- The Bureau of Meteorology says wind gusts up to 260km/h from a “supercell” thunderstorm and multiple tornadoes were recorded on September 28, destroying transmission towers and causing the state-wide blackout in South Australia.
That’s as strong as Cyclone Tracy, which flattened Darwin, and almost as strong as Cyclone Yasi.
The BoM had issued repeated warnings of “destructive winds” and AEMO did nothing. The Victorian interconnector continued to run at near capacity.
There are calls for an independent inquiry into AEMO’s actions, or lack of them, on that day and subsequently. For one reason:
- the local experts are reluctant to take the problem on as they derive much of their income doing work for AEMO and AEMO has made problems for engineers in the past.
Earlier post here.
Australia is among the world’s largest consumers of diesel per capita. A Brisbane company, Australian DME Fuels, is looking at producing dimethyl ether (DME), which has a cleaner emissions profile than diesel, and no particulates or soot. The company has plans
- to build Australia’s first commercial-scale production plant by 2020, generating a diesel-replacement fuel for use in trucks, heavy machinery, and remote off-grid power stations. The DME can also be blended with liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for use in passenger vehicles.
- cost is still a red flag. Renewable DME could be upwards of three times more expensive per gigajoule than diesel (currently $15/gigajoule), or DME produced with non-renewable methanol ($17/gigajoule).
Volvo and its subsidiary Mack are looking at truck engines designed to use DME and last year Ford began working with the German government to develop and test the world’s first production passenger car to run on DME.
It could be a chicken and egg thing which gets greener as it goes, but they are aiming at 50,000 tonnes pa in the first phase.
3. Traffic kills
The above item linked to an article about London considering banning diesel cars, because the pollution they cause is illegal as well as lethal.
The New Scientist has an article (pay-walled) about European and US cities, and their problems with air pollution.
- Nearly half a million people in Europe die from air pollution every year – and most of those deaths are being caused by breathing air that is supposedly “safe”. It kills more people than obesity or alcohol – only smoking is more dangerous.
The legal limits are still lethal.
The statistics are based on direct deaths and lives shortened. There is no doubt that cars and trucks are the biggest problem. However:
- In cities, about half the particulates comes from brake pads and a tenth from tyres. Another quarter comes from traffic stirring up dirt on roads.
So even switching to electric vehicles won’t solve the problem. One 2016 study (Energies, doi.org/br6t) estimated that electric cars still produce an eighth of the PM10s that new diesels do and half as much as petrol cars do.
So we need to reduce traffic. Walking and cycling is good.
Now the High Court in London has ruled that the UK Government must clean up the air as soon as possible. Apparently the case concerned nitrogen dioxide, produced by burning diesel.
4. Putting carbon back in the land is just a smokescreen for real climate action: Climate Council report
The report, Land Carbon: No Substitute for Action On Fossil Fuels, is 64 pages long with extensive detail.
Putting carbon back into soil is a good idea, but it’s not a fair dinkum climate mitigation strategy. For starters, there is a problem of scale.
At present rates total fossil fuel emissions from 2015 to 2050 will be about 360 billion tonnes of carbon. Reducing emissions through land carbon methods could save up to 38 billion tonnes only.
Moreover, it is not secure:
- Carbon stored on land is vulnerable to being returned to the atmosphere. Natural disturbances such as bushfires, droughts, insect attacks and heatwaves, many of which are being made worse by climate change, can trigger the release of significant amounts of land carbon back to the atmosphere.
The report also points out that our fossil fuel exports are roughly 6.5 times greater than the uptake of carbon by Australian landscapes.
This is a disturbing article. Ausgrid sold “without an audit of the asset base and reasonable writedowns of useless, unused and under utilised assets, embeds these inefficiencies in the system.” The NSW government still owns half of it.
Ausgrid, which serves 1.7 million customers in Sydney, the Hunter Valley and the Central Coast regions of NSW, has a regulated asset base of $15 billion, and it seems that Industry Funds Management and Australian Super have paid 1.4 times that asset base in their deal that values the business at just over $20 billion.
Ausgrid is actually one of the least efficient networks in Australia:
The current situation is the worst of all possible worlds, with high electricity prices built in and a ready-made lobby to a government with an interest in maintaining the status quo.
- An ice avalanche stretching 3.7 miles and burying the land in up to 98 feet of ice is weird. A second one in almost the exact same location just a few months later is essentially unheard of.
And yet that’s exactly what happened in a remote corner of Tibet in late September, when a second massive jumble of ice and rock ripped across the landscape. The second avalanche is just a few miles away from the first one, which occurred on July 17.
“Even one of these gigantic glacier avalanches is very unusual,” Andreas Kääb, a glaciologist at the University of Oslo, told NASA Earth Observatory, which published a new set of images. “Two of them within close geographical and temporal vicinity is, to our best knowledge, unprecedented.”