Climate clippings 176

1. Battery storage to grow four times quicker than market thinks

The latest Morgan Stanley report is bullish about the growth of battery storage in the Australian market. They think we’ll have 6.6GWh of battery storage in Australia by 2020, which is what the Australian Energy Market Operator last week predicted for 2035.

    Morgan Stanley expects the market for battery storage to grow from about 2,000 Australian homes now to one million by 2020. But its “high case” suggests the take-up could be double that – up to 2 million homes by 2020.


    “We think most incumbent utilities downplay the earnings risks from solar and battery take-up, and the market has not yet priced in the retail and wholesale market effects,” the company analysts write in their report.

Sounds like what they call a disruptive technology.

2. A plan to nobble some of our best climate science

Paddy Manning in the ABC RN program Background Briefing on 6 June, relates how the Abbott cabinet blamed climate science for Howard’s loss of power in 2007.

    Michael Borgas, head of the CSIRO Staff Association, told Background Briefing the CSIRO’s former head, Megan Clark, told union representatives at a consultative council meeting in 2014 that ‘the Abbott cabinet was very much anti-CSIRO and blamed CSIRO climate science for the loss of the Howard government … so that was an important signal to us that we could expect a pretty hard time’.

Seems then industry minister Ian Macfarlane who was responsible for science, picked Larry Marshall, a physicist certainly, but very much an entrepreneur and venture capitalist, to bring the CSIRO into line and do their bidding.

Government funding of climate research has fallen by 70 per cent since 2013. Turnbull and Christopher Pyne may not have personally been involved in the CSIRO cuts, but:

    The truth is hiding in plain sight: federal government funding cuts to climate science are driving CSIRO’s strategy, and the federal government has refused to intervene to stop the cuts. The only possible conclusion is that the cuts to climate science have the support of the federal government, up to and including the prime minister.

3. Public good research

Roger Jones asks What is public good research?

CSIRO chief Larry Marshall says the Government determines the public good, scientists might be biassed. He himself clearly does not have a clue.

Public good research provides long-term social and environmental benefits as well as monetary returns. It has intrinsic worth which is not always easily commodified. You can’t always turn public good science into a buck, but if you want a buck you best do the science.

The cuts in the CSIRO look tailor-made to nobble the CSIRO’s areas of greatest excellence.

    You couldn’t design it better, really, if the plan was to deliberately reduce Australia’s capacity in high-quality public good R&D.

Labor has promised to restore the cuts and review the management of the CSIRO. Barnaby Jones has made it clear that a condition of the Coalition agreement there will be no changes to the present (non)-effort on climate change.

4. Be careful what you vote for

Labor has promised to restore the cuts and review the management of the CSIRO. Barnaby Jones has made it clear that a condition of the Coalition agreement there will be no changes to the present (non)-effort on climate change. In the Oz (paywalled) he says:

    On climate change, Joyce ­labels expensive attempts to curb carbon emissions as “cruel”.

    “I want to keep power prices ­affordable for people. Electricity affects the poorest ones. One of the cruellest things is a power bill that you can’t afford because you have to get off the power grid and it gets very cold in New England in winter.”

In the US if you vote for Trump (also paywalled):

    Donald Trump has just promised to “cancel the Paris climate agreement”, end US funding for United Nations climate change programmes, and roll back the “stupid” Obama administration regulations to cut power plant emissions.

They are trying to get the Paris agreement legal before Obama leaves. Here’s more:

    In past comments, he has said he is “not a believer in man-made global warming”, declaring that climate change is a “total hoax” and “bullshit”, “created by and for the Chinese” to hurt US manufacturing. On energy policy, he has appeared befuddled when asked about specifics, even fumbling the name of the Environmental Protection Agency, which he has promised to abolish.

5. BHP continues to back coal

BHP Billiton continue to invest in coal, and believe that coal “will be an increase in the attractive high returning business in the medium to long run” while they try to rip $600 million out of costs to make a quid out of the $12 billion of assets invested.

Chinese imports fell 11 per cent in 2014, and another 30 per cent in 2015. In the year to date, thermal imports of coal are down about 17 per cent.

Tim Buckley, from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis:

    The delusion to me is that statement that India will make up the balance. But the energy minister and the ministry for coal has told the Indian utilities, “Stop buying imported coal. We have too much domestic coal. We have record high stock piles”.

    So why is BHP looking at India as being their saviour when the Indian energy minister for the last three years every month has been saying, “We don’t want to use imported thermal coal”?

BP reckons global coal use fell by more than 70 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) – a 1.8% decline – in 2015, the largest annual reduction in records going back half a century.

6 thoughts on “Climate clippings 176”

  1. We have BHP backing coal and Adani intending to proceed with their massive project, the Carmichael mine. Yet India does have large amounts of coal.
    It turns out that a great deal of Indian coal is lignite or brown coal just like we have in Victoria. Brown coal contains many volatiles (especially water) and these impact heavily upon the energy yield and the emissions produced when burnt.

    The coal industry – from mining to burning – is also a great consumer of water. One US statistic claims that the US uses between 70 to 260 million gallons of water per day. India is proposing new coal power plants to produce an extra 519 GW of power. To burn brown coal will ad serious emissions (around 10x that of black coal) and place onerous demands on water resources. India already has water problems with scarcity, pollution and desertification.

    From India’s perspective, using Australian coal is perhaps understandable albeit regrettable.

  2. GH

    To burn brown coal will ad serious emissions (around 10x that of black coal) and place onerous demands on water resources.

    According to fig 2 in this paper Victorian brown coal per mWh ranges from 30 to 70% more than “average black coal”
    Brown coal fired power stations are near the deposit. If we are comparing Indian lignite with Qld black coal we have to add on the emissions involved in transporting the Qld coal to its point of consumption.

  3. Geoff, India always stresses the historical responsibility of the advanced economies and their right to modernise.

    So they reckon their increased use of coal should be offset by the advanced economies cutting back.

    I think they have to go straight to solar, or we’re all sunk. But they’d need backup during the monsoon. At some stage the world has to come to terms with the fact we all share the same atmosphere.

  4. JD: I drew my figure of 10x from an article by the Concerned Union of Scientists. Even with the add-ons of transport and processing I thought that was pretty high too. They were perhaps referring to a very low grade of coal.
    The ANU study is informative but I note that fig.2 seems limited to CO2emissions. The Concerned Union included externalities such as particulates and other gases. Either way though, brown coal is even less desirable than black coal.

    Brian you are right of course. Atmospheric degradation is a classic example of “tragedy of the commons”. Perhaps one day, and before it is too late, many nations will see that and act.
    But even Oz, with it’s modern and intellectual governments is doing way too little to mitigate emissions. This current Federal campaign seems silent on the environment – why?

  5. Geoff, it hasn’t been entirely silent. Shorten often mentions climate change and renewable energy towards the end of a string of policies he is promoting. There have been dollops of funding for the great Barrier Reef. Labor is going to establish an Environmental Defenders Office.

    But it hasn’t been high profile or central.

  6. I think we will reach a point where the trade sanctions against countries like Aus that are not doing something dramatic about emissions will be high enough to really damage economies.
    The economic risk of investing in fossil fuels is pretty scary.

Comments are closed.