Climate clippings 185

1. Linking extreme weather events to climate change

In what is called ‘attribution science’ climate scientists are getting better at analysing how much climate change has influenced particular extreme weather events.

In short, it is no longer a question of weather there is an influence, rather how much.

It would be useful to know, for example, whether the kind of storm that hit South Australia is still a once in 50 years event.

For example, the heat we had in 2013 was a one in 12,000 years event without human-caused greenhouse gases. Now it’s one in six.

The warm sea temperatures that caused the mass bleaching of corals on the Great Barrier Reef last summer were made at least 175 times more likely because of climate change.

2. Public support for climate action on the up

The Climate Institute has done its annual report on Australian opinions on climate change Climate of the Nation. To be honest, their site is a disgrace because of its unfriendly design, so best read about it at The Guardian and at The Conversation:

    According to the poll, 65% of Australians think the nation should take a leadership position and 77% agree that climate change is happening, up from 70% in 2015.

    The Climate Institute’s chief executive, John Connor, said that “public support on renewable energy and climate change is the strongest it’s been since 2008”.

From the press release:

    “Ninety per cent of Australians think responsibility for action sits at the federal level of government, made up of 67 per cent who say they should take the lead and 23 per cent that say they should contribute. Just 3 per cent say they should take no action. At the same time, only 19 per cent consider the federal government to be doing a good job,” he said. “When it comes to both climate action and energy policy, though, most don’t support delays or half measures – 61 per cent agree a time will come when urgent action becomes necessary, increasing the likelihood of shocks and sudden negative adjustments to jobs, electricity prices and energy security.”

The full report is here.

3. Briefing Malcolm Roberts

Tom Clift at Junkee explains that the CSIRO will be briefing Malcolm Roberts on the science of climate change:

    For decades, the men and women of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation have been on the cutting edge of scientific innovation. From the creation of the first polymer bank note to the development of Wi-Fi technology, their pioneering work has shaped the world in which we live, and inspired generations of young Australians who dream of a better tomorrow.

    Yet despite their long list of accomplishments, nothing could have prepared the boffins at the CSIRO for the new task given to them by science minister Greg Hunt: explaining basic scientific principles to One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts.

In his first speech in parliament Roberts said climate scientists were climate activists who “avoid discussing facts and rely on pictures of cute smiling dolphins.”

So in his world, a bunch of story-telling activists get to brief Roberts, the expert.

Indeed the meeting took place last Monday, and Roberts said he’d go through the material they gave him:

    “Normally this is shut down with name-calling and smears. This time we’re starting a debate.”

4. Debunking Malcolm Roberts

Michael Slezak discusses the problem of how the media can deal with Malcolm Roberts. He says that the media had given up reporting climate denialists, basically because the science was established enough that you don’t waste time on cranks.

When a person shows up in a significant public position, however, they feel they have to report them.

I think the media should always be truth seeking. If a public figure is being a dipstick, they should be called a dipstick rather than just reporting what they say. The story is that they are being a dipstick.

5. Lyon Solar, Mitsubishi in 1000MW solar battery plunge

From the AFR:

Brisbane energy group Lyon Solar has enlisted Japanese giant Mitsubishi Corporation to bankroll a $2 billion solar and battery power program that could help prevent blackouts like the one that hit South Australia on Wednesday.

They plan to build 1000 megawatts of large-scale solar power and storage batteries across Australia by 2020 in a world-leading program that will cost nearly $2 billion and could spawn a local battery assembly industry.

The project is Australia’s biggest solar plus batteries plunge. It aims to take batteries to a new level and help stabilise the electricity grid as intermittent wind and solar energy increasingly replace coal-fired power – with Victoria’s Hazelwood plant the latest to face closure.

Batteries are vying with other technologies to help make wind and solar power more reliable and stable. These include high-transmission proposals such as Transgrid’s $500 million South Australia-NSW interconnector, pumped hydro storage, wave power and solar plants that can store energy as molten salt.

It appears that the first will be at the extremities of the grid, such as Roxby Downs, but in the longer term it could be a game changer.

6. Stunning low prices for solar electricity

As has been mentioned several times already, RenewEconomy reports a new world record low of US2.42c/kWh ($A0.032c/kWh) set in a tender for a large solar park in Abu Dhabi, by the biggest manufacturer of solar modules in the world, JinkoSolar.


    it seems, even this bid could be beaten, with the local National newspaper reporting that a local consortium, possibly Masdar Energy, submitting an offer of just US2.3c/kWh if the local authority agrees to write a contract for a solar farm of more than 1.1GW.

    It was only 18 months ago that Saudi Arabia-based ACWA Power stunned the solar world, and the broader energy industry, with a bid of less than 6c/kWh in a Abu Dhabi tender.

Giles Parkinson explains that the jaw-dropping solar prices will change energy markets.

The rate of change is accelerating, not slowing, he says. Impressive cost reductions are showing up with wind, both onshore and offshore.


    The cost of solar thermal and storage is also falling, with US company SolarReserve bidding US6.3c-6.5c/kWh in a tender in Chile, which has excellent solar resources. This is less than half the price of the company’s first installation, the 110MW Crescent Dunes facility that is now producing and storing electricity in Nevada.

7. Closing Hazelwood

Fairfax and others have reported that the owner of the Hazelwood plant, French energy giant Engie, is expected to hold a board meeting on October 19 or 20 to finalise a decision to close the aging brown coal-fired plant.

This, it is said, has thrown the markets into some turmoil, raising prices.

This has produced calls for a plan for energy transition.

Hazelwood produces around 1500MW, or about a quarter of Victoria’s supply, so it’s a big call to say it can disappear with no effect, as the Victorian minister seems to be doing.

Giles Parkinson says that it may stimulate more solar in Victoria, and have implications for SA where they are putting 75% of their requirements up for tender.

This may lead to the revival of Pelican Point gas, which is being called “new” by SA, in spite of being old. Then again with a bit of luck it might drive solar thermal with storage in SA too.

4 thoughts on “Climate clippings 185”

  1. No probs, BilB.

    CC, along with the other climate posts on the blog, is meant to keep the interested lay person in touch with everything that’s important in climate science, policy and action.

    I’m sure I miss stuff, but compiling it also helps to keep me up to date.

  2. The prices for solar PV are getting stunningly low and the marginal cost of both wind and solar are close to zero because they need no fuel. However, what we really need to do is to compare the costs of systems. For example, as solar PV increases it becomes necessary to have a system that includes enough storage and/or backup to provide 24/7 power and to deal with overcast days.
    The other problem we need to be conscious of is that we have a crazy marketing system for power that allows the price of power to fluctuate madly as demand and output varies. One of the implications is that renewables can always underbid power suppliers that need fuel to produce power. Sounds good but the risk is that the generators that are needed to provide the backup when the wind drops go broke and and aren’t there to provide power on that windless night.
    We need to drop our crazy market based power supply price setting system and start offering contracts for standby power and backup as well as renewable power.

  3. We’ve fragmented and marketised what was a classic public service monoply situation. Each has its problems, but the market isn’t working, so I’m afraid the state needs to intervene. The market brings shysters, who just live off the market. I believe one of the courses Simon Birmingham has just cancelled support for was in energy trading.

    Logically it should be the Commonwealth to take a rational look, if we consider the eastern states as a single system. I guess they are doing it, but the ideological sermons we’ve had so far are not confidence-making.

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