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10 responses to “Climate clippings 84”

  1. Graham Bell

    Don’t blame me! I didn’t vote for them!

    Thanks for that news about wind turbines. I’m surrounded by farmers and graziers who applauded the ditching of Tim Flannery (listening just now to news about his lateral tactic of Commission to Council 🙂 ). Not even $8000 for each unit would persuade them to allow wind turbines on their properties.

    There’s a Nobel Prize for Medicine waiting to be snatched by the first brilliant researcher who establishes a credible link between wind turbine syndrome and suburban train syndrome – although verifiable evidence for lip-quivering among echidnas living near Sydney suburban trainlines seems hard to find at present.

  2. Ronson Dalby

    Tim Flannery’s new Climate Council:

    http://www.climatecouncil.org.au/

  3. Moz of Yarramulla

    I like the steam engine idea. Partly, I admit, because it’s relatively small scale – it looks like the sort of thing a rural collective could install.

    And possibly use the excess power in the summer to run a Haber-Bosch cycle or similar to produce fertiliser. Mind you, as soon as that starts happening the anti-tourist types will get very excited (“my farm produces ammonium nitrate and biodiesel… for peace!”).

    I am quite tempted to go down the path we went in NZ at one stage, and just buy to objecting people out. Ideally by pulling together Australian Bush Heritage with some pro-wind types to buy land to do bush regen on and help fund it by installing wind turbines. I’m sure there’s a business case there.

    We went to a community solar presentation the other day and someone in council mentioned that one problem that community solar groups face is that their business case is very strong. So they do a lot of work to identify a site, get everyone on board, even do design work and find suppliers, then the site owner ditches the community group and does the deal directly.

  4. Graham Bell

    Brian @ 4:
    Yes, you’re right about this location 🙂

    However, an enterprising gentleman bought some hilly land on the Capricorn Coast, away from residential areas, after reasonable examination of its wind farm potential …. and the rest is history, unfortunately.

    The biggest obstacle to wind power, solar power and ultra-low power is old-fashioned human obstinacy and timidity.

  5. Salient Green

    “ultra-low power” , I love that term Graham. If it’s your own, congratulations and it will probably become widely used.

  6. John D

    Perhaps it is time we started defending the programs introduced during the Howard era and recognising the contribution direct action is and could make ro emission reduction.
    Standouts from the Howard era include the RET and lighting regulation.
    Our RET scheme is one of the few emission trading schemes in the world that is actually working. Better still, it is one of the few schemes that is not a defacto tax. As a result, its impact on power prices is much lower than that of the ineffective carbon tax. It is also worth noting that it makes sense to express the target in tWh/yr rather than %renewables. TWh/yr gives renewable investors more certainty.
    The efficient lighting scheme is also a world leader. It is a text book example of a case where simple regulation is far more cost effective than a carbon price based scheme.
    The FIT schemes driving investment in rooftop solar are a good example of both “putting a price on clean” and direct action. Any system based on setting up a long term contract for the supply of clean electricity is a clear example of direct action. The FIT schemes would be better if award of the contracts was based on some form of competitive bidding. (The ACT solar auction system does this for utility scale solar.)
    What other forms of direct action make sense?

  7. Graham Bell

    Salient Green @ 6:
    Don’t know if it is my own term – it simply came out of frustration at not being able to find a simple all-encompassing term.

  8. Graham Bell

    John D @ 7: Now you’ve given me something to ponder.
    Moz of Y @ 3: Ammonium nitrate is a terrific fertilizer (for those believe in the limited use of artificial fertilizers – I’m one). There are already plenty of creative measures to discourage its use in making IEDs so let’s go for it. (Oh, that’s right; if everyone started using home-made N fertilizer, the profits of the major fertilizer suppliers would take a tumble. Back to the drawing-board …. )

  9. Tim Macknay

    John D @7: repeating yourself doesn’t make you any more convincing.

    There isn’t a shred of evidence that the carbon tax is “ineffective”. It has been in operation for slightly more than one year, and the evidence so far supports the view that it has had some impact. There’s good reason to suppose that, if it were allowed to continue unmolested, it will be effective in driving down emissions. You’re confusing your own bias with fact.

    The ban on incandescent lighting had the potential to be effective because there were readily available alternatives on the market. But what’s your basis for claiming that it’s more cost effective than a carbon price? Or even that it has been particularly effective at reducing emissions?

    My own suspicion is that the increase in electricity prices (from a range of factors, of which the carbon price is one but not necessarily the most significant) has been the main factor in reducing electricity consumption over the last few years, including from lighting. That (and the fact that most recent-era housing has halogen rather than traditional incandescent lighting), leads me to suspect that the ban on incandescent lighting was actually superfluous. But it’s just a suspicion. I won’t pretend it’s a fact.

    While I agree that the MRET scheme is a good one in general, you seem to consistently elide the enormous difficulties that have plagued the scheme since it was set up, because the way the scheme is structured has allowed it to be regularly undermined by political interference, causing constant instability in the price of RECs and a disruptive boom-bust cycle in renewable energy investment. The scheme has been a success because governments have (fortunately) made repeated decisions to increase the target, but the uncertainty and delays that have attended those decisions have caused regular episodes of chaos in the renewable energy industry.

    Moreover, the scheme’s ongoing success is still utterly dependent on present and future governments continuing to increase the target, and there is absolutely no certainty that this will occur. It’s also worth noting that although the MRET scheme has succeeded in increasing the renewable energy capacity in Australia, it has not put our emissions on a downward trajectory.

    IMHO the MRET scheme would actually be improved if it were made more like the carbon tax (i.e. with an independent statutory body setting and periodically increasing the target).

    If the FIT schemes are an example of “direct action”, they are certainly not a good one. They have been set in up,modified and abandoned in quick succession in an almost totally arbitrary manner, which has added to the chaos and uncertainty afflicting the renewable energy industry, and left domestic energy customers an in equal state of uncertainty. Good in theory, perhaps, but in practice, a big mess.

    The FIT schemes would be better if award of the contracts was based on some form of competitive bidding.

    They are. Potential FIT recipients choose their own renewable energy systems from a wide range of suppliers in a competitive market. Price is frequently the determinative factor. I would have thought that was perfectly obvious.

    Also, why not wake up and realise that “direct action” is just a slogan which provides a fig-leaf to the Abbott government’s do-nothing agenda. It does no good to the cause of reducing emissions by pretending that the rhetoric has meaning, or that the Howard era succeeded in reducing emissions. It did not.

    I agree we need to be closely looking at the range of options for reducing emissions in this difficult period, but that process should be based on a sensible appraisal of what works, what doesn’t and what could be improved in existing arrangements, not on some wrong-headed, “anything-but-the-carbon tax” fixation.