Climate clippings 197

1. Global plan to save 10 per cent of coral reefs

A world-wide plane is being hatched a global plan says only 10 pc of coral reefs to save 10 per cent of coral reefs. The stark fact is that:

    Scientists estimate 90 per cent of the world’s coral reefs will disappear in the next 35 years due to coral bleaching induced by global warming, pollution and over-development.

The 50 Reefs initiative, recently launched at the World Ocean Summit in Bali, in a donor funded initiative to identify the 10% of reefs most likely to survive past 2050. Effectively it’s a triage operation.

The Great Barrier Reef Authority warns of widespread bleaching again this year. Such bleaching could be the new normal by 2050.

That’s presuming there will be something left to bleach.

Very sad!

2. Kangaroo Island’s green energy plans

Back in 2011 we had a holiday on Kangaroo Island with my daughter’s family. A charming place, with open farmlands, national parks and very visible native wildlife.

The population is about 4,400. It’s 13.5 km from Fleurieu Peninsula and 112 km southwest of Adelaide. Their big beef is that reliability of power is 10 times worse than it is on the mainland, and the cable connector is at near the end of its life.

    Replacing the cable, according to a report prepared by the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney, would cost about $169 million – $10 million more than the estimated the cost of a wind, solar and baseload (diesel or biomass fuel) grid on the island.

They say they need both and have been inspired by the transformation of Denmark’s Samsø Island to 100 per cent renewable energy by the mid 2000s.

They are working on a partial community ownership model and hope to sell power to the mainland. Good luck to them!

3. Powerlink, the Queensland government’s golden goose

This article from last April talks about the returns provided by Powerlink, the Queensland government-owned high-voltage transmission grid that connects the local grids to power generators. Powerlink does not buy or sell power, it just provides the conduit.

From government equity of just $401 million Powerlink has accrued total returns of $9.4 billion in the last 15 years, that is, it has returned over 23 times the equity investment.

Personally I can’t see it, but the article suggests that according to NSW prices you could expect to sell it for around $33 billion. If history is any guide that would be political suicide.

4. Australian wind farms to compete with gas to provide grid stability

A trial is being conducted involving the newly constructed 100MW Hornsdale 2 wind farm in SA funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and with the involvement of the Australian Energy Market Operator:

    The intention is to show that wind farms can provide what is known as FCAS – frequency control and ancillary services – a critical component in ensuring grid stability in the face of unexpected voltage swings and other faults. Many insist that only coal and gas generators can provide this so-called “inertia” to the grid.

    AEMO believes that encouraging wind farms to provide FCAS will add more fuel choice to the narrow FCAS market, and lower prices. Currently, only a few gas generators provide FCAS in South Australia, leading to massive price spikes when the service is called upon.

It’s too technical, and I just don’t know. We have been told that FCAS doesn’t matter. Last September the Victorian interconnector was being run so close to capacity that when the pylons hit the ground the system would have blacked out, no matter what. In starting up again, wind came on board before gas.

In the February blackouts the problem was that AEMO did not forecast the wind drop-off in time.

An ANU study:

    has found that by using solar and wind energy, supported by pumped hydro, Australia can have a cheap, stable, zero-emissions network.

Meanwhile I’m interested in this:

    Frydenberg said the government had also asked the Bureau of Meteorology to “embed its expertise” within AEMO as an immediate step to strengthen their forecasting capability.

5. Climate change doubled the chance of the NSW heatwave

So far I haven’t connected the recent heatwave to climate change. However, scientists involved in climate attribution now say that climate change doubled our chances of it happening. Also:

    It is all part of a rapid warming trend that over the past decade has seen new heat records in Australia outnumber new cold records by 12 to 1.

6. Spring comes early in the US

    As the nation basks in some of the warmest February weather it has seen in decades, the U.S. Geological Survey has been quick to point out that the early spring conditions are another symptom of climate change.

    On Thursday, the USGS shared a new analysis just released by the USA-National Phenology Network, which the agency helps to fund, showing that an early spring has already swept through the Southeast and is continuing to work its way across the country. As the agency points out, the new analysis reaffirms a fact scientists have known for at least a decade now — that “climate change is variably advancing the onset of spring across the United States.”

In Washington DC spring came a whopping 22 days early this year.

Problem is, growth starts and can then be killed off by snap frosts.

7. Climate change shrinks the Colorado River

The Colorado River supplies water to about 40 million people and 6,300 square miles of farmland.

Scientists have found that the decline in precipitation should have produced a reduction of about 11.4 percent in the river flow. In fact the reduction was 19.3 percent.

    They concluded that the rest was due to higher temperatures, which increased evaporation from water and soil, sucked more moisture from snow and sent more water from plant leaves into the atmosphere.

They say that climate change could reduce the flow by more than a third by the end of the century.

34 thoughts on “Climate clippings 197”

  1. I move that Climate Clippings should be read out loud in Federal Parliament on the nearest sitting day of its appearance of Climate Plus.

  2. I second that BilB and we have to make sure it gets recorded in Hansard for future reference.

    1. So proud we have such passioned and brilliant scientists like Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, who coordinated the research and put the campaign together on 50 reefs campaign. Mondays ABC tv “Australian Story” profiled him and showed how that campaign came about. Well worth watching on iView if you missed it.

    2. Good on the the movers and shakers on Kangaroo Island as well as the community to take back ‘ownership’ of energy. I have been advocating regional energy security for several years. We have seen how exposed centralised systems can be highlighted the repercussion in industry and effect in domestic domain. For us here in far north Queensland who are literally on ‘the end of the line’, the recent Kidston Pump storage project is a welcomed move toward such. There are multiple advantages to foster regional security and have a mixture of approaches in the fast changing energy sector, parallel to national grid. I could envisage a popular competitive spirit similar to footy tribalism of which region is the best.

    3. To all the free market fetishists, show me an asset of equivalent importance providing crucial service to the state, totally funded and run by private investment with the same returns and financial contribution to the state.

    4. All credible independent research tells us renewables can (and will have to at some stage) ensure grid stability. However, there are three major components for such to eventuate. First, an important component is a smart grid or grids, enabling a connectivity that not only shuffles power from central point A to user point B, more a like a clever net work which distributes energy as well as manage it on many levels and with more participant groups than generators, distributors and consumers. There are indications fast and fundamental changes in other tech areas, where it looks that disrupting tech is totally bypassing legacy tech thereby old institutions and markets lose significant relevance. Second, the energy mix and generation/management and distribution needs to be right. We should not be affright to experiment to some degree where opportunities and risks allow. And we should not be affright to take on the ‘ free market’ which is hogging the domain, as long it is done fairly. Thirdly, we need to have a coherent energy policy addressing the needs of markets, financial risks and existential problem of externalities. We need well founded regulation, with an in built flexibility to facilitate an efficient and effective energy transition in time to address economic, ecological and technological constraints as well as opportunities.

  3. Brian, with due respect 🙂 re your points 5. 6. and 7.

    Considering that the majority of voters who gave us this government, as well as more than 2/3 (or there about) of the overall population recognise the ecological and economic risk of co2 emissions and want something done, I would argue, these reports are somewhat distracting or even counter productive overall. First, these reports make no difference to the recalcitrant pro-pollution warrior, these people are stuck. Further, they also have a startling effect by scaring the rest of us to a disabling degree. A bit like rabbits in headlights. The ordinary punter, and I include myself here, is overwhelmed by such information, in terms of it’s meaning and implications on a personal level. How about we start to focus on reporting along these lines. What are the implication of these trends, what are going to be the effects of these massive and rapid ecological changes to us as individual. In terms of lifestyle, health, financially, employment etc. so we can start to focus on resilience and opportunities these challenging events and related changes bring. For example, what about reporting increase in insurance premiums which are due to increased risks brought on by CO2 pollution. The Insurance industry is being confronted by the role and risk of greenhouse gas emissions through massive losses year after year.

    Last year, natural hazard claims exceeded provisions for the ninth year in 10, costing the major insurer $2 billion more than budgeted. Bell Potter analysts have now estimated another $40 million loss for the first half of the 2016-17 financial year, with the severe storms experienced in South Australia and Victoria the primary culprits.
    It seems that as climate change shifted from theoretical risk to real and present danger, it became a much more difficult conversation. As parts of Queensland became uninsurable for flood damage, the major general insurers stopped talking about the impact climate change would have on coverage and premiums, and instead focused on “resilience”, i.e. building standards.

    Millions of Australians are exposed to risk of injury, financial loss or property damage from events forecast to become more intense and more common due to climate change.

    Think you’re covered? Think again. Ask the residents of Collaroy in Sydney’s Northern Beaches who last year learned the hard way that they weren’t covered for the Pacific Ocean chewing off parts of their backyards and homes.

    natural hazard claims aren’t the only way insurers are exposed to climate change. All insurers are to varying degrees exposed to fossil fuels through their investment portfolios and QBE and Suncorp are actively underwriting the infrastructure and property of the fossil fuel sector. They are in fact undermining their own profitability by perpetuating the very activities that are driving these repeated natural hazard claim blowouts.

    by Julien Vincent, SMH Suncorp, the company where the price isn’t right on extreme weather

    In other good news also reported in the SMH ‘Health risk’: HCF first health insurer to divest from fossil fuels. Has anyone check wether their financial decisions and investment continue to support the polluting fossils. I really would be interested in how everyone is talking divestment, was I believe voting with your wallet is more effective then on polls.

  4. It is crucial that the Qld government retains ownership of the high voltage grid.
    Privatization at a time when radical change should be happening means that poor decisions may be made to avoid having to compensate someone for government decisions.

  5. Ootz: Maybe

    First, an important component is a smart grid or grids, enabling a connectivity that not only shuffles power from central point A to user point B, more a like a clever net work which distributes energy as well as manage it on many levels and with more participant groups than generators, distributors and consumers.

    is the way to go but I suspect it will make more sense for microgrids or houses to be come more self sufficient with a much reduced (or no) power flow over the grid if it hasn’t been converted to scrap metal.

  6. Absolutely John, please see the point I made in point 2 about regional energy security. There is no doubt in my mind, that a smart grid will have to provide degrees of autonomy as well as transparency. I envisage it almost like a the web of an ‘ecological landscape’ of energy, an electrical ecosystem if you want. There are parallels in other emerging technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things), In fact, IoT, could become an enabler of a true smart grid.

  7. Speaker: “Clerk?”
    Clerk: “Bill by BilB, ‘The Federal Parliament Rational Debate Bill, 2017″, second reading.”
    Speaker, “I call on the Minister, the right honourable Member for Bahnisch.”
    Minister, “The Bill introduced by BilB and co-seconded by Ootz and zoot….”
    Manager of Opposition Business, C. Pyneapple, on a point of order, “Speaker, check the time stamp! The seconding and thirding happened within a second of each other. Are we to traduce the honour of the Gregorian calendar, and the most recent Leap Second? I must object strenuously!”
    Speaker, “There is no point of order.”
    Minister, “Thank you Mr Speaker. Through you, may I ask the Honourable Member to check his Oxford? As it was said in another place, ‘Oxford is your friend’.”
    Member for Cambridge, on a point of order, “Mr Speaker, under standing order 8576(a), noi denigration of my alma mater…”
    Speaker, “Sit down and be silent! I remind members on my left to cease interjecting. I call on the Minister.”
    Minister, “Thank you Mr Speaker, as…..”


    Sitting suspended until the next day of sitting, respectful listening made an order of the day.

    [Fat chance.]

  8. Here a A Review on IOT Based Smart Grid to give you some ideas what I am talking about. Here the abstract

    The Internet of Things (IoT) is the widely accepted technology that connect everyday objects to the internet for providing ease and various functionalities and the Smart Grid (SG) is defined as the power grid integrated with a large network of ICT. The SG is the combination of billions of smart objects: smart appliances, smart meters, actuators and sensors etc. This paper analyse the various accepted application requirements of Internet of Things deployed in Smart Grid and provides an effective proposal about diverse technologies and standards and of Smart Grid and it also provides an overview about several applications and driving factors of Smart Grid.

    IoT is a crucial component of the 4th industrial revolution. If you have not heard about it, then you should inform and get ready for profound changes which put everything in the shadow of what we experienced the last 20 years in terms profound change in our lives and society. No Abbott or Turnbull can stop this, it is beyond politics and free markets, to some degree it simply bypasses it.

  9. Sorry Ootz but I have been a professional simplifier for much of my working life. (Mainly because my mind struggles with the complicated stuff.) To my mind, complication is the lazy way to solve problems.
    So perhaps you can understand my reluctance to applaud

    The Internet of Things (IoT) is the widely accepted technology that connect everyday objects to the internet for providing ease and various functionalities and the Smart Grid (SG) is defined as the power grid integrated with a large network of ICT. The SG is the combination of billions of smart objects: smart appliances, smart meters, actuators and sensors etc.

    Sure, there are times where adding a bit of complication is the sensible solution but we need to be wary of born complicators just as we need to be wary of grid experts who see the answer to everything a grid centric answer.
    Keep in mind as renewables and storage get cheaper the economics are more and more likley to favor simply installing more generating and storage capacity instead of connecting to an overpriced grid that is responsible for most of our power charges.

  10. John IoT is not a complicator, it is a natural progression, just as microprocessors replaced TTL and they in turn evolved into PLCs. We can’t stop the progression, as we talk Smart Cities turn on IoT gateways hooking up millions of devices. These devices which previously have costed thousands of dollars are now manufactured by the millions for a small fraction of the cost based on the miniaturisation of circuitry and a quantum leap in manufacturing them, think Arduino and Raspberry Pi. But it is a little more complicated than that because it is also kind of open source, thus truly everyone can access it and do their thing on it. My regional town Cairns just installed it’s first gateways and so on it’s way to become a ‘Smart City’. The Council and various startup ventures looking already to implement smart tech to simplify rubbish collection to water usage management. It is truly a revolution, I know one when I see one, as I have been with IT since the punchcards. I’ll see if I can find a good overview of role of IoT and smart cities. That is the problem, unless you have followed it’s development it is hard to grasp its application and transformative force. Put it this way, it is an Uber PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) running on its own wifi.

  11. Ootz: Also started programming using Fortran and punched cards. Useful for getting a wee bit of respect from nerds.
    I am still concerned that all the babble about smart cities and power systems will lock in approaches that aren’t really smart at all. There are too many agendas out there and they are not all about providing cheap, clean reliable power.

  12. I understand your concern John, however IoT in the electricity sector is being implemented on various levels already. Put it this way, personally wether I go stand alone or stay on the grid or hybrid, I know I will have a Smart Home using IoT technology to monitor electricity flow and automate electrical devices to get optimal efficiency and ensure energy security. The technology is modifiable, scalable and easily integrate with other networks as well as can be monitored and controlled with your smart phone. Energy efficiency is equally important as electricity generation and distribution. The beauty is wether the government and the ‘free market’ wants it or not, this new technology will find it’s own solutions as it it is open source. In fact things are moving that quick at present that often regulators can’t keep up and free marketeers have problem coming to grasp of it, a bit like media empires struggling to deal with online news or taxi companies with Uber and governments can’t keep up with regulation and legislation. You are right IoT can and will bring its own problems, but that has not stopped previous emerging tech evolution and the thing is, the more these legacy central powers try to obstruct change, the more new tech and transformative digital society will become disruptive, give them the finger and go their own way 🙂 A similar thing may happen with the internet itself if Telcos and governments get too bloated, greedy or obstructive (see NBN and SkyMuster debacle. As I mention above, new gateways rely on frequencies which are not hogged by telcos wifi.

  13. A 4th industrial revolution ?
    A Billion humans haven’t gotten to the 2nd yet.
    Let’s work on a clean way to get them there.

  14. Jumpy, the Indians are on the forefront of IoT and disruptive leapfrogging technology in ‘less developed’ countries is the bane of the legacy ‘free marketeers’ and corporate pirates. If you don’t watch it you may have to catch up with the third world soon 😀

  15. ‘free marketeers’ and corporate pirates.

    They lead every ” industrial revolution “, the 4th will be no different. East/West Germany, North/South Korea, Venezuela now, If I wanted 3rd World I’d promote Central Planing.

  16. Central Planing??

    Jumpy, planing has been decentralised for hundreds of years now….. Carpenters used their own planes in their own workshops. DIY householders still do it on site, at home.

    Probably some tradies you know do their own decentralised planing, using their own “devices”. Called planes.

    Please don’t get confused about this. It is quite true there are also manned heavier-than-air vehicles called “aeroplanes”, a word some folk now shorten to “planes”.

    If they have reached your neck of the woods, you’ll easily recognise them by the man out in front carrying a red flag to warn people that a plane is about to approach. Oh no, hang on, that’s an Omnibus Bill, no, wait, I tell a lie, it’s a “car”. Anyway….

    Central Planing has never worked very well. It’s bureaucratic and slow. Try to keep up, please.

    “Progress, can’t live with it, can’t live without it!”

  17. BilB, thanks for the support.

    Ootz, I’m trying to include everything of importance that comes into view in a way that is digestible and with the minimum expenditure of energy on the part of the reader.

    That includes what is happening in the real world. I think the attribution of the heatwave was worth a few lines. The California stuff was marginal, but there was a drought there for years and I was interested in whether there were long-term implications in Trump-land.

    I’m a realist, and am never going to back off because the news is bad.

    I’m interested in the ‘internet of things’ and I’m interested in how the whole thing might clog up because it can’t take the traffic, so that it becomes a thing available only to those who are able to pay.

    When I get a good take on it I’ll do a post, if I have time.

    I’m not actually sure IoT is the right moniker. Certainly when we were in Europe we were feeling distinctly out of it without smart phones, and now when I talk to my sons they are both apt to check stuff out mid-conversation by referring to the interwebs. So I’m feeling primitive living in a world without apps.

    As a practical thing in CC and SS I try to work to a 150 word limit. There were 540 in your comment of 11. 38am.

    That’s not a criticism, I’m just saying not every topic is suitable for CC. There is an exhortation about brevity in the Comments Policy, but at present the longer comments are no doubt adding value, so please continue as you are if the spirit moves you.

  18. Yeah. I’ll vote to have Climate Clippings read out in Parliament. What about times when Parliament is in recess though?

    Kangaroo Island: How about renewable energy AND some low-impact sunrise industries too.

    Australia being Australia, I wonder how long it will take our glorious political and business leaders to strangle such an innovation out of fear that it would spread to other parts of The Clever(??) Country?

  19. John D.: Fortran and Hollerith cards did have some advantages over a lot of the current techno-trash. Don’t panic. I’m not advocating a return to them – but perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to look at historical stuff in order to be inspired to find better ways of doing things than can be done with some of today’s semi-useful toys-and-trinkets.

  20. Graham, I am not sure if you can call emerging technology, such as IoT, as “techno-trash”. Mining for example has been heading that way for a while with its driverless trucks and remote sensing stuff in fact they are all ready using IoT compatible infrastructure and components. Local government incorporate IoT into their planning. I understand Turnbull appointed a minister for city wherein Smart City and IoT are key concepts. As I mentioned above, the Indians doing serious research in smart grid based on IoT technology to manage generation and load systemically. Remember, we had the basics of smart grid with so called ripple controllers, which switched between tariffs on individual household level. I always wondered why that technology had never been more utilised as it could have been easily and cheaply expanded. As I understand you could to some extend even run internet traffic on the electrical supply grid.

  21. No, Ootz, techno-trash is all those over-priced gadgets, dis-services and grown-ups’ toys of doubtful utility, dubious quality and fleeting durability that stop-over in our homes and our workplaces on the way to becoming landfill.

    The Internet Of Things, on the other hand, is full of promise and unforseen potential. It does have some disadvantages but we can handle them. And no, before you ask, I am not spooked by the Wikileaks revelation that the CIA has learned to use a few high-tech household items to spy on US citizens ; if they want to squander their taxpayers’ funds like that then more fool them.

  22. 0otz: The Davidson’s consume about 7.5kWh per day which, if we didn’t have solar would cost less than $2 per day. I am a bit suspicious of IoT peddlers wanting me to spend lots of money on techno junk that will take ???? years to pay back and be out of date long before the payback time has been reached
    This doesn’t mean that it will never make sense to have more sophisticated form of off-peak/controlled power to reduce grid peaks and equipment like air conditioners, fridges, freezers and washing machines designed so that they are compatible with controlled power.

  23. John,

    A similar calculation by a Melburnian who had spent just under a thousand dollars to install a small home rainwater tank, showed the family had saved $6 over the summer. People do these calculations and hold back from capital outlays. Thanks for your note(s) of realism.

    OTOH rooftop domestic solar hot water and solar PV both now pass the “simple accounting” test.

    [pub tests are more relaxing, but can be noisy]

  24. John D. and Ambigulous: Money-cost should not be the sole criterion for deciding if an item or service is worthwhile.

    Lots of other criteria are worth thinking about, such as convenience, safety or -ugh! – prestige-value.

  25. Yes, quite right Graham.

    Our solar PV contributes in a tiny way to energy supply, through feed-in; we advocate others to take it up, among our circles.

    It should be an asset for the next owner of the house, should we sell.

    We’re happy that passers-by may notice it, not for any “prestige” as there are others in the street, but as a practical matter: if we find it useful, maybe they might look into installing something similar too. One thing about rooftop solar – it’s rarely a ‘secret vice’.

  26. Has anyone heard of a successful way of encouraging Aussie landlords to install rooftop solar on rental properties?

  27. Ambiguous: A friend of mine who looks at satellite pictures has noticed that once a someone has installed others nearby are more likely to install. It is a bit like a fungus spreading.

  28. I know of some people who have come to some agreement with their landlord.
    Putting a value on solar to a tenant is tricky since the value depends on tenant usage patterns. I am sure something could be worked out if power distributors were more enthusiastic.

  29. Fungus??

    How about: “the spread of enlightenment”

    {Or self-sufficiency, energy efficiency, reducing emissions, lowering peak demand in sunny hot weather……}

  30. Neighbours can be very influential, often being friends, sometimes sharing similar financial positions.

    In our street, about five households installed solar hot water at the same time: State govt subsidy, and a local govt subsidy*, and word of mouth amongst friends did the job.

    BTW, State govt condition was that, if town gas was available, your water booster had to be natural gas fired rather than electric. Substituting gas for brown coal electricity; a transition policy.

    Households on bottled gas pay through the nose: we were such for about seven years.

    * provincial town in Victoria, offered small subsidies for installing
    i. Water tank
    ii. Solar hot water
    iii. Composting in garden
    Pretty good use of some of our rates, we thought.

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