- When calculating the “fair” FIT the QCA managed to find excuses for not including most of the savings associated with the use of RTS. This made an enormous difference. If these savings are included, the FIT would have to be above 100 cents/kWh before RTS stopped reducing the power bills of Qld householders who don’t have RTS. The QCA exclusions reduced this figure to a measly 8 cents/kWh.
- The difference in estimates highlights the problems associated with having bureaucrats or politicians set the feed in tariff. It also highlights the problem of determining the FIT on the basis of the effect on household power bills.
- This post is not advocating that the FIT be raised to $1.00 kWh. It is suggested that auctions or some other market based system be used to set the FIT.
The US navy has been investigating the production of fuel from seawater using electricity from ship’s nuclear power systems for a number of years. This process would allow aircraft carrier task forces to stay at sea longer without depending on vulnerable fuel tankers to keep the planes flying. The navy has now announced that they have successfully used the fuel from their pilot plant to fly a plane with an internal combustion engine. (Well, OK a model mustang.)
The process used involves electrolysis of sea water to produce CO2 and hydrogen followed by a catalytic reaction to produce hydrocarbons. There is nothing radically new here. Hydrogen has been produced commercially using electrolysis for a long time. There are also well established commercially available processes for converting mixtures of hydrogen and nitrogen or hydrogen and CO2 into a range of useful chemicals and fuels. My guess is that most of the effort taken by the US navy has been focused on developing a process that could fit into a small part of an aircraft carrier.
The potential of these types of development go well beyond the needs of the US navy. Think about it: Unless there is an amazing breakthrough, renewable power plus batteries are not going to be able to deliver 100% renewable transport. Renewable power + batteries is not going be suitable for long distant flights, travel in the Australian outback or long distance sea travel. There is a need for energy intensive transportable fuels to cover these needs.
Bio-fuels are not the answer. Diversion of land to the production of bio-fuels is already causing starvation of people in some countries as well as damage to the environment. (Think jungle clearing for palm oil production.) In addition, the production of bio-fuels is vulnerable to climate change and pests as well as posing potential problems if the organisms used escape into the wild. What is needed are low impact renewable fuels produced by inorganic processes such as the US Navy process mentioned above.