« profile & posts archive

This author has written 782 posts for Larvatus Prodeo.

Return to: Homepage | Blog Index

157 responses to “Remember CCS?”

  1. wilful

    In Victoria, the Department of Primary Industries is researching geological sequestration capacity of Bass Straits nearshore gasfields.

    http://www.dpi.vic.gov.au/energy/sustainable-energy/carbon-capture-and-storage/fact-sheet-carbonnet-first-stage

  2. Ootz

    Good luck trying to put the Genie back into the bottle.

  3. Jess

    Geoscience Australia have just shifted their petroleum division to have a greater emphasis on CCS. Here’s a hilariously cheesy video they’ve put out about how they plan to do it.

  4. dz

    Remember explaining acronyms?

  5. kymbos

    Geothermal and hydropower have negative abatement costs?

    Ploise exploine?

  6. Fran Barlow

    I have no problem in principle with CC&S Robert, and if there are some circumstances where that is indeed the least of all harms, then by all means, let’s do it.

    I’m seriously sceptical that trying to draw down CO2 from the atmosphere at industrial scale and putting it into aquifers or similar is ever going to be feasible in cost, technical, environmental or even schedule terms. Then as you note, there are the longterm problems with storage. Unlike that other technology that causes threadhijacks when raised, CO2 is forever.

    It would be far better to focus on using biological means to effect drawdown — algae, dried, compressed and dumped at depths in the ocean or perhaps down abandoned mines and covered in some inert substance for example. While it’s probably not going to be cheap, if it only has to beat $100tCO2e it sounds plausible.

  7. Jess

    Kymbos and Robert: That chart’s fairly poorly explained in the report as well, but they do say this in the caption:

    Avoided costs of CO2 by technology in the power sector. The costs presented in this chart are for technologies operating in the United States, and have been derived by the Institute based on reviewing a range of studies. Technology costs vary regionally due to a range of local factors including resource availability, as well as the costs of labour and capital inputs. Also, some options are very site specific (for example geothermal and hydropower).

    and in the report itself a page earlier they say

    Between 2025 and 2030, while there is continuing rapid growth in the deployment of renewable technologies and in energy end-use efficiency gains, the IEA least cost scenario also has a rapidly increasing role for CCS. Once the lower cost options for energy efficiency and renewable technologies have been pursued, CCS becomes more competitive.
    [...]
    Any major GHG abatement effort will add a significant cost challenge to current and future energy generation, energy intensive industries and GHG emitting projects and investments.

    So I would guess that they’re saying they don’t require much of a carbon price signal to build new geothermal and hydro schemes and use them in reducing emissions – we get that abatement for less than free so to speak.

    But I can’t even find their data reference to know for sure (they don’t seem to have published it yet) which is a bit crap.

  8. Tim Macknay

    Geological sequestration of CO2 is real, is happening now, and will be deployed on an industrial scale in Australia in the not too distant future with the Gorgon project in Western Australia.

    …assuming the Gorgon joint venturers don’t wiggle out of that obligation.

  9. Martin B

    The main practical problems are more with the CC than with the S aren’t they?

  10. Tim Macknay

    I dunno Martin B. As far as I’m aware, many of the proposals for CCS projects have fallen over because of difficulties with the ‘S’ bit. For example, a proposal a few years ago to use undersea geological formations off the coast of Perth for CCS was abandoned because of problems with the formations (Well, that was the official reason anyway. It might also have been the case that the promoters dropped it once they sniffed the political wind and realised that an international post-Kyoto agreement wasn’t going to happen).

  11. Peter Smith

    “But progress is, frankly, glacial.”
    Given the rate glaciers are disappearing these days, that sounds OK.

    Another cliché bites the dust. :(

  12. Jess

    Tim’s right Martin B. – the CC part is actually fairly easy, it’s the S part that’s the problem. The set of all stratigraphic units that would serve as decent storage and are conveniently sited near power generation sites is just about empty.

    Then you’ve got to drill down to pump the stuff into the ground, and you don’t have the benefit of being able to sell any oil to pay for the drilling. What’s the going rate for an offshore well? $420k a day? $50-100 mill a well? Something like that anyway.

    Much cheaper to thow up a few wind turbines, but that would make people sick right?

  13. Fran Barlow

    And of course, Jess, places where you can stably store large volumes of CO2 under pressure reliably and indefinitely for all eternity are themselves in short supply especially when they need to be qualified by proximity to an emissions source. Once these, if they are found, are at capacity, new sites, presumably further away need to be identified and so forth so the long run costs escalate rather than decline.

  14. John D

    Keep in mind that the costs quoted are for the US. They have active volcanoes there and more prospects for hydropower so the quoted costs could be miles out for Aus.

    Surprised at the higher sequestration costs for CCGT given that tonnes CO2/kWh are about 40% of coal.

    CO2 sequestration is relatively easy for gas and oil near the drill site because the geology is well known and the CO2 is probably using the space vacated by the oil/gas. CO2 is also used to drive out more oil.

  15. billie

    The sad thing is that CCS has garnered a lot of money, effectively providing a coal and gas subsidy. These funds might have been more effectively spent seeding renewable energy projects

  16. Jess

    John D: Most US volcanos aren’t very good for geothermal power (I assume that’s what you’re referring to) because of the hazard with building something on the side of an active volcano. Actually Australia has a much better geothermal resource – most of the granite plutons that make up the continent still have enough radioactive heat which could be tapped safely. The only trouble is fracturing the rock to get your working fluid down there in the first place, and then the transmission issues getting power from a remote location to where it’s needed. Geoscience Australia has this to say:

    It is estimated that one per cent of the geothermal energy shallower than five kilometres and hotter than 150°C could supply Australia’s total energy requirements for 26 000 years (based on 2004-05 figures).

  17. Salient Green

    When you actually think about all the sources of fossil based CO2, how many of them are suited to “bottling” to use Ootz’s term? CCS will be a dental pick in the toolbox of carbon mitigation going forward.

    The volume of liquified CO2 produced by extracting and burning fossil fuels is roughly double the volume of the fuels extracted. Most coal is open cut. Most underground mines are leaky. You can’t store CO2 there.

    You can only put back a maximum of half what was taken out! You can only put back into a fraction of the underground places it was taken from. I think 10% would be hugely optimistic and expensive as well as more quickly depleting fossil fuels which are valuable for so many other things.

    Reducing CO2 emissions by Combined Heat and Power (CHP) in the first place is the far wiser option. Expanding use of the”Heat,” by adoption of Absorption cooling and refrigeration is even wiser. Going from 50% efficiency to 90% reduces emissions 4 times more than CCS.
    (yes i know thats rubbery corrections welcomed)

  18. TerjeP

    Much cheaper to thow up a few wind turbines, but that would make people sick right?

    Why do people pretend that wind power is without problems. There are massive problems. And whilst on an energy basis it kills less people than coal it also kills more people than that highly effective and cheaper zero emission technology that is apparently not to be mentioned.

  19. Salient Green

    @20, you just shit on the dance floor. I’ll ignore the worst of it and say that onshore wind has both real and financially motivated problems.
    I have always been an advocate of offshore wind linked to wave and tidal generation.

  20. Martin B

    Ok, I may have not have used “practical” in a very consistent way. But we know of geological formations that have stored gas for many millions of years, yes? It’s just that yes, it is very expensive to get the product to them.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not especially in favour of CCS. I used to be completely opposed to the idea, and I still think that the leakage potential makes it not a long-term solution, and the expense makes it a poor short-term option.

    I just worry that so much planning for power stations is done on a ~50 year basis that we may be stuck with fossil fuels for so long after we should, that a little bit of expensive CCS may be a part of the transition.

  21. Jess

    Martin B. I agree that there might be some instances where CCS is both economically and geologically feasible. The issue is whether it will be the panacea that Rudd and others have been pushing it as. My suspicion would be that any CCS scheme is likely to be highly location dependent.

    On the storage issue – it’s true that there are some formation structures that have stored gas for millions of years. The issue is that there is a bit of selection bias there – we only look at the ones that do store gas because we want the gas. And often the gas and oil itself has a signal in seismic surveys that we can pick out (bright-spot reflectors).

    For many of the power-station-based CCS plans, we’d need to be able to adequately characterise the structure of a basin that may not have gas in it. That’s pretty hard to do from the ground surface – especially because it’s difficult to image faults and fracture networks using current techniques. The best way to find out is to pump some CO2 down there and see what happens, but if it finds its way back to the surface what would you do then?

    @TerjeP: I’m not trying to pretend that wind doesn’t have problems, but we already have a wind power industry. If the (state) governments would get out of the way, we could have more wind power for less cost than it would take to go nuclear. Even if you think nuclear is the long term solution, you still need short-term solutions to be part of the energy response in the meantime.

  22. TerjeP

    Jess – CO2 is a stock problem not a flow problem. It is the stock of CO2 we store in the atmosphere that matters not the short term flow. A such any notion of “short-term solutions” is flawed in my view. You suggest that wind is a cheaper way to reduce emissions than nuclear. If we care about emissions from Australia over the next month that is probably true but if we think in terms of decades then it is complete nonsense. We could have a huge quantity of nuclear power within a decade if the political will existed. If only governments would get out of the way.

  23. Jess

    TerjeP: Not at all – CO2 is both a stock problem and a flow problem. What matters at the moment is to reduce emissions as much as we can now. We should care about emissions in Australia over the next year as well as over the longer term.

    I’m not going to get into the nuclear vs renewables debate that these threads seem to degenerate into. But I will say that nothing is a silver bullet – we need to use all the tools in our arsenal if we want to avoid a lot of the pain that climate change will cause us.

  24. John D

    Terjep: It is the cumulative quantity we put into the atmosphere over a long period of time that counts rather than the rate at some time in the future.
    However, it is easier to bring this long term total if we start acting sooner. For example, if you think about the next 40 yrs we could reduce the total by 50% by:
    Ramping down steadily to zero emissions for the next 40 yrs. OR
    Reducing emissions right now by 50% and doing nothing else during the forty yrs. OR
    Waiting 10 yrs then suddenly reducing emissions by 67%
    Waiting 20 yrs then suddenly reducing emissions by 100%.

    It may be that sometime in the future we will decide to go nuclear. In the meantime we should get on with the less controversial stuff.

  25. TerjeP

    John D – wind power is full of controversy. I for one think it is a mad technology to be pursuing and so do many others. It consumes large slabs of land for little gain. It is expensive. It is noisy. It looks ugly. It annoys people that live near it and many taxpayers who subsidies it. It produces crap electricity (ie wrong time wrong place). In grid terms it is subject to diseconomies of scale. Controversy is the wrong metric because all energy sources are controversial.

    Jess – there may not be a silver bullet but in terms of the electricity sector there is a thorium bullet. We just need to get it loaded.

  26. TerjeP

    p.s. I think CCS is unlikely to be a winner and I think pouring public funds into this sector is reckless. Nearly as reckless as MRET. More reckless than a carbon tax. Perhaps less reckless than the funds poured into “green” initiatives but not a whole lot.

  27. Jess

    It consumes large slabs of land for little gain. It is expensive. It is noisy. It looks ugly.

    Leaving aside the aesthetic concerns* I’m not sure that ‘consuming large slabs of land for little gain’ is entirely true. Wind farms do not prevent the land from being used by farmers, except for the small footprints of the towers themselves. And wind farms require much less capital input than developing a thorium reactor for Australia would, and development can be more easily ramped up or down as required.

    Anyway, I’d be all for a thorium reactor. The only problem is that you need to do more than just build a reactor and generate power – there’s a significant R&D cost associated with it as well. Norway had this report from 2008 in which they noted:

    5. The development of an Accelerator Driven System (ADS) using thorium is not within the capability of Norway working alone. Joining the European effort in this field should be considered. Norwegian research groups should be encouraged to participate in relevant international projects, although these are currently focused on waste management.

    Wouldn’t Australia be in the same boat as regards development? So even if you did have a big capital injection right now to develop a plant, you’d still be 10-20 years from a fully operational power generation. Why not build wind in the meantime and then take it down once it’s not needed?

    *Actually I quite like the look of a wind farm – the one we have beside Lake George here in Canberra is quite pretty. Does a coal fired or nuclear powered plant look any better?

  28. John D

    TerjeP: On current trends solar PV is going to be by far the cheapest form of power within a few years. Instead of whingeing about the fact that it is not the same as coal effort needs to go into working out how to take advantage of this low cost while learning to live with the generation. In the short term we can increase the % renewables without the need for radical change so lets get on with it instead of looking for excuses to procrastinate?

  29. TerjeP

    Jess – it’s the ones near Lake George I was thinking of when I said ugly. They are a blight on what is otherwise a magnificent landscape.

  30. TerjeP

    If you want to make short term advances whilst minimising cost and keeping open options for the future then we should be building gas fired power stations. They increase the flexibility of the grid such that we might accommodate wind and solar more readily in the future, however they don’t cost an arm and a leg in the interim. If solar and wind are getting cheaper then build gas plants until wind and solar actually are cheap.

    As for thorium I accept that it hasn’t been commercialised even if it is technically proven. We could still build AP1000′s.

    The main point is that there are much smarter options than MRET and renewable grants.

  31. Jess

    Yeah, but gas is a finite resource Terje. There are other problems which crop up besides climate change if you put all your eggs in the hydrocarbon basket.

  32. TerjeP

    Yeah but you raised the issue of short term solutions.

  33. TerjeP

    And wind will never be viable without a load following complement such as gas, hydro or nuclear.

  34. Jess

    Terje: every study I’ve seen on wind intermittency has shown that it’s not a very big problem in a national energy grid, and the degree of backup required is minimal. You might be interested in this article by Mark Diesendorf (from UNSW) on the Drum. In it he says

    For instance, to the challenge of generating all of Australia’s electricity from renewable energy, the deniers and scoffers repeatedly utter the simplistic myth that renewable energy is intermittent and therefore cannot generate base-load (that is, 24-hour) power.

    Detailed computer simulations, backed up with actual experience with wind power overseas, show that the scoffers are wrong. Several countries, including Australia with its huge renewable energy resources, could make the necessary transition to an electricity generation system comprising 100 per cent renewable energy over a few decades.

    I agree that you still need some base load component from hydro or gas, but from memory I think we can increase Australia’s wind energy opponent from its current 0.5% to about 20% before intermittency really becomes a factor. But at the moment things are stagnating thanks to the backwards thinking of the state governments in NSW and Vic.

  35. Jess

    Sorry “Australia’s wind energy opponent” should read “Australia’s wind energy component”. I hate the new autocorrect feature in OSX 10.7.

  36. TerjeP

    Jess – the various things I have read lead me to the conclusion that it is a problem. I studied solar at uni in engineering and I would love for it to be the answer. However I simply don’t believe it. The reading I have done on the topic leads me to believe that renewables don’t make sense as a mainstream source of electricity. I can’t support the likes of MRET and renewable subsidies given that belief.

  37. TerjeP

    p.s. I suppose that makes me backward thinking like the governments in Victoria and NSW.

  38. John Bennetts

    Robert, you just damned Diesendorf with faint praise. I happen to agree with you.

  39. Jess

    Well, you can see the output of SA/VIC/NSW wind farm output for September 2011 here. There are some days when the installed capacity would be enough to meet demand. A broader installation base would improve the intermittency problem.

    And anyway, regardless of how important you think wind can be in terms of future energy generation, my original point is still valid I think: blocking the development of wind farms to pander to the NIMBY vote is shortsighted.

  40. BilB

    Terje @ 38,

    Having a partner who did a short course in “solar energy”, and yourself with the same degree of saturation does give your opinion any weight unless you are to qualify and quantify your solar disbelief.

    Go for it. Share your great understanding with us, or is “look ugly” all that you have?

  41. TerjeP

    BilB – I wasn’t making an argument by authority. I was sharing the fact that I’ve had a long interest in solar and that I would like to believe solar could run our grid. It isn’t meant to convince you that the grid can’t be run on solar. It is intended to convince you that I am genuine in my belief that it can’t be. Or at least can’t be in any practical sense. I wish I was wrong.

  42. TerjeP

    If you want to read some good analysis Barry Brook has a heap on his blog. It is lengthy and in depth. However I had reach my conclusions about solar from many disparate readings before Barry started his blog. Although on nuclear he did change my opinion.

  43. BilB

    Terje, I’ve waded into Barry Brooke’s effort and found it to be largely based on poorly evaluated assesments of Solar Power with no understanding of the innovative potential of dynamic enterprise, on the one hand, and a totally apologistic appraisal for the failures of nuclear energy on the other.

    However, your opinion is just that, and you are entitled to it.

  44. TerjeP

    The only real scope for innovation in solar is in boosting efficiency or lowering cost. That would be great but is unlikely to really change the viability issue. New technology for storing vast sums of energy would help but are nowhere on the radar in any seriously scalable cost effective form. Wishing for innovation is fine but I wouldn’t bank on it. Especially if you think the future of the planet is at stake.

  45. BilB

    Terje,

    This demonstrates the limit of your knowledge and understanding

    “The only real scope for innovation in solar is in boosting efficiency or lowering cost”

    and Barry Brooke’s for that matter. I am not going to enlarge beyond making an equally unexplained statement to your own, other than to say that there are many more dimensions to Solar Energy useage than you are aware of,…from your statement.

    If you want to learn more yourself then wade back through Gizmag several years and you will see quite a few examples of what I am referring to, but not by any means all of them.

  46. TerjeP

    there are many more dimensions to Solar Energy useage than you are aware of

    Perhaps you can name just one.

  47. John Bennetts

    Wade through Gizmag? Gizmag? Whatever for?

    Authoritative, it certainly is not – in fact it doesn’t try to be. Informative? Speculative? Fun? Tantalising? Most or all of these, but not authoritative.

    Gizmag is a bit of fun, a window on the wide variety of new and plausible or just plain way-out gadgetry and gizmos. It is about photos and dreams, not data, costs and results.

    Is somebody honestly suggesting that solar power developers and the corporate decision makers behind them gain their insight from Gizmag?

  48. BilB

    …..unaware of……., Terje, sorry my mistake.

    Not at all, John Bennets. Gizmag is a technology awareness page, and it does a very good job at that. If you do not see anything there to challenge a simplistic understanding of Solar Energy useage then I can only suggest that your understanding is ……simplistic.

  49. John Bennetts

    BilB, are you normally rude and dismissive, or it just this weekend?

    Gizmag is everything I said it is. And no more – no data, few contacts, no follow-up and not really a lot of use. You are familiar with it, I presume?

  50. Lefty E

    “That would be great but is unlikely to really change the viability issue”

    Once again, for every private $1000 spent on aircon we need $2000 from the public for extra infrastruucture to meet growing peak demand. So whats “viable” here? it certainly isnt our current coal-fired setup.

    Its a massive drain on the public, and this is what’s driving electricity price rises. Solar subsidies, by contrast, reduce peak demand.

    The other issue is that manging peak demand would takes $100s of dollars off ordinary people’s annual electricity bill. The coming CO2 price is irrelevant by contrast.

  51. TerjeP

    Left E – solar output peaks at around noon. Residential air-conditioning peaks in summer in the early evening as people return to hot houses. The correlation isn’t that great.

  52. John D

    John Bennetts: I find that Gizmag is a useful window on what is happening in a number of fields including transport, power generation and V8 motor bikes. It gives you a feel for the extent of the development work going on in these fields as well as what is happening with specific ideas. It certainly puts paid to comments re how nothing is happening or, for that matter, that big business is not trying.
    Living without it would be like living without the Doonsbury link.

  53. TerjeP

    BilB – I don’t read Gizmag. So if you want to share one example that would be great.

  54. BilB

    John Bennetts, for dismissivess read your own comments. I find everything in Gizmag that I need to understand the technologies on display. I routinely do further research on articles presented, and regularly contact technologists directly. The main thing that Gizmag achieves is informing of technology announcements. That is all it takes. Reading beyond the articles is simply about asking the right questions, as with most fields of endeavour. Of course it is not the only informative journal, there are many more, but that is the one that I take most notice of for pace of change. But you clearly get from it what you can, and that is good enough for you.

  55. John D

    TerjeP: I get sick of the idea that alternative energy sources have to be used in the same way and the same mindset as we do for coal fired power.
    What you say about solar and airconditioning is true because, with coal fired, waiting until you get home before turning the conditioner on makes sense. By contrast, with cheap solar PV it makes more sense to have the air conditioner on during the day as well as using thermal inertia (tank of cold water or ice?) to keep the house cool during peak demand.

    It would be nice to see people trying to solve problems instead of sitting back and claiming things cant be done.

    Like Lefty E I think it is a scandal that people who can’t afford air conditioning have to subsidize those who can.

  56. TerjeP

    John D – we could use thermal inertia and pre cooling even without solar to avoid peaks. Some commercial building do it by chilling buildings before sunrise so that the load needed when workers arrive is less. Getting rid of peaks in this way makes base load power (eg coal) slightly more valuable and peaking power (gas and hydro) slightly less valuable. Solar brings nothing to the table in this regard.

  57. BilB

    Terje,

    http://www.gizmag.com/ go browse, or use the search field.

    The thing is, if one cannot think of what questions to ask then one is unlikely to understand the answer. And one would then be imprudent in projecting the future for that which one cannot comprehend.

    The answers are all there.

  58. TerjeP

    p.s. I haven’t claimed things can’t be done. I’ve said we can and should look at moving to nuclear power. I don’t know why we have so many nuclear nay sayers.

  59. TerjeP

    BilB – is it so hard to just name one example?

  60. Lefty E

    Here’s fmr Deputy Premier of VIC on these very issues:

    “The good news is that we can do something about it. A combination of energy efficiency, demand management at peak times and cogeneration (locally generated heat and power) could really cut hundreds of dollars off household electricity bills.

    Ergon Energy in Queensland encouraged customers on Magnetic Island to reduce peak load by doing things like not using a washing machine between 4 pm and 8 pm. As a result it has been able to defer expenditure on an additional distribution cable to the island that would otherwise would have cost millions of dollars and put up electricity bills. The CSIRO has estimated that Australia-wide we could save $800 billion in avoided electricity costs over the next forty years through being more intelligent in the way we manage energy.

    The bad news is that despite all the fury about the carbon price we are still doing very little to address the main causes of electricity price rises. If the sort of money going into the anti-carbon price ads were being spent on informing householders and businesses how to cut peak energy use and be more energy efficient, we would all have lower electricity bills and be better off. ”

    Just remember – the public is subsidising private ‘business as usual’ to the hilt in expensive (and in many cases, actually unnecessary) infrastructure. Im quite open-minded about criticisms of public subsidies of private solar – but other users need to stop pretending they arent passing along costs. Your new aircon is subsidised by everyone else, at 2-1. I think the govts should look at requiring new aircon installations to hook up PV.

    http://www.melbournereview.com.au/read/70/

  61. John Bennetts

    John D, I have for a while now been happy to receive Gizmag’s newsletters and stories of superbikes, funny cars and new gadgets. It’s good for a bit of light relief, a bit of a giggle, occasionally a flash of brilliance, but it’s not a research tool.

    I have a bit of a background in solar thermal and I really don’t want to underestimate solar, wind, geothermal and all the rest, but at present it is too little, too late and too expensive for mine – we need to step up somewhere to get on top of the climate issues and the peak fossil issues.

    Otherwise, we and our dreams and inadequate plans face an energy-poor and transport-poor future.

    This thread started with a pointer to CCS problems – it probably won’t be more than a sideshow until well after the window of climate opportunity closes on our kids’ futures. Climate change issues have dominated my life for a couple of years now. We really need solutions and we need to hold the blowtorch of cold, hard reasoning to the bellies of fuzzy thinkers and of climate warming deniers. I’m not enthused by sideshows and failures. I’m pessimistic. This issue is too serious for for anyone to hold Gizmag, nice though it is, up as a beacon of hope.

    It’s a pity about geothermal – ten years back, I really thought that it would be huge by now, a real game changer.

  62. John Bennetts

    LeftyE:
    John Thwaites is 100% correct about peak energy consumption, but don’t lose sight of total energy requirements either. It’s realistic to envisage pressure for higher overall electricity consumption via tram, rail and population growth, electric cars and more.

    Solar and wind, despite huge efforts, still accounts for only 1 or 2 percent of Australia’s energy demand.

    There are only 10 or 20 years’ worth of natural gas left in SE Australia. Coal seam methane is copping a lot of well-deserved flak at present.

    Perhaps winter room heating in the southern states will end up switching to electricity at the same time that coal, especially brown coal, finally exits the picture.

    Is there a believable plan for 10 or 100 times the present capacity of solar and wind out there somewhere? If so, why have we not herad of it? Is it really reasonable to have as our only option a variant of Melbourne Uni’s very much criticised zero carbon energy plan for 2020, when there is no real sign of it happening either by 2020 or ever?

    Our politicians deserve a great big kick in the behind for playing politics during the past couple of years, when they should have been very much more serious about climate change and our energy future, yet still the federal political scene is dismal and uninspiring.

    Perhaps Julia and Tony need to take time daily to read Gizmag, but I think that it will take much more than that.

  63. TerjeP

    The Liberals have said they will look at nuclear when Labor stops using it as a wedge. I vote LDP which is open to nuclear. I don’t see much improvement on the policy front happening unless Labor changes tack or disappears into oblivion.

  64. John D

    TerjeP @59: When you ask what solar PV brings to the table there are a number of answers:
    1. Current trends are all saying that solar PV power is going to be the cheapest power within a few years.
    2. It has much lower emissions compared with coal and gas.
    3. It will be a long time before nuclear might make a contribution to Aus power production. Solar PV is here now.
    4. Solar power produces power during periods of high demand.

    I have no particular obsession with solar PV but I do think that it has to be taken very seriously. I also think that we get better answers when we pose questions like “what would we do if solar PV had to be 100% of our power supply?” and “what would we do if we weren’t allowed to increase HV grid capacity” If we start by asking “how much solar can the system handle?” there is less pressure to solve problems.

  65. John D

    John Bennet: One I particularly liked from Gizmag was Sideways on a tilting 4 wheeler. It started me thinking about narrow track vehicles and the potential for these “safe motor bikes” to reduce both congestion and emissions.

  66. TerjeP

    Current trends are all saying that solar PV power is going to be the cheapest power within a few years.

    Good. So we can abolish the subsidies and schemes like MRET, be patient for a few years, and we will not only save a stack of money but industry will adopt solar purely on the basis of saving a buck. The policy implications are much the same either way.

  67. TerjeP

    It will be a long time before nuclear might make a contribution to Aus power production.

    Especially so if we continue to ban it. We should be getting on with regulatory reform sooner rather than later.

  68. John Bennetts

    @ John D (67):
    Take another look at the graph copied from the CCS report.

    Solar, both PV and Thermal, are the most expensive technologies for avoiding CO2 emissions. At about 2.5 times the cost of CCS(coal) and six times the cost of nuclear for the same job, any suggestion that “Current trends are all saying that solar PV power is going to be the cheapest power within a few years” are fantasy. What makes you sure that the world’s climate can wait till the cost of SPV is reduced by a factor of 6?

  69. jusme

    the push for renewables hasn’t been around long, but mike rann took SA to 20% renewables (might be more now) fast! it’s a pity he’s got to go, being about the only non-green with a vision. imo. but getting to 20% in no time shows me it’s all about political guts.
    barry o farrel is buying electricity back now for only 6c a unit. i’m surprised people still go for it, but 2 people at work have recently, and in the 2 yrs since i got my own pv’s, the cost has halved.
    not sure how much more it will or can go down, but i imagine 1.5kw systems selling for about $3,000 in another 2yrs.
    as for CCS, it’s always seemed like throwing good money after bad to me, especially since the plan is to close down as many coal fired power stations as practical.

  70. sg

    Terjep, at 69 and 70 you show the hilarity of the libertarian approach to “problem solving.” You advocate eliminating subsidies you don’t like at 69, then at 70 you suggest we should “get on” with introducing the most heavily subsidized of all the generation methods.

    And if you’re serious about greenhouse gas mitigation – doubtful, i know, but if you are – then you really have to give up on nuclear. Whether you’re as sanguine about its health effects as we are, or think it’s straight from hell (as akn does), realistically there’s no chance of getting it up and running here within 10 or 20 years, even if the LDP took power and (as they would love to do) rode roughshod over people’s property rights to ram it through. Nuclear is a NIMBY lawyer’s wet dream, and rightly so – look at what’s happening in Fukushima now and ask yourself how many court cases would have to be resolved here before a safe and fair location for a nuclear plant were chosen.

    By the time the first nuclear plant were to be built in Australia solar power would have achieved price parity with gas, and would still need less subsidies than your much-vaunted solution. Why bother? And why waste a valuable export commodity like uranium on a domestic nuclear program when we have an abundance of sun?

    That, of course, is without considering the problem of introducing more electricity generation (or even maintaining existing capacity) that depends on a readily available supply of vast quantities of water. Not sensible at all in a warming future.

  71. BilB

    John Bennetts @ 71,

    I think that you have been spending too much time at the Barry Brooke’s site where one endorsed commentator claimed that 1 gig of solar PV baseload could cost 4 trillion dollars in Australia. All of the figures that I have seen coming from that quarter are horrendously optimistic for nuclear and horrendously pessimistic for solar, not to mention simplistic in understanding for solar. ie biased beyond belief. But then you believe it.

    Solar PV in Australia can in fact match nuclear for cost of infrastructure (not that the cost of Nuclear infrastructure in Australia is anything other than speculative) in its more advanced forms, and more significantly require as little as half of the physical materials for the same delivered energy output. Of course the time of energy delivery fluctuates to some degree, but that is managed in various ways.

  72. BilB

    Terje @ 70,

    The notion of a nuclear industry for Australia operated under Libertarian principles of minimum intervention, market driven minimum cost, and industry self regulation, is an unimaginably scary thought. And if there were even the vaguest possibility for such a government to “get up” then that would be sufficient reason to lock out Nuclear power at the constitutional level.

  73. Fran Barlow

    SG said of nuclear power in Australia:

    realistically there’s no chance of getting it up and running here within 10 or 20 years, even if the LDP took power and (as they would love to do) rode roughshod over people’s property rights to ram it through.

    This objection is, IMO, the strongest objection to nuclea advocacy here. Whatever the force of the objections to nuclear power on technical, cost or environmental grounds — and plainly I regard these as unpersuasive –there’s no getting around the NIMBY factor in a hurry. FUD clings to nuclear in this country as any barnacle to the hull of a ship. Tring to unpick such a complex matter and explain it makes explaining an emissions trading scheme and enthusing folk about it look a simple matter. Doing so in the wake of Fukushima, simply piles on the difficulty. Plainly, a serious schedule feasibility question arises. If we can’t start nuclear power very soon here, then plainly, at the very least, something else will be required to fill the gap created by escalating demand and the need to retire ageing fossil HC plant, without even considering the need to remove fossil HC from the Australian power system.

    It seems to me beyond serious objection that given the above, the least worst medium term option for the stationary grid is likely in practice to be gas. We ought to focus on “no new coal plants” as a first objective because once established, we are going to be stuck with them for probably 40 years.

    Simultaneously with that though, we do need a truly independent scientific and economic body to consistentlly review all of the technical and energy questions associated with all of the options for the power system in Australia, including nuclear power. I’d like to see annual reports with quarterly updates on specific questions — geothermal, solar thermal, PV, wind, storage and transmission issues, the various advanced reactors and so forth. Perhaps after a decade of reviews we would have a public that had access to enough information on the matter to look at what was then available without angst or tribal attachment.

  74. Salient Green

    John Bennets @ 71, the cost trends for solar PV are as John D states.
    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/03/16/smaller-cheaper-faster-does-moores-law-apply-to-solar-cells/

    Google ‘solar pv cost trends’ for a plethora of supporting info for a rapidly dropping cost per watt. The cost of generating power with fossil fuels will simultaneously rise rapidly due to removal of subsidies, carbon taxing, rising demand and depletion.

    In regards to your earlier comment about energy poverty, you may be assuming wrongly that we will continue to be a growth economy which is using energy and resources unsustainably. This cannot continue for very much longer and we will transition to a much lower consuming Steady State economy, one way or another.

  75. BilB

    Nicely complete comment Salient Green.

  76. Fran Barlow

    I probably should have added that uranium is not in the grand scheme of things, “a valuable export commodity”. At the moment, it’s pretty cheap, which makes it a minor line item in Australian exports. Another potential source of nuclear fuel of which there is an abundance in this country — thorium — is worth even less, and is AIUI, simply treated as a waste by-product of rare earth mining.

    It makes more sense on economic nationalist grounds to say that consuming domestic coal or gas is wasting “a valuable export commodity” since supplies of these are worth a good deal more money and likely to deplete far more quickly than either uranium or thorium. If one were a short term economic nationalist, it would make more sense to use nuclear power here and encourage everyone else to use Australian coal. Local emissions would plummet (valuable in a trading setting in which carbon credits were available) and Australia would be selling its fossil HC assets in even larger quantity.

  77. TerjeP

    The notion of a nuclear industry for Australia operated under Libertarian principles of minimum intervention, market driven minimum cost, and industry self regulation, is an unimaginably scary thought.

    Regulation needs to be fit for purpose. The LDP is moderate libertarian not puritan. For example it supports same sex marriage whilst the more pure libertarian position is to have no government involvement in marriage at all. In terms of electric power the position of the LDP is to have regulation that offers a level playing field. That would mean that regulation to protect life in the nuclear sector should not place a higher premium on the value of life than regulation in the wind sector. That nuclear pollution from the nuclear sector should not be more onerous than for the coal sector. The way to achieve this sort of outcome would in my opinion be to have some method for industry players to refer any bias in regulation to the productivity commission for review and for government to revise on advise.

  78. TerjeP

    Advice.

  79. TerjeP

    Terjep, at 69 and 70 you show the hilarity of the libertarian approach to “problem solving.” You advocate eliminating subsidies you don’t like at 69, then at 70 you suggest we should “get on” with introducing the most heavily subsidized of all the generation methods.

    Nuclear power is not heavily subsidised. I know that is contested but the reality is that the subsidy is tiny.

    I have suggested we get on with reforming the regulation of nuclear power. It does not follow automatically that nuclear plants will be built. That is a commercial decisions. Personally my feeling is that the current crop of nuclear plants on offer tend to be a bit pricey. Nowhere near as bad as wind and solar but probably more expensive still than gas and coal.

  80. BilB

    Terje 80,

    In other words “the industry setting the rules”. This worked really well for the deep off shore oil industry.

  81. Fran Barlow

    TerjeP said:

    That would mean that regulation to protect life in the nuclear sector should not place a higher premium on the value of life than regulation in the wind sector. That nuclear pollution from the nuclear sector should not be more onerous than for the coal sector.

    This is simply a new iteration of Peter Lang’s position over at BNC and is either confused or wrong and has been repeatedly refuted over there by those who know.

    The premium on the value of life for the coal and gas sector is far too low. Putting nuclear on a par with them would radically reduce the standard for no cost saving at all. Nuclear power is probably about 100 times as safe as coal, on a morbidity per delivered unit of output basis. What should happen is that coal and gas and oil should be forced to put the same premium on life as the nuclear power sector. Were that to occur fully, the costs of both would rise very sharply. In a sense, pricing emissions is the first tepid step along that road.

    Of course, coal and oil are very powerful interests, so the short term prospect of that happening is tiny.

  82. BilB

    “the current crop of nuclear plants on offer tend to be a bit pricey”

    So you recommend shopping around to find a nice cheap Nuclear reactor, do you, Terje?

  83. TerjeP

    The premium on the value of life for the coal and gas sector is far too low. Putting nuclear on a par with them would radically reduce the standard for no cost saving at all. Nuclear power is probably about 100 times as safe as coal, on a morbidity per delivered unit of output basis. What should happen is that coal and gas and oil should be forced to put the same premium on life as the nuclear power sector.

    There is nothing in what I said that contradicts your position. Leveling the regulatory playing field may mean both tightening and loosening of regulation. Although obviously to be consistent with other sectors of society there is going to be an upper limit on the value of life that you regulate to. If a given technology gets a result superior to that benchmark by virtue of it’s nature then that is simply a bonus.

  84. Lefty E

    “Good. So we can abolish the subsidies and schemes like MRET, be patient for a few years, and we will not only save a stack of money but industry will adopt solar purely on the basis of saving a buck.”

    Im fine with that – provided the $9B in subsidies to non-renewable energy also go.

    If not: of course we should subsidise the energy forms that arent going to destroy our environment. The case is self-evident.

  85. TerjeP

    Im fine with that – provided the $9B in subsidies to non-renewable energy also go.

    The only serious subsidy I have seen detailed relates to fuel tax in mining. Most of which is for export. And in so far as the fuel tax is for road maintenance that isn’t impacted by farmers and miners the exemption isn’t unreasonable.

  86. John Bennetts

    @ Salient Green @77:

    Salient perhaps misses several small matters.
    1. Moore’s Law is not a law at all. It’s a talking point.
    2. SPV panel components may have decreased in cost markedly but over 60% of the cost of a PV installation, including support fames, inverter, connection to household wiring and so forth which shows no such trend.
    3. To use Google to find spruikers’ prices is not anywhere near as reliable a source as to use government’s own researched figures – as shown in the lead article of this thread. PV today costs a multiple of the cost of competing sources and, while trending downwards, which is welcome, is nowhere close to parity with anything else, despite the hype.

    I wish that this was not so, but it is. Those who choose to believe that PV has miraculously closed the price gap with competing technologies choose to live in a dream world. They are obstructing others’ vision of what lies ahead, energy-wise and are thus part of the climate change problem.

    Perhaps we will learn to live on a quarter of the per capita electrical energy we currently consume in our Auatralian homes. What about the other 60% of electricity – industry and commerce? California is travelling a path of reducing per capita consumption, but at the cost of having the highest electricity prices in mainland USA. Industry is departing. Californians are progressively consuming their energy pre-packed in products manufactured elsewhere in USA or overseas, yet this State is held up by some as a poster for the future.

    The sad truth is that even if Australians can and should reduce their percapita consumption, two thirds of the world’s population who have legitimate entitlement to energy to support basic necessities of life – light, water supply, sewerage systems and cooking, at present are forced to do without or to burn trees and dung, with negative effects on both their own life expectancy and the health of the world’s climate. Where are these people going to obtain their power? If they are not included in your plans, then your plans are inadequate.

    Is global population growth seen as being the problem? Good, I agree. However, the only demonstrated ways to reduce population are (1) war (2) famine (Easter Island, anybody?) and (3) secure standard of living. Consider, for example, Japan, Germany and England, where ZPG has been achieved primarily because these populations live in a stable, well-housed and well-fed, secure societies. Access to energy supplies is an essential prerequisite for achieving Zero or declining PG, so it is in Australia’s interests to consider doing what it can to achieve secure energy suppies (and other securities, such as food, peace, clean water, medical and social services) on a global scale, not just at home.

    I repeat… my problem with SPV is not personal – it is because at current costs, trends and availability, it will not bridge the world’s energy gap, post fossil fuels. This is not a faith-based conclusion, it is based on simple, researched, discoverable, statistically supported facts. Contrary opinion is, as evidenced by the shallowness of the argument on this thread, is too often based on Google searches, suppliers’ spin, vague hopes and Gizmag-style dreams.

    There is nothing wrong with dreams, per se. This discussion has demonstrated the difference between reality and dreams. Despite the fact that we all tend to seek similar objectives, which include adequate electricity in a low carbon society and world, even if that involves a cost penalty wrt business as usual. Nobody has come here arguing that decarbonising is either not needed or that it should only be achieved if there is no cost attached to this objective.

    Only one small group, the solar PV enthusiasts, have come here with absolutely closed minds, determined to drive their “solution” to the exclusion of all others.

    PV will not and can not, via any known pathway, achieve the low carbon objective within the time available, within the constraints of:
    1. the real world (eg rare earth minerals necessary for panel and battery construction),
    2. construction timeline, or
    3. cost.

    Success will come from some other direction(s). Otherwise, expect contemplate failure. A cooked climate isn’t pretty.

  87. Fran Barlow

    LeftyE said:

    Im fine with that – provided the $9B in subsidies to non-renewable energy also go.

    I’m not sure that this is the correct figure but I agree that anything that privileges fossil HC fuels should be removed. Thus, all of the diesel fuel rebate would go. So too would subsidies to get LPG conversions. All excise on fuels and sales tax could be removed, and instead vehicles would be charged for their usage of significant roads and part of that metric would be their emissions — not just CO2 but everything else too. We would even count, where relevant, the proportionate cost of maintaining military forces in places where the fuel has harvested or in readiness to intervene. Oil spills? Absolutely. The cost of remediation comes in. Morbidity through civil war in places like Nigeria? That too. It’s only fair.

    Coal and gas would be charged on all of their lifecycle emissions, and not just of CO2 but everything else as well. Lost quality life years would be counted in the metric, so emissions of mercury, harm to coal miners from black lung, damage to property — the whole box and dice would be charged.

    And the same for renewables and everything else we use. Let us have a level playing field.

  88. Chris

    PV today costs a multiple of the cost of competing sources and, while trending downwards, which is welcome, is nowhere close to parity with anything else, despite the hype.

    If you compare the end user cost of solar PV to coal fired power at the moment in many Australian states then solar PV is on about parity or cheaper than coal fired power. This is relevant because unlike many other power sources you can generate it directly at the home and avoid the overhead of transmission costs.

    So for reducing peak demand solar PV is relevant – though the peak solar production is not as well matched against peak power consumption as some would suggest. Could probably move the peak power consumption times backwards a bit too with a bit of tech (eg start a/c systems earlier in the day but run them at lower power usage).

    Lefty E – could introduce dynamic electricity pricing for residential customers. That would get people motivated to move as much of their power usage to non peak periods.

  89. Savvy

    @Fran
    “I’m not sure that this is the correct figure but I agree that anything that privileges fossil HC fuels should be removed.”

    I reckon there should be a one car per family law.
    If you want more than one car then you should be forced to buy a green car as your second.

    Tell me Fran how many cars do you have and are any of them green cars.

    If not , why not?

  90. sg

    TerjeP, this website lists a full range of subsidies available to fossil fuel industries in Australia, though it’s based on a 2003 report and maybe is outdated. These subsidies don’t include the issue that Fran was addressing of different safety standards for coal.

    If we tried to set up nuclear it would need additional subsidies – it’s famous for how heavily subsidized it is. If you really want a low subsidy long-term energy policy, your best bet is to retain the MRET until solar, wind and hot rocks achieve market competitiveness with gas, then phase it out, while slowly leveling the safety and environmental standards on coal to the same level as we might expect of nuclear.

    I doubt that a free market in energy will ever develop – it’s too important to leave to market failure. But in a warming world and with the Australian environment becoming increasingly fragile, the big systems that use lots of water or have lots of particulate and thermal pollution problems are going to have to clean up or phase out. There’s no way around it.

  91. John D

    Chris: I see comments from time to time that say that the solar PV profile could be improved by facing some panels to maximize generation late in the day. (Ditto for facing east for the morning sun.) Won’t happen while it is all driven by a feed in tariff that takes no account of time of day. We need to either change the tariff during the day or simply pay people for installed power while specifying whose panels face where.
    Might also help if more solar PV was being driven by roof-top leasing rather than householder ownership.

  92. John Bennetts

    Chris (91):

    How about a link to stats that support your affirmation that “the end user cost of solar PV to coal fired power at the moment in many Australian states… is on about parity or cheaper than coal fired power”?

    If there is any truth at all in it, then please return here with a link to your dissertation demonstrating that the Glabal CCS Institute has this terribly wrong.

    Otherwise, what I said at #89 above, re dreaming, stands.

  93. TerjeP

    SG – there is not much detail at that site. Previous such reports I have seen end up being discredited once scrutiny to the detail is applied. However in so far as there are real subsidies I agree they should be abolished. I just don’t think there are many.

  94. jusme

    my problems with nuclear are 3 fold.
    1. current technologies use a pitifully small amount of the ‘fuel’. 3%?
    2. even the safest plant in the middle of a desert is vulnerable to a determined psychotic human.
    3. even in the middle of a desert a strong wind carries particles FAR!
    about a year ago the dust storms starting in central aus ended up in new zealand.

    nuclear is not worth it and not necessary when we have renewables. they already generate 20% of SA’s power. how hard was that?

  95. sg

    TerjeP – there was a source at the bottom that goes to a detailed report by the Institute for Sustainable Futures. You could try there if you want to discredit the detail. Probably not worthwhile though – it’s a 2003 source. This subsidy information is always very carefully buried in govt information, I suspect.

  96. alfred venison

    dear editor
    my two bits worth:-
    (1) there will not be nuclear power without a concomitant increase in the size of the paranoid security state. for this reason anarchists oppose nuclear energy. also, i read ziggy’s report (didn’t everyone?), back in ’07, the one howard commissioned before the election & he’s clear there won’t be nuclear power until a “carbon tax” puts the price of coal power way up in order to make nuclear power competitive against coal power – he said as much to kochie & mel, and other morning shows, too – he did the circuit. so, hands up those nuclear proponents who support the “carbon tax”.

    (2) i reckon the biggest reason solar power is opposed, by the powers that be, is because of the potential it has to decentralise things, things that they want to keep centralised & close to themselves. alternatives will come on line when they don’t threaten present patterns of investment. i believe postponement is more about protecting investors returns from existing sources than about things technological. if solar (including feed-in tariffs) would make the present investors in existing sources rich we’d have by now.
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison

  97. Chris

    John @ 94 – was widely reported a couple of months ago. Here’s one news report

    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/energy-smart/solar-energy-cost-hits-par-with-coal-fuel-20110817-1iybc.html

    Note the comparison is between end point coal fired power versus home solar – so NOT a wholesale price comparison. I’d assume that the global CCS institute is comparing wholesale prices which are very different.

    I live in Adelaide, have a 4kWh system and even without taking into account the FiT, with a retail electricity price of 30-35c/kWh its about thes ame as the cost of my solar PV system electricity. Cost of solar PV system includes interest costs for the up front capital cost of solar PV plus paying back of the capital within its lifetime.

  98. Ootz

    Please add the following points to jusme’s list @96

    What kind of water tight assurances can we get from the nuclear industry and regulating bodies in terms of, that the kind of systemic failure including regulatory, will not be occurring in future as it happened in Fukushima. Including security failures as in regards to the leakage of nuclear material and technology into illegitimate hands and or nations.

    Further and this is the really big smelly poo that no one wants to touch or talk. How come we are still storing radioactive byproducts in temporary holdings. What about all that mox stuff in, what was it in reactor 3 or/and 4, in fukushima stored on top! of the reactor! I am sure all of you are familiar with T½ and the LD50 of Pu. Until it can be demonstrated by all stakeholders that these materials can be stored in a reasonable and agreeable manner in the long term, no new nuclear energy developments should be undertaken by anyone. It would be the responsible thing to do. Otherwise we are just rubbing another one of those Aladdin lamps and worry about how to get the genie back into the bottle after the event! Until this Pu is buried and dusted the nuclear energy solution has no credibility.

    Finally, how about becoming world leaders or champions in energy efficiency rather than winning another rugby cup or whatever. Has it really all boiled down to the old ‘panem et circensis’? Are we that stupid, please someone assure me not.

    Any political party that acknowledges that there are systemic limitations on growth, or if you want, there is a finite capacity for this planet, and accordingly develops sustainable policies, will have my vote.

  99. Chris

    John @ 93 – I think the primary impediment with moving the panels to face the sun is the increase in cost to motorise the system. Its more common to see such features on PV systems which are on the ground rather than on a roof.

    Feed in tarrifs are already gone or in the process of being removed in most states so they don’t have much of an influence on new installs anymore. Home solar PV is getting so cheap I think they should start ramping down (NOT removing in one go as that really hurts businesses) the federal goverment rebate for PV panels too.

    btw I know that some people who are in the process of setting up community funded solar PV systems to take advantage of the FiT for medium sized solar PV generation. It may well be cost effective for them to motorise their systems for sun tracking.

    I suspect you wouldn’t need to have a variable FiT either really to encourage them to do so – just allow them the option to sell their power on the open market. They’d make a killing during the summer heatwaves when the spot price skyrockets.

  100. alfred venison

    dear Chris
    “just allow them the option to sell their power on the open market.”

    i’d love to see that: financial incentives for people to do the right thing while profiting from it. cutting back what they take from the grid & adding any of their surplus back to the grid & reducing peak demand by alternative sourcing & efficiencies. but, that’s precisely what i reckon the masters don’t want: neighbourhood/street collectives, apartment block collectives, schools, even (shudder) factory/workplace syndicates making their own juice & profitably, and in a position to sell it back to the very people who used to hold it over them. yes, i’d like to see that.

    hah! power to the people?
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison

  101. John Bennetts

    Chris @ 99:

    Anybody receiving a FiT of 30 or 35 cents per kWh, while still connected to the grid, not needing to provide his own battery backup or suffer the consequences of a setting sun or a rainy day and receiving (and expecting) reliability of supply is certainly not an example of parity pricing. Clearly, the grid is providing power for you 75% of the time, when your panels are not producing.

    The NEM grid average price for 2010 was between 4 and 5 cents. Even my home tariff is much less than your FiT of 35 cents.

    Apples to apples comparisons are wholesale to wholesale. When you shop for apples, do you expect to pay a farm gate price applying perhaps thousands of km’s away, or the price offered locally, by Coles which includes storage, transport and marketing?

    Good luck to you regarding your 4kW system. It is a great investment, but at 35 cents per kWh, it isn’t cheap power. While you are adjusting the apples to apples electricity comparison, please also remember to account for the price effect of RET’s and commonwealth capital subsidies, both of which also flow from us to you.

    Like I said, PV is for some a great investment. Pity about the renters, the unit dwellers, the cash-strapped, the uninformed and the slow who were unable to take a seat on your gravy train, for it is they who fund your windfall, not any particular efficiency attributable to either photovoltaics or recent reductions in price of photovoltaic components.

    Show ponies are no use as drafthorses.

  102. John Bennetts

    @ Chris #101:
    An alternative to motorised PV panels, in order to catch morning and afternoon sun, is for portion of these (reportedly now very cheap) panels to be permanently orientated east and west a little.

    This increases the power available either side of the daily peak and may not even require an inverter upgrade.

  103. Chris

    John Bennetts @ 103 – I think you’ve misunderstood some bits. The FiT in SA is not 35c (its actually about 44-52c net here in SA depending on your electricity provider). 30-35c is the ordinary retail price of electricity in SA now. Yes, its really that high now – see here http://www.agl.com.au/Downloads/SA%20Elec%20Gazette%20-%20Aug11.pdf

    Apples to apples comparisons are wholesale to wholesale. When you shop for apples, do you expect to pay a farm gate price applying perhaps thousands of km’s away, or the price offered locally, by Coles which includes storage, transport and marketing?

    Well in the case of solar PV, the farm is on top of my roof :-) Perhaps its like comparing the cost of home grown vegetables and fruit versus Coles bought ones.

    Yes the comparison between coal and solar pv is skewed because the household gets to use grid power when the solar panels are not generating enough power. *Some* of that infrastructure cost is incorporated into the “connected to the grid” fee though. However in terms of the people living in the house there’s now an incentive to install solar PV. Another 20% electricity price rise which is likely over the next couple of years and its a no-brainer.

    I’d agree renters are at a big disadvantage. Many unit homeowners could still do it – just need to convince their strata corp. Or alternatively group together with other people and rent some land or roof space and install solar PV there.

  104. Chris

    John @ 104 – some people do that already because they lack north facing roof space. But you sacrifice a significant amount of generation time to do so and you need a significant financial incentive to do so. Probably better off storing the power. And it doesn’t have to be traditional storage either – I think it was in the US they managed to shift a useful amount of peak power demand by increasing refrigeration at night meaning less was required during the day.

  105. John Bennetts

    Chris @106:

    Yep, that sounds like a great idea. Let’s all run our solar powered fridges at night to move load off peak.

    Yes, I know… that’s not what you really mean.

    Demand management, load shifting, efficiency gains, they all have a part to play to manage variability and peaks. Still, the energy content of the work must come from somewhere. At present, that is the mains system, typically fossil fuelled plus hydro peaking, to which an average of a couple of percent comes from renewables in Eastern Australia.

    I really wanted solar to meet this challenge. Ditto, geothermal. I was never a fan of wind, because of the visual impact and the number of moving parts involved a hundred metres or more in the air. It is a planner’s and engineer’s nightmare.

    If solar was even close to the mark, I wouldn’t be so pessimistic about it, but at this stage it represents a mammoth cost for not much result, where the world’s climate needs rapid and widespread results.

    People don’t want to consider nuclear, for a raft of reasons, but dispassionate analysis indicates that after 50 years, terrorists have not used nuclear fuel – there is a sound engineering reason for this: it’s too hot. They would die first.

    Why store old fuel close to the plant? Again, there’s a reason. One month after coming out of service, the fuel is lower than 100C, but still radioactive. As time goes by, the most rapidly reacting elements rapidly grow much less radioactive. Iodine 131, for instance, with a half-life of 8 days, has only one billionth of its initial radioactivity after 240 days.

    Other anti-nuclear issues may be analysed dispassionately, but the major impediment to nuclear power is likely to remain its lack of public acceptance, which is unlikely to change any time soon.

    After a couple of years, the spent fuel can be transferred to concrete-encased stainless steel storage casks for on-site storage.

    This is in no way an excuse for storing spent fuels for decades in elevated ponds, such as at Fushukima, but it does demonstrate that safety is enhanced if such products are stored before handling.

    So, what’s it to be, then?

    The power stations I used to work at generated between them about 30 GWh per annum and burned about 14 million tonnes of coal, releasing about 35 million tonnes of CO2 annually. That is the energy equivalent of 3.5 million 4kW rooftop solar systems, yet is still only 2 of Australia’s many power stations. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but 30GWh is about one tenth of Australia’s annual electricity consumption and that is before we increase electric transport.

    The options are pretty stark. We face one of three futures:
    1. More of the same, plus climate collapse.
    2. Renewables, efficiency and demand management, which cannot conceivably avoid prolonged and widespread blackouts. That’s 200,000 square kilometres of PV panels plus a shirtload of non-existant hydro or battery storage, for Australia alone.
    3. Something more – perhaps nuclear, perhaps geothermal, perhaps CCS. None of these is both popular and available, let alone probable.

    Something must give, because Option 1 is clearly a disaster and Option 2 is unattainable, especially not if constructed 20 square metres at a time, roof by roof and paddock by paddock across the land.

  106. TerjeP

    Jusme/Oozt – Fukushima demonstrated that it is vastly safer to build a nuclear reactor near the Japanese coast than to build a railway line near the Japanese coast. Nobody has died due to radiation from Fukushima and the prospect of anybody doing so remains quite remote.

    Answering the specific points:-

    1) low efficiency of fuel use. This is true. Your figure of 3% actually seems a bit too generous. However the fuel that isn’t used up and is currently classified as “waste” is fully available for exploitation in next generation reactors. In any case efficiency isn’t really the right metric anyway.

    2) safety from psychopath. You can crash a Jet into a nuclear containment building and not damage the reactor. Likewise a psychopath can crash a jet into an office building and kill thousands. Maybe we should ban office buildings.

    3) wind can carry dust. Yes this is true. And most dust from the desert is already slightly radioactive. The nuclear leakage from a nuclear power plant under normal conditions is minimal. Under a meltdown scenario with a rupture in the containment building there is a need for a sizable exclusion zone but distance equals dilution. Radiation is quite natural and a minuscule increase due to human activity isn’t necessarily anything to write home about. In any case leaks of a sizable nature are extremely rare.

    4) is regulation fool proof. Probably not. We have several incidents to show it isn’t (Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima). It is best to engineer safety rather than achieve it administratively. Newer reactors are better than older reactors in this regard. However even the worst accident, Chernobyl, which was in a large part due to a low safety design, most likely resulted in a kill rate per unit of energy well below the average coal plant. Figures and discussion in link below.

    http://blog.libertarian.org.au/2010/05/22/safety-and-electricity-production/

    Incidentally there are still reactors of the Chernobyl design still in operation. Ideally should be replaced with newer reactors.

  107. sg

    It is best to engineer safety rather than achieve it administratively

    you do realize how silly this dichotomy is, right, TerjeP? Nobody engineers safety unless they’re forced to. i.e. you use your administration to force companies to use engineered designs. Fukushima is a classic example of this: had the administration paid attention, Fukushima would have survived the tsunami. But they were in the pockets of TEPCO, which is likely what will happen to any administration attempting to manage safety in an Australian nuclear industry that is massively subsidized and run by very large and powerful companies.

    Imagine Macquarie Infrastructure Group being given access to a domestic nuclear power market. It’s madness.

    Around the coastal suburbs of ishinomaki there are stone markers that say “a tsunami happened here in 1920. Please do not build homes here” (I have seen photos my partner took of them). Just behind them are the homes the tsunami demolished. Do you think they could have been “engineered” to safety against 30m waves?

  108. jusme

    thanks terje,

    1. fair enuff, fully accept that, storing for later use.

    2. when u say u “can” crash a jumbo into a nuclear plant without it blowing up, is that the most likely result? or is meltdown still a possibility? i understand the thorium reactors work the other way and require a constant beam or they will stop working, like a dead man’s brake in a train. i’m all for more development in that direction. maybe by the time electric vehicles are everywhere, these next gen reactors will be g2g, and australians more easily convinced.

    3&4. fair enuff, ‘background radiation’ exists everywhere anyway (but not in the amounts given off by a nuclear accident) and no-one has died a horrible skin blistering death because of fukushima, but at what cost? emergency evacuations, a 30km radius exlusion zone virtually forever and all that that entails.

    how about this: full steam ahead with nuclear r&d (fusion looks promising too) AND immediate implementation of renewables. i suspect thorium or better will be foolproofed within 5-10 yrs. by that time electric cars will be everywhere and we’ll need more power. the debate will continue but i think things will fall into place naturally :)

    well. dependant on political vision at the time.

  109. alfred venison

    dear John Bennetts
    “dispassionate analysis indicates that after 50 years, terrorists have not used nuclear fuel – there is a sound engineering reason for this: it’s too hot. They would die first.”

    respectfully, that’s naive. terrorists don’t need to steal nuclear fuel & take it away to make a bomb. they only need to hijack the plant, hold it hostage & threaten to cause a meltdown until their demands are met. do you really think nuclear reactor security as presently constituted would be enough to hold off a determined assault by a dozen or two men & women prepared to die for their cause? i don’t.

    my dispassionate analysis indicates we’ve been lucky so far only.
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison

  110. Fran Barlow

    John Bennets said:

    30GWh is about one tenth of Australia’s annual electricity consumption

    I thought the first was a typo but as you’ve quoted the figure twice … This is clearly wrong. Australia has about 45GW of installed capacity, IIRC so 10% of installed capacity would be about 4.5GW.

    4.5GW * 8760 hours in a year * whatever the CF is (let’s say it’s 80% but I’m pulling numbers out of the air here) is 31.536tWhe (or if you like 31,536gWhe.

  111. TerjeP

    Jusme – anything is possible the question is whether it is probable. Some footage of a jet hitting a containment building segment for amusement:-

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fC_RQLqbZGo

    The liquid fuel thorium reactor (LFTR) can’t melt down because the fuel is already in the liquid phase. It’s big safety feature is that it operates at normal pressure not 100 times normal pressure. If the coolant mix escapes through a leak it oozes and turns solid rather than flashing to steam and expanding 1000 fold. It has a negative thermal coefficient so as the coolant / fuel solution expands under the influence of temperature the reaction slows. And if it looses power then a drain plug at the bottom of the reactor which is usually kept solid by a blower will melt and the reactor will drain out to a stable non reactive configuration. There is no “beam” to speak of.

    Alfred – thaking a nuclear plant hostage seems like a difficult way to threaten society. A couple of fertilizer bombs on a ute or some poison in the water supply seem like a more straight forward scenario.

  112. TerjeP

    you do realize how silly this dichotomy is, right, TerjeP? Nobody engineers safety unless they’re forced to.

    People put handrails on a stair case rather than conducting training for users of staircases because the engineered safety of a handrail is superior to the administrative safety of training all users of a staircase without rails.

    Generally speaking putting insulation on household electric wires is superior than warning signs saying “high voltage wires behind fridge”. Engineered safety trumps the administrative alternative.

    Engineering around hazards is generally preferred to administering around hazards. This is basic to safety training.

  113. Fran Barlow

    TerjeP

    It seems you’ve answered the objection you wished you’d suffered rather than the one you actually suffered.

    Nobody engineers safety unless they’re forced to.

    That’s the claim. Off you go.

  114. TerjeP

    Fran – if that is the case I don’t understand what question that is being asked. I have tried to clarify my original statement that seemed to be the source of scrutiny. If it is still unclear I can try again.

  115. Ootz

    As I understand it was well known that some of the plants in Japan were not complying when previously inspected by the international regulator. IIRC particularly the Europeans were closing both eyes. Also in all honesty, you could not call Tepco’s effort and response adequate nor transparent before and after the event. Terje, you can’t engineer handrails around those hazards.

    After Fukushima, Hamaoka got closed down quite quickly. The Swiss and the Germans went through their plants with fine toothbrushes and both have quite ambitious plans to exit nuclear. Do they know some thing we don’t?

    There were lives lost and horrible injuries endured at both Chernobyl and Fukushima. Who wants to deny the valiant effort of those young Russian volunteers building the sarcophagus, the sacrifice they made. What about those hired labourers that were sent into Fukushima with foot wear not high enough so their ankles got zapped or some such. The emergency teams that went in trying to shut down the reactors, while the these popped around them one by one. These people are not just grist to the mill. Hands up who of us here would have had the guts to do it. We basically all agreed up thread that nuke has a credibility problem. However, if there would be serious progress with long term solutions for radioactive waste as well as much improved transparency, many could be persuaded to seriously consider a nuclear options particular Thorium.

  116. alfred venison

    dear anyone
    re: nukelur schekurrity
    http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Nuclear-Power/Faux-Commandos-Breach-Two-U.S.-Nuclear-Power-Plants*html
    [2011-07-04] faux commandos breach 2 out of 12 facilities tested.

    http://www.pogo*org/pogo-files/reports/nuclear-security-safety/voices-from-inside-the-fences/
    [2002-09-23] project on gov’t oversight:- security at 1 in 4 facilities are *confident* they could repel an attack.

    http://www.ucsusa*org/nuclear_power/nuclear_power_risk/sabotage_and_attacks_on_reactors/nuclear-reactor-security.html
    [2005-03-30] union of concerned scientists report:- gov’t doesn’t consider it warrants improved preparation, ucs think gov’t should reconsider.

    http://www.fas*org/sgp/crs/homesec/RL34331.pdf
    [2010-08-23] usa congressional research service. footnote 41 (now, sadly, 404′d) is titled:- “NRC Proposes $65,000 Fine for Violations Associated with Inattentive Security Guards at Peach Bottom Nuclear Plant.”

    http://ac360.blogs.cnn*com/2010/03/16/nuclear-plants-need-real-security/
    [2010-03-16] ex-cia:- did his own survey, doesn’t seem impressed.

    http://www.times-standard*com/localnews/ci_19171191
    [2011-10-22] “leaving sensitive, unclassified information in unsecured areas”. if you have a records manager at your work, pay heed to her or him when they talk about managing records.

    sorry, copy to browser & replace (*) with (.) to follow.
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison

  117. TerjeP

    As I understand it was well known that some of the plants in Japan were not complying when previously inspected by the international regulator. IIRC particularly the Europeans were closing both eyes. Also in all honesty, you could not call Tepco’s effort and response adequate nor transparent before and after the event. Terje, you can’t engineer handrails around those hazards.

    You have listed procedural failures not safety hazards. If you are going to claim some safety hazards that can’t be managed with a handrail it would be good if you actually listed those hazards.

  118. quokka

    @Ootz

    As I understand it was well known that some of the plants in Japan were not complying when previously inspected by the international regulator. IIRC particularly the Europeans were closing both eyes.

    How about some sort of reference for these claims. A proper discussion is not possible based on this hearsay stuff.

    As far as I am aware, there is no “international regulator” other than I would suppose ultimately the UN Security Council. The IAEA acts in an advisory capacity.

    There were lives lost and horrible injuries endured at both Chernobyl and Fukushima.

    No lives were lost due to radiation exposure at Fukushima. There were no cases of acute radiation syndrome and in fact no “horrible injuries” due to radiation. Three workers were treated for beta burns to their lower legs due to not wearing protective footwear. Why they were not wearing it remains unclear but it remains an unfortunate fact that industrial accidents do happen through carelessness, ignorance etc. The injuries were relatively minor and there are not expected to be long term consequences.

    In terms of the harm done to the plant and emergency workers, the Fukushima accident is fairly small beer on the scale of severe industrial accidents and no amount of hyperbole is going to change that.

    Despite all the stories about suicide missions, labourers being pressganged by the Yakuza and various other nonsense, it seems that the health of the plant and emergency workers has been rather well protected in what must at times been very difficult situations.

  119. quokka

    @jusme

    i understand the thorium reactors work the other way and require a constant beam or they will stop working, like a dead man’s brake in a train.

    That would be only for an accelerator driven system. This is not what the US advocates of LFTRs are proposing and not what the Chinese have embarked upon.

  120. sg

    quokka:

    Why they were not wearing it remains unclear

    Pace TerjeP, they were not wearing protective footwear because they were not engineered to. Had TEPCO genetically engineered some plant workers with protective boots, this problem would never have occurred.

    Engineering safety is always superior to administration, you see.

  121. quokka

    @sg

    you do realize how silly this dichotomy is, right, TerjeP? Nobody engineers safety unless they’re forced to. i.e. you use your administration to force companies to use engineered designs.

    Don’t be ridiculous. Of course designers engineer safety. Boing and Airbus would see their business go down the toilet quick smart if they didn’t take safety very seriously. Nuclear engineering is no different. The probability risk assessments for Gen III+ nuclear power plants for core damage and large radiation release are well in excess of those required by any nuclear regulator or recommended by the IAEA. There is no regulatory compulsion to do this.

    This does not take away the requirement for truly independent regulation including generic design assessments. Safety depends on high standards from the vendors and operators AND regulatory oversight.

  122. quokka

    @TerjeP

    I have suggested we get on with reforming the regulation of nuclear power.

    And so have others, but it remains largely a lot of hand waving. Despite it’s limitations and sometimes glacial pace, the US NRC has managed to deliver a civilian nuclear industry with a very good safety record, which is what we all want to see. It is vitally important to public acceptance of nuclear power.

    This is a very technical area that requires considerable expertise and calls for “less regulation” are likely to be met with public alarm unless they are very well considered, detailed and though through thoroughly.

  123. TerjeP

    Pace TerjeP, they were not wearing protective footwear because they were not engineered to. Had TEPCO genetically engineered some plant workers with protective boots, this problem would never have occurred.

    That is one option all be it somewhat fanciful. Designing solutions certainly should entail creativity but it also needs to be practical. As such I can’t give you ten out of ten.

  124. TerjeP

    This is a very technical area that requires considerable expertise and calls for “less regulation” are likely to be met with public alarm unless they are very well considered, detailed and though through thoroughly.

    A blanket ban is, in word count terms, pretty minimalist regulation. None the less I think it is fair to say that moving from a blanket ban to something more permissive is a move to a less regulated state. Even if the word count goes up. So I think perhaps our disagreement is merely semantic.

  125. Ootz

    Quokka, apologies for my ‘sloppy’ comment @119 as I do not intend to dumb down the discussion. I am battling an energy crisis on a more personal front and will butt out from here on.

    You are actually making my point, there is no international regulator or watch dog what ever you want to call it. No one is ultimately in charge in the bigger picture. Further, re my comments about IAEA closing both eyes, you’ll find the reference somewhere buried in the LP Fukushima thread, plus many more substantiations on TEPCO’s inadequacies. I believe there is also a reference in there of an emergency worker being killed (not by radiation) during the shut down attempts. Further, I am sure sg and terangeree can give you personal accounts of the psychological economic and social fallout of the Fukushima incident, including large scale loss of arable land, income and productivity as well as power rationing.

    I am no PR expert, though I would suggest to any proponent of nuclear energy to help towards cleaning up the act in terms of clear and transparent responsibilities and start to act accordingly. It is not up to the critiques to demonstrate that nuclear energy is a safe and well administrated/regulated option. The technical safety aspect alone wont do it. I for one could be persuaded with arguments and actions to that extend.

    I have got to go and recharge the batteries. Promise me this thread is not going to end up in a meltdown again, this issue is too important. Like in chess, put yourself into the opposing mind, be bold and don’t just rely on pushing pawns forward.

  126. sg

    TerjeP, is it not the case that under your preferred industrial relations regime, the workers drafted into a site like Fukushima would not be required to wear protective gear of any sort, and the company hiring them would be free to set its own rules about their conduct?

    Quokka made my point nicely about the issue of administering safety with his question about the boots. From the decision to ignore an earthquake and tsunami the size of the one that happened, to the poor backup power supplies and the slightly casual approach to safety gear: all of these things are first and foremost planning decisions. The engineering is only put in place if the will is there to make it happen. And your preferred regulatory regime – as little as possible – would be madness for this industry (or the coal power industry, for that matter).

  127. Brian

    alfred venison, your comment @ 119 landed in the spam bin for reasons that are not hard to work out!

  128. TerjeP

    TerjeP, is it not the case that under your preferred industrial relations regime, the workers drafted into a site like Fukushima would not be required to wear protective gear of any sort, and the company hiring them would be free to set its own rules about their conduct?

    My preferred industrial relations system is one in which individuals and businesses are free to contract at whatever price they negotiate. People are free to form trade unions and lobby employers over safety concerns and in fact they do. Employers have legal liability for the safety of the work environment. And companies have reputations that matter.

  129. sg

    So no proper provision of safety gear, then …

  130. John Bennetts

    @ Fran Barlow, re my error at #113.

    Thanks. Misplaced decimal point strikes again.

    30,000 GWh annually for Australia is what I was guesstimating, not 30 GWh.

  131. Ootz

    Oh and just one more point I forgot to add on above. The Swiss are aiming for a 2k watt society. As you know their trains run on the second and service and high tech manufacturing is a major contributor to their GDP. Where as in Australia ….century …. non match gauges ….. digging holes.
    We need fast solutions and long term sustainable approaches, that is my bet, is there any arguments against that?

  132. alfred venison

    dear Brian
    i understand, nolo problemo & sorry to have crowded the bin. ;-)
    i appreciate your need to vet posts that have lots of active links. glad, in the end, its just the links & not too far off topic to pass muster.
    in the case of posts where i can’t help myself & can’t wait, i’m more than happy for motivated people to cut & paste links.
    clearly, i was too clever this time – thought i’d improve on the string “DOT” which worked well for me/us on another occasion by upgrading to the character ” * ” which is , of course, a fail.
    back to string “DOT” for me.
    pleasure dealing with you, as always.
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison

  133. BilB

    John Bennetts at 108,

    You did in the end sort out that power station output figure, however, your area of solar PV figure is over several orders of magnitude incorrect. The area of PV panels required in Australia is between 1,600 square kilometres and 500 square kilometres to produce Australia’s annual electricity consumption of 266 billion kilowatt hours if it was all produced from PV panels or systems. Not 200,000 square kilometres.

    A simple rule of thumb fact checker for you to consider using next time is to think of the total solar energy to fall on the area that you are claiming to be required necessary then work back from there. The total solar energy for your 200,000 square kilometres is (very roughly) 413,000 billion kilowatt hours. This divided by our consumption of 266 billion kilowatt hours is 1552. This would mean that the solar panels would have at best an efficiency of 0.15% to produce just 266 billion kilowatt hours from that area of panels. This would also mean that the average 1.5 kilowatt household roof system would need to have about 1100 panels. There ar not many houses with rooves that large.

    By way of having a grasp of areas, the Hunter Valley open cut coal mine covers an area of 600 square kilometres. That is just one mine system. so when you are imagining that we cannot achieve the coverage area to generate all of our electricity with solar energy, think about the amount of energy that went into digging that one massive hole.

    You might want to revise the conclusions to your 108.

  134. wilful

    ootz @ 188 “The Swiss and the Germans went through their plants with fine toothbrushes and both have quite ambitious plans to exit nuclear.

    Yes well the Germans have rather unambitious plans to build eleven new coal fired power plants.

    I don’t support the German approach to risk management here (climate change versus nuclear accident), and I don’t believe my views would change if I lived 1 km from a nuclear power plant.

  135. BilB

    That’s a very common “before the accident” opinion, Wilful

  136. wilful

    That’s a very common “before the climate crisis” opinion, BilB.

  137. John Bennetts

    Bilb, @136:

    I totally mucked up my numbers at 108.

    My intention was to start with a nominal kW/sq.m incident sunlight – say 200 watt/sq metre peak, then allow a downrating factor of 4 or 5 for usable daylight hours, then a further factor of two for gaps between panels, access roads, etc.

    Typical engineer – occasionally good with numbers, but also quite capable of having a shocker of a day.

    So, we are discussing several thousand square metres of panels, then.

    Regarding Hunter Valley coal mines, I’d take your figure of 600 sq.km with a grain of salt, but the total landholdings of operating mining leases would be of that order of magnitude. When I moved to the Hunter 30 years back, I spent considerable time and effort trying to find a paddock to call home that is not now or likely to be in the future within sight or sound of a mine. 25 years after moving in, that is still the case.

  138. BilB

    That was chuckle worthy, Wilful.

  139. Patrickb

    Most of the objections to wind power that have been raised here apply even more so to other forms of power generation and more generally any large infrastructure project. It’s total rubbish to object to a wind farm on aesthetic grounds. For what it’s worth I don’t see any point in discussing energy generation with TerjeP when they have such obvious irrational bias. There is just no way they will concede that any other form of energy generation technology is even worth considering, it’s a fanatical view.

  140. wilful

    It’s total rubbish to object to a wind farm on aesthetic grounds.

    Well I’m convinced by the powerful assertion of your argument.

  141. sg

    I think the point, wilful, is that coal mines and power stations can also be quite ugly, and yet somehow manage to spring up in the most remarkable of places. Civil society seems to have ways of managing these kinds of issues.

  142. wilful

    sg, my point is that patrickb was basically ranting, not arguing. You cannot simply dismiss the protests against windfarms as fanatical or irrational.

    Me personally, I am not challenged by windfarm aesthetics, I don’t mind them, but I don’t have to live near any, and how many new large power stations and coal mines are being built? The Vic desal plant had to have underground power lines because of aesthetics.

    I drive past Yallourn W almost every day. I find it a thing of stark beauty (and evil planet death).

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/wolfcat_aus/5334332737/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/dallas75/2317842278/

  143. Fran Barlow

    On purely aesthetic grounds, I quite like the idea of wind turbines. It would be fabulous if they really could do the work of thermal power stations, pro-rata.

    Similarly, those power towers are very impressive visually. Sadly, these are fairly minor considerations in choosing power technology.

    Coal plants really are ugly, as well as filthy.

  144. TerjeP

    For what it’s worth I don’t see any point in discussing energy generation with TerjeP

    Then stop it.

  145. Chris

    If windfarms took up as much space as a coal fired plant to generate the same amount of power there’d be little argument. Very few people want a coal fired plant lumped right next to them when they’ve bought a peaceful block in the country. But it only comes up so much with windfarms because of the huge areas they require.

    One way to defuse the controversy of windfarms approvals would be to make companies who build windfarms to offer to buy at market value (or even slight premium) any properties which are close to the windfarm. Given it seems to be minority who believe they are a problem it shouldn’t be too hard for them to sell them back to people who have no problem living next to them. But it does allow those who do have a big problem with them an exit option.

  146. Fran Barlow

    I’m not sure that windfarms take up all that much space. If you take account of the total footprint of the two technologies, even controlling for CF/CC, the footprint of wind would be tiny compared with coal.

    Don’t forget that the land used by turbines is not lost entirely to other usage. You can use the land to crop on or agist animals. Not so with a coal plant or a coal mine. As we have seen with subsidance, coal mines have a pretty large footprint. Then there’s the physical space taken up transporting coal. In the US, 40% of bulk rail freight is coal transport. In China, traffic jams that take three days to clear are caused by coal trucks on the road. Places they go through are left covered in coal dust.

    You need to compare like with like.

    I agree though that if wind promoters simply bought or leased the land at pre-wind commercial values, much of the opposition would vanish.

  147. Lefty E

    Id love denialists explain why the US, UK, Chinese, Canadian and Russian militaries are all currently modelling the emerging security threats of AGW.

    Has the Pentagon fallen for dreaded left wing groupthink, like 95% of scientists?

    Shit guys, stop being so thick. Bail now before this viewpoint is the equivalent of having “moron” tattoeed on your forehead.

  148. Chris

    Fran @ 149 – I wasn’t trying to suggest that windfarms have the same impact on the land as say coal mining. Just that the area that they effect (ie can be seen/heard) is quite large. If that was similar to the coal power station only it wouldn’t be an impediment. The government could simply buy out the people in the area, but they can’t afford to do this for windfarms.

    New coal mine areas are not without quite large local opposition as well – especially from those who will not benefit from it being established but have to put up with the noise and pollution.

  149. Patrickb

    @145
    “sg, my point is that patrickb was basically ranting, not arguing. You cannot simply dismiss the protests against windfarms as fanatical or irrational.”
    Er … why not? If you had watched the 4 Corners report a couple of months back you’d realise that, whilst perhaps not fanatical (did I say that?), the protests are irrational when it comes to medical complaints. But as you’re pretty good at missing the point (you had to have it explained to you) I expect you’re just as bad as getting across a brief. If there are rational complaints they are grounded in economic concerns (dressed up as “aesthetic” and faux environmental).
    So it’s a pretty straight forward nimby argument by the wealthy. Up their arses I say. They could get used having to having this most benign form of energy generation with the gaze, but they are selfish rational beings with power so stuff the rest of us.
    TerjeP – was warning others the pointlessness of arguing with a fanatic not engaging in a discussion with you. That would be pointless.

  150. Patrickb

    @151
    “New coal mine areas are not without quite large local opposition as well”
    Yes indeed and when it was proposed that a small one go in to the Margaret River area their was uproar among the glitterati. Needless to say it has been canned. Meanwhile at James Price point … And note the latest fait accompli, ahem, proposal by Clive Palmer. Some civic minded person donated part of their farm as a nature reserve and the Queensland Govt has handed it over to Clive to strip mine. It’s f*cking outrageous …

  151. sg

    None of this would happen if we had a decent free market regulatory regime for nuclear, patrickb. Honest!

  152. David Irving (no relation)

    Bail now before this viewpoint is the equivalent of having “moron” tattooed on your forehead.

    They’ve missed that boat, LeftyE.

  153. Postcard from the Asylum

    Conserve energy!

    When yous all finished here could the last one please switch the light off.

    Thanks Ootz

  154. Salient Green

    $160 million of taxpayers money down the drain in failed CCS project.
    http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/clean-coal-plan-goes-to-zero/story-e6freoof-1226178916182

    That money would have been quite productive in the hands of Geodynamics and Petratherm.