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Baseload power is a myth: even intermittent renewables will work

The future of civilisation and much biodiversity hangs to a large degree on whether we can replace fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – with clean, safe and affordable energy within several decades. The…

It doesn’t matter that wind and solar power are intermittent: the need for base-load power is a myth. Flickr/Eidoloon

The future of civilisation and much biodiversity hangs to a large degree on whether we can replace fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – with clean, safe and affordable energy within several decades. The good news is that renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency measures have advanced with extraordinary speed over the past decade.

Energy efficient buildings and appliances, solar hot water, on-shore wind, solar photovoltaic (PV) modules, concentrated solar thermal (CST) power with thermal storage and gas turbines burning a wide range of renewable liquid and gaseous fuels are commercially available on a large scale. The costs of these technologies have declined substantially, especially those of solar PV. In 2012, despite the global financial crisis, global investment in these clean, safe and healthy technologies amounted to US $269 billion. Denmark, Scotland and Germany and several states/provinces around the world have official targets of around 100% renewable electricity and are implementing policies to achieve them.

The principal barrier is resistance from vested interests and their supporters in the big greenhouse gas polluting industries and from an unsafe, expensive, polluting, would-be competitor to a renewable energy future, nuclear power. These powerful interests are running a campaign of renewable energy denial that is almost as fierce as the long-running campaign of climate change denial. Both campaigns are particularly noisy in the Murdoch press. So far the anti-renewables campaign, with its misinformation and gross exaggerations, has received little critical examination in the mainstream media.

The renewable energy deniers rehash, among others, the old myth that renewable energy is unreliable in supplying base-load demand.

Renewable electricity is reliable

In a previous article for The Conversation I reported on the initial results of computer simulations by a research team at the University of New South Wales that busted the myth that renewable energy cannot supply base-load demand. However at the time of the article I was still under the misconception that some base-load renewable energy supply may be needed to be part of the renewable energy mix.

Since then Ben Elliston, Iain MacGill and I have performed thousands of computer simulations of 100% renewable electricity in the National Electricity Market (NEM), using actual hourly data on electricity demand, wind and solar power for 2010. Our latest research, available here and reported here, finds that generating systems comprising a mix of different commercially available renewable energy technologies, located on geographically dispersed sites, do not need base-load power stations to achieve the same reliability as fossil-fuelled systems.

The old myth was based on the incorrect assumption that base-load demand can only be supplied by base-load power stations; for example, coal in Australia and nuclear in France. However, the mix of renewable energy technologies in our computer model, which has no base-load power stations, easily supplies base-load demand. Our optimal mix comprises wind 50-60%; solar PV 15-20%; concentrated solar thermal with 15 hours of thermal storage 15-20%; and the small remainder supplied by existing hydro and gas turbines burning renewable gases or liquids. (Contrary to some claims, concentrated solar with thermal storage does not behave as base-load in winter; however, that doesn’t matter.)

The real challenge is to supply peaks in demand on calm winter evenings following overcast days. That’s when the peak-load power stations, that is, hydro and gas turbines, make vital contributions by filling gaps in wind and solar generation.

Renewable electricity is affordable

Our latest peer-reviewed paper, currently in press in Energy Policy journal, compares the economics of two new alternative hypothetical generation systems for 2030: 100% renewable electricity versus an “efficient” fossil-fuelled system. Both systems have commercially available technologies and both satisfy the NEM reliability criterion. However, the renewable energy system has zero greenhouse gas emissions while the efficient fossil scenario has high emissions and water use and so would be unacceptable in environmental terms.

We used the technology costs projected to 2030 in the conservative 2012 study by the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE). (In my personal view, future solar PV and wind costs are likely to be lower than the BREE projections, and future fossil fuel and nuclear costs are likely to be higher.) Then, we did thousands of hourly simulations of supply and demand over 2010, until we found the mix of renewable energy sources that gave the minimum annual cost.

Under transparent assumptions, we found that the total annualised cost (including capital, operation, maintenance and fuel where relevant) of the least-cost renewable energy system is $7-10 billion per year higher than that of the “efficient” fossil scenario. For comparison, the subsidies to the production and use of all fossil fuels in Australia are at least $10 billion per year. So, if governments shifted the fossil subsidies to renewable electricity, we could easily pay for the latter’s additional costs.

Thus 100% renewable electricity would be affordable under sensible government policy, busting another myth. All we need are effective policies to drive the transition.

Join the conversation

256 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

    1. Steve Phillips

      Nurse Practitioner

      In reply to Dan Cass

      Why is it that when some people run into trouble with an argument they resort to personal insults and purile characterisations.
      We all have opinions and are sometimes based on a pragmatic conservative approach to life.
      I dont see ideology as a reason to reject what is obvious to anyone that a non-polluting (CO2), stable, safe and easily fed form of reliable power is nuclear.
      I remind you all we are not Russia where safety is a dirty word or cant be found in the dictionary. We dont have massive earthquake activity or a coastline subject to tsunamis. We are Australia and have a thousnad years worth of yellowcake just begging to be used.

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    2. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Steve Phillips

      I'll add to that that even with the illegal Chernobyl RBMK reactor designs, the former CCCP has been runing several safely for many years. So, even something we would never allowein western power systems, can be managed safely.

      The other point is that Fuklushima was, from day 1, a demonstration of Japanese traditions of collusion, secretiveness and inability to allow critiques from below on the hierarchical management chain. The final report by the independent commission says just that...
      www.nirs.org/fukushima/naiic_report.pd

      And, the reality that the Onagawa plant, to the north, remained safe and even housed refugees (despite being closer to the quake and receiving the same tsunami) demonstrates how good design and responsibility can triumph, even over an unheard of disaster.

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    3. Neil Gibson

      Retired Electronics Design Engineer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      It is not often I agree with Alex but if we are going to close down coal fired generation nuclear is the only practical solution to supply base load generating capability. The billions wasted on alternative energy could be put to good use on building modern nuclear power stations with no carbon emissions.

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    4. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Steve Phillips

      i suppose when you factor in how much energy goes into the mining, transport and refining of the uranium, added to the cost of building the actual nuclear reactor, the costs of storage of the waste, decomissioning of the reactor at lifes end and the risk of small incidents but large impact events, the question is why would a rational person choose nuclear energy when there are renewable options.

      The only reason i can think of is a financial interest in the industries that have evolved around the nuclear industry. Perhaps that is why you face such resistance to your point of view

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    5. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      Well, Robert, I guess those Nobel guys were just doing their reactor physics for the the Nobel $, eh?

      All the cost comparisons that show nuclear, geo, wind and hydro with similar life-cycle emissions & costs include everything. I realize you don't want to believe that, but again, I only care that misinformation doesn't propagate in the blogosphere without some resistance.

      Where nukes come out on top is safety. Wind sure beats it on death & injury though...

      www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/accidents.pdf

      We lost 2 wind guys in San Jose last year. Lost 8 to gas a couple of years back. Nukes? Still 0 for all Calif nuke history.

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    6. Neville Mattick
      Neville Mattick is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grazier: ALP Member at A 4th Generation Grazing Station

      In reply to Neil Gibson

      Could you tell me, if Australia were to begin building a Nuclear Power Generation Plant, when would it come online?

      Would the proponent be able to rule out a Nuclear mishap?

      Is there a sustainable waste disposal system?

      How long would the waste need storage?

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    7. Neil Gibson

      Retired Electronics Design Engineer

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      Robert
      You are inferring that I did not read the article because if I would have I would agree with it. I grew up in the power industry in system planning and system control which is why I think the whole idea is a crock and at the risk of crossing over to the dark side I actually agree with Alex. Personally I think with the cheapest fossil fuels on the planet Australia should use them but if that is politically impossible then nuclear is the only viable option and Alex is very well versed in this technology. Not having base load generation is pure idiocy .

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    8. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Neil Gibson

      maybe then we need to re-evaluate what we mean by base load. I think the sensible thing would be to diversify and de-centralise energy generation. This means letting go of the old massive power station model.

      I would see the key to local power generation and transmission (reducing transmission loss and infrastructure costs over long distances) are best served by a mix of renewable energy and storage tech which are able to provide communities with power without having to risk water resources, live near a coal mine, live in a gas field, or downwind from a coal fired power station.

      The reports i've read from people who wake up everyday with their entire property covered with coal dust or can't leave their homes due to a gas leak, or can't drink the water because its toxic is a concept that makes me shudder. Don't want that for me or for anyone else for that matter.

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    9. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      Robert, we indeed have, every year, things to make us shudder, as delivered by the combustion industry.

      Our nearby 30" gas pipeline was finally repaired and upgraded to actually shut off the gas when a rupture occurs -- it took our utility 2 hours to turn off the gas in San Bruno, Calif. a couple of years ago, when the farther-north segment burst and burned 8 folks to death, also leaving many burned survivors and little of 32 homes. Our regulator and utility were deemed negligent by federal…

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    10. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      the question remains, why develop potentially catastrophic and toxic power generation when we can avoid it? Why live in risk of gas pipe bursts, nuclear accidents, toxic air and water, compromised ecological systems when there is no need to?

      i.e. why would you install asbestos as a building material, knowing the potential risks throughout it's lifecycle and beyond, when you could use giprock?

      Why invest in energy generation sources that require a whole range of industries to mine, refine and…

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    11. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      Answering one's own question gets only so far, Robert.

      ""the question remains, why develop potentially catastrophic and toxic power generation when we can avoid it?"

      No one wants anything but the most efficient, safest, economical sources, for anything. For power generation, nuclear has demonstrated that for its entire history. That remains true even if you unreasonably attempt to slope the pool table with Chernobyl.

      Fukushima actually demonstrates fully the safety of even old, near retirement…

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    12. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Neville Mattick

      Sure. Neville, call the Russians or S. Koreans (who are working with the Saudis). The Russians may even tow one of their nuke barges over to a suitable point on your coast. That's what they're now deploying in the Arctic, as the combustion folks continue to melt away that pesky ice.
      ;]
      The Chinese could give you an NRC-approved AP1000, but they want all of those for themselves.

      As for guarantees, well, just look at the designs and their histories, and note the overall record of >500 reactors…

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    13. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      No matter how you misspell it, wind EROI isn't. It ignores so many things, it''s a joke, except for those using it to scam subsidies. For example...

      http://tinyurl.com/b7uboqe
      http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/1/015021/ (video)
      Note the X & Y axes of the graph. The actula vs expected power per square meter is atrocious.

      And, windmills kill...
      www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/accidents.pdf

      So, Gary, since western nuclear power has killed no civilian for over 50 years, and windmills seem to regularly kill folks here in the US & Britain, what should we depreciate that EROI by?
      ;]

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    14. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Your link is not about Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI) - it is about scalability. That is a fair question for smaller countries with higher energy demand - but Australia would only need as much wind power as other countries with similar geographical sizes already has. So it clearly does not apply here.

      People occasionally get killed building hospitals Alex - should we stop building them?

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    15. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      Sure, Gary, don't build hospitals, because th stats qshow a 1 in 3 chance of bad outcome for anyone admitted to one.

      Since you didn't read about wind deaths, let's try again...
      www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/accidents.pdf
      So, Gary, since western nuclear power has killed no civilian for over 50 years, and windmills seem to regularly kill folks here in the US & Britain, what should we depreciate that EROI by?

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    16. aligatorhardt

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Steve Phillips

      Better ask the people damaged by uranium mining if they are begging for yellow cake use. Consider the increased cancer and birth defects clustered down wind of nuclear power plants. Consider the heavy water use of thermal power. Consider the high cost of building nuclear power and the long term cost of waste disposal. Consider the high emissions of the nuclear fuel chain, including the long term storage activities. Nuclear power has no good points.

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    17. aligatorhardt

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      The action of underground movements during an earthquake cannot be accurately predicted. The constant leaks in the cooling piping at Fukushima shows that earthquake alone can ruin cooling systems. Any destruction of grid power can lead to an inability to maintain cooling. The presence of high radiation makes repairs and response very difficult.
      The US nuclear regulatory agencies are no more reliable or transparent than the Japanese. The NRC is totally in the pocket of the nuclear industry. http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/04/11-2

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    18. aligatorhardt

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      Nuclear cheerleaders depend on stereotypes and unsupported assertions. The chant remains constant, unaffected by surrounding reality.

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    19. aligatorhardt

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      We had a solar spill here in Florida today. It was considered to be a beautiful day.

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    20. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      10 people a year world-wide. Talk about death-traps.

      Seriously Alex - why do you continue spreading this ridiculous FUD about Australia's most politically realistic non-fossil fuel energy source?

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    21. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to aligatorhardt

      Love these folks who want to be listened to by others to whom they're afraid to reveal a real name.

      Whatever you say, Gator baby.
      ;]

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    22. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to aligatorhardt

      Gator, you make it too easy -- ven other folks who proffer that link admit it's un-peer-reviewed, self-published, and even the writer admits he had no controls for other serious effects in Calif (where I live) and in the region which contains vast agricultural tracts and soot/chemical emissions, a large city (Sacramento), and its shipping port -- you do know what burning bunker fuel emits, right Gator?.

      An example is the nature of all the other pollutants in the region near the Rancho Seco site, the fact that the plant never ran for more than 33% of any year, and the great changes in pollution laws and controls all through Calif. over those years.

      So, thanks, Gator, you just showed you're not an honest broker of information, as well as lacking gumption to use a real name.
      ;]

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    23. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to aligatorhardt

      Gator, Gator, does being naively anti-nuke get you dates or something?
      ;]
      Explain how the Onagawa plant, closer to the quake, and receiving of the same tsunami, survived fine and even provided shelter for >500 refugees.

      C'mon, you can think up something Gator.

      For those interested in facts, rather than Gator-doo, please find the culpability for Fukushima here...
      www.nirs.org/fukushima/naiic_report.pdf

      The success of all the other Japanese nukes, including Onagawa, lies generally with them being non-TEPCO. Which was sadly known long before 11 March 11.

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    24. Steve Phillips

      Nurse Practitioner

      In reply to aligatorhardt

      Can you send me some links to acredited sourses listing the proven cases of "cancer and birth defects clustered down wind of nuclear power plants" please.
      While you are at it you might like to have a search for deaths relating to the use of aspirin or auto-mobiles. Both are very useful and bot kill peolple every year. We dont run around waving our hands in the air over aspirin do we? No so dont come the "raw prawn" over nuclear. In the great scheme of things it is safer than just one of our most common OTC medications.

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    25. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to aligatorhardt

      Why do you display your ignorance more easily than your name, Gator?

      Oh, I get it, you know you make false statements.
      ;]
      All aspects of nuclear power, mining to disposal, are included in the world stats on its safety. And, its safety is not matched by any other source.

      You apparently don't take facts seriously enough to know that "heavy water" is throughout your body because you drink it every day.

      And, you further don't seem to know that very few reactors in the world use heavy water because of cost.

      And, you don't even know of the universally-available stats that show wind no better than geothermal, hydro or nuclear on costs or emissions.

      But keep trying, Gator, maybe if you had the gumption to use a real name, you might be able to fool more folks?
      ;]

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    26. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      Wind kills more than nuclear or solar, yes Gary, you didn't get the link above was incomplete?

      " the figures here may only represent 9% of actual accidents"

      You didn't get that even 10 per year would matter in your mind if it were any other cause than wind?

      C'mon Gary, you can fib better than that.
      ;]

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    27. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to aligatorhardt

      Same here in Calif. And, lower humidity -- a perfect day.

      So, Gator, your fear of coming out of the name closet also shows you don't bother to understand what people here actually say, eh? So, you don't know for instance that I and others fully support local solar PV/hot-water?

      Haven't seen the need to read what others write, Gator?

      Maybe that's why you're afraid to use your real name? Kinda less than actually having an alligator "heart", eh , Gator?
      ;]

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    28. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Steve Phillips

      And Steve, maybe we should get Gator back on the kick of shutting hospitals too, because in the US we lose about 100,000 folks a year from diseases and errors experienced from hospital stays.
      ;]
      Personally, I like the horrible elevator and escalator stats -- they definitely need to go! They're as bad as windmills!

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    29. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex

      Great to see that you have finally cast-off that 'green' mask you have been wearing - knew you were only ever paying lip service to the renewable industry.

      I'm not getting into a protracted exchange w/you - I know an exercise in futility when I see it.

      Just one point; I rather be in an area near wind turbines during an earth quake than anywhere in the effective radius of a nuclear reactor. Yep, life is about risks and avoiding some of the bleeding obvious makes sense to most folks except for the pro-nuclear lobby.

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  1. Adam Hickey

    Information Technology

    Excellent article!

    Do you see any role for pumped storage hydro to maintain base load rather than conventional hydro in Australia?

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    1. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Adam Hickey

      I'd be interested to see what happens to the costs with another 5GW of storage. How much more (cheaper) wind would this enable?

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  2. Dr Graham Lovell

    logged in via Twitter

    Interesting piece, and certainly I agree that the need for base-load power is greatly overstated. However, the evidence is far from in on solar thermal, at something like $250 MWh, compared with $50 MWh for coal-fired generators. Even enhanced geothermal looks like a better option than solar thermal, at around $100 MWh.

    http://australiancarbonprice.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/the-economics-of-geothermal-electricity.html

    It is hard to accept the argument made in this article about fossil-fuel subsidies…

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    1. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      I actually agree with a carbon price as a way of recognizing the environmental impact of carbon emissions, and have suggested $40 tonne as an appropriate price: http://australiancarbonprice.blogspot.com.au/2012/05/switch-model-for-rebatable-carbon-price.html

      However, the subsidy argument put in this article is a furphy, as can be seen if the supporting documentation provided by the author is examined, and tested against the proposition I have put.

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    2. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      BAU= Business As Usual. Also known as the status quo.

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    3. Steve Hindle

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      I agree the author is misrepresenting exemptions as subsidies.
      There is also the problem that the major fossil fuel transport subsidy (the shortfall in the cost of the road network) still applies even if 100% renewable fuels were used and these would presumably need the same subsidies or require far greater taxes.
      The other problem is the author's link does not specify the carbon price the modelling is based on. All I can see is this: "At moderate carbon prices, which appear required to address climate change" What $ cost per tonne does that mean?

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    4. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Thanks Henry.

      Dan, in response to your comments, I doubt whether I can be fairly accused of an unseemly attachment to "business as usual". Nevertheless, I am attached to the idea of making changes progressively, since this type of change can be more easily accommodated in society as a whole than through making precipitous changes. Perhaps your charge covers this as well. So be it.

      There is little doubt that significantly and rapidly increasing electricity prices will reduce Australia's competitiveness…

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    5. Kevin Smith

      Business Adviser

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      "A wider use of gas...will provide a way of getting emissions from electricity generation under better control."

      A furphy of your own, Dr. Lovell. I understand that there are quite a number of studies that show the carbon emissions produced in bringing the gas to the electricity generator significantly reduce the claimed benefits of this "transitional" fuel source.

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    6. Rob Blakers

      Photographer

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      Graham, if you can just organise for the impacts of climate change to come according to our convenience, rather than precipitously and exponentially, then all will be fine with the time-frame that you suggest.

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    7. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      i suppose it would depend on how many factors you include in the costings. If all the externalised costs were captured in the calculations (i.e health impacts etc), i'd suspect that fossil fuel generation was actually un-economic many years ago.

      I would think that in effect, an exemption from a tax would be the same as a subsidy due to foregone taxation, i.e. what difference is there between collecting a tax and then paying it back to those it was collected from and not collecting a tax that every other industry/individual is required to pay.

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    8. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Steve Hindle

      only a small fraction of funds raised through petrol taxes actually make it to roads, the rest is absorbed into general revenue

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    9. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      the problem with gas is that is also exhaustible. With gas sources like CSG and Shale Gas, the externalised costs in terms of water use, aquifer impacts, agricultural impacts, increased fire risk through the process of extraction, increased health impacts on residents in those areas etc i would suspect also make them un-competitive if you fully factor in all the costs.

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    10. Steve Hindle

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      "only a small fraction of funds raised through petrol taxes actually make it to roads, the rest is absorbed into general revenue"
      If that is correct then the author is way off the mark in claiming that the money not raised by fuel taxes for road funding is a "subsidy". I have marked down this article due to the number of questionable assumptions made without supporting sources.

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    11. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      In answer to your question, Robert, on the question of subsidies vs tax exemptions, the problem is that tax exemptions don't provide revenue once the businesses given the tax exemptions are gone.

      Even if one accepts quantum of the $10 billion subsidy (you can look at what was included in the cited paper), it will not be available to subsidise renewables, despite the claim made by author.

      Most of these so-called subsidies are tax exemptions to ensure a level-playing field for export business…

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    12. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      Dr Graham Lovell,

      Thank you for that very clearly laid out explanation.

      Another point I think should be made is that many people who talk about subsidies for fossil fuels are making a generalised statement about the subsidies for fossil fuels. They do not separate out the subsidies for fossil fuels in electricity generation, which are negligible, especially when normalised on the basis of the amount of electricity produced, i.e $ subsidy per MWh of electricity supplied. The subsidies for renewable generated electricity are very high but the subsidies for fossil fuel generated electricity are low.

      This excellent, recently published paper http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/5/4/1406 explains many of the subsidies for PV for example. The CO2 abatement cost for PV is about $600/MWh, i.e. about 100 times the EU carbon price and 25 times the Australian Government's legislated carbon tax.

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    13. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Steve Hindle

      i don't believe the author referred to road funding at all, which IMO is a different discussion as it is not in relation to subsidies/exemptions (whichever name you want to call the same thing). The author was saying that if the $10B per annum in subsidies/exemptions were removed, that renewable energy would be on a par (perhaps even cheaper when you factor all the externalised costs not currently included in the calculation) with the cost of fossil fuel use for energy generation.

      Getting bogged down in the terminology doesnt alter the real world effect of whatever you call it.

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    14. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      somehow i don't think the agriculture and mining industries are going to pack up and leave.

      You refer to these subsidies/exemptions as allowing a level playing field internationally. IF you believe in the free market philosophy exposure to competition generates productivity and efficiency gains so why are we protecting these industries, particularly mining from competition?

      But this discussion is about power generation. By eliminating the $10Billion discount to their operating costs (requiring…

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    15. Steve Hindle

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      Robert if you read the link the author uses for subsidies you will find the following.
      "The largest identified subsidy results from the failure of governments to capture sufficient revenue from the road network to cover the cost of maintaining the network.."
      This shows how the author is being very misleading with his claims on fossil fuel subsidies. He is claiming a lack of tax as a subsidy and then omitting that this so called "subsidy" by its nature would also apply to "green" fuels such as electric or ethanol.
      I would expect a higher standard of argument for a subject as serious as this.

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    16. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Steve Hindle

      actually no, the author in his article did not refer to road network maintenance.

      His actual words were " For comparison, the subsidies to the production and use of all fossil fuels in Australia are at least $10 billion per year"

      That is production and use of fossil fuels, not road maintenance.

      I would suggest that you might need to look closer to home re accusations of 'Misleading".

      Also a little pompous "I would expect a higher standard of argument for a subject as serious as this."

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    17. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      also there is a difference between the taxes levied on petrol and the subsidies for diesel fuel enjoyed by industry

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    18. Steve Hindle

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      Robert, why don't you you read the link, it is being used by the author as a source for his figure of $10 billion.

      "actually no, the author in his article did not refer to road network maintenance".

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    19. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Steve Hindle

      Ok, the section you quoted from the referred report shows that a lack of tax on road infrastructure is considered to be a subsidy, so therefore a lack of tax on the production and use of fossil fuels would then also be considered a subsidy.

      Therefore, when the author refers to the lack of tax (or reduced tax) on the production and use of fossil fuels would, by the passage you quoted, be classified as a subsidy.

      I re-iterate, the subsidy referred to by the author is in relation to the PRODUCTION and USE of fossil fuels and he does not refer to subsides or lack thereof for road maintenance.

      So the author is not being misleading.

      the purposes for which taxes are spent are a separate matter from the raising of those taxes.

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    20. Steve Hindle

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      "For comparison, the subsidies to the production and use of all fossil fuels in Australia are at least $10 billion per year"
      Robert this sentence is pretty clear, and as you know, nearly all transport on Australian roads is powered by fossil fuels.
      The source for the $10 billion is also very clearly claiming $4.7 billion of this figure is from forgone taxes on the road network.

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  3. Tony Xiao

    retired teacher

    Supplying the grid with renewables is one thing but primary control of the grid with renewables is another and there are numerous concerns from the power industry and grid operators worldwide that with the current technology, system frequency cannot be controlled with large amounts of renewable energy connected to the grid.
    If system frequency is uncontrolable the grid will go into extensive power outages.and that's no myth.
    It would be of interest to hear an explanation of how you intend to achieve and guarantee frequency and voltage control with 100 percent rebewables.

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    1. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Tony Xiao

      the issue as i see it is the transition away from centralised generation model to a de-centralised model. The final piece of the puzzle is storage capacity, once that is licked, so is fossil fuels.

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    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Tyson Adams

      I find it odd Tyson that you seem to infer a blog on designing a grid for renewables is related to experience in areas with large ammounts of renewables!
      Where are these areas with large ammounts of renewables for you might just find large is a relatively minor percentage of a grids total generation capacity, there being plenty of capacity that is despatchable as Martin describes.

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    2. Tyson Adams

      Scientist and author

      In reply to Greg North

      Did you read the two articles I referenced? Because that covers the points.

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    3. Geoff Russell

      Computer Programmer, Author

      In reply to Tyson Adams

      Tyson,

      I'm having trouble reconciling the "200,000 blackouts exceeding 3 minutes" in 2011 reported in Nature with the smartplanet blog:

      http://www.nature.com/news/renewable-power-germany-s-energy-gamble-1.12755

      Anybody understand the discrepancy?

      Not that it matters. For a trillion euros, the Germans could have rebuilt their entire electricity system with South Korean nukes and had 700 billion left over. Don't forget this is the country that gave the world the most rolloverable car ever built ... VWs :)

      It all goes to show what happens when ideology trumps data.

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    4. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Geoff Russell

      Geoff, the discrepancy does not exist, the numbers quoted in Nature and SmartPlanet are from the same data set and appear in the same table (referenced by SmartPlanet but not by Nature):

      http://www.bundesnetzagentur.de/cln_1931/DE/Sachgebiete/ElektrizitaetGas/Sonderthemen/SAIDIWerteStrom/SAIDIWerteStrom_node.html

      The 200,000 figure comes from adding together the values in the "Anzahl Unterbrechungen (insg. in Tsd)" "Number of interruptions (total in thousands)" columns, the first under "Niederspannung…

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    5. Steve Phillips

      Nurse Practitioner

      In reply to Geoff Russell

      Not the VW beetle, it's the Toyota Hilux, it holds the record for rollability. It is even known on the mines as a "Toyota Rolux".

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    6. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to Tyson Adams

      Tyson - as usual of all the posters in this area Martin is making the most sense. Now go back and look at the first article you cite. This says the German network has been able to cope with a high penetration of renewables. Quite right. It has, because it has access to plenty of reliable fossil fuels. . Martin did not say a given system could not cope with high level of renewables, he was taking about the need to balance the load. In Germany's case when the renewables fail to deliver any power (a low pressure system in winter, when there is no wind and the PV banks are under metres of snow) they typically get power from French nuclear reactors, coal plants in Poland and so on.. every year, the German media carries stories along those lines..

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    7. Tyson Adams

      Scientist and author

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      Thanks Jonathan. I don't know what people have against renewables that makes them want to only read the bits of the reports.

      Further to this, I was having a conversation yesterday with one of the regular commenters here. We were discussing the applicability of nuclear vs renewables as the solution to fossil fuels. What I like about this report is that it shows that we don't need fossil fuels and that the baseload argument is crap. So now, the renewables and Gen4 nuclear (thorium for my money) are the only games in town. We can stop talking about coal, gas and oil and start being zero carbon.

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    8. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Tyson Adams

      Nice to see your interest in Thorium, Tyson, and the real key is liquid salt -- Molten-Salt Reactors, which can use Thorium salt, or salt made from our massive fuel waste from our present reactors. See for example... http://tinyurl.com/7o6cm3u

      I'm not sure about "the baseload argument is crap." When there's bad weather, quakes, floods, other tragedies, we want things like hospitals and governmental agencies to work. That's base-load need. when there's water to desalinate every moment of every day -- that's base-load. when there's carbon-neutral aircraft fuel to make day in and day out -- that's base load.

      And, that's why combustion folks have always feared and opposed nuclear.

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    9. Tyson Adams

      Scientist and author

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Um, pretty sure that power goes out in the extreme events you mention, regardless of source.

      Baseload can be interpreted a number of ways, but your points weren't what was being discussed. And I'm pretty sure that desal demands would be able to be covered. Bad weather would be dealt with by not having just one source of power in one location. The extreme events have always toppled any power generation and distribution.

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    10. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Tyson Adams

      You're making assumptions, Tyson, rather than raising factual points.

      There's always a base load need, as you'll learn someday when you or someone you care about needs it.

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    11. Tyson Adams

      Scientist and author

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      So, I'd should raise factual points like your emotional rhetoric? Okay, can do.

      *Sob* won't someone think of the children. How can we continue to burn fossil fuels. *Sob*

      Or how about empty anecdotes and non-sequiters? I know plenty of people who live off the grid. They generate their own power with renewables. Therefore, we can all do it.

      The fact is that power generation is always open to problems, regardless of source. That was my point in response to your accusation that renewables were somehow more prone to earthquakes, storms, floods, etc. I don't know why you don't find this factual, because, well, it is.

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    12. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Tyson Adams

      Ahhh,m the sad victim appears, eh Tyson? Does that ever work?

      You can have as many windmills & solar panels as you want. I'll even help you with the PV installs. You're on your own with the windmill.

      Just don't come running when he windmill's gearbox goes and it's rainy & cloudy and your basement is flooding and the sump pump can't be run, and...
      ;]

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    13. Tyson Adams

      Scientist and author

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      And again, you are using emotive rhetoric and assumptive situations.

      I could argue that your fossil fuel powered generator will short out when it rains and don't come running to me when you run out of fuel because you only had enough for a day when the storm went for 3.

      Seriously, read what you have written, it is a garbage argument that can be applied to any energy generation source.

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    14. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Tyson Adams

      Tyson, don't you get that this isn't about you? You can do what you wish. I only care that misinformation from anyone doesn't go unchallenged.

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    15. Tyson Adams

      Scientist and author

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      I'm not sure why you think that this is about me either. I certainly don't.

      And no, I can't do what I wish. My wishes to gain carnal knowledge of Olivia Wilde whilst watching the original members of Pantera play a live concert and have a public announcement during the second encore that Kyle Sandilands has been found dead from auto-erotic asphyxiation, are likely to go unfulfilled.

      And, the misinformation is yours. You made a completely flawed argument, an argument that can be used as a counter to your own. That is empty rhetoric, for which I have challenged you.

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    16. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Tyson Adams

      Ahh Tyson, lots of words and no content. It really is about you!

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    17. Luke Weston

      Physicist / electronic engineer

      In reply to Tyson Adams

      "I know plenty of people who live off the grid. They generate their own power with renewables."

      With staggering costs and a shed full of lead-acid batteries and inverter/charger electronics?

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    18. Tyson Adams

      Scientist and author

      In reply to Luke Weston

      Not in comparison to the cost of having power lines brought to their house. I forget the exact figures, but it is tens of thousands of dollars per pole required and the people I'm referring to were needing many poles. One of the people at work needed just one pole and that decision came down to installation speed, not cost.

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    19. aligatorhardt

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      The Crystal River nuke has been offline for 2 years while customers are still charged for it. That means 100% backup is required for nuclear, while a turbine gearbox takes out one unit, and all the others are unaffected. Wind power requires about 30% backup. The article states that gas is still in use for leveling. Base load plants continue operating expenses even when the power is not needed. Wind power can be cycled down in the amounts needed. We have about 30% overcapacity now, to account for peak usage of a few hours a day. Distributed generation is far less disruptive than a 1000MW source going offline.

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    20. aligatorhardt

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      None of them will consume mid level and low level wastes, so the "consumption of wastes" might make a 35% reduction, except for the fact that continued operation of reactors adds the other 65% on a constant basis. Ending nuclear power is the only long term solution to nuclear waste. The cost of reprocessing is not competitive with any other electric generation. http://www.foe.co.uk/news/sellafield_radioactive_39511.html

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    21. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to aligatorhardt

      Yeah, those industry-specific magazine writers are as honest as someone afraid to use a real name, eh Gator?
      ;]

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    22. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to aligatorhardt

      Keep showing us you know no more about nuclear power than how to spell it, Gator!

      " the "consumption of wastes" might make a 35% reduction, except for the fact that continued operation of reactors adds the other 65% on a constant basis."

      How about calling up a Frenchman and making that statement, eh? Wonder if you'd have the gumption to use your real name.

      So you've just told us you have no idea what's in present 'spent' fuel -- good to know.

      You've no idea how much of spent fuel can never be used and must be stored, eh?

      Yep, you need to learn some French, Gator. Or, maybe just read some facts.
      ;]

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    23. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to aligatorhardt

      Good try person afraid to use a real name!

      So, Gator. wind's ~30% uptime is across each day and varying each day, so for two years, wed' need over 3x the number of windmills. If they fix your nuke, like our San Onofre, once it starts, it will make up its 2 years off, far quicker than could tripling the number of windmills running at 30% and instantly requiring 60% backup at any time.

      Take a look at out huge Calif. wind behavior...
      www.caiso.com/outlook/SystemStatus.html

      And then realize why the Danes have to maintain a 300MW dispatchable makeup source for every day their wind forecast is off by less than a meter per second in their small country.
      ;]
      Keep trying, Gator!

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    1. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Tyson Adams

      I'm guessing that it's because the solar thermal technologies under consideration are not readily adaptable to mass deployments of modestly-sized installations in the way PV and wind are. Solar thermal tech has been under gradual development but its costs have been drastically undercut by rapid deployment of mass-produced hardware for wind and PV. Also concentrating solar thermal power isn't much use under cloud cover -- it requires direct sunlight. PV doesn't.

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    2. Tyson Adams

      Scientist and author

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      Makes sense. The various planning reports have said that the locations for solar thermal were in locations in high solar period and intensity locations. Much like wind farms, they have to be strategically placed to be of most benefit/productivity.

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    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Tyson Adams

      And, th famous solar thermal site in Spain has to defocus its mirrors on days with spotty clouds coming & going. Otherwise the heat stresses on the focal vessel can ruin it.

      "Base load"?
      ;]

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  4. John Newlands

    tree changer

    Given the extraordinary difficulties with cost and reliability the German grid is experiencing with less than 50% renewables getting to 100% must seem like a mountain to climb. Last year's opening of the large Neurath coal fired power station hardly seems like a step in the right direction.

    I may download the paper to look for the usual foibles such as assumed efficiency gains and biomass burning backup plants. Supposing it could be done why bother when nuclear could reliably replace coal at…

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  5. Luke Weston

    Physicist / electronic engineer

    "finds that generating systems comprising a mix of different commercially available renewable energy technologies, located on geographically dispersed sites"

    In other words, overbuilding a very large amount of generation infrastructure, massive land use, potentially large needs for new transmission infrastructure, and substantial amounts of transmission and generation infrastructure needing to be built in remote areas, all to desperately try and show something that might maybe work no matter how…

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    1. John Newlands

      tree changer

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Both Kogan Ck and Milmerran coal fired power stations in Queensland use dry cooling. They will both produce full power during a rainy overcast week unlike solar thermal.

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    2. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      You have a few red herrings there yourself Blair and the first one you could chuck back into the sea easily enough by comparing the actual size of a coal fired power station open cut against the ammount of land for wind farms or massive solar arrays.
      You will find that the majority of coal fired power stations are actually built not so far from population centres, likely just as close if not closer than where you could site wind and solar farms and concentrated power generation in more massive quantity…

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    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Actually, Blair, you've been yanking up a few herrings too. Coal mining in the US was long done with no surface awareness, until houses fell into collapsing chambers.
      ;]
      Wind 'farms' exploit the least efficient energy source with the least efficient machines doing it. This is why windmills consume as much or more resoiurces as the biggest nuclear plant of the same averag power -- check a Siemens or Mid-American Energy data sheet and do the math.

      It's also why the lifecycle burden for emissions…

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    4. Neville Mattick
      Neville Mattick is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grazier: ALP Member at A 4th Generation Grazing Station

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Not that I care, however, the average Wind Turbine will replace its construction emission footprint within a year of commission.

      Just what is the point of your mining link, of course it is going to support 'mining' of some form or another!

      That being said, should the Wind Farm reach EOL the recyclers will all move in and claim same - no loss of Steel.

      As for emissions from construction, I have a real problem with why Wind Farms are so "emission construction intensive" when all the cities' in the World has endless cycles of build and demolish, yes you guessed it, concrete and steel, YET I never hear the two complaints in the same sentence, why is that?

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    5. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Neville Mattick

      " the average Wind Turbine will replace its construction emission footprint within a year of commission. " -- as will the average hydro, geo or nuke.

      Why you don't "care" is your business, but the facts are clear: a 0.3-0.4 CF source replaces its emissions in 1 year, while 3 other choices do that at 0.9 CFs, so what should we pick?

      And when you figure out how to extract & recycle the 1000-ton foundation for each windmill, let us all know. The Chinese may be interested...
      http://spectrum.ieee.org/green-tech/wind/a-less-mighty-wind
      www.nytimes.com/2011/01/21/us/21tttransmission.html?_r=1&hpw

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    1. Steve Phillips

      Nurse Practitioner

      In reply to Geoff Russell

      Losing battle mate. You mentioned 'nuclear' thats a no no round here. Kinda like shouting "I love George Bush" in an Iraqi street.
      What I would like to know is how anyone can made such broad and confident statements based on a computer model; "However, the mix of renewable energy technologies in our computer model, which has no base-load power stations, easily supplies base-load demand." You know like computer modelling is a replacement for empirical testing?

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    2. Steve Phillips

      Nurse Practitioner

      In reply to Steve Phillips

      I should qualify this by saying we have a 6kw solar system, solar hot-water and a very big watertank to make us less dependant on coal etc.
      Im a sceptic thats all and dont like massive assumptions based on the cogitations of electronic gizmos.

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    3. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Steve Phillips

      Thinking out loud Steve, but in the current scene where there we have only a small percentage of electricity generated by renewables, models are the only way in which it can be demonstrated that they can be practical- or not- based on current technologies. We need to move away for the unsustainables.

      As for nuclear, my personal view is that it is an expensive, unforgiving technology that is ultimately limited by fuel availability and to be avoided if possible. And yes I think George Bush was a disaster for the US an Iraq.

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    4. Luke Weston

      Physicist / electronic engineer

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      ""What has been amply demonstrated in the real world is that it is possible to build a nuclear power system which works, isn't just safe, but quickly racks up a huge credit in lives saved and illness avoided by providing non-polluting energy and can be built incredibly quickly."

      This would be great if it were true but it is not. This is a nuclear booster's wet dream. The nuclear renaissance has died before it got off the ground."

      Well I suggest you put that in a manuscript and submit it for peer-review and publication. The "nuclear boosters" can do this, why can't you?

      http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es3051197?source=cen

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    5. Geoff Russell

      Computer Programmer, Author

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Mike, you didn't answer any of the questions I posed for Mark.

      What I said about nuclear is just history. France's nuclear roll out in the 70s was about double the current German wind+solar roll out and then in the 80s she rolled out nuclear about 5 times faster (per capita) than Germany's current wind+solar efforts.

      So we know that people CAN build nuclear far quicker than anybody has yet rolled out renewables. Perhaps they can roll our renewables quicker, but nobody has done so. The Germans…

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    6. Ulf Steinvorth

      Doctor

      In reply to Geoff Russell

      Might be worth mentioning that most nations that push nuclear and finance nuclear have a political reason other than 'baseload' and electricity to do so: the bomb.

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    7. Geoff Russell

      Computer Programmer, Author

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      "Ultimately" ... probably by 2019, we might see fast neutron reactors being mass produced. There is enough uranium already mined to run these for hundreds of years ... they can run on depleted uranium and current waste. As I've already said, for the trillion dollars that Germany is spending on renewables, they could have rebuilt their entire electricity system and had about 700 billion left over. The South Koreans are building 1.4 GW reactors with a 60 year design life for about $5 billion (another 5 billion to run them for 60 years and decommission).

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    8. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      It is not news Mike that thee was a fair bit of knee jerking following Fukushima as even the author points out in the fear of a Tsunami in Bavaria.

      As the fast reactors and other developments re maximum use of waste become better known and people see what the alternatives are re reliability, even availability and cost of renewables you might just find the renaissance is just sleeping for now.

      Have a read of your link again and look at the impacts re CO2 and even without your support there are certainly drivers for an awakening.

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    9. Wil B

      B.Sc, GDipAppSci, MEnvSc, Environmental Planner

      In reply to Ulf Steinvorth

      What do all of these countries have in common:
      Argentina
      Armenia
      Belarus
      Belgium
      Brazil
      Bulgaria
      Canada
      Czech Republic
      Finland
      Germany
      Hungary
      Italy
      Japan
      Kazakhstan
      Lithuania
      Netherlands
      Romania
      Slovakia
      Slovenia
      South Africa
      South Korea
      Spain
      Sweden
      Switzerland
      Taiwan
      Ukraine

      That's thirty countries with currently operating nuclear power, some for many decades, others more recently, that have shown no interest whatsoever in creating nuclear weapons. So, Ulf, I have to say that going on the evidence, your claim is bullshit.

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    10. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Wil B

      ;]
      Ulf doesn'nt know hoe to make a bomb. Maybe we could chip in for a ticket to N. Korea, where he could misead them on how to do it? Maybe Dennis Rodman could chaperone him?

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    11. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      the nuclear renaissance died when they decided to go with Uranium solid fuels instead of LFTR, with the added benefit of being able to make nuclear weapons

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    12. Ulf Steinvorth

      Doctor

      In reply to Wil B

      You are right Wil, there are of course far more countries with nuclear reactors than there are countries with nuclear weapons.

      Yet if you look at the actual number of nuclear reactors the military connection becomes rather clear:
      USA 104, UK 16, Russian Federation 33, France 58, India 20, Pakistan 3, China 23, Korea (Republic) 23

      280 reactors out of a total of 437 are operating in the 7 countries building and maintaining nuclear weapons - almost twice of all other non-nuclear weapons countries…

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  6. Peter Lang

    Retired geologist and engineer

    Renewable energy cannot provide more than a small component of Australia's electricity, and any amount is very expensive.

    Dr. Diesendorf was a joint author of the desk study that I critiqued here: http://bravenewclimate.com/2012/02/09/100-renewable-electricity-for-australia-the-cost/

    "I have reviewed and critiqued “Simulations of Scenarios with 100% Renewable Electricity in the Australian National Electricity Market” by Elliston et al. (2011a). That paper does not analyse costs, so I have…

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    1. Neil Gibson

      Retired Electronics Design Engineer

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Peter
      Your critique should be read by everyone but it would be lost on this audience who believe that sea breezes and pixie dust can power a modern economy. I doubt that any of the cheer squad here has worked in the electricity industry or knows what the word "dispatchable " means. The only dispatchable power technologies available at the moment are nuclear ,gas or coal. We get glib talk of pumped storage in a country where major dam construction has been blocked for decades and of plans to rely on wind when wind contributed almost nothing in the coldest part of UK winters.

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    2. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Your critiquing report Peter should be read by all as should the response for it may help people to understand more on the kind of assumptions that simulations can be based on and the potential shortfalls and disputing of those.

      There are in deed so many practicalities that our existing generating and distribution systems do need to comply with in providing a reliable power supply to millions of people and as much as simulations may be able to show how where power would theoretically come from…

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    1. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Neville Mattick

      Neville,

      You may find this interesting:

      "The Case for Baseload"

      "AN ENGINEER’S PERSPECTIVE ON WHY
      NOT JUST ANY GENERATION SOURCE WILL DO
      WHEN IT COMES TO THE SYSTEM’S CAPACITY,
      STABILITY, AND CONTROL. BY CHARLES E. BAYLESS

      The electric system is more than just the delivery of energy—it is the provision of reliability. First, the system must have capacity, that is, the capability to furnish energy instantaneously when needed. The system also must have frequency control, retain stability, remain running under varied conditions, and have access to voltage control. Each of those essential services for reliability must come from a component on the system. Those components are not free, and they don’t just happen. They are the result of careful planning, engineering, good operating procedures, and infrastructure investment specifi cally targeting these items."

      http://www.eei.org/magazine/EEI%20Electric%20Perspectives%20Article%20Listing/2010-09-01-BASELOAD.pdf

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    2. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Neville Mattick

      It is great Neville that you are working with the land and not against it as you put it ( I recalling an ABC article that has been run from time to time on a guy in the NSW Hunter area or thereabouts if I remember rightly who was into sustainable farming and he may have even had backing from Gerry Harvey of HNorman, likewise the ABC Landline always having interesting features on different approaches ), anyway, and if you wish to leave a legacy of renewables that is probably more possible for you…

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    3. Neville Mattick
      Neville Mattick is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grazier: ALP Member at A 4th Generation Grazing Station

      In reply to Greg North

      Crikey, I don't worry about all that stuff, the Wind Farm has teams of young engineers all over the World who work on phase matching, VR, output, Frequency and Grid Connect - if it wasn't viable, then there wouldn't be the investment train supporting Clean Renewable Wind Energy.

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    4. Neville Mattick
      Neville Mattick is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grazier: ALP Member at A 4th Generation Grazing Station

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Crikey, I don't worry about all that stuff, the Wind Farm has teams of young engineers all over the World who work on phase matching, VR, output, Frequency and Grid Connect - if it wasn't viable, then there wouldn't be the investment train supporting Clean Renewable Wind Energy.

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    5. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Neville Mattick

      That's ok, Neville, there will be adults in the room to "worry about all that stuff".
      ;]

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  7. James Hill

    Industrial Designer

    Any comments on small scale, roof mounted suburban wind rotors delivering and storing energy cheaply and reliably using compressed air?
    Seems to be a no-brainer in a green house gas world of higher wind intensity and duration.
    (Probably have to build it myself as a life-long no-brainer)
    Most of the componentry is off shelf.

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    1. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to James Hill

      Yes. Small scale wind rotors do exist but they are hopelessly capital-intensive and are basically only good as toys for running domestic appliances on yachts. Solar PV is cheaper and far more reliable for small-scale installations. Wind power has become (relatively) cheap because it has gone big.

      http://www.solacity.com/smallwindtruth.htm

      Compressed air storage is a funny concept, mostly due to the fact that when you compress air what you're really doing (mostly) is making heat. When you…

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    2. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to James Hill

      You could always look at going off grid James with PV and wind generators charging your own battery storage.
      Maybe even have an off grid system while still being connnected with isolation switches so you would not need a motorgen back-up.
      It might mean that you would have to have something like a duplicate distribution board for your different household circuits to make it all tidy and then there would still likely be compliance issues so you might just have to consider being totally off grid and having a friendly neighbour and a long extension lead for trouble times.

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    3. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      Yes, thank you, Jonathan, I did overlook the fact that not everyone has been educated in thermodynamics, physics and engineering in general and so cannot determine much for themselves from first principles.
      Such will find your contributions quite helpful.
      But the basic education outlined above would be more helpfull.
      I know it helps me.

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    4. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Greg North

      Yes, thanks Greg for your input, but I am more interested in the alternatives raised that the standard approaches.
      But I do appreciate that not many are equipped, educationally, to properly consider those alternatives, and so do not.

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  8. Peter Lang

    Retired geologist and engineer

    I have quickly skimmmed the Elliston MacGill and Diesendorf paper. It does not state the inputs as the previous paper did. These are needed to allow an assessment of the analysis. Many of the assumptions in the previous paper were invalid. These were pointed out in my critique: http://bravenewclimate.com/2012/02/09/100-renewable-electricity-for-australia-the-cost/. I suspect the issues I pointed out remain. Some of them were:

    1. hydro
    2. pumped hydro
    3. biofuel
    4. transmission

    Hydro…

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    1. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Peter Lang

      In Scandinavia large scale compressed air energy storage has been developed and is ideal for intermittent energy inputs.
      Co-generation, which requires "grid" connections in the towns and villages (and cities?) requires for its proper understanding a rejection of a monomaniacal fetish for electrons as the only source of energy.
      Does anyone recall something called "the age of steam"? Apparently this involved energy stored in a pressure vessel.
      How quaint to imagine that compressed air delivered…

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    2. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to James Hill

      Interesting that you describe electric generators as an encumbrance and electrons as a fetish.

      Does anyone recall something called a diesel-electric locomotive? Apparently electricity is generated, transmitted over a very short distances, and used in multiple traction motors, in order to improve efficiency and flexibility.

      Electricity isn't so much a fetish as the underpinning principle of *all* modern energy appliances (cogeneration notwithstanding), and the basic point of our entire discussion.

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    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      Indeed, electricity is a most efficient mechanism for moving energy about, especially because its conversion to mechanical motion is very efficient. -- motors -- and because those motors can also be generators to re-energize (recharge) the electricity's source when being slowed by their mechanical loads.

      In other words, EVs with regenerative braking are great and save about 15% of the energy used to get them moving.

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    4. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to James Hill

      Unfortunately, compressed gas of any sort is subject to both thermodynamic and gas losses, unlike electrical/inertial storage.

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  9. Alex Cannara

    logged in via Facebook

    Thesis of this piece? False. On 3 scores...

    "These powerful interests are running a campaign of renewable energy denial that is almost as fierce as the long-running campaign of climate change denial."

    Displays ignorance of why nuclear power was always feared by the combustion industry and how it this co-opted various anti-nuclear campaigns.

    It also appears ignorant that scientists long ago explained how nuclear power, along with improved local solar (nom 'farms' needed) could provide…

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  10. Mark Lawson

    senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

    Dr Diesendorf and I have scrapped before, and as I have pointed out before his conclusions make no sense. As noted by Martin Nicholson in these posts the problem is that electricity networks have to be balanced for voltage and frequency at all times. This is hard enough with dispatchable (ie delivers on demand) power, and impossible with renewables.

    Rather than try to work out just how the studies cited in the article reached their conclusion let us look at what's happening in the real world…

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    1. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      This 3-8% "contribution factor", aka "capacity credit", is the proportion of wind peak (nameplate) capacity which is considered to contribute additional gross network capacity to the same order of reliability as a dispatchable power station.

      If 25 percent of annual energy delivered to the system comes from wind power, installed wind will have nameplate capacity comparable to 60% of the total. 3-8% of that means that up to 5% of the reliable capacity in the network would come from wind alone. Nominally, this fraction requires no backup.

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    2. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      Co-generation, Mark, co-generation.
      Be careful it is creeping up behind you.
      Involves grid networks other than electrical.
      Using other forms of energy.
      Need to go back to school?

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    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to James Hill

      Is there some transcendent meaning to all that, James?
      ;]

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    4. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to James Hill

      James - your response makes no sense. Is there any significant co-generation capacity planned? I'm not talking about pilot plants but a plant with capacity that might make a difference. Never respond to silly jibes such as the remark about vested interests..

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    5. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      Johnathan - no complaints about your calculations.. 5 per cent sounds right.. but its not 5 per cent of actual supply at any one point, but 5 per cent of the capacity they keep on hand.. whether its actually producing or not is another question.. any production would be used although they won't use sudden surges

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    6. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      Well, yes it is exactly that : 5% of actual supply at almost every point in time. Yes, widespread lulls do occur and reduce wind's production below that 3-8% contribution, but they are rather less common and no longer in duration than outages of large baseload generators.

      Hah. Got a power outage while writing this comment. Under 3 minutes duration.

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    7. David Hamilton

      Energy Consultant

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      So, Mark, you think we should continue to use fossil fuels into "the far future"? How do you propose we collectively react to the IEA's advice that if we are to have any chance of limiting global warming to 2 degrees C, we need to leave two-thirds of currently known oil, gas and coal reserves in the ground?

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    8. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Hamilton

      And, worse, how do we prevent oncoming ocean acidification, due to our present debt of ~500 billion tons of carbon now in sea and air, when we add now ~10 billion tons each year to the debt, while the natural carbon cycle can only handle under 0.3 billion tons?

      In other words, the extreme nonlinearity of ocean acidification is rapidly approaching, with far greater tragic results for species & food than simple climate change or sea rise.

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    9. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      Sorry but its not 5 per cent of supply.. the output of wind farms varies enormously, as you seem to know.. so it could be nothing or they could be producing at full capacity, with the average output at 20-25 per cent of supply - assuming they do actually built the wind farms which does not look likely at the moment.. the 5 per cent is just a planning figure..

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    10. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      "the 5 per cent is just a planning figure"

      5 per cent was my figure. Did I say it wasn't for planning?

      What the capacity credit / contribution factor means is, this percentage of nameplate capacity is *reliable*.

      "Capacity credit can be defined as the amount of additional demand that can be served due to the addition of the generator, while maintaining levels of reliability" ( http://www.aemo.com.au/~/media/Files/Other/planning/0400-0049%20pdf.pdf ) -- where "reliable" can be taken to mean, as reliable as a typical existing dispatchable generator, eg. 95% of the time (typical assumption, no direct AEMO reference -- maybe they actually use 90% or even 99%, I'm not sure).

      So for "5% of actual supply at almost every point in time" please substitute "AT LEAST 5% of supply, AT LEAST 95% of the time", and I'll stand corrected.

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    11. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Go back to school.
      It will be transcendent to actually finish your education?
      Might help with your general wont of understanding, especially outside the narrow, self-selected, (comfort zone?)bounds of the electron fetish, which has diminished many posters' capacity to expand their "intellectual" horizons.
      Intellectual may be the wrong word for the arguments of energy ignoramuses who imagine that the world works by the flicking of switches.
      No, seriously, the First International Symposium on Energy Storage, under the auspices of the UN took place in Dubrovnik, in the former Yugoslavia, in 1979.
      You might appreciate why it may not be "On-line" but a copy is held in the State Library of NSW. 1979!
      Energy Storage, a pearl, seemingly, cast before swine, for more than a third of a century, without the least oink of interest?
      Transcend your mind to imagine how energy storage might overcome the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources?

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    12. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      Energy Storage.
      Presupposes a knowledge of both energy and energy storage.
      Please indicate if you are excusing yourself from any debate on Energy storage, by wont of personal understanding?
      Will not then waste your time alerting you to the concept.

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    13. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      Energy storage will not make any sense to someone who has not attained, during their education, the discipline to understand.
      George Bernard Shaw described the problem when he said:
      "The specialist is, in the truest sense, an idiot".
      Do you have a valid vote to cast in this debate or are you outside the franchise?
      Now if you are prepared to consider the evidence of co-generation
      contemplate its use in GH2 building in Melbourne.
      Very many energy outcomes and not all of them mediated by "Electricity". Making a difference?
      Sorry, have I Iost you already?
      Incorrigible? Or lacking the energy to educate yourself on the subject?
      Financial interests, ignorant of science and technology will favour large projects just for the sake of convenience, nor overlooking alternatives, but being unable to even see the alternatives in the first place.
      Something that might apply to a financial reviewer, in the absence of evidence to the contrary.
      Please forgive any unintended insults.

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  11. Ian Clarke

    Director, Pacific Strategy Partners

    Very interesting article.

    There is one logical inconsistency. If 100% renewables is "affordable", then government policy isn't required to drive a transition, the invisible hand of the market will do the job nicely. The author should be talking to AGL and Origin about revising their strategic plans. I suspect it is also naive to expect that renewables will have no environmental impact - making concrete and steel still emits CO2 - its just a different scale and type.

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Rob Blakers

      And don't forget the Oxygen subsidy -- NASA has to buy theirs, Exxon doesn't.
      ;]

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    2. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to Rob Blakers

      Rob - what subsidies? You may mean tax concessions. For its own reasons the green lobby has relabeled tax concessions as subsidies but they are not. Using that terminology then you and I get subsidised by the government whenever we get any of our hard earned back from the tax office as a refund.

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    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Well, we have a family forest of about 8 acres in the US East, so that makes enough for my Austin Healey Sprite. For our other cars, especially the old Jags, we steal yours.
      ;]

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    4. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Ian Clarke

      not really when you take in to account the amount of capital invested in fossil fuels globally. These companies need to spruik fossil fuels to avoid massive write-downs of their assets.

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      A false message to the media and public? Sounds like climate denial tactics, Dianna.

      The lack of study of the facts around nuclear power and its safety is breathtaking. If one wants to be listened to in criticizing something, then one must first honestly study that something.

      The attitude expressed simply helps the combustion industry.

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    1. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Mark Diesendorf

      Notice how Dr. Diesendorf does not respond to my criticisms. Readers might wonder why that might be.

      Some of the major criticisms are:

      The latest Elliston MacGill and Diesendorf paper does not state the inputs (their previous paper did). These are needed to allow an assessment of the analysis. Many of the assumptions in the previous paper were invalid. These were pointed out in my critique: http://bravenewclimate.com/2012/02/09/100-renewable-electricity-for-australia-the-cost/. I suspect…

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    2. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Mark Diesendorf

      >"Yes, we need research to investigate the potential for more pumped hydro in Australia. However, it would not be used as base-load and so would not need large storages. Instead it would be used as fast flexible power to help deal with winter peaks at times when solar and wind inputs are low."

      This statement is misleading and incorrect. Whereas pumped hydro can be effective for storing low cost baseload power, produced at off peak times and selling at peak times, this is not the case if matched to renewables. Huge storage would be required for internittent, unreliable renewables. And energy would have to be stored for a long with long periods between using it and then needing to use massive amounts at once. It seems Dr Diesendorf has not done any of the necessary financial analysis to understan how much revenue is needed to pay for a pumped hydro scheme.

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    3. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Peter - I haven't had a chance to look at the papers but that's how they got to their conclusion, at least in part, by chucking in some pumped hydro? I had wondered how they managed to claim that renewables could be made sufficiently reliable..

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    4. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Mark Diesendorf

      >"Using the conservative BREE cost projections and 5% discount rate, and assuming that the production and use of fossil fuels continues to receive subsidies, renewable energy breaks even at $50-65 per tonne of CO2. For 10% discount rate, breakeven is at $70-100 per tonne."

      Why are the BREE cost projections conservative? I'd say they are very favourable to renewables and the opposite for nuclear.

      For example, the composition of the board directing the work is mostly pro-renewables and has…

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    5. Tyson Adams

      Scientist and author

      In reply to Mark Diesendorf

      Mark, I agree on the renewables, although I wasn't aware of the incompatibility of nuclear (for some reason that point skipped past me as I was reading about the subject). I was more commenting that, of all the options before us, fossil fuels are not on the list.

      My comment was based on the fact that several here have been commenting with fossil fuel cannards, which, given the article, is annoying. The pro-nuclear arguments are of little interest to me, I'm more concerned about zero greenhouse gas emissions.

      "Baseload need" - good one! That is Alex's point and why it can be dismissed.

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    6. Peter Campbell

      Scientist (researcherid B-7232-2008)

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      "...that's how they got to their conclusion, at least in part, by chucking in some pumped hydro?..."
      As it happens, I attended a meeting a few days ago at which Ben Elliston, the first author on this paper, presented the work. Your question was asked. The answer was that no new pumped hydro was included in the model.
      Similarly, there were questions about other forms of renewable generation such as tidal, off-shore wind, geothermal etc that might seem promising (or not). None of these were included because the model deliberately only used technology that had substantial, working plant in operation somewhere. If any of those other sources gets developed further they would either reduce costs or make no difference.

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    7. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Tyson Adams

      Tyson, this is good!

      "Baseload need" - good one! That is Alex's point and why it can be dismissed."

      Does that schoolyard snarky stuff ever work for you?

      But this is better still...

      "The pro-nuclear arguments are of little interest to me, I'm more concerned about zero greenhouse gas emissions."

      Guess what, so were all the scientists who worked to develop nuclear power over the decades. Aw, but you know more than they, eh Tyson?
      ;]

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    8. Tyson Adams

      Scientist and author

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Oh look, you're now misinterpreting more of my comments in favour of your ideologue.

      I get it, you're pro-nuclear! I don't care. Go out and build the bloody things and get rid of our emissions. Either that or get out there and start building renewables. I don't care either way. But your useless arguments trying to argue that renewables aren't effective are nothing more than a derailing of the conversation.

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    9. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Tyson Adams

      Oh look, Tyson's not reading! Remember, I said local solar PV/hot-water, plus EVs & efficient storage, plus hydro, nuclear, maybe geo?

      Remember. Tyson?

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    10. Tyson Adams

      Scientist and author

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      And yet you said the common fossil fuel cannards: "When there's bad weather, quakes, floods, other tragedies, we want things like hospitals and governmental agencies to work." You continued with the wind turbines: "Just don't come running when he windmill's gearbox goes and it's rainy & cloudy and your basement is flooding and the sump pump can't be run, and..."

      That argument is flawed, as I've tried to point out to you several times, because it impacts every power generation source. I don't know why you find this so hard to understand.

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    11. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Tyson Adams

      Yes, Tyson, one has to plan for the worst case. You're the one wanting to be off the grid. Fine. Don't complain to anyone, including family, when your planning proves inadequate. It has nothing to do will fossil fuels.

      "I don't know why you find this so hard to understand."

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    12. Tyson Adams

      Scientist and author

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      And again you present a strawman. In fact I was quite clearly being facetious with my comment to show how your argument was neither correct and contained logical fallacies, in that case I was highlighting the anecdotal and non-sequiters. I again question your reading comprehension, as you have clearly not understood I word I have written.

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    13. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Peter Lang

      The dams required for pumped storages need not be large.
      Dams of large scale are always being mooted for the purposes of flood mitigation, but small dams in the affected catchment can sequentially intercept the flood waters with the same outcome.
      Small dams are usually built by heavy equipment, using only earthen materials.
      Now intermittents could pump energy into such storages which, at any rate, have other benefits to mitigate their costs, such as irrigation and aquaculture.
      So instead of…

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    14. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      So everyone who wants renewables has to abandon the grid?
      That is not what Mark Diesendorf is arguing or anyone else for that matter.
      The starting point for the nuclear or indeed coal protagonists seems to be that they can do it all, so why bother with renewables.
      And when everyone, without exception is a consumer and not a producer then economies of scale will kick in and renewables will not compete on price any way, so why bother.
      An argument that has all the stench of monopoly about it.

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    15. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to James Hill

      So, James, what did Ma & Pa say when you told a fib?

      "The starting point for the nuclear or indeed coal protagonists seems to be that they can do it all, so why bother with renewables."

      No one here is saying that they support coal and nuclear and no renewables. That may convince part of your mind, but no minds outside yours.

      If you want to be read, read what the rest of us say. I for one, have repeated here many times that local solar PV/hot-water, EVs & efficient storage, plus some hydro, nuclear & geo are all we'll ever need.

      In particular, there's no need for any xyz 'farms'..

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    16. Mark Diesendorf

      Associate Professor and Deputy Director, Institute of Environmental Studies, UNSW at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Mark Diesendorf

      It is strange that Peter Lang keeps banging on about his criticisms of our research group's earliest (2011) paper on our simulations of 100% renewable electricity, while omitting to mention that I published a detailed point-by-point refutation that critique, see http://bravenewclimate.com/2012/02/27/100-renewable-electricity-for-australia-response-to-lang/. In terms of content, my response to Lang's document shows that that, despite its verbosity, it has no substance. It looks like it was written without reading our paper carefully. It contains elementary misunderstandings and huge errors, for example overestimating the capital cost of gas turbines by a factor of six. It is hardly something for its author to boast about.

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    17. Peter Campbell

      Scientist (researcherid B-7232-2008)

      In reply to Mark Diesendorf

      "...Peter Lang keeps banging on about his criticisms of our research group's earliest (2011) paper..."
      Furthermore, surely any criticisms of that earlier paper are now irrelevant since the approach has been elaborated and the earlier paper superseded by this most recent paper, cited in the article above. Having heard an oral presentation of the current paper, it all seemed pretty reasonable to me, including being transparent about assumptions, simplifications, data sources etc as I would expect of a respectable publication.

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    18. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Tyson Adams

      Tyson, Tyson, Tyson, if only we all had your intellectual abilities.
      ;]

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    19. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Mark Diesendorf

      Dr Diesendorf,

      Your response is avoidance and obfuscation, as was your so called ‘refutation’ of the critique. You did not addressed the substantial criticisms and I doubt the new paper has rectified them either.

      You say:
      >”It is strange that Peter Lang keeps banging on about his criticisms of our research group's earliest (2011) paper on our simulations of 100% renewable electricity, while omitting to mention that I published a detailed point-by-point refutation that critique, see http://bravenewclimate.com/2012/02/27/100-renewable-electricity-for-australia-response-to-lang

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    20. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Tyson Adams

      Tyson, ignore Alex, he has a fetish for fabrication and denying the bleeding obvious.

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    21. Tyson Adams

      Scientist and author

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Cheers, Blair. It was the interesting blend of condescension and illogical nonsense that kept me replying.

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    22. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Tyson Adams

      Ooooh, I missed this & Blair's snark!

      Like true climate deniers & fact avoiders, when times get tough, logic & knowledge are lacking, play the victim card.
      ;]

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    23. Tyson Adams

      Scientist and author

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Because you are a true paragon of logic and knowledge..... As can be seen by your repeated lack of both in your replies to me.

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    24. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Tyson Adams

      Finally, my goal achieved -- "paragon"!

      We're sorry it's so hard being Tyson, Tyson.
      ;]

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    25. Tyson Adams

      Scientist and author

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Yeah, it requires reading and comprehension. Must be a battle for you, Alex.

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    26. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Tyson Adams

      Does this kind of playground snark ever work for you on the interwebs, Tyson?
      ;]

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    27. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Tyson Adams

      "pigheaded idiots" -- does that figure often in your 'scientific authoring', Tyson?
      ;]

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Diesendorf

      Mark: "Wind farms actually occupy only 1-3 per cent of the agricultural land they span." -- false.

      You well know the swept area of blades and the concrete area of the foundation are not reasonably accessible, even if the land had not had any trees prior to the foundation laying and access-road building.

      If you don't know that each MW of average wind power installed requires ~2 acres and ~2000 tons of resources (coal, iron ore, limestone...) to be processed & transported via fossil fuels, then…

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    2. Peter Campbell

      Scientist (researcherid B-7232-2008)

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      "Mark: "Wind farms actually occupy only 1-3 per cent of the agricultural land they span." -- false.

      You well know the swept area of blades and the concrete area of the foundation are not reasonably accessible..."

      I would have thought sheep would be happy to graze right up to the base of a turbine tower. They are not so tall that they need to keep their heads down!

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    3. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      i'll take Marks assessment over yours thanks Alex. I'll also take a windfarm over a coal mine, uranium mine, CSG/Shale Gas Fields, and fossil fuel generators any day of the week.

      i'd happily live in the shadow of the former, and probably end up dying from some horrible respiratory disease living near the latter.

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    4. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      That "swept area" is reasonably inaccessible being tens of metres above ground level in order to intercept an airflow not perturbed by friction with the ground.
      Don't let the physics get in your way, or is physics inaccessible too?

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    5. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Campbell

      Peter & James, don't let the subsidies and fear of science get in your ways either.

      If you don't like mines, where do you think the iron ore, limestone, aggregate, coal (yes a ton of steel needs a few tons of coal to make), fossil fuels (for transport, crushing, kilning, etc.)? What of or the rare-earth mines that release a variety of radio-toxins as well as chemical pollutants? Of course, the Chinese dominate that market today, and we shouldn't care what they put their folks through, for our…

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  12. Peter Hindrup

    consultant

    Dr David Mills, who was of Sydney University set up Ausra, a California based company that develops zero carbon power generation.

    ‘What makes the announcement more significant is that the utilities are confidently predicting that their solar power will soon be providing baseload electricity - that is, day and night - at prices competitive with coal.’

    http://bze.org.au/media/radio/david-mills-ausra-discusses-global-political-environment-and-his-solar-thermal-technolog

    So did this venture fail?

    Nor is ocean powered generation included in the mix. Ocean power completely does away with the concerns over reliability and continuity of supply. It is probable that reliance upon the grid could be substantially reduced by setting up adjacent to al coastal towns.

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    1. Luke Weston

      Physicist / electronic engineer

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      Who should I trust more, researchers who submit their work for professional publication and peer-review, or the BZE media webpage?

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    2. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      "Ocean power completely does away with the concerns over reliability and continuity of supply." -- really?

      A recent Stanford study, ignoring all costs, but combining offshore wind and wave, concluded some improvement in delivery variability, but the overall systems is clearly in danger of maritime collision, storm damage and in need of high maintenance and costly materials -- salt water ain't nice.

      http://energyseminar.stanford.edu/node/429

      It continues to fail the basic test parameter for…

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    3. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      While it's not clear to me (from web searches, I haven't done any *real* research ;-) ) where David Mills is working at the moment, two companies continue to develop this technology. One is AREVA (French nuclear giant) which purchased Mills' company in February 2010, and one is a German-based company called Novatec.

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

      http://www.novatecsolar.com/

      http://www.abbaustralia.com.au/cawp/seitp202/53831be225953d55c1257a94004116e2.aspx

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

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    4. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Luke Weston

      Jonathan Maddox:
      Thaks.
      I was raising the question of how well the project was going. The reference was merely intended to indicate clearly who I was referring too.

      Alex Cannara
      Poorly phrased on my part. The anger source is constant. That the environment is difficult there are no problems that cannot be reasonably overcome.

      Luke Weston:
      The webpage, see above.

      When companies are investing real money in a project, as in the David…

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  13. fret Slider

    Developer

    Your latest peer-reviewed paper may well be currently in press in Energy Policy journal, but reality is not.

    Renewables will never be anything more than a joke add-on.

    We have god knows how many wind farms and solar installations and the best they can manage is:

    Wind - 5.3% of demand
    Solar - 0.4% of demand.

    In short, without gas, coal and nuclear we'd be freezing our butts off in the dark.

    Happily, there has been no warming for 17 years, and even our dodgy Met Office say's there won't be any warming before 2017.

    I bet there won't be any even then.

    It's time you guys rediscovered the hypothetico-deductive method and gave PR a wide berth.

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    1. Peter Campbell

      Scientist (researcherid B-7232-2008)

      In reply to fret Slider

      "In short, without gas, coal and nuclear we'd be freezing our butts off in the dark."
      It really is a tedious mantra that we have to be profligate with fossil energy or we would be cold in the dark. With a little effort our 1970s (4br) townhouse unit in the Canberra has had its insulation greatly improved. It already was not bad for passive solar design. Now in chilly Canberra winters our entire heating cost is less than $100. No summer cooling is required aside from opening and closing the ventilation at the right times of the day. We have limited roof space but enough for PV and solar hot water to collect more than half the energy used in the house.
      You might think this is a 'joke add-on'. Fine, you keep paying your bills. I have invested in a) reducing harm to my children's environment and b) setting myself up to have only small energy bills.

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    2. fret Slider

      Developer

      In reply to Peter Campbell

      "It really is a tedious mantra"

      Truth is often not what you want to hear, but that is the way it is. Why do you people revel in self-loathing?

      We can track it: http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

      As we've pumped 10% of our total plant food emissions into the atmosphere over the last 15 years or so and there has been no warming for 17 years, your theory is in the bin and any decent scientist would recognise that and would start on a new theory.

      But AGW turns the scientific method on it's…

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    3. Peter Campbell

      Scientist (researcherid B-7232-2008)

      In reply to fret Slider

      "Why do you people revel in self-loathing?"
      There we go. The other assumption to go with how greenies want us all to live in caves with hair-shirts. It really is tedious. Set up a straw man and knock it down.
      Look, in the exceedingly unlikely event that global warming is not caused by the mechanism that are widely explained and accepted by conventional science, it would not be a good idea to acidify the ocean. Most of what we might do about global warming would be 'no regrets' policies anyway, less polluting in other ways, ultimately cheaper, reducing dependency on oil exporters etc.
      As a microcosm, my life is more comfortable and cheaper and less polluting now than previously but there was some investment required. Frankly, I'm rather pleased with myself for having arranged to have my cake and eat it. Not self-loathing at all.

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    4. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to fret Slider

      OMG, someone still clings desperately to the "no warming for 17 years" badge of ignorance!

      Fret Slider -- good name -- rail to the sun the next time it rises. Because it's been lazy in recent years. Its 11-year cycle is at a peak, but it's 90-year cycle at a trough, so the peak is pooped.

      What do you think that little bit of fact means, Fret, ol' boy?

      Now lets move on to more facts, like Arctic ice loss, tundra emissions, ocean pH decline, sea rise, mean temps higher each month than means…

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    5. fret Slider

      Developer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      I think you need to check a few facts, old son.

      The key is in what Pachauri said.... "“Unlike in Britain, there has been little publicity in Australia given to recent acknowledgment by peak climate-science bodies in Britain and the US of what has been a 17-year pause in global warming. "

      It seems Australians are treated like mushrooms. Even our Met Office is wearing your badge of ignorance. They're a bit of a joke, but they're more clued up and believable than you are.

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    6. fret Slider

      Developer

      In reply to Peter Campbell

      But the green persuasion does have a thing about hom sap, even if you personally do not.

      Tedious does seem to be your favourite epithet this morning/afternoon/evening.

      "in the exceedingly unlikely event that global warming is not caused by the mechanism that are widely explained and accepted by conventional science, it would not be a good idea to acidify the ocean. "

      Having to respond to straw man arguments is tedious. Ocean acidification? Have you checked the Argo data lately? Are you…

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    7. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to fret Slider

      Ahhh, a live one!

      So, Fret, the term dropper and developer. You really think other people here don't know more than you about science, engineering, the environment, power...it's a long list, given what you reveal in you "tedious" prose.

      You do understand isotopic analysis, eh Fret?

      So you must well understand how each anthropogenic CO2 molecule can be tracked back to us from any seawater/ice sample, right?

      And you do understand the natural Carbon Cycle, right, Fret? In that you understand…

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    8. Peter Campbell

      Scientist (researcherid B-7232-2008)

      In reply to fret Slider

      "Ocean acidification? Have you checked ..."
      Type 'acidification' into the search engine for The Conversation to see cited published research results presented for this lay audience by scientists with relevant expertise in the field. I believe they are more likely correct than you.

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    9. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to fret Slider

      Why such uncharacteristic, charitable concern for the "victims" of renewables?
      If it is a free-market then let them crash and burn.
      But if renewables provide real competition for the "Big plants" monopolists, then we should expect lots of antagonism.
      All a little bit fascististic?
      Big Grid, Big generating plants, captive consumers denied any choice?
      Yep looks like that Big Business-Fascism tag team in action.
      Or Stalinist Collectivisation?
      All backed by Totalitarian Tony?
      Godless environmentalism must be resisted at all costs, right?

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    10. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to fret Slider

      Seems we have another one who restricts his research to denier blogs.

      Surface temperatures are a narrow measure. Just because they have not increased significantly since the long El Nino in 1997 does not mean the earth has stopped heating.

      Oceanic heat content is still increasing. Sea levels are still rising. Ice volumes are still decreasing.

      The imbalance in earth's energy budget as a result of the increased CO2 remains.

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    11. fret Slider

      Developer

      In reply to James Hill

      But it isn't a free market, is it. Wind is massivey subsidised through taxation and surcharges on energy bills. Bills that hit the elderly and the poor the hardest.

      Is that the socialist dystopia you crave? i think it is.

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    12. fret Slider

      Developer

      In reply to Peter Campbell

      So, you prefer to ignore the paper I referenced in favour of the ones here. Fair enough, but you still haven't got anything more than ifs and buts, maybes and possiblys, total conjecture.That's just not good enough.

      All of the predictions have proved false. This is, to all intents and purposes, a new religion.

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    13. fret Slider

      Developer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Do you normally do necrophilia then, Alex? So sorry to disappoint. I'll see what I can dig up.

      Argumentum ad veracandium is so you.

      Now back to the nub of it

      Where is the predicted troposheric hot spot? I think I'm right in stating that the theory requires a "fingerprint" of a tropical tropospheric "hot spot" to occur due to "back radiation". It only exists in arbitrary virtual computer models and has stubbornly refused to form in the actual atmosphere. The 2nd law of thermodynamics…

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    14. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to fret Slider

      Too bad you just don't seem to have any real science to raise opinions on that survive scrutiny.Fret!

      So, as I said, want to take the bet Monckton, Nicol... wouldn't?
      ;]

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    15. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to fret Slider

      See fret, if you had the gumption to use a real name, folks might actually think you had something to say.
      ;]

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    16. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to fret Slider

      FS, there are no massive subsidies for wind other than a requirement for retailers to source some percentage of their electricity from clean energy sources.

      Where is your concern about the billions of dollars each year in direct subsidies to the fossil fuel mob? That's been going on for decades – and it doesn't consider the detrimental costs to the environment from pollution, lost production and health issues. A little bit of balance please.

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    17. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Good one Blair!

      Let's see, wind gets subsidies now, fuels have for a long time, so,,,,oh yes, the logic is...

      I've been hitting my right thumb with my hammer a lot, maybe I should do the left one as well?
      ;]

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  14. Yoron Hamber

    Thinking

    Isn't it a question about money, and power, political and otherwise, too? Centralization relative Decentralization? If I can hold the reins for a countries 'energy needs', centralizing them to a few places, won't I also hold the reins for what people are allowed to do?

    Then again, maybe I'm a cynic :)

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  15. Jeff Wolfers

    logged in via Twitter

    My oh my oh my.

    Just how many windmills would be needed in your 60% wind scenario?

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jeff Wolfers

      We must listen to Gary -- he clearly knows more than any Nobel scientist on wind!
      ;]

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  16. Alex Cannara

    logged in via LinkedIn

    I notice that comment was closed on the other article that related to baseload & nuclear, It appears that someone named Ivan, as well as Shirley Birney flamed quite a lot just before comments closed. So here are two relevant rejoinder, if either of those folks shows up here...

    Ivan, sure, Radon decays quickly as do very many isotopes, like Iodine131, but you now reveal you don't understand (and apparently don't care to study) radio-nuclides and radio-biology.

    Radon decays to Polonium, named…

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  17. Ivan Quail

    maverick

    Thanks Mark for a very interesting article and much information.
    The Tides of the Kimberly can generate 10 times more electricity than we currently generate in the whole of Australia. Installed National generating capacity is about 54Gwatts

    Too far away you think. A 6G/watt (6,000Mw) bulk HVDC power line can transmit the power to Sydney for a cost of 1c per Kw hr. It is cheaper to build and operate a bulk HVDC transmission line than a natural gas pipeline which carries the same amount of…

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