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Open Thread

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”

@ Peter Lang

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

Do you believe this is also true for all the other economists in Australia? Are they all in a economic conspiracy to impose a carbon tax? If so – why?
Apparently Tony Abbott can’t get any economists to back his plan:

But high-profile economist Saul Eslake has hit back, saying Mr Abbott’s problem is that he cannot find an Australian economist who will support his “direct action” policy.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/07/01/3258962.htm?site=news
I am sure Tony would love to hear from you Peter to reassure him that he is on the right track.

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And from the same article:

Mr Eslake, program director with the Grattan Institute, told ABC News Online it appears Mr Abbott’s criticism of Australian economists refers to an open letter signed by 13 of Australia’s top economists backing a carbon price.

The letter, published last month, was signed by Chris Caton, chief economist at BT Financial Group; Besa Deda, chief economist at St George; Bill Evans, chief economist at Westpac and Mr Eslake among others.

Here is the link to the letter:

Click to access 1e4412f4-8caa-11e0-8669-5eb7b74a2c9b_Economists%20Open%20Letter%20Supporting%20a%20Price%20on%20Pollution%202011.pdf

Oh dear Peter – you are looking increasingly isolated in your adamant conviction that you are right on the carbon tax. Why should we believe you and not all these other experts.

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@ Ms Perps:

The letter, published last month, was signed by Chris Caton, chief economist at BT Financial Group; Besa Deda, chief economist at St George; Bill Evans, chief economist at Westpac and Mr Eslake among others.

That’s a classic, thanks for that!

Peter, we need evidence, not diversion, assertion, and repetition.

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Ms Perps,the bank economists you cheerfully quote are of the same breed ( pejorative deleted) who helped to bring us the Global Financial Crisis which is continuing and will likely worsen.

I would not give 2 cents for the opinion of any of the current conventional neo classical economists.The fact that they are in favour of a carbon tax is more than enough to damn it in my eyes without all the other cons.

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Well, I just wanted to say on the record — once again — that I’m ambivalent about a Carbon Tax. It’s one mechanism we could try. But there are others. Like more New Urbanist zoning laws.

If we just rezoned — by law — huge areas of our boring, bland, suburban boxes that we drive home to sleep in each night, and allowed natural attrition to implement the changes house by house and eventually street by street, significant changes could occur in 20 or 30 years.

As Scientific American says:

Certainly, those of us in the developed world could get by with less—Americans consume twice as much energy as Europeans or Japanese without an appreciable difference in quality of life. “Assuming U.S. and Canada reduce per capita energy consumption to the level of Germany, that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1,200 million metric tons of oil equivalent per year,” noted engineer Ding Jianhua of the China Urban Construction, Design and Research Institute in Beijing at the Equinox Summit. “That is nearly the total energy consumption of Latin America and Africa.”

Why do they burn so much extra power? Suburbia, pure and simple.

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@David Walters – I’m quite aware there is no spot market for power in California – I believe generators have to bid 3-hour blocks in to the market, a day in advance (correct me if I’m wrong). The point being that if demand spikes unexpectedly, they can’t jack the price up.

My point, which several of you seem to have missed, is that PV does not have to be able to provide baseload in order to be economical for large utilities in California. Daytime power usage (I’ll freely admit that I probably didn’t use the term ‘peak’ technically correctly) is significantly higher than night-time. Prices are also significantly higher – I believe in California they are higher than the LCOE of Solar PV for the entire daytime period, right when Solar PV is generating. How does that make Solar PV not economical for utility-scale generators who need to meet regulatory targets on ‘renewable’ energy, and would also like the ‘greenwash’ aspect as well?
BTW, I looked up the demand curve for California (which is the specific case I was discussing, in case you missed it – it’s what that quoted ClimateSpectator article was talking about – solar plants for California switching from CSP to PV).
See e.g. http://www.caiso.com/outlook/SystemStatus.html for today’s expected demand curve. Looks like it ‘peaks’ at 4-5pm. Unless I’m mistaken, that’s before sunset in California (at least the southern parts, where a solar plant is likely to be built!). So PV can provide ‘peak’ power, at ‘peak’ prices. Or at least, the generators can include the expected PV output in their bid for tomorrow’s peak periods (said bid including their entire generation portfolio – it’s up to them how they run it, I think). It’s not like it’ll cost them anything to include it, and it’ll save them money in fossil fuels that would otherwise need to be burned, or water that would need to be let out of a dam, etc…

BTW, Can someone please explain to me how several thousand MWp of solarPV can not reduce CO2 emissions, by reducing FF burning during the day? Are you telling me that throttleable power plants are *so* inefficient that, say, reducing output by 1GW for 8 hours ends up burning more fuel than keeping it running flat out and just blowing steam?
I’m no expert in power stations, but you’re gonna have to come up with some strong evidence & data to persuade me of that one. Probably some efficiency curves would be good to look at, if you can point me to them. I’m a mechanical engineer, so technical data is fine, I just need to know where it is.
I know the *efficiency* of the plant drops, in terms of CO2 per kWe output, but if you’re cutting the kWe by more than the efficiency drop, then the CO2 also drops.

@Peter Lang – responding to one of your many posts above.
1. A carbon price, applied in Australia, will not reduce world CO2 emissions nor affect the climate.
Not true. The effect will be small, in isolation, but not zero. The real value of it is political – being able to provide leverage – or, even more importantly, being able to remove leverage used by those who say “Why should we cut our CO2 emissions, [$country] hasn’t made any effort to reduce theirs”.
In particular, if even America’s closest allies start pricing carbon, it may force a rethink amongst conservatives there, who all seem to have hitched their wagons to the “It’s not happening” bandwagon.

2. A carbon price, applied in Australia but not in Australia’s trading partners or trade competitors, will damage Australia’s economy.
You repeatedly assert this. Others (including myself) reference economic analysis that says this just aint so.
e.g. http://theconversation.edu.au/the-effects-of-a-carbon-tax-some-harmony-amongst-the-discord-1865

…if the economy had been predicted to grow by 3% without the tax, then a $30 tax would cause the economy to slow to a growth rate of 2.29%.

Last time I looked, a growth of 2.3% wasn’t a recession, let alone economic suicide.
Technically, yes, you could call it ‘damage’, but weighed against the damage of not pricing CO2 emissions?

3. Damaging Australia’s economy will mean we will be less able to take effective action over the long haul to decarbonise our economy.
And if the ‘damage’ takes the form of a levy on carbon emissions which is used to ‘stand up’ decarbonised energy sources? (yes, including nuclear)

4. Australia cannot reduce CO2-e emissions to 5% below 2000 levels by 2020 without having a serious economic recession.
Many serious economists would strongly disagree with you. It would have certainly been much easier if we’d started the job back in 1997 when Kyoto was signed, though. 14 wasted years, there, that will come back to bite us.

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.
Again, assertion with no evidence to back it up, and see my answer to point 2 above.

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.
Not disagreeing with your dislike of the shift to gas, especially coal-seam gas. Whether the carbon price is intended to achieve this, I don’t know, but I strongly doubt it.

More importantly, I think the simple precedent of having put a price on carbon emissions will have significant political ramifications. You’ll note that this is what the Opposition here (and the conservatives in the US) are desperately fighting to avoid. They (and the fossil fuel industry lobbyists) don’t want any price on carbon emissions, however small, because a price on carbon emissions is an admission that carbon emissions have an economic cost. A crack in the dam that is global warming denial, so to speak.

The argument then becomes over exactly how great the cost is, rather than whether there is one in the first place.

To be entirely honest, that is why I support the “initial fixed price ETS” (or whatever the gov’t is calling it at the moment). Not because I think it will solve the problem all by itself, but because it will make it clear to everyone that there is a problem that must be solved, and that Australia, at least, recognises this fact.

It’s about framing the argument, not winning it in one fell swoop.

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We’ve been thinking that South Australia will be the bellwether State on coal replacement but perhaps it will be Victoria
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/07/02/3259495.htm?site=melbourne
Premier Baillieu is not afflicted with green chic; for example he allows cattle to graze in national parks. Victoria simply can’t afford the gas long run to build several gigawatts of combined cycle plant. I think near term the Feds will throw money at Victoria, after all they paid 40% of the capital cost of the ‘solar flagships’ in NSW and Qld. However in Victoria’s case we’re talking baseload and multiple billions.

My guess is that another medium size CCGT plant will be built in the Latrobe Valley area to divert attention. The big brown coal plants Hazelwood, Loy Yang and Yallourn will be given time to work on side issues like coal drying or gasification. Or maybe lots of tree planting and some kind of carbon tax phase-in period. After a decade or so it will wear thin and NP will have to be considered. In my opinion it would be bad PR to put a nuclear heat source at one of the grimy brown coal plants. A greenfields coastal site would be better.

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Peter, could you imagine a situation where nuclear power didn’t exist… what is your solution then? Most people who think an ETS is the best way to deal with this do not have nuclear power in their solution toolkit. In which case again I agree with you that the most important thing is to correct the fallacies against nuclear.

I actually agree with what you propose as the best way forward, but I’m not convinced an ETS/tax is as terrible as you suggest. I know you think it is insane, but personally I think a bit of ETS reality without nuclear will be quickest path to nuclear. I’d rather not go there without nuclear, but I’d rather go there than stay where we are.

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@Bern…much of what you say is correct, much not. Yes, the yearlong peaks occur (there are actually two of them, toward the end of the day, 1700/1900 and then a small one around 2100 hours sometimes).

At 1700 only in the summer might one get *some* solation but no where near the name plate capacity of the plant. that was 1100 to 1500 hours at best. After 1500 it’s all down hill. In the winter it *black* at 1730!

There is actually a spot market, it’s called the “10 minute ahead market”. Many of us, keep in mind, want all this ‘market’ stuff to go away and go back to a regulated long term pricing.

If we get our way, there will be on set price for all load schedules beyond what has to be imported.

Solar does turn down gas while it’s running…but much of our power is from gas thermal units so they don’t ‘turn off’…GTs are not even a majority yet of power generation in California…you have older clinkers of the type I worked at. Thus solar at best can turn some of these down, but if they are not getting subsidies, even PV is going bye-bye. Of course this is California where SF is paying $50 million dollars for a 5MW solar farm IN SF. Or was, think it’s dead in the water now.

David

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Bern, on 2 July 2011 at 9:56 PM said:

Can someone please explain to me how several thousand MWp of solarPV can not reduce CO2 emissions, by reducing FF burning during the day? Are you telling me that throttleable power plants are *so* inefficient that, say, reducing output by 1GW for 8 hours ends up burning more fuel than keeping it running flat out and just blowing steam?

Thermal expansion and contraction are major challenges in power plant design. The hotter a thermal plant runs the more efficient it is.

Of course the hotter a plant runs means much larger thermal expansion between ‘off’ and ‘full bore’.

Thermal cycling is a large factor in thermal plant life and maintenance costs.

The coolest running coal plants get about 25% thermal efficiency, the hottest can get around 45% thermal efficiency.

Here’s a report on ‘cycling costs’.

Click to access RNP%20Coal%20Report%2010Aug16.pdf

According to the report ‘cold starts’ on average cost $90,000 per start. Hence, no one is going to turn off their coal fired plant for 8 hours a day. They’ll leave it in hot standby mode.

In addition most grids have plants with a range of efficiencies and cycling capabilities. It’s quite possible that a utility expecting a period of ‘excessive cycling’ will leave it’s most efficient plants which cycle poorly off and just run the least efficient plants that are better at cycling.

Running a grid efficiently requires a complicated localized cost/benefit analysis. Tossing some solar PV on the roof could mean the power you get when the sun doesn’t shine ends up coming from a 30% efficient coal fired plant instead of a 45% efficient coal fired plant.

In which case you’ve saved no CO2 emissions and are spending just as much for getting 2/3rds of your electricity from coal as you were spending getting 100% of your energy from coal.

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@harrywr2 Thanks for the lucid explanation. Great to hear from someone who actually worked in the power industry . Certainly you opened my eyes to some facts usually not thought think off.

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The question is not whether PV can reduce CO2 emissions, the question is how the hell are we going to reduce our global emissions to only a few billion tonnes CO2 equivalents per year. In other words how do we get to that 90+% reduction. PV is very marginal here. It can’t replace coal so its a marginal technology by definition.

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@ Bern

You repeatedly assert this. Others (including myself) reference economic analysis that says this just aint so.
e.g. http://theconversation.edu.au/the-effects-of-a-carbon-tax-some-harmony-amongst-the-discord-1865

“…if the economy had been predicted to grow by 3% without the tax, then a $30 tax would cause the economy to slow to a growth rate of 2.29%.”

Last time I looked, a growth of 2.3% wasn’t a recession, let alone economic suicide.
Technically, yes, you could call it ‘damage’, but weighed against the damage of not pricing CO2 emissions?

Nice point, but as Peter Lang doesn’t accept the peer-reviewed science of climate ‘alarmism’ as he calls it, he just can’t agree with your conclusions here. Or any carbon price model that shows anything other than sheer devastation to our economy.

They (and the fossil fuel industry lobbyists) don’t want any price on carbon emissions, however small, because a price on carbon emissions is an admission that carbon emissions have an economic cost. A crack in the dam that is global warming denial, so to speak.

And there it is. Why do you think PL is fighting it so hard on this forum?

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@ Matt

I actually agree with what you propose as the best way forward, but I’m not convinced an ETS/tax is as terrible as you suggest. I know you think it is insane, but personally I think a bit of ETS reality without nuclear will be quickest path to nuclear. I’d rather not go there without nuclear, but I’d rather go there than stay where we are.

That’s a very fair position. I also agree with Peter Lang that we want to remove all subsidies to other energy sources and impediments to nuclear, such as the artificial cost increases one gets from repeated legal challenges.

We need to totally re-educate the public, and part of that would be teaching them about the wonders of Gen3.5 and Gen4 reactors.

As he no longer reads my posts, does anyone know if Peter Lang has changed his position on only using the cheapest Gen2 reactors we can build? I hope he dropped his “Less safe, cheaper reactors” mantra after Fukishima. The public wants to know whether we can make an exponentially safer reactor than Fukishima. I seem to be explaining Gen3.5 “Moderator leak” and Gen4 “Neutron Leak” at parties a lot these days, and arguing that dropping nuclear power because of Fukishima is like dropping aviation because of the Hindenberg!

They want to know we have a qualitatively different and improved reactor. They don’t want to hear that we’ll give Homer Simpson some better training and the reactor a new paint job! They want to know that the new reactors are “Homer-proof!”

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@ Harrywr2

“According to the report ‘cold starts’ on average cost $90,000 per start. Hence, no one is going to turn off their coal fired plant for 8 hours a day. They’ll leave it in hot standby mode.”

That is probably going to be one of the most amazing statistics I’ll read this week — no — maybe this month! Wow. I had no idea. Thanks for that, it explains a lot!

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> 1. Reduce the regulatory obstacles to nuclear …

Also needed–smarter management, e.g.

http://aksarbent.blogspot.com/2011/06/nebraska-nuclear-reactor-flooding.html
“Two years ago the Nuclear Regulatory Commission discovered that (due to a miscalculation) Ft. Calhoun’s flooding preparation was inadequate, and forced the plant’s operator, OPPD (Omaha Public Power District) to get with the program and make necessary upgrades, without which the current situation would be much, much worse.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303654804576348910944570204.html
“Nine months before the March earthquake and tsunami … one of its reactors suffered a loss of electricity under much more mundane circumstances: A maintenance worker from a subcontractor accidentally bumped an electronic switch with his elbow.

The outage triggered a sharp drop in the level of cooling water for the radioactive fuel rods ….
… Water levels inside the No. 2 reactor had dropped by two meters (nearly seven feet) for about 30 minutes before being restored.
…. caused by …. what NISA and Tepco described in their reports as a “momentary” flutter that was long enough to trip a circuit breaker shutting off the reactor’s main power supply, but too short to trigger the normal backup power supply.

As a result, the electric pumps seized up ….”

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John Bennets,

Thanks for the reference to my original BNC paper and for the explanation.

By the way, you can find all previous BNC papers here (ordered by date): https://bravenewclimate.com/about/bnc-post-list/

You mentioned you couldn’t easily find the paper on BNC. You can find most of my papers (and other authors), grouped by broad topic area, from the tabs at the top of the BNC page: https://bravenewclimate.com/renewable-limits/ , and one here
https://bravenewclimate.com/integral-fast-reactor-ifr-nuclear-power/
And the most recent one, not yet added to the tabs, is here: https://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/

The way I find papers by topic is on the tabs at the top of the BNC page. Tip: you have to actually click on the tab, not click on the hover-over headings. This is a bit of a trick for those not used to it.

[Barry, I liked the way the tabs used to work before you added the hover over. We can still use it the old way by clicking on the tab. However, I suspect some new BNCers will not find the lists of past papers, ordered by subject, as easily as it is without the hover-over sub headings. ]

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Bern @ 2 July 2011 at 9:56 PM

@Peter Lang – responding to one of your many posts above.

1. A carbon price, applied in Australia, will not reduce world CO2 emissions nor affect the climate.
Not true. The effect will be small, in isolation, but not zero. The real value of it is political – being able to provide leverage

I cannot go over it all over again. I’ve posted the references for all the statements summarised in the six points. I’ve posted the various references dozens of times. They are authoritative sources, not just nonsense from Climate Spectator and the like.

If you are interested, I’d urge you to go back through and read and understand the previous comments and references.

Just to explain, in short, a carbon price in Australia will not cut world emissions, not change the climate.

Firstly, what a carbon price will do, if high enough, is to move energy intensive industries out of Australia to other countries like China.

Secondly, it does not help to bring the cost of low emissions electricity down, so it does not help developing countries to get lower cost low emissions electricity generation. It’s not worth me explaining all this again here. Please read the “Alternative to Carbon Pricing” thread.

Thirdly it damages our economy so we are less able to take the appropriate action

Fourthly, it burries the problems of the masses of regulations the prevent low cost low emissions electricity generation. So we won’t tackle it. We’ll just cover it over. This is actually my major reason for opposing the carbon pricing. It avoids dealing with the real, underlying issues and it will defer it for ever. Nuclear will be deferred for a very long time if we go down the carbon pricing route before we confront the real problem.

The costs of the monitoring reporting and administration – both public sector and private sector will be enormous (I listed some of it up thread). Bern, you do need to put your thinking cap on to bring it all together.

Bern, The more of your comment I read, the more I realise you’ve either missed nearly all the background and the references or you are simply locked into reiterating the Al Gore et al line. Some people just believe no matter what. There is no point trying to discuss with them. They want symbolic gestures – like Kyoto – and think they are good. We can point to many others equally as bad, but I doubt there is any point trying to discuss with some people, because people like yourself believe they are good (anti nuclear, renewables subsidies, pink bats, green loans, green cars, ethanol, bio diesel, the list is endless of the bad policies driven by true Green believers).

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MattB,

Many people just keep repeating they want a carbon price because they’ve been told by the groups they align with that it is the best way forward.

But you’ll notice that the very people who argue for a carbon price also spend an inordinate amount of time trying to avoid considering or discussing the alternative, an economically rational policy. They simply don’t want to go there. They do not want to open up the can of worms it creates. It shows the mess of the bad policies they’ve forced on us in the past. Carbon pricing is the next on on their agenda.

The consistent advocacy for useless symbolic gestures, for wealth transfer, for more regulation, and the avoidance of admitting the problems with carbon pricing, shows me that this is another seriously bad policy being foistered on us by the Progressives’ agenda.

It should be avoided at all costs.(Deleted personal opinion of others motives-as per BNC Comments Policy) It seriously detracts from the whole case they argue for. It strongly indicates their policies are a very big risk.

That is the effect the advocacy of these irrational policies has on me.

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Bern,

I’ll just make this comment too.

Many people are being deceptive saying on one hand a carbon price of $20 or $30 will not drive the economy into recession and on the other had trying to imply that the carbon price will cause us to achieve the 2020 targets. The point is that the carbon price will have to rise high enough to cause GDP growth to be negative (a recession) if we are to achieve the 2020 targets. There is no realistic way of achieving the 2020 targets without a deep, long recession. Do the calculations yourself and explain where the 160 Mt/a of cuts will come from. You might want to start by reading what I’ve already posted (including the references).

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Thanks Peter. you must admit when pretty much every significant economist in Australia thinks that the ETS will not ruin us it is a big call to expect the rest of us to reach that conclusion. Not that we should “believe” them, but it is not easy to become a guru of economics for most people.

I note that McKibbin is not a fan. THe other day I read that Abbott’s problem was that he can’t find an economist who agrees with him… well they must be somewhere and surely this is an open invite to be given some limelight in the debate.

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an economically rational policy. They simply don’t want to go there. They do not want to open up the can of worms it creates. It shows the mess of the bad policies they’ve forced on us in the past. Carbon pricing is the next on on their agenda.

Peter,
do you REALLY want an economically rational policy? Then support a Carbon Price! Because according to the reports I’ve seen, it might just offset the enormous SUBSIDIES that coal, oil, and gas keep getting from our governments.

I’d prefer to see those subsidies just stripped away, but that’s not being discussed. It’s not on the radar. Maybe a carbon tax will offset some of the $10 billion a year in subsidies the fossil fuel companies enjoy!
http://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/remove-subsidies/

If they were going to remove the subsidies, then I’d be happier about not having a Carbon Price. But while there are subsidies to fossil fuel companies, then I’m sympathetic towards a Carbon Price.

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The point is that the carbon price will have to rise high enough to cause GDP growth to be negative (a recession) if we are to achieve the 2020 targets

You ignore, divert and then reassert once again Peter.

Assertion is not EVIDENCE.

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EN I think alleged fossil fuel subsidies should be looked at on a case by case basis and the responsible party asked to justify their position. To take one example that of low electricity prices to aluminium smelters I believe it traces back to competition between the States for the prestige of hosting a smelter. The States should now explain why it wouldn’t be better for the local economy to close each smelter and give households lower power prices.

I’ve just seen a TV program on why carbon credits could be an alternative to logging. Ye gods it’s a legal and measurement nightmare. They did say that carbon tax needs to be at least $40 not closer to $20. However I believe as do others that ~$20 is a foot in the door. That door has been closed and now there is the possibility it could be thrown wide open. It officially acknowledges that CO2 is a harmful product in excess doses.

Therefore I hope carbon tax gets up without too many giveaways. The initial result I think will be some efficiency gains which will trim the fat. Hopefully people will then notice that the only technology shift is gas, not renewables (if they keep their promise to drop subsidies). Then 2-3 years from now the public will look for something else. It’s all progress.

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harrywr2, on 3 July 2011 at 2:37 AM said:
According to the report ‘cold starts’ on average cost $90,000 per start. Hence, no one is going to turn off their coal fired plant for 8 hours a day. They’ll leave it in hot standby mode.
You seem to be miss-reading the RNP coal report. According to table 7, cold starts(>48h shutdown) do average $90,000 , but hot starts(<8h shutdown) and warm starts(60% is $1800. So in fact turning off a plant for <48h is not a major expense and turning off for <8h is in fact keeping the plant in hot standby mode.
The article explains that many plants do operate in two shift mode(16h on, 8h off), although this does require some modifications.

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@ Neil Howes, on 3 July 2011 at 2:18 PM:

Neil has correctly presented us with the more reasonable range of prices for 2-shifting a conventional coal fired power plant. The fuel costs and maintenance costs are not the only issues, however, because we are not discussing a two-step on or off situation, but one where after a period of being off, there is a warm restart, followed by continuous load following.

Now, load following is perfectly normal but it comes at a cost.

First, there is the fuel cost due to inefficiencies involved with not operating at or close to the most efficient load. Say, for example, a 500MW unit is most economical at 420MW, but is set at 200MW after warming up. This represents an ongoing efficiency loss. Similarly, there may be a loss of efficiency if the unit is operated outside a range of, say, 250 – 470, even though this nominal 500MW machine is capable of perhaps 530MW in short bursts.

Second, there is a loss of efficiency every time the load level is adjusted either up or down. Until the air/fuel mix is stabilised again at the optimal level, either additional air is passing through the furnace, being heated, then being blown up the chimney. This is called running lean.

Otherwise, the furnace will run rich, ie with not enough oxygen to fully burn the fuel at the correct time and place within the furnace. Again, heat or fuel is lost. Unburned fuel turns up as CO in the exhaust flow or as carbon fines in the fly ash. Either way, they represent a loss of energy and hence a cost.

Stochastic power sources, typically the renewable ones of wind and solar PV, result in many more and steeper adjustments, minute by minute throughout the operating period of the coal fired unit which is working in tandem with renewable power sources.

So, whether the additional cost per start is $2k or $90k, depending on how long the unit has been out of service, to complete the picture we need to consider the additional ramping up and down continually throughout the day as the wind puffs and blows and the sun is shielded by fleeting clouds.

One final observation: The cheapest base load (ie largest, newest coal or OCGT or nuclear or must-run hydro) are not the units that follow the fluctuating of renewables. The slightly dearer, older coal fired units and the much more expensive but (thankfully) responsive OCGT will get this task. These are also the units that have the highest thermal penalties when load-following.

The system operators make all of this work, but it is difficult to allocate the costs of load following to the generating plant which caused the need in the first place – variable renewables.

Until these costs are determined and lreimbursed by the renewable generators, they represent a subsidy of the variable generators by the reliable generators. Assuming a warm start and say 2% loss of efficiency, the equation becomes something of the order of:
For a two shifting 500MW unit, warm start = $20k after being parked for 8 hours.
For every MWh generated, the efficiency loss is of the order of 2% of 200 tonnes of coal per hour * $100 per tonne. (Adjust figures as you chose for another guess).

Penalty for 500MW unit, running at an average of 60% (300MW) for 16 hours as above is thus
= $20,000 + 16 hours * 200 t * $2
= $20,000 + 6400 = $2640 per day
= $963,600 per year, per unit. NB Power stations often consist of four or more units.

NB I have not considered the cost of labour standing by or the cost of capital tied up in a less efficient operation.

Remember also, that you cannot just shut down a thermal unit and walk away. The shaft must be kept turning or it will distort (“hog”) and damage the turbines and generator. Shaft jacking motors and careful observation are required during the shutdown and there are strich limits on the rate of rise of temperature in critical components during re-start. It is possible to 2-shift, but what have just written should indicate that there is huge risk involved every time, and risk represents money, as any insurer will tell you. Replacement of a damaged generator stator is counted in the tens of millions of dollars on units of this size, and that’s before the cost of the lost revenue during a shutdown of at least half a year is taken into account.

No doubt those who own the generating plant will price 2-shifting a 4-unit station in the tens of millions of dollars per annum, above and beyond normal operating costs.

If it was my unit, I’d be trying everything possible to keep it running at minimum load (say 140MW), rather than 2-shifting, for which I reckon $90k per day is very cheap in a market situation.

Where does the baseload generator sent this bill?

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Many people just keep repeating they want a carbon price because they’ve been told by the groups they align with that it is the best way forward

While this may be true for some people, I do not believe it applies to any of the regular commenters on this site. And it does not detract from the arguments for a carbon tax.

The recent Productivity Commission report states “Explicit carbon pricing in the United Kingdom appears to have been a cost-effective way of achieving considerable abatement.”

This World Bank paper argues that a carbon tax system is more practical to implement, monitor and enforce than tradable permit-based approaches to global climate-change action. It suggests that a sensible design would be an upstream carbon tax on the fossil fuel supply chain”

Australian Treasury modelling suggests that a carbon price impact on the economy will be “very modest”.

And if a carbon tax was really going to have a deep recession impact on the economy, why have the Opposition (who oppose a carbon tax) not pounced on the opportunity and stated “a carbon tax will cause a recession”? Surely that would be an effective argument against it, but they’re not using it. Why? Because there’s no evidence for it.

And, Peter Lang, I read “The Failure of Al Gore: Part Deux” article. There was no evidence in it that a carbon tax would be detrimental to Australia, or that it’s a bad policy. I am not ignoring anything – I am yet to see any evidence that a carbon price will cause a recession, or significantly affect the economy.

Nuclear power is cheaper than fossil fuels. That is the economically rational approach for dealing with climate change, and a carbon price is a step in the direction of making the playing field level.

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Tom Keen,

I find it tiresome (your term) trying to discuss this with you when it seems you intentionally avoid most of the relevant points I’ve made up thread and in previous discussions with you. There is no point me repeating it all again, nor any point in linking to my previous comments, because this has been going on for so long it demonstrates it is the way of this discussion. So I’ll just pick up on a couple of your final points for the benefit of other readers.

Firstly, you’ve quoted selectively from the Productivity Commission report and put your own interpretation on the conclusions that should be drawn from it.

And, Peter Lang, I read “The Failure of Al Gore: Part Deux” article. There was no evidence in it that a carbon tax would be detrimental to Australia.

Clearly you have missed the point I made by posting the link to that article. Others may want to read it and draw their own conclusions http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/06/27/the-failure-of-al-gore-part-deux/ . The point the article makes is absolutely clear and applicable to what is going on here.

I am yet to see any evidence that a carbon price will cause a recession, or significantly affect the economy.

That is because you do not accept what is clear from the Roger Pielke Jr, (2011) http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/admin/publication_files/2010.36.pdf ,Treasury http://www.treasury.gov.au/documents/1999/PDF/100910_Email_Size_of_Abatement_Challenge.pdf and others make absolutely clear. In attempting to explain why you do not accept them you made some distracting comments to the effect you do not accept the Kaya Identity; we can cut emissions by other ways without having to deal with cutting fossil fuels. I refuted your comment at the time. In short, there are only two variables that can be influenced by the carbon price: GDP growth and Emissions intensity per GDP. The latter is comprised of two factors: Energy Intensity and Emissions Intensity. Neither of these factors can be changed fast enough, across the whole economy, to cut emissions at the rate needed to achieve the unconditional 2020 target (5% below 2020 levels). The only factor that can be changed fast enough is the GDP growth rate. That is what the carbon price will have to act to change. The carbon price would have to be raised fast enough to cause GDP growth rate to be cut severely (probably average negative) for 8 years to achieve the unconditional 2020 target.

Nuclear power is cheaper than fossil fuels.

That is not what all the studies have been showing consistently (ANSTO, EPRI, ASTE, ACIL Tasman and other studies contracted by AEMO, Department of Industry … and others. They consistently show that the LCOE of nculear in Australia would be in the order of 2x LCOE of coal if we implement with the impediments alread in Australia and as are imposed in USA< Canada, UK and EU. So, unless we tackle and remove these impediments, nuclear will not be viable in Australia. A carbon price will not help to remove theseimpedments. It will bury them under another layer of massive regulatory burden and cost imposts. It will defer addressing them. We’ve been over and over this point ad nauseum. Its tiresome.

I’ve also pointed out, many times, that raising the cost of energy in Australia will not cut world emissions. No point repeating this again and providing all the links when you either wont read them or don’t get the overall picture. It’s tiresome.

For others who want to follow up on this, please refer to the lead article and comments on the "Alternative to Carbon Pricing" thread: https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/

Then look at the comments on this thread linked in this comment:
https://bravenewclimate.com/2011/06/29/open-thread-17/#comment-130697

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> you cannot just shut down a thermal unit and walk away.
> The shaft must be kept turning or it will distort (“hog”) and
> damage the turbines and generator. Shaft jacking motors
> and careful observation are required during the shutdown
> and there are strich limits on the rate of rise of temperature
> in critical components during re-start.

This issue would be the same for coal as for nuclear, right? How is the careful shutdown procedure handled when outside/backup power fails, on other systems?

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Tom Keen, @ https://bravenewclimate.com/2011/06/29/open-thread-17/#comment-130807

Further to my previous response to your comment at 11:40 pm, this point you made is an example of the ongoing distortions that I find worse than tiresome:

Australian Treasury modelling suggests that a carbon price impact on the economy will be “very modest”.

I’ve explained repeatedly that the modelling quoted by the Treasurer is for the scenario where carbon price starts at $20/tonne and increases at 4% per year. That price is nowhere near sufficient to cut CO2 emissions by 2020 to achieve the unconditional 5% reduction below 2000 levels.

Implying that it is, as the Treasurer is doing – and many fall for it – is a slight of hand.

(see summary of key points here: https://bravenewclimate.com/2011/06/29/open-thread-17/#comment-130749 )

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“…Nuclear power is cheaper than fossil fuels…”

I sorry Peter but you are going to have to stop looking at these studies for data as they are generally chock full of hidden assumption and bias. I use actual construction or sales costs as the only reliable data.

Here we find one of American’s notoriously inefficient private utilities telling us that nuclear power is the cheapest growth strategy in the US

Click to access SCANA2011AnalystDayPresentation.pdf

With more than double the financing cost of the best in North American highly efficient public utilities like all nuclear all the time TVA, the cost advantage of nukes is obvious..

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@David Walters, John Bennetts

I don’t believe I said anything about using CCGT plant for only a few hours. Sorry if you misinterpreted.

We know that wind/solar provides on average 20% of its nameplate capacity as average power and it must/should be backed up 100% of name plate by OCGT with 80% of the wind/solar/gas combo energy being provided by the inefficient OCGT plant.

In my green storage scenario the OCGT is replaced by more efficient CCGT plant providing that 80% of the energy as well as backup to the storage, with the storage simply replacing the need for fast spoolup OCGT.

The second option is obviously cheaper and produces a lot less GHG’s making wind/solar a somewhat less odious and expensive option but still an order of magnitude more expensive than nuclear.

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BNCers who are not following the “CO2 avoidance cost with wind energy in Australia and carbon price implications” are missing a discussion of an important issue. More importantly, by not showing interest in this, the debate has moved off the BNC web site to emails.

I’d encourage BNCers to get involved in this critical debate – then, hopefully, the debate may move from emails to the BNC web site where everyone can follow it and get involved. (I received 12 emails overnight from around the world and from a range of perspectives (including a gas generator manufacturer).)

The points being made about renewables in the EU and the policy implications are very relevant to Australia.

It is a pity for BNCers to be missing all this.

Comments posted early this morning start here:
https://bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/#comment-130803

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coal closure would cut growth not carbon

Shutting down the Australian coal industry would cost the economy between $29 billion and $36bn a year and have no effect on global carbon emission levels. </blockquote
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/coal-closure-would-cut-growth-not-carbon-report/story-fn59niix-1226086753914

Most people in Australia now realise this.

This chart shows clearly that a rising carbon price has not stopped, nor even slowed, demand for coal.
http://www.indexmundi.com/commodities/?commodity=coal-australian&months=360

Pricing carbon is the WRONG POLICY. Instead, we need to allow clean alternatives to be cheaper. Only by allowing the clean alternatives to be cheaper will they be adopted where the main growth in CO2 emissions is occurring and will occur for the decades ahead.

We need to remove the impediments to low cost nuclear, not slow the economy with another bad, Green policy – a carbon price.

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Both the longevity and intensity of debate over a Carbon Price here is approaching obsession. It is as if certain members actually think they can stop Australia going forward with a Carbon Price if they just ‘win’ the argument here at BNC! They have forgotten they are on a blog, not in Parliament.

What we conclude here hardly matters.

Aren’t we meant to be information activists for nuclear, not taxation reform activists for Tony (I-think-climate-change-is-crap) Abbott?

To think certain members called my few contributions on peak oil obsessive! Wow. Some people are completely blind.

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I’d encourage BNCers to get involved in this critical debate

I’d encourage BNCers to get back to informing the public about the benefits of nuclear power, NOT becoming taxation reform agents bogged down in endless economic modelling.

“Carbon price is good!”
“Noooooo, here’s 10 reports saying Carbon Price is baaaaad.”
“Carbon price is bad!”
“Noooooo, here’s 10 reports saying Carbon Price is gooooood!”

Are you guys for real? Don’t you see that politics here is degenerating down into competing ideologies and belief systems? I’m more agnostic than either of the positions above. I think *many* BNCer’s are ambivalent or agnostic about it. It’s just some members are obsessed over it and trying to derail what BNC is all about.
MODERATOR
This discussion is taking place on an Open Thread which is meant to be used for “soapbox” opinion. It is, therefore, not possible to de-rail this thread as, deliberately, there are no rails. The conversation would, however, be out of place on a thread dedicated to anything other than the CPRS.

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LCOE estimates do not currently include external costs, and so they do not capture all the costs associated with energy production across the macro-economy.

http://www.externe.info has plenty of information on this stuff.

The World Nuclear Association summarised well:

The report of a major European study of the external costs of various fuel cycles, focusing on coal and nuclear, was released in mid 2001 – ExternE. It shows that in clear cash terms nuclear energy incurs about one tenth of the costs of coal. The external costs are defined as those actually incurred in relation to health and the environment and quantifiable but not built into the cost of the electricity. If these costs were in fact included, the EU price of electricity from coal would double and that from gas would increase 30%. These are without attempting to include the external costs of global warming.

I.e. Nuclear is much cheaper than coal. Even without accounting for the external costs of greenhouse gas production, continued use of fossil fuels is costing the Australian economy and human well-being much more than a shift to nuclear would.

Nuclear is a more than competitive product. An informed public and steadily rising cost (i.e. increased incorporation of externalities into the market value) of fossil fuel generation puts nuclear in the best possible position.

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Nuclear is definitely cheaper in some countries, but not in others. China – probably, because lack of cost imposts (and difficulty in moving coal from north to south of the country); Japan – probably, because all coal must be imported by ship; France – definitely, for both of the latter two reasons; Australia – almost certainly NOT, because of both the first two reasons apply (likely cost imposts and really cheap available coal fuel). PL’s point about trying to reduce cost imposts on nuclear is important, but it will be a difficult problem to sort out politically, and at present (absent a carbon price), I see little evidence of any motivation for pollies or bureaucrats to get stuck into solving these issues (or how much savings will ultimately be realised — can it ever be cheaper than coal in Australia, absent a carbon price? Don’t know).

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Tom Keen @ 4 July 2011 at 12:04 PM,

You continue to misunderstand.

Estimates of the LCOE of new entrant electricity generators in Australia, by the most authoritative sources available (e.g. EPRI,. ACIL-Tasman and others), consistently show the LCOE of nuclear would be about 1.5 to 2 times the LCOE of new coal.

That is assuming the costs on the regulatory environments, investor risk premium and other imposts imposed on nuclear that apply in the other western democracies. These imposts are what makes nuclear uncompetitive. That is what needs to be addressed. And that is the very issue that you and BNCers have clearly demonstrated you do not want to address. You have continually avoided any serious discussion on BNC to investigate these imposts. That is real denial.

Regarding internalising externalities, you are correct that the estimated external costs of fossil fuels are higher than of nuclear. If the external costs are the same in Australia as in EU, then incorporating the externalities estimate by ExternE would increase the costs of fossil fuel generated electricity in Australia but would not make nuclear competitive with coal. We need to remove the impediments that are making nuclear higher cost than coal.

I’ve explained up thread (and elsewhere on BNC, many times) why it is not practicable to internalise all externalities. In fact, it is probably not cost effective to internalise much more than we are already doing. The costs to society of doing so may outweigh the benefits. All this is barking up the wrong tree. It is avoiding the real issue – what is making nuclear too expensive?

Furthermore, raising the cost of electricity generation in Australia will not reduce world emissions. You seem to be avoiding that issue or having trouble understanding it. I’ve presented the evidence over and over again. It’s tiresome continually repeating the same explanation and you continually either ignore it or don’t understand it. Whatever the reason, we can’t reach closure on points because you are unwilling to concede when you have understood and accept a point.

I believe I answered many of the points you are repeating in my reply to you @ 30 June 2011 at 5:56 PM. I’ve also answered your point in several other posts.

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Moderator,

The “Alternaive to Carbon Pricing” thread is closed so the discussion about carbon pricing being conducted and on previous threads, which rightly should have been held there, is not possible.

The thread was closed after it was trashed by off topic comments in an attempt to derail the thread (successfully) including loading irrelevant videos which slowed the thread down so much it is too slow to use.

It is unfortunate, because the issue is clearly the most important policy issue facing Australia at the moment. To attempt to ban discussion or constrict it, seems unwise.
(Deleted personal accusation)
MODERATOR
There is no attempt to ban or constrict discussion of the CPRS. That was the point of my comment to EN on his belief that the OT was being de-railed by that topic. Please ask Barry if you would like to start another specialised thread on the CPRS or continue to comment on this Open Thread.

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Hi Moderator,
yes, please open up that thread again and delete any of my posts if they offend.

I was just trying to make the point that Peter — a peak oil and global warming Denialist — is now devoting all of his time to obsessing over a silly little tax when the VAST MAJORITY OF AUSTRALIAN’S DON’T TRUST NUCLEAR POWER!

Wasting time ventilating about a Carbon Tax and obsessing over various legal structures that might add 50% to the cost of nuclear power BOTH seem like a completely navel gazing exercise when the vast majority of Aussies HATE nuclear power right now. They don’t know about IFR’s and think nuclear power is dangerous and leaves waste problems for a 100 000 years.

Changing public opinion about nuclear power itself seems like the first step. For instance, if Peter were 100% successful in his never-ending campaign to have us all foam at the mouth about a Carbon Tax…. then what? We sign a petition to Julia? “BNC all agree a Carbon Tax would be bad?”

Well done. Heroic effort, after all that time and energy wasted. I can see Julia shaking in her boots because one blog decided a Carbon Tax was a bad idea! Wow — what an amazing effort in changing public efforts on nuclear power!

So PLEASE open up that other thread and clean it up as much as Peter wants, as then I won’t have to get all his spam in my email box.
The thread was closed by Barry and would have to be re-opened by Barry. I really don’t have the time to go back over an already moderated thread to suit you, Peter Lang or anyone else.

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Barry

PL’s point about trying to reduce cost imposts on nuclear is important, but it will be a difficult problem to sort out politically, and at present (absent a carbon price), I see little evidence of any motivation for pollies or bureaucrats to get stuck into solving these issues (or how much savings will ultimately be realised — can it ever be cheaper than coal in Australia, absent a carbon price? Don’t know).

You’ve highlighted the nub of the problem. We just don’t know the extent of the impecdiments that would cause nuclear to be higher cost than coal in Australia under the conditions assumed for the comparative estimates.

But worse, we show no interest in trying to find out why they are.

We are ignoring the rational alternative and running headlong into imposing an economy-damaging carbon price.

This is irresponsible government. It is not objective. It is like many past major policy blunders.

but it will be a difficult problem to sort out politically, and at present (absent a carbon price), I see little evidence of any motivation for pollies or bureaucrats to get stuck into solving these issues

It will be even harder to solve once a carbon price is implemented. Then the GHG issue will be put away for ages. (Just like the Republic debate. From the public’s perspective once the issue is dealt with it is resolved and not to be raised again until the next generation).

Now is the time to tackle it. Now is the right time because now is the time when the issue of GHG emissions is high on the public awareness. Now is the time to convince the Greens, environmental NGOs and Labor to embrace nuclear. If we don’t do it now, then it will deferred for a long time. Once the Coalition is in power it is much more difficult to introduce it. By partisan support for nuclear needs to be introduced by Labor (and preferably supported the Greens as well).

If Labor and Greens cannot tackle this, it makes the whole GHG issue look like nothing more than hierocracy and a route to achieve their socialist agendas.

You seem to assume that implementing a carbon price will speed up the introduction of nuclear (or any low cost, low emissions technology), but there is no evidence that that will occur.

Lastly, the key points are summarised here:
https://bravenewclimate.com/2011/06/29/open-thread-17/#comment-130749

In short, the carbon price will not cut world emissions, nor change the climate, but will damage Australia’s economy.

Therefore, the policy is daft.

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Peter Lang,

Nuclear will certainly be deferred for “some time”. It is incredibly optimistic to believe the Labor Party will change it’s policy before the next election. This does not diminish the importance of continuing to advocate nuclear power, but to proceed on the assumption that there is any realistic chance of having a pro-nuclear policy as a replacement for a carbon tax in Australia in the immediate future is just dreaming.

The situation at Fukushima is a festering wound for nuclear advocacy and we badly need to see all the reactors in proper controlled cold shutdown and the return of at least some of the evacuees to their homes before there is any realistic chance of making many advances.

As for economic ill effects of various events, there are plenty of things than pose a bigger problem than a carbon tax including GFC Mark II, decline of growth/recession in China, collapse of an over priced Australian housing market – pick your poison.

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Tom Keen @ 3 July 2011 at 11:40 PM
https://bravenewclimate.com/2011/06/29/open-thread-17/#comment-130807

You said:

While this may be true for some people, I do not believe it applies to any of the regular commenters on this site.

I do not accept that statement.

If it was true:

1. you and others would be prepared to admit that there are serious problems with the carbon price concept, and

2. you would be willing, in fact keen, to thoroughly and rigorously investigate alternative options.

However, instead of investigating the alternatives, there has been a very obvious attempt to ignore the alternative, dismiss it, change the subject, in fact do anything except look into it. This has been going on for a year on BNC. Just read through the “Alternative to Carbon Pricing” thread for evidence. You can also the evidence for avoidance of the issue on Open Thread 15, 16 and 17.

That is why I do not agree with your statement.

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Lots of discussion since I was last able to visit – too much to discuss directly.

I’ll rephrase my earlier comment though:
A modest carbon price introduced now will not drive the economy into recession.
It will also not solve the carbon problem all by itself.
What it will do, however, is help shift the mainstream debate from “Is carbon a problem?” to “What’s the best way of fixing this carbon problem we seem to have?”
That’s the point where nuclear proponents can stand up and say “Hey, check this solution out, we think it’s a good one!”
It’s also the appropriate time to provide the technical reasons as to why 100% renewables is not a good, cost-effective solution at this time (even if technically possible).

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Quokka,

You have clearly missed the point.

The point I am making is that you and many other regular BNC contributors have done all you can to divert the discussion and to avoid looking into the alternative.

That is not objective. In fact it is irresponsible.

It feeds the concern that those advocating a carbon price are not really objective about any of what they are arguing for. That is a real worry. We may be being seriously misled again, by well-meaning but overly enthusiastic environmental activists.

Furthermore, on one hand you argue we should impose a carbon price by government fiat forced on us by the Progressives because they want it (for a variety of reasons). However, on the other hand you argue, in effect, you should not persuade the Progressives to consider the alternative – because it’s too hard or politically unpopular to do so. You feel Labor should not be criticised for sticking with its anti-nuclear policy – a policy that has caused us to have much higher emissions, and be on a much longer and slower trajectory to reduce them than we would have had without the anti nuclear policy. Yet you feel free to criticise the Conservatives for trying to save the nation from this really bad policy being imposed by the “Progressives”

Your arguments that we should impose a carbon price without seriously investigating the alternative are irresponsible, not objective, ludicrous.

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Eclipse Now (10:21AM above),

I am delighted that there is so much discussion here about a carbon tax. At the moment, Australia is the center of the carbon tax debate in the entire world. And a carbon tax has huge implications for nuclear power. What a pity, then, if you were not discussing the heck out of it.

But you are quite right, too. This is one of the premier pro-environment, pro-nuclear sites. So it would also be a shame if the carbon tax discussion somehow compromised the coverage of nuclear per se.

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Huon,

So it would also be a shame if the carbon tax discussion somehow compromised the coverage of nuclear per se.

I agree.

But I see the policy compromises as:

1. Carbon price now – nuclear put on the back-burner for may years, or

2. Face up to confronting the issue of nuclear now, while there is concern about CO2 emissions, rather than bury it under a symbolic gesture (carbon price) that will not work and will damage our economy so we will be less able to move near the front of the pack in future years.

Facing up to the policy issues of nuclear requires:

1. the Progressives who understand that nuclear is an essential part of reducing CO2 emissions put their effort into persuading/convincing/converting the anti-nuke Greens, environmental NGOs and Labor to embrace nuclear, and

2. seriously investigating the alternative to carbon pricing – i.e. implementing nuclear in Australia so that LCOE is cheaper than coal.

We’ve been avoiding that discussion. I’d advocate that BNC should be at the forefront of that discussion. We can’t do the whole job, but we could certainly lead.

Unfortunately, there has been a very strong effort ny BNC regulars to prevent that happening. Just read though the comments on the “Alternative to Carbon Pricing” thread for the evidence for that statement.

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@Peter Lang
You are certainly guilty of hogging the last two Open Threads with your constant repetition of the same personal opinions on the CPRS which are patently out of step with all the leading Australian economists. I pointed this out to you up-thread (with the relevant links) but you proffered no reply.
It is pointless for you to continue to try to hammer your personal opinions using the same mallet all the time. Repetition is boring and fruitless.
Lucky for you that this is an Open Thread, as I see you have reverted to your previous methods of attempted political point scoring that got you into hot water before. This is not a political issue (although you would like to believe it to be so) and you cannot impose your convictions on others no matter how right you think you are, by trying to make it so.
You are not convincing many here on BNC so give it a rest will you and let us move on to other subjects on this Open Thread.

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@ Huon,
I yawn over the Carbon Tax. I’m positively bored by it. Peter Lang seems to be going apocalyptic, but I’m just ‘Oh well, whatever will be will be’.

It’s not the answer, but neither is it Sarah Conner’s “Judgement Day” that Peter Lang would make it out to be.

My real concern is both the severe economic impacts of climate change that we are ALREADY starting to see. Scientific American has stated that the recent record severe weather events ARE attributable to a shift in the climate, ARE actually empirically measurably demonstrably DIFFERENT!

It’s already here, yet like a bushfire that is just getting started, we haven’t seen the blast-wave of the afternoon winds hitting the Eucalyptus forests. It’s measurable, but we ain’t seen nothing yet.

Now add peak oil. The American Joint Forces Command has said that the world will probably be down 10mbd by 2015. I hope they are wrong, because that is 1/8th of world production!

Can you *imagine* what that would do to oil prices, to international relations, to America and China competing over the last drops of oil as we face not just being on the absolute peak of world oil production, but staring down headfirst into the valley of terminal decline? That the world will have permanently less oil, and ever more expensive oil, ever harder to produce?

Forget the 1970’s, we are about to hit the real oil crisis. The beginnings of the final oil crisis. The beginning of the end of oil.

So in the face of a permanent shift in the availability of liquid fossil fuels, what does a piece of paper like the Carbon Tax really matter? Peak oil prices — when they truly hit — will ABSOLUTELY SMASH any carbon tax prices we see. I can imagine emergency legislation reversing the Carbon Tax. So I just don’t care.

The REAL issue is how is Australia going to shift to electric transport fast enough to enable the next generation of energy infrastructure to be built in time. THAT is the discussion we should be having.

“To Carbon Tax or Not To Carbon Tax is NOT the question!” It’s a worthless piece of paper that will achieve nothing without nukes, but won’t feel like the thunder of an angry god that Peter Lang imagines either.

But wait till peal oil really begins to bite. Then peak gas follows, and finally peak coal. Yes, in your lifetime, peak coal! If we’re not ready by then it’s game over.

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So I guess my question is how do we undo Fukishima? How do we break down the complex, long story of renewables V nukes into true and informative sound bytes that the average Aussie can understand? Someone as non-technical as myself? How can we get the ABC’s Science Unit to interview Barry on Catalyst and run a special on the variety of new nukes? What can we all contribute? How can we help?

How can we work together to promote nuclear power, rather than be side-tracked by a Carbon Tax piss-ant piece of paper that can be reversed in the twinkling of an eye the moment peak oil hits!

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Just to lighten up the OT and get away from the Carbon Tax – this video is to the point and amusing.

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Peter Lang,

Hello. Going forward I hope to interact mostly with those who share my enthusiasm for a carbon tax. Perhaps we can find a way to limit the costs of a tax, just as you want to lower the costs of nuclear (2 July 2011 at 11:20AM).

That a carbon tax has support among conservative economists, at least in the US, may be seen in the following:

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Huon, you are likely to find that audience someone restricted here for those who agree with you. There are a lot of us who oppose carbon taxes.

We need to make energy, clean energy, *cheaper* not more expensive. The entire development of the forces of production since humans started using tools is based on abundant, cheap and denser energy. “Cheap” being the operative word here. You make energy more expensive…vis-a-vis a carbon tax you inevitably do two things:

1. You make energy more expensive for those that mostly can’t afford it because the *alternative* means for transportation to residential usage doesn’t exist, thus you are attacking working class people and…

2. You stymie development of the very needed *energy* investment all industry and technology needs to grow. With more expensive energy…less investment can be directed to high tech and fission solutions to society. You also associate low-carbon solutions with higher energy costs to the individual…which is political suicide.

Again, if we want carbonless energy production, then we mandate the stake holders *by law* to come up with it by *ordering* them to phase out with reasonable substitution carbon heavy energy production to low carbon ones.

We should regulate CO2 like we do with NOx: you limit or demand the deployment of plans for phasing it out or making it’ statistically irrelevant and you FINE enterprises for sending it upward. Not on a plant-by-plant basis as we do with NOx but by industrial-sector/utility/regionally. But only if we can offer them nuclear as a substitute or it’s pointless.

BTW…there are no “NOx credits”. There is no speculation in NOx…it’s *banned* (or more accurately highly regulated with real time data sent to air management authorities). We need to do the same thing with CO2.

David

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Huon, on 4 July 2011 at 5:32 PM said:

That a carbon tax has support among conservative economists, at least in the US

In the US, the ‘great divide’ on energy taxes is not liberal or conservative. The ‘great divide’ is urban vs rural. Hence, energy taxes get all kinds of support in the US House of Representatives where ‘urban dwellers’ rule. Then the bill goes to the US Senate where ‘rural states’ have an equal voice and it is ‘Dead on Arrival’. It’s been that way as long as I can remember.

Rural America doesn’t have natural gas flowing in the streets and 600MW nuclear plants are far too big. A carbon tax just becomes a punishment.

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Since there are a lot of people very knowledgeable about nuclear power stations posting here, I’m going to ask my question here.

Of the new Generation III reactor designs being rolled out all over the world at the moment, which type is

a) safest?
b) most economical?

I can’t find comprehensive studies listing the pros and cons of each type, comparing an EPR to an AP1000 or an ESBWR, for example.
The EPR at least seems to run into serious cost and schedule issues in Finland and France and lacks the passive cooling features of other designs.

Anyway, I visited a BWR power plant today, and it was an amazing experience, went to see the whole reactor building, including the spent fuel pools, the control room and the turbine building. The reactor is in cold shutdown (the Isar I plant near Munich, Germany).

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Max, that’s a difficult question to answer definitively – it depends on many criteria and various assumptions. Of those Gen III+ units currently being built, I’d probably say the AP1000 (described here), but governments (e.g. India, Saudi Arablia) also continue to choose/favour various others, including the EPR, the APR-1400, Gen II+/III units like the CANDU-6, and perhaps in the near future the ESBWR and mPower (SMR)..

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In Australia:

…, the [carbon] tax could result in electricity supply problems in Victoria and South Australia if enough funds are not allocated to financing alternative energy sources once coal-fired power stations are shut down, The Australian reported.

http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/Govt-struggles-to-keep-carbon-tax-revenue-neutral–pd20110704-JFPUH?OpenDocument&src=mp

Can we learn anything from overseas:

Britain’s Green Energy Policy Is A Complete Fiasco

Britain’s richest energy companies want homeowners to subsidise billions of pounds worth of gas-powered stations that will stand idle for most of the time. Talks have taken place between the Government, Centrica, owner of British Gas, and other energy companies on incentives to build the power stations needed as back-ups for the wind farms now being built around the country. It is understood 17 gas-fired plants worth about £10 billion will be needed by 2020. The Energy Department has been warned that without this massive back-up for the new generation of heavily subsidised giant wind farms, the lights could go out when the wind dies down. –Tom McGhie, This is Money, 24 June 2011

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/article-2008055/Energy-giants-want-billions-windfarms.html

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@ David Walters

You also associate low-carbon solutions with higher energy costs to the individual…which is political suicide.

Which is why they are not doing that!! Won’t the average family be better off by something like $200 a year under the refunds/rebates/whatever they’re calling the Carbon Tax relief for families?

And if you’re worried about a Carbon Tax now, what happens when nature hits us with a ‘peaked resource tax’? Don’t we need to get off fossil fuels before we hit peak fossil fuels? Even the world coal institute admits we only have 119 years before coal RUNS OUT — let alone the question of when it peaks!

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@ harrywr2

Rural America doesn’t have natural gas flowing in the streets and 600MW nuclear plants are far too big. A carbon tax just becomes a punishment.

As far as I can tell, American’s are already suffering their own “Carbon Tax” when your oil peaked in 1970, just as M.King Hubbert had predicted in 1956. So rather than being the premier oil exporter as you were before WW2, you’re now one of the biggest importers, to the tune of $600 billion a year!

Then add the 2nd Gulf War to set up a large “Police Station” in the Middle East to watch the flow of oil, and factor in the influence of oil causing 9/11 (because Osama saw American influence on Saudi Arabia as ‘polluting’ his Islamic country) and you have a strong case that American’s have a very large Carbon Tax. It’s called your national debt, and is largely inflated by 2 oil wars and the annual import of oil. Where is it now? 14 Trillion? $122k per family? Now THAT’s a carbon tax — but not on a tidy piece of paper where it can easily be reversed, no sir.

It’s spread throughout the military industrial complex, the 2 oil wars you’ve fought, and the oil dependence and addiction you have built in to the very design of your energy intensive cities and suburbs. The average European burns half the oil of the average American, and it is largely because they have better public transport and denser city cores. (And of course higher oil taxes which encourage efficiency and public transport use. Smart Europeans are twice as prepared for peak oil as America and Australia are. We’ve followed in your footsteps and built suburbia everywhere.)

So while I don’t think a Carbon Tax is the answer, I say give it a go. It’ll give us a taste of INEVITABLE things to come!

And while we fart around fighting each other over whether this Carbon Tax is a good idea, we burn another 86 million barrels of oil a day — or 1000 bathtubs a second, and sleepwalk another day into the post-peak future.

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@ Hank Roberts, on 4 July 2011 at 1:17 AM:

“> you cannot just shut down a thermal unit and walk away.
> The shaft must be kept turning or it will distort (“hog”) and
> damage the turbines and generator. Shaft jacking motors
> and careful observation are required during the shutdown
> and there are strich limits on the rate of rise of temperature
> in critical components during re-start.

This issue would be the same for coal as for nuclear, right? How is the careful shutdown procedure handled when outside/backup power fails, on other systems?”

Hank, the system is similar for all thermal units – hot shafts need to be cooled and heated carefully, for up to a couple of days. Clearances between stator and rotor in the generator are very fine, as also between turbine components. Bearings also need lube oil.

The basic means for doing this are AC motor or DC motor or (last hope for the bearings) gravity feed of oil from a header tank.

The AC supplies are drawn from unit power supplies: those supplies dedicated to feeding a single generator, usually from an adjacent unit.

Next is an external supply, drawn from the transmission grid. That, the station supply, is also needed for starting from black – when no generator on site is on line.

Next, there is perhaps a GT associated with the station, as is the case with one where I worked for a couple of decades. Only one of this pair of aging OCGT’s is enough to start a unit of either of the two power stations which are close by, and thus to re-start supplies to a failed grid. This is called a “black start capacity”. Black starts are also possible using hydro or remote GT’s, but this requires the grid to be functioning between (in NSW) the Snowy and, say, the Hunter Valley or Lithgow. Black start capacity on site, in the Hunter, makes it possible to re-start even if every transmission line up and down the state is out of service.

The last AC supply comes from the power station ‘s Emergency Diesel Generator, which is large enough to run the necessary auxillaries during the cooling period of a shutdown, but not large enough to run conveyors, large fans, cooling water pumps and so forth that need to be in service to start a unit from cold. The diesel is intended to keep the lights on and the shaft turning and control systems operating till other power systems have been restored.

Then there is DC. Batteries are adequate to provide emergency lighting and controls, but are inadequate to keep the shaft turning for more than a few hours – as was the case at Fukushima.

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Book review: Robert Rapier on Terry Tamminen’s Cracking the Carbon Code”:

“…the author is fairly confident that we will get some meaningful regulations in the U.S. that will put a price on carbon dioxide emissions. In that case, a lot of what Tamminen describes in the book may be realistic. But I don’t think we will actually see any sort of stringent regulations being passed into law. There is too much opposition on the Republican side…”

http://www.consumerenergyreport.com/2011/07/03/book-review-cracking-the-carbon-code/

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@ seth, on 4 July 2011 at 4:34 AM :

Seth’s “second option ” of backing up intermittent renewables with CCGT instead of OCGT will not work. The point of the several comments to the earliest posting by Seth is that CCGT is not a realistic option for this service, due to a combination of:
Higher capital cost per MW capacity.
Longer runup time from cold – initially CCGT responds as per an OCGT. The steam side takes time to get going.
Slower response time than OCGT once in operation
Cheaper than OCGT, as stated by Seth, therefore quite likely already in service and fully loaded before the OCGT’s are called for.

There is plenty of discussion along these lines and elsewhere to support the notion that, in a market environment including a mix of OCGT and CCGT, the short term backup of wind and PV will be mainly hydro and OCGT and that CCGT will play a minor role, whatever the notions of various bystanders may be… unless those bystanders are in a position to either legislate for inefficiency, or pay for the additional capital cost of CCGT over OCGT.

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Peter Lang at 9.22 I predict there will only be token gas replacement of coal burners in SA and Vic. A couple of small CCGT plants will be built and a raft of excuses found to keep burning the poor quality coal in both States. As I’ve pointed out there is a precedent for this in Muja, southwest WA where the coal plant was brought out of retirement when the gas price rose.

Ironically Martin Ferguson’s predecessor RFX Connor anticipated the need to link NW Australian gas with the SE some 30 years ago with disastrous consequences http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loans_Affair
I think RFX Connor could be the spiritual ancestor of many BNC posters as he also wanted an enrichment industry.

SA and Vic are between a rock and a hard place. As the years go by the lame excuses offered to keep running the Pt Augusta and Latrobe Valley stations will start to wear thin. For example some dedicated tree plantations will frizzle up in a drought. Then the public will ask what is the realistic alternative.

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@ John Newlands,
I know I’ve asked this before, but some here don’t seem to want to do the math.

How long do you think before peak fossil fuels starts to act like a Carbon Tax anyway? I think we’d both agree that oil already has doubled in price due to global peak oil, but what about gas and coal?

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EN this is why I think we need a variable carbon price but not scammed by bogus carbon credits. The two big issues are China peak coal and world peak oil. I see on today’s Oil Drum the Chinese think their coal peak won’t occur for at least another decade. Maybe but how how come they need to buy so many farms around Gunnedah NSW?

On peak oil I wonder if the price may not escalate so much but stay roughly affordable in proportion to global GDP. Thus as global economic activity contracts negative feedback keeps the oil price in check. Others say there will be an oil price spike next year downturn or not. The beauty of an auctioned CO2 price is that the market will pay what it can afford. That assumes no collusion, no scamming and no free kicks from the umpire.

First I think the govt will have to sort out the anomalies in the carbon tax. When that turns into an ETS in 2015 there will be yet more anomalies to sort out. Hopefully within a decade everybody will know what works and what doesn’t work. If the world economy is subdued in 2020 the CO2 price could be lower than $20/t. Many scenarios are possible.

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@EN

While it is true the US reached it’s maximum production of crude in 1970 and has been decreasing ever since, the price hasn’t skyrocketed like many would have us believe. There are other factors at play that eventually balance out the market. There will be some short term distortion and readjustment, but in the long term it tends to smooth out (i.e. liveable). Althought nothing solves the problem of high oil prices like a global financial crisis. Decrease the rate of GDP growth and so will the energy consumption.
I doubt your assertions of motivations for Iraqi oil. What we have seen in Iraq is a drive to modernise and reinvest in Iraq oil fields, and prospects in the Western territories of Iraq. After 20 years of stagnation in the oil setor in Iraq, there is finally the environment necessary to develop the oil reserves. While the reasons for going to war were misleading (human error or otherwise; former proves the CIA is just human afterall), the effect on the oil industry was profound. There is no massive conspiracy, just a convergence of ideals (liberalised economies, and ousting Saddam).
Peak Oil has the potential to be the same coralling topic for alarmist predictions of $200/barrel, 1970’s fuel rationing etc. etc.While we have 40 year oil fields (tapped and untapped) and infrastructure sitting there waiting to be modernised. Also refinery capacity has a major impact on fuel prices. There’s more to it, than the R/P ratio.

————————–

I’m still not sold on the Carbon Tax. It just seems like a massively complex wealth redistribution reform. “Steal from the ‘rich’, to give to the newly poor”.
I’d like to see the original assumptions (figures) that directed the ALP to go down this path. Wouldn’t it be more prudent to prioritise the areas to cut emissions from to ensure maximum economic stability. Rather than an accross-the-board tax.
Even supplementing this by compensation from the tax just appears to add more administrative burden for little gain. Be better to spend that time actively putting in place local level policies to reduce emissions as much as possible, and spend the money that would have gone into the tax directly rather than having it come back through a maze of bureaucracy. Exempting areas is pointless and erodes the original purpose of the tax. An economic lever needs to be implemented, but it has to be smart.

I await with baited breath….

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@John Bennets…you were an operator? I was too also for a couple of decades and also with GT (diesel powered, with compressed air starts) black start capability.

Yeah…I was wondering if in Fukushima, even without the meltdowns, wouldn’t the turbines be basically trashed anyway without DC back up for the turning gears? Have to wonder. We almost bowed our shaft on more than occasion with the DC lube oil pump wouldn’t kick in. Not good…can’t even turn the shaft by hand.

At out plant we had a minimum of 24 hours on turning gear before we cold turn it down, and temperature differentials within 50 F from top of the turbine to the bottom, from the inside of the casing to the outside and so on. There is a LOT to do with a shutdown…I always hated them. Start ups were far more fun!

Now generally new OCGTs and CCGTs have these units on *constant* turning gear, at least the GE ones I worked at in Texas (Frame 7As).

But this is the problem with solar/wind…they *always* exclude the costs of the GTs capital costs and of course the fuel costs to run them when the wind isn’t blowing.

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Hi Deckermann,
you make some good points and of course I agree that the GFC has dampened demand and corrected the price. I also agree with John Newlands that the price may be self-correcting as we hit the global plateau of production and witness the ‘bumpy plateau’ effect. (Rising prices causes recession causes dropping prices causes more demand causes rising prices again, and around we go).

But there are a few points where I disagree.

1. Global peak oil will be unlike American peak oil. You offset your own peak in production by importing oil. Global peak oil rules that out. There’s no other planets to import oil from once the world has peaked and is in decline.

2. I’m not sure that Iraq is as innocently, naively misinformed and bumbling as you seem to imply. I think there were powerful corporate forces and interests in the previous American administration that may have been just too tempting. Consider Bechtel’s rebuilding contracts worth $0.68 billion, and the links to Bechtel (and others) in the administration.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bechtel#Iraq

Of course I’m no fan of Saddam’s, and wish Iraq well as it evolves over the next few decades. But when the intelligence *failures* contradicted the more reliable eyes on the ground of weapons inspectors, one has to ask why we went in? We were lied to by powerful sources, and I don’t think anyone has got the full story yet. Let’s not be Pollyanna about it.

“As of 2007, President Bush’s administration made a total of 935 false statements in a two-year period about Iraq’s alleged threat to the United States.[3]”
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22794451/

There was no Yellowcake purchased in Niger.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellowcake_forgery

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legitimacy_of_the_2003_invasion_of_Iraq

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

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

3. However, now that it is done I’m sure Iraqi oil production will improve with time. However, the math doesn’t add up. As China and India become big oil consuming nations, demand worldwide is increasing. No ‘reserve growth’ due to technological improvements or Coal / Gas to liquids programs will offset the inevitable decline.
See the Hirsch Report to the US DOE.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hirsch_Report

If you want a good introduction to the subject, our ABC’s “4 Corners” ran a special on it years ago.

http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/special_eds/20060710/

It’s 45 minutes, and is well worth watching and a fair presentation from both sides of the argument.

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I forgot to add one last important point:

I also agree with John Newlands that the price may be self-correcting as we hit the global plateau of production and witness the ‘bumpy plateau’ effect. (Rising prices causes recession causes dropping prices causes more demand causes rising prices again, and around we go).

That is, even if the price of oil has a self-correcting system at say $110 or $120 a barrel, how much long term economic damage does that self-correcting system have to inflict on us before we learn?

And how long can even that system cope as we head into terminal decline? What if the JFC are right and by 2015 we’re down 1/8th?

“By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day,” says the report, which has a foreword by a senior commander, General James N Mattis.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/apr/11/peak-oil-production-supply

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EN couldn’t get any sound on that clip. If the last barrel of oil sells cheaply we have to ask if this is a form of market failure. The price of something in short supply is supposed to go up but in the case of oil we have the negative feedback ‘demand destruction’. An analogy is that someone suffering hypothermia doesn’t feel cold. The signal for corrective action is missing.

In my opinion natural gas will be the major replacement for oil as a transport fuel. However in tonnage terms oil is twice as big as gas, about 50 Mt (mostly imported) opposed to a locally produced 20 Mt a year of gas in Australia. Yet we will be told on Sunday that gas will fuel our power stations. Somehow they’ve worked out that oil replacement won’t be a problem.

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Yeah, well, we’ll see how the world economy works out the price if the JFC are right.

The sound works fine on that Youtube clip? It just takes 30 seconds to really get going.

That’s Kjell Aleklett who spoke at Adelaide Uni recently, and Frank Robelius, both of whom I quoted in my peak oil article.

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@Deckermann – ironically, it was probably the anti-regulation crowd that forced the move to a ‘market based’ emissions reduction scheme. Yes, a highly-regulated government-controlled drawdown would be the best way to reduce GHG emissions, and this might be suitably supplemented by government investment in closing down major sources and converting industry to non-GHG alternatives. But the anti-regulation folks couldn’t bear that much government control over the market, so fought tooth & nail for a ‘market based’ mechanism, which they are now desperately unhappy about.
Similarly, if all the state-owned power generators hadn’t been sold off in the privatisation frenzy of the 80s & 90s, then there wouldn’t be corporate profit margins & debt obligations to pay compensation for before the dirtiest power stations can be shut down.
Yet again – short term gain to the pork-barrel fund, long term pain to the taxpayers. Seems to be a consistent pattern with government…

While I think there are positives to the current efforts to at least partially realise the externalities of GHG emissions, I fear we’ll be seeing a repeat of that pattern. There’ll almost certainly be largesse aplenty in the next election cycle, funded by the carbon tax.

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Regarding electric vehicles:
Assuming, for the moment, that 100% of road transport energy requirements could be provided by electricity. (I’m aware that it just doesn’t work in many circumstances, but bear with me)
We all know that cars, in particular, are horribly inefficient at turning the energy content of petrol into vehicle kilometres travelled, with considerable wasted energy and low thermal efficiency (often < 20%).
Burning that fuel in a large, highly efficient power station (e.g. a CCGT) could substantially increase the efficiency of energy use. Of course, replacing the CCGT with nuclear gets rid of the emissions altogether, but that's another issue.

If all passenger cars were to be replaced in the next 5 years with electric equivalents, what would be the additional electricity demand on the national grid?
Assuming no change in other electricity demand, and no change in vehicle-kilometres-travelled.
ARRB figures for VKT for light vehicles (mostly passenger cars) is about 637 million VKT per day.
Wikipedia figures suggest electric vehicle efficiency of 10-23 kWh per 100km travelled.

So I get 64-146 GWh per day, or an average draw over 24 hrs of 2.7 – 6.1 GW. Not a small amount, compared to the total Australian generation capacity of ~56GW.

Assume all those vehicles need to be charged overnight (say 10pm-6am), and you're looking at an additional demand of 8-18 GW. Put another way, charging electric passenger vehicles overnight may require up to a third of all the electricity generation capacity in the country.

That would certainly help smooth out the demand dip during the night! :-P

Anyone have any comments on that?
Obviously, shifting people to public transport allows still greater efficiency gains, with corresponding required gov’t expenditure in providing good public transport that meets people’s needs – particularly for the outer ‘burbs that are designed around the assumption of private vehicle use.

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@ Bern
Peter Sinclair (Climate Crock of the week) quotes a study that claims that EXISTING overnight off-peak demand electricity could charge about 80% of the American fleet. Go to about 2 minutes 50 seconds.

(A few of us are in a discussion with “Greenman3610” or Peter Sinclair of Climate Crock about the benefits of nuclear power.)

“Impacts Assessment of Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles on Electric Utilities and Regional U.S. Power Grids, Part 1: Technical Analysis, Michael Kintner-Meyer, Kevin Schneider and Rober Pratt”

Click to access phev_feasibility_analysis_combined.pdf

More studies referred to here
http://climatelab.org/Plug-in_Hybrid_Electric_Vehicles

Personally, I prefer the “more European than European” city designs that encourage walkability and a more robust local economy.
http://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/rezone/

EG: You might get some of these “Village Towns” built in the USA soon.

http://villageforum.com/

These are billion dollar developments around the theme of villages of 500 people built around a car-free central plaza. 20 Villages = a Town of 10,000 which will have the critical mass of economic activity to employ most citizens locally. Thus the Village Town is NOT a hippie ecovillage approach to going ‘off-grid’ or counter culture, but has mainstream appeal to real investors. The villages are surrounded by local agriculture and contract with the local farmers to supply all their needs. The 20 villages also plug into the “Town” in the centre which has the more upmarket trades and services. The main benefit is that 80% of the economy is local and feeds back into local people, local jobs, local goods and services and local wealth. They estimate only 20% of the economy has to be sourced from outside (like higher tech computers and electronics, etc).

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@Eclispe Now

‘Village Towns’.

We have one near where I live. It’s called Issaquah Highlands.
The houses sold fairly well.

The public transport is okay if you are employed in downtown Seattle. Unfortunately neither Microsoft or Boeing, our areas major employers, are located in downtown Seattle.

Here is the list of retailers
http://www.issaquahhighlands.com/done_high_street.php

So far no luck on getting a mini mart or grocery store or the cinema that was specifically designated in the community master plan.
The concept of the community is a step in the right direction but neighborhood grocers have a very hard time competing against the suburban ‘big box’ grocers or multi-screen cinema’s.

The ‘new urban’ communities face the same challenge as the ‘old urban’ communities. The suburbs exist and the big suburban retailers exist.

The big box suburban retailers have a substantial advantage due to their size and can offer customers a wider selection of goods at better prices.

Issaquah Highlands is great…you can just walk to the wine bar or organic Mexican restaurant. But if you want milk or bread or some fresh vegetables, things most people view as ‘necessities’ you have to get in the car.

As of the 2000 census, more then half of the US population lives in the Suburbs. http://www.census.gov/prod/2002pubs/censr-4.pdf

The ‘Big Box’ suburban retailers aren’t going out of business anytime soon.

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While undoubtedly the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) offers significant energy savings the uptake seems to be slow. In the US the much hyped Chevrolet Volt has only sold 3000 units as of last month. The problem may be that if petrol prices skyrocket even fewer can afford the higher sticker price for these vehicles. Whether they will become mainstream is not yet clear.

On ABC Lateline they showed the CSIRO Ultrabattery storing windpower at a site near Newcastle. What I gather was Mwh scale energy storage appeared compact enough to reside in a shed. The website gives no hint of costs. We need cheap storage at the Gwh scale.

It appears that the two coal fired power stations Loy Yang (Vic) and Playford B (SA) have been earmarked for replacement by CCGT.
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/emergency-carbon-tax-compensation-for-power-plants/story-fn59niix-1226088458477
I guess that means Hazelwood will be with us for another 20 years. I presume the gas plants will be of a few hundred MW each. They are not major coal replacements and they face high fuel costs. I guess the government hopes they will distract the public’s attention for a few years.

I don’t understand the need for cash handouts to the coal industry and coal generators. With $20 carbon tax the customers aren’t going anywhere and we’ll be lucky if demand reduces even a few percent. Perhaps we’ve hurt their feelings.

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I see this thread has been diverted from the most important policy issue concering the country – carbon pricing.

I belkieve the diversion is intentional.

That does no sya much for the objectivity of thos involved, nor of their credibility on the matters they argue so stridently for.

No wonder the word is waking up to what is going on.
MODERATOR
Peter – this is an Open Thread – it can be “diverted” any way the commenters want it to go.

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Peter Lang,

Regarding my (inane) reply of July 4 at 5:32PM: Yes, I have limitations, and, yes, I should talk to SOME people on the other side of the carbon tax debate, but still I hope we can continue our conversation, even if it is at a slow pace.

There’s certainly going to be a lot to talk about. As I understand it, next Sunday the government is going to release details about its carbon plan. Although I enthusiastically support the idea of a carbon tax, I might take exception to some of the details of the plan were it to be proposed for the United States. You and I both want to limit economic damages from any environmental measure.

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Hi Harrywr2,

that looks like a step in the right direction but Village Towns appear to be much more than a medical campus and a bit of an attempt at New Urbanism. VT’s are a radical, exponential step in a new direction. Watch the videos — then you’ll get a concept of just how different these things are.

So far no luck on getting a mini mart or grocery store or the cinema that was specifically designated in the community master plan.
The concept of the community is a step in the right direction but neighborhood grocers have a very hard time competing against the suburban ‘big box’ grocers or multi-screen cinema’s….
…..
The ‘new urban’ communities face the same challenge as the ‘old urban’ communities. The suburbs exist and the big suburban retailers exist

True, but the Village Town concept would have 10,000 residents committed to the central Town, and just outside the Town is an Industrial Park where they’ll make a lot of their own stuff. (Through Open Source Hardware? I’ve informed them of the benefits of Open Source Hardware and some of them seem pretty excited by the potential).

The big box suburban retailers have a substantial advantage due to their size and can offer customers a wider selection of goods at better prices.

Issaquah Highlands is great…you can just walk to the wine bar or organic Mexican restaurant. But if you want milk or bread or some fresh vegetables, things most people view as ‘necessities’ you have to get in the car.

Farmers used to get (in adjusted money) 44 cents for every meal you served up on a plate. Now they get about 12 cents because the middle man has driven them down so much. Cutting out the middle man gives local consumers a better deal on local foods AND pays the farmer more.

The ‘Big Box’ suburban retailers aren’t going out of business anytime soon.

Yes, it will be interesting to see if they cope with peak oil or not? Will China’s increasing prosperity lead to an increase in the value of their currency and make American small-time manufacturers competitive again? Will peak oil and increased shops of shipping all that cheap stuff out of China also make China less competitive? (But the oil cost / tonnage is quite low, so maybe not).

Interesting times. I love a free market, and this Village Town idea seems to be a cleverly constructed local economy or market to meet needs more efficiently and with less middle men. We’ll see how it plays out.

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I see this thread has been diverted from the most important policy issue concering the country – carbon pricing.

It’s an Open Thread Dude, that’s democracy in action. Many of us just don’t even CARE about your obsession. Get over it.
(Deleted inflammatory comments)
MODERATOR
I have already advised Peter Lang that the Open Thread is just that and the commenters are at liberty to take the conversation to any subject covered by BNC.

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I am detecting signs change is in the air.

The Canberra Times, a strongly politically correct, anti-Conservative, pro-Progressives paper has started publishing articles supporting nuclear and questioning the Green orthodoxy.

Today an article by George Monbiot “Spin, distrust keep setting back the nuclear energy cause.”
I can’t find a link to it but it is a rehash of this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jul/04/nuclear-industry-stinks-cleaner-energy

Yesterday an article titled “Greens running off the rails” by Susanna Rustin:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jul/02/green-movement-lost-its-way

When the Canberra times begins publishing articles like these it is a sign change is in the air.

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MODERATOR
I have already advised Peter Lang that the Open Thread is just that and the commenters are at liberty to take the conversation to any subject covered by BNC.

Sorry — I wrote that reply in response to Peter Lang’s comment in my *email* inbox. I wrote it in a text editor, then copied and pasted into the thread here without actually looking up thread.

This is an example where forums beat blogs. In a forum I would have clicked to come back to the thread and pick up the conversation where I left off. I would have seen your moderator comment and have left it at that. Indeed, any offensive material would have been deleted and I would proceed in a calmer manner.

Anyway, Barry has his reasons for keeping this on the blogging software. But I do hope that one day he might migrate his wordpress account to a self-hosted blog and have a more geeky web designer help him run a forum.
MODERATOR
Not to worry EN – your “calm” moderator has your(and others) back;)

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Peter Lang
Apparently “Big Business” in Australia also disagrees with your “economic doom and gloom” scenario on the carbon tax. You are really out on a limb with your dire prognostications (you and Tony Abbott that is).
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/07/06/3262109.htm?site=news
It really is time to move on Peter and, as EN suggests, get on with promoting nuclear power to solve AGW – which is the purpose of BNC anyway.

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Moderator,

Peter – this is an Open Thread – it can be “diverted” any way the commenters want it to go.

Yes. I fully understand that. My point was not directed at you. It was, perhaps a bit too subtle. I was making the point that regular BNCers have shown consistently they want to avoid discussing the most important policy issue of the time – Carbon Pricing.

That supports the point I’ve made several times over the past 18 months that BNCers avoid discussion of this topic – a point that has been repeatedly denied by BNC regulars and the host.

Avoiding this important economic and policy issue demonstrates a lack of objectivity.

Some here are prepared to challenge some of their beliefs – ie they have changed from being anti-nuclear to pro nuclear – but they are not prepared to challenge other deeply held beliefs.

That was why I pointed out that the BNC contributors continually want to avoid discussion of rational economic alternatives to carbon pricing; they do not want to discuss or look into the impediments that prevent nuclear from being economically viable alternative to coal in Australia. This is not new. It has been absolutely clear for well over a year. It is clear that BNCers do not want to discuss this topic and continually attempt to derail the discussion when ever it starts – no matter what thread it is posted on. For a clear demonstration of what I am saying, read through the comments (and note the avoidance) on the “Alternative to Carbon Pricing” thread. It has, of course, continued on the past three Open Threads (with encouragement!).

I also now understand why EN always posts a plie of rant comments following each of my comments. He has his email box set to alert him each time aI make a post. More clear evidence of the attempt by this individual to distract discussion from the most important economic and policy issue of the time.

I also notice how the continually vitriolic and bating comments by EN are allowed to continue (eve encouraged), whereas any small breach of the commenting policy I make in response to him or others draws a comment by the Moderator. If anyone else had behaved as EN has done over the past 18 months, he would have been banned long ago.
MODERATOR
You are completely wrong! EN has actually had far more of his comments, or parts thereof, deleted than you have – remember I am not always “on board” and the moderation often occurs “down the track” timewise.If you check back over the comments you will see this to be the case. You are becoming totally unreasonable about EN (and some others). They have as much right as you to state their point of view on the OT’s as long as they stick to being civil. I ALWAYS moderate incivility from EN, you or anyone else.Further complaints of this nature from you will be deleted. Remember, you have been banned once already for persistent violations of the Comments Policy.If you don’t like the moderation you are free to leave and head to an un-moderated blog.

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How wise is China and how dumb are we?

Energy security will be an imperative that underpins all of China’s ambitions

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/opinion/energy-security-will-be-an-imperative-that-underpins-all-of-chinas-ambitions/story-e6frg9if-1226087505192

China is on a fast track, high-tech road to modernity, as its latest five-year plan shows. It has a clear baseload energy strategy (it is ploughing ahead with more coal-fired power stations) and, despite the perceived Fukushima setback, it has 13 nuclear plants already in operation and 25 more under construction.

By 2020, the country will have the world’s greatest installed nuclear energy capacity.

While China leads the world in clean energy (Australia is 12th) it remains the world’s top producer of carbon emissions, emitting 15 times as much CO2 as Australia does. While its latest five-year plan commits China to a 40-45 per cent carbon intensity reduction target (aspirational, not mandatory), this should not be confused with a commitment to total carbon reductions.

Make no mistake — neither the US nor China is committed to unilateral overall carbon emission reductions, despite being together responsible for 40 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The official target for all non-fossil fuel energy may be 20 per cent of the country’s energy by 2020, but this allows only 3 per cent for wind, solar and biomass combined. In fact, China is more focused on the potential of renewables as a rapidly growing manufacturing and jobs-generating industry sector, with huge export opportunities.

China is now the world’s largest producer of wind turbines and solar panels, and the biggest investor in clean coal technologies. China was responsible for half the world’s production of solar panels last year, but only one per cent were installed there.

Unlike the fastidious West, it does not see coal as a dirty habit, to be dispensed with as soon as possible, in favour of clean renewables. It is the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, providing 70 per cent of China’s energy needs, and determined to remain so. By 2020, China plans to add 1.1 billion tonnes of new coal production capacity.

It may be decommissioning some dirty old coal-fired power stations, but it is replacing them with new ones at the rate of two a week. As these will be more efficient than those they replace, China can claim to be reducing its carbon intensity, but the end result will be a big increase in its greenhouse gas emissions. China is certainly interested in promoting the widest possible diversity of fuel sources but this does not mean it is pursuing a save-the-planet agenda.

The lesson for Australia is that the Chinese emphasis is not on saving the world from climate change but instead building a world class, highly efficient, energy secure, technology based new economy. As always, they are playing a very pragmatic long game, for which their grandchildren will be grateful. Why can’t we do the same?

My answer to that question is because our policy development is being overly influenced by radicals, extremists, Greens and catastrophists.

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Peter Lang
You are coming across as being just a tad paranoid. I can assure you that we all get moderated – it has happened to me several times and I am a “Progressive” as I suspect you already know. Live with it or leave.

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I have four questions for the carbon price advocates:

1. How high would the carbon price have to go to force Australia to achieve the unconditional 2020 target?

2. What effect would such a carbon price have on the economy?

3. What would be the effect on world GHG emissions?

4. What would be the effect on the climate?

Please do not avoid the questions. Answer them quantitatively.

If you cannot answer them, I suggest you should start challenging your beliefs.

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What a mess Australia has got itself into with the carbon pricing:

Coal power stations having to ask the corporate regulator for relief from breaches of its corporate trading licence due to the financial impacts of the proposed carbon pricing scheme
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/dirtiest-polluter-hazelwood-seeks-relief-from-financial-pain/story-fn59niix-1226088458681

What sort of message does this send to the investors we would want to invest in nuclear in the future? It send the message that governments can change their minds at the whim of extremist groups and steal investors investments. Why would anyone invest in nuclear if such a thing can happen? How could investors they wouldn’t be robbed by a future government, sometime over the 60 year life of the asset? This is one example of the sort of impediment that is making nuclear far more expensive than coal in Australia.

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1. How high would the carbon price have to go to force Australia to achieve the unconditional 2020 target?

Ans – the market will set the carbon price.

2. What effect would such a carbon price have on the economy?

Ans – without spending the time to research, I believe that Garnaut’s various reports deal with this, and the answer is a manageable effect.

3. What would be the effect on world GHG emissions?

Ans – not much at all, but it is not the reason for acting, which is ti gear our economy for broader, deeper, and global cuts. THis is like training for the big event..

4. What would be the effect on the climate?

Ans: Practically zilch.

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MattB

1. How high would the carbon price have to go to force Australia to achieve the unconditional 2020 target?

Ans – the market will set the carbon price

That answer is avoidance. Pure and simple avoidance.

The answer needs to be a figure with a dollar sign in front.

Will it be $2, $20, $200, $2000 per tonne CO2?

If you cannot answer this question then why on Earth are you advocating for a carbon price?

To do so is totally irreeesponsble.

To avoid answering key questions like this is a sign of lack of objectivity.

By extension, the fact that most Progressives want to avoid this question demonstrates a lack of objectiivty in arriving at their beliefs.

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In the next couple of years we’re going to have so many flagships on the horizon we’ll feel like Sir Francis Drake gazing down upon the Spanish Armada. These are power plants for which the Federal government will put up a lot of the cash because they probably wouldn’t be economic otherwise. We’ll have
2 gas flagships – Playford (250 MW?) and Loy Yang (2200 MW?)
1 PV flagship – Moree (150 MW peak)
1 solar/gas thermal flagship – Chinchilla (250 MW capable)

Only 50,000 MW to go.

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@Peter:

Although I’m not a full supporter of the Carbon Tax, I’ll answer some of your questions.

1. How high would the carbon price have to go to force Australia to achieve the unconditional 2020 target?

– Approximately $50 per tonne of CO2.

2. What effect would such a carbon price have on the economy?

– Prematurely close 18 Coal mines, Lower GDP growth, job losses, lower value AUD, loss in compeditiveness, investment losses. Fraiser Institute has pretty much proven the investment losses.

3. What would be the effect on world GHG emissions?

– We produce 1.4% of global GHG, so minimal at best if we cut 5% of 2000 CO2 emissions.

4. What would be the effect on the climate?

– Who knows. US-Finnish report has just come out highlighting that while CO2 causes a greenhouse effect (thus warming) SO2 forms a ‘reflective’ layer for Sun Radiation. Co-Authored by Michael Mann so it’s not as disreputable as first appears. Pretty convincing correlations between SO2 emissions and warming, but the concensus is still CO2 does attribute to global warming. Considering if the above is true (in addition to out total GHG emissions), minimal.

Reference from ACIL Tasman report: http://www.australiancoal.com.au/resources.ashx/Announcements/56/DocumentFile/ABC9A4EF07C0D09A302F121340D5D2A1/ACA_Report_10_06_11.pdf (yes it is from the Coal lobby, but have a look at the numbers and assumptions before predjudice kicks in)

Coal & SO2 emissions: http://news.ninemsn.com.au/world/8269527/china-coal-surge-held-back-warming-study

Any comments on that study? I’m no climate scientist, so someones dissemination, who is in this subject field, of the report would be great.

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