Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Coal: Bigger Than The Elephant In The Room

SEEChangeIncCanberra 1 February 2012 136

What is even bigger than the elephant in the room?  Find out next Tuesday – 7th February, 6.30 pm at the Finkel Theatre, John Curtin School of Medical Research, ANU.

Jeremy Tager is stepping down from his post as senior political advisor to Greenpeace Australia.  Before he leaves Canberra, SEE-Change has arranged for him to deliver a talk about our coal industry.

This talk will present the anomaly of massive government subsidies to the coal industry and Australia’s responsibility as a major coal exporter to other countries at a time when we are ostensibly committed to reducing global carbon dioxide emissions.  Questions will be taken after the talk.

To reserve your place, please vist our event page here.


What's Your Opinion?


Please login to post your comments, or connect with
136 Responses to Coal: Bigger Than The Elephant In The Room
Filter
Order
« Previous 1 5 6 7
SEEChangeIncCanberra 1:35 pm 13 Feb 12

For those who are interested:
Slides from the talk are available here: http://www.see-change.org.au/node/588
Audio will be available at a future date to be advised.
Thanks to those who came along, and to all those who contributed to the very impassioned debate around this subject on TheRiotact. Always good to know what everyone is thinking.

Diggety 1:30 am 11 Feb 12

@ SEEChangeIncCanberra, any video of the lecture yet?

Diggety 7:41 pm 10 Feb 12

HenryBG said :

Diggety said :

So, shauno says something tangibly real and worth consideration (wether it is private or public

No he didn’t.

He juxtaposed the words “27 GW peak” “light winds” “around 1GW” in order to convey a false sense of the intermittence of wind power generation.

It was not an honest statement.

And you’ve blown your cover by supporting his blatant anti-renewable propaganda.

Don’t blow my cover Henry, I’ll concede George Bush fudged the data showing 27GW of German wind down to 0.6GW.

And all that nuclear and fossil fuels they’re burning to compensate was obviously John Howard’s doing. Bastards, eh?

HenryBG 3:00 pm 10 Feb 12

Diggety said :

So, shauno says something tangibly real and worth consideration (wether it is private or public

No he didn’t.

He juxtaposed the words “27 GW peak” “light winds” “around 1GW” in order to convey a false sense of the intermittence of wind power generation.

It was not an honest statement.

And you’ve blown your cover by supporting his blatant anti-renewable propaganda.

Diggety 11:25 am 10 Feb 12

OpenYourMind said :

Diggety I wasn’t for one moment suggesting that PV solution. I was just demonstrating that even using an expensive and resource intensive renewable solution (PV) the estimate in the BZE criticism you cited was ridiculous.

And you’re surprised at the cost? OYM, that is because
– PV is much cheaper than the solar thermal used in the BZE plan.
– they believed it could deliver baseload power.
– The plan includes transport
– Massive land purchases
– Far more structural materials than a PV roof system
– Transmissions, etc.

So costs when trying 100% renewable can be much greater than extrapolating PV home roof systems.

OpenYourMind said :

I’m happy to be proven wrong, Diggety, but pls list the 14 nuclear plants under construction in USA you referenced. I will concede that yesterday two new nuclear plants (Vogtle) were approved in USA for construction at an initial estimated cost of $14billion with an $8billion government loan guarantee. I’ve already spoken at length about the poor economics of nuclear and these numbers speak for themselves.

Well we were both wrong (and my previously link was faulty. There are 4 reactors well under construction in Georgia and South Carolina.

Not bad considering the technology was only approved last December.

Costs, $7B for 1200MWe reactor is not the best. But considering it is a FOAK, it’s expected to get much cheaper.

You haven’t “spoken at length about the economics of nuclear”, you just picked a worst case scenario (Finland), a reactor type I never advocated for, and ignored the rest. You’ll just have to wait till China and the USA complete their AP1000’s. Then we’ll get a good idea.

P.S. If you think the critique is bullshit, go over to http://www.bravenewclimate.com and let the authors know. There is always good discussion over there both pro-nuke and anti-nuke. But, be warned, you need to quote sources for your claims and that PV scenario just won’t cut it. Try anyway.

Thumper 11:24 am 10 Feb 12

Okay, I’ve been waiting ages to say this but….

Elephants are much larger than lumps of coal.

Diggety 10:40 am 10 Feb 12

HenryBG said :

All Shauno highlighted was the he is prone to recycling dishonest nonsense from the anti-renewables lobby.

So, shauno says something tangibly real and worth consideration (wether it is private or public investment), you agree with his figures, then turn around and say “…recycling dishonest nonsense from the anti-renewables lobby.”

You’ve demonstrated a simple understanding of a Capacity Factor now, so tell us how would you make up for that lost energy when the wind isn’t blowing hard enough?

By the way Henry your accusation that Deisendorf is a ‘right-winger’ is wrong, and would be laughed out of the room. In fact I reckon if you told that to his face he would whack you with a daffodil.

P.S. The Soviet Union didn’t supply an energy system by rubbing hammers and syckels together. But nuclear has just got to be a right wing conspiracy, eh Henry?

OpenYourMind 8:59 am 10 Feb 12

Diggety I wasn’t for one moment suggesting that PV solution. I was just demonstrating that even using an expensive and resource intensive renewable solution (PV) the estimate in the BZE criticism you cited was ridiculous.

I’m happy to be proven wrong, Diggety, but pls list the 14 nuclear plants under construction in USA you referenced. I will concede that yesterday two new nuclear plants (Vogtle) were approved in USA for construction at an initial estimated cost of $14billion with an $8billion government loan guarantee. I’ve already spoken at length about the poor economics of nuclear and these numbers speak for themselves.

HenryBG 7:25 am 10 Feb 12

Diggety said :

HenryBG said :

shauno said :

It simply wont work. Not yet anyway.

I refer you to Germany with the greatest amount of wind power in Europe around 27 Gw at peak or equivalent to 14 2Gw coal power stations. Now for the last couple of weeks the amount of power produced by those has only been around 1Gw because of light winds or lack of wind. .

27Gw is the *installed capacity*. It doesn’t describe any “peak” production, not even remotely.

shauno highlights a sobering reality of wind farms, Henry.

So now you’re starting to scratch the surface of energy generation understanding. We call that capacity factor- every form of electrical generation is less than 100%. So next time public discourse ventures into $/W nameplate (installed) capacity, you can ask them “what is the capacity factor”.

Revert back to comment #97 for more tips, any questions- just ask.

All Shauno highlighted was the he is prone to recycling dishonest nonsense from the anti-renewables lobby.
When I invest in a wind farm, my economic modelling doesn’t use the installed capacity for any purpose whatsoever. Nobody does.
But fossil fuellists just can’t help themselves – dishonesty is their modus operandi.

With 27GW, I assume Germany’s average production would be something a little under 2GW.
27GW installed in South Australia would probably be expected to give an average production of 10GW.
And so forth. *That* is the reality, and it has nothing to do with the right-wing bollocks you lot are regurgitating.

Diggety 2:05 am 10 Feb 12

OpenYourMind said :

Being simplistic but let’s just take Diggety’s (BZE Criticism) most extreme figure of $4trillion

Well, I can tell you we don’t have $4.7 trillion to buy a energy system every 18 years. So your point is moot.

OpenYourMind said :

Now, not that anyone would install solar this way, as there are better ways to do solar, but let’s use a home solar PV system as a model and work on a figure of $2k per installed kW. $4trillion would buy 2billion installed kWs of panels. Canberra tracks on about 1464kw per year per domestic PV installed kW. 2billion installed 1kW systems would produce 2trillion kWs per annum or more than 8 times Australia’s entire annual electricity production. I understand that BZE includes all sorts of other goodies such as transmission lines etc. I’m not suggesting a 2billion kW PV system as a solution, my point is that even a quick sanity check on the $4trillion figure Diggety gave can be shown to be bollocks.

But let’s go through OYM’s plan anyway:
– There is not enough raw material on Earth to manufacture 2TW of residential systems (using currently avail. Tech)
– 2 billion installed kW (2TW) of PV in Canberra would produce ~1,890TWh in a year.
– Output intermittency would collapse the grid within a day.
– No residential circuitry would be operable on such a system
– There would be no power in low insolation conditions (e.g. nights, clowds)
– There isn’t enough suitable home roof space to accommodate the solar panel space required for the system.

Need I go on?

OYM, please revert back to comment #97 to at least start to get an idea of what we’re talking about.

OpenYourMind said :

First hand I’ve seen domestic solar PV reach the point where without subsidies, it is competitive with commercial power.
http://www.carbonetix.com.au/news/plummeting-solar-pv-prices-a-sustainability-game-changer/

In my employment I’ve seen some amazing steps forward that can be made with smarter energy use eg data centers utilising natural outside air ventilation (with greater airflow) for much of the year rather than 24/7 AC.

That’s lovely, but it doesn’t mean anything. Every individual is welcome to pay for a PV system- no one is stopping them.

We are however talking about a national energy system. For your PV system to be operable and the economy to stay afloat, you need a reliable energy grid…

Diggety 12:29 am 10 Feb 12

OpenYourMind said :

Diggety, I see you have changed course a little. You are now talking about commercial Gen3 reactors (AP1000) and not pipe dreams like IFR. Interesting. I’d also suggest you check more carefully on nuclear construction in USA:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prospective_nuclear_units_in_the_United_States

Not changed my course, just opened up discussion. Remember, I never rejected GenIII+, I have suggested GenIII+ reactors as cheap/safe start up for a nuclear industry, with a view to GenIV development collaborations and up-scaled reactors in the future.

P.S. You’ll note, AP1000 reactor construction is well under way, don’t rely on Wikipedia for the latest news, OYM!

Diggety 11:44 pm 09 Feb 12

HenryBG said :

Your polished regurgitation of pseudo-factual strawmen is witnessed a couple of times each decade when the Nuke industry and its right-wing fanclub try it on with their periodic PR-push which inevitably fizzles out for lack of interest.

We won’t be conned.

Henry,

Who is “we” exactly? If you have a problem with the work of the top experts in their field, let them know.

Your pace of keeping up to the science and economics is about the rate of a spastic in a magnet factory, and trying to make sense of your crack-pot conspiracies make me look as frustrated as a Chinese wicket-keeper.

Good day sir.

P.S. As a general rule, never quote a source we have not read and comprehended in it’s entirety.

Diggety 11:07 pm 09 Feb 12

HenryBG said :

shauno said :

It simply wont work. Not yet anyway.

I refer you to Germany with the greatest amount of wind power in Europe around 27 Gw at peak or equivalent to 14 2Gw coal power stations. Now for the last couple of weeks the amount of power produced by those has only been around 1Gw because of light winds or lack of wind. .

27Gw is the *installed capacity*. It doesn’t describe any “peak” production, not even remotely.

shauno highlights a sobering reality of wind farms, Henry.

So now you’re starting to scratch the surface of energy generation understanding. We call that capacity factor- every form of electrical generation is less than 100%. So next time public discourse ventures into $/W nameplate (installed) capacity, you can ask them “what is the capacity factor”.

Revert back to comment #97 for more tips, any questions- just ask.

OpenYourMind 10:36 pm 09 Feb 12

Diggety, I see you have changed course a little. You are now talking about commercial Gen3 reactors (AP1000) and not pipe dreams like IFR. Interesting. I’d also suggest you check more carefully on nuclear construction in USA:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prospective_nuclear_units_in_the_United_States

Post Fukushima, I certainly don’t think I’ll be betting the farm on the so called nuclear ‘renaissance’!

Being simplistic but let’s just take Diggety’s (BZE Criticism) most extreme figure of $4trillion. Now, not that anyone would install solar this way, as there are better ways to do solar, but let’s use a home solar PV system as a model and work on a figure of $2k per installed kW. $4trillion would buy 2billion installed kWs of panels. Canberra tracks on about 1464kw per year per domestic PV installed kW. 2billion installed 1kW systems would produce 2trillion kWs per annum or more than 8 times Australia’s entire annual electricity production. I understand that BZE includes all sorts of other goodies such as transmission lines etc. I’m not suggesting a 2billion kW PV system as a solution, my point is that even a quick sanity check on the $4trillion figure Diggety gave can be shown to be bollocks.

First hand I’ve seen domestic solar PV reach the point where without subsidies, it is competitive with commercial power.
http://www.carbonetix.com.au/news/plummeting-solar-pv-prices-a-sustainability-game-changer/

In my employment I’ve seen some amazing steps forward that can be made with smarter energy use eg data centers utilising natural outside air ventilation (with greater airflow) for much of the year rather than 24/7 AC.

HenryBG 8:14 pm 09 Feb 12

Diggety said :

4. I don’t want Governments to waste money on overpriced renewable energy projects like Solar Dawn that only give renewable energy a bad name.

Your conflation of “renewable” and “wasting money” and your assertions about “unreliable electricity supply” are a tired old PR refrain.

I don’t know where “100% renewables by 2020” would come into it (bedtime story, perhaps?), although it sounds very much like the kind of study Sir Humphrey Appleby would be keen to sponsor, were this some sort of a comedy show. (100% in just 8 years? You’re going to have to tell your right-wing freinds to supply you with *much* glossier brochures in future).

At Yale, Dr William Nordhaus’s economic modelling gives us 22 Trillion $ of climatic damages over 50 years.
He shows that spending 2 trillion will save 5 trillion of those damages.

http://nordhaus.econ.yale.edu/Balance_2nd_proofs.pdf

So the question is how we spend Australia’s share of that 2 trillion.
Spending it on a technology that relies on a non-renewable fuel source and carries uninsurable risk and no known safe way of disposing of its waste is not – in my humble opinion – a good way to spend our money.

Your polished regurgitation of pseudo-factual strawmen is witnessed a couple of times each decade when the Nuke industry and its right-wing fanclub try it on with their periodic PR-push which inevitably fizzles out for lack of interest.

We won’t be conned.

HenryBG 7:56 pm 09 Feb 12

shauno said :

It simply wont work. Not yet anyway.

I refer you to Germany with the greatest amount of wind power in Europe around 27 Gw at peak or equivalent to 14 2Gw coal power stations. Now for the last couple of weeks the amount of power produced by those has only been around 1Gw because of light winds or lack of wind. .

Well, as usual, we have fossil-fuelists demonstrating either dishonesty or incompetence.

27Gw is the *installed capacity*. It doesn’t describe any “peak” production, not even remotely.

Diggety 6:23 pm 09 Feb 12

@ HenryBG and OpenYourMind: So let’s address the third objection in more detail:

3. They are not needed as renewable can do the job, normally preceded by “I reckon…”. Let’s evaluate some proposals:

(i) Case study 1:
Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) came out with a 100% renewable plan for Australia. In 2010 proposing the following:
– Cost- $370 billion
– 100% renewable energy by 2020
– $8/week for every household
With much fan-fare, some shall we say ‘easily excitable’ politicians and NGO’s received it with open arms. That soon changed when publications of the critiques started flowing; Deisendorf (2010) (a renewable energy researcher and activist at UNSW), Trainer (2010) and Nicholson and Lang (2010) (independent energy policy advisors to various Governments). The latter finding:

– Revised cost was somewhere between $855 billion to $4,191 billion.
– The CST technology used in the plan was not sufficiently scaled or commercialized.
– Electricity would not be reliable enough.
– It would not deliver reliable baseload power
– Unacceptable amounts of embodied energy would be required, and needing replacement in the near future.
– Australian quality of life would be significantly diminished (travel restrictions, loss of agriculture and food supply, serious economic impacts, job losses)

Now, you see why politicians dropped it like a sack of sh*t, and after 18 months of requests, BZE has still not responded.

(ii) Case study 2

One of BZE’s critics, Mark Deisendorf, was involved in a recent 100% renewable simulation study- Elliston, et al (2012) (IMO, much more realistic for a variety of reasons).

No costings were provided to accompany the study, although Lang did do the sums along with an analysis of a technological feasibility study:
– The costs for capital:: $568 billion
– Cost of CO2 abatement:$290/tonne CO2
– Electricity would cost 7 x more than today
– The carbon tax would need to be 13 x the $23/ton we have now. (30x the European carbon price).
– The electricity supply would be unreliable
– 76% of our agricultural land would need to be used for fuel supply.
The latter renewable energy plan is much more realistic as I said. The reason for this is that the authors are experts in the field and are honest, bound by academic integrity.

So, I hope you can start to begin to realise how difficult it is to transition to a renewable energy system. Let me reiterate a few things:
1. I am not advocating 100% nuclear, I am saying we will likely need it for a portion of our energy supply. I just want us to pick the right kind of nuclear- not outdated, unsafe junk.
2. I believe renewable energy will play a significant role in decarbonising our economy. Like I said before, I am in solar energy research myself for good reason (I think it has big potential).
3. I would like Australian’s to have all the correct facts presented to them so we can as a nation select the best outcome for our future.
4. I don’t want Governments to waste money on overpriced renewable energy projects like Solar Dawn that only give renewable energy a bad name.

shauno 6:13 pm 09 Feb 12

HenryBG said :

Thumper said :

All I’m saying is that wind, solar and wave, whatever, simply will not do the job at this stage.

All options need to be explored.

You’ve acquired those assertions via the energy lobby disinformation PR.

*Why* won’t they do the job? It’s just not true.

They’re scared of renewables in a similar way that print media (and governments) are scared of the internet: democratisation of the electricity supply will lose them a lot of money. Individuals and entire towns can reduce their reliance on their State’s rip-off pseudo-privatised electricity supply monopoly.

It simply wont work. Not yet anyway.

I refer you to Germany with the greatest amount of wind power in Europe around 27 Gw at peak or equivalent to 14 2Gw coal power stations. Now for the last couple of weeks the amount of power produced by those has only been around 1Gw because of light winds or lack of wind. And dont forget all this wind power is subsidised.

Because this is a known factor in power they didn’t just go without power because they still had all the old power stations on back up to cover the times when there is no wind. So you cant just replace these power stations with Wind. Also they can import power from neighbours if need be Australia cant do that.

If for whatever reason yo don’t want to use cheap coal power than a transition to 4th generation Nuclear is the go. Mean while build your 2 sq km solar arrays out in the desert but don’t expect subsidies if its so viable build it and they will come.

Diggety 5:49 pm 09 Feb 12

@ HenryBG and OpenYourMind:

Ok, so the only objections you have left, that have not been proven wrong are:

1. Right wing, America evil, Iraq War, blah blah blah.

– Excuse me if I suggest this is a little off topic and choose not to respond.

2. Safety is not guaranteed. Fair enough.

– design features of advanced reactors have significantly improved.
– As an example, the US regulatory commission has just given the OK to the AP-1000 reactor, and 14 of them are under construction in the US, and 12 in China.
– It is the safest nuclear reactor to date and the first to be approved in the US since 1979, despite the board having prominent anti-nukists.
– we will just have to wait until advanced reactors are demonstrated with previously built, under construction and proposed.

3. They are not needed as renewable can do the job, normally preceded by “I reckon…”.

Thumper 8:18 am 09 Feb 12

You’ve acquired those assertions via the energy lobby disinformation PR.

Your sweeping presumptions are outstanding.

Anything else you’d like to tell me about myself?

« Previous 1 5 6 7

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2019 Region Group Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
the-riotact.com | aboutregional.com.au | b2bmagazine.com.au | thisiscanberra.com

Search across the site