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Cost of bad climate models — $10 billion wasted, and $1 billion a year for Desal plants no one uses in Australia

 If only climate models worked. Until then, the insurance bills are “eyewatering” with ten billion dollars poured into Australian Desal plants that aren’t used, and which cost another billion each year to keep being not used.

Imagine if one of these states had spent a hundredth as much on research as they did on building white elephants. They could have brought in top maths-heads, engineers, physicists and modelers and developed independent climate models that used solar factors, cosmic rays, lunar factors and even neural nets. The productivity growth could be flat-out fantastic — with the right information farmers could pick the right crops, plant at the right times, and destock or restock, and not waste seed on dry ground. Town planners could manage dams, floods and droughts without turning taxpayer dollars into mushroom clouds. The CSIRO Budget is $1.2 billion (of which the taxpayer pays $780m) and BOM $360 million (taxpayer: $212m) but the real cost of strangled government science is far more.

UPDATE: The Tungun plant in QLD may be revived for 6 weeks (at great cost) soon, and theoretically “might” be used permanently from 2020.

Idle desalination plants built by Labor cost $1bn

Rebecca Puddy, The Australian

Four desalination plants built by former state Labor governments that have since been mothballed will cost taxpayers nearly $1 billion this year alone, with no plans for their use.

South Australia’s water corporation this week quietly applied to keep the state’s $1.8bn desalin­ation plant operating at a minimum production level until at least 2020, at a cost of more than $200 million to taxpayers.

That’s expensive insurance

While the desalination plants sit idle, water users have been hit with bill increases to cover the cost of running the plants. Under a deal struck by Labor, Melbourne households pay $620m in an ­annual holding charge, regardless of whether water is taken.

Even if no water is ever prod­uced, the plant will cost Victorians $18bn by 2040.

Victorian Liberal water spokesman Peter Walsh said yesterday that households were paying about $500 more a year for water.

Who can forget Tim Flannery?

What do you get when you scientific predictions are 100% wrong? You get admitted to the Australian Academy of Science.

The water problem is so severe for Adelaide that it may run out of water by early 2009.Jetstar inflight magazine, March 2008

Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane would ‘need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months.’  June  2007

‘dams no longer fill even when it does rainNew Scientist 2007, ABC landline

Tim Flannery has warned that Brisbane and Adelaide – home to a combined total of three million people – could run out of water by year’s end.” —  2007. h/t to Tim Blair. He was keeping track  of many of Flannery’s predictions.

“Water resources have dried out to the point where they’re now affecting the future of some of our cities. I’ve seen our agriculture wither and decline.”Tim Flannery predicts, Reuters, May 2009.

(Melbourne Dams 74% | Sydney Dams 97% | Brisbane Dams 95% | Adelaide Dams 55% | Canberra Dams  86% )

I’ve put together the start of a table of numbers provided in the story, readers are invited to fill in the gaps with links.

State Construction Ongoing costs History
South Australia: $41m pa Mothballed after testing
Victoria $3.5 b (Wonthaggi) $620m pa Opened in 2012. Immediately mothballed.
Queensland  $1.12 b (Tugun) $15m pa Began in Feb 2009. Mothballed in 2010
NSW  $1.9 b (Kurnell) $200m pa Opened in 2012. Immediately mothballed.
$10 billion total

Climate models have led us astray,
To throw our good money away,
Such as government grants,
On defunct Desal plants,
For which hard-pressed taxpayers must pay.


More information:

CSIRO Annual Reports
Bureau of Meteorology Annual Reports

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