Climate clippings 207

1. Adani proposal to get free coal for five years

The ABC has got wind of a story that Adani, if the Carmichael coal plant goes ahead, will pay only token royalties to the Queensland Government.

Whether true or not here is a big handshake:

Michael Barnard takes a look at whether Australian coal is any cleaner than Indian coal, and whether it really matters.

There is too much detail to summarise, but his bottom line is:

    As I look at the data available, I see Adani being completely out-to-lunch in their assertion that there is a market of any type for Australian coal in India in the coming years.

He doubts that Adani is going to get major, long-lasting coal contracts, and will probably go broke.

India is engaging in technological upgrades, shutting bad coal plants, completing the supercritical plants and building an awful lot of renewables. It has a policy of shutting down thermal coal imports within 2-3 years.

The latest is that while there is no decision, Jackie Trad has spoken – there will be no royalties holiday for Adani.

Quiggin has a post saying Adani has been looking for an excuse to walk away and blame government obstruction. They get to defer writing off the billion or more they have already invested, and perhaps claim some kind of compensation. Quiggin sees Palaszczuk as stuffing up and being out-maneuvered.

I suspect it suits everyone. Palaszczuk can say she tried everything. Trad, playing bad cop needs green votes, and can say she is honouring pre-election promises.

2. Coal is back in the Bowen Basin

The firm Vitrinite has announced that it has:

    discovered 123 million tonnes of metallurgical coal in the Karin Basin tenement in the Bowen Basin in central Queensland with the deposit promising some of the highest quality coking coal ever found in Australia.

They are not alone:

    Coal exploration spending in Queensland has been steadily growing in the past six quarters, including $27.4 million in the December quarter, with industry predicting it will continue to surge throughout 2017.


    The price of metallurgical coal surged above $US300 but has settled down to around $US200, while thermal coal – which is used to burn in power stations – is about $US70.

Moreover, they say the big companies have only been interested in the easy pickings, but there is plenty more in the Bowen Basin without heading inland to the Galilee Basin.

3. New printed solar material

Professor Paul Dastoor of the University of Newcastle is spruiking their new printed solar material which is paper-thin and sticks onto surfaces like velcro. He says it is cheap, about $10 per square metre, and ten printers operating around the clock we could print enough material to deliver power to 1000 homes per day. It works better in shade than conventional PV solar and can even extract a bit of energy from moonlight.

They’ve invented the process as well as the materials.

It’s light, quick and cheap, I just don’t know how it would go on our corrugated iron roof, or any uneven surface.

4. Butterfly effect could boost solar cell efficiency

    A team of Australian National University researchers has taken inspiration from the humble butterfly wing to develop a nano-technology that could greatly improve the efficiency of solar cells.

    Drawing from the neotropical Morpho Didius butterfly, whose wings have tiny cone-shaped nanostructures that scatter light to create a striking blue iridescence, the ANU team was able to finely control the direction of light in a range of experiments, including tests on next generation solar cells.

The aim was:

    to absorb all of the blue, green and ultraviolet colours of sunlight in the perovskite layer of a solar cell, and all of the red, orange and yellow light in the silicon layer – known as a tandem solar cell with double-decker layers.

Using these kinds of solar cells they surpassed silicon efficiency records last month.

5. The heat continues

2017 is not expected to be as hot as 2016, but will be hot nevertheless, if forecasts are near the mark.

March was the second hottest month on record globally.

NOAA says the planet was 1.05°C above the 20th century average for March, the first time any month has breached the 1°C threshold in the absence of El Niño. That was from this Climate Central post, which graphs the individual months back to 1880. Using a baseline of 1881-1910 they say the last time any month was below that baseline was in 1964. That makes March the 627th month in a row above the baseline.

This post updates the frightening spiral graph, but I actually prefer this one:

The change in colours shows the climate leaving the past behind.

6. New Centre for Southern Hemisphere Oceans Research (CSHOR) opens

For the CSIRO it’s the backflip you have when you are not having a backflip after slashing it’s climate effort last year:

    The Centre for Southern Hemisphere Oceans Research (CSHOR), a joint venture principally between the CSIRO and China’s Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, was announced today and will begin operating in June.

    Over five years, the Chinese will stump up $10 million and the CSIRO $8.25 million with the University of New South Wales and the University of Tasmania adding the remainder.

    CSHOR (the acronym pronounced ‘Seashore’) will be examining how the southern hemisphere oceans — the Indian, the Southern and the Pacific — interact and drive global climate.

The focus will range from the tropics to Antarctica.

You have to take your hat off to the Chinese. The Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science (QLM) is setting up five centres around the world – this one in Hobart, two in the US, and one each in Germany and Russia.

7. Trump trashes climate change on websites

Meanwhile the Trump administration is systematically trashing websites and writing out climate change from official websites.

8. Switzerland votes to ban nuclear plants

In a referendum:

    Swiss voters have backed the Government’s plan to provide billions of dollars in subsidies for renewable energy, ban new nuclear plants and help bail out struggling utilities in a binding referendum.

Solar and wind account for less than 5 per cent of Switzerland’s energy output.

    Under the law, 480 million francs ($660 million) will be raised annually from electricity users to fund investment in wind, solar and hydro power.

    An additional 450 million francs ($620 million) will be set aside from an existing fossil fuels tax to help cut energy use in buildings by 43 per cent by 2035 compared with 2000 levels.

    Solar and wind now account for less than 5 per cent of Switzerland’s energy output, compared with 60 per cent for hydro and 35 per cent for nuclear.

10 thoughts on “Climate clippings 207”

  1. Adani has been an on-going bilious attack for me for ages now. The royalty holiday was mooted a few weeks ago and has me seething. That there mine should even exist is wrong, to give the royalties away is stupid, to give the water away is criminal and to lend them money for the rail line beggars belief. The long-term contribution to global climate change makes it a crime against humanity.
    There have been many doubts cast about the viability of the Carmichael mine, and it is reported that many banks have declined to finance the project. In a period of declining coal prices, increased social and scientific resistance to coal (especially low-grade quality) the economic failure of the Carmichael mine has to be considered. It follows too that any fiscal incentive must be protected against failure and likewise any environmental repair costs.

    India talks of ultra super critical coal generation. Their first Indian designed site might be ready 2019-2020 and have an expected efficiency of 46%. A “good” conventional efficiency is about 35%. Estimated cost for the first station is ~$230 million.

    I do like the comments suggesting it is set up to be abandoned and the antics to deflect “blame”. For this government it will be the second big loss-of-project, the other being the $4 billion Fung development is Cairns.

    That the liberal Emerson is fully supportive of Adani’s mine show’s just how screwed we are by government…whatever their colours.

    Excited announcements about more coal in Queensland suggests that some sectors don’t see the end of coal on the horizon at all.

  2. Blast furnaces need high quality coke that can withstand the stresses in blast furnaces as well as providing the fuel and reductant the process needs. So at the moment there is an ongoing need for metallurgical coal. Some of the metallurgical coal mines produce low grade thermal coal as a byproduct when producing metallurgical coal.
    Emissions from steel production can be reduced using electric furnaces, particularly if they are powered by renewables. (The electricity provides the heat that comes from burning coke in the blast furnace.
    It is possible to produce steel using renewable hydrogen made using renewable electricity.
    In the short term the focus should be educing the mining of the sort of coal that Adani would produce.
    Just hoping that Adani gets nothing from any of our governments

  3. I have admitted in the past to having an interest in large batteries.
    The two most favoured technologies at the moment are lithium ion and reduction oxidation (Redox or flow batteries.
    In Sydney, the UNSW is heavily involved with Redox. At Sydney uni, development of another promising battery runs apace.

    Actually, it seems every week some paper pops up heralding a new breakthrough – but most are years away from being commercial.
    One thing I have noticed is that development is happening so quickly that scholarly peer-reviewed articles cannot keep up. So researchers turn to other media forms for publicity, like this interesting development from Newcastle:

  4. To be honest, I don’t know what is happening with the Adani tax holiday. It seems that the Palaszczuk government may be developing a broader policy to make the Adani case seem not exceptional. That can’t be good.

    With Adani, I recall that in India they are investing strongly in renewables, so keeping this on their books without developing it may be part of a survival strategy.

  5. Thanks, Douglas and Geoff.

    In all it doesn’t look good for the Carmichael mine. Canavan doesn’t sound all that confident about its viability.

    One aspect that I think is neglected is that the watershed for the Galilee Basin is inland towards Lake Eyre. If the place floods, which it will at some stage, a lot of crap will be washed down to fairly pristine and fragile environments.

  6. Quiggin on Adani:

    My guess is that, before anything of substance happens in the Galilee Basin, Adani will be back with more demands (maybe a Danzig corridor). Sooner or later, they’ll make an offer that can be refused, at which point they’ll pull up stumps and send in the lawyers asking for compensation.

    I suspect they’ll hang out to see whether they can deal with an LNP state government, but Quiggin’s suggestion that it will end with a compensation claim is more than interesting.

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