Statism advances. Never waste a crisis! Apparently Scott Morrison is calling for more Federal power to handle emergencies. I wonder how that will end up? Look at the record in health and education. And welfare, that was a Commonwealth responsibility from the beginning.
Camus and The Plague. The tragedy in Wuhan brings to mind the great novel by Albert Camus, The Plague (La Peste).
The novel’s plot is simple: Sometime in the 1940s, the plague settles upon Oran, a city in French Algeria. Fearful and feckless, Oran’s political leadership refuses to name the threat for what it is. They justify their dithering by the refusal of medical officials to affirm, with absolute certainty, that the plague is, indeed, the plague. Maddened by these hesitations, the book’s protagonist, Doctor Rieux, exclaims: “It has small importance whether you call it the plague or some kind of fever. The important thing is to prevent it killing off half the population of this town.”
The plague is a metaphor for the Nazi occupation of France and the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe. One of the great losses in our time was the early death of Camus in 1960. He was going toe to toe with Jean Paul Sartre who was on the side of the plague.
One of the minor characters is an elderly civil servant who is trying to write a book, but he wants to create the perfect manuscript, so he has never gotten beyond the opening line. That reminds me of Gary Larson’s depiction of Herman Melville’s start of Moby Dick. Other Moby Dick cartoons.
Another column from Perry Williams in The Australian. How much longer can I subscribe? Its gated but you don’t need to read it. Nikki Sava is back as well. Perry is excited about another Big Battery.
AGL will buy output from the 100-megawatt project at Wandoan as part of a 15-year operating deal. However, bragging rights matching the Tesla chief’s record may prove short-lived, with the South Australian battery in line for a further 50 per cent capacity boost to 150MW from its current 100MW size by March.
Still, AGL said its $120m facility would be able to power up to 57,000 homes once completed in late 2021, providing storage to soak up the state’s booming solar output.
And in the great state of New South Wales.
With coal providing 80 per cent of NSW’s electricity supply and the state importing 95 per cent of its gas needs, NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean has warned the government must be realistic moving to renewables and keep every supply source in the mix ahead of Liddell’s closure.
He must be reading from the playbook that excited Ross Gittins. I saw a copy of the SMH in a cafe yesterday, if you see one in the rubbish today pull it out and see how he is recycling Garnaut’s advice to make Australia the world leader in RE. In the same scrofulous rag we read about the upcoming Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney where some more young people will shame us with their awareness of impending disaster.
The death of coal? In the world outside the bubble coal is booming and demand will increase for many years. It might be replaced by nuclear power but it will take many decades and the IEA projection for world energy use sees RE increasing from about 3% to 6% of world energy use in 2040, still an almost invisible line in the chart that is dominated by oil, coal and gas. This is the 2018 picture and the chart for 2040 is much the same but they changed the format and it is hard to compare the two. Maybe that was deliberate, the IEA is barracking for RE.
To be clear, from the bottom the green is oil, the red is natural gas, the orange is nuclear, the blue is hydro, the next band is RE and the grey at the top is coal. I suspect that a great deal of the RE is probably biomass aka wood and cow shit that creates killer indoor smoke.
The percentage increase of RE from practically zero is impressive but in absolute terms everything else apart from nuclear was going ahead faster to that point. Nuclear may be accelerating as China and builds more plants both at home and away.
No Moore’s Law for batteries. The only hope for RE to make a serious contribution to the grid (allowing a role off grid with diesel backup) is have massive storage to flatten the variations in supply of sun and wind. For get about batteries. This piece reviews the fundamentals that prohibit the kind of growth in capacity that we got with disk capacity for data.
For nerds. The burgeoning field of behavioral economics has produced a new set of justifications for paternalism. This book challenges behavioral paternalism on multiple levels, from the abstract and conceptual to the pragmatic and applied.
Escaping Peternalism. One of the authors Mario Rizzo is an Austrian economist and one of my agents of influence in New York.