40 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. I was interested to see a story in Time magazine about renewable energy in China, which featured photos of a quite large floating array of solar cells on a lake which had formed on an old collapsed coal mine. It looked quite low tech, in that it appeared that the panels were supported on simple plastic floats linked together.

    Given that water supply dams in Australia tend to be relatively close to population areas they service, I wondered whether it has ever been considered that these may be good sites for large scale solar farms here. I presume a few things – that any that sink after a storm are not going to make any particularly big toxic contribution to the water supply, and that its not too difficult to anchor them to prevent them being washed over he dam wall during a flood. (Are flow speeds on flooding dams away from the spillway all that high anyway?) Drying dams would not be a problem – the panels and floats just get to rest on the ground for a while.

    For hot regions in Australia in particular, I would have thought that covering significant areas of dams with floating solar farms would help reduce evaporation, and possibly help control unwanted algal growth too.

    In Brisbane, I can imagine either Somerset or Wivenhoe dams being capable of very large arrays. I am curious as to whether there are any downsides to this idea…

    Anyway, here’s the Time article:

  2. I just checked the surface area of Wivenhoe and Somerset – 109 km2 and 42 km2 respectively. Gee – even covering only a third would mean 50km2 – which could surely produce a very large amount of power.

  3. @steve from brisbane
    It’s a pretty standard technology now. In addition to reduced evaporation, you cool the panels a bit which is good for output and longevity. One developer puts little propellers on the floats, for single-axis tracking. I’m not sure about the fish, but more variety in the habitat (such as more shade) is usually welcome. SFIK nobody has tried floating solar at sea, a much tougher environment for even very simple machinery. The place to start would be sort of inlets the Galicians keep mussel rafts in.

  4. Rog – for far too many irrigators their economics was “modelled” on irrigation water meters being disabled in the absence of enforcement.

  5. The Four Corners was obviously an important show but the key issue seems fairly obvious. Enforce agreements! What was particularly discomfiting was that NSW bureaucrats and politicians seemed to be defecting from a cooperative agreement to benefit a few large irrigators (who were behaving illegally) in their state at the expense of the national interest.

    A bizarre parochialism that makes you wonder. Not only are individual water users selfish and greedy but State-based authorities seem to share their guilt. Heard it all before vin one form or other – but condoning illegal behaviour!!!!!

  6. hc, there’s a lot of money at stake here. That sort of money can lead to – ahem – payment for services, and NSW is one of those states with a long and shameful history of people making such payments. I think Xenophon is right – this is a matter for ICAC, with a fair chance someone somewhere will be doing jail time.

    The point is that it may not be parochialism driving it but something even more shameful.

  7. Mattisimo Canavan, LOL. And ultra LOL at George Brandis saying that the government has legal advice that Canavan, unlike the two Greens senators, has not breached s.44. Yeah, right. Brandis must have got his advice from that great Italian-Australian lawyer, Dennis Denuto (As Seen on TV).

    And speaking of politicians with Italian heritage, I wonder if Anthony Albanese is checking his position.

  8. Smith you cheeky bugger!
    Mario Canavanussi must be his brother whose Mater managed to acquire citizenship for him at 25 without the Italian Government requiring any evidence of his consent. Hardly.
    Of greater note will be Gillespie’s tenuous hold onto Lyne where he appears to have done a “Bobby-Day”.
    I am still not convinced with Abbott’s dubious evidence dated January 2015 confirming only his relinquishing his British Citizenship in 1993. With Abbott’s credibility nothing short of the British Home Office’s Certificate of his declaring his renunciation of British Citizenship as per the British Nationality Act will suffice.
    Like Canavan he had years to provide the evidence. Lawyers will appreciate the principle in Jones v Dunkel has application here.
    Brandis claims to have legal advice on Gillespie but won’t produce it.
    There is a pattern of non-disclosure here writ large but the public I feel has had enough.
    Brandis on your side is not a good look he should have gone after the humiliation he suffered at the hands of the testimony of Justin Gleeson SC.

  9. If there was a need for a good argument against privatisation you don’t have to go far – the privatisation of Telstra and the subsequent political football that is the NBN has to be a prime example.

    The tax payer has had to pay over double for a service that is less than half the speed enjoyed elsewhere.

    The funds were used by the govt – Abbott said that they were the “Howard golden years” and “prudent fiscal management is in the Coalition’s DNA”.

    The IMF has called the period of Howard as one of “fiscal profligacy”.

  10. @Paul Norton

    As Green says, the question is what “entitled’ means. The dictionary definition is “give (someone) a legal right or a just claim to receive or do something”. That (arguably) means that anyone who could claim citizenship of another country is disqualified from being an MP, even if they don’t have it. That’s going to knock out not just the six million people who have dual (or multi) citizenship, but countless more who had an English great great grandparent, or whatever.

    It’s hard to believe the High Court would go so far, but you never know.

  11. Mate my only point was the British Home Office registered renunciation is easily produced and this not been – only confirmation Abbott says he relinquished it. It is essay obtained under the British Nationality Act.
    Obama as I recall at an early time produced his Hawaiian birth certificate evidencing his birth place in the US contrary to the dishonest rantings of Trump.

  12. @david

    Abbott has produced a letter from UK Visas and Immigration dated 7 January 2015 that says “our records show that you renounced British citizenship on 12 October 1993”.

    If this doesn’t satisfy you then either you believe that Abbott forged the letter or that he is in cahoots with the UK Government to unlawfully sit in the federal parliament.

  13. Smith @14, here’s one example.


    If the High Court went so far as to rule in a way that had adverse consequences for the right of Jews, descendents of Jews and spouses of Jews to run for Parliament, I can’t imagine that the major parties would continue to leave Section 44 unamended.

  14. @Paul Norton

    This is the obvious case. You can’t have a situation where Jews are excluded by law from being members of parliament. But it’s far from clear that a majority of voters in a majority of states would agree.

  15. @Smith

    Not that it’s likely to happen, because it would mean that Jews would have to renounce their religion to be eligible for parliament. But this would be a breach of s.116 of the Constitution

    “The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.”

  16. @st

    As that article you read points out, predictive power for any mathematical model is hard to come by, if not impossible. The Reserve Bank of Australia has an macroeconomic model with so many dependent variables that it takes real computing power just to contain its parameters. By the way, John Maynard Keynes was a mathematician not and economist, yer he still has proven to have had great predictive power in his analysis. The most basic economic model is the foundation equation, the income and expenditure model of employment, output and growth. This works under the assumptions that : all income is spent; only normal markets are considered; and there are no shortages and/or surpluses. The more sophisticated economic models usually target an economic issue like inequality of wealth and income. For example, Thomas Pikkety’s book Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century is an education in how economists use mathematics. There was one economics model that almost won the gold medal for predictive power. Commonly called The Midas Formula , it had an all too brief reign and then was undone by volatility in the financial market.

  17. @Paul Norton
    And Larissa Waters was apparently a Canadian even though her Australian parents brought her home still a baby. But I haven’t heard anyone explain the reverse situation – if a foreign couple working temporarily here had a baby and then went home, I don’t think that child would be an Australian citizen. If Canavan is ultimately successful in retaining his seat, Senator Waters may have reason to regret resigning so abruptly.

  18. OK, I’m still thinking about floating solar power on dam surfaces. How about using this as the source of power to pump water up to the higher dams in the Snowy Mountain Hydro upgrade?

    I hope the awards I get for this come with a cash component…

  19. I am trying to decide what I think of Anna Bligh’s new life as chief public apologist for the banks.

    I liked her well enough as premier; when she moved to NSW after losing reelection, I thought, well, it must have hurt, she has the right to move on.

    But I do not see any way to interpret what she is doing now, except as selling out on a massive scale. Unless perhaps this is just her working openly, for the people who were her real masters all along!

    I could respect someone who honestly believed that the banks should be running everything, or should be given maximum opportunity to profit. But when someone discovers late in life, an abiding interest in the well-being of financiers – and when they are being paid handsomely to be their advocate…

    For now I am inclined to think of Anna as a tragic figure, with the real evil masterminds being whoever it was that conceived of hiring her, and then lured her in. But I am interested in hearing other views.

  20. I found this on an official site: https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Life/Chil
    “Children born in Australia automatically acquire Australian citizenship if at least one parent is an Australian citizen or permanent resident at the time of the child’s birth.”

    And this on an immigration advice site: https://gettingdownunder.com/baby-born-australia-babies-residency-citizenship-status/
    “If your baby is born in Australia and neither parent is an Australian citizen or permanent visa holder, your baby will generally automatically acquire the visa of either parent dependent on whichever visa is more “beneficial”.”

  21. @Mitchell Porter

    Re Anna Bligh; The failure to be re-elected must have been a significant disappointment and left her with a level of residual resentment that would have been a factor in a re-assessment of her allegiances.

    But she – and Beattie – were always neo-liberals and in favour of ‘profit’ as the fundamental meaning of life so it probably wasn’t much of stretch for her to cross to the dark side.

    lol and making my petty personal prejudices clear, I lost respect for her when she resorted to botox treatments to ‘improve’ her appearance.

  22. @rog

    It’s clear I thought that Barnarby Joyce’s main principle is that ‘greenies’ are the enemy.

  23. Ron I think you should read Singh v Commonwealth High Court [2004] which indicates in your example it would still leave the kiddie as an alien I assume not an Aussie!

  24. @Mitchell Porter
    If you’re a pollie in a position of substantial public profile whether a leader, minister, frontbencher, cabinet member of government etc ie, in a position to deal with high exposure media interrogation – you need to be a very competent liar as a primary job requirement – plain and simple. You need to stand up in front of a camera and argue (convincingly) for whatever the decision makers in your party/coalition decide is the best course of action (towing the party line) whether it’s something decided from an internal factional fight or from party donor pressure or the threat of a negative scare campaign etc. Even if it’s something you’re against personally and/or your constituency is against and/or the majority of the entire electorate is against.
    It’s the perfect apprenticeship for any fine honourable role such as a lobbyist for big banks, property developers, big oil, big pharma etc.
    The thing that really bugged me about the whole Bligh issue was that it was the ABC who provided her with endless airtime exposure to attack the Turnbull gov’s latest bank tax levy back in early May(?). Inner Sydney ABC mates helping their inner syd banking mates me thinks!

  25. Julie Thomas @28:

    “It’s clear I thought that Barnarby Joyce’s main principle is that ‘greenies’ are the enemy.”

    An important point, and one which I think is true of most right-wing politicians in the English-speaking world.

    In part it’s the fulfilment of a prediction made in the 1980s by environmental political scientist Professor Peter Hay, which was that political polarisation over environmental issues could see partisan hatred of environmentalists morph into partisan hatred of the environment. In part it’s also yet another example of the Federal Government we have had since 2013 having no constructive agenda whatsoever, simply a catalogue of vendettas against groups of people it dislikes and disapproves of, and against things that are valued by those groups of people.

  26. Steve a la Brisbane, placing floating solar panels on fresh water reservoirs where flat dry land is limited, such as Korea or Japan, may make sense. But at the moment doesn’t really make sense in Australia where we have so much flat land available at relatively low cost and we have an even better place to locate solar panels, which is on people’s roofs.

    Rooftop solar takes no land out of its current use, reduces the need for air conditioning, is extremely reliable as it is geographically distributed, and is very convenient for stabilizing the grid. (Currently the ancillary services provided by rooftop solar are mostly uncompensated.)

    But the main reason why rooftops win is because retail electricity prices are much higher than wholesale electricity prices that solar farms, or reservoir solar, receive.

    But as its costs come down, maybe floating solar will make sense in Australia. (I suspect the costs of other types of solar will fall further, but what do I know?) It certainly could make sense for hydroelectric and pumped hydroelectric dams to have their own solar farms, as transmission capacity is already in place.

  27. @Ronald
    Also, I think it should be a priority (and maybe it is) for the grid to be upgraded to cope with a high uptake of rooftop solar ie. the feed-in power from such.

  28. Troy, even if we place an optimistically low cost on the damages caused by CO2 emissions of $50 a tonne, it is clear we should be doing much more to encourage rooftop solar deployment and renewable generating capacity in general.

    The condition of the grid does vary considerably depending on location, but the amount of actual physical work that needs to be done for all electricity to be produced by rooftop solar at times is not particularly large, provided we accept that at some times and places some renewable electricity production will need to be curtailed.

    Given that people are dying from the effects of climate change, I think Distributed Network Service Providers (DNSPs) are generally far too pusillanimous when it comes to allowing distributed solar capacity to be connected to the grid.

  29. @Ronald
    Yes, I take your points re roof top.

    However, as far as your first suggestion (about how we have lots of flat land to use for solar farms): we do, but mostly far from the big population centres; and if you do cover half decent land with solar farms, it’s wasted for other purposes. (Unless you elevate the panels and let agriculture happen beneath them, I guess.) Solar farms on dams also have plenty of water to clean them with on hand.

    Floating solar farms on dams might upset a few recreational boaties, but that’s about it.

  30. Be careful of Wikipedia. Generalisations in economics can get you into trouble. This is why economists preface all comments with: “may” or “should” or even, “can”. This may clue you into the dangers of being too dogmatic about any prediction. I always think that economists are more like meteorologists. Their predictions are usually based on averages and percentages of confidence. Remember also the activities of speculators. This always makes financial markets more volatile. Professor Quiggin’s book covered the dangers of zombie theories. It remains the best effort from. Twenty-First century Australian economist!

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