On Monday and Tuesday this week we are going to have the AFR national Energy Summit in Sydney with everyone there, including Josh, Jay, Bill, Andrew Vesey and a different Malcolm Roberts (Chief Executive, APPEA). Should be fun.
The Weekend AFR had about half a dozen articles, led off by an article by Ben Potter, Angela Macdonald-Smith and Mark Ludlow (no doubt pay-walled) which said our energy has become dirty, expensive and annoyingly unreliable. They reckon something has to be done, it’s just that:
the causes identified by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – or unofficial backbench energy spokesman Tony Abbott – are not the same as the causes power industry experts and regulators highlight.
Here’s the graphs about prices:
And here’s how we are going with emissions:
In today’s AFR Potter is there again, saying:
- The energy industry, the agencies that oversee the energy markets, and most of the customers are united around a common view.
But not Turnbull with his cabinet and fractious back bench.
Basically, pass the CET and get on with investment in new energy, then leave the management to the women appointed to manage it all.
In this CC I’ve selected some current items about renewable energy, mainly solar, plus a few to remind us that we live in a changing climate. Here I’ll briefly note a new report by the Climate Council Powering a 21st Century Economy: Secure, Clean, Affordable Electricity. It covers much familiar ground, but a couple of pieces of information are worth noting.
First, on page 17 it has a table that shows 453MW of coal and gas power failed in SA on 8 February, on 10 February it was 3050MW in NSW and on 12 February 787MW in Queensland.
Second, on page 18 it gives the cost of new build power, showing renewables cheaper than gas and much cheaper coal even without CCS, which, let’s not fool ourselves, is the only way coal could be clean.
- Sydney and Melbourne have been warned to prepare for scorcher days reaching 50 degrees Celsius by the end of the century — even if global warming is contained to the Paris Agreement target of a 2C increase.
Actually a more expert report of the research from Liz Hanna of the ANU shows that the researchers were thinking of those temperatures by 2040 or earlier.
Electricity grids transmit less power as the ambient temperature rises, generators are apt to fail. Emergency services are impeded – in a heat wave in Melbourne in 2014, 203 deaths were reported to the coroner, more than twice the average.
Dr Mark Monaghan says A lack of action on climate change is putting people’s lives at risk.
2. Record temperatures in September
All sorts of temperature records were broken in Australia in September, including the hottest day on 22 September, with an average maximum of 33.47°C. The hottest month remains 2013, but this was probably the most significant comment for the climate:
- Research conducted in 2014 by Sophie Lewis from the Australian National University found if greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were at pre-industrial levels, Australia would break that September record just once every 704 years. But current levels of greenhouse gases make that 16 times more likely.
Lewis said that estimate was now considered conservative, with actual extreme weather being seen as almost impossible without the influence of greenhouse gases.
Here’s the map for 22 September:
At Think Progress we learn that the climate denying scientists at the University of Alabama have declared last month as the hottest September ever recorded in the four decades of satellite data they’ve assembled:
- Equally amazing, “of the 20 warmest monthly global average temperatures in the satellite record, only September 2017 was not during an El Niño,” reports Dr. John Christy, director of UAH’s Earth System Science Center — and an infamous climate science misinformer.
- Solar power was the fastest-growing source of new energy worldwide last year, outstripping the growth in all other forms of power generation for the first time and leading experts to hail a “new era”.
Renewable energy accounted for two-thirds of new power added to the world’s grids in 2016, the International Energy Agency said, but the group found solar was the technology that shone brightest.
New solar capacity even overtook the net growth in coal, previously the biggest new source of power generation. The shift was driven by falling prices and government policies, particularly in China, which accounted for almost half the solar panels installed.
The Paris-based IEA predicted that solar would dominate future growth, with global capacity in five years’ time expected to be greater than the current combined total power capacity of India and Japan.
RenewEconomy (link above) led with the news of a new record low price for solar:
- The cost of solar PV has hit a stunning new low – with a bid for a 300MW solar project in Saudi Arabia pitched at just $US1.79c/kWh – or $US17.9/MWh ($A22.7/MWh) – with no subsidies.
The stunning offer – coming in the oil kingdom’s first major tender for solar power – represents a significant fall of 75 per cent in costs below those considered “not credible” less than two years ago.
This is where the renewables have been built in the past few years:
The US Energy Information Administration has done an Annual Energy Outlook, 2017, with projections to 2050. I think it was produced in January, so pre-Trump. It has many graphs, but this one of total energy consumption gives the overall idea:
Coal is down, the big winner is gas, and renewables other than hydro and biofuels are up, but not spectacularly so. We can only hope they are wrong. They emphasise uncertainty, so they are almost bound to be wrong.
6. What did the IEA forecast, and are they right?
Carbon Brief has two posts:
- IEA: Renewable electricity set to grow 40% globally by 2022
- Analysis: How have the IEA’s renewable forecasts changed?
The first headlines the world’s renewable electricity capacity rising sharply over the next five years, expanding 43% on today’s levels. But expansion levels off.
Here’s the graph showing their forecasts since 2013 against what is happening:
This tweet shows even more starkly what’s been happening with their solar PV forecasts since 2002:
Tim Buckley, director of energy finance studies at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), puts his finger on the problem:
- “IEEFA would put the deflation in total installed system costs for solar as likely to continue at 5-10% annually, double the 4% pa rate the IEA forecasts. Therein lies the core problem. They will be upgrading their renewable energy forecasts again next year.”
Eventually one would think they’d learn.
This is what happened last year:
I think, however, we should keep our eye on the Mauna Loa graph.
7. Gas flowing south
Back on 27 July the AFR ran an article Tables turned on east coast gas supplies. For over 18 months Queensland has acted like a giant Hoover, but now there are signs of a sea change in the flow of gas.
It’s about increased supply and a warmer winter in the south, rather than the PM’s jaw-boning as such. What happens to price in longer term contracts is another matter.
Larsen C iceberg is very large – about a trillion tons, in area about equal to the state of Delaware, or four Londons, with a volume of about 462 million Olympic size swimming pools. In depth it’s about the Statue of Liberty times two.
This article has some great pictures, including this screenshot: