Climate clippings 199

1. Ballarat and Bendigo targetted for blackouts to keep lights on in NSW

It didn’t happen, but the phone call was made during the early February heatwave:

    Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio confirmed she was approached by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) with the suggestion that either Ballarat or Bendigo could potentially lose electricity for a period of time to assist NSW.

Victoria was not impressed and have demanded an explanation.

2. Audrey Zibelman becomes CEO of AEMO

I was interested in the appointment of Audrey Zibelman to the role of AEMO Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective Monday, 20 March 2017. As Chair of the New York State Public Service Commission (NYPSC) she led the ‘Reforming the Energy Vision’ (REV) plan.

    The REV plan has been internationally recognised for successfully developing and implementing 21st century regulatory reform with a focus on lowering the cost of energy for consumers while building a more resilient and reliable power system.

Given her track record I suspect she’ll have no difficulty in working with South Australia, and other states for that matter.

3. Pumped hydro with seawater

Generally speaking South Australia lacks the rainfall, rivers and mountains to run a conventional hydro system, with or without pumped storage.

Roger Dargaville, Deputy Director of the Melbourne Energy Institute, explains (originally published at The Conversation) that the Institute has identified several potential seawater locations in South Australia suitable for pumped hydro, including a very promising site at the northern end of the Spencer Gulf, with significant elevation close to the coast and close to high-capacity transmission lines.

The MEI study suggests that pumped hydro could be delivered at around A$250 per kWh of storage, about half what is claimed for the giant Tesla battery installation.

Only one pumped hydro facility using seawater exists in the world – at Okinawa, linked to a coal-fired plant, decommissioned in 2016 after 17 years of operation.

4. Angry Summer 2016/17: Climate Change Super-Charging Extreme Weather

The Angry Summer was characterised by intense heatwaves, hot days and bushfires in central and eastern Australia, while heavy rainfall and flooding affected the west of the country. Noteworthy records from this summer include:

  • In just 90 days, more than 205 records were broken around Australia.
  • The state-wide mean temperature in summer was the hottest for New South Wales since records began, with temperatures 2.57°C above average.
  • Sydney had its hottest summer on record with a mean temperature 2.8°C above average.
  • Brisbane had its hottest summer on record in terms of mean temperature at 26.8°C, equivalent to 1.7°C above average.
  • Canberra had its hottest summer on record in terms of daytime temperatures and recorded temperatures of at least 35°C on 18 days, already far higher than what is projected for 2030 (12 days).
  • Adelaide experienced its hottest Christmas day in 70 years at 41.3°C.
  • Moree in regional New South Wales experienced 54 consecutive days of temperatures 35°C or above, a record for the state.
  • Perth had its highest summer total rainfall on record of 192.8 mm.

5. Extreme weather likely behind worst recorded mangrove dieback in northern Australia

    One of the worst instances of mangrove forest dieback ever recorded globally struck Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria in the summer of 2015-16. A combination of extreme temperatures, drought and lowered sea levels likely caused this dieback, according to our investigation published in the journal Marine and Freshwater Research.

The report found:

    About 7,400 hectares, or 6%, of the gulf’s mangrove forest had died. Losses were most severe in the NT, where around 5,500ha of mangroves suffered dieback. Some of the gulf’s many catchments, such as the Robinson and McArthur rivers, lost up to 26% of their mangroves.

6. Year-on-year bleaching threatens Great Barrier Reef’s World Heritage status

    The Great Barrier Reef has already been badly damaged by global warming during three extreme heatwaves, in 1998, 2002 and 2016. A new bleaching event is under way now.

The study reported in the link concludes that it’s the heat, stupid!

    Our study shows that we cannot climate-proof coral reefs by improving water quality or reducing fishing pressure. Reefs in clear water were damaged as much as muddy ones, and the hot water didn’t stop at the boundaries of no-fishing zones. There is nowhere to hide from global warming. The process of replacement of dead corals in the northern third of the reef will take at least 10-15 years for the fastest-growing species. (Emphasis added)

7. Government climate policy gets a fail

    Overall, climate pollution is up by 3.4 per cent since last year and by 7.5 per cent since the Abbott-Turnbull government axed the carbon price.

Here’s what it looks like:

    The new data also shows pollution from Australia’s electricity sector, which is responsible for about 35 per cent of our climate pollution, went up 2.6 per cent on the previous year and 5 per cent since the carbon price was removed.

8. Climate Institute to close doors

Sad news:

    “The Board of The Climate Institute (TCI) has announced that the TCI will cease to operate on June 30, 2017,” chairman Mark Wootton said in a statement, saying it had been “unable to establish the viable level of funding that would enable The Climate Institute to continue in a meaningful, sustainable form.”

John Connor, the respected CEO, is off to work for the Fiji government on climate matters.

I suspect the would have done better with a user-friendly website.

9. “Sun King” returns with ultralight, flexible PV to reshape solar market

    Dr Zhengrong Shi, the founder of Suntech and the former UNSW PhD graduate known as the “Sun King”, is returning to the solar market with a newly developed lightweight, ultra-thin and flexible panel that he is hailing as the biggest change to the solar industry in decades.

    The new PV panel uses a composite material – similar to that used in aircraft windows – that makes it nearly 80 per cent lighter than conventional panels, and thin, and flexible.

    This makes the panel ideal to incorporate into building structures such as rooftops and facades, and to put on large rooftop structures such as factories and carports that often cannot take the weight of conventional solar PV products.

    Dr Shi also says the new product – known as eArche, due to its architectural qualities – can be cut and shaped to order and is perfect to be incorporated into pre-fabricated buildings and building materials such as roofs and wall panels.

9 thoughts on “Climate clippings 199”

  1. Thanks Brian, not sure if anyone watched 4corners episode on climate change and US defence called The Age of Consequences
    last night (will be on Iview soon).
    I thought was up with most on that topic, but having the consequences reeled out one after another in a calm and methodological manner by seriously concerned high ranking security officials, left me with a dry throat.

    Forget about stopping the boats when 30 million Bangladeshis getting displaced by the rising the sea, with the Indians having built a wall on the border that would put East Germany to shame.

  2. Ootz, I did watch it. I was aware of most of the factual stuff and the notion that defence establishments everywhere are thinking about what comes next.

    Back in 2008, Gwynne Dyer talked to senior defence personnel and top climate scientists, then wrote a book called Climate Wars. I think if you google you may be able to read a fir bit online. This is a random review, which mentions the US National Security and the Threat of Climate Change report in April 2007.

    Dyer said back then that the Russians were war-gaming 100 million Chinese turning up in Siberia, northern Europe virtually creating a wall to cut off the southern part as the area dries out and is overwhelmed by refugees from Africa. China will divert water which would normally flow to India and SE Asia (I think that may already be happening). Pakistan is a problem, because it depends on 11 rivers, only one of which rises within its borders. Then you have the deltas of major rivers everywhere, including the Ganges and the Mekong.

    Dyer back then was a columnist syndicated in about 170 newspapers around the world, and with a defence background had good contacts. Climate scientists told him what only James Hansen was prepared to say in public at the time

    It was interesting last night that so many were willing to come out and speak frankly on camera they way they did. I’m honestly afraid of the damage Trump is going to attempt to do.

  3. Brian: Thanks for letting all of us know about the mangrove die-back in the Gulf Of Carpentaria. Why the hell didn’t Limited News ((I like Ootz’ term for them)) have this on their front pages and their big-money TV “news”?

    The Chinese obsession with Tibet goes way beyond imperial pride and map-marking ; apart from the Songhua, Min and a couple of others, the rest of their important rivers have their sources in Tibet. Wonder what would happen to Pakistan, India and BanglaDesh if the Chinese shifted their border just a little further south?

  4. Houses built by 3D printing and Dr Shi Zhengrong’s PV eArche: is this the end of houses built by hammer, saw and socket?

    Also, wonder how far this lightweight solar PV system will go towards making solar powered light- and general-aviation aircraft a safe and commercially-viable reality?

  5. GB,

    I can add some comment to the aviation thought. Electric aircraft do use light flexible panels already, but they require the highest efficiency available, 20% plus. I scoured Dr Shi’s website for mention of the efficiency, zip information. For the state of the art on practical solar powered flight go here

    http://sustainableskies.org/tag/sunseeker-duo/

    Solar powered commercial aircraft powered from their own collectors while in flight will not happen as there is insufficient area for the amount of energy required to carry more than say 6 people at the most, and that would require cell efficiency above 40%.

  6. I see solar energy producing paint as an important frontier. Mitsubishi has been working hard on it, and BHP make Colourbond roof sheeting. They have been working together in coal as BMA, when the price and efficiency is right they’ll make a motza, and good on them.

  7. Smart solar collecting windows likely before solar collecting paint? But paint sounds cheaper, and houses can have lots of it facing north.

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