Tag Archives: energy storage

Climate clippings 185

1. Linking extreme weather events to climate change

In what is called ‘attribution science’ climate scientists are getting better at analysing how much climate change has influenced particular extreme weather events.

In short, it is no longer a question of weather there is an influence, rather how much.

It would be useful to know, for example, whether the kind of storm that hit South Australia is still a once in 50 years event. Continue reading Climate clippings 185

Climate clippings 119

1. Abbott appoints fruitcake to assist Greg Hunt


He says he’s not a denier or a sceptic, so let’s just call him a fruitcake. In the recent ministerial reshuffle Bob Baldwin has been moved from Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry to Parliamentary Secretary to the Environment Minister.

Baldwin told the Chinese that the climate had been changing for millions of years and we wouldn’t have coal, oil or gas without climate change. That’s a typical denialist tack. Elsewhere he quoted that well-known authority on everything, Queensland radio shock-jock Michael Smith. If the atmosphere was a bridge a kilometre long, he said, the first 770 metres would be nitrogen, the next 210 metres oxygen, and so on until you come to CO2. Australia’s contribution of CO2 is the equivalent to 0.18 millimetres, the width of a human hair.

2. Bernie Fraser sends a Christmas message to Abbott


Basically, keep the Renewable Energy Target (RET), it all you’ve got, and the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) may not meet its initial target of 5% emissions reductions by 2020. In any case it is not scalable to meet the targets we are likely to be committed to post 2020.

The Climate Change Authority has just completed its review of the RET and a review of the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI), as mandated in the establishing legislation. I’d recommend reading Bernie’s Chairman’s Statement.

The CCA recommends extending the achievement date of the RET by up to three years, but this is the big picture:

The Authority has argued consistently throughout its short life that an effective policy response to the risks of climate change requires favourable winds on at least two fronts:

• first, a broad community consensus that climate change poses real risks to the community; and

• secondly, a well-stocked toolbox to be able to tap into opportunities to reduce emissions wherever they occur.

Neither exists today. The earlier broad political consensus has ruptured in recent years, and no early repair is in prospect. And the tool box is feeling less weighty, with the removal of the carbon pricing mechanism, an unproven ERF, and an uncertain outlook for the RET.

There’s more from Giles Parkinson who calls it “a damming assessment of Abbott government climate policy” and from Sophie Vorrath.

3. Harper flags carbon price rethink for Canada


Before Christmas when Tony Abbott was asked what he’d achieved as Minister for Women he nominated dumping the carbon tax. At the same time the Canadian PM Stephen Harper, Abbott’s soul-mate on climate policy, suggested that he was open to a country-wide carbon pricing scheme similar to the one implemented in Alberta.

In Alberta, energy heavy polluting companies are required to reduce their energy intensity, or improve their energy efficiency, annually. If they don’t, they must contribute to a technology fund at $15 a tonne for carbon emissions.

“I think it’s a model on which you could, on which you could go broader,” Harper said in Wednesday’s interview.

4. Tesla pilots battery swap

Tesla is opening a battery swap station between Los Angeles and San Francisco on a pilot basis to see whether the idea goes anywhere. Zachary Shahan, the author of the linked piece, suggests perhaps not. The swap must be done by appointment and although it may be completed in less than a minute it would cost almost as much as a tank of premium. The alternative is free Supercharging for Tesla owners.

5. Technology on the move

In the same issue of RenewEconomy as the Tesla battery swap item above were three other technology announcements.

First, the ASX listed company Algae.Tec has issued rights to raise capital to build an algae biofuel plant in India.

Second, the ADF is looking to replace diesel generation with renewable energy to power Bathurst Island, north of Darwin, probably wind and solar.

Third, a solar plant that floats on water is being launched in South Korea.

6. Banks begin to take climate risk seriously

The large investor Australian Super has been asking banks about their climate change risk policies. It sounds as though banks are pretending to be more active than they really are, but it is clear that the investment landscape has changed forever. If the banks have not been actively concerned, they soon will.

Former Coalition opposition leader John Hewson, who chairs the Asset Owners Disclosure Project

is considering “naming and shaming” how the world’s 1000 biggest banks are responding to carbon risk, something it already does for pension funds.

Climate clippings 117

1. Australia targeted as climate change obstacle

I pointed out that Australia is the dunce of the class on climate change according to the Climate Change Performance Index 2015.

Elsewhere the French are already considering how to cope with Australia’s and Canada’s negativity at the Paris conference next December.

2. Seeney in denial on sea level rise

That dipstick Jeff Seeney, Deputy Premier in Queensland, has directed the Moreton Council to remove all reference to sea level rise from, its planning documents:

“I direct council to amend its draft planning scheme to remove any assumption about a theoretical projected sea level rise from all and any provision of the scheme.”

The council had made provision for a possible 0.8-metre rise in sea level by the year 2100. Seeney says:

“I am prepared to protect the property rights of Queenslanders in other council areas should this issue arise again.”

Who is going to protect them from him? The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) is seeking legal advice.

Seeney claims the issue has nothing to do with climate change! Denial doesn’t come clearer than that!

3. West Antarctic melt rate has tripled

A NASA study has done a thorough analysis of the land ice melting in the Amundsen Sea Embayment where the glaciers are melting faster than any other area of Antarctica.


The rate of loss accelerated an average of 6.1 gigatons per year since 1992, but now the rate is increasing by 16.3 gigatons per year.

The total amount of loss averaged 83 gigatons each year over the whole period, that’s the equivalent of losing the weight of Mt Everest (not just the ice on it) every two years.

4. Warmer seas could cause faster melting of Antarctic ice

A separate study has found that the seas around Antarctica are warming, which could increase ice shelf melting.

Ice shelves float, so the melting does not cause sea level rise, but they buttress the land glaciers. Take away the ice shelves and the glaciers flow faster.

5. New large scale battery storage in Germany

Belectric and Vattenfall have opened new large-scale battery energy storage system at the Alt Daber solar power plant in Germany. The facility uses lead-acid batteries.

For the system to be economical without any financial support, costs will have to come down by around a third.

6. Solar and wind energy backed by huge majority of Australians

Solar and wind energy enjoy strong support from the Australian public, with 80% of people putting them both among their top three energy choices in a poll for the Australia Institute.

By contrast, coal and coal seam gas were chosen by 35% and 38% of those polled as being among the best three future energy sources.

A separate review of medical literature by the Australia Institute debunked the fear that wind power damaged people’s health, finding “no credible evidence” directly linking exposure to turbines with negative health effects.

Nine out of 10 people said they wanted more solar energy.

Six in 10 people said they were concerned about the impact of coal and coal seam gas on the landscape.

7. UNSW researchers set world record in solar energy efficiency

Solar researchers working at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) claim to have produced a system that converts over 40 percent of incoming sunlight into electricity, thereby taking the title of highest solar efficiency for a photovoltaic system ever reported.

“This is the highest efficiency ever reported for sunlight conversion into electricity,” said UNSW Professor Professor Martin Green, Director of the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP).

8. The end of coal as we know it

And oil for that matter.

Graham Readfearn in Lima at the climate Conference of Parties has found these items in the negotiating text:

Parties’ efforts to take the form of:

a. A long-term zero emissions sustainable development pathway:

Consistent with emissions peaking for developed countries in 2015, with an aim of zero net emissions by 2050; in the context of equitable access to sustainable development;…

Consistent with carbon neutrality/net zero emissions by 2050, or full decarbonization by 2050 and/or negative emissions by 2100;….

He understands they were put there by Norway, the Marshall Islands, Sweden and the AILAC grouping of countries consisting of Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru and Panama.

Andrew Robb Bishop have noticed and are complaining. It will be interesting to see whether the statements stay.

Readfearn finds that a move for a zero emissions target is growing and Malte Meinshausen explains that it is inevitable if we are serious about staying within two degrees.

Climate clippings 113

1. The Amazon is drying


Since 2000, rainfall has decreased by up to 25% across a vast swath of the southeastern Amazon, according to a new satellite analysis.

The area of concern is 12 times the size of California. The Amazon overall takes up 25% of the global carbon cycle that vegetation is responsible for, so it’s a significant carbon sink. With further drying the Amazon could become a carbon source rather than a sink.

Causes are not clear, but it’s possible that rainfall patterns have moved further north with global warming.

In related news, the re-election of Dilma Rousseff as president is seen as a significant negative for the environment in Brazil.

2. Great Barrier Reef protection plan ‘ignores the threat of climate change’

In its formal response to the Reef 2050 long-term sustainability plan, which was drawn up by the Australian and Queensland governments, the Australian Academy of Science states the strategy is “inadequate to achieve the goal of restoring or even maintaining the diminished outstanding universal value of the reef.”

There is “no adequate recognition” in the 2050 plan of the importance of curbing greenhouse gases.

Professor Terry Hughes, director of the Australian Research Council Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and an academy fellow, said the plan was focused on the sustainable development of four “mega ports” adjacent to the reef, rather than conservation of the reef itself.

The Great Barrier Reef has lost around half its coral cover in the past 30 years. The question now is whether UNESCO will list the GBR as endangered.

3. Limiting global warming to 2°C is unlikely to save most coral reefs

In this recent post I mentioned that “preserving more than 10 per cent of coral reefs worldwide would require limiting warming to below +1.5°C (atmosphere–ocean general circulation models (AOGCMs) range: 1.3–1.8°C) relative to pre-industrial levels”. Following the links, the paper by K. Frieler at al is here.

It annoys me that the dangers to reefs from temperature change and ocean acidification are almost never mentioned, even by greenies. Opposition pollies should be speaking up too! That paper has been around since 2011.

4. Carbon capture and storage research budget slashed

The government has cut almost half a billion dollars from research into carbon capture and storage – which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) deems crucial for continued use of coal – despite the prime minister insisting coal is the “foundation of our prosperity”.

In the budget the government cut $459.3m over three years from its carbon capture and storage flagship program, leaving $191.7m to continue existing projects for the next seven years. The program had already been cut by the previous Labor government and much of the funding remained unallocated.

John Connor, the chief executive of the Climate Institute, said CCS “has to be one of the clean energy options available because all the modelling says that to avoid temperature rises of more than two degrees, we have to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere”.

The first full-scale CCS power plant, the Boundary Dam Carbon Capture and Storage Project in Canada, opened last month.

5. Poland rejects zero coal by 2100

Poland and a bunch of eastern Europe countries “have categorically rejected the target put forward by the world’s top climate scientists to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2100 to avoid dangerous global warming…”

You might recall that when Poland hosted the UNFCCC Conference of Parties in 2013 it was positively promoting coal.

The EU has not yet apportioned the effort between countries in planning to meet recently announced emissions reduction targets. The fun is about to begin!

6. Roof top solar in San Francisco

New regulations in San Francisco will require new buildings to have roof top solar or gardens or both.

7. Tesla solar supercharging network

Tesla is rolling out a solar supercharging network for electric vehicles throughout the world eventually. Soon they will make a beginning in Australia.

The superchargers provide half a full charge in as little as 20 minutes, and are usually located near amenities like roadside restaurants, cafes, and shopping centers. Usually they have between 4 and 10 stalls.

The $5 billion “giagfactory” to be built in Nevada will generate more than 100% of its electricity needs with wind and solar.

The world is changing!

8. News of energy storage is a big, big deal

So says Sophie Vorrath at RenewEconomy:

The big announcements keep coming from the energy storage sector, with news this week that US behind-the-meter startup, Stem, has been tapped to provide 85MW of distributed energy storage to households in the West Los Angeles Basin.

The deal, a multi-year agreement awarded to Stem by Southern California Edison (SCE), marks America’s largest distributed energy storage project to date, and the first time energy storage has competed with traditional energy sources like natural gas at this scale.

For its part of the deal, Stem will deploy its advanced, behind-the-meter energy storage technology at customer locations in the Western LA Basin to act as dispatchable capacity to enhance the local reliability of the region.

In other words, using the combination of storage and its proprietary software platform, Stem will allow customers to monitor and manage energy use, which in turn will provide additional capacity to SCE.

9. Billboard banned

You may have heard that Brisbane Airport banned a billboard suggesting to incoming G20 delegates that climate change should be on their agenda. Apparently the billboard was “too political”.


Getup and a bunch of other NGOs are campaigning to have the decision reversed.

The billboard was based on the experience of South Australian grape grower David Bruer, a farmer from South Australia who lost $25,000 worth of grapes in one day when temperatures soared to 45°C last year.

Climate clippings 109

1. Home solar power plus battery storage

It’s on the way, according to reports in Climate Progress and RenewEconomy. They are reporting on reports emerging from HBSC, Citigroup and UBS, so the big end of town is taking notice.

Initial interest is in short storage to cater for the peaks, but it seems that full storage systems will become competitive before the end of the decade.

For the next ten years battery technology is likely to remain lithium ion, with newer technologies introduced later.

2. Oceans warming faster than thought

The top 700 metres of the ocean have been warming 24 to 55% faster since 1970 than previously thought. The problem has been poor sampling in the Southern Ocean.

Of course this means that the whole planet has been warming faster than previously thought, since over 90% of the extra heat goes into the ocean.

3. Human hands caused 2013 heat

To me 2013 seems like a long time ago, but it is remembered for breaking a lot of heat records in Australia.

January 7 was our hottest day on record – 40.3°C.

January was the hottest month on record.

The 2012-13 summer was the hottest on record.

September was the hottest on record, exceeding the previous record by more than a degree; this was the largest temperature anomaly for any month yet recorded.

September-November was the hottest on record.

The whole year of 2013 was the hottest on record.

Five studies have now been done establishing human agency in these events. We don’t just need to be concerned about our grandchildren. Climate change caused by humans is happening now.

4. NOAA explains record Antarctic sea ice growth

First of all the record does not represent a dramatic increase on the recent average:


By comparison the loss of land ice has tripled in the last five years alone.

NOAA have now given a more detailed explanation of how the increase, counterintuitively, may be related to global warming. Firstly, it’s the wind:

NOAA first points out that “much of this year’s sea ice growth occurred late in the winter season, and weather records indicate that strong southerly winds blew over the Weddell Sea in mid-September 2014.”

Secondly, the melting land ice itself may have an effect:

Most of Antarctica’s ice lies in the ice sheets that cover the continent, and in recent decades, that ice has been melting. Along the coastline, ice shelves float on the ocean surface, and much of the recent melt may be driven by warm water from the deep ocean rising and making contact with ice shelf undersides.

How does the melting of land ice matter to sea ice formation? The resulting meltwater is fresher than the seawater. As it mixes with the seawater, the meltwater makes the nearby seawater slightly less dense, and slightly closer to the freezing point than the ocean water below. This less dense seawater spreads out across the ocean surface surrounding the continent, forming a stable pool of surface water that is close to the freezing point, and close to the ice onto which it could freeze.

5. Marshall Islands expendable

The United Nations chose 26-year-old Marshall Islands poet and mother Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner to be among the keynote speakers at the UN’s climate summit in New York recently. Here she is at the mike with her husband and child:


Marshall Islands sits on average about 2 metres above sea level. Already she’s seen waves crashing into their homes and their breadfruit trees wither from salt and droughts.

Jetnil-Kijiner was confident in her speech that, no matter how difficult, climate change would be solved, and her daughter would be able to go on living in the Marshall Islands.

“No one’s drowning, baby,” she said. “No one’s moving. No one’s losing their homeland. No one’s becoming a climate change refugee…We are drawing the line here.”

She said, accurately I think, that saving the Marshall Islands meant “ending carbon pollution within my lifetime.”

Some 125 world leaders were present. Some, like ours stayed away, having more important things to do. Anyone present with half a brain must have known that is not going to happen. The Marshall Islands is expendable.

6. Climate outlook, October to December

In brief, warmer and drier than average, apart from Tasmania, which looks good for rain. There’s more detail and maps here.

This is what the rainfall prospect looks like:

Oct-Dec 2014_cropped_600

And maximum temperature:

Temp Oct-Dec 2014_cropped_600

Six of eight international climate models suggest a late season El Niño, or near El Niño, ENSO state is likely.

Energy Storage Using Phase Change Materials

Batteries are not the only way for a house to store energy.  This post looks at ways of storing heat and cold directly using phase change materials (PCM’s).  They can be more efficient than batteries as a result of storing energy when outside temperatures are closer to target temperatures.

Continue reading Energy Storage Using Phase Change Materials

Climate clippings 90

Climate clippings_175These posts are intended to share information and ideas about climate change and hence act as a roundtable for readers to contribute items of interest. Again, I do not want to spend time in comments rehashing whether human activity causes climate change.

This edition begins with a couple of items on extreme weather, but is mainly about solar electricity. Once again, thanks to John D for providing some links.

1. Snow in Egypt

Recently snow fell across the Middle East, with pictures from Egypt, Israel, Syria, The Lebanon and Iran.


Conditions in refugee camps in the area must be horrific. Flooding was general throughout the area, including Gaza.

See more photos of extreme weather.

Lest you think global warming has gone away, November 2013 was the globe’s warmest November since records began in 1880, and the 345th consecutive month with global temperatures warmer than the 20th century average. Continue reading Climate clippings 90

Climate clippings 88

Climate clippings_175These posts are intended to share information and ideas about climate change and hence act as a roundtable. Again, I do not want to spend time in comments rehashing whether human activity causes climate change.

This edition is completely about implementation issues and is largely based on a number of links drawn to my attention by John D, for which gratitude and thanks. I’ve restricted the offering to six items to make it more digestible.

1. The battery storage system that could close down coal power

A German company is developing relatively large scale battery storage (up to 10MW-sized battery parks) which could “stabilise the grid faster, cheaper and with greater precision that conventional generation.”


It says that these systems can substitute 10 times the capacity from conventional generation – coal, nuclear and gas – and at a fraction of the cost. According to Younicos spokesman Philip Hiersemenzel, each battery park can be installed at around € 15 million, which means that for an investment of €3 billion, conventional generation in Germany’s 80GW would no longer be needed – at least for frequency and stability purposes. Continue reading Climate clippings 88

Climate clippings 81

?????????????????????????These posts are intended to share information and ideas about climate change and hence act as an open thread. Again I do not want to spend time in comments rehashing whether human activity causes climate change.

This edition contains items, exclusively, I think, in the broad mitigation category.

1. Nationwide EV fast charging networks

Estonia with around 1.3 million people achieved the first Nationwide EV fast charging network. Now the Netherlands with about 16.8 million souls has established a contract to build the world’s largest. No citizen will be more than 50 km away from a charging station.

That’s impressive, but given the range of EVs still fairly thin on the ground. Will the charges include the cost of the capital required to roll out the plan? Also if they are going to be “user friendly”, will they sell you coffee while you wait the 15-30 minutes it takes to charge the batteries? Continue reading Climate clippings 81

Climate clippings 78

????????????????????????? These posts are intended to share information and ideas about climate change and hence act as an open thread. This post has emphasised adaptation and mitigation, essentially what we need to do to achieve a safe climate.

Comments, about science, observations, impacts, and future predictions are welcome. I do not, however, want a rehash of whether human activity causes climate change.

1. Mining company donations to political parties

Bernard Keane Looked at the astonishing trend in mining company donations to political parties:


Sandi Keane adds some value in her two part series on the cartelisation of the major parties. Bernard wrote:

The sheer scale of mining company generosity illustrates why Tony Abbott remains committed to repealing the carbon pricing package and the mining tax.

Sandi added:

He might also have added that if Abbott wins office on September 14, we will no longer have a democracy but an oligarchy – a government run by powerful mining and media magnates looking for a return on their investment – with George Pell as spiritual adviser. As Keane tweeted recently:

“Australians are a bunch of sheep about to hand themselves over to a pack of wolves”.

Continue reading Climate clippings 78

Climate clippings 72

Climate clippings_275

The last Climate clippings was back in March 2012. I’ve decided to start it up again, so we’ll see how we go. What I try to do is to include up to eight entries with an average of no more than 125 words. Readers who want to keep up in a general way should be able to gain a basic understanding by reading the entries without following the links.

This time the entries blew out to an average of about 150 words.

Climate clippings also serves as an open thread to share interesting links.

1. Climate Consensus – the 97%

Announced at Skeptical Science as a new Guardian blog, John Abrahams and Dana Nuccitelli will be writing at Climate Consensus – the 97%. It does have comments, but to me is not formatted like a blog. Maybe a newspaper blog.

It really started on 24 April. So far it’s not high volume, but looks interesting. Nuccitelli blogs at Skeptical Science as dana1981. The new blog is targeted at a more general audience. It appears their output is going to include correcting the errors and myths of the climate change contrarians, which is welcome. Continue reading Climate clippings 72

Climate clippings 63

China report on climate change

China's economicChina's advance will be hampered by climate change, a government report finds

(Photo from Reuters, via The Age.)

From Reuters we hear about the Second National Assessment Report on Climate Change which sums up advancing scientific knowledge about the consequences and costs of global warming for China:

Global warming fed by greenhouse gases from industry, transport and shifting land-use poses a long-term threat to China’s prosperity, health and food output, says the report.

In 2010 China’s emissions grew by 10.4%. This rate is expected to slow, but for reductions we will have to wait until about 2030, “with big falls only after mid-century”.

Here’s the Executive Summary. Continue reading Climate clippings 63