Category Archives: Climate Change & Sustainability

Posts on aspects of climate science, climate action and climate policy & planning.

What the biffo between Weatherill and Frydenberg really means

“Ten years of brutal, opportunistic politics has left this nation with no credible energy policy.”

The money quote from Jay Weatherill’s outburst was this:

    “Josh Frydenberg was humiliated back in December. We were working with him to introduce an emissions intensity scheme. He knows that. It was well advanced. It was about to happen. Coal interests in the federal Coalition government basically cut him down before he even had a couple of hours explaining it.”

Continue reading What the biffo between Weatherill and Frydenberg really means

Retailers gouging electricity prices: Grattan

AGL, Origin and Energy Australia are gouging electricity retail prices, according to a report by The Grattan Institute titled Price shock: Is the retail electricity market failing consumers?.

The report which focusses on Victoria finds that electricity retailers charge a margin double what other retailers make, for doing little other than marketing a service we are going to buy anyway, and sending out a bill. Continue reading Retailers gouging electricity prices: Grattan

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. Continue reading Climate clippings 199

Gas to burn

Jay Weatherill’s energy plan involves the construction of a government-owned 250MW gas-fired power plant to provide emergency back-up power and system stability services for South Australians, and power for his resources minister to instruct the owners of Pelican Point to turn it on. Yet his plans for cheaper gas, or any gas, will not work quickly and possibly will not work at all. Laura Tingle in an excellent article published under the title of Power sources: steaming Premiers and Pumped PMs tells us that on the futures market on Wednesday, the June contract for electricity in Victoria hit $147.50 per megawatt hour, compared to a price for the March contract of just $80 as energy traders put a price on the closure of Hazelwood in Victoria at the end of March.

Meanwhile a group of former BHP Billiton and BP executives is consulting with SA to build a private equity funded power station, using gas from a floating regasification plant sourcing gas from the North West Shelf and from Singapore, some of which may actually come from the Cooper Basin in the state’s north via Gladstone.

Is this for real, and how did we get into this ridiculous mess? Continue reading Gas to burn

Snowy hydro 2.0: nation-building game-changer or giant red herring?

Just after we had heard about 100 MW batteries being installed in South Australia to keep the lights on, Malcolm Turnbull announced a giant ‘battery’ in the form of pumped hydro in an expansion of the Snowy hydro scheme.

    “In one hour it could produce 20 times the 100MW per hour expected from the battery proposed by the South Australian government, but would deliver it constantly for almost a week, or 350,000 MWh over seven days.

Michelle Grattan reports that the media were dragged up to Talbingo in the Snowy Mountains for Thursday’s big Hydro announcement. But then his press conference couldn’t be beamed direct because there was no way of transmitting the signal.

    Meanwhile the news cycle was taken up with the pictures of the extraordinary biffo between South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill and federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg when they appeared together in Adelaide.

    It was all a metaphor for the shambolic national energy debate, in which the process is chaotic and politics trumps policy.

Continue reading Snowy hydro 2.0: nation-building game-changer or giant red herring?

Zen Energy’s renewable baseload power

South Australia’s brave new energy plan may not have been the biggest energy news on Tuesday. The gong may go to Zen Energy‘s plan in cahoots with Santos to provide renewable baseload power.

It works this way. Solar is now the cheapest form of power when the sun is shining. So you supply solar during the day, but store some in a grid-scale battery to provide power when people are up and about at night. Then the battery gets recharged overnight from wind to provide power for the morning start until the sun takes over. The whole thing is backed up by gas. Gas is the backup of the backup. Continue reading Zen Energy’s renewable baseload power

Solutions to the energy crisis

Malcolm Turnbull has now, for reasons best known to himself, elevated “energy crisis” to a “national security” issue. Ben Potter puts the situation well:

    A decade of fighting over renewable energy, carbon prices and fossil fuels has left Australia with some of the world’s dirtiest and costliest energy – a bitter yield from historical abundance.

    Three years ago, manufacturers began complaining they couldn’t get gas, and 18 months ago the South Australian grid started to wobble.

    Now, electricity and gas prices across the eastern states are two to three times their levels only a couple of years ago.

    Gas exporters overcommitted to foreign buyers; the federal government mismanaged renewable energy and the regulatory apparatus – and politicians responsible for it – are frozen in the headlights.

Continue reading Solutions to the energy crisis

The sea is anything but level

Did you know that if you swam from a point south of India to Indonesia you would be swimming 200 metres uphill?

Did you know that the Ecuadorean peak Chimborazo is two kilometres higher that Mount Everest if measured from the centre of the earth?

Those are not the only issues with sea level. When the Swiss and the Germans built a bridge at the border at Laufenberg, the Germans calibrated the height to a benchmark in Amsterdam, while the Swiss used one in Marseilles. They knew there was 27cm difference, but they added where they should have subtracted and met with a yawning gap of 54cm! Continue reading The sea is anything but level

Climate clippings 198

1. LiquidPiston engine

The innovative LiquidPiston engine, mentioned by BilB, is targetting a global market worth $460 billion. It has a power to weight ratio more than ten times better than a regular engine:

The big bruiser on the left puts out 35 HP, the one on the right 40 HP. Continue reading Climate clippings 198

Climate clippings 197

1. Global plan to save 10 per cent of coral reefs

A world-wide plane is being hatched a global plan says only 10 pc of coral reefs to save 10 per cent of coral reefs. The stark fact is that:

    Scientists estimate 90 per cent of the world’s coral reefs will disappear in the next 35 years due to coral bleaching induced by global warming, pollution and over-development.

The 50 Reefs initiative, recently launched at the World Ocean Summit in Bali, in a donor funded initiative to identify the 10% of reefs most likely to survive past 2050. Effectively it’s a triage operation. Continue reading Climate clippings 197

APRA warns company directors about personal liability on climate change

APRA warns company directors about personal liability on climate change. Politicians should also take note.

APRA, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, has warned company directors and other decision-makers that they may be held personally responsible for dumb investment decisions in relation to a transition to a low emissions economy. If a coal-fired power station with or without CCS becomes a stranded asset, whoever approved the funds could be in the gun.

So even if the government changes the legislation to allow CEFC to lend to new coal-powered electricity generators, responsibility still lies with the directors of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). Continue reading APRA warns company directors about personal liability on climate change

Australia could be a renewable energy superpower

That’s according to Ross Gittens, drawing from Ross Garnaut.

Garnaut says that since his second review in 2011 there have been four big changes in the cost of renewable energy relative to the cost of energy from coal or gas. Continue reading Australia could be a renewable energy superpower