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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Turn off all wind and solar at 6pm peak time — makes no difference

All those billions we spent and yet at 6pm, many days coal, gas and hydro provide 98% of the power Australia needs. Wind and solar are our spare bikes, the third ski, the Banana-Slicers of the National Grid (read those reviews). Just what would we do if wind and solar were all we had? — Jo

At peak time intermittent renewables often make less than 2% of total Australian electricity

Guest Post by Anton Lang (TonyFromOz)

h/t to Rafe Campion at Catalaxy

When power is required the most, wind and solar are missing almost entirely. This isn’t cherry picking of one time — peak time is the most important time on the grid, when the most power is required.  The almost non-existent contribution from renewables is so common it has occurred now for seven days out of the last 14 days.

I’ve been doing a series on the Australian generation and demand curves on a daily basis for seven weeks, the totals are settling down, so that now the percentage changes are only in tenths of a percent, and consider that when it comes to total power and coal fired power, a tenth of one percent is 600MegaWattHours, so at [...]

Niger, Africa where 17 million people use less electricity than Dubbo, NSW

Niger, Africa, is considering building a new small coal fired power station. Greenpeace have protested before at coal power stations in Africa. But how compassionate are those who don’t want Africa to use cheap coal fired power (like, say, professors at western universities?) TonyfromOz puts the issue in perspective. I knew much of Africa was very very poor, but this rather lays the dismal extent out before us. Mali, a nation of 15 million people produces the same amount of electricity as the small town of Dubbo, NSW. Niger, with 17 million, produces even less. All up, there are 23 nations in Africa that each produce less electricity than Dubbo. If we combine them, the 142 million people in those 23 nations are using the same amount of electricity as Adelaide in Australia (which has about 1.1 million people). Stark.

Perhaps we could ask Niger if they’d like to help reduce global temperatures by 0.0 degrees, or if they would rather save money and have electricity that works at night instead?   — Jo

Guest Post – TonyfromOz

Niger, Africa

Recently, a new coal fired power plant was proposed for the country of Niger in [...]

Upgrade coal power and cut 15% of emissions. Where is the Green applause?

If the Greens cared about CO2 they’d be very interested in ways to reduce emissions. But their selective interest speaks volumes about their real priorities. Anton Lang shows how newer coal fired powers stations run hotter and at higher pressures, and use 15% less coal to produce the same amount of electricity. We could upgrade our power stations and cut a whopping 15% of their emissions — which 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 “carbon pollution”? — Jo


Ultra Super Critical Coal Fired Power gives a 15% CO2 Emissions Reduction

Guest Post: Anton Lang (aka TonyfromOz)

It all comes down to steam.

Assume (for a moment) that we have to reduce the emissions of CO2 by something like 20% between now and 2020.

Previously I showed we could achieve a reduction of 13% in CO2 emissions from the electrical power generating sector just by converting from the current 70’s technology coal fired power to the newest technology USC (UltraSuperCritical) coal fired technology. That 13% I quoted [...]

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 [...]

Who actually took notice of the Kyoto Protocol? Coal fired plants going up everywhere.

Guest post by Anton Lang (TonyfromOz)

(Thanks to ianl8888  for bringing this map from Tallbloke’s site to my attention)

This is a map of projected coal fired power plants that have been approved for construction. The map tells us a lot about the Kyoto Protocol, and more specifically, just how much clout does the UN really have.

Some parts of the world are increasing their coal fired electricity faster than others (Click to enlarge).

Source: Figures come from this World Resources Institute Report. (Nov 2012) Graphic? author unknown.

Kyoto was adopted in 1997, and so far, 195 Member Countries have signed up to it with that first signature. All but a couple of countries then added that all important second signature ratifying it, meaning that they were bound by what Kyoto asked for, a reduction of CO2 emissions to a level 5% lower than what they were in 1990. In 2007, Rudd added that second signature on behalf of Australia, leaving the U.S. as the only country not to ratify the Protocol. Some countries have said that they will not ratify any rehash of Kyoto, which expired at the end of last year. Only 24 countries [...]

How much electricity do solar and wind make on a global scale? Answer: “Not much”

Simple numbers are hard to get, so when Anton Lang pointed me at the EIA site (U.S. Energy Information Administration), I wanted to give everyone the straight answer to the question: just how much electricity do renewables make on a global scale? The EIA has the only database in the world with a this much accuracy.

The answer is that 80% of our electricity comes from the fossil fuels and nuclear that the Greens despise. Hydroelectricity, with all its pluses and minuses, produces a serious 16% of the total. But all the vanity renewables bundled together make about 3.5% of the total.

Wind power is a major global industry but it’s only making in the order of 1.4% of total electricity. And solar is so pathetically low that it needs to be bundled with “tidal and wave” power to even rate 0.1% (after rounding up).

For all the fuss and money, if the world’s solar powered units all broke tonight, it would not dent global electricity production a jot.

No one connected to a grid would notice.


These are the total global numbers from the US Energy Information Agency (The  EIA) for 2009.


Solar Power costs less than Coal, and the Wishing Chair lives on

Finally, a new day has dawned and solar power is cheaper than coal fired electricity! Gadzooks! It must be true, the Sydney Morning Herald says so.

“Solar energy cost hits par with coal fuel“

Who knew they conquered the low energy density, high maintenance, poor performance, bad weather, and general darkness at nighttime — all in the last weekend? This changes everything… oh, but wait, that’s odd — this only applies in some parts of New South Wales?

Silly me, and I thought the sun shone on the whole nation (and sometimes on the rest of the world too)?

THE cost of solar power in parts of NSW has for the first time crept below that of coal-fired electricity – seen as a key tipping point for the expansion of renewable energy. [SMH]

The dead-set give away is the “parts of NSW” — straight away you know that either someone is stealing sunlight from neighboring councils, or this isn’t a real “cost”, not in the same sense that you and I would use the word. When we think of the cost of something, it means we want to know how much we’ll pay. If we pay less up [...]

We can lower Australian CO2 emissions by… (wait for it) building new coal plants!

A joint writing project: Jo Nova & Tony Cox,

based on an idea and research by Anton Lang (who writes as TonyfromOz at PAPundits)

It’s the paradox that will torture the Greens. What if the best way to achieve their environmental aims as well as providing jobs and power was to build more coal fired power stations? Imagine if we could reduce CO2 emissions by more than 5%, supply 24 hour baseload electricity, create jobs, and save thousands of square kilometres of Australian bush from industrial domination. Imagine if “New Coal” turned out to be the lowest cost alternative as well? Anton Lang has researched it, and Tony Cox has confirmed that the big numbers make sense with an Australian electricity company (who shall not be named). Selling the Carbon Tax in Neverland is already a public debate that’s pretzel tied in impossible contradictions, so what’s one  more unlikely twist? Possibly, just enough to get us out of a knot, or at least enough to expose the real aims of the carbon reduction plan. Old existing large scale coal fired power plants in Australia are all twenty to forty years old. Major advances [...]