Some thoughts to start the day. Jo Nova is on fire regarding the responsibility for the disastrous bushfires. WARNING if you are busy it is very dangerous to read the comments on Jo’s page because some of the contributors are very well informed (some come to Catallaxy as well) and they often provide highly distracting links.
Some great comments turned up on the Berlin Blockade thread regarding the communist roots of Merkelism. This piece is posted in a comment by John L. And Bad Samaritan added some more on the postwar German leadership and the Russian connections.
There is a Facebook piece on the fires by Bjorn Lomborg who is coming to CIS next month. Reproduced for folk who are not on FB.
The Australian wildfires are tragic. But they have been exploited in the climate debate as unprecedented and near-proof of climate emergency.
Here is the updated burnt area for *all* of Australia, June 1 to Dec 31 for each year 1997-2016 and the bunt area from this fire season, June 1, 2019 to January 6 2020.
Note, the fires were definitely different in that they have mostly happened in the states of New South Wales (home of Sydney) and Victoria (Melbourne). Here, the fires this year are much larger than they have been in the previous few decades.
Indeed, New South Wales may be a record at 4.9 million hectares burnt, although it has seen almost similar sized fires in 1951-52 (more than 4 million hectares) and 1974-75 (4.5 million hectares).
Victoria at 1.2 million hectares is also a record for the last decades, but it is vastly smaller than the 1851 Black Thursday fire, which in one day burnt a quarter of Victoria or 5 million hectares.
But it is worth looking at the total hectares burnt in Australia, because it shows the absolute size of the problem for Australia. (Clearly, when it is claimed the problem is caused by global warming, one cannot just cherry-pick two states in Australia and ignore the other 87% of the area.)
The Guardian newspaper has been providing the running total amount of burnt area in this fire season (running from June 2019-May 2020, according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Australian_bushfire_seasons
— if it is from July or August, this makes very little difference, since most burn happens during the spring and summer in Australia). They find the total area burnt is 10.7 million hectares to January 6, 2020.
Yesterday we saw the area burnt *without* the Northern Territory, which the Guardian say is very different. It is correct that the burning season is different, but again, most of the claims that have come out of these fires is that ‘Australia is burning’ sort of claims, so worth looking at the whole continent. The Guardian has in personal communication told me that the NT burnt area is 13.3 million hectares (and that this might be for all of 2019, so possibly too big — but here we’ll just use this data point).
This graph shows the burnt area from 1997-2016 or the satellite record for the same area and same period, along with a linear trend line (which should be interpreted cautiously, since it is a short time period).
It suggests two things. First, that the area burnt in Australia is not increasing and likely decreasing. This result is similar to what we see across the world — lower, not higher burnt area.
Second, the current Australian fire season in terms of area burnt is not unprecedented compared to the recent past.
Data: For this fire season from https://www.theguardian.com/…/how-big-are-the-fires-burning…
For 1997-2016 from http://www.globalfiredata.org/analysis.html, for June-December of each year, for Australia minus Northern Territory.
5 million hectares from https://www.dfes.wa.gov.au/…/FESA_Report-NationalInquiryonB…
Global lower burnt area: (https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/…/10.1…/2013JG002532)
Is Wind Power Actually Cheaper Than Coal Fired Power? Well, No!
This post on the very comprehensive and enlightening site of Tony of Oz provides some numbers to check the wind warriors who insist that wind power is very cheap, even cheaper than coal power these days. For almost eleven years he has been watching the development of the wind system and the way that the Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) is calculated to favour renewable power to make it look as good as possibly compared with coal.
One way to do this is to look at the cost of coal-fired power plus CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) that is very expensive. Another is to add an environmental cost for “carbon pollution” which is a complete nonsense because where I come from extra CO2 is benefit to green the planet and not a cost all.
Tony used Australian data from 2018 (when he wrote the post) on the cost of construction and the amount of power generated to make a comparison of wind power and coal fired power
For Wind the total Nameplate for the (then) 50 plants in SE Australia was 5452MW from about 2800 windmills. The current Capacity factor for wind power is 30% and that shrinks 5452MW to 1650MW. The total power delivered to the grid across Australia for the whole wind fleet is a tick under 14400GWH.
For comparison with the whole wind fleet he selected the 32 year old Bayswater coal-fired plant near Muswellbrook in New South Wales. This has four large Units, each one of 660MW in total for a Nameplate of 2640MW. It runs constantly and the power delivery ramps up and down each day unless a unit is off line for maintenance or Upgrades. The Capacity Factor for Bayswater Factor across a full year is around 75% and it delivers 17000GWH to the grid in that State of New South Wales.
So wind power has a total Nameplate of 5452MW and Bayswater has a Nameplate of 2640MW (half the windfleet) but adjusting for the capacity factors Bayswater delivers 17000GWH, and wind (the 50 plants in SE Australia) delivers 14400MW . Bayswater delivers 18% more power to the grid.
Tony wrote “Now, I don’t care what anyone says here, there is no way that one coal fired power plant cost anywhere even close to the total cost of those 50 wind plants.”
To back that up he looked at the cost of building a new super duper coal plant compared with the construction cost of wind farms.
Let’s do the maths for a new coal fired power plant, and here I will use the example of what is called a HELE (High Efficiency Low Emissions) coal fired power plant, the newest and most technologically advanced version of coal fired power, and these plants are in operation now all over the World, mostly in China where all new coal fired plants are of this type. It is also referred to as a USC (UltraSuperCritical) plant. These plants burn less coal for greater output and higher efficiency than old 1960s to 1980s technology plants, and these new plants are three levels of technology better than those older coal fired plants
These plants typically drive two Units each of 1200MW each for a total plant Nameplate of 2400MW. With advanced technology they can typically operate at a Capacity Factor of around 85%, and some plants are operating at Capacity Factors over 90%.
So, using the example of a new HELE plant with a Nameplate of 2400MW, and operating at a yearly Capacity Factor of that 85%, they will deliver across a full year 17800GWH of usable power to the grid.
With the reference point of 17800GWH he went to examine the numbers for the large and new Macarthur Wind Plant in Victoria.
This Macarthur wind plant has a total Nameplate of 420MW, and has been operating at 30%, so it will deliver across a full year 1100GWH of usable power to the grid. To match our new HELE coal plant we need 16 of these Macarthur equivalent wind plants.
The cost for the Macarthur wind plant was around $1Billion, and yes, that’s One Billion Dollars, and most sites only list that cost as ‘around’ that figure of a Billion. So, right there, we are now looking at a total of $16 Billion.
The new coal fired plant has a life expectancy of 50 years at least compared with the best case scenario for wind plants around 25 years, but the real truth could be much less. He allows 25 years to be generous but still you now need twice many turbines to deliver the same power over the life of the coal fired plant., so now we are looking at $32 Billion.
THIRTY TWO BILLION DOLLARS.
So far I have purposely not given a cost for the new HELE coal fired power plant, because there is no way it could cost anywhere even close to that. They are constructing them in Germany for the equivalent of $3 Billion Australian Dollars. They are constructing in China for $US1 Billion.
There is no way known that even 50 years of other costs could bring that figure up to $32 Billion.
So, as you can see, when you use current data for actual power generation, wind power is most definitely NOT cheaper than coal fired power.
This is the source of the figures and the line of argument.