In thrall to climate change denial

From the AFR this morning:

The federal government is moving towards abolishing the Renewable Energy Target rather than scaling it back in a move that will cost almost $11 billion in proposed investment and which is at odds with the views of its own Environment Minister.

The Australian Financial Review understands Prime Minister Tony Abbott has asked businessman Dick Warburton, whom he handpicked after the election to review the RET, to do more work on the option of terminating the target altogether. This was after Mr Warburton’s review leant towards scaling back the RET.

Sources said Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who advocated scaling back the RET as a compromise, has been sidelined from the process and is understood to be unhappy. They said Mr Abbott, Treasurer Joe Hockey and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann are pushing the issue now.

A government source said when the government announced its decision, possibly before the end of this month, it was now “more likely’’ the RET will be abolished under a so-called “closed to new entrants scenario’’ in which existing contracts only would be honoured.

A few points:

  • The RET is not perfect policy. It would have been more efficient to have kept the carbon price and scrapped the RET and then let markets sort out winner and losers.
  • Having said that, with no carbon price and Direct Action under siege, the RET is all there is, so scrapping it at this point is removing Australia’s only remaining substantial carbon abatement policy, with all of the negative flow-on effects that that will have to the local and global emissions mitigation effort, as well as exposing Australia to big future risks of punitive international counter-policy.
  • Ignoring one’s own stacked inquiry into the RET because it’s too easy on it is indicative of a pre-determined view of climate change in the Government. They do not believe in it, period. That removal of the RET will jeopardise around 1% worth of GDP in committed capital investment as we head off the capex cliff tells you how irrational this belief is.
  • This is real sovereign risk in action. Not the kind of faux sovereign risk often leveled at the mining tax – which was investment neutral – or by Andrew Robb today when discussing the Budget wrestle with the senate. If forthcoming, this will be an arbitrary decision, in opposition to the research of the Government’s own inquiry, with no lead time and no policy taken to an election.
  • Whether this damage to investment is offset by cheaper power prices for households  depends upon how you model the outcome. The RET Inquiry modelling by ACIL found that it raise prices. A more recent Deloitte study commissioned by manufacturing interests concluded the opposite. From the Melbourne Energy Institute recently:

Deloitte says that scrapping the RET completely would save between A$47 and A$65 dollars per year per household. But ACIL Allen says the target will cut power bills from 2021 onwards, by up to A$91 per year by 2030.

While the A$156 gap between these two forecasts may not amount to much by 2030, they clearly can’t both be right.ScreenHunter_3527 Jul. 30 13.20

More research from the Climate Institute is out today supporting the case for lower prices in retaining the RET (read more about competing modelling here).

Regardless, such tiny differences are irrelevant given what is at stake, and become even more perverse when one considers the real reason for three-quarters of power price increases in recent years: over-investment in power distribution networks, which has nothing at all to do with climate change.

This is a war on climate change insurance, built upon a denial of science and probability and hung upon a unique form of institutional narcissism.

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Comments

  1. This is a war on climate change insurance, built upon a denial of science and probability and hung upon a unique form of institutional narcissism.

    Never a truer word has been written.

  2. The war on science continues, with Ebola out of control, csiro announces cuts at the secure disease centre at Geelong. Now this with climate science.

  3. Their instinct is to deny and to use weasel words in public so as not to appear anti scientific.

    Apparently Alex Salmond’s Scotland will lead on climate change; maybe he has advice for Tone.

  4. Actions speak louder than words, and if you look at what Abbott is doing rather what he is saying, he is clearly a full-blown denialist.

  5. migtronixMEMBER

    I disagree I think if anything was going to do something useful it was RET so all you tax supporters who’s anti science now?

    • The policies in this country are bizarre.

      FITs in NSW are a joke (bordering on criminal): 35c kWh for peak power and 8c kWh FIT? Theft.

      Little incentive for small scale power generation.

      Meanwhile Rome is burning.

      I cannot wait for the next election. All Labor need to do is basically the opposite of this party of imbeciles.

      • Is it not possible for solar panel owners to form a cooperative that would act as a surrogate generating company and sell their power to the grid on a commercial basis.

      • Lath
        there was/is an attempt by someone to do this (I can’t recall their website/name) which is a good idea, but the gen companies still have the power.

        If I was a distro I’d be very careful as storage isn’t far off and when that happens, they’ll be in big big trouble.

        I’m writing to Kevin Hogan (my Fed member in Page) about it. It’s a disgrace. At least in NSW, ipart should be mandating a higher FIT an the state/Feds should incentivise it (I don’t normally like picking winners but this makes complete sense to me)

        Tim

      • TM. Good luck getting a reply from an elected member! You might also ask if they have any plans to make it illegal to get off the grid or to otherwise tax solar panel owners in order to support the status quo.

      • Lath: he replied promptly last time. He also seems reasonably plugged in so we’ll see. Compared to Don Page, god, he writes letters, scans them then emails them. Months later. And always vanilla “I’ve made representations on your behalf.” (Just write an email already.)

      • Hilarious! Don can’t email? I wonder if he’s like Brandis with no computer on his desk?

      • Lorax. Nice enough bloke (at least on radio) and local state member for 25 years but….
        Man the problems we’ve had with council and the airport (Air Services Aus stonewalling us on new flight paths and low approach over our farm) and lack of representation.

        Makes one throw one’s hands in the air.

        Pre-emptive at Mig: FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS ;p

      • @tmarsh

        FIT’s are sending the state utilities broke due to the initial over-generous offerings…the 40 and 60c FIT’s still in place are the biggest state energy policy blunder of modern times. policy is hard to get right when tech moves so “fast” and the government is made up of non-technical folks like lawyers and bean counters

        while you pull electricity from the grid at night you are dependant on the grid… and to ensure you pay some contribution to that upkeep 8c is all you gonna get per kWh mate!

        that is until the new gas generator off-the-grid systems are economical and practical….which wont be far off…then you can cut your ties and be done as long as you have a gas supply

      • Bendy Wire: yes re: 60c etc that was a monumental cock up but doesn’t mean FITs aren’t right.

        Anyway, simple solution: mandate that FITs must be X% of peak power or the ToU tariff. Rated down due to current unreliability but rated up for the green factor. Say 75-80%?

        We don’t have gas. We’re in a regional area.

        Which is part of the point.

        AGL hiking peak rates but I have no such recourse.

        As I said, roll on storage (Vanadium electrolyte, apparently)

      • And by the way bendy wire, I should be grateful of 8c kWh which is some sort of Oliver Twist.

        Please sir can I have some more.

        I *PAY* for the power. I don’t need to be grateful.

        I also pay a service fee.

        [They can kiss another $130 / q of revenue goodbye shortly. Solar hot water system means no CL2. I have tank water, solar power, solar hot water = big saving. Our power bill will have been reduced from $450/q to about $100.]

      • @Bendy: sorry, controlled load 2. A separate meter for hot water delivery. Separately metered and tariffed.

      • Bendy: I don’t know if it’s an old thing, or what. House built in 81, but meter box has been upgraded (though it has asbestos!).

        Solar HW (thermosiphon) circa 3k: so payback 7 years (waiting to see what Noalition does with solar HW rebates…sovereign risk if we get now and miss out on rebates — missed out on too many rebates — like the new NSW gov’t skilled regional migration one). I could be wrong, I calculated solar PV payback 4 years and was way out.

  6. Rent Seeking Missile

    ‘Climate change denialist’.

    LOL!

    You’d better have a word to the records for the earth’s temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide. They deny the reality of the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis as well.

    Even assuming the bed-wetters are correct in their predictions, the RET would do buggerall to stop temperatures increasing. At best, it would delay such an increase by a few minutes, if that. But it would do so at tremendous cost, borne, as always, by the poorest.

    But who cares what happens to poor people? Hand-wringing about poverty hasn’t been ‘cool’ for ages.

    • At best, it would delay such an increase by a few minutes, if that. But it would do so at tremendous cost,
      $65/year is hardly a tremendous cost! “Deloitte says that scrapping the RET completely would save between A$47 and A$65 dollars per year per household. But ACIL Allen says the target will cut power bills from 2021 onwards, by up to A$91 per year by 2030.”

      • Rent Seeking Missile

        1) Not a tremendous cost? Try telling that to the pensioners who sit in their cars to keep warm, cos they can’t afford their power bills.

        2) Why pay ANY cost at all for buggerall benefit? Oh, that’s right, moral vanity and the need to be seen to be ‘doing something’.

    • migtronixMEMBER

      What tremendous cost borne by the poor genius? Maybe you haven’t figured this out yet but you can’t squeeze blood from a stone — so nice strawman!

      • migtronixMEMBER

        What don’t you get? You don’t realise the poor don’t have the money to bear a tremendous cost?

        Idiot

      • anthropogenic effects on climate on this planet are inconclusive at best. there is no firm consensus on this

        (and no I’m not long on coal stocks Mig)

      • migtronixMEMBER

        @Bendy Wire so the “tremendous cost to the poor” is utter bullshit then? How is keeping the FF monopolies well fed a better a proposition??

      • I’m not debating implications of the policy built upon what is merely a theory

        Just like Evolution, right ?

      • Smithy,

        to compare the rigidity of theory anthropogenic climate change to that of Evolution would be a school boy error

        unless you believe in rising from the dead and walking on water?

      • Mig,

        you’re depending on fossil fuels to charge your laptop are you not? want a cake and eat it too?

        FF extraction will die a natural death let it be.. advancing/developing renewables shouldn’t be associated with a dependence upon the world buying a shaky theory that their farts and exhaust fumes are causing thermometers around the world to rise in unison

        advancing/developing renewables should be a priority because FF’s are finite

      • to compare the rigidity of theory anthropogenic climate change to that of Evolution would be a school boy error

        I can’t parse that, try again.

    • REM. I presume you do not worry about insurance on your car, house and other assets as nothing could ever happen to them.

      Perhaps you have a direct line to a higher authority who will make sure you are never affected by án act of god’.

      • migtronixMEMBER

        Insurance doesn’t cover acts of God and somehow I doubt you’ll be able to sue ExxonMobil for deterioration of your coastline.

      • Rent Seeking Missile

        Happy to insure against adverse events that might happen. So yes I do insure my car.

        However I don’t insure against things that aren’t going to happen. Anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide are not going to cause the end of civilisation – not now, not in 100 years, not ever.

      • Rent Seeking Missile, how can you be so sure? Anyone who asserts that anthropogenic emissions are categorically NOT a problem, or categorically ARE a problem, must know something the rest of us don’t.

        Its a risk management issue, and any rational reading of the situation would suggest the risks a skewed heavily towards climate change being real and problematic.

      • Rent Seeking Missile

        Lorax, I don’t know anything that other people don’t.

        The IPCC in its latest report says that a 2.5 degree increase in temperatures will cost the equivalent of losing 0.2% to 2% of annual income.

        Not exactly the end of the world.

        This is not a problem to be risk managed by hobbling ourselves with costly technologies. Given the low
        estimated cost of anthropogenic global warming, adapting to whatever might happen is a better approach, and maximising GDP growth provides society with resources for adaptation.

      • migtronixMEMBER

        Sure Esco, nice try…

        I’m not talking about a pissy little golf ball sized rock, I mean something that takes out a whole city. How does the insurer afford to cover that Esco??

        . Standard insurance policies only cover personal property damage in your house if the falling object blasts directly through your roof or your walls. If an asteroid slams into the Earth a mile away from your house and your prized art deco sculptures tumble to the ground and shatter, insurance isn’t likely to cover it. Ditto for a huge explosion centered miles above the ground like the one caused by a massive asteroid on June 30, 1908, near the Tunguska River in Central Russia, which leveled everything in a 14-mile radiu

      • Mig

        Don’t know where you got your quote from.

        But it does say unlikely. …

        I guess that means there’s a chance it’s likely to be covered.

        Every policy is different and sometimes you need to look for exclusions. If it’s not excluded then you will have a case.

        I reckon you can get cover if you try hard enough.

        Not all policies are the same.

        Oh, and next time it’s better to be more specific, but I appreciate we write thoughts quickly and don’t fully explain what we mean.

      • migtronixMEMBER

        @Esco: Can you find someone who’ll take your money?? Sure!!

        Will you ever be able to make that claim? I say never, even if your insurer only covered 10% of the houses in that city they’d still be completely underwater and too broke to make good on the claims.

      • Anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide are not going to cause the end of civilisation – not now, not in 100 years, not ever.

        Special link for intellectually challenged astróturfer, Rented Missile.

        Grok this, if you can, and then come back and repeat the statement.

        http://goo.gl/4FEHV0

      • @RSM
        “Happy to insure against adverse events that might happen. So yes I do insure my car.

        However I don’t insure against things that aren’t going to happen. Anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide are not going to cause the end of civilisation – not now, not in 100 years, not ever.”

        It may not end but what kind of civilization will it be?
        You already pay for AGW with every home, contents and motor vehicle insurance premium – you just don’t know it. It’s built into your premium via inflated reinsurance costs which insurers naturally pass on to their customers. I know because I worked in with a major insurer in their underwriting area. The actuarial work was done on this long ago and it is regularly reviewed as more is known. Insurance industry pressure was one of the reasons the IPCC was formed.

    • Yes, who is thinking of those worst effected?

      Think of Gina, Twiggy, BHP, RIO, Clive.

      Oh the humanity.

    • Wow, didn’t take long to go full nut-job this morning.

      Of course, we know that fossil fuels will never run out either, which makes this twice as smart.

      • Technically it’s what you said that is nutty.

        But given that you are arguing something that defies the laws of physics, without providing any actual scientific evidence whatsoever, you didn’t leave me much to work with.

        Go and read before you spew ignorance.

      • Rent Seeking Missile

        Haven’t argued anything that defies the laws of physics.

        Am saying that anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide aren’t going to cause us any problems that we can’t deal or adapt to.

      • If you think CO2 doesn’t cause warming, start reading from Tyndall. 150+ years of physics behind that.

        If you think warming isn’t going to cause problems, that’s some mighty optimism you have there. Historical evidence suggests otherwise. Climate change in the past has wiped out life on a massive scale.

        Even if the effects are minor, the world’s poor will bear the brunt, along with fragile ecosystems. We’re already seeing the effects on oceans.

      • migtronixMEMBER

        Climate change in the past has wiped out life on a massive scale.

        When DT when? Do tell…

        Always the same thing in these posts people talking completely out their ar$e regardless which side they sit on…

      • Rent Seeking Missile

        Of course carbon dioxide causes the atmosphere to warm. That’s why it’s called a greenhouse gas!

        What I’m saying is that the warming that it causes in future is not going to be a problem for us.

        Yes climate change creates problems. You only have to imagine what another ice age would to civilisation.

        But carbon dioxide emissions aren’t going to create problems anywhere near the scale of another ice age.

        Happy for you to go on worrying yourself and fishing about for ‘solutions’ to imaginary problems. But don’t expect me and others to pay for it.

      • Rent Seeking Missile

        Of course carbon dioxide causes the atmosphere to warm. That’s why it’s called a greenhouse gas!

        What I’m saying is that the warming that it causes in future is not going to be a problem for us.

        Yes climate change creates problems. You only have to imagine what another ice age would do to civilisation.

        But carbon dioxide emissions aren’t going to create problems anywhere near the scale of another ice age.

        Happy for you to go on worrying yourself and fishing about for ‘solutions’ to imaginary problems. But don’t expect me and others to pay for it.

      • migtronixMEMBER

        The absolute age and duration of the event remain uncertain, but are close to 55.8 million years ago and about 170,000 years, respectively.

        Did you see the duration of the events??? FFS I’ve entered idiotworld and I can’t remember what the admission price was.

      • If this is Idiotworld©, you’re the chief attraction, Mºrºnix. 😛

        You don’t even have the grace to admit when you’ve been shown to be completely wrong, as above.

      • migtronixMEMBER

        Sure mam-I-cant-thinkorino I can deduce that over the events length, millenia, many other factors contributed to bio diversity loss, you’re from idiotworld so only one explanation can enter your tiny mind at a time…

        What 4 degrees??? We haven’t had 1 degree ffs!

      • If you bothered to read it you will see that there is real work going into this. To dismiss it as a “stab in the dark” is just ignorant.

        If you’re going to comment on something like this, have something that adds to the debate rather than thinking your feelpinions have some sort of value.

      • To dismiss it as a “stab in the dark” is just ignorant.

        Anyone who dismisses the conclusions of vast volumes of data and extensive research stretching back generations, in the most intensely scrutinised field of science in human history, as “just a theory (sic)”, is well past “ignorant”.

      • migtronixMEMBER

        most intensely scrutinised field of science in human history

        And anyone that makes that comment about Climate Science is a bigger ignoramus!! Ever heard of Quantum Physics??

      • And anyone that makes that comment about Climate Science is a bigger ignoramus!! Ever heard of Quantum Physics??

        Climate science is the most scrutinised field of science in history. The general public, including aments like you, have climbed in, boots and all. Millions of people have partaken.

        The number of people in the world who have bothered to get involved in physics of any kind runs into the thousands, at best.

        The latest climate change report is the most scrutinised document in the history of science, according to one expert who helped write it.
        http://www.theage.com.au/national/emissions-targets-too-low-experts-20130926-2ugzq.html

      • migtronixMEMBER

        Millions of people who don’t know the first thing about ANY science, let alone atmospheric thermodynamics, versus the 60 years from 1915 when General Relativity was first postulated to 1974 when Husse started studying quasars — 60 years of scrutiny by the brightest minds in the field no less!!

        How about the Theory of Evolution of the Species? Over 100 years by several disciplines all to the dismay of still powerful religious institutions…

        You people are seriously deluded

      • And anyone that makes that comment about Climate Science is a bigger ignoramus!! Ever heard of Quantum Physics??

        Yes.

        There would be orders of magnitude more people trying to poke holes in climate science than Quantum Physics.

        I’m not aware of any Quantum Physics political parties, for example.

        Evolution would comfortably come in second place, and still not even come close.

      • migtronixMEMBER

        I’m not aware of any Quantum Physics political parties

        Because QM would have been well served by a dedicated political party??

        What’s wrong you??

        People gaping slack-jawed – as mambo illustrates in exemplary fashion – does not scrutiny make. It requires experts in the field, like the aforementioned QM.

      • Because QM would have been well served by a dedicated political party??

        What ?

        What’s wrong you??

        I’m trying to have a rational conversation with an irrational person ?

        People gaping slack-jawed – as mambo illustrates in exemplary fashion – does not scrutiny make. It requires experts in the field, like the aforementioned QM.

        I’ll have to remember that the next time you reference some random denialist website with your FUD. Or the next time you try to argue how much scientific advancement has been made by people without any formal education or qualifications.

      • migtronixMEMBER

        I’ve never done either of those things and no one would accuse me of it, so try again. As usual you’re trapped fighting a bogeyman that isn’t here.

        Show one example of me advancing anyone but a scientist on a sceintific topic — just one.

        Show me one example of me linking to blog — on this topic — just one.

      • migtronixMEMBER

        I’ve never done either of those things and no one would accuse me of it, so try again. As usual you’re trapped fighting a bogeyman that isn’t here.

        Show one example of me advancing anyone but a scientist on a sceintific topic — just one.

        Show me one example of me linking to blog — on this topic — just one.

        What’s your favourite line, stop lying about what others have said?

      • So Mºrºnix links to a blog page of a well known idiotic denier, Chris Booker, who in turn is discussing the denialist views of an ancient GEOLOGIST, Nils-Axel Mörner.

        And this little twerp wants us to take him seriously? 😡

        Aaah, please, kid, gimme a fuggin break, man!

        Neat fact: Mörner claims to be an expert in “dowsing,” the practice of finding water, metals, gemstones etc. through the use of a Y-shaped twig.

      • ….Mig sprung again.

        @RSM
        Haven’t argued anything that defies the laws of physics. Am saying that anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide aren’t going to cause us any problems that we can’t deal or adapt to.

        Cool, so lets start adapting – by reducing our carbon footprint. Otherwise a lot of poor people might suffer necessarily. Something for you to read re that point. http://mudancasclimaticas.cptec.inpe.br/~rmclima/pdfs/destaques/sternreview_report_complete.pdf

      • migtronixMEMBER

        The Telegraph is not some hoiky blog you fucking morons that post to Septic science all day long!!!!

        See I knew you were fucking LIARS!!

      • Mig, quoting a paper that quotes a dodgy source isn’t any better than linking to a blog. Journalism turned its back on objectivity long ago and papers are quite happy to post rubbish they lifted off the internet or from some paid spin merchant. You do remember those WMDs in Iraq right? This is what a post with credible source/s looks like.

        Credible sources are sources like our Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO http://www.bom.gov.au/state-of-the-climate/documents/state-of-the-climate-2014_low-res.pdf?ref=button . The confidence of predictions re man made global warming has only increased in recent years because, according to our own Bureau of Meteorology, temperatures are only increasing at lower levels of the atmosphere (troposphere) where the CO2 collects (due to higher molar mass than air) and not the upper levels of the atmosphere (see what is causing warming here http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/change/?ref=ftr#tabs=About-climate-change) . So the empirical data gathered demonstrates current global warming is occurring largely as a result of greenhouse gasses like CO2 and these are a result of human activity. Here is a pretty picture to explain the greenhouse effect for you http://www.dec.ny.gov/images/administration_images/greenhouse.jpg

        This link from NASA that notes we are not only in a La Niña cooler period recently but also at the end of a solar minimum. http://climate.nasa.gov/interactives/warming_world In spite of this the globe has continued to warm. Another credible source.
        Notice how they are science sources and not scientists. As I work with scientists all the time in my line of work, I know a scientist can be bought. There are more than a few geologists working for oil and gas companies, so you need something with a bit more cred. Mig, it’s not the fact that people are lying –it’s just that you have no idea what a credible source is.

  7. reusachtigeMEMBER

    I hate cold weather. A nice warm planet would be like a party! Not too fussed, there’s always profits to be made.

    • And what with global cooling and all, we’ll need to burn all the dead stuff we can to push the temperatures up a few degrees.

  8. Lets not get carried away.

    1) We haven’t seen the review outcome yet
    2) The government would need to accept the reviews advice which it may or may not do
    3) Legislative change will need Senate approval.

    Don’t jump to conclusions based on one article citing an un-named ‘government source’.

    • Yes I’m sure this government will make a rational, considered decision and have the necessary negotiation capabilities to pass it through the senate.

  9. Can’t help but get in on this:
    *The RET is a woeful policy, but true, its value has increased given other carbon abatement policies have been removed.
    *The capital investment it was to fund would contribute to GDP, but the questions are: is the investment efficient? No. And in investing in this area, what is the foregone consumption and investment that is likely more efficient? Looking at RET investment in a purely Keynesian GDP accounting exercise has its limits. China’s got lots of GDP too, but that doesn’t mean its necessarily good GDP.
    *The key issue to me is not so much the merits of the policy, but what are the costs and benefits of removing it? This is a hugely discretionary policy decision that unsettles everyone. Yes the policy has costs, but so does getting rid of it. Transitions matter.

    • Thankyou for your rational comment.

      The most frustrating aspect of all of this has been the shrill, un-informed commentary which goes along with this issue.

      The quality of the public debate has been woefully poor and dominated by green left spin.

      • Coal spruiker does not support renewable energy. 😯

        “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” — Upton Sinclair (1935)

  10. Personally I feel that RET’s are very bad policy so their removal is probably a net positive, I dont feel that we need silly govt policies because the residential electricity market is already providing all the price signals needed for consumers to make solar choices. In many ways regulations are now preventing rather than encouraging the adoption of solar so eliminating small scale RET’s is probably good especially if it reduces compliance requirements and frees up the market allowing market mechanisms to properly function.

    As for residential electricity prices: well they’ll continue to escalate because Labors carbon policy had very little to do with the price increases. At the moment we are at about the break even point for residential households going off-grid. IF there were some cheap way to provision grid electricity for the dozen (or so) winter days per year when PV/Solar proves inadequate then Off-Grid residential would already be a no-brainer with a recovery period of less then 10 years.

    Recent advancements in the long term reliability of Li chemistry batteries (in combination with traditional Lead acid batteries for peak power) IMHO has tipped the cost balance in favor of off grid. Unfortunately for real world systems today you still need to integrate some form of fossil fuel based micro generator and the up-front/maintenance/operating costs associated with this function is what tips the balance back in favor of remaining grid connected. However there are lots of exciting thing happening in this area so expect solutions to begin rolling out over the next few years.

    • Failed Baby BoomerMEMBER

      Yup China-Bob, even without RET I think off-grid is close to the viability tipping point with a little help from battery and power control technology.

    • With a small generator for the overcast days it is economically viable now. I run most of the house load off grid on 3kW of panels in Melbourne. I have another 3kW grid connected exporting at the top FIT to fund the off-grid component. Task now is to wean off gas heating using solar.

      Well utilised lithium batteries work out at 17c/kWh over their life using a cost of capital of 4%. They are about half the cost per unit of energy stored of lead acid when all factors are taken into account.

      The cost projections from the Chinese battery manufacturers is that storage costs will halve as the latest battery technologies evolve. So when I need to expand or update my lithium battery I might be pleasantly surprised.

      • I agree that Li batteries now have a lower combined cost than Lead acid However the total battery life time data indicates an even longer life for LI is possible IF the peak charge / peak discharge rates are kept below 1/4C. High charge / discharge rates are then provided by parallel Lead Acid batteries OR some form of fast start microturbine.

        I’m not sure I’d expect Li battery costs to halve anytime soon, but I could be wrong because you know that’s the beauty of a free market, it focuses lots of very smart people on creating solutions IF they can see a way to connect the dots. Unfortunately gov’t regulations typically interfere with this “connect-the-dots” function by creating regulatory uncertainty (if I develop this will I actually be allowed to deploy it??) So IMHO we’re better off with a market where its clear that individual house owners do have the freedom to go off-grid

      • I thought that Lithium prices were flatlining but that it not the manufacturers’ perspective. I am using Winston cells and am very impressed. I am able to pull 20% above rated capacity if I take them down to 95% DoD. Peak charge rate is 0.5C and discharge averages 0.03.

        This is some information on CALB batteries that shows the cost reduction they are aiming for:
        https://www.dropbox.com/s/m6y55muwev3upo5/CALB-PPT-2014.pdf
        I have a friend in the USA using a CALB bank on a boat so I am monitoring their reliability.

        I am a member of solar citizens. The group is essentially politically motivated to protect the solar industry. That means it institutionalises the inefficiencies. As far as I can see there is no technical interchange

        I took a punt on solar when prices were very high and am now rewarded with the top FIT but solar technology is now economically viable without any government support.

        Using the threat of global warming as a trump card to support solar is a losing strategy. The globe is cooling. Land has cooled since 1998 and oceans have been losing heat since 2009.

        The best strategy is to get suburban households off grid and self reliant. Households get more prudent about using energy when they are self reliant.

      • Yea I’m working directly with the development teams at two Chinese battery makers and I’m getting about the same cost curve / reliability data from both. But we all know what happened to PV prices so I take their projections with a grain of salt.

        At the moment IMHO, for residential electricity, its more important to create ways that seamlessly enable the average consumer to transition from the concept of having over 20KW available power (the grid model) too a more realistic say 2 to 5KW maximum. This requires demand management technologies coupled with education.

        What’s interesting (from a grid systemic view point) is that implementing similar peak demand reduction techniques could have completely eliminated the need for the recent transmission grid “up grades” AND provided a good way to transition from the old (always available) model to a newer variably available (solar) electricity model.

      • One of the issues facing grids now is designing to cope with the peak generation from roof top solar. That does not bode well for solar without storage. That is happening in the outer east around Melbourne with new estates. So the grid owners are spending more money on local networks.

        There are some clever ways to manage loads. I have not yet installed my electric hot water but I have the controls set up. I will be able to use the very top end of the battery to heat water during the day. That leaves the battery to handle more critical loads during the night. The water energy storage supplements the battery storage.

        The only risk I see with going off grid is being charged for a service that is not used because it is wired to your property.

        On the solar panel price front I consider them extraordinary value. I have been impressed with the p[rice reduction over the last ten years. There are ongoing opportunities to reduce costs by using them to replace existing external cladding. Rather than them being an add on with extra cost for support system they become integrated into the roof structure.

      • I agree completely there is no way forward for Grid without storage IF PV remains grid connected and no value for PV without storage if you go off-grid.

        Personally I see RET’s as a solution for a last years (last decade) problem which unfortunately exasperates tomorrows problems. I’d much rather this political capital (and societal costs) was expended mapping a clear path forward and thereby bringing long term clarity to issues like:
        Grid connection charges (if you disconnect)
        FIT rates
        Ownership of Local / community electricity infrastructure (could be very important for new greenfield developments)
        Role of storage within the local Grid
        Legality of time shifting with Grid connection (i.e. charge your own batteries at night (off-peak rates) discharge batteries during the day
        Directly Selling your own electricity locally (could be as simple as throwing a cable over the fence and selling to your neighbor BUT why do it this way when the properties are already electrically connected)

        Longer term there are so many MUCH more important issues than RET’s, as I see it RET’s are very short sighted and kinda only benefit today’s installers. IF I could trade RET’s for legal clarity on these other issues it’d be worth every penny


  11. As for residential electricity prices: well they’ll continue to escalate because Labors carbon policy had very little to do with the price increases.

    +1 This is the key to the whole thing, and a reminder that if it’s being debated in Australia’s parliament it’s got f-all to do with anything of importance to Australia (cf. refugee policy, etc etc)

    I suspect that the odium attached to electricity retailers will propel many people to attempt to get off grid before it is strictly cost effective, greatly assisting people trying to develop that technology.

    • Yea it really bugs me that average Aussies (especially NSW) are being so easily misled by both political parties about the true reasons for residential electricity cost increases. Its even more galling that absolutely NO discussions were even entertained about possible systemic alternatives, this tells me all I’ll ever need to know about the future direction of NSW residential electricity prices.

      I guess its all just politics so I shouldn’t be surprised but this is precisely why I’m saying that, going forward, PV will be better with a less gov’t involvement where whole house managed electricity products/solutions can be developed by the free market.

      Most normal people I talk to these days have electricity bills in excess of $3000/yr so there’s already a huge pot of money available for anyone with a solution. For NSW residential power alone this must be about a $60B/yr total available market ….those kind of numbers alone make this bit of lowish-hanging-fruit ripe for the plucking.

      • Ultimately the various Australian governments are putting themselves in danger of being forced to re-nationalise the dying national grid as eventually only renters whose ability to modify the houses they occupy is restricted (tho I rent and I have solar) and more generally those too poor to modify their house will be left on the grid, leaving a group of people who can’t afford electricity now as the group forced to bear the ever increasing price rises.

        Alternatively governments are going to end up giving people below the poverty line a subsidy towards the technology to get off the grid, to avoid the social consequences of a large underclass divorced from the rest of society.

        Many people can’t afford $3000/ year now – they sure as hell won’t be able to afford $6000 or $12000. Something is going to have to give.

  12. Stacked inquiry? More like stacked preconceived bias by the author!

    The RET review panel comprises intelligent individuals with a diverse range of experience and I suggest we await their findings…which are imminent.

  13. The Government can try to abolish the RET, but the Senate might have other ideas. Palmer has said no abolition this side of the next election. Under a closed to new entrants policy, if the Government announces a planned abolition that can’t take place for two years at least, this could lead to a rush of investment.

    Plus, of course, there’s a lot of punters out there with solar panels on their roofs. If the Labor Party has any brains it will run the mother of all scare campaigns to the effect that if Abbott gets his way he’ll steal the money they put into their solar systems.

  14. General Disarray

    These look like leaks attempting to lower expectations; get the media talking about scrapping the RET completely, and then when the official announcement is made it seems more reasonable.

  15. The comments around climate, renewable energy, denialism etc are improving at this site. Or maybe the astroturfers have not received their Google alert for this article yet?

  16. PlanetraderMEMBER

    “All of this true climate science is authoritatively explained in complete detail in the thousands of pages of Climate Change Reconsidered II, authored by the dozens of top scientists serving on the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), and published this year in ultimately 3 volumes of thousands of pages by the Heartland Institute. Those volumes are “double peer reviewed,” in that they discuss thousands of peer reviewed articles published in scientific journals, and are themselves peer reviewed. Last year, the Cato Institute published a thorough, comprehensive refutation of the publicly released draft of the National Climate Assessment, The Missing Science from the Draft National Assessment on Climate Change, by Patrick J. Michaels, et. al. If you are interested in knowing what you are talking about, and are an intelligent layman, you can be thoroughly educated by those calm, dispassionate, comprehensive, reasoned discussions of the issues surrounding global warming and “climate change.”

    http://www.nipccreport.org/reports/ccr2b/ccr2biologicalimpacts.html

    Interesting reading and sheds light (not heat) on the political science that is AGW.

    • migtronixMEMBER

      Actually it sheds light on the sponsorship. Cato f-ing Institute? The guys who discovered that America could torture with impunity?

      F*** me this topic gets stupider and stupider by the second…

    • Planetrader’s message brought to you by your friendly local and international coäl bärons, oil compänies and assorted allied industries.

      • No I’m here on behalf of your unborn children. If you knew what I do, you’d be four square behind me.

      • migtronixMEMBER

        I don’t know what 4square means other than, you know, 4square…

        You clearly didn’t get the double entender, Big Gore like fat guy but also Big Tobacco.

        I don’t care who you work for and I seriously doubt my unborn children will ever know or care that you existed much less turned up to a blog on their behalf…

      • migtronixMEMBER

        No I’m here on behalf of your unborn children

        And MY English is atrocious? Go back to Mormon school…

      • migtronixMEMBER

        Your, when directly addressing me, does not in any way, shape or form indicate a abstract concept or a generalization — it is in fact first person conjugation.

        So, tell me again about comprehension you got from your LDS education….