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Renewing the renewable energy debate

Kim Fischer 24 August 2017 80

wind

Regardless of whether you think that using clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar is the “right” thing to do for our environment, within a few years it’s going to be the smart thing to do financially.

Renewable energy has become a hot topic for both Federal and ACT politicians. The Federal Government has directed the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to stop investing in rooftop solar and wind farms, with Joe Hockey chiming in to the debate with complaints about the aesthetics of the wind farm at Lake George.

Meanwhile, Bill Shorten has just announced that the Federal ALP will adopt a target of 50 per cent renewable energy for Australia by 2030.

Initiatives to increase renewable energy use often face scare campaigns about the high costs of adoption. However, these campaigns ignore the incredibly rapid improvements in renewable energy technology. Just in the last five years wind power generation costs have dropped by more than half, and solar generation costs have dropped by nearly 80 per cent.

Wind power generation costs are now almost identical to coal and in the best case scenarios, substantially cheaper. While rooftop solar installations still require a substantial feed-in tariff to be financially attractive, larger “utility-scale” solar installations are cost-competitive. With innovations like the 1.5MW solar power plant in a box, solar power today is a simple and scalable way for countries to increase their power generation capacity.

The second common objection to renewable power is that it cannot be a base load power source – that is, to provide continuous energy at low cost. However, wind farms spread over a large geographic area are actually a very consistent power supply because there is always wind somewhere. Solar power also works well because the sun shines brightest during peak periods of electricity usage. New technologies such as molten salt thermal storage are also proving to be an effective way to store excess solar power for delivery to properties at night.

The ACT Labor Government is leading the country with its goal of getting 90 per cent of Canberra’s power from renewable energy by 2020. The Government already purchases power from a number of solar and wind power sources, with the locally built utility-scale Royalla Solar Farm opening in September last year.

After a second Australia-wide auction to purchase additional wind energy, two-thirds of Canberra’s energy will come from wind and solar power sources. Even once 90 per cent of Canberra’s power comes from renewable sources, household power bills are only predicted to rise modestly, with household energy-efficiency initiatives helping to offset the impact of price rises.

When it comes to renewable energy, it is now clear that Tony Abbott and the Liberals are on the wrong side of history. Given that the cost of wind and solar power will continue to decrease, within 15-20 years the debate on whether renewable energy is a good idea or not will seem as old-fashioned as anyone who thought the introduction of universal health care was a bad idea.


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dungfungus dungfungus 3:34 pm 27 Jul 15

The opening statement on the website of warmest organisation “Conservation International” reads:

“Our food system, our economies, our cities and our communities — they’re all adapted to the climate we currently live in.
But what if the climate changes too fast for us to keep up?
The fate of the one and only planet we’ve ever called home is uncertain. It is in everyone’s interest to come together to address the challenges we face.”
The statement is heavily qualified with words “what if”, “uncertain” and “challenges”.
Also, the statement acknowledges through the word “adaption” that climate does change naturally.
I thought “the science was settled” and there weren’t any “ifs & buts” about it.
It seems that even the scientists are sceptical about what they are saying.

chewy14 chewy14 3:38 pm 27 Jul 15

justsomeaussie said :

So you’ve failed to address anything and simply adopt the position of “this is very hard let’s not do anything”.

What I was addressing which I outlined in the first paragraph is the cognitive biases that come with discussing things like climate change because many many people bring baggage (both for and against) to the discussion.

So I made an attempt to draw an analogy that we don’t see the levels of distrust in scientists who study cancer as we do in climate change. For obvious reasons those with financial interests have done a very good job in promoting distrust in professionals who’ve spent their life studying one branch of society. As I pointed out we saw this in the past when cancer concerns were hidden from public view due to the financial interests pushing their own pseudoscience.

And yet for some reason there are all many of people who come out of the woodwork who are willing to provide their “informed” opinion on the science of anthropogenic climate change and yet if we asked them about gene therapy for example they’d likely bow out and refer to an expert. It’s nothing more than a dunning kruger effect where the uninformed consider themselves very knowledgeable without actually being in the field of study being discussed.

Simply put when you want to get your car fixed do you take it to your accountant or your mechanic? Your accountant may wax lyrical about how awesome his volvo is but you’d likely be better off taking advice of someone trained in the field and when 97% of mechanics recommend something it’s reasonable to assume there is some merit to it.

So again I ask the detractors “what evidence do you need to be wrong about man made climate change”. If you can’t answer this easily you are as dogmatic as someone who blows themselves up for religion.

I’ll answer on my side is that I’d need a majority of climate scientists to come out and admit that they got it all wrong and that man made climate change isn’t real. Since I’m not arrogant enough to say that I could understand PhD level climate science I’m happy to defer to those that do have expertise.

I”m assuming you were respoding to me Justsomeaussie?

I agree with you that many people suffer from their own biases when talking about the issue, myself included.

But, I’m not suggesting we “do nothing” about climate change. I’m specifically saying that we should balance the risks vs the benefits of action and that any action we do take should have actual tangible benefits on a global scale.
ie. We shouldn’t unilaterally enact schemes that hamstring our own industries without realisable benefits.

And secondly, my point was that we shouldn’t compare climate science to car mechanics, accountancy or any other field that we have much more certain knowledge in. An expert car mechanic is not comparable to an expert climate scientist in terms of the certainty of their knowledge.
We aren’t talking about certainties, we are talking about risks and probabilities from a base of knowledge that is incomplete although constantly improving with each year.

I’m not arguing from a position of not believing in climate change, I’m arguing from a position that our actions need to be commensurate with the risks, the costs and the benefits.

justsomeaussie justsomeaussie 4:00 pm 27 Jul 15

chewy14 said :

And secondly, my point was that we shouldn’t compare climate science to car mechanics, accountancy or any other field that we have much more certain knowledge in. An expert car mechanic is not comparable to an expert climate scientist in terms of the certainty of their knowledge.
We aren’t talking about certainties, we are talking about risks and probabilities from a base of knowledge that is incomplete although constantly improving with each year.

If you aren’t a climate scientist how can you comment about probability and risk of climate chance? Since the people who are trained in this area, the people with the data all are seemingly singing off the same sheet.

Do you know who has bet on climate change? The Pentagon so despite their perceived right wing biases they recognise that the instability created by large scale environmental events will impact the region.

The second is reinsurers, that is the gigantic insurance companies that insure your every day insurance companies.

So the question isn’t about what are the costs if we do enact some type of environmental taxes, yes we’ll stifle growth but if we don’t and the worst happens then we are literally left with no economy to argue about. This video sums it up well https://youtu.be/zORv8wwiadQ

They both have accepted the climate data presented and have adapted their business to meet the changes to the environment.

Dungafungus seems to have a primary school level knowledge of this topic so I’ll ask again “what evidence do you require to be wrong”?

vintage123 vintage123 4:19 pm 27 Jul 15

Just confirmed that there is zero energy provided to the ACT from the capital wind farm at Lake George.

There is only one sole contract and it is between Infigen and the NSW government.

I guess people just assumed because they were close to the boarder they were supplying the ACT.

Not the case.

Arthur Davies Arthur Davies 4:50 pm 27 Jul 15

There are another reasons to get off fossil fuels:-

They are finite, inevitably will become more expensive in the long run as the cheapest sources are depleted. The most critical is oil in this regard.

Strategically we can be held to ransom by outsiders whenever they like unless we are self sufficient. There was almost no petrol in Australia during WW2, submarines sunk it, oil was again in very short supply again in the 1970s.It has happened before, it will happen again.

Transport is our Achilles heel, convert that to electric via long distance electric trains & via electric vehicles all powered by renewable energy & we are again immune from such problems. Note also battery powered electric vehicles can be charged at any time, so don’t charge them when renewable electricity is in high demand. Experts are currently looking at electric car batteries as a means to overcome power demand peaks, take power out during peaks, recharge the car when demand is low (as long as the car is not on the road at the time). We import 100% of our petroleum now & our domestic refineries are being shut down at present.

chewy14 chewy14 5:16 pm 27 Jul 15

justsomeaussie said :

chewy14 said :

And secondly, my point was that we shouldn’t compare climate science to car mechanics, accountancy or any other field that we have much more certain knowledge in. An expert car mechanic is not comparable to an expert climate scientist in terms of the certainty of their knowledge.
We aren’t talking about certainties, we are talking about risks and probabilities from a base of knowledge that is incomplete although constantly improving with each year.

If you aren’t a climate scientist how can you comment about probability and risk of climate chance? Since the people who are trained in this area, the people with the data all are seemingly singing off the same sheet.

Do you know who has bet on climate change? The Pentagon so despite their perceived right wing biases they recognise that the instability created by large scale environmental events will impact the region.

The second is reinsurers, that is the gigantic insurance companies that insure your every day insurance companies.

So the question isn’t about what are the costs if we do enact some type of environmental taxes, yes we’ll stifle growth but if we don’t and the worst happens then we are literally left with no economy to argue about. This video sums it up well https://youtu.be/zORv8wwiadQ

They both have accepted the climate data presented and have adapted their business to meet the changes to the environment.

Dungafungus seems to have a primary school level knowledge of this topic so I’ll ask again “what evidence do you require to be wrong”?

I’m not a climate scientist but I have science qualifications and can read what the actual climate scientists are saying.

And no, they aren’t singing off the same sheet like experts in those other fields you mention might be with certainty on a particular issue. They almost all believe that climate change is real and man made but they also give a range of possible effects over a range of time frames. The actual experts specifically don’t say that “the effects of X will be Y” because of the inherent uncertainty and complexity of their work.

As you say in your comment, the absolute worst that could happen is that we don’t have an economy but what is the actual risk of that worst happening? Our actions should specifically be designed around that risk and probability, like in any risk management excercise.

Action for action’s sake is no more logical than those that disbelieve the science and say we should do nothing.

No_Nose No_Nose 5:29 pm 27 Jul 15

justsomeaussie said :

And yet in the climate change debate we don’t see it.

Right here is the greatest myth that the climate change skeptics have managed to put out there. It is also the most dangerous.

The myth that this is some sort of a debate…as long as they continue to get media to term it a ‘debate’ they get people to think that there are two roughly equal arguments for and against man-made climate change. And that is just wrong.

There is are not two roughly equal arguments. Not even close to being equal. What we have is 99% of the worlds leading scientists in the field on one side with quantifiable, verifiable data and there are a couple of noisy dissenters with anecdotes and stories on the other side.

No ‘debate’ whatsoever.

There are two sides to this issue. They are SCIENCE and WRONG…and they are not even close to equal.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 6:55 pm 27 Jul 15

The conclusion of the 2007 paper on the “Base-Load Fallacy” is most interesting:

“Actually, there is one constraint on a renewable electricity future. Growth in demand has to be levelled off, or there will not be enough land for wind and bioenergy. In the long run, this would entail a change in the national economic structure and the stabilisation of Australia’s population.”

Whatever the next steps are, I hope, as a nation, we can avoid further overly-costly enthusiasms such as this:

“In the first phase of large-scale growth in solar, lavish feed-in tariff schemes introduced between 2008 and 2011 encouraged 1.4 million households to install panels on their roofs – the highest proportion of households of any country.

State governments began winding back the schemes in 2012, but by the time the last runs out in 2028 they will have cost the economy $9 billion. Worse, people who chose not to install solar, or could not afford it, have paid for the schemes through a subsidy to solar PV owners worth $14 billion.

The schemes have reduced emissions, but at a very high price. There are much cheaper ways to tackle climate change.”

From: http://grattan.edu.au/report/sundown-sunrise-how-australia-can-finally-get-solar-power-right/

dungfungus dungfungus 11:06 pm 27 Jul 15

justsomeaussie said :

chewy14 said :

And secondly, my point was that we shouldn’t compare climate science to car mechanics, accountancy or any other field that we have much more certain knowledge in. An expert car mechanic is not comparable to an expert climate scientist in terms of the certainty of their knowledge.
We aren’t talking about certainties, we are talking about risks and probabilities from a base of knowledge that is incomplete although constantly improving with each year.

If you aren’t a climate scientist how can you comment about probability and risk of climate chance? Since the people who are trained in this area, the people with the data all are seemingly singing off the same sheet.

Do you know who has bet on climate change? The Pentagon so despite their perceived right wing biases they recognise that the instability created by large scale environmental events will impact the region.

The second is reinsurers, that is the gigantic insurance companies that insure your every day insurance companies.

So the question isn’t about what are the costs if we do enact some type of environmental taxes, yes we’ll stifle growth but if we don’t and the worst happens then we are literally left with no economy to argue about. This video sums it up well https://youtu.be/zORv8wwiadQ

They both have accepted the climate data presented and have adapted their business to meet the changes to the environment.

Dungafungus seems to have a primary school level knowledge of this topic so I’ll ask again “what evidence do you require to be wrong”?

When I was at primary school, climate “change” certainly wasn’t in the curriculum.
Climate is slowly changing as it always has. The only other change is that thousands of “climate scientists” have appeared from nowhere with theories about our climate changing but no evidence of it so whether the assumptions are right or wrong is totally academic.

rubaiyat rubaiyat 11:46 pm 27 Jul 15

dungfungus said :

rubaiyat said :

Interesting link.

I fail to see where it mentions Spain, and seeing the Mafia has its fingers in everything in Italy, right down to garbage collection, the problem is the usual Italian problem nothing to do with renewable energy as to suggest.

Particularly where the last reference to gas drilling (fracking?) has absolutely nothing to do with renewables.

dungfungus do you have any particular objection to the corruption surrounding coal extraction in this country which is far more relevant?

You could have checked it out yourself.
http://www.energytribune.com/5597/mafia-hits-eu-wind-subsidies#sthash.4Ztu6AGV.dpbs
Now, please tell me all about corruption involving coal extraction in Australia.
BTW, you can’t class the Maitland/Obeid/NSW Labor Government cases as corruption because the mines involved never went into production so no extraction occurred.

The whole subsidies to the coal industry, shipping, massive compulsory resumption of lands, environment assessments bent to force through harbours that dump sediment over our greatest national treasure the Great Barrier Reef, the politicans currently in power who were revealed to have massive conflicts of interests going back to the Howard government and probably before, plus the very low instance of anyone ever getting prosecuted like Gordon Nutall, who is still receiving his superannuation despite being sentenced for taking money from Queensland mining magnate Ken Talbot.

The fossil fuel lobbyists, like “EnergyTribune” must be laughing their heads off at how easy it is to get befuddled old farts to do all the hard yakker for them.

justsomeaussie justsomeaussie 4:30 am 28 Jul 15

The Australian government through your and my taxes gives $41 billion dollars in subsidies to the coal and gas markets. $41 billion dollars and you lot come on here and quibble about subsides for renewables.

http://smh.com.au/environment/renewable-energy-expense-attacked-as-australia-gifts-41-billion-to-fossil-fuels-20150725-gijsvh

I hope the detractors realise that coal and gas can only get more expensive to mine as the low hanging fruit is already gone whereas the point with renewable is that it’s we’ll renewable.

So if you are talking about the economy, how about we remove the $41 billion in subsidies for fossil fuels and let them stand on their own legs and invest the money elsewhere.

dungfungus dungfungus 8:01 am 28 Jul 15

Arthur Davies said :

There are another reasons to get off fossil fuels:-

They are finite, inevitably will become more expensive in the long run as the cheapest sources are depleted. The most critical is oil in this regard.

Strategically we can be held to ransom by outsiders whenever they like unless we are self sufficient. There was almost no petrol in Australia during WW2, submarines sunk it, oil was again in very short supply again in the 1970s.It has happened before, it will happen again.

Transport is our Achilles heel, convert that to electric via long distance electric trains & via electric vehicles all powered by renewable energy & we are again immune from such problems. Note also battery powered electric vehicles can be charged at any time, so don’t charge them when renewable electricity is in high demand. Experts are currently looking at electric car batteries as a means to overcome power demand peaks, take power out during peaks, recharge the car when demand is low (as long as the car is not on the road at the time). We import 100% of our petroleum now & our domestic refineries are being shut down at present.

There are still vast amounts of coal in Australia – it will never run out for centuries by which time we will have gone back to burning animal dung or using a new technology that is yet to be invented.
About 40 years ago I had a farm in Northern NSW and in an effort to have it drought proofed I engaged a contractor to sink a large dam. He phoned me from the nearest phone box about half-way through the day he started and said “I have gone down 2 metres expecting to meet a clay strata but instead I have struck a coal seam”. This was part of the vast coal seam that extends from Newcastle to Ipswich. It comes very close to the surface in a lot of places and around Narrabri large extractions are now underway.
The price for coal 40 years ago was about $20 per tonne.
There is also plenty of unexploited oil reserves in the world – the “low fruit” is always first to be harvested.

bryansworld bryansworld 9:44 am 28 Jul 15

No_Nose said :

justsomeaussie said :

And yet in the climate change debate we don’t see it.

Right here is the greatest myth that the climate change skeptics have managed to put out there. It is also the most dangerous.

The myth that this is some sort of a debate…as long as they continue to get media to term it a ‘debate’ they get people to think that there are two roughly equal arguments for and against man-made climate change. And that is just wrong.

There is are not two roughly equal arguments. Not even close to being equal. What we have is 99% of the worlds leading scientists in the field on one side with quantifiable, verifiable data and there are a couple of noisy dissenters with anecdotes and stories on the other side.

No ‘debate’ whatsoever.

There are two sides to this issue. They are SCIENCE and WRONG…and they are not even close to equal.

+1 . Madness. These people trust scientists on cancer, air travel and everything else, but somehow they are experts on climate change. How does that work?

dungfungus dungfungus 9:50 am 28 Jul 15

justsomeaussie said :

The Australian government through your and my taxes gives $41 billion dollars in subsidies to the coal and gas markets. $41 billion dollars and you lot come on here and quibble about subsides for renewables.

http://smh.com.au/environment/renewable-energy-expense-attacked-as-australia-gifts-41-billion-to-fossil-fuels-20150725-gijsvh

I hope the detractors realise that coal and gas can only get more expensive to mine as the low hanging fruit is already gone whereas the point with renewable is that it’s we’ll renewable.

So if you are talking about the economy, how about we remove the $41 billion in subsidies for fossil fuels and let them stand on their own legs and invest the money elsewhere.

I have always wondered how the alleged subsidies to the fossil fuel electricity producers are paid.
The amounts never actually appear in government expenditure reports so the conclusion is there are no sunsidies paid at all as there are in the renewables industies.
The only link to subsidies paid to the fossil fuel energy producers in the link you provided is a vague estimate of “cost” by the IMF (the taxpayer funded organisation that has sent Greece into financial oblivion) and a statement by the author of the article which says “A massive proportion of the energy subsidy identified by the IMF comes about from wider society having to bare the burden of the environment damage that burning fossil fuels causes – namely global warming and local air pollution”
This is a totally false way of claiming there are massive subsidies paid to the fossil fuel energy producers as all the claims are speculative and unproven.

rubaiyat rubaiyat 10:33 am 28 Jul 15

We are NEVER going to convince those with their fingers in their ears and eyes screwed shut, but for everyone else who might be swayed by the noise coming from the Fossil Fuel industry, who are doing a Tobacco Indistry type rearguard action and duping a lot of the science by guesswork crowd, here is a simple summary:

http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-whats-warming-the-world/

http://i1.wp.com/understandsolar.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/bnef-graph.jpg

http://i2.wp.com/understandsolar.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/solar-pv-cost-trend.png

(From that left wing tree-hugging rag, Bloomberg Business).

Antagonist Antagonist 10:36 am 28 Jul 15

vintage123 said :

Just confirmed that there is zero energy provided to the ACT from the capital wind farm at Lake George.

There is only one sole contract and it is between Infigen and the NSW government.

I guess people just assumed because they were close to the boarder they were supplying the ACT.

Not the case.

As was pointed out to you by Grail at #11 earlier, that is not how electricity works.

rubaiyat rubaiyat 10:44 am 28 Jul 15

If you are considering whether to invest in Coal or Renewables:

http://www.marketforces.org.au/the-incredible-shrinking-coal-industry/

Of course if you are in a position of power and can do King Coal the odd big favour and ultimately move from politics to “consultancy”…

justsomeaussie justsomeaussie 11:06 am 28 Jul 15

dungfungus said :

When I was at primary school, climate “change” certainly wasn’t in the curriculum.
Climate is slowly changing as it always has. The only other change is that thousands of “climate scientists” have appeared from nowhere with theories about our climate changing but no evidence of it so whether the assumptions are right or wrong is totally academic.

When I was at primary school, quantum theory, astrophysics, stem cell research, chemotherapy and modern medicine certainly wasn’t in the curriculum.

Science is slowly changing as it always has. The only other change is that thousands of “scientists” have appeared from nowhere with theories about our science changing but no evidence of it so whether the assumptions are right or wrong is totally academic.

It must be very cold on your cave.

I’ll ask a third time, “what evidence do you require for you to admit you are wrong on man made climate change?”

justsomeaussie justsomeaussie 11:09 am 28 Jul 15

p.s the fossil fuel industry like many industries is subsidied through tax credits, that is they are given lower tax rates.

So yes you are correct that it doesn’t appear as a payment or income from the government, it’s just a lack of accrual of tax.

So if you want to penalise renewables for subsides, at least don’t be a hypocrite and create a level playing field for everyone.

rubaiyat rubaiyat 11:25 am 28 Jul 15

dungfungus said :

justsomeaussie said :

The Australian government through your and my taxes gives $41 billion dollars in subsidies to the coal and gas markets. $41 billion dollars and you lot come on here and quibble about subsides for renewables.

http://smh.com.au/environment/renewable-energy-expense-attacked-as-australia-gifts-41-billion-to-fossil-fuels-20150725-gijsvh

I hope the detractors realise that coal and gas can only get more expensive to mine as the low hanging fruit is already gone whereas the point with renewable is that it’s we’ll renewable.

So if you are talking about the economy, how about we remove the $41 billion in subsidies for fossil fuels and let them stand on their own legs and invest the money elsewhere.

I have always wondered how the alleged subsidies to the fossil fuel electricity producers are paid.
The amounts never actually appear in government expenditure reports so the conclusion is there are no sunsidies paid at all as there are in the renewables industies.
The only link to subsidies paid to the fossil fuel energy producers in the link you provided is a vague estimate of “cost” by the IMF (the taxpayer funded organisation that has sent Greece into financial oblivion) and a statement by the author of the article which says “A massive proportion of the energy subsidy identified by the IMF comes about from wider society having to bare the burden of the environment damage that burning fossil fuels causes – namely global warming and local air pollution”
This is a totally false way of claiming there are massive subsidies paid to the fossil fuel energy producers as all the claims are speculative and unproven.

Of course there are massive subsidies paid to the worlds largest polluters.

They would shut down tomorrow if they had to compensate everyone for the damage they are causing now and the looming even greater damage coming.

Unfortunately some people have their heads so firmly jammed up their rear view mirrors that they think that not only is it right to keep polluting and make everyone else pick up the tab, but we should actually do more of it.

There is the false association of pollution with economic growth. So many think you have to pollute or you do not get growth or improved prosperity.

Economics is a strange beast that chooses to measure and ignore whatever its masters choose, and oddly what they choose suits them and nobody else.

Destructive and wasteful forces are “Good”. Conserving, common sense protection and prevention are “Bad” because they don’t churn CASH which is ALL the Environment that exists for most economists.

A growing tree in its natural setting has no economic value according to the cigar chompers.

Chop it down, burn it, be forced to repair the immediate damage and on flow damage, relocate affected population by force of arms, to new resettlement camps which will need to be gerry built and guarded in perpetuity and you have opened up numerous cash flow opportunities, mostly with hidden wealth redistribution from the common taxpayer to the corporate entities that create the problems, but avoid paying tax themselves.

Having destroyed what people had you have further captured a whole new dependent class of consumers reliant on whatever you now control.

Of course there is a narrow area which is very effective at protecting its own environment. That of the neighbourhood of those in charge. Remarkably industry and most of the ill effects of corporate decisions are not allowed even close.

With one exception, rich people tend to grab water front property even going so far as to steal the public spaces immediately between what they own and the sea. When this gets eroded by storms and sea level rises, they rediscover socialism, as they always do when things don’t work out for them, and demand the government and all the other taxpayers fix the problems that the wealthy created.

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