Climate clippings 134

1. Abbott’s energy white paper focuses on fossil fuel favourites

We should take a longer look at the Abbott government’s energy white paper, but from what Giles Parkinson says it would be a waste of time. As expected it ignores climate change and sees our future based on fossil fuels. Here’s Tones peering into our energy future:


The world will pass him by!

2. Solar news

RenewEconomy was a flood of articles about solar.

Sophie Vorrath:

A company based in the world’s largest oil exporting nation, Saudi Arabia, has become the new owner of Australia’s second-largest solar plant – the under-construction 72MW Moree PV project – after buying Spanish solar developer Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV) and its 3.8GW global development pipeline.

Abdul Latif Jameel Energy and Environmental Services – a conglomerate that also has a base in the United Arab Emirates – announced its purchase of FRV on Wednesday, describing it as a major development of its energy business, and part of its on-going strategy to be the Gulf’s largest solar power plant developer.

Giles Parkinson says the prospects for big solar in WA are bright.

James Mandel and Leia Guccione take a look at a Rocky Mountain Institute report that analyzes how grid-connected solar-plus-battery systems will become cost competitive with traditional retail electric service and why it matters to financiers, regulators, utilities, and other electricity system stakeholders.

Paul McArdle reports on the benefits of tracking systems in solar PV from a seminar hosted by the UQ Energy Initiative and the Global Change Institute.

And more, as the Abbottistas fade into irrelevance, except that they are presently running (ruining?) the country.

3. Aluminium battery charges in one minute

US scientists say they have invented a cheap, long-lasting and flexible battery made of aluminium for use in smartphones that can be charged in as little as one minute.

The researchers, who detailed their discovery in the journal Nature, said the new aluminium-ion battery had the potential to replace lithium-ion batteries, used in millions of laptops and mobile phones.

Besides recharging much faster, the new aluminium battery is safer than existing lithium-ion batteries, which occasionally burst into flames, they added.

While lithium-ion batteries last about 1,000 cycles, the new aluminium battery was able to continue after more than 7,500 cycles without loss of capacity. It also can be bent or folded.

Larger aluminium batteries could also be used to store renewable energy on the electrical grid, Professor Dai said.

Meanwhile the US market for energy storage management systems, that is the software suites designed to increase the operating efficiency and overall value of energy storage, will grow tenfold between 2014 and 2019.

5. French banks rule out funding Galilee basin coal project

France’s three biggest banks have ruled out funding the controversial multi-billion dollar Galilee basin coal mining, rail and port development in Queensland. Eleven major international lenders have now publically stated that they won’t finance the $16.5 billion dollar project and one analyst says more delays could see the Indian company behind the project ultimately scrap the development.

6. Rising sea levels to force the largest exodus in history

Scientists calculate that within the next three decades a substantial area along the Bay of Bengal, a region of delta approximately 200 delta islands in India and Bangladesh called the Sundarbans, will be underwater due to climate change and rising sea levels. If that happens, the millions of people living there now will be forced to abandon their homes and lands, making their displacement the largest exodus in modern history.

Estimates predict that the region will be underwater within the next 10-25 years, forcing 8 million Bangladeshis and 5 million Indians inland.

That makes 13 million displaced. Other large movements cited include 10 million during the 1947 India-Pakistan partition and 7 million African Americans move from the southern states northward during the period 1916-1970. The one he missed was the movement of Germans from Eastern Europe towards the end and after World War II. Tony Judt reckons 13 million.

7. Contrarian climate scientists

Dana Nuccitelli reviews an interview with top contrarian climate scientists Roy Spencer and John Christy. You can read his analysis of their flawed thinking and erratic statements. I’d like to pull out three points.

First, John Cook et al’s survey that established the 97% consensus in the peer-reviewed literature on human-caused global warming does not categorise the 3% as complete denialists. The 3% includes papers by scientists, such as Spencer and Christy, who minimise human influence on global warming. Complete denialists amongst climate scientists are rare if they exist at all.

Second, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and Yale University conducted a survey of meteorologists in relation to climate science and global warming. Only 13 percent of survey participants described climate as their field of expertise. I was surprised at how low the number is.

Third, on the cost of renewables:

Experts in these fields who have published research on the subject have found that fossil fuels are incredibly expensive, when we account for all of their costs. For example, one recent study conservatively estimated that including pollution costs, coal is about 4 times more expensive than wind and 3 times more expensive than solar energy in the USA today.

4 thoughts on “Climate clippings 134”

  1. I just want to point out that Climate clippings 134 preceded the late edition of Saturday salon. Both were published on Monday.

    The stats show that no-one read this post, not a single one!

    I’ve changed the time stamp by an hour to put it ahead of SS in the queue.

  2. The Paul McCardle report on tracking solar fits very squarely with my thinking.

    Soon we will have the more complete rooftop solar systems. It would be optimal to be able capture 40% of the suns energy as electricity and 60% of the balance as heat from the same hardware giving a total efficiency of 76%. Then having gone that far by adding a basic tracking system another 30% energy can be captured. Even though the 35% efficient panels may soon becoming available they are not for a long time be affordable. So a system based on 20% efficient panels with thermal pads attached and with a tracking system is as good as we will be able to get for some time. The panel efficiency is only important with basic systems as far as the roof area available is concerned, but with PVT’s (Photo Voltaic/Thermal panels) it becomes important for the ratio of electricity and heat energy collected. Large inefficient PVT’s would collect more heat energy than can be used.

    I was just looking at a solar discussion forum and it seems common that a 5 Kw pv system in Melbourne will produce an averaged 18kwhr per day over the whole year. That is 6570 kwhrs. So with a basic tracker this will boost to 8500 kwhrs.

    So the next part of the article touched briefly on cost suggesting a cost multiplier of 3. This may be the case for a field based university designed commercial system, perhaps, but a domestic system would be only a fraction of that. A tracker does not have to be very sophisticated to be effective. A simple 3 position tilt device would deliver much of the benefit without great cost, but then even a full single axis tracking device would be achievable for under $100 per panel.

    It is interesting reading actual feedback on the impact of cloudy days. Nothing like the disaster that the anti solar cult proclaim.

    Applying tracking to a 5 kw solar system provides nearly enough additional energy to power a PHEV (plug in hybrid electric vehicle) of the Audi A3 formula. This vehicle has an 8.5 kwhr battery which can power the vehicle on electric only for 50 klms. So in round figures where that vehicle was used for 300 days and all of its 50 klms each day it would require 2550 solar kwhrs for a 15,000 klms of distance travelled (conditional of course on how the driving was done).

    It is all coming together into a very appealing energy future, not only for the domestic energy consumer, but also for small business. Despite Abbott’s pre election rhetoric that “any increase in energy costs will cripple business and make Australia uncompetitive” which was BS of the inflammatory kind, all of the solar energy benefits are available to them. The problem for business, though, is that the electricity bill is a very small overhead when considered against the full business turnover, in Australia. Business will adopt solar energy because they like the idea of it, not because it will significantly improve their bottom line. So the advantage for business is more from an image and brand marketing perspective, which can very significantly improve the bottom line, indirectly.

  3. John D, on the ten points

    1 solargeddon? I doubt it. The notion that lots of panels will fail in a short period is ridiculous.
    2 4 5 9 orientation. I prefer a tracking solution so orientationis universal. Else do what ever works. I prefer a system to have batteries to prevent losss of energy to thr grid.

    3 shading. As I understand this, the problem is where panels are connected in series dc. Shade 1 it stops conducting and you loose power from the whole set. To what degree I don’t know. One solution is to break up the chains intosmaller groups. The best solution is to use micro inverters which convert directly to ac for individual panels or pairs of panels.

    6 I have no specific knowledge about Chinese solar panel quality other than the more obscure the brand the more risk there is that the poduct has been made in any one of ten different factories with a pot luck on quality. The other general comment is that Chinese plastics are highly compromised with overuse of recycled plastic which makes parts soft and subject to fatigue failure.

    7 This oversizing point seems a lttle Irish to me. There must be some information missing such as the cost of inverters. If inverters are extremely expensive and panels very cheap then there is a case. Again I prefer micro inverters. Also with PVT’s efficiency loss with heat is reduced. Othrrwise all of the arguments about a smaller inverter delivering the same power to a larger one in reduced solar conditions are true I believe.

    8 I have no knowledge of what power distributors will allow, and my preference is to not feed any power into the grid at all. When distributors change their billing to a huge connection fee and their buying price for the energy eg 5 cents per unit, that grid connection will become a liability for any one who produces most or all of their own power. At that point boost the battery capacity (I like the look of those aluminium batteries if they become real), connect gas for you cooking and remove the wires.

    10 Micro inverters again, and this becomes a non issue.

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