1. Trump’s climate vandalism continues
Trump has picked a Republican politician, Rep. Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma to oversee NASA, a job that often goes to astronauts or scientists.
- Bridenstine, who is the former executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium, said in a 2013 speech on the House floor: “Global temperatures stopped rising 10 years ago. Global temperature changes, when they exist, correlate with sun output and ocean cycles.”
It’s yet another case where Trump has gone for about the worst person he could find:
- Who worse to lead the EPA than a man whose primary qualification is having sued the agency 14 times on behalf of polluting industries? Who worse to lead the Midwestern states EPA than a woman who the EPA cited for failure to control air pollution in Wisconsin and who deleted all mention of human-caused climate change from her department website? Who worse to lead the Department of Energy than a man who wanted to eliminate the department (until he forgot – oops)? Who worse to be the Department of Agriculture’s chief scientist than a right-wing birther radio host with no scientific background? And these are only the administration officials in positions related to energy and the environment.
2. Hurricanes and climate change
Chanh Kieu of Indiana University takes a look at the relationship between hurricanes and climate change.
The physics of how an increase of sea surface temperature can increase intensity by 2-3% per degree is well-established, but hurricane have a good deal of natural variability, so establishing exact measurable links is still beyond us.
Theoretically they should also move poleward.
The most significant link in recent events was how Harvey got stuck in one place, which was quite unusual.
- Some research has indicated that the change in global climate could lead to a shift of the jet stream behaviors over North America.
Well, not just North America. There are numerous examples of this happening around the world.
It was predicted for summer, but happened 11 days into spring. South Australia’s grid demand fell to a record 786MW because of rooftop solar:
At the time, rooftop solar accounted for 36 per cent (445MW) of electricity demand in the state. It should be noted that rooftop solar used directly by homes and businesses does not appear on the graph.
The new record is notable for two reasons: firstly, it confirms that record low demand has shifted from the night to the middle of the day; and second, it did not occur in summer, as had been forecast by AEMO, but in early spring.
Within 10 years demand is predicted to fall to zero with peak sunshine.
4. Solar plants lobbing into coal country
Adani is set to begin work on the major solar plant it is building in the heart of Australian coal country: a 100-200MW affair south-west of Moranbah in Queensland’s Bowen Basin.
State resources minister Anthony Lynham said on Monday that five “highly reputable companies” were in the running to build what could be Australia’s largest solar farm – a project of up to 450MW proposed for a 1,248 hectare patch at Aldoga, at the base on Mount Larcom.
That’s near Gladstone, which is home to a 1,680MW coal-fired power station, the state’s largest electricity generator and is also known for its shipping port, largely used to export coal and, more recently, LNG.
- The construction of the new 5MW solar farm at the Summerhill waste management centre will add to the already established 2.2MW landfill gas generator, as well as a small wind turbine – and paves the way for battery storage and electric garbage trucks.
This one is fairly small and will help offset usage at other Newcastle Council facilities.
5. Wirsol is here
German-owned Australian renewables outfit Wirsol Energy, is set to begin construction of a fifth utility-scale solar farm in Australia, in this case, the 110MW Wemen Sun Farm in central Victoria.
“By the end of the year we will have five solar parks in construction in Queensland and Victoria with a total solar generation capacity of circa 400MW,” Wirsol Energy managing director Mark Hogan said in comments on Thursday.
All of those projects, Hogan added, were scheduled to be connected to the grid by mid-2018.
“We have already secured for WIRSOL additional projects totalling circa 670MW, with the aim of reaching our target-providing 1 gigawatt peak of solar energy by 2020,” he said.
And they are not planning to stop there.
The newly listed Australian renewable energy developer Windlab has secured a landmark power purchase agreement (PPA) for what will be the country’s first grid-connected large-scale hybrid project combining wind, solar and battery storage.
Windlab announced this week that it has secured a 10-year agreement with the Queensland government-owned CS Energy, which will buy both the renewable energy and some of the large-scale generation certificates (LGCs) produced from phase 1 of the Kennedy Energy Park.
Kennedy is a 50/50 joint venture with Eurus Energy Holdings of Japan, and Windlab hopes to develop it into a massive 1200MW wind and solar project (plus storage) over time, providing the equivalent of “baseload” power in the north of the state. CS Energy has first option over the output of that expanded plant.
Please note, CS Energy is a state-owned energy generator in Queensland.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency says it is seeking ideas to help it explore Australia’s potential to export renewable energy in forms such as hydrogen – a goal that has attracted the interest of japanese trading giants and leading players such as economist Ross Garrnaut and ex CEFC boss Oliver Yates.
ARENA said on Wednesday it had opened a request for information that will close in one month, and seeks input from industry and researchers on where it should direct funding to boost the chances of building a renewable exports industry.
The ACT has also extracted $180 million in investments in the hydrogen economy as part of its reverse auction scheme.
The sky is the limit. it seems.
During the parliamentary break Bob Katter took his long-time mate Anthony Albanese on a trip to show him his renewable energy plans. Bob is probably a climate sceptic, but he can see which way the wind is blowing.
First was the Kidston pumped hydro project, which is actually happening.
Second was the proposed Hell’s Gate Dam on the Burdekin River, where Katter reckons Turnbull promised action in return for confidence and supply. Katter is not pleased that he’s only getting another feasibility study. He reckons only a fool would forget a detail like that when they have a one-seat majority.
Hell’s Gate would be used to generate hydro-electricity and to irrigate sugar cane crops whose waste fibre could be used to create the biofuel ethanol. Katter reckons it would create 20,000 jobs.
Third was the Kennedy Energy Park, mentioned above, eventually a $2 billion project combining wind, solar and battery storage. Phase two will be based on an enormous plateau of 80,000 hectares with a world-class wind resource on it.
- “I mean, how could any Government conceive of the stupidity like another base-load coal-fired power station in North Queensland?” Mr Katter rejoined.
I have the feeling Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg would be an irrelevant joke, except they have enough power to seriously get in the way.