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July 14th, 2014

A new sandpit for long side discussions, idees fixes and so on.

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  1. Midrash
    July 14th, 2014 at 08:35 | #1

    So J-D can’t object to my choice if venue although he might I suppose object that repetition here shows that my idée is not fixed enough I again seek to engage your mathematics to attempt an answer to my question about the net effect of demographic changes on the Gini index (including lower birthrates after the baby boom and then lower again, more late years of saving, later start to the working life…..

    And while I’m at it let me pass on someone else’s idée fixé (? second acute accent) to a climate person who must have looked at the models. This person says the many models which all include greenhouse gas forcings with varying potency show that vast natural forces (more from the oceans and the forests and the clouds are suggested) are not adequately accounted for. The supposed killer argument is that they can’t retropredict (I think that’s the jargon) the Holocene’s huge climate changes which wiped out civilisations – and created the conditions for them, e.g. in Egypt, – and produced Warm Periods and Little Ice Ages. This person in case you wondered is I think no religious nut but someone who wishes that Paul Ehrlich and the Club of Rome hadn’t been made fools of so we might have hoped for Ayatollahs and Popes to get together on population control. (Do you send your spare pence to keep that single mother in Ethiopia with 6 children going for another pregnancy or to support the rangers preventing the killing off of the African elephant….? Sorry: what a horrible way to give another round of applause for opportunity cost (but Saint Francis might have said that, collectively, we could choose human fertility checked only by restraint and the preservation of all God’s creatures so long as we don’t expect a modern lifestyle, though he might have had more trouble when confronted with the blessings of modern medicine…..Sorry, just warming up for today’s anti-humbug rant…)

  2. Nevil Kingston-Brown
    July 14th, 2014 at 14:16 | #2


    In a nutshell, our current models can accurately hindcast global scale temperatures and patterns for both the last glacial maximum and the holocene, but are not so good at hindcasting regional and seasonal variations in the climate of the planet for the period 25,000-5,000 years ago, as established by years of dedicated work by paleoclimatologists on past proxies (e.g. tree rings). Therefore, climate change is a hoax.

  3. TerjeP
    July 14th, 2014 at 14:54 | #3


    Liberal Democratic Party Senator for NSW David Leyonhjelm has announced today he’ll soon be introducing legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry.

    He says he’ll urge for a vote on his same-sex marriage bill when Prime Minister Tony Abbott grants his MPs a conscience vote on the issue, and he hopes the “closet libertarians” in Parliament to support him in this.

  4. Fran Barlow
    July 14th, 2014 at 16:23 | #4

    As people will know, despite being a Green, i’m not in principle opposed to the inclusion of nuclear power in energy systems. It’s not my intent to recapitulate here or to discuss my rationale with anyone here. I mention it mainly because I have somewhat mixed crowd of followers on Twitter. Almost all of them see themselves as in some way connected with left-of-centre politics and of course public policies to mitigate emissions. Most would see themselves as opposed to nuclear power in principle. A handful are very pro-nuclear — arguing that low carbon economies entail resort to nuclear power in practice. Personally, I rather doubt this contention though there probably are jurisdictions where this might be so.

    In the course of a discussion with one such person — an occasional contributor here using the name, Chrispy_dog — I put it that given the fairly long delay before any nuclear capacity could come online in Australia — probably 15 years even allowing a sea change in attitudes here — that a focus on renewable development made more sense. I suggested that it would be possible to decommission the coal fired capacity on the Eastern Grid (EG) and have at least 60% renewables by 2030. I felt very confident that this was technically possible and set about reviewing the data.

    As it turns out, a review of the salient data suggests that this was an unambitious claim.

    Referring to the NEFR (2013) (google it) it seems that demand in 2020 (not 2030).

    Some preliminary findings which may be of interest:

    Total demand on the Eastern Grid in 2012-13 was 191.833 GWhe. This implies about 21GW of capacity at any given moment on the grid, but obviously, time of day, weather season, etc … are highly salient to demand. The major gowth state for demand is Queensland, which is projected to demand an extra 3.2% year on year over the next decade. SA and Tasmania are projected to ease.

    Looking at the figures, if the total state by state demand variance is aggregated, then by 2020 we are going to need 23.65GW of installed capacity, by 2025 25.02GW and by 2030 (assuming the trend continues) 27.33GW.

    On this basis, 60% by 2020 would imply just 14 GW on the EG BY 2020. A look at the current figures from the Clean Energy Council and the Australian Energy Resource Assessment for renewables available now on the EG suggests there’s already 7GW of hydro, 3GW of wind (with 2GW more to come online by 2016 (with the exception of 92 MW at Crookwell 2 which is to be advised) and just under 3GW of solar PV. That’s 13GW by 2016. I presume that solar PV will continue to be added, and presumably more wind as well. At about $2.20 per watt, we could get there with one more GW of wind somewhere on the EG between 2016 and 2020.

    Of course, I’m still relying on gas to do most of the load balancing and redundancy heavy lifting. An interesting story over at The Conversation suggested that even from a purely commercial perspective, given the risks associated with gas price volatility and carbon pricing outside Australia, the ideal mix would be about 66-75% renewables (mostly wind followed by solar and then hydro) with coal (16%) and OCGT (8-10%) and CCGT rounding out the rest.

    Obviously, I’d like to get to 100% clean energy, ASAP.

    I did some number-crunching on wind payback times. Assuming an installed cost of $2.20 per watt, a longterm borrowing rate of 5% and a value on sent out power of just $0.10 per KWh the pay back time on 1 GW OF ‘firm’ wind based on a CF of 33% (i.e 3GW) is under 8 years. Recurrent costs are very low and that leaves an 18 years of revenue in the commercial life of the farms.

    As much of the new demand is arising in Queensland it might make more sense of course to build those CST molten salt towers that the folk from BZE are so excited about, perhaps pairing them with those aluminium smelters governments seem so keen to subsidise. That could be used to take much of their demand out of the EG and maybe even allow them to sell surpluses. Given the higher CF’s for the molten salt option, the $4.16 per watt cost makes it cheaper than the cost of firm wind or PV.

  5. Ivor
    July 14th, 2014 at 20:47 | #5

    Why do these nuki-maniacs keep popping-up all the time.

    One word – Fukushima

    Second word – Chernobyl

    Third word – waste

    Fourth word – plutonium

    Fifth word – monopolisation

    Result – social disruption, economic insanity, environmental catastophe.

  6. John Quiggin
    July 14th, 2014 at 21:24 | #6


    You’re trying too hard to prove that being a rightwinger in Australia forces you to be stupid. We all understand this, thanks.

    If you really need to emphasize the point, write something about how wind turbines cause brain damage.

  7. James Wimberley
    July 14th, 2014 at 23:05 | #7

    @Fran Barlow
    Fran: you can’t use raw nameplate capacities to estimate a generating park. Different sources have very different availabilities: solar about 15% (varying with latitude), wind around 35%, fossil and nuclear around 90%. Geothermal is close to the ideal at 95%. Hydro’s availability depends on the river. Brazil’s old Itaipu on the Parana has a capacity factor over 90%; its latest megadam, Belo Monte on the seasonal Xingu, will be only 39%, no better than coastal wind. So for back-of-the-envelope calculations, to get comparability between sources you need to multiply nameplate solar by five or six, and wind by two-and-a-half.

    It’s complicated by intermittency, diurnal and seasonal load profiles, and the need for backup. At low penetrations, solar’s noon peakiness is probably a plus, as it matches a/c loads. For your 60% renewables, you probably need not bother estimating extra backup; the existing gas and hydro capacity could see you through, with the predicted boom in home storage and evs. It gets more serious as you move towards 100% renewables, see the AEMO simulation. They pencilled in massive amounts of thermal CSP + storage, and/or EGS geothermal, all in the outback at the end of expensive new transmission lines.

    BTW, I’m a strong supporter of renewable energy and the transition. I’m not one of those clowns who seem to think that the people who calculate LCOEs have forgotten about capacity factors and grid integration costs.

  8. Fran Barlow
    July 15th, 2014 at 05:49 | #8

    @James Wimberley

    I quite take your point of course. The CF and CC questions are front and centre in these discussions, and as you say, if we were pushing towards 100% (rather than the 60% I was playing around with) then yes, the effective output of wind and solar would be a key constraint. The gradient does become steeper quite quickly.

    Storage and demand management become a lot more relevant in that last 40%. That’s why many are keen on CST with molten salt or V2G or reticulation or pumped storage and why the effective installed cost per unit of capacity rises sharply as the 100% is approached.

    Perversely though, as that 100% is approached, some quite limited solutions — such as waste biomass — can step into the now small gaps to ‘knit’ the system together.

  9. sunshine
    July 15th, 2014 at 10:41 | #9

    Terje ; In connection with that Leyonhjelm said 2 worrying things about the Coalition mindset , 1) They automatically say no to anything proposed by the Greens ,and 2) They will be more receptive to the idea if it is proposed by a middle aged heterosexual male (white too ?).

    Fran ; It is sometimes claimed that nuclear waste will be able to be re-processed by a new kind of reactor until it is harmless .Failing that I cant accept asking the next 50,000 generations to watch over the waste we make from our power needs for today and tomorrow. Also I worry that nuclear power would be another thing run only by multi national mega companies.

  10. Nevil Kingston-Brown
    July 15th, 2014 at 11:58 | #10

    @John Quiggin
    But John, Mishmash has genetically superior intelligence and we should subsidise his babies. He told us so himself.

  11. Julie Thomas
    July 15th, 2014 at 16:56 | #11

    Sunshine did you see this article about Leyonhjelm?


    His interest in guns and his apparent belief that all gun owners are like him and do not need to be regulated is a worry. The article describes how Leyonhjelm describ(ed) John Howard, as a “dirt-bag” and says he has railed “against the former Liberal leader as a “bastard”, and an “idiot” for turning up in a bullet-proof vest to front a rally of incensed gun owners in Sale, Victoria, in 1996, after Howard slapped a ban on semi-automatic rifles and pump-action shot guns in the wake of Martin Bryant’s bloody rampage through Port Arthur.

    David Leyonhjelm said: “All the people at [Sale that day] were the same as me,” Leyonhjelm tells me, his light-blue eyes blazing. “Everyone of those people in that audience hated [Howard’s] guts. Every one of them would have agreed he deserved to be shot. But not one of them would have shot him. Not one.” He found it offensive, he adds, that Howard “genuinely thought he couldn’t tell the difference between people who use guns for criminal purposes, and people like me”. What personally outraged Leyonhjelm was having to surrender much of his private collection, at first rifles and later some pistols, when the bans were extended. “I had lots of semi-automatic rifles,” he says. “I had an M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, the AR-15, the FN FAL, a Rasheed semi-auto and a Norinco … I had to relinquish them all.”

    Delusional certainty that he knows stuff that he does not know at all.

    The photo that David supplied himself to the publication to accompany the story is another real worry. Check it out. Did he imagine that was being funny and ‘challenging’ to the libruls or does he just love his pussy cats?

    It seems to me that the photo is a fail and is actually a dead give-away that the man is going to be more concerned with his own personal agenda (ie his need to show that he is not stupid and is a good person despite being a libertarian with a tax fetish and a need to shoot living things for fun and recreation).

    And so much emotion! It is difficult to see that he will be able to mute this emotional nature and listen to other voices.

    Since he doesn’t believe in the state as a valuable entity how can he contribute to any policies that will improve the government? One would have to think that he is there to sabotage the government so that we can all be free of the dreadful regulation that must make his life absolute hell.

    I don’t see him being able to do anything like cooperating with people who are not like him – and do not want to be like him – so that we can share the country, planet, whatever. He is a winner take all sort of personality, I think.

  12. Tim Macknay
    July 15th, 2014 at 17:21 | #12

    @Fran Barlow
    I remember, some years ago, disputing a statement by you that a 100% renewable-powered electricity grid could be supported by sufficient addition of pumped storage. At the time I believed that it wouldn’t be feasible to build a sufficient amount of pumped storage in Australia to even out the variability of solar and wind generation. However, I’m re-evauluating that view. This article suggests that the potential for affordable expansion of pumped storage in Australia is very significant.

  13. Fran Barlow
    July 15th, 2014 at 18:31 | #13


    Fran ; It is sometimes claimed that nuclear waste will be able to be re-processed by a new kind of reactor until it is harmless.

    Those reactors could conceivably come online within the next 30 years.

    Failing that I cant accept asking the next 50,000 generations to watch over the waste we make from our power needs for today and tomorrow.

    Well that’s not close to being necessary. The hazard from the nuclear hazmat we have now isn’t that significant. The most serious part of the hazard occurs during the first 40 years. By the time the hazmat has been in store for 1000 years the the threat to life from contact is minimal, and we may assume that if there is a residual significant management problem some combination of technologies will be devised on that timeline to render it innocuous. In physical terms, the mass of waste we’re discussing is actually quite modest.

    Also I worry that nuclear power would be another thing run only by multi national mega companies.

    That’s a much more significant objection, IMO. Conceivably, governments might run them but as things stand the track record has been patchy. It’s hard to imagine how any government in Australia we could conceivably predict in the next 15 years could make a good fist of this. Doubtless, there would be all manner of secret squirrel type legislation with some fool like Morrison being unable to comment on ‘on nuclear site matters’ on the basis of not tipping off terrorists or some such thing. Getting the right regulatory environment for nuclear power would not be an easy thing to do.

  14. Debbieanne
    July 15th, 2014 at 19:44 | #14

    @Julie Thomas
    Julie, he is a part of the FUIGM(f*ck you I’ve got mine) brigade. He sounds like a scary man with his guns. a ‘responsible gun owner’ until he’s not. Regarding same sex marriage, even a stopped watch is correct twice a day

  15. sunshine
    July 15th, 2014 at 20:09 | #15

    Julie T ;- Sounds like Leyonhjelm is a fair dinkum Libertarian . He said he plans to trade support for things that mean little to him , ‘ like Temp Protection Visas ‘ ,for action where he does care .BTW – I grew up in a gun toting household in a small country town ,I played with them as a kid and hunted everything. From my extended social group then there are 2 people in wheel chairs from gun shot- 1 attempted suicide and 1 shot by police while armed and misbehaving- both spinal injuries .Also 1 other went to jail for fire arms crime .Also my dads friend killed himself with a shot gun -it was messy . Etc ,etc ,there’s more, etc .Now I’m an (almost) vegetarian who thinks its better to kill and eat your own meat if you are going to do it. Shooting is pretty mean but not nearly as bad as factory farming. I’m all for tough(er) gun laws .My dad had a few to get rid of when those laws came in too.

    Fran B ;- I hope you are correct ; a small reactor that uses and reuses waste would be good .

  16. Fran Barlow
    July 15th, 2014 at 21:55 | #16


    Fran B ;- I hope you are correct ; a small reactor that uses and reuses waste would be good .

    Yes, and a reactor that can use the once-used fuel of an earlier reactor is even better, given that there is a bit of that about. It seems to me that if we could find a place with a suitable regulatory environment that had little scope for renewables or was connected to a grid dominated by renewables then using such a reactor to degrade high level hazmat would tick many boxes. This is the promise of Gen IV reactors. We are yet to see them and if we do, it probably won’t be here.

  17. ZM
    July 15th, 2014 at 22:19 | #17

    Mark Diesendorf had a book published this year -Sustainable Energy Solutions for Climate Change which explains quite a bit about energy production and systems. He rules out Nuclear as not sustainable for a few reasons: slow deployment; high-level radioactive waste of varying lengths from 30 years to 300-500 years to 24,000 years to even 1,000,000 years according to some studies; there is not currently even 1 solitary long term repository for high level radioactive waste [Bob Hawke suggested Central Australia earlier this year 🙁 ] ; accidents – 99 from 1952-2010; uncontrolled chain reaction due to error at Chernobyl; unprepared for risk causing meltdown at Fukushima; products and knowledge from nuclear energy generation being used in the State proliferation of nuclear weapons or potential use by terrorists; economic reasons – scarce or misleading data and subsidies.

    He was asked a question at a talk regarding how quickly could Australia transition to renewable energy (variable solar pv and wind, backed up by flexible CST and bio-gas turbines, plus some hydro and geothermal somewhere I think) – he said he thought it probably would take 25 years due to the need to educate people (particularly electrical engineers) and build industrial and infrastructure capacity.

    If we are looking at that sort of timeframe conservative use of carbon emitting energy is important in the meantime.

  18. TerjeP
    July 16th, 2014 at 05:48 | #18

    They automatically say no to anything proposed by the Greens

    Sunshine – It cuts both ways. I suspect the modest income tax cuts that Leyonhjelm secured last week were voted for by the Greens simply because the Liberals were opposed.

  19. Julie Thomas
    July 16th, 2014 at 06:41 | #19

    You ‘suspect’ lots of things Terje but you don’t have any evidence or a rational argument that you can present that support these irrational and ignorant assumptions you make about your fellow human beings. I think the problem is that you assume that all humans are like you and unfortunately your libertarian beliefs are like a prison from which you are unable to free yourself and see that your type of person is not the default human being.

    But, freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose you know, and there are an increasing number of people now, who are being so impoverished by this economy that you advocate, that they really do have nothing to lose by doing whatever it will take to be free from people like you who force your beliefs and way of life onto everyone else.

    And then you justify the lack of principles and ‘stupidity’ of the members of your tribe by saying Oh look over there and see how bad those other people. This way of ‘reasoning’ is a clear indication that you are motivated by base self-interest, not self-interest, properly understood.

    I wonder if you know any of the young people – particularly the men – who will be denied any sort of income? Are you intellectually capable of understanding the level of resentment and anger that is brewing in this group who now can communicate with each other via the internet?

    I wouldn’t be surprised at what these young people can do if they self-organise; they really are not stupid or lazy you know and it was not the nanny state that created them as unemployed and lacking in motivation to be part of your economy. Only a certain type of personality can or wants to climb the available ladders in this ugly economy that is so *not* a society.

  20. rog
    July 16th, 2014 at 07:29 | #20

    Mark Diesendorf reviews Ian Plimers book Not for Greens

    Plimer’s book is not for anyone seeking a rational, accurate, up-to-date account of renewable energy. I wonder whether some will rename it Telling Lies for the Fossil Fuel Industry.

    Diesendorf makes the valid point that as a geologist Plimer has no qualifications in the area of renewable energy.

  21. rog
  22. Fran Barlow
    July 16th, 2014 at 07:46 | #22


    Plimer’s lack of standing to comment on stuff has never restrained him before. I recall an encounter between him and George Monbiot on Lateline some years back in which it became obvious that Monbiot had read Plimer’s book, Heaven and Earth, better than he had.


    The kindest thing one might say about Plimer is that he is an embarrassment to post secondary education.

  23. Troy Prideaux
    July 16th, 2014 at 08:43 | #23

    Plimer has no cred at all regarding renewable energy. He is more a miner (inc coal) than anything else.

  24. patrickb
    July 16th, 2014 at 10:21 | #24

    I see the the PM’s preferred education expert, the eccentric Kevin Donnelly, feels that a return to corporal punishment in schools is not without merit. He considers his physical education teacher’s practise of taking boys behind the bike sheds and challenging them to a fight a character building experience. So let me get this straight, this guys reckons that in Australia in 2014 people would think it OK to have other people hitting their children at will, presumably the PM buys this argument. I hope to see more of this radical thinking reported on the front page of the Australian, that august organ renowned or holding governments to account.


  25. Ivor
    July 16th, 2014 at 17:03 | #25

    Diesendorf is right.

    Maybe we should ask Hawke (and other nukephiliacs) – if nuke waste encapsulation is so good why would you need to store it in Central Australia?

    If nuke-waste encapsulation/vitrification is not good enough to store in urban areas then nuke energy does not pass the most basic moral and common sense tests.

    It is a fools paradise.

  26. chrispydog
    July 16th, 2014 at 17:34 | #26

    @Fran Barlow Fran, you’ve gone from GWhe to GW capacity rather too easily, in that the entire problem of variability and intermittencey just mysteriously disappear.

    Some models show a need to build four or five times the nameplate capacity (not just adjusted for capacity factor) to make such sources reliable. Remember, there is no such thing as utility scale storage. (Bill Gates says we need at least one order of magnitude increase in energy density/cost to begin to make it viable). I’m assuming we tap whatever pumped hydro we can already.

    Assuming we have a national grid (and lets not go down that rabbit hole!), electricity must be used as its created, so picture the east coast, cloudy and calm for a week or so, and you’ll see that the grid you’ve envisaged fails.

    Diesendorf et al also make this problem ‘go away’ with hypotheticals like 24GW (!) of standby gas turbines fueled with…wait for it…BIOFUEL!

    It gets sillier in some 100% renewable models, but that one is right up there in the fantasysphere.

  27. Tim Macknay
    July 16th, 2014 at 17:39 | #27

    What we really need is a way of generating electricity from derp. Now that is a renewable resource that is always available on demand!

  28. rog
    July 16th, 2014 at 18:00 | #28

    @chrispydog Rabbit holes!

  29. chrispydog
    July 16th, 2014 at 18:08 | #29

    BTW Fran, I originally typed TWhe and then looked up your post and changed it to GWhe (as you had it)

    It’s actually TWhe.

  30. chrispydog
    July 16th, 2014 at 18:10 | #30

    And anyone wishing to ‘have a go’ with snide stuff, here’s some basic maths you must first get your head around:


  31. rog
    July 16th, 2014 at 18:11 | #31

    The long awaited passing of the repeal of the carbon tax is affording the likes of Sinclair Davidson a small nip of schadenfreude while in the US the Republicans are saying that they are the only ones with sufficient chutzpah/conjoles to bring in a carbon tax.

    Go figure.

  32. rog
    July 16th, 2014 at 18:12 | #32
  33. iain
    July 16th, 2014 at 18:34 | #33

    @Fran “Total demand on the Eastern Grid in 2012-13 was 191.833 GWhe.” lol, what?

  34. Tim Macknay
    July 16th, 2014 at 18:40 | #34

    <blockquote>And anyone wishing to ‘have a go’ with snide stuff, here’s some basic maths you must first get your head around…

    You linked to an interesting blog post – with numbers, natch. Well done!
    Just a minor quibble – I’m not entirely sure that blog post says exactly what you think it does. Why doncha go try read it again, eh? 😉

  35. Sancho
    July 16th, 2014 at 18:40 | #35

    Chrispydog’s got a pretty broad comment history. He’s on Twitter, Disqus and a range of article comment threads, and he has precisely two things to say:

    a) Renewable energy is pointless and ineffective
    b) Nuclear power is awesome and will save the world

    To his credit, I don’t think he’s a Young Liberal sitting in a back room of the IPA office, posting copypasta for eight bucks an hour. Those types use sock puppets.

  36. Hermit
    July 16th, 2014 at 18:42 | #36

    Re pumped hydro as a storage medium for renewable energy I’m calling bullsharks on that one. The redoubtable (and nuclear enthusiast) Bob Hawke pulled the pin on the 180 MW Franklin-below-Gordon dam. Imagine trying to build a dozen like that in hilly areas now infested with parks or nimby tree changers, Sure you could build sea water tanks on the cliffs near Shark Bay WA then there’s the small problem of new billion dollar power lines.

    Re power density some are enthusing that rural villagers in India will get solar electric for the first time. That will be for reading lights, small LCD TVs, electric bikes maybe a vaccine fridge. It won’t power four door cars or air conditioners. Even Clive knows that which is why he is saying we’ll give up coal when India does.

  37. Tim Macknay
    July 16th, 2014 at 18:46 | #37

    You could be right. But why not try reading the paper, instead of just derping?

  38. ZM
    July 16th, 2014 at 19:41 | #38

    Re: hydro,

    I think hydro as storage depends on the country’s water ways and current usage – Kenya for example derives a high proportion of electricity from hydro – however due to recent severe droughts that affected electricity supply has begun moving away from hydro (at the moment to new coal powered plants, but the government advanced a strong solar goal earlier this year – although that might depend on being able to attain finance) – but the capacity could presumably be used for storage down the track.

  39. iain
    July 16th, 2014 at 20:00 | #39

    The issues are; proving cost parity (for installed nameplate output) at scale, energy storage, and then, technology implementation at scale.

    At this stage, you are never going to get 100% renewables (or even a quarter of this*) without major technology breakthrough.

    There are no examples, even on a small scale, of 100% renewable anywhere in the world**.

    *NEM peak demand 35 GW, hydro 8 GW max installable, geothermal scaled-up unproven fantasy, no cost effective storage for wind and solar (beyond hydro max), no proven scaled up strategy to incorporate renewables (other than hydro, without storage).

    **Aside from; hydro areas, small islands with big battery banks running at negative EROI, small villages eating up nearby forests at unsustainable rates, further small villages with big battery banks running at negative EROI.

  40. John Quiggin
  41. Megan
    July 16th, 2014 at 20:50 | #41


    For about 50,000 years Australia ran on 100% renewables.

    There are no examples, anywhere, of the way “we” currently run the world lasting for more than a few hundred years. And no evidence whatsoever that it is even likely.

    Makes you think, doesn’t it?

  42. chrispydog
    July 16th, 2014 at 21:13 | #42

    @John Quiggin

    Without even opening those links, let me just point out that SA and Denmark are not entirely separate grids, but part of larger systems. Denmark’s population is tiny (5m) and it’s unique geography hardly makes it typical of what we are actually discussing. SA also imports electricity from Vic, produced mainly by brown coal while Denmark is connected to a couple of lovely neighbours with lots of hydropower it can call on when the wind doesn’t blow.

    Using these often cited examples is not proving anything except the point ie integration of large amounts of RE has not occurred in any modern economy. (Let’s not mention Iceland, OK, it’s actually a small country town on an energy hotspot! LOL)

    You might find this interesting:



  43. Gilbert Holmes
    July 16th, 2014 at 23:03 | #43

    I just did this interview with Dr Ayamana Namus from the university of Faraha Farahawey on the subject of free trade. Any thoughts??

    Gilbert: Dr Namus, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

    Dr Namus: What are you getting at? Have I been to university? Do I really exist? Yes, yes, yes. I tell you what, they should call me Dr f..king cubed. Get on with the real questions.

    Gilbert: You are interested in the economics of community interdependence is that right?

    Dr Namus: Yes. To put it simply, a community has certain economic opportunities available to it associated with interdependence. These opportunities lie in both consumption, with the intensive use of local resources, and production, with the local production of stuff. Local economic opportunities allow for an increase in efficiency, and for a community to actively engage with the maintenance of welfare within its borders.

    Gilbert: Welfare? Do you mean…the dole?

    Dr Namus: No, you idiot! I do not. Welfare is just economics-speak for the general well-being within the society. Availability and quality of food, housing, care for the old, young and sick, education, employment options, etc, etc. I might be an arsehole, but I do believe in at least some minimum standards.

    Gilbert: Could you tell us more about these opportunities? Are they related to what you call the dual roots of economics; cooperation and competition?

    Dr Namus: You may not be as thick as you look. I see you’ve read some of my work. You’ve got to think about the philosophy. Most of the c..kweeds in mainstream economics are caught in the muddled crap of liberalism. “I think therefore I am”? Descarte was a f..kwit. Confucius was onto something. It’s all about polarity and paradox. Each of us is trying to both commune with and to control one another at the same time. This leads to the paradoxical, dual roots of all interactions between us, including economic. These dual roots are cooperation and competition. Within a community, opportunities are associated with sharing and the pooling of resources, as well as with the operation of locally focused, competitive economic activity.

    Gilbert: For example…

    Dr Namus: At the small scale, a community has an opportunity to share washing machines, swimming pools or mini-theatres. Eggs, avocados or mandarins could be produced collectively or privately from local (embedded) suppliers. At the broader scale, a city could maintain collectively and/or privately an education and hospital system. The world has an opportunity to explore space and look after the global f..king environment.

    Gilbert: Can you talk a bit about how this is different to the mainstream?

    Dr Namus: To begin with, mainstream microeconomics is based on a barrel of sh.t! The idea that a best-case-scenario can be determined by a perfect competition is bizarre and illogical to say the least; No matter how much you might try to fiddle the results with welfare or environmental economics, (often not very much), the underlying crapness of the model remains. You need to include both competition and cooperation from the very beginning. First you need to remember that people live in communities. Second, when you analyze markets, you need to take into account that an internal/external dynamic is taking place, and add weighting for the opportunities that exist internal to the community.

    Gilbert: What do you think about free trade?

    Dr Namus: Free trade is perhaps the biggest load of horsesh.t that has ever been sold. Sure you can gain efficiencies through each region specializing and trading with one another. For any region or community, however, the possible benefits of free trade need to be weighed against the opportunities that are available locally. If you go to the trouble of asking people whether they value local economic activity, the answer is to some degree yes. People will pay more for local sh.t, and if the benefit of getting that sh.t locally is greater than the additional cost that they pay, they will be better off. Free trade values local economic interdependence at zero, without asking people. This sucks the life out of the local economy and in this way makes people worse off.

    Gilbert: So…no trade then?

    Dr Namus: Look in my eyes Gilbert, and listen! Of course you trade. You trade where the
    benefits of trading exceed the benefits from the realization of local opportunities.

    Gilbert: If people benefit so much from sharing swimming pools, why don’t we see more of it now?

    Dr Namus: It’s a question of marginal cost. If there is no neighbourhood infrastructure in place, the cost of setting up a shared swimming pool is staggering. Imagine trying to organize something like that with a group of semi-strangers and short-term renters. If you had the swimming pool, however, then setting up a chicken run would be much easier. The avocado farm would be easier again. Then the local handyperson would have lots of local contacts, etc. The more interdependence you have, the lower the marginal cost, and therefore the more viable, each activity becomes. The methods of mainstream economics has failed to weight in favour of local economic activity, so neighbourhoods throughout the developed world have become deeply inefficient economic deserts, resting on the broken crutch of fossil fuel.

    Gilbert: When you say, weighting in favour of local economics, you mean economic protectionism?

    Dr Namus: Yes, yes, yes. Protect, protect, protect. Protect to the neighbourhood scale. I am talking about moderate protectionism of course. Ideally, using tariffs or whatever, the price of locally produced goods should be made relatively cheaper than externally sourced goods. By moderate, I mean that this should be done up to the point that the realization of local opportunities is encouraged to the extent that any added cost of those opportunities is less than the benefit. You also need governance though, also to the neighbourhood scale. Tariffs by themselves will not be enough.

    Gilbert: Thankyou very much Dr Namus.

    Dr Namus: Go f..k yourself!

  44. Hermit
    July 17th, 2014 at 08:55 | #44

    @John Quiggin
    It’s interesting that South Australia with 30% renewables and Tasmania with 86% are the two ‘mendicant’ states. SA is also on 52% gas fired generation. Their Cooper Basin gas field near the Qld border will increasingly send gas to the Gladstone LNG plants under construction. I guesstimate SA power prices will go up 15% within a year of Gladstone starting. So much for carbon tax cuts or new industry replacing Holden.

    Denmark is able to export peak wind power and import Norwegian hydro during lulls. It parallels SA exporting wind power to Victoria and re-importing brown coal power. SA-Vic transmission is being beefed up to assist this. 30% wind penetration seems to need this export capability.

  45. Troy Prideaux
    July 17th, 2014 at 09:32 | #45

    and speaking of renewables in Oz – the rest of the world’s investment in them is souring whilst our investment in them is declining, but I’m guessing that everyone already knows this [sigh]

  46. Troy Prideaux
    July 17th, 2014 at 09:33 | #46
  47. Ikonoclast
    July 17th, 2014 at 10:45 | #47

    Well, you see Troy, it is clearly because Australia is so unsuitable for renewable energy. I mean we don’t have intensely sunny skies over much of our continent for much of the year, we don’t have spare land area and we don’t have long, windy coastlines. Oh, wait a minute, we do have all those things. Hmm, there must be another reason. Let’s see, major political parties heavily funded by coal interests? Tick! Yep. I guess that’s it.

  48. ZM
    July 17th, 2014 at 10:51 | #48

    Troy Prideaux
    July 17th, 2014 at 09:32 | #44 Reply | Quote
    and speaking of renewables in Oz – the rest of the world’s investment in them is souring whilst our investment in them is declining, but I’m guessing that everyone already knows this [sigh]”

    I think this is a good argument that supports my position that we must substantially revise our current economic laws to adequately respond to anthropogenic climate change and other sustainability issues including the 6th extinction.

  49. Tim Macknay
    July 17th, 2014 at 11:14 | #49

    In other news, the carbon tax has just been repealed.

  50. Tim Macknay
    July 17th, 2014 at 11:16 | #50

    I assume you meant ‘soaring’.

  51. Tim Macknay
    July 17th, 2014 at 11:17 | #51

    Sorry – that should have been addressed to Troy Prideaux.

  52. John Quiggin
    July 17th, 2014 at 12:36 | #52


    So, just to be clear, based on your expert knowledge, you agree with Iain that it’s impossible for renewables to ever account for more than 25 per cent of electricity generation in a large grid like that of Australia or Europe?

  53. July 17th, 2014 at 12:54 | #53

    @Tim Macknay
    yep we are officially a country led by fools

  54. Tim Macknay
    July 17th, 2014 at 12:55 | #54

    On another, sad, topic, the slaughter of children continues in Gaza. The Israeli government truly appears to have all all sense of perspective.

  55. John Quiggin
    July 17th, 2014 at 12:57 | #55

    @chrispydog Given that current Oz renewable energy target for 2020 (45,000 GWh) is around 25 percent of likely demand, this is obviously a big call on your part.

  56. John Quiggin
    July 17th, 2014 at 12:58 | #56

    With carbon tax gone, and “direct action” hopeless Renewable Energy Target is our only serious policy initiative.

  57. Fran Barlow
    July 17th, 2014 at 13:00 | #57

    @Tim Macknay

    Thanks for the the link Tim.

    I certainly think that pumped storage is something that should be done where it meets the criteria outlined at the link. Using it to store the output of wind and/or solar is an excellent idea. I suppose one of the challenges I hadn’t considered in great detail when I last spoke at length on the matter was how to get such an expensive piece of capital — and a large pumped storage unit is a very expensive piece of capital — to pay for itself.

    If for example, it is recovering revenue only by storing surplus wind and solar then the availability of surplus wind and solar is the key revenue constraint. We’d need a lot of surplus wind and solar to be stored and presumably discharged to make the plant viable. One of the problems with off-peak power of course is that it isn’t all that valuable and just as building plants to meet off-peak demand is probably not going to be something most will do because there’s no money in it, saving surplus wind and solar so you can compete with heavily discounted off peak energy probably isn’t going to cut it. Pumped storage of this kind is probably best suited to more or less fully dispatchable facilities (like coal and gas and nuclear plants) that have slow ramp up rates. Assuming such facilities continue to exist and underwrite the pumped storage, then it makes sense for them to also integrate surplus renewable capacity, but of course that does presume the survival of those plants rather than their replacement with renewables — at least until such time as we had built the renewables needed to force the other plants out.

    A cheaper way for renewables to be stored is probably through the development of V2G systems. If 50% or 60% of light road vehicles were dependent on the grid for charging and were equipped with the capacity to discharge their loads into the grid, then the hours of the day when renewable output could be used would be greatly extended. The sun might well return little after 4PM but those vehicles, and the fast swap batteries awaiting them in service centres, could carry enough energy to power the grid well into the early morning. Any new wind could then be stored as well. Since decarbonising transport is also a key goal, the batteries’ capital cost would be split with regular usage displacing FHC fuel.

    One last thing on pumped storage: I remain far more interested in seaboard pumped storage than that advocated by Blakey. Use of the seaboard avoids the need for a lower reservoir — which is the ocean. Also the seaboard tends to get more rain, so evaporation losses in the upper reservoir are offset. Marine turbines could be used to pump water directly to the reservoir at the top and of course wind turbines placed at the top reservoir would be able to harvest onshore breezes much like off-shore wind. Presumably, they would be highly elevated.

    Regrettably, there aren’t many places in Australia near the sea and near major load centres where natural landforms could allow engineers to build reservoirs with significant head pressure, so presumably we’d need to move a lot of granite and concrete to contrive facilities like that. Considerations of this kind soured me somewhat on the feasibility of pumped storage at the scale needed. I still believe though that there are places in the major cities where natural landforms could permit far smaller scale pumped storage — enough to capture locally produced power — and perhaps other surpluses in the system.

  58. Fran Barlow
    July 17th, 2014 at 13:01 | #58

    @John Quiggin

    I thought it was 41,000 hours?

  59. Fran Barlow
    July 17th, 2014 at 13:02 | #59

    GWh … sorry

  60. Michael
    July 17th, 2014 at 13:04 | #60

    Unfortunately policy and politics aren’t governed by reason and rational argument. The government has just taken a big gamble that people will not hold it responsible for not having a serious climate policy when the next climate event swings public opinion from disinterest to concern which it will as surely as night follows day. This truly is a reckless and impulsive leadership focused on the short-term at the expense of both the long-term and reality. I stand by my prediction that Abbott will not hold onto the leadership for the full term.

  61. Troy Prideaux
    July 17th, 2014 at 13:09 | #61

    Tim Macknay :
    I assume you meant ‘soaring’.

    Oops – thanks Tim

  62. John Quiggin
    July 17th, 2014 at 13:17 | #62

    @Fran Barlow

    I’m going from memory. IIRC 41 000 is the large-scale scheme, and 45 000 is the estimated total including rooftop solar fed back into grid.

  63. Ikonoclast
    July 17th, 2014 at 14:08 | #63

    I think the future energy mix will be very “ecletic” if that is the best term for what I mean. I also think we can solve the issues of storage, substitution, peaks and so on.

    For example, at a household level, there are no insuperable barriers which will prevent suburban and acreage houses from having solar hot water, solar panels, a mains grid connection and battery backup. Added to this will be a smart-system inverter which at any time of the day or night will decide automatically, based on costs and other parameters, to draw from the panels, the grid or the batteriers or to feed the grid or the batteries. A fully smart system will have sunrise time, sunset time, climate data, weather forecasts and family useage patterns all recorded/input thus aiding its calculations and decision making. In addition to stationary batteries, the family electric car will also serve at times as a storage and backup device for household electricity.

    The grid will have houses, shopping centres etc, as smart micro to mid-range producer/users. The grid will also have some major central power plants (macro solar and wind in the future) and some macro energy storage as well as all the summed micro-storage of houses and electric cars. Macro energy storage will be a mix weighted to what is regionally more feasible and cost-effective. In addition, we will be shunting power as needed around the regions over semi-continental wide areas.

    All of this is feasible even with current technology. Soon (in a decade or less) it will be cost effective. Will the entire build-out be feasible in terms of all the required resource materials? I don’t know. Maybe availability of certain metals like copper, lithium, and key rare earths will be a limiting factor. On the other hand, I don’t expect iron, aluminium, silicon or calcium silicate shortages. Calcium silicates are a major ingredient for Portland cement. Nor do I expect shortages of materials for making carbon fibre and epoxies.

    But on the other hand, I do expect all sorts for problems to arise from climate change already in train, shortages of other key resources especially fresh water and food and the conflicts all that will generate. So the problem is much wider than just “can we transition into renewable energy”.

  64. Collin Street
    July 17th, 2014 at 14:34 | #64

    I stand by my prediction that Abbott will not hold onto the leadership for the full term.

    This is where you get into fiddly institutional issues. In the ALP, the caucus elects the cabinet and the PM allocates portfolios. If they piss off the leader they might lose status [treasury to veteran’s affairs], but their wages and the bulk of their perks and accesses depends on the party room, not the leader’s grace and favour.

    In the coalition it’s all up to the leader: piss him off and you’re back to the backbenches. Which means noone in the coalition is going to vote to change the leader in government unless they know they can succeed.

  65. Michael
    July 17th, 2014 at 15:20 | #65

    @Collin Street
    Interesting. Just supposing the liberals fail to get a big bounce in the polls and Abbotts approval ratings flounder do you think they will be happy to all go down together? I think his leadership has backed them into a corner which was a strange and unnecessary tactic.

  66. Fran Barlow
    July 17th, 2014 at 15:30 | #66

    IIRC 41 000 is the large-scale scheme, and 45 000 is the estimated total including rooftop solar fed back into grid.

    Ah fair enough PrQ.

  67. Collin Street
    July 17th, 2014 at 19:14 | #67

    @Michael: I don’t know, one of the key things that I think need to be allowed for is that significant fractions of the coalition party room — and almost all their strategists — are affected by severe cognitive/neurological/emotional problems [as I’ve mentioned] and I don’t have the qualifications.

    Ask a psych nurse.

  68. July 17th, 2014 at 20:02 | #68

    John, now that the new 270 megawatt wind farm, Snowtown II, is up and running several months ahead of schedule, South Australia new gets close to 40% of its electricity from renewables. Over a third from wind and over 5% from rooftop solar. Early this morning wind may have met all demand in the state with wholesale electricity prices going negative. Something that rarely occured last winter as the coal fired Northern Power Station wasn’t operating any units at the time, unlike this winter where higher gas prices have resulted in one of two units being run more or less continuously.

  69. July 17th, 2014 at 20:33 | #69

    @Ronald Brak
    Ronald when I was over in SA recently I heard something about one of the energy companies proposing to build a solar molten sand (sand tower?) generator in Whyalla or something – do you know anything about that?

  70. July 17th, 2014 at 20:50 | #70

    Just tried googling it myself – looks like “Wizard power” is commercialising something developed by ANU. Sounds interesting. The Gemasol solar molten salt (sorry not sand) plant in Spain has produced 24/7 power for 36 days apparently in 2013 (summer).

  71. July 17th, 2014 at 20:57 | #71

    And I’ll point out to Chrispydog or Hermit or anyone else who is almost certainly not interested, that if the transmission lines between South Australia and Victoria were destroyed by meteorites or giant mutant wombats or what have you, there would be no interruption to electricity supply in South Australia. The state would operate quite comfortably with an independant grid and would continue to get about 40% of its electricity from renewables. While electricity imports are around 10% or more of South Australia’s grid electricity consumption, if one looks at generating capacity in the state and winter and summer demand it is clear that demand can be met without the use of interconnectors. It was only a few years ago that South Australia was incapable of meeting demand during summer heatwaves, but rooftop solar has solved that problem and the state will be in an even better position this summer as rooftop solar capacity continues to rapidly expand.

    The drawback of no interconnectors would be that more gas would be burned to make up for the shortfall in electricity imports which would increase electricity prices, but by a fairly trivial amount compared to the increases in retail electricity prices experienced over the past few years. And Victoria would have a quite small increase in its electricity prices. More solar and wind capacity would of course be built in response to higher electricity prices.

    So if anyone says that the fact that the South Australian grid is connected to Victoria means that 40% or so of electricity can’t be obtained from renewables it means they obviously hasn’t thought things through, as South Australia can quite clearly operate as an independant grid, separate from the rest of Australia, without any interuption to supply and with an inconvenient but only small increase in electricity prices.

    And just to make things easy for Hermit, I’ll point out that if you want to say that my above points are not correct, a non-sequitor will not suffice to do that. You would instead need to do one or both of the following:

    1. Show that South Australia can not meet demand without electricity imports.

    2. Show that the increase in retail electricity prices that would result from no electricity import or export would be more than minor in relation to the price increases that have occurred over the past several years.

  72. July 17th, 2014 at 21:31 | #72

    Val, molten salt storage is not likely to go ahead any time soon in Australia. Low cost rooftop solar makes solar thermal uncompetitive for supplying electricity during the day, and increasing rooftop solar capacity means more hydropower is saved for the evening, helping to keep a lid on prices then. And a real barrier is that at current retail prices Australian homes and businesses now have an incentive to start investing in their own energy storage which will kill high wholesale electricity prices in the evening. And depending on what kind of wholesale prices are seen, less efficient but lower capital cost storage may outcompete it for utility scale storage. So while the murder of the carbon price combined with the increase in gas prices has almost certainly increased the opportunity for arbitage, molten salt storage in Australia still has major obstacles in its path.

  73. ZM
    July 17th, 2014 at 22:28 | #73

    Conservative energy use can be of assistance in reducing the high current level of demand for energy in Australia.

    Re: percentages of renewable energy, I mentioned Kenya earlier, which has a high proportion of renewable energy in its mix, hopefully growing with increased solar in the future.

    Data is patchy -ie. individual solar lights are probably not counted in the figures and I imagine that estimations are used for bio-fuel due to the size of the informal economy in Kenya.

    “The current electricity demand is 1,191 MW while the effective installed capacity under normal hydrology is 1,429 MW. Generation shares from hydro, geothermal, baggase (cogeneration) and wind are 52.1%, 13.2%, 1.8% and 0.4% respectively while fossil based thermal contributes at 32.5%. The peak load is projected to grow to about 2,500MW by 2015 and 15,000 MW by 2030. To meet this demand, the projected installed capacity should increase gradually to 19,200 MW by 2030.”

  74. ZM
    July 17th, 2014 at 22:32 | #74

    “Biomass contribution to Kenya’s final energy demand is 70 per cent and provides for more than 90 per cent of rural household energy needs. The main sources of biomass for Kenya include charcoal, wood-fuel and agricultural waste. The Government has identified the existence of a substantial potential for power generation using forestry and agro-industry residues including bagasse. The total potential for cogeneration using sugarcane bagasse is 193MW. Mumias Sugar Company (Independent Power Producer) generates 35MW out of which 26MW is dispatched to the grid. However, opportunities within other sugar factories estimated to be up to 300 MW have not been exploited.”

  75. Troy Prideaux
    July 18th, 2014 at 11:22 | #75

    Gilbert Holmes :
    Dr Namus: Yes, yes, yes. Protect, protect, protect. Protect to the neighbourhood scale. I am talking about moderate protectionism of course. Ideally, using tariffs or whatever, the price of locally produced goods should be made relatively cheaper than externally sourced goods. By moderate, I mean that this should be done up to the point that the realization of local opportunities is encouraged to the extent that any added cost of those opportunities is less than the benefit. You also need governance though, also to the neighbourhood scale. Tariffs by themselves will not be enough.

    We do have lots protection here in oz, not for industry or retail or consumers or investors or carers… no, but lots of protection for the big 4 banks and the superannuation industry.

  76. Gilbert Holmes
    July 18th, 2014 at 13:29 | #76

    @Troy Prideaux
    Oh thanks so much for replying. There I was thinking that Dr Aymana Namus was a little too course for this civilized discussion. Yes surely protectionism is alright for some and not others.

  77. Megan
    July 19th, 2014 at 01:00 | #77

    Some things that are reasonably well established:

    1. The CIA organised the Ukrainian coup and puppet regime.

    2. NATO has been expanding ever-eastward right up to Russia’s border.

    3. The US/Nazi puppet regime in Ukraine moved the types of weapons capable of shooting down an airliner flying at 10,000 metres into eastern Ukraine a few days ago.

    4. The ‘pro-russia’ rebels ddo not have such weapons.

    5. The Neo-Cons are crazy enough to kill innocent people to justify their goals.

    6. The Putin government has nothing to gain from killing innocent people on an international flight over Ukraine.

    7. The Neo-Cons are capable of doing such a thing, they have form and history (they have killed several million people in the last ten years), they are desperate enough and they also have the propaganda machine in place that they believe will enable it in their own countries.

    On the balance of probabilities – who would be behind this?

  78. Ikonoclast
    July 19th, 2014 at 04:49 | #78


    Those are interesting contentions you make. There is plenty of evidence in the public domain for 1. and 2. Only those blinded by their own Western propaganda cannot see it.

    Do you have links to public domain evidence for 3 and 4?

    I agree with point 5 in general but it does not consitute specific evidence in this case.

    Point 6 might well be true but Russian forces or Russian separatists might have shot down MH17 by mistake.

    Point 7 is an expansion of point 5.

    My take on it is this.

    1. No commercial airline should have been flying over a war zone. It’s another example of the egregious and near-criminal incompetence of Malaysian airlines. Anyone who flies with Malaysia Airlines is clearly taking a very big gamble with their life.

    2. The Western hysteria about these deaths contrasts with Western complicity and indifference when it comes to numerous deaths in places like any of a dozen countries in the M.E. It reeks of hypocrisy.

    3. About 2,800 people die in the world every day due to road traffic accidents. It is irrational to ignore that and focus on air deaths in the manner that politicians and media are currently doing Their shock and sympathy is contrived and manipulative in the extreme. However, it satisfies a certain false narrative and agenda being run by our elites.

  79. Julie Thomas
    July 19th, 2014 at 06:23 | #79

    @Gilbert Holmes

    I didn’t realise you needed feedback 🙂 but yes I enjoyed your interview very much.

    Have you heard of ‘Intrinisic Motivation’ and how too much praise inhibits your ability to,essentially, performing an activity for its own sake rather than the desire for some external reward.

  80. John Quiggin
    July 19th, 2014 at 07:27 | #80

    Chrispydog seems to have scarpered, but the point of my rhetorical question is that Europe as a whole already generates more than 25 per cent of its electricity from renewables.

    That’s much less than 25 per cent of total energy, of course. But it’s worth observing that adding electric cars to the equation actually makes things easier, since that automatically creates a lot of storage to soak up the peaks in supply (it’s also technically possible to feed back into the grid, but that’s a bit harder to implement).

  81. J-D
    July 19th, 2014 at 08:30 | #81


    Haven’t you already reasonably well established that the ALP is responsible for everything?

  82. J-D
    July 19th, 2014 at 08:31 | #82


    It is obviously impossible to have a rational discussion with anybody who imputes all disagreement to the blinding effects of propaganda.

  83. alfred venison
    July 19th, 2014 at 08:37 | #83

    Megan, Ikonoclast, FYI (make of it what you will i haven’t read it through yet or viewed all the videos), :- http://www.vineyardsaker.blogspot.com.au/ -a.v.

  84. Ikonoclast
    July 19th, 2014 at 09:57 | #84

    Did I impute “all disagreement” to the blinding effects of propaganda? Or did I support the first two of Megan’s points and say the evidence for these was clear if you were not blinded by Western propaganda?

    Let’s look at these points again (in reverse order).

    2. NATO has been expanding ever-eastward right up to Russia’s border.

    “In 1999, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic joined the organization (NATO), amid much debate within the organization and Russian opposition.[1][2] Another expansion came with the accession of seven Central and Eastern European countries: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania. These nations were first invited to start talks of membership during the 2002 Prague summit, and joined NATO on 29 March 2004, shortly before the 2004 Istanbul summit. Most recently, Albania and Croatia joined on 1 April 2009, shortly before the 2009 Strasbourg–Kehl summit.” – Wikipedia.

    So, it is a matter of fact and public record that NATO “has been expanding ever-eastward right up to Russia’s border.” Depending on your ideological, geostrategic and realpolitik views you might view that as a good, bad or ambiguous development. But you could not deny it unless blinded to basic evidence and logic in some way, perhaps by Western propaganda.

    1. The CIA organised the Ukrainian coup and puppet regime.

    Victoria Nuland’s telephone conversation is a clear smoking gun. The US was involved in regime change; interferring in Ukraine’s internal politics. In case you missed all the history, the US has a long record of overt and covert regime change.


    It’s a matter of public record that the US operates in this way. There is now enough “smoking gun” evidence that Ukraine is no different.

  85. July 19th, 2014 at 10:52 | #85

    I count 87 countries that get over 25% of their electricity from renewables. Twenty-four that get 80% or more of their electricity from renewables. And 13 that get 95% or more of their electricity from renewables. And I have a dream that one day everyone on the internet will have access to search engines.

  86. Hermit
    July 19th, 2014 at 11:05 | #86

    @Ronald Brak
    Was it you who said on another thread you were paying 48.5c per kwh for electricity? That’s bloody expensive. That’s why the Holden factory will one day be used for community basket weaving and the Navy will buy Japanese subs.

    We all agree PV is now cheap but batteries aren’t. They last for 2,000 deep cycles then they’re rooted, say after 7-8 years. Occasionally heatwaves will linger with after dark humidity (say 35C at 9pm) when compressive air conditioning will be needed. Then it’s the despised mainly gas fired grid or using up your limited life battery to run the air con. SA will be paying top dollar for their own Moomba gas to keep it from going to export LNG. That’s why they’ll get Vic brown coal power instead.

  87. Fran Barlow
    July 19th, 2014 at 11:41 | #87


    It’s also technically possible to feed back into the grid, but that’s a bit harder to implement).

    This is the first time I have heard this claimed. I can imagine some problems devising user-friendly systems allowing people to determine how much they’d be willing to allow their charges to be depleted, but is that all you’re saying?

  88. Ikonoclast
    July 19th, 2014 at 12:10 | #88


    Air-con is not the absolute necessity you make it out to be. There are plenty of ways to design a house or modify a house to be cool in summer (and warm in winter) without using grid power, or even battery power, for heating or cooling.

  89. John Quiggin
    July 19th, 2014 at 12:11 | #89

    @Fran Barlow

    I was mainly thinking of pricing, metering and billing problems, yes. There are also some technical issues, I think, as with rooftop solar, but presumably fixable.

    Still, compared to the ease of just plugging the car in at the wall, going the other way is clearly more difficult.

  90. Ikonoclast
    July 19th, 2014 at 12:18 | #90

    @Fran Barlow

    I agree. For starters, on any one standard night there would be a proportion of people wanting the grid to charge their car overnight and another proportion thinking “I dont want the car tomorrow and the forecast is sunny. I’ll let the car feed the grid (or house) tonite and charge it tomorrow.

    Smart inverters will actually be able to make all those decisions with automated data and a few human data inputs.

  91. July 19th, 2014 at 12:32 | #91

    Hermit, I’m not paying 48.5 cents a kilowatt-hour for grid electricity. That would be ridiculous. I’m only paying 45.4 cents a kilowatt-hour all up. That’s including the daily supply charge specifically designed to hurt the poor – sorry, I mean to maximise profits. (Funny how easy it is to get those two things confused.)

    Note that only normal people pay 45.4 cents a kilowatt-hour for grid electricity. Industry doesn’t. Also note that like many Australians industry has the option of generating its own electricity and is increasingly doing so. First it did so through co-generation and now through solar.

    As for energy storage I pay 45.4 cents a kilowatt-hour for grid electricity. Now that the carbon price has been murdered the feed-in tariff is 6 cents a kilowatt-hour for new rooftop solar in South Australia. That’s a difference of 39.4 cents. Or if one wants to stay on the grid to get that sweet sweet 6 cents a kilowatt-hour feed-in moolah it’s a difference of about 27 cents. Nissan Leaf now has a guaranteed replacement price for their 24 kilowatt-hour battery pack of $5,500 US dollars. Now don’t get too confused over this point, but over its eight year 160,000 kilometer warranty period that comes to about 17 cents a kilowatt-hour. I’m not saying that 17 cents a kilowatt-hour is the cost of stationary energy storage from lithium-ion batteries. The actual cost for stationary storage should end up considerably lower than that. But, if it was 17 cents, then that would be lower than 27 cents. It would be 10 lower.

  92. ZM
    July 19th, 2014 at 12:35 | #92

    The problem with thinking of cars as the chief energy storage vehicle is that personal motor cars and the high level of mobility required of people to go to work , school etc are not the best options if we want a sustainable society. More mass/public/social transport is better for the cases where we cannot redevelop our communities to be of the sort that would let people get around by active transport ie walking, cycling
    Road ways purely devoted to cars etc also take up a lot of land and are covered with tarry rock so nothing can grow and animals don’t like to go there. – so it becomes a biodiversity sustainability issue too

  93. John Quiggin
    July 19th, 2014 at 13:00 | #93

    As regards MH17, the post-crash conduct of the Russian side makes it pretty clear they are guilty, even if there weren’t ample reason to believe it anyway (starting with their own, hastily retracted, triumphant announcements of having shot down what they thought was a military plane). They are obviously very keen to obstruct any investigation as much as possible. If they had been framed, they would be eager to prove it. At this point, any other hypothesis is in the realm of trutherism (and, to be clear, trutherism remains banned here, and anyone who posts of links to trutherists will be permanently banned).

    That doesn’t excuse comparable actions by others (eg the US in the Vincennes/Iran Air 655 case). But it’s silly to see the US as the source of all evil in the world. There are many other bad actors. We had plenty of evidence before this that Putin is an evil thug, and his proxies in Ukraine are worse.

  94. Hermit
    July 19th, 2014 at 13:04 | #94

    Enthusiasts for batteries either stationary or in vehicles need to think of their cash cycle. I suspect many first up purchases have been financed by lump sum payouts or cheap finance while securely employed. Somehow battery replacement is a problem for another day. I know not one but two bush blockies who didn’t have the cash to replace a battery bank. One paid to be grid connected. The other uses a diesel generator at night and presumably reads books by candle light when the noise is overbearing.

    Note that Toyota the pace setter for hybrid electric cars (Prii etc) now doubts that battery electric vehicles are what the mass market wants. Google it. They’re working on a $30k hydrogen fuel cell car with 500 km range. Not sure if they plan to power homes at night with them. My hunch is that when the price doubles for hydrocarbon liquid fuels we’ll drive half as much. We’ll stay at home more as it’s too expensive to go out.

  95. chrisl
    July 19th, 2014 at 13:37 | #95

    Hermit: You are the only sensible voice on this blog . Someone with real-life practical experience.
    Most people star with Renewables…..then something magic happens….we live happily ever after.
    Does any one ever stop to think how power a plug in electric vehicle takes…and where the power comes from?

  96. July 19th, 2014 at 13:41 | #96

    Hoo-boy. Okay, Hermit, let me explain how this works. Toyota spent a lot of money developing its hybrid Prius and for a period of time enjoyed a position of dominance in the green car market. If you look back just a few years you can see Americans mocking the Prius and Prius drivers with all the vitoral and stupidity they now save for electric cars and Leaf and Tesla drivers. Interestingly Tesla is an American company but they still have no problems trashing it. It may actually make things worse. Anyway, Toyota’s green crown has been taken away by Nissan and Tesla which were the first companies to start mass producing all electric cars. A hybrid, especially the dual power train design of the Prius, is a very different beast from an all electric car. Toyota wanted people to respond to high oil prices by buying its hybrids and by other car manufacturers licensing its technology. From its point of view the increasing popularity of all electric cars truly sucks as they directly reduce the sales of hybrids and the value of its technology. And having regarded its hybrid technology as being a winner Toyota is currently behind on all electric car development. So what did Toyota decide to do in this situation? The answer is they have decided to lie and try to slow the uptake of all electric cars by claiming that battery packs are not the future but hydrodgen fuel cells are. They have the Prime Minister of Japan spreading lies about this for them in much the same way Tony Abbott spreads lies for coal companies. The main difference is that Abe cares more about what is best for his nation as a whole, rather than just one small segment. Meanwhile Toyota is supposedly working on a hydrodgen fuel cell car which apparently doesn’t have a realistic fuel cell to put in it, which means they are making an all electric car that has a space where something that supplies electricity could be installed. The odds of a hydrogen fuel cell being shoved in that space in the future seem quite small.

  97. Ikonoclast
    July 19th, 2014 at 13:58 | #97

    @John Quiggin

    It’s the hyprocrisy of the West that makes me cringe with shame (as a Westerner). I think it is most likely that Russian regular forces or ethnic Russian irregulars in East Ukraine shot down MH17 by accident. If this is true, the situation is morally exactly the same as the Vincennes/Iran Air 655 case.

    Would Abbott or Shorten make the same statements they are currently making if the US had such an accident again? No, it would be all about a “tragic accident unintended by the US” and all sorts of excuses would be made for the US. And if the dead people were not Westerners they would scarcely be mentioned.

  98. Ikonoclast
    July 19th, 2014 at 14:27 | #98


    If one is on an acreage block or a bush block then a private pole or poles and/or a long service trench for power are necessary and have their own costs. If your house is more than about 100 m from the road or footpath alignment then it might be cheaper to go off grid. As grid power and connection costs up in future this distance might well reduce. I have to bring power about 90 m in a service trench from a property pole on my property. If that property pole needs replacing in the next decade or two, it might be cost effective for me to go off-grid with batteries and solar power. I already have solar power but am grid connected too.

    So, it’s not a matter of being an “enthusiast for batteries”, it’s a matter of simply doing the cost analysis. If someone on a bush block (further from power than me I should think) can’t afford batteries then I am surprised they can afford grid connection. The costs would already be comparable for even quite short distances.

  99. alfred venison
    July 19th, 2014 at 14:42 | #99

    They are obviously very keen to obstruct any investigation as much as possible. If they had been framed, they would be eager to prove it

    of course the separatists are not going to hand over the site to the very people they say are framing them. they would probably hand it over to a suitable third party though.

    david cameron at least has not rushed to conclusion-before-investigation, and instead has done something useful and called for an international investigation and has offered his country’s resources to an international investigation. in the circumstances, and in world ruined by the effects by routine dishonesty, there’s an honest broker in my opinion.

    if ukraine did not frame anyone why doesn’t kiev join cameron to call for an international investigation to prove it didn’t frame anyone and to establish what really happened beyond a shadow of partisan doubt? -a.v

  100. Megan
    July 19th, 2014 at 14:58 | #100

    @alfred venison

    Also, given the US surveillance capability of, and intense interest in, the area – it is inconceivable that they don’t have just about every piece of pertinent information regarding any missiles including origin to within a few centimetres. They should also have satellite photographs etc.. of the event. I haven’t heard Shorten or Abbott calling for full disclosure of that vital evidence.

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