Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Chris Harries

How (Not) to Run a Modern Society on Renewable Energy …

*Pic: An electricity pylon smashed during South Australia’s blackout … which was blamed by the Federal Libs on renewable energy. Montage: Ted Mead

First published September 16

For people who may be perplexed by the current energy debate (and who isn’t?) here is a nice educational article that goes back to basics and explains what is in store for us as we try to transform society to run on dilute energy forms …

The sobering reality is that we can’t run our present society like that, as much as we may dream of doing so. The monstrous edifice of modern industrial consumer society was founded upon, and is underpinned by, that extremely dense form of energy – fossil fuels – that were gifted to us by millions of years of geological history …

… But which has had its day.

We have to get past the masculine obsession that all we need to do is switch over the engine.

At some point we need to get past the popular romantic view that non-sustainable society can be powered via renewable energy. At some point we will have to openly face up to the other three quarters of the energy equation.

The most important part: The unpopular, relegated part of the equation. The bit that’s to do with reframing how we do things.

And then placing that challenge at the top of our to-do list.

Read the full article in Low-Tech magazine HERE

*Chris Harries is an environmental educator specialising in energy supply & demand issues. He is a member of the Climate Tasmania advisory body and has played a major role in the uptake of domestic rooftop solar in Tasmanian communities. He has been writing on environmental and social advocacy issues since the mid 1970s.

The Conversation: How better data would improve the electricity market The Australian Electricity Regulator is investigating whether wholesale electricity generators in New South Wales are bidding “in good faith” in the electricity market. Good faith means price changes are the result of real problems, such as weather or machinery failure, rather than market manipulation. The reason the regulator doesn’t already know the answer to this question is that the market is opaque – the data are not easily workable for analysis. In our ongoing research into the electricity market we have run into the same problem. We’ve only been able to make headway by applying big data tools. Although not bidding in good faith isn’t illegal in the Australian electricity market, it is reminiscent of fradulent bidding in United States Treasury bond markets in the 1990s. We can learn from how this scandal was dealt with – brokerage firms were required to provide data that could be clearly monitored. This increased transparency and led to lower costs …

Examiner: Media leak to be investigated by Tasmanian Parliament’s Privileges Committee

Mercury: MLC Ivan Dean delays motion to refer leaks to Parliamentary Privileges Committee

Malcolm Farr, news.com.au: THE nation’s top competition guardian today cleared clean energy schemes of the major blame for soaring electricity costs. … More than 60 per cent of price jumps which are angering households and businesses came from rises in network prices and retail margins rather than subsidies for environmental schemes such as solar energy. But Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Simms had no reprieve for governments which he said had to intervene more in the power industry market. And he told gas producers they had a “social responsibility” to better serve the domestic market, warning they might otherwise look like banks which unfairly evicted farmers. Mr Simms told the National Press Club in Canberra that of electricity price increases, over 40 per cent was due to rises in network charges, 24 per cent in higher retail margins, and 19 per cent in bigger generation costs …

EARLIER on Tasmanian Times …

A pumped hydro bonanza for Tasmania … ? Most of it won’t happen. Here’s why … It’s a state election year, and what better than to announce a brave new, multi billion pumped-hydro phantasmagorical bonanza for the state. Fifteen dams, two new Basslinks, Tasmania the national hero. The sort of grand vision that can get governments elected …

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]
112 Comments

112 Comments

  1. Keith Antonysen

    October 2, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Trevor, #111

    Twice I have provided a reference to Category 5 hurricanes in the Atlantic from 1851 to the present, the trend line is truly scary. Eric Holthaus, in his original reference provided numerous pages of numbers which he has collated into an easily understood format.

    From 1851 to 1900 there were no Category 5 hurricanes experienced, from 1900 the incidence of category 5 storms was displayed every three decades by Holthaus. More category 5 Atlantic storms have been experience between 1991 to 2017 than from 1851 to 1960. There are still three years to elapse for the current three decades of data to be created.

    Some of the strongest typhoons/cyclones have been recorded in the Northern Pacific within the last two decades (eg Haiyan, Winston); Australia has been very lucky in regard to missing out on category 5 storms. There had been a debate about adding an extra category 6 for hurricanes/cyclones/typhoons; but, it was generally thought not to be useful as category 5 storms are deadly anyway.

    Temperature has been increasing globally and are higher now than experienced by human in previous centuries; deniers argue that is not the case. Though, a warming marine environment, glaciers regressing, and sea level rise etc reflect a warming climate. The build up of category 5 storms is helped by the warming of Tropical waters and atmosphere.

    Deniers argue that Greenland displayed warmer temperatures in the past; which is then generalised to globally Earth experience warmer temperatures , not the case. The Barnes Ice Cap on Baffin Island, Canada, shows that not to be true (references previously provided).

    Truly scary are also the trend lines displayed by temperature and cryosphere (sea ice extent and volume, glaciers, and snow fields).

    Climate science relies on Physics, Chemistry and data obtained by instrumentation and observation. It is not driven by the laughable conspiracy theories put out by deniers. Deniers try and pull climate science into the bull dust political realm. Climate science goes back to the 1820s through Fourier.

  2. TGC

    October 1, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    And “Thanks” to #109 for not being ‘hard core’- because- and #109 will not believe this- neither am I.-I (we) make every effort to be environmentally responsible. But continue to believe in an entirely liveable future.

  3. Chris Harries

    October 1, 2017 at 11:30 am

    This has been an educative little debate, comprising commentators from across the activism divide: i.e. Should we act or not act on climate change and with what level of urgency?

    It’s worth noting the significant shift in the goal posts at the Conservative end of the political spectrum in recent times. Aside from Malcolm Roberts and Co it’s now hard to find anyone among them who claims that we don’t have a problem to address.

    No longer being credible to argue that ‘climate change is crap’ the core message that virtually all conservative MPs send out is now: “Ok, climate change is a problem and, yes, we should take action, but we shouldn’t act too decisively and we should focus on Adaptation (cleaning up the mess) rather than Mitigation”. In short: “Take is easy, folks!”

    Meanwhile in the real world carbon emission figures and climate measurement data are pointing to a scenario of 3 degrees of warming at best. The science community’s prognosis on that scenario is massive social disruption, most probably leading to a breakdown of human civilisation. This level or risk should demand utmost urgency by all on board. In short: “All hands on deck, folks!”

    *****

    Switching to the Progressive end of the political spectrum another, lesser, dialectic is going on. How best to act with urgency?
    1) ‘Try to shift the capitalist world so that it can profit from sustainability rather than from destruction’, versus
    2) ‘Slam on the brakes and do everything possible to bring about a transition to a post capitalist economy and just society’.

    The main difference between these two approaches is a differing sense of imminence. The first (‘light green’) tack presumes that we have several decades in which to transition technology and infrastructure and so keep society essentially on the rails. This is marginally different to the dominant paradigm above. The second tack says there’s not enough time and resources to undertake the slow transition because significant chaos is already happening and this chaos will accelerate asymptotically before we can do much about it the slow way.

    At base, the ‘light green’ approach presumes that society’s core problem is primarily a faulty choice of technology rather than a faulty value system. The other approach says we can’t fix a problem using the same set of values that brought us the predicament in the first place (a famous Einsteinium theorem).

    *****

    Most of us in Activism Land actually straddle both of these two latter approaches because we live within society that has got its own ponderous inertia and we know that social change will only happen painfully slowly…. unless, or until, it hits a brick wall.

    I’ve spent most of my career taking the light green approach in practice, because here it is fairly easy to engage with society without challenging its values too much. It’s dead easy to persuade someone to spend their money on a rooftop solar system. They can feel good about that, and comforted that they can go on with their life without thinking any more deeply or acting more fundamentally.

    This cross roads is where we are all at, essentially. What alarms me is that the faking of optimism that the environmental movement does so well – seen to be necessary in order to to bring society on aboard – has become a major risk in itself in that we can dupe ourselves into believing our own rhetoric. It’s so much easier to tell people what they want to know rather than what they need to know…. and then start to believe it ourselves.

    *****

    This being the case, in venues such as this alternative media site at least a few thinkers need to bluntly say it as it is, to shake up the complacency that surrounds us. Thanks to all.

  4. Chris Harries

    September 30, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    (#107) Denial of a problem and being bravely optimism are two different things, Trevor. But these days the former tend to describe themselves as the latter, because it sounds better.

    Those who accept the gravity of a problem can be described as alarmist, but then again if their acceptance of that problem is grounded in serious research then they have every reason to send out warnings in the public interest. Negative prognoses are not necessarily liked by everyone in society – as every doctor knows – and so these messengers are often labelled as alarmist.

    To most who work on the climate change science space they often describe their attitude as: ‘hoping for the best but bracing for the worst’.

    Shooting the messenger isn’t optimism either. It’s just a way of dispelling one’s own angst.

    One again, out of curiosity, what drives you to be a champion the status quo? I’m pretty certain in your case that you do it as a volunteer, since I doubt your passion for it comes from a financial vested interest. (I do absolutely understand why it is that some people who have a vested or political interest in not taking action try to prevent reform from taking place.)

  5. TGC

    September 30, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    #104 “At the moment quickest way is steady progress and I think the tortoise will beat the hare!!!!” -in some respects answers the question of me at #101
    “what drives you to champion the status quo with such passion”
    It is not necessarily easier to be doomsayers but it is certainly more popular than being the simple ‘she’ll be right’ or the more thoughtful ‘we can surely find a solution to this (these) problem(s)’
    Quite a bit in #104 has my support because whilst not necessarily “champion(ing) the status quo..” -and nor do I at every point of reference #104 does appear to suggest we are doing a bit better than many concede.
    As to “I believe it must be fear that drives you. But what drives that fear?” #101- I am puzzled you should think such? Optimism and fear hardly seem bedfellows.

  6. Kelvin Jones

    September 30, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    #104… I would like to improve part of my previous comment…… “I think millions may be over stated”….TO…. “reduces, sometimes significantly the average life span of the affected population.

    As I have said in previous comments on this topic all countries and even areas within countries need different in the approach to reduce carbon. Some will be easy and some almost impossible.

    If we single out the needs of Tasmania, being a small area, colder climate with a basically a clean Hydro generation system and established distribution. Then solar electricity made no sense and the high feed in tariff counter productive. All we did was import embedded carbon in these solar systems.

    The main domestic thrust should have been to up building energy performance standards for new builds and if any subsidise the upgrading existing homes. Solar assisted hot water systems too.

    This would reduce winter average load and peaks and the load on the poles and wires decreasing the need for increasing load up grades, reducing poles and wires costs.

    Leaving Basslink out of the equation the Tasmanian domestic and commercial load is only about a third of the load on Hydro but a huge part of the income to Hydro and grid. Part of this income is an across subsidy to heavy industry but mainly an indirect tax into the State coffers. So low are Hydro production costs.

    Historically the Australian power networks have been technically built to produce lowest cost power.

    Being State owned prices paid by various sections of consumers and industry have been the subject of politics using interstate parity as their guide and vested interests of the industrial sector.

    This has resulted in stable and predictable domestic electricity prices but for Tasmania not as low for domestic consumers as could have been possible.

    Of course Basslink changed the equation!!!! As the saga of the SE grid unfolds it’s role will also change from profit making, to a white elephant, possibly on a month to month basis? Who knows?

    Tasmanian is one place in the world that is basically green, we import carbon in goods and materials. The less we import the less we add to world carbon. If we manufacture and export then it is highly likely that our goods will be low in embedded carbon.

    We have only so much green capacity, the world and Tasmania is a finite place.

  7. Keith Antonysen

    September 30, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    #104, Kelvin

    I agree fully that renewables are not a silver bullet.

    But, energy created from fossil fuels does have an impact on health, as well as climate.

    A short medical course; Eliademy, states that 5.5 million people died in 2013 due to air pollution. Other references confirm the high death rates particularly in India and China.

    E.g. quote via Google ( Tassie Times allows two references per comment ):

    “The World Health Organisation figures put the death toll at 3 million people a year for air pollution due to vehicles, power plants and industry. Another 1.6 million people die a year from burning solid fossil fuel (coal) in their homes for heat. So 4.6 million people die from fossil fuels a year.Jul 28, 2008 ”

    It is not accidental that many Asian people wear air filters when outside. Prior to the Beijing Olympics the amount of traffic allowed on roads was highly restricted to clear the air prior to the Games commencing.

    Apart from particulates created from fossil fuels and effecting health; disease vectors are changing through increasing warmth.

    In relation to whats gone on over the last 20 + years, fossil fuel companies have been very successful in funding denier groups such as Heartlands, Cato Institute, ALEC et al in the US, and we have the odious IPA here in Australia. In the 1970s scientists from ExxonMobil were agreeing with the science relating to fossil fuels and the creation of greenhouse gases. ExxonMobil management chose to ignore the advice provided by their scientists and funded denier groups, it is being investigated at present.

    Of interest, is the new owner of the steele works at Whyalla will be using renewable energy to power the plant

    The Chief CSIRO Scientist Alan Finkel, released a Report not long ago which tried to pull together climate science with energy needs. The Report was great from the point of view of allowing politicians holding various ideological views to save face, and begin to tackle the dogs breakfast created by lack of governance in the energy field for years by both major political parties. Except, the extreme wing of the LNP have curtailed any efforts to allow renewable energy to make any inroads.

    Despite Finkel saying that creating new energy power plants using coal is no longer economically viable in post Report interviews, the LNP is pushing for new coal fired power stations and opening new major coal mines … Adani.
    It has been suggested by the Climate Council, should the Adani mine go ahead, that it would rate 15th behind 14 countries in relation to the greenhouse gases voided; the Adani mine would be the largest coal mine in the Southern Hemisphere.

    An article published in Tasmanian Times about meta Reports in relation to climate change with a theme of those Reports being that greenhouse gases having an impact on the atmosphere, cryosphere, and oceans.

    http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php?/article/Abrupt-Climate-Change-A-Shallow-Dip-Displayi/

    The American Meteorological Society has provided a Report (2016) on climate each year since 2011, which provides information gathered by numerous respondents and backed by numerous data sets and references.

    https://www.ametsoc.org/ams/index.cfm/publications/bulletin-of-the-american-meteorological-society-bams/state-of-the-climate/

    The costs created in September by Harvey, Irma and Maria; and in addition, the wildfires on the west Coast of the US are estimate to be up to 300 billion dollars. The human costs are impossible to estimate.

    The energy usage decided now has an impact on peoples lives in the future; fossil fuels need to be transitioned out quickly.

  8. Kelvin Jones

    September 29, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    #99 onwards…. I don’t think the original article was about anthropogenic climate changes. It was simply accepted that there was a need the change our energy systems.

    The article was about the problems of running a society on renewables and transitioning to renewables.

    #102&99; Keith for one who was born in 1946 into UK Northern industrial coal pollution from, power generation, home heating, industrial production including steel. I agree it causes acute and chronic human health problems including deaths sometimes by the thousands. I think millions may be a little over stated.

    To me this is more important than climate change.

    However, the pollution levels in Australia are quite low in comparison against the bad old days in UK.

    Australia carbon emissions are insignificant by world emissions and places like China.

    I see a greater problems for the Australian population from continuing unstable power supplies than pollution and emissions from sensible use of up to date fossil (assuming nuclear is non persona grata) fuel technology supporting as much renewable technology as economically and reliably as possible.

    I find it highly suspicious when the “panic” anthropogenic arguments suddenly being pushed. Usually leading on to solar being the magic panacea.

    The last twenty years of politically forced “green engineering” by people who had not a clue about the massive technical problems to be solved. Not withstanding a significant few who realised there was much personal or political gain by creating a new band wagon. This has forced a critical energy supply in this country and many others in the world.

    I would say the panic actions of the last 20 years have put back a manageable transition by at least 40 years.

    There are currently no technology silver bullets. At the moment quickest way is steady progress and I think the tortoise will beat the hare!!!!

  9. Tony Stone

    September 29, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    #82, William thanks for your comments, however have no specialty in life, other than one who tends to think laterally, likes to play with alternatives and keep ahead of the pack.

    You could call me a jack of all trades, my interest in alternatives goes back to the 1970’s, when we had no access to the grid and so started playing with 12v. From there, it was fuel, then food, then taking responsibility for the machinery etc we used in life.

    We won’t survive very long unless we have access to renewables in the not too distant future, the dramatics of climate change will see to that.

    As it is, Tas has the worst record of power failures in the country. Where I live there are blackouts at least once a month and sometimes, almost weekly and it’s the same round most of Tas. I only know this because people talk about them and how inconvenient they are.

    When you consider we have a political system which completely ignores the reality of the coming future and even the reality of today. It matters not which party, or even which politician, they are all the same.

    Even the Greens, whose name is a false representation of their agenda, have no energy policy for the future. In fact they have no useful policies, just like the libs and labs have nothing but lies and deceit.

    Unless we get rid of the current political incumbents and replace them with something representing this century, we are lost.

    Unless you die within the next 5 years, you will experience what it is like to be part of a society crumbling around us and with no possibility of getting out of the situation.

    If you are like us and don’t rely upon the system for energy etc, you may get through. But if not, there will be no back up or rescue, everyone will be in the same boat, sinking together.

    Sadly it seems most are either to scared to make a stand, or don’t believe in the coming future. So all they do is complain, blame the system and leave it to others, who don’t exist.

  10. Keith Antonysen

    September 29, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    Trevor, #100

    Your comment “More, I am not convinced it is either the sole- or main- driver.”

    Your comments over the years display a contrarian view to climate change, as does the statement quoted.

    Climate change displayed by the number of Category 5 Atlantic hurricanes per Eric Holthaus, Meteorologist:

    1851-1900: 0
    1901-1930: 2
    1931-1960: 8
    1961-1990: 10
    1991-2017: 13

    The recent hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria had some unusual characteristics. The amount of rainfall experienced being one example. A warmer Ocean provides a greater amount of water vapour, enhanced further by a warm atmosphere.

    The increase in methane, a strong greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is man driven; created by agriculture through soils deteriorating, livestock, and tipping points created through permafrost thawing. The only way permafrost thaws is through extra warmth over a long period.

    The people in Puerto Rico are suffering from the hurricanes Irma and Maria ; but have to an extent been ignored by the Trump administration. European countries associated with Caribbean Islands were quick off the mark to render assistance.

    Robertscribber provides a narrative in relation to his involvement with Opal in 1995 and compares it to the poor manner in which Puerto Rico has been managed currently.

    https://robertscribbler.com/2017/09/29/reflections-of-opal-and-why-trumps-response-to-marias-monumental-strike-on-puerto-rico-is-thus-far-vastly-inadequate/

    Scientists have warned us about storms becoming stronger, the trend line of the number of Atlantic Category 5 storms is going in the wrong direction. The matter of energy and climate change are interwoven in relation to decisions made and the outcomes that can be expected.

  11. Chris Harries

    September 29, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    What you haven’t answered, Trevor, is what drives you to champion the status quo with such passion? In doing so chastise those who believe in risk management.

    Rest easy, it’s not just you that I’m referring to. I can easily appreciate the motivation of people who champion reform – for environmental reasons or out of social compassion. But for the life of me I can’t quite understand those odd folk who earnestly do the bidding of corporations and corrupt governments with a sense of outrage towards people who press for responsible management.

    I believe it must be fear that drives you. But what drives that fear?

    It would be good if you could elucidate further why people whose livelihoods are threatened or shattered by climate change should have a more optimistic view on life.

  12. TGC

    September 29, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    #99 “You do not believe in anthropogenic climate change;” isn’t strictly true. More, I am not convinced it is either the sole- or main- driver.
    But it is “an immutable fact” that all human activity- indeed all activity on the planet- has some effect on somethibg, somewhere.
    And that “people in the Caribbean generally need urgent assistance…” is also unreservedly acknowledged. And there are lists running into foolscap pages and beyond of similar ‘urgent assistance’ calls.
    I would think #99 does what #99 can to assist- so does this household.
    Not sure what both have to do with future energy demands.

  13. Keith Antonysen

    September 29, 2017 at 2:18 am

    #98, Trevor

    In Asian countries particularly, millions of people have died from the emissions of fossil fuels powering coal stations and motor vehicles, others have suffered from chronic health conditions. You do not believe in anthropogenic climate change; but regardless of that, people are dying which is an offset to the profits being made by Corporations selling fossil fuels. A matter which is separate to anthropogenic climate change.

    That is an immutable fact. Our sense of doing well is based upon the suffering of others.

    Puerto Rico which has a population of 3.5 million people and is about a third of the size of Tasmania, has been really hard hit. Puerto Rico is quite a poor area of the USA, emergency assistance from the US government was very slow in coming. Meaning that water, food supplies, and medicines were not available to people, the death rate has gone up as a result. That is bleak, but it also is the reality.

    You can take the attitude that the hurricanes impacting on Puerto Rico were not due to climate change, but, the people in the Caribbean generally need urgent assistance regardless of whether Irma and Maria were intensified by climate change.

    https://www.democracynow.org/2017/9/26/puerto_ricans_call_for_aid_amid

    It is very bleak that Trump sent out tweets to insult the Puerto Ricans and not make provision for them to be supplied with necessities at the earliest possible time.

  14. TGC

    September 29, 2017 at 12:39 am

    #97 “…throughout history good people have stood up for what’s right at that time. If it wasn’t for those folk’s efforts human history would have been much more brutal than it has been.” Too true,and may well be seen as examples of “Be Confident and Optimistic” even in the face of adversity.
    Not altogether sure I am prepared to let “morbidly
    pass unchallenged-but I will except to wonder why “97 singled me out for the epithet amongst so much other bleakness on TT?

  15. Chris Harries

    September 28, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    (#92) Trevor, your argument that human beings have always had it tough and therefore nothing should be done about the present situation doesn’t take into account that throughout history good people have stood up for what’s right at that time. If it wasn’t for those folk’s efforts human history would have been much more brutal than it has been.

    Aside from that, if you really and truly believe that we don’t have much of a problem to deal with, then what motivates you to write endless screeds in an effort to morbidly undermine the efforts of those who are trying to do something about this non-problem? Just enjoy the moment.

  16. TGC

    September 28, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    #94 A bit sad/depressing really – even to have entering one’s mind such a phrase as “the demise of the human race.” can’t be good for you.
    Try something more cheerful.

  17. Chris Harries

    September 28, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    But Russell (#93), it is necessary to generalise when talking about the whole of society. I’m not referring to just yourself and Tony. It goes without saying that a determined, thoughtful person can and will do something about their demand management and behaviours.

    But in general, the wider public suffers roughly the same level of cognitive dissonance as does the government. Its goals and desires are out of sync with sustainability.

  18. max

    September 28, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    # 92 TGC “Be Confident and Optimistic” Is this your motto? If so you would have made good canon fodder. This motto is why millions jumped out of the trenches to certain death in wars. It is also the one that lemmings live by and the one that will see the demise of the human race.
    That here we are in 2017 experiencing life on the planet earth as none of our predecessors have- mostly- suggests ‘we’ have entirely successfully overcome “unpleasant situation(a) that are difficult to get out of”- Wrong Trevor, only in your life time have we faced the unpleasant situations that are difficult if not impossible to get out of. (nuclear, over population and climate change)
    Change your motto Trevor, try (‘Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.” “ Keep your faith in god but keep your powder dry or “Hope for the best but plan for the worst ) They will serve you better.

  19. Russell

    September 28, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    Re #89
    “When we put solar panels on the roofs of our homes it doesn’t mean we go gee. It doesn’t necessarily stop us from flying around the world in jets, enlarging our already large homes, buying bigger than ever fridges, buying a new car every few years, buying new clothing just to meet fashion…. and so forth, and so forth. Yet these two patterns of behaviour are totally incongruent.”

    That’s an incorrect generalisation and assumption. Many people like myself and Tony Stone take our energy consumption very seriously and minimise it wherever we can, whether that be in house design, electrical appliance efficiencies, transport, food and water harvesting, etc.

    On the other hand, those advocating coal-fired power stations don’t do anything to use less energy, yet they want to pay less for it (which is an economic impossibility).

  20. TGC

    September 28, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    To respond in the manner that #84 may perhaps wish would require me to acknowledge there is a ‘human predicament” –“an unpleasant situation that is difficult to get out of”
    I am not keen to make that acknowledgement. – and I am slightly surprised that #84- and others adopt that ‘definition’- assuming they do.
    Because it would surely have to be said that ‘predicament’ is what the human race has been in since it evolved- probably long before!
    That here we are in 2017 experiencing life on the planet earth as none of our predecessors have- mostly- suggests ‘we’ have entirely successfully
    overcome “unpleasant situation(a) that are difficult to get out of”
    Now, #84 calls for my suggestions for ‘escape’-
    the only one I can make that meets my own ‘philosophy’- don’t read too much into that- is that we look to the historical routes and follow those- and the one marked “Be Confident and Optimistic” is one of those that we should be taking.
    Good news is not a big seller- Pity that!

  21. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    September 28, 2017 at 2:30 am

    Thanks Chris and Kelvin for your answers.

    If discussions like this can lead to messages that are nuanced towards ‘smaller and less’, as we transition to a post-consumer economy that is strategically focused on saving something for our children, then we are getting somewhere.

    The longer we do not deal with this one, the more disastrously expensive it is going to be when we are absolutely forced to face it.

    Part of the solution is economic/technical and renewables are going to be an important part of that. But to get the political will to make this quite difficult and hazardous transition requires something else; i.e., a vision of ourselves that redefines wealth and what it means to have a good quality, solidly built and fulfilling life; one that isn’t so completely defined by stuff and ownership, and much more driven by social software solutions.

    The thing is, it isn’t just the ecosphere that is under siege, but so is our own social/existential infrastructure. They are both heavily damaged and we probably aren’t going to move very far in this enterprise if we don’t simultaneously tackle both sides of that equation, because fixing the latter social software issues will challenge, motivate and drive fixing the former technoware, econoware and bioware ones.

    To break the inertia of the status quo is going to be difficult because it isn’t just a problem for economic capital, but its social/ideological retail arm as well. An economy driven by indulgence has over time reshaped the ideology of the Enlightenment in its own likeness and their privatizing and deregulatory visions are now very similar, equally entrenched and do exactly the same kind of damage to their respective areas of regime control.

    If we fail to recognize that, we won’t get to first base in the creating the consciousness shift necessary to get us to where we need to go.

    And if we reach the inevitable end of the unsustainability road, with populations held together by almost nothing else but visions of paradise brought to them by the proud sponsors, they will be facing the loss of their consumer trinkets, which are the only things left that make their chaotic and dysfunctional lives worth living….

    And one really won’t want to be around when that happens, unless one can offer them software packages that tick all the boxes that make sense of life in a constrained and rationed world.

    This sounds off thread, but it isn’t, because civilization shift isn’t just a technical problem. That is actually a quite small part of the answer. 90% of the transition, if it isn’t to become a ghastly mess, is going to be about hearts and minds.

    A sustainable, deprivatized, reregulated, disciplined and coherent social ideology is absolutely central to this. And if we seculars can’t get our act together, it will be one or several of the traditional religions that get the work. And if were a betting man, I’d put my money on Islam….

  22. Kelvin Jones

    September 27, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    #89 Chris… Well put, I must add that if society puts more energy into getting energy either human or secondary then the laws of physics decreases the amount of energy availble for the goodies of our current lifestyle.

    Fossil, uranium, wind, solar all cost nothing. It is only the cost in energy of transposing them into more and useable energy. It is human energy involved that costs money. Therefore as renewable systems superseed fossil, energy prices will rise..It is then we shall really see the problems really surface.

    Do this transition too quick would catastrophically damage civilisation as we know it. Probably just as badly as climate change.

    Life on earth will go on with or without humans, climate change or no climate change.

  23. Chris Harries

    September 27, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    (#87) Christopher, I think you do a disservice to Kelvin.

    I don’t believe Kelvin has written that we can’t trim our energy budgets. The main aim of society-at-large is not to trim energy budgets but to switch from one source (fossil fuels) to another (renewables or whatever) and to keep the economy roaring.

    One of the main problems that we have created is a widely held cultural delusion that this can be done easily and without changing much at all by way of lifestyles and behaviours. We just buy up millions of solar panels, household battery systems, electric cars and off we go again. This simplified image may not be yours, but it is what many millions of people in society now aspire to.

    When we put solar panels on the roofs of our homes it doesn’t mean we go gee. It doesn’t necessarily stop us from flying around the world in jets, enlarging our already large homes, buying bigger than ever fridges, buying a new car every few years, buying new clothing just to meet fashion…. and so forth, and so forth. Yet these two patterns of behaviour are totally incongruent.

    How did this pathology come about?

    What happened is that the environmental movement got sick and tired of being labelled too negative and doomsday and such. There’s plenty of feedback that the public doesn’t like hearing ‘pulling belts in’ messages. So what happened is that environmentalism shifted its focus quite markedly, around the turn of the Millennium. Basically most environmental groups have shifted from arguing that the world is finite in its capacity to absorb pollution and provide resources to: “We can save the world with renewable energy”. The populist message we hear now goes something like: “If, instead of applying the brakes, we press the accelerator hard we can beat coal and stop climate change and all will be fine.” In this way the original core business of environmentalist thought (conservation) is nowadays relegated to the back room.

    I absolutely appreciate why the movement switched to this ‘rah, rah’ sales pitch, but it has unfortunately sent delusory signals to society that we can have our cake and eat it too. By tooling up society with ‘clean’ technologies we can keep consumer society on the rails after all. Isn’t that a happy thought?

    What the movement has learned is that it is much easier telling people what they want to hear, rather than what they need to hear. The environmental meme of today is to – above all – be optimistic and this means feeding messages that are not too disquieting and not too threatening to our way of life or the economy.

    We need to re-balance those messages. We’ve gone a tad too far in that direction.

  24. max

    September 27, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    # 85 Kelvin, what you are saying makes perfect sense in a modern world but it is this modern world that we have created that is going to destroy any future survival of the human race. The world as we know it is sitting on a knife edge, the tipping point for runner way global warming may already have passed. It is now doubtful that polar ice will continue to protect us from the release of trillions of tonnes of frozen methane. We are possibly damned if we stopped co2 release but we will be double damned if we don’t.

  25. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    September 27, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    Kelvin, I am not disputing your point insofar as you make it, but it is a sobering thing to do to just compare energy use in Australia and say Bangladesh…as measured by kilograms of oil equivalent per head of population, according to Wikipedia.

    Australians consumed in 2013, 5,586.3 koe and the Bangladeshis consumed 215.5 There are figures for Australia in 2014 which went down slightly, but no figures for Bangladesh. However, since 2003, Bangladesh figures have been going up slowly, so it will be a little bit more.

    So please Kelvin, spare us arguments that we can’t trim our energy budgets just a teeny weeny bit. We are not far behind those egregious energy guzzlers, the US of A, which in 2013 gobbled down 6915.8 koe.

    Our carbon emission tons per head is equally awful. And the thing is Kelvin, the Bangladeshis, who are contributing next to nothing to the global rise in temperatures are wearing the consequences of them as we speak; the massive flooding they have recently experienced.

    Yes I know one cannot point to a particular storm and say that one is a result of global warming. But what you can say is that the combination of ice melt rises in sea levels combined with higher surface water temperatures are going to produce more really dreadful storm and flood damage more often over time.

    I really do not want to hear the excuses why we can’t be moving out of the era of ridiculously inflated energy and pollution per head into something a little less threatening to our common future All I am interested in his hearing how we can do it and how soon we are going to get our skates on and get it done.

    Now Kelvin, do you get it or don’t you?

  26. Frank Strie, Terra-Preta Developments

    September 27, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    Biochar : a regional supply chain approach in view of climate change mitigation
    https://searchworks.stanford.edu/view/11879277

    “Climate change poses a fundamental threat to humanity, and thus solutions for both mitigation and adaptation strategies are becoming increasingly necessary. Biochar can offer a range of environmental services, such as reclamation of degraded land, improvement of soil fertility and carbon sequestration. However, it also raises questions, regarding sustainable feedstock provision, biomass pyrolysis, and soil amendment. These questions, among various others, are addressed in this state-of-the-art compendium. Covering a broad geographical range, with regional assessments from North America, Europe, the Near East, and Southeast Asia, this interdisciplinary volume focuses on the entire biochar supply chain, from the availability and economics of biomass resources, to pyrolysis, and ultimately to the impacts on soil properties. The combination of theory with practical examples makes this a valuable book for researchers, policymakers, and graduate students alike, in fields such as soil science, sustainable development, climate change mitigation, biomass and bioenergy, forestry, and environmental engineering.” …

    MORE: http://wastetowisdom.com/feed

  27. Kelvin Joes

    September 27, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Australia’s carbon emissions from power generation are so low compared to the total sources of carbon emission from power generation world wide as to be insignificant.

    What is significant, is the amount of coal and gas Australia exports to the world.

    Hypercritically we import huge quantities of manufactured goods with embedded energy that has been produced by fossil fuel power generation. Some of that fossil fuel is the very fuel we export.

    For Australia to be a major influence in lowering carbon emissions globally then cessation of coal and gas exports would seem to be the most instantaneously effective way.

    Cessation of oil and gas would also mean iron ore exports would cease and the Australian monetary economy fail.

    There is a desperate need by the Northern Hemisphere for gas for domestic, industrial and agricultural fertiliser.

    A sudden shortage of Australian fossil fuels would effectively incapacitate the world energy economy and go on to seriously affect food supplies.

    If you study the curve of the energy ascent of modern man against the social ascent. It is the energy technology which precedes. New and revised social, industrial structures are built on technical energy breakthrough’s. There are some brilliant programs on SBS at the moment which show how the railways changed the pattern of life in Britain in the 1800’s including food distribution and production. These socially derived structures are hard to break when trying to remove energy from the system.

    There is still the tendency in this debate to move to the micro and particular the micro of Tasmania. That the status quo can be maintained by simply switching to current renewable technology. However how many wind turbines we put up and how many hundreds of kms of transmission line needed to connect them. The energy density of both wind a solar, particularly solar are too low therefore they need large collection areas to compete with high density fossil fuel apart from being intermittent.

    We are putting more energy into our renewable energy systems than we get out. The gain factor of the system drops.

  28. Chris Harries

    September 27, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    Trevor (#83) if you would like to be thought of as one who has positive attitude to dealing with the human predicament, then it would be helpful for you to outline what you believe that the predicament to be and how you would respond – other than offering cynical observations on other people’s efforts.

    With respect to you, I don’t think you are overly enamoured by status quo politics (or are you?) but you do appear to reserve your harshest, embittered criticisms for those concerned citizens who do their level best to offer ways forward.

    What is the Trevor G Cowles’ manifesto?

  29. TGC

    September 27, 2017 at 12:45 am

    #81 “I respect all the who have a positive attitude to dealing with the human predicament”
    Thank you – appreciate being “respected”

  30. William Boeder

    September 26, 2017 at 11:29 pm

    #80. Thank you Tony for simplifying the options of that which I am without any qualification nor even a fulsome credible understanding of electrics, also that the matter of electricity power may verily be your speciality domain.
    Far better for all that you have here simplified the means to achieve the most optimal results within your comment of reply.
    Tasmania is in need of many more of the ilk of Tony Stone.

  31. Chris Harries

    September 26, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    (#79) Sceptical yes, Trevor, but not cynically negative. The article is about what renewables can and can’t do. There’s a fairly large grey area in between. I respect all the who have a positive attitude to dealing with the human predicament. But, society needs to learn that technology can’t fix that predicament because the causes of it are mainly social.

  32. Tony Stone

    September 26, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    Chris #76, suppose I may fit the category of a technophiliac, although with certain reservations.

    My interest is in technologies which improve our lives and are not destructive, unlike buying a new phone every time one comes out, or spending my money in super markets and cheap junk shops.

    If there were no alternatives to the products of fossil fuels, then would agree with you entirely.

    There is an alternative which will provide us with all the needs of long term renewable energy components and everything else we currently use. But with some controls we lack at the present time.

    The alternative is seed oils, which are already capable of being used for fuels, plastics, materials and we have the new product graphene, which is incredibly strong, super conductive.

    Graphene can be sourced from seed oils and other natural renewable products easily, with little energy needed and these can replace just about everything we get from fossil oils.

    Seed oils as a fuel produce 80% less green house gases as fossil fuels, so can be used in a transitional manner until we have heavy haulage electric vehicles.

    For us to survive as a society and progress sustainably, we need to change our approach and use of resources, so they become sustainable. The only way to do that, is to make everything last, easily repaired, upgraded or recycled.

    William #78, There is no need for 12v in off grid homes, except for the storage system. Now everything runs through 240v inverters and they come in any size you want, even 12kw and above.

    No need to change anything in your home, just plug the inverter into your house wiring and off you go, (need an electrician). It’s not expensive, people can slowly change their homes and businesses.

    Starting with changing their 240v incandescent globes to leds, when buying big appliances getting those running on inverter technologies, change your electric hot plates to induction and solar hot water.

    With a lifepo4 system, when your energy pack is full, you can redirect the energy to heating water. We run a 5kw A/C during summer on hot days easily and still have a full pack at night, because of our long days.

    Everything you need is available on the internet and cheap compared to what some solar companies charge. Things like the Tesla Powerwall are a complete rip off and you can set up your home for half the cost of just their storage system.

    They use li-ion, which are known to overheat and explode, hence the need for cooling system in them.

    However lifepo4 is extremely safe, won’t over heat and won’t explode. If Tas went the same way some of us have we would all have a much better energy secure life, and zero power bills after outlay is recovered.

    The savings from living with renewable energy are massive and achievable for everyone.

  33. TGC

    September 26, 2017 at 9:35 pm

    Is #76 showing signs of ‘scepticism’ about some (many) of the claims being made for enironmentally advantageous alternatives- of many kinds?

  34. William Boeder

    September 26, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    Hello Tony Stone, full marks to yourself for your escape from the grid.
    I recall that there are others situated the same as yourself and I am unable to say how proud I am of you persons who have struck out on your own and can very pleased with yourselves.

    There is money to be made if a person comes forward with a kit comprising of the item needs this includes the wiring essential for the 12 volts and the LED’s, the inverter that will by necessity have to be able to facilitate up to a certain KVA, the number or panels or area of roofing surface required for voltaic cell exposure.
    As for storage purposes I am asking if the current huge battery pack(s) as used on a great many factory-floor fork-lift vehicles, (vehicles cos you can drive them) are these the very type of batteries you have referred to in the above Alan?

    Perhaps Claire Gilmour would like to add her knowledge and experience if she has the time, I understand her home is fully functional so requires no external or grid electricity power.
    So Alan do you consider a kit of the listed requirements and instructions, along with the bits one must purchase or acquire to get the show on the road?
    Not forgetting that an Electrician will be necessary to provide and apply his expertise then his accreditation, (for home insurance purposes.)

    I cannot see how an “items necessary list” containing the location or agencies where the items in the above are available, perhaps better referred to as a list of products required,
    so a product list and instruction manual as well as where all the mentioned in the above items
    are available, should round out to a sales product in its own.
    I would be hopeful that such a self-sustaining independence-providing objective may have its appeal to the out-of-towners who seek to be self sufficient, only then will there be more individuals inclined to do as you have done Alan?

    Sometimes a gradual accumulation of said items may make this objective more amenable and or appealing as the total outlay-cost for such an amount of power independence will not be $$minimal in its totality.
    For those persons dwelling adjacent to a fast flowing water course or creek etc will have another source of incoming power in locating a small turbine to take advantage of that perennial or year round water flow.
    alternative opinions are welcomed.

  35. Russell

    September 26, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    Re #64 & #65
    Please don’t forget to include all the existing Hydro on top of the 1.5GW solar I am talking about.

    We shouldn’t even be considering exporting or importing power to and from other states.

    Re #75
    Absolutely Tony. The proof and technology is already there, only the will and independent leadership free from vested interests is missing.

  36. Chris Harries

    September 26, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    Admirable optimism and enthusiasm there, Tony. (#75)

    May I ask you: Do you believe that there are any Limits? The reason I ask is that some renewables enthusiasts have even asserted to me that the Limits to Growth theory is now debunked and (they argue) that this is because the authors of that treatise hadn’t imagined the magic of renewable energy.

    I don’t go along with that idea, but wonder if it is becoming broadly acceptable within environmental circles.

    My humble perspective is that there are fatal flaws in using reductionist analysis. A cradle-to-grave analysis of energy futures has to take into account diminishing energy and financial returns and the blunt reality that even the manufacture of renewable energy technologies is utterly dependent on the fossil-fueled society that we live in. This includes not only the manufacture of components and transport but various other inputs such as concreted foundations, roading, civil works and steel, plastic and aluminium fabricated structures.

    Ok… I do read your post in the true context that Tasmania has the fortune of having an existing hydro-electric base-load energy system. Few places in the world have that lucky geography and thus advantage. Insofar as we can try to be an isolated island in a crazy world we do have a lot of advantages and are technically better placed than every other state in terms of energy futures.

    I just keep coming back to the prior need to deal with energy demand and what we need energy for – because too many technophilic people have stars in their eyes and, without knowing it, are hell bent on ransacking the world’s remaining resources in the name of sustainability.

  37. Tony Stone

    September 26, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    I’m energy self sufficient in power and have been for decades, as are a number of others I know in Tas.

    So it’s a good laugh at the depth of ignorance and denial being shown by many and shows how far most live from the reality of the real world and not the fantasy one in their heads.

    Tasmania has one of the best opportunities on the planet to demonstrate how renewables could work and make a fortune in exporting the results of that approach.

    One of the problems I see in the reluctance to take up 21st century renewables is lack of knowledge and experience with the technology.

    Before the introduction of lifepo4 energy cells we needed 2-3000ah of lead acid storage to get through a day, running on a combination of 12v and 240v.

    Eleven years ago, obtained a 120ah x 12v set of lifeoo4 cells to play with, at great expense. One year later, made the plunge and got a 700ah lifepo4 pack to see how the house would run on it and get more cells later.

    After 10 years, haven’t got any more cells for the house, those 700ah, along with led lighting, induction cooking and inverter controlled appliances lets us live very comfortably with no downsizing in comforts or usage and so far after 10 years, there is no loss in capacity of the cells.

    The reason behind this is lifepo4 charges and discharges at more than 10 times the rate of lead acid, so you can have just a couple of hours of sunlight a day and our 4.2kw of solar has our pack full very quickly. If the sunlight continues for another couple of hours, we can use as much power as we like and still have a full pack by sundown.

    My 120ah pack now 11 years old, is used as a portable power pack round the farm and with an inverter, has driven a mig welder in the bush through a 3-5kw PSW 12v inverter

    So it is not unreasonable to claim that we could put solar on every homes and business, manufactured in Tas and use lifepo4 storage to drive the homes at a reasonable cost. Which people could repay by putting their excess energy back into the grid, which could only work of we had local area grids which kept areas self sufficient in energy.

    Then we could use our hydro to drive manufacturing and bring in solar furnaces and salt storage. Plus we have the opportunity to refine wave and tide generation, around our coast further supplementing energy.

    We may have to curtail some energy use over night in towns and cities,but that shouldn’t effect our live, other than in a beneficial way.

    It’s doable and if we did it properly, we would not only provide the people with really cheap energy costs, but ensure we would have ongoing renewable energy supplies and exports.

    Only one reason there will be no change to renewables in the foreseeable future, the demand for profit growth for the political systems donating vested interests.

    There is no way the pollies of all persuasions will change from that mantra, they are only in it for their egos and future payback from corporate supporters.

  38. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    September 26, 2017 at 2:42 am

    TGC, what I am talking about is shifting our economy out of private consumption into ecological fortification; i.e., proofing it against adverse environmental events.

    This might mean shifting economic effort out of consumer malls into water infrastructure that will withstand 20 year droughts; recruiting standing civil defence armies that can bring substantial fire fighting resources to bear on a bushfire within five minutes of detection; paying the farming sector so it can make its infrastructure more resilient and less external input dependent; eliminating weed and feral animal pests and not just partially controlling them; putting everyone on an energy budget/ration, so that everyone lives within their ecological means, as well as their financial ones; using energy efficiency and economies of scale to reduce consumption rather than increase it through the mechanism of lower prices/higher volumes, and divert time saved to ecological defence and social reinforcement works; return resources and regulation to domestic life so that it can once again become critical infrastructure for the most important product we make…our children.

    It would be capitalism ‘lite’. It would redefine and extend wealth types and costs associated with them to include elements that are now externalised from the accounts. Capital would become an auxiliary of the economy instead of its ruler, which is what its position roughly was at the beginning of the modern period.

    If one realistically costs modern car transport against distance traveled, the real speed for most wage earners is about walking pace, so why not walk instead within settlement structures where everything is in walking distance?

    This is what a post-modern society may look like….

  39. TGC

    September 26, 2017 at 12:17 am

    #72 “So what needs to be happening is getting civil society to start gearing up for gearing down by clearly delineating to it that there is absolutely no other way of saving our future, because if we fudge this, it will not be a soft landing.”
    So. that should mean putting up For Sale signs is misleading because the idea is to discourage people from buying.

  40. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    September 24, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    I am aware of what a wartime economy looks like Kelvin, and if we are going to get out of trouble, we will need to do something along those lines. It may not have to be quite as drastic as 1949-1940, but we still have to get our skates on.

    More than anything, this is the conversation we need to be having. We are in the middle of a ‘phony war’, because everyone is behaving as if it were really ‘peacetime’ business as usual. It isn’t.

    The current ‘standard of living’ is out of the question at its present levels. The consumer economy that has developed over the last 50-70 years has to be shut down in favor of saving our collective necks.

    I am old enough to remember how much less we needed back in the fifties, which was a lot more than what my parents had back in the thirties. And yes, it will be a major disruption of the status quo.

    So what needs to be happening is getting civil society to start gearing up for gearing down by clearly delineating to it that there is absolutely no other way of saving our future, because if we fudge this, it will not be a soft landing.

  41. max

    September 24, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    # 69. Christopher.
    We are already miles behind the eight ball. We have got a lot of fast catching up to do. So why the devil are we having this inane conversation?
    We have run out of time for inane conversations if there ever was time for this stupidity.
    “The great concern is the rapid rise, over the last three years, in methane levels in the atmosphere. Methane is a gas with 28 times the planet-heating power of carbon dioxide. Scientists estimate there may be as much as 5 trillion tonnes of it locked in permafrost and seabed deposits.
    “There is mounting evidence that, as the planet warms due to human activity, these vast reserves of greenhouse gas are now starting to melt and vent naturally. The Earth’s past history shows this could unleash runaway global warming, driving up planetary temperatures by as much as 9 or 10 degrees Celsius.
    “At such temperatures, some scientists consider there is a high risk the planet would become uninhabitable to humans and large animals,
    Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-04-early-out-of-control-climate.html#jCp

  42. Kelvin Jones

    September 24, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    #69… Christopher.. It seems to me we are “dammed if we do or dammed if we don’t.

    The primary thrust of the article was the running of a lower density energy society. This has occurred in history to some societies. Some in very rapid time usually through war.

    The nearest to our situation I can think of was the UK in WWII.. Even though by today’s standards it was a lower energy density society mainly caused by less efficient machines of that era.

    Incidentally there was the opposite of the aeroplane analogy (#66&68;)in the Battle of Britain. About half way through USA supplies of high octane fuel came through. This gave the UK fighters a very useful increase in power. With the very short times from scramble to intercept and height being the key to a dominant intercept. The increase in power gave a very much higher rate of climb.

    The German submarine blockade reduced the effective UK energy needs. Home coal was support for industry. Oil was fully imported therefore highly regulated. Fuel was only supplied for Motor vehicles which had approved purposes. Food was rationed in highly controlled way for the minimum calorie controlled diet. Some fats were used as chemical feedstock for munitions. Industry stopped making all but the very essential domestic goods. In effect energy was redirected to war needs and denied to all but essential domestic purposes. All available reserves (wriggle room) disappear.

    This all happened in a matter of weeks. As we are not not moving energy to a major war effort the effect of suddenly reducing our energy density suddenly to reduce greenhouse even so would have similar effect on the domestic standard of living.

    Use of vehicle, even electric cars require energy, there will be not much left over from your roof full of solar cells after running your car let alone two or more. Steel production drops because of the huge amount of coal energy needed. Meat production reduces as methane emissions are super greenhouse. Grain fed meat and farmed salmon cease as they energy inefficient. Nitrogen Fertilises production cease and crop production reduces dramatically. Cement and high energy building products are very limited.

    You either give what you can produce with energy you can allocate over a smaller population or spread it thinner over the existing population. In other words a lower standard of living.

    Moving very rapidly to a lower energy density society is fraught with so much danger of instability that correcting the created problem will consume more fossil energy than saved. This is because the renewables currently do not have enough energy gain to provide a self sustaining energy envelope for the current population.

  43. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    September 24, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Kelvin, if the transition to an electrified renewables powered grid was convenient and easy, we would have done it ages ago. Now that we have to do it to avoid absolutely disastrous climate change, the money is pouring in and the cost/reliability of the new energy and storage system are, as you would expect, improving a lot faster than anyone predicted.

    We can argue the point as to whether the new system is going to be as easy to run as the old one, and the extent that we are going to have to make changes in the way we do business, but that isn’t the point.

    The Germans moved to synthetic fuel after they lost access to oil fields, because despite the fact that it was fantastically expensive, they had to do it to stay in the war.

    It is the same with us. Industrial society simply cannot afford to deal with what climate change is going to do to us. The warnings were out there 30-50 years ago and we should have been dealing with it then.

    And Kelvin, we are already in the middle of a general environmental emergency; not just a climate warming problem. We cannot go on with current levels of throughput and demand on the ecosphere. And again, the warnings have been out there for 30-50 years.

    We are already miles behind the eight ball. We have got a lot of fast catching up to do. So why the devil are we having this inane conversation?

    The conversation needs to be about how we can move as rapidly as a military operation that is going to take us in the direction of retreat from present positions into ecologically fortifiable and sustainably defensible ones. And like in any war/emergency, sacrifices will be required and the conveniences of business-as-usual will have to go. We are going to have to prioritize what we keep, how much it has to be rationed and what we have to let go.

    And the sooner we get going on this, the less expensive is going to be in the longer term

  44. Kelvin Jones

    September 24, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    #67 Most people do not understand what a compact high output device a power station is.

    #66 cont…. Perhaps we can add more to the aeroplane analogy.

    When the pilot lands at the remote emergency airfield he refuels with standard high energy fuel. However, learns that this is last of high energy fuel. Every where in the world new supplies of fuel are the low energy kind.

    The pilot has a decision to make where to fly his plane next. For once back on the ground and refueled only with low energy fuel he will never be able to take off again. The engines will never develop enough power to take off again.

  45. Chris Harries

    September 24, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    (#66)
    Yes, it’s good put the Tasmanian power system into perspective. Too many people have a wildly inflated idea of its size.

    Our entire network of dams when combined produces about the same energy output as one large-scale coal fired power station.

    That’s not to understate the value of the Tasmanian hydro-electric power system… just that many people get the silly idea that we could power the Mainland. We don’t even power ourselves with it.

  46. Kelvin Jones

    September 24, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    #64… The Tasmanian annual consumption is around 10,000 gWatt hrs. Hazelwood had a capacity to produce 14,000 gWatt hrs and Liddell 17,500 gWatt hrs per annum.

    1.5 gWatt per annum is really quite a small amount for the massive investment in embedded energy of solar panels. Some of that I notice is coming from extra wind.

    This is reoccurring per cent with renewables for an industrial society.

    A simple understanding of suddenly moving to a low density energy society , I will use a more advanced aeroplane analogy.

    Lets say one of our big airliners is fitted out only for first class travel. The particular aeroplane has two equal capacity fuel tanks. One is filled with normal high density fuel and the other unknowingly filled with fuel that half the energy value.

    The aeroplane takes off on a long haul flight taking fuel from the high energy fuel tanks and cruises until the tank is empty when the engines are auto switched to the low energy fuel.

    Suddenly the power from the engines drops significantly, the aeroplane cannot maintain height and slows considerably. Momentarily the pilot loses control as the plane falls. The pilot regains control by pushing the throttles wide open allowing more fuel to the engines.

    The pilot contacts the ground and the problem is quickly identified.

    The pilot then recalculates his flight plan and realises to keep the plane flying at the present fuel consumption he will not make his destination. The conserve fuel he switches off the all the passenger power reducing the passenger comfort to the minimum. He has to divert to an airfield within the range of the remaining fuel.

    Australia has lost a lot of time tying to move to a low energy density society. When the high energy power generators were switched off the system went into failure and then reduced performance.

  47. TGC

    September 24, 2017 at 12:12 am

    #63 Is getting sillier by each post- if you can’t see a coal fired station – how can you judge its ‘ugliness’ How many Australians have seen onw?
    Absolutely no-one can avoid seeing solar panels on the roof of buildings – The Great Australian Ugliness

  48. Russell

    September 23, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    Re #62
    What failings?

    I repeat – 1.5GW of electricity extra into the grid which could be provided just by having all Tasmanian homes solar powered is MORE than Hazelwood or Liddell coal-fired power stations can produce.

    Can you imagine how much electricity generation could be produced/saved if Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane did the same?

  49. Russell

    September 23, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    Re #61

    No-one said anything about where they were, just the “ugliness”.

    Comfortable homes means you use LESS energy when you use your brains and install appropriate insulation and energy efficiencies, NOT putting in a BIGGER electric heater!!!

    (edited)

  50. Kelvin Jones

    September 23, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    #56 -#61 and others. For the last 20 years the majority of the high density world has concentrated on maintaining the status quo by trying to replace fossil power generation with renewables which have lower energy profile than fossil. We have wasted billions of dollars. In trying to do so.

    Further we have neglected, even though quite early in this period it was becoming quite clear that renewables had these failings. Our current energy generators.

    Why…. Because it was the status quo of the monetary economic system that was trying to be preserved and of current vested interests.

    The hope was by the “establishment” and conventional economic theory and past experience, that technology would come to the rescue.

    It has not and we are at the 11th hour and in some time zones one minute to midnight, from energy shortfall. With a lot of clapped out coal power stations anr nothing to replace them.

    If in the last 20 years we had looked at the consumption side and upgraded our building technology and other energy hungry systems. This in a way to better match the new renewable supply technology operational envelope.

    The current federal debate is still more about democratic/monetary power than it is facing the reality that it is our primary and secondary energy systems that drive us a biological engines and our way of life and our level of civilised population.

  51. TGC

    September 23, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    #60 may be able to direct TT readers to the “coal-fired power stations…” in the district in which he lives and compare their ‘ugliness’ to the (too often badly sited) solar systems in the same area.
    And at #58 that ‘we’ are becoming more demanding of ‘comfortable homes’ is itself a clear indicator that rising demand for energy- even to manufacture ‘triple-glazed’ windows- an unnecessary indulgence in Tasmania-is a continuum
    Quoting insignificant individual efforts to keep keep down personal energy costs- ignores the ‘big picture.’

  52. Russell

    September 23, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    Re #59
    And coal-fired power stations aren’t?

    How about coming up with definitive answers and proof just once, instead of inane snipes?

  53. TGC

    September 23, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    #56– Still “Ugly”! and #56 appears to be suggesting that there will not be “increased demand” for ‘energy’

  54. Russell

    September 23, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    Re #57
    Exactly William, I was just discussing these points this morning.

    In many parts of Europe and North America it is mandatory in building standards to have a minimum of double-glazed windows and certain rating insulation much higher than Australia) to make buildings more energy efficient.

    I made some double-glazed window frames to slip in with the existing window frames and the difference they made was incredible. We went from having a heatpump set at 28C to get the little flat warm enough before installing the double-glazing down to 18C afterwards.

    Got the idea from here: http://www.clearcomfort.com.au/

    Then I sourced my own strong double-sided 3M tape from China for $30 and a 900m roll of shrink wrap (which should last me a life time) for about $200 delivered. They work brilliantly. I think just one equivalent triple-glazed glass window would currently cost a fortune in Australia because they aren’t readily available. In Europe and North America they are cheap because they are setup for it.

    In Australia, the Government perception seems to be that we must still be living in slab huts or tin sheds, and loving it.

    Higher rating insulation is only slightly more expensive than the lowest rating rubbish (just check next time you’re in Bunnings), so you would be silly not to go for as high a rating as possible (in the roof, walls and under the floor). The energy savings will pay for it inside 12 months of installation.

  55. William Boeder

    September 22, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    Thanks Chris and other participating forum attendees, many with cogent opinions and fine suggestions of course, though there is one aspect not yet fully explored.
    I now touch upon the means to reduce the domestic consumption of electrical energy.

    My references toward governments in a prior comment is relative, can anyone imagine the political persons in just this State, advocating for reduced electricity consumption revenues pouring into Aurora and etc.
    Though as to LED devices I would have to defer to persons far more knowledgeable than myself in the topical matter toward the use of domestic LED lighting within one’s home.
    I wonder if Pete Godfrey will add further of his vast knowledge of electrical contrivances and systems into this discussion matter?

    Can there not be the implementation of inverters primarily to ramp up the volt power from an alternate feed in device. (eg; Solar or voltaic cell power feed-in to a battery pack.)
    Again it will invariably come down to the equation of the costs benefits attached thereto.

    https://www.powercor.com.au/media/1256/fact-sheet-how-electricity-is-used.pdf
    Though this returns us to principal need for battery power and or storage.

    sourcehttps://inverter.com.au/?gclid=Cj0KEQjwjJjOBRDVgp2F3769gOwBEiQAfvnvBFRCsJNZFavZjYq9ljbjIzXKHbjDNElLF3MqaWd-UegaAj2m8P8HAQ

    Another concept can be the full Monty of suitable insulation use within the home.

    I know this example is going to batter about the minds of many persons, I was once acquainted with an old time plumber who had brought out a large thermos from within one of his cupboards and by his boiling a large full jug once only per day, the rest of that boiling hot water went into the thermos for later cups of tea and coffee for the duration of each day. That was the from the mind of old Les, now RIP.

  56. Russell

    September 22, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    Re #53
    It shouldn’t have anything to do with HIA or TASCOSS or any other lobby group. This is a matter of survival of the planet. The same as was the case with refrigerants and the ozone layer depletion, or just minimum building standards being brought in for cyclone coding.

    Re #55
    Do you ever bother trying to understand what you are reading, Trevor, or do you just concentrate on parrotting politicians because it’s easier?

    1.5GW of electricity extra into the grid which could be provided just by having all Tasmanian homes solar powered is MORE than Hazelwood or Liddell coal-fired power stations can produce.

    Can you get your head around that fact?

    Can you imagine how much electricity generation could be produced/saved if Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane did the same?

    “Increased demand”, as you are focused on, would be easily catered for by existing generators (eg: Hydro).

    Please give us your detailed insights of what “increased demand” will consist of?

  57. TGC

    September 22, 2017 at 12:08 am

    Suggesting- even perhaps insisting- that much more solar capacity should be installed in Tasmania mainly via the roof of most buildings may be ok in the strict energy benefit/reduced cost of debate- although some of the economics could be doubtfully optimistic- but all that aside- wouldn’t it be pretty ugly?
    And, as is suggested – creating a climate (no pun intended) of ‘let’s make do with less’ is probably a bridge too far and so discussions about ‘energy’ and ‘economy’ may be better focused on meeting the almost certain reality of increased demand.

  58. Kelvin Jones

    September 21, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    #50 Chris… Your reference to the Basslink saga and the exploitations of the dam reserves for cash.

    Whilst I am some what cynical of the politicians performance in current energy debate as to their CV to produce technically rational outcomes. At least they wrestling with abstract energy problems which are not obvious and have origins in the more obscure behavior of the laws governing energy physics.

    If the Tasmanian government did not know what they were doing when they ran down the reserves then I am very deeply concerned as to the competency our State government.

    Like you I have confidence in ability of the Hydro engineers and staff to manage the system in the interests of Tasmanians.

    I also think in numerous filing cabinets at Hydro HQ there are folders marked “most secret” containing engineering surveys concerning many of the hotly debated items of dam hydrology that appear in the columns of TTimes.

  59. Chris Harries

    September 21, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    Not disagreeing with your Russell (#49), but I also don’t think it would be plain sailing. Put that idea by the HIA and see what they have to say about it. They lobby hard against any mandates on housing. Not to mention groups like TASCOSS.

    A big part of the problem is that everyone wants the problem solved so long as it doesn’t affect them or their agendas. That’s why the carbon price got ditched.

    Reforms take a very long time to sell and get through. But do go for it. These proposals aren’t new and there’s no time like the present.

  60. Russell

    September 21, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    Re #50
    Which ended up costing Tasmanians 180 million dollars for Asian diesel generators!

  61. Chris Harries

    September 21, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    Yep, Kelvin (#49). In Tasmania the same applied, whereby Treasury bods were effectively dictating management of hydro storages as Tasmania tried to get maximum financial advantage from the national carbon price, rendering the system very vulnerable as storages were run down to minimum.

    Left in the hands of Hydro engineers I don’t think the Basslink breakage debacle would have been nearly as serious – and may not have happened at all if overload was the actual cause of the break.

  62. Kelvin Jones

    September 21, 2017 at 6:12 pm

    #48 Chris. This includes our current clique of lawyer based politicians. Great qualification for arguing human rights at the United Nations but they are floundering hopelessly with the energy debate as are their main advisers and mandarins whose monetary economic theories are being chewed on their backsides by the laws of energy physics.

  63. Russell

    September 21, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Re #46
    You would implement change within planning rules, just the same as cyclone codes, etc. have been mandated up north and elsewhere. Every building needs a roof, and there are already solar roofing systems available.

    It’s not hard, or that expensive. What IS expensive is same old same old head-up-arse Government inaction.

    The money saved from NOT investing in coal mines, Adani, backup diesel generators (as was Tassie’s case last year), etc. should also be spent subsidising solar installations on existing homes and businesses.

    Imagine the ongoing employment creation from such innovation and foresight.

  64. Chris Harries

    September 21, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    Thanks so much, Kelvin (#47). Saved me from making the same point.

    I think at any time there will only be a few people who will get their heads around that difference in perspective. We seem to be culturally conditioned to furthering the status quo even as it strangles us.

  65. Kelvin Jones

    September 21, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    #33 onwards and some previous. Seem to be missing the point of the original article that Chris Harries referee to. That was transferring to a way of life which had less energy consumption. I believe the words were “less energy dense”. Instead this the argument has degenerated into a scramble to get enough renewable energy to maintain the status quo.

    These are two distinctly separate scenarios.

    The original is achievable but life will not be quite what many people would desire by today’s life style. Jet plane to biplane. A jet plane uses much greater thrust to wing lift ratio and therefore much greater performance. A Biplane use wing lift to compensate for a lower engine power. It is is simple analogy but has reasonable parallels in science.

  66. Chris Harries

    September 21, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    Yep, Russell, (#42) that’s what the A.I. was advocating in the discussion paper.

    I guess the pertinent question is: How would you go about doing that? It requires a policy platform that’s workable and overcomes the structural problems that we have. Why isn’t third party leasing of roof space happening in a big way and what would it take to enable it to happen?

    Part of that impediment is the rules of the NEM. This is where you need an alternative economist that isn’t blinkered by status quo thinking.

  67. Keith Antonysen

    September 21, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    In the last decade the strongest ever hurricanes/typhoons/cyclones have been experienced.

    Some interesting statistics of Atlantic Category 5 Hurricanes:
    1851 – 1900 = 0
    1901 – 1930 = 2
    1931 – 1960 = 8
    1961 – 1990 = 10
    1991 – 2017 = 13

    Eric Holthaus, Meteorologist:

    http://twitter.com/ericholthaus/status/910016642104664064

    Joe Romm, Physicist writes:

    “Holland, the Director of NCAR’s Capacity Center for Climate and Weather Extremes, pointed out last week that “globally, the proportion of Cat 4 and 5 hurricanes has increased from ~20 percent of all hurricanes to around 40 percent due to climate change over the past 60 years.””

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate-scientists-rise-in-super-hurricanes-4596dfb294ee/

    Trend lines over decades displayed by El Nino and La Nina have also not been happy. Temperature recorded for El Nino have been increasing; also, global temperatures for La Nina years have been creeping up.

    What it amounts to is we can continue with creating more coal mines and coal powered stations with the expense being further costs created by extreme weather. We were very lucky in relation to Harvey, as there are Nuclear Power Stations along the SE USA coast that could easily have been overwhelmed.

    The costs created by Harvey, Irma, and Maria have been huge, with millions of people displaced and energy grids stuffed. Caribbean Islands have been particularly badly hit.

  68. Chris Harries

    September 21, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    William (#40), I’m partly reluctant to answer some questions because in the minds of the majority of the population the issue keeps reverting to: ‘What is the best way to power our non-sustainable society?’ The blunt answer is that there is no way. That’s why we need to look primarily at cultural solutions over and above power supply. The public debate is perennially fixated around a very small part of the problem rather than the big part.

    On the issue of bulk users, the powers-that-be don’t argue that those users are receiving power below cost. What they argue is that those industries have been here for a long while and they enjoy power that was generated in Tasmania’s very early hydro-schemes that have now been fully paid off. They also argue – with some justification, but their case is somewhat overcooked – that big users receive high voltage power at constant load so there are fewer costs in delivering it to them.

    There’s actually a need to understand and challenge that last rationale, because in reality the Tasmanian power system has been designed to incorporate some very large water storages (Great Lake and Lake Gordon being the largest) and the principle reason for having these very large storages is to enable bulk power to be supplied to major industries right through the long, dry Summer months. Household peak demand is in Winter when the Hydro receives most of its inflows, so there’s a very good match there between supply and demand. (The domestic sector can be supplied almost entirely with electricity from run-of-river hydro-electric schemes.)

    Thus the inordinate environmental cost to natural systems as well as major additional financial costs in building the Tasmanian hydro-electric system has been pivoted very much around the major bulk users’ needs. In this respect, yes they are subsidised to the hilt.

    That said, major industry is quite brutal in the way it plays to its own advantage. Their obvious bottom line is to make a profit and they will argue that if they have to pay more for power than their competitors do then they will just shut up shop. They know full well that this is like holding a gun to a government’s head, but it is in this way that the corporate world demands, and gets, low bulk energy prices – anywhere and everywhere, not just here.

    Meanwhile, right now Chine is going hammer and tongs building immense hydro-electric schemes in Indo-China and elsewhere and this is radically changing the profitability of smelting in places like Australia. Two of Australia’s 5 aluminium smelters have closed and we can expect that Bell Bay (being small in scale) may not have a long life here. This insecurity is understood, but it can be said that Hydro Tasmania doesn’t dread that scenario because such an event would add much more flexibility in their ability to play into the market on price.

    I think the political answer to your question about bulk users is that government knows very well that they are subsidised but are happy to fork out that subsidy because Treasury advises them that those businesses are fundamentally important for the stability of the Tasmanian economy. This may be challenged but it is what they really believe to be the case.

    The other way of looking at this subsidy issues is not to demand that big users get kicked out, but that rather than provide largess to them under the table all pricing and other advantages should be made transparent, in the public interest. The main bug bear for most people, over the decades, has been the political insistence on secrecy – those secrecy provisions being demanded by the recipient industries themselves. I think that’s what most people react negatively to.

  69. Russell

    September 21, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    Re #41
    Also, freeing up 1573GW of electricity by installing solar PV and hot water on all appropriate private housing in Tasmania is like replacing a VERY large coal-fired power station like Hazelwood or Liddell?

    And that’s just using Tasmania’s rooftops!

    How much baseload electricity would be freed up if Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane had solar PVs on all their roofs?

    I imagine there would never ever have to be another fossil-fueled power station built again.

  70. Russell

    September 21, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    Re #41
    Thanks Chris.

    So it would be significant in terms of freeing up the available existing baseload energy supply for industry expansion well into the future, while providing significant immediate domestic savings?

  71. Chris Harries

    September 21, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Russell, rather than take it from me the Australia Institute issued a discussion paper on this subject in July in which the issue of total solar potential in Tasmania was estimated.

    http://www.tai.org.au/sites/defualt/files/P409 Tasmania and the NEM.pdf

    Extracting the relevant part, the paper summarised solar contribution thus:

    • Increase Tasmania’s wind generation to around 12 per cent of current capacity

    • Install solar PV and hot water on all appropriate public housing, reducing total electricity demand in the state by about 0.6% and improving social equity

    •  Install solar PV and hot water on all appropriate private housing, reducing total electricity demand by about 15%. This would free up 1,573 GW h of electricity and gas for sale elsewhere and lower bills.

  72. William Boeder

    September 21, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    An important question to begin with in a follow up comment to that of my #35.
    Who was it or which government was the advocate pushing for the sale of our electricity distribution system throughout Australia?

    This non-Australian government ownership is always going to be an unpredictable factor as the external to Australia private interests of today are ever wholly concerned with profits, ever the first item on their agenda.
    (Re 50% plus increases to our domestic supplied electricity.)
    If one were to listen to the current leadership government there first reaction will be to advise that its somebody else’s fault.

    I myself believe that this nation must seek more alternative Renewable energy generation then to carefully consider that this can stored rather than just spin around on the grid, in say the means of a Elon Musk designed battery mammoth storage device.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/03/us-agency-says-has-beaten-elon-musk-gates-to-holy-grail-battery-storage

    First of all a couple of factors to consider, the first is throw out any Liberal government preferred system, this party has no interest in what is best for the consumer or even this State in itself. Fact!
    The Hydro Water Storage System was originally designed with the highs and lows of consumption in mind when volumes rise or lower in electricity demand.
    Another very important point to consider is to halt this desire of our Tasmanian government do their utmost to make money backwards.
    EG the cost to create and or import electricity is above the prices charged to major electricity usage customers.
    Could somebody please explain the logic of this rather idiotic State government business strategy.
    The objective must be that any and all power or energy that is created and or generated in Tasmania must not be to sell this resource below cost.
    The threats of this States existing highest power usage customers to exit the State if there is any change to their costs for power, can be offset by the losses incurred in having these major consumers paying below the base cost then add its multiplier effect added thereto, based on high volume usage of the prices set by foolishly allowing the sale of below cost of production electricity.
    If this kind of madness continues Australia will soon have to attach itself to the economic failing strategy of the American Administration insane practices.

  73. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    September 20, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    Thanks for that William. The sort of stuff you are raising forms part of a critique which was admirably put by the ACCC chair Rod Sims in his national address to the National Press Club a couple of days ago on the ABC. I confess that the situation is much more complex than I had imagined from just following ‘Renew Economy’. (http://www.abc.net.au/news/programs/national-press-club/).

    The thing is that what is so difficult for everybody is that there is no cheap or easy fix to take into the future. There were good reasons why using the compressed carbon from the solar powered atmosphere of the cretaceous period was and is so much more convenient and concentrated than using the more diffuse and variable ones on hand.

    Harris lays out all the options in terms of overcapacitating, load shifting, regional interconnects, renewables diversification, storage, learning to live with variable supply and of course, energy efficiency.

    Only the last one is cheap.

    When he looks at renewables energy in and energy out, the equation isn’t all that fantastic. It gets us out of the carbon dioxide problem, but it isn’t going to be a magic bullet that will enable us to swan along with the consumer society as it stands, indefinitely.

    While the renewables revolution is necessary, there is a lot of quite unjustified technological optimism packaged in with it, as if it were going to future proof us all.

    Buy that roof array, put in that battery and save for an electric car and we’ll be sweet. No we won’t. If the Chinese approach a car ownership rate similar to ours, that might mean hundreds of millions of extra cars on the global road grid. And then there are the Indians…..

    Our energy use per head has to drop dramatically, no matter where it comes from, if we are to live even vaguely within our ecological means. And that is going to mean not just industrial change that will ‘lighten up’ the load our damaged biosphere is staggering under, but cultural change as well, as we re-allocate priorities and address our equally damaged and staggering social infrastructure, that has been swept aside in the rush to join the production war effort, as third generation shop troops assault the malls, taking out bargains as they save while they spend……and production warriors heroically take on the world of 24/7, seeing their families, when they get the occasional time…..on leave from ‘the front’.

    Harris’ analysis is just the beginning…

  74. Russell

    September 20, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    Chris and Kelvin, thanks for your expertise so far.

    Without bringing regulations and politics or weather extremes into the equation would you be able to answer these specific questions again please?

    I hope I’ve cleared up the questions to be a bit more specific.

    1. Can you tell us what the effect (or average total energy supply) of full rooftop solar coverage in Tasmania might be capable of delivering during daylight hours (eg: at ~5Kw per home and 10-20Kw per business premise – both being grid connected systems only)?

    2. Could this then free up enough daytime ‘base-load’ power for Tasmanian industry now and into the future via existing Hydro outputs?

  75. Russell

    September 20, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    Re #33
    “What I am saying Russell is that modern society is making as much of a hash of dealing with the modern paradigm as Aboriginals did and are doing, and for very similar reasons”

    Then why insist that they ‘modernise’ just to become a part of the decline of ‘civilisation’? And on that subject, it is largely because of the Jews and their pure capitalistic agenda that the world is turning to shit, so I would give them an F minus as far as standards go. Religion is bullshit. Lies built on lies purely for oppression and profit. There are no “Jews”, maybe a handful, the rest are liars who can’t trace their ancestry to prove they are.

    I suggest you let Indigenous Australians decide which direction they choose to go in their own country. I’ll be with them.

    But we digress and I won’t be commenting further on this subject again in this thread.

  76. mike seabrook

    September 20, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    where is the logic in the tassie hydro buying intermittent wind generated electricity at est. 8 c per kwh whilst selling the electricity to an aluminium smelter or the hobart zinc works ( with other major contracted customers est. 60% of tassies electricity output) as base load at est. 4c per kwh

    what happens when the tassie treasury says that there will be no more of these massive (secretive) subsidies, paid for by the tassie battlers , farmers et al.?

  77. William Boeder

    September 20, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    #17.Christopher Eastman-Nagle, thank you for joining in with this popular Tasmanian forum you bring with you a frequently needed new source of opinion, then of opinions that carry merit.
    Though this does not suggest that your opinions are indeed correct, though often their contribution has beefed up the subject matter under discussion and aided in some healthy way of bringing a subject article closer to the time of its summary and conclusion.
    This same applies to many other contributors to the Tasmanian Times forum.

    It is appropriate here that one must introduce the costs of hosting the Australian electrical grid system, then the manner how the cost of such a system has been handed on to the various State’s of this country that are attached thereto that are called upon to fund this new enormously expensive middleman culture.
    The following links will add enormously to the subject matter of Australia’s State and Territory prices charged for the supply of this electrical energy, say just now, how that affects the domestic market supply.
    For there is a great deal of cost to host Australia’s grid system.
    Type into Google…….. owners of Australia’s many faceted National Electricity Market.
    Do not suddenly be surprised how much of this is owned by Chinese interests.
    The 2 links below give some extra material that has to be considered in the prices charged upon every household.

    http://www.hellogrid.com.au/the-grid/#!

    http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/sa-power-networks-owned-by-billionaire-li-kashing-makes-four-times-more-profit-out-of-us-than-its-uk-group/news-story/d00954c420ee1173a7549360eac879b7

    Another point of interest is to set to and do the mathematics of what the costs are that have since arisen and must be paid out per annum by consumers in Tasmania to have this State’s government seek the facility of the attachment to the National grid.
    Upon doing so then set to and consider the costs of the Bass-link upon every household, Only then will this this new introduced phenomenon, be recognized for what it has become.
    Further research should examine the intricacy of what the onerous burden of Tasmania’ attachment to the grid entails.
    A lot of information is to be found by looking into the mammoth tasks of Tasmania’s Energy Regulator.
    Unless one undertakes the abovementioned tasks, then a major point of discussion to the rising
    costs of electricity energy supply will be quite pointless.

  78. Chris Harries

    September 20, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    #31. Isn’t there an issue, too, of the (in)ability of batteries to instantly discharge high volumes of power all at once? If they are deployed to cater for an emergency situation there’s an expectation that they can pack a huge punch all at once, to cope with a critical emergency, like a voltage shock to the system.

    I’m not a battery expert but then the nature of chemistry tells me that they are limited in this regard and their life span is damaged if they are effectively short circuited. That’s not to say that battery banks can’t provide a useful buffer for managing general peaks and troughs. They can do this to some extent, but I wouldn’t rely on them totally for system security.

  79. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    September 20, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    What I am saying Russell is that modern society is making as much of a hash of dealing with the modern paradigm as Aboriginals did and are doing, and for very similar reasons

    And further, I am also suggesting that failure to come to terms with really unpalatable change is almost always disastrous, no matter who you are.

    We are having to contemplate the mortality of the modern period, just as aboriginals had to contemplate the end of hunting and gathering. It was and is a very tough gig.

    But I did say ‘almost’. There is one group of people on this planet that have pulled off the almost impossible, of keeping their culture and their land claims alive for nearly 2,000 years; the Jews.

    If the famous Jewish priest and historian Josephus could come back today and attend an orthodox passover feast, he would feel right at home, as if absolutely nothing had changed, and he would be right; nothing has. They have kept their culture absolutely pristinely original. They never let their land claim die either. Josephus would note that they got it back because they never wavered in their commitment to their covenant with Yahweh.

    Josephus would also note that outside the realm of religious observance, his Jewish friends were absolute strangers in a strange world, Yet he would observe that they were as committed to success in it as they were to their religious one. He would note that they are and always have been absurdly over-represented in the ambition and achievement stakes, because they knew that to get their land back, they had to excel in everything they did

    They are both ardent traditionalists, but supremely adaptable. And they have managed it in the teeth of extreme persecution and hostility for millennia. If you and and your Spirit Walker mate want to talk glibly about their culture, the Jews are the gold standard.

    To reach that standard requires complete and absolute discipline and commitment across the board to very high standards. Anything less robust than that just won’t make it. That is why most attempts to hang on to tradition fail and leave the devotees high and dry, living in a world that is falling to bits, because it is out of time, which is what is happening to the modern world now.

    The rule is, if you want to hang onto tradition, you have to be also adaptable, like the Japanese were; like the Jews. they are tough on themselves and tough on everyone else, when it comes to asserting their claims.

    We moderns need to be making the same journey we forced everyone else into in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. And so far, we are doing no better than our aboriginal brothers and sisters. It isn’t a good look for us, and it isn’t a good look for them.

    Hardly anyone is joining the dots, because to do so means admitting the awful and terrible truth that the future is less rather than more; that we must retreat onto sustainable ground rather than advance; and that we must contemplate abandonment of some of our most treasured cultural artefacts, because they will prevent us from getting to where we need to go.

    If we want some idea of what can happen to us if we do not pull our fingers out, check out what is going on in aboriginal ‘commoonites’. That is already happening to us, and it isn’t a pretty sight. Smashed up social infrastructure is only the beginning.

    In the end, failure to adapt is fatal and I am having the same conversation here about our culture as I am with my Spirit Walker brother and his people, about theirs.

  80. Kelvin Jones

    September 20, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    Oh I forgot.. The cost of that quantity of batteries would be around $70 billion. Battery life is also far too short.

  81. Kelvin Jones

    September 20, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    #21 Russell… Calculations on batteries is tricky. Current batteries are about 10 times low in energy density storage. Best I can get to support SA on 100% renewables would be about 2.1 million tonnes of Li-Ion and 7.5 of lead acid.

    A piece of coal is just a piece of high density energy. A 50 year old clapped out power station is just that. We should have built a new one to replace it They don’t have an infinite life like your motor vehicle.

    Currently renewable energy systems have shorter life than conventional generation and require more embedded energy. Their equivalent energy density is lower.

    It is also thought if a major event wiped out “civilised population” then the ancient self sustaining tribes would be the humans that would survive.

  82. Russell

    September 19, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    Re #28
    Then you are saying that ideally we should be aspiring more towards what Indigenous people have been saying and asking for for the past 200+ years and returning to real “progress” and “the future” which they choose for themselves.

    Which is the exact opposite to what you were saying in the other thread regarding Clinton Pryor’s walk for justice from Perth to Canberra along songlines where he gathered messages from all the Elders along the way to deliver to the PM, who chose to speak over the top of him instead of displaying leadership and diplomacy and quietly and patiently listening.

    I believe you just like to disagree with everyone else and if I agreed with you you would change tack.

  83. Christopher Nagle

    September 19, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    Perhaps I should tease out the claim that the only people who have a real handle on the crisis of not just the mechanisms of capitalism, but the modern project itself as an entire entity, are ISIS et al.

    I do not suggest for one second that ISIS and fellow travelers have a deliberate economic and technological agenda driving policy. What marks them out is that policy is primarily being driven by theological considerations and everything else has to fit in around that. Obedience to the word of the prophet overrides everything.

    The militant mullahs and their followers have turned capitalism into a servant rather than a master of their affairs. It is not that they reject private property or trade and manufacture for profit per se, but they do limit materialist ideology and greed. Spiritual (existential) ‘wealth’ is more prized than material wealth, because the latter only lasts a lifetime, but the former is forever. And the capital structures that dominate life are the mosques. Life revolves around them, from feeding the poor to feeding the heart. And they get 10% of everyone’s income, who isn’t chronically poor.

    The attitude and position of the medieval church was very similar and what marked the rise of Protestantism was a process of rationalizing and ‘consolidating’ that influence into ever smaller social/ideological territory as capitalism grew in power. Religion increasingly became for Sundays and secular commerce for the rest. The enforcement of moral conduct through ecclesiastical courts was stopped. Holy Days (holidays) were rationalized back so as not to disrupt industrial production.

    ISIS et al are re-establishing medieval traditions, including the re-introduction of ecclesiastical law (Sharia). It completely refocuses what is important and what isn’t. It takes back the power of the commons. It limits laissez-faire excesses. It doesn’t just deal with law/rule breakers, but people with an ‘attitude problem’. There are rules that cover every aspect of life, even in its smallest cracks and crevices. It makes people accountable and actively forbids behavior that threatens that commons and the security of its arrangements, like drinking alcohol, taking drugs and indulging in sexual malfeasance. It has religious police to enforce religious edicts. One’s spiritual life is treated as if it really matters, because it does. And crime and the drivers towards it are forced back and deeper into the shadows and cracks of our nature.

    A post-modern secular ideology might have very different social and cultural objectives and norms, but its attitude to the status of the commons and the necessity to regulate and enforce its edicts will be exactly the same; i.e., the end of laissez-faire; the end of privatization, deregulation and disinhibition in a world without boundaries or limits; and the end of indulgence economics, social practice and unlimited economic demand, as the locus of that demand shifts towards the software side of the economic equation.

    One day the status of a person’s character will carry much more weight than what that person owns. Too many possessions will be seen as an encumbrance, not an advantage, for they reduce attention on the main game. The pursuit of virtue over goods and services gain will have massive economic effects as capitalism is pushed out of the center and back into the margins of economic life; what I call, capitalism ‘lite’.

    What is being asserted here is that one cannot reduce the impact of capitalist production and its relations of consumption and consumer consciousness without sidelining it by pushing through new ideas about the meaning of wealth and a good life. and then entrenching them with resources that capitalism would have once monopolized.

    ISIS et al are the first cab off that rank. They won’t be the last, because sooner or later, it is going to dawn on even Blind Freddy that a world that pretends there are no ecological, economic, social and existential boundaries, or pretends that true north moral compass should take account of modern ideological exceptionalism and opportunism, is heading for the garbage heap of history.

  84. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    September 19, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    Yep Russell #27, if one reduced the population to what it was in 1788 and everybody was living a mesolithic stone age way of life, that would work.

    If you could justify to anyone a population of three quarters of million people on 7 million square kilometeres of continental land mass, well half your luck. I would be fascinated to know how you managed it.

  85. Russell

    September 19, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    Re #26
    In other words, Indigenous Australians had the perfect model for sustainable self-sufficiency 😉

  86. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    September 19, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    What makes this entire subject so difficult is that it is about everything; all the assumptions that made industrial society and the population growth that has come with it, possible; by ‘externalising’ the existential, social, economic and biological commons through imposing industrial accounting and social utilitarianism, which has led to long term policies of privatization, deregulation and dis-inhibition in conduct and attitude, and anything else that would slow down or obstruct the unlimited growth of goods and services production and its unlimited consumption.

    This extremist and ultimately totalitarian system has ratcheted that up in the twentieth century by turning all out war production run by military machines to all out production warfare run by marketing machines, whose operations (unlike conventional warfare) are not temporary, but permanently mobilizing populations 24/7, as if we were at war. But instead of bombing troops with military ordinance, we now bomb markets and shop troops with civil ordinance.

    What that has meant is that the real impacts have become so extreme, it doesn’t matter any more whether the ordinance is poison gas or perfume.

    The behavioral effects have been so extreme that they have dissolved all non warfare based social infrastructure that doesn’t support production warfare goals. All that is left are shop troops and production warriors, whose spiritual home is the shopping mall and producing and consuming as if there were no tomorrow, which there won’t be if we do not slow down economic machinery that has become an organism that no one really controls anymore.

    And let us not beat around the bush. The only people right now who have a plan that might even vaguely address what I am saying here….is ISIS, the Taliban and the conservative and fundamentalist van that sits behind them, which is now a cast of millions.

    This one is not a pretty sight, but neither will the secular equivalent be, when it eventually appears.

    Most of the conversation above is hardly scratching the surface, because if one goes any deeper than that, what one finds isn’t very nice.

  87. Chris

    September 19, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    How long before the Gutwhiner and the do nothing Fergies Son along with their leader in waiting Rocky and Clear Fellow Barny put the HEC onto the market so foreigners can own it and we can pay our bills by money transfer.
    Wee Willy eyebrows will rise when he realises he is done and nothing he has done amounts to nothing.

  88. Russell

    September 19, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    Re #23
    “Our problems are not primarily technological, they are mostly social and political.”

    Yep.

  89. Chris Harries

    September 19, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Worthwhile questions, Russell (#21). In theory, yes. Question is, how to? Anyone with a rooftop is free now to install solar. Barriers are lack of motivation and finance, but more so tariff prejudice if they do. Energy utilities could (should?) be directly engaged in rooftop solar leasing, but there are National Electricity Market rules that prevent them. The Australia Institute has recommended that Tasmania looks into withdrawing from the NEM. Easier than doing a Brexit.

    ‘Cutting the Basslink cable’ is a different issue. It would mean no opportunity to export surplus and legally we are bound by legally binding commitments to the Basslink owner to fork out to keep paying for it regardless. That said, it’s main role to date has been to import cheap coal power to keep the dams reasonably stocked up. Yet Basslink offers less security now in that regard.

    It seem that Hydro Tas is now relying much more on firing up Tamar Valley gas station than importing power over Basslink these days. Tamar Valley gas power can supply whatever back-up Tasmania needs until we manage to achieve over 100 percent renewable self sufficiency.

    There are too many ins and outs to quickly answer your propositions, but it’s worth noting this: Tasmania enjoyed a fully independent power system until 2006. Since then we’ve become more vulnerable and power consumption in Tas has dropped from 100% renewable to 90% and is still dropping.

    Technically we can very easily regain self sufficiency. Politically…. now that’s another question.

    BUT, do keep this in mind. Electrical energy constitutes just 35 percent of Tasmania’s total primary energy consumption. The rest is supplied by imported fossil fuels (petroleum products, coal, gas) and some endemic wood supply. We are totally beholden to the external world. Perennial fixation on Electricity as if that is the same as Energy means we keep ignoring most of our non-sustainability problems. But that applies across Australia not just here.

    Our problems are not primarily technological, they are mostly social and political.

  90. Kelvin Jones

    September 19, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    #20.. Carrying on.. The banker leads the majority of the affluent world population. They are people who do not contribute any of their own physical energy to either primary energy (agriculture) or secondary energy (human technology derived energy).

    As I mentioned earlier we GAIN energy, that there is a multiplier effect which is a product of either the living plant species in conveying sunlight to sugars and starches. In the case of secondary energy the efficiency of the technology of the essentially the conversion efficiency of the technology to convert an energy source, fossil, solar, wind or nuclear etc to usable energy.

    So we put some of our human energy (population) into both primary and secondary energy production and it is multiplied by the crop in the case of agriculture and by the secondary energy technology device (renewable or fossil etc).

    The fundamental problem is that we are an industrial agricultural energy economy. We feed part of our secondary energy boost our food output.

    If secondary energy gain drops even by a marginal amount it affects the input energy into the agriculture. This loss of secondary input into agriculture is the multiplied by the inherent GAIN factor of agriculture. We multiply a loss.

    #18 Michael… You mentioned wriggle room, yes that quite correct that is because we have been on an expanding energy GAIN system. Changing rapidly to renewable energy technology with its inferior performance envelope lowers the intrinsic gain of the secondary system.

    The maths of a GAIN system when going from expansion to contraction are dramatic and you find that wriggle room soon disappears.

    Then then both energy systems are locked by physical laws into a “catch22” situation into a rapidly increasing downward spiral.

  91. Russell

    September 19, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    Chris Harries and Kelvin Jones, three simple questions.

    Can you tell us what the effect of full rooftop solar coverage in Tasmania would be (eg: ~5Kw per home and 10-20Kw per business premise – both grid connected)?

    Would this then also free up enough ‘base-load’ power for Tasmanian industry now and into the future via existing Hydro?

    What size battery storage might be required to permanently keep the domestic lights on overnight in Tasmania if Hydro couldn’t guarantee it?

    Those Tasmanians with stand-alone systems already know it works and pay very little for a much cleaner (both environmentally and frequency-wise) energy. These people are usually less of a drain on other natural resources as they would also probably be self-sufficient in many other ways like growing their own healthy food and harvesting their own water, thus lessening the demand and their impact on the environment elsewhere, the health sytem, etc.

    Re #8
    I’m in agreeance with you Simon. Cut the cable and look after Tasmania. There’ll be another trawler drag their gear across the cable without question.

    Full rooftop solar, wind, wave, battery storage for overnight and keeping the hydro storage as full as possible.

    Re #6
    AGL publicly threw its Liddell coal-fired power station doors open last night in answer to the Federal Government’s misleading energy policy.

    The place is a workplace and environmental catastrophe waiting to happen. Even the bloody lifts don’t work! The erosion, corrosion and inefficiency of the plant is beyond economic repair, and the employees spend their whole days chasing one never-ending problem after another.

    Coal is going the way of the dinosaurs.

  92. Kelvin Jones

    September 18, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    #19..Chris… I think think this debate is tending to suggest there is no magic fix!!

    It is a very good debate and from someone who has studied technology and its effect on society past present and future through eyes of science fascinating.

    To me the core problem seems to biological – too many people on the planet. All wanting to consume more.

    #15 The URL to Prof Valclav Smil. His lecture pretty well sums this conclusion. This guy really knows how to look a the problem through eyes of science.

    #18 Michael… If you manage to get to my submission to the Senate inquiry on climate change sub 763 by manual search. You find the maths of energy gain theory explain your “energy slaves” video. The graph in my submission gives a less detailed but much much wider time frame of human progress related to human “advances” in energy technology. Alas as Prof Valclav Smil says we are now at the end of the efficiency curve.

    There are no magic solutions.

    Using an energy economy model based on gain theory:

    In our industrial agricultural society the most important person is a farm worker. Their energy multiplied by the intrinsic energy gain of the plant in converting sunlight into consumable sugars and starches powers the rest of the population.

    The least important is a banker. They are energy freeloaders..!!!!?

  93. Chris Harries

    September 18, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    In endorsing Michael’s comment at #18 he notes that our core problems are not technical but social. Yes. Yet every debate on the energy front almost entirely comprises us blokes. On this thread: Trevor, Geoffrey, Kelvin, Robin, Christopher, John, Simon, Jon, Michael and myself.

    “Why bring gender into it?” will be some inevitable responses. Well, I can’t ignore the fact that in fifty years of debating energy issues this gender distortion is always the case. Nearly every debate comes back to supply issues, featured by each person’s favourite supply option – clean coal, nuclear, wind, geothermal, waves, fuel cells, solar space stations – and nearly always devotionally advocated as magic fixes.

    I think it’s worth pondering this sociological phenomenon in the context of how to transition society towards a more sustainable matrix. It’s the more messy, process stuff that blokes tend to veer away from, yet this process stuff is what we really need to focus on with utmost priority.

  94. Michael Stasse

    September 18, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    It is rather heart warming – even if not terribly helpful – to see this debate coming out.

    Our problems are not technical, they are social….. we have become so used to having it all, right now, and more tomorrow, that we cannot even begin to comprehend a different future. We currently consume roughly 70 times the number of calories essential to survival. We have so much wriggle room to lower our consumption, it’s not funny.

    Most of the 20th century, and all of this one, was built on an unimaginable amount of SURPLUS ENERGY. This surplus energy is entirely down to a one off fossil fuel endowment which is fast disappearing, as the energy return on energy invested of fossil fuels begins collapsing. Without surplus energy (or energy slaves) things like pension schemes and insurance policies are not possible. It is no surprise these things only started appearing once the industrial revolution began….. I suggest you watch this short video:

    https://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/2015/03/12/losing-our-energy-slaves/

  95. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    September 18, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    Kelvin, the biggest problem for non science people like myself is disentangling ideology from science.

    I have always been aware that ‘social science’ is a bit of an oxymoron, because it unavoidably front and back loads ideological assumptions into itself, even if its evidential base and tabulation is impeccable. So it came as something of a shock when I saw the same thing happen with the ‘science’ of climate change denial and the deliberate assault on science by its remarketing by interest groups that not only stood to lose directly by climate science conclusions, but were also existentially threatened in the same way as religious fundamentalists are about Darwin; you know, the infallibility of markets….

    And the thing is, ideology is a critical factor because what we are talking about is the kind of society that is sustainable in the very long term.

    The environment can no longer be treated as an economic externality. Our accounting systems give a completely fanciful view of real cost, as if the environment were some sort of freebie magic pudding. Food should be expensive compared to computers because realistic pricing protects our food supply by funding farmers to protect the land sustainably.

    We are going to be forced to abandon the consumer society and shift economic effort towards environmental fortification if we are going to withstand the coming shocks. We are going to need civil defence forces as big as armies mobilized for war Fire response on ‘bad days’ is going to have be faster than an ambulance call out, because if we don’t do that, our forests won’t be here in less than a hundred years.

    In the same way, we are going to have to shift economic resources back into domestic life to start rebuilding our ruined social infrastructure and make good our loss of existential grounding and moral compass.

    What happened to the banking system in 2008 was only possible because the people running it had not had any moral toilet given to them by their mummies daddies when they were small. The moral templates and discourse had disappeared. Integrity was not a recognized business value. All that was left was a fantasy bubble of blind egoism, vanity and hubris.

    And that one works all the way through to welfare and aboriginal communities, and variously leading to the collapse of social governance and its replacement by marketing and sales.

    We cannot run economies by looting off balance sheet resources, whether existential, domestic or ecological. We do not and cannot live by goods and services alone. Wealth is not just money. Economic growth is not just about stuff; you know, the infantile and adolescentized fantasy, toys and games economy which increasingly is what consumer economies are.

    We are not just looking down the barrel of the end of business as usual. This is civilizational, in the same way as it was for the Romans in the early fifth century, One either retreats into a consolidated and defensible set of boundary parameters as in the Byzantine road, or one goes through a very rocky road to devolution that lasts for centuries.

    Once we get our collective heads around that, it focuses the mind and clarifies what our priorities need to be, the direction we are going in and the science we need to get us there.

    In the end, it is all about priorities and values, and everything else falls in behind that.

  96. Kelvin Jones

    September 18, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    #14 Robin…. Well said, good summary. Political ideological engineering has failed dramatically.

    A best green practice conventional technology rescue policy is the only option I can see. Even if some aspects may be undesirable.

    There is no one fix solution to this problem. What is the best way for Europe is not necessarily the best for Australia. Nor is what the ideal for Northern Queensland the ideal for Victoria.

    People who say base load is an obsolete concept do not understand that it is base electrical load that keeps our industrial society functioning and its population healthy.

    Base load electricity has become so integrated into our ability to survive system failure is not an option.

    Twenty years has been lost in sensible energy planning and billions wasted. At the moment we are almost back where we started in green house emissions.

    For the foreseeable future I cannot see a zero carbon future possible. Only steady progress to a lower carbon future.

  97. chris Harries

    September 18, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Kelvin (#13) there’s merit in what you say but I would exchange the word enthusiastic for naive. We do need to be very enthusiastic about the energy transition, and go for it hammer and tongs for the sake of the planet and out progeny. But not stupidly.

    One problem we have is that in an attempt to be optimistic and positive the environmental movement has created a belief that the energy transition has almost happened already. Polling shows that most citizens believe we are almost there, when in reality just a tiny percent of world primary energy is delivered by renewables to date. This level of starry-eyed naivety leads to complacency about the challenge ahead plus, at times, inappropriate decision making. This is because most decision makers are not adequately educated in maths and physics.

    Here’s a very sobering talk by Vaclav Smil on the real engineering challenges that society faces and the impossible time scales.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5guXaWwQpe4&pbjreload=10
    (Skip through the introduction and note that the lecture runs for over an hour.)

  98. Robin Charles Halton

    September 18, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    #13 I agree with Kelvin Jones as its basically lunacy to jump in head first towards Renewables now that older coal fired power stations are supposedly at the end of their working life.

    Playing catch up with Renewables is not happening and nor it will as it would, the measure of power output when comparing Renewables to a new state of the art coal fired power station producing 1500MW of electricity is far too far from being a realistic project and would require a vast number of wind farms within a particular region.

    Investors would not cop the cost (billions), Renewables would require Federal funding for what could be a failure by being unable to cope with electricity demand whereas one state of the art coal fired power station would achieve reliable and BASE LOAD electricity.

    Scare campaign over climatic science need to be weighed in against the real threat of the cost of unreliable trends of power supply to be cast upon populations within the nation.

    Its really up to the Coalition to solve the problem as Labor wont, leaving us all in doubt about the next move.

    Summer is not far away, look out for power shedding and blackouts when unusual weather conditions create a mix of unreliable power supply, nobody knows this better than South Australia who has fixed itself into the deepening problem when the wind fails to blow and the sun does not shine due to fog or smoke leaving the state with its 40% Renewables dependent on Victoria and NSW to supply its over-sighted mistakes.

    SA has invested in diesel generators to allow for its self inflicted Renewable electricity indiscretions, making a mockery of renewable sources with emissions.

  99. Kelvin Joes

    September 17, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    #12 ref to #13. Christopher I would like to add to my comment #12.

    Dr. Alan Finkel is in the ball park. His brief was to investigate a way for a low carbon future. That he has done but it is far from a “no” carbon future.

    How he came to his findings. I do not quite understand except that it is Finkel’s scientific experience, intuition and training.

    That his train of thought is similar to mine, how ever my own is based on understood physics applied to biological energy systems..

    Incidentally the naturalist David Attenborough and Peter Cundell intuitively understand this natural phenomena

    What Finkel has put forward is is a policy which tries to avoid losing the current level (when working in legacy mode) of energy security of base load power.

    Energy density and continuity is only one part of the final equation in achieving our current level of energy security. The full equation gives what I have termed the GAIN factor of our energy systems including our Primary energy system, food, or at least the energy component contained in food.

    The maths of the GAIN factor are ruled by iron rods of physical law. They have enormous implications when the GAIN factor is reduced. Even modestly in a high energy density industrial society.

    The faulty URL to the submission paper to the “2009 Senate Committee on Climate Change” (sub 763) explains how GAIN is calculated. Incidentally GAIN has no following units it is just a number. A very powerful number which has governed life on earth since the primeval soup.

    The “chasm” I metaphor in “walking the tight rope” is not global warming. We are only walking this “tight rope” because of the fear of global warming. It is the effect of lowering the energy GAIN number too quickly.

    If the GAIN number is lowered too quickly then an energy down spiral will develop and go out of control.

    The effect will be broken economy leading to social disruption and expensive food. Then if not corrected then total dysfunction and famine with massive decrease in population and war.

    In effect we seeing the beginning of these problems on the South East Grid.

    If we think of the power grid as an aeroplane then the South East Grid is at the point of a wing stall!

    What I mean by the metaphor “between the devil an the deep blue sea”.

    On one hand we have global warming and on the other if we are too enthusiastic about altering our energy utility GAIN factor then we could destroy civilised life as we know it.

  100. Kelvin Jones

    September 17, 2017 at 4:21 am

    #11 Christopher, I have complete empathy with your points. I am fully aware of this side of the argument. To reply in detail is perhaps more a case of writing an article than making another comment.

    Perhaps a simple way of summing the predicament the high density energy societies are facing can be put as follows:

    Caught between the devil and deep blue sea.

    Jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.

    Catch 22

    To get out of the problem: Walking a tight rope over a very deep chasm.

    Physics and maths say reaching a sustainable energy environmentally balanced society is not simple.

    Perhaps even: Too late!!!!

  101. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    September 16, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    With all due respect Kelvin (and I mean that because you clearly are knowledgeable on your subject) we cannot go on burning the forests of the cretaceous period and expect not to recreate the greenhouse conditions that then pertained.

    And with due respect, I think the whole notion of ‘base load’ is a bit old fashioned now. With a properly designed continental national grid interconnect system, relentless energy efficiency effort, load shifting, some renewables over-capacity and power storage at both a micro and macro level, we can go quite a long way to getting off the fossil fuel treadmill.

    The problem with that is that it won’t be enough to get us out of the ecological shit. The natural world we inhabit is dying. We are in the middle of the biggest species crash in 70 million years. We simply cannot go on pushing the present level of industrial throughput and expect to be around for much longer in anything like our present numbers. Exponential industrial growth is eventually suicidal.

    If we are going to get out of the next fifty to a hundred years with some skin intact, we have to move to capitalism ‘lite’, as explicated above in comment 5. And if we don’t do it first, nature will do it for us.

    I think we have already made the prospects for our descendants tough enough without adding to their woes by a blithe business as usualism that matches the kind of propaganda bubble that Her Goebbels and his mates lived in for the last months of the last world war.

    And that is the nub of the problem. Democratic societies have become privately marketed totalitarianisms with much more control over public consciousness and social narratives than the autocracies of the past. They do not need 100% control of information disbursement. 70% is quite enough to control the variables and marginalize counter narratives.

    That is why climate science and rational energy policy has been so effectively stymied and explains how a buffoon won the presidency of the US….

    If all you read is Newscorp, you live on a different plane where everything’s beautiful all the time and nice young men in bright white coats are coming to take us away…..to Fantasy Land and the Magic Mountain, where you save money by spending…all you’ve got and then all you haven’t got, on visions of paradise, sold by the proud sponsors.

    Which brings us back to energy….

  102. Kelvin Jones

    September 16, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    #4 Unfortunately the URL in my comment has not transferred correctly to Tasmanian Times. I am not sure why the error is occurring? Sorry about that, as I am unable to fix. Therefore my comment does not make complete sense.

    For people who have no experience in the power generation business, the majority have no idea whatsoever of the tremendous reliance our industrialised societies have built up on electrical supply over the past 100 years Particularly since 1945. Electricity is a multiplier energy source and many other energy sources depend on it.

    Our ever increasing populations mainly of city dwellers relies on a constant 24 hour base generation. These are for essential services such as water, sewerage, ground water pumping and air conditioning for large buildings. Movement and processing of other fuels such as petroleum products. As well as industrial processing which includes food these all now depend on a critical supply of electrical power either directly or indirectly.

    The SA blackout cost $350 million alone to SA in heavy industrial production. Even if you had cash you could not by petrol, as the bowsers relies on electricity (50 years ago they had a hand pump for emergencies). TV and communications have only limited and sometimes no emergency backup as with the telephone system. The list is almost endless.

    When green house was realised as a real possibility by mainstream Australia. Privatisation of the electrical power industry was under way and that was about 20 years ago. This has created the perfect storm we are experiencing today. Twenty years ago we should have been planning replacements for these no worn out power plants to come on line about now.

    Back then the Fossil fuel industry saw the writing on the wall and they knew that renewable energy technology had very serious drawbacks in supporting industrial societies. Nuclear was the arch enemy, there is great opposition in Australia to nuclear and the Greens hated both nuclear and fossil.

    Therefore the fossil fuel industry played the long game. It simply quietly promoted the Green campaign to a level of political power to ensure an over supply of highly subsidised renewable energy to the current obsolete base load capacity and did everything to ensure or dependence on base load power would increase. As a society we did not need much encouraging. The fossil fuel industry knew this experiment with renewable energy would fail or at least the odds were very much in their favour.

    So today our politicians who have to make the hard decisions (bless their cotton socks) are in a dilemma. A big problem is there is only one science or engineering person in their midst. They are reliant on advisors and the advisors are heavily weighted with economists and at times they seem totally bewildered in comprehending the very unpalatable hard facts. It is not easy for what is essentially a bunch of Lawyers who are used to bending there way with words in a courtroom.

    The nuclear option is off the table, too late, just as society is not prepared for loss of heavy base load power. So the long term sure fire gamble of the fossil fuel industry has paid off or about to pay off.

    Whether we like it of not some new base load power has to provided and provided in a minimal time frame in effect we are at the 11th hour.

    Her comes the next big rub and it is the privatisation storm coming into play. It would have been easier problem to mange if the old State system had been in place.

    States which are not on the national energy market have a far more energy stable supply than those who are.

    We only consume so much electricity and any costs plus profits have to be born by the sale of that finite amount. Even costs such as the governing bodies sub as the market regulator have to be included on your power bill.

    In effect the whole of privatised grid including the cost of a huge amount of transmission lines to connect up for the sole purpose of energy trading has to be carried by that consumption. It may seem a competitive system as dreamed up by economists but it breaks all the rules of energy conservation or energy economics.

    We are now have to replace old base load with new and we have two choices.

    AGL representing private industry want gas and the government is pushing toward coal.

    Which makes the most profit for industry (don’t forget the banks and finance industry too)? .

    The answer to that question will most likely determine whether gas or coal will power our base load power.

  103. Jon Sumby

    September 16, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    SEPTEMBER 14, 2017
    100 Percent Wishful Thinking: the Green-Energy Cornucopia
    by STAN COX – PAUL COX

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/09/14/100-percent-wishful-thinking-the-green-energy-cornucopia/

  104. Simon Warriner

    September 16, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    re 5, this will go straight to the keeper for most, but I think it is probably the most profound observation on this debate, and many debates as well. John Micheal Greer tried to make the same point on his Archdruid Report blog, but at no time did he get to the elegant simplicity expressed in these lines:

    “That is not as difficult as it seems. Wealth is not just product and services. Wealth is also a software product; i.e., a social/existential software construct that delivers stability, security and happiness across all social platforms.

    You can be as poor as a church mouse, and yet secure, stable and happy.

    We are going to have to move out of hardware wealth and into the software variants. The Roman world had to do that as its military/territorial power waned. Christianity was the vehicle to get that done.

    We are going to need to do something similar in the not far distant future. ”

    Back to energy, Tasmania’s best option is to cut the cable and stop pretending we can ever be a solution to the mainland’s problem.

    Better we focus on setting up as many renewable options as we can here and keeping our dams as full as possible. Our ability to do this should be informing our population policy, our industry policy, as well as our energy policy. That would be the intelligent option. The alternative being proposed that we become Australia’s battery is physically impossible and certainly not something Tasmania should have any part in funding. Engaging in it to grab the cash is prostituting our integrity and in my experience that never works out all that well, usually in ways that were never anticipated. One might argue that we should be trusting our elected representatives and bureaucrats to sort through the details in any proposal and ensure the state is not dudded in any agreement, but as demonstrated by the latest forest deal that is ambition in the face of reality that is certainly unsustainable.

  105. John Maddock

    September 16, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    Lifted from the US based online newsletter “Oil & Energy Investor,” written by Dr. Kent Moors.

    Obviously, I can’t vouch for his figures, but it makes interesting reading and is food for thought.

    JV

    September 16, 2017

    Dear Oil & Energy Investor,

    Almost exactly one year ago, on September 15, 2016, the British government gave its approval for the construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.

    Construction will cost some £20 billion, and the subsidies guaranteeing the reactor the right to sell its power at £92.50/MWh will cost an additional £50 billion.

    As you can imagine, Hinkley Point C is quite a controversial project.

    Well, it just got even more divisive…

    Because the British government just held an auction for alternative energy, where companies competed to bid down the power price.

    All 11 winners came in below the new nuclear power plant’s £92.50/MWh.

    Two offshore wind projects came in at £57.50/MWh – fully one-third less.

    That’s a huge win not only for wind turbine makers and the other alternative energy companies with winning bids…

    But also for the firms that make the energy storage that will allow growing numbers of wind and solar provide the power grid with electricity 24/7.

  106. Robin Charles Halton

    September 16, 2017 at 10:50 am

    Renewable energy enthusiasts delude themselves by looking at the European model of electricity generation.

    Europe has what we might term the Weatherill dream of a patchwork of states connected by power cables allowing them to buy and sell electricity as needed.

    In the European mix is nuclear,coal hydro,wind,gas and solar. But in mainland Australia if the wind stops blowing as it is known to have done, and if the sun stops shining as it often does at night a high reliance on Renewables spells blackout!

    Renewables are a perfect fit in Tasmania where intermittent generation can preserve dam levels.
    But Tasmania does not have the capacity nor the supply line to rescue Weatherills dream!

  107. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    September 16, 2017 at 2:40 am

    What I really like about this article is the warning that continuing business as usual is not really possible. We can’t just substitute fossil fuels with alternative renewable energy and expect to keep on using energy and resources at the rate we are presently doing.

    The whole indulgence capitalist consumer society has to be brought to a halt, and reversed. We are trying to live on 1.5-2-0 planets of ecological resource and that just cannot go on for much longer without severe impacts that will cut human populations to sustainable levels.

    We can manage this transition to sustainable behavior either by mass die offs, or by prudent management that rations resource use and cuts human populations to viable levels by self regulation.

    The bottom line is, nature has no problem at all with dealing with species that are too successful.

    Indulgence capitalism needs to become capitalism ‘lite’ under an administration committed to resuscitation of the natural commons. That means a substantial withdrawal from energy intensive industry and short lifespan product.

    That is not as difficult as it seems. Wealth is not just product and services. Wealth is also a software product; i.e., a social/existential software construct that delivers stability, security and happiness across all social platforms.

    You can be as poor as a church mouse, and yet secure, stable and happy.

    We are going to have to move out of hardware wealth and into the software variants. The Roman world had to do that as its military/territorial power waned. Christianity was the vehicle to get that done.

    We are going to need to do something similar in the not far distant future.

  108. Kelvin Joes

    September 16, 2017 at 2:10 am

    Chris Harries, your featured article is in line with my submission to the 2009 Select Committee on Climate Policy which can be found at the following URL I think you may be interested.

    http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Former_Committees/climate/submissions/sub-list

    Submission 763 Kelvin T Jones

    This was from work done at University in 1996, I think it goes beyond the article you have featured and provides principle physics and maths plus historical evidence of the effective of human progress to using high energy density fuel technology giving our current standard of living. It also warns of a too rapid move to a lower energy density systems such as current renewable technology. It was very hurriedly put together on the last minute and needs improving.

    Main principle is applying the Carnot cycle to living energy systems. Normally this principle is only applied to thermal engines such as your car engine or a gas turbine. Not incidentally the steam turbine. Human bio energy works out about 1 kWatt/hr that is what we all need from our food plus losses.

    If after a first reading you feel that our society is caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, then I think you may have caught on. I believe it is the maths behind our current situation and certainly explains why energy prices have risen dramatically. Humans invent the monetary economy but the energy economy runs humans. Therefore the energy economy will always come first.

    I have good reason to believe that this document is known directly to Federal government politicians and has been since 2009 and reminded of in the last few weeks..

  109. TGC

    September 15, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    #2 Do not regard as “malice” “I remain convinced that a government subsidised (through an interest free upfront loan) solar panels rollout on every household in Tasmanian is a no brainer for this State”
    Entirely inappropriate and lacking any economic justification..

  110. Geoffrey Swan

    September 15, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    #1 For once I do agree with you Trevor – and so very refreshing to see you showing interest and respect for a TT post instead of your regular malice(IMV).

    Also a good link to a magazine/site I have not encountered before so thank you Chris Harries.

    Very keen to learn more about the progress of the Elon Musk project in SA. Surely we are looking at a revolution in storage in combination with renewable energy which at least on a domestic level is a guaranteed and viable solution going forward. I remain convinced that a government subsidised (through an interest free upfront loan) solar panels rollout on every household in Tasmanian is a no brainer for this State.

  111. TGC

    September 15, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    This is not an easy Paper to absorb- and I see there is more to come- and there appears to be a good deal of equivocation involved.
    At this stage- of the Papers- it does appear to suggest that the current enthusiasm for solar/wind being able to now replace ‘thermal’ energy supplies
    is overstated and less a ‘solution’ than enthusiasts affirm.
    But…I look forward to the next ‘installment’ -even though understanding will give me a headache!- because at least the writer isn’t trying to sell some airy-fairy concepts ignoring the negatives,. That’s a bit refreshing to read on TT.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To Top