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



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SA Solar Thermal plant is a copy of US plant that was out of action for one third of its life so far

Crescent Dunes, Solar Thermal Plant, USA.   | Wikimedia  Author, Amble.

A company called SolarReserve is planning to build the new Aurora 150MW solar thermal plant at Port Augusta, which is apparently a copy of their Crescent Dunes plant in the US. But that project has been offline for most of the time since last October. The whole SA government is meant to be running 24/7 off “solar power”, which allegedly only has about 8 hours of energy stored up (as heat in the molten salt block). So an 8 month break will be a bit of problem for the SA government (except of course, we all know that the real baseload backup here at 4 or 5am everyday, and most of the day in winter, is ultimately the very fossilized gas and coal.) Since the project only began working in Sept 2015 it managed to operate for all of one year and one month before it went offline for 8 months due to a leak. The SA State Energy Minister is not concerned saying it was a construction issue and SolarReserve “have learnt from that”.

The 150MW myth: most of the time it will be less, a lot [...]

Antarctica – 91 volcanoes coincidentally found under glaciers warming “due to climate change”

It’s possibly the densest concentration of volcanoes in the world, some as high as 4km and we didn’t even know these existed til recently.  Despite that overwhelming ignorance, we’re 97.00% certain that all the warming in Antarctica is due to your car and airconditioner. Robin McKie, The Guardian writer, talks about the recent discovery of so many volcanoes under the ice. Not surprisingly, we have no data on how active these volcanoes are. However because we *know* climate change is definitely wrecking Antarctica, it follows that your car, air conditioner and pet dog could melt more ice, take the pressure off the tectonic plate and set one off. Then things will really get out of hand.

Anyhow, it’s just a coincidence that all the warming in Antarctica is where the volcanoes are.

Warming in Antarctica   |    New volcano discoveries

Spread the hagtag #allvolcanosmatter.

From The Guardian: Scientists discover 91 volcanoes below Antarctic ice sheet

Scientists have uncovered the largest volcanic region on Earth – two kilometres below the surface of the vast ice sheet that covers west Antarctica.

The project, by Edinburgh University researchers, has revealed almost 100 volcanoes – with the highest as tall as the [...]

SA Premier hailed “leader”: govt buys twenty years electricity at twice the price for solar

UPDATE: More details are coming in: The SA govt is effectively covering all its own electricity use with this one plant, which is about 5% of the whole state’s demand. The plant will have 8 hours of battery storage (theoretically). The word I hear is that this is not an outright purchase of $650m, but an offtake agreement for around 70-78/MWh — which means the government will buy nearly all the production available (125Mw of 150MW) each year, but won’t own the plant.  [Text edited and substantial additions below.]

Not long back, Port Augusta had a thirty-one year old coal plant generating 520MW.  The Premier could have spent $30 million to keep it going through this anti-coal political era. Instead he blew it up and is spending millions to buy electricity at twice the price, under contract for 20 years. The $650 million Aurora Solar Plant will produce 150MW of solar power (on a good day).  Per megawatt, this solar power is twice the price of coal fired power. (The old Hazelwood coal plant supplied electricity at around $30MWh.) Per degree Celsius, it will buy global coolness by some number starting with three decimal places of zero.

Solar [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

UK wind farms paid to not make sausages

OK, a wind farm isn’t making sausages, but it’s also not a farm.

Nothing about this makes sense, unless you follow-the-money.

John Constable and Matt Ridley outline the absolute rort that Scottish wind generators are screwing out of British electricity customers. Scotland already has 750 industrial wind plants (the scammers) in their best moments making a total of 5,700 MW which is more than the peak demand of the whole Scottish grid.  This is, at times, not just more than Scotland can use, but even more than it can safely absorb, so UK slaves were forced to spend £1.8 billion on giant interconnectors partly to send the excess down to England and whatnot, otherwise the profits of the unprofitable might suffer, and the weather might not be as nice in 2100 (or not).

If that’s not bad enough, these protected industrial plants sometimes produce a product when nobody wants it, and they still get paid. When it would be unsafe to dump it on the market. The geniuses who set this up promised the wind-generators that they would still be paid. And not only are they paid, but as Ridley and Constable document, before 2011 they were [...]

Feed your dog sweet potatoes to get nicer weather for the great grandchildren you shouldn’t have

It’s another day in a DroneAge religion

English Mastiff, Planet warming dog.

It took 12 “researchers” to discover that the best way you, personally, can change the future global climate is to avoid having kids. If you do have kids, you can make up a bit, apparently, by all going vegetarian. If that’s too hard, consider swapping your dog for a hamster. But if you have to have kids, dogs, and eat meat, at the very least, assuage your green guilt for living in the easiest, most bountiful time and place on Earth, by feeding your dog some sweet potatoes occasionally instead of Chum.

Got that? How many tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer funds did it take to discover this while not ever once google searching for “reasons climate models are wrong/skillless/barking fairy failures?

Marvel at the Washington Times sentence construction — this study comes with cows?

The study comes with livestock, notably cows, already targeted by the environmental movement for their prodigious methane production, prompting calls for people to reduce their beef consumption in order to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

 This news is popular with all vegetarian, childless, dogless, lizard owners:

 His study, [...]

No wind or solar powered aluminium smelter anywhere in the world? Could be a message in that.

Matt Howell, the CEO of Tomago Aluminium Smelter, told a few home truths on ABC radio Monday.

To paraphrase in my own words:

1. Aluminium Smelters gobble electrons for breakfast. His smelter uses 10% of  the entire electricity supply of the most populous state in Australia (NSW).

2. If power goes out without warning for more than three hours, the smelter pot lines freeze, permanently. The company goes to the wall.

3. The largest battery in the world would keep their smelter going for all of 8 minutes. There is a good reason there are no solar or wind powered aluminium smelters anywhere in the world.

4. The government can ‘t let the market solve anything whilst it is simultaneously destroying the free market by propping up the market failures at the same time.

5. Electricity pricing has suddenly got very ugly. Their electricity bill may now be subject to price spikes where it could cost them $4 million just to keep one pot line running during that spike. It is as if suddenly gas stations only sold $400 per Litre petrol. (Which would be $1800/per gallon).  What he doesn’t [...]

South Australia generating electricity from rubbish and diesel powered jets, if they could only burn government regulations instead

A little update on our favourite green state.

SA tries to fix a Big-Government mess with a Bigger Government:

Man-made regulations created the grid-crisis in South Australia, so the Weatherill government has decided to take what didn’t work and “do more”.

Australian rulers subsidized unstable energy, and lo, created an unstable system.  The SA state govt thinks it can solve it by running an opposing scheme simultaneously. The Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme meets the Energy Security Target (EST). Don’t laugh. The Electricity Price Target (EPT) is probably next. This is magic wish-fairy governance where the guy in charge doesn’t take the effort to understand the cause of a problem and unwind it, he just waves a wand and issues a decree.  Perhaps Weathrill thinks the hamstrung-market can squeeze some stable electrons out the ether, but cheap stability only came from coal in SA. His kind of stability-on-command comes out of wallets instead.

The fairy plan looks so bad even the wonder-hero, Elon Musk, is getting nervous that electricity bills will stay painfully high (making his battery power solution not look so attractive to the rest of the world). SA is going to be held up as the global text book [...]

Another BOM scandal: Australian climate data is being destroyed as routine practice

Historic climate data is being destroyed

The Bureau have a budget of a million dollars a day, but seemingly can’t afford an extra memory stick to save historic scientific data.

In the mid 1990s thermometers changed right across Australia — new electronic sensors were installed nearly everywhere. Known as automatic weather sensors (AWS) these are quite different to the old “liquid in glass” type. The electronic ones can pick up very short bursts of heat –  so they can measure extremes of temperatures that the old mercury or liquid thermometers would not pick up, unless the spike of heat lasted for a few minutes. It is difficult (impossible) to believe that across the whole temperature range that these two different instruments would always behave in the exact same way. There could easily be an artificial warming trend generated by this change (see the step change in the graphs). The only way to compare the old and new types of thermometer is to run side by side comparisons in the field and at many sites. Which is exactly what the bureau were doing, but the data has never been put in an archive, or has been destroyed. It’s not easily available [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

BOM scandal: “smart cards” filter out coldest temperatures. Full audit needed ASAP!

The story changes: first it was quality control, then equipment failure, now a smart card?

Jennifer Marohasy reports that the thermometers are working fine, but a smart card has been added to some to filter out “spurious cold” readings:

In particular, the Minister [Josh Frydenberg] was told that while the Goulburn weather station accurately measured the local temperature as minus 10.4 at 6.30 am on Sunday 2 July, a smart card reader prevented this value from being recorded as the daily minimum on the Daily Weather Observations page.

Apparently, the smart cards don’t filter out the spurious hot readings — on the hot side, all noise is good? I want the BOM to confirm or correct this. Despite knowing of this extraordinary, uncertain, situation, the Minister still has “full confidence” in the Bureau of Meteorology. A month ago, the BOM said the temperature clipping was a deliberate “quality control measure”, but then changed that to “equipment failure”. This week, Bill Kininmonth pointed out that the same equipment worked in Antarctica (where it gets to minus 50C). And I can add that David Stockwell  spotted the data sheet for an Automatic Weather Station thermometer installed at Nerriga. It claims [...]

Al Gore’s swimming pool uses the same electricity as six US homes

The National Center for Public Policy Research released a report that tells us Al Gore’s swimming pool uses the same electricity as six average US homes. In kilowatt hours, his house draws a total annual load equivalent to 21 homes — averages 19,241 kWh per month. He probably lives alone now that Tipper and the kids have moved out. This is after he paid $60,000 to add solar panels which provide about 5% of his domestic electricity (Why doesn’t he just go solar, that’d be only $720k, plus batteries).

He owns two other homes.

I would never use this as an ad hom argument to say that man-made global warming crisis is wildly exaggerated (there are plenty of other reasons to say that). Obviously poor Al needs to use more electricity than most people so he can swim in between flights, because he is constantly being attacked in articles like this one:

How Al Gore Fooled The World Into Paying For His Giant Carbon Footprint

Jeff Dunetz …The real reason Al Gore wants you to read his books and go see his movies and even see his lectures isn’t because he is trying to save the Earth from [...]

BOM scandal heats up: Kininmonth, Watts, Nova quoted in The Australian “We audit banks, why not BOM?”

Today, Graham Lloyd, and Jennifer Marohasy turn up the heat even more on the Bureau of Meteorology’s strange practice of “editing” raw data. The Bureau says it works to the “highest possible standards”. Natch. So an independent audit would clear them, silence the critics, and restore their reputation. Strangely, instead they have been apparently avoiding an independent audit for six years now and counting….

The Australian: BoM faces storm over weather data inaccuracies

 It is the biggest public scandal for BoM since furious debate was sparked three years ago over its treatment of historic and contemporary temperature rec­ords to compile its new homogenised national temperature data series known as ACORN-SAT.

For an agency that screams from the rooftops every time the mercury nudges to the slightest record high, losing a half a degree Celsius here and there at the lower extremities is a pretty poor look.

In reply, once again, the BOM promises another do-it-yourself review. The Minister (Josh Frydenberg) has insisted on two external independent experts, but if the BOM gets to approve or appoint them, that box won’t be hard to tick (just ask the NZ NIWA team). Apparently the last public scandal in [...]

SA reduces blackouts by closing Holden Factory

It’s a creative South Australian solution to an unstable, expensive grid: close large factories and have less blackouts. If they can close enough, it’s guaranteed to succeed:

Holden closure will help Energy Market Operator manage SA’s blackout risk, report finds

Part of the soon-to-be vacated Holden factory in Adelaide is about to be transformed into a temporary power station to help stave off load-shedding blackouts this summer.

But the car industry’s closure will help the authorities manage the risk of blackouts in another way.

The exit of a once powerful manufacturing sector will see the state using less electricity, particularly during the all-important summer peak.

The information is contained in the latest Electricity Forecasting Insights published by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

 From a story last year:

The closure of Holden’s Elizabeth plant is expected to result in 13,000 job losses across the company and its supply chain.

Energy use in SA is set to fall from 3,116MW to 3,035MW in summer peaks. Even so, they’ll still need more temporary generators (time to cut more jobs?):

Nevertheless, AEMO is forecasting widespread shortfalls of reserve power over the next two summers, prompting [...]

Scandal: Australian Bureau of Meteorology caught erasing cold temperatures

Front page scandal today in Australia: BoM opens cold case on temperature data

Jennifer Marohasy, Lance Pidgeon, at the Stevenson screen, Goulburn Airport.

Amazing, the power of the media. Suddenly, the Bureau of Meteorology needs to replace equipment and answer questions and set up an internal inquiry. But they’ve had weeks of warning. Lance Pidgeon and Jennifer Marohasy have been watching the automatic weather stations record very cold temperatures, and then astonished when those same readings either got entered into our national raw database as warmer, or simply disappeared. The BOM apparently has a filter set so that super cold temperatures need to be manually checked. Yet the filter is set so high, in Thredbo’s case, nearly five whole degrees warmer than temperatures already recorded.

Wow. Just wow. What does raw data mean anymore?

The lack of respect for real observations is profoundly unscientific. How much does the BOM even care about understanding our climate if they are so flagrantly uninterested in the data?  As I have said, the Bureau of Meteorology behaves more like PR agency than an institute of science. Based on past practice their internal inquiry will find excuses, not answer the questions, and will not [...]