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Junk generators: 2 million expensive solar panels cut Australian total CO2 emissions by 1%

Posted By Jo Nova On June 22, 2018 @ 8:35 pm In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

Graph, solar panels contribution to carbon reduction.

Solar panels across Australia reduce our emissions by almost nothing.

The ABC is whipping Gorgon for not getting carbon sequestration to work, claiming that this is a crisis that will wipe out the entire “gain” from installing two million solar panels across Australia. What the ABC don’t say is that the entire infrastructure of solar panels (on 20% of Australian homes) is only reducing our CO2 emissions by one pointless percent. So the Gorgon delay in achieving the impossible is likewise irrelevant. Australian emissions are rising at 1.5% pa now anyhow.

In terms of our national emissions, the real question is if we shut every solar panel in the nation would anyone notice?

Despite the $1.1b budget, the ABC could have got this bigger and more useful perspective for free from any number of skeptics, none of whom it tried to interview.

With minimal training in arithmetic ABC staff could even have figured it out for themselves. Instead, as per usual, the ABC provides free advertorials for green-industry hacks, with no hard questions and little research.

Can someone please explain to ABC investigative journalists the difference between a megaton and a ton? All they had to do was graph the solar contribution on the same graph or even in the same units…

How the Gorgon gas plant could wipe out a year’s worth of Australia’s solar emissions savings

Almost 2 million Australian households have installed solar panels to cut their power bills while also doing their bit for the environment. Households account for most of the country’s total solar panel emission savings.

Look how useful solar panels are — there are lots of zeroes on that axis when we use the odd units like “tons of carbon”. What nation graphs anything in tons?

Graph, Solar Power, Australia, avoided emissions, CO2.

The whole Renewable Energy Target (RET) cuts total emissions by around 5%

The ABC helpfully provides the dismal detail:

“If the RET is met and 33,000 gigawatt-hours of renewable electricity is generated in 2020, this would represent avoided emissions of about 26 million tonnes of CO2-e [a standard unit for measuring carbon footprints] per year,” Dr Hare said.

“These reductions in emissions from the power sector are unfortunately almost completely offset by the estimated increase emissions from the LNG sector.”

How easy is it for ABC readers to compare the value of solar panels in terms of our total emissions as measured in the standard megaton unit? How many readers didn’t see the fine print at the bottom explaining the units?

CO2 emissions, Australia, graph, 2000-2016.


Our Paris targets are obscenely ambitious. See the graph below regarding how much we have to cut. And there is no allowance for having one of the highest population growth rates in the West.

Still, the Paris agreement is a nonbinding, ineffectual plan that almost every other nation is going to fail to meet. So “whatever”. We can bail out at no cost apart from being called a few names.

Paris Target, Australia, Graph, emissions, projection.

Almost no one anywhere has got large scale carbon storage by injection to work. The industry is so immature that only a few months ago some pundits were saying the carbon capture era might be “starting” because of a new approved tax credit:

Chevron predicted that process would have seen between 5.5 and 8 million tonnes of CO2 injected into the ground during the plant’s first two years of production from the Gorgon field, making it one of the largest carbon abatement activities in the world.

Instead, technical problems with seals and corrosion issues in the infrastructure have delayed CO2 storage and the Federal Government, which contributed $60 million towards the green technology, is not expecting the problem to be rectified until March 2019 — about two years after production began from the Gorgon gas field.

By that point, experts including energy consultancy firm Energetics predict the additional CO2 emitted into the atmosphere will be roughly equivalent to the 6.2 million tonnes in emissions saved in a year by all the solar panels in the country combined — from small household rooftop systems to major commercial installations.

 Let’s calculate the cost per ton “saved”

Can someone with some time to spare add up the cost of all those solar panels? I’d like to know how much we spent to achieve something so insignificant.

No nation should ever feel bound,
To store CO2 in the ground,
While hungry plants need,
A good CO2 feed,
When there isn’t enough to go ’round.


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