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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Extraordinary powers triggered: Blackout threat from rooftop solar panels in Western Australia

Panels are going in everywhere in Perth.

In Western Australia the uptake of solar panels has rocketed as electricity prices leaped — there’s a slow motion solar train-wreck underway. Solar PV panels are now on more than one in four houses and growing at a phenomenal rate.

The South West Grid is small, with around one million customers and a daily peak of around 2 – 3,000 MW. But the solar generation now totals as much as 1,000MW, and is growing at blistering 180MW a year. Already, there are times solar can be the largest “single” source on this grid, and the AEMO has no control over it, which is why emergency notices are being issued more and more. The AEMO suggests the answer is more batteries, but we are still subsiding the installation of these unnecessary panels making the problem worse, and electricity prices are forecast to rise another 7% this year. As readers TomOMason and TonyfromOz say, so much for cheap solar — watch out: “Batteries Not Included”. The hidden costs get you every time, and the cost of the impact on the rest of the grid is only becoming known as we do this live experiment.


West Australia – Unskeptical conservatives wiped out in election – No Trump, No Brexit vote

Don’t mention the climate — unskeptical conservatives give away some of their best weapons

The local Liberals (conservatives) got smashed on the weekend in the Western Australian election. Polls predicted it, but instead of a Trump-surprise, Colin Barnett’s team got a nasty shock instead — wiped out. There was no “hidden vote” waiting there because the local Liberals are just another brand of The Establishment. There is nothing politically brave about them.

In WA climate was a non-issue, yet pandering to the religion still cost conservatives. One of the main election messages was about the privatisation of “Western Power” (Electricity supplier). This strange spectacle unfolded where McGowan, the leader who’d suggested the ridiculous 50% renewables target was thumping Barnett’s campaign with messages of fear about rising electricity prices after the privatization. Barnett didn’t hit back — No one seemed to notice the incongruity of Mr Renewables accusing someone else of making electricity expensive.

There are many reasons the WA Libs crashed (read some here). But the “climate” policy hole gets forgotten. Colin Barnett was unarmed, unskeptically accepting the unaudited foreign committee reports. In 2014, when semi-skeptical-Abbott was PM, the premier of a state that lives off mining and energy wasn’t [...]

Climate Change means Perth smashes the coldest ever record for February

Plan for Ghost Town has been delayed

Yesterday Perth had it’s coldest ever February day (since 1910) with temperatures only making it up to 17.4C. This is not just 0.1 or 0.2C below the previous coldest record in February, but a whole 1.7C colder. Perth also got its second wettest February Day (of any season) with a 106mm of rain.

This is peak summer. So much for Tim Flannery’s Ghost Town prophesy.

(To put a fine point on just how far from normal this is, the actual coldest observation in February before this was in 1991 at 19.8C, but that was adjusted down by 0.7C  in the All-Wondrous-ACORN data set. So yesterday was a “sigma-lot” below normal). I’ll post soon on how this is not just a one-day thing, but part of a longer curious record for the region.

Another bazillion gigatons of coal emissions since 1991…

POST NOTE: It’s sweltering on the east coast, and still cold and now flooding on the west. The tables below were updated — today was yet another “top ten” coldest ever day in Perth.

How long before the “hot-n- cold” floods-in-summer thing is blamed on air conditioners? -  Jo