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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Labor hope for fantasy 45% reduction in Australian emissions by … 2030

Australians keep voting against climate taxes, but in 2016 we’re having an election based on climate. (We get the choice of “Bad” or “Worse”. For the economy, it’s the TNT-plan or the Nuclear-bomb?)

The Liberals are offering the obscene cut of 26 – 28% from 2005 by 2030. As a nation dependent on fossil fuels, with no nuclear or no new hydro on offer, the target is ridiculous. With the most rapidly growing population in the West, and one of the most energy intensive export industries globally, it’s economically suicidal. The Labor Party have a fantasy that it should be 45%. (Why not 85%?)

As far as the election goes in 2016, our only hope is to elect minor party and independent Senators to stop our two main parties from  hobbling the nation. Start planning now.

According to the opposition spokesman Mark Butler on the 7:30 Report last night, the 45% fantasy will all be fine, because energy use and economic development will be “decoupled” (for the first time in human history) and new technology will save us. We’ll have profoundly different cars he says.

Look at what the last 15 years have done for cars…

Imagine how different cars [...]

Holden Volt $2.50 to fill? But it costs more to run than a big SUV

The Holden Volt

The Holden Volt is an electric hybrid car that, according to advertisements, costs only $2.50 to fill. Thanks to a polished ad campaign, there are probably people out there who think it might be cheap to run.

The ads don’t mention that if you are an average driver, doing about 40 km a day, you’ll need to fill it every day. It still only has a 60-80km range on electric power, before it has to switch to petrol. (The charge will take about four hours from a home socket). Even so, it almost sounds useful, except that it costs $60,000. (And don’t even think about the network grid infrastructure we’d have to build if everyone drove one).

When RACQ (Royal Automobile Club of Queensland) looked at the average running costs of different models the five year total costs of a Volt were $74,000 – $78,000.  The five year cost of running, say, a 2 ton Ford Territory (medium SUV) came in at $63,000.

So it’s cheaper to run an SUV for five years than it is to run a Volt If you commute 60km a day, and can pick up one of these second hand, and drive [...]

Each electric car could add costs of $2000 per year for “our” electricity network

What was that Ms Gillard said about not wanting to “gold plate” our electricity networks? The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) released a warning in December that electric cars will cost a lot more than just the purchase price and the electricity:

Electric vehicles in particular are another new “appliance” which is set to place new demands on Australia’s power system. This review has found that each electric vehicle could impose additional network and generation costs from $7500 up to $10,000 per vehicle over the 5 years from 2015 to 2020 in the absence of appropriate pricing signals and efficient charging decisions.

Who pays for the extra generation capacity? You do.

AEMC Chairman, John Pierce, said today that each electric vehicle could result in additional generation and network costs that, under current market arrangements would be shared by all consumers.

AEMC recommends several ways to split up the pricing, sort our metering so houses can figure out what was “the car” and what was “the house”. Me, I recommend we charge the EV owners the real cost, and let the free market do what it does best.

The AEMC last word — it’s easy to sell natural gas cars:

The [...]

Electric cars are worse for the environment

When everything else about being Green turns out to be a pox on the environment, it’s no surprise that electric cars are too.

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology study found greenhouse gas emissions [of electric cars] rose dramatically if coal was used to produce the electricity.

Electric car factories also emitted more toxic waste than conventional car factories, their report in the Journal of Industrial Ecology said.

So electric cars are only bad if they are powered by coal fired electricity, or made in a factory. Oh.

Presumably the aspiring Green needs a hand-made hydroelectric car, right? That, or the kind of car that has 18 gears, a chain and two wheels.

The kicker with electric vehicles, or EVs, is that awful secret that batteries don’t grow on trees, don’t recharge spontaneously either, and need replacing every five years or so. There is no getting around the fact that electric vehicles need electricity. They may not emit any evil CO2 themselves, but they have to get those electrons from somewhere, and in most places that’s from coal.

And it wasn’t just the coal, it was other stages of the “life-cycle” too. The production of EVs produced about twice [...]