The Morrison government has released a new roadmap for low emissions technology. The nicest thing that can be said is that it’s better than the Turnbull plan. It gives no joy to the Renewables multinational octopus, it steers a Qango in a less damaging direction, but still isn’t brave enough to just say “No” to the low-carbon bullies.
$18 billion for technologies we don’t need
The Coalition plan is an investment in five low emission technologies that private investors have mostly already looked at and don’t like:
- Hydrogen made with renewable energy,
- Low-emission steel and aluminium,
- Carbon capture and storage, and
- Adding carbon to soil.
Since emissions don’t change the weather in a measurable way, no one in the world “needs” low emission steel or aluminum. It doesn’t solve any problem, apart from giving guilt-free passes to Ecoworriers to help them feel better about buying a new car. We-the-people are investing in a fashion empire dedicated to a niche market, so they can brag at dinner parties.
Of the five technologies, the only useful outcome is richer soil. Batteries are handy, but if we burnt coal for power we get all the storage and stability we need and at half the price. The renewables industry needs batteries. The Australian people need cheap electricity.
The roadmap allows Ministers to say they are reducing carbon faster than the opposition. It’s a bland defensive chess move for a group of people who feel constantly harangued to reduce the sacred carbon. Effectively this $18 billion dollars buys government ministers some comfortable answers to hold off the hostile activist-press. That’s expensive insurance.
As a fuel, hydrogen has some big shortcomings
As far as hydrogen goes, as David Archibald said Great civilizations are built on Coal Gas and Nukes, not Hydrogen:
Hydrogen has low energy density, so a big, high-pressure tank of the stuff doesn’t take you far. It has an explosive range in air of 18% to 60%. It causes embrittlement of steel. There is a plot at the moment to add hydrogen to the natural gas distribution system — which then might start leaking like a sieve. It has a colourless flame, so leaks that have caught fire can’t be seen. In the days before infrared cameras, workers at a rocket fuel factory in Texas used to detect hydrogen leaks by walking with a straw broom in front of them. When the broom caught fire they had found the leak.
Chasing the Carbon Capture and Storage rainbow
Despite relentless failure and ominous laws of physics, the government is hoping to use Carbon Capture and Storage to stuff a valuable fertilizer in a hole in the ground. If they succeed it will be a net loss to the nation.
As I’ve said:
With CCS, the hard part is deciding which obstacle is the most stupidly unachievable. One ton of solid coal generates nearly three tons of CO2 in a puffy, fluffy, expanded gas form. It doesn’t take a genius to know it won’t fit back into the same hole. And even if you get it down there, it may not stay there. The gas has to be compressed, or refrigerated (or both). Underground holes are hot. Not surprisingly, this takes a lot of energy, so that to build a coal plant with the capability to “store CO2″ we must spend 60% more dollars, and then throw away 40% of the electricity as well.
We already know how this experiment turns out. The EU has tried CCS and it blew £520 million on carbon capture project that stored no carbon. The UK government blew £168m on Carbon Capture Projects that were cancelled. The US likewise has tossed millions and achieved nothing.
Wind and solar are so competitive “they don’t need subsidies anymore”.
There are minor wins: The roadmap holds the renewables industry to their own propaganda. It’s “mature” now and doesn’t need subsidies. So Minister Angus Taylor has redirected the ARENA green machine. This is the renewables QANGO set up by Julia Gillard with about $3 billion to help, cheerlead and market for the Renewables Industry. Now it will still waste money but not on wind and solar. It could have been axed.
Missed opportunities — throwing away great electoral advantages
The Liberal party (the conservatives in Australia) are still playing the role of a mini-Labor-Green Party. There’s still the slavish acceptance of the fantasy that human carbon dioxide emissions control the weather in a meaningful way, or that even if they had some effect, it was worth spending ten cents to achieve an unmeasurable cooling effect in one hundred years, even though the models all fail, warming will save lives, CO2 feeds plants, and China and India are doing nothing.
The Liberals can’t poke fun at the Labor party for grandiose fantasies to stop storms when they are positioning themselves as just being better at the same grandiose fantasies.
The new roadmap echoes the Tony Abbott strategy of finding ways to reduce carbon emissions without feeding the crocodile. Abbott put in an auction system, and let the market find the cheapest solution (at $14/ton), which Morrison keeps, but Morrison also tries to pick some winners. The plan will, no doubt, be able to reduce carbon emissions at a lower cost than Labor’s $5,310 per ton carbon tax. It will also be “more effective” than the gold-plated windmills and solar panels plan, which are spectacularly useless at cutting carbon emissions. But none of the Greens care about that anyway. Morrison will still be called a climate denier by people who use namecalling to set public policy, even though the Coalition will achieve more useless carbon reduction than the Labor-Green party.
It’s a roadmap for expensive electricity
If I’m not mistaken, the government is aiming for wholesale electricity that only costs 230% more than that sold by the 53 year old Hazelwood Coal Plant in it’s last month of operation in 2017. The new “stretch goal” (whatever that means) for batteries, is apparently “consistent with an average wholesale electricity price under $70/MWh”.
The average price for most of the last 20 years was $30/MWh. Now, apparently, it’s going to cost a fortune more just to get prices down to twice what we used to pay.
The new normal in electricity prices is far higher
The usual wholesale electricity price was around $30MWh from 1999 – 2015 | Source: AER
The small upside
Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t like it. This is the closest thing to a ringing endorsement of the Technology Roadmap that I’ve seen:
Mr Turnbull said Mr Morrison’s reluctance to commit to the 2050 target was at odds with the Paris agreement, which aims for climate neutrality.
“The idea that you crash the economy by cutting your emissions is just again, that’s ideology taking the place of what should be sound environmental and economic policy,” he said.
“There is a reason just about every other developed country in the world apart from [Donald] Trump’s America is taking a very different approach.”
The ABC let Turnbull take a free swipe at Donald Trump and imply that Australia is somehow backwards in carbon reduction. They didn’t mention that Australians are the renewables superstars who have installed more renewables per capita than anywhere in the world, and pay the highest prices too.
The things they don’t mention matter so much more than the things they do.
Technology Investment Roadmap: First Low Emissions Technology Statement 2020, Australian Government, Department of Industry.
AEMO Quarterly Report, 2019, Q4.Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)Energy Roadmap: $18 billion wasted pandering to pagan climate religion, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
September 23, 2020 at 12:55PM