Climate clippings 233

1. Queensland electricity day-time prices to zero six days in a row

We’ve had unwelcome dry weather this ‘winter’ in Queensland but the good news is that electricity prices have dropped to zero six days in a row:

With a bit more solar we should be looking at storage via pumped hydro and then releasing it to take gas out of the system in late afternoons and early evenings. However, the system is still running largely on coal, which is being ramped in a way that I imagine would be quite testing. Also the effect on pricing may bring the viability of coal into question, which is why ideally the whole system would be more logically run as a state monopoly.

2. Queensland chooses Maia Schweizer to head new CleanCo generator

Setting up a new company takes time, but Cleanco, promised by Labor before the last state election, is now underway. Renewable energy assets fron Queensland’s two other public power generation companies, Stanwell and CS Energy, have been transferred to the new company. Cleanco will use its balance sheet to borrow money to develop further publicly owned renewable energy generation assets.

The aim is to keep the balance of around 65% government owned assets in this sector.

Logically this could have been more easily achieved if Stanwell and CS Energy had used their larger balance sheets to borrow money to create renewable energy. However, Cleanco helps keep the ideologues at the ACCC off their case, and helps the dimwitted media to notice that the Queensland government is actually committed to climate action. Perhaps.

3. China going clean

China’s commitment to the Paris Agreement was to peak its emissions in 2030 while continuing to develop its economy Now a Joint Study Says China May Hit Carbon Emissions Goal Early:

    According to the study published as the cover article in the latest online monthly journal Nature Sustainability, the carbon emissions in China should peak between 2021 and 2025, about five to ten years ahead of the Paris target.

The story is that in China’s 50 major cities infrastructure to support a modern economy is installed. Emissions will increase in this phase. When average incomes reach a certain point in these cities money can be invested back into environmental sustainability to produce a kind of tipping point in favour of the environment.

It is estimated that when emissions peak incomes in those cities will average 21,000 US dollars per person.

4. Germany plans to exit coal

In Germany their cabinet has approved a $44 billion plan to exit coal.

Imagine that happening here, with a PM who once famously fondled a lump of coal in the parliamentary chamber!

Here, we have BHP CEO says company likely to exit coal mining business. That’s well and good, but it means someone else will carry on the dirty work. Meanwhile we give taxpayer support of billions to a mangy company that wants to set up a thermal coal mine in Galilee Basin which is almost certain to become a stranded asset. IEEFA notes a study which:

    estimates that the Adani Group is set to receive over $4.4 billion of tax exemptions, deferrals and capital subsidies from Australian taxpayers to get its soon-to-be-obsolete Carmichael thermal coal mine up-and-running and operational for the next 30+ years.

According to Richard Dennis When it comes to coal, Australia has transitioned away from economics and common sense.

5. Renewables are driving the economy

Not all is gloom. In fact Michael Pascoe explains how Renewables are driving the economy:

    Industry research company Macromonitor has found the $9 billion increase in renewable energy construction over the three years to 2019-2020 has been greater than the growth in road, rail or other infrastructure.

Basically renewables investment is keeping the economy afloat.

Mike Bruce looks at the potential of hydrogen:

    a report on hydrogen generation by the World Energy Council branded Australia as a “giant with potential to become a world key player”.


    The analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) found the falling cost of extracting hydrogen gas from water and better economies of scale could reduce the cost of hydrogen power to as little as $US24 ($35.50) a megawatt-hour by 2030, and $US15 ($22) by 2050.

80 thoughts on “Climate clippings 233”

  1. Brian:

    The analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) found the falling cost of extracting hydrogen gas from water and better economies of scale could reduce the cost of hydrogen power to as little as $US24 ($35.50) a megawatt-hour by 2030, and $US15 ($22) by 2050.

    2.2 cents/kWh sounds attractive enough to make hydrogen hybrid cars very attractive.

  2. Well Happy Father’s Day all 🙂
    Pretty serious stuff Brian. To add to all that, it appears that in the dead of night the Queensland Government has (unannounced) extinguished native title over the Adani mine. See:
    More here:

    Now if this is all true as reported it mocks native title and takes us back to colonisation. Native title seems to be OK until someone else wants the land.. This is really disgusting and suggests to me that the Queensland government has had this step ready for a long time. Their “objections” to the mine have all been crafted to walk along the fence – but that facade seems to have been dropped now.
    The next election in Queensland is October 2020. I can’t support the LNP and now I cannot support a deceitful Labor government either. They are not to be trusted on anything, but especially climate, treatment of Indigenous Peoples and their ability to speak the truth.

  3. GH: To be fair:

    Adani has a ILUA over the land: five of the 12 native claimants have opposed it, but have lost successive legal challenges in court to prevent it. Seven, a majority, of the native title claimants support the Adani mine.

    Burragubba and a group of supporters set up camp on the land ahead of its legal transfer to Adani. He said they will refuse to leave.
    He said a notice received by the council said their country “is to be handed over to Adani on 3 August 2019”. The notice also says “Adani will request the assistance of police to remove Mr Burragubba and his supporters from the camp”.
    Burragubba, whom Adani has bankrupted over costs from legal challenges, said his group would not abandon their protest nor quit their lands.

    In other words what is going on is that only a minority of claimants are opposing Adani.
    This doesn’t mean that there are other issues associated with government subsidies and the minor issue of saving the planet that suggest Adani and the other Gallilee lease holders should be blocked and paid compensation for this blocking if appropriate.

  4. JD yes I definitely can and it would not be such a hard wrench as you might be implying. However, I would rather see them as best choice in their own right, not the last best choice. I don’t want to choose Green just because the others no longer appeal to me, or that their political morality has sunk below a reasonable bar.
    Hopefully, the Greens will see an opportunity to reconfigure. After all, this is really the time to do just that.

  5. John re Adani – what you say is true at law, but I am not sure by lore.
    My main gripe was about the Queensland government extinguishing Native Title and doing in a way that seems very covert. I think it shows that the Queensland government has always been supportive of Adani but has cloaked itself in ambivalence over this time. From there one could speculate that the rail deal will go thru and the other miners in the Basin will progress their mines.
    Given the very grim climate/warming predictions how can any government behave this way?

  6. Geoff, I noticed that approval, and yes, it is disappointing. I don’t know enough about the native title to have an opinion. I don’t know anything about Leeanne Enoch, but she identifies as indigenous and is minister for the environment. So I wonder how she copes with all that.

    I note that the government released no media briefing on the decision.

    FWIW I think it’s Palaszczuk rather than Trad calling the shots, but within Labor there would be a range of views.

    My perception is that there are few if any politicians in Australia who understand the full gravity of the climate emergency. From what he says Mark Butler may be close. I think Richard di Natale and Adam Bandt would say more and more often if they really understood, but I’ve said that before.

    I do think that Shorten was never ambiguous about Adani. Consistently he said it needs to stack up on economic and environmental grounds. He said once during that Victorian bi-election, that he did not like the project personally, but he knew the difference between his personal likes and public duty.

    While all that was being fought over politically other coal mines were being approved, which is highly problematic.

  7. More on Adani. Parkinson raised this article. It seems that taxpayers are going to subsidise Adani in one form or another for billions of dollars.
    Now the original Carmichael mine was supposed to deliver 60 million tonnes of coal each year and was to provide 1,470 jobs. The goal now is 10 -15 million tonnes so at a guess there might be 600 jobs? Hardly enough incentive to hand over $4.4 billion in subsidies. So what is the justification? According to Morrison there is no corruption, so it can’t be that huh? And nought to do with Canavan’s coal holding or his brothers role in Peabody.
    Canavan is apparently “inundated ” with calls from India wanting to invest in Australian coal, and is looking to NSW and the Galilee Basin.

  8. Let’s see, Geoff H.

    4.4 billion is 4,400 million dollars give or take.
    (Take, actually).

    Let’s divide that by 600.

    I get approx. 44/6 = 22/3 = 7.33 or thereabouts.
    so just over $7 million per job.

    That of course ignores all the ‘downstream’ jobs, due to a multiplier effect. Supposing a multiplier of 4, that would be 2,400 jobs (the 600 you suggested, as a base, but a total 4 times as large).

    Then the cost subsidy for each job averages out at
    around $1.8 million per single job.

    What is it about Qld that makes your costs so high? Heat? Humidity? Remoteness? Tourist resorts? Dangerous snakes in the canefields? White shoe brigade still operating?

    Over here in Quill Province, I reckon we could get about 18 coves working if you shelled out $1.8 million. That would cover quill cutting tools, maintenance, accommodation, and we’d throw in an empty Aldi bag for good measure.

  9. I, for the record, am against all subsidies to private industry.
    I guess the reasoning is that subsidies by government have some magical multiplier effect on the economy that is bigger than if the taxpayer spends it voluntarily.

    Bunkum of course, but there ya go.

  10. Ambi, another calculation approach is to drop the $4.4 billion into a low return bank account (3%) and that would return $132,000,000 or 2200 off $60,000 jobs. ……. or …….. you could lend the $4.4 billion out to tendered business startups in $200,000 parcels, repayable over 5 years at zero interest, and create 22,000 new businesses, rolling the funds over every 5 years to create a new batch of 22,000 businesses, indefinitely.

    Plan B creates some 60,000 quality jobs every 5 years and very significant export earnings.

  11. For what its worth, looking at there are 6 cyclones active on earth at the moment, and another possible being seeded in the Atlantic. One of the 6 is off the tip of NZ in the Southern Hemisphere.

  12. Geoff, the only thing I can think of is that Adani’s Carmichael was seen as a loss leader to open up the Basin.

    Also, when the mine was originally proposed both the mine the times were different.

    I was rummaging around and found this one about Shorten and the Batman bi-election.

    There were genuine concerns about the fitness of Adani as a proper company/person to be dealing with, it wasn’t just playing politics.

    During the election campaign proper, I think Shorten did not want to be talking about Adani, rather about his policies. Adani was a done deal for the Feds at that stage, although there was an issue about whether the expert advice from CSIRO and Geoscience Australia had been handled properly.

    There is a question as to why we were only interested in one mine, not in others. I did a search of the Qld Govt media releases and came up with:

    Approval of an environmental impact statement for the $1 billion Olive Downs coal mine project that will support 1,000 jobs during operation and 500 in construction.

    – Coordinated project declaration to reduce red tape for the $1 billion Winchester South project near Moranbah with another 950 jobs

    – Petroleum lease approval of Arrow Energy’s $10 billion Surat Basin gas project that will support 1,000 jobs

    – First contracts sealed for gas for Australian manufacturers from Senex’s Project Atlas

    – Coordinated project status for the $1.4 billion Sconi nickel, cobalt and scandium mine at Greenvale near Townsville, supporting 500 jobs

    – The starts of operations at Rio Tinto’s $2.6 billion Amrun bauxite mine

    – Approval of mining leases for Fitzroy Australia Resources’ Ironbark No. 1 coal mine

    – The opening of Jemena’s $800 million Northern Gas Pipeline from Mount Isa to the Northern Territory, supporting 431 jobs.

    It’s full steam ahead, and it’s a huge worry.

    In the Olive Downs development 55 sq km of koala habitat was to be destroyed, about the area of Sydney City, plus 11 highly significant wetlands:

    During the state’s required public consultation process, not one environmental group made a submission.

    On jobs, another mine opened was a fertilizer mine near Townsville with a 200-year life and nearly 1000 jobs.

    Trad organised a forum to discuss the election and climate change, reported here. She says she doesn’t think Qld voters are ready for a “no new coal mines policy”. She is trying to take the people with her, but is on a hiding to nothing. Also new gas developments are a bigger problem than new coal.

    I’ve been saying we need to revamp the Climate Change Authority, as proposed by Labor, then undertake a public National Climate Change Assessment, also as Labor took to the election, and, this is new, then formulate a comprehensive Climate Change (or Emergency) Transition Plan, which would include new and old fossil mines and power plants. to be implemented with new laws, where climate implications are taken into account in approving everything, including building and resort developments, regulations about vehicle emissions etc.

    With a fair dinkum climate policy we can use diplomacy to try to sharpen up the policies of the major emitters in the world. At present we are a joke.

    We can’t do anything of the above unless we prize the Coalsheviks out of office. I’m not sure how we do that when I read last night that 11% of voters made up their minds walking into the poll booth. If you believe the survey.

  13. BilB, I’ll look up the reference tonight, but James Hansen found hugs rocks deposited up a hill in the Bahamas during the Eemian 120kya. That was a few years ago. He said that all hell could break loose if we don’t get emissions under control.

    People should listen to Hansen.

  14. I remember in the 2016 election hardly anyone mentioned climate change.

    At present it’s in nearly every news broadcast, programs and announcements of new studies a constant stream.

    Progress of a kind.

  15. Brian, considering your loss leader comment on the $4.4 billion incentive package for Adani in terms of relative opportunity cost relative to the notion of using the same amount of money for business startups, it occurs to me that this concept can potentially repopulate inland areas by funding startups in regional areas with good population support potential (space, water, access, transport links, tourism potential, suitability for skilled migrant settlement, etc).

    If you run the numbers on that concept, Adani is the worst use of those funds. But what about the coal?

    Remember Morrison hold that lump of coal i our parliament? Well here is another guy holding a lump of coal while contemplating and entirely different use for.

    This coal fondler anticipates that the rock he is holding can be worth $50 when in the form of carbon fibre and he is committing $1.6 million to demonstrate how to make that possible.

    The other coal magnaught is dreaming of the 10 cents his chunk is worth for its energy alone, and contemplating the $1.5 billion dollars Australia has already pledged for the development of CCS so his chunk can be burnt in a way that minimises the externalities.

    To recap use the $4.4 billion to incentivise regional development with 60,000 new jobs every 5 years recurring, use some of the repaid funds to develop a carbon fibre production capability, utilise the flow of young entrepreneurs to regional centres to revolutionise renewable energy technologies (think also of the desalination of bore water, salt tolerant food crops,etc) for Australia’s energy future.

    I could go on for hours on the potential here, but it is also a massive list of lost opportunities.

    Ask me in a couple of weeks on what I learned from my friend Dave (with a completely wasted farm degree) who spends his time fixing up Australia’s sorry history of dismal building practices, and how the failure rate is rapidly accelerating along with the dirty tricks that building developers use to trap people in their shoddy constructions.


  16. Indeed, BilB.

    Groetjes! !

    Is carbon fibre just a new-fangled sort of string???? A thousand anxious quill trimmers in Quill Province wish to know. We used lamp black here for ink a few years back, but modern science is a wonder.

    We do like to keep up but the dray posts are very slow. And weeks to get the latest “Times” from London.

  17. Are you kidding me Ambi? You haven’t heard that every thing aviation, performance marine, auto racing, and an increasing amount of quality automotive, performance cycling,…is all made with carbon fibre and epoxy resins? Super strong because it is essentially diamond fibres. It is not just strong though, it is also high temperature (will glow red hot before failing), and electrically conductive.

    Once created carbon fibre is hard to destroy, ie it is permanently sequestered to stay out of the atmosphere. So with a value return of 500 times that of burning it to make heat transitioning to Carbon Fibre constructional material is the smart industry use for our coal.

  18. Yes, kidding.

    John D and I have an in-joke about Victoria (remember Victoria?) being the Province of high drays, quill retailers, good solid British £ notes, etc.

    Possibly there’s an old-fashioned region in Belgium or Nederlands that might serve as a parallel?

    I seem to remember someone else telling me that Germans mocked “East Friesians”. That was decades ago, before the Nanny State.

    PS: I like your ‘diamond fibre’ ….. you have a talent for popularisation.

  19. To the PS Ambi, Diamond fibre is what it is. All six carbon bonds optimally connected. It is hard to cut, very savage on cutting edges. Scissors don’t last long. But it is even more exotic than that when you look at the cross section of the fibres which are very fine. The fibre we use starts as a polyester fibre which is passed through a special oven process to reorganise the carbon bonds. It is the other carbon origin, tar, that would be used to produce the fibre from coal. I don’t know much about that one.

  20. Ambi: Just imagine what you could do with quills (Or high drays for that matter) if they were made of graphene?

  21. Now steady on John.
    One bright idea at a time, if you don’t mind….

    One every couple of decades should do it.

    Quilleriferously yours,
    Vice Admiral Amb.

    Vivat Victoria Regina!

  22. Yes, it seems the stupidest thing to do with coal is to burn it.

    But having burnt it I’ve always had a notion that if we sequester CO2 we should do it in a manner and a place where future generations can access it if they need it.

    BilB I’ll copy and paste here the details of the $4.4 Billion:

    7 years A 7-year Royalty Holiday $900,000,000

    30 years Fuel Tax Credit Scheme $2,400,000,000

    30 years 22 Billion Litres of Water Annually $19,000,000

    Upfront A 90km Private Road $100,000,000

    End of mine life Rehabilitation $1,000,000,000

    30 years Corporate Tax Shields (open-ended) unquantifiable

    TOTAL $4,419,000,000

    It’s mostly revenue forgone rather than payment from the public purse.

  23. There was a small item in the CM this morning saying there is a lot of investment money in India looking for a place to invest. Capitalists there were holding off on Australia waiting to see how Adani gets on.

    That was a statement by the outgoing Indian consul, who was grumpy no-one in the Qld govt would see him on his way out. He wasn’t impressed with their excuse, which was being in Townsville to take govt there for a week.

    Lots of announcements there, including further progress on the Burdekin Falls dam project (irrigation, water, electricity), connecting Kidston (hybrid renewables including pumped hydro) to the grid, and possibly connecting Mt Isa to the grid, creating a renewable energy hub and heaps of other stuff.

  24. Over here in Queen Victoria’s Favourite Province, we very much admire this classic definition:

    A conservative is someone who will never do
    something for the first time

    As any objective, rational person will see, this has stood us in good stead for almost two centuries, though we did suffer some disruption to our equable lives when gold was found near Ballarat and Bendigo. Nonetheless, the resultant trade did help out the dray builders, fettlers, quarry men, tallow outfits etc. for several years…..

    Best to stick to an industry (gold mining) that was well-developed in Ancient Egypt, Rome, Phoenicia, and Babylon. (Safer that way.)

    I rest my quill.

    Of Babble On

  25. Brian

    Just on CO2, I still get the impression that one of the most expensive things humans can attempt to do is to sequester it.

    Year 12 chemistry tells me that hot CO2 racing up a flue is a slippery and difficult customer to tangle with.

    But look, advances in micro or nano materials might be up to the challenge???

    (Some cynics thought the talk of CO2 sequestration a decade or so ago was a type of fig leaf, designed to shelter the ugly facts of coal combustion. Prove me wrong, Mr Jumpsman.)

  26. Ambi, as I read your comment the Science Show was playing. Robyn Williams was interviewing someone who was using a catalyst to suck CO2 out of the air and make money selling it for diverse reasons.

    It sounded like the Canadian company I linked to in that air travel post. I also have a New Scientist article which shows 5 ways of doing it. I’ll get to that eventually also.

    In other words, I don’t think the technology is beyond homo sapiens.

  27. Capitalists there were holding off on Australia waiting to see how Adani gets on.

    If what you stated above is accurate Adani aren’t free market Capitalists, they’re parasitic corporate rent seekers…… ( spit!! )

    Free market Capitalists don’t need Governments to survive and prosper. Government intervention in the market is anti capitalist.

    These fundamental truths shouldn’t have to be constantly stated over and over again.

  28. Free market Capitalists don’t need Governments to survive and prosper.

    And when has that ever happened?

  29. And when has that ever happened?

    Ever been to an unregulated, non tax declaring, unsubsidised weekend market?
    Side of the road fruit or vegetable vendor in a Ute?

    The left love em so I’m guessing you have and turned a blind eye to the blatant free market Capitalism on such occasions.

    ( or more likely, not even understanding anything about what is or isn’t free market Capitalism to begin with but being anti it is the socialist thang ta do )

  30. Ever been to an unregulated, non tax declaring, unsubsidised weekend market?

    No. Have you? You are touchingly naive if you think farmer’s markets are unregulated.
    But I agree, a weekend market is definitely the ideal model for international trade –

  31. Jumpy: Most of the true blue free market capitalists are long gone because they get eliminated when the unstable free markets push the price of their product below the cost of production for long enough to ill their business.
    One of the unfortunate things is that free markets can work for things like financial markets and the financiers are listened to by governments.

  32. John

    Jumpy: Most of the true blue free market capitalists are long gone because they get eliminated when the unstable free markets push the price of their product below the cost of production for long enough to ill their business.

    Correct that the free market is unstable. That’s a feature not a bug. Non innovative players, or even entire industries, get superseded by more innovative players for the betterment of consumers. And the beauty is, the consumers think they did it.

    The main corrupters of this wonderful self perpetuating system that has reduced so much poverty and caused so much innovation are Government interferences.

    The main problem with solving the renewable energy problem is that the socialist have put themselves in charge of it. But trust me on this, Capitalists are working on it and they’ll do it and make a $ Squillion when they do.
    After that the socialist will still call them arseholes regardless.

  33. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, what is the predominant difference in thinking that divides Capitalists and socialist on almost every issue.

    My hypothesis so far, in a nut shell, is that socialist thinking regards push factors dominate over pull factors.
    Whereas Capitalist thinking regard pull factors as dominant over push factors.

    We see this played out on issues like immigration though social welfare issues to economic issues.

    Now I know there’ll be a bit of disingenuous word play by some that refuse to think about it in and depth but that’s blogging inevitability.

  34. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, what is the predominant difference in thinking that divides Capitalists and socialist on almost every issue.

    Only capitalists and Socialist?
    That’s very limiting and probably means you will arrive at a false conclusion. It certainly doesn’t apply to the range of views expressed in this forum.

  35. My last sentence prediction was realised inside 1 hour by the usual non thinking troll.

    Will the next comment by a riff in olde English or Welsh….

    ( I’m used to the pattern…. )

  36. Ok, that may have been a bit harsh and discussion crushing.
    I retract my last comment, apologies.

    What seems to be a major divisive thinking today is the push/pull dominance on issues that affect us all.


  37. What seems to cause unnecessary division and very limited thinking is reduction of difficult and complex questions to binary oppositions, which – as I think zoot implied – limit our ability to deepen understanding and analysis.

    Here’s a story, which unfortunately I cannot render in either Olde English, or Welsh.

    “There are two types of people: those who feel more comfortable when they see a policeman, and those who feel less comfortable.”

    “There are two types of people in the world: those who believe that everyone can be divided into two groups, and those who don’t believe it.”

    written by Gary Hutchinson (not sure if he was quoting someone else)

  38. Jumpy – is a community wind farm an example of socialism?

    The concept of socialism, free markets, liberalism and many others have changed in meaning over time. I think it is good when using those terms to carefully frame them.
    Trump for example, calls Democrats “socialists” because they want a Medicare health cover and address the inequities abundant in that place – e.g. wealth distribution. We already have our Medicare and there are voices that protest about wealth distribution in Oz. Are we socialist?

  39. Firstly, let it not be said that I derailed this climate thread, all of my comments have been directly to do with climate change, renewables, the thinking behind different approaches at solutions and conversational difficulties related to the main topic.

    Secondly, the entire issue is a dichotomy, use fossil fuel energy or not.
    There’s a lot of folk here asking a higher power to push a solution but I don’t hear much evidence of the same folk practically pulling their weigh.

  40. I don’t hear much evidence of the same folk practically pulling their weigh.

    And what are you doing to pull your weight?
    Maybe if you share your efforts the rest of us will provide evidence of what we’re doing.
    Hint: initiating discussion of the virtues of capitalism versus socialism does not constitute “pulling your weight”

  41. Until I pay Capitalists that innovates the solutions I guess I’ll keep paying Socialist to talk about it without achieving anything.

    Now your turn to explain what contributions and sacrifices you make.


  42. You’ve told us what you intend to do, but the question was asking what contributions and sacrifices you are already making.


  43. Alternative response:

    Now your turn to explain what contributions and sacrifices you make.

    I’m paying Socialist to talk about it without achieving anything while I wait for you to get off your arse and pay Capitalists that innovates the solutions.

  44. I doubt you pay anything in the way of tax.
    My guess is you’re a net parasite on society.

    Please stop dropping your troll shit all over this blog zoot, it’s getting dryly repetitive and predictable.

  45. You have no idea of who I am or what contributions I have made to society. Until you find out I suggest you follow the Comments Policy.

    The aim is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner. Do not comment on other commenters with negative implications.

  46. John, that’s a seriously good article, I think.

    I sent the RenewEconomy link to the local LEAN bloke who seems to understand how the markets work. He said in brief, that the basic market is made up of long-term coal-fired contracts, and they are just doing what’s best for them in the circumstances. Or words to that effect.

    I think once you take into account that with hedging you can make money when the price falls you are about half way there in understanding what is happening.

  47. John, my contact at LEAN says the article “while generally not bad it still gets lots wrong”. In short, it’s complicated, but there does not seem to be anything untoward going on.

    The warning with this is that really intelligent and knowledgeable commentators don’t always get it right. I’m not saying my contact at LEAN is right, but I have a lot of confidence in him.

  48. My real beef is that an inappropriate spot price market is being used to control the power supply system. The article can be seen as supporting my argument. Many of the decisions reported in the article would have been made if a government owned corporation was making the decisions. The big difference is that investors would get more certainty and this will drive prices down during the competitive tendering process.

  49. JD and Brian, the details of the system are beyond me. And a lot of clever people too it would seem. Is it necessary that it is all so complicated?
    That said, underpinning each argument is the fiscal interest of the actor. No one seems to be saying what is in the best interest of the consumer, even though the arguments of the vested interests are nearly always couched in public interest terms.
    Now we hear of negative pricing, but that won’t be seen in our household bills. The explanations kindly supplied, are hardly for the common man. To me, it points to obfuscation by the long established “system “ so that mortals never quite understand that they are being bent over forwards.

  50. GH:

    That said, underpinning each argument is the fiscal interest of the actor.

    Who would have thought it?

  51. The theory about competition is that when no-one is making any money it drives innovation, which then undercuts everyone, puts a lot of them out of business, but rewards the innovator.

    The problem with retailing electricity is that there isn’t much scope for innovation, except perhaps fancy tariffs which might advantage some who put in a lot of effort, but most people just want to flick the switch, use some power and not be robbed, and do something more interesting with their lives.

  52. Brian:

    The theory about competition is that when no-one is making any money it drives innovation, which then undercuts everyone, puts a lot of them out of business, but rewards the innovator.

    What often happens in practice is that the competitor who has a healthy enough bank balance and/or low debts can hold on to the financially weaker competitors go broke.

  53. There is another trick available to larger companies.
    Supposing you are one of a few larger companies producing widgets. There are a few smaller enterprises doing the same thing but on a lower scale. The larger companies have invested in technology and their costs are relatively lower than the small guys.
    At some stage the larger guys solicit government or Australian Standard asking for rules, standards, best practice etc. The response is positive and the large guys are invited to give their input which is usually held in high regard. Unsurprisingly, their input urges steps that are beyond the reach of the smaller guys. The small guys don’t have the money to re-equip nor the ability to incorporate new technologies into their business.
    The larger companies have effectively captured Policy and also limited the influence (or worse) of the small trader.

    The larger producers can sell their product at a lower price than the smaller guys. But they may not, allowing the smaller guys to set a higher price in the market. The big guys get better profits this way and that can also fund further manufacturing improvements that are likely beyond the smaller guys. Over time the small guys wither but are not always replaced. And the start-up cost for new entrants into the widget market is now very high both in cost and intellectual capacity. And probably involves considerable debt.
    So over time the competition dwindles away and prices increase as they often do in an oligopoly. You might call that a market fail?

  54. Geoff
    That’s exactly what can and does happen.
    But it not a market failure that is natural, it’s governmental corruption letting a few competitors determine policy away from a level playing field.

    I suppose Governments like big players over small players given the extra tax on big turnover over and above profit, which is also a free market distortion.

    But one doesn’t cancel out the other, it only makes the customers pay more in the long run.

  55. Jump

    Large turnover often goes with
    * a higher wages total annually
    * a higher GST payments total on products or services used

    Both of those would most likely send greater taxes to the Federal Govt.

    That’s hardly a ” free market distortion”.

    The Govt is entitled to tax in at least three different ways:
    tax on profits
    tax on wages
    tax on goods and services.

    It makes practical sense, especially if a manufacturer or retailer has figured out a way to hide or export its profits.

    At least the dear old Govt is getting something out of the corporation, even if it’s not quite as much as the corporation owes under the relevant laws and regulations.

    And by “dear old Govt” I mean of course “us dear old taxpayers”.

  56. Money is like manure, of little use lest it be spread

    – Lord Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626)

    Also attributed to Thornton Wilder: “Money is like manure, not much use unless you spread it around”.

    By operating your sub-contracting business, Mr J, you are helping to spread it around. More strength to your shovel!
    And to Mrs J.

  57. Mr A

    At least the dear old Govt is getting something out of the corporation, even if it’s not quite as much as the corporation owes under the relevant laws and regulations.

    If they don’t comply with relevant laws and regulations then there’s a raft of government agencies tasked specifically to deal with that.

    So either the rule are shit or the enforcement is shit.
    Both are typical of central government bureaucracies.

    On taxes, payroll tax is a good example of discouraging enterprises and is not a tax on the wage earner or profit or GST.
    The government seems to think it is “ entitled “ to tax anyway the bureaucrats can dream up including levies, tariffs, fees, surcharges, blah blah blah.
    They’re all tax’s that go outside your,

    The Govt is entitled to tax in at least three different ways:
    tax on profits
    tax on wages
    tax on goods and services.

    I will admit royalties on resources are a legitimate tax and are to low. And the State Governments are to blame there.

  58. Look, if you’re a Government control type and you want to stop coal mining then forget the Federal level.
    The State Governments control coal resources on behalf of the citizens owners of that State.
    The royalties are set arbitrarily by state governments.
    Just set the royalties at 100% of world spot price for exports and nut out the local percentage.

    It really isn’t that complicated, focus on the State Governments.

  59. Ambi: Ah yes. Money. Allows governments to buy weapons to be used for nefarious purposes. Allows the rich to buy governments. Pays for the next coal fired power station. Contaminates the oceans with plastics. No wonder you think of it as s… Sorry, should have said manure. Or the root of all evil or……

  60. Jumpy

    I agree with some of your points on taxing.

    John, perhaps it’s the love of money which is the root of all evil?

    Greed, theft, status crawling, class condescension, idle inheritors, and at the extreme end of greed: narcissistic, pathological hoarding…..

    I digress; money’s basically just an exchange mechanism, to help us refine our transactions beyond simple bartering.

    But we need to be realistic and modest: what immediate value do coins have when the bushfire is roaring up the slope towards your home, family, keepsakes and pets?


  61. John,

    An anecdote concerning President Harry Truman.

    Some journalists complained to Harry’s wife that it was difficult reporting his remarks verbatim due to his frequent use of the very unseemly word “manure”.

    She replied, “Gentlemen, it’s taken me years to get him to say manure!”

  62. Jumpy letting an entity capture Policy is not necessarily corruption, it can also be incompetence. Both of these can easily be found in the free market sector

    “I suppose Governments like big players over small players given the extra tax on big turnover over and above profit, which is also a free market distortion.”
    Not necessarily Jumpy. The big players usually have staff and/or consultants dedicated to minimising tax. If you want to see an example of that, look how Adani is structured – 13 of it’s 26 Australian operations are registered in tax havens such as Singapore and the Cayman Islands. In 2014-15 Adani paid no tax on $350 million revenue in Australia. See
    I don’t have a date on this report but it does include references to 2016. It is a pretty comprehensive report Jumpy and if anyone has read it, it beggars belief to think Adani is going to be of net benefit to anyone in the world, let alone Australia.

  63. Ambi:

    John, perhaps it’s the love of money which is the root of all evil?

    Yep. people do evil things so that they can get more money. However, what people spend their money on can do evil, particularly on a planet where this is moving towards a climate crisis.

  64. GH: Seen a lot of stuff on 3D printing of housing over the years. Has the potential to produce low cost stuff of variable shapes that can fit awkward blocks and kirky, individalized designs that make living more attractive. The open area within the wall should improve thermal properties and help fitting power lines etc.
    Disadvantage is that they would be impossible to move later on.
    Affordable housing that fits into a standard shipping container provides something that should survive cyclones and be easy to move. (Standard dimensions: Standard ISO shipping containers are 8ft (2.43m) wide, 8.5ft (2.59m) high and come in two lengths; 20ft (6.06m) and 40ft (12.2m). Extra tall shipping containers called high-cube containers are available at 9.5ft (2.89m) high.) 6.06mx2.43m=14.7m2. Bit small but beats living on the streets. Me I like the idea of 2 containers, with one sitting on it end. The one on its end gives access to the garden on the roof.

  65. Yes John.

    When the two superpowers agreed to the Atmospheric (nuclear weapons) Test Ban Treaty, we gave a sigh of relief.

    Then the world phased out those ozone-depleting gases.
    Some countries stopped using leaded fuel in cars.

    Then we agreed to reduce CO2 emissions, at least some of us did.

    That atmosphere needs a bit of looking after…..

  66. Then we agreed to reduce CO2 emissions, at least some of us did.

    That atmosphere needs a bit of looking after…..

    We are ‘Running out of time’: Experts warn against rising sea levels as Jakarta, Bangkok, Manila and Shanghai start to become overwhelmed by constant flooding.

    The Paris Agreement did call on countries to increase their effort by cranking up their contributions by 2020.

    Don’t hold your breath for Australia to do so. They’ve actually promised not to.

  67. “Shane Warne urges cricket to be proactive about climate dangers”

    It could be up to 50C on the centre (of a cricket ground).


  68. Anybody wonder if Boris’s antics were somehow enabled by Trump’s disrespect of process and precedent?

    And while we are at it, has anyone got a better solution to the UK’s present situation? I’inclined to another vote for in or out. I suspect the fumbling to date will propel a “No” vote and the UK will remain in the EU. Probably leave some trailing problems but at least some certainty might prevail.

  69. “ No Deal “ should have been the UKs opening offer in the negotiations with the EU the day after the Referendum.
    Reverting to Sovereign WTO rules was in the original BREXIT campaign.

    Bojo is trying to deliver what the majority of voters have wanted in the Referendum, the last General and the EU election.

    Corbyn has even blocked another General election to avoid a No Deal mandate that’s been given thrice.

    Her Majesty should dissolve her parliament immediately and order a General Election, as is her right and duty.

  70. I think Brexit will be a good thing if it inspires Scotland to do its own Scexit and throw off the English yoke. Scotland is a modern, outward looking country that would be better off as either part of the EU or at least free of the English yoke. Southern England and Northern Ireland may also be better off if the broke away from the Brexit supporting parts of the country. (Haven’t a clue what Wales should do.)
    Boris’s willingness to ignore conventions and democratic processes .is not a good look.

  71. Just in:

    15 To 20 Foot Sea Level Rise Possible Sooner Rather Than Later:

    A draft of a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says rising sea levels and warming waters are about to unleash “misery on a global scale.” The final report is scheduled to be published on September 25. It warns that ocean levels could rise by several feet before the end of this century.

    But Richard Alley, a noted climate scientist with a specialty in glaciers and ice sheets, warns the IPCC prediction may be greatly understated. He foresees the possibility that sea levels will rise 15 to 20 feet within the lifetime of our children and grandchildren.

    He’s warning that the new IPCC report is likely softselling the real situation, although it is scary enough.

  72. There’s a bit of a problem with repeated referenda, isn’t there?

    We have regular general elections but each elects a new Parliament. We have some electors unhappy with a result who shout “not my President!” and perhaps fail to emigrate.

    Suck it up, Princesses.

    I heard a Brexit supporter say, “If they hold a second EU referendum and Brexit loses, I’ll demand Best Of Three!!. I think that’s reasonable.

    Some say that UK voters were misled: I reply that voters are always misled

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