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We are not facing an energy trilemma

Let’s be clear here – we are not facing an energy trilemma.  We are facing one existential threat and two market failures that could easily be fixed with some planning, regulation and appropriate infrastructure.

If we don’t stop burning fossil fuels, there will be devastating consequences globally to health, agriculture, infrastructure and property.  The economic, environmental and social cost will be astronomical.  And the longer we wait, the harder it becomes to reverse the warming trend.

We cannot eliminate emissions entirely so we must be very selective in our activities so we can try to get back to a level that can be managed by the natural carbon cycle instead of powering on past saturation point.

The fools who say Australia’s contribution is negligible have obviously never done any titration – it’s that last drop that causes the reaction to happen.

In comparison, reliability and affordability of energy are miniscule issues.

It is ludicrous to say we need to open up new gas fields to meet domestic demand when we are the world’s largest exporter of LNG, or close to.  As we own the resource, we set the conditions for any approval to develop it.  We also have an energy regulator who sets the price, but our watchdogs have seemed impotent in stopping the price gouging that has gone on.

Our government has also significantly driven up power prices.  They chose to charge GST on power bills even though it surely falls into the “essential” category.  Businesses can claim that back as an input tax credit.  Pensioners can’t, so spare me the stuff about pensioners freezing to death over winter because of any clean energy cost – GST far outweighs that.

The government has also caused the reliability issues by its failure to come up with a plan after ditching carbon pricing.  This indecision stopped investment in its tracks – investment which would have come online to ensure a reliable transition well before the scheduled closures of coal-fired plants.

Battery storage, small-scale pumped hydro, and other emerging technologies are solving the problem of what to do when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow.  In South Australia, they are looking at a site in the Spencer Gulf to use seawater for pumped hydro energy storage, addressing the issue of dispatchable power to meet peak demand.

Research is going on into how to harness the power generated by tides or harvest the fuel produced by biological processes.  Scientists have used sunlight to turn seawater into hydrogen peroxide, which can then be used in fuel cells to generate electricity.

We need to build appropriate transmission and distribution infrastructure whether that be interconnectors between states or small-scale local grids.  We need stricter regulations on prices charged by existing pipeline owners.

A lot can also be done through demand management whether that be from individual consumers being conscious of when they, for example, use their pool pump or from businesses varying their working hours.

More focus needs to be put on energy efficiency in building design.  Insulation and rooftop solar should be compulsory in new developments.

Electric cars are coming and we should be planning the infrastructure and businesses we need to support them.

In short, there are a multitude of things we can do to address the affordability and reliability of energy.  And many new industries that will provide jobs as they grow to support new technology.

But if we don’t stop the rise in greenhouse gas emissions, there will be nothing we can do to stop the catastrophic consequences of ignorant greed.


58 comments

  1. Ian Parfrey

    “The fools who say Australia’s contribution is negligible have obviously never done any titration – it’s that last drop that causes the reaction to happen.”

    Excellent point, Kaye.
    But the issue here is that the Right Wing Rump who are pushing this idiocy won’t know what titration is because, you know, science.

  2. Andrew Smith

    Over the past decades one has observed the antipathy towards renwable energy in the MSM eg. occasional news article that ‘Australia may have potential for solar energy’, the Pope is a Catholic etc.

    When asking a friend working at a senior level for an American auto company, in early’90s, about developments on alternative propulsion systems, the response was ‘the oil companies will not allow it’. Big oil, over generations, has held most nations to ransom in many policy areas including foreign affairs (Timor Leste), preference of auto over public transport, urban design eg. ever larger (open plan energy sink) houses in suburbs based on tollway car commutes, subsidising auto/fossil fuel related industries and/or products etc. to extend and firewall income streams, with the occasional public sop. The latter has been PR use of ‘green washing’ and ‘sustainability’ of fossil fuels eg. blame immigrants for traffic congestion and environmental degradation, withdrawal of ‘plastic’ bags without drawing any link with source ie. fossil fuels.

    Finally, with eye on yesterday’s article about the IPA where many assume Murdoch’s father founded it, when in fact was mostly irrelevant till weaponised in ’80s round Murdoch Jnr and Howard’s watch, with what appears to have been support of fossil fuel lobby including Exxon Mobil’s subsidiary.

  3. Kaye Lee

    Andrew Smith,

    A few years ago I wrote an article based on an IPA article from 1960 about the rise of “gadgets” in the 1950s which I found very interesting. They actually wrote some good stuff back in those days.

    “industrial peace and political stability are closely connected with the multiplication of the gadgets and its accompaniment, hire purchase finance. For the mass ownership of the gadgets— from washing machines to “pop-up” toasters—is revolutionising traditional political and industrial attitudes.”

    According to the IPA, the continued lack of success throughout the 50s of the Labor Party stemmed primarily from the fact that they had failed to recognise the significance of the “gadgets”.

    “The great majority [of wage earners] are becoming “men of property” and men of property are conservative. What they have, they do not want to lose. This is economically, socially and politically one of the most portentous developments of the 1950’s.”

    https://theaimn.com/go-gadget/

  4. Andrew Smith

    Imagine the IPA did do some worthwhile forward looking research pre 1980s but since the weaponisation it’s about resisting 20C innovations round education, science, culture and society to be replaced by and conserving 19C ideology for industry and class for old WASPs; corporatism (oligarchs) and Nativism (eugenics) always joined at the hip?

  5. Kaye Lee

    Oh that was the case then too – they were just more honest about it.

    Whilst conceding that this “does not reflect, in itself, any improvement in morals, or character, or understanding, it does reflect a vastly higher standard of living for the wage earners.”

    “For the continuance of large-scale development in the next 10 years we will need, above all, three things:—First, good average prices for wool; second, good seasons on the land; and third, a continued heavy inflow of overseas capital.”

    If you substitute coal for wool we are singing from the same hymn book 55 [58] years later. Tony’s tradies and Billson’s businesses are busily buying gadgets [$20,000 instant asset write-off]. Barnaby is building dams and giving drought assistance in classic agri-political pork-barrelling [this was written in 2015], and China is buying up the farms, mines, and prime residential real estate [add infrastructue].

    ‘Morals, character and understanding’ remain irrelevant to ‘men of property’, social evolution is resisted, and social justice is scorned.

    Like Tony, I was born in the 50s. Unlike Tony, I don’t want to remain there.

  6. Kaye Lee

    The Coalition uses the most ridiculous terms to cloak their support for coal barons.

    They describe their policy as “agnostic”, “technology-neutral” and “not ideological”.

    An agnostic is a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known. And if you can’t make value judgements about different available technology considering the wider picture, then what the hell use are you? I thought that’s why governments had departments and got advice from independent experts.

    As for “not ideological”, that is just downright impossible to accept. Their whole policy continues to be a pander to the coal lobby.

  7. Klaus Petrat

    There are multi billion dollar industries on every continent creating, working and manufacturing renewable energy sources in all the ways imaginable. You listed some of them. Point is, that Australia has missed the boat in building a vibrant research and manufacturing industry, employing thousands of people and helping the planet in the process.

    It could have been an export industry had Howard in 2000 not belittled the worth or renewables.

  8. Izabela Pike

    Having read your blogs regularly, I now find myself never skipping one as I always agree plus derive some new information. You and three others are my equal favourites. Thank you.

  9. Trevor

    Kaye, true. We are burning up resources at a rate 1000s of times the rate it was created. On current projections we have 50 years of oil/gas and 150 years of coal left. Then it is hydro, solar and nuclear. All hydro is possible if the world population is a couple of hundred million, solar power is clean but very limited, eg try powering smelters to make steel or aluminium with only solar. Nuclear is clean until it’s not, then it’s a 10,000 year problem.
    The bowser price of fuel is a false reflection of the true value of the resource, and that leaves aside the future downside costs of CC, groundwater destruction, site rehab, etc. At a guess, petrol is a lot closer in value to $15/lt rather than the current $1.50/lt.
    You mention one part of the solution, ‘demand management’. There is a lot we can change in regard to our not properly valuing energy but change will need to be forced on us in much the same way that legislation preceded the banning of plastic bags at Supermarkets recently.
    And gas reservation, is that a unicorn or what? Why aren’t at least the Greens pushing back on this? If the IPA can survive and thrive with their covert mantra of ‘It’s all about the Corporate welfare, stupid’, then why can’t the Greens make explicit the fact State resources are not sold but given way to mining comps with NO reservation policy in place (except WA?)?
    Then there is the issue of no taxes being paid by resources companies, happy days for IPA.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-07/corporate-tax-data-released-by-ato/9236878

  10. Kaye Lee

    Klaus,

    Go back further than that. This article, for example, is from 1988.

    One of CSIRO’s most successful technology-based R&D programs was its solar energy utilisation work, initiated by Morse in 1953 at its Central Experimental Workshops at Maribyrnong, Victoria. This laboratory developed into the Division of Mechanical Engineering at Highett, where an enthusiastic and competent team of engineers and scientists succeeded in laying the foundations for, and fostering the development of, a new industry to manufacture solar water heaters. In 1987, the installed value of its products exceeded $50 million per annum with the industry exporting both hardware and technology to a number of countries.

    In addition to domestic and commercial hot water, other applications include swimming pool heating and industrial process heating.

    https://csiropedia.csiro.au/solar-hot-water-systems/

  11. Kaye Lee

    Izabela,

    Thanks. I always learn a great deal reading the comments section. And that’s what it is all about. Helping to inform each other and to talk about stuff so we can sort the wheat from the chaff rather than being distracted by political games.

    It’s also much easier to discuss things when people are civil to each other – something our politicians should think about.

  12. helvityni

    Too many cavemen/women among our politicians these days: Canavans , Hansons and the like advocating more coalmines…

    The smartest man on Q&A was someone from Zimbabwe,( at least his father was)… There was Canavan and the ex-cop advocating that the most successful multicultural country ( as Oz is promoted) ought to become more Western, meaning Anglo….why not go back to country’s black roots…? What an insult to any foreigner to this country to imply that Oz would be crime-free without immigrants….

    (Pleased that Tanya referred to Leichardt ‘ghetto’ ,my old dining area )

  13. helvityni

    PS. AIM”s Victoria Rollison was good, I’m sure Michae tool watched Q&A last night.
    Sorry to be off-topic…

  14. Kaye Lee

    Victoria was very good but she was not given enough opportunity. We listened to that ex-cop waffle for ages, Victoria made succinct cogent comments. And no answer from Matt about her electricity bill.

    I also loved Tanya’s comment. One man’s ghetto is another person’s good night out – think Dutton and dining out in Melbourne.

  15. Kaye Lee

    helvityni,

    Also off-topic…I saw Peter van Onselen hosting the Drum and expressing his outrage that some of his teachers may have had the hide to be teaching outside their subject area. He ignored every other panel member as they tried to explain that this happens every day because of the way our public high schools are funded and how staffing is allocated, and just kept going back to how he felt dudded. The teachers federation have been fighting this for years to no avail. That article on John Menadues’s site that you linked to before had a great quote along the lines of won’t it be great when education gets enough funding and Defence has to hold a fete to buy a fighter jet.

  16. Kaye Lee

    Trevor,

    ” eg try powering smelters to make steel or aluminium with only solar.”

    I am not sure if that is possible but smelters can make a huge contribution by demand management.

    “Trimet, Germany’s largest producer of aluminum, is testing technology to turn its smelters into a “virtual battery” capable of delivering 1.12 gigawatt-hours of flexible capacity.

    The family-owned business is investing €36 million ($39 million) in a two-year industrial-scale pilot of systems that will allow power use across 120 electrolysis cells to be dialed up or down by 25 percent in either direction, for up to several hours.

    Trimet says that implementing its technology across Germany’s four aluminum smelters, three of which it owns, could provide a demand response capacity equal to a third of Germany’s 40 gigawatt-hours of pumped hydro storage.

    Trimet is making efforts to mask the environmental impact of its almost 100-terawatt-hour annual consumption level, for example by recycling 95 percent of all production residues and hosting a three-turbine wind farm at its smelter in the port of Hamburg.”

    https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/german-firm-turns-aluminum-smelter-into-huge-battery

    Then there’s this article….

    “Operators of smelters powered by hydro-electricity in the likes of Norway, Russia and Canada are promoting their environmental credentials – and stealing a march on others that rely on coal or gas, notably in China and the Gulf.”

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-aluminium-sales-environment/hydro-powered-smelters-charge-premium-prices-for-green-aluminum-idUSKBN1AI1CF

  17. johno

    Why do we need to keep production at the same rate anyway. Much of what we make is superfluous and/or ends up in landfill. We need to scale back therefore needing less energy.

  18. Kaye Lee

    johno,

    We also need to do much more about reusing things. It should be easy for us to collect and distribute used items that can be reused to save us using more resources making new things all the time.

    One small thing that has been on my mind lately….I need to cull my books but it seems I will just have to throw them out. It’s only a very small thing but it seems such a waste.

  19. Pete Petrass

    From my point of view here in Canberra we had a 20% increase July 1 last year and another 15% July 1 this year. Effectively that is more than a 35% increase in 12 months. And right in the middle of all that Fizza (allegedly) fixed things, even went on national TV to tell everyone prices would drop. I thought he said immediately but perhaps he said after a year or so when Labor get back in?
    There is only one fail I want from this government – fail at the next election.

  20. David Bruce

    Yesterday I received a copy of an investment newsletter on a new form of solar power.

    The Saudis know the new solar fuel will soon power the entire planet and they know that if they don’t invest in it now, before oil and all other fuels become worthless, their entire economy will crash when this new fuel takes over.

    That’s why they’ve already started a $300 million project to harness this fuel and committed up to another $7 billion to it this year alone. Over the next 12 years, they will invest $500 billion in this new solar fuel.

    The Saudis are selling off Saudi Aramco – the biggest company in the world, four times bigger than Apple – which can help them invest up to half a TRILLION dollars in this new solar fuel! This new fuel is cheaper than any other source of fuel on the planet, including oil and gas and the supply is virtually UNLIMITED.

    The Australian Government invested $X Billion in the R&D and production of the F-35 aircraft for the ADF, yet they seem blind to the potential return on investment for non-defence acquisitions!

    Personal security, food security and energy security could be issues to derail this current bunch of franchise operators at election time?

  21. diannaart

    Such weasel words, “agnostic”, “technology-neutral” and “not ideological”, when used by politicians seeking a form of credibility, while remaining as fossilised as the fuels they and their vested interests want to continue burning and to hell with anyone who dares to disagree.

    I do not believe reference to last night’s Q@A as off-topic – it certainly showcased the extremes of attitudes to energy sources.

    Caught the last half of Q@A. There was Cavanan – his mother not available? Being neatly skewered on the paper sharp edge of Victoria’s power bill. Not nearly enough attention given to this – but Auntie has to have “balance” or else …

    Balance which meant listening to that ex-cop waffle interminably about how Australia is soooo multicultural provided immigrants adopt Anglo-Saxon culture – I think he wanted to say Australia is really mono-cultural but hadn’t thought to claim he was “agnostic” about immigrants.

    Of course the next episode of Q@A (in 2 weeks) will, no doubt, enrage the IPA, LNP, Murdochracy and other detritus, when Craig Reucassel forges further with that hippy shit: Reduce, Recycle and Reuse.

  22. Trevor

    Thanks for the links Kaye. Being more economical with energy as in the case of Trimet is good but the fact remains solar is not powering heavy industry anywhere. Hydro is another story.
    As noted in a conversation on ABC PM between Matt Wordsworth and Tomago Aluminium CEO Matt Howell “there is no aluminium smelter anywhere in the world that is powered by wind and solar. We need continuity of supply and that means thermal.” http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2016/s4714262.htm
    Here’s an exercise for anyone who thinks we can run our current economy on renewables only – every time you see something made of steel or aluminium, ask, ‘Can I live without that’. 95% of those singing the praises of renewables still don’t get it.

  23. Kaye Lee

    Trevor,

    It’s not just hydro. South Africa, Iceland and France use nuclear power for smelting plants. Perhaps we, with coal-fired power, would do better to just let the industry go if we can’t come up with a cleaner way to do it. But short-term, they can help with reliablity by powering down during peak demand.

    “Bruce Mountain, principal of CME, said there was “no realistic prospect of expansion” of coal without enormous government assistance.

    “Without substantial wind and solar development along with substantial storage we can not provide high volumes of low emission electricity needed around the clock to smelt ore,” he said”

    https://www.afr.com/news/smelting-sunk-without-the-cheap-power-that-built-it-experts-say-20170601-gwi184

    I have listened to Matt Howell before. He is not an innovative man. he is bemoaning the end of the ridiculously cheap coal prices they enjoyed in the past instead of thinking about the future. He’s one of the ones calling for a new coal-fired plant.

    https://reneweconomy.com.au/new-coal-power-plants-great-dont-pay-60618/

  24. Trevor

    Kaye, true, SA and France have nuclear but Iceland is all hydro and geo-thermal, how good would that be? I don’t know what the solution is but expect massive changes to our Western lifestyles. The blind willfulness of mankind versus the beneficent and re-generative power of nature. It’s obvious which is going to win out. The question becomes will we wake up and help nature or just continue as is until we get woken up with a shock.

  25. Miriam English

    I wonder if Trevor is Harquebus. The tune seems the same. I notice that you don’t give any reason why solar power can’t do this… you just assert your opinion.

    Whether a power station gets its energy from the sun, or wind, or oil, or gas, or coal, or falling water has no influence on what the electricity is used for. What matters most is how much electricity it can generate.

    It’s early days for solar power, but already they are generating impressive amounts of electricity. The Kamuthi Solar Power Project in India generates 648MW. The Topaz Solar Farm in California, USA produces 550 MW. We are seeing the growth of solar power stations at an ever increasing rate. It is only recently that solar power became cheaper than coal. Wind has been cheaper than coal for a couple of years now, so has a head start, with places like Alta Wind Energy Center in USA generating 1,548MW. We are continuing to see rapid growth in wind farms too.

    As for smelters, steel and iron smelters need heat. Sunlight focussed on a furnace can deliver much more heat than burning coal or oil or gas. You will see more use of that technology in the future. Aluminium (presently) needs lots of electricity (although there is new technology that may change that). Anything that supplies the required electrons is suitable to power it. Don’t anybody believe differently.

  26. Ankan

    Well written article

  27. MikeW

    Well written and researched again Kaye Lee, we have an abundance of offshore gas in Australia and are the largest exporter in the world on par with Qatar who receive $28 billion per year in royalties while Australia receives around $400 million. Why are we exporting so much when we could use it in Australia while we transition to renewable energy?
    Gas burns 50% cleaner than so called clean coal, which by the we don’t have in Australia, if we used the offshore gas there would be no need to frack our farmlands which poisons the soil and our water, and definitely no need for coal which stuffs up everything.

  28. Andrew J. Smith

    Couple of commenters have picked up on the language used by (mostly) conservative MPs et all. Known as ‘double speak’ as identified by Orwell regarding the Soviets and Nazis.

    Fast forward to present day WASP conservatives, whether GOP and Trump or Tories and Brexit; used to confuse voters so they vote against their and society’s interests.

  29. guest

    What has become of Sanjeev Gupta’s agreement with Ross Garnaut to create a steel works with renewable power?
    (Abbott said that we cannot run steelworks on batteries – quite right, of course, but totally irrelevant and an indication of Abbott’s technology illiteracy.)

    It makes me very cross when I hear about South Australia’s “failed experiment” in energy generation, when on one night power was lost after the inter-connector shut down (as it was designed to do) during a storm in which 21 power line poles were blown down.

    Right wing propagandists wrongly blamed the state Labor government, and continue to spread misinformation about renewables. They were very quiet about outages in NSW soon after, when coal-fired energy failed.

    One of our “brightest” social commentators recently complained that “policies helped to shut nine of our coal-fired power stations in six years”. Has anyone noticed the difference? And what might have been the reason – policies or old age and redundancy?

    And what are we to make of “one culture” for Oz? Or even of one for one lot of us and one for Indigenous people? What is this fear of “ghettoisation”? When Aussies went to the UK in the 60’s, where did they go? To Earls Court. So now we have the Murdoch media speaking of “white flight” and white anglo-saxons fleeing the inner west of Sydney because there are “immigrants” moving in and blocking the roads. So Canavan suggests we move “immigrants’ into the country where people do not wish to be in order to disperse the extremists coming in.

    This is typical conservative view – and we know which group especially he is talking about. If he was thinking about all ethnic groups, there must be at least 60+ such groups he would have to disperse if he were to be fair – if any of that could be called fair.

    My own view is that some of these people do not think very deeply about their pathetic cerebral spasms that inspire them so much.

    And another thing. I was astonished that Professor Peter van Onselen on The Drum was astonished that some teachers taught subjects outside their field of expertise. Nor, I suspect, did he understand what Jane Caro was saying about half new teachers resigning inside 5 years, the relatively low salaries, the under-funding, the hours spent on administrative trivia etc. It just shows how there are those who live in a cocoon, even in the “Newspaper of the year” especially published “For the informed Australian”.

    And to finish. That saying about holding a lamington drive, to pay for fighter bombers, is an old saying from at least the 1960s. Nothing has changed. Except that, with N Korea capable of firing IBMs into Oz, flotillas of submarines and frigates and squadrons of redundant fighter bombers do not seem very relevant any more.

  30. Stephen G B

    Trevor

    You are concerned that renewable fueled electricity is not able to supply sufficient power for heavy industry.

    My thoughts are that surely the heavy 8ndustries are private indistries so should be powering themselves, why is it the responsibility of the general public purse to provide resource for private entities?

    Kaye Lee, thanks a great article as usual. I recall arriving kn Cyprus in 1971 to see these strange constructions on almost every building, I learnt very quickly that they were solar hot water systems, and my experience with them is that in the 3 years I lived there, I never had a cold shower or no not water to wash the dishes.

  31. Kaye Lee

    The argument for coal is such a moving feast too.

    We are doing it to lift millions of Indians out of poverty, except the poor people in India aren’t connected to the grid and the government is moving away from imported coal.

    We are doing it for the export dollars, ignoring the impact of these exports.

    We are doing it to make energy more reliable, except old coal-fired power stations keep breaking down.

    We are doing it to make energy cheaper, except wind, solar and pumped hydro would be much cheaper and quicker than building new coal-fired generation.

    We are doing it to keep people in jobs, except no-one wants to invest in anything to do with coal unless they get enormous government subsidies.

    Matt Canavan employs the Greg Hunt approach. Tell the greatest lies with a puppy dog look on your face and hope enough people go oh isn’t he nice and don’t bother to ever fact check.

  32. Kaye Lee

    guest,

    “What has become of Sanjeev Gupta’s agreement with Ross Garnaut to create a steel works with renewable power?”

    This from 16 Mar 2018…..

    Elon Musk’s Tesla battery in South Australia’s Mid-North will no longer be the world’s most powerful — with a new, bigger battery being built at Port Augusta.

    The new battery will be built by Whyalla steelworks owner Sanjeev Gupta, who secured a $10 million loan from the State Government through its Renewable Technology Fund.

    The 120 megawatts/140 megawatt hours storage facility is larger than the 100MW/129MWh battery built by Tesla in Jamestown last year.

    It will support the new solar farm being built at the Whyalla steelworks and will create up to 100 jobs during construction, which will begin later this year.

    Money for the latest battery was committed by the State Government prior to caretaker period, meaning the funding will not be contingent on the election result.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-16/worlds-biggest-battery-to-be-built-near-port-augusta/9554416

  33. John Lord

    I arose at my usual time of 6.45 this chilly Wednesday morning and I cannot afford to turn the heating on. Yesterday I received the electricity bill and even with the pensioner discount it had risen alarmingly since the last. I aim literally forced to make a decision between putting up with the cold until 8am saving 2 hours on the bill or just going back to bed.What imbecilic people we have in government.

  34. Egalitarian

    Privatizing essential services in the end is one crazy idea.

  35. John Lord

    Correction. I normally arise at 5.45

  36. Kronomex

    As long as the political arm of the corporations and big end of town is “running” the country the only people who have anything to lose, and fear, are the Australians at the bottom of the hole that the Ladder of Aspiration is sitting in.

    On a side note, because I couldn’t figure out where to place it –

    Corporatising of War anyone? Nice little money earner.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/afghanistan-war-privatised-blackwater-founder-erik-prince-interview-a8440781.html

    and

    Sigh, what else is new from The Donald –

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/dwight-hammond-steven-trump-pardon-oregon-ranchers-arson-occupation-
    a8440671.html

  37. helvityni

    “Bloody best country in the whole wide world” is the usual Aussie catch cry, especially when someone is being critical of this place.

    I could not watch Jennie Brockie’s Insiders last night without crying; people can’t afford heating, but they also can’t afford enough food to feed the whole family…it’s the kids, or the parents..

    It’s that bad that there is a school in Western suburbs, Sydney, where they provide free breakfast and lunch for the starving students…

    As our governments don’t see these families as deserving, charities have to step in; watch it and weep…

  38. Mick Byron

    When a country is judged on the degree of care, compassion and welfare of the bottom 1% rather than its pandering to the top 1% we are making progress and heading in the right direction.
    Time to start, NOW

  39. wam

    JL I often watch tankers taking gas out of our landbridge port and if we paid the same price for our gas (or coal??) as other countries you could afford electricity. Whilst on the port we have tides up to 8m – a lot of power there and indonesia, timor are not as far as south?

    CSIRO was cleverly into renewables and got cut which reminds me of the tama truck
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=666ke95vXnQ
    the septics had a strong oil lobby QED but Imagine if we had 70 years of development??? Solar powered filling stations in every town

    ps
    It is so sad that almost everything that is awful right now can be traced to the hewson’s cake releasing howard followed by the ‘one vote’ rabbott and the greens xmas present. Was keating worth it?

  40. Kaye Lee

    While our government was wringing its hands about the gas shortage in Australia and demanding that states remove fracking bans, the press in India was reporting how, due to the global glut of gas, they had just renegotiated a deal to take more from Australia at a cheaper price.

    This is from September last year…..

    “India has agreed to buy an extra one million tonne of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Exxon Mobil’s Gorgon project in Australia in a trade-off for cheaper rates for the originally-contracted volume.”

    https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/energy/oil-gas/india-renegotiates-lng-deal-with-exxon-dharmendra-pradhan/articleshow/60444226.cms

  41. Pappinbarra Fox

    Why so late Mr Lord? 4.32 am for me, before the pre dawn chill descends

  42. Matters Not

    Re gas prices and the surrounding scandal – the where, why and how etc. Note last night’s 7.30 Report featured a kid who cleans rubbish bins – earth shattering.

    A matter of priorities, I suppose.

  43. Kaye Lee

    Mr Sukkar said: “I really do take my hat off to Minister Frydenberg. He’s taken on a fraught policy area … and he’s done it in a way I think even our staunchest critics in the Labor Party find hard to criticise, the approach he’s taken with the NEG … Josh has, in a reasonably laser-like fashion, focused on stability and price and I think that’s what the party room’s willing him on to do.”

    https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2018/07/10/tony-abbott-energy-conservatives/?utm_source=Adestra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Morning+News+20180711+with+hero

    Pity about the blinkers on climate change. Pity this laser-like focus hasn’t resulted in any action – just more and more reports and more and more meetings.

  44. Andrew Smith

    Those old oilgarch controlled global oil companies have managed to a play a very long game of influence in politics, foreign affairs and business while flying under the public radar. Not just via think tanks but astro turfing to create an alternative but plausible environmental movement (limits to growth and sustainability re. population or immigration), economic school eg. Chicago aka Friedman, influencing local and state governments to promote fossil fuel vehicles and carriageways over public transport, cycling etc., dissing high density vs. suburban sprawl and creating antipathy towards science and education.

    Like some Australian corporates and individuals use shell companies offshore, a false correlation was made between lower taxes and higher wages or employment levels. Comparing internationally, corporate tax rates alone are almost meaningless when eg. EU nations’ social contract requires significant social security contributions (vs. much more modest in Oz), but that’s not the point.

    While our borders and sovereignty are promoted ad nauseum whether defence or nativism, (series of) global offshore shell companies eg. fossil fuels, media and digital, hiding links back to income sources and not employing anybody, can make significant financial gains through lower corporate taxes, even if just a point of two on the first transfer out (before the trail becomes murky).

    Suggest this maybe why multi-lateral trade agreements and especially the EU are loathed by US, UK and other (including EU) global corporates due to the increasing transparency on financial transfer and cross border taxes mooted by the EU and/or trade agreements.

    Ironically, using double speak, both Trump and Brexit prevailed due to many ‘white working class’ and members of the ‘left’ voting against ‘globalisation’ and ‘supra-national bodies’; added bonus is that it’s an old classic anti-Semitic trope whether Rothschild in the past or Soros today.

  45. Matters Not

    KL re your link to Exxon Mobil. Be aware that in Michael West’s list of the 40 top tax dodging companies in Australia Exxon comes in second.

    3 years total income – a whooping $24.8 billion.

    Three years tax paid – Xero. Nil. Nothing.

    It is misleading to speak about Australia selling this gas. We are but spectators as our resources are stolen before our eyes and we do nothing. What will Labor do? Perhaps they could tell us – and in some detail.

    https://www.michaelwest.com.au/tax-dodgers/exxonmobil-australia-pty-ltd/

  46. Kaye Lee

    And why are we in this position?

    March 2018:

    “Revealed: the extent of job-swapping between public servants and fossil fuel lobbyists

    The Conversation have compiled a database of more than 180 individuals who have moved between positions in the fossil fuel and/or mining industries and senior positions in government, or vice versa, over the past decade.”

    https://theconversation.com/revealed-the-extent-of-job-swapping-between-public-servants-and-fossil-fuel-lobbyists-88695

  47. Kaye Lee

    MN,

    What will Labor do? From the above Conversation link, a couple of examples…..

    During last year’s Queensland election campaign, the ABC revealed that Cameron Milner, former Queensland secretary of the ALP and chief of staff to federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, had been the main lobbyist and go-between for Indian mining giant Adani.

    Martin Ferguson took up a position as a non-executive director of British Gas just weeks after leaving federal politics in September 2013, having already become chair of an advisory board for Australia’s oil and gas peak body, APPEA in October.

    If our political leaders are not prepared to provide more transparency and accountability with respect to government decision-making, then we can only assume the resource extraction industries will continue to call the shots on Australia’s transport and energy policies.

  48. Trevor

    Miriam, solar can’t run smelters at the moment or else it’d be happening. “The largest battery in the world would keep their smelter going for all of 8 minutes.”
    http://joannenova.com.au/2017/08/no-aluminium-smelter-anywhere-in-the-world-that-is-powered-by-wind-and-solar/
    I don’t know much about this topic, I would be happy to see 100% renewable power the place. But how to change our wasteful use of energy and how to power heavy industry? We want cheaper and cleaner without an audit trail. At last count there has been over 8 billion tonnes of plastic created from oil & gas and what have got to show for it? Most of it is now in landfill.
    https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/07/plastic-produced-recycling-waste-ocean-trash-debris-environment/
    MikeW, true, again, why aren’t the Greens pushing back on this corporates/govt scam? With an enforced reservation policy, State-owned gas could be used until alternatives are viable and at the same time our energy spendthrift attitudes can be pared back. Our politicians should be on Newstart, not in positions of power.
    Kronomex, Naomi Klein has written extensively on this topic. Blackwater is a disaster. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/06/naomi-klein-how-power-profits-from-disaster
    MN, one becomes what one focuses on, and in the case of the talking heads on TV, that be trivia. Forget the opportunity to grasp the big picture and co-ordinate with sets of experts to find solutions, what a waste of resources is media.
    Kaye, corruption – sadly it’s what our elected leaders do so well. You might find this interesting, although the company and the industry is not out the woods yet, there is potential.
    https://www.solarreserve.com/en/global-projects/csp/aurora

  49. Kaye Lee

    Trevor,

    Quoting joannenova makes you lose credibility. Her opinions are paid for and highly suspect if not downright wrong. She is a renowned cherry-picker who completely ignores the potential of new technology because that is what she is paid to do.

    She won’t tell you that Swinburne metallurgical engineers Professor Geoff Brooks and Dr Ben Ekman have created an early-stage solar powered smelter using mirrors to reflect sunlight directly into a furnace; making it up to 80 per cent energy efficient; a big step up from steam powered electricity generation that is just 10 – 15 per cent energy efficient. It’s not commercially viable yet but it could be.

    There are a number of renewable energy technologies which can supply baseload power. The intermittency of other sources such as wind and solar photovoltaic can be addressed by interconnecting power plants which are widely geographically distributed, and by coupling them with peak-load plants such as gas turbines fueled by biofuels or natural gas which can quickly be switched on to fill in gaps of low wind or solar production.

    And storage technology is improving all the time. We have many potential sites for pumped hydro.

    Nighttime energy demand is much lower than during the day, and yet we waste a great deal of energy from coal power plants, which are difficult to power up quickly, and are thus left running at high capacity even when demand is low. Baseload demand can be further reduced by increasing the energy efficiency of homes and other buildings.

    Don’t listen to the people who live in the past and say something can’t be done. Listen to those who say it can. They are the future.

  50. Pappinbarra Fox

    Matters Not said: It is misleading to speak about Australia selling this gas. We are but spectators as our resources are stolen before our eyes and we do nothing.

    I say: now whitey knows how the first “owners” of country feel.

  51. helvityni

    I thought that Joanne Nova ( Joanne Codling) was a prominent climate change sceptic … She used to write articles for ABC’s blog Unleashed.

  52. diannaart

    Speaking of more dumb decisions by people pretending they are concerned about Australia’s energy network, but really just shills for coal/oil/nuclear”

    The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, in a report on how electricity consumers have been ripped off by network companies, generators and retailers, has targeted the technology with the least impact, and probably biggest benefit – rooftop solar – for the most dramatic action.

    The ACCC has called for the federal small-scale renewable energy scheme (SRES), which provides an upfront rebate, to be wound down and “abolished” by 2021.

    At the same time, in a series of scatter-shot proposals, it has called on the federal government to underwrite the construction of new “dispatchable” generation, including coal and gas plants….

    The bombshell, however, is the proposal to scrap the SRES scheme, which is already being progressively wound down, decreasing each year from 2016/17 until its planned phase out in 2030. But the ACCC wants this to be accelerated, saying it is unfair to non-solar customers….

    Nowhere in the 369 page report does the ACCC calculate the benefit of rooftop solar, despite most networks recognising it has reduced, delayed and narrowed the most costly part of the electricity market, the afternoon demand peak.

    The ACCC makes one brief mention of the potential for rooftop solar to reduce demand and lower prices.

    “In light of the dramatic reduction in solar PV installation costs, the ACCC considers the case for a subsidy for small-scale solar installations is now weak, and is of the view that the SRES should be ended earlier than its currently scheduled end date in 2030,” it says….

    The proposal was met with astonishment by the Smart Energy Council, which noted that installing solar was the one thing that households could do to combat the surge in prices caused by the unjustified and unfair increases in network, wholesale and retail costs identified by the ACCC….

    https://onestepoffthegrid.com.au/accc-wants-federal-rooftop-solar-subsidy-abolished-2021/

  53. Kaye Lee

    diannaart,

    The following is from the AEMO’s “2018 ELECTRICITY FORECASTING INSIGHTS – MARCH 2018 UPDATE”

    “net residential demand is projected to decline as growth in population and appliance usage is offset by increased generation from rooftop photovoltaic (PV) and by energy efficiency initiatives.”

    But we can’t have that now can we….something that works. Let’s subsidise coal instead.

  54. diannaart

    Kaye Lee

    I am clinging to the hope that, as more time goes by, some people can be conned some of the time but not all people all of the time – with the percentage of “some people” declining exponentially as the installation of rooftop solar for the home continues giving the finger to the coal eaters.

    Many businesses can also diversify their energy requirements – they do not have to kowtow to the almighty Big Brother known as the Grid System of energy delivery.

  55. Miriam English

    The crooked politicians are on a losing bet. Coal is dead. In Australia, UniSuper and QSuper have thrown $147 billion in funding to the global Climate Action 100+ group. This means that in Australia alone more than $1 trillion has been committed to steer energy-intensive companies away from coal and towards cleaner energy.

    Globally, nearly US$30 trillion is now being used to pressure the move toward renewables and away from coal.

    https://www.afr.com/news/investors-worth-1trn-say-no-to-coal-20180702-h125bm

    Meanwhile, coal just gets more pathetic.

    https://reneweconomy.com.au/victorias-brown-coal-power-plants-undermining-reliability-of-national-grid-58341/

  56. Kronomex

    While we head back to the Victorian era of coal, coal, coal the Irish Govenrment takes a step that will be certain to cause screams of outrage and the end of civilisation as we know it from the fossil fuel giants –

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/ireland-stop-fossil-fuel-money-first-country-greenhouse-gases-trocaire-thomas-pringle-a8444106.html

    It’s not a huge amount of money that is being removed but it makes our gubmint look like…well, you can come up descriptions of your own. Good on them.

  57. diannaart

    Kronomex

    Federal grubmintsgovernments of USA and Australia: Dumb and Dumber – not necessarily in that order.

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