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Open Thread 17

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.

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Note 1: For reference, the last general open thread (from 7 June 2011) was here. Why another one so soon, I hear you ask? Well, blame yourselves, you worked the last one over too quickly (almost 600 comments accumulated), and this payload slows down the thread loading too much. Hence, a fresh canvas for you.

Note 2: I have now added the BNC animated video as a permanent widget, located at the top right hand column of the blog — so it will always be easy to find (and, I hope, will act as an introduction to the site for those who are visiting for the first time).

Note 3: Some interesting reading… Joe Shuster (a member of SCGI and author of ‘Beyond Fossil Fools’) has written a 24-page pamphlet called “Energy Independence Day: July 4th 2040” (PDF download). This US-focused plan includes 15% wind, 15% solar, 5% hydro, 6% biomass, geothermal, tides and waves, 5% plasma remediation (waste), 12% natural gas, and 42% nuclear (an initial build out of advanced LWR and a transition to predominantly IFRs). Click the link to read the document, which is well argued (even if you disagree with some details), colourfully illustrated, and thought provoking. Tom Blees said the following:

Joe Shuster has distilled the confusing energy picture and presented in this brief report a rational, logical, and quantified solution to some of the most intractable problems of our day. Unlike most visions of humanity’s future, Joe foresees an energy-rich world that would enable a dramatic improvement in the lives of everyone on the planet. This is not just about energy. It’s about social justice on a planetary scale.

—Tom Blees, President of the Science Council for Global Initiatives

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.

557 replies on “Open Thread 17”

DV82XL is a frequent commenter here, and Barry has featured his views as guest posts in the past. Rod Adams, a prominent US pro nuclear advocate is touting DV82XLs writing at the moment.

Quoting from DV82XL’s “History of the Antinuclear Movement part 2b”, http://deregulatetheatom.com/reference/history-of-the-antinuclear-movement-part-2b/ at a point when he discusses environmental groups in general, which DV82XL refers to as “Green/eco-activists”:

“Since it appears that the primary objective of these groups is to keep the flow of donations into their coffers as high as possible, they generally like to engage in high-profile actions with little regard for any overall strategy. Unlike the NIMBYs, there are only broad and ill-defined objectives, and even when there is a specific target for action, after putting on some spectacle, and garnering some attention in the press, there is rarely if any follow-up beyond a bit of rhetoric. Thus as antinuclear activists, while loud and annoying, they are not too effective on a broad front.”

Note that his criticism at the start of this quote is general and very clear – environmental groups are not sincerely attempting to address issues of concern to them, such as climate change. Their primary interest is money. He shifts from this general, unsubstantiated expression of derision (there are no footnotes or references in this piece) to the specific case of “Green/eco-activists” who because they oppose nuclear power are part of the anti nuclear movement as he dismisses their effectiveness in his last sentence.

I take it these views of DV82XL would offend many who visit here. Perhaps he would like to take this opportunity to explain what he believes.

DV82XL denounced me personally here as an “anti nuclear zealot”, presumably over my view that the US National Academy of Sciences is capable of producing excellent independent expert panel reviews on any scientific topic, in the case in question, on the effects of human exposure to low doses of radiation. Because I believe in the quality and integrity of the NAS, one of the greatest scientific organizations that exists in the world today, and pointed to some of their work in debate on this website, I drew DV82XL’s fire.

If it were just DV82XL I would say what does this matter. The fact is his tactic of attacking those who say our greatest scientific institutions have integrity and ability because he disagrees with the findings of a panel the NAS set up to examine what the scientific community believes about radiation, is a tactic that is being used by many others as they attack the findings of climate scientists.

I have just finished re-reading Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway’s book “Merchants of Doubt”. There is a good interview with Naomi done by The Climate Show, here – http://www.theclimateshow.com/42329805 Listen to her describe how she feels about the small group of people her book is about, who used this tactic of attacking the integrity and ability of scientists and their institutions rather than backing up their view of reality with verifiable data published in the peer reviewed literature.

I find this view of DV82XLs, i.e. that environmentalists have no real concerns other than making money to be common among pro nuclear types, especially those who put their views most prominently forward on the internet by hosting websites. And it is also common among these types to denounce the IPCC, and climate science. Some say the Nobel Committee that awarded the only Nobel ever given for studies of the Earth’s atmosphere was in error.

My position is that no matter how evil the types Oreskes and Conway describe, who originated these tactics, appear to be, the real problem is why did so many believe them.

However, I think it is time we all examine whether it is wise to allow our supposed allies to continue with their tactics of attempting to undermine the credibility of our great scientific institutions unchallenged. The viability of the only planet known to support life is at stake.

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42% nuclear in the Shuster plan? Surely the US can do better than that.
12% NG- I realize that unconventional gas is the flavour of the decade but I doubt whether there will be enough recoverable gas left,even globally,by 2040 to meet this level of demand.And it is still a fossil fuel and highly polluting.

6% biomass,geothermal,tides and waves.The latter 2 are pixieland stuff and geothermal,outside of volcanic areas,is hardly a proven technology.Biomass has the potential to be extremely environmentally destructive.

30% wind and solar – why bother when,for less money and resources,less disrupton to the grid, and a smaller footprint the US could provide the same amount of electricity reliably with nuclear.

5% hydro – does that mean even more destruction of river systems?

I think advocates of nuclear power are diluting their message by even mentioning some of these ideas as being viable options.Time to stay on track and not be shunted off to weed infested sidings or down dead end lines

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The last time I put forward this proposal all I got was some kind of political rant about free markets. Once again.

One way to eliminate the problems with gas backup for wind and solar would be to require all such projects to have two hours of peak output matched with associated green storage ( hydro, pumped hydro, batteries, flywheels etc)

With pumped Hydro that would add about $2B/Gw to the current $12B/Gw cost of wind power.

When the green storage is down to one hour CCGT plants fire up and replenish. No need for fast spooling OCGT plant and associated emissions.

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If it’s “one” hour or so, then it’s far cheaper than CCGT. There seems to be a misunderstanding that it takes 10 minutes or more for a CCGT to come online. The *steam turbine/generator* set might (assuming it’s not a combined GT/Steam Turbine CC unit) but the GT part of any CCGT comes on and parallels to the system as soon at it’s built up RPMs and the DC field is put on it. For the kind of set up (something that would be totally unnessary if we had well deployed nuclear) Seth here is advocating, you only need a OCGT (simple cycle).

David

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As Ray Kurzweil of “The Singularity is Near” fame correctly points out:

“Solar panels are coming down dramatically in cost per watt. And as a result of that, the total amount of solar energy is growing, not linearly, but exponentially. Its doubling every 2 years and has been for 20 years. And again, its a very smooth curve. Theres all these arguments, subsidies and political battles and companies going bankrupt, theyre raising billions of dollars, but behind all that chaos is this very smooth progression.”

Daniel Nocera’s recent discovery of an extremely efficient way to store solar energy is but one example of this.

Here, now, are only some of the MAJOR ADVANCES in solar that have occurred during THIS MONTH (June, 2011) alone:

1. Pythagoras Solar in San Mateo has developed a window laced with solar cells, a window that generates electricity. Imagine if office towers were net energy producers.

Read More: http://idealab.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/06/post-5.php

2. Quantum Materials Corp announce that continuous production of Tetrapod Quantum Dots has been achieved. Tetrapod Quantum Dots are used in the manufacture of ultra efficient solar panels.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/345803#ixzz1QhanlfR6

3. Engineers at Oregon State University have discovered a way for the first time to create successful “CIGS” solar devices with inkjet printing, in work that reduces raw material waste by 90 percent and will significantly lower the cost of producing solar energy cells with some very promising compounds.

Read more: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-06-inkjet-solar-energy-industry.html

4. Chinese solar-panel manufacturer Suntech Power has developed a new process for making silicon wafers for solar cells that could cut the cost of solar power by 10 to 20 percent

Read more: http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/37882/

This exponential trend WILL continue. The same is not true for other forms of energy.

Nuclear power will be to solar what the Apple IIe is now to the Ipad – it’s just a matter of time

Solar in INFINITELY marketable, scalable, and almost no waste issues

Nuclear REQUIRES government security regimes, requires grid infrastructures (not yet available in much of the developing world and a MAJOR expense) and has considerable waste issues

My guess is that by the time 1 new nuclear power plant is built in the US, the developing world will be significantly powered by…

Ever cheaper, Ever more Efficient, ever more personal, Ever cleaner, Ever more promising energy from the sun.

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The storage requirement seems like it would meet with approval from the BZE crowd. Yesterday Bob Brown said the solar flagship projects were ‘base load’. Don’t think so; they only work when the sun shines.
This has been pointed out by ZCA enthusiasts e.g.
http://dancass.com/blog/post/solar-flagships-photovoltaic-and-solar-thermal-power-stations-for-australia/

The ‘flagships’ get a favourable mention in the Martin Ferguson statement linked in the sidebar. That’s ~250 MW peak (more if gas boosted) by 2015. I thought were supposed to have ~5,000 MW more round the clock average renewable power by 2020. It’s so far off you’d think it’s time we stopped kidding ourselves.

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One megaWatt hour is equivalent to about 8.4 x10^10 [10^10 = exp(10)] Joules. A change in temperature of one degree C (1 C) in 1 cc (= 1gram) of water involves 4.2 Joules. Thus 8.4 x 10^10 Joules would heat, by 1 degree C, a volume of 2 x 10^10 cm3 or 2 x 10^4 cubic metres of water by 1 C. This volume is equivalent to 100m x 100m x 1m. Similarly a change of 100 C in this amount of water would involve 100 MWh. To store enough energy to run a 100 MW generator for 14 hours (no sun at night) would require 28 x 10^4 cubic metres of water initially at, say, 400 C cooling to 300 C (still hot enough to produce high quality steam) as steam was drawn off during the night. The volume is equivalent to (100 m x 100 m) in area x 28 m deep. Perhaps alternatively a sphere, buried underground, of radius about 40 m. Doesn’t sound too difficult provided that in that volume one could contain the preesure of steam at a temperature of 400 C. I think someone had better check my figures!!

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The comments so far are missing the key issue. They’ve been missing or avoiding there key issue consistently.

The key point is the economics.

If we are not prepared to tackle the fact that the impediments we place on nuclear make it uneconomic in Australia, it is not going to get built here.

A carbon price is not going to make nuclear economic while the impediments remain in place.

Imposing a Carbon Price will bury the problem of the impediments even deeper in the mire of regulatory imposts (we have over 240 regulations to cut GHG emissions already and there is no intention to remove any of them when a carbon price is imposed).

A Carbon Price will allow avoidance and cause further delay (we’ve already delayed 50 years, and we keep on delaying: 1993 election, 2007 election, and now we are about to do it again).

A Carbon Price in Australia will not cut world emissions nor will it change the climate. But it will damage Australia’s economy. That will make us less able to take the best actions in the future.

I’d urge contributors to work on assisting Labor to change its anti-nuclear policy and the Greens and Environmental NGO’s to embrace nuclear. This is where the effort should be placed rather than encouraging more bad policy.

The list of bad policies that have been imposed by well meaning but irrational Progressive governments is very long. These are damaging Australia’s economy and preventing nuclear being lower cost than coal.

The arguments about “the science” and technologies are a waste of time now. “It’s the economy stupid”

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I”m for a carbon tax–in the US, where I live, and elsewhere. The easiest way to get such a tax enacted is to make it appealing to most people and businesses. And one way to do this is to start small and gradually increase the price. For more on this strategy, Google “The Carbon Tax Miracle Cure” by A. Blinder.

Also, a gradually rising carbon price is one of the two main prescriptions for controlling climate change presented by James Hansen in “Storms of My Grandchildren”– the other prescription being a moratorium on new coal plants.

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This just in

Canada’s new majority (deleted pejorative)government has just paid engineering firm SNC Lavalin $45M to take Atomic Energy Canada and its Candu technology and do with it as it wishes. A multibillion dollar asset given away with a giant raspberry to the 100K AECL workers that go with it and the foolish voters who thought that(deleted pejorative) are good for business.

Just like the low information green community, the Big Oil owned Fascist political movement hates nuclear power.
MODERATOR
Although refs/links to support assertions are not mandatory on the Open Threads they are appreciated by blog participants. Do you have any?

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No David, since 80% of the wind/solar gas combo’s energy comes from gas, you really want the gas part to be as efficient as possible meaning CCGT.

By giving the CCGT plant time to warm up as the storage system bottoms out you can replace the inefficient OCGT plant saving some GHG’s and reducing air pollution.

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Gee Steve,
Despite all of those beaut new solar technologies, the fact remains that currently wind and solar together around the world contribute less than 1% of world energy. My reading reveals that they are expected to reach 2.8% by 2030. I think your claims for solar in the future are a bit fanciful. From wind, we in Australia currently get 2% of our energy total. It’s a bit more than that in SA where our misguided government going for wind farms big time. We’ll finish up like Denmark with inadequate power which is too costly and won’t do anything for emissions reductions. Barry, I recorded yesterday for Robyn Williams my Ockham’s Razor talk [13 minutes] on Climate Change and Australia’s Energy Future. If I send you a copy, would you like to put it up for me as a guest post? Then everyone can have a go at me. However, I do admit to being an AGW “skeptic” in the first part. It was a bit difficult getting the piece down to 13 minutes. However, at least I got a say which will go to a national audience. The last time that happened was in 2003 when I debated Professor John Veevers on Phillip Adams LNL. In answer to my contention that storing the world’s nuclear waste here in SA could generate sufficient funds, [$3 billion per year in taxes and royalties from user countries ] which we could use to finance the salvation of the Murray/Darling river system. Veevers said we could make just as much money going into wholesale HEROIN production. At the time he was professor of planetary and earth sciences at Macquarie University.(deleted pejorative)

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@ Seth

Have you got a ref for what you just posted re. SNC Lavalin? I’m interested in reading more/didn’t quite understand what you were saying.

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Huon,

I’m for a carbon tax–in the US, where I live, and elsewhere. The easiest way to get such a tax enacted is to make it appealing to most people and businesses. And one way to do this is to start small and gradually increase the price.

You comment indicates a single issue perspective. It suggests a lack of appreciation of the “big picture”. This article posted yesterday provides a perspective on the “big picture” and gives a clear idea where the Progressives are going wrong:
http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/06/27/the-failure-of-al-gore-part-deux/

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SNC Lavalin will be paid $45M to take over Canada’s reactor manufacturer AECL.

So lets see based on all the latest builds AECL can build Candu’s for $1.5B at a profit.

http://www.cnnc.com.cn/tabid/168/Default.aspx

But Ontario already has said they will pay $1.9B so with 15 or so guaranteed reactor sales at from OPG (Google “Ontario Energy Plan”). I’d say that is a guaranteed profit of $6B on a zero investment.

Two conclusions:

1)campaign donation’s really work
2) The Ultra right wing Canadian government is strongly against nuclear power.

Google “ottawa-sells-aecl-to-snc-lavalin”

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Peter Lang,

Actually the US (and Australia) should do three things:

1. Reduce the regulatory obstacles to nuclear, as you say.

2. Implement a modest carbon tax at, perhaps, $1 per ton of CO2 (1 cent per gallon of gasoline) rising to $15 per ton by 2015.

3. Put a gradually rising price on other coal emissions, such as mercury and SO2.

These are all sound economic measures, the latter two putting a price on economic externalities.

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References for what? The wind gas storage numbers have been covered numerous times on this site. If I’m off in my calculations I’m sure Peter Lang will correct me.
MODERATOR
Sorry – I placed my remark on the wrong comment of yours (now corrected). You have subsequently submitted a ref in response to Tom Keen. Thank you.

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@ Huon

Put a gradually rising price on other coal emissions, such as mercury and SO2.

I agree. Any pollution should have a price put on it, across all industries. Quantifying negative externalities is not simply some academic way of trying to get rid of a pollution source – these are estimates of real costs that are being passed onto and paid by people other than the party responsible for the production of the cost. The people paying are often tax payers or individuals, and in the case of greenhouse gases, people all over the world. If companies want to continue to act negligently and continue polluting, they have incurred the costs themselves.

Unfortunately, in Australia, a price on carbon is unlikely to have any real direct impact on emissions, so we really need to get on with allowing and building nuclear power plants, at whatever raw-dollar cost. A carbon tax is currently the only thing on the political agenda here which could possibly move things in this direction.

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Steve,

These are the same tired old logical fallacies adressed in Hayden’s “The Solar Fraud.” I suggest you read it. Solar is growing very slowly in amount of energy delivered. By percentage the growth is rapid, but in amount it is slow (0.02% of U.S. electricity). The fastest growing energy source by amount is coal. If you have a dollar and double it, you have made a dollar. If you have a million dollars and it grows 1%, you have $10,000. Which is more? Solar will never be more than 1% of world electricity. It has a terrible EROEI (actually negative, if you store solar using lead-acid batteries) and requires too much water to keep the panels clean from debris (very problematic in the desert, where there is little water). There have been no drops in solar cost since the late `80s. In 2006, Germany had 80% of all the solar panels in the world. It provided 0.5% of their electricity, at a cost of 50 cents a kilowatt hour (nuclear is under 2 cents). If they stored it using lead-acid batteries, it would be vastly more expensive and have a negative EROEI. Solar is a joke, like ethanol. It’s really wind that has been the more successful of the two (6% electricty in Germany). However, if the world ever got more than one terawatt from wind we would be changing the climate. Technosolar is a dead end.

As for Daniel Nocera’s “discovery,” hydrogen storage is vastly inferior to lead-acid batteries. Hydrogen is extremely lightweight and must be stored in cryogenic storage tanks at 10,000 psi. It makes metals brittle and escapes through microscopic cracks in the mettle. Fuel cells are way to expensive and use too much platinum. This is another dead end with no future.

As for nuclear waste, a peice of nuclear ‘waste’ the size of a golf ball could equal all of the energy consumed over your entire lifetime (See Barry’s new video)

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Tom Keen,

You said:

Any pollution should have a price put on it, across all industries.

I’ve been arguing that for a long time, but not as you want to do it. Just to be clear, what I’ve been saying is that all externalities of all industries should be internalised to the extent practicable. I then drill down to deal with only energy and say: “all externalities of all energy supply and use should be internalised to the extent practicable”

However, when you determine what is practicable you come up against practical problems. If you go too far you cause more damage than you fix. If you send the economy backwards you will probably do more harm to more people than you help.

Furthermore, a government defined tax is not the way to internalise externalities. You may think the damage cost of CO2 is $200/tonne and someone else may think it is $2/tonne. We do not have an accepted way to calculate it. An alternative way to internalise the externalities is to place limits on emissions. Then the costs of controlling emisisons are included in the price paid by customers. This is the common way to internalise most pollutants. It was used to ban lead from cars and is used to control pollutants in drinking water, etc.

Another issue is why pick on one pollutant rather than another. Why pick on CO2? What has been done to demonstrate that this is the pollutant most requiring attention?

If we do not understand the consequences of your prescriptive attempt to internalise an externality we may cause more harm than we fix (we often do that). Watching the “Gasland” documentary on SBS yesterday made me wonder if forcing the electricity industry to change from coal to gas may not do more harm than good. I can envisage large areas of the Eastern states being seriously damaged as has been done in the USA. I can imagine our water and our food being polluted with the organic chemicals being used for hydro-fracking. So we do need to understand the consequences of our actions. I fear that is often not done and certainly is not being done in the case of carbon pricing. In fact, the champions of carbon pricing do not want to even consider or discuss the consequences of the carbon pricing proposal.

Unfortunately, in Australia, a price on carbon is unlikely to have any real direct impact on emissions,

True!
An key point.

so we really need to get on with allowing and building nuclear power plants,

I agree. This is the crux of the issue. The first step is to “allow” nuclear and to “allow” nuclear to be competitive with coal. This is what we should all be focused on. If we focused on this, there would be no argument between “progressives” and “conservatives” about how serious are the consequences of CO2 emissions or “the science” or the ideology or the other agendas. These arguments would just go away. We’d all agree on what we need to do.

at whatever raw-dollar cost.

No. Definitely not. That is ridiculous. I can’t imagine how anyone with a conscience could say such a thing. Words fail me.

A carbon tax is currently the only thing on the political agenda here.

It is the policy being pushed by the Greens and Labor government. It is not the only option. The rest of the world is walking away from this option. They are all moving towards the direct action approach. We are out of step again, just as we were with Kyoto. Australia ratified Kyoto just as everyone else realised it was a dud policy. Just as everyone else realises carbon pricing is a dud, our government wants to sign us on – no matter what the cost to the country. It’s no wonder many people do not trust the real objectives of those pushing for carbon pricing – such as wealth redistribution, nanny state regulations and a stack of other agendas being tied to the carbon pricing scheme.

which could possibly move things in this direction

That is pretty inconsistent. First you admit a carbon price will have little effect on emissions, then you say we should do it anyway in the hope “it will move things in the right direction”. It is scary that people could think like this. It is scary that people are prepared to take a massive risk with the economy for no benefit. It is scary that people would argue to sacrifice the well being of the country and its people to push for a policy they admit will have no beneficial effect.

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There’s a difference between “no beneficial effect” and “no direct effect.” It won’t directly cut emissions greatly (maybe the pitiful 5 % we’re bound to), but it’s a clear price signal and will affect future investment in fossil fuels – which is the right direction. Even more effective if the price is guaranteed to rise over time.

The idea that we can solve the climate problem at no initial cost is, frankly, tired. What nuclear brings to the table is the least cost, most reliable, most scalable energy option. Raw dollar (up front cost) aside, nuclear energy is cheaper than coal already, so I fail to see how this would spur an economic catastrophe.

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Tom,

The idea that we can solve the climate problem at no initial cost is, frankly, tired.

What I find really tiresome is the continual repetition of silly and unsupported beliefs that a carbon price in Australia will cut world emissions or change the climate. Clearly it won’t. To continue to argue that it will is tiresome.

To argue that the government’s carbon price scheme can cut our emissions by 5% below 2000 levels by 2020 without sending us into a deep recession is to simply ignore the obvious and to ignore everything that you don’t want to face up to. This is really tiresome!

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Tom Keen,

You seem to be missing a lot. And avoiding what you don’t like to hear.

You may have missed this:
http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/06/27/the-failure-of-al-gore-part-deux/

Please let me know that you’ve read it.

I’d urge you to read it with the intention to understand where the otherside is coming from, rather with the intention to argue the point. If you do the latter, it just confirms you are not listenting. Your mind is closed. You cannot accept what is happening.

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Peter Lang:

I am not unsympathetic to your anti carbon price views. However, I find it ironic that carbon pricing is one of the few levers available to democratic governments, reluctant to dictate,for deployment in attempting to steer energy policy in a liberalised energy market. I am not suggesting that it is necessarily inferior to a policy of regulation which you prefer, but which, equally, would be likely to have a similar effect on energy prices.

Perhaps the Chinese leadership can take more rational decisions on energy policy because their capitalism isn’t inhibited by democracy!?

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Peter “To argue that the government’s carbon price scheme can cut our emissions by 5% below 2000 levels by 2020 without sending us into a deep recession is to simply ignore the obvious”

um for this simpletons benefit what is the obvious?

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Douglas Wise,

I am not unsympathetic to your anti carbon price views. However, I find it ironic that carbon pricing is one of the few levers available to democratic governments,

That statement is not correct.

The other options democratic governments have are:

1. Regulation to control emissions. We do it this way with just about all other emissions we want to control. And that is the direction most of the world is moving now.

2. Clean up the mass of regulatory impediments we have imposed that are preventing an efficient, least-cost, energy market.

The latter is what I am recommending we should do. And we can do it. This is by far the least cost way. It does not need the massive bureaucracy and monitoring and reporting system to try to make it function. And the mass of cheating and fraud that goes with any such system. To take this approach is genuine, good reform that improves the economy. This is the sort of reform that the Howard (Treasurer), Hawke-Keating, and Howard-Costello governments instigated and implemented. These are the sorts of genuine, good reforms we need.

The goal is to remove the unnecessary regulations that are impeding efficient business. We’ve been adding regulations without removing old or redundant ones. We’ve been doing that for a century at an ever increasing rate. We now add over a thousand a year and remove almost none. We need to clean out the mess, to the extent practicable.

With regard to energy, consider this example: we have over 240 regulations trying to control GHG emissions. And we do not intend to remove any of these as part of the carbon pricing. In fact, the Greens are demanding we add more to further subsidise renewable energy. There is a huge number of subsidies and taxation benefits and penalties for various forms of energy (especially fossil fuels). And masses of conflicting regulations, all of which require a large amount of administration, both in the private sector and the public sector. We need monitoring equipment and reporting systems, all of which change every few years and have to be updated throughout all the companies involved. People have to be retrained and equipments and systems changed – in both the private sector and throughout many government departments, It goes on year after year. We need inspectors and bureaucracies to monitor it all. On top of that we need more and more bureaucrats and accountants and lawyers and court time for appeals and law suits. The cost is enormous. And all for no real benefit.

The Rudd government started with great intentions to cut down on the mass of regulations that are imposts on effective and efficient business. This was a good intention. Prime Minister Rudd persuaded the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to investigate the mass of federal and state government regulations that are in conflict, duplicated and in general making business less efficient than it could and should be. The process got started but got bogged down in bickering between bureaucrats in state and federal governments. The intention was good and should be pursued. That would be genuine reform and a continuation of the successful reforms of the previous two decades.

By now you may be wondering how does all this relate to bringing low cost nuclear to Australia at a LCOE less than coal?

[As an aside, keep in mind that if we offered nuclear at an LCOE less than coal, then all the costs and problems with the carbon pricing scheme would be avoided. Nuclear would be cheaper than coal and would displace coal in new power stations. Of course, investors must be convinced that a future governments will not turn around and renege on agreements made in good faith (which is what the Greens want us to do on existing coal fired power stations).]

Back to the question: how does all this relate to bringing low cost nuclear to Australia at a LCOE less than coal?

As part of the reform and removal, where practicable, of the mass of regulatory impediments to efficient business, we would especially focus on removing the many impediments to low cost energy. We would be especially diligent to identify and remove the impediments to low-cost, clean electricity generation.

Two ways of identifying the impediments are:

1. Instruct the Productivity commission to identify the impediments to efficient energy market, to identify the impediments to least-cost, clean electricity generation and to recommend the order of priority for removing the impediments and the most effective way to remove them.

2. Set up a system to allow electricity generator companies to challenge anything that is impeding a level playing field. (See “Level playing field for electricity generators” and point 2 under 2010 in “Schedule” in this post: https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/ )

Some may be thinking: Hang on, recent estimates are that nuclear is projected to be twice as expensive in Australia as new coal. So how can all this cutting of imposts on nuclear be sufficient to make it competitive with coal?

My answer to this is as follows:

1. Nuclear is cheaper in China and Korea and the costs are coming down;

2. We know that the cost of nuclear was ratched up by a factor of four due to regulatory ratcheting for virtually no improvement in safety (compared with what would have occurred if development had been allowed to progress as in other competive industries – like the aerospace industry);

3. We know that our regulations add an enormous, unnecessary cost to business;

4. We know that the electricity industry carries a disproportionately high regulatory cost burden;

5. We know that there is a high sovereign risk and high investor risk premium for nuclear, especially in Australia; and

6. We know that all these impediments that are raising the cost of nuclear could be removed, or greatly reduced, by government actions.

Lastly, I’d point you to this comment where I laid out the approach:

https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109491

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Tom Keen, on 30 June 2011 at 7:55 PM said:

it’s a clear price signal and will affect future investment in fossil fuels – which is the right direction.

In 2002 Australian Thermal Coal FOB Newcastle was selling for $23/ton. In May 2011 Australian Thermal Coal FOB Newcastle was selling for $131/ton.

Australian 10 year coal price history- http://www.indexmundi.com/commodities/?commodity=coal-australian&months=120

Between 1970 and 2000 global coal prices declined relative to inflation. If someone were concerned about CO2 emissions it’s quite understandable that they would see a need to send a signal to the markets that the days of ‘cheap coal’ were coming to an end.

Australian 30 year coal price history-
http://www.indexmundi.com/commodities/?commodity=coal-australian&months=360

While the politicians bickered the days of ‘cheap coal’ ended.

Why do we need a ‘signal’ that something will happen when it already happened?

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Re – MattB,on 30 June at 10:40 PM –

In your mindless opposition to nuclear power you are grasping at straws. Why would any sane person with an elementary knowledge of history take any comfort from the counterproductive actions of Germany.

Twice in the 20th century the Germans embarked on military and other adventures which resulted in the destruction of their nation let alone the losses inflicted on others.

At least this particular current adventure may only damage Germany,we hope.

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I agree that a $20 carbon tax is a step in the right direction. I believe it puts the kibosh on any new coal fired plant. If the Feds hold firm on dropping renewables subsidies then it only leaves gas for new generation. However Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania face dwindling gas supply. They will have to pay two premiums for fossil fuelled electricity, namely carbon tax and rising fuel prices. No doubt there will be talk of solar thermal and so on but then the awful reality will set in that nuclear is the only long term coal replacement option.

This why however I fear that reality will soon be denied. I expect a variety of lame but officially sanctioned excuses will be used to escape carbon tax. These could include implausibly high tree planting offsets, promising to be ‘carbon capture ready’, hybrid generation with token solar or biomass input, lowering the bar to ‘world’s best practice’ and re-introduced renewables subsidies as a smokescreen for the status quo.

Thus when $20 carbon tax is introduced a year from today I expect little of anything to happen for the ensuing year. Some belt tightening but no major technology shifts. The big reality check will come perhaps two years from now. $20 carbon tax will at least have instigated a new way of thinking.

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David Lewis,
DV82XL’s “Green/eco-activists” have done a pretty good job collecting funding but that is not their scariest aspect. In many countries they wield actual political power as we can see in Germany.

They also have great influence on the use of technology in third world countries, witness their obstruction of the use of DDT, genetically altered grains and fossil fuel power plants.

I used to like them when their primary mission was saving whales.

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Nature Geoscience just out has some interesting (and most importantly, not paywalled) commentaries on the current state of climate science. I found Paul Valdes’ piece particularly intriguing. Basically, our current climate models are too stable – they have real trouble reproducing previous relatively abrupt climate shifts seen in the geological record.

I wonder if, rather than shortcomings in representing atmospheric and oceanic physics, we’re missing something from the big picture – changes in Earth’s orbital and/or rotation parameters, for instance – that fundamentally changes the game.

Oh, and before the skeptics pile on, note none of the above invalidates the role of CO2 as a forcing agent.

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The Playford B coal station is shown here
http://decarbonisesa.com/2011/06/03/your-friday-funny-courtesy-of-a-non-descript-satchel/
If I have my bearings right the proposed Whyalla desal for Olympic Dam (another 300km away) is towards the hummocks in the distance. Note the shallow saltmarsh that provides the cooling water, already saltier than the open sea and needing tides for circulation.

The big white hope for SA gas appears to be fracking in the Cooper Basin
http://peakenergy.blogspot.com/2010/02/another-gas-source-for-australia.html
That’s funny a year ago it was supposed to the caprock for granite geothermal and a year before that it was going to store CO2 pumped from the NSW Hunter Valley. According to a source whose link I’ve lost the Torrens Island SA 1.28 GW closed cycle baseload station now gets most of its gas from Victoria. What if fracking fails?

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Quokka

The Australian reports that the federal government is negotiating to shut down Hazelwood in Victoria and Playford in South Australia to be replaced by natural gas generation.

Yes. That’s an example of “Direct Action”. Direct Action is what most of the other large emitting countries are doing. And it is just what most of the Labor-Greens government and their supporters are rubbishing the Coalition for proposing. How hypocritical, irresponsible and politics driven.

What we need is “direct action” to remove the bad policies that have been implemented by 50 years of “direct action”. A carbon price will not address the issue of removing the mass of bad regulations that have been implemented by “direct action”. .

I find it difficult to understand why intelligent people can’t open their minds to the possibility that there is a better way to reduce emissions than with a carbon price. Clearly, the rest of the world is not going the carbon price route (other than basket-case Europe)

A true pro-market reform would be to clean out the mess of unnecessary and bad regulations (as I pointed out in my comment at 11:00 pm last night https://bravenewclimate.com/2011/06/29/open-thread-17/#comment-130656 ).

If we impose a carbon price before we clean up the mess, the mass of unnecessary, economy-damaging regulations will remain in place. We’ll build another layer of complexity on top of the existing mess. Why can’t the Progressives see this?

Can’t they see the parallel between what the Labor-Greens government is proposing and what is happening in Europe?

This comment should be a wake up call and a warning to us: https://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-130230 . Note in particular the comments about “Group Think” and “Heard Mentality” (not the same thing).

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John Newlands,

I agree that a $20 carbon tax is a step in the right direction.

That is simply a restatement of your belief. You’ve restated it ad nauseum. As you’ve pointed out, it is based on your morals, which are immoral to others. You’ve been incapable of defending it with sound argument and always fall back to the moral argument. You have not been able to refute waht I’ve said repeatedly:

A carbon price in Australia will not reduce world emissions, will not change the climate but will damage Australia’s economy, making us less able to take the best actions in the future.

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What’s the best link for an authoritative but EASY to read summary of GenIV nukes eating today’s waste and running the world for 500 years? I’m after something for lay people and also that can be easy to GOOGLE, not just link to, for web formats that don’t allow direct links. (Like Youtube comments where I have to say “Google this: Brave New Climate + blah blah).

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John,

We’ve been through this a dozen times. You picxk out a single issue or return to all your peronal crystal-balls predictions but continually avoid the substance of the argument. It’s very tiresone (as others like to say).

Here is the big picture:

To achieve the unconditional 2020 targets of a 5% reduction below 2000 levels is effectively impossible without a deep recession.

Do you acknowledge that or reject it?

If you reject it then please justify your belief. (Treasury doesn’t support your belief)

Digest this:

Click to access 2010.36.pdf

Confirmed by Treasurey corrspondence released under FOI in April 2011:

Click to access 100910_Email_Size_of_Abatement_Challenge.pdf

There is stacks more. All you need to do is be prepared to look into it and let go of your desire to errect another bad symbolic gesture.

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@John Newlands: From my impression of First Mover Advantage that it applied to technological developments and markets created because of tech i.e Apple and the iPhone.
I can see how an emissions trading scheme could develop a market (keeping in mind that a global market would need to be established) that could benefit first movers. But a tax isn’t a market. The carbon tax will reduce emissions at the expense of the industry that emits the most emissions. Profit margins needed for future investments, wage increases, technological advancement, R&D etc. will evaporate the higher the $ per CO2 increase. This is not to say that we shouldn’t manipulate the market to create the right behaviour, but it needs to be fully aware of the consequences. Not pushing some political/ideological agenda. Same deal with the Mining Tax. Lower the re-investment capabilities.
I could be wrong on my impression of First-Mover Advantage though.

On another note…

I have recently come accross a NEI comissioned survey (they do it biannualy; link below) on residents living near Nuclear Plants in the US. 80% support nuclear and the rest of the survey is the same. Always a 80% support, or a 2/3s majority.
From combing other surveys on Nuclear Power it is a common occurance that those living near NPPs are more favourable to Nuclear, suggesting it is a “hot bath” effect. Hesitations make you want to dip your toes in gradually until you can cope with the water and you sit in and enjoy the relaxing warm bath (or a rollercoaster analogy is perfectly acceptable).
However one part that surprised me was that these residents didn’t associate NPP with a solution for Climate Change (same result in 2009), but rather assocaited NPP with Relaibility, Efficiency, Clean air, Job creation, Affordable Electricity (in 2009 this was worded as just Affordability; 80%), and Energy Security. Suggesting the average punter is more attuned with jobs, health, and affordability. This is the tack that the NPP debate should take, appaeal to the average Australian that is more worried about their bills, health, and jobs rather than tackling climate change (sad fact but it’s reality).
Furthermore these results should be used in the NPP debate to highlight that while you may have apprehensions to NPP the experiences of those living near built NPPs are highly favourable. Showing that while it may look scary (like a big roller coaster) it really isn’t so bad that after you experience it and afterwards you just want more. Which is also shown in this NEI survey (80% agree to build more plants).

NEI Survey: http://www.nei.org/newsandevents/newsreleases/eight-of-10-residents-near-us-nuclear-power-plants-favor-use-of-nuclear-energy/

(I’m trying to find another UK survey that highlighted the same apprehension effect)

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Extract from Business Spectator
http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/Labor-Gillard-polls-popularity-Abbott-SME-small-bu-pd20110701-JBS2J?OpenDocument&src=kgb

Suddenly, around Australia, there is great debate as to why Julia Gillard and her Labor government are so unpopular.

So let me today set out eight reasons why I believe the Australian community has turned on Julia Gillard. When you isolate the reasons, suddenly it is clear that there is a common theme in the cattle and carbon disasters.

The seventh reason is not widely understood by the population but it will become a blow that further reduces Julia Gillard’s popularity from current levels. The government is planning to require all small and medium sized business contracting in the home and commercial building area to register with the government every single deal they do. This is a paper nightmare which makes the GST paperwork look like putting a postage stamp on a letter.

Clearly, the Gillard government has no concept of what they are doing in this area. The stated reason is that it stops sham contracting, but while there is a lot of cash economy in the building contracting area, there is not a lot of sham contracting. The measure will promote the cash economy, not reduce it.

The eighth reason is the industrial relations legislation, which is coming into force during a downturn of considerable magnitude in non-mining Australia and is causing great unpopularity in wide areas of the business community. As the next election approaches, the unpopularity of the government as a result of the new workplace rigidities and the rise in union power will be multiplied.

As I’ve been saying, masses of new regulations and interference in business by a government that has no understanding whatsoever of business and of what makes the economy do well or do badly.

Carbon pricing is another bad policy, a new layer of regulation on top of a mass of previous bad regulation. It will require a huge amount of monitoring, reporting, administration from bot privcate and public sector. That all costs a lot and is a dead weight on the economy. And all for no environmental gain. It is so dumb it is unbelievable.

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Deckermann.

Excellent post. A survey in Canada gave similar results. This living Toronto would have high support for nuclear, whereas thos in Britich Columbia have low support. People living in Toronto would much rather live near the NPPs than near the coal power stations. House prices show that too. Houses near the NPPs are much higher value than near the coal power stations. I don’t have a link, but DV82XL could probably point to it.

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Peter,

I do recall reading a Canadan survey too that highlighted the same effect. I think it was a CAMECO/Areva survey from memory.
One of the more interesting questions from that survey (mainly on Uranium mining) was about public perceptions. Majority thought that the concensus was an opposition to Nuclear & Uranium mining and formed their opposition on that, but after hearing that the inverse was true (majority support) they were surprised. Basically there is a cohort out there that are forming their opinion based on what they think other people think. If the media is sacturated with anti-nuclear op-eds and negative articles then this perception will be reinforced. No surprise this appears to be true post Fukushima.

Come to think of it there is possibly a French survey too. I know for a fact they compete to host Nuclear Industry facilities in France, for example one province was left feeling dejected after their bid for a repository was rejected based on geological conditions.

I’ll have to have a dig through my folder of Nuclear to fish out these surveys.

I think a survey needs to be redone in Australia to test some of these effects. Perceptions, the apprehension effect etc.

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I think people need to start thinking of economics as a real science again. One man wise in economics I know recently said something like “we used to talk about polical economy – now we just talk about economy. What happened to people?”
The thread started with somebody questioning DV82XL’s views of ENGO’s – I too am Canadian, and in my province of Ontario the government has really adopted the term ‘stakeholder’ in allowing these folks to design policy. It seems to me the ‘stakeholders’ most involved in attacking nuclear are the Pembina Institute – which is heavily aligned with the Suzuki foundation, based in Calgary, and named after a very large oil field. So just let me say that while I embrace the frequently stated principle on this site of “playing the ball and not the player,” I don’t think ENGO’s are playing the game that we are playing.”
That said, the game of the carbon tax is to grow government.
The elasticity of demand for energy is most generally thought to be around -.1, which means a doubling of price will yield a 10% reduction in demand. The 5% reduction in emissions could therefore probably be achieved simply by slapping a 50% tax on energy. As Peter Lang has frequently noted, industry would probably leave, so probably the better method would be the double the price for consumers and leave business alone. That is basically what has happened in many jurisdictions – in Ontario the elasticity has borne out during 8 years of rapid price increases, but we also walked industry out.
What ENGO’s might call a win-win.
But what about the people?
I’ve read some work examining energy taxation in Great Britain, and elsewhere. The point I’ve taken is that poorer households spend a far greater % of their income on energy – energy taxes are introduced, the poor get poorer, programs to support the poor are introduced, and over 100% of the revenue from the energy taxation ends up in programming to help households pay for energy. So my suspicion is a carbon tax will be the equivalent to digging holes – accomplishing no reduction and expanding government.
So will it reduce emissions?
Probably not. For one, we know that in Germany a decision was made to phase out nuclear, and cap-and-trade sort of priced carbon, which led to a fuel rod tax on nuclear because it didn’t have the carbon but they still didn’t like it, and then they just decided to throw away nuclear (I’d argue they needed to if the green lobby was going to be satisfied because wind had ceased producing more about 4 years ago, nobody was building offshore until the pot was sweetened, the amount of solar was presenting grid issues, and there was lots of supply available from neighbours – there was nothing to sell unless something was taken out of the picture). So there’s a jurisdiction where the lie that carbon taxes will be allowed to work through the market was illustrated.
Secondly, we talk a lot about price for different supply options, but rarely about the value in the market. Gas and coal are worth more.
A lot more.
They meet demand. Think of 3 pm on a hot day. In Ontario wind is expected to be producing at under a 10% capacity factor about 40% of the time in the summer. Nobody should care that the levelized unit cost is 12-14 cents/kWh for wind, and whatever for gas/coal. The ff is more valuable. In the arguments on these threads people say the less valuable would be valuable with storage. No – the storage would be valuable.
How high would a carbon tax need to be to change that dynamic?
Lastly, and positively, let me leave you with a quote that provides a much more efficient route (similar to the intelligent regulation that has been wisely noted in the thread already):
“for a tax/price increase to effectively and efficiently impact consumer demand, the tax/price impact has to be revealed to/experienced by the consumer at a point of a “primary” consumption decision, not a “secondary” or derived consumption decision. … if we want to change energy demand in as economically efficient a fashion as possible, we likely would need to tax (to the extent this is the policy mechanism of choice) home and car purchases (primary capital expenditure decisions) and not energy/fuel purchases (secondary, variable, operating costs).”
http://ep.probeinternational.org/2011/06/14/aldyen-donnelly-bcaas-conclusions-about-hybrid-vehicles/#more-6066

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Deckermann.

The Canadian survey I was referring to was done about yearly through the 1980’s and before. I think it has been conducted since (I seem to recall it has been sent to me a few times since).

I also know there was a series in Sweden done in those years too and it showed a similar result. The Swedes and Finss seemed to be much more engaged, more informed and less emotional about nuclear than most Canadians at the time. But Canadians were and still are light years ahead of us down under.

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@Stan: To give you the short answer, after having read the “paper” and associated background information from that Italian “cold fusion” guy, I’m convinced that it’s complete rubbish.

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@Finrod: Wow, that seems weird.

Since when is PV cheaper than solar-thermal? I thought that PV was extremely expensive, more so than solar thermal.

Photovoltaics, especially small sets of photovoltaics mounted on household roofs, are pretty much the single most expensive way to get a kilowatt-hour that there is on the market.

I really thought that many pro-solar greenies were starting to actually realise this, and that’s why they have been increasingly moving away from promoting PV to promoting solar thermal.

Also, PV has a very low capacity factor, it’s unreliable non-baseload, and there’s no real way you can improve that at all, unlike solar thermal where you can at the very least try to argue that molten-salt thermal mass might be able to bring the capacity factor up a little bit at some additional cost.

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Peter Lang,

Your desire to remove obstacles to nuclear is admirable and, to me, quite understandable. But I do have one question, which will help me interpret some of your other positions. Do you think that human-caused climate change is a threat? Thanks.

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@ Deckermann

based on who they are and what they believe in

1. Peter and I have unresolved business over peak oil. Peter rejected my evidence that we are approaching peak oil on the basis that it didn’t square with Peter’s ‘opinion’ or ABARE. I dared to share the Federal Senate’s criticism of ABARE,(deleted inflammatory remark) I mean, from Peter’s view, how dare the ABC show the actual interview where the Federal Senate peak oil enquiry questioned the head of ABARE and showed him embarrassing himself (deleted snide remark)by admitting he had ignored peak oil as a pricing factor when projecting oil prices for the next decade/s!

Peter has never responded to this substantively, or addressed the copious evidence. Not once. Not even after the IEA admitted we are close to peak oil on Catalyst. (Deleted inflammatory comment)

2. (Deleted inflammatory remark) I argued for Open Source Hardware in Open Thread 16 on the basis that it can at least give *some* intermittent, weak, unreliable power to African villages that currently have no power. I was written off and accused of being a closet nuclear critic and pro-renewables fan, even though my blog remains pro-nuclear and I’ve posted about 10 pro-nuclear comments on just today in various forums. (Hypography, Climate Crock of the Week, Youtube, and Facebook).

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Huon,

Your question reveals that you are totally missing the point, like most people want advocate a carbon tax just because it is what their group wants.

A Carbon Price will damage our economy and not deliver the environmental benefits its advocates say it will.

A carbon tax is bad policy. It will delver a symbolic gesture (another bad one). Framed the way the government proposes it will deliver a lot of wealth transfer to Labor supporters.

But it will seriously damage the economy if raised sufficiently to achieve the 2020 targets. It will damage the economy at any level.

It will require enormous compliance cost – forever.

It is based on a wrong approach (production instead of consumption).

For all these reasons it is divisive. Economically rational people will not support it.

But there is a way that we can cut GHG emissions and have broad support.

Surely that is what we should be striving for.

But the Progressives don’t even want to consider it.

Just look through the comments on the “Alternative to Carbon Pricing” thread and you will see that for over a year the Progressives have not want to seriously consider the alternative to their symbolic gesture of a carbon price.

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Deckermann the wiki article on first ,movers points out that the ‘free riders’ ( I’d call them circling sharks) will exploit early weakness. This is why I think Australia must carbon tax coal and LNG exports as well as slapping a carbon tariff on energy intensive imported goods. Giving wads of cash to trade exposed industries will never end. It’s an invitation to permanent blackmail. Better to make imported steel, aluminium etc temporarily more expensive until carbon pricing is world wide. The anti-protectionists will be upset but we know other countries have discussed imposing carbon tariffs, definitely France and I think the UK.

Since carbon tax is meant to be revenue neutral the host governments of enterprises (eg power stations) that import our coal and LNG can ask for a carbon tax refund but it has to be spent on green programs.

Here’s an example of a free-rider; the US increasing coal exports to China if China perceives Australia is waivering. I thought we were all in this anti carbon thing together.

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(The comments you refer to have been deleted as per BNC Comments Policy)
I just went through that whole debacle of Peak Oil, which doesn’t take into account undeveloped or underdeveloped oil fields. I know of one monster field in Kazakhstan that is just being tapped now (Kashagan), furthermore there are regions like the Bight Basin off of SA that is just being explored, and fields in the Cooper Basin that are still being discovered (look at Beach Energy and Santos’s successes over the past few years).
Peak Oil will happen one day, but technology and further developments in field extraction will delay its occurance. Not to mention the higher the price per barrel goes up the more expensive extraction methods will become more affordable. Look at Saudi Arabia’s ability now to tap the heavy oil that lies beneath it’s monster fields. What is my experience and knowledge in this field? One Thesis about to come out on Oil and Gas in the Caspian, a passion for energy geopolitics, plus a further 3 years at Uni stuying the stuff. Plus I was at the lecture Prof Kjell (?) gave on Peak OIl at Adelaide Uni last year. It was informative.

Back to the topic at hand…

I’ve seen data (commercial in confidence, naturally) on what a profits tax, or a carbon tax can do to investment. Not only does it negatively effect perceptions of the investment climate in the jurisdiction that it is in, it also restricts the ability to re-invest into the jurisdiction (which the Greens ironically showed in their anti-foreign investment report). However it does give that power to the Government to decide where the reinvestment goes. For the Carbon Tax, into your’s and my pockets to spend on…nothing because it’s supplementing the higher electricity, fuel, and gorecery bills. Also some is for Renewable technology. Which can be shown to be a poor investment choice in the long run to combat climate change. So in effect the Carbon tax neuters an industry, knocks up my bills (but is subsidised), and props up an industry that sort-of combats cliamte change.

That and I have stated previously in the 16th Open thread that the language used to justify a carbon tax is that it is making the polluters pay. For acting in accordance with Australian Pollution Regulations and other Industrial regualtions in general? (rhetorical)

I can’t see how you can force a Steelworks, or Energy Utility to alter their emissions by removing the capital they need to enact that change. Then take that tax money and give it to the public because the policy forced up the price of living. How can somone adjust if you take away their ability to adjust.

It’s being communicated to the public as a punative measure because these “evil” corporations pollute and don’t give a stuff. I bet if someone from DRET or the Climate Change Committee sat down with the Utilities and Major Industry to find out what they need to change to low emissions production, you’d find that they would ask for help or at least indicate they are willing to do so. Going on the offensive will only cause the “target” to go on the defensive.

What a mess.

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Peter Lang (two comments above at 2:15PM),

Thank you for the generous replies. You did not answer my question head-on, but your comments were more satisfactory than a direct response would have been. After reading “Alternative to Carbon Pricing” I certainly know your position! And your plan seems quite sensible to me, although, for the US, I continue to prefer a moderate carbon tax, with most of the revenue used to lower our company tax, which is even higher than Australia’s.

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Podgarus… you’ve misinterpreted my lament about Germany, and the potential impact of Germany’s decision on the Australian public’s willingness to consider nuclear power, as opposition to nuclear power. Anything but.

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Hi Deckermann
(Previous comment to which you refer was deleted)
1. The professional lifetime geologists I read have already assessed ALL non-conventional oils and found them wanting; it’s about accessibility, price, bringing them to market in time, and other environmental constraints and impacts (like water availability with Athabasca’s tar sands). Here’s my summary position that Barry asked me to submit. These guys are the lifetime professionals, and I respect their opinion on these matters.
https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/08/29/peak-oil-discussion/#comment-94646
If you think you’ve cracked the answer with some overlooked non-conventional oil, you’re kidding yourself. The organisations I refer to in this paper address everything, and I mean everything.

Our only hope in the oil-addicted Western world is radically fast adoption of GenIV nuclear power and electrified transport, with a gradual transition to New Urbanism and a variety of other walkable town plans.
(Inflammatory comment deleted)

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The German decision was purely based on Politics. The Greens had just defeated the Christian Democrat Party (Merkels party) in a State election. Political tensions were high then Fukushima happened.
A recent technical report highlights that the decision to phase out Nuclear power by 2022 was not based upon any sound technical judgement what-so-ever (http://www.euronuclear.org/pdf/atw-German-NPP-safety.pdf). Politics in this case killed Nuclear, but the Germans are unseasonally importing more Nucelar energy from France. Now it’s up to the German Upper House to decide whether to pass the bill or not.

Overall facts will get the better of sensationalism. Plus you can just counter the Germans retreat with the UK, France, India, China, USA, Russia etc.

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Huon,

Thank you for your reply, too.

In comments we can’t handle all aspects of a complex issue in one comment.

We can’t even handle all aspects in a lead article for a post. That’s why Barry continually suggests short, bite size articles. We have to use our brains to combine it all.

Following that approach, here is another component of the jigsaw showing why I am opposed to a carbon price as the way to cut emissions – at least until:

1. an international agreement is in place for an economically efficient mechanism for internalising the externalities of GHG emissions.

2. Australia has removed the impediments to low cost clean electricity generation (which I expect means nuclear)

This component of the jigsaw is an example of the costs of the regulations, monitoring and reporting of GHG emissions.

These two papers by the USA EPA will give you some idea of what is involved in trying to measure CO2 emissions from fossil fuel electricity generators:

Click to access ECMPSEMRI2009Q2.pdf


Click to access plain_english_guide_par75_final_rule.pdf

Points to note:

1. Complying with these requirements is a high cost to each generator unit – for the equipment, maintenance, calibration, monitoring, reporting and addressing the follow up demands from the EPA.

2. The EPA requirements have been changing every few years since all this started (in the 1980s I think from memory – I haven’t checked this, you can pick it up as you go through the document)

3. The cost of each of those changes is enormous to industry and enormous to the bureaucracy – not just to the EPA but to all the follow on organisations that use the data and have to change their systems to handle the new data and change the legacy systems and data.

4. We know the emissions measurement being made already have significant problems and uncertainties. The data is unreliable (see comments by, for example Kent Hawkins, on this thread: https://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/ )

5. The linked EPA papers cover electricity generation only. Electricity generation is probably about the easiest sector to measure the CO2 emissions. If it is this hard and costly to measure CO2 emissions for electricity generation, imagine how much more difficult and costly it will be to measure CO2 emissions from the other industries and sectors in the economy.

6. GHG emissions cannot be measured accurately. When a substance cannot be measured accurately, then trade in it will be open to gross fraud. We’ve already seen enormous amounts of fraud in emissions trading in the EU. If the EU can’t prevent the fraud, how can we expect even less developed countries to control fraud. Clearly, carbon trading will involve massive fraud.

7. The EU does not measure CO2 emissions. It estimates them from calculators. The data is even more unreliable than the USA EPA data. Australia doesn’t have any systems whatsoever to measure CO2 emissions. In fact, we don’t even measure the mass of coal being used in many of our power stations.

8. All the costs of measuring CO2 emission must be passed through to the customer. Higher energy costs means a damaged economy. Energy is one of the primary inputs to the economy and, therefore, to society’s wellbeing and progress. If you raise the cost of energy you reduce the standard of living of the society impacted. You reduce its health, education, life expectancy and nearly all the measures of human well being.

9. None of these costs would be incurred if we removed the impediments to low cost, clean electricity generation so it could be lower LCOE than electricity generated by coal.

I’ve suggested how this can be achieved in this comment: https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109491

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Huon,

Further to the precious comment, there are many other costs that a carbon pricing scheme would cause but which would be avoided if we took the alternative rout of removing the impediments to low cot clean electricity generation. Examples are:

Carbon emissions inspectors

Tax inspectors

Carbon cops

More Accountants

More and more complex accounting systems and IT systems and all the support they require

More lawyers

More court time (handling disputes)

Large increase to the Fraud squad – if we can’t prevent internet fraud now, what chance do we have of preventing carbon trading fraud?

As stated above, all this is avoided if we allow nuclear to be cheaper than coal.

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It seems the moderator can’t go away for the day without an outbreak of incivility, rudeness and unnecessary inflammatory remarks. BNC prides itself on civil discourse. Nothing puts newcomers off like the slanging match that just took place. Please desist. Although the commenting rules on the Open Threads are relaxed, common courtesy is mandatory.

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@ Luke Weston:

@Finrod: Wow, that seems weird.

I really thought that many pro-solar greenies were starting to actually realise this, and that’s why they have been increasingly moving away from promoting PV to promoting solar thermal.

That had also been my impression. My preliminary reading of this development is that CSP has technical problems which are proving intractible.

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@Finrod – I disagree. I don’t think CSP has intractable technical problems, but rather that large-scale PV cost has dropped below that of CSP at this stage in it’s development.

You may argue that PV cannot provide baseload on it’s own, and you’d be right, but these facilities are not aiming at baseload, they’re aiming at two things:
1) peak demand, when prices are highest (which almost always occurs when the sun is shining);
2) meeting a requirement to source x% of California’s electricity from renewable sources. (I think the ‘x’ is somewhere around 20%, from memory)

Neither of those conditions demand a baseload renewable supply, or optimum cost/benefit.

PV has the advantage of being *highly* modular – you can add a MWp any time you want to set out a few more thousand panels.

It also has the advantage of being highly palatable politically in the post-Fukushima environment, with FUD regarding nuclear still flying thick & fast.

And despite not being the most cost-effective way to do it, it will most likely reduce CO2 emissions, which makes it even more attractive for the folks in the US who recognise the danger of global warming.

Give solar thermal a few more years of intensive development, and the balance may change again. Assuming some of the recent developments in solar technologies don’t lead to ‘uber-cheap inkjet-printable solar cells’ or some other breakthrough that drastically reduces the cost of PV.

Still, that equation only relates to peak demand, not baseload, which will require either substantial investment in storage, or nuclear,
assuming you accept that further CO2 emissions are a very bad idea.

BTW, Peter Lang – you make much of the argument that a carbon tax will adversely affect the economy – cause economic collapse by 2020, you assert. You (and some others here) seem to continue to ignore the possibility of real reductions in energy usage for no reduction in productivity.

I’d suggest a read of this article: http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/not-hard-it-looks

Here’s a tasty quote:

The EEO program, which involved 207 energy-intensive companies, identified energy savings equivalent to abating around 11 million tonnes of greenhouse emissions, and delivering a financial benefit of $1.2 billion.

It goes on to identify a financial benefit of $117 per tonne of CO2-e abated.

Benefit, not cost.

I.e. a reduction in Australia’s emissions of about 1% is achieved at a negative cost of about $700 million.

That’s just a small sample. Apply rigorous energy efficiency programs across the whole economy, and a reduction of 10-20% should be feasible at zero net cost. There’s a lot of energy that just gets wasted every day. (Note: I said ‘rigorous’ – throwing money at subsidised pink batts is hardly rigorous!)

As for the economy wholesale, I’ve seen arguments from credible economists that the impact will be ~0.5% reduction in *growth* over the next 20 years – i.e. growth continues, but at a lesser pace.

On the flip side – if you think a carbon tax now is an unacceptable impost on the economy, what do you think of the cost of relocating every home, business, factory, port, airport, road, power station, telephone line, and power pole that will be adversely impacted by 1.9m of sea level rise? (that’s the upper end of the ‘mainstream’ prediction of sea level rise by 2100) What do you think of the cost of a 30-40% reduction in Australia’s $150 billion per year agricultural industry? (I’ve seen that suggested as a likely outcome of business-as-usual CO2 emissions). What about more intense droughts, heatwaves, and fires?

These things are all predicted by climate science as very highly likely consequences of unfettered CO2 emissions. Sure, many of the impacts are unlikely to be fully realised for decades, but why are you so adamant that we must not jeopardise economic growth now, when the risk is that by not doing so, we toy with economic collapse in 50-90 years time?

I’ll make one other comment: you say that a buy-out of Hazelwood is an example of direct action, and that it’s a good step to reducing carbon emissions. I agree with you 100% on that. However, you fail to take the next step: where is the money for this direct action coming from?

The government isn’t just a magical vat of money that never runs out. A carbon tax (at an appropriate level) will allow such direct action to be taken with minimal pain to the economy (and it would have been less pain if Labor hadn’t been forced by the Coalition scare campaign into promising over-generous compensation to individual households, who will only pay a minority of the carbon tax – bit of an own-goal there by the Opposition, IMHO, they’ve succeeded in reducing the pool of money available for compensation to businesses…) I think The Greens are right to insist that a significant chunk of the proceeds be reserved for clean energy. I just wish they’d get over their emotional opposition to nuclear…

Either way, I hope they do set up an independent body to administer the proceeds – last thing we want is for politicians to get their grubby hands on the funds for pork barreling…

Anyways, apologies for the long post… a bout of gastro has left me cut off from intelligent discourse for a few days, so I’m playing catch-up (enjoyed reading this discussion thread, though, some good stuff!)

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@ Bern:

@Finrod – I disagree. I don’t think CSP has intractable technical problems, but rather that large-scale PV cost has dropped below that of CSP at this stage in it’s development.

Really? when did that happen? The last I heard, the NSW solar power industry was screaming blue murder because the reduction in feed-in tariffs announced by the state government was going to doom it to bankruptcy. Now PV panels are more economical than the technology which was heralded as the next step in solar power development. How has this happened? What breakthrough in technology or production has boosted solar PV to this new plateue? Remember, those firms were originally committed to CSP. Perhaps it isn’t PV tech which has improved. Perhaps a realistic appraisal of the readiness of CSP has caused a rethink about its true cost, and it isn’t so much that PV is cheaper as CSP is more expensive. Unless there has been some recent improvement in PV economics I’m not aware of.

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@Finrod: it’s a relative thing. Certainly there do seem to be some technical issues with the specific technology those companies were proposing to use. It’s not a product I’ve looked into, so I can’t comment much on that. There are at least 7 or 8 different technologies that fall under the umbrella of “CSP”, all at differing stages of development.

But for their purposes (which is to sell electricity at peak demand prices to meet gov’t regulatory requirements) then Solar PV “just works” – and is probably profitable, just not as much as other choices – I’ve seen (several years old now) LCOE costs for Solar PV as low as $21/MWh, and California prices get much higher than that during peak, as I understand it. As I noted above, I doubt it’s the most cost-effective solution, but it’s the one that their investors were most comfortable with.

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John Newlands, on 1 July 2011 at 4:18 PM said:

Here’s an example of a free-rider; the US increasing coal exports to China if China perceives Australia is waivering.

The predominant coal deposit in the US is the Powder River Basin in Wyoming. The seams are near the surfaces and they are very thick.

Powder River basin coal suffers from a high water content. Newcastle ‘benchmark’ coal has 12,200 BTU’s per pound. Powder RIver basin coal is 8,800 BTU’s per pound.

So one needs to burn 1.4 pounds of powder river basin coal to get the same energy content as Newcastle coal. More importantly then having to burn more of it to get the same energy, one has to transport more of it.

The nearest coal export facility to Gillette,Wyoming is 1,000 miles away over two mountain ranges.

At the moment, North American west coast coal export facilities are at capacity.(The largest facility is in Vancouver,B.C).

There is some chatter about expanding US West coal coal export facilities by 50 million tons/year.

In 2008 USGS reassessed the powder river basin coal fields.
http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2008/1202/

The original assesment was 201 billion tons. Removing what has already been extracted reduces that to 164 billion tons.

When the word ‘recoverable’, I.E. technically extractable that is reduced to 77 billion tons.

When the word ‘economically’ is added to recoverable then the amount of coal in the powder river basin is reduced to 10 billion tons.

The current extraction rate is about 450 million tons per year. At the current rate of extraction all the ‘cheap coal’ in the Powder River Basin will be gone by 2030.

IMHO Spending a lot of money on US rail and coal export facility expansions is unlikely to happen. Some modest upgrades is probable, but a major expansion to feed China’s appetite doesn’t seem likely.

There is a reason why the State of Wyoming which currently has the largest and most inexpensively extractable coal reserves in the World has a task force studying nuclear power.

Article on Wyoming Nuclear Power Task Force –
http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/wyoming/article_1de58e42-7543-510a-9e47-3e4597a6538f.html

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Re Bern,on 1 July 2011 at 10:14 PM –

So many elements in this comment which must be challenged.Here are a few.

(1) “peak demand – – almost always occurs when the sun is shining”
You must live where there is perpetual summer – maybe Shangri-La?

(2) “1.9 metres of sea level rise” etc – Yes,all this and more if we continue on our present trajectory as we are going to do if silly schemes like carbon tax/trading are touted as a solution.These schemes are nothing more than a smokescreen for a do nothing approach by the political/industry hierachy.These groups are intent on pushing their selfish and shortsighted interests.
Sorry to disillusion you,but the Great God Market is not going take effective action in this case.

(3)”Where is the money for this direct action coming from?” This statement is typical of a person who is a prisoner of the current fashion in economics.
A sovereign government with a fiat currency can purchase whatever it likes in its own currency provided it is available for sale.This can be done without borrowing one cent.I suggest you look into Modern Monetary Theory with an open mind.That just may remove the scale from your eyes.

(4) “I just wish they’d get over their emotional opposition to nuclear”.
Bern,if wishes were fishes we would all cast our nets in the sea.

Get real.

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harrywr2 thanks for the headsup on US coal coal export capacity. I assumed because US reserves were so large (‘the Saudi Arabia of coal’) that continued expansion was likely. Now we have a situation where China’s coal demand is 10-12X Australia’s exports to all countries. In my mind that raises the possibility of a bubble with export coal prices increasing prior to a collapse.

I see no way the IPCC’s high emissions scenarios can materialise with both the US and China at peak coal. For the world as a whole I wonder if we will get 5% less emissions in 2020 compared to year 2000 with or without carbon taxes.

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Death-knell for dirty Hazelwood? (see link in sidebar) I’m not so sure this will happen when the running costs are figured out. It is sobering to compare emissions per dollar between brown coal and combined cycle gas.

Brown coal costs $6 for 10 GJ while the new Morwell plant will pay $7 a GJ for gas. Brown coal emits 1.4 tCO2 per Mwh and we can assume a large CCGT plant emits 0.4 tCO2 per Mwh. Since carbon tax is proportional it cancels out in the cross ratio of emissions per fuel dollar
(1.4/0.6)/(0.4/7.0) = 40.8
Put another way the emissions disadvantage to coal vs gas is 1.4/.4 = 3.5 (proportional to carbon tax) but the fuel cost advantage is 7/.6 = 11.7.

The next step would be to plug these and other numbers (interest, heat rate etc) into the NREL levelised cost calculator. Before long someone will say Victorian electricity prices will double or treble under this proposal even though there there is 0% cost of capital for the free billions from the government.

As I’ve said before we must also ask how much gas does Victoria have left. Their Otway Basin supplies Adelaide hundreds of kilometres away and the Bass Basin supplies Tasmania. Therefore I think Hazelwood might undergo a pretend ‘semi retirement’ whereby a small CCGT plant is built nearby and Hazelwood is kept on reduced output. Something like what happened with Muja, WA.

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@ Bern

Well said!

On the flip side – if you think a carbon tax now is an unacceptable impost on the economy, what do you think of the cost of relocating every home, business, factory, port, airport, road, power station, telephone line, and power pole that will be adversely impacted by 1.9m of sea level rise? (that’s the upper end of the ‘mainstream’ prediction of sea level rise by 2100) What do you think of the cost of a 30-40% reduction in Australia’s $150 billion per year agricultural industry? (I’ve seen that suggested as a likely outcome of business-as-usual CO2 emissions). What about more intense droughts, heatwaves, and fires?

These things are all predicted by climate science as very highly likely consequences of unfettered CO2 emissions. Sure, many of the impacts are unlikely to be fully realised for decades, but why are you so adamant that we must not jeopardise economic growth now, when the risk is that by not doing so, we toy with economic collapse in 50-90 years time?

I’ll make one other comment: you say that a buy-out of Hazelwood is an example of direct action, and that it’s a good step to reducing carbon emissions. I agree with you 100% on that. However, you fail to take the next step: where is the money for this direct action coming from?

The government isn’t just a magical vat of money that never runs out. A carbon tax (at an appropriate level) will allow such direct action to be taken with minimal pain to the economy (and it would have been less pain if Labor hadn’t been forced by the Coalition scare campaign into promising over-generous compensation to individual households, who will only pay a minority of the carbon tax – bit of an own-goal there by the Opposition, IMHO, they’ve succeeded in reducing the pool of money available for compensation to businesses…) I think The Greens are right to insist that a significant chunk of the proceeds be reserved for clean energy. I just wish they’d get over their emotional opposition to nuclear…

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John,

I don’t see any shortage of gas in eastern Australa as a major issue if we are prepared to frac all the sedimentary basins.

I see the bigger issue is the environmental damage the development of gas will cause, if we are going to need gas for electricity generation, for transport fuel and for direct heat. The risk then becomes we may destroy large areas of otherwise food prodcuing land in Queensland, NSW and Victoria with hydro-fraccing.

This is another likely unintended consequence of the carbon price – a government intervention to force gas to replace coal.

The better alternative would be to allow nuclear to replace coal. (by removing the impediments to low cost nuclear).

I accept it will take longer – perhaps 5-8 years to get the first 1 GW of CCGT (replacement for Hazelwood) and 10-13 years to get 1 GW of nuclear (likely for CCGT versus possible for nuclear).

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@ John

Well said!

I see no way the IPCC’s high emissions scenarios can materialise with both the US and China at peak coal. For the world as a whole I wonder if we will get 5% less emissions in 2020 compared to year 2000 with or without carbon taxes

Yes but won’t peak coal take a while to gather momentum? If peak oil looks like a stabilising of production over a roughly 5 to 10 year peak, I’m betting that the peak in a much larger resource like coal would *really* look a lot more like a plateau. However just pausing the rate of increase would be significant!

When do you imagine peak coal affecting global coal prices? Which countries do you see switching to other energy sources as this starts to bite?

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John Newlands,

I am not sure that your comparison of the CO2 emissions intensity of Hazelwood and an replacement CCGT is a fair comparison. I agree with your figure for Hazelwood (in fact last I saw – ACIL Tasman – Hazelwood is 1.53 t/MWh on a ‘MWh sent-out’ basis).

Bu I wonder if a CCGT would actually achieve 0.4 t/MWh. The latest ones in Ireland don’t even go close to this. The reason is not that they are not capable of it if running as baseload. But that is not waht happens. Other coal plants take over the baseload role to replace Hazelwood and the CCGT runs in intermediate and renewables balancing role – spewing out CO2 like it it wishes it was an OCGT (I’m exaggerating a bit, but you get the picture :)

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Peter I think we can expect a double backlash against the gas push. It means both higher electricity prices and widespread fracking that may spoil groundwater and farming. On top of that we will want gas to replace oil as well as coal.

According to Sen. Christine Milne 50% of Tasmania’s summer power now comes from brown coal fired electricity via Basslink HVDC cable. That wasn’t even physically possible before 2006. I think the Victorian brown coal stations could be with us for another 20 years but they will be excused by a variety of greenwashes.

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Anyone got a good technical comeback for Goatguy over at Next Big Future? He’s saying that Gen4’s are not self-cooling if the reactor is shut down too quickly.

I thought they had demonstrated ‘Neutron Leak’ in the late 80’s. Anyone time to reply? NBF is a fairly popular blog and I think even Finrod subscribes to it.

http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/06/meeting-all-of-earths-energy-needs-with.html#comment-240128826

(This comment is in the ‘floating solar’ thread where there are claims that if we stick PV or CSP on 20km high balloons and pipe the energy down, it will have a much larger capacity factor and come in much cheaper due to efficiency savings, such as cutting back on solar lost in the earth’s atmosphere, etc).

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Peter Lang (two comments above on July 1 at 5:46PM and 5:55PM),

A pleasure to talk with you again. Monitoring CO2 emissions is a problem for ETS (“cap-and-trade” in the US) but not for a classic carbon tax. The tax should be applied wherever a fossil fuel enters the economy–the well head, the mine mouth, or the port. Such figures are already tracked quite closely, so imposing the tax is a fairly simple matter.

Downstream in the economy, then, in factories, power plants, homes, and cars no measurement, recording or reporting of emissions is needed.

That said, you also have a very credible plan:

https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/

And you are right to point out the deficiencies of an ideal carbon tax as applied to Australia, or a poorly formulated carbon tax applied anywhere.

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@ Huon,
nice point. It could be a lot tidier that way.

A pleasure to talk with you again. Monitoring CO2 emissions is a problem for ETS (“cap-and-trade” in the US) but not for a classic carbon tax. The tax should be applied wherever a fossil fuel enters the economy–the well head, the mine mouth, or the port. Such figures are already tracked quite closely, so imposing the tax is a fairly simple matter.

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Eclipse Now, on 2 July 2011 at 9:16 AM said:

When do you imagine peak coal affecting global coal prices?

2008 – The prices spiked in 2008 and it was blamed on a coal mine flood somewhere…there is always a coal mine flood somewhere…they came down a bit in 2009 with the global recession and are now back to the 2008 price spike.

The price of coal in Europe jumped $10/ton on ‘news’ that the Germans were temporarily shutting down 7 nuclear plants.

The flip side of that is a consortium of Finnish Companies led by Germany’s E.On just went to tender on another large nuclear plant in Finland.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/01/nuclear-finland-idUSLDE7600AY20110701

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Huon

Your argument for a simple carbon tax is actually much more complicated than you state. But I don’t want to get sidetracked into that issue. The carbon tax is actually a worse option than an ETS, even a region or country specific ETS as is proposed for Australia. Here are some comments:

1. tax on energy, a primary input to human wellbeing, is bad policy anywhere

2. tax on business inputs is bad – tax should be on business outputs not inputs. That is why we moved from wholesale sales tax (an many other inefficient indirect taxes) to a broad based, consumption tax – the GST.

3. An international ETS is the preferred option if it is economically efficient – which is impossible because of the different levels of systems for measuring and accounting in different countries

4. Any tax or ETS should be based on consumption not production. Australia has the highest GHG emissions per capita in the OECD if measured on the basis of production, but is about fifth if measured on the basis of consumption. Europe has much higher emissions than it admits on the basis of the consumption (UK is 20% higher, Switzerland is 50% higher for example). China is being blamed for emitting the CO2 that should be attributed to consumption of the goods by Europeans. All the proposed schemes are poor and will not survive.

There is much more to this. But any way you look at it, carbon pricing is bad policy (for the many reasons stated up thread). No one has refuted these reasons I’ve explained. Instead they keep repeating statements which boil down to the substance are like this:

1. I believe in a carbon price
2. I don’t care what the arguments against it, I want a carbon price (because that is what my party says I should want)
3. I want a carbon price because it is the moral thing to do
4. If… if … if… then we should have a carbon price
5. We need a carbon price so we can have more money for governments to waste on pork barrelling and bribing voters
6. we need a carbon tax so we can implement the governments other agendas – such as wealth redistribution for m the productive sectors of society to the Progressive voters

These are the arguments that get repeated ad nausium. It’s been going for over a year on BNC. It is impossible to get through this to have a sensible discussion. People simply will not challenge their beliefs on this issue. It seems to be faith based. It cannot be discussed. Huon, notice how no one is prepared to seriously consider the far better, economically-rational alternative – remove the impediments to low cost, low emissions electricity generation.

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Huon,

Can you let me know if you read this comment:
https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109491

It explains how I suggest we can get nuclear in Australia with LCOE less than coal. The taxpayer cost would be about $20 billion – with “no more to pay”. The subsidy would decrease over about the first ten NPPs. The subsidy can be considered as:

1. The cost to fix up the mistakes of the past – e.g. 50 years of bad “Direct Action”; examples are banning nuclear, promoting renewable energy, renewable energy targets and subsidies, and a huge amount of bad subsidies, tax breaks and regulations throughout the energy supply chain. Buy the way, a lot of these are listed in comments on the “Alternative to Carbon Pricing” thread.

2. The least cost way to set us on the road to the deepest, cheapest, fastest CO2 emissions cuts

3. The way to achieve a politically sustainable way to cut CO2 emissions (it has to be economically rational or it will never be politically sustainable. This fact is being demonstrated all over the world

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Let’s just summarise a few facts:

1. A carbon price, applied in Australia, will not reduce world CO2 emissions nor affect the climate.

2. A carbon price, applied in Australia but not in Australia’s trading partners or trade competitors, will damage Australia’s economy.

3. Damaging Australia’s economy will mean we will be less able to take effective action over the long haul to decarbonise our economy.

4. Australia cannot reduce CO2-e emissions to 5% below 2000 levels by 2020 without having a serious economic recession.

5. Therefore, a carbon price would have to be raised high enough to cause a sever recession if we want to achieve the 2020 targets.

6. A carbon price is intended to shift electricity generators from coal to gas, the consequences of which, both economic and environmental, are not known. The consequences of widespread coal seam gas production and possible poisoning of water supplies is one serious threat.

See comments up thread and on the “Alternative to Carbon Pricing” thread for substantiation for these key points in thsi summary.

When we cut the issues down to these basic key points it should be pretty clear to most (but not all), that carbon pricing in Australia, now, is bad policy.

There is a better option to cut Australia’s GHG emissions – remove the impediments to low cost clean electricity generation. See upthread.

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Peter in response your points

1) Australia has 0.3% of world population. Our domestic CO2 is nearly 2% of the world total. Add another 2% if we take some blame for exported fossil fuels.
2) possibly that’s why we need to carbon tax coal and LNG exports plus put carbon tariffs on imports
3) the reverse is equally possible; taking some pain early might save more pain later on
4) it’s quite possible the reductions will happen anyway in a global economic downturn
5) a reality check should set in before the carbon price has to be raised again
6) quite likely and will cause a backlash.

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Let’s just summarise a few facts:

1. A carbon price, applied in Australia, will not reduce world CO2 emissions nor affect the climate.

2. A carbon price, applied in Australia but not in Australia’s trading partners or trade competitors, will damage Australia’s economy.

I think the word you were after is in fact opinion. You don’t have any facts to justify these opinions as these events are still in the future and are therefore inherently unpredictable and unknowable. New technologies are developing all the time that might take advantage of a Carbon Price.

You simply don’t have a logical thought out reason to assert these are facts!

Others have shown alternative economic modelling above, but you just use “The Lang Response” yet again…. ignore, divert, reassert, rinse and repeat. Or do you think you have disproved the alternative papers above by merely ignoring them and asserting your (fact-less) assertions above?

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John,

Your points are wrong and don’t follow. They are based on your moral beliefs, not on a rational argument.

There is no point implementing policies that will damage the economy when doing so wont cut world emisisons and wont change the climate. in fact it is really bad policy, silly policy, irresponsible policy.

Wrong on taking early pain will save pain later. That is a fantasy. It’s nonsense. What we need to do is not damage the economy, but instead stop trying to avoid the real issue. The real issue is we need to remove the impediments we’ve imposed over 50 years which are preventing us getting low cost nuclear.

You consistently avoid dealing with the real issues. The reason is obvous.

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@ Huon,
also make sure you check out Peter’s other great comment on that Alternative to Carbon Pricing thread where he tells of the moderator of this blog. You know, just so you are fully informed.

https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-109490

Barry said @ 18 November 2010 at 10:16 PM said:

Peter, you just don’t get it.

I do get what you are saying. I do get that you are one of those who believes, without reservation, in the AGW theory and that the consequences are likely to be dire.

I do get that you are one of those inside the ‘group-think’ tent. I do get it that the group-think has been propagated by the Left and the environmental NGOs and these are the same groups that have caused so much damage with the other beliefs and policies they have forced on societies. I do get it that the group-think has been supported by some $100 billion of public funding directed at propagating the belief in dangerous, catastrophic AGW. I do get it that many scientists’ careers are dependent on participating in this group-think and their careers would be damaged by questioning it. I do get it that there has been an enormous campaign by the Left to propagate this group think and scientist who do not want to be vilified prefer to work in other areas of science that have not been corrupted.

What I think you and the Left don’t get is:

There is time to do the proper due diligence analysis (it cannot be done by those who have already succumbed to the group-think).

There is time to take the appropriate actions (whatever they may be).

AGW is just one of many pressing problems that need to be addressed and it should be given the appropriate priority. Others are: clean water, food supply and distribution, health, education, infrastructure, congestion in cities, environmental degradation (all sorts) to name a few.

Economic growth provides the means to solve all these problems. If we reduce economic growth by taking the wrong actions we’ll do far more damage than by delaying precipitous actions on AGW (such as pricing carbon) until we have done the proper due diligence investigation.

The usual answers from the Alarmists to the statements above are:

“The science is in.” (no it isn’t)

“The vast majority of ‘Climate’ scientists say so.” (group-think, funding, career)

“We should apply the precautionary principle” (yes, we must apply that to all the issues, not just to AGW).

“Stern and Garnaut have done the economic analysis.” (they were political appointments by Left wing governments and produced the outcomes they were paid to produce. They would not have been appointed to the task if they were not inside the DAGW group-think tent. They both distorted their work (e.g. discount rates) to get the answers their clients wanted.)

“UN IPCC is unbiased and conservative.” (Nonsense. It is biased and Alarmist. Sceptics were not welcome. There was clear selection bias. Read the IPCC AR4 carefully, without blinkers, and you will realise it is alarmist throughout. It is intended to scare – just like the Al Gore propaganda movie and the film shown at the opening of the Copenhagen Conference.)

“DAGW is not political, it has nothing to do with Left versus right.” (Rubbish. Just look at the web sites that are dominated by Left contributors – e.g. BNC*, John Quiggan, ClimateSceptic, RealClimate, ABC for some examples)

* The Leftie spray is alive and well and having a whale of a time in the comments on this thread (and others): https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/12/13/media-reactions-energy-paper-p2/ (participating are: Barry, Fran Barlow Tom Keen, Ms Perps, quokka, podargus, Robert Parker, SteveK9, others)

One thing that concerns me, and persuades me the Left is more interested in using DAGW as a means to achieve its other agendas than in cutting emissions, is why they spend most of their effort attacking and rubbishing the Conservatives instead of trying to persuade their ilk (Greens, Labor and the ‘environmental’ NGOs) to switch policy and support economically rational ways to cut emissions.

We could cut emissions, improve economic growth and improve human well-being across the planet if the Left would support policies to roll out low-cost nuclear. The Left (with a few exceptions) is blocking and delaying progress and has been for 40 years.

This post contains a combination of the tired old Denialist Myths: –

“It’s all a conspiracy”
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11653-climate-myths-its-all-a-conspiracy.html

“Many leading scientists question climate change”.
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11654-climate-myths-many-leading-scientists-question-climate-change.html

See what I’m talking about? Peter writes some interesting, thought provoking stuff sometimes but then goes along with these Koch-funded Denialist urban-myths — and recites these to Barry no less! Wow! One has to stand back in awe and scratch one’s head in amazement.

*********

Peter Lang said:

Your points are wrong and don’t follow. They are based on your moral beliefs, not on a rational argument.

There is no point implementing policies that will damage the economy when doing so wont cut world emisisons and wont change the climate. in fact it is really bad policy, silly policy, irresponsible policy.

Wrong on taking early pain will save pain later. That is a fantasy. It’s nonsense. What we need to do is not damage the economy, but instead stop trying to avoid the real issue. The real issue is we need to remove the impediments we’ve imposed over 50 years which are preventing us getting low cost nuclear.

Again, assertion is not evidence, not a well-thought out rational reply. We need more than “deny, divert, reassert” here Peter. We need evidence .

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@seth…on GT simple cycle (OP) vs combined cycle (CC) you raised this originally as running the CCGT for “one or two hours”. Obviously there is a disconnect here someplace since it’ would insane to build a CCGT and run it for so little.

@bern…PV is useless for the big bucks you state since high price demand follows peak, generally (not always). Peak in California is usually after PV supplies it’s last kw, on other words, when the price is higher.

Secondly, you are making the assumption (I think) that all power is produced for spot power. It’s not. In *most* countries there exists no market, such, be highly regulated or long term state utilities to consumers contracts. Thus the crying need for ‘feed in tariffs’ and other massive subsidies (for units of energy generated) and taxes to pay for installing the PV units either residentially or in ‘farms’.

CSP has a slightly better chance if they can hold their energy in storage for the peak, then, *if* the price is high enough…they can put it on the 10 minute or hour ahead market. CSP really wouldn’t exist, however, in California or any place else without the state mandate of a % of generation having to be from politically approved sources.

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Seth,

David Waters is quite correct.

The capital cost of CCGT, when used on a standby basis, is not justified for use only several hours per day. Besides which, there are startup and shutdown energy losses and thus costs and CO2 emissions which wipe out some or all of the efficiency gain of CCGT over OCGT when used intermittently.

See, for example, Peter Lang’s 2009 paper at http://alleghenytreasures.wordpress.com/highly-recommended/peter-lang-cost-and-quantity-of-greenhouse-gas-emissions-avoided-by-wind-generation/ , Figure 3. OCGT is cheaper than CCGT at capacity factors below 15%, ie 3 or 4 hours per day and has an optimal capacity factor of 55%, whereas OCGT’s optimal capacity factor is 14%.

This paper is well worth reading. Peter explains on Page 5 why, in a mix of OCGT and CCGT, intermittent renewable generators will tend to displace CCGT and favour operation of OCGT and act to reduce the commercial value of installing CCGT in the first place.

Moderator: Sorry about the lengthy, convoluted link to Peter’s paper. I had difficulty finding it directly. It might even reside on BNC somewhere. A Google search on the term “cost and quantity of greenhouse gas emissions avoided by wind generation” turned up several indirect links; my copy of this paper is on real, dead tree paper, which isn’t much use on line.

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