JoNova

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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The Skeptics Handbook II

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Seven reasons why BHP — a giant coal miner — wants to stop lobbying FOR coal

BHP is throwing its weight around to stop the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) saying what most miners want on climate change.

What coal company wants lobbyists not to lobby for coal?

The gauntlet is down — Which heavyweight will blink first?

In one corner — The MCA — the main lobby group for miners. It’s very effective, and wants to dump the renewables target (“yay” say most miners!). In the other corner — BHP –which has just threatened to quit unless the MCA stops being skeptical of climate change.

Thing is, BHP is the largest member of the MCA, providing 17% of the funding. The colossal miner is so big, it can do its own deals. Essentially, the Minerals Council needs BHP more than BHP needs the Minerals Council. BHP is testing it’s power.

A tough test for the MCA

In Australia, the MCA is influential enough that their fierce anti-mining tax campaign helped to bring down a Prime Minister and when industries want to threaten governments they talk of running a campaign “like it”.

If they fold and serve their largest client, effectively burning off almost all their smaller clients, then the smaller clients should quit and [...]

Santa’s arrived! Australia drops new Renewables Targets, will meet “Paris”, stop blackouts, reduce costs

This is good news but Turnbull still wants to have the Paris cake and power the fridge with the crumbs

Faced with national bill shock, dismal Newspolls, and even leadership rumors, Turnbull is, at last, dropping the deadweight Finkel Clean Energy Target. The biggest poisoned-band-aid will not be plastered on, though mini bandaids will be.

Too much regulation is never enough and the energy market is still being micromanaged.

Cabinet dumps Clean Energy Target for new ‘affordable, reliable’ power plan

[ABC news] A Clean Energy Target recommended by Australia’s chief scientist will not be adopted, with the Federal Government instead proposing a new plan to bring down electricity prices.

The details have not officially been released, but the ABC understands Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will argue his policy will lower electricity bills more than a Clean Energy Target (CET), while meeting Australia’s Paris climate change commitments.

And they wonder why no one wants to build a coal station here, despite finding 1,600 other places to build them in 62 other countries:

Cabinet is also keen to adopt a generator reliability obligation, which requires three years’ notice of closing a power station, in order to [...]

Dangerous Abbott unleashed, speaks the truth, critics froth and flounder

Finally the gloves are off

The critics called him a climate denier anyway, even when he toed the politically correct line, so there was nothing left to call him. For former Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, there is no point in pandering. Now after a great speech, the EcoWorriers are left saying he is “loopy”. The new unleashed Abbott is so much stronger, more compelling, and his message is being spread far and wide. Not only will his GWPF speech fire up the footsoldier deplorables, but he is more likely to reach the undecided centre by speaking his mind freely. The ABC was pasting his message in large type all over the TV news and in article after article. That’s great for skeptics. The ABC is so blindly consumed with the dominant paradigm they can’t see how appealingly sensible Abbott looks by speaking about cold being a killer, CO2 being good for agriculture, and a bit of warming being beneficial for humans. His message of irrational electricity pain is so terribly sane. He looks at Manly beach and can see that sea levels haven’t changed much which surely everyone else with open eyes can see too. The ABC frames it [...]

Australian govt may dump renewables subsidies, testing, 1,2,3…

Minister Josh Frydenberg has just implied Australia might drop ongoing endless renewables subsidies (and thus dump the Finkel chief-”scientist” plan). He didn’t say that in so many words, but hinted at it, and will now wait to see how the idea goes down.

Soak in this reasoning — renewables are becoming so cost competitive they don’t need subsidies. He’s calling their bluff.  It’s like the announcement to sack climate scientists because “the science is settled”. Let’s take them at their word and follow that propaganda to its logical end:

The key message from Josh Frydenberg is that subsidies for renewable energy are coming to an end.

There is no Clean Energy Target in sight in Frydenberg’s plan for a new policy by the end of this year. The phrase does not get a single mention in his new speech on the way ahead.

In a key argument, the Energy Minister argues that the cost of building wind and solar power has more than halved in recent years.

He does not rule out more subsidies explicitly, but the clear suggestion is that renewable energy generators are now at a point where they can [...]

Abbott vows to cross the floor against any new renewables subsidies — most of Parliament should be with him.

Democracy in action.

Fully 62% of Australians don’t want to pay a pitiful $10 a month for renewables. They are already paying more, therefore at least two-thirds of our parliament should be voting “No” on this. Why is Turnbull even toying with this?

Former prime minister Tony Abbott has threatened to cross the floor of Parliament and vote against any move to introduce a clean-energy target, describing as “unconscionable” any move to wind back support for coal in favour of renewables.

In his first interview with his former chief of staff Peta Credlin on Sky News’ Jones & Co on Tuesday night, Mr Abbott described climate change as “very much a third order issue”.

He suggested Liberal MPs had “extremely serious reservations” about the government’s clean energy target, and said last year’s power blackouts in South Australia had influenced the attitude of Liberal MPs to renewable energy.

“I think there is no chance that our party room will support any significant increase in the amount of renewables in our system.”

Asked whether he would support an attempt by Mr Turnbull to legislate for a clean-energy target, Mr Abbott replied: ”It would be unconscionable, I underline that word unconscionable, for [...]

Momentum shifts on Renewables Targets in Australia (mini revolt brewing)

Things are heating up to stop other things blacking out

Last week the AEMO (which controls our electricity grid) said we needed 1,000MW of spare power to keep the lights on in SA and Victoria this summer. Didn’t that light a fuse? Then AGL (a major energy player in Australia with coal, gas and wind assets) dug in and repeated that it was going to be hero and definitely close another coal plant (called Liddell) in 2022. At this point, the Prime Minister, no less, had to suddenly enter into talks to convince AGL to sell Liddell or keep it running a bit longer — anything but a shut down. (Figure how screwed up a market has to be for the owner of an asset to need to be talked into perhaps, maybe selling it for money instead of throwing it away? Isn’t any money better than none? Well, maybe not in a river of subsidies… more on the games going on in AGL soon.)

Desperate, Turnbull even offered to buy a stake in Liddell (with tax dollars). So the government may have to buy up exactly the kind of project the government has been working to close with RET [...]

Finkel report destroys baseload coal power economics

Demand enough renewables and you might as well ban coal

There’s a lesson Australia needs to learn from South Australia. When intermittent renewables reach a certain percentage of daily average supply they make baseload power unfeasible. The situation develops into an impossible dead end that can only be solved with container-ships of cash.

The intermittent supply of wind and solar is the immoveable problem. It eats into the daily chart of the cheapest stable electricity supply — which is coal fired. Coal can’t be ramped in and out in minutes. It is a creature that runs best non-stop, efficiently, smoothly, at a high capacity factor (meaning it works best when it is producing around 90% of it’s design limit continuously).

Tom Quirk points out that sometime after these intermittent renewables hit 30% of the average daily supply, as they have in South Australia — locally sourced coal power becomes uneconomic. There are times during the daily cycle when renewables are providing almost all the demand. There is little demand left for the massive coal turbines to supply, so they spin on pointlessly, but costs remain, and profits are zero.

In [...]

Surely not: Climate revolt and another Australian PM?

It’s hard to believe Turnbull could fall for this one twice.

Dennis Shannahan warns us:

There is a revolt in the Coalition ranks and there are those prepared to say that Finkel is dead or worse.

More than 20 Coalition MPs spoke against the Finkel report last night, including Tony Abbott, all concerned that the priority is for cutting emissions and not electricity prices.

History repeats?

David Crowe on what he’s heard about the same liberal party room meeting:

Former prime minister Tony Abbott was a sharp critic of the clean energy target and made interjections throughout the ­discussions.

“He was the most sceptical about it — he said it wasn’t going to cut prices or provide certainty for consumers,” one Liberal said.

“He was probably the strongest critic throughout the whole ­meeting.”

One of the senior Liberal figures who took notes on the meeting said last night that about 32 people spoke and about one-third of them were not in favour of the Finkel proposal, while one-third supported the clean energy target and another third asked questions or had suggestions for changes. Victorian Liberal MP Russell Broadbent, [...]

Big win: Turnbull wasted billions, but now backs super critical coal, copies skeptics 5 years later

Back in 2011 Anton Lang, Tony Cox, and I wrote here about why Australia would be better off with super critical hot coal generators (which China already uses, and which even Indonesia will get before us). Not only do we get cheap reliable power, but it would be a better way to reduce our emissions (if we want to pretend to change the weather).

Now, finally, in 2017 Malcolm Turnbull is saying the same thing as the skeptics he mocked years ago. This is how the “climate meme” dies, one unacknowledged step at a time. Gradually all the skeptical positions get picked up, years later and after burning billions at the altar of “climate control”. This is a big win for skeptics, but don’t expect Turnbull or the ABC to be honest enough to say so. This marks a major turning point in the discussion about coal in Australia which has mostly never got past the “coal is dying” and the “stranded assets” inanity which implied that coal has no future and our massive coal reserves were useless instead of being our major export industry.

Last week Tony Abbott, former PM, called for stop to subsidies for wind power – [...]

“Royalties for Voters” — WA political party offers $38,000 to each voter to expose just how big the government grab is

A new party is forming in WA in time for the state election next March. It’s skeptical, and very cheeky, and as The Spectator says “a chance to shame the Nats”.  Where the Nats offer Royalties for Regions, but the new party wickedly offers Royalties for Voters.

Real democracy starts with the freedom to vote with our wallets

It needs to reach 500 members by Sunday Monday: WA Voters can join for free online  

What if voters could choose to keep the funds themselves instead of  giving bureaucrats a blank cheque to spend it on their behalf?  Our pollies casually toss around billions of our dollars and Royalties for Voters will expose just how big those sums are. Hands up who wants $38,000?

West Australians pay their 10% GST (Goods and services tax) like the rest of the nation, but they get only a third of it back from the Federal Gobblerment at the moment — which leaves Sandgropers feeling pretty miffed over here. No other state has ever got less than about 80% back. The mining boom meant the population grew a massive 40% from 2000 to 2015. Infrastructure, roads, rail, public transport has failed to keep up. [...]