Government as a branch of science

Somehow the meaning of the word “liberal” is different in Australia to that in the United States.  Same word, same spelling, same pronunciation but different meaning.

In this context, consider the following views expressed by the “Young Liberals” who:

claim to be the largest and most active youth political movement in the country.

In the context of energy policy, if it can be called policy, the Young Liberals have advocated for the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) .  Why?  Because …

People forget the NEG was supported by the vast majority of the Liberal partyroom, mining companies, big business and also the renewable industry.

Policy by popularity contest.  But did anyone notice who was missing from that list?  Hmmm.  Look carefully.

CONSUMERS and CITIZENS.

As a consumer and as a citizen, TAFKAS does not particularly care in the slightest what “big business” is interested in, and even less what the “renewable industry” is interested in.

In the end, it is consumers and citizens who pay for everything … including the “Liberal Party room”.  Perhaps if public policy was developed with the consumer and citizens in mind, rather than sectional, self interested, rent seeking parasites, Australia might be in a different state.

The grand commissar of the Young Liberals, Mr Harry Stutchbury also said:

We’ve had 10 years of policy instability in this area and that has been a huge choke on investment.

Either Mr Stutchbury is suffering from dyscalculia or he thinks that the first 2 years of the Rudd Government offered policy stability.  He might also think that the last couple of years of Howard Government, which actually introduced and legislated the Mandatory Renewable Energy Scheme offered policy stability.

The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.

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62 Responses to Government as a branch of science

  1. Roger

    A perfect example of the moribund state of the Liberal Party.

  2. The Young Liberals – home of future Liberal Party leaders. How very sad.

  3. Diogenes

    If this is the best the libs can offer…

    Factio liberalli delenda est !

  4. wal1957

    The young Libs are the future for the Liberal party.
    As if the libs aren’t on the nose enough now, we have these idiots waiting in the wings?
    FMD!
    The libs are seemingly distancing themselves from the Liberal party of old, the one I used to vote for.
    Stuff ’em!

  5. Bruce of Newcastle

    A better title would be “Government as a branch of religion”.
    Mr Stutchbury is obviously nearly ready to enter the progressive priesthood.

  6. Pyrmonter

    TAFKAS is right, politics is an art based on science. It involves judgment; and one perfectly defensible judgment (one which, taken in isolation, I infer TAFKAS would agree to) is that given a choice of policy measures:

    ‘technical standards’ are less efficient (and thus less desirable than)
    ‘quantitative limits’ which in turn are less desirable than
    ‘price based controls’

    The reasoning follows from the standard autarky/quota/tariff reasoning familiar to any Australian student of economics educated between 1975 and 2000 (and I expect many before and after).

    The NEG was not perfect. It might have been improved on. However, it represented a politiclaly viable arrangement between all levels of government (many of which are emphatically opposed to the sort of policy of which I expect TAFKAS would regard as preferable. Importantly it promised the abolition of the RET – the complex, sleeping giant of a market distortion hidden in plain sight, to which the lobbyists and activists have been as attracted as blowflies to a cowpat, and which since Rudd’s cavalier increase in the target has become one of the worst public policies implemented in Australia since the McEwen tariff. For that, it was an improvement.

    While these are matters of judgment about which reasonable Cats may differ; for my part, that achievement alone moved us in the direction of more rational, and thus more desirable policy. That so many on the self-described ‘conservative Right’ saw fit to turn it into a shibboleth speaks more for the debased, tribal nature of our modern politics than it does for any insights they have about what constitutes viable politics.

  7. RobK

    The NEG is a good example of remediating over-regulation by more regulation. Ultimately, more man-hours are spent regulating than doing the job.

  8. politics is an art based on science

    TAFKAS agrees with Pyrmonter. But if the NEG was/is an improvement on the status quo, it should have been advocated/explained as such. For instance, the removal of the RET as part of NEG is news to TAFKAS.

    Arguments based on “calls to authority”, such as big business and the renewable energy industry, are the last refuge of the scoundrel and the first refuge of the idiot politician. Calls to authority are now the default debating tool of those who know nothing of which they speak …. pretty much most members of the Commonwealth Parliament.

  9. RobK

    Importantly it promised the abolition of the RET 
    I think it would have led to justification of subsidising “firming” in all its many potential forms. Just another layer of ring-fencing for the troughers.

  10. People forget the NEG was supported by the vast majority of the Liberal partyroom, mining companies, big business and also the renewable industry.

    Free money and regulatory preferencing supported by troughers. Who’d have thought?

    I don’t know why mining companies are on board. Perhaps they’re so largely off grid and so export focussed that they just don’t care and might as well get the virtue-signalling kudos.

    The rest of “big business” presumably means “financial intermediaries” [aka spivs].

    As for support from the Photios partyroom, surely that’s a reverse compass indicator.

  11. Pyrmonter

    @ RobK

    The perfect is the enemy of the good; and in this case, the simply better. The NEG was complex, somewhat arbitrary and might not have met its goals. We aren’t going to see some sort of Coasean solution to the uncertain, but real, issues that emerge from climate change – all of the groups of ‘victims’, ‘wrong-doers’ and ‘recipients of windfall gains’ are dispersed – there is no scope for a spontaneous market in CO2 output control. In that context, there will be public policy of some sort in all the wealthy democratic nations; the question is what form that policy should take. My prefernece is that in looking for a form, we should seek to learn from the insights of 20C economics, and seek to arrive at policies that are least costly, price- and market-based, that are consistent, general and transparent; and least likely to yield returns to rent-seeking. Yet that has been the way of almost all policy, from the US Solyndra nonsense to the recent Gloucester coalmine decision. In the absence of something coherent and simple, the voters succumb to the siren call of the promoters of ideas (such as, but not limited to, the RET) that are ineffective (when not counter-productive), costly, arbitrary and regressive.

  12. We aren’t going to see some sort of Coasean solution to the uncertain, but real, issues that emerge from climate change

    Of course not. It would be a non-solution to a non-problem, just like the RET or NEG.

    Reality is refusing to co-operate with the CAGW alarmist theories. If there were ever any doubt among the sane that CO2 is not the primary driver of climate, the ever increasing gulf between temperature prediction and temperature result (despite the unscientific one way “adjustments” to the data) surely should have dispelled the doubt by now.

    That’s not to say that the climate won’t change, nor that human produced CO2 may have some effect. But it’s increasingly clear that adaptation will be a much better option than imposing distortion on the productive sector.

  13. Iampeter

    TAFKAS is right, politics is an art based on science.

    That’s funny because TAFKAS has previously, literally disagreed with this fact.
    Also, what part of this typical, vague posting, saying nothing, did you find to be, “scientific?”

    Somehow the meaning of the word “liberal” is different in Australia to that in the United States. Same word, same spelling, same pronunciation but different meaning.

    Not “somehow.” The actual reason, is that politics is a dead science. Those discussing it, even the professionals, don’t know anything about it. So much so, that even the most basic and common terms, have not been properly defined, or agreed, among those using them.
    This is possible in the field of politics because it is a particularly abstract science, so can host lots of dummies who don’t know anything about it, with no consequences to their bad ideas.

    Policy by popularity contest. But did anyone notice who was missing from that list? Hmmm. Look carefully.

    What else is there when there’s no political ideology and no understanding of politics? Were you going to propose a solution, or were you being, as you would call it, “philosophical?”

    As a consumer and as a citizen, TAFKAS does not particularly care in the slightest what “big business” is interested in, and even less what the “renewable industry” is interested in.

    This is the kind of demand-side, leftist nonsense, that those of us who are actually on the right wing have to always fight.
    The issue isn’t big business and you don’t pay for anything first. Nothing starts with consumption, it starts with production and none produce more than those big businesses you are vilifying.

    In short, random political sounding phrases and posts about Yes Prime Minister, do not a coherent political understanding make.

  14. RobK

    Pyrmonter,
    From the comment section of your link was the link:https://acilallen.com.au/insights/neg-emissions. The critique is heavily CAGW but note the following;

    Of much greater interest to industry is the Emissions Obligation, the second leg of the NEG. The Emissions Obligation seeks to impose a constraint on electricity retailers so that the emissions intensity of their supply does not exceed a specified benchmark. This level is to be set by Government, independent of the NEG mechanism

    It would formalize “Paris ” in statute but the intensity would remain arbitrary. Hardly a step forward, l’d have thought.

  15. Pyrmonter

    @ RobK

    At present we have a commitment to ‘Paris’ – it is an obligation binding in international law, if not in domestic law. If you think it should go, we should repudiate our treaty obligations; but not engage in the dishonesty of adopting them abroad, only to ignore them at home. At least ‘Paris’ is directly focused on CO2 output, which (for reasons discussed at length in previous Cat posts) the RET is not.

  16. Russell

    The opinion of “big business” is regularly reflected in the opinions of the “big consulting firms”. Remember, these guys are generally called in and used to relieve the responsibility pressure from the actual management teams of ALL big business. Sure, management takes the final decision but they have paid a serious insurance premium to these mountain-top consulting gurus to underwrite any calls.
    And like the Y2K cash-cow where these same firms made a motza “informing discussions at Board levels” about the serious risks and best mitigation strategies, the NEG was backed by these turkeys because it represents another foot into that Board room door. No words in their business plans to achieve the best outcome for the consumers and citizens – only one-third, one-third, one-third.
    You do have to wonder how they present a logical Board discussion about BOM climate change modelling in the face of the shameful temperature adjustment evidence.

  17. Iampeter

    TAFKAS agrees with Pyrmonter.

    This is funny since, you’ve literally disagreed on the point of politics being a science.

    Also, what about this post is scientific?

    Somehow the meaning of the word “liberal” is different in Australia to that in the United States. Same word, same spelling, same pronunciation but different meaning.

    It’s not “somehow.”
    The actual reason this word is used differently, is because most people discussing politics don’t know anything about it. This means even the most basic and commonly used terms, have no common definition agreed.
    People get away with this in politics, because it’s a very abstract science, so you can talk nonsense and reality isn’t obviously going to contradict you. Not the way it would if you were talking about sports or cars and equally didn’t know what you were talking about, for example.

    Policy by popularity contest.

    That’s what happens when there’s no understanding of politics. Were you going to propose an alternative?

    As a consumer and as a citizen, TAFKAS does not particularly care in the slightest what “big business” is interested in, and even less what the “renewable industry” is interested in.

    This is pure demand-side, leftism.
    Nothing starts with consumption by consumers or citizens. Everything starts with production, which those big businesses, you are vilifying, are the best at.

    I’m curious what you were trying to convey with this post?

  18. Iampeter

    Spartacus, that’s two posts of mine in response to this that have vanished into the filter.
    Are you filtering out posts from the one person pointing out you haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about?

  19. JC

    Iamapeter

    You’d be the centre of any party I reckon.
    Crowds would gravitate to just listen to you speak. You piker.

  20. RobK

     ‘Paris’ – it is an obligation binding in international law
    Really? It has no penalties and is a wishlist of maybes. Very few countries are skewering themselves like we are.

  21. Guess not…

    My oh my Iampeter you have a high opinion of yourself. Not only do you view yourself as the most right and righteous person on the planet, but you seem to think that people (TAFKAS at least) actually care what you have to say …. in the comments section …. never once having the courage, after repeated invitation, to write your own material. Like a slighted toddler muttering under his breath.

    If you think that your comments are so cutting and pointed that TAFKAS would bother to filter you out, well then, keep on keeping on. Until you contribute your own material, well then, TAFKAS refers you to his reply comment of 31 January 2019.

    As TAFKAS has written before, it must be very lonely on Planet Iampeter.

  22. RobK

    Pyr,
    At least ‘Paris’ is directly focused on CO2 output, which (for reasons discussed at length in previous Cat posts) the RET is not.

    Subsidies are paid out on co2 mitigated per MWh produced. CO2 mitigation is tallied for the purpose of UNFCC commitment. What more do you require?

  23. struth

    At present we have a commitment to ‘Paris’ – it is an obligation binding in international law, if not in domestic law

    If not……….”if not”……………so you don’t really know do you?
    There is no such thing as international law unless you believe in global socialism.
    There maybe agreements between nations, but there is no such animal as “international law, and only those that benefit from assuring you there is, will tell you otherwise.
    We live under Australian Law while in Australia.

    Please quote one international law which is not an agreement that if a nation so decides can disregard at will.
    Where is the international force patrolling our seas and coastline?
    Who is this government you speak of?
    All leaders tried at places like the Hague or Nuremburg were losers in wars.
    Where are the UN police arresting Trump?

    While these are matters of judgment about which reasonable Cats may differ; for my part, that achievement alone moved us in the direction of more rational, and thus more desirable policy. That so many on the self-described ‘conservative Right’ saw fit to turn it into a shibboleth speaks more for the debased, tribal nature of our modern politics than it does for any insights they have about what constitutes viable politics.

    Ah you’re the brainy one and we’re all running on emotion!
    FMD.

    No dickhead, we realise a Chamberlain moment when we see one.

  24. Pyrmonter

    @ RobK

    The RET mandates a certain volume of electricity be bought from ‘renewable’ sources. The lifetime CO2 input into those sources is not measured. It its tantamount to a very indirect carbon tax (for the effective, albeit indirect, increase in generation cost across the market driven by its introduction, and the consequent dislocation of fossil fuel-powered generation) and a producer subsidy. It’s akin to imposing a tax on cigarette lighter fuel to control smoking: there are a bunch of distortions between the object of taxation and the desired goal.

  25. RobK

    Pyr,
    …and the NEG would improve on this? How?

  26. Pyrmonter

    @RobK

    Focussing on CO2, rather than ‘renewableness’.

  27. Pyrmonter

    @ struth

    International Law pre-dates ideas like socialism – Grotius was dead long before Marx reared his evil head. I’ll allow there’s much that’s objectionable both about the process of international law-making, and the content of international law; but that doesn’t mean ‘it doesn’t exist’.

  28. RobK

    Pyr,
    Which ever way you cut it, the amenity offered by baseload coal and grid electricity will be decimated because forcing technology will not work. The redundency in generation, storage, transmission, control, instrumentation, engineering oversight and regulatory oversight will render either scheme an economic and cultural disaster. Especially since nukes are out of the question. RefThe Costs of Decarbonisation: System Costs with High Shares of Nuclear and Renewables – Nuclear Energy Agency

    PDFhttps://www.oecd-nea.org › ndd › pubs

  29. Pyrmonter

    @ RobK

    At existing levels of ‘decarbonisation’, the costs are surely exaggerated: the US is robust evidence that relative carbon intensity of total output can fall by substitution of less CO2 intensive fuels. And no-one can describe the policy mix Australia has used to achieve whatever retardation of CO2 output it has, as ‘least cost avoidance’.

  30. RobK

    From the link above:

    VRE(variable renewable energy) technologies such as wind and solar PV cause a number of additional costs to the system, which are referred to as system costs. The most important categories of the system costs of VREs are increased outlays for distribution and transmission due to their small unit size and distance from load centres, balancing costs to prepare for unpredictable changes in wind speed and solar radiation and, perhaps, most importantly, the costs for organising reliable supplies through the residual system during the hours when wind and sun are not fully available or not available at all. Variability also induces significant changes in the composition of the remainder of dispatchable technologies that ensure round-the-clock security of supply in the power system. When deploying VREs, one observes, in particular, a shift from technologies with high fixed cost, such as nuclear power to more flexible technologies with low fixed cost such as gas-fired power generation. While the latter will be able to better absorb the loss of operating hours due to VRE infeed, the overall costs of the residual system will increase, an effect known as “profile costs”. In addition, deploying VREs does not automatically translate into carbon emission reductions. For instance, when nuclear power is substituted by a mix of VREs and gas-fired generation that produces electricity when VREs are not available, overall carbon emissions will increase. All technologies have system costs. Nuclear, for instance, requires particularly strong network connections and access to reliable cooling sources. However, these costs turn out to be an order of magnitude lower than those imposed by the variability of renewable energies. The key advantage of nuclear power in the economic competition with wind and solar PV is the fact that nuclear power plants are dispatchable, i.e. they can produce large amounts of carbon free baseload power in a reliable and predictable fashion.

    There you have it. OECD engineers put RE system costs an order of magnitude higher than baseload. Given coal is cheaper than nukes, we are in for a rude shock in the next decade or so.

  31. RobK

    Pyr,
    In the US gas is relatively cheap, not so in Australia. Gas peakers idling along waiting for wind or sun to wane are not economic nor carbon friendly.

  32. RobK

     And no-one can describe the policy mix Australia has used to achieve whatever retardation of CO2 output it has, as ‘least cost avoidance’.
    Well, we’ve ruled out nukes (the US has not), we’re working on ruling out coal, (the US has not). We dont like to explore for gas(unlike the US), other than export.
    There really isnt much to guess about our energy mix, of any great impact. It will be very expensive, the way we are going. I struggle to understand where you are comming from. There is no cheap electricity other than coal, hydro, nukes, combined cycle gas. We reject them all.

  33. Pyrmonter

    @ RobK

    (cheap, slightly facetious point) never get an engineer to solve an economic problem.

    More seriously: the absence of abundant gas is a function of poor politics (in particular, the unwillingness of many who support coal to challenge the superstitions fostered in some parts about unconventional gas – which has been the source of the relative abundance in the US, and which has driven the transition from coal to gas-fired generation).

    It may be that the contribution renewables should make is low (though with ‘batteries’ in the form of pumped hydro, I wonder whether it can’t work), though it’s probably positive. It’s an economic question, one I’d like to have answered by the market, over time, having regard to changing technologies and differences in demand, and by reference to the external or social cost of CO2 output, not by keyboard warriors/armchair theorists/OECD committees (of whatever qualification)/councils of the self-appointed worthy/talking heads in parliament. It may be cheaper simply not to use so much power. In which case, a restriction on the release of CO2 is the right answer; or, at least, is likely to be the cheapest and best way to find the right answer.

  34. In which case, a restriction on the release of CO2 is the right answer; or, at least, is likely to be the cheapest and best way to find the right answer.

    Why?

    Assuming that the IPCC’s worst predictions were true, and using the international civil aviation authority’s average lapse rate, if Australia totally decarbonated its power grid tomorrow then by the end of the 21st century the change to the world’s temperature would reflect something like the lapse rate temperature difference between the front row of seats and the back row on the balcony in front of the Grey Smith bar at the MCG.

    And of course reality just isn’t co-operating with the alarmist’s predictions anyway.

    Why do we bother when no-one else on the planet is?

  35. Pyrmonter

    @ Tim

    On what else do you free ride? I could steal my week’s groceries from Woolworths without affecting the firm’s profits materially, but that wouldn’t make it right to do so.

  36. RobK

    Pyr,
    Pumped hydro had its golden age last century. It was killed off by RE. There was an article in Spiegel online a few years ago describing how pumped hydro schemes set up in the 1920s and 30s, had run profitably all this time but now are flummoxed by the variability of RE. You see with baseload there is a predictable diurnal cycle when to generate, when to recharge cheaply. This predictability goes out the window with RE. It can only work if electricity prices ramp up a lot. For variable pumped hydro to work, you will have high prices….especially if the topography and ecological conditions aren’t upto it, or weren’t when baseload prevailed. You see short term storage and baseload are a perfect match. RE and storage is a forced match to make up a deficiency of RE. Its that simple.

  37. RobK

    Pyr,
    First you need evidence that CO2 is able to cause catastrophy. There is plenty of evidence to say it can’t, namely; it hasnt in the past, when co2 levels were high, temperatures did not run away. Why would they now. What we are seeing is within natural variability of cycles past.
    I’m all for letting all forms of electricity generation compete, unimpeded for the best outcome.

  38. Iampeter

    My oh my Iampeter you have a high opinion of yourself. Not only do you view yourself as the most right and righteous person on the planet, but you seem to think that people (TAFKAS at least) actually care what you have to say …. in the comments section …. never once having the courage, after repeated invitation, to write your own material. Like a slighted toddler muttering under his breath.

    We both know you care what I have to say.
    We both know you get triggered, just like the others here, because I actually am what you pretend to be.

    As to, “repeated invitation, to write your own material” do you mean that one time you offered me a right of response after I shamed you by pointing out that you are resorting to ad hominem?
    Which was a diversionary tactic, I assume, since anyone can reply at the cat.

    Happy to be corrected if I’ve missed something.

    Anyway, I was just curious if you can filter who responds to your posts? Don’t blame you if you block people you disagree with or for whatever reason you like. Just wanted to know, so I don’t waste my time OR if I’m doing something wrong with links or something.

  39. Pyrmonter

    RobK

    Pumped Hydro has indeed been with us for a while – I’ve canoed on the Hengsteysee, where the pumped hydro facility (the Koepchenwerk) dates from the 1920s. It serves to accumulate power. One use of that accumulation is to provide diurnal peak flow; another (largely untested, because it hasn’t needed to be) is the ability to to accumulate energy over days or more. I can’t guarantee it will work; but I don’t see any reason why diurnal peaks are different in nature to variable peaks in energy input (other than that one could run out of water).

  40. On what else do you free ride? I could steal my week’s groceries from Woolworths without affecting the firm’s profits materially, but that wouldn’t make it right to do so.

    Even assuming we’re causing any detriment, why are we rushing to be the only non-free rider on the planet? Even the Germans are now realising the idiocy of RE.

    What you’re suggesting (which is admittedly ALP/Greens/Photios Uniparty policy, so you’re not alone) is:
    (a) if (as seems likely from the real data) CO2 mitigation is a waste of time, we’re wrecking the economy for nothing;
    (b) even if it isn’t a waste of time we’re wrecking the economy for trivial gain while pretty much everyone else on the planet is preserving their economy and plunging us into disaster.

  41. Pyrmonter

    @ Tim

    The Germans have made a foolish move away from nukes; whether they’ll ramp up coal is a contentious issue as we banter (the ‘Coal Commission’ has recently made a proposal to radically reduce their lignite mining – https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-26/merkel-s-coal-commission-wants-germany-to-quit-fuel-by-2038). They’re connected to the rest of the continental network and will fairly soon have access to more Russian gas under Nordstream 2. That may not be a good thing strategically, but they’ll get by.

    What I’m actually suggesting is pretty much the opposite of the Green/ALP/’Conservatives for Climate’ agenda: I want a market-based, tech neutral approach to reducing CO2 output. The foregoing groups are, albeit sometimes in different ways, champions of causes at best indirectly related to CO2 output reduction.

  42. RobK

    Pyr,
    The difference between baseload’s diurnal peaks and RE peaks is; RE peaks in supply are some what random, exacerbated by the fact that they also make demand very random. With baseload an operator knows he can recharge at a certain time for a given price and generate an income at a given time for a given period. The complaint the german pumped hydros face was that often the generating cycle was shorter than before, the times to recharge cheaply varied etc. It becomes harder to pick peaks and troughs because they move about so much.
    A new good site with longterm storage would presumably be hard to come by given Snowy 2.0 is the best we come up with and two previous feasibility studies canned it. This indicates to me only a steep price rise would make it work.

  43. Pyrmonter

    @ RobK

    I more or less follow the explanation; but my response (apologies if this sounds tedious) is that ‘smoothing’ is something markets do pretty well when they’re allowed to: the demand for toilet paper or Jif at supermarkets is similarly uncertain and given to unexepected shocks; but that doesn’t prove insurmountable.

  44. Crossie

    Young Liberals, too posh to join Young Labor.

    If after the election there is no more Liberal Party perhaps these entitled idiots will go to their real political home, the Greens.

  45. Tel

    the demand for toilet paper or Jif at supermarkets is similarly uncertain and given to unexepected shocks; but that doesn’t prove insurmountable.

    Because of storage.

  46. RobK

    Pyr,
    None of it is insurmountable at a price.

  47. Crossie

    As a sovereign nation we can withdraw from any international agreement at any given time. International laws are the same as any other laws that are not enforced – ineffective and able to be ignored.

    Who is going to enforce these laws? Which country is prepared to go to war against us for not honouring the Paris agreement?

    That this idiocy is inflicted upon us is not due to any international laws but to our own duplicitous politicians. When we vote for these turkeys we are voting for our own oppression.

  48. Pyrmonter

    @ Tel

    Inventories exist of intangibles, and most financial futures deal with the same issue of matching.

  49. RobK

    Pyr,
     I don’t see any reason why diurnal peaks are different in nature to variable peaks in energy input (other than that one could run out of water).

    You have actually got that pretty well. Either the high level water runs out, or the low level. Now guess at what price to pump and what price to generate for maximum return. It will be a result considerably lower than working with baseload and only exaggerated peaks and troughs (price rise) will make it work.

  50. Pyrmonter

    @ RobK

    But these are the very problems that prices and markets solve regularly.

    Historically, we’ve stored coal or oil or gas – which are inputs to electricity. Renewables + ‘batteries’ are, in essence, doing the same thing. I don’t claim that it is bound to work: that sort if information isn’t really available to anyone (the socialist calculation problem etc etc); but it isn’t bound _not_ to work – the arguments aren’t, for example, for perpetual motion.

  51. RobK

    Pyr,
    Renewables + ‘batteries’ are, in essence, doing the same thing. 
    Yes, it’s the cost that is the issue. Coal storage in the form of a 3 month stockpile is cheap, robust, bankable. If the plant is near the mine, as is the case quite often in Australia, then longterm security is unbeatable. This is proven technology, common practice. RE plus”firming” at grid scale and high penetration is a nationwide experiment. We do know that with increased RE generation, system costs will rise, as i mentioned earlier. You can expect that cost to be in the order of 10 fold as RE penetration becomes high. We are going up a blind alley here and backing out is going to be very painful. There will be a long term economic and cultural price to continue on this path. A better plan is to give the industry one more cycle of coal infrastructure and see how it (the industry generally) rises to the challenge. Alternatively, try nukes, they’re proven etc. Some places are naturally endowed with hydro resources, we aren’t. No one anywhere runs a western economy on wind and solar. Expect a price surge to get there and another to get out because it wont work at the same price as baseload now.

  52. Tel

    Inventories exist of intangibles, and most financial futures deal with the same issue of matching.

    Means nothing in terms of toilet paper and Jif unless you have physical storage. Shelves … in warehouses.

  53. Pyrmonter

    RobK

    The two-field crop rotation system was known, before the innovation of the three-field system. Sail was known before steam; and the reciprocal engine before the turbine. Coal-fired steam traction was known before the development of diesel, electric and petrol-based motors. In a case close not that far from our present discussion – the distribution of power hydraulically across networks from a central power source to drive lifting machinery was known (and implemented) before the development of electricity (and, interestingly, it persisted for almost a century after the arrival of networked AC electrical supply). Mere novelty of the technology shouldn’t be an objection if it works.

  54. Pyrmonter

    Tel – both stored water and coal can be used to generate electrical power. Why does it matter that the first derives from off-peak/erratically captured environmental power sources?

  55. RobK

    Mere novelty of the technology shouldn’t be an objection if it works.
    The point is to work in an economically viable system.
    I live off grid with a sea container full of batteries. When shearing time comes i start a genset. For heavy welding, I start the genset. The rest of the time is fine but the redundency is massive if you were to scale it up to grid proportion. Did you hear Bill Gates on the clip a couple of posts ago? Batteries arent the answer anytime soon, check his reasoning. I’m all for new technology but it needs to prove itself. A grid setup for RE is vastly different (complex and needing much more stabilisation and infrastructure) that a baseload one. To a large extent this is also an experiment (as evidenced by Finkel’s recommendations for more boards and panels for engineering and regulatory oversight).

  56. Tim Neilson

    Mere novelty of the technology shouldn’t be an objection if it works.

    But it doesn’t. Not in any real sense.

    I know it’s very bourgeois to talk about money, but for a commodity like electricity the cost price is a reasonable proxy for resources required to produce, which suggests that hideously expensive ruinables are a much less efficient deployment of resources than coal. I can’t recall which EROEI was which for big wind and big solar, but I recall that one of them was 1.1, i.e. it only has to drop to 90% of expected output to have an EROEI of less than replacement – i.e. to be a net negative for the system. (The other one was 1.7, still not worth doing.)

    That may change, but it’s insane to destroy a system that works well on the assumption that after 40 years of failure we’ll suddenly get viable RE technology merely because we’ve put ourselves in a position where not having it will be a catastrophe.

  57. RobK

     Why does it matter that the first derives from off-peak/erratically captured environmental power sources?
    Oh no. I thought i was getting somewhere.
    It matters because the water will runout, the coal won’t.

  58. Pyrmonter

    @ Tim

    We can’t determine ‘what works’ without considering costs thrown onto others. That’s the nub of the whole issue; there is no market in avoidance. In the absence of a market, we need to at least be open to a ‘rational’, market-based mechanism to determine how best to reduce CO2 output. Leaving aside the merits of that goal, about which we’ll probably disagree, take as a given that a very high share of the population think CO2 abatement is a ‘Good Thing’. If there is going to be policy on the topic, one that is ‘neutral’ as to the best means of abatement – whether that is ‘demand management’, tech innovation in means of production, or novel means of generating power, or a dozen other ways net CO2 output might be reduced – and which seeks out the lowest cost means of avoidance is the preferable approach. Yet the politics of this stand in the way, much as the politics of the 1960s stood in the way of trade liberalisation: nonsense being spoken on both sides, on the left about ‘threats to wages and conditions’; on the right to ‘our national businesses’ (the ones that paid off McEwan). The existence of that logjam didn’t mean that moves in the direction of freer trade were wrong.

    @ RobK – the point is that (a) it is likely the coal imposes costs on others, while the renewables + water might not; and (b) even if the latter isn’t a good idea, necessity has had a habit of being the mother of invention: we won’t find better ways to abate CO2 output until we actually try (as opposed to having the sort of political nonsense that probably does little, if anything, toward abatement, like powering the Drax coal power station in the UK on North American wood waste; or the proliferation of small scale renewables panels here).

  59. Entropy

    I want a market-based, tech neutral approach to reducing CO2 output. T

    I am sick to death of this lie called “market based”. It is regulation through price setting and quota controls, and government imposed preferences. You in truth want centralised control of the energy market.

    “Market based” is a bullshit euphemism for centralised control of production. End of story.

  60. RobK

    Pyr,
    coal imposes costs on others, 

    Wow. Coal pays State royalties and subsidizes all RE to the tune of around $80/MWh, whether that RE MWh was valuable or not…and coal could have produced the same MWh for far less. It really is that crazy. Coal has increased the cost of electricity because:
    1) The RET forces it to pay RE around $80/MWh to intrude randomly on the market it serves.
    2) increased royalties.
    3) massive demand fluctuations due to subsidised RE being injected to the market in a completely chaotic manner means standard load following is impossible . Solar and wind presently ramp up and down at will and hoover-up massive sudsidies all the while. Many wind farms make more from certificates than they do from actually selling electricity. The really insideous part is that at low penetration the baseload system can absorb these hideous aborations, at 10% it is hardly noticed, at 20% problems arise in some areas. At 50% major works are required(such as extra interconnects, mass storage etc). Over this amount expect system costs an order of magnitude higher than baseload (see OECD report above). 100% is, in practical terms, impossible for a large scale grid if it is to have acceptable reliability (again, see OECD report above).
    How, pray tell, given these conditions, are you going to find which works and which doesn’t. You will drag the entire economy and culture irretrievably down. When coal is finally gone how are you to pay for replacement short lived RE plant?….no more subsidies, it will be still higher prices.

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