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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”

The well-publicised Productivity Commission report into carbon emission policies provides one of the few recent government-funded reports that is prepared to honestly examine the carbon abatement policy measures in operation internationally, and should be required reading.

Paul Kelly’s (The Australian) analysis provides an excellent snapshot and perhaps suggests a pivotal moment when the efficacy of renewables begins to be challenged within the broader community. For example

The entire issue is about the most efficient and equitable means. This report shows both the anti-carbon pricing Coalition and pro-renewable energy subsidising Greens have got the core policy response wrong. So has much of the media, both the talkback radio industry that rejects carbon pricing and its cultural opponent, the ABC, with its polemic in favour of the renewable industry special-interest subsidies.

The international comparisons in the Productivity Commission report are stunning in the bizarre outcomes they show across different nations and cultures.

The report argues that high abatement subsidies do not equate to efficient results: witness Japan and South Korea. The abatement subsidy in these two nations is easily the highest in the group, yet their actual abatement achieved is the weakest. This logic allows only one conclusion – serious policy failure in both nations.

The country most conspicuous overall in this analysis is Germany. The report, in effect, offers a study of how different are Germany’s values to those of Australia.

Germany is beloved by the Greens for its energy initiatives and Chancellor Angela Merkel has just announced a timetable to shut down nuclear power in favour of renewables. Driven by domestic politics, this testifies to how much price damage Germans are willing to tolerate for cleaner energy.


@jesus r.

It is quite possibly true. If we go back to the beginning of this saga, people were debunking several so called conspiracy theories on melt-through, meltdown or whatever one likes to call it. The fact is that as time goes on we slowly realise that we are not being given information that quickly. I don’t feel that the situation is that transparent even now although I am pleased to see more technical reports on NHK regarding the actual events as they happen. There is so much commercial, environmental and political pressure around the world to make this disaster not appear to be a disaster that nothing would surprise me.



You are (somewhat) missing the seasonal point. Let us say (for point of argument) that we want a solar+storage unit that can, reliably, output a given amount of power. Now, Germany has a yearly-average CF around 0.1, which is kind of ugly, but to be able to output at a *constant* CF of 0.1, we need about 2k hours of storage. This is absurdly uneconomical (and un-environmental too, for that matter). On the other hand, if we claim a CF of about 0.025 or so, then we can output that, year-round, without any *seasonal-variation* storage (we still need shorter-term storage). But while a CF of 0.1 is already quite ugly enough, a CF of 0.025 is laughable, so that won’t work either.

So what is happening now? Well, the 2k hours of storage are being provided by coal (seasonal fluctuations are conveniently slow), which means you get your full 0.1 CF, as long as the amount of solar is low. How low? Well, imagine 20% energy from solar. So around the Equinoxes, you are getting 20% power from Solar, which… is already a problem for the grid. But at peak, you are getting more like 40%, which means during peak-daytime, you are getting around 100% of your power from Solar… and as the CF numbers average over weather, peak-high noon-sunny weather will be well over 100%. You clearly need storage (short term, 10-20ish hours) to be able to claim your full CF, because otherwise power is getting wasted. As solar pushes past 20%, you need week-order storage to be able to move sunny-weather solar into cloudy-weather time because the surplus is greater than the night-time deficit. As your Solar percentage pushes past 30 odd%, you need seasonal storage to be able to claim your full CF because even moving to power into cloudy-solstice time still leaves a surplus. Seasonal storage is prohibitive, so you have to instead accept a lower CF.

So if we have several days worth of storage (because cloudy weather can linger something fierce, call it 10), we maybe can provide 30% of Germany’s power from solar at a CF of 0.1. Any more, any we need either a LOT more storage, or a lower CF. 10 days worth of storage is, already, a major, major, major issue. Heck, 10 hours is already a major, major, major issue, it just doesn’t quite involve flooding northern Germany with salt-water, which 10 days comes close to, and 2000 hours does.

Solar: it might just be workable as a 20% solution, it’ll be an absolute nightmare as a 30% solution and beyond that? *giggle*


This is truly crazy stuff. It’s an act of desperation. It is like the false belief that EVs can balance the load at night. There is, if done like the French did, which was to encourage a generalized space and electric water heating deployment, which did work to a certain extent, for load balancing. But one had a larger penetration of electric heating anyway in France. As so many water heaters are gas fired, I’m wondering what is going through their brains.



David Walters writes,

going into their dens: the; Huffington Post, Grist, etc. You must make a concerted efforts to go into these Dens of Darkness and take them on.


Well, not so much take them on; their tactic is to try to get you down into the mud, or more specifically, the replies to comments that are hidden, only visible if the reader clicks on a “There are more comments” button.



Um. Yeah. Uh huh. Now I haven’t looked at it very very carefully, but:

a) 7 days storage is no where near enough if you want to go pure wind+solar.

b) 1600GWh is only about 1 day’s storage.

b) forget about the fact that he is talking about pumped rock. Rock buys you very, very little (rock just isn’t that dense). While it does depend on what you do with the water, pumped rock generally loses you energy storage for rock below 2g/cm^3, and nets you a bit for rock above that density. Granite is around 2.7, so there is little gain there.
Instead, what I think he is trying to do is claim a 1km (or so) head by digging 1km down. This raises all *sorts* of questions, including “how the flip are you planning on pumping this”? And “what happens if the thingies keeping all that pressure at bay fail??!” Small question, is he seriously talking about a single piston? Oh, um, is the water (under absurd pressure) going to… stay there? The whole geothermal-energy plants assume that the water starts to move through the rock. I don’t know the details of course, but it is something to think about. And we *are* planning on fluctuating the pressure on the excavation, a lot, often. Rock *can* flex and bend and crack and generally behave in a plastic fashion if you force it enough. If you need your piston to move smoothly, having the rock flex is bad.

High head hydro does NOT work by having a very, very, very deep reservoir. That would be dumb. Instead, you have a shallow reservoir, and a nice, loooooong pipe that water can *tamely* enter, and *excitedly, but there isn’t that large a flow so its ok* exit. Do something closer to high head hydro if you really want. Dig the tunnels (you’ll be deep in energy debt of course, but that’s life) and then make an artificial underground lake (and an artificial above ground lake). That would be a whole lot safer and easier. And make clear how laughable the whole idea is, of course.


Sorry that you can`t get the function even when you are presented easy to understand illustrations and calculations.
Go back and watch it again.

If you double the size of the cylinder you get 16 times the capacity.
Thats 16 days of storage.

There has been extensive research in Germany that 7 days of storage is sufficient for a 60%/40% wind/pv solution.
You should do your homework if you are not aware of these papers.
You get a hint in Heindls presentation.


The Heindl proposal for an underground hydraulic piston reminds of the solar updraft tower proposed for Australia a few years back. In both case it seems necessary to spend billions to get the average cost per kwh down to an acceptable level. That’s nearly 3bn euros for the hydraulic proposal. Something that is less scale dependent (eg cliff top seawater) would allow a smaller pilot project to test the bugs. Heindl seems optimistic about containing the 300 bar water pressure given all the leakage problems we know with shale gas fracking and granite geothermal.

If this is Germany’s great white hope for an all renewables future it is a hell of a gamble. I suspect the public would rebel against spending €3 bn on an experiment.


It`s 200 bar, you need 300bar to press the cylinder free.
You can not compare that to fracking pressure situations. You can spread the pressure around the seal on multiple sealing levels.

You can built a smaller version for demonstration purpose, it would just not be economical.

3bn is not the world…SNR-300 was a much more expensive adventure.


That hydroulic storage sysyem is massively impressive, I always argued that storage is simple compared to power but this takes it to another level.

We are talking almost 12.1 TWh of storage for just 2.8 Billion Euros. Storage this cheap makes Solar the ONLY choice really in the long run, as price per watt keeps going lower and lower, eventually it could even work in Antartica if you cared for such a thing. (not that I would support it there)

Of course its a massive project with massive physics/enginieering involved that has to be proven, but at the national scale level it starts to make a lot of sense.

“Heindl seems optimistic about containing the 300 bar water pressure given all the leakage problems we know with shale gas fracking and granite geothermal.”

Even if everything is coated in sealant? Frankly even if 300 bar is too much you could easily design it for less, the fall in costs is TWO orders of magnitude superior from 50$/kWh for pumped hydro to 0.33$/kWh with hydraulics.

“If this is Germany’s great white hope for an all renewables future it is a hell of a gamble. I suspect the public would rebel against spending €3 bn on an experiment.”

3 Billion Euros is nothing on the national scale investment. Thats less than Olkiluoto #3.


Definition of “actinides” in each post would assist intelligent laymen to understand which elements are being discussed. In the adjacent article Critique of MIT … fuel cycle , is not clear if “actinides” is the term is used in inorganic chemistry , being all elements of Z greater than or equal to actinium at 89, including thorium and uranium. If so, it could be phrased as: “actinides (89+)”, or in the context of this article, “actinides (92+)”. As the article continued, it appeared to me that author Tom meant “actinides (94+)”.

The confusion occurs often in discussions and literature. For example, the term “minor actinides” has been used mainly to mean “actinides (95+)” . However the useage of the term in discussions sometimes blurs and we read the term “higher actinides”, unsure if the author means “actinides (92+)”, “actinides (94+)”, “actinides (95+)”, or even just plain higher than actinium itself, “actinides (90+)”.

What may be blindingly obvious to an author and his closest readers could be shared with a more general audience by adding that number in brackets!


I have been following the Equinox Summit a bit (when the TVO video service actually works) … they have released their communique which highlights their views on the energy technologies to focus on through 2030. The 5 page pdf is at:

Barry was one of the group which produced this … and I can see his fingerprints.

Thumbs up from me.

Key question – how is this respectable piece of work going to be used to inform and influence policy makers?



In a nuclear engineering context, with a U-238 or U-235 fuel cycle, “actinides” basically means Z=92+, because Ac, Th and Pa are not present in any significant quantity in the fuel.

In the context of a Th-232 fuel cycle, it basically means any actinide other than Ac, I suppose.

It basically means any actinide (Z=89+) that is actually present to any significant degree in the particular fuel you’re talking about.

The “minor actinides” are basically any actinides present in the fuel other than those which are the major constituents of the fuel cycle, which basically means anything other than U and Pu, in a U-238 or U-235 fuel cycle. (Not Th, because there is no Th present, but including Np, Am, and anything trans-Americium.) In a Th-232 fuel cycle, the “minor actinides” would not include Th, U or Ac, but I suppose that Pa and Pu would be included in the definition of the minor actinides, along with Np and anything trans-plutonium.


hi Alan,
I just checked one of the Equinox opening animated introductions. It made the claim that a super-battery would only need to store 5 to 8 times more energy than today’s batteries to be truly revolutionary. What are your thoughts on that claim? A ‘super-battery’ that was just 5 times more powerful would — if cheap enough — transform our oil dependence almost overnight. Why wouldn’t most drivers switch to electric cars when electricity is about half the price / km?

Kray above would not agree because of seasonal variation in Germany forcing the need for 2000 hours of storage. I’m imagining renewable proponents would argue they’ll “Just” (like this wouldn’t be economically *interesting* for Germany) ‘outsource’ Germany’s energy requirements in winter. “Oh, they’ll generate what they can but buy in most from Africa etc”.

But when it comes to shorter term energy storage, what about these heat gravel batteries? Gravel’s quite cheap. Apparently it can retain the heat for up to 3 years?


Marcus, on 13 June 2011 at 4:26 AM said:

You`ve maybe missed my post about the geo-hydraulic storage Germany is working on. Its a 1600GWh storage that can be scaled.
They have specifically set up a research program for massive storage technology.
This idea is one of the most promising.

Marcus, the Heindl concept has many obvious engineering issues to sort through. Cutting & excavating the huge volumes of earth isn’t really one of them. Sealing a piston head 500m to 1,000m in bore at 280 bar will be a huge issue; sealing an earthen cyclinder of similar bore and several times the stroke will be a huge issue.

I don’t know if Heindl or you have any experience with high pressure hydraulic cylinders. One thing I learned very early on is that the proportions of the piston head (the relative dimensions of the piston diameter to the distance between the piston head ‘support’ points) are critical if piston head ‘jamming’ is to be avoided. Basically if the piston head diameter is relatively too big the piston jams … and this can happen on cylinders just a few inches in diameter where both the bore and the piston head are machined to .001 ins concentricity.

This proposal calls for machining a bore 500m – 1,000m in diameter and fitting a piston head to it which would have to be 1,000m – 2,000m in height if jamming risks could possibly be managed – assuming they could machine the mating parts precisely enough (which is a huge assumption).

In engineering terms, my first reaction is that this piston will jam before it has moved a meter.


@ John,

The Heindl proposal for an underground hydraulic piston reminds of the solar updraft tower proposed for Australia a few years back.

But come on… you’ve gotta admit that would be a fun thing to visit hey? Apparently this beast is one of the closest things to baseload the renewable camp has got. They call it the ‘hydro of the land’. Now, while I remain a fan of mass-produced IFR’s, I just want to see ONE of these Solar Updrafts built just for the sheer engineering required and the atmospheric dynamics we might experiment with.

Deserts might enjoy them, as apparently there’s LOTS of water condensation as well!

I don’t think it would do well in snow though! That’s a lot of area to attach wind-screen wipers too! ;-)


Woah! I haven’t checked these babies in a while. Have you seen the Namibian proposal?

In mid 2008, the Namibian government approved a proposal for the construction of a 400 MW solar chimney called the ‘Greentower’. The tower is planned to be 1.5 km tall and 280 m in diameter, and the base will consist of a 37 km2 greenhouse in which cash crops can be grown.[29]

If we build it first, WE get the eco-tourism! ;-)


I just got back to Adelaide (well, yesterday, and then crashed for 17 hours!). I see the dialogue has been ‘hot’ here as usual, in my absence. Please remember to play the ball, not the man — we all want the same thing from BNC discussions: evidence, logic and courtesy.

More from me later on the Equinox Summit.


“In engineering terms, my first reaction is that this piston will jam before it has moved a meter.”

But this is not an ICE piston per say by rather hydraulics, the coefficient of friction * the piston area surface * velocity (very slow) determines the efficiency due to heat loss, but it jamming is really not that relevant because not only is there continuous pressure but it actually builds during the jam.


Eclipse Now, on 13 June 2011 at 12:05 PM said:

hi Alan,
I just checked one of the Equinox opening animated introductions. It made the claim that a super-battery would only need to store 5 to 8 times more energy than today’s batteries to be truly revolutionary. What are your thoughts on that claim?

Can’t comment, I’m afraid … way too much that I do not know in the energy sphere and time shortages make it very difficult to get across more than a couple of things.

At the moment I just want the Equinox video feed to work better for me … the stream stops after a few minutes so I have only seen a couple of people speak. Jay Apt speaking on renewables issues was fantastic.


@ David,

Eclipse Now, on 13 June 2011 at 12:39 PM — Sure its not jusy a graft-n-corruption boondoggle?

Ha ha! That’s a great word, boondoggle! Anyway, I guess I just have sympathy for things I see on the ABC. Boy, this show was going way back — when our science show “Catalyst” was “Quantum”. Anyway, I’d just like to see one built, just so the engineering boffins can get the costings, do the math and report back to us all.


@ Environmentalist:

We are talking almost 12.1 TWh of storage for just 2.8 Billion Euros. Storage this cheap makes Solar the ONLY choice really in the long run, as price per watt keeps going lower and lower, eventually it could even work in Antartica if you cared for such a thing. (not that I would support it there)

Hydro might not work so well down there. ;-)


@ Alan,

If only emotional energy could be tapped … problem solved!

I hear ya! It’s a shame. I respected that member’s far superior technical knowledge — with my humanities background, most here have a vastly greater level of technical expertise. But that doesn’t excuse straw-man character and motive attacks.


Eclipse Now, on 13 June 2011 at 1:22 PM —
boondoggle: Work or activity that is wasteful or pointless but gives the appearance of having value. [web difinition]


If oil suddenly becomes abundant again we could have a tourism industry of visiting failed energy experiments. They have a mock ‘hot block’ on stilts at Cloncurry Qld. They would have focussed mirrors on it but it seems the aviation industry objected to the glare. The grand tour could take in ZeroGen, the King Island battery, Innamincka hot rocks and so on.

I think any energy experiment should be able to show its merits with only a modest expenditure. That way massive losses are avoided if it bombs. With energy storage just a few Gwh capacity should demonstrate reliability issues and likely average cost. In the case of something like pumped seawater that means not using the best large sites first up but saving them for later. We should feel confident a bigger project cannot increase average costs because the gremlins have already been identified. Any project that wants to supersize first up is too much of a gamble.


harrywr2, on 12 June 2011 at 1:25 AM said:
We have 3.5 GW of wind on our grid growing to 6 GW by 2013 and the 6th largest reservoir in the US and we can’t manage to close one stinking coal fired plant.

I’m all for wind if it can manage to replace our stinking coal fired plant…I’ve given up hope that it will ever happen.
David Benson provided a link to show wind,(0-3GW) hydro(11-12GW) and thermal power output in Pacific NW. Since local demand is 5-6GW its clear that about half of the hydro and all wind and thermal is going for export, so all coal-fired could be closed, and certainly present wind is capable of replacing about 1GW of hydro.
What appears to be occurring in 2011 is a very wet year so that a lot more hydro is available for export taxing transmission infrastructure.
In a more normal year, up to 6GW of wind would be able to be absorbed by local demand, with another 6-12GW of hydro available for export depending upon wind output and transmission capacity. The end result is that an average of 2GW additional hydro would be available for export with 6GW wind capacity. The Pacific NW hydro storage capacity is more than enough to buffer weekly variations in 6GW wind capacity output, except when the dams are at full capacity and transmission capacity is fully utilized..


@ Alan,

At the moment I just want the Equinox video feed to work better for me … the stream stops after a few minutes so I have only seen a couple of people speak. Jay Apt speaking on renewables issues was fantastic.

Do it in iTunes, it will download and store on your computer and work seamlessly.

I went into iTunes / Store
Looked up Equinox Summit
Found a podcast called “The Agenda with Steve Paikin”
Started downloading the first one
Then went into Podcasts (where all my subscribed podcasts are in iTunes)
Found “The Agenda” up the top, and hit the subscribe button to see the other episodes on energy.


EN the gremlin in the original Spanish tower was corrosion
These projects never seem to be like mp3 players when suddenly everybody wants one. I suggest key factors are subsidy dependence, expected plant life well beyond payback period and capacity adjusted cost. These weren’t enough to interest potential investors. The Spanish govt seems to have lost interest in making the bigger tower, also partly built as a mockup.

Lovely old coal is always there for us however. Despite cloudless skies my PV is down today, perhaps due to high level Chilean volcanic ash or the approach of the solstice. Good name for a conference.


It’s why I like the term Eclipse myself. Of course it conjures images of darkness with light on the other side, but I also like the sense of urgency. We can all too easily be eclipsed by other nations and our own environmental and resource dependencies.


David B. Benson, on 13 June 2011 at 2:29 PM
You have failed to take all the constraints into account. The fact is that there is probably too much wind generation in the Pacific Northwest already.
Thanks for the link to the link to the Columbia river high water operations. Certainly is a complex interaction. Note that from June 11-13 when nuclear was reduced to 20% capacity because of high flow rates on rivers, almost NO wind power was being generated, so you could infer that the problem during that period was too much nuclear generation.

A simpler interpretation is that high flow rates had not occurred for last 10 years, and additional transmission infrastructure was not in place to allow all hydro power and additional wind power to be fully utilized with the constrains of preserving salmon and using storage for flood control. It seems that problems will continue during high flow periods with or without wind and nuclear until more transmission capacity is built, after all in excess of 50% power is being exported. Not sure what happened in past high river flow periods?

It would seem that until transmission capacity is improved some wind power should be spilled as well as nuclear operated at less than 100% capacity during these short duration high river flow periods.


Last night we reviewed the Chris Anderson interview of Bill Gates at the Wired Business Conference 2011. The link is to the 56 minute video at Fora.TV. You can watch the video free. If you wish to download you need to join – we are members because there is so much valuable content (such as Long Now Foundation).

We highly recommend the Gates talk. Bill have made a huge investment of personal effort required to really understand energy and climate change. And he is putting his money where is mouth is. This is not more feel-good projects; definitely not about political correctness. This is about getting to zero emissions.

This is the best talk on energy policy that we’ve heard since the Gates TED Talk 2010.


What is the best path to a low-carbon future? Should the government actively plan the energy sector, as it did in France in the past when it was decided to expand nuclear power, setting yearly targets for the build-up of low carbon energy production, or should it be left to the free play of market forces, with only the distributive net remaining in the hands of a government agency, leaving the technology choice entirely to private sector utility companies? An example for this “hands-off” approach would simply be taxing carbon dioxide emissions.

So what do you think is the way to go in the electric power sector, central planning or the market?


“Any project that wants to supersize first up is too much of a gamble.”

Everything is a gamble of sorts 2.8 billion euros, is half a nuclear reactor. I don’t want to get too excited over something so energy dense and cheap storing all the power you need, a pilot project is still needed to prove the technology but I have a hunch that the pilot project is still going to be many gigawatts-hours of stored energy by itself.


Neil Howes, on 13 June 2011 at 4:53 PM said:

It would seem that until transmission capacity is improved some wind power should be spilled as well as nuclear operated at less than 100% capacity during these short duration high river flow periods

Once again this year in the Pacific Northwest we have wind curtailments. The local nuclear plant has been offline for maintenance since April 1st. The hydrodams are spilling at close to the maximum legal rate. I.E. Spilling water over the top rather then thru the turbines.

The transmission problem is a difficult one…the question becomes of ‘where’.

British Columbia to the North already has 90% hydro generation as an annual average…so they don’t have much need for excess Washington/Oregon/Idaho/Montana power. California spring off peak is 19 GW and the PNW has been averaging sending California 5.5 GW for at least the last month.

California also has it’s own hydro and wind. So there is a limit to how much they can absorb off peak.

Here is a report done at Berkley analyzing the cost of a transmission lines. According to this report one 500kv line will carry 1.5 GW. In this report 84 miles of line was estimated to cost $250 million.

Click to access TCAM_Final_Report_AppendixF.pdf

So if I work out all the math transmission lines cost around $2 million/GW mile.

California population is centered on Los Angeles which is 700 miles from Southern Oregon. Going east the nearest population center is Minneapolis which is 1,500 miles away.

Multiple GW’s of transmission capacity will be required to ‘fix’ the spillage and curtailment problem.

Unfortunately, the way our regional renewable energy law works, utilities are required to purchase 20% renewables by X date. Hydro and nuclear weren’t counted as ‘renewable’. So we have the situation where from a utility perspective replacing 20% hydro with wind is the same as replacing coal with wind.

So the cheapest option is to locate a bunch of windmills next to existing hydro dams and just spill over the hydro dams when the wind blows. Then everyone will clap and cheer and proclaim how ‘green’ we are by achieving our 20% renewable’s goal.


Surely a Mwh of wind doesn’t get counted towards the 20% quota unless it goes into the grid. That won’t happen if there is a direct private line from the wind farm to the hydro. In Australia hydro built before 1997 ( ie almost all) counts towards the 20% quota but doesn’t get subsidies via renewable energy certificates. That may be irrelevant if RECs finish this time next year when carbon tax comes in.

Also couldn’t some hydros in the US southwest (eg Hoover Dam) do with higher average water levels? Spillage may not be a problem.


I wonder how that wind-balloon storage concept is unfolding?

A new approach for wind: these wind turbines will float far off the coast and not be visible from land.
They will compress air, not generate electricity.
The compressed air is stored in large rubber balloons deep under water, about the size of your house.
These balloons use the pressure of deeper sea water to maximise the pressure that the air is stored at, making the rubber materials cheaper.
With good wind, the turbines blow the compressed air straight into generating electricity. When the wind is low, the balloons take over supplying the compressed air to move the turbines.
It’s cheaper than any storage so far: Batteries are at about $500 thousand per mWh, Pumped hydro is about $80 thousand per mWh of storage, but these compressed balloons are only about $1 thousand per mWh!
Claims that the whole UK could run on wind without Brits even seeing the turbines because they are all so far off-shore!


Max (13 June 2011 at 7:51 PM):

I’d favor using mostly the market and a carbon tax to control CO2.

But what would be the best approach for implementing a carbon tax–starting small at, say, $5 per ton of CO2 (5 cents per gallon of gasoline) and then gradually ramping up to $20 per ton; or starting at $20 right away?



Wake me up when these gadgets are really working in a commercial wind farm and doing what it says on the box and what it all costs. I recall somebody here raising issues with thermal losses in these things.

In the mean time I think the UK Climate Change Committees “The Renewable Energy Report” and supporting documents are a very good read to understand the options for the UK if it is to have any chance of meeting it’s very ambitious emissions reductions targets:

A couple of core conclusions – it must be nuclear+wind and nuclear is projected as cost competitive with the cheapest renewables (on-shore wind) right through 2040. Unlike some of the rather wild eyed zero carbon schemes, this one is written by a team that is very much accountable and whose findings are likely to form the basis from which national energy policy is derived.


@ Quokka,

A couple of core conclusions – it must be nuclear+wind and nuclear is projected as cost competitive with the cheapest renewables (on-shore wind) right through 2040. Unlike some of the rather wild eyed zero carbon schemes, this one is written by a team that is very much accountable and whose findings are likely to form the basis from which national energy policy is derived.

Awesome news mate!


there is now an axis stretching through the middle of europe, with countries leaving nuclear energy or not having reactors. (Italy, Swiss, Germany)

Quite so. An axis. Don’t forget Austria, Denmark and Norway.

It seems that there is also an alliance of countries intent on continuing with nuclear power. These include Russia, the US, the UK, France, China, India and other players.


It seems that there is also an alliance of countries intent on continuing with nuclear power. These include Russia, the US, the UK, France, China, India and other players.

And over time they’ll end up making money selling their surplus back to those countries that went with wind! But how long will it take the non-nuke countries to work that out! ;-)



Awesome news mate!

Yes, I think the UK CCC reports are really important, because they come from a credible and authoritative source and are probably the only basis of a plan in existence that could potentially decarbonize the electricity supply of any nation by 2030. They are worthy of more attention than they are getting.


I seem to recall an episode of Fawlty Towers where Basil asks ‘what’s the bleedin’ point?’ My thoughts exactly when the Federal Energy Minister tells coal miners they’ll sell even more coal to China when Australia has a carbon tax.

This issue could be a sleeper ready to awake violently. That and double dipping by renewables. Not unreasonably generators and steel producers will ask why should foreigners get our coal and LNG cheaper than locals who have to pay carbon tax. The solution is to slap c.t. on fuel exports and make foreign govts plead the case for a tax refund to sponsor their own CO2 abatement programs.


I sometimes get so despondent about our weaning off coal before it’s actually *gone* that I wonder what other geo-engineering tricks we’re going to have to employ to cool a cooking planet. EG: Massive biochar schemes across the globe that cook up agriwaste and plough biochar back into the soil where it grows fungi and sequesters even more carbon. (Apparently 5 times the carbon of the actual charcoal itself).

Then there’s the sulfur-gun — or is that sulfur-hose — which seems to be getting even cheaper!


Can any of you guys help me with a question / peeve of mine – “everyone” says Bill McKibben wrote the first book on climate change for the general public (or words to that effect) in 1989 – I disagree.
I read John Gribben’s 1982 book “Future Weather and
the Greenhouse Effect” in 1983 and it covered all this. Looking at the wikipedia entry of his works, it would appear that his (1978) What’s Wrong with Our Weather? The Climatic Threat of the Twenty-first Century book might have mentioned it too.
Anyone care to comment?


Hi Lawrence,
my guess is it is about popularity. What were the print runs of the respective books? If McKibbens sold a few orders of magnitude more books, then maybe it is correct to say it is the first book on climate change that the general public actually *read*.



Eclipse Now, on 14 June 2011 at 11:52 AM said:

“I sometimes get so despondent about our weaning off coal before it’s actually *gone* that I wonder what other geo-engineering tricks we’re going to have to employ to cool a cooking planet.”

We could just burn all the empty cities to the ground. All that particulate matter blocks out sunlight and has a thermal lowering effect. Not to mention all the jobs it would create!


Neil Howes, on 13 June 2011 at 4:53 PM — Before (much) wind power was also before the new minimum flow requirements which seriusly affect BPA’s springtime operations.

harrywr2 already mentioned the problems with more transmission capacity (although we left out front range Colorado as a potential sink).

John Newlands, on 14 June 2011 at 8:31 AM — The 20% refers to nameplate power connected to the grid, opeating or not. The Colorado River flow is seriously oversubscribed; levels in Lake Mead behind Hoover Dam are almost inoperably low. Down there possibly more solar PV will be helpful.


Environmentalist, on 12 June 2011 at 5:10 PM said, re SPV:

“… the price of the panels is .75$/watt but the capacity factor normalizes it, in short you do not install panels for peak output but rather for average output.”

OK, assuming that I agree about the unbelievably low price of panels. Add to that the cost of the remain der of the PV system, ie the other 60%. That makes $2.12.

Then, allow for the capacity factor, say 5 but in Germany, 9:

Capital cost for PV = $10.60 to $19 per (average) watt. NB: No comparison with 75 cents, which is nowhere near a true indication of the magnitude of the capital need.

Comparison EPC capital costs for NPP of 3 or 4 cents per kW.
Real comparisons should be on the basis of LCOE, which for nuclear in Germany is 8 cents. Both figures are from here:

Environmentalist repeatedly spouts unbelievable nonsense about comparative costs – that 75 cents figure above is one such. It is nonsense, because it covers only a tiny fraction of the capital requirement for an unrealisable dream, so I am progressively becoming less likely to plow through this contributor’s frequent, repetitive and long-winded contributions. Please, Environmentalist, don’t bother coming to this site quoting an unsupported ex-factory manufacturing cost, which isn’t even a market price, for a panel and pretending that the remainder of the PV installation is irrelevant. Even these figures indicate that money will be wasted in huge piles if ever the dream was realised and that is before we consider backup power supplies for the annual half-year (Germany) when solar is essentially asleep, or for batteries, or for grid costs, or for the admin costs and profits of the other players in the PV daydream system.

A guide: Australian experience is that the NEM wholesale pool price for power is about 7 cents per kWh; the domestic tariff about 3 times that. See the recent Federal report for examples.

For solar to displace other sources in a rational system (Get that? Rational, not Emotionally and Politically Mandated) the power must be available at a price that can win a bidding war against NPP and all other non-carbon fuels.

Solar PV, even if the panels were to cost Zero cents per kWh, doesn’t come close and on current indications re costings of interconnectors, storage and gas powered GT’s never, ever will.

As for one other contributor here, I will say two things:
1. I no longer read EN’s and Enviro’s contributions unless somebody else’s rejoinder indicates that there might be something new in them; and
2. DV82XL’s passion is understandable, even though our Moderator frequently chooses to intervene for the good of this site’s public face and the emotional health of several of its most prolific participants.
Perhaps, Respected Moderator, the emotional spiral would be less intense if each contributor was limited to, say, 3 posts per thread per day. I type this full knowledge that the limit would apply to me also.
Too difficult to choose which three posts would stand if more than that number were to be submitted.


A request … does anybody have a material requirements link for
a best practice solar PV field … how much steel, glass, concrete etc.


Below is an article on Wind Power and CO2 Emissions. It is on THE ENERGY COLLECTIVE website.

The article includes a comparison of the capital costs and owning and O&M costs of a Wind Facility plus Cycling Facility versus a CCGT Facility and Increased Energy Efficiency.

The latter alternative is significantly more cost effective than the former.

Please let me have your comments


the price of the panels is .75$/watt

That’s a unit cost factory floor price. It doesn’t include return on investment for the owners of the factory, shipping and handling ,connection equipment, installation, permitting, site prep etc etc etc.

As with many things, the factory floor price ends up being around 10% of actual price.


The equipment cost of the proposed Topaz solar farm, from First Solar with 0.75 per Watt peak panel manufacturing cost, is 1200 million for 550 MW peak. $ 2.19 per Watt peak, about 10 dollars per Watt average. So most of the cost is actually not in the panels.

Click to access TopazEconomicStudy.pdf

The problem with many of the solar enthusiasts here is that they don’t look at actual project data.

The Japanese seawater pumped hydro system is not cheap at all, 30 billion Yen for 30 megawatt peak, this is around 10 dollars per Watt peak. For 5 hours full load this is 0.21 capacity factor, it thus costs 48 dollars per average Watt compared to 6 dollars per average Watt for Olkiluoto. This is 8x as expensive as Olkiluoto, just for the storage (ie solar panels cost nothing assumption!).

Click to access Annex_VIII_CaseStudy0101_Okinawa_SeawaterPS_Japan.pdf

Now add 10 dollars per Watt average for the PV installation. This is 58 dollars per average Watt for the solar – seawater pumped hydro idea using real project data. Now add the cost of 100x as much seawater storage to take into account long term weather fluctuations (yes even in the tropics you get long periods of bad weather in rainy season, so only areas with lots of sunshine and lots of of hydro already built would be applicable – very much a limited market).

The dismal reality does not add up.


Willem Post the next step in this kind of analysis seems to be looking at the effect of gas prices and CO2 taxes if any. I note Exelon in the US seem confidant that gas prices will be low for many years hence no other kind of thermal plant or renewable needs to be built. I wonder if Australia’s 2012 carbon tax sort of worked and Obama got re-elected then the US could also get artificial carbon pricing. Presumably US wind power would then no longer get renewable portfolio standards or tax credits.

There must come a point when gas prices (with or without carbon taxes) are high enough to clearly favour some wind power in the mix, say by year 2020. That is the least cost combination includes both expensive gas and wind. A longer term question few are asking is what happens to wind power when there is no gas.


Eclipse Now, on 16 June 2011 at 9:00 AM said:

Interesting ABC report on this Maunder Minimum all the Denialists

The Maunder Solar minimum coincided with a particularly cold period that began in 1650. It’s correlation without causation.

Sometimes correlation without causation is a result of random chance, sometimes it’s because there are mechanism’s we don’t understand.

We don’t understand the mechanism for changes in stratospheric water vapor according to NOAA .


Hi Harrywr2,
that’s an interesting article! I’ve often hoped that the peer-reviewed science would come up with a climate ‘safety valve’. But this mysterious change in water vapour in the stratosphere has only slowed warming by about a quarter. It’s still happening. The other thing to consider is we know how catastrophic prehistoric warmings have been for earth, with everything from huge extinctions to anoxic oceans. And the sun is 2% hotter than these dinosaur-age events! So the ‘safety valve’ is looking less and less likely as climate science progresses.


Tom… since Italy didn’t have any nuclear power before the referendum, it’s not a big loss for nuclear power. Maybe Italy restarting on the nuclear road would have been a win; but even then, not a big win. Germany and Switzerland may yet change their policies, although I doubt it.


This is so sad, from Mark Lynas (he really is doing stellar commentary): New IPCC error: renewables report conclusion was dictated by Greenpeace
The bottom line:

The IPCC must urgently review its policies for hiring lead authors – and I would have thought that not only should biased ‘grey literature’ be rejected, but campaigners from NGOs should not be allowed to join the lead author group and thereby review their own work. There is even a commercial conflict of interest here given that the renewables industry stands to be the main beneficiary of any change in government policies based on the IPCC report’s conclusions. Had it been an oil industry intervention which led the IPCC to a particular conclusion, Greenpeace et al would have course have been screaming blue murder.

Additionally, the Greenpeace/renewables industry report is so flawed that it should not have been considered by the IPCC at all. Whilst the journal-published version looks like proper science, the propaganda version on the Greenpeace website has all the hallmarks of a piece of work which started with some conclusions and then set about justifying them. There is a whole section dedicated to ‘dirty, dangerous nuclear power’, and the scenario includes a complete phase-out of new nuclear globally, with no stations built after 2008.

How is this achieved whilst also reducing carbon emissions at the same time, which is after all the supposed point of the whole exercise? By assuming a totally unrealistic global consumption of energy, with total primary energy use in 2050 actually *less* than the baseline of 2007. The magic trick of getting rid of nuclear whilst generating 80% of the world’s energy from renewables is performed by making an absurd assumption that primary energy use will fall (from 469 exojoules today to 407 in 2050) even as population rises from 7 to 9 billion and GDP per capita more than doubles. I doubt this is even thermodynamically possible, let alone the basis for good policy.

Why do I feel the world is creeping further from reality every day? *sigh*


Yup. Thanks for that post, Barry. It sure reinforced what I was seeing at Greenpeace Japan and Greenpeace India. Just hallucinating.

and I have to say that at least half the panelists, Caron and Patterson for sure, were on board with this kind of “absurd assumption” that Lynas worries about.


Wow. Lynas is doing a great job but the way this is snowballing in the blogosphere – and i’m sure eventually more mainstream media – is going to do hell for the whole IPCC not just WG 3. This is a huge blow for peoples’ faith in climate science and to the energy debate alike. At least in the latter case peoples’ bullshit radars might begin to kick in. Above all, Lynas’ question “how did this happen?” definitely needs answering.


Gas fired power station CCS was supposed to have been demonstrated at Peterhead in Scotland but years later nothing seems to be happening. Not sure of the economics but I doubt carbon taxes at the $20 mark will be enough. It also wastes a lot more gas for the same net output. There’s little evidence it will ever become a commercial reality.

CO2 separated from raw (unburnt) gas is pumped underground at Sleipner in the North Sea but a bigger proposal is Barrow Island WA. Up to a cumulative 120 Mt will be pumped into brine below the island and the govt will pay the bills if anything goes wrong.


Anyone following up the flurry of “radioactive air filter” and “infant mortality” blog posts that are showing up many places? I’ve seen many copypastes of claims supposedly referring to numbers found in somewhere in MMWR from CDC.

Here is an actual cite to a real MMWR page source (the writer is anonymous, unfortunately; this is a UCB nuclear program site, but the commenters could be anybody, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of adult supervision going on in the blog).

However, for whatever it may be worth

This says the MMWR numbers cited do not support the claims being blogged:


>” absurd assumption that primary energy use will fall (from 469 exojoules today to 407 in 2050) even as population rises from 7 to 9 billion ”
That comes out to
“that global primary energy use will fall from 14.8 TW today to 12.9 TW in 2050, or 2.12 kW to 1.43 kW per capita”.
Sure is absurd. Primary energy use for Australians about 7.5 kW per capiat, Americans about 11 kW per capita. (ABS stats )


More generally, this page explains how anyone who is checking an air filter with a Geiger counter can determine what they’re counting :

Also, if you’ve got a Geiger counter, check your dryer lint — it gives the same kind of information about naturally occurring radioactivity and you can see the decay curve described. That short half-life is how to tell what’s normal radioactivity in your house from anything long-lived enough to have crossed the ocean or gone ’round the planet.

The epidemiology issues about birth rates and mortality I’ll leave to a real epidemiologist capable of looking at statistics and identifying cherrypicking. One will turn up eventually.



that material you cite is very valuable. Sherman attributes to the fukushima accident a 35% increase in mortality among infants in west u.s. from weeks pre fukushima to weeks post fukushima.

but the rate of increase is nearly the same in 2009 and 2010 and the infant mortality rate in 2009 is significantly higher than in 2011 for the key period–15/wk, compared to 12.5/wk.

This sort of journalism makes one despair, especially when coupled with the greenpeace story.


Letter sent to all Members of Parliament and Senators today:

2020 CO2 Emissions targets cannot be achieved without a deep recession

Australia’s 2020 CO2 emissions targets should be reviewed.

The only way Australia’s CO2 emissions could be cut to 5% below 2000 levels by 2020 is with a deep, long recession.

Cutting GDP growth rate to negative for 8 years is the only way the targets could be achieved.

Four factors define the rate of change of CO2 emissions, and only one of them can be changed fast enough to achieve the 2020 targets. The one that can be changed significantly is GDP growth rate. And that is what the Carbon price would have to do. The carbon price would have to be raised high enough to cut GDP growth rate to negative.

The four factors that, multiplied together, define the rate of change of CO2 emissions are:
1. Population growth rate
2. GDP per capita growth rate
3. Energy intensity rate of change
4. Emissions intensity rate of change

1. Realistically, we can’t cut the population growth rate.

2. GDP growth rate is the only one of the four factors we can change sufficiently to achieve the 2020 targets. That would require an 8-year recession; much worse than Keating’s recession

3. We can’t cut energy intensity much faster than we already are without shifting energy intensive industries off shore. For example, we can’t replace all our buildings, across the country, with energy efficient buildings in just 8 years. Labor made a token gesture with the Pink Bats home insulation program and we know how that turned out. That was supposed to be the easiest and most cost effective way to improve energy efficiency and look what a mess that turned out to be. Therefore, realistically, we cannot increase the rate of improving energy efficiency of the whole economy by much in just 8 years.

4. We can’t cut emissions intensity much faster than we already are. To cut emissions intensity we’d have to replace coal power stations with nuclear, but that is not politically possible at the moment, and couldn’t be achieved by 2020 even if there was bi-partisan support for it. Changing from coal to gas will make some improvement, but at enormous future cost and not much is realistically achievable by 2020. We cannot improve the rate of reduction of emissions intensity from transport by much in 8 years. Therefore, we cannot increase the rate of improving emissions intensity of the whole economy by much in just 8 years.


The 2020 emissions targets are impossible to achieve without a deep, long recession. A carbon price can achieve that, but is that what the population would want if they knew the consequences of the carbon pricing policy being offered to them

The 2020 targets should be reviewed (and dumped)


This paper by Roger Pielke, Jr, an economist from the London School of Economics, provides the background to what I’ve said above.




Peter Lang, on 17 June 2011 at 10:37 AM — Roger Pielke, Jr. is a political scientist [not even an economist] at the University of Colorado, a long way from London.


> This sort of journalism makes one despair,

It’s not journalism yet, near as I can tell; it’s blogging.

> especially when coupled with the greenpeace story.

That’s a full-teacup tskandal grown from a headline malfunction in a press release. Like that hasn’t happened before, heck, it seems to happen more often than not. Read the press release, read the actual work, wonder how the PR people did _that_. They often do cock it up somehow. Scientists have been complaining about that kind of misrepresentation by press release for a long time.

Neither one is in the newspapers as far as I’ve noticed.


Hank: the al jazeera article is journalism. dahr jamail is a respected anti war reporter.

the article by Sherman is in counterpunch. Two articles, the basis of the blogging is my guess.

as for greenpeace, the headline about renewable energy (up to 80% of our energy can be supplied by renewables, etc.) was based on an outlier scenario, at best, among dozens in the report itself. The median scenario had renewables supplying 17-27 % of energy by 2050 (don’t recall if this was electricity or all energy).


Laura: I admit to having made the anti fracking arguments, without really knowing much about it.

thanks for getting me to look closer.

of course, I made them from a pro nuclear perspective.

what about france’s ban on fracking? is this misinformed?


“The electric power industry is the last industry in the western world to moderize itself through the use of sensors, communications and computational ability.”
— EPRI’s Estimating the Cost and Benefits of the Smart Grid


Apart from using Greenpeace as ghost writers another major criticism of the IPCC was the implausibility of the ‘A’ emissions scenarios. They show man made CO2 increasing beyond 2050. Turns out that path was correct in the last year or two
However many are expecting a Peak Everything downturn starting soon. I believe Rutledge from Caltech spoke on this a couple of months ago at Adelaide Uni but it seems to have been glossed over.

There is no way the world of 2050 can happily see 8 or 9 billion people equitably sharing less than the present 15 Tw of power. We’ll need desalination, electric transport and extreme weather conditioning. I’ll believe in efficiency when politicians give up their limos and VIP jets. I think we’re going to do it tough. As Peter Lang says we’re going to take some pain if we stick to the plan. However I think there will be worse pain within the lifetimes of most of us if we don’t take immediate steps.


The word “realistic” is key there Eclipse Now. Perhaps population growth rate could potentially be reduced, but population growth itself is pretty much inevitable.

Further to the discussion, I haven’t been presented with any evidence that we’d need to cut GDP growth in order to achieve emissions reductions. Peter Lang cerainly hasn’t presented any, just asserted it.

Here’s a logical counter-argument:
In 2007, landuse change (deforestation) accounted for 9.4 % of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Yet forestry accounts for just 1 % of Australia’s GDP, which is substantially less than annual GDP growth. Legislation could (theoretically) be introduced overnight to stop deforestation, and introduce afforestation programs. Not only would this be a feasible way of cutting emissions, but it would also make good economic sense by directlyprotecting and promoting biodiversity.

Now I’m not going to comment on the viability or “moral” implications of this scenario – that’s not the point. What I’m trying to illustrate is that cuts could be made without resulting in negative growth (a.k.a. a recession). And this is just one scenario. There are other areas too – agricultural processes, what people eat, transport use, etc.


John Newlands

However I think there will be worse pain within the lifetimes of most of us if we don’t take immediate steps.

I am not sure I agree with this statement. IMO it is better to take no steps and defer action than take the wrong steps.

We’ve taken the wrong steps many times before – Kyoto; mandating and subsidising renewable energy; and blocking progress of nuclear over the past 50 years are excellent examples of bad policies. If we had not blocked the development of nuclear over the past 50 years, we’d be in a far better position now. For example,

1. World GHG emissions would be some 10% to 20% lower than they are

2. We’d be on a trajectory for much faster reduction in world emissions

3. Nuclear would be safer now than it is (because of the development; c.f. safety improvements in the aerospace industry over the past 50 years)

4. Electricity would be much lower cost than it is now (c.f. France, with 75% of its electricity generated from nu clear power has near the lowest cost electricity in Europe; and c.f. cost reductions in air travel over the past 50 years).

Therefore, I’d prefer to wait and concentrate on getting an appropriate policy rather than another bad policy. As you know, I am convinced that implementing a carbon price in Australia, at this time, is bad policy. In fact I believe it is very bad policy.

As you know, I believe we should focus our efforts on removing the many distortions in the energy market in Australia. If we did this, we could have low cost clean electricity generation (as I’ve explained in comments on the “Alternative to Carbon Pricing” thread).


Tom Keen,

Peter Lang cerainly hasn’t presented any, just asserted it.

Clearly you didn’t bother to read the link I provided!

Furthermore, clearly you haven’t exercised your mind on the equation provided in the paper nor considered by how much the four rates of change could be improved, realistically, in 8 years.

I look forward to what you come up with after you have done so. Furthermore, I look forward to your substantiation of your claims that we can achieve the 2020 emissions targets without a severe cut in real GDP.


Hi Tom,
great point on deforestation and biodiversity! It seems PL hasn’t done the math on that one just yet — but it might click in a minute — if he *bothers* to look at *your* links for a change. Remember Peter, reciprocation = conversation. If you don’t reciprocate, aren’t you just insisting on playing Yoda while asking Tom to play Luke Skywalker, your ‘Young Apprentice’?

Furthermore, clearly you haven’t exercised your mind on the equation provided in the paper nor considered by how much the four rates of change could be improved, realistically, in 8 years.The word “realistic” is key there Eclipse Now. Perhaps population growth rate could potentially be reduced, but population growth itself is pretty much inevitable.

Population growth is the one consistent theme in all old civilisation melt-downs that Jared Diamond analysed in “Collapse”. If we can’t stabilise it here in Australia where we have already passed through the Demographic Transition, then we’re in trouble.

There were 24 great civilisations before us that all reached a peak in power, affluence, population and then consumption. This resulted in peak IMPACT on their local environment.

The one difference with our civilisation is that it’s global. When this baby pops, we’ll plaster Easter Island across the planet!


The Kaya identity is used to calculate the level of energy related CO2 emissions, Peter.

You said

The only way Australia’s CO2 emissions could be cut to 5% below 2000 levels by 2020 is with a deep, long recession.

[emphasis mine] and have not substantiated it. I gave you an example, using numbers, which could be achieved contrary to this. Neither the Environmental Science & Policy paper or the Pielke blog article support your conclusion of a deep, long, 8 year recession.

However, if your central point is that emissions reductions will be both minimal and difficult to achieve without nuclear, then I agree. While I don’t buy your economic catastrophe argument, 5 % is not a big reduction.


Thanks Tom Keen. I keep thinking deforestation in Australia is on the decline thanks to Qld 2004 legislation and have taken my eye off that ball. Ouch.



You are giving examples from a botton up approach. This is of no use. The only way you could make a bottom up approach meaningful is to identify ALL the emissions savings and all the emissions increases throughout the economy and total them. So, simply giving a few examples is of no use and not convincing at all.

What I am suggesting you need to do is to understand the paper I linked to, understand the equation, understand the inputs that give the projectred BAU emissions in 2020, then understand how much you would need to change the inputs to achieve the 2020 targets. Having done that, look at what is realistically achievable for the four rates of change.

Here are the four rates of change you need to come up with for the two scenarios: 1) BAU projections to 2020 and 2) to achieve the 2020 targets:

1. Population growth rate
2. GDP per capita growth rate
3. Energy intensity rate of change
4. Emissions intensity rate of change

The change is in % pa

The units are:

1. population
2. real GDP/capita ($)
3. GJ/$ (GDP)
4. t CO2/GJ

You would also need to provide sources for the factors you use in your analysis.


Tom Keen,

While I don’t buy your economic catastrophe argument, 5 % is not a big reduction.

That is an example of the sort of unsubstantiated, wishful thinking that destroys the credibility of Climate Change Alarmists and Catastrophists :)


@ Geoff – the forestry emissions figure is from 2007, I’m unsure how that compares to now. I believe at least some positive developments have occured in Tassie, but quantitatively I don’t how much that has added up to in terms of emissions reductions.


Peter, I made it quite clear that I don’t think Australia has much to gain in terms of emissions reductions from the energy sector without nuclear energy, so I don’t know why you’re insisting I play around with the Kaya equation.

As for my “unsubstantiated, wishful thinking” in the sentence you quoted – I didn’t make any statement there that needed substantiating. I simply stated that I don’t buy your deep, long recession argument because you had not substantiated it. And still haven’t!


@tom: LULUCF figures should be in annual UNFCCC submissions, I just haven’t been paying attention and your post reminds me that I should put aside a little time to
go through those submissions.


@ Gregory Meyerson

what about france’s ban on fracking? is this misinformed?

I don’t know the situation in France. I’m in New York State, where the hysteria and wrong accusations against fracking are flying everywhere. A lot of people seem to think that because it’s in a movie (Gasland), it must be true.

From what I’ve heard from reputable sources like Science magazine, the actual water contamination hazard is not from the fracking itself – but the plastic-lined pits containing fracking solution may leak, or it might otherwise leak when it’s above ground.

Fracking can be done safely from what I’ve heard, with adequate regulation. Maybe with their nuclear power, France can afford not to do it.

That Ausubel article I mentioned suggests a synergy between nuclear and natural gas: nuclear energy can be used to convert methane into hydrogen – stripping the carbon out before it can get into the atmosphere. At night when electricity isn’t needed, the nuclear reactor could be converting methane to hydrogen!


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