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Monday, April 23, 2012

QandA Climate Debate Special

Updated June 7, 2012

Q&A Climate Debate

Take Part in the Q&A Climate Debate on ABC TV    On Thursday 26 April -  a special Q&A climate debate followed the screening of the documentary I Can Change Your Mind About Climate on ABC TV. 

Tony Jones was joined by Anna Rose, Nick Minchin, Clive Palmer and Rebecca Huntley to answer your questions.
Update: Saturday 28 April 2012


Marc Morano's objections to scientific evidence of anthropogenic global warming and the risks it creates are underpinned by an ideology that is crucial to those who subscribe to it.

In speaking with Anna Rose, Marc Morano said:
"You are the face of one of the greatest threats of our liberty, and that is intellectual, international bean-counters trying to control average people's lives because they think they know better how people should live, because people left to their own devices will somehow destroy the planet."
Compare this statement with Adam Smith's  "invisible hand" - that rational self-interest in a free-market economy leads to economic well-being, and is THE central justification for the laissez-faire economic ideology.

Adam Smith never contemplated an "invisible hand" to mean scientific knowledge was to be dismissed when it suggested rational self-interest was best served by a change in economic behaviour. Innovation and economic growth is driven by scientific knowledge.

Marc Morano's diatribe in which he asserts Anna Rose is the face of a threat to "liberty" has confused irrational and uninformed action with the rational self-interest of the "invisible hand" of which Adam Smith wrote.

Misguided Climate Sceptics
Climate sceptic Dr Fred Singer said "The Kyoto Protocol [is] part of the anti-technology, anti-energy, anti-growth philosophy of the extreme 'greens.'"
And also "When you have a particular point of view become selective in the way you present your observations."

What are the Q&A panelists thoughts on Dr Singer's mistaken observation: "We're being asked to reduce energy use [sic], not just by a few percent but, according to the Kyoto Protocol, by about 35 percent within ten years."?

Note: The Kyoto Protocol describes reductions in EMISSIONS. It says nothing about reducing ENERGY USE as Dr Fred Singer mistakenly observed. "The Kyoto Protocol aims to reduce the collective greenhouse gas emissions..."

Coal industry delaying CO2 cuts for another 15 years

Why is Australia to spend over $1 billion on CarbonNet and take 15 years developing new Carbon Capture technology ----
 ---- when proven technology has existed for decades in the USA?

A Possible Reason for the Coal Industry to Delay Pre-Combustion Carbon Capture

Post-combustion Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)  provides a justification to continue construction of coal-fired power stations. It holds out a promise of one day being able to reduce emissions of such power plants.

Once a coal-fired power plant is constructed, the coal industry is guaranteed a customer for at least 40 years.

Gasification of coal with pre-combustion Carbon Capture eliminates the reason for constructing any new coal-fired power stations. Once converted to gas, the fuel can be used in high-efficiency combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power stations. In addition a number of toxic components of coal such as mercury can be economically removed when the coal has been converted to gas.

The demand for coal would go down when natural gas prices fall. There would be no guaranteed demand to provide fuel for new coal-fired power stations.

A gas-fired power station achieves 60 percent thermal efficiency, much higher than the 40 percent for advanced coal-fired power stations. This difference also results in lower demand for coal.

China Adopting More Efficient (and Cleaner) Coal Technology

Block diagram with major units of the SNG plant
From coal to clean energy - Topsoe

China has built 50 coal gasification plants in the last 10 years and has another 40 in planning or under construction. On 21 May 2012 the article "China to Invest in Coal Gasification - with GEs help" by John Daly reported:

With more than 50 licensed facilities in China, GE’s gasification technology is one of the most widely deployed in the industry, while Shenhua is one of the world’s largest coal and energy companies, with integrated coal production, power generation, railway, port and shipping infrastructure.
Putting the final seal of approval on the project GE Energy Thermal Products president and CEO Paul Browning concluded, “Coal plays an important role in the economies of both the U.S. and China, and gasification technology allows us to use this abundant and low-cost resource in a much cleaner way.
The emphasis shift in coal power generation from thermal plants to utilizing IGCC technology is a key element in the Chinese leadership’s efforts to maintain its economic momentum by providing its vast industrial base uninterrupted power supplies.

New technology is increasing efficiency of converting coal to gas. China is building commercial-scale plants as new technology becomes available. For example:

India to Follow China's Lead with More Efficient (and Cleaner) Coal Technology

On 29 May 2012 the Economic Times reported in the article "India needs to master the coal-gasification technology":

India needs to master the coal-gasification technology so as to boost both energy efficiency and attendant security.
...Integrated coal-gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) power plants, which incorporate both gas and steam turbines, vastly improve the conversion of coal energy into usable electricity.
Note that while the efficiency rate is just about 30% in standard coal-fired stations and 40-odd per cent using super-critical technology, the mavens hold that, in future gasification plants, the ratio could touch 70-80%. We clearly need to adopt IGCC in a big way. 
The likely impact on Australia's coal export industry can be seen from an earlier article on 12 March 2012. Reuters reported in its article "India's coal-to-gas dream takes baby steps":
NEW DELHI, March 12(Reuters) - India is at least a decade behind China in embracing technology that could convert its coal reserves into enough gas and oil to surmount chronic power shortages and halve its energy import bill of $110 billion a year

Tony Abbott Warns Minerals Council of Impact of above Changes

In an Address to the Minerals Council of Australia at Canberra on 30 May 2012, coincidentally just one day after the above article on India's need to follow the example set by China to embrace more efficient energy-from-coal technology, Tony Abbott said:
...We all know what the carbon tax is designed to do: it is designed to reduce our use of coal and our use of gas [sic]. In other words, it is designed to limit the production, ultimately, of the minerals upon which our country so critically depends [sic]...The government’s own documents say that Australia’s energy production from coal, absent carbon capture and storage, will fall from over 70 percent right now to 10 percent by 2050.

So, the carbon tax is designed to damage the very things on which our country's wealth depends 
[sic]. The only way our country's wealth can survive the carbon tax is if other countries don't do what we're doing. If China and India took the same attitude to coal and gas that we are taking, our export industries would be in diabolical trouble...

Cheap Natural Gas in the U.S. replacing Coal-Fired Power Generation

In the U.S. plans for the construction of a number of coal gasification plants have recently been put on hold. The reason: a massive over-supply of natural gas in the U.S. has dramatically lowered the price and the continued use of coal is for the time-being at least, not competitive.

On 13 March 2012 the article "Coal’s Share of U.S. Electricity Generation Falls to 35-Year Low" by Moran Zhang reported:

The share of U.S. power generation that comes from coal has fallen to near a 35-year low, as electric power plants shift to cheaper natural gas.

Although coal is still the main fuel for electricity generation, its share of monthly power generation in the U.S. dropped below 40 percent in the last two months in 2011, according to the Energy Department. The last time coal's share of total generation was below 40 percent for a monthly total was March 1978.
"Natural gas combined-cycle units operate at higher efficiency than do older, coal-fired units, which increases the competitiveness of natural gas relative to coal," the Energy Department said in a statement.

Natural gas prices have continued their downward trend this winter as a result of warmer-than-normal temperatures, ample natural gas in storage and growing natural gas production, which has been boosted by companies tapping so-called shale reservoirs using a technique called hydraulic fracturing, also known as "fracking."