Emissions Renewables

Accuracy of ABARE Energy Projections

Download the printable 13-page PDF (includes appendix) here.

By Peter Lang. Peter is a retired geologist and engineer with 40 years experience on a wide range of energy projects throughout the world, including managing energy R&D and providing policy advice for government and opposition. His experience includes: coal, oil, gas, hydro, geothermal, nuclear power plants, nuclear waste disposal, and a wide range of energy end use management projects.


The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) is an Australian government economic research agency that provides analysis and forecasting of, among other things, our energy production and usage. ABARE’s projections have been criticized by some hoping for large scale changes in our energy sector as unreliable, biased towards the fossil fuel industry, and as underestimating the contributions that will be achieved in the future by renewable energy, energy efficiency, smart grids and the like.

To test these criticisms I have compared ABARE’s projections [1] for the year 2004-05 with the actual figures for 2004-05 [2] [3] [4] [5] [6].  I have compared the following: primary energy production, electricity consumption, resource reserves, and CO2 emissions.  I also comment on what was being advocated by green energy proponents in 1990, and point out how little has changed.  The same arguments are being repeated again now by the same sorts of groups with similar beliefs and agendas.

The reason I’ve used the year 2004-05 for the comparison is because ABARE’s 1991 projections were for the period 1990-91 to 2004-05.  I have my own hard copies of that and earlier reports but not of later reports so I used this readily available source.

I make two points:

  1. ABARE’s projections are the best we have to work with.  We can’t do better than follow their projections.
  2. The arguments about what can really be achieved with renewable energy, energy efficiency improvements, smart grids and the like, have all been had before.  Twenty years later, nothing has changed.

These ideas proved excessively optimistic in the past, as shown here, and people with sound engineering judgement and experience are warning against repeating the same mistakes.  The effective solution is not to try to apply draconian methods.  The priority should be on developing rational policies, largely aimed at facilitating rational fuel switching.

Primary energy production

Table 1 compares ABARE’s 1991 projection of Australia’s 2004-05 primary energy production with the actual production in 2004-05.

Table 1: Primary Energy Production 2004-5: ABARE 1991 Projection, and Actual Production

Points to note:

ABARE’s 1991 projections of Australia’s primary energy production in 2004-05:

  • underestimated total energy production by 22%
  • significantly underestimated the 2004-05 production of fossil fuels except oil.  It overestimated the production of oil by 8%, which most would consider good forecasting for a 15-year projection.
  • underestimated uranium production by 11%
  • overestimated the hydro-electricity production by 18%

Electricity generation

Table 2 compares ABARE’s 1991 projection of Australia’s 2004-05 electricity generation with the actual generation in 2004-05.

Table 2: Electricity Generation 2004-5: ABARE 1991 Projection, and Actual Generation

Points to note: ABARE’s 1991 projections of the electricity demand in 2004-05

  • underestimated the electricity demand in 2004-05
  • overestimated the amount by which energy efficiency improvements would reduce demand growth.
  • underestimated the fossil fuel generated electricity by 12%
  • overestimated hydro-electricity generation by 18%

Resource reserves

Table 3 compares our known economically recoverable energy resources in 1989 and 2009.  This is not a comparison of ABARE’s projections but is interesting to see how our estimated energy resources have changed over that 20 year period.

Table 3: Known, economically recoverable energy resources in 1989 and 2009 (PJ).

Points to note:

  • ABARE’s figures for known mineral and energy reserves in 1989 were based on reports by the Bureau of Mineral Resources (BMR) and Department of Primary Industries and Energy (DPIE).  Now they come from Geoscience Australia (formerly BMR).  ABARE does not undertake its own estimates of resource reserves, so are not accountable for errors.
  • Over the intervening 20 years, our estimates of known economically recoverable resources have been revised.  Coal has been revised down and oil, natural gas and uranium have been revised up by 39%, 220% and 145% respectively.
  • Known uranium resources have increased by a factor of nearly 2.5 in 20 years and we’ve hardly even looked.  There is little activity in uranium exploration being undertaken.  Most of Australia is locked up against uranium exploration.

CO2 emissions

Table 4 compares ABARE’s 1991 projection with the actual CO2 emissions from Australian energy consumption for the year 2004-05.  ABARE’s 1991 projection of 379 Mt is for the ‘Business as Usual’ (BAU) case.  ABARE also defined what we’d have to do to achieve the government’s target (20% below 1988 levels by 2005) and what would be needed to achieve a ‘half way’ target.

Table 4: ABARE’s 1991 forecast with the actual CO2 emissions in 2004-05 from Australia’s energy consumption.

Points to note:

  • ABARE underestimated by 4% (based on BAU).  This is excellent given the state of knowledge 20 years ago.
  • The government set an extremely low target but made it impossible to achieve by banning nuclear power from being an option.  Nuclear was not even to be considered in analyses by government departments.
  • There was strong pressure by the green lobby groups at the time to set lower targets and for governments to mandate stringent regulations for energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy, but no nuclear.
  • The same groups are still advocating the same failed policies now.
  • Some people never learn!

See Attachment 1, an extract from the 1991 ABARE report.  It is fascinating to be reminded how much we knew, the policies, the CO2 emissions reduction targets, and the realities.  It demonstrates little has changed in 20 years.


ABARE’s projections are good.  I am not aware of any organisation that has made consistently better forecasts of Australia’s energy demand and supply.

I believe the consistently optimistic pressure from green advocacy groups, pushing for projections that align with their beliefs of what governments should do, influenced ABARE to underestimate energy demand, underestimate fossil fuel demand, overestimate renewable energy contribution and over-estimate how much energy efficiency improvement can be achieved over the projection period.


[1] ABARE (1991) Projections of Energy Demand and Supply; Australia 1990-91 to 2004-05, ISBN: 0 664 13716 9

[2] ABARE (2006) energy update

[3] ABARE (2006), Australian energy: national and state projections to 2029-30

[4] ABARE (2007), Table A Update 07, Table A1 Australian energy supply and disposal, 2004-05 – energy units,

[5] ABARE (2009), Energy in Australia 2009

[6] ABARE (2010), Energy in Australia 2010

Attachment 1

(Download the 8-page PDF of the ABARE extract here)
Extract from: ABARE (1991)

Projections of Energy Demand and Supply: 1990-91 to 2004-05, pp 31-37.

“4. Greenhouse gas reduction: an illustrative scenario”

Here I attach a chapter “Greenhouse gas reductions: an illustrative scenario” extracted from the 1991 ABARE report.  It makes fascinating reading.  It shows:

1.  how much we knew back then;

2.  how little has changed;

3.  we knew the targets were impossible given the policies being advocated;

4.  we knew that renewable energy and energy efficiency could not make significant improvement over and above what was already included in the Business as Usual (BAU) projections;

5.  we knew then that if we wanted to really cut GHG emissions we had to go nuclear.

But politics dictated nuclear could not be on the agenda.  The reason was Labor needed the Green vote to hold onto power.

Many conclude the Greens have been the cause of the delay all along!!

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By Barry Brook

Barry Brook is an ARC Laureate Fellow and Chair of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Tasmania. He researches global change, ecology and energy.

229 replies on “Accuracy of ABARE Energy Projections”


This discussion is absolutely hopeless. You are insisting on talking about Peak Oil even though I’ve said about 10 times that is not what this thread is about. Write your own article for another thread and then those who want to discuss it with you can.

You say:

Hi Peter Lang,
please don’t rave about ABARE.

They’re too blame for Australia’s misinformation about peak oil.

Go back before that and look at the preceding discussions, not just with you. You are not the only person on the planet.

And, just to be clear, I do not accept that Australia has beeen subjected to misinformation about Peak Oil from government agencies nor do I accept that ABARE has distributed misinformation.

As to which authority I feel is more authoritative than ABARE? Well, right now as ABARE don’t seem to bother with discussing global peak oil, how about ME?

And that really proves the point. You cannot produce anything to support your assertion. You have been making unfounded assertions. You are dead wrong. Please retract your assertions about my honesty.

Then get back to the topic of this thread (and note: it is not about World Peak Oil!)


PS: Just joking about ME. ;-)

And, just to be clear, I do not accept that Australia has beeen subjected to misinformation about Peak Oil from government agencies nor do I accept that ABARE has distributed misinformation

Maybe misinformation is the wrong word. How about non-information?

As I have said all along, repeatedly, and with NO EFFECT, all you have to do is show me their global peak oil report and I’ll shut up. Unless maybe there is another way? Can you think of another energy agency that should have been reporting this to Canberra? ;-)

No, of course not, ABARE is the authoritative super-fantastic-happy-hour agency that reports all things energy and minerals to our Federal government. So where is it on global peak oil?



Let’s try to put this World Peak Oil argument to bed. You believe ABARE has been incompetent, or misleading or something like that. I don’t. But to me any discussion about World Peak Oil is a separate issue. I have no interest in trying to get to the bottom of what you are talking about with regard to what ABARE has done on World Peak Oil. Someone else might, but I am just not interested. I do know ABARE is fully cognisant of what the other agencies (like IEA, EIA, DOE, OECD, World Bank, etc) are doing, they all collaborate and share information. So I do not accept that ABARE didn’t know or didn’t take Peak Oil information into account – no matter how it came across in Senate Hearings.

This is your issue. You run with it. I am not interested. It is a tangent as far as I am concerned.

Can we let it rest at this?

The issue I am interested in relates to what is the best way to cut CO2 emissions: renewable energy and energy efficiency or nuclear energy, hence my analysis of this assertion (made by persons unnamed):

ABARE’s projections have been criticized by some hoping for large scale changes in our energy sector as unreliable, biased towards the fossil fuel industry, and as underestimating the contributions that will be achieved in the future by renewable energy, energy efficiency, smart grids and the like.


this thread most definitely is about peak oil. Back on the other thread, where all this started, you promised you were writing a piece on ABARE that would put my concerns to rest. Where is it?

The issue I am interested in relates to what is the best way to cut CO2 emissions: renewable energy and energy efficiency or nuclear energy, hence my analysis of this assertion (made by persons unnamed):

I noticed. And yet how many times did I tell you we were speaking at cross-purposes? How many times did I tell you your article had not addressed my concerns?

All along I was operating under the premise that this article was going to prove what an authority ABARE was on all matters to do with energy. Did you or did you not write the following?

Sorry EclipseNow,

I have a very high regard for ABARE. I reckon they do as well as can be done on resource and energy projections, given the uncertainties. They provide us with the equivalent of the ABS. We rely on their projections. That is not to say they are completely immune to political interferences, as has been demonstrated during the term of this government – eg the latest projections of energy supply and demand to 2030 is the first time in 20+ years these projections have been bent to support the government’s politicies, as opposed to providing totally impartial projections.

If you want projections to suit an ideology you go elsewhere. Greenpeace and the like provide plenty of such ‘honest broker’ projections to support their ideological beliefs.

I don’t know what you mean about the ‘misinformation aboiut peak oil’. What is your source that you feel is more authoritative than ABARE?

So I definitely had grounds to think you were going to prove ABARE was THE authoritative source on peak oil. This whole time I have been asking you to back up your promise, and nothing you have said has been relevant!

Everyone can see what happened here. I can’t be bothered to count them, but there were maybe 15 or 20 patronising posts by you where you just repeated your mantra: “You don’t know what you’re talking about! Go back! Do this assignment for me! Blah blah blah”.

You kept tearing into me as a moron and your friend John Bennett said I should drop dead. Good one. How to make friends and influence people! How to be an activist and win people to your cause!

Yet all along you were just plain off topic! If you were going to live up to your promise to me, you wrote the wrong article! I’ve absolutely had it with your patronising gibberish, demanding that I model irrelevant little Aussie scenarios about the pathetic little drop that is Aussie oil. You can spend your life counting those few drops if you wish, and ignore the geyser that is quietly dying outside your blinkered view.

Go on, run away like a coward, there’s a good boy.


My apologies, EN. I did not rest your concerns.

This thread is not about World Peak Oil. Read the lead article and see if it is mentioned anywhere. If you want to write an article on Peak Oil, go do it. Barry invited you to do so. So go and do your research yourself, don’t ask me to do it for you.


EN, a fundamental problem with pursuing this argument is that ABARE is currently correct about peak oil — at least in the sense that it hasn’t yet happened, just like they predicted (or at least if it has, its ramifications to date on oil prices and availability have been minimal). As such, their predictions which ignore peak oil are, on the bald face of it, justified. Peak oil HAS happened in limited jurisdictions, but has always, to date, been compensated for by imports, or gas substitutes, other technological improvements etc., such that no nation has so far gone from being an high oil consumer to a low oil consumer on the back of peak oil.

Now I’m not making the argument here that peak oil is an invalid concept — at least regionally — and I’m not even arguing that it’s not a potentially serious future issue for which we ought to be preparing to counter now. But as far as ABARE have been concerned, they currently have nothing to hang their heads in shame over in that regard. They’ve got it right. If they are right by luck, and misfortune is about to strike Australia and other industrial nations any time soon, then it will not just be ABARE that have egg on their face — it will also be the IEA, EIA and so on. If that happens, we may well curse their lack of foresight. But that’s a big IF, and there are many eminent people, including Prof Richard Hillis at my own University, who argue that by the time rising oil prices is a really serious issue, alternatives and substitutes will have been found, as they always have before.

I’d still be happy to receive your expression of the peak oil problem as a guest post, so that we could at least stay on target in any such discussion, rather than derailing a more general thread like this exercise has become.


I would like to re-iterate Barry’s comments. My introduction to peak oil was around 1980-81 at secondary school when we had a special lecture from someone using the data (I think) from the “Alternative Energy Strategies” series which forecasted a peak somewhere between 1985 and definitely before 2000. I can vividly remember the graphs with the bell curve, and the evidence appeared compelling. I’m not even sure whether the term “peak oil” had been applied then. The link is the best I could find without subscription:

The moral is: regardless of the authenticity of peak oil or eventual outcome of oil supply, and whether by luck or good fortune, ABARE’s assumption of the continuation of historical trends has given us 30 years of better projections than if we used the worst-case scenarios. Despite this, I believe government policy ought to be more cognisant of possible oil supply constraints and at least consider it in policy development, particularly in relation to urban sprawl where we have created two-car dependant families.


My apologies, EN. I did not rest your concerns.

Thank you Peter. That means a lot to me.

@ Barry,
Who knows whether the world has peaked or not? Oil may have already ‘pretty much’ geologically peaked, but the price could be dampened by the GFC, which killed demand. As John Newland said, price is not the best guide. Anyway, it’s not the peak that is of any importance but it is the vision of the long, inevitable decline the other side of peak. When the marketplace learns of that, there’s going to be all sorts of trouble.

Peter rightly asked if ABARE isn’t the authority on peak oil, who is?

I started to write a reply last night for a guest post, but something happened and WordPress did not save it. I just don’t have the time to do the latest research worthy of the name ‘guest post’… I’m in the middle of a career change. So I will email Barry an ‘extended comment’ I was writing to post here, which got a bit long anyway. As long as everyone realises it is a lay person’s guide to the issues, I’m happy. I’m not putting on airs about myself, but just discussing the state of the debate as I see it, as an activist.


Peak Oil has major implications for stationary energy
– prioritising gas as a transport fuel
– intermittent generation and EV charging.

With both gas and battery assist transport there is clearly some reluctance to adopt early. We love our fuel guzzling behemoths too much… SUVs, combine harvesters, semitrailers and jumbo jets. The problem now is that fuel prices are stable even as crude oil output declines. What if a sudden panic sets in and fuel prices double? I fear we will be caught flat footed.



I did not say this nor did I imply it in any way:

“Peter rightly asked if ABARE isn’t the authority on peak oil, who is?”

You are still twisting what I say and giving false interpretations to what I say.

What I continually said is ABARE provides the best projections available. If you think another organisations does better, then make your case. That is the point. You want to twist the discussion to being about your obsession. I never was intending to get into a discussion about Peak Oil. NEVER! Do you understand.

I now realise it is your obsession and it is what underpinned your originally flippant remarks that ABARE is no good at what it does. The lead article was intended as a response to the general statement by you and others (note: not just you). I did not realise then that your remark referred to only your obsession, a topic I have no interest in trying to discuss with you at this time!. If you can’t demonstrate that another organisation has been making better energy projections for Australia than ABARE, why don’t just admit that you are wrong?


John Newlands,
My hope (probably wishful thinking) is that Australia will jump right into Gen IV technologies which breed fissile materials (IFR, LFTR etc.). Australia stayed out of the game while earlier technologies created bomb grade materials as they were intended to do.

A Gen I reactor consumes about ~0.6% of the original uranium fuel and the rest ends up as waste. The French reprocess this waste at La Hague, enabling them to reuse the fuel and thereby increase the amount of fuel “burnt”.

However, if you want to to burn 99% of the original fuel while consuming bomb grade materials and the “Yucca Mountain” waste, you need the advanced reactor designs that are available today. More likely, Australia will plump for a design such as CANDU that is well proven even though it may lack some of the advantages of LFTRs (for example). I think Barry just put up a new post that may be relevant.

I agree with you and eclipsenow when you point out that the cost of fossil fuels will rise as the reserves run down. However, it is a huge debate (well beyond my pay grade) when one tries to quantify global reserves. I don’t want to get side tracked into whether the reserves are higher or lower than projections by ABARE and others. Your general argument makes sense but is hard to convince people that there are no more huge reserves waiting to be discovered.


I don’t want to get side tracked into whether the reserves are higher or lower than projections by ABARE and others. Your general argument makes sense but is hard to convince people that there are no more huge reserves waiting to be discovered.

My point is ABARE haven’t done a projection on the global supply issues, they’re relying on the marketplace for that.

They think price is the ultimate guide! It shows how the economists have taken over there.


gc I think if the hardline greens suddenly relented on NP the best option would be something with a small footprint and fast construction time. If it could also desalinate seawater cheaply that would be a bonus. I thought the makers of CANDU were effectively broke.

Recent modest oil prices seem to defy the ‘laws’ of supply and demand. Could be low national incomes are creating negative feedback. The danger is that a weak price signal leads to under-investment in oil alternatives. That could allow flows to decline to a critical threshold with no replacement technology. I’d liken it to someone with hypothermia not feeling the cold until it is too late.

On the size of oil reserves remember future extraction will be more costly than in the past, to wit recent deepwater oil rig disasters.


Exactly John! But I think Barry would prefer if this thread remained on the topic of Peter Lang’s article covering ABARE’s reliability in matters of projecting Australian domestic matters. There may be ample opportunity to ‘dig deep’ into global oil supply issues in the coming week/s. Stay tuned!



John Newlands,
You said:
“….the best option would be something with a small footprint and fast construction time.”

That sums it up pretty well.

LFTRs can be economic in small sizes. Small LFTRs do not need to be constructed “on-site”. They can be built in factories and shipped to site on a couple of trucks. This is how Henry Ford would have built NPPs.

While CANDU is an interesting design, the world has indeed moved on. Take a look at Barry’s post on the PBMR. The original “Pebble Bed Reactor” was gas cooled and now UC Berkeley is using molten salts for cooling. This results in a very compact reactor core operating at low pressures.


Hi Peter. Great thread.

I have question on this:

I think they were misled by certain Middle Eastern countries that oil supply was guaranteed for decades to come.

Why would think they would mislead as I’m trying to understand the rational. I would have thought understating their reserves would offer better prices conditions than the reverse.



While CANDU is an interesting design, the world has indeed moved on.

That may be true, but the two 700-MW reactors that India began construction on in the last few days were PHWRs, like the CANDU.

Take a look at Barry’s post on the PBMR. The original “Pebble Bed Reactor” was gas cooled and now UC Berkeley is using molten salts for cooling. This results in a very compact reactor core operating at low pressures.

For “is using molten salts” read “is studying the use of molten salts”. For “results in a very compact core” read “can reasonably be expected to result in a very compact core”.

We must be very cautious in moving these designs from screen to paper, lest the sharp edges of the paper cut us. Meanwhile, this computer is powered by CANDUs.

(How fire can be domesticated)


Hi JC,
Got 12 minutes? That’s all answered in ABC’s Catalyst.

Got half an hour? Try 4 Corners.

Basically, we had the world’s best geologists in Saudi Arabia scouting the country for 30 years before we were kicked out in 1970 when the Saud’s nationalised. We KNOW how much is there!

The rationale from their point of view is simple: they don’t want the Western world weaning off oil before they’ve sold us every last drop possible! It’s their main export. What else are they going to do for money, grow banana’s in their lush rainforests? ;-) So for S.A. selling oil is it. It’s not just like a major company that needs protection, like America’s banks or car industries that are just “too big to fail”, but more like a matter of national security!

They DON’T let international oil organisations in to verify their ‘discoveries’ since 1970, discoveries that have mysteriously exactly matched their depletion rate for the last 40 years. They just promise us “no, it’s good mate, trust us!” And so the USGS does, and from there a chain of misinformation spreads around the world.


GC and John Newlands. Hitachi/GE are marketing midsized reactors, I think in the range 400-600 and possibly to 900MW and the build time is 34 months. A couple of those to get Australia going, one at Olympic Dam [Roxby Downs] or Ceduna for Power and water desal and the other to replace the coal burning station at PortAugusta would be sensible build starts. But like you GC, I hope that when we finally wake up and grow up and understand why the rest of the world is developing nuclear that we also get into Generation IV technologies. There’s enough uranium at Olympic Dam alone to power the planet for probably millions of years, certainly tens of thousands of years. As James Lovelock said here in SA three years ago “It doesn’t make sense that Australia hasn’t already gone nuclear” We should be a/the leader in future world energy supply and use. I’ve been saying that and telling people that for the past 12 years. And Barry has been saying it in recent times as well.


TK the desal planned for Whyalla is not a good location though the distance to Roxby Downs is under 300km as opposed to 350 km from say Ceduna. Precious river water now goes to Pt Augusta, Woomera and mid Eyre Peninsula where the aquifers are drying up. Therefore I suggest turning off the river pipe (60-100 ML/d) and combining with the desal for Roxby (187 ML/d) call it 300 a day. I think that could draw 75 MW for reverse osmosis plus the overland pumping effort.

BHP reckon they wanted 690 MW for the OD expansion which I presume included the 45 MW for the controversial Whyalla desal. Let’s think big
1) retire the 2 coal stations at Pt Augusta together about 650 MW I think
2) build a big desal that helps a huge region
3) supply power to OD, Prominent Hill, maybe Ambrosia zircon mine
4) think about a start on a SA-WA high voltage connector.

Therefore you could be talking about 1300 MW and HVDC cables. I also like Ceduna since it is low on NIMBYs, has ocean currents (unlike Pt Augusta) and already knows about radioactivity from Maralinga bomb tests and zircon. Even ZCA seem keen on that area for wind and solar.

Both BHP and the Federal govt have the readies, think the takeover bid for Potash Corp. and the NBN, both over $40bn.


Yes John NewlandsI agree with all of your vision and it’s very much like what I suggested to the SA Chamber of Mines and Energy and the CEO of Business SA in a piece I prepared for the former last year. I think I posted it on one of Barry’s earlier blogs. I’m pretty sure it will be printed in the September issue of Adelaide Review. Amanda Pepe from AR has told me it’s a goer, so here’s hoping. I agree also that we need to THINK BIG. And Whyalla is NOT the right place for a desal plant and very definitely we need to stop pumpimg Murray water to Whyalla EP etc. And while we’re about it, we need to ensure that the Murray/Darling Basin Authority is successful in getting a significant irrigation effort reduction throughout the basin. That means ALL states need to forget about themselves and try to see the needs of the whole basin. That will be a big ask but I live in hope. Cheers John


John Newlands

I have some questions for you about your proposed Ceduna location. Leaving asdide for now the NIMBY issues, my questions are about engineering and cost issues:

1. How many units would you envisage the Ceduna NPP would ahve when complete?

2. Until Ceduna has say 4 units or so (of whatever size), how do you supply the power to meet demand when a unit is being refuelled?

3. No matter how many units, how will the units at Ceduna (800 km from Adelaide) follow the very large demand changes that occur when supplying Olympic Dam Mine as your main demand centre?

4. I recognise that nuclear can follow demand changes if designed to do so, but they are more expensive, and will be even harder to finance than NPP’s that are designed for baseload only. So how do you see us financing NPPs that will have to follow major load changes and will not be able to operate as baseload plants?

5. Regarding the piped water, does it make any difference whether the water flows east or west in the pipes? In otherwords, from the perspective of piping the water, does it matter if the desalination plant is at Ceduna or nearer to the population centres (Port Augusta and Adelaide?

6. I recognise the benefit of the cool ocean currents at Ceduna, the temperature difference and the issue with dispering the salt from the desalination plants, but wonder whether these are insurmountable problems or simply issues that need to be engineered, albeit at higher cost. So can you provide any comments on the cost/benefit tradeoff between the options of citing a 4 unit NPP near Ceduna or nearer to Adelaide.


Comparing Canada to Australia, Canada is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of energy. The largest source of energy consumption in Canada was oil, followed by hydroelectricity and on the third place was natural gas. On the contrary the coal or nuclear energy consumption have just smaller share of the country’s overall energy mix.
I guess gallopingcamel got the point; Australia should have to jump right into Gen IV technologies to support rising energy consumption in the country.


@Peter Lang:

I speak as a 30+ years power station engineer with Australia’s largest power generator.

1. How about something like 4 x 400MW, if this size of unit is commercially available? These would not be too large to fit easily into the existing SA grid and would nicely accommodate the loads envisaged with 2 units at close to full load or 3 at lower load, allowing for retirement of a significant capacity of the existing capacity.

2. Provided that all units are constructed without too large a gap between them, there will be no need to refuel the first till after the fourth is available. Consider staggered starts and allow say 4 years construction time per unit. This is a lazy program and could easily be closed to 12 months between units or even closer. Commence in 2012, commission 2016, 2018, 2020 and 2022.

3. Transmission interconnection with other load centres such as Port Augusta and Adelaide will smooth the load swings and provide system stability. This will be needed to permit retirement of coal fired units. GT’s as exist at present would stay available for backup, as well as to assist with stability when planned and existing solar and wind capacity fluctuates.

4. Units operating as proposed are still baseload. There is no reason why they could not each follow load up and down at, say, 10 or even 20 MW/minute per unit. They should easily peak at say 90% of nameplate rating and follow loads down to 30% of nameplate during the off peak. Combine this with the flexibility of GT’s as above and the existing interconnectors with Vic and NSW and there is plenty to work with.

5. There is little reason for the water desal plant to be snug up against the power station. Desal has lower water requirements than condenser cooling. The generation plant requires a flow of water in order to avoid a heat island. Hence the value of ocean currents. The desal plant will have somewhat reduced needs in this regard, but could either make use of ocean currents or vertical stratification, because the water with elevated salinity will tend to sink as the salinityh disperses. The experts could easily balance these matters with transmission line costs and pipeline costs during the feasibility and options studies.

6. Re Adelaide, my knowledge of the coast in those parts is elementary, but the NIMBY issues and the costs of site acquisition may well be large capex items. Again, this will take options studies, as also transmission line proposals. All four major components of the project will tend to optimise towards different locations. It will be a very interesting task for whoever gets to look at generation/transmission/pipeline/desal capex and operating costs.

7. Do not underestimate the value of suitable labour close by for construction, maintenance and operation. The ideal location may turn out to be closer to the steel works at Whyalla, for example.


I wonder if load switching between mine power demand and coastal desalination could smooth output. When the mine is just ticking over the unused power could desalinate more water which could be pumped up to tanks in the hills, albeit low elevation. Thus the electric RO desal could operate in counter cyclical mode. The water is for the whole region not just the mine. I previously thought Roxby Downs was on diesel generators but I now understand there is transmission from Pt Augusta so perhaps I double counted. Link

If power was generated at Ceduna for Roxby Downs then the RD to Pt Augusta line could send some surplus to the eastern grid. Perhaps the mine, mill and town has a predictable cycle of power demand which would be explained in whatever document came up with the 690 MW. I know some Roxby residents think only NP can meet their future power needs.

The problem with the SA coastline is that the gulfs between Eyre Pensinsula and Adelaide are fringed with mangroves and saltmarsh. They have poor circulation and elevated salinity in places though they are nurseries for young fish. That makes both thermal plant cooling and desalination more difficult. South of Adelaide (Fleurieu Pensinsula) is good but NIMBY central.

Thus instead of power and water flowing from Adelaide and the River Murray in the east to the west it would reverse some flows. A Ceduna based power plant and desal would supply water and power to western regions and send surplus power on to Adelaide. Note that Adelaide’s 1280 MW Torrens Island closed cycle baseload plant is Australia’s largest gas user but depends on two fast depleting gas fields.


John Bennetts,

Thank you for all those excellent points. I agree, the options study will be essential. I hope the engineering and cost factors will not be swamped by the NIMBY factors, but the way politics in this country is now I expect NIMBYism will be the main deciding factor.

I think some may not appreciate how much the demand at the mine will change – and how suddenly. This will be more easily accommodated if the NPP’s are closer to Adelaide (rather than 800 km away) and feeding into the main, relatively stable (compared with the mine) load centre; i.e. so that the mine is a small component of the overall load.

Here are some costs that I see favouring a site nearer to Adelaide

1. The cost of an 800km transmission line to carry 1600MW would be about $1-$1.5 billion (more if you want to allow for feeder lines from wind and solar power stations).

2. Cost of pumped hydro storage or water storage (suggestd by John Newlands) – huge cost and totally uneconomic. Forget it.

3. Located 800 km from a major source of labour, and services – Additional construction cost and operating cost throughout the life of the plant. At a rough guess I’d expect this would add at least 10% to the capital cost of the plant, some addition to the operating cost for the life of the plant and say 10% to the cost of electricity.

4. If located at Ceduna, the units would need to be small, as you propose, at about 400MW each. This would increase cost compared with larger units. I’d expect a 20% higher cost for 400 MW units compared with the larger units that are being rolled out elsewhere.

5. So the salinity and NIMBY problems associated with placing the NPPs nearer to Adelaide will have to be very high cost to offest these cost benefits.

As you say, a proper options analysis will be essential, and would be done before we progress, even given the current blocks to rational decision making.



You need to calculate the volume of the tanks, the amount of storage you’d need to make use of most of 1600MW when Olympic Dam is shut down, and the cost, and put it all together. Without even crunching the numbers it will be totally uneconomic. Apply some engineering jusdgement or otherweise your posts are damaging by misleading people who are not able to do these sorts of calculations. Writing silly stuff here doesn’t help anyone.



I overestimated the cost of the tranmission line from Ceduna. M$500 – M$1,000 would be a better figure.


@ Peter Lang:
1. Transmission costs, including losses, become enormous over an 800km route. There is so much to be gained by shortening the route that the remote option will quite probably not survive. Don’t get hung up about location at this stage.

NIMBYism is manageable by either building popular recognition of the positives and/or brute political force. Either way, it is a political decision.

Trying to allow for “wind and solar” adds costs to this project which belong elsewhere. Forget them.

2. Pumped hydro, if not absolutely necessary to stabilise the grid for this project, is also external to the proposal. Forget it.

3. “Located 800 km from a major source of labour and services.” The Ceduna site will increase both capital and ongoing costs by more than 10%. For example, Hunter Valley building and labour costs are at least 20% over Sydney costs. This is for sites 30km from town and 3 hours drive from the capital. I have verified this via cost estimation and tender prices received over a 20+ year period.

4. “If located at Ceduna, the units would need to be small, as you propose, at about 400MW each.” The closer to Adelaide or other large loads the better for system stability, system security and so forth. Perhaps dry cooling is the way to go, with the plant being located north of Pt Augusta. At a rough guess, this would decrease overall water demand at the plant from (say) 35Gl/year to about 8Gl/year, subject to options study. I toss these figures in as an indication of the consumption which should be envisaged.

6. (new point).
Desal plant. Engineering solutions are available for mangroves, etc. E.g. long outfall pipe for saline discharge, so that the saline plums will not have an impact on areas to be protected. Overland pipework and pumping costs are horrendous, so it is imperative that these be minimised where possible. E.g. a recent project I was involved on cost about $15M just to purchase and lay 7km of pipeline of 1.4metre diameter in difficult country. As a (very) rough first approximation, expect something like $3M per km of twin 1.4 metre pipeline, including maintenance road but not pump stations or power supplies. I won’t go into desal further here, because it is off topic for this site.

Don’t get hung up about what will happen when the demand at the dam swings. Interconnectedness with the national grid and the availability of the existing gas-powered GT at the dam as emergency back-up will come close to handling that seamlessly.

All transmission lines must be twin circuit to enable maintenance.


John Bennetts,

Excellent. Thank you for all that information.

What did you mean by

All transmission lines must be twin circuit to enable maintenance.

Are you referring to the need for an additional line for redundancy?

For rough calculation I am using $500/ for estimating capital cost of transmission lines. I notice SKM also used this (roughly) for their estimating the transmission line costs for the nominated power station locations and power outputs in the ZCA Plan (see Figure A6.1 – Costs of HVAC and HVDC)


Peter I’m not talking about energy recovery a la pumped hydro. What I’m saying is if the power plant has low realtime demand it can switch to desalinating seawater and pumping it uphill to holding tanks. That will create pressure for users in the next valley. Thus it is a kind of ‘off peak’ instalment or prepayment on pumping at busy times. I can actually see a hilltop farm tank out the window here in SW Tas.

Worked example; let’s say the power plant has 100 MWe unused capacity for 4 hours or 400 Mwh. It could use 300 Mwh to desalinate 100 ML or 100, 000 kL X 3 kwh/kL of seawater. The other 100 Mwh could elevate about 184 ML of fresh water 200 metres in frictionless pipes. Check my calcs in case I’ve lost some zeros. The point being that a power plant has plenty to do creating or moving fresh water when other power demand is low.


Peter Lang:

The twin circuits offer flexibility for routine maintenance and breakdown maintenance.

In conjunction with the existing GT’s at the mine, which can run up very quickly, they need not be 2 x 100%. Perhaps 2 x 75% is closer to it. The actual need can only be determined from examination of the complex relationship between fault settings on existing systems and proposed arrangements, loss of load tolerance and the like. The starting point is the answer to the question “How much power is required to still be delivered following a fault if unacceptable cascading throughout the wider system is to be avoided?”.

I have no confidence at all in the ZCA/SKM report. It is too full of internal conflicts and policy-driven BS.


John Newlands,

I know what you are suggesting. I am trying to get you to do the calculations with sensible numbers so you realise just how wacky your suggestion is. The suggestion is not feasible by a factor of between 2 and 10. You should be able to see that foryourself without having to do deep analysis. You need to consider the size of the storage you would need, where you would place it, the cost of the storage, etc.

Where is this valley that you will dam to store the water you will produce when the plant is producing excess power?

What is the size of the active capacity of the reservoir?

How many hours of the plant’s full generating capacity will the dam be able to store?

Have you considered how much of the time Olympic Dam will be requireing the full generating capacity of the NPP and how much it will run at low demand?

What do you plan to do with all the excess power the plant could generate? (crunch the numbers)

If you plan to run the plant at less than full capacity, what will be the cost of power to pay for the plant?

John, you should be able to see that the cost of an NPP for baseload is pushing what is feasible without adding an 800 km transmission line, the need for load following capability and the need for desal and large water storage capacity, both of which will be run only intermittently. Just put your thinking cap on for a few minutes and think about what you are proposing.


Peter substantially beefed up transmission to OD and fat water pipes have to be built regardless of where the power is generated and the water is desalinated. Currently Roxby gets by on local groundwater and a power line from Pt Augusta. From memory a similar looking branch line in the area was 132 kva. The stagnant warm brine near the Playford and Northern coal stations in Pt Augusta had something like 45 grams of salt per litre. Not a good spot for new desals or thermal plant. They were worried about the shrimp or something.

On the size of new transmission I seem to recall even Barry said Eyre Peninsula could take more windpower, presumably for export and having firm capacity credit. I also vaguely recall Martin Nicholson saying the SA-WA connector was inevitable.



You are not addressing the questions I put to you. You’ve gone onto other things, irrelevancies. All this is just muddying the waters. If you focus on the questions I asked you, you will be able to work out for yourself why an NPP at Ceduna cannot be viable.

The RE advocates invariably resort to muddying the waters to try to convince people if we throw enough mud into the mix anything is possible, with mafic. I hope you are not resorting to that tactic too, are you?.


John Newlands,

Do you understand that electric energy cannot be stored (economically)?

If you do, then you need to think about throwing into the mix, wind power, intermitten desal and water storage to try to make an NPP economic. Our fists NPPs will only be economic if they are baseload plants. Surely you must be able to see how ridiculous your suggetion is.

If we can make NPP’s economic near the main demand centres in SA, then I guess SA will wait until after Sydney and Melbourne have been building them for a while and they are well established. Perhaps they will beef up the transmission lines from Victoria so Adelaide can get power from NPP’s near Melbourne. In reality, I expect this is what will happen. Even if SA got close to building one first, at the last minute, NSW and Vic would vie to get the first Australian NPP for their state.


Peter Lang:

I’m not sure which John you were referring to at 16:35. Hopefully, not me. However, any place of expanding demand is a good place to consider for an NPP. Perhaps SA (not just one group of mines and/or a water plant) will offer such an opportunity in the future, especially if NSW and Victoria sit on their hands.

SA is a net importer of power at present, so it could be considered to be some way towards need for more capacity already – or, perhaps, substantial augmentation of existing links with Vic’s dirty brown coal generation.


John Bennetts,

Sorry for that confusion. My last post was directed to John Newlands.

The point I am trying to make to JN, is that is is pretty easy to see that an NPP out at Ceduna is simply not going to fly. They will have to be feeding into an large demand so they can run as baseload plants until nuclear is well established in Australia. The idea we can make our first fleet of NPP’s economical by running them part time, or by building desal plants that run only when there is spare capacity, or by having huge water storage facilities so the NPP can run at full capacity and the desal plant can run at high capacity just doesn’t make sense.

NSW is getting shorty of baseload capacity, Victoria needs to power its desal plants and decommission its brown coal power stations. They are much larger demand than SA, so I expect they woill probably build NPPs first, unless SA has a really economically viable proposition. I don’t think John Newlands attachment to a specific site is going to help the cause. It would be better to forget about site selection for now.

John Bennett, you would not be aware that John Newlands has been pushing the case for Ceduna for a year or so. I was trying to encourage him to work it out for himself. Alas, JN’s last post avoided the questions I put and went on to introducing wind power, capacity credits and back to salinity. JN it is difficult to get you to focus on the topic. Similar happened when we tried to discuss hydro and you kept coming back to we could install variable speed pump turbines in the spare slot at the power station near you and pump from the spillway pond at the base of the power station. I tried to get you to work out the storage you’d need at the bottom, but you continually avoided it.

So on the Ceduna NPP proposal, with desal and water storage can I ask you to focus on the quantities and costs of those three components and not blur the situation by adding a whole lot of other side issues.


John Newlands,

Advantages of Ceduna:

1. cooler water
2. no issue with saline water release
3. NIMBYism is less of a problem


1. 800 km from labour and service industries
2. 800 km transmission line to Adelaide as well as the transmission lint to Olympic Dam
3. Water pipes to Adelade and Olympic Dam. Water pipe flow to Adelaide must be reversed from what it was designed for (this is not trivial)
4. large water storage required for the way JN proposes to run the NPP and desal plant
5. NPP has to support a highly variable load at Olympic Dam (10% to 100%), very variable and very rapid load changes.
6. Need multiple units to allow for scheduled and unscheduled shutdowns of the NPPs. So we’d need to build say 4 units 800 km from Adelaide.
7. The NPPs would have to run at only part of full capacity for most of the time, so power will be more costly than if they run as baseload plants,
8. The desal plant will have to run at part capacity and the power it can draw will be very variable so that will increase the cost of the plant, the operating cost and the cost of water.

9. Who would finance a plant with a 60 year life to support a mine that may have a short life? No one!

It is clear to me the concept of an NPP at Ceduna makes no sense at all.


Thanks John Newlands, John Bennets and Peter Lang. It’s been good sitting on the edge of your three way discussion and especially good for this economic, scientific ignoramus. Lots of things to think about in costings, size of reactors, diameters of pipes, distances which power needs to be transmitted etc. All of that notwithstanding, I reckon that my 25-30 year vision statement for SA development,[check it out on one of Barry’s earlier posts] based on Olympic Dam uranium, is the way to go. When the governments wake up to just how big this can be for Australia’s future energy and water supplies,not to mention national wealth, jobs, infrastructure etc growth they will find the money to do it, somehow. We’ve got to encourage them to show a bit of imagination and vision instead of only covering their arses for fear of losing the next election. I wonder if the Independents have any such vision.



I wasn’t arguing against your vision. i am jst saying that getting too committed to individual sites, like Ceduna for an NPP, does not do us any good.


John Bennets, you remarked above,

The starting point is the answer to the question “How much power is required to still be delivered following a fault if unacceptable cascading throughout the wider system is to be avoided?”

I’m not a power engineer. Could you describe exactly what the consequences of load loss in a transmission system are? What goes down, how? Whats required to bring it back up? Is there risk to the equipment? Or is the adverse consequence just the loss of service to the consumer?


As a South Australian, I’d prefer to see our firsts NPPs built nearer to our only real population centre – Adelaide. The reasons Peter Lang and John Bennetts have given are a large part of the reason, and it also makes sense to place them nearer to populations so people get over the irrational paranoia that exists around them in Australia.

As far as desal in the Upper Spencer Gulf goes, I’m 100% against it. Physical oceanographer Professor Jochen Kaempf (and others) have done the modelling on brine discharge for the Upper Spencer, and it’s clear that it’s not just a bad place to put a desalination plant, it’s the WORST place you could possibly put one in South Australia. The ecological risk is far too high. It’s not like BHP Billiton don’t have the money to extend a pipeline another few hundred kms to the open ocean of the Eyre Peninsula.

Click to access 264.pdf

Click to access kaem0003_Final_Report_BHP.pdf


Another handy Flickr image shows the problems
Playford Power Station
That is the view from the newer coal station to the older power plant at the top of Spencer Gulf near Pt Augusta. Note clean looking exhaust despite poor quality coal. If I have my bearings right that could be the spot for BHP’s preferred Whyalla desal in the far distance. Replacing one or both of the coal stations with air cooled gas plant there would probably need an extra pipeline from the mature Moomba fields to Qld coal seam gas. Also a hefty electricity price rise.

That kind of shallow saltmarsh extends the next 250km back towards Adelaide except for the narrow Yorke Peninsula. Not ideal for either desal or large seawater cooled thermal plant. I think upthread that was 132 kv for the line Pt Augusta to Pt Lincoln. All the lines from there would have to be beefed up to carry an extra say 50-100 MW for an RO desal on the open coast and 600MW+ for Olympic Dam.

BHP just offered $40bn for Canada’s Potash Corp so they have cash. They must pay for the desal and if it was co-located with a thermal plant it would have to be some kind of deal involving the State electricity firm ETSA and any private generator.


John Newlands,

I sense you are obfuscating. I asked you some questions. You didn’t answer the important questions and fiverted attention to trivial issues. That is what the RE advocates do. I am surprised you would do the same.

Can I expect an answer to those questions, or is obuscation the way of the times?

The key questions relate to the cost of an NPP (and other related infrastructure), cost of electricity and financing of an NPP located at Ceduna versus closer to Adelaide, but I get the impression you’d rather avoid the questions and divert to emotive issues. Have I misinterpreted what you are doing?


Just because BHP has cash to spend on another major project doesn’t mean they’d waste it on an uneconomic or high risk venture. If the Olympic Dam Mine is not as good an investment as an overseas alternative, BHP will invest overseas instead, or prioritise their funds towards the better investment. If governments in Austraia make the risk of investing here too high companies will invest elsewhere instead.

Recently the sovereign risk in Australia, relative to elsewhere, has jumped up due to rash, poorly thought out policy decisions like the Minerals Resource Rent Tax fiasco and the Nationalised Broadband Network (Government monopoly on communications). We also have bans on nuclear power and many government incentives for uneconomic renewable energy and a host of other irrational government imposed policies to make energy more costly.

We can expect matters to get much worse with the Greens having the balance of power in the Senate.

If we really want mines, water, and the tax revenue needed to pay for all the socialist policies the population demands, then we really do need to recognise that BHP and others compete in a world market and Australia is just a very small part of that.

If we want ever increasing expenditures on Health, Education, welfare, infrastructure, environmental management/restoration, then we must make an environment that allows business to do well in Australia. We must be prepared to compete for scarce capital. We must be prepared to compete internationally.

We could start by stopping our push for a price on carbon. We could ask for the bans on nuclear to be removed. We could ask to fix the existing regulatory and investment environment that, as it is now, would make it impossible for nuclear to have any chance of getting started in Australia. That is the situation we have now. And its going to get worse (Greens in control of the Senate). We can help to turn this around, but not if we keep on pushing for irrational policies.

This link provides an insight into the problem of financing NPPs in the western democracies.

Click to access SEU27102.pdf


Peter I’m trying to highlight the problems of locating NP near Adelaide. That is to say there are a bunch of problems siting NP way out of Adelaide and another bunch of problems by not siting them out near major power users. I’d really have to wade through the Olympic Dam expansion proposal to see how they constructed their estimates for mine power demand and fluctuations.

I tend to agree there may be an unsolvable problem with carbon pricing, namely that everybody wants to game it to the point of fraud. Perhaps a portfolio CO2 standard without explicit prices might overcome those problems but who knows. My view is that the carbon economy is going to get the wobbles in the next decade and people are going to demand NP regardless.


John Newlands,

You do not need to have access to the OD expansion plan to realise:

– an NPP at Ceduna will be far higher cost, with or without desal than if located near Adelade.

– the demand will rise and fall between about 10% and 100% of maximum demand.

– There is the extra cost of an 80 km Transmission line for about 1600 MW peak capacity

– there is the extra cost of supplying services and supplying and retaining labour at a remote site; this applies throughout tyhe life of the plant and John Bennetts said up thread that the additional cost of labour in 20% in the Hunter Valley. I expect it is over 100% in the Pilbara and so pewrhaps 50% at Ceduna.

– The idea of large storage reservoirs so that desal can run when electricity demand is low, would be far more expensive at Ceduna than near Adelaide – far more storage would be required because the power fluctuations will be much greater at Ceduna than if the NPP is closs to the larger demand centre of Adelaide and regional centres.

– the mangrove swamps are a manageable problem as John Bennetts pointed out.

All in all, my gut feeling is the cost of power from a Ceduna NPP would be around twice the cost of power from an NPP located nearer Adelaide.

Can I suggest, instead of wading through the OD expansion plan (a wrong approach) you’d do better to read this:

Click to access SEU27102.pdf

to get an idea of the financing problems of NPPs. I believe the points I made in my previous post @09:15 should not be dismissed. I believe those points are the absolute crux on the problems we need to address. If we are not prepared to address these problems, we’ll just keep on going as we are for another 20 years – all spin and no substance.


Peter, I didn’t take your comment as a criticism of my vision. My original vision for nuclear in SA had the old refinery site as the site for our first NPP. Of course, they could power the currently being built desal plant with nuclear and so create a cogeneration power/desal plant. That makes sense to me. The Greens are a hell of a worry now that they have so much power. We need to keep pressing them to consider what the champion Greens on the planet, Lovelock, Moore, Comby etc have been saying for years that the world needs an urgent uprate of nuclear if we’re going to reduce the emissions problem. If Abbott becomes PM, we need to remind him that he’s on the record as saying he’d be happy for a nuclear debate to proceed. I’ve got a signed letter from him stating that fact. I shall remind him of that whether or not he’s PM.


John Newlands:

I tend to agree there may be an unsolvable problem with carbon pricing, namely that everybody wants to game it to the point of fraud. Perhaps a portfolio CO2 standard without explicit prices might overcome those problems but who knows. My view is that the carbon economy is going to get the wobbles in the next decade and people are going to demand NP regardless.

I see the gaming of carbon pricing to the point of fraud as one but not the main problem. The main problem I have is raising the cost of electricity. If we want clean electricity to replace dirty energy (note: I said dirty energy not just dirty electricity), then we need to make electricity as cheap as possible.

We can do that. It is with low cost nuclear. We can do that, but not if we continually argue about wanting ridiculous levels of safety.

If we want the develoiping world to move directly to clean electricity, instead of going through the fossil fule stage, we must make clean electricity cheaper than dirty energy. We must do that in teh developed countries.

If I am correct, as I believe I am, then we have been following exactly the wrong path for 40+ years with trying to make nuclear excessively safe (and very expensive). And who is to blame for this? You guessed it – the environmental activists and the so called “Greens”.

That is my major reason for opposition to a price on carbon, at least until we have completely levelled the playing field for electricity generators, inluding off-setting the imposts built in by 40+ years of excessive and unbalanced penalties on nuclear. It would also be unwise for Australia to proceed with a proice on carbon until there is an international agreement about how to price carbon and manage it. And this just isn’t going to happen any time soon.

Perhaps a portfolio CO2 standard without explicit prices might overcome those problems but who knows.

I am attracted to the ‘portfolio standard’ idea (progressively tightening emissions limits). This is consistent with the limits we place on almost all other emissions (drinking water standards, air standards, etc). But most importantly, if we allow nuclear to be cheaper than coal, at no less safe, and better path forward, nuclear would replace coal. We can provide carrot and stick to make the transition take place faster. But the key is cheap clean electricity, not raising the cost of clean electricity!!

There are fourgroups that have their heart set on a carbon price:

1. Renewable energy industry (including the researchers)
2. Gas industry
3. Banks and traders
4. Greens and other Left wing groups who want to mandate rules and regulations so they have more control over everyone. They want to mandate as many rules and regulations as they possible can. Just look at the Greens wish list of taxes to get an understanding of the real agenda of these groups (I’ll post it below).

My view is that the carbon economy is going to get the wobbles in the next decade and people are going to demand NP regardless.

I agree with you on this point. But it is very unfortunate that we have a hung parliament in Australia. I feel this is going to slow progress badly for three years.


Click to access greenpolicies.pdf


The Australian Greens’ Taxations Policy
New Taxes or tax increases ( Policy section reference)

1. Increased income tax rates ( 3.3.2)
2. New Consumption tax with multiple rates (3.3.8)
3. Increase capital gain tax (3.3.9,3.3.10)
4. Higher Fringe Benefit tax (3.3.3)
5. Eliminate salary sacrificing (3.3.3)
6. Introduce estate duties [including family home] (3.3.11)
7. Introduce gift Tax (3.3.12)
8. Higher Medicare levy with progressive rates (3.3.15, 3.3.16)
9. Eliminate Private Health Insurance rebate (3.3.18)
10. Increased taxations of superannuation(3.3.19, 3.3.20)
11. Tax family trusts (3.3.14)
12. Increased company tax to 33% (3.3.21)
13. Tax on franked dividends (3.3.22)
14. Carbon levy (3.3.24)
15. Increased timber royalties (17.1.8)
16. Tax equivalent on non recycled paper (17.1.8)
17. Tax bottles and containers (17.1.7)
18. plastic bag levy (17.1.7)
19. private transport user tax (2.4,2.5)
20. Tax on batteries (7.1.12)
21. Increased tax on rental property (3.3.28)
22. Mining environmental levy (15.1.6)
23. Nutrient pollution tax (3.3.25)
24. Tax on fossil fuel usage (3.3.25)
25. Tax on water pollution (3.3.25)
26. Tax on soil pollution (3.3.25)
27. Tax on air pollution (3.3.25)
28. Tax on timber use (3.3.25)
29. Tax on use of ocean (3.3.25)
30. Tax on use of freshwater (3.3.25)
31. Tax on mineral use (3.3.25)
32. Tax on land sites according to land value (3.3.25)
33. Tax on electromagnetic spectrum assets (3.3.25)
34. Tax on petroleum (3.3.25)
35. Higher taxes on ecologically damaging industries 3.3.27)
36. Currency transaction tax (3.3.36)
37. 33 % tax surcharge on high corporate salaries (3.3.31)
38. Pay-roll tax to fund employee entitlements (4.3.25)
39. Landfill taxes (16.2.3)
40. Increased environmental charges and fines (16.2.3, 16.2.8)

Tax elimination or reductions ( Policy section reference)

1. GST ( Replaced with consumption tax ) (3.3.8)
2. Cut tax on bartering or black market (3.3.29)
3. Increase tax-free threshold (3.3.31)
4. Tax cut for non-frequent flyers (3.16)
5. Eliminate Higher Educations charge (2.18)


Click to access Consolidated+policies+March+2010.pdf


Peter Lang, three points
1. An appropriate sized cogeneration power/desal plant at Ceduna for water and power for EP and water for Olympic Dam. This enables us to switch off the Murray pipeline currently servicing much of the north and EP. 2. A bank of 5 or 6 PBMR’s at Olympic Dam for its own power and some for the grid. That negates a 300+Km 275KV gas fired power line from Port Augusta.
3 OD is at least a 100 year mine according to my reading.



Good point about reminding Abbot of committment to facilitate a debate on nuclear. Just rolling out more factual reports of what it would take to get up in Australia, like the Howard government’s “Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Power” Task force report would be an excellent start.

But importantly, if Abbott does become PM in a minority government, we’ll have to find a way to get the Greens and Labor to agree to a constructive debate rather than use it as an opportunity to run a scare campaign. Do you have any suggestions as to how we can do that?

If Labor and the Greens decide to use it – the Coalition’s attempt to open a debate on nuclear – for political advantage, then the Coalition will crawl back into their protective clothing as they’ve been forced to do at every election for the past 20+ years.


Terry Krieg,

I think you may have missed some of the earlier discussion where all your latest points were discussed. Your points are all correct, but you need to put them all together and assess them in perspective. If we will have to spend $10 to save $1 then the only people who think that is a good idea are the RE advocates. Many of the suggestions about an NPP at Ceduna are like RE advocates’ suggestions – just not viable. Have a look up thread where I addressed these issues and John Bennetts mad some excellent points.


The Greens want a $23 tax per tonne of CO2 which you’d think would kill off Hazelwood if implemented. A House of Reps alliance might legislate that way to buy peace from the Greens in the Senate. However the bill might also allow generous carbon credits for sustainable basket weaving so I wouldn’t expect much.

Other developments include a feed-in tariff to replace RECs for commercial wind and solar. I think everybody who talks green from now on will also get loan guarantees. Thus unreliable power gets at least 4 bites at the cherry
1) targets or quotas
2) per Mwh subsidies
3) carbon taxes on the opposition
4) loan guarantees, development grants etc.

But a quarter of the adult population may have partially voted that way so we have to go with it for a few years. However the policy could either backfire or be changed mid term.


Peter Lang,

“the mangrove swamps are a manageable problem as John Bennetts pointed out.”

That’s not very sound reasoning to me, especially in the Spencer Gulf. A long outfall pipe for saline discharge will have little effect if the desalination plant is built at Whyalla. Please take a look at this paper to understand the problem:


Tom Keen,

mangrove swamps are one issue. They are not the only one. In engineering you need to balance up all the issues and find the least cost solution. Picking on one NIMBY or eco issue doesn’t help much.

Ig Ceduna is too expensive to be viable (as I am convinced it would be) and Spencers Gulf is not allowed to have a desal plant, then are we at teh point we have an irrestible force against an immoveable object. If so, in this case, the result will be no decision. No Olympic Dam Mine expansion, no desal for Adelaide, less revenue for SA coffers so less government funds available for all the services people demand of their governments etc.

Or perhaps there are other options. Or perhaps, most likely I believe, we”’ find a viable engineering solution for an NPP and desal plant not too far from the main demand centres, but not necessarily co-located.


@ John Morgan, on 27 August 2010 at 19.09:

Re fault levels, the issue is keeping generating plant on line during overloads.

If the system is nicely balanced at ten units of power, including one unit spinning reserve, then the loss of one unit due to a fault can be pretty easily caught by the reserve of the other units, perhaps including a little short term load shedding and running up of quick start capacity such as GT’s and hydro to rebalance the system and to restore the spinning reserve.

This is a gross oversimplification, but I guess that you will get the drift.

If the other remaining supply cannot handle the load, then the system frequency starts to slow and synchronisation of the alternating current generated at various points can be lost. To protect the electrical and mechanical safety of the generating unit which is overloaded/slow, it will automatically shut down. This throws load onto the remaining units, which may then cascade into a total loss of power until the system goes black or sufficient load is shed to enable the remaining units to be stabilised, after which reserve capacity (if available) is slowly brought on line and the system is re-started to the extent possible.

BTW, I am not a power engineer, I am a civil engineer with 30+ years’ experience in power stations. Power engineering is a branch of electrical engineering which, sadly, is not offered at all universities.


OOPS. Barry, if you can, please remove the last 2 paras of my last note. They were cut and pasted from John Morgan’s cmment.


Tom Keene and Peter Lang:

I have read the two excellent referenced documents. It seems to me that both Ceduna and the uppper end of the Spencer’s Gulf have fatal flaws – one due to remoteness, the other due to the environmental aspects. This leaves Port Stanvac or similar, plus a mighty upgrading of the transmission system to Port Augusta and beyond.

Or not South Australia at all.

Or whatever.

Options studies are the way to deal with this type of thing – not BHP style, where the only options studied are all a stone’s throw from Port Augusta, but something much wider.

One thing I am convinced of is that, whatever the selected option and whether nuclear or whatever, the most effective solution will involve strong interconnection with existing power grids to ensure stability and to avoid the unnecessary duplication of backup capacity, etc.

Similarly, whatever option is best will need strong political and commercial support, because it will be examined in detail from all directions. The next 2MW power plant to be constructed in Australia will certainly have extraordinary hurdles to jump because of precisely the debate which keeps this site’s traffic flowing.


John Bennetts & Peter Lang,

I think we need to decouple the desal and nuclear, and look at them as separate projects/issues. There is a desal plant being built in Gulf of St Vincent now. Adelaide will have its desal regardless of whether we have nuclear or the Olympic Dam expansion.

The Spencer Gulf desal proposal is tied up as one with the OD expansion proposal, which is going through the government assessment process at the moment. If this goes ahead it will also be regardless of whether we have nuclear or not.

Now I agree that the Eyre Peninsula isn’t a good spot for SA’s first nuclear plant(s). But would locating a desal there really blow the costs out to the point of the OD expansion project becoming inviable? It’s a 100-200 year mine, the world’s largest known uranium deposit, 4th largest copper deposit, and significant source of silver. There are already transmission lines going across to the Eyre Peninsula. I’d hazard a guess it wouldn’t even come close to making it inviable.

Locating a desal in the Spencer Gulf isn’t just a concern to the Mangroves, but to entire benthic communities and other marine ecosystems, and also to the fishing industry. I want to see nuclear power in Australia and more throughout the rest of the world, but not at the cost of incredibly important continental shelf marine ecosystems. We’ve been making the mistake of driving biodiversity loss for the sake of economic growth for too long.


Tom Keen:

Decoupling the two issues would be easier if BHP, as proponent had not linked them, which I take to be the case.

I see no essential linkage, provided that the new power plant is connected adequately to the grid, as common sense suggests.

In that case, I suggest that nuclear power may very well be appropriate and attractive on a site to the south of Adelaide (for example) where salt water flows are sufficient to flush the waste heat without environment detriment.

If dry cooling towers are used, expect a 10% reduction in energy sent out, due to operation of the necessary pumps and fans.

If conventional wet cooling towers are selected, they will consume in the order of 30GL of fresh water annually for a 200MW station – again, a significant cost.

Cooling is seen to be a very powerful driver of site selection, suggesting access to salt water and thus a coastal location.

Did I just mention the coast? Of course I did… that’s a requirement for a desal plant as well. Who knows? Such a plant may even have a use for waste heat in the form of heated cooling water at blood heat, or even bled steam.

Did not BHP also link these issues with construction of a deep water port in the Gulf? The links are endless. Perhaps the truth is that there is a price attached by NOT examining linkages where these are foreseen.


Tom Keen,

It’s a 100-200 year mine, the world’s largest known uranium deposit, 4th largest copper deposit, and significant source of silver.

That is marketing spin. The financiers do not look at it the way the marketeers spin it for public consumption.

The life expectancy of a mine depends on the market price of the metal(s) and the cost of production.

The price of the metal fluctuates wildly for all sorts of reasons. For example, if the world adopts Gen IV, the price of uranium would drop. We may find cheaper ways to extract uranium from sea water or by in situ leaching of other ore bodies. Richer ore bodies that are easier and cheaper to mine may be found. A BHP nickel mine in WA closed down recently after an enormous investment that turned out to be a miscalculation. Any number of possibilities can cause the price to drop so that the mine closes down prematurely. It might start up again, but that has not saved the NPP which would go broke because there was no customer for its power.

The cost of production also changes. For example, if the Greens got into power and legislated their policies, the mine would be shut by government legislation, the costs of labour and energy would go through the roof and many mines and industries would be shut down. We’d go broke like Spain and the other PIIGS. That would be the end of Olympic Dam Mine.

The financiers for the potential NPP know all this so do you think they would invest in a NPP dependent largely on Olympic Dam Mine operating continuously for 60 years? No way!


Peter Lang, in his last post, displayed his abhorrence of the Greens’ policies. I do not share his view, though I am far from agreeing with the Greens on much at all.

As a new-ish party, the Greens have operated for a couple of generations without the need to deliver the goods. It is now time for them to grow up and to learn to play with the big boys or risk losing their credibility.

So, I am optimistic that even the Greens can be convinced to assess again their position re clean power options, economic growth, the need to be realistic about costs and community impact of policies, etc.

However, Peter is also locked in to the concept of a single purpose NPP serving only one customer, which itself may grow or decline as time passes. I am convinced that simple economics will drive the new power source for Olympic Dam to be integrated into the SE Australian grid. The benefits are manifold; the costs trivial.

A short list:
Stability of supply (frequency control, etc)
Black start capacity
Load flexibility – above and below nameplate rating
Option to purchase power from the grid when prices are favourable
Option to sell to the grid when prices are favourable
Reduced overall size of installation (backup power can be provided via contract arrangements) – perhaps 30% reduction in installed capacity.

And so on.

There is almost no possibility that this PP will be constructed as an island, unless hard-headed stupidity drives the decision. The only direction I can envision this coming from is the extreme grey socialist tail of the Greens, whose minds were made up in the 1970’s and have been closed for the past 40 years.

The experience of office for a while will soon mellow some of the radical posturing, so forget your list posted half a dozen posts up, and be optimistic.


John Nennetts,

What do you mean by this:

However, Peter is also locked in to the concept of a single purpose NPP serving only one customer, which itself may grow or decline as time passes.

Was this intended to be addressed to me?

And what is this about?

so forget your list posted half a dozen posts up, and be optimistic.

Again, did you mean to address that to me?


An NPP at or near Pt Stanvac or even further south of Adelaide would sit well in the mix. Ideally it should produce enough to quickly retire the ageing Pt Augusta coal stations then later the gas fired baseload plant. My guess is that the Cooper Basin gas field has only a few good years left hence the backup pipe to Victoria, til it goes. Adelaide’s current peaking capacity is evidently not enough during the inevitable heat waves. Perhaps peaking gas would be freed up without the Torrens Island baseload plant.

The Pt Augusta – Roxby Downs link would have to be upgraded, presumably fourfold. I note some fisher folk have lobbied for Elliston to be the site of the big west coast desal. Another line upgrade.

Strangely I think many people would support an NPP south of Adelaide but I’d expect them to be shouted down or ignored by the ruling political clique.


Peter Lang, on 28 August 2010 at 16.50:

I was referring to your words, as expressed at

(1) The final 2 paragraphs of Peter Lang, on 28 August 2010 at 15.02: If reasonably sited and correctly integrated into SA’s grid, the NPP or alternative power station supplying OD would not be orphaned if OD reduced its load or even stopped production altogether; and

(2) Peter Lang, on 28 August 2010 at 10.39 (One large anti-Green list. There is nothing to gain on this thread by playing politics.)

I am not Green. I couldn’t care how others vote. Let’s sort out the facts first and let others worry about personalities and parties. Even a casual review of my comments on this thread will reveal that I am pretty open minded about proposals. I try to share my meagre knowledge and experience when there appears to be merit in doing so.

If I have misrepresented your position, I do not see how or where. I’m happy to discuss this further if it leads to a net increase in understanding of the issues which drive this site – those surrounding NPP. John Bennetts, the person, is of no consequence.


Peter Lang 28th August 10.10 :

Thank you for posting the Citigroup Global Markets link. The authors made the point that, though the UK Government had given the green light to further NPP construction and made an attempt to accelerate the planning process, it was unlikely that many new plants would be constructed because of unacceptably high investor risks. Not least of these was the uncertainty of future power prices.

If you accept the reasoning by these authors, I am puzzled by your constantly expressed faith in the solution you propound. I applaud your attempts to argue for a more level playing field vis a vis renewables and to drive down nuclear costs. However, as you, yourself, are fond of saying, you could still be thumping this tub in 20 years with no nuclear power to show for it.

Suppose there was no non-hydro renewable energy – and there would be scarcely any without subsidies- it still wouldn’t make nuclear power investment attractive to private investors if price is driven by coal or gas. Furthermore, driving down nuclear costs depends not only upon improved new designs, yet to prove themselves sufficiently to convince investors, but on sensible regulation, which is not in the hands of the NPP constructors and will thus remain risky.

It seems to me, therefore, that to argue for a free market solution while avoiding a carbon levy of some sort or subsidy is to demand the economically impossible. If you want to follow your own suggestions, I think a nationalised approach would be essential. Governments can (they usually don’t) plan for the long term good of their citizens even at the expense of short term disadvantage. If one looks at those nations that are leading the way on NPP development, it is those whose governments see the long term necessity of so doing. As it happens, energy security is probably the major driver rather than AGW. This appeared to be the case for France, always quoted as an exemplar when it comes to nuclear development. It should be noted that the French nuclear industry is, to all intents and purposes, state owned. Is this coincidental?

PS: I do accept that your alternative to a carbon tax is through loading emission control costs on fossil fuel generators and phasing out the plants at the end of their planned lives, while refusing permission for life extensions or new builds. This will clearly increase power prices in the same way as a tax, but wouldn’t necessarily encourage more electrification in the transport sector. However, regardless of the pros and cons, it would still require strong action by a fully committed government.


John Bennetts,

You said:

(1) The final 2 paragraphs of Peter Lang, on 28 August 2010 at 15.02: If reasonably sited and correctly integrated into SA’s grid, the NPP or alternative power station supplying OD would not be orphaned if OD reduced its load or even stopped production altogether;

I agree entirely with this statement. But I still don’t know what you meant by this:

I still don’t understand what you meant with this comment:

However, Peter is also locked in to the concept of a single purpose NPP serving only one customer, which itself may grow or decline as time passes.

The point I’ve been making is that the NPP should NOT be cited so its primary consumer is Olympic Dam Mine. I’ve been saying it should be sited near the main demand centres for a number of reasons. It should feed into the mai grid so that Olympic Dam is just one of man customers. I think we are saying the same thing I’ve been trying to point out to John Newlands that we should not get locked into Ceduna as the location for an NPP. John Newlands brings this up fairly often over the past 12 months or so, so I was trying to take it through to the point where we could let it go. It keeps getting brough up, never resolved, and then brought up again.

The other comments you object to, about anti business policies, was part of pointing out that mines do not have 100 or 200 year life. they have an uncertain life. So no investor is going to invest in a multi unit nuclear power station (as it would have to be) if it is dependent on a mine as its primary customer. That is why the nulcear power station would not be located at Ceduna. Any NPP would be located to feed into the main grid – as you so correcxtly point out. That was the point I was trying to make.

On the politcs, I agree with you; however there is a really long history of green activist politics and a lack of understanding of the financial impacts of such politics. Many have wanted to argue about safety as the issue preventing progress on nuclear in Australia. Over time, I think I have managed to convince most/many who contribute here that it is cost and financing that will be the key issue, and what we need to do about it. I don’t want to go into that again on this thread, but if you’d like some background, you could look at this comment and the next four plus the last comment on the thread:


Likewise, DW.

I have no issue with a carbon tax, ideally determined on a cradle to grave mine gate tax including allowance for fugitive emissions of CO, CO2 and CH4. It is rational to use such a tax to achieve two purposes: (1) to provide funds for research into possible cleanup and/or funds for amelioration of the worst of the effects of GHG; and (2) to tip the scales slightly in favour of non-GHG producing energy sources.

As to banning life extensions for existing coal fired power stations, or refusing development of same, if the NPP proponents were to adopt that strategy, they would invite similar approaches to nuclear power, on less than fully rational grounds. I say, get the costs where they belong and coal will find the need to (for example) use its own money to develop CCS or other forms of carbon capture which would reduce their costs.

Let the coal and gas proponents make the decision to cease GHG production and the Commonwealth will not be exposed to litigation based on the Federal Constitution’s requirement for compensation for property acquisition by the Government, as no doubt the FF industry will claim to be the case.


John Bennets,

Did you look at the comments and the lead article on the link I posted above? I don’t want to have to repeat it all here.

Long ago I showed why it is important for the developed countries to make clean electricity cheaper than coal if we want the developing world to skip the step of using fossil fuels. For that reason, we need to focus on getting the cost of clean electricity down below coal, not raising the cost of coal – yet!

A price on carbon carbon in Australia before we have removed the impediments to clean electricity will simply paper over the problems and allow governments to avoid the problems indefinitely. Instead of addressing the real issue they will for ever push up the price of carbon and keep subsidising renewables prodded by that anti-nuclear groups. I’ve seen this for 35 years, so I am convinced that this is what will happen if we do not tackle the underlying issue. All the arguments the appeasers are making are not new. They have always failed and will fail again now. Just look at the nonsense the Greens, Bob Brown, Senator Milne, ACF, Greenpeace, FoE, WWF etc continually sprout. There is no way we’ll get around that if we go down the carbon price route before we tackle this issue.

By the way, play with this for a while to see the importance of low cost electricity for the world:
[select electricity per capita on the horizontal axis and select log scale. Select various UN HDI indexes on the vertical axis such as life expectancy, literacy, infant mortality, etc. Click play to see the changes over time]

Electricity is by far the most important thing we need to deliver. It needs to be low cost to allow it to be delivered as fast as possible. We can and should deliver clean, low-cost electricity, but low-cost is the most important factor (despite what some here will argue). Therefore, it is up to all developed nations to bring down the cost of clean electricity. We will not do that by raising the cost of electricity.


Peter Lang,

Be careful. If I find you to be slippery and tending to change the topic (eg to Gapfinder, a link which did not lead where you expected, but I will persist), then I will not be the only one.

Just why you choose to continue subsidy of the FF industry in order to advance the claims of the nuclear power industry I do not know.

Yes, I have read every word on this threadf but I cannot read your mind and it means nothing to me if sometime, somewhere else, you once said something at variance with that which comes across to me in your recent postings.

If you persist in arguing all sidease, you will end up defending so many side issues that the reason you are here will soon be long forgotten.

Sorry I must speak this way, but the reason for BNC is not snappyindividual arguments to support the coal industry with which I am so familiar. There are many sites available to us all to perform that service.

When you have determined what you want to say and why, please let me know, because on current performance you have outsmarted yourself… presuming, of course, that you are actually supporting the nuclear power cause.

Low cost electricity is another thing altogether – we can produce that the same way that many Asian countries hold the price of kerosene down. It’s called subsidy, the same thing that the FF industry receives by NOT paying for the damage it causes.

Perhaps we should focus on getting the State EPA licence fees to reflect the actual cost to the planet of the various causes of pollution and then letting the Federal government sort out the consequences. That is a great way to confuse things totally.

Tha’s it for me.

Sorry I tried to help. I didn’t expect to be rebuffed in such a foolish manner.

Perhaps you should take a short break and read “Why Vs Why – Nuclear Power” again, especially Barry Brook’s side of the volume.


I just completed reading the January reference. It is thin on real argument in favour of not permitting energy prices to rise. It comes to an almost unfounded, opinion only conclusion that energy costs to the consumers should not rise.

It is, basically, not worth much further consideration in the Australian context.

The only real argument I accept is that energy price levels in Australia may work against our export industries. So, what’s so difficult about providing a refund at the border for the carbon tax on the embodied Fossil Fuel energy?



John Bennetts,

I don’t know what you are on about:

You say:

Be careful. If I find you to be slippery and tending to change the topic (eg to Gapfinder, a link which did not lead where you expected, but I will persist), then I will not be the only one.

Be careful yourself. You clearly didn’t go to the links I gave you. Instead of making your own smart an presumptious comments, perhaps you should explain what you are on about. In your few recent comments I haven’t been able to understand what you are referring to because you don’t quote. I don’t know which wrong links you went to. I gave you two: one was to comments on the “Alternative to a CPRS” thread. The other was to the Gapminder charting program on UNHDI stats. I thought I’d given you sufficient information. Try a bit harder. If you cant follow, ask, dont be a smart …

Yes, I have read every word on this threadf but I cannot read your mind and it means nothing to me if sometime, somewhere else, you once said something at variance with that which comes across to me in your recent postings.

This seems a bit arrogant, since you have only recently started reading BNC and haven’t caught up on the background. I tried to fill you in on some background as to why I’ve been arguing for no price on carbon yet. I can’t post all that here. Perhaps you’d be courteous enough to read those past comments on the “Alternative to a CPRS” thread before giving me an arrogant serve.

You also made comments in a previous post about what I should and should not say and do, and now you are doing exactly what you told me not to do. Please put your manners back in!


John Bennetts,

My lst post was written before I saw your last post. But All I really have to say now is that I’ve been through it all before, you have a few simplistic ideas swallowing and promoting the government and Green line, I understand where you are coming from, so I’ll leave you to it.



Don’t bother trying to understand me. Perhaps a reading impediment or the advancing years. What is it, Peter?

Yes, I followed every link in your messages. I don’t lie.

Now, what’s the problem you have about my saying the obvious? You changed the subject not once but several times. You make no sense, yet proclaim your own invincibility.

Try a little humility and a little less aggro and perhaps this site will prosper.

I like the site, by the way, but perhaps you and I need a bit of distance for a while.

I have not swallowed the government’s line, whatever that might be.

I have no truck with the Greens.

You are indeed very happy to cast stones when you run out of words. The Greens are not entirely beyond hope but are seriously sick – they have much to learn and perhaps will feel a lot of pain in the process.

All I seek is a bit of rational response, less hubris and less personal stuff. You are very quick off the mark with name calling, so do not be surprised at my response. It is NOT all about you. It should be much more rational than that.

Your mention of the link to UNHDI stats is interesting… where on the page that may be I don’t know. I spent a couple of minutes looking around and didn’t see what you had on your mind. It is a busy page, so perhaps it has been moved, but bear in mind that you gave me no indication as to why that particular link appealed to you. You sent me to a page with no obvious link to whatever was in your mind. Hence the comment about mindreading.

Everything I have written here is entirely supported by the facts.

As for your purported argument supporting cheap energy because we live in a third world country or some such silliness… I have answered that fully, several posts back. In a nutshell, why are you so careful to protect coal? I have already suggested as an alternative to a federal carbon tax a load based licence fee calculated on the CO2-e atmospheric load. NSW (and other?) power stations already pay such a fee. Why not get COAG together and make it national? Then it is not a tax, it’s a licence fee.

Perhaps geologists are, indeed rock-heads… just wondering.


John Bennetts,

Perhaps geologists are, indeed rock-heads… just wondering.

About as rational as the rest of your comments.

I could respond that anyone whos has spent his life working in the NSW government owned, union controlled, NSW Electricity Commission (or whatever it is restructured and renamed this week, to avoid efficiency improvements) … you can work out the rest.


I’ve now read your rude and bad tempered post above. My suggestion to you would be, instead of telling me off and telling me how to behave, you should do yourself what you are telling me to do. Just put your manners back i and if you have nothing constructive to say, keep it to yourself. If you want to give me more personal advice save it for your family – or yourself. I am not interested in anyone’s advice about personality stuff.

Part of the problem why you don’t understand the context or the background of some of what I posted is because you are relatively new to the site, have not read the background that others have, and I am not willing to try to fill in all the background to every statement I make in every post.

If you want to catch up you could read through the articles on the “Renewable Limits” and “Sustainable Nuclear” threads. If you want to catch up on the background to what I say, you can read my articles, preferably in the order I posted them as they build on each other.

Regarding “Gapminder” I gave you more credit that I should have to be able to click on the Gapminder chart, select the axes I told you, press play, and then try other axes on UNHDI stats versus electricity per capita.

The point you will get out of this, if your brain isn’t clogged with coal dust, is that provision of adequate, reliable, cheap electricity supply to all peoples on the planet is the very best thing we can do for humanity. We will succeed in doing this fastest by always striving to make electricity as low cost as possible. Therefore, we want to make clean electricity low cost. We do not want to raise the bar on electricity cost. Doing so will do great harm to the peoples of the planet.

By the way, in case you still don’t get how this relates to your post, it was in reply to your childishly simplistic statements about carbon prices. I clearly gave you too much credit for being able to make the connection. I should have spelt it out in simple sentences.

Quite honestly, I don’t care if you don’t understand this, most people cannot get their head around it, and ‘coal brains’ are no different whether they have a civil engineering degree or not.


While I am at it, I might as well drop this one as well.

The same sorts of ideologically driven “chattering classes” as formed the anti nuclear protesters from the 1960’s on are now pushing for carbon taxes and ETS.

They screwed us up badly from the 1960’s till no, ands still continue to do so, by forcing government s to intervene to make nuclear far more expensive that it should and could be.

And now they want to put a price on carbon rather than unwind all the impediments that are preventing nuclear from being cheaper than coal.

Their underlying reason is ideological belief. These people in the :”chattering class” think they know better and it is their job to direct governments to impost their nutty beliefs on everyone. The classic symbol of this is the Greenpeace Love Hate picture. (I presume you’ve seen it: the pages is divided in two vertically. Wind farm on the right with “Love” written over it and nuclear power plant on the left with “hate” written over it.)

No one should be in any doubt. The anti-nuclear movement has put us (the western democracies) where we are now. The anti nuclear movement has been the darling of the socialists/progressives/Greens/Left wing of politics. they are the bright sparks. In Australia it has been Labor and the Greens that have blocked nuclear power continually.

If you don’t understand that you have an indoctrinated, ideologically blind mind.

Some who blog here even argue to stop the world, stop globalisation (at least for their small special island), raise tariff barriers, let the Lefties decide because they know what is best for all of us.

If you decide it might be advoiseable to give me more advice about what I should and shouldn’t say … tell someone who cares!


Sorry, I got my left and right mixed up. The sentence should read:

Wind farm on the left with “Love” written over it and nuclear power plant on the right with “hate” written over it.)
Also, I apologise for the many typos. Most will be able to understand.

This is a good description of what I mean by the chattering classes:


Peter Lang:

How do your last four entries aid your presumed mission of winning over others to your viewpoint? “Shooting oneself in the foot” springs to mind.


I think this website needs something like a “Why vs Why” (thinking of Barry’s latest book) on having a carbon price in Australia. A shortened, blog version of course.

I think Australia’s main goal to mitigate our impact on the climate should be to establish a nuclear industry – that’s where we stand to make the largest GHG emissions reductions. That said, there are other sources of emissions which can’t be easily fixed with clean energy (e.g. agriculture and forestry). A price on carbon could drive down emissions from these sectors.

Also, since the EU introduced their ETS, there has been a reduction of emissions of about 2-3% per annum. I’m unaware if it has drastically affected their economies (I don’t think it has – please tell me if I am wrong).

I’m still not 100% sold on having a carbon price, or how one should be introduced (tax, ETS, etc.), but I am not fundamentally opposed to one. What I am certain of is that Australia needs to bring its emissions to a peak very soon.


Tom Keen, here’s my highly simplistic analysis:

To decarbonize our electricity supply, and change modes of some energy demand from non-electric to electric, a rollout of nuclear power is necessary, and sufficient. A carbon price should not be necessary if we can take a rationale approach to developing nuclear power economically.

To decarbonize electricity, a carbon price (in whatever form) is neither necessary nor sufficient. In the absence of nuclear power, I’m not sure its very useful, because the only available consumer response to the price signal is to use less energy, and I suspect energy demand will prove to be quite inelastic.

However, if nuclear is available as an option, and a carbon price in effect, I would expect this would accelerate the rollout of nuclear generation, because consumer response would have somewhere to go.

To address climate change, decarbonization of electricity is necessary, but not sufficient. We also need to address a number of other sectors – eg. agriculture and forestry. To address these land use and livestock sectors, I’m not aware of a single magic bullet, like there is for energy. So it seems we need to create one, or try to solve a thousand small emission problems in specific ways by direct interventions. That probably won’t work, so a carbon price seems necessary. Whether its sufficient then turns on atmospheric physics rather than economics and human activity.

So for energy, a transition to nuclear is necessary. A carbon price, while not necessary, could help this. For other sectors a carbon price seems necessary, but its sufficiency is not guaranteed.



I’ve read through your report and I have a couple of questions about what you say. Forgive me for coming to it fairly late after all the previous discussion.

My questions have nothing to do with what ABARE reports instead its that you make assertions in the report that I can’t seem to find backed up in the ABARE reports you use as references. In particular you makes assertions about the failure of energy efficiency and influence on ABARE by certain groups in the period up to 1991.

Taking energy efficiency, my first question is are you saying in what you have written that the report; ABARE (1991) Projections of Energy Demand and Supply; Australia 1990-91 to 2004-05, of which you provide 8 pages (and thats all I’ve got to go on), that the targets for energy efficiency were part of Australia’s policy-political and policy-busines and policy-community landscape through to 2004/2005 i.e. actually attempted? If I have undertsood you to be saying that then my reading of the 8 pages you provided plus the subsequent reports shows no such thing so I don’t see how you can assert energy efficiency has been a failure.

For example the 1991 report says on page 2:

“The central assumption is that the most energy-efficient technologies currently reported to be applicable and cost-effective are universally adopted in Australia. In contrast, the business-as-usual scenario is based on survey participants’ stated plans and expectations and on econometric models estimated using historical data.”

Was that assumption borne out, did Australia make that attempt and if so where can I find the reporting of that and its analysis?

Futhermore on page 2 and 3 the report makes clear that its only making parametric assumptions or estimates:

e.g. “Judgments have been made as to the extent to which efficiency gains claimed in some studies could be achieved in the time frame to 2004-05. Only those measures which appear to be cost-effective from a new purchaser’s viewpoint without tax or regulatory changes are included”


“The business-as-usual scenario for the year 2004-05 was used as the starting point for the analysis. Estimates were made of the energy conservation or energy efficiency improvements which are feasible on a cost-effective basis in the residential, commercial services, manufacturing and transport sectors, in addition to those improvements already implicit in the business-as-usual scenario”.

Indeed this 1991 report sets out that the policy etc landscape in Australia was working against the adoption of energy efficiency with this comment:

“It is not clear why efficiency measures which are said to be both available and cost- effective are not currently being implemented. It may be that there is some form of energy market failure, so that either consumers are not aware of the potential benefits from adopting more energy-efficient technologies and practices, or that they do not know the full costs of continuing to use inefficient technologies and practices. On the other hand, it may be that not all of the measures referred to in the literature as cost- effective in fact are. This would appear to be an important area for further research.”

In the conclusion on pages 8 the important point is made:

“It is not clear whether such gains can be achieved without government action, as they represent a substantial change from historical experience and previous expectations regarding the relationship of energy consumption to population and income. Achieving the target would seem to require major changes to the structure of the Australian energy sector and economy, involving large scale fuel substitution or considerable changes to energy markets and pricing regimes. ”

In other words, if energy efficiency efforts of the amounts that the 1991 report makes or estimates were attempted in Australia then there should be readily identifiable signals of such work available for analysis. Yet your report doesn’t give any information on that.

So I just don’t see how you can assert that energy efficiency has failed using the references for your report?

The next question is about influence on ABARE. You say in your conclusion:

“I believe the consistently optimistic pressure from green advocacy groups, pushing for projections that align with their beliefs of what governments should do, influenced ABARE to underestimate energy demand, underestimate fossil fuel demand, overestimate renewable energy contribution and over-estimate how much energy efficiency improvement can be achieved over the projection period”.

Again, what evidence do you have for this assertion because if its true, it contradicts one of your main points that ABARE’s reporting is generally reliable because if those nasty smelly deep green groups can worm their way into Canberra and affect ABARE’s work then other much more socially acceptable groups should also be able to game ABARE’s work.

Finally, just more thing, why did you suddenly throw in ‘smart grids’?


John Morgan,

I agree with you in principle but I have a problem with your argument. It is the order and the timing that is important because human behaviour is involved. Allow me to walk though my line of argument.

Firstly, let us remember that 70% of our emissions are from energy use and 30% from other, so we must put our priority in cutting emissions from energy use. If by trying to deal with everything, we slow the rate we can cut emissions from energy, then we have taken the wrong approach.

We also need to be aware that what we do in Australia is insignificant if it is not going to help the world to cut emissions faster. The world will cut emissions fastest if it rolls out clean electricity. To do that we must reduce the cost of clean electricity to below that of fossil fuel generated electricity. We won’t do that by artificially raising the bar for fossil fuels to make it easier for renewables and nuclear to compete. We must focus on bringing the cost of nuclear down substantially.

The order we tackle the problem is important. If we place a price on carbon in Australia, the impediments to nuclear will remain in place. Sure there may be some movement to remove some impediments but the arguments about wanting ridiculous levels of safety will remain. We really do need to tackle all these arguments head on and remove all the impediments. I realise it will take some to do so, but it is really important we get the order right. I argue we should not tackle putting a price on carbon until we have removed the impediments to nuclear and also until the world has agreed a mechanism to manage it.


A note to those who want to complain I am being repetitive: apart from the obvious …. I’d remind you that those arguing for a price on carbon are being extremely repetitive:

A price on carbon in Australia will change the world’s climate
A price on carbon in Australia will change the world’s climate
A price on carbon in Australia will change the world’s climate
A price on carbon in Australia will change the world’s climate
A price on carbon in Australia will change the world’s climate
A price on carbon in Australia will change the world’s climate


Interesting points John and Peter.

It seems to me that it boils down to what is likely to get us building clean energy the quickest and most efficiently. On the one hand, a carbon price will have little effect on the energy sector’s (electricity and transport) overall emissions without nuclear power. On the other hand, it may provide an incentive to roll out nuclear more quickly, and will bring down emissions from other sectors (which contribute ~30% if what Peter says is correct).

A fundamental question here is what these scenarios will cost us, in terms of the economy now and the long term environmental impacts. The more we delay building nuclear power and reducing emissions from other sectors, the more it is costing us. But if we introduce a carbon price now, it will also have a cost.

Peter, you said (mockingly) “A price on carbon in Australia will change the world’s climate” and (seriously) “we should not tackle putting a price on carbon…until the world has agreed a mechanism to manage it.”

These two sentences are related, as we are more likely to form some sort of global agreement or mechanism if more countries are moving in the direction of reducing emissions in the first place. Australia is under a particular obligation to show that we’re doing something, as we are one of the worst (or the worst) carbon polluters in the world, the largest coal exporter in the world, and we are the only OECD nation which still hasn’t either already got nuclear energy or are implementing it now. We have done absolutely NOTHING.

My take would be “A price on carbon in Australia might contribute to a global process which could stabilise the world’s climate.”


Tom Keen,

I hear you, but I don’t buy the argument.

Your argument is based on two premises:

1. Australia can set an example and the world will follow. Sorry, but that is unbelievably naïve. It is not the real world. IMHO 

2. If we appease the Greens and eco warriors by agreeing to put a price on carbon first than they will back off an stop their opposition to nuclear power. Sorry, that won’t happen either. It never has and never will. We have 40 years of strident opposition to nuclear by these groups to prove it. They are not interested in cutting emissions. They are only interested in propagating their beliefs and socialist ideologies. Show me any solid evidence to support your assumption here and we can start a discussion.

If we do not remove the blocks to nuclear first, it wont happen. We will raise the cost of electricity and make little progress on cutting emissions in Australia. And we will be supporting higher cost electricity in the western democracies that will slow the uptake of clean electricity in the developing nations. Bad move.

Furthermore, if we act without it being an international agreement we will disadvantages ourselves, for no real gain, and make us less able to do as well as we could and should in the future.

There has become a religious like belief that a carbon tax means we fix Australia’s climate. Just think how ridiculous that belief is. It is stunt, another useless symbol for no gain, and real costs to Australia.



This is a quick answer for now, in case I don’t get back to you. It will take me a lot of effort to dig out the material in the ABARE 1991 report and address all your points.

I understand you have two main criticisms:

1. I’ve made a number of unsupported statements, and
2. The government didn’t implement the maximum proposed energy efficiency improvements, so we can’t say that ABARE’s projections were good.

I agree I have made a number of unsupported statements. Many of them are based on my experience from what was happening at the time. Certainly, at the time there was enormous pressure on ABARE to reduce their projections of energy demand, to increase their projected savings from efficiency improvements and to forecast more renewable energy would be taken up. The same sorts of pressures are being applied now.

We can say that ABARE’s projections were good because they projected close the actual outcome, including for the energy efficiency improvements.

They reason their projections are good is because they, rightly, recognise that most of the proposed energy efficiency improvements that would be mandated by government are not economically viable. They do not look at the individual proposals. They look at the overall trends in the economy and can project the effects of policies.

The government of the day spent a lot of money and effort trying to encourage and force industries, businesses and property owners to implement energy efficiency improvements. People were willing to try, just like now. The Energy Research and Development Corporation facilitated and incentivised many programs. Department of Primary Industries and Energy funded many programs to implement energy efficiency improvements. Most were totally uneconomic, achieved little and demonstrated it is nowhere near as easy or as economic as the idealists would have us believe.

The recent ‘Pink Bats’ home insulation fiasco is a case in point. The Department of Climate Change believed they were on a winner with the Pink Bats home insulation program. They thought this was the lowest of the low hanging fruit. The least cost way to reduce emissions. The department exaggerated the benefits. In promoting the scheme, they claimed the savings would be double what even the proponents (insulation industry and advocacy groups) were claiming. The avoidance cost for the program, if it had not run off the rails, would have been $200/tonne CO2 avoided – about ten times the cost of avoidance by implementing nuclear power. In fact, the program became a complete fiasco of government mismanagement, massive waste, house fires and four deaths.

ABARE was correct. Their projections were good.



I haven’t answered your questions very well. It was a quick response. I will get back to your questions with a more careful response, but not today.



There were two premises you stated were underlying my argument: –

1 – “Australia can set an example and the world will follow”.

That’s not what I said. I said that the more nations that take action on climate change, the more other nations are likely to follow. We can’t all sit around a wait for others to act, or nothing will ever happen.

2 – “If we appease the Greens and eco warriors by agreeing to put a price on carbon first than they will back off an stop their opposition to nuclear power”

Also not what I said. I’m unsure where you got that from.

Two questions. You said if we adopt a carbon price “we will be supporting higher cost electricity in the western democracies that will slow the uptake of clean electricity in the developing nations”.
What do you mean by this?

Also, how do you recommend we go about reducing emissions from agriculture and forestry, given that addressing the energy sector alone is insufficient to cut emissions to the extent they need to be cut?


Thanks Peter,

I’m with you when you say ABARE’s reporting is good though i do have a problem when you say that ABARE’s work has been influenced by green groups because that does seem to contradict the idea that ABARE’s output is reliablly neutral – hence my last comment which perhaps wasn’t expressed very clearly.

The energy efficiency stuff needs more work, thats not a criticism of what you have written its just such a complex area. ABARE’s macro recording of it amongst energy stats in the reports you reference shows us that energy efficiency of some sort is happening in the economy but no detail as to barriers etc and doesn’t divide it out into whether efficiency gains in a particular process or technology might happen or that process of technology is superseeded by something that has advantages not related to energy use.


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