1. Pumped power storage
RenewEconomy has a great post on pumped water storage to store electric power to complement solar. It talks about working heads of less than 200 metres and the use of “turkey nest” dams.
“Turkey nests” are where farmers on flat country bulldoze up circular banks for above ground storage. In Queensland if the banks are 4.99 metres high you don’t need planning permission.
I might do a longer post if I get time. Thanks to John D for bringing it to my attention.
2. Global sea-level expert John Church gets the flick from the CSIRO
Tamino at Open Mind says Church was the leading expert in the field. He got the notice while he was on the Australian research vessel Investigator, where he was taking water measurements in the Ross Sea off the Antarctic ice shelf, according to the front page story in The New York Times.
According to Nick Stokes, who is an Emeritus at the CSIRO, the sacking may not be final, but personally at age 64 I’d find it surprising if he’d want to stay, given the new organisational environment he’d be working in, where the climate science functions are being shredded. From the SMH:
- Dr Church says he will take a short break after a stressful few months finishing research and confronting “the CSIRO disaster”.
But he’s unlikely to be marooned for long, with fellowships and other roles in the offing.
This slide show from CEO Larry Marshall before he joined the CSIRO gives a window into his mindset. His world is venture capitalism and tech startups, appropriate in their place, but not in our premier science organisation.
Someone was unkind enough to point out that not so long ago he publicly endorsed water divining.
At least the Investigator, the ship Church was on will continue to sail. A national climate research centre based in Hobart for 40 full-time scientists will be established, with a “focus on climate modelling and projections”, and a guaranteed research capability for 10 years.
After universal and savage criticism the original plan to cut 350 staff was reduced to 275. Of these 75 are from Oceans and Atmosphere.
The rest are from Minerals (around 35), Land and Water (around 70), Agriculture (around 30), Manufacturing (around 45), and Food & Nutrition (around 20).
4. Roger Jones is back
- One is that research, especially public good research and especially in CSIRO, is under serious threat in Australia. We have a government who tout innovation, but who wilfully ignore the role of the generation of underpinning knowledge in fuelling such innovation. They are interested only in commercial innovation – public-good innovation is not only being ignored, it is being excluded from processes such as the Cooperative Research Centre bids currently under way. Having sustainable cities, catchments and ecosystems is impossible without public good research and social innovation, with funding that extends across the sciences, the humanities and the arts. With an election going on, these harms need to be publicised.
May the force be with him!
In this post he outlines the review being undertaken by The Australian Academy of Science of the “Australian climate science capability and future requirements, in order to better understand the capabilities (including expertise and infrastructure) that are needed in Australia.”
There’s more at The Acadamy’s website.
Submissions from individuals are due by 5 June.
5. Zero carbon steel
Sweden has decided that it wants to lead the world in making steel without burning coal. A project was announced early last month run by state-owned energy company Vattenfall, together with Swedish steel producer SSAB and Swedish iron ore extractor LKAB with full government support.
- Over 75 per cent of all industrial energy use across the world is accounted for by only four sectors, of which iron and steel form the largest. This is because energy costs as a proportion of total costs in steel making are high – up to 40 per cent.
The trick is to make hydrogen without burning fossil fuels. Wind power looks the best bet.
Vattenfall are already making hydrogen from wind in Germany, but need to do it at scale, and at an acceptable price. They are starting with a pre-feasibility study and aim to have a demonstration plant by 2025, which will be trialled for a further 10 years.
Thanks to John D for the link on another thread. I thought it worth doing a segment here to make it part of the record, and for those who don’t read comments.