Categories
Climate Change Future Hot News

Open Thread 16

The Open Thread is a general discussion forum, where you can talk about whatever you like — there is nothing ‘off topic’ here — within reason. So get up on your soap box! The standard commenting rules of courtesy apply, and at the very least your chat should relate to the general content of this blog.

The sort of things that belong on this thread include general enquiries, soapbox philosophy, meandering trains of argument that move dynamically from one point of contention to another, and so on — as long as the comments adhere to the broad BNC themes of sustainable energy, climate change mitigation and policy, energy security, climate impacts, etc.

You can also find this thread by clicking on the Open Thread category on the cascading menu under the “Home” tab.

Note 1: For reference, the last general open thread (from 16 April 2011) was here.

Note 2: I’m currently inordinately busy (but also having a lot of fun!) at the Equinox Summit: Energy 2030 in Waterloo, Canada. Once I get a chance to draw breath, I’ll post more about the summit on BNC. But we’re currently working intense 14 hour days (I’m not kidding), so I’ve not got much physical or mental energy left in me by the time I get back to my hotel room at night!

However, if you want to follow some of the events, the Canadian television station TVO is covering the whole summit. I was on a panel session yesterday (Benchmarking our Energy Future: see the video here), which also featured four really interesting short animated videos on energy; I will also be part of a 1-hour episode of Steve Paikin’s The Agenda on Friday night (Canadian time — but also available on the TVO website — more details to follow).

More on the WGSI Equinox Summit: Energy 2030 in the next blog post.

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.

593 replies on “Open Thread 16”

Just noting that there’s a small surge of energy, politics, and business stories on various sites today:

Canadian Nuclear Association’s TalkNuclear blog: Canada Needs a Serious Conversation on Electricity

Master Resource: Energy Policy in California: Turning Gold into Lead

European Energy Review: An industry plagued by uncertainty, waiting for political leadership

Has thirty years of FUD generation finally percolated through societies enough to hit businesses where it hurts? I left a comment on the Canadian Nuclear Association’s post that reads, in part:

I think business leaders might just have the edge on politicians, who have to worry about the next election more than the 20 year and beyond future. (I’m actually concerned about the next billion and a half years, but that’s another story – we do have to get through this mess first.) A hard-headed business coalition to lobby for a sane, long term energy foundation for our societies could have a major impact and generate the stability we need. Even fossil carbon businesses have to face up to change, whether in 20 years or 50; I’m sure they’d prefer to chart their own course rather than have one imposed, whether by fiat or by the implacable hand of physics and chemistry.

I don’t want to have to apologize to the future for our prolonged inaction now. I want to have a future of our choosing, rather than one that is forced on us. Energy is the Master Resource and the key to our future.

Like

HarryW2 @ 24 June 2011 at 1:39 AM, and David Walters @ 24 June 2011 at 2:47 AM,

These are excellent comments and links. It would be a pity to have these buried in an Open Tread and lost so we can’t find them again. Could I suggest you repost them on the “CO2 avoidanc cost with wind energy thread” https://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/ and continue the discussion of this really important topic there.

Like

ohn Newlands, on 22 June 2011 at 5:05 PM said:

However it beats me how solar enthusiasts tell us $1/w is imminent if 150 MW peak costs $923m. At 16% capacity factor that’s $38.50/w or at a claimed 30% c.f. that’s $20.50/w.

So if the nuclear reactors were to see the same cost decreases then a $5 billion olkiouoto reactor would only cost 300 M… for 1600MW. Just to give an idea of how deep cuts in solar have to go. The certainly won’t reach $1/w if they are made in the U.S. or E.U.

Like

harrywr2, on 24 June 2011 at 1:39 AM — Thanks again for the interesting link. The ~2000 MW of coal burners to be replaced consist of (1) Boardman [which didn’t receive state approval for continued operation], (2) AltaVista in Chehalis [for which there is already a plan to replace the two coal burners with CCGTs, (3) about 300 MW or so that I don’t know anythig about. Now PGE will probably replace Boadman with a CCGT, hence the plan given in slide 9.

Now the unfortunate thing about all this is that enough needs replacing to actually build another NPP in the region. Ain’t gonna happen.

Like

Regarding costs of nuclear, I keep getting asked about this.

The cost argument I make for nuclear is based on real-world experience, when it is done properly and prudently, e.g. (a) what France did, (b) what various Asian countries (China, India, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan are doing/have done) and (c) a recent meta-analysis I and some colleagues published (see attached). Ultimately though, if nuclear is too expensive and renewables become much cheaper, then fine by me — just let them compete on a fair and level playing field and permit lowest-cost abatement. But that is not what the real-world experience has shown to date, or is showing today. This is important to factor in when considering how we deal with climate change, because we can’t lose on this issue by letting ideology get in the way.

What of Fukushima? There is no avoiding the fact that it had a major short- to medium-term impact on the region, and these are the sort of risks that should be minimized — which we can and should do via ongoing improvements in technology and management. Unlike many, however, I can’t see the price of renewables coming way down and I can’t see these techs displacing fossil fuels on the scale required. I wish it were so, but I just don’t see any evidence for it, and most wishes end up going unfulfilled. Yes, PV panel prices continue to drop, but that is not really the relevant factor – beyond baseload/reliability considerations, even if the cost could be reduced to say 50c/W peak, the balance-of-plant costs still put it higher than other options, including wind.

My ultimate feeling about nuclear is that we have no other choice — none — for displacing coal worldwide, so we’d best get cracking on large-scale implementation, do it as well as we can, and continue to refine the systems, much as aviation does (where we also have no other choice than to go up in the sky in fragile aluminum shells).

Like

Barry.

My ultimate feeling about nuclear is that we have no other choice — none — for displacing coal worldwide, so we’d best get cracking on large-scale implementation, do it as well as we can, and continue to refine the systems, much as aviation does (where we also have no other choice than to go up in the sky in fragile aluminum shells).

I agree.

However, I hear this sentiment repeated frequently in posts and comments on BNC, but there is little interest in tackling the key issue – what do we have to do to get it to be it economically viable in Australia. It could be, but only if we are prepared to understand and then accept we need to remove the impediments that, while in place, will make it prohibitively expensive in Australia. While nuclear for Australia is similar or higher cost than ne nuclear in USA, Canada UK and Europe, there is no chance of it being given serious consideration in Australia. If we want it, we need to identify the impediments, expose them and start discussing what we are prepared to do about them

[By the way, I aware of the politics and scare mongering of the anti-nukes and I do realise there is a temporary drop in support for nuclear in Australia due to the accident, but we’ll get over that in time. But we are making zero progress on tackling the issue of the cost of nuclear in Australia.]

If nuclear can be cheaper than oil in UAE and Saudi Arabia, we need to identify what are the differences between there and here.

Like

[By the way, I aware of the politics and scare mongering of the anti-nukes and I do realise there is a temporary drop in support for nuclear in Australia due to the accident, but we’ll get over that in time. But we are making zero progress on tackling the issue of the cost of nuclear in Australia.]

Oh really, there’s a “temporary drop in support for nuclear” is there? I hadn’t noticed. ;-)
(Deleted inflammatory comment)
But now you are the master of understatement when it serves your purposes!

“temporary drop” indeed. I even had family members sneer at me after Fukishima.

Go on Peter, say what you always say…
“We need cheaper nukes that are LESS SAFE!”
(Deleted inflammatory comment)

It’s NOT going to happen in the current political and social environment.

If we’re going to have nukes, we need a Carbon Price and then the state-of-the-art Gen3.5 reactors with passive safety. The safety factor is paramount, not an optional extra. The Carbon Price won’t kill us. It might not even hurt us that much. The price of energy is going up, one way or another.

If you are genuinely recommending that we buy the same cheap crappy old nukes that got Japan into this whole mess, I say shame on you!

Like

Eric Moore is absolutely correct Mr Lang!
Europeans – on average – use HALF the oil of the average American. Half! Now this is party due to having more Urbanism (and less suburbia), but it is also due to higher prices and smaller cars.

This is what the advocates of carbon pricing are saying. But surely, we should look into this and question whether it will give the outcomes we want before we implement polices and legislation that may have dire unexpected consequences. It is only prudent and responsible to do so.

It DOES, but you just won’t recognise it! It’s demonstrable from history! Look up per capital oil use in the EU and America and compare it! We’ve all shared this example with you repeatedly and you just do the standard Lang response>

1. Ignore
2. Reassert question
3. Act like nobody ever said anything
4. Reassert question.

“But surely, we should look into this and question whether”
No. You should learn to accept certain historical facts. The average European uses half the oil of the average American because their oil prices are higher.

(Deleted inflammatory comment)

Like

I accept that some of the difference is urbanisation, however I think the main difference is cultural. In America I get the impression that people feel they have an absolute right to have large cars and cheap petrol. Probably the companies selling the cars tie success with size of car and engine.

Another example is food. In the States the focus in a restaurant seems to be quantity/size. A steak must be huge. Portions are way above what we require. I think quality is much more important in food I am much more satisfied with a smaller portion of something nice. One might consider the carbon footprint of providing a huge steak? I fear we are slowly getting sucked into this bad habit in the UK. At our gas stations we are getting enticed by ever bigger packs of crisps, muffins etc. We are not even given the choice of smaller portions anymore.

Another very annoying tendency is to import products from around the globe when our local production is out of season. Why? Can’t people enjoy the delights of a product because it is only available some of the year. I don’t mind some importation, but it must be at a much higher price on our shelves to make us think more about it.

This all ties in with my feeling that the energy focus is far too much on increasing production, rather then saving consumption. This is a failing of the capitalist way. The heads of industry want to ram more energy down our throats so they can make more money. Why do they not like micro energy production and efficiency savings? Because is restricts the massive profits they can make.

There must be a rethinking of capitalism. We need some way of keeping the advantages of a market economy whilst restricting the over consumption and that we in the west have been practicing for far too long and the potential over consumption of the developing economies. Probably too Utopian!

Like

Eric Moore, on 24 June 2011 at 9:26 PM said:

I accept that some of the difference is urbanisation, however I think the main difference is cultural. In America I get the impression that people feel they have an absolute right to have large cars and cheap petrol.

I’ve lived in the UK and the US. I had perfectly suitable company provided econo-box in the UK that I only occasionally used. Public transportation for the most part was cheaper,easier faster.

I now live all of 8 miles from Microsoft World Headquarters. There is a uncovered bustop within 200 yards of my house. It is 3 bus changes and at least an hour to get to Microsoft from my front door on the bus. 1/4 of the people in my neighborhood work at Microsoft. It’s not cheaper,easier, faster to take public transportation to our areas largest employer.

When I lived in the UK and wanted to get from London to Manchester I would take a train. When I want to get from Seattle to Portland I drive.

I’m the same person. I was in the Middle East serving ‘US National interests’ when Jimmy Carter was president. I’m well aware of the true cost of oil.

In the US the housing stock that was built to accommodate the needs of the WWII generation and the pile of children they made is a hindrance to good transportation planning.

At a housing density of 1 home per acre a well and septic system can co-exist. At a housing density of 4 homes per acre a septic system is a perfectly suitable way to deal with sewage.

Rather then rapidly expand sewage treatment facilities and run sewage lines out to the new housing developments which would cost money and take time the housing developers built massive amounts of housing at a density of 4 units per acre.

While the density of 4 units per acre negated the need for sewage treatment facilities it also made things like corner stores, corner pubs and public transportation almost impossible. At a density of 4 homes per acre their just aren’t enough people to support a corner store or corner pub or enough people within walking distance of a bus stop to support bus service to multiple destinations.

If you are a merchant and you want to survive your customers will be arriving by automobile which means instead of setting up shop on a corner or in the city center with limited parking you build your store on the outskirts and put in a massive parking lot.

We are stuck…every time the politicians bring up the matter of higher gas taxes in order to encourage public transportation use the people that live in those 4 homes per acre communities and the people who live in rural areas counter with ‘What public transportation?”

Like

harrywr2

I do understand and I can see how difficult it is. That is why it has to be managed by government with changes made to the infrastructure and planning.

I was interested to hear a programme on the radio in the UK on the subject of railways being re-opened in Scotland. In the 1960, a politician from the right shut down many railways. This was as a result of many years under investment after the war and the need to avoid large repair costs. In hindsight this was quite a mistake. In scotland they are now re-opening some of these lines. It is this sort of forward thinking that we need.

I want to see much tighter regulation on house building in the uk, so they are very well insulated and where possible renewable energy products are installed as a matter of course. I would like to see a change in road building policy. If a motorway needs widening due to traffic saturation, just build a railway in parallel instead. I love travelling on the Eurostar in France when it travels at 180 miles per hour next to a motorway. Our governments need to use imagination and must not be bribed by the lobby groups of industry.

Like

Great to see some sensible conversation about our town planning laws and how they impact energy use. BRILLIANT post by Harrywr2, illustrating how even with all the best motivation in the world, bad town planning can really stuff up good intentions.

Like

Barry Brook, on 24 June 2011 at 1:15 PM — The costs of building new NPPs is certainly affected (in the USA at least) by the inane method of finacing. WNN has a short article which suggests the same problem occurs in some other countries.

I’m of the opinion that a FCOAD fee [on coal, natgas and petroleum] would make the wind+natgas combination sufficiently less attractive than (more) utilities would build NPPs. I’m not holding my breath.

Like

@ Eric Moore

There must be a rethinking of capitalism. We need some way of keeping the advantages of a market economy whilst restricting the over consumption and that we in the west have been practicing for far too long and the potential over consumption of the developing economies.

Are you familiar with the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy? There are some very clever people here, who actively publish on economic theory, who think along these lines. There are also entire peer reviewed journals dedicated to these types of questions. Nothing like the whacky arguments brought forward by those who deny the huge risks of climate change, for example.

Obviously though, the model of economic growth isn’t going to just disappear overnight. Efforts need to be made to de-materialise the economy as much as possible, so it can grow without destroying the ecological systems which support life (human and otherwise). Technology offers us some promise here. Abundant energy in particular can provide many services which would otherwise have to be sourced from the biosphere.

I’ll get off my Saturday morning soap-box now :)

Like

Robot cars will cause major societal revolutions, from doubling how many cars we can fit into a car-park, to drivers never having to visit a public or corporate car-park again, to solving drink driving, to ending car-crashes (or most of them) and saving a million lives a year (worldwide), to even enabling New Urbanism and less cars on the road and changing our relationship to car ownership. Imagine the end of taxi drivers. Imagine cars you can rent instead of buy, but without the human labour component. Everything’s going to change! http://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/robot-cars/

Like

@tom
Thanks Tom

I am glad clever people maybe thinking what I am thinking too.

While I was having a think about this theme. The whole idea of a way to control consumerism is counter intuitive to humans. First of all we tend to only be concerned about what we have not got and what we want. Second to this we are then tribal and think that our country is the best in the world. How stupid is this. All countries can’t be the best in the world!! What does this mean? We tread on others to get what we want (Oil from the Middle East?) and look to compete in a way that is completely unhealthy.

I would even say that without knowing it that people on this site are really only concerned about themselves (possibly me included). Look, it is quite obvious now that some people see changes in weather and extreme events effecting their country and they all of a sudden see action to stop climate change. However in the early days (1980s) when some people like myself worried about the effects of human consumption, most people denied that this was a problem because it did not directly effect them. The 3rd world was the first to see these effects, but that was not a problem to us wealthy nations. People in 3rd world countries don’t count in our thoughts really. (Example) When one of our soldier is killed in battle, there is a somber parade with full honors and people say “save our heroes”, however when some civilians die in Afghanistan, it pulls no emotional cords!

So it is the “I’m alright jack” ethos coupled with a desire to be the most successful that is the real barrier to solving this problem.

Dare I say it. Nuclear power is also a result of this ethos, because it is the solution that means we can have what we want and more. Don’t you think that cheap limitless power = more rampant consumerism? So even though the energy is clean (If you actually believe that and for me the jury is out on this) it would allow more and more production of goods that we don’t really need and therefore result in the waste and the rape of world resources?

Like

Even the deep greens are disappointed with the Fed’s ‘solar flagship’ program. http://beyondzeroemissions.org/media/releases/labor%E2%80%99s-solar-flagships-smoke-and-mirrors%E2%80%A6and-coal-seam-gas-110622
They don’t say it is too much money for too little output but I agree on one angle… it locks in gas dependence. As explained upthread there will be PV at Moree and solar trough with gas boost at Chinchilla. No storage of even just a few hours for either project. The govt is paying about 40% of the capital cost with no word on future subsidies for each Mwh.

I think carbon tax is going to majorly disappoint. It might improve efficiency somewhat but unlike Treasury modelling I don’t see major technology shifts. $20 is not enough to continue the wind build without more subsidies nor is it enough to replace brown coal with gas. Now both nukularists and deep greens are ridiculing the ‘solar flagships’.

However I think we have to forge ahead with $20 carbon tax to break the log jam which is better than doing nothing. After a year or so the way ahead should be clearer. If we do nothing then there is no next step.

Like

Hi Eric,
what if there were a bunch of solutions we could implement with nuclear power to meet all human needs (and a good portion of their wants) and thereby encourage a world wide demographic transition, solving population growth? I’m convinced there are a bunch of solutions that in combination could make our society more comfortable, more equitable, more prosperous, more efficient with resource use, and have less impact. Even with 10 billion of us living at a first world lifestyle!

Try these! I call them my Dreams for my grandchildren. There’s nothing original here, it’s all just stuff I’ve collected from the real experts who write on these themes. Pay a lot of attention to this first one, the Plasma Burner, where Tom Blees book totally blew my mind!

Rezone our cities around walkable, attractive, efficient, economic, local, trendy and community building New Urbanism!
http://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/rezone

Recycle at the most efficient, atom-ripping level as appropriate! Plasma burners allow us to turn household waste, lawn clippings, and dirty diapers into toothbrushes, jetfuel, and building materials!
http://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/recycle

Refuel on safe, modern GenIV nuclear reactors that eat nuclear ‘waste’. Just today’s nuclear waste could run the world for the next 5 centuries! Nuclear waste is not the problem, it is the solution!
http://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/refuel

Railing freight is the most efficient way to transport goods across the country. Pedestrians should catch trolley buses in the cities. The sooner we electrify transport the better!
http://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/rail

Reinvent industry to run on mostly renewable materials using the best of low and high technology! We need nano-technology, Green Chemistry, and even lower technology solutions like building Skyscrapers out of wood!
http://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/reinvent-industry

Replenish the soil rather than mine and destroy it through Industrial Agriculture. This means adopting nutrient recycling schemes, using biochar to bring the soil back to life, and not flushing the invaluable phosphorus and other nutrients in our sewage out to sea! It means our sewerage systems and departments need to speak to our agricultural departments.
http://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/replenish-the-soil

Repair ecosystem services so that nature will continue to bless us with what are called ‘Ecosystem services’. These free gifts from local ecosystems affect both local and global economic wealth, and without which we would have to pay for all our fresh water, soil, clean air, certain waste processing, etc. Trying to mimic all of nature’s free gifts would bankrupt us.
http://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/repair

Reduce population growth by meeting all human needs and educating and empowering women in developing countries! This is the only humane way of limiting the global population, and is a worth goal in its own right.
http://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/reduce

Like

I’ve been saying for a very long time, the Australian carbon pricing scheme is bad policy: https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/

It seems that the same sentiment is growing in the general community:
Fewer Australian’s back climate action
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/06/27/3253948.htm?site=gippsland

New research shows support for taking action on climate change is falling steeply.

The poll shows that there has been a steep fall in the number of Australians who think climate change is a serious problem which needs addressing now.

It says 41 per cent of respondents want to see action even if it means a significant cost, down 27 percentage points since 2006.

Thirty-nine per cent of poll respondents said they would not be willing to pay anything extra on their electricity bill to help tackle climate change.

Carbon tax is economic disarmament
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/carbon-tax-is-economic-disarmament-us-mp/story-fn59niix-1226082386754

Mr Sensenbrenner’s comments point to the possibility that generalised pledges on climate change action by other countries will not be realised, whereas the report by the government’s adviser, Ross Garnaut, takes all such pledges at face value.

It is Professor Garnaut’s assessment that allows Canberra to claim other nations are taking action on climate change.
Mr Sensenbrenner said he did not believe carbon taxes would ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“It just changes where they take place,” he said, “and this doesn’t make any real difference because there are no customs posts in the atmosphere.”

“A carbon tax is akin to unilateral economic disarmament,” he said.

A lethal blow for government scheme
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/a-lethal-blow-for-government-scheme/story-fn59niix-1226082376158

The Gillard government has gone to vast and expensive lengths to convince the people of what is essentially a fiction: that the rest of the world is taking action on greenhouse gas emissions commensurate with that which Australia would take if it introduced the biggest carbon tax in the world.

As all the legal international frameworks for carbon pricing agreements have collapsed, the Gillard government has had to resort to taking the vague aspirational ambitions of nations as if they were concrete, settled policy.

The Obama administration, having abandoned cap and trade, has made a general pledge to try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its 2007 level by 17 per cent by 2020.

No one believes that will happen, unless the US is going through such a catastrophic depression that emissions fall as a consequence of a collapsing economy.

The state-based initiatives for carbon pricing in the US are either collapsing or cover only a small section of the economy, with little impact.

Sensenbrenner believes there is no prospect of carbon pricing coming back in the US.

This begs the question: if all the big resource-producing countries that compete with Australia are not going down a carbon tax route, and if the US and Canada are not going down a carbon price route, how can it be that a carbon price would not put all Australian industry at a significant competitive disadvantage?

Like

I have a question for the captains of industry; how many of them have a documented prediction of the current global financial situation? Oops maybe they don’t always get it right.

If Australia is so insignificant how come so many are concerned? If Fiji had a carbon tax I doubt anybody would offer them unsolicited advice. In fact I suggest we have enormous leverage, both cultural and resource empowered. The latter since Australia
– is the world’s biggest coal exporter
– may become the biggest gas exporter
– has the world’s biggest uranium deposit.
Oh yes and we are the OECD’s highest prima facie per capita emitter and we have severe climate problems. So it is our problem.

Far from falling behind there may be quantifiable benefits to decarbonising early

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demonstration_effect

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-mover_advantage

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intergenerational_equity

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precautionary_principle

If we don’t give decarbonising a serious effort then we are both irresponsible and short sighted.

Like

Peter Lang – the quote you provide includes this :”Thirty-nine per cent of poll respondents said they would not be willing to pay anything extra on their electricity bill to help tackle climate change.”

However when you look at the poll results (http://www.abc.net.au/news/infographics/lowy/2011/) it seems that 39% actually say:
“should be addressed… taking steps that are low cost.”

I’m not sure where the ABC reporter gets that they would not be willing to pay “wnything extra” on their electricity bill. the govt and many economists would argue that a 5% reduction via ETS/tax is “lowest cost”. IN which case 80% agree with the ALP, and the battle is convincing them the tax/ETS is lowest cost.

Like

John Newlands,

If we don’t give decarbonising a serious effort then we are both irresponsible and short sighted.

If we implement policies that will damage our economy relative to our trade partners and competitors – for no gain; i.e. no reduction in world emissions – then we are irresponsible and short sited.

Like

@John Newlands

Canada after hearing of the Rudd government introducing the Resources Super Profit Tax decided to lower their tax rate on extracted mineral resources. It came down to competitive advantage. The Frasier Institute showed this in their annual Mining Survey’s 2010 Update. I’m a bit skeptical that if Australia decides to go down the Carbon tax route others will follow. If the conditions exist to gain a competitive advantage in terms of mineral or hydrocarbon wealth.

If it’s cheaper else where companies will diversify away. There will come a time when there is no other option in terms of Uranium and Coal, but that’s a long time away. Until then the Carbon tax will achieve it’s goal of eliminating CO2 emissions by eliminating the industry that causes it (bit of an exaggeration but it’s entirely possible, Whyalla is one of the potential losers). Compensation will help but what will that achieve?

I’d like to look further into the highest emissions per capita statement. I have a hunch that there can be some cuts made without massive policy shifts. That being said we have some specific conditions that push us towards a high emissions per capita target. That being said our emissions in total compared to China and the US are small. Per capita only seems to be a problem with a large population growth figure, which Australia isn’t going to have an issue with unless we have a massive immigration shift.

Mining Survey: http://www.fraserinstitute.org/research-news/display.aspx?id=16438

Like

Hi all,
Just thought John made so many good posts here I had to copy and paste it!
(Because Peter just did a standard “Lang Response”)

We’ve all shared this example with you repeatedly and you just do the standard Lang response>

1. Ignore
2. Reassert question
3. Act like nobody ever said anything
4. Reassert question.

Some more Carbon Tax issues

1. If we pass a Carbon Tax, will it also apply to exported coal and overseas buyers? If not, why not?

2. Would it generate more income if overseas buyers continued to want our coal, making our government more addicted to coal? (As it is to gambling taxes?)

3. Or would it make exported coal non-competitive, thus further hastening the decline of our coal exports and having a greater effect than just the domestic market for our coal?

4. Wouldn’t all this serve our purposes and bring on the discussion about what, exactly, will replace coal? What energy source, and what economic income?

(As educating overseas students generates 3 or 4 times the income of our exported coal, I’m suggesting we upgrade our education facilities for overseas students — but that’s just because I’m not a Denialist like Tony Abbott who is scared to death that climate change might in fact be real and that a Carbon Tax might, indeed, shut down the coal industry!)
MODERATOR
Cut and paste deleted.

Like

If the Canucks want to be first to have holes in the ground where large mineral deposits used to be then they are short sighted. Australia will have holes in the ground but hopefully mining tax funded infrastructure will be of lasting benefit e.g. hospitals.

I believe the correct treatment of the metals industry is to make China and India pay carbon tax on our coal (and LNG) and to impose a carbon tariff on fabricated metal imports. Free permits and cash compensation to the metals industry is the wrong approach. By metals I mean steel, aluminium, copper, zinc, nickel, gold etc but one day possibly zirconium and rare earths.

On Whyalla specifically not only could steel making be protected with carbon tariffs on imports but I think there are major opportunities in western SA. Remember that BHP wants to send Olympic Dam copper-uranium concentrate to China via Darwin. That’s jobs and profit that could stay in Australia. The SA mines minister wants a uranium enrichment industry but his boss Premier Rann seems to be dumbstruck with fear of the Greens. My suggestion for the SA west coast is to build an energy park at Ceduna. It would be based on a GW or more of Gen 3 nuclear power. It would take over the OD desal from Whyalla which is the wrong site. By freeing up electricity based CO2 it would allow steelmaking to stay under the cap.

The Ceduna energy park would include enrichment with centrifuges or lasers. Leave space for a Gen 4 and pyroprocessing some years later. The new transmission would be the first stage of an eventual link to Perth. The extra power supply would enable copper to be electrorefined in SA (not China), perhaps even some exotic metals. SA would become an exporter of summer power not an importer and the ageing and insecure coal and gas baseload plants could be retired.

Like

1) The MRRT will apply to coal regardless if there is a carbon tax or not. If the Carbon tax was applied to coal as well, then Australian Coal will be an expensive commodity to extract. It won’t effect the export price, but it will raise the extraction price per tonne. It will only become economical if the spot price of coal rises. Like I mentioned before, instead of the Canadians, the Americans in Colorado and Montana would be laughing. Their coal just got a lot more competitive. Also there are some serious issues surrounding a carbon tax “tariff” on exported coal, the WTO will raise an eyebrow and the Chinese will look north.

2) See above.

3) Pretty much. Mongolian coal is a big thing to watch. There is a lot of it, cheap to extract, and closer to China (reduced transport costs). Hence there are other international factors that need to be considered when making a decision that effects an export industry.

4) Maybe. But a bigger more local level discussion would be what to do with all those direct and indirect coal mining jobs. A lot of income wealth will evaporate pretty quickly. It may ease the pressure of the Australian economy (in terms of a “Dutch Disease”) but it’ll hurt a lot of people in the process. Not everyone is rational when they miss a mortgage payment or can’t feed their kids.

Does that answer some of your questions?

Like

EN iron ore reduction using hydrogen would be prohibitively expensive. If I recall the figures were 20c a kg for coke and ~$5 a kg for hydrogen. Charcoal is not practical. I think steel recycling should increase and I believe the price was around $300 a tonne for scrap last week.

Online Opinion had an article suggesting carbon tariffs didn’t violate WTO rules. It would be easy to carbon assess imported steel and aluminium but harder to assess say Indian call centre services using un-carbon-taxed electricity. BTW I tried a couple of times to visit OneSteel when staying with relatives in Whyalla but it was closed to visitors. Big CO2 spewers like blast furnaces and jet planes are always impressive to watch.

Like

Carbon Tax?

Personally the jury is still out. But I do think that sometimes our position is overstated in the global arena. I don’t disagree that out per capita GHG is the highest, but aspects of life here do make it hard to be low emisison savvy. But per capita is only an issue if we have a massive population boom. I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Presently it’s a no. But that isn’t an absolute no, or is it a no for a pricing mechanism or other mechanism.
On a side note something doesn’t sit right with the assumption that industry has been bad and willfully destroying the planet through GHG emissions and must be taxed/penalised. They were only acting in accordance with Government policy and regulations (and to an end scientific consensus at the time) to enact their ends which is to make a profitable product/service to further commerce and industry. It is as if no one has understood what industry does in a capitalist society.

Like

I’m all for recycling steel, but doesn’t even that require flushing some carbon through the cycle at some point?

I guess I’m just thinking all that coal is more important as an ingredient in manufacturing steel far into the future, rather than just as a heat source.

Seriously though, aren’t there ways we can really capture some carbon for steel? What about agriwaste or forestry waste? Is it about the quality of the carbon stock or the sheer quantities that you find prohibitive?

Like

@ Deckermann,

On a side note something doesn’t sit right with the assumption that industry has been bad and willfully destroying the planet through GHG emissions and must be taxed/penalised. They were only acting in accordance with Government policy and regulations (and to an end scientific consensus at the time) to enact their ends which is to make a profitable product/service to further commerce and industry. It is as if no one has understood what industry does in a capitalist society.

I completely agree. However, if climate activists are prone to over-demonizing King Coal, it’s probably due to all the stories of their participation in funding the Denial Machine!

But the honest coal miner just trying to earn a dollar? My heart goes out to the poor buggers stuck down the mine so that I can have refrigeration and TV and work in a nice, clean office with my computer.

Like

Eclipse Now, on 27 June 2011 at 10:29 PM said:

I guess I’m just thinking all that coal is more important as an ingredient in manufacturing steel far into the future, rather than just as a heat source.

Thermal coal has too many impurities to be easily used for making steel.

About half of Australian coal exports are metallurgical coal.
http://www.worldcoal.org/resources/coal-statistics/

Like

Deckermann @

This is an excellent point:

Presently it’s a no. But that isn’t an absolute no, or is it a no for a pricing mechanism or other mechanism.

On a side note something doesn’t sit right with the assumption that industry has been bad and willfully destroying the planet through GHG emissions and must be taxed/penalised. They were only acting in accordance with Government policy and regulations (and to an end scientific consensus at the time) to enact their ends which is to make a profitable product/service to further commerce and industry. It is as if no one has understood what industry does in a capitalist society.

However, some dispute this point:

I don’t disagree that out per capita GHG is the highest

It is being used as a means to raise guilt, but is only correct if the analysis is based on a countries production of GHG emisisons rather than on its consumption of goods and services with embodied GHG emissions. On the latter, more correct basis, Australia is nownere near the top of the list. This explains:
http://www.ipa.org.au/news/2364/we-emit-less-co2-than-combet-gives-us-credit-for

The critical points are are (I address the following to others, not Deckermann):

Implementing a carbon pricing scheme in Australia (before the large emitters have agreed an international mechanism to internalise externalities of energy production and use), will damage our economy but will not cut world GHG emissions. As Mr Sensenbrenner said “It just changes where they take place and this doesn’t make any real difference because there are no customs posts in the atmosphere.”

A carbon pricing scheme will move manufacturing and energy intensive industries to other countries that do not have such a scheme and have no present intention of implementing such as scheme (most of the world). At the same time we will ramp up our coal mining and coal transporting industries to feed the power stations in the other economies. By so doing we are moving GHG emissions overseas, moving our manufacturing and value added industries overseas, moving jobs and high tech industries overseas, and damaging our economy (lower GDP growth)

With lower GDP growth we will be less able to meet all the demands of society and less able to meet the challenges ahead, including less able to fund emissions reduction in the future.

Imposing carbon pricing in Australia comes with increasing coal exports to other countries so they burn it to run the value added industries we’ve forced out of our country.

This seems so obvious to me, I can’t understand why others don’t see it.

Like

MattB: The questions on that poll:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/infographics/lowy/2011/

are simply a source of misinformation … e.g., “The problem of global warming should be addressed but its effects will be gradual so we can deal with the problem gradually by taking steps which are low cost”.

Since when does “its effects will be gradual” necessarily imply that we can deal with the problem with gradual low cost steps? I’d say there is excellent evidence that no low cost measures will head off dangerous climate change and even saying that its effects will be gradual is questionable. Is “huge impacts within 60 years” gradual? I think not.

Like

@ Any coal resource expert:

Harrywr2 posted a very interesting link from the World Coal Institute. Any ideas how to resolve the following issues?

Reserves

Coal reserves are available in almost every country worldwide, with recoverable reserves in around 70 countries. At current production levels, proven coal reserves are estimated to last 119 years. In contrast, proven oil and gas reserves are equivalent to around 46 and 63 years at current production levels respectively. Over 62% of oil and 64% of gas reserves are concentrated in the Middle East and Russia.

http://www.worldcoal.org/resources/coal-statistics/

This ignores the 28 year doubling time for consumption brought on by (from memory) a 2.5% increase in coal consumption every year. (I understand we take the number 70 and divide by the annual % increase to get the doubling time).

It also ignores the peaking concept in resource extraction which attempts to measure the resource into 2 halves, the ‘cheap’ coal and then the era of declining production rates of expensive coal.

However, on the other hand for more “optimistic”, climate Denying coal boosters:

Underground coal gasification allow access to more coal resources than economically recoverable by traditional technologies. By some estimates it will increase economically recoverable reserves by 600 billion tonnes.[8] The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory estimates that using UCG could increase recoverable coal reserves in the USA by 300%. According to Linc Energy, the capital and operating costs of the underground coal gasification are lower than in traditional mining.[4].

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underground_coal_gasification

Or as British environmentalist George Monbiot writes:

While I’m prepared to believe that oil supplies might decline in the next few years, his coal prediction is hogwash. Energy companies in the UK, as the latest ENDS report shows, are now beginning to deploy a technology that will greatly increase available reserves. Government figures suggest that underground coal gasification – injecting oxygen into coal seams and extracting the hydrogen and methane they release – can boost the UK’s land-based coal reserves 70-fold; and it opens up even more under the seabed. There are vast untapped reserves of other fossil fuels – bitumen, oil shale, methane clathrates – that energy companies will turn to if the price is right.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2010/may/10/deepwater-horizon-greens-collapse-civilisation

Like

Geoff Russel,

You’ve missed the point by taking one of the questions and arguing about whether or not it is correct.

You wouldn’t agree with it so you’d say ‘yes’ to a different question.

But clearly, a large proportion of people do agree with it.

That is the point. People are turning away from believing in catastrophic consequences. The trends are clear everywhere. Its time you and others realised you are preaching the wrong approach.

Like

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/as-eu-carbon-price-slumps-labor-offers-battler-buffer/story-fn59niix-1226083059624

Not only do we have “more than 240 regulations related to greenhouse gases and no agreed process to get rid of them”, we also have thousands (my guess) of regulations which are impediments to low-cost nuclear.

Our focus should be on identifying all the impediments to low cost nuclear and deciding how they could be removed. Doing so would improve the economy, rather then damage it.

This is where our focus should be, not on trying to impose masses more regulations and costs on Australian industry and business and therefore on our economy.

We should stop promoting the carbon pricing proposal, and focus our efforts where they can best achieve our objectives. The carbon pricing proposal is another flawed policy – another silly symbolic gesture.

Like

EN Monbiot is getting ahead of himself with underground coal gasification. Look at the problems faced by Cougar Energy
http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/coal-gas-developer-cougar-energy-sacks-20-staff-after-bore-water-contamination-scare-at-kingaroy/story-e6freon6-1225896209376
Another UCG company Linc has been using a car for promos emblazoned with the terms ‘clean diesel’. In that case ‘clean’ means low sulphur but well-to-wheels CO2 is thought to be about 1.7X that of petro diesel.

The fact export coal prices are good at the moment is consistent with China peaking in domestic coal production. The suits interpret that as a sign all is well in the Lucky Country. Since we can’t supply more than a few percent of China’s coal needs it’s on the cards that country will face bottlenecks, perhaps buying less of our other resources like iron ore. If Australia has so much coal why do we need to dig up good farmland?

Like

World Nuclear News reports:

Tepco said that it aims to examine the radiation exposure of some 3700 workers who have worked at the Fukushima Daiichi plant since 11 March. So far, medical checks have been made on 3514 workers.

These examinations showed that 124 of them had received radiation doses above 100 mSv. Of these, 107 workers had received doses between 100 and 200 mSv, while eight workers had received doses of 200 to 250 mSv. Nine workers have now been found to have received radiation doses over the government-set legal limit of 250 mSv.

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Working_conditions_improve_at_Fukushima_unit-2206114.html

I’m no radiation protection expert, but it certainly seems like TEPCO has done quite a good job of protecting the health of plant workers in light of the multiple concurrent problems and some of the high radiation readings at the plant. Adverse health effects on workers should be very limited.

Like

Further to quokka’s interesting comment, and just to provide some perspective, has anyone seen recent figures on how many people were killed in the hydro dam failures and oil fires caused by the earth quake? Also, what are the projections for latent fatalities resulting from the pollution from the fires at the oil storage facilities?

Like

@ Barry,
do you have any grant money left over? You might be able to get some WordPress web designers to integrate WordPress into some other forum software as well. It would still be wordpress, but then have all the power of phpbb (which integrates and is quite powerful software) or BBpress (the wordpress forum software) and give you some fully-loaded forum potential.

Forums would let me put certain individuals on my ‘ignore’ list so that I couldn’t accidentally read their post and become enraged. ;-)

Forums would also allow people to subscribe to whichever topics they were most interested in. EG: Sub-forums have subscription buttons so that you can get an email every time someone subscribes to the “Solar” forum or the “Politics and economy” forum, for example.

Like

Oh, finally, I meant to say that forums ALSO end the long-loading thread, even if a thread runs into thousands of pages of text. That’s because the forum normally only displays the last 10 or 15 comments. So I have seen forum threads that have lasted for YEARS and run into thousands of comments, and if someone was obsessive enough they could start at the beginning and gradually read through, and every time they clicked ‘next page’ it would only pause for a second or two as it loaded up the next 10 comments. (Or however many comments the USER decides they want to see at once).

Like

Another nice thing about forums is 1 email per visit to the thread. Instead of getting about 20 emails a day for the Open Thread alone, I’d get 1 email notifying me that there had been a reply. I click on the email, it takes me to the forum thread where I left off, and the 20 posts after the immediate reply are all THERE for me to read.

This has another benefit.

If someone has lost their temper with me — I can’t IMAGINE why! ;-) then the moderator might have a bit more of a chance to get in and edit it before I see it. It means that the posts are not all sitting in my inbox for me to obsess. It’s one more tool to help generate more civil discussions.

Like

EN, the current website, for various non-trivial reasons, is hosted via WordPress.com. To add in a forums, I would need to port to WordPress.org, and that is very unlikely. So it would have to be a separate thing, at which point it kind of loses its purpose.

Like

Is there a discussion on this site anywhere, or another site, that summarises and goes into detail about the current and future state of nuclear energy in the USA?

Like

@John Newlands

News like this suggests that there is a way to go yet for peak fossil fuels:

An Australian company says a coal field discovered in the Simpson Desert could be the biggest in the world.

Central Petroleum Limited says it recently discovered the field in the south-east of the Northern Territory, about 300 kilometres from Alice Springs.

It says the coal seam stretches across 400 kilometres.

The company has signed an agreement with Allied Resource Partners (ARP) to work towards setting up a coal production plant in the Great Artesian Basin area.

ARP says the plan is to make liquid fuel without mining, by heating the coal underground, turning it into a gas, and then turning that gas into a liquid

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/06/28/3255535.htm?section=justin

Like

quokka I think every continent has deep damp coal fields. This NT coal field sounds like it is not the Arckaringa coal field between Coober Pedy and Olympic Dam which was supposed to get UCG as well. Another idea was to load mined coal from there onto the Adelaide-Darwin railway. Great let’s use the line to send foreigners more coal as well as 100% of our uranium.

Southern NT has a hydrocarbon resource with the dwindling Mereenie gas field. I understand Darwin may get gas from the Icthys field off WA. With SA’s Cooper Basin gas field the hope seems to be that fracking will give it some more years.

With UCG-liquids the net energy must be low after removing N2, H2S, Ar and so on before the wasteful Fischer Tropsch process. Proponents make the strange claim that CO2 will be separated and buried. Down the same rock formation? If not they will have to pay around double carbon tax. I think it would be simpler to skip ambient liquid fuels for long distance road vehicles and use compressed natural gas. To do that we should export less gas (not more) and burn less in in power stations.

Like

@ Barry,
OK, I was probably getting a bit greedy as a forum ‘consumer’. But as the producer, you’ve got a system that works well enough and a bit of help from a moderator. So whatever works for now is fine.

Like

quokka, on 28 June 2011 at 1:15 PM said:

News like this suggests that there is a way to go yet for peak fossil fuels:

Peak anything is an economic argument. I will quite happily assert that the world will never run out of oil, coal or natural gas.

Coal mine productivity east of the Mississippi River in the US declined from more then 4 tons per man hour in 1999 to less then 3 tons per man hour in 2009. Not surprisingly, the bulk of the applications for new nuclear plants pending before the US NRC are in the South Eastern US.

UK Coal can’t make a profit with mine mouth steam coal prices above $80/ton…not surprisingly the UK has ambitious plans to expand nuclear power.

Coal transport costs can be substantial, making coal an economic ‘fuel of choice’ only if it can be extracted inexpensively relatively close to the point of intended use.

I.E. Steam Coal can be extracted from the ground at a profit in Wyoming for about $14/ton. It will cost closer to $80/ton by the time it is shipped to the US Eastern Seaboard. The railroads make more transporting the coal then the people extracting the coal.

The large remaining easily extractable coal fields in the world tend to be a very long way from where the worlds population lives.

Like

AnotherWorld, on 28 June 2011 at 12:45 PM said:

Is there a discussion on this site anywhere, or another site, that summarises and goes into detail about the current and future state of nuclear energy in the USA?

The US NRC maintains a new reactor licensing status site.

Click to access new-rx-licensing-app-legend.pdf

Short story..the Westinghouse AP1000 is in final stages of license approval…pending approval it is a reasonable bet at least 2 will be built (The Vogtle project is already well along with site preparation)

Like

quokka, on 28 June 2011 at 1:15 PM said:

News like this suggests that there is a way to go yet for peak fossil fuels:

Peak anything is an economic argument. I will quite happily assert that the world will never run out of oil, coal or natural gas.

Coal mine productivity east of the Mississippi River in the US declined from more then 4 tons per man hour in 1999 to less then 3 tons per man hour in 2009. Not surprisingly, the bulk of the applications for new nuclear plants pending before the US NRC are in the South Eastern US.

UK Coal can’t make a profit with mine mouth steam coal prices above $80/ton…not surprisingly the UK has ambitious plans to expand nuclear power.

Coal transport costs can be substantial, making coal an economic ‘fuel of choice’ only if it can be extracted inexpensively relatively close to the point of intended use.

I.E. Steam Coal can be extracted from the ground at a profit in Wyoming for about $14/ton. It will cost closer to $80/ton by the time it is shipped to the US Eastern Seaboard. The railroads make more transporting the coal then the people extracting the coal.

The large remaining easily extractable coal fields in the world tend to be a very long way from where the worlds population lives.

A truly excellent post Quokka. It shows that peak oil is NOT just ‘running out’ but considers the rate of extraction volumes at a certain price, and the other costs of an industry trying to bring fossil fuels to market that are increasingly further up the “tree”. We really have picked the low hanging fruit. Everything else needs a ladder and pulley system to get that fruit carefully back down where we can use it!

It brings to mind some of the oil stories Jeremy Leggett told in “Half Gone”. The increased costs of non-conventional oil and gas are not just in the super-expensive deep sea drilling platforms, but also shipping it to points of use (especially with gas which is more economically piped), and refining it if it is sludgy sulphurous crap.

Like

Gasland
http://www.sbs.com.au/documentary/program/gasland/about
http://www.sbs.com.au/films/movie/9626/GasLand-

Did anyone see the excellent “Gasland” documentary shown on SBS last night.

It had quite an impact on me (although I would agree with those who will say the extent of the problems is not clear from a compilation of circumstantial evidence in a documentary like this).

To me, the “Gasland” documentary is much more scary than the Al Gore movie, with its tsunami swamping New York, the movies of the Thames flooding and swamping London, and the film at the opening of the Copenhagen conference showing a child hanging from a branch of a tree and screaming to her parents to save her as the sea levels rose and swept he top her death.

Gasland shows the enormous areas of the USA being seriously damaged and polluted by hydro-fraccing for coal seam gas and shale oil. It lists the hundreds of carcinogenic organic chemicals being used and shows the hundreds of truck loads of these being used to frac each well. It shows gas leaks bubbling into streams. It shows contaminated water in peoples drinking water. It interviews many people who claim to have been made very sick. It shows the potential damage to the USA’s water supply and the large amount of water that could be poisoned.

This is serious. It is actual poisoning of our drinking water, and our food (the cattle drink it and then we eat them).

I see this as an urgent problem. Do we really want this to happen in Australia? Do we really want to force our politicians to pass laws that force us in this direction?

Some of my reactions to the documentary are:

1. Wow! that is a really bad problem.

2. Do we really want that to be applied to Australia’s sedimentary basins and water basins? But Hey! No problem. It’s only Queensland, NSW, Victoria, parts of South Australia and Western Australia. Water basins that do not have sedimentary rocks in them will not be affected! (are there any?) (sarcasm alert).

3. The proposed cure for cutting GHG emissions (gas) may be worse than what we are using now (coal).

4. The proposed cure (gas replace coal) will cause hydro-fraccing to obtain coal seam gas and shale gas. This will poison our water, food supply and air as well as destroy large areas of land; areas equivalent to what is required for renewable energy and far more than for coal mining (look at the views and aerial photos of the areas involved in the USA).

5. Renewables require lots of gas for back up so they will increase the problem.

6. A carbon price is intended to displace coal with gas. Therefore, the Carbon Price will poison our water, food and air and destroy large areas of land – much worse than coal mining and emissions from coal power stations.

7. Clean energy future – what a joke. Renewables require gas, lots of it for back up. Gas means destroying large areas of land and poisoning our water food and air.

8. Thinking about this documentary I am feeling we may be better off to keep using coal until the Greens and environmental NGO’s can get to understand the consequences of their proposed policy solutions.

9. Renewables means we need lots of gas for back up, so renewables are not the solution to cutting GHG emissions, (they are totally uneconomic anyway).

10. Clearly, nuclear is by far the best solution.

11. The Greens and their ilk, who tend to have narrow agendas, have led us in some very bad directions in the past. I suspect they are doing so again.

A Carbon Price will poison us

Like

Peter I agree with the argument that gas is not our salvation. The US view is here
http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2011-06-27/leaked-docs-throw-doubt-gas-prospects-jun-27

However I’m not sure that carbon tax will propel a rush to gas given future price uncertainties. Victorian gas is $7 a gigajoule ($375 a tonne) and brown coal is $6 a tonne for nearly 10 GJ or 60c/GJ. $20 carbon tax is not enough to overcome the huge price disparity.

Unlike Eclipse Now I don’t see electric cars becoming fashionable with battling outer suburb commuters. I think when petrol prices get nasty the market will demand natural gas/petrol dual fuel vehicles. Petrol is currently around $43 a GJ so transport gas substitute will easily outbid stationary users.

Then adding fracking foibles like inflammable tap water and we have
1) politically survivable carbon taxes are too low
2) gas is already expensive and will get worse
3) a likely backlash against fracking.

Therefore I’d almost be willing to bet Hazelwood will never be 100% replaced by CCGT.

Like

Found this on another forum. How *are* we going to do steel in the future?

“a complete replacement of 520 million tonnes of coke [based on 2008 requirements for steel production] (setting aside those nontrivial matters of differences in compressive strength and furnace size) would require nearly 2.1 billion tonnes of wood. Even if that wood were to come from such high-yielding species as tropical eucalypts, producing about 10 tonnes per hectare/year, today’s iron smelting would require harvesting annually an area of 210 million hectares of well-managed tropical wood plantations –- or an area equivalent to half of Brazil’s Amazon tropical rain forest.”

Click to access smil-article-20090917-iron-age.pdf

Like

John Newlands

However I’m not sure that carbon tax will propel a rush to gas given future price uncertainties.

Then why are you arguing for a carbon price? If the carbon price is not intended to force gas to replace coal, then what is it intended to do to decarbonise our economy?

Do you think that carbon price will drive energy efficiency improvements sufficent to have much effect on our carbon emisisons? If so, how much? (Qantitative please, not hand waving). What proportion of the 160 Mt/sa cutes we must achieve by 2020 to achieve the unconditional -5% target can be achieved with energy efficency in the absense of decarbonising the fuels (especially electricity generation)?

I find your arguments frustrating because you seem to give frequent projections based on your personal opinion about what you think the future will hold and continually change your mind.

From my perspective, any serious cuts in GHG emissions have to come from decarbonising the fuel sources. Energy efficency improvements will have only a small effect over a period of just 8 years.

Read this and the underlying article:
http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2011/02/reality-check.html

Like

Peter,
It seems like this is my first post to you where I’m genuinely, warmly embracing a brother! Yes, Gasland is a really alarming documentary.(Deleted inflammatory comment) You are a conundrum! I’m genuinely surprised you haven’t just snarled at this doco. Well done.

Like

John,

If you are now arguing that the proposed carbon price trajectory will not force transition from coal to gas, then how can the carbon price make Australia achieve the -5% unconditional targets?

If that is not the intention of the carbon tax then do you agree we are being grossly misled by this government?

Putting it all together, why can’t you understand that all the carbon tax will do is damage our economy while having no effect on world emissions?

I think I know your answer: “It’s a moral issue”

Well many would not agree with your morals. I certainly do not.

Like

Peter carbon pricing is both a moral issue and a form of insurance against the future. Even a measly $20 carbon tax takes us a step forward since it puts both coal and gas over the $100 per Mwh mark. NP only has to get close to that mark and un-carbon-taxed fossil fuel price rises will do the rest. Then political will has to step up to the crease.

A lot is going to happen in the next 9 years including some or all of
– German rethink
– another El Nino
– unaffordable petrol
– ridiculous electricity prices.
We won’t save 160 Mt of CO2 but the psychic and financial cost will be hard to take.

I’ll read Pielke when I get back from a waste veg oil pickup trip.

Like

John,’

I do not agree with your moral arguments. I think they are dead wrong and being used because there is no other way to argue for a carbon price (at this time).

Your morals lead to:

1. Damaged economy – with all the disadvantages that brings: unemployment, lower standard of living, less funding for Health, Education, infrastructure, (eg NBNs, cities, transport systems, etc), environment and for cutting GHG and adapting to climate change in the future.

2. more gas development meaning possible poisoning of our water supplies (this is not a joke. It is serious)

The carbon price will do nothing to cut GHG emissions or change the climate.

So your morals lead to suffering and disadvantage for no gain.

The moral argument is just plain silly. It is what the Greens and Progressives use to argue for many really bad policies – like renewable energy and ban on nuclear.

Like

@ Peter,
I’m really surprised at you going on and on about a Carbon Tax. I would have thought you preferred this solution as the market mechanism for getting off coal? Do you want governments to just march in and nationalise energy?

Raising the price of carbon IS the market mechanism. The only wrinkle here in Australia is that nukes are illegal. If we remove that barrier — and ironically a vaguely decreed carbon price might generate the discussion we have to have for Australians to adopt nukes — then the carbon price is is naturally going to lead to more nuclear power, full stop, end of discussion.

Other than governments marching in and nationalising energy (which I’m not against IF it comes down to that kind of emergency response) what other choices are there? What is the alternative? “Less safe cheaper nukes?” Yeah, that’s gonna fly in Australia right now.

**THE PRICE OF COAL IS GOING TO RISE ANYWAY**

NSW RUNS OUT of coal in 30 years if consumption grows at 3.2% annually.

Sydney Morning Herald article
http://tinyurl.com/3ye9ax

As has been said above, Underground Coal Gasification does not seem to work in all instances: 20 workers sacked when a UCG project contaminates groundwater.
http://tinyurl.com/43nv6ka

The World Coal Institute says we only have 119 years of coal left!
http://worldcoal.org/resources/co­­al-statistics/

1. This does not include the concept of PEAK coal where the first half is an increasing supply of cheap and easy coal, and the 2nd half is a DECREASING supply of ever more expensive coal.

2. University of Newcastle Australia says peak coal anywhere from now to 2048

3. Data from some countries shaky

4. Energy infrastructure takes decades to change, so we’d better start *now* before the peak hits

5. This 119 years includes the 3 most deceptive and dangerous words in resource reporting, AT CURRENT RATES, and does not include the massive power of exponential growth in consumption where 1% growth a year doubles consumption in 70 years, 2% growth doubles in 45 years, and 3% growth doubles consumption in just 23 years!

We don’t have long. The world needs a Carbon Price and need it NOW, because we have to leave fossil fuels before they leave us stranded with exponentially increasing prices in a fractured economy in the post-peak world. For the sake of our climate, our grandchildren, our energy and economic security we’ve got to get off coal NOW so that we can save some for steel manufacture in the future, save our climate, and save ourselves from coal pollution.

Like

Ha ha ha! Oh man, Monckton(deleted pejorative) thinks he’s invented a cure for HIV / AIDS, the common cold, MS, everything…..

If you’re a Denialist and you follow this idiot, watch out for your wallet. Actually, forget that, I’M going to invent a UFO detector, all you have to do is donate to ME and ….

Like

@Kobekid

The biological half life of Cesium is 70 days. I would be very wary of taking too much notice of opinion pieces in newspapers when seeking medical advice. The cure might be worse than the disease and more harm could easily be done by self prescription than doing nothing. I recall seeing Dr Robert Gale in an interview saying that such treatments were of limited value. My advice to anybody would be – seek expert advice and ignore opinion pieces.

Not to be overly cynical, but this type of article has the hallmarks of a narrative constructed to portray a government that is callous, uncaring and negligently ignore medical treatments for radiation exposure. A more balanced understanding may in fact show nothing of the sort.

Like

@quokka

thank you for your reply and very helpful information. Actually we are on the same page. I posted this with the hope of Mr. Russell possibly responding to this opinion piece. I read his BNC post on caesium and linked to it in the comments section of this op-ed. But not coming from a science background myself, I don’t feel my understanding of the issue is sufficient to competently respond. However I have learned much from this site since the earthquake/tsunami. BNC was featured on Andrew Sullivan’s blog and it has been informative. I do live in Kobe and the hysteria is palpable here, due mainly to a lack of understanding. I hope that Mr. Brook and BNC contributors will not let Fukushima and it’s aftermath slip off the radar. How about Mr. Brook appearing on NHK?

Like

Peter Lang, on 29 June 2011 at 11:19 AM said:

If you are now arguing that the proposed carbon price trajectory will not force transition from coal to gas, then how can the carbon price make Australia achieve the -5% unconditional targets?

The world aluminum industry is quite flexible.

There is enough excess aluminum smelting capacity that they can shift production to wherever the cheapest electricity rates are being offered.

According to world nuclear Aluminum smelting accounts for 9% of Australia’s electricity production.
http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf64.html

Here is an article from a Seattle TV station about Alcoa’s(Aluminum Corporation of America) production plans and idle capacity as of early 2011. They are planning to boost production in Washington State and still have substantial idle production capacity.

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/113074954.html

In 2001 our(Pacific Northwest) industrial electricity rates jumped from less then 3 cents a kwh to more then 4 cents/kwh and Alcoa shifted production to ‘elsewhere’ almost overnight.

Australia’s aluminum production is about 2 million tons/year.
In the US Pacific North West we have 640,000 tons of idle aluminum smelting capacity and our industrial electricy rates are currently about 4 cents/KWh.

I’m just speculating but it is quite plausible that 3% of your 5% expected emissions reductions as a result of a carbon tax will come from shifting 1/3rd of the Australian Aluminum Industry to the US Pacific Northwest.
.

Like

It would be disappointing if the US took advantage of Australia’s carbon tax to get extra business. Not only for aluminium smelting but other avenues like exporting coal to China. However for the globe as a whole relocating industry to low carbon areas could be a good step. I think as a form of insurance there should be carbon tariffs on goods from countries that don’t have greenhouse abatement programs.

Since a kg of aluminium requires 15 kwh of electricity the carbon tax or tariff could be say 15 X 2c = 30c on top of about $2.50 per kg of aluminium slab. If electricity is only 4c per kwh another other 2c from carbon tax (assuming pulverised black coal) is quite significant. Perhaps one day South Australia’s practice of refundable deposits on soft drink cans will become more widespread to increase the recycling fraction.

Other countries exploiting Australia’s carbon tax create the potential for some friction. In the case of exports of coal to China it could get down to situations like
USA – no help in fighting foreign wars
Indonesia – aid cutbacks like English language schools..

Like

Leave a Reply to John Newlands Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s