption by 9% and only have a 1% drop in revenue – that business model would be worth a mint.

    Better still scrap the tax altogether.


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    • #
      sophocles

      If anyone had a business model like this – that reducing consumption by 9% and only have a 1% drop in revenue – that business model would be worth a mint.

      It’s called a monopoly. Any monopoly is worth a mint. Which is why companies are so darned keen to either get hold of one, or create one.

      It’s also why governments used to try hard to prevent them from forming. They (the governments) did’t want any “competition.”


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  • #
    Bob Malloy

    Tony,Jo, Sorry to be off topic.

    For all the novocastrians that frequent this site,

    While some cuts at council may need to be made,I thought these may raise a smile. From the Newcastle Herald.

    The council’s award-winning Environment and Climate Change Unit would be ‘‘decommissioned’’ and the controversial Tourism and Economic Development Unit would also be scrapped.

    Does anyone else see Jeff McCloy’s hand in this.


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    • #
      KinkyKeith

      Bob,

      That’s great news for a NCC ratepayer.

      there are some great people in the round house but there are also some who don’t really care about the average ratepayer who funds their jobs.

      Some reality at last when duplicated effort by the state and federal governments is done away with ie Climate Change Department.

      KK


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    • #

      Local councils aren’t recognised under the Constitution as per the 1988 referendum so they can’t make laws or charge rates anyway. Good to hear some of their (our) expensive rubbish is being binned.

      Now.. Seeing that turning off lights makes no difference to emissions, we should placard this info and march against the “Earth Day” crowd.. :)


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  • #
    Speedy

    Tony

    The basic problem is that most people don’t have the practical knowledge and mathematical rigour to work this out. Especially the “intelligensia”.

    Cheers,

    Speedy.


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  • #
    Dave

    .
    Tony,

    You probably have them – but the latest data for Greenhouse Emmissions came out on the 8th February – it covers up to the September Quarter 2012. The Excel spread sheet is here.

    Data sources: September 2012 (XLSX 462 kB)

    Very interesting data here on emmissions for electricity and supply of power by renewables? You are right – the increase in renewables hasn’t affected the CO2 emmisions from coal.

    Great article – Wish all your studies were in one area – including some of your comments.


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  • #
    janama

    What really annoys me is that TonyfromOz has to post this information – where is the Power Company press releases that could easily point this out?

    They know damn well that the baseline power system of coal fired stations continues to operate no matter whether Mrs Jacksons solar array comes on line, that the Tasmanian wind farm suddenly kicks in a few MW.

    I’m constantly astounded at the misinformation regarding renewables and their influence on our power supply that floats around in the blogosphere, especially on Facebook. There is currently a poster claiming that the German Solar Grid produced 22GW of electric power which is the equivalent to 11 nuclear power stations and everyone on Facebook gives it a thumbs up, share it and ask why our government isn’t doing the same.

    Yet when you point out to them that Germany has 32.8GW of solar capacity in Government subsidised solar farms and the 22GW was the highest peak reached at midday on the 16th of May 2012 in spring for one hour and the photo of the solar thermal power station in the poster is in fact the 10mW Spanish solar thermal power station you get called a spoiler and various other abusive names!


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  • #

    All along I have been saying this whole CO2 thing is just about the money, and this Post shows just that, and does it so graphically.

    During the flood, total power consumption fell by 9%, and yet for all but two days, the Base Load stayed at the 18,000MW level.

    Look again at the load curve. As I have said, this is for power being consumed. The actual power being generated always has to be higher than consumption, naturally, so while all that Base Load is there all the time, the actual generated power is higher than what this curve indicates. While some of that Base Load comes from Hydro, in Tasmania, and some of the 3 State Snowy Interlink, and a small amount from Natural Gas fired power, the vast bulk of that comes from Coal fired sources. While the total coal fired power plant capacity in that covered area (everything except WA and NT) comes in at 26,860MW, not all of those coal fired plants have all their generators running all the time. Perhaps as little as 18,000MW of that total capacity is on line at any one time at the low point of every day’s curve and keep in mind that while ever a generator at a coal fired plant is running, it is supplying it’s maximum power, so coal burning is at a continuous rate.

    So, using the 18,000MW running at any one time, then emissions from the coal fired plants will stay at that figure quoted in the main text of this Post, that figure of 425,000 tons of CO2 emitted every day.

    At the current price of $23 per ton on CO2 emissions, then the government take for this (for just one day remember) comes in at $9.8 Million ….. PER DAY.

    So, this total power consumption drop of 9% saw an emissions reduction of (let’s just call it) 4000 tons, and at the $23 per ton cost, the Government missed out on only $92,000 and when the overall take is almost $10 Million, then that $92,000 is a piddling amount really.

    Even with a relatively large reduction in power of that 9%, the Government still rakes in vast amounts of money, and loses surprisingly little. So, while the public is scared into reducing their power consumption, the Government sits back, laughing, just like Scrooge McDuck rolling around in his money from those old Donald Duck cartoons.

    Note how the introduction of the CO2 Tax has not caused emissions to reduce in the manner we are told. The tax achieves one thing only, that of raising immense amounts of money. It does send a price signal to consumers, by making them pay more for their electricity, and that is what lowers power consumption, (if it has at all) but as is now plain to see, it does not lower emissions by anything but the tiniest amount.

    It REALLY is only about the money.

    Tony.


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    • #
      john robertson

      Good post Tony,
      Notice that while even the IPCC admits no warming, none of these concerned citizens are cheering this terrific news.
      If I had mistakenly believed CO2 emissions would cause catastrophe, I would be giddy with relief when Ma Nature proved me wrong.

      What are we hearing from team global warming?
      Misery and dispair.
      Oh no we won’t be able to bully the taxpayer out of their wealth using that false alarm.

      Oh cr@p, we are so busted?


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    • #
      bobl

      Sorry Tony but you have not explained it very well.

      Generation has nothing to do with consumption. Coal Plants by their design need steam at a particular temperature and pressure, and this is what mandates the fuel requirement. That temperature and pressure delivers a maximum generation efficiency when the load VA, is matched to the generation plant VA. So Baseload actually is the minimum load expected to be supplied by that generating plant.

      If the load is reduced below that minimum requirement then the generators must be regulated down to 3000 RPM but the boiler stays at the same temperature and pressure (IE same fuel requirement) and what will happen is the efficiency will drop off such that the generation matches the consumption – you can’t generate more current than the load takes because at a given voltage the current drawn is dictated by the Load not the generator.

      So people, understand, the CO2 emission is not related to the consumption, it is related to the number of boilers running, to reduce consumption you have to shut down a boiler, and you can’t just spin up a boiler in 30 seconds from cold.


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      • #
        bobl

        Last paragraph should say

        So people, understand, the CO2 emission is not related to the consumption, it is related to the number of boilers running, to reduce FUEL consumption you have to shut down a boiler, and you can’t just spin up a boiler in 30 seconds from cold.

        Sorry folks!


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  • #
    Mark D.

    Tony,

    “Those coal fired plants stay running at their maximum operating speed all the time, burning the same amount of coal no matter what, hence emissions from that sector stay the same. “

    This is a really broad statement. I understand that generators have to maintain exact synchronous speed but are you really saying that coal (or fuel) consumption does not vary with grid load? There are many efficiency reasons why this does not sit well in my mind and plant operators are always mindful of efficiency.

    It may be that you have generalized the real world results in that 9% load drop isn’t enough for the generation systems to really notice and if that is the case it should be made clearer.


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    • #
      Graeme No.3

      Coal fired (and nuclear) stations aren’t that flexible. Yes, you can run them at a lower capacity (if the base load reduces) but changing output is a slow process taking hours. Running them at their best capacity is more efficient, and use gas/wind/solar for the peak load, and shut these ‘variables’ down when not needed. Any surplus electricity from the base load goes into pumped storage at the hydro plants.

      The French nuclear industry tends to run at near capacity, and when there is too much electricity generated for their needs, they drop the price. Since France is connected to Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany (and Andorra), all with large hydroelectric capacity, the cheaper electricity finds a ready market. They also export to the UK, which has installed wind turbines without thinking and run down its existing capacity. The result is that the UK uses as much French nuclear power as they can get in winter to make up for those useless wind turbines, and as their existing base load shuts down, then they will soon have nationwide blackouts whenever those wind turbines aren’t generating very much.


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      • #
        ianl8888


        The result is that the UK uses as much French nuclear power as they can get in winter to make up for those useless wind turbines, and as their existing base load shuts down, then they will soon have nationwide blackouts whenever those wind turbines aren’t generating very much

        Although absolutely true, this is not known to most Australians because the Aus MSM simply and deliberately refuse to publish it (for many years now)

        You suggest that the UK has installed windmills without thinking and consequently has foisted fuel poverty and random power drops on the population. There is informed opinion in the UK that the Parliament there is well aware of these intended results and simply maintains a “sullen silence” on the issue

        It is this “sullen silence” from both sides of the House that has finally scared me. Think about it – random, unpredictable loss of hospital facilities, ATM’s failing, supermarket freezer goods spoiling, petrol pumps failing … the list is essentially endless. Yet both sides of a democratically elected House wish this to be for the “greater good of the planet”

        Very, very scary. I had thought this insanity would stop at this point, but I was dead wrong


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    • #
      Rod Stuart

      Mark, he means that base load is made up primarily of coal fired plants. Peakers supply demand that is beyond that. So if you reduce demand by nearly ten per cent, it is by and large only the peakers that are affected.
      If the base load is reduced from one day to the next, the wholesale price is affected as well. There are CCGT plants in the base load category, and when the wholesale price declines somewhat, it is these CCGT operations that bid out first. If a CCGT plant is reduced to minimum load as a result, there will be some corresponding reduction in fuel consumption, but not as much as you might think. A CCGT’s thermal efficiency is not constant over the operating range.


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      • #
        Mark D.

        Thanks Rod, (and Graeme #3 above), I know it is complex and base load plant operators are interested in running in their design “sweet spot” for best efficiency. True too they aren’t designed for sudden losses of 9% load either. I was just thinking that these systems have sophisticated boiler managers and often multiple boilers feeding manifold connections to multiple rotating hardware. It would seem that they would dial down fuel consumption somehow. On the other hand, plant operators don’t buy the fuel either :)


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        • #
          Graeme No.3

          Mark,
          the weak point is the steam turbine (and the coupled generator rotor). Very efficient and reliable, but hates changes in the load.

          It has to run at synchronous speed (3,000 rpm / 50 cps in Australia) and you’ve got hundreds of tonnes rotating with very high inertia. Reduce the load and the rotor will try and speed up, which will have adverse effects on the electricity supply frequency, and cause problems with other rotors becoming unsynchronised. Increase the load and the reverse, but again problems with the output. Allowed to happen and the whole grid goes down.

          You are correct in saying that the operators can run the turbines at lower output. When Tony talked of 9 large stations, that is a minimum. Within the combined system there will be idle boilers because the electricity demand is lower at that time of the year (and that’s when they schedule the maintenance) and others running under little load at synchronous speed. This is the “rolling reserve” in case of some breakdown. If that breakdown happens that turbine can’t be suddenly sped up, so you need some fast acting generation to cut in, and hydroelectricity is quickest (less than 30 seconds). Open Cycle Gas Turbine is next fastest (a few minutes). These “hold the fort” until the coal fired can take over.

          OCGT is basically a jet engine coupled to a generator, much smaller capacity than the typical steam turbine and has emissions less than an old style coal fired plant (as in Australia) but no lower than modern coal fired boilers. They are used to back-up wind turbines where there is little hydro, so their emissions should be counted against the claim that wind doesn’t have emissions. So switching our coal fired plants to newer boilers (and turbines etc) would reduce emissions as much as wide spread use of wind.

          Closed Cycle GT are a ‘hybrid’ in that they are OCGT at the front end and a boiler + steam turbine at the back end. The back end ‘recovers’ a lot of the wasted heat so CCGT are quite efficient and, as Tony mentioned, much lower in emissions. So they are quick, but inefficient, if started in Open Cycle mode, and less flexible in Closed Cycle mode. The electricity from them costs more than from coal, so as Rod Stuart says they are the ones shut down when the demand falls. In the UK they run them as base load, but are finding problems due to wind power, in that if run on standby (rolling reserve) they can’t be run below about 60% of capacity because of heat stresses, yet the emissions rise (as Rod S. above). Indeed running at 60% the emissions aren’t much lower than at full capacity.

          The introduction of highly variable wind turbines causes a lot of problems. At a low level their variations can be accommodated by the system, but at high levels you get real chances of blackouts. As said above, large reserves of hydro generation and pumped storage are the best method of smoothing out the unpredictable supply from wind. Since we don’t have (and the Greenies won’t let us have) such in Australia, the expansion of wind capacity will prove disastrous.


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          • #

            Thanks Graeme No.3 for where you mention this.

            When Tony talked of 9 large stations, that is a minimum.

            I want you to imagine the grid controller juggling act going on here.

            I mention the Base Load as being 18,000MW, which equates to 9 large coal fired plants (2000MW+)

            This is an equivalent basis, because you can never really be certain of the exact total, and here’s why.

            For this 5 State (plus ACT) coverage area, there are 23 coal fired power plants. Each plant can operate separate generators, (Bayswater – 4) and those 23 power plants have in all 66 separate generator complexes, eg coal loader, crusher, feeder, furnace, boiler, pressuriser, turbine and generator.

            So at any one time, you will never have all 66 units operational. Some will be down for scheduled maintenance, etc.

            The total power (Nameplate CAPACITY) for all 66 units at those 23 Plants comes in at 26,860MW.

            What I have done here for ease of understanding is to give an equivalence. At any one time, there is likely to be online around 18,000MW, operational at all times.

            This is the equivalent of 9 large scale (2000MW) plants, or 36 operating units on average. This equivalent is spread across all 66 units at those 23 Plants.

            So now, instead of having 9 Plants to handle, you have 23, and 66 units to choose from, (as grid controller).

            Can you see the juggling act needed here. It’s not just a matter of phoning up Bayswater and saying. Hot weather (or cold) ahead mate, can you spin up that other unit.

            The controller needs to know which units are operational, which units are not operational, how long they are not operational for, and how long it will take before they can be online again.

            And that’s just for the Base Load.

            Everything above that, then those Peaking Plants are required, and again, the power needs to be there at a level greater than what is being consumed, all the time.

            Rely on the Wind as your source of power for this area, and hey, we’re not talking much, barely 600MW (average)in all at any one time. If the wind fails, and that happens (snap finger here) then the grid controller just cannot ring up one of those NG peaking plants and say,

            “bring ‘er on line Bill, we need that power”,

            “When do you need it?”

            “Half an hour ago.”

            See the point here.

            As much as there’s a juggling act just with the Base Load alone, there’s the same juggling act with those Peaking Plants.

            So, the idea of arbitrarily cutting CO2 emissions by a set percentage is a fine thing to say, a fine thing to spin, say, how easy could that be.

            However, achieving it is something else again.

            Tony.


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          • #

            Missed a bit.

            I’ve averaged it here to the equivalent plants, 9 plants at an average of 2000MW, and the average coal burned here is 6 million tons for a 2000MW plant.

            Each of those 23 plants in this area will have different burn rates, and again some units at those plants will also have different burn rates for their units at those plants. Some of those plants have both old and newer units on site.

            So here, there is every probability that the amount of CO2 emissions I have quoted is on the low side.

            Tony.


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    • #
      Mattb

      Well said marK d


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      • #
        Mark D.

        Thank you Judas.


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      • #
        • #
          Mattb

          Mark – I’ve long been a fan of Tony’s position on power supply. I agree with 99% of what he says, so I’m happy to pass on feeling the need to jump in there. I just think that the response of the system, that is geared to operate in a certain manner, to an emergency situation is not the best way to demonstrate that you don’t lower electricty use if you lower demand.

          This line also opens the door for others to use it as a reason to abandon base load in favour of renewables… because they are such a hulking inifficient system they can’t even emit less when we are using less.


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          • #
            Mark D.

            because they are such a hulking inifficient system they can’t even emit less when we are using less.

            No they are a system built to support a lifestyle. That lifestyle hums along at 18000Mw (from Tony). In the link above he outlines what lifestyle changes would have to be made to accomplish a 20% carbon reduction. The “hulking systems would be fit (adjusted) to work with that paradigm. IF people wanted to reduce life by 20%.

            You have some efficiency design experience, what do you say about reducing the things he listed by 20% in order to reduce carbon emissions by 20% (which by the way isn’t the ratio mentioned earlier in the article. It is a realistic optimistic ratio


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          • #
            Mark D.

            Efficiency in every sense of the meaning has to do with cost. Your “hulking system” with 40% efficiency wouldn’t matter to anyone if coal is cheap.

            You know (I know) damn well you supported schemes that you also knew would raise the cost thereby you artificially making the problem you complain about.

            Good job.

            Also, apologies for the not closed quotation marks and parenthesis above.


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          • #
            Mattb

            ok ok hulking system could be read as a criticism… is less biased terms one could say that any system designed to do one thing and one thing only is naturally not very good at adapting to short term events. It is inflexible. It is baseload.


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  • #

    Thanks, Tony. Love your work. And, as you stress in other posts, a new and efficient coal plant can save up to to 30%. So odd to think we waste coal, and continue to waste coal, by burning it in clunkers. So very odd. It’s like our Green Betters aren’t interested in “solutions” and Labor are prepared to waste any amount of “durrdy coal” to promote non-alternatives to “durrdy coal” and extract more tax – from “durrdy coal”. I don’t mind a bit of irony from time to time, but really!

    I know a lot of funny Rooty Hill jokes. I just never thought one would be running the country.


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    • #
      janama

      Robert – if we replaced the old turbines in the Snowy we could gain an extra 30% as well.


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      • #
        Graeme No.3

        The Danish wind industry admits that Norwegian hydro makes their turbines viable. If it weren’t for the Norwegian pumped storage they would have to shut down the turbines every time they started working at a decent rate. The Germans (who connect to Norway and Sweden via Denmark) are trying to get Austria to install more hydro capacity to offset new wind farms being installed in the Baltic.

        Hydro with pumped storage is the ideal partner for variable generation sources such as wind farms, so the Greens are against it. But then they are against most sensible ideas.


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      • #

        Janama, I didn’t know that, though Tony has written about how much lighter and more efficient a modern turbine is. You’d think with the billions flushed over the last few years that kind of modernisation would have been a priority.

        Maybe that would be more of that gold-plating we’ve been warned about?


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          Yonniestone

          Robert you just hit the nail on the head,the biggest problem with so called “renewable energy” is the ideas and methods used are old technology with no real useful developments and the amount of money wasted on these schemes/scams is an outright criminal act.
          If that amount of funding was given to truly gifted,talented innovators we would see some amazing things,instead money is wasted on bureaucratic red/green tape and every parasite down the green food chain. We can easily develop our technology and improve ourselves without destroying the planet so what’s the problem? insert one of many answers here……


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    MadJak

    I guess one can be comforted by the idea that if you get flooded, at least your power bill will probably be lower and you won’t have to pay as much of a carbon tax that month.

    You know the carbon tax – that’s the tax designed to help make sure it rains more because Global warming was going to result in a never ending drought.

    But wait a minute….


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    pattoh

    Just for laughs:-

    the increase in natural CO2, CH4 *SOx, NOx etc. from bacterial activity & decaying biomass from the cycle of inundation (& possibly the acceleration of release from the soil horizon by hydraulic pressure alone) on the land effected probably was orders higher than any reduction in A CO2.

    Mother Nature does not do TAXES or listen to self-deluded martinets! /sarc.


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      KinkyKeith

      Yes.

      Quantification is the death knell of CAGW

      KK


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        ianl8888

        I’ve been saying that for some years now (actually about 20 years) – the Achilles Heel thing

        But the UK parliament (both sides) is ignoring it, deliberately reducing expectation of 24/7 on demand power

        So what, you might very well say, this is Aus, not the UK. Except we (Aus) have no clear plan ahead except the poor substitution of wind/solar for coal/gas

        Coal mining and CSG (remember, KK ?) are under continuous heavy fire from all angles, so supply is not guaranteed even if Abbott or someone a bit brighter than he is does propose a clear plan for safeguarding the 24/7 supply. Nuclear power is a political detonation being fearfully avoided by all and sundry; dams for hydro are just one tiny step up from there

        TonyOz has done very good simple work here on the attributes of 24/7 power supply, but I’ve been in the business of matching supply to demand (raw fuel to power station consumption) for over 40 years. I’m now very worried for this country – it is self-evident that the greenies WILL destroy the 24/7 on-demand model if they possibly can … and they are slowly succeeding in destroying development of the replacements for economic fuel deposits (coal and gas) that are currently being exhausted

        Scarcity of fuel equates to TonyOz’s posts


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          What is almost impossible to explain is that phrase ….. Base Load.

          For so long now, people use it as an adjective only, just to describe those filthy dirty coal fired power plants.

          They have no concept whatever that it is an actual physical requirement, and for so long now, very few people have been attempting to explain it, all to no avail.

          Let’s actually attempt to explain the Government’s call for a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions.

          Now here I’ll just deal with electrical power generation. The other sectors can do their bit to reduce their emissions by 20%, and that leaves the electrical power generating sector to reduce their emissions by 20%.

          As I have explained in the main text of this Thread, reducing power consumption by what is a relatively large amount, a full 9% sees barely less than a 1% reduction in emissions.

          To effectively lower emissions by that 20%, then you need to address the Base Load. Currently, that is 18000MW.

          That has to be lowered by the same 20% for CO2 emissions reduction, because that is where the bulk of those emissions come from.

          Here’s what that actually means.

          Close one in five hospitals.

          Shut down one fifth of the electric rail network, and Melbourne’s Trams.

          Shut down one fifth of all traffic control regulation, traffic lights street lighting etc.

          Shut down one fifth of the large Industry which operates 24/7.

          Shut down one in five airports.

          Look at every City and Town. Now shut down one in five of all buildings taller than two or three levels, all of them having their air circulated throughout the building.

          Shut down one in five shops.

          Shut down one in five Shopping Malls.

          Shut down one in five Woolworths with their huge banks of cold storage and refrigerated storage.

          Shut down one in five Coles, same as for Woolies.

          Now walk out onto the street in front of your house and look back at your home. There is a home either side and two opposite, five homes in all. You select one of them that has to shut down their fridge, and their hot water system. Every home in Oz. One in five of them no fridge, no hot water.

          And on and on.

          Now, only AFTER that has been done can you shut down one in five coal fired power plant units.

          Can you see the dilemma now.

          How many jobs is that?

          The Country would grind to a halt.

          THAT is Base Load. It’s not some damned adjective to describe a power plant.

          When you can do without that, then you can lower emissions from that sector.

          Tony.


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            Rereke Whakaaro

            Hmmm,

            It makes politicians look rather thick, doesn’t it, when expressed in those terms?

            I would not be surprised if somebody did not put out a flyer, before the next Australian election, laying that out for all to see.

            It could be a major influencer in the election result – who wants to vote for an obviously stupid politician?


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            ianl8888

            @RW 6:21pm


            It makes politicians look rather thick, doesn’t it, when expressed in those terms?

            But that’s my point on the UK situation

            Both major parties there have voted for this and maintain a “sullen silence” when confronted with the results. The population is left with no choice, apart from revolution, to this deliberate devolvement of civilisation

            Thick politicians, yes, but chained to Brussels EU directives. If they deviate, Brussels withholds loans and grants. Very scary


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            Great post Tony, send it to Tony Abbott because I’m not sure that even he understands the gravity of it all.


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    Doug Proctor

    This counter-intuitive observation reminded me of something:

    On September 11th, 2001, after the Trade Centers were hit by the terrorist aircraft, US airspace and that feeding to the US was shut down for 4 days. The sky cleared. Didn’t we observe a temperature dropat the ground?

    Is global warming in the USA an aircraft emissions problem?


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    Neville

    Top speech from Alby Schultz about the enormous wind energy fraud. The numbers are mind bogling.

    http://www.albyschultz.com.au/News/MediaReleases/tabid/74/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/2324/Wind-Turbine-Industry-Fraud–speech-13th-Feb-2013.aspx

    Of course every billion completely wasted and will make zero difference to climate or temp.


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    Neville

    How’s this for a quote from Alby’s speech. What corruption and fraud.
    All for zero change to climate and temp.

    How is all of this relevant to my constituency? Let me walk you through what benefits my constituency would receive if there were a serious attempt to refocus on and change the direction of this get-rich-quick pot of gold for renewable energy opportunists. I will talk about the scale of subsidy in my electorate. In Hume alone, the subsidy for new wind turbines, excluding existing turbines, is set to reach $500 million to $1,000 million per year, or up to $10 billion over 10 years. This subsidy is equal to around $450,000 to $900,000 for each new turbine. Meanwhile, communities are at war with each other, adjacent landholders face serious land value losses and health issues continue to emerge


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      Rereke Whakaaro

      Does anybody think to question where the money comes from for the subsidies?

      From the Government? Oh, and where do they get their money from?

      From taxes and international loans? Oh, so the people have to pay for the subsidies now, and their children and grandchildren have to pay for the interest on the loans later.

      Hands-up, all those who think this is a good idea!


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    Mark

    Neville.

    Yes, I heard Jonesy talking about that this morning. What is significant is that Schultz isn’t standing for re-election so I can’t help but be cynical about what is otherwise a good speech.

    Still nothing from Tony Yabbutt to reassure me that he will do anything other than merge straight into an ETS. Just repeating that he will repeal the carbon tax is meaningless. Unless he announces that he will repeal the whole raft of bills to do with carbon demonisation he’s just blowing smoke.


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    pat

    Mark -

    u could be right about the Coalition & TonyfromOz is right that is is about the money.

    bishop hill recently had a thread about one of the many bloomberg secret meetings (usually about CO2 trading) held in london recently, and daily mail journo david rose then asked the bish to take the thread down, which he did. other journos who attend never inform the public as to what goes on at these meetings.

    as we know too well, all CO2 trading info is pretty much the domain of reuters point carbon and bloomberg & point carbon placed their stories behind a paywall some months ago, cos the info is not for public consumption:

    Australia’s carbon price to survive election: analysts
    BEIJING, Feb 27 (Reuters Point Carbon) – There is only a one in three chance that Australia’s carbon pricing mechanism will be repealed after the September election, making it likely the country’s emissions trading scheme will be launched as planned in 2015, according to advisory firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF)…
    http://www.pointcarbon.com/news/1.2199323

    EU CO2 registry faces temporary closure
    LONDON, Feb 27 (Reuters Point Carbon) – The EU’s carbon registry will close overnight on Monday, March 4 for maintenance, the European Commission said Wednesday, a shutdown that will prevent traders and companies taking part in the EU carbon market from accessing accounts…
    http://www.pointcarbon.com/news/1.2200097?&ref=searchlist


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    pat

    bishop hill threads:

    Closing the curtain
    David Rose called to say that some of the people involved in the Bloomberg meeting that I posted about the other day were unhappy with it being publicised. David has asked that I take it down again and on due reflection I have decided to accede to his request…
    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2013/2/16/closing-the-curtain.html

    Curtain call – Josh 204
    Bloomin’ Secret
    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2013/2/17/curtain-call-josh-204.html


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    pat

    Big Oil, Big Chem, Republicans on board!!!

    26 Feb: Bloomberg: Ari Natter: CEOs Call for Giving Fossil-Fuel Tax Break to Renewables
    The group, which represents the leaders of companies such as the Dow Chemical Co. and Chevron Corp., said it released the report because of a lack of comprehensive energy policy coming from the federal government.
    “Unfortunately, the nation’s energy policy has evolved through decades of ad hoc measures, resulting in an incoherent patchwork of subsidies, mandates, and regulations,” according to the report, Taking Action on Energy: A CEO Vision for America’s Energy Future. “The result is a policy labyrinth that, on balance, is more likely to inhibit than unleash the private-sector investment needed to transform the energy sector.”…
    Included in the report’s recommendations was extending formation of master limited partnerships to renewables, a policy change that some in the clean energy industry have been advocating as other tax incentives are set to expire or are considered at risk in the face of comprehensive tax reform.
    A master limited partnership is a special business structure that permits a company to raise capital like a corporation, but to pay tax like a partnership. By statute they have only been available to investors in energy portfolios for oil, natural gas, coal extraction, and pipeline projects.
    Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is expected to reintroduce legislation that would extend master limited partnerships to renewables in March, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the committee’s ranking member, and other Republicans have expressed support for the measure (24 DTR G-8, 2/5/13)…
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-26/business-leaders-call-for-expanding-fossil-fuel-tax-break-to-renewables.html


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    Geoffrey Cousens

    Environmentalists have never been remotely bothered by deliberately lying.Their “higher” agenda has always been more than adequate justification.As a sobering reminder of just how criminally insane these people are,one should take the time to watch a British movie;”Blooded”.


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    Bulldust

    And once again Julia Gillard falls back on the “it’s not me, it’s them” defence, stating that the media just doesn’t get her:

    http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/newshome/16263889/gillard-says-shes-misunderstood-by-media/

    Wouldn’t it be refreshing for a politician to say, just once, that they made a mistake or two? Yeah, I am not holding my breath either…


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    handjive

    Stop Press!

    Continue panicking!

    ❝ The Climate Commission has been concerned about misleading information in the media in recent weeks stating that the Earth is not warming.

    The Climate Commission has today released a briefing paper that corrects the confusion and confirms that the Earth continues to warm at an alarming rate.

    Professor Steffen, the author of the briefing paper, stated, “The most common error is looking at either a short timeframe, or just one indicator of warming. ❞

    It only took 10 years to establish the globe was warming, but takes 30 to 40 years before there is evidence it has not.

    The only concern whacky Will Steffen & the Climate Commission has is if the gravy train stops!


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      Mark D.

      Handjive:

      It only took 10 years to establish the globe was warming, but takes 30 to 40 years before there is evidence it has not.

      You know, it’s sometimes the bleeding obvious that goes unnoticed.

      Thanks for that!


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    janama

    Here’s Alan Jones discussion on wind farms and who finances them. He’s calling for a Royal Commission as ties it in with the CSG industry.

    Alan Jones and Wind Power


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    janama

    BTW – Thank you TonyfromOz and Graeme No.3 for a great article about how our power system works. Very informative.


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    michael hart

    About 12% of Australia’s electricity goes into extracting Aluminium, but I don’t know if domestic and industrial power share common sources.
    http://wordpress.mrreid.org/2011/07/15/electricity-consumption-in-the-production-of-aluminium/

    Nobody is more acutely aware of electricity costs than Aluminium producers. Wishful environmentalism can teach them nothing new about the value of increased electrical efficiency.


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    Mattb

    Why in whoevers name would we expect electricity generation to reduce in a crisis? Just because of some small reduction in peak demand? Evacuation centres, frying transformers, people living in other people’s homes… I mean seriously Tony I’m genuinely surprised…


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      Graeme No.3

      Well, electricity generation DID REDUCE 9%, and emissions from the power industry only went down a fraction of that.

      See how easy it is to grasp if you read the article before commenting.

      But you do lead to the thought of all those alternative arrangements made during the emergency, such as BBQs used in place of non available electric stoves. Kettles on camp fires etc. The net effect of forcibly reducing electricity generation might have been an increase in CO2 emissions. Makes one think (you & JB are excused this exercise).


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        Mattb

        Um it says consumption 9% not generation… Seems like saying that although no one drank any water when that mains burst the system still lost a lot of water.

        Short term impact on a large system… Vs a well planned system for overall lower use.


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          Mattb,

          I’m truly at a loss how you can’t see the point I’m getting at here.

          While this is a forced reduction in consumption, and this lasted for 8 days, so that means an average 9% reduction for those eight days, it’s the same as a willing reduction in power of that same 9%, the same as people actually consuming less by decision, in other words wanting to consume less electrical power, because they think this will have the same effect as lowering CO2 emissions.

          And believe me Matt, this 9% reduction, while the figure 9 here may seem small, this is a large reduction in overall power consumption and for the eight consecutive days, at 2000MW per day for those 8 days.

          I even mentioned it in the main text, how the lowest average consumption was on January 1st, the New Year Public Holiday, where power consumption was down to the daily average of 20000MW. This is a whopping 26% reduction in consumption.

          Why?

          Because everything is shut down. No one was at work that day. Here’s the link to that load curve, and it’s the third one down on that page.

          Load Curve New Years Day

          Note how the peak was lower than the usual daily average, 23000MW versus almost 30000MW.

          Note how the daily average was lower than the normal average 20000MW versus 27333MW, a reduction of that 26%.

          Note how even the Base Load Minimum was even lower, 16000MW versus 18000MW.

          All of that is because no one was at work for that day, and still that 5 State area consumed 16000MW absolutely.

          The lowest day of Australian power consumption in every year is Christmas Day, far and away the lowest.

          The point in all this is that even with what is a forced reduction in power consumption here, all of that reduction is off the top, where those emissions are lowest because that power is provided by short term low emitting Natural Gas fired plants.

          So, even if people decided that for the sake of lower emissions, they would make a conscious decision to consume less electricity, the resultant lowering of CO2 emissions would be very low, and here 9% is no small number, 2000MW in all.

          Now here, note the glaring lowering of that Base Load for the day when no one was at work.

          That came in at 2000MW or 12%

          So to effectively lower that Base Load, and to do it voluntarily, means no one goes to work. No one shops.

          I understand it’s a difficult concept to grasp, but Matt, even I thought this was relatively easy to understand.

          I can see how it goes against what we are being told, that a reduction in power consumption will lead to a lowering of emissions, and all this Thread does is to explode that myth.

          Tony.


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            Case in question, Christmas Day, and here’s the link for that.

            Power Consumption Christmas Day 2012

            Again, it’s the third graph down on that page.

            Look here at the Peak, barely 18000MW, a reduction of 34% in power consumption.

            Look at the Base Load requirement, 15000MW a Base Load reduction of 16%.

            No one was at work, and virtually everything was wound back.

            Now here we see the stark impact of Residential consumption, showing it is relatively tiny compared to overall consumption.

            How can I say that?

            Christmas Day.

            More people at home than on any other day of the year, and because of that Residential consumption would be at its highest.

            See how even a reduction like this, on just one day is seemingly large, and that’s because consumption from Commerce and Industry is at its absolute minimum, and still the Base Load is 15,000MW.

            Tony.


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            Mattb

            Tony – that seems to be a different argument… and one I don’t dissagree with.


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          Dave

          .
          And?

          MattyB – so what’s the correlation between power generation & CO2 emmissions?

          Your stupid example is a singular arguement.

          Most good councillors would have turned off the tap. Yawn!


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      AndyG55

      I think Mattb must be related to MS hyphen hyphen.. They both have about equal mentality.

      And I really don’t know which of them would be more insulted by that comment !


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        AndyG55

        Actually, I bet MattB would be proud if he thought he had as much intelligence as Ms hyphen-hyphen.. That is about as high as his aim in life and education.


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      Debbie

      Ummmmmm Matt?
      Can you do some simple maths please?
      Do a rewind and read what Tony said again.


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      Heywood

      Hear that wooshing sound?

      It’s the point of the article flying right over your head.


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    wes george

    Great post Tony! Posts like this are what keep me coming back to Jo’s. Because I learned some basic information that is totally unavailable anywhere else, yet is profoundly important to be aware of when evaluating all sorts of energy policy.

    As Janama points out it’s no wonder that the Greens and Gillard government don’t want this information leaking out to the public.


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    Bulldust

    Now we know why the productivity is decreasing! It is due to global warming according to the lads and gals at NOAA:

    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate1827.html

    Yup another piece of climate change science brilliance. I can see this being used to justify estimates of massive loss in GDP thereby justifying massive taxes to appease the climate gods. Never mind the irony that massive taxes also result in massive loss in GDP and that happens as soon as the tax is in place, not 50 years from now when no one gives a carp because technology will have moved on and any warming will be a moot issue.


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    Bob Malloy

    “no one gives a carp”
    Dyslexia???

    sarc/


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    John M

    OK – You can have fun with stats.
    eg: If you extrapolate this trend and reduce the power consumption by 100% then we still have 90% of the CO2 being produced.

    The real story here is that the power stations will still be running at capacity because that is how they are programmed. Each day of the year has a predicted power profile based on historical data, trends, and weather forcasts. The power station will make sure it can meet the predicted demand. However, what is not predicted is an event such as a flood where 9% of the demand vanishes. Thus the power station will be buring more energy than it is required to deliver. And of course it needs to be ready for the power to be restored at any time.


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    Popeye

    Hi Jo,

    Someone posted this link on another blog recently (thankyou to whomever) and I think it is a very enlightening summary of heat transfer to the oceans and the effect of same.

    Could you possibly do some more research into this topic as it explains very simply and succinctly how the oceans CAN’T be warming due to CO2 (let alone MMCO2 – what a joke)!

    Thanks & cheers,


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    Eddie Sharpe

    The EU has the answer. Artificially price ‘dirty coal’ (I cann’t do the accent), out of the baseload.
    taking it out of the baseload.

    In the UK, several coal plants are due to close before the end of 2015 under the EU’s Large Combustion Plants Directive, …

    The directive limits the number of hours they can operate before shutting down,

    But the current ConDemocratic UK Government seeks to go one better:-

    … many coal plants are choosing to burn through their remaining permitted hours by April when the UK government introduces a carbon floor price. ……. that is higher than in the European trading scheme, and so entail much higher costs for coal-burners.
    Meanwhile the Energy Regulator says Energy prices set to soar as UK runs out of gas and has to buy French Nuclear.


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    [...] is huge compared to the piddling small, often unmeasureable savings thanks to renewables. Even massive floods that stop industry don’t reduce our emissions as much as this would. Do the Greens hate the coal industry more than [...]


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