Tag Archives: Gas

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

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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

Gas, pumped storage and energy futures

Craig Emerson says we can get the gas we need, but is it necessary?

Craig Emerson has an article in the AFR, also on his site, suggesting that politicians need to urgently turn their minds to gas supply in east Australia. Emerson had warned them back in 2014, but they took no notice, and AEMO assured everyone there was no problem.

Suddenly there is. The price of gas-fired electricity threatens manufacturing jobs, and gas is needed to replace coal-fired power. Continue reading Gas, pumped storage and energy futures

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1. Preparing for driverless cars

Leaders from federal and state road and transport agencies, motoring clubs, local government and engineering and industry groups met in Brisbane in August to consider how government and industry can better collaborate to ensure a smooth transition to the world of connected and automated vehicles.

They are expecting partially automated vehicles on public roads before 2020, and highly automated and driverless vehicles within the ensuing decade. Continue reading Climate clippings 183

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1. Australia’s coal and gas exports are being left stranded

Just four countries account for 80% of Australia’s fossil fuel exports – China, Japan, Korea and India.

China is on the verge of “peak coal”, rebalancing the economy away from energy intensive industry and introducing a national emissions trading scheme.

Japan is on an energy efficiency drive to reduce its fuel import bill.

Korea has introduced a tax on coal of AU$18 per tonne and is finalising an emissions trading scheme.

India has doubled its tax on coal which funds renewable energy projects and has signalled its intention to stop importing coal within 2-3 years.

Official forecasts are in denial.

2. Are Australian and US climate targets the same?

Environment minister Greg Hunt, Radio National, November 17:

If you use the full Kyoto period — 1990 to 2020 — the US is minus 5% and Australia is almost exactly the same.

Joe Hockey made a similar statement that “If you compare apples with apples, the American position and our position on reductions are effectively the same.”

The comparisons are complex, because the starting and finishing dates are different, so are the population increases. Moreover Australia has forestry and tree clearing in the mix.

Malte Meinshausen and Anita Talberg make the necessary adjustments and find:

An apples-with-apples comparison shows that Australia lags far behind the United States in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its energy, transport and industrial sectors.

To match US efforts, Australia would have to increase its 2020 ambitions from the current 5% below 2000 to 21% or even 29%, depending on whether different population growth is taken into account, or not.

In short, they lie!

3. The genius of Tony Abbott’s stance on climate

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At New Matilda Tom Allen comments on Tom Switzer’s claim the Abbott is a climate change genius. Switzer is a climate change denialist, so we won’t bother with that! Allen finds Abbott has proved one thing – that a carbon tax works!

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will be remembered as the Prime Minister who proved that the carbon tax worked. After it was introduced, Australia’s carbon dioxide emissions fell, the economy continued to grow and the sky remained in place.

When Abbott repealed it and the country’s emissions began to rise again, using Australia as a vast laboratory, Abbott confirmed it: carbon taxes work.

4. Record growth in electricity sector emissions

Abbott’s genius is demonstrated by this graph of emissions change from electricity production:

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The reductions started well before the carbon ‘tax’, but whatever the reason Abbott seems to have made a difference.

WORST. PRIME MINISTER. EVER!!

As Tom Allen said, it’s nothing personal.

The worst things about him are his policies, and his stance on climate change is worst of all.

5. Record-breaking ocean temperatures

The world’s oceans are the hottest they’ve ever been in the modern record, especially in the northern Pacific.

In July this year, ocean surfaces were 0.55 °C above the average since 1890, just beating the previous record of 0.51 °C in 1998. In the North Pacific, the temperatures were about 0.8 °C above average, which is 0.25 °C warmer than the 1998 peak.

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No explanation is given as to why this pattern has emerged. However, it does seem to be disrupting the development of an El Niño. Small mercy, because the northern Pacific warming has effects similar to an El Niño:

This includes more hurricanes in the Pacific, as well as more storms curling over into mainland US. Meanwhile, there have been fewer hurricanes in the Atlantic, just as happens during El Niño. Elsewhere, dry conditions have occurred across Australia, and the Indian monsoon was delayed – effects all arising from warm oceans, despite the lack of an El Nino event.

6. Turn down the heat : confronting the new climate normal

This is volume 2 of 2 of a report prepared for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics, and hence highly authoritative. The lead author was Hans Joachim Schellnhuber of the Potsdam Institute.

It’s a massive 320 page report. This is from the Foreword:

There is growing evidence that warming close to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels is locked-in to the Earth’s atmospheric system due to past and predicted emissions of greenhouse gases, and climate change impacts such as extreme heat events may now be unavoidable.

As the planet warms, climatic conditions, heat and other weather extremes which occur once in hundreds of years, if ever, and considered highly unusual or unprecedented today would become the “new climate normal” as we approach 4°C—a frightening world of increased risks and global instability.

The consequences for development would be severe as crop yields decline, water resources change, diseases move into new ranges, and sea levels rise. Ending poverty, increasing global prosperity and reducing global inequality, already difficult, will be much harder with 2°C warming, but at 4°C there is serious doubt whether these goals can be achieved at all.

That’s about as far as I could get tonight. Climate Progress has a post.

Another way to cook the planet

Around 80 to 85% of coal in the ground cannot be mined by conventional methods. That’s 18 trillion tonnes according to the International Energy Agency’s Clean Coal Centre – enough to supply the world for 1000 years, at current requirements. Fred Pearce in the New Scientist (paywalled) takes a look at efforts to liberate this potential by a process called underground coal gasification (UCG). Apparently that’s enough to add about 10°C to global warming, if the carbon is not sequestered.

The process involves burning the coal in situ underground, bringing the gases thus created to the surface and then burning them in a conventional power station. This image from the British Geological Survey illustrates the process:

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The “Zero emissions power generation” is totally misleading (see below).

Stalin’s engineers and their successors have been doing it to a brown coal seam for 50 years near Angren, a town east of Tashkent in Uzbekistan. Air is piped 300 metres down one well, the gas comes up another. It is cooled, scrubbed of coal dust and compressed on site, then piped across the plain to Angren. Australians bought the operation seven years ago, with a view to scaling up the technology to transform the world’s energy markets.

A cocktail of gases is created when the coal is burned – methane (natural gas), CO2, which can be disposed of safely, carbon monoxide (CO), and hydrogen. There are four ways the gases can be used:

  • Gas to electricity. Methane is burned in a power station.
  • Gas to chemicals. Hydrogen, methane and CO have value as feedstock in the chemicals industry.
  • Gas to liquid. Methane can be liquified to LNG, or CO and hydrogen can be turned into synthetic diesel.
  • Gas to tech. Hydrogen can be used as a transport fuel.

As methane burns it oxidises to CO2 and water. Potentially, it is said, the same infrastructure of pipes can be used to pipe the CO2 from the power station back to the mine and insert it in the place vacated by the burnt coal. Obviously you’d have to double the pipeline for continuous operation. And obviously the process would add to the expense.

A second concern is that chemicals can leak to contaminate groundwater. If the rocks above the seam are impermeable before the process, they may not be after. Fracturing is estimated to occur up to 60 times the width of the seam. In fact fracturing the nearby rocks could release even more gas for use.

USG_cougar-energy_cropped

Australian engineers trialled an adapted process at Chinchilla in Queensland in the 1990s. Within two years UCG was shown to be feasible. But in 2011 benzene and toluene leaked into a nearby borehole in an operation near Kingaroy. Similar problems had emerged in the US, so Qld authorities shut the operation down for investigation. Last July ‘Can do’ Campbell’s mob came up with the idea that you could only operate if you successfully decommissioned a commercial scale operation to show that you could do it. So you had to start an operation, stop it, get your operating ticket, then start up again. Brilliant!

There were three companies involved in Qld – Linc Energy, Carbon Energy and Cougar Energy. They responded by shutting Chinchilla down after more than a decade of successful production, and relocating to China, the US, Argentina, Chile and Indonesia.

There are trials elsewhere, including Canada and South Africa. At Cook Inlet in Alaska and Swan Hills in Alberta, Canada, there are plans to go commercial as early as 2015. In Britain, they reckon 70% of coal has never been mined. Furthermore there is 10 billion tonnes of the stuff under 400 square kilometres in the North Sea. An Office for Unconventional Gas and Oil has been set up with £1 billion seed money to stimulate the industry. Half a dozen start-ups have been spawned. There is interest also in supplying feedstock to energise the flagging chemicals industry in Scotland.

All this momentum is a worry unless in practice ‘clean’ coal turns out to be completely clean. For example in Britain it is said that only 30% of CO2 could be sequestered. There they are throwing £1 billion at the problem.

Remember, for a safe climate we need to reduce the concentration of emissions initially to 350 ppm. Or you can go back and depress yourself by re-reading The game is up.

Our best chance lies in the possibility of renewables becoming cheaper than the fossil alternatives. If we rely on the human race acting rationally in its own longer term self interest our prospects are not good.

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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.”

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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

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1. Electric cars

you have about 750 million cars in the world today; you’re going to have about 1.3 billion cars in about 25, 30 years; and you can’t expect them all to be running on gasoline. There isn’t that much gasoline around.

Stan Correy has a look at the future of the car industry and our potential place in it on ABC RN’s Background Briefing.

Evan Thornley, who is behind Better Place, thinks our niche in the electric car future is in the larger powerful muscle car, where we have always been. Continue reading Climate clippings 69

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New solar PV nanotechnology

There have been so many developments in PV technology it’s hard to know which will be significant.

Gizmag tells us about new material consisting of tiny hollow spheres, made out of nanocrystalline-silicon.

The new material is efficient, light, flexible, should be easy and cheap to make and their efficiency is less affected by the angle of the sun.

No downsides are mentioned. Continue reading Climate clippings 66

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WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin

The World Meteorological Organization’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin has just been released. These graphs show the ‘progress’ of the main gases.

The WMO is agnostic about the reason for the increase in methane emissions, but in this ABC story Paul Fraser from the CSIRO tells us what they are thinking and it’s not good news.He says that the increase of methane is coming from high and low attitudes, which seems to indicate that northern permafrost and tropical wetlands may be the source.

The story also looks at HFCs and refrigeration. As linked on the last thread, go here to Figure 2.21 for the IPCC’s graph on forcings. Continue reading Climate clippings 55

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GLOBAL warming is unusual

A common response to AGW warmists is that climate has always changed and always will. It’s natural and humans have nothing to do with it. Now via Climate Progress we learn from a study by Svante Björck of Lund University that apart from general moves into and out of ice ages the hemispheres do not warm or cool in sync. When one hemisphere changes the other stays the same or moves in the opposite direction. For example he found that during the Little Ice Age in Europe there were no corresponding changes in the southern hemisphere.

Last week I posted this graph to show that we are giving the system a helluva jerk. In fact we need to go back 15 million years to find CO2 levels as high as today. (if you are concerned about Antarctic thawing be very afraid.)

However, the following graph shows that the hemispheres are not perfectly in sync now:

Hemispheric land-ocean temperatures

The northern hemisphere is pulling away. The reason, presumably, it has more land, and at higher latitudes. Continue reading Climate clippings 53

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7 billion and counting

With the world’s population passing 7 billion there have been reports and analysis all over the media.

George Monbiot, clear-headed as usual, says the real problem is consumption. He also takes a look at the UN calculations, and is not impressed, but one way or another the graph is going to go up for about four decades.

Fred Pearce is not an economist, but he may have a point in saying that ageing is the trend and with that your economy goes down the tube. Japan has become the land of the setting sun.

Those two are part of The Guardian’s Crowded Planet series. Our ABC has 7 challenges for 7 billion put together by 7 academics. Continue reading Climate clippings 52