The price of smug

johnboy 13 November 2010 47

The Canberra Times informs us that the cost of the feed-in tariff for solar electricity (whereby the wealthy who can put solar panels on the roofs of houses they own get paid vastly inflated amounts of money for the power they make) is going to bump an extra $225 a year onto everyone else’s electricity bills.

Better get rich or die trying, because the new green economy is going to be hell for little people.

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47 Responses to The price of smug
Pandanus77 Pandanus77 10:27 am 20 Feb 11

The difference between subsidies for solar and coal is that solar subsidies favour only those who can afford to install it and impose a financial burdenon those who are unable to. Any subsidies for coal fired generation are applied to all energy users, rich, poor, middle class etc, we all benefit from the electricity supplied and the collective benefit outweighs any negative. Unlike the subsidies for renewables such as solar that only benefit those who elect to have it installed. Such subsidies increase the cost of both base load and so called green energy to consumers who do not have their own array.

As for nuclear, France has 59 reactors that produce 80% of its energy requirements, if there is an example of nuclear energy production on a large scale that appears to work and have the support of local and national communities then this must be it. But I won’t hold my breath waiting for it to happen here in Australia.

Diggety Diggety 12:25 pm 16 Nov 10


Some of your statements were PARTLY true- 40 years ago. It’s not what you’ve wrote is incorrect- rather incomplete and out of date.

Myths and innuendo surrounding nuclear are more prominant in Australia to the point of embarrassment. Australia is one of the best candidates for nuclear in the world for good reasons; waste management, resource procurement and good timing for more advanced plant options to name a few.

Also, a lot of the cost you’ve associated with nuclear, are not exclusive to this technology- there are enormous upfront and ongoing costs of alternative power generation in PV, SThermal, coal, geotherm, etc. depending on the nature of the specific application.

OYM, one could present a convincing argument for nuking whales if we all were willing to accept cherry picked facts.

OpenYourMind OpenYourMind 11:38 am 16 Nov 10

Diggety, that’s fine.  Just tell me one statement I have made that is incorrect.

Erg0 Erg0 11:09 am 16 Nov 10

My point is that you’re both talking about the same irrational attitudes in others. I didn’t see any indication in OYM’s post that he/she actually endorses the fearmongering viewpoint that you’re attributing to him/her.

Diggety Diggety 10:55 am 16 Nov 10

@ Erg0, allay your fears- of course we’re talking about the same problem- we are commenting on the same thread.

Erg0 Erg0 10:42 am 16 Nov 10

Diggety said :

@ OpenYourMind

That was the biggest load of scare mongering garbage I’ve read since “Wood Smoke is Toxic”.

Feasibilities studies (without the misplaced fear) for nuclear should have started 20 years ago. We would be in a better position to reduce our CO2 footprint if it weren’t for irrational attitudes like yours.

I fear that you may have somewhat missed the point of that post – you’re both talking about the same problem.

Diggety Diggety 10:06 am 16 Nov 10

@ OpenYourMind

That was the biggest load of scare mongering garbage I’ve read since “Wood Smoke is Toxic”.

Feasibilities studies (without the misplaced fear) for nuclear should have started 20 years ago. We would be in a better position to reduce our CO2 footprint if it weren’t for irrational attitudes like yours.

To think that our future energy demands will be supplied by clean renewables alone is a dream, a nice one- but a dream all the same.

sepi sepi 8:58 pm 15 Nov 10

There have been massive protests last week in Germany, as protesters chained themselves to train tracks, to protest the annual transport of the nuclear waste from Germany to France. Every year these protests grow.

People just don’t like nuclear.

OpenYourMind OpenYourMind 5:36 pm 15 Nov 10

For those that espouse nuclear, here are my comments:
Nuclear is a poor choice on so many levels that I’m not too sure where to even start.

Even leaving out the waste issues, a modern nuclear plant is expensive, requires massive lead time to build (doubly so for a country such as Australia that has no nuclear power generation), requires expensive qualified staff to run, requires guarding (terrorist threat), requires proximity to people and water, puts water resources at risk and that’s just for starters.

The biggest issue with nuclear is risk. It doesn’t matter how low that risk is, it’s there and people don’t want that risk being taken around them. This risk then immediately translates to financial risk. An expensive investment in planning and commencement of construction can quickly be undone by anti-nuclear people and their political will. Like the protesters or hate them, they have real power.
This happened in New York state with the Shoreham plant. It cost billions and never generated a watt of power. A nuclear plant is a big risk. You just need one decent accident, terrorist threat or other item of bad press and you’ll get Three Mile Island all over again. You don’t need an accident, you just need a bad perception by enough people and every nuclear plan you have is shot out of the water.

If you don’t think this is the case, observe how coy our politicians get when asked specifically where likely locations are for a nuclear plant in Australia. Remember that nuclear plants need to be near water and voters.

Even after your nuclear plant has reached the end of its useful life, it’s still a major liability. The costs of decommissioning run into hundreds of millions or more (and that’s in today’s dollars), there’s cleanup from the damage from Uranium mining and then there’s the huge long term cost of storage of nuclear waste. Look how much USA has spent finding somewhere, anywhere to dump that waste (eg Yukka Mtns failed project). Some of these problems will be put in the too-hard basket and handed to our children and their children.

All this sits in the shadow of alternative energies getting cheaper and more reliable and heading toward competing on a $ per kw basis with nuclear. And before you say ‘what about baseload’, do some reading on ‘the baseload fallacy’.

breda breda 1:31 pm 15 Nov 10

“If a coal fired power plant was required to plant all the trees needed to soak up the carbon it was to produce over it’s 40+ year lifespan upfront, then I think we would start to establish exactly how “cheap” coal power is…”

Coal fired plants don’t produce carbon – coal is carbon. They produce carbon dioxide, an essential trace gas in the atmosphere, without which all plant life (and therefore all other life) would perish.

There is no evidence that modern coal fired plants do any damage to ‘the environment’ or human life whatsoever. There are a bunch of PlayStation (c) garbage in/garbage out models which claim to predict the future climate – not that they can reproduce past climate using the same variables, or even agree with each other.

SV and windmills are just rorts on taxpayers and consumers, courtesy of panicked politicians using our money to make life’s essentials more expensive.

michcon michcon 1:11 pm 15 Nov 10

Let us acknowledge that fossil fuel based power is subsidised too, both directly i.e. governments investing money to upgrade infrastructure – rail lines carrying coal, and transmission lines, and also indirectly, in that coal fired power plants are able to ‘externalise’ costs, to the environment, to the health of people, etc.

If a coal fired power plant was required to plant all the trees needed to soak up the carbon it was to produce over it’s 40+ year lifespan upfront, then I think we would start to establish exactly how “cheap” coal power is…

Holden Caulfield Holden Caulfield 10:59 am 15 Nov 10

Common Sense said :

Gungahlin Al, I’m with JB on this one. Stop imposing your lefty green ideology on the good people of Gungahlin and move to the inner north with the rest of your lecturing self satisfied mates.

Erm, JB lives in the inner north, what if GA moved next door to him, haha.

The cat did it The cat did it 10:32 am 15 Nov 10

Many years ago, when Australia had a Labor Government worthy of respect, I had the interesting but mixed fortune to work in an area that provided funding for ‘alternative energy’ r & d. Everything from remote area solar electricity to massive coal-to-oil plants (remember, this was before greenhouse gases became an issue). Despite the diversity, when the proponents argued their case to us, they all used a phrase that has stuck with me ever since- ‘ It only needs a subsidy to make it economic’.

Seems nothing’s changed in almost 30 years. In the absence of (or in place of) fundamental reform and restructuring, politicians want initiatives to make it look as if they are doing something. And their initiatives may have a positive effect, but they will rarely be the most cost-effective option. Domestic PV is a very expensive way to achieve greenhouse gas objectives.

Breda + 1

Noezis Noezis 9:42 am 15 Nov 10

luke79 said :

The government should have thrown all the money at the electricity companies to research cleaner and greener energy. It would have been cheaper for all involved and the technology would have been much better.

What’s there to research. Brand new nuclear power plants are available and can provide the power we require now and into the future.
And before everyone goes all Midnight Oils on me, yes I have done the research, yes I would live next to a Nuclear Facility and allow my children to grow two heads and no Chernobyl doesn’t scare me as the accident was caused by a mismanaged electrical engineering experiment.
So as long as the facility is managed within its capacity and maintenance of the facility is kept up to date you would expect to be able to use the facility for decades.

housebound housebound 9:16 am 15 Nov 10

For a moment there, this thread was starting to read like the anti-woodsmoke nazis, but then common sense returned and we all started arguing amongst ourselves again.

breda breda 8:51 am 15 Nov 10

To all the posters explaining how it ‘pays for itself’ – no, it doesn’t. Other electricity users pay for it.

PV solar costs around 4 times as much to generate as baseload power. Because it is intermittent, and cannot be stored efficiently, exactly the same amount of baseload capacity has to be in place.

We pay for it twice – firstly as taxpayers (via government subsidies for installation) and then as consumers (subsidising those with solar panels while still copping the full cost of baseload generation and distribution).

It is a feelgood rort promoted by politicians using Other People’s Money – that would be ours. Since it does not affect baseload power requirements, it has virtually no effect on carbon dioxide emissions (even if you believe that matters a rat’s). And, the environmental cost of manufacturing, transporting, installing and maintaining solar panels – which mainly come from China – never seems to get into the equation.

michcon michcon 7:02 am 15 Nov 10

I don’t agree that “only the rich can afford solar”, but not withstanding this, the air we breathe knows no boundaries between (say) Yarralumla and Canberra’s outer suburbs.

MJay MJay 2:49 am 15 Nov 10

Bring on Nuclear.

Joker Joker 11:05 pm 14 Nov 10

So what’s the motivation to to put PVs on ones roof? Is it economic or environmental?
A dollar generated in our society as far as I can tell produces about 500grams of CO2
The fact is a small system costs about $12K regardless of the rebate and it’s electricity production is subsidised by others requiring a greater production CO2. And what if the system is purchased on credit? even more CO2 is generated. It’s seems to me to be a false ‘Carbon economy’
The only way to cut our carbon emissions is to cut our consumption.

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