Coal is dead … or is it?

I don’t know whether most Cats caught the excellent piece by Graham Lloyd in the Weekend Australia (copy below).

It rather makes you laugh about all those earnest financial analysts who advised clients to quit their holdings of coal interests – no future, diminishing financial returns, high risks, etc.

The broader point is what is happening to all those ‘ethical’ investment options – and are they really ‘ethical’, as opposed to selective in the sense of excluding some activities for the purposes of investment?  And where does this leave all the blather that the superannuation funds go on about in relation to climate change and having special sustainability managers and the like.

Take this drivel from the annual report of AustralianSuper, the largest industry superannuation fund, about environmental, social and governance issues (note the Trustees are sailing pretty close to wind in terms of violating the single purpose test here):

At AustralianSuper, the duty to act in the best interests of members is foremost, and that means investing in such a way as to maximise investment returns for members. AustralianSuper does not undertake ESGinvestment activities at the expense of this duty to members. AustralianSuper believes that there is a correlation between companies that have good ESG performance and companies that generate better investment performance over the longer term.

An active approach to responsible investment AustralianSuper seeks to be active as an investor in order to increase returns to our members. We are actively involved with several organisations and investor groups that address a wide range of ESG issues. AustralianSuper is a member, and uses the services of, the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors, to engage with companies and policy makers with the aim of progressing significant ESG issues.
AustralianSuper has also joined a number of collaborative initiatives within the investment community; in many cases with a view to influencing stock brokers, companies and
fund managers to consider ESG issues. We encourage fund managers to consider ESG investment issues by actively engaging with them and monitoring their investment
portfolios.
We are a signatory to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI). The Fund has joined the Investor Group on Climate Change, which looks at
the impact climate change may have on the value of investments, aiming to incorporate the risks and opportunities associated with climate change into investment decisions.

The only piece of Lloyd’s piece that did jar is the supposed bright future for renewables, which seems to fly in the face of the increasing reluctance of governments to subsidise this expensive racket.

Here’s Lloyd’s piece:

IT’S been a black Christmas for green thinkers as Germany, the world leader in rooftop solar and pride of the renewable energy revolution has confirmed its rapid return to coal.

After scrapping nuclear power, Germany’s carbon dioxide emissions are back on the rise as the country clamours to reopen some of the dirtiest brown coalmines that have been closed since the reunification of east and west.

China, meanwhile, last year approved new coal production of more than 100 million tonnes and has plans to add another 860 million tonnes by 2015.

Even more sobering, according to the International Energy Agency, is the fact that in the next decade India will overtake China as the principal source of growth in global energy demand.

In its medium-term coal outlook published last month the IEA said rising demand for coal was the “never-ending story”.

In short, “coal once again exhibited the largest demand growth of all fossil fuels in 2012″, the IEA said.

Despite rising demand, the world remains awash with coal, meaning in many places lower prices have pushed out gas, which is considered to be a cleaner source of energy.

The figures confirm the green dream of weaning the world off fossil fuels remains far from reality.

More significant for Australian policymakers currently facing hard decisions about what to do about renewable energy subsidies and the mandatory Renewable Energy Target is the story behind the headline figures.

A structural transition has been under way in global energy markets for several years that has far-reaching social, economic and environmental ramifications.

Countries such as Germany that have been most outspoken about climate change mitigation are reporting increasing carbon emissions and rising energy costs.

The US – derided by environmental campaigners as too slow to respond to the climate change challenge – has reduced its carbon emissions significantly while simultaneously lowering energy prices, fuelling a much needed resurgence in manufacturing.

The divergence has come about largely because while Europe has pushed headlong into renewables with generous public subsidies, the US has harnessed new technology to unlock vast resources of unconventional oil and gas.

This meant in 2012 the US spent about one-third as much as the EU on renewable energy subsidies, $21 billion against $57bn, according to IEA figures.

It all adds an ironic twist to the campaign mounted against the US by European nations for its refusal to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

The EU’s flagship climate response, its carbon trading market, has been embroiled in controversy, corruption allegations and a collapse in price.

Meanwhile, technological innovation in fossil fuels has allowed the US to greatly reduce its carbon footprint, albeit with great environmental controversy over the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to unlock unconventional supplies.

Against the backdrop of the global financial crisis, the divergence is even more stark.

The significance of the energy market transition now under way was outlined by IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven when she released the organisation’s World Energy Outlook in November.

She said an increased share of global exports of energy-intensive goods by the US was the “clearest indication of the link between relatively low energy prices and the industrial outlook”.

“Conversely, the shares of the European Union and Japan both decline relative to current levels,” she said.

For decision-makers trying to reconcile economic, energy and environmental objectives, Ms van der Hoeven said it was essential to be aware of the dynamics at the heart of today’s energy market.

And the evidence is hard environmental bargaining to simultaneously force renewables into the marketplace while removing carbon-free nuclear has produced a serious problem for German and Japanese policymakers.

German policymakers buckled in the face of public pressure following the Fukushima tsunami and nuclear plant disaster which has yet to be brought fully under control.

Germany’s competitive position on energy has been further compromised by a Europe-wide reluctance to embrace unconventional gas.

As a consequence, German carbon emissions are rising, energy costs are soaring, electricity consumers are revolting and industrial users are making the hard decisions to move production to less expensive locations – including the US.

The past week has seen a media

focus on Europe’s building “coal frenzy”.

Germany will build 10 new power plants for hard coal, is opening new coalmines practically every month and, worryingly for climate change activists, is increasingly turning to lignite, the least efficient, most polluting form of coal.

“From Germany to Poland and the Czech Republic, utilities are expanding open-pit mines that produce lignite,” Bloomberg reports.

“Alarmed at power prices about to double US levels, policymakers are allowing the expansion of coalmines that were scaled back in the past two decades.”

The IEA forecasts lignite demand worldwide will rise as much as 5.4 per cent by 2020.

No one is suggesting it is the end of the road for renewables.

In fact, the IEA forecasts the share of renewables in total power generation will rise from 20 per cent in 2011 to 31 per cent in 2035, as they supply nearly half of the growth in electricity generation.

China is expected to see the biggest absolute increase in generation from renewable sources, more than the gains in the EU, US and Japan combined.

But to reach the penetration forecast by the IEA, global subsidies will need to rise from $101bn in 2012 to $220bn in 2035.

For renewables, the squeeze is both financial and technological.

New battery technology for mass storage – the critical link for renewables – is improving.

Nature magazine this week reported on a breakthrough in “flow technology” batteries that could use low-cost, readily available chemicals to store large amounts of electricity to back up renewables.

But even with penalties for carbon dioxide emissions, the costs of storage are still many times those of baseload generation from coal.

The scale of the “intermittency” problem for renewables – and the problem it presents for policymakers and energy consumers – was outlined in Die Welt, which reported that Germany’s wind and solar power production effectively stopped in early December.

“More than 23,000 wind turbines stood still,” it said. “One million photovoltaic systems stopped work completely.

“For a whole week, coal, nuclear and gas power plants had to generate an estimated 95 per cent of Germany’s electricity supply.”

The doldrums are the flip side to the triumphant statements from renewable energy companies when production figures spike in times of favourable weather.

This is a primary reason why political support for renewables is starting to wear thin. Indications are a Europe-wide squeeze is on, with the European Commission reportedly preparing to order an end to price subsidies for wind and solar by the end of the decade.

According to Britain’s The Telegraph, the commission, which oversees the European single market, is preparing to argue that the onshore wind and solar power industries are mature and should be allowed to operate without support from taxpayers.

Frustration is also increasing at the costly failure of several multi-billion-dollar offshore wind farm developments which had once been widely touted as the future of renewable power.

Unfolding events in Europe and the US are of particular interest to Australian policymakers amid a review of climate and energy policies.

Viewed against the tectonic shifts taking place globally, Australia sits on the cusp. Some powerful voices are arguing that Australia has squandered its longstanding natural advantage of low-cost energy – due to its abundant coal reserves – and is not doing enough to secure an achievable position of becoming an energy superpower of the future.

The domestic industrial price of electricity is about 20c a kilowatt hour, more than double the cost in the US.

Tony Abbott’s chief business adviser, Maurice Newman, has blamed misguided climate change policies in part for the downturn in domestic manufacturing.

The Prime Minister has this week supported calls for a proper investigation into whether wind farms have health impacts on nearby residents.

It all adds up to the renewable energy industry’s worst nightmare.

While the renewable industry is calling for no change and greater certainty for investment, sections within the government, led by long-time Queensland Nationals senator Ron Boswell, are calling for the Renewable Energy Target to be scrapped completely.

According to Boswell, moving from a fixed amount of 45,000 gigawatt hours to a “real” 20 per cent target for renewables in the national energy market would only lower the annual cost of renewables from $5bn to $3.7bn a year by 2020.

“We can’t afford to follow the example set by Germany, which now has some of the highest power prices in the world, in large part due to its headlong rush into renewables,” Boswell says.

“We should instead learn from the lesson set by the United States, which has power prices over three times cheaper than ours.”

If Germany’s aim has been to lead by example, the ugly truth is the future is likely to look a lot like the past: coal.

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46 Responses to Coal is dead … or is it?

  1. Nuke Gray

    We have plenty of coal. China and India need coal. China and India form a Co-Dominium to rule Australia together. We are dragon-food.

  2. Andrew

    Spain: World leaders in Flanneryism. Went into GFC with every advantage – reasonable budget position, lowish debt compared to peers. Now a failed state with no future, defaulting on its solar contracts, a global laughing stock.

    The archclown Tony Windbag goes on a study tour of Spain, seems to have missed the point of the tour as he came back raving about how we should be more like them. Bravo Tony, mission accomplished.

  3. Andrew

    200 Hazelwood coal plants being built in China’s current 5 year plan.

    (But we’ll take the gweilos to our ONE wind farm 20km from Beijing and gush about wind, then sell them thousands that will blow up after 5 years.)

  4. Notafan

    I am going to have make a concerted effort to get out of AustralianSuper, my balance is miniscule but how dare they have any other purpose than to get the best returns for members.
    Did they get any proper endorsement from member for this ?

  5. jupes

    Australia’s natural advantage is coal, yet government regulations are obstacles to making full use of it.

    The national interest, in particular manufacturing, can only be served by dergulation of the energy industry and an end to the RET.

    Global temperature will not change regardless of any government decision on this.

    It is truly insane that there is even debate about this. Blind Freddy has been advocating coal for decades.

  6. Empire Strikes Back

    Take this drivel from the annual report of AustralianSuper, the largest industry superannuation fund, about environmental, social and governance issues (note the Trustees are sailing pretty close to wind in terms of violating the single purpose test here):

    They sure are. I’m confident that the supervisory arm of APRA will commence enforcement any day now.

  7. Leo G

    China is actively increasing its use of coal to generate electricity. Generation from coal is increasing at 800 trillion kilowatt-hour each year, and accelerating.

  8. Token

    The archclown Tony Windbag goes on a study tour of Spain, seems to have missed the point of the tour as he came back raving about how we should be more like them. Bravo Tony, mission accomplished.

    Look at what he was doing, not what he was saying.

    The independent MP was paid three times more for land sale to mining company than others nearby.

    THE sale of Tony Windsor’s farm to a coalminer delivered the kingmaking MP a windfall about three times greater than nearby farmers who sold to the company.

    …and he moved into the next industry his influence would be of assistance…

    Tony Windsor has spent almost $5.9 million in recent months buying three northern NSW farms in a region targeted for coal-seam gas exploration.

    The independent MP’s family company, Cintra Investments, bought the properties in Coonamble, about 100km west of Gunnedah, between January and March.

    Pity there is no AWB type review of these transactions.

  9. Token

    We have plenty of coal. China and India need coal. China and India form a Co-Dominium to rule Australia together. We are dragon-food.

    Sell as much of it while there is a thriving market price, technology is moving on and one day devices like thorium reactors are most likely going to diminish the value of the stock.

  10. Jannie

    Its a worry. My wife and I have both got funds with AusSuper, but they look as good as any other Industry Fund, and their investment mix options seem to indicate “Australian Sustainable Shares” and “International Sustainable Shares” categories as separate from other investment categories. Surprisingly, the performance figures show the “Sustainable” categories as having a higher return in recent years than any other category of investment. That just does not seem right. I am wondering about the reliability of the information on the website.

  11. lurker B

    Tony Windsor has spent almost $5.9 million in recent months buying three northern NSW farms in a region targeted for coal-seam gas exploration.

    The independent MP’s family company, Cintra Investments, bought the properties in Coonamble, about 100km west of Gunnedah, between January and March.

    I have no respect for Tony Windsor, but pretty much the whole state is under and exploration licence for coal seam gas. His son is also having a decent go at farming the land.

  12. blogstrop

    Anti-coal statements should be dealt with under the Fisk Doctrine, and this should be retrospective.

  13. Goanna

    Top marks as usual for plain speaking Judith.
    Drivel and racket – excellent.

  14. Ant

    Investing in property that happens to have lots of coal under it seems to have been a nice little earner for NSW Labor and their mates.

    Tony Windsor has done well out of it, too. Not to mention Labor’s union mates pushing renewables.

    And all of this scum played a significant hand in ramming the Carbon Tax down our throats. To save the planet, of course.

  15. BarryK

    A superannuation fund which focuses on ‘unethical’ investments in cheap energy sources in true free market economies would be most attractive. Needless to say, it would not be an índustry’ fund.

  16. Combine Dave

    We have plenty of coal. China and India need coal. China and India form a Co-Dominium to rule Australia together. We are dragon-food.

    Seems unlikely. Those two are hardly the best of friends and one wouldn’t plausibly allow the other to monopolies on such a vital source of energy. Not to mention the other powerful nations that rely on coal exports; Taiwan, SKorea, Japan.

    Due to our large deposits Australia would seem to have a vested interest in continuing to sell coal to our trade partners and to investment further in coal production and infrastructure…

    The superfunds would be wise to get on board, and help us Australians make hay while the sun shines. :)

    http://www.australiancoal.com.au/exports.html

    Japan takes 39.3% of Australia’s black coal exports – the largest share, with a total of 115.3 million tonnes exported last financial year.

    China is our second largest market with 42.4 million tonnes in 2009-2010, almost double the previous year.

    The Republic of Korea accounts for 40.7 million tonnes, India for 31.92 million tonnes and Taiwan for 26.53 million tonnes, rounding out the top five destinations for coal from Australia.

    Together these five countries accounted for 88% of all black coal exports with a further 28 countries taking the remaining 12%.

  17. Combine Dave

    Sell as much of it while there is a thriving market price, technology is moving on and one day devices like thorium reactors are most likely going to diminish the value of the stock.

    Plus +1

  18. Andrew of Randwick

    We have to be careful or our largest export industry (or any industry) will be shut down through an increasingly hysterical group of activists who have ‘god’ on their side and have government subsidised megaphones. Oh to be so pure…
    .
    Missing the point in coal port approval
    By ABC’s Sara Phillips, Posted Wed 11 Dec 2013, 4:32pm AEDT

    Among the various environmental concerns canvassed in Greg Hunt’s approval of the plan to expand the Abbot Point coal port, one was conspicuously absent – climate change. Sarah Phillips writes.
    ….
    It may seem a stretch to ask a port developer to consider the greenhouse gas emissions of a product it has merely loaded onto a ship, not dug up or burnt.

    However, at some point these factors need to be considered by both the developer and the government. Sure the port is only the transit lounge for coal destined for far-away power stations, but it is a key link in that chain. Without the port expansion, the exploitation of that resource, and subsequent climate impacts, would be slowed.

    The intertwining of the operations of this enlarged port and climate change is impossible to ignore.

    If not at the approval of Australia’s largest coal port, then at what point does the government start to consider the ultimate ramifications of the coal being unlocked? All the conditions and care in the world won’t prevent harm to the Great Barrier Reef if climate change is allowed to carry on unchecked.

    Coral bleaching may seem unrelated to the departure of shipload of coal heading to China, but the connection is undeniable. The environmental approvals process designed to protect our natural assets is missing a key point.

    1) Does writing this ‘opinion piece’ make Sara Phillips ineligible to be the ‘editor of ABC’s environmental portal’?
    A: It seems to me that she has a world view that prevents her from doing her work with an unbiased eye.
    .
    2) “the connection is undeniable” – a statement of religious belief. What evidence does she have that the coal shipped through the terminal (as opposed to all the world’s other emissions), will have an impact and how much?
    A: The 700 million tonnes CO2 per annum (exported coal) versus 400 million tonnes (Australia) does put a scale on the impact but it is not taken to a “undeniable” conclusion.
    .
    Why is this campaigning important to note? Because this ABC article should not be published without a rebuttal being published on the same page with the same prominence.

    And the comments are a good example of ‘head in the sand’ saintliness – coal export bad, my lifestyle good, and there is no connection.
    .
    How far do you go with an EIS? I want to put a granny flat in the backyard. Am I now expected to do an EIS that also includes a calculation on Climate Change impact?

  19. cohenite

    Coal is a GREAT energy source. It single-handedly lifted humanity out of the tyranny of a natural life.

    The industry super funds investing in green energy are run by union hacks who have political affiliation with the left/green side of politics and who knew they could rely on government subsidies to keep the renewable energy scam in profit. Literally the returns to funds which invest in renewables is straight from the taxpayer. Whether the the soft-cocks in the coalition change that is problematic given their support for the wretched RET.

    Jo Nova did a good comparison between coal and the rotten renewables some time ago and it is still relevant and worth a read:

    http://joannenova.com.au/2011/08/lower-co2-emissions-by-wait-for-it-building-new-coal-plants/

    Anyone who says coal is dead is dead in the head.

  20. jupes

    The intertwining of the operations of this enlarged port and climate change is impossible to ignore.

    No it’s very easy to ignore because it cannot be quantified.

    Detail how much global temperature will rise by the enlarged port or shut up Sara.

    There are too many idiots in this country.

  21. manalive

    I get the impression there is a bit of ground-shifting going on at The Australian probably hoping that no one will notice.
    Honest accurate data on the amount of ‘renewable’ electricity generated is not easy to find.
    For all the hype it appears that most ‘renewables’ referred to are biomass or hydro, the former simply recycling CO2 by burning trees or waste and hydro in countries with suitable physical geography and precipitation.
    It seems to me common sense that wind and solar are simply not concentrated enough to power any modern city at anything like affordable cost, even if an efficient form of storage were developed.

  22. craig

    DIY superannuation here I come!

  23. Bruce

    Sara Phillips has been Gaia’s first priestess at the ABC for a long time.

    As to thorium power, I am a fan. I work with it from time to time, thorium I mean.

    But don’t hold your breath. There is so much coal around and the Fukushima willies are so strong, you can forget about serious development for at least 50 years, probably 100+.

    We’ll be cheerfully burning Satan’s Rock for a while yet and plants worldwide will love it.

  24. Pedro

    I didn’t see that bright future for renewables in the article, the most you can say is that in reporting the IEA renewables forecast and the facts on the ground, Lloyd didn’t point out the inconsistency.

    Still, it was a good news story and should be forcefed to Shorten and his crew when they vote against the repeal of the carbon tax.

  25. Myrrdin Seren

    +1 that coal as an energy source isn’t going away anytime soon.

    For one thing, it is abundant and cheap – and countries that want affordable electricity and steel will keep using it until something better is developed. Like for example – ummm – Germany ( irony much here ).

    As I know from the lefty academic sister-in-law, hatred of coal is a core dogma within the Left. Religious faith – you would have to send them to cult deprogramming to change that.

    And of course the subsidy hounds and rent seekers throw brickbats at coal all day long to flow taxes back into subsidising or preferencing their sources. Big fossil fuel companies like Shell do this all the time too – talk about living in glass houses and throwing stones !

  26. Andrew of Randwick

    manalive #1148757, posted on January 13, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    It seems to me common sense that wind and solar are simply not concentrated enough to power any modern city

    Try 600 out of 20,000 MW which is 3% on Friday 10 Jan 2014.
    .
    The fluctuation was 1,200 down to 300 MW – so the coal fired (or peaking gas) was on spinning standby for most of the day in case the wind dropped, like at 2pm.

  27. gnasher

    I have said for ages we should be building coal fired stations to get our prices down & get some manufacturing going here, the skills are here & (up to now) we still have the companies able to make this happen, to rely on wind & solar is to piss in the wind.If Abbott wants to make a real impact on the future we need cheaper energy & we need it quick. Tell the bed wetters if we sell coal for others to burn, then why not us? A real line has to be drawn regarding the future of this magnificent country & 3rd world status.
    Energy is the key.

  28. Andrew

    Among the various environmental concerns canvassed in Greg Hunt’s approval of the plan to expand the Abbot666 Point coal port, one was conspicuously absent – climate change. Sarah Phillips regurgitates GetUp press releases.

    Actually she’s quite right, and I wholeheartedly endorse what she’s saying. The EIS should state
    - The expanded mines to be serviced by Abbot666 Point port have X Mt of coal which would not otherwise be produced, at $100/t.
    - This will add the equivalent of doubling AUS’ CO2 production, or adding 1% to global emissions over the next [20] years
    - With the IPCC projecting 0.13C / decade in the draft IPCC5 that implies this project will see the temp up (all things being equal, assuming the coal was not sourced elsewhere) by 0.0013C.
    - Since CO2 is roughly utility-neutral (pessimistic estimates of greater natural disasters incl fires, offset by faster global plant growth) we estimate the value of the environmental impact at $0.00.

    This should be prominently displayed on all project EIS statements from now on, and copied to the ABC.

  29. stackja

    And where does this leave all the blather that the superannuation funds go on about in relation to climate change and having special sustainability managers and the like.

    The word nonfeasance comes to mind.

  30. Jazza

    Love that black gold!
    Greenies should just leave it alone and let us be with our power full on!

  31. Bruce

    in reporting the IEA renewables forecast and the facts on the ground, Lloyd didn’t point out the inconsistency

    That’s not Lloyd, that’s the IEA, which is decidedly schizo. They are usually green as grass but then they come out with stuff like the “coal is coming back” report.

    Discount the renewables bit. Renewables are dead except for hydro, which is near saturation. Once SE Asian rivers are built out it will more or less plateau. No one is going to attempt pumped storage ($Lots) and the battery stuff in the Nature article is unworkable (nice chemistry, but not practical for the scale required), as are almost all the baseload storage technology projects – certainly any that pretend they will use lithium since there isn’t enough on Earth.

  32. dan in sydney

    it is currently 42 degrees C in Adelaide and wind farms are producing 69 MegaWatts out of a total capacity of 1300+ !!

  33. ProEng

    Graham Lloyd did a reasonable job in the article but he is still a believer in AGW. He talks about “Carbon Pollution” which is nonsense. Firstly, the product of carbon oxidation is carbon dioxide (CO2) which is emitted by every living animal, including humans, and some plants at times. There is no legislation in the world which specifies that carbon dioxide is a pollutant, otherwise every person in that jurisdiction could be convicted of pollution when they breathe out. Secondly, carbon dioxide is a necessary ingredient for the growth of plant matter. There is research that indicates that the present level of CO2 in the atmosphere is at the bottom end of the necessary range of CO2 for good plant growth. Some say the bottom limit is 200 ppm (v) which is just below the supposed (and wrong) base level of 280 ppm (actually in 1941 the level was around 380 ppm close to the present) the stupid AGW believers want to get down to.
    Thirdly, heat absorption has nothing to do with pollution. Heat transfer is an engineering subject which the so-called climate scientists (who could be correctly called political scientists) have no understanding. The radiant heat absorption of CO2 in the atmosphere at the present level and even at double the present level is insignificant. There is strong evidence that the small changes in surface temperatures since 1850 lead changes in atmospheric temperatures. This is in accord with empirical based scientific findings of CO2 solubility.
    Finally, an error from Graham Lloyd, lignite is not the most polluting of “so-called fossil fuels”. Lignite has very low ash levels ( the Victorian Brown coals have ash levels well below 1%) and because of low combustion temperature due to their high inherent moisture the exhaust temperature from boilers is low so very efficient bag filters can be used to reduce particulate emission to well below the most stringent legislated safe levels.Black coals normally have higher ash content (15 to 25%) which in a few cases is very difficult to collect. Natural gas when burnt gives high volumes of water vapor which absorbs very much more radiant heat than CO2. If heat absorption should be a concern (for which there is no evidence) then the burning of natural gas could be thought to be worse than burning of black coal.
    It is hoped that Graham Lloyd will do proper homework and wake up to the fact that AGW is a fraud on the people of the world (particularly the poor in less developed countries)

  34. Bruce

    I think you are being slightly unfair to Graham Lloyd, ProEng. He was kicked out of the enviro reporters guild for heresy a long time ago. For a start he most definitely reads many of the climate sceptic blogs and has been known to cite sites such as Moreno’s, the Bish and Anthony’s. That is a big no-no in the climate believer universe.

    But the Oz tries to keep as many potential readers more or less happy so he has to use the appropriate PC technology or I suspect his editors would be pained. He probably has a very sore bum from sitting on the fence, but I do suspect he’s not a believer.

    Otherwise, good comment!

  35. Bruce

    terminology not technology…grrr

  36. cohenite

    It seems to me common sense that wind and solar are simply not concentrated enough to power any modern city at anything like affordable cost, even if an efficient form of storage were developed.

    It is not the lack of concentrated power capacity of renewables which is the main problem but their unreliability.

    All electricity suppliers have 3 measures;

    Installed Capacity [IC] which is the power they would produce is running 24/7.

    Capacity factor [CF] which is the power they actually produce; fossils have a CF = IC. Renewables have a CF of about 20-30%. But this doesn’t tell the whole story because CF is an AVERAGE, usually over a year. That 20-30% for renewables could all occur in a especially consistently windy or cloudless week with no power for the rest of the year.

    This is reflected in the Reliability Point [RP] which is the probability of the IC occurring at any one time; for fossils it is 100% but for renewables it is about 3%. See Miskelly and Quirk.

    This is the fucking point: renewables do not work if you want constant grid power!

  37. ProEng

    Oh! writing too fast -meant to put small changes in surface temperature lead changes in atmospheric CO2 level. This is apparent from ice core data (800 yrs for long cycles) but is there is also evidence for much shorter time frames of a few hours for daily cycles (max. min. temperatures) to upto 5 yrs for the longer cycles (60 yrs) since 1850.
    Another point an IEA report on electricity generation cost states that nuclear produced energy in Asian countries (eg China, Japan, South Korea) is already the cheapest in the world. Further, in some countries such as Switzerland, France, Finland and Belgium power generated from Nuclear power stations is the cheapest in those countries. The report states that power produced form wind is more expensive than coal or gas before consideration of its unreliability and solar produced power has no place in bulk electricity production due to the high cost (five to ten times that from wind) and unreliability.

  38. Andrew

    This is the fucking point: renewables do not work if you want constant grid power!

    Renewables don’t work for anything, ever. The filthies were singing about German getting half their grid from “renewables” on summer afternoon at 3pm. Wow, while everyone is on holidays, all lights are off, and heating load is zero suddenly the solar and wind decided to produce power. Since the 4am baseload coal was coping quite well, when solar said “No, we want that grid capacity” Germany had to sell the excess coal power to France at a NEGATIVE price. (Naturally, the WIND doesn’t have to take EUR-0.05 for THEIR power! Let the nasty coal cop it.)

    It’s brilliant! Imagine spending billions on a power station that produces rarely, and at the worst possible time while also pushing existing baseload operators closer to bankruptcy! You couldn’t script that even if you wanted to. And these imbeciles thought it was a GOOD thing!

  39. hzhousewife

    A superannuation fund which focuses on ‘unethical’ investments in cheap energy sources in true free market economies would be most attractive. Needless to say, it would not be an índustry’ fund.

    delightful, BarryK, sounds a lot like most of my SMSF.

  40. Bons

    How is it possible that in joining a company you do not have the right to make your own decisions regarding the management of your super.
    I took on two of my corporations on this matter and won (I have a seriously unsuccessful SMF, but all decisions are mine). The response was that as an executive, a concession would be made but it was to be kept confidential. I immediately advertised the little win to the team and they all demanded to ‘get out’ from Australian Super.
    The whole Australian Super fraud is propped-up by Government subsidies. One day, sadly, will all be required to bail out this NBN like spiv outfit.

  41. caveman

    Not only do we have abundant coal but it is also high quality. Chinese and Indian investors have some large positions in mid cap miners and explorers good enough for them to just sit on these deposits and wait for the turn. I say mid way through this year we should see some good action in coal prices and coal companies. Some cheap buying atm. ( im not an investment advisor this is only my opinion you must do your own research and read the small print )

    Lets burn more coal I say.

  42. Hot damn! Coal’s cheaper than milk. From now on, the cat can have it.

  43. sabrina

    Coal will remain the king for the forseeable future in most of the major coal producing countries. Among a range of technologies, China is still building large coal-fired units, highly efficient, in their country. China is building coal-fired units in Yemen, India and Pakistan among others, cheaper than the western companies can build. India has its own coal power plant building plans, so are some of the East European countries.
    UK are embarking on nuclear again, first time since 1995. This is primarily because they do not have any coal mines. The largest biomass fired power plant to be built there has now been shelved. The only major coal producing country where coal’s share will decrease is the USA, mainly because of the abundant shale gas. Over a longer time frame, there will be technology development for extraction of methane hydrate in many parts.
    Renewables will have its share in the energy mix, but that will remain small and limited to some countries. For baseload power, fossil fuels will remain the mainstay – coal and different forms of gas in particular.

  44. Robert Crew

    Before he converted from objectivism to Keynesianism, Alan Greenspan said it best – and I paraphrase – that the sole goal of any corporation should be to make money for their shareholders; since they are unelected they should have no role in deciding public policy. Policy is rightfully decided, if not by free people, freely spending their surplus, by governments elected by and for the people they serve. Stakeholderism is always aimed at using inappropriate means to reach social[ist] ends.

  45. Combine Dave

    I have said for ages we should be building coal fired stations to get our prices down & get some manufacturing going here, the skills are here & (up to now) we still have the companies able to make this happen, to rely on wind & solar is to piss in the wind.If Abbott wants to make a real impact on the future we need cheaper energy & we need it quick. Tell the bed wetters if we sell coal for others to burn, then why not us? A real line has to be drawn regarding the future of this magnificent country & 3rd world status.

    Quite so, it’s not just cheap labour that’s pulling the BRICs out of poverty and into competition with the developed nations.

    It’s cheap power (in some cases below market cheap).

    I don’t see how anyone sane (excludes greens by definition) could oppose the construction of new coal power plants in Australia, might have to remove some of the crazy restriction though such as:

    The energy policy of Queensland stipulates that the government will not issue further generating licences for new coal fired power stations unless world’s best practice low emission technology is used and can facilitate carbon capture and storage technology in the future.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_Queensland#cite_note-dmeg-5

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