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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”

Matt b, If AGW was codswallop there’s plenty of arguments to just keep on burning our abundant coal supplies etc. Well, I reckon there’s one very big reason to stop burning the stuff for electricity production whether or not climate change, global warming ,AGW are real or not. The confounded stuff has killed millions since the Industrial Revolution and still does .24,000 Americans choke to death on the other toxic muck [not CO2] spewed out every year. That’s a good enough reason for me to stop burning coal and to phase in nuclear, and not just in the west but in every developing country as well. National governments have to ask themselves whether or not they want a secure, emissions-free power supply. If they do, they’ve got one option, NUCLEAR. The renewables and still developing technologies have never, will never cut it. I wish we could get that through to our ignorant [they just do not know] leaders. We keep trying.

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Why do people demand governments impose a carbon tax as a way to force the phase out of coal? They are after all governments and as Germany has shown can simply say you can’t build any more coal plants(or nuclear or whatever). Or set limits % wise for utility portfolio reducing them in time. The utilities will have to buy power from other sources. This will increase the demand for those sources thus the price.

The goal is to cease and desist on coal use for power plants. So, cut out all the schemes and stuff and say “your not allowed to use coal any more, find something else.”

A good fist step for any OECD country is to set the limit to current production amounts (absolute) and move downward from there.

Is this too simple of a plan?

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Terry I don’t disagree, but societies with modern coal based electricity systems are also societies with good life expectancy, and where life expectancy is lower it is often other factors (ie generally being overweight such as the USA). The risks of the things that also make our quality of life better (ie electricity) are factored in and accepted.

We all know how high some claims are for deaths resulting from Chernobyl, so I’d have to do a lot of research to take the claimed levels of deaths from coal power as particularly reliable, but I don’t disagree that they are higher (significantly) than coal. But society is never going to fear coal power enough to seek nuclear, assuming that coal is available and abundant. They may well choose nuclear for other reasons but it is more likely to be cost based.

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The renewables and still developing technologies have never, will never cut it.

You know, statements like that annoy me.

I’m not going to try to argue with you that renewables cannot currently cut it – they can’t, and nuclear is our only current real option. (for anything approaching an affordable price, anyway!)

But to categorically state that renewables and other technologies will never cut it? That’s a big call. I’m sure the same was said of many revolutionary technologies back in the day. Take computers for example – that classic quote about there being a worldwide market for maybe 5 computers. Yeah, sure, the type of computer was completely different (valves vs microscopic transistors), but I have three computers sitting on my desk right now (this PC, my mobile, and a VoIP phone).

Before someone leaps in saying that computers are nothing like solar panels, or wind turbines, or whatever – I know that. You’re missing the point, though. I’ll tell you what I think.

I think that human greenhouse emissions are causing one doozy of a problem.

I think that the calls for a complete ban on burning coal for power are right.

I think that nuclear is currently our best option for a rapid conversion to low-CO2 energy, particularly with a transition to IFRs, LFTRs, and other promising options. Mainly because I think the CO2 problem is so serious, and so urgent, that it completely overwhelms legitimate safety concerns about modern reactors (note I said ‘legitimate’ – plenty of anti-nuke crackpots out there).

I also think that we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, and that we should keep researching & developing other alternative energy sources. We might find a breakthrough that means renewables *can* cut it, and significantly cheaper than nuclear. Unlikely, sure, but how likely was the development of the transistor? The laser?

Worth keeping our options open, while making progress with the options we have now.

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Jason Kobos @ 2011/06/09 at 12:41 PM
What is the point of a government mandating a shutdown of nuclear power when to replace it they have to build 20 new coal fired electricity generators. This is what Germany proposes:
http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,2396828,00.html
What is the point of a government mandating that all coal-fired generators must close if there is nothing possible and ready to replace them.
Unfortunately things are more complex than that – we need a workable plan to replace all fossil fuels asap.
There is no plan – so basically the planet, as we have evolved on it, and most if not all the humans and animals who inhabit it are stuffed.

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@ Bern,
I’m with you! Great post. Nukes until… who knows what? But the point is it has to be cheaper and more reliable than nukes.

I just want to see the solar / wind / biomass AND Nullarbor seawater hydro backup idea costed. Realistically.

Cheers.

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However, this one is awesome! It shows how EV’s will help smooth the grid’s supply and demand, charging off-peak and then dumping when it is peak demand.

Yes, it’s Greenman, the nuke sceptic above, but he just produces a really good vid.

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Re Bern,on 9 June at 2.26 PM – The sun doesn’t shine 24 hours/day.The wind doesn’t blow 24/7. Just what part of that limitation on renewable energy do you not understand.

Perhaps you believe in fusion energy as part of keeping your options open as well?

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MattB @ 9 June 2011 at 11:08 AM

Maybe it is a useful anti-tax tool to use on some random on the street in Tony’s big scare campaign but give folks here a tad more credit.

You must be joking. Why should I give those who make the arguments you are making much credit at all? I put them in the boat with the “Progressives”. Your comment reveals that is your persuasion too. Your comment is obviously politically motivated, and reveals you did not get the point I was making. I’d suggest anyone accusing Tony Abbott of scaremongering and not recognising that the entire “Progressives” campaign for a carbon price is based on scaremongering by the CAGW Alarmists, is so engulfed in their political and religious ideology, that they deserve little credit.

I posted this reply to John Newlands a few days ago. I suggest it is a serious argument. It was not given serious responses by anyone. Instead the response has been name-calling (“Denialists” etc): https://bravenewclimate.com/2011/04/16/open-thread-15/#comment-129226

The substantial case is presented on this thread, including in the comments:
https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/

Unfortunately, this thread was disrupted and closed due to a series of off topic and abusive comments .(inflammatory remark deleted)
There are also a series of questions here that were posted several times and but never addressed seriously:
https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-112962

1. How high will the carbon price have to go to achieve the 2020 emissions targets (5% below 2000 emissions levels, which amounts to a cut of 160 Mt/a)?

2. What would be the effect on the economy?

3. Where will the emissions cuts come from (e.g. 12 Mt/a from replacing Hazelwood Power Stations with combined cycle gas turbines (CCGT) and wind power from the total cuts required of 160 Mt/a to achieve the 2020 target)?

4. By how much would world emissions be cut if Australia achieved the 2020 targets?

5. By how much would this change the climate?

6. Would our trajectory of emissions cuts (and other benefits to society) be better served (i.e. deeper emissions cuts attained by 2030 and beyond) by taking the policy decision to remove the impediments to low-cost nuclear now, so we can rollout nuclear earlier, faster and cheaper?

7. Should all potentially viable alternatives be analysed, in a proper option analysis, before deciding on and committing to a policy and legislation?

These are intended to be sensible, responsible questions, not intended to be rhetorical. I suggest, and I presume you would agree, it would be negligent to support carbon pricing if you cannot answer these questions quantitatively.

These questions have never been answered or even seriously addressed.

I just want to add that actually no one is claiming that reducing Australia’s emissions by 5% will have any noticeable impact on global temperatures.

So why on Earth are people arguing Australia should impose a carbon tax now (see my twoe precursors written on numerous previous comments)? Is it purely from a moral / emotional perspective? Don’t any of these people realise the consequences of damaging the economy, especially when you have admitted it is for no gain? How can people be so irrational? That absolutely baffles me. That is why I give the “Progressives” little credit. They do enormous damage with the policies they inflict on society. It seems they cannot think beyond their single interest to the broader perspective of the consequences of the policies they advocate.

MattB, your comment reveals to me that you have not listened to the message I am trying to send. The Progressives are locked in repeating their mantra to each other. But they are not trying to understand the concerns of the Conservatives. The reaction on BNC is typical. I’d argue that instead of trying to harrangue the Conservatices it would be much more valuable for the Progressives to a) understand the Conservatices’ concerns, because they are rational concerns, and b) put your efforts into trying to convert Labor, the Greens, and the ‘enviornmental NGO’s to support a rapid transition to low-cost nuclear (LCOE cheaper than coal). That will require a deep soul searching about many of the Lefties’ policies and deeply held beliefs. But it is necessary if we are going to implement economically rational policies, low-cost nuclear, and all the benefits for mankind that go with these.

I’ll leave you and the other “Progressives” to ponder the wisdom of my points. Enjoy :)

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quokka, on 9 June 2011 at 11:00 AM said:

This kind of stuff is just a political rant.

Quokka, most of the CAGW debate is political rant. Most of what is posted by the “Progressives is a political rant. You don’t see it because you agree with what the “Progressives” believe. I am attempting to expose the concerns the Conservatives have with the Progressives policy prescriptions. But the “Progressives” fight back, not listening, and instead posting ever more of their links to the Progressives’ political rants. The problem is that you do not read, nor understand the rational polices. It’s as if you just don’t want to know. When exposed to rational arguments the chant comes back from the Progressives “Oh, just ignore him, he’s just a ‘Denier’. You do it too.

As I said above, your effort would be better expended trying to change the policies of Labor, the Greens and the environmental NGO’s than in attacking the Conservatives – who, by the way, are justifiably concerned about the Progressives’ policy prescriptions.

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Quokka said:

This kind of stuff is just a political rant.

Here is an example of a typical argument from a Progressive about what should be done with “Deniers”:

Surely it’s time for climate-change deniers to have their opinions forcibly tattooed on their bodies.

Not necessarily on the forehead; I’m a reasonable man. Just something along their arm or across their chest so their grandchildren could say, ”Really? You were one of the ones who tried to stop the world doing something? And why exactly was that, granddad?”

http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/the-dangers-of-boneheaded-beliefs-20110602-1fijg.html#ixzz1OQ1Upj12

Sound’s familiar. Isn’t that rather like what the Nazis did, before taking the next step?

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Podargus, there *are* options available for storage of solar & wind energy that *will* allow it to provide baseload power.

At the moment, they are prohibitively expensive on a per-kW basis, compared to nuclear (especially when you consider the required overbuild in nameplate capacity).

That doesn’t mean they do not exist.

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MattB,

I’m still thinking about your comment:

Maybe it is a useful anti-tax tool to use on some random on the street in Tony’s big scare campaign but give folks here a tad more credit.

I wonder just how much credit you (and the other Progressives) give to those who do not agree with your beliefs and policy prescriptions?

Judging by by the tone of many of the comments on this thread, I’d say not much.

It shouldn’t be hard to join the dots and see why Conservatives react the way they do to the Progressives’ continual name calling, irrational policy prescriptions, and demands for legislation to force their beliefs on everyone else.

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Sorry I annoyed you Bern. Will concede that one day the renewables might cut it. But if nations want a secure emissions-free energy supply then everyone will need to get stuck into a massive worldwide nuclear build because it is the only option if we want to make adequate emissions reductions within the time we would appear to have.That’s some ask I know but it doesn’t hurt to have a bit of vision in this matter. Sadly, government and opposition visions extend only to the next election instead of the next generation. When I speak to the SA Liberal politicians I’ll be challenging them to stop using the nuclear issue to wedge the ALP, to declare for nuclear and offer to work with Labor in a spirit of bipartisanship and together do something good for the country. There are already nuclear supporters on both sides and my local member is well aware of that. I just hope he can pull off a meeting with his parliamentary colleagues. On Australia going nuclear score, could I draw everyone’s attention to a report handed down in Feb 2010, “Australia and the nuclear fuel cycle” by former head ANSTO, Keith Alder and John Reynolds ,executive director of the Victorian Chamber of Mines” in which they concluded, ” Nuclear offers immediately, electricity supply that is reliable and continuous, cleaner and safer than others, generally competitive and alleviates CO2 emissions. With advances in fast neutron reactor technology and the capability to “breed” fuel, it should become the world’s major energy source for a long period. Australia should now position itself to benefit to a much greater degree from its massive uranium resources through active participation in the rapidly expanding nuclear fuel cycle industry. We should not forego the opportunities it offers and simply remain a supplier of the basic raw material for this very important global industry” HEAR HEAR did I hear you say??

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Peter Lang
Progressives (thanks for the label – like that one) may indulge in a little satire as with your quote re tattooing CC deniers but surely threatening to kill/injure/maim scientists for their research, when it doesn’t accord with Conservatives/Denialist opinions, is far more sinister and dangerous.
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/australian-national-university-scientists-moved-to-safe-location-after-threats/story-e6frg6nf-1226069184389

I know Barry has received these threats too.

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Peter Lang: Godwin’s Law – you lose! :-P

But seriously, if you can’t tell the difference between an expression of frustration and a real plan to ‘brand’ climate deniers, you really shouldn’t be debating people on the internet…

Could be worse. Could be people hacking into deniers’ email accounts, lifting incriminating phrases out-of-context (Interesting thing about that – Sarah Palin’s email account was hacked, the FBI found the perpetrator within days, followed by arrest & charges for illegal hacking. Climate scientists accounts hacked, and 18 months later they still have no idea who did it…) Could be people leaving dead animals on the doorsteps of prominent deniers. Could be death threats over the phone. Could be prominent media personalities publishing the names & addresses of deniers, alongside comments that they should be taught a lesson.
Could be prominent politicians calling for fraud investigations into deniers’ activities. Could be people bombarding deniers with hundreds of FOI applications for data that’s been in the public record for years.

Could be people accusing them of being in a worldwide conspiracy, with thousands of members, colluding with governments & left-leaning politicians to ‘rig’ easily verified data, without a single shred of evidence being put forward to support that conspiracy theory, other than “we don’t like what you’re telling us, so you *must* be lying!”

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Peter Lang said:

It shouldn’t be hard to join the dots and see why Conservatives react the way they do to the Progressives’ continual name calling, irrational policy prescriptions, and demands for legislation to force their beliefs on everyone else.

I suggest you re-read your own comments – talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Surely government policy is predicated on the understanding that you are producing legislation which is approved by the majority. As things stand in Australia at the moment the majority elected what has effectively turned out to be a Labor/Greens/Independents coalition. That’s democracy – live with it!

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Terry Krieg: Hear! Hear! :-D

Seriously, good luck talking to the politicians about it. I think you’ll have your work cut out for you there, trying to get them to cooperate with their opponents on anything. But if there was ever an issue that truly did need a bipartisan approach, then this is it!

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@ Ms Perps,

///Peter Lang
Progressives (thanks for the label – Ilike that one) may indulge in a little satire as with your quote re tattooing CC deniers but surely threatening to kill/injure/maim scientists for their research, when it doesn’t accord with Conservatives/Denialist opinions, is far more sinister and dangerous.
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/australian-national-university-scientists-moved-to-safe-location-after-threats/story-e6frg6nf-1226069184389///

Aint that the truth!

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MODERATOR
I posted the link as well as embedding the video, as it was my first attempt at embedding and I wasn’t sure it would work. You can delete the link if you wish.
MODERATOR
I left the link as it shows that it did come via Climate Crock of the Week.

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@ Peter,
Look at this graph.

As a percentage of GPD, Australia’s tax rate is down with Switzerland, Ireland and the USA.

Above us are Canada, the UK, Norway, Finland and right at the top is Sweden at about 50% of GDP!

We are way down at 30%. What has you foa(deleted imflammatory remark([worried] about a little carbon tax? It’s just a price on energy that will make coal less attractive. Families will be reimbursed. Big deal. You act as if we are about to move into a fully Socialized economy.

(deleted attribution of a person’s motives)

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@ Ms Perps,
thanks… I’ll have to look into how he addresses that. Otherwise I think Peter could learn a thing or 2 if he bothered to look through all Greenman’s videos. They might challenge some darling belief’s of Peter’s, but the truth ultimately sets us free. ;-)

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Hey Peter I’m not trying to have a go, I was at this thread late and basically asked you to clarify your position as I was not sure I’d got it straight. Personally I consider I engage as constructively with sceptics as possible and I have no problems with someone who doesn;t agree with my personal position.

You quoted this comment of mine “I just want to add that actually no one is claiming that reducing Australia’s emissions by 5% will have any noticeable impact on global temperatures.”

and replied “So why on Earth are people arguing Australia should impose a carbon tax now”

But the paragraphs afer my quote gave my answer already in that:
“The 5% is a strategy to prime our economy for potentially greater emissions cuts at a time when the whole world is acting. It would be fairly reckless to lock our economy in to a carbon-intensive scenario IMO when it is pretty clear that such an international agreement is at least a possibility.”

I’m even pretty open that while I support the tax (as the political alternative is denial) I do have concerns that it is something that would be better coming after (or with) steps to decarbonise in terms of large scale and planned transition from coal to nuclear power.

But one of my pooints was, and you may car to discuss, that in Australia nuclear is dead in the water if there is no such thing as AGW. There may well be demand for our exports but coal ain’t going nowhere if AGW is not real.

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Have just been reading the following paper: “Environmental and economic effects of the Copenhagen pledges and more ambitious emission reduction targets”, by Petersen et al, in Energy Policy 39 (2011) 3697–3708
( http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030142151100276X )

It states that Annex I countries (of which Australia is one, I believe) will experience a reduction in 2020 GDP of 0.13%, if they adopt a blanket CO2 reduction target of 30% w.r.t. 1990 levels, when compared to BAU 2020 GDP. The figure increases to 0.48% when you look at all countries.

If we assume that Australia would experience a 0.5% reduction in GDP compared to BAU, by adopting a 30% cut in emissions, then, using Productivity Commission projections for GDP, that would mean Australia would go from a GDP of $971B in 2011, to $1,204B in 2020. That compares with a BAU figure of $1,210B in 2020. So the net ‘cost’ in GDP would be a mere $6B, to cut CO2 emissions by 30%. And even that figure represents a growth of 24.0% over 2011 GDP, or 2.42% per year. Compared to 24.6% in the BAU case, or 2.47% per year.

Now, Australia’s ‘drop’ in GDP growth might be much larger, due to the reliance on coal mining for both domestic use & exports. I’m sure I saw a number somewhere (perhaps in Garnaut’s recent publications?) of 0.1% per year, which is twice the 0.05% difference above. That would put 2020 GDP at $1,199B, or only 23.5% higher than in 2011.

Maybe it’s just me, but that looks affordable, if it means preserving a climate that we can live with. “Only” 2.37% growth per year, instead of 2.47%.

Thoughts? Comments?
(Yes, I know that this kind of work relies on a lot of assumptions, which may differ substantially from one economist to the next)

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@Peter Lang

Quokka, most of the CAGW debate is political rant.

No it isn’t. You spend too much time reading The Australian.

There is the science and then there is the political rant. Every national academy, scientific society or professional scientific association of international standing that has issued a public position affirms the basic reality of the science. Never in the history of science has anything come under such intense scrutiny.

If one is not equipped to attempt to understand the science, or one is not prepared to put in the effort, there is only one honest response – and that is to accept the scientific opinion. There is no essential difference here to accepting expert medical opinion on matters that once does not understand.

Rejecting that huge body of expert opinion of world science can only be based on crackpot conspiracy theories. And this is the logical dead end in which deniers find themselves.

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Also Peter if no one listened to conservatives and the loony left progressives ran the roost then the target would be zero emissions by 2020 and total conversion to solar power and wind. I think you fail to see just how middle of the road a 5% target is… it is a sensible 1st step, as they say it is like driving a bit slower in poor visibility conditions, or taking out insurance. It is not going to cripple the economy.

Unless of course you think AGW is codswallop – then of course why would we make any cuts whether alone or as part of a global treaty. I get that but I am confident it is not codswallop… at which stage we move to solutions… and a tax/ets is a sound solution, as is nuclear power (the latter making the former much more sensible and lower cost but I think maybe it is just a necessary step and sooner or later people will realise what afolly it is to try and do it without nuclear).

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Hi MattB,

Thank you for further comment. You said:

“I just want to add that actually no one is claiming that reducing Australia’s emissions by 5% will have any noticeable impact on global temperatures.”

and I replied “So why on Earth are people arguing Australia should impose a carbon tax now”

But the paragraphs afer my quote gave my answer already in that:

I did see your whole comment, but my answer was presuming you had seen the comments I had made previously on this thread: https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/ and this comment at the end of “Open Thread 15”: https://bravenewclimate.com/2011/04/16/open-thread-15/#comment-129226

“The 5% is a strategy to prime our economy for potentially greater emissions cuts at a time when the whole world is acting.

I disagree. The cost of the 5% emissions cuts, before the main emitters have reached an international agreement and while we are still opposed to the most important technology (nuclear) for cutting emissions at least cost is, in my opinion, reckless and grossly irresponsible. The costs are enormous, and few Progressives seem prepared to even discuss it. It seems to me they want to ignore the cost consequences and just hope it will be solved somehow. Why else would everyone duck, weave and avoid the substantial questions about the economic consequences each time I bring it up? I’d argue we don’t need to commit suicide, economically, now. What we need to do is implement the policies I’ve laid out in the links above.

It would be fairly reckless to lock our economy in to a carbon-intensive scenario IMO when it is pretty clear that such an international agreement is at least a possibility.”

I disagree. I do not believe the carbon price is the correct way forward at this time. I believe it is avoidance. It is avoidance of tackling what we need to tackle. I’ve laid out what I believe is the correct way forward (see links above). I certainly cannot condone applying a carbon price while we maintain our opposition to low-cost nuclear.

I’m even pretty open that while I support the tax (as the political alternative is denial)

I disagree. My retort to the “Denial” bit is that it is the progressives who are in denial. Denial about the economic consequences of their proposed policies.

I have laid out a plan for cutting emissions that is economically rational. It will not achieve the 2020 targets, but neither will the carbon price unless it is high enough to forces a deep and sustained recession. That will not be politically sustainable, so the whole carbon price argument boils down to politics – to save the Prime Minister’s political neck. I am convinced the approach I suggest (see links above) will achieve far deeper cuts sooner than the carbon price. Had we not denied nuclear for 50 years our emissions would be far lower now. Had the developed world not slowed progress on development of nuclear for 50 years, world emissions would be 10% t 20% lower now. We need to bite the bullet. The Progressives need to spend their energy trying to convert their mates, rather that abusing the Conservatives.

But one of my points was, and you may car to discuss, that in Australia nuclear is dead in the water if there is no such thing as AGW. There may well be demand for our exports but coal ain’t going nowhere if AGW is not real.

I don’t agree. The Progressives want to cut GHG emissions no matter what the cost. The Conservatives want to cut emissions but do not want to wreck the economy in doing so. The Conservatives also see a much bigger picture. It is world emissions, not just Australia’s emissions, that have to be cut. We are a small player. We have to participate in what the world does. We cannot lead. It is naive to think we can lead the world. We can best help the world to cut emissions by implementing low-emissions electricity cheaper than coal so that we can pass the expertise on to developing countries. (Furthermore, it is all externalities that should be considered in a properly balanced way, not just picking the Progressives’ issue of the decade).

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Quokka,

No it isn’t. You spend too much time reading The Australian.

What a silly comment.

And the Progressives spend too much time reading, listening to, and quoting the Progressive media outlets – e.g. ABC, BBC, Fairfax press, Get up!, Crickey, the Drum, and a host of Alarmist web sites.

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Peter: “The cost of the 5% emissions cuts, before the main emitters have reached an international agreement and while we are still opposed to the most important technology (nuclear) for cutting emissions at least cost is, in my opinion, reckless and grossly irresponsible. The costs are enormous, and few Progressives seem prepared to even discuss it.”

to be honest there is enough debate about this in the general political arena and media that I’m not interested in debating this here other than to say that I stuggle to believe that the Australian treasury and productivity commission have been so duped as to miss the fact that this is reckless and grossly irresponsible, with enormous costs. Nor do I see that it is not being discussed. I certainly don’t support any grossly irresponsible policies and would appreciate you linking to the material that leads you to this conclusion so I can consider them alongside Garnaut, Productivity Commission and Treasury, and general economic theory re: low cost abatement via pricing.

That said I don’t disagree with your post in Open Thread 15, but maybe this tax is the step towards public realisation that the way to avoid costs is nuclear power.

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@ Bern,
don’t worry about our coal exports.
A/ It will run out one day anyway, so we may as well prepare our economy now.
B/ Educating overseas students brings in 3 times what our coal export does. We should boost our education services to replace coal.

So I totally agree with you Bern when you say:
////Maybe it’s just me, but that looks affordable, if it means preserving a climate that we can live with. “Only” 2.37% growth per year, instead of 2.47%/////

Here are TODAY’S 2 great reasons for a CarbonTax.

1. Tony Abbott said the immortal words on the ABC News this evening.
“The problem with a Carbon Tax is that it will kill the coal industry!” Hang on a minute Mr Abbott, haven’t you been claiming it won’t do a thing about emissions? Now we hear the PROBLEM is that it will be too effective! Hooray! I want one NOW!

Ha ha, I never thought Tony Abbott would come up with the BEST reason for a Carbon Tax.

2. Much of the world already has some form of price on carbon.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/06/09/3239817.htm

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@ Quokka,

////If one is not equipped to attempt to understand the science, or one is not prepared to put in the effort, there is only one honest response – and that is to accept the scientific opinion. There is no essential difference here to accepting expert medical opinion on matters that once does not understand.

Rejecting that huge body of expert opinion of world science can only be based on crackpot conspiracy theories. And this is the logical dead end in which deniers find themselves.////
So true so true!

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//// host of Alarmist web sites.////
Um, Peter, just think for a moment who’s website you are scribbling comments on? Do you know how inflammatory you’re being? *All* the time?

You also haven’t answered my questions. Why are you SO terrified of Australia crashing into a Greater Depression when other countries already have much higher tax brackets?

And Peter,
what do you make of TODAY’S 2 great reasons for a CarbonTax.

1. Tony Abbott said the immortal words on the ABC News this evening.
“The problem with a Carbon Tax is that it will kill the coal industry!” Hang on a minute Mr Abbott, haven’t you been claiming it won’t do a thing about emissions? Now we hear the PROBLEM is that it will be too effective! Hooray! I want one NOW!

Ha ha, I never thought Tony Abbott would come up with the BEST reason for a Carbon Tax.

2. Much of the world already has some form of price on carbon.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/06/09/3239817.htm

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You said it Peter,

////Try answering the questions I’ve posted and stop the avoidance.////

Oh, I forgot, only you get to play Yoda while we all have to be Luke Skywalker, sitting at your feet in awed silence while YOU lay out the rules.

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I’m unsubscribing. PL’s as revolting as ever. I’m out of here. Take it easy everyone else.(deleted personal comment about another)
MODERATOR
Remember this is an Open Thread, specifically to allow dissenting opinions to be aired without disrupting or diverting the discussion on threads with a specific subject, and not as closely moderated as the other threads. Inflammatory comments/incivility directed specifically towards an individual are still deleted but general attacks on groups etc are not. We value your input and hope you will return on a thread with a definitive topic.

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MattB,

I’ve linked the material consistently. You sday you are not interested in the most imporatant policy decision we are about to make. So there is no point in me linking it again. I’ll continue posting comments and linking as we go forward. If you want to catch up, I’d suggest you read the comments on the “Alternative to Carbon Pricing” thread.

Just to remind you, The treasury analysis is not for the case where Australia achieves the 2020 targets. So, what the Treasurer has annolunced so far is grossly misleading.

Furthermore, we will have to be dilligent at looking at what assumptions the Treasury uses for it’s analyses. For the CPRS they assumed the world would agree to an economically efficent ETS. What a grossly optimistic assumption that proved to be.

This might provide some perspective:
http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2011/02/reality-check.html

Click to access 2010.36.pdf

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links are appreciated Peter – I’m interested but I’m just not interested in getting in an economic debate. I agree with your preferred solution, we just disagree with the current proposal. I’m entirely comfortable with a price on emissions and think it is perfectly mainstream economics. I agree (if I’ve got you right) that given the state of our energy infrastructure a tax/ets is a strange thing to apply when there are simple yes significant decisions to be made on baseload power… ie you don;t need a price signal to shift from coal to nuclear. I tend to think that an ets/tax now, however, will accelerate the realisation that nuclear is something that is so bloody obvious and doable (ie people will soon be looking for a power source that avoids the cost of carbon).

I just don’t see the demons that you do, sorry.

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livinginabox

Thanks for those links – exactly what I was seeking.

(BTW I didn’t say that I had read Carter’s book)

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@Mrs. Peps. The point to shut down coal plants is to shut them down. Weather or not the prices of the replacements are favorable, or if there are any replacement plants under construction is not the point. When you know that coal plants will be shut down, then replacements will be found. The problem with a carbon tax is it still allows a country to run 75% coal, but pay a whole lot more for it. When you simply ban coal power plants the only options are to run out of electricity or to build something else. You also have to be realistic. I’m not advocating shutting down 50% of the coal plants next year. But the governments of the world need to control coal power the same way they do many other aspects of or lives, with laws, permits and limits. They don’t need to go scheming around with taxes so they can funnel the money out of the energy sector into what ever else they want to waste our money on.

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Eclipse, it’s exactly this kind of dialogue that is unique to BNC and what is required. You can’t always talk, debate and argue with those that agree with you or you won’t get anywhere (It’s called “dialectics” and Peter is a good dialectical although he’d probably take offense at the label).

I want to address 3 issues.

1. Politics. What many of us in the U.S. have as an stated goal is to de-partisan nuclear energy from the totally a-political mud wrestling known as “American Politics”. We want the political goal posts shifted to what it was in the 1960s, where parties could fight over who were the best builders and promoters of nuclear energy. We want to remove the “I own nuclear” of the conservative Republicans and the “I hate nuclear” from our “other” conservatives, the Democrats. This is why many, well over half of the active nuclear bloggers are slightly the left of what passes for ‘center’ in the U.S.

The logic of US conservative politics is to support nuclear because “conservatives” want corporations to make profits. It’s as ‘base’ as that which means they only use free market/libertarian arguments when it suits them. See our Defense Budget if you don’t believe this. The “liberals” are all, for the most part, and all, in Congress, throughly ignorant Luddites who live in the renewable fantasy world. “Yes, Dear, Green Energy does provide More Jobs because it’s F*ING LESS EFFICIENT…!!!”

’nuff there….get the your Labor and Conservatives and even Greens (only kidding there) to BOTH support nuclear by educating the public.

2. On the interesting video above about electric cars. Unfortunately I disagree. Although I’d love ALL vehicles to be electric their illusions about the “grid” are so much fantasy. The person doesn’t really understand the ‘mouse graph’ of a day’s energy. There is no ‘wasted’ energy as “load” (what we use) is always the same as “generation”, what we produce. You can’t have a (generation) not equal b (load). Well, you ‘can’ but then you get all sorts of nasty things like high amps on your transmission lines and low voltage everywhere else and the system trips off line.

The problem in fact is that you WANT large central power stations to stay on line, especially nuclear but configured in such a way as to allow for very low loading. It does work, after all, in a lot of places or we wouldn’t have a grid. Modern Gen IV reactors will have very low minimum load floors…BTW…the mitigating factor here is NOT the reactor but the turbines.

Nuclear plants now can be built with at least some low load capability and they should be regulated to do so as part of new builds (you pay these operators to run at low load as a ‘product’ they offer in order for them not to lose money). All such services as low load capability, rapid loading up and down are all “ancillary services” under a de- or partially regulated market for energy.

Of course a thoroughly nationalized energy sector can do this by fiat and avoid all this ‘regulatory debate’ entirely…because they “could just do it!”… like the French-may-the-gods-bless-their-socialist-souls… :)

3. In Defense of Peter Lang. Folks here on the left…and I’m probably the most left as I’m a Marxist (Quick! Hide the children!). Peter is important here. Not because he’s a Libertarian, which like Marxism, is rather small component of the general popular feelings but because he’s an economist. It doesn’t matter what kind, he looks at the bottom line.

He can parse costs… Especially the CARBON TAX and it’s effects, under Australia’s (and other countries) generally capitalist system. He understands the implications economically for such actions. In this, this Marxist agrees with him, both from the developmental perspective under globalized capitalism that Australia and Amercia functions under but also on the individual effects such carbon taxes would effect, and badly at that.

This is because we both, I think, oppose “de-development” and “anti-consumerist” incentives as a way that punishes people for using energy when the use of energy is is, and never has been, the point. The biggest problem, IMO, I can’t speak for Peter on this, is the “Progressive” believe that people are the problem, that “we use too much”, etc etc. This needs to go if we are “win the masses” to the cause of the atom. More later…

David

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According to Wiki there was 335.8 GW of coal power in the U.S. in 2006. If you reduce this number by 1% per year for 100 years. That is 3.4GW per year. This is a manageable number. The economy is not going to crash if over the course of the next 5 years 17 Gw of coal is shut down and replaced by a combination of nuclear, gas, wind, solar, hydro or other tech. The biggest reason why we use coal is that it is cheaper than everything else. This does not mean that all the other options are expensive. They are more expensive than coal, but when view relative to what else people spend money on some are still relatively cheap.

The reality is if you want to eat cheap low quality food then you can. If you want better tasting higher quality food it will cost more. The same goes for electricity. If you want to use fuels that are cleaner than coal and oil you will have to pay more. Electricity has to get more expensive. Either governments have to allow the consumer to choose their power source, or they have to tell the suppliers what they can and can not use. My view is the regulation the industry will provide better results than taxation. Simply because history shows that countries where nuclear is banned, there are no nuclear plants. Countries where cigarettes are taxed into absurdity smoking is still prevalent.

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The U.S. had at one point some 10 nuclear reactor starts in one year. We can do that again…and more. We can, and this is just with LWRs as the real “transition bridge technology” to Gen IV, do better. We could within 10 years build enough component infrastructure, along with plugging into to world wide expansion of same, start 1 reactor a month. 12 reactors a year equals about 15 GWs or more a year. In 20 years at that rate we could probably shutdown all coal plants in the U.S. What a victory that would be.

Each site would be mandated to save a smaller space for various Gen IV reactors that could be build/started/deployed on the same brownfield space, saving on BOP costs and grid connections. Also, each one can function as a peaker unit as well.

I believe this is a very conservative forecast. The *only* thing holding this perspective up is politics.

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Well DW, when you say the only thing holding up a rapid nuclear build in the u.s. is politics, I would agree with you, except for your adverb “only,” as if this is a small issue.

Is the difference between France and the U.S. here “only” politics?

Where is class interest in all this? or what is the connection between class interests and “only politics”? if you’re a marxist (me too david), you should say that the ruling classes in the two countries had different interests, such that a nuclear build in one country (France) was more likely than a massive nuclear build in the other.

These different interests might connect to a far more powerful fossil fuel lobby in the U.S., different resource endownments, and thus different potentials for “energy independence.” [in many ways a bogus notion as Robert Bryce shows though it certainly motivated France].

Most green progressives in the U.S. are green capitalists (Robert Kennedy Jr., Van Jones, etc.) but they are contradictory, melding anti consumerist, conservationist rhetoric with gushing tributes to green profits and green jobs (whose multipllicity is as you noted connected to all the inefficiencies of renewables).

I don’t know why you call the French socialists. More accurately, they would be called social democrats. Nationalization and socialism are not the same thing.

BTW, I’m for nuclear energy because it’s the only energy source that is for all practical purposes renewable, clean, and reliable. And I share your distrust of “de-development,” but on the other hand, I would not equate development with exponential growth or even necessarily growth (not saying you do either necessarily).

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I was not trying to give a treastie on Marxist political economy but a simplified aspect of it. The “only” was a facetious use…it’s is of course all about politics and how each ruling class mediates the disputes among the players: finance capital, manufacturing, transportation, etc. That discussion is not for here. I don’t, for example, support, ever, either the Dems or the Repubs in elections and would prefer a labor party of some sort to develop out of the current fightback against budget cuts. But again, it’s not for here.

The so-called “Green Capitalism” is, of course, something that I don’t believe will even meet their goals let along the “green perspective” on What Is To Be Done. It’s a bogus hype for a segment of some manufacturing capital, namely Westinghouse, GE, Siemens, etc.

But my distrust of greenie capitalism perhaps strikes at a big difference we have over ‘growth’ which is quite germain to this and many other forums and goes to the heart of all these debates over energy.

Where are you located, Greg?

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David Walters, on 10 June 2011 at 1:50 AM said:

The U.S. had at one point some 10 nuclear reactor starts in one year. We can do that again

In the 1970’s and 1980’s in the US we overbuilt baseload generating capacity and utilization rates ended up being poor…nuclear utilization rates didn’t exceed 90% until the late 1990’s. Coal fired baseload utilization rates still don’t exceed 80%. The bulk of new capacity in the last 20 years has been natural gas peakers.

Without a high utilization rate nuclear is expensive.

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Re Bern,on 9 June at 4.20 PM.

You missed the point of my brief comment.I will rephrase it.

Many (but not all) things are possible.A considerably lesser number are probable.
While energy storage on the scale required for base load renewables is possible the technology for this to be built on an economical,let alone an environmentally friendly scale does not presently exist and it is highly debateable whether it ever will be.

There is an urgent requirement for a carbon free energy system to replace coal fired generation in Australia and elsewhere.Regardless of all the smoke screen arguments from various parties(some on this site) re carbon trading,carbon tax,what renewables can/can’t do etc ad nauseum this is the basic fact. Nuclear power is that energy system and it is the only proven one we presently have.

Here is a little analogy – you need to get from Brisbane to Sydney ASAP.There is a viable direct road.Would you advocate driving via Darwin,Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne as an alternative?

If you think the direct route is the way to go then cease floating dreams about the alternative.There is no time for such nonsense.

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Jason Kobos, @ 10 June 2011 at 1:41 AM

Clearly, from the preceding discussion, I agree with you that carbon pricing is the wrong approach for Australia to take at the moment.

However, I must signal my disagreement with this point you made:

If you want to use fuels that are cleaner than coal and oil you will have to pay more. Electricity has to get more expensive. Either governments have to allow the consumer to choose their power source, or they have to tell the suppliers what they can and can not use.

I suspect you are thinking of only the developed countries when you make this comment. But what we need to recognise is that 90% of the emissions growth between now and 2050 will be from the underdeveloped and developing countries. So the solution we propose must be to provide clean electricity generation for those countries. Raising the cost of electricity generation in the developed countries will not reduce world emissions. It will have the opposite effect.

Therefore, we must reduce the cost of electricity. If we want the underdeveloped and developing countries to build clean instead of FF generators, we, in the developing countries, must develop low cost clean electricity generation.

We can certainly do that. But we must throw off many of the constraints we have imposed. I’ve listed some of them in the comments linked here:
https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-111936

1. Nuclear cheaper than coal in Australia. How?
https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109491

2. Some impediments to low-cost nuclear
https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-86256

3, Subsidies that encourage fossil fuel use in Australia.

Click to access CR_2003_paper.pdf

4. Impediments to low-cost nuclear – Industrial Relations
https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-110185

5. The excessive cost due to regulatory ratcheting
http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter9.html

6. Suggested Terms of Reference for a “Productivity Commission” Investigation into the impediments to low-cost nuclear
https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109732

7. Once we legislate a carbon price we’re stuffed
https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-112726

This is what we need to tackle.

Taxing energy and carbon pricing in the western democracies is exactly the wrong policy to reduce world emissions.

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I wonder if two agencies of the federal government, the Treasury Dept. and the Productivity Commission, are at odds with each other. The PC has said (link behind a Business Spectator paywall) that renewables subsidies and quotas must cease when carbon tax is introduced. In that respect they repeat Garnaut’s recommendation. However the wind industry itself has said they need $40 carbon tax not $20 but they seem very confident RECs will stay for many more years. Someone in Canberra must have given them a discreet nod. RECs are essentially a market valuation of the 20% renewables quota.

Treasury have said renewables will go gangbusters after $20-$30 carbon tax. I’m not so sure. Assume that RECs do wind up in July 2012 and State feed-in tariffs
also phase out . If wind and solar then stop dead in their tracks somebody has got it badly wrong. Instead of heading towards renewables nirvana it could all fizzle out.

FWIW I agree with both Garnaut and the Commission; we can’t have both a carbon price and then extra help for renewables on top. If renewables end up ‘double dipping’ there should be an outcry. That will add to the other anomalies like China getting our coal and LNG without paying carbon tax the locals have to pay.

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The surest path to eternal energy provision is from Nuclear Fusion! Containment and control are the biggest problems in harnessing nuclear fusion on Earth, but why overlook the biggest fusion reactor in our vicinity, our sun, and all of the ways to provide more than adequate energy from it? I know that it is diffuse and dispersed, but having pondered the problem in the year after my heart had stopped for 10 minutes while having surgery to repair a gashed forehead while under a general anesthetic, I would like you to view my conclusions at http://www.greenmillennium.eu

I recovered the abilities to walk, speak, remember and do all that we first learn as infants by staggering, walking and jogging more than 330 miles, the 3.6 miles home from work 92 times, in that first year. Along the way, my mind was very infantile, so it both imagined and accepted many new ideas, which now form the basis of my website.

The components of our genes have always existed in different combinations and recombinations, and will continue to exist as long as our descendents have children, making sex and the roles of women far more important than they are at present! And, we must begin to design a 100% sustainable infrastructure, or better, for those components in the Years 4000, 20000 and 20000000 as the Earth will certainly continue to exist at least that long!

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss the implications of the above and the material on my website!

Mr. Kim Gyr
Director, Green Millennium, humansolutions@greenmillennium.eu

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John Newlands,

There is no way the Greens are going to back off their demand that Renewables be mandated and subsidised heavily.

Wind requires at least $120/MWh to be viable. That is about $90/MWh above the current average wholesale price. the $90/MWh has to cpoe form a mix of RECs and carbon tax.

Whatever way you try to spin it we are subsidising it aby about a factor of three.

Productivity Commission says roof top solart is costing us up to $1000/tonne CO2-e avoided.

If you cut through the political spin, the whole argument is just polain nuts. the carbon price policy is as bad as the 50 years of anti nuclear policy, 30 years of renewable energy support, mandatory renewable enegy targets, masses of other energy market distortions.

Add on top of all this the cost of monitoring and reporting emisisons. That cost would bot be required if we adopted th policy I’ve been proposing – remove the impediments to low cost nuclear.

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Living off grid is what I’d like to do. I realize its not at all practical for all situations, but I think it will become more popular as energy rates climb. I’d like to see legislation requiring large corporations to cleanly produce some percentage of their own energy, and that required percentage grow over decade-timescales until it is saturated. In the meantime, I’m supporting celebate priests and homosexuals… as the energy problem and the climate problem is in reality a population problem in disguise. (deleted pejorative)

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(Have to re-subscribe to ask this… will just ignore PL’s posts if I can).

Hi Barry,
I’m wondering what the latest on Richard Lindzen is? I can easily write off Roy Spencer as he’s also a (deleted pejorative) Creationist — and even amongst Sydney Anglican theological circles this automatically makes someone very suspect — but am wondering what Lindzen’s game is? He seems like a fairly solid character. How can he ignore the solid evidence for the Co2 forcings the way he does, and play into the old myth of ‘natural variability’ as if the IPCC didn’t even bother to think about all the other climate forcings. (Which is a laughable suggestion).

I’m just confused as to how someone of his calibre can go along with the Denialists.
MODERATOR
Please be aware that Barry is working long hours at a conference in Canada and is not able to spend much time on the blog. It may be a while before questions are answered. He arrives back in Australia on Sunday.

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Hi all,
what capital costs would be involved in a nuke that could run the whole of Australia for 10 hours? Forget the time factor then, that’s like asking what it would cost to replace baseload coal with nukes. 40 reactors wasn’t it?

This Nullarbor hydro dam thing has me going. The report says 2 billion dollars (without the 7k diameter floor being concreted… let’s add another billion if that is actually required). So let’s say $3 billion for a dam that could theoretically run Australia for 10 hours, if the guy has done his maths right. That’s cheap capital. Now we need to calculate how much it would cost to pump all that seawater up the pipes when the wind’s-a-blowing and the sun’s-a-shining.

Add in the cost of a nationwide super-grid that can shunt power quickly from SA across the continent.

Then — in case of terrorism — add another dam? What about peaking power — these dams hold a LOT of energy.

I’ve never seen these analysed without an extremely critical attitude brought to bear. I encounter the same scepticism about GenIV nukes. “Bring em to the table when you’ve got them! Until then, we’ll go with technology we KNOW works today mate — wind and solar and pumped hydro storage!”

Seriously everyone… if these seawater pumped hydro dams are THAT cheap to build and can run the whole friggin country for 10 hours, don’t the BZE teams have a viable plan again? I mean, when is the WHOLE COUNTRY likely to be without SOME renewable power? Seriously?

Storage is the key. Intermittency has always been the thing that blows renewable energy costings out, but if a truly nation-wide grid can be built linking to a few of these ENORMOUS ‘batteries’, then surely…. it’s possible? And it might not even be *that* much more expensive than nukes? Page 50 or so for the Nullarbor dam that could run Australia for 10 hours. His figures for a $2billion costing don’t include concreting the floor.

Click to access Australian_Sustainable_Energy-by_the_numbers3.pdf

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Eclipse Now, on 10 June 2011 at 12:05 PM — Glad you are back already. [Just ignore comments posted by Peter Lang; I successfully do that.]

Briefly, Richard Lindzen has gone Emeritus as the saying is these days. He is also to be ignored.

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EN given the dead money that has been thrown at geothermal and CCS I think some of the carbon tax billions could be spend on a pumped seawater trial, neither too small nor too large. Say 300 MW (as per the Hawaii proposal) for 10 hours or 3 Gwh. A 7km diameter tank would take too long to build and the doubters would be in hysterics after a few months. A smaller reservoir with higher elevation may be the trick. I think it would have to be near existing transmission which rules out the desert coast.

If the reliability was good and the average cost was acceptable (under 10c per stored kwh?) others could follow. Seawater pumped hydro has the advantages of not requiring rainy mountain geography and it could just as easily store surplus nuclear output as renewable energy.

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//Briedly, Richard Lindzen has gone emeritus as the saying is these days. He is also to be ignored.//
Sure, but to the mindset of the paranoid Denialist he adds weight to the idea that there is a ‘debate’. I’m just wondering what motivates the guy?

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////and it could just as easily store surplus nuclear output as renewable energy.////
Exactly! Or it could store wind and solar. Indeed, if these things are *that* good, could building BIG and centralised lower the cost per unit to the point where solar thermal just FORGETS about molten salt storage? Generate as much heat electricity as they can while the sun shines, and pump that seawater where it can be stored for days, weeks, months…

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MattB,

Our discussion seems to have drawn to a close. So I will provide my summary and a suggestion.

The discussion started with your comment @ 9 June 2011 at 11:08 AM:

Maybe it is a useful anti-tax tool to use on some random on the street in Tony’s big scare campaign but give folks here a tad more credit.

I replied:

You must be joking. Why should I give those who make the arguments you are making much credit at all? I put them in the boat with the “Progressives”. …

https://bravenewclimate.com/2011/06/07/open-thread-16/#comment-129472

The discussion ended with your comment:

MattB, @ 9 June 2011 at 9:11 PM:

links are appreciated Peter – I’m interested but I’m just not interested in getting in an economic debate.

I tend to think that an ets/tax now, however, will accelerate the realisation that nuclear is something that is so bloody obvious and doable

I just don’t see the demons that you do, sorry.

My response to this is that you have a belief and are not prepared to test it.

It reveals you do not want to consider in depth the very important policy decision Australia is about to make. You just want to believe what the Progressives believe. So your belief is based on your ideological alignment.

The fact that most of the BNC contributors did not get involved in debating the most important policy issue of the moment, either this time or in the previous times it has been raised, suggests to me that they, like you, would prefer to run on belief than on the basis of rational decision making.

This suggests that much of the “Progressives” agenda is based on belief.

This is the reason why, from my perspective, the Progressives have little credibility. They have done enormous damage to society by forcing their opinions and policy prescriptions on society. The 50 years of anti-nuke and 30 years of pro-renewables policy prescriptions are two obvious examples and there are many others. This is why I am very cautious about Progressives’ policy prescriptions. I give little credibility to most of the “Progressives” beliefs.

Sorry, but that is how I see it. This courteous discussion with you has reinforced for me that the Progressives have little credibility – they simply run on their beliefs. It was further reinforced in the previous discussion with John Newlands (towards the end of Open Thread 15), which also was courteous. In that discussion, John Newlands ended up by admitting, in effect, he had no rational argument for his support for Carbon Pricing; he resorted to a moral argument.

Suggestion to Progressives: get rational. Be prepared to listen and take note of what the Conservatives are saying. Try to understand why they are cautious and not persuaded by much of what you believe. (inflammatory remark deleted) I’ll leave it at that unless there is anything substantial added to the discussion.

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Re current electricity pricing – a quick look at the AEMO site reveals annual averages for many states are often above $50/MWh, with SA having a particularly bad year in 98-99 with $156/MWh, but hitting $73/MWh in 07/08. No wonder that they’re so keen on wind in SA, combine the RECs with a wholesale price of $70+ and wind is better than break even… (and that’s the annual average, mind you – there would have been periods when it was significantly higher, although I’d almost be willing to put money on that being the periods when the wind wasn’t blowing and they had a shortage of capacity as a result! :-)

Podargus: no, I’m not ignoring your point. I know that nuclear represents the best current path. I’m just saying you shouldn’t ignore the possibility that a *better* path does exist, we just haven’t found it yet. If you do, you’re in “why would anyone want to replace sail?” territory.

Note that I’m not saying that we should avoid building nukes because a better option will come along. I’m saying we should build nukes now to reduce GHG emissions, while keeping an eye out for other options that might get the job done as effectively, without the potential downside of nuclear (though the risk is small, it nevertheless is a real risk).

I’m also in complete agreement with this comment by Peter Lang:

If we want the underdeveloped and developing countries to build clean instead of FF generators, we, in the developing countries, must develop low cost clean electricity generation.

If the only option developing nations can afford is coal, that’s what they’ll use, no matter the environmental cost. After all, that’s what the developed nations are still using, despite being able to afford better.

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This is verifiable objective data that must be engaged in the Carbon Tax conversation.
http://tinyurl.com/3qkzbx8

Countries with much higher tax regimes than ours have thriving economies that are competent, prosperous, competitive, and trading with the world. Why aren’t they all in Recession, or Depression, or Mad Max as some Conservatives seem to fear?

Australia’s taxation per unit GDP is already amongst the lowest in the developed world.

I can only conclude that a refusal to deal with this data indicates someone is running a Conservative belief system that automatically filters out inconvenient truths. This kind of blinding belief has propelled the Denialist movement into mainstream politics, delayed action on climate change and set back our independence from oil, gas, and coal. It’s a ‘piss-ant’ anti-action policy that just can’t engage with real world data, either from the climate or the economy, and ultimately I pity people who hold this small mindset.

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My guess is that there will be a few years after the Carbon Tax is introduced in which the government liberally hands out the income tax rebates to families and people laugh at all the old Carbon Tax fear-mongering.

Then peak oil will hit and who knows WHAT that will mean for fuel taxation policies? We’ll be into *rationing* then.

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Peter – yes I have a belief. Just like you, I believe what I think is backed up by credible science and economics. My unwillingness to get in to an economic debate is not that I’m not prepared to challenge my beliefs, and believe something else if I see warranted. I’m simply not an economist and would take too long to see your post, follow sources, review them, and post a reply. But I will do it if the argument is well made and referenced. Regardless economics is not a science in that there are genuine truths to be discovered, and I tend to think that whatever your ideology there is an economic model that suits the ideology and actually works (rather than science where there is a scienitific argument that suits all ideologies but only one can be correct, although both can be wrong).

I have yet to see any what I would consider to be credible or persuasive economic argument that a carbon price will demolish the Australian economy. Where is it?

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Hi Bern:
////If we want the underdeveloped and developing countries to build clean instead of FF generators, we, in the developing countries, must develop low cost clean electricity generation.

If the only option developing nations can afford is coal, that’s what they’ll use, no matter the environmental cost. After all, that’s what the developed nations are still using, despite being able to afford better.////

Please watch this 4 minute TED video.

The Open Source Hardware movement will soon have a plan for a do-it-yourself 50kw wind turbine. Intermittent electricity is better than NO electricity to the African villager, especially if it lets your kids study at night or wife cook around dinner time.

Can you imagine nuclear power plants in the D.I.Y. Open Source movement? I didn’t think so. Sure this movement is about empowering the *local village*, not a whole developing economy. But with free plans for home made tractors and drill presses and water tanks and water purifiers and the 50 top inventions that allow a comfortable modern life, what if this takes off? What if some enterprising company comes out with even cheaper mass produced versions of the ‘Lego’ like modular components that make all these tools? It could prove unbelievably attractive, cutting out all the marketing middle-men and built in obsolescence and the price of a shiny logo on your tractor. And it will all be powered by small scale wind turbines and solar built at the local level from scrap metals (and probably cast off silicon! I’m REALLY going to be interested in where they got that silicon from!)

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Pumped seawater storage now,eh? No wonder Jesus wept.

I happen to live within a few kilometres of a major pumped storage power station which uses Wivenhoe Dam on the Brisbane River as the lower storage.The pumped storage reservoir is about 100 metres above the twin unit power station on the shore of the lake.Each unit has an approximately 3 metre diameter tunnel leading to the inlet in the pumped storage.

The pumped storage reservoir was a major engineering task with a long rock fill dam on the principal original watercourse and several smaller rock fills on saddles.Because of the terrain this storage has minimal surface area relative to capacity.There are not many sites in Australia with these advantages.

Folks,these structures cost a lot to build.They invariably have a large footprint like all dams.The Wivenhoe power station has the advantage of being within 50 km of of the market (Brisbane) and is close to HVAC transmission lines from the Tarong coal burner to the North West.

Where,in your wildest dreams,are you going to build a facility as efficient as this for storage of renewable energy? As for storage of nuclear excess capacity,why bother? I get the impression that modern nuclear plants of even Gen 2 vintage can load follow to some extent. Gen 3 & 4 are presumably much better at this.

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Peter if I can sneak in to the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) Conference in Perth later this month I will be able to hear why the tax will bankrupt Australia from the world’s foremost economic thinker the good Lord Monckton of Brenchley! 9am on the Thursday for 1.5 unadulterated hours!
http://amec.org.au/events/convention/convention-industry-forum

I see on other sites the title will be:

“A Carbon Tax will

BANKRUPT AUSTRALIA

THE SCIENCE DOES NOT JUSTIFY IT”

I can;’t wait:)

I mean seriosuly surely if there is a real economic problem then there are more reliable people than Chris to trot out on the stage?

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Podagarus,

////Where,in your wildest dreams,are you going to build a facility as efficient as this for storage of renewable energy?////
I never said ‘efficient’, I said possible! It’s about as efficient as sticking hundreds of km’s of solar mirror’s up to collect diffuse solar energy! But it’s possible. The renewable energy fans like Beyond Zero Emissions are costing HVDC lines across the country to connect wind and solar to their hypothetical super-grid. Overbuilds come with the territory, so ‘efficient’ is not the word that comes to mind!

So I agree up front that it will cost more than a simple plug&play nuclear grid.

But how much more? So many of Peter Lang’s articles include ridiculous levels of overbuild precisely because he doesn’t ‘believe in’ storage capacity. But here it is, all the storage capacity we need! The whole NATION for 10 hours at — let’s round it up — $3 billion! If in doubt, add another one somewhere else! That’s 20 hours for the whole country at $6 billion!

There’s AMPLE room across the Nullarbor for as many of these 7k diameter suckers as we want. And we’ve got more engineering experience running hydro than we have GenIV nukes, so please don’t tell me we’ve never done this sort of thing before.

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Found a nice aerial photo plus some details of that Okinawa pumped-seawater storage here (one of the links from the Wikipedia page): http://www.hitachi.com/rev/1998/revoct98/r4_108.pdf.

Using their numbers, plus the total storage volume from the wikipedia article, I get the following:
7.76 hrs to fill, total power used 246.6 MWh
6.03 hrs electricity supply @ 30MW, total supply 189.2 MWh.

That suggests 77% ‘storage efficiency’ – i.e. the system losses are 23%. That a pretty high loss, but the capacity is pretty huge, and only limited by the size of your reservoir & the number of pumps / turbines.

Actually, just looked up the data for the Splityard Creek unit that Podargus referred to above.

It’s 500MW, 10 hour generation capacity, so 5 GWh of storage. Not bad at all!
Takes 14 hours to fill, so we’ll assume it has a nominal 71% efficiency.
Found some more info here[pdf]. That flyer states a maximum output of 625MW, cost $1.2billion, though it’s not clear if that was in 2008 dollars (date of the flyer) or 1984 dollars (date of commissioning).

As I understand it, it’s used for load-levelling, primarily to allow Tarong & Swanbank Power Stations to run at close to constant output, with the pumped hydro picking up a large chunk of the demand peak.

If the concept is economical to use for load-levelling for uber-cheap coal power, why is it not even possible it can be used for reserve storage for wind & solar?

Again: possible, not necessarily optimal or economical.

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While most countries claim to support huge carbon caps, in practice they have resisted implementing them. The reason is simple: fossil fuels provide nearly 90% of the energy we use–the cheap, abundant fuel that powers modern farming, manufacturing, construction, transportation, and hospitals. The use of fossil fuels is directly correlated to quality and quantity of life, particularly through the generation of electricity ; in the past two decades, hundreds of millions of people have risen out of poverty because energy production has tripled in India and quadrupled in China, almost exclusively from carbon-based fuels. To drastically restrict carbon-based fuels, countries have conceded in practice, would be an economic disaster.

The world demand for energy is rapidly increasing. We need energy to warm our homes, to cook our meals, to travel and communicate, and to power our factories. The amount of energy available to us determines not only our standard of living, but also how long we live. Detailed statistics from many counties show that in countries where the available energy is 0.15 tons of coal equivalent per person per year the average life expectancy is about forty years, whereas countries in Europe and America where the available energy is a hundred times greater have an average life expectancy of about seventy-five years. It is well to remember that a shortage of energy is a minor inconvenience to us, but for people in poorer countries it is a matter of life and death.

The world energy demand is increasing due to population growth and to rising living standards. World population in doubling about every thirty-five years, though the rate of growth is very different in different countries. The world energy use is doubling every fourteen years and the need is increasing faster still. One of the main energy sources is oil and the rate of production is expected to peak in the next few years. There are still plentiful supplies of coal, the other principal energy source, but it is even more seriously polluting than oil, leading to acid rain and climate change. This combination of increasing need and diminishing supply constitutes the energy crisis. The world urgently needs a clean energy source that is able to meet world energy needs.

The people who are suffering and dying from the effects of the energy crisis and climate change are billions of the poorer people in Africa and many other countries elsewhere. Drought due to climate change is leading to destitution and widespread starvation. Even if the rains come, they have no money to buy seeds and livestock. With more energy available they could begin to rebuild their lives. The imposition of worldwide controls on greenhouse gas emissions is understandably resented by the underdeveloped countries. They point out that the developed countries industrialized without caring about the pollution they caused, and so it is unjust to prevent the poorer nations from developing in the same way.

It is pointless to rehash the renewables argument here: those that believe in these sources do so out of faith, those that reject them do so because of math. Real-word data, from projects already in place, demonstrate clearly that these diffuse and intermittent supplies simply have not met initial expectations. Nor is there any evidence that they can overcome their inherent handicaps in the time that is left.

The criteria used to assess viability of various energy sources are their capacity, reliability, cost, safety, and effects on the environment. One single source satisfies all these criteria: nuclear energy. It is the only technology that is currently available that can meet the twin demands of high potential growth, and low environmental impact, and it can be designed and built to meet the others.

I wrote the last two paragraphs, not to present the facts, since most reading this will be familiar with this position, but to to strip the argument down to the fundamentals to show how simple it is. Our choices are limited: we poison the planet, destabilizing various sub-systems resulting in what will certainly be negative impacts, we free ourselves form our dependency on high energy technologies, manumitting the majority of the population to starvation, exposure, and death, our we face the fact that the only other thing we can do is embrace nuclear fission.

In fact the only real question, is why we haven’t already.

The logic for a rapid adoption of nuclear energy is so simple, the shortcomings of the other options so clear, that it beggars the imagination that those in the halls of power are unaware of them. We can also dismiss out of hand the suite of imaginary issues that have been fabricated as objections to nuclear energy, it can, and has been shown that these are at best overreactions, and at worst false.

So what is standing in the way?

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EN:

Your link to http://tinyurl.com/3qkzbx8 consisted of a graph showing tax take as percentage of GDP over a period of time for several first world nations. I think your use of it to attack conservative objections to raising taxes( in this case carbon taxes) amounts to misuse/abuse.

MattB, at 2.23 pm today, made the very valid point that science should be used to define the optimum solution to the types of problem that are discussed on this site. The implementation of the said solution can thereafter be achieved by using one of a range of economic models which may differ according to national characteristics (authoritarian/democratic – left/right).

IMO, we are facing a multi-faceted global crisis which includes global warming, peak oil, population overgrowth and threatened first world financial collapse. Its solution is predicated upon a copious supply of concentrated energy which can be provided at a cost less than that which can be provided by fossil fuels. The optimum scientific solution currently seems to come from nuclear fission. The transition from fossil fuels to nuclear will initially involve extra infastructure spending, but, in the longer term, there will be net benefits from the use of a cheaper and more efficient, less polluting and sustainable system. How the finance is raised to achieve the transition is a matter of politics. I think that, on this site, more will be achieved by the accumulation of good data, making the case for an optimum solution (be it nuclear, nuclear/renewable or anything else that turns up) than by falling out over its method of implementation.

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Bloody hell DV8 and Doug what a couple of doozies to end my working week on! Just need an inspirational sound track playing:)

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@ DV8

///The criteria used to assess viability of various energy sources are their capacity, reliability, cost, safety, and effects on the environment.///
You forgot politically acceptable and popular with the population.

////One single source satisfies all these criteria: nuclear energy.////
Agreed, but it remains illegal in this country. A year ago I said that just one nuclear accident (or incident) would really slow uptake of nukes in this country. After Fukishima we’ve got buckleys chance.

So capacity, reliability, SAFETY = renewables + Nullarbor hydro storage. This is POSSIBLE — but I remain agnostic as to cost. I’d want to see peer reviewed papers reliably assessing the sheer costs of this without all the anti-Communist paranoid and ridiculous overbuild assumptions Peter Lang injects into every paper, or conversations that are ONE WAY and not a real 2 way exchange of ideas.

I’d want to know that every jot and tittle had been explored. Because basically, renewables + hydro back up seems to be the way Australia is headed.

////Our choices are limited: we poison the planet, destabilizing various sub-systems resulting in what will certainly be negative impacts, we free ourselves form our dependency on high energy technologies, manumitting the majority of the population to starvation, exposure, and death, our we face the fact that the only other thing we can do is embrace nuclear fission.////
Our choices are Gen3 nukes with the hope of Gen4 at an estimated half the cost of renewables, or renewables + backup (like the hydro storage).

////the shortcomings of the other options so clear////
I’m sorry but Peter’s ideology has become so apparent, so THICK across everything he writes, that I no longer trust his judgement. I’ll have to put more work into other authors here as I no longer trust a single thing Peter says to be objective.

////We can also dismiss out of hand the suite of imaginary issues that have been fabricated as objections to nuclear energy,////
Australian HATRED of nuclear energy is NOT imaginary. I’ve almost come to blows at parties over it!

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Douglas Wise,
////Your link to http://tinyurl.com/3qkzbx8 consisted of a graph showing tax take as percentage of GDP over a period of time for several first world nations. I think your use of it to attack conservative objections to raising taxes( in this case carbon taxes) amounts to misuse/abuse.////
Do you have a rational, objective reason as to why? Or are you only interested in hurling misuse/abuse of an objective FACT you just don’t like?

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http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/koroteev-at-heart-of-russias-megawatt.html

Apparently, Russia is planning to build a GAS-COOLED FAST REACTOR for use in space. Gas-cooled fast reactors have not been built so far, but they are the most promising fast reactor technology, combining attributes of the Very-High-Temperature Reactor (VHTR) and a conventional fast reactor design (high actinide burnup, possibility of breeding fuel).
If they solve the material’s problems associated with this reactor and create a prototype for use in space, the technology may be used here on Earth as well.

Go Russian Space Agency!

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My problem with hydro storage (or all renewable+storage strategies) is that I can’t imagine 6 hours being a relevant amount. Imagine a Capacity Factor time series. For any target CF below the long-time average, you can find the time interval over which the power generation deficit is maximized. That largest integrated deficit (with a healthy safety factor) is then your target storage capacity.

For example, if Germany’s Solar CF yearly average is about 10%, producing at about 2% in winter, then the target storage capacity if we want the Solar to be generating at near 10% is on the order of 2000 hours. I did not randomly add a 0.
On the other hand, we could accept a CF of .02, at which point the target storage capacity would drop to time spans of heavy cloud cover, probably on the order of a week or 3 (300-500 hours). I don’t begin to have a handle on the numbers for wind, although the 10 day gap noted in the videos above is, shall we say, not confidence inducing.

There probably are 2 local optimums: low CF (massive generator overbuild)+low storage or high CF+high storage. Once a reasonable statistical model for renewable output is in hand, one could take renewable costs, storage costs, gas plant costs and a target CO2 reduction-compared-to-coal and find the optimum mix and its cost (and finally, produce a cost/CO2 reduction plot, /drool). I really, really want to see such an analysis, and find it… problematic… that I haven’t seen one.

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@ Douglas (again).

///MO, we are facing a multi-faceted global crisis which includes global warming, peak oil, population overgrowth and threatened first world financial collapse.///
Agreed.

/// Its solution is predicated upon a copious supply of concentrated energy which can be provided at a cost less than that which can be provided by fossil fuels. ///
WRONG! Why does it *have* to be cheaper than fossil fuels? There are a thousand and one ways cultures prioritise different things.

* Why would we pay millions of dollars to rescue some old rust bucket of a ship from completely dissolving? Because we want to make a museum out of it and turn it into a tourist attraction.

* Why do we want to maintain a democracy based on Federation (and redundant State legislation that just constipates our legal and economic system) when modern communications and a free press long ago ruled out the necessity of Australian ‘States’? Because us Australian’s seem to think that inefficiency in government is some form of guarantee of ‘freedom.’ I think it is codswallop and we could SAVE $50 billion dollars annually if we just had a National / Local system of government representation. But Aussies value their States, and so we stay with it. It’s an economic burden but a reflection of our cultural values.

* Why do we spend money on parks, monuments, political white elephants, museums that much of the population might only visit once every 10 years, blah blah blah? Why do we spend money on SPORTING VENUES! (I shudder at the moronic past time of chasing a bit of pig skin up and down a grassy field). Because apparently we value it culturally.

So when we are so inefficient and go to such expense in such silly areas of life, why on earth do you think that we *have* to have a source of energy that is cheaper than coal? We are so wasteful of our money in so many other areas — and seem to be suffering some collective sense of national guilt — that many Aussies would gladly pay a *little* extra for their power to know that it came from clean, SAFE**, renewable energy.

**I’ve argued blue in the face about built in passive safety systems like “moderator leak” in Gen3 reactors and “Neutron Leak” in Gen4 reactors. I’ve been met by blank, horrified stares. Aussies HATE nuclear at the moment. The busy, working, footy watching kind of Aussie just doesn’t have time to overcome the media representation of nuclear, the fearmongering. It’s programmed deep into their cerebellum! They hate it with a passion.

So don’t give me simplistic pat answers to energy and cultural trends I’ve been watching closely for 6 years now! While I agree with you that….

////The optimum scientific solution currently seems to come from nuclear fission.////

….it may not be the optimum *cultural* solution.

Until I see 10’s of thousands of Australians marching in the streets DEMANDING nuclear power, I’m going to modify your ‘solution’ sentence to read….

////Its solution is predicated upon a copious supply of *some sort* of energy which can be provided at a cost *that does not bankrupt the nation*.////

In other words, I’m sick of trite diatribes. I’d like to see a peer-reviewed energy panel like the IPCC debate these matters, and cost a renewable energy plan for Australia —  including the seawater hydro-storage idea — and find out what they say. I’m convinced 40 nukes could do the job far cleaner and cheaper and easier than renewables. I’m just not convinced it’s going to happen, and would LOVE to know that everyone at BNC had minds open enough to investigate the *possibility* that renewables might be able to do the job but simply costing a little more. The guess is… what? 20% more? 50% more? What?

These videos raise some very interesting points. The first one discusses grid stability with wind and how when a conventional coal plant goes down, it can suddenly fail in milliseconds but the grid has to be stable! Wind farm energy — spread over a wide enough area — can decline in output over half hour cycles or longer.

In this next video Peter Sinclair (Greenman) quotes the Stanford university study that concludes an reliable baseload average of 30% of the grid could be supplied by wind. So the hydro-backup would ‘only’ (and I use that term a sarcastically because I’m still a fan of cheaper nukes) have to cover 70% of the power.

I just want to know that I’m reading material that is objective, not ideologically driven. I feel like the climate ‘sceptic’ (not denialist) who feels genuine confusion at a perceived debate.

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Kray
A german 60%wind/40%pv solution would need 7 days of storage.
Last week the Bundesrat (all partys) has invited Dr. Eduard Heindl and his consortium to talk about the Hydraulic Hydro Energy Storage.
They will be part of a 200Mill. € storage project.
http://eduard-heindl.de/energy-storage/index-e.html

This storage could power Germany for 24h.
Double it in size and it works for 16 days.

German nuclear will run for another 7-10 years anyways.

There will be new wind technologies like the kitegen.
PV is getting cheaper all the time.
Desertec is on its way to the first plant in Marokko.

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Great post, DV.

David, I’m on the other coast. In Greensboro N.C.

Just read Kenneth Deffeyes’ new book on peak oil. He rejects breeder reactors in one sentence based on an innuendoish reference to one guy (the guy is Ted Taylor, interviewed by John Mcphee) about the proliferation dangers of plutonium.

Deffeyes says: “breeders frighten me.”

We have to rely on experts, and we want to know generally what these experts think, but that’s where the danger is. We tend to think (the reverse of guilt by association–a kind of credibility by association) that if someone really knows what she is talking about in one area where a complex and subtle intelligence is manifest, that it might carry over to other areas.

Not exactly.

This instance is complicated by the fact that Deffeyes does have some real familiarity with nuclear. but not about fast reactors. I am reminded of Mahaffey’s Atomic Awakening, where a nuclear expert dismisses fast reactors in a sentence, no sources.

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EN:

You are correct in pointing out that it was remiss of me not to explain why I considered your link had no bearing on the point you were trying to make, which, crudely, appeared to be an attempt to demonstrate that, because quality of life was not well correlated with tax rate at a national level in rich nations, a carbon tax might be benign. As I really don’t want to get dragged into this sterile debate, perhaps it would be easier to apologise than to go into a lengthy explanation as to why I don’t think your link was as helpful to your argument than you thought it was. All I’ll say is that nations compete and those that handicap themselves with taxes that are not applied by their competitors are, all other things being equal – which,of course, they aren’t- unlikely to thrive long term. The rise of China and the fall of the West (relatively) can be taken as an example.

On your second point, that, given Australia wastes money on museums and sport, there is no reason why it shouldn’t waste money on having an inefficient and costly energy infrastructure so long as it comes with a feel-good factor, I’m not sure, as a non Australian, how to respond. I can see why a small and unindebted population sitting on a lot of resources might justify this view, certainly in the short term. However, I’m a UK citizen. Our public and private debt are three times greater than our annual GDP. This debt is made possible by loans from other nations and is largely used to fund unaffordable lifestyles (health, education, welfare) apart from past debt servicing. This is unsustainable. The situation in the States and in many other European nations isn’t much different. It hardly behoves us to adopt profligate energy policies while we attempt to wriggle out of trouble by debauching our currencies before creditor nations wise up.

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EN: the jay apt wind presentation that is part of the canada conference is a devastating rebuttal to the claim above about supposed wind farm stability (relative to coal in above example).

He shows a graph from U.S. northwest of all wind farms falling flat for ten days.

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@Eclipse Now – The point I am trying to make is that this is not anyone’s local issue. There is a world of people out there living on the edge that are going to be more severely impacted, and impacted sooner than most of the West. However decisions that they make now, in these poorer regions will ultimately have a much more profound impact on us than is being considered.

This debate needs to be widened to encompass the fact that there are no islands anymore, and that we in the West have farther to fall if these pending issues are not addressed with more than what people believe, or what appeals to some ascetic. It is just not ethical on any level to continue to demand that the poor of this world pay such a high price for our dithering on nuclear energy and dilettantism with unworkable renewables.

***

Frankly I have little patience with white-bread middle-class posers living ‘off-grid.’ My sister-in-law and her husband were one of those, and were insufferable about how superior their lifestyle was compared to ours. Pointing out that their solar array was the product of a modern factory, and that both it and the aluminium and other metals in their wind generator would not exist without the sort of energy that only comes from major sources, fell on deaf ears.

However the real hypocrisy came when they turned sixty and their health started to decay. Using their government pensions (they were both public employees) they have moved to a townhouse, near medical facilities, proving that their minimalist philosophy was one of convenience, not commitment.

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A general appeal…I make this once every few months to pro-nuclear climate activists: you need to go to the where the antis are…

This means going into their dens: the Dailykos.com; Huffington Post, Grist, etc. You must make a concerted efforts to go into these Dens of Darkness and take them on. Yes, it’s *annoying* to deal with them. It is not a question of convincing *them*, the ones who will be yelling “Poison!” “Shill!” but those that are unspoken; those that listen and read but don’t comment.

They are often in utter shock that their obvious self-righteousness is challenged by someone. Do it, do it soon, please.

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Bern, on 10 June 2011 at 5:41 PM said:

Pumped storage

Pumped storage is fine for intra-day load leveling. Wind and Solar not only have intraday variability, they have seasonal variability.

There is also considerable annual variation. In the US PNW. Wind averaged 449 MW in December ’08 but only 259 MW in December ’09 despite a 60% increase in nameplate capacity.
http://transmission.bpa.gov/Business/Operations/Wind/Winter0809_vs_Winter0910x.xls

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Pump storage is not cheap. PG&E built the second largest pump storage facility in the U.S. at Helms in California in conjunction with Diablo Canyon NPP. 1100 MWs which can, without pumping, run for 2 weeks. This is a dual lake concept with very little make up water (streams, mostly) up in the Sierra Nevada mountains. There is a 1,630 ft. vertical drop from top of head to turbine/generator set intake. A M A Z I N G is the only way I can put it as it’s dug out through a solid granite and serpentine rock mountain, not your usual dam-and-penstock set up. If you have a chance to visit it, I highly recommend you do. I don’t know if it’s open to visitors (I got in because I worked for the company at the time).

It cost, in 1981 dollars, about $336 million to build. It was part of the same rate-base proposal that the DCNPP was built with.

The PGE ‘brochure’ PDF on this is here:

Click to access ManhoYeung.pdf

The pumping part of this can absorb 900MWs of energy from the grid. This could only be built because of the unique…very unique positions of the two lakes.

Pump storage, ironically for renewable advocates, is better deployed with nuclear than intermittent wind and solar. IF one were to spend the huge amount of money creating artificial pump-storage like proposed here, or…cheaper, retrofit much of, say, the US hydro dam system for pump storage, then many of the problems associated with expanding baseloaded nuclear could be solved. This is true for ALL storage methods proposed by anti-nuclear pro-wind/solar activists from batteries (seriously, this is proposed by them), to molten salt to the use of HVDC…all better for nuclear and employed in a far more efficient manner.

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“Because of the terrain this storage has minimal surface area relative to capacity.There are not many sites in Australia with these advantages.”

Really? these sites are nowhere near developed, if in the entire world there was sufficient sites for 20% of all electricity being hydro, I am sure there is enough sites for the needed storage that needs NO reservoirs built.

Not to mention the capacity factors of current existing dams would drop, allowing for more storage potential of a 777GW storage plant.

Still the argument asked is if was perfectly scalable and it is, seawater pumped hydro is, the question is the price since it does have to build one reservoir.

Storage is now beginning to be considered a solution for the NW US and Hawaii, states that are going for wind.

“As for storage of nuclear excess capacity,why bother? I get the impression that modern nuclear plants of even Gen 2 vintage can load follow to some extent. Gen 3 & 4 are presumably much better at this.”

If you use peak following plants you are making nuclear much more expensive, you would need plants rated for certain peak power operating for most of the day to a percentage of peak. The capacity factor would easily reach .6 or .7 instead of the commonly refereed to .9.

Pumped hydro is married to baseloads and renewables, there is no avoiding each other, it competes today with NG peakers and that is it, and probably an unfair competition because of LCOE calculations that completely discards infrastructure that lasts for hundreds of years, in favor of miopic operating costs.

@Peter Lang

The libertarian argument against governemnt is inherently unatural, human beings want well moderated governement and it is inscribed in their biology, and they want renewable energies even if the costs are higher than FF because it makes them happy
http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/news/2011/05/27/aps-study-shows-customers-willing-to.html,

and even though there are a few libertarian stragglers that will always opposed even the slightly more expensive solution, they will eventually be shamed into falling in line, no doubt they will argue they were correct but in a soft tone.

STILL I still think 24/7 Solar energy in places with seasonal stability is the cheapest solution, but it follows this formula.

(Price per panel/capacity factor + grid related infrastructure (inverters, lines etc) + storage)/watt

Now you can argue that the later is too expensive, but it really is not! inverters are generally 0.6 dollars of peak watts,

http://www.google.com/products/catalog?hl=en&client=ubuntu&hs=JGP&channel=cs&q=SOLAR+INVERTERS&um=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&biw=809&bih=440&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=559602075817212043&sa=X&ei=5zjyTeepMtO4tgeLq-CRBg&ved=0CIIBEPMCMAI

lines can be minimized if on rooftops (nuclear needs lines too not everything is a perfect location for a NPP) and last but not least Storage 36 hour storage could be as low as 1.25 dollars a peak watt.

http://www.sustainablebusinessoregon.com/articles/2011/04/gridflex-plans-grid-scale-power.html

SO in the end solar could look like this using todays technology

(0.75 $/watt from first solar / 0.19 capacity factor) + 0.6 $/watt inverters + 1.25 $/watt in storage =>

(3.94 + 0.6 + 1.25) $/watt =>

5.79 $/watt FULLY NORMALIZED (ie you do not need to divide by the capacity factor I am sure some will inmediately claim)

Compared to Oilkuliotto which is 5.55 $/watt FULLY NORMALIZED.

So what prevents this from happening today? obviously First Solar is still in it to make a profit so their prices currently shaddows its more expensive competitors, but this is just a market imbalance once competitors use the same technology there will be progress for final price per panel to comoditize, Still you can clearly see that it is the price of the panels that DRIVE the price of solar, everything else is actually cheap and could be made cheaper (avoiding inverters and just using DC water pumps from local panels) depending just how low solar panels gets cheaper per watt.

In the future (perhaps 20 years) you could very well see, in places with seasonal stability, highly distributed pumped hydro plants being the ONLY source of power, with very cheap solar panels simulating the rain with DC pumps. (aka perfectly scalable hydropower) This would be perfect for poor countries like India in that it would limit the need for power lines reaching the rural poor. Since the reservoirs are small (compared to high scale hydro) and marine life is protected with grates the environmental impact is minimal only taking up land really.

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I have to agree with you Peter that what the developing countries do will play the larger role in energy policy the coming century.

I argue back that it is not the job of the developed to bankroll all these other techs to bring prices down. What will happen is what has happened for the past 40 years(from clothes, to cars, to just about everything else). The developing countries will bring the costs of these technologies down on their own, and the U.S. will simply buy the parts from them.

When I talk about electricity must become more expensive i’m talking about coal. Coal is the cheapest option right now. If the goal is to stop using coal, then all the other options are more expensive. That is all I am saying. I’m not saying rates must double or triple. The people in these countries need to decide that they don’t want to buy the cheapest dirtiest option in coal. So they decide to buy a cleaner more expensive option.

I am saying if we restrict coal and gas market share then people are forced to buy alternatives. Only when they have to start paying for this stuff will they realize how cheap nuclear is. As long as coal is an option, it will be used. Even if a carbon tax makes coal more expensive than wind people will still buy the expensive coal over the cheaper wind because of reliability and grid concerns, and the vastly cheaper nuclear will still be banned because of ignorance.

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