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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New Paths out of the Agenda 21 Impasse

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA - around 3,000 dishes each 15 metres in diameter
The Square Kilometre Array (SKA)
- around 3,000 dishes each 15 metres in diameter
Keith Orchison wrote last December on the UN climate policy debate in Durban.
"A leading Indian media commentator on carbon policy development noted on Sunday: 'When negotiations began 20 years ago, it was well understood that the industrialised world had to vacate (emissions) space for the emerging world to grow. Money and technology transfer would enable emerging countries to avoid future emissions growth. But none of this happened. Meagre targets were set. The US and other big polluters walked out of the agreement. The funds never came.'

This was the real point of biff in the Durban debate."
Source: Nuancing on the platform | December 12th, 2011 | Keith Orchison

A group of people who hold extreme views on personal freedom over social responsibility regard proposals for action on green-house gas emissions with great suspicion. Those inclined to this extremist political ideology fear that any coordinated global response intended to lower the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere amounts to a conspiracy to transfer wealth from the United States to developing countries.

The fears held today by these extremists reflect the perception the commentator gave of the start of negotiations 20 years ago: "the industrialised world had to vacate (emissions) space for the emerging world to grow. Money and technology transfer would enable emerging countries to avoid future emissions growth..."

Time and technology marches on. The perception of what seemed necessary 20 years ago no longer holds true. Those fears still held today can be overcome by smarter development in the emerging world.

This outcome is by the way a vindication of the economic philosophy of Adam Smith that rational action in the pursuit of self interest will foster innovations that address resource shortages. The alternate economic ideology that Thomas Malthus described sees finite economic resources as an absolute barrier to economic development. If you look again at the statement "the industrialised world had to vacate (emissions) space for the emerging world to grow. Money and technology transfer would enable emerging countries to avoid future emissions growth..." you can see that it contains the implicit assumption that the Malthusian economic ideology is inescapable.

Twenty years ago energy generation was economical when accompanied by emissions of large quantities of carbon dioxide. The rate of emissions was about 1 tonne of carbon dioxide for each megawatt-hour of electrical energy. That is about 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) for each kilowatt-hour.

The developing world is no longer limited to using old technology with which much of the industrialised world is saddled.

Innovation and creativity has helped advance technologies for the developing world to generate affordable and reliable energy in new ways with little or no emissions of carbon dioxide.

A very broad range of alternate options are now available and even more are the subject of advanced research projects.

Coal / Biomass Gasification with Concentrated Solar Thermal Energy

High Temperature Solar Furnace

Design of a high temperature solar furnace that can achieve a concentration ratio of 20,000 suns. The furnace consists of three optical elements: a primary mirror, a secondary mirror, and a compound parabolic concentrator (CPC).
High Temperature Solar Furnace
High Temperature Solar Furnace
Source: College of Optical Sciences, University of Arizona  | 16 July 2010 | High Temperature Solar Furnace

The mass production of large parabolic mirrors will rapidly reduce the cost of solar furnaces. The manufacture of 3,000 parabolic dishes each 15 metres in diameter for the Square Kilometre Array project in Africa provides the opportunity to roll-out solar furnaces at a lower cost than has been possible until now.

3M has developed a reflective polymer film that can be applied to parabolic dishes to create highly reflective mirrors at a much lower cost than mirrors made from glass or metal.

Africa celebrates SKA bid outcome

"Since the announcement that South Africa, along with its eight SKA partner countries in Africa, will host the mid-frequency dish array and dense aperture array of the iconic SKA telescope congratulatory messages have been pouring in from around the globe praising the hard work of the South African SKA team and the unwavering support for Africa's site bid from the South African government."
Source: SKA AFRICA | 28 May 2012 | SKA Africa - Square Kilometre Array
Dishes will form a substantial part of the SKA; around 3000 dishes, each 15 m in diameter, are currently planned. Many aspects of the SKA dish-design challenge are without precedent, not only because of the large numbers of dishes required, but also because of the huge sensitivity that will result.

The manufacture of composite reflectors for this size of antenna has been done in the past.  These were for military applications however, and the history of prior manufacturing is such that the reflectors were one-off, very heavily invested in materials and manual labour costs, and not designed to have the serial manufacturing requirements of the scale envisioned for this project.  Given the unique nature of the requirements, the SKA manufacturing program was approached from a standpoint of optimization of the production capability of the reflectors, while retaining the baseline requirements for performance and durability.  All aspects of reflector manufacture were examined for achieving optimal production and cost of delivered reflectors.

A detailed analysis of the potential production costs of delivery of the SKA Phase 2 requirements, 3,000 reflectors over 4 years is presented here. ...The cost of a complete composite reflector assembly (surface and backing structure) was determined to be $US45,000 ($US398 per square metre) for Phase 2.
Source: SKA AFRICA | 4 September 2009 | Feasibility and Cost Study of Manufacturing Composite Parabolic Reflectors for the SKA

See the related posts: Good Energy, Bad Energy; Why choose between solar and coal when you can use both?; Energy for Life

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tony Abbott Stopped an ETS IN 2010


Extract from - 
Published on: February 08, 2010

Speech to the House of Representatives 

Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bills 2010 

8 February 2010

TURNBULL (Wentworth) (12.46 pm)—I rise to speak on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2010 and related legislation. All of us here are accountable not just to our constituents but also to the generations that will come after them and after us. It is our job as members of parliament to legislate with an eye to the long-term future, to look over the horizon beyond the next election and ensure that, as far as we can, what we do today will make Australia a better place, a safer place for future generations to live in. Climate change is the ultimate long-term problem. We have to make decisions today, bear costs today so that adverse consequences are avoided, dangerous consequences are avoided many decades into the future. It is always easy to argue we should do nothing, or little or postpone action. ...
Given we have an apparent bipartisan agreement that emissions should be reduced by five per cent of 2000 levels by 2020, is an emissions trading scheme, this CPRS, at a general level the best policy to achieve the desired outcome? Believing as I do, as a Liberal, that market forces deliver the lowest cost and most effective solution to economic challenges, the answer must be yes

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Good Energy, Bad Energy

Discussion about energy is riddled with value-laden beliefs.
  • Renewable energy is "clean" / Fossil fuel energy is "dirty".
  • Fossil fuel energy is cheap and reliable / Renewable energy is expensive and unreliable.

Energy is just energy

Energy - converting carbon fuels to non-carbon fuel
Converting carbon fuels to low- and non-carbon fuels

The chart "Energy" shows that three different fuels -
  • Two samples of syngas created from two different raw materials contain identical quantities of chemical energy.
  • Two samples of methane created from the same two raw materials contain identical quantities of chemical energy, and 
  • Two samples of hydrogen created from the same two raw materials contain identical quantities of chemical energy.

One of the two raw materials is cellulose. This is a renewable energy resource produced from sunlight, water and carbon dioxide by photosynthesis in plants.

The second of the two raw materials is polyethylene terephthalate, or PET. This is a non-renewable polymer made from fossil carbon resources. It is the plastic from which many disposable drink containers are made.

Both of these raw materials are compounds of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.

Each can be transformed into -

  • Syngas, a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen - where all of the carbon in the raw material remains in the resulting fuel,
  • Methane  - where half of the carbon in the raw material remains in the resulting fuel and the other half may be separated in carbon dioxide, and 
  • Hydrogen  - where none of the carbon in the raw material remains in the resulting fuel and all of it may be separated in carbon dioxide.

The processes for transforming these two raw materials into any one of three different fuels can be applied to any raw material containing carbon, such as coal, lignite, natural gas, energy crops, organic waste, plastics and paper.

A variety of technologies exist for each of these three fuel transformations. Technologies also exist for separating and storing carbon dioxide.

The Question for Political Leaders

A question our political leaders and industry leaders need to answer is why these technologies are being ignored and are not being actively implemented? A further question is why are unproven and unneeded technologies being developed that substantially delay the time when we will see carbon capture and storage in everyday use?

Additional Information Sources

Department of Primary Industries, Victoria

"Capture technologies include: Pre-combustion capture refers to taking the primary fuel (e.g. coal) and converting it into gas. The gas produced is chemically altered to CO2 and hydrogen. The CO2 is separated from the hydrogen, compressed and transported to a suitable storage site."
Source: State Government of Victoria, Department of Primary Industries Carbon Capture and Storage - Questions and Answers

Department of Energy, U.S.

"An advanced integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant, which will convert coal fuel into hydrogen to generate enough power to support 160,000 homes, and a chemical plant that will produce nitrogen-based fertilizers. The plant will also capture more than 90 percent of the CO2, which means that the fertilizer and power produced by the project will have a significantly smaller carbon footprint than those produced by conventional facilities, including those using natural gas.

Approximately 2.6 million tons per year of CO2 will be transported via pipeline to Occidental Petroleum’s Elk Hills Oil Field, located less than 4 miles away. With oil fields as the CO2 injection site, HECA will enable oil production to be increased, while storing CO2. Michael Peevey, President of the California Public Utilities Commission, has said: 'They have developed an innovative business model that improves the economic viability of the project. HECA intends to ramp up the facility to produce more electricity during peak hours of need in order to maximize the energy and capacity value of the plant. This is an example of the kind of creative thinking we will need to solve the climate crisis.'

'The HECA project underscores the significance of Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage—the creative combination of business drivers and environmental responsibility.  It demonstrates how carbon capture technology will help us fully develop and use our vast domestic energy resources in a sustainable way.' 
The project will create more than 2,000 construction jobs over 3 years and approximately 100 permanent operational positions."
Source: U.S. Department of Energy 9 July 2012  Power Plant Will Produce Clean Power, Increase Domestic Oil Production

Australian Coal industry seeks 15-year policy reform delay

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.

Summer Getaway Opportunity

Beacon Hotel South Beach, 720 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL


Located in the heart of South Beach, the Beacon Hotel is an all-inclusive beach resort just steps away from all of the best entertainment that South Beach has to offer – Sun, Sand & Sea. 

With clear blue waters of the Atlantic directly across the front doors, the Beacon Hotel has a perfect ambiance for a breath- taking beach vacation, featuring all of the world-class amenities, exquisite restaurant and tantalizing nightlife. Enjoy an extraordinary gastronomic experience with live music entertainment that will elevate your spirits with the melodies that fill the air. 

With an array of beach side water sports; state-of-the-art fitness center and highly advanced business center, Beacon Hotel is a full service luxury beach resort in South Beach Miami.

Read more on the  South Beach Hotel Fact Sheet
72 Hour Sale!

Looking for a hotel in South Beach Miami?
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To book with this promotion >  72 Hour Sale South Beach Hotels Miami

The swim world is preparing for its annual trek to Miami Beach, and this July there will be a landmark occasion to celebrate. SwimShow, the swimwear industry’s longest running trade show, turns 30 this year. The Swimwear Association of Florida (SAF) will fête this milestone anniversary at its annual event July 21 to 24 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Read more at Swimwear show Season Kicks off in Miami Beach July 19th

The Beacon South Beach Hotel is highly popular with everyone interested in a South Beach Miami vacation. Miami is continuously ranked as #2 in popularity among US destinations, and South Beach is very heart of it. Beacon Hotel offers prime location right on famous Ocean Drive and excellent service (consecutive excellence awards by TripAdvisor). This destination oceanfront hotel is a choice for romantic vacations, honeymoons, special occasion celebrations and incentive meetings. Beacon South Beach Hotel is very popular with anyone looking for an exciting Miami Beach getaway, whether as a couple or with the whole family.

72 Hour Sale Outline

72 Hour Sale on Miami Beach Getaway. Beacon Hotel South Beach offers 20% Off room accommodations. Special includes complimentary hot breakfast, free Wi-Fi, complimentary beach chairs and beach towels. Promo code 72HR. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Why the Carbon Price Does Not Matter

Tony Abbott transfixed by small issues
Tony Abbott transfixed by small issues
Australian electricity pricing rules set by State Governments require their pricing regulators to provide a return of 10 per cent on investment in the electricity grid.

When that investment reaches an average of $30,000 per customer, the annual cost of electricity plus annual connection fees will be $3,000 per customer.

Western Australia State Government Minister for Energy Peter Collier said: "What the Economic Regulation Authority, the ERA report confirms is that, despite the necessary and significant increases in tariffs over the past four years, we are still a considerable way from West Australian consumers paying the true cost of electricity, which means the Colin Barnett Liberal-National Government continues to subsidise household bills to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars each and every year."

The WA Government already has increased electricity prices by about 60 per cent since 2009 in its bid to reach cost reflectivity.

WA households are facing electricity price hikes of more than 19 per cent, plus inflation, if the State Government pursues cost reflectivity without accepting two key recommendations by the Economic Regulation Authority.

In its final report on the efficiency of the state's electricity retailer, Synergy, released yesterday, the ERA found power prices would need to immediately increase 12 per cent - or about $200 - to reach the State Government's goal of cost reflectivity and relieve the State Government of its $400 million annual burden.

Source: Courtney Trenwith Deputy Editor WAtoday 5 July 2012
Read more at WA Today,  Government won't support reform that would push down electricity prices

Trying to save money by reducing energy use in response to an increase in the price per kiloWatt-hour will make no difference to the average annual cost.

For instance, if average energy use is cut by 50 per cent, the price per unit will be doubled so that the average annual cost of $3,000 per customer is maintained.

See the related posts Tony Abbott Just Does Not Get It and The Great Carbon Tax Distraction

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tasmanian Ship Builder a World Leader

Liquefied Natural Gas powered cat meets all ship emissions standards
World leading liquefied natural gas (LNG) powered cat
meets all proposed International Maritime emissions standards

How 16 ships create as much pollution as all the cars in the world


Award-winning science writer Fred Pearce – environmental consultant to New Scientist and author of Confessions Of An Eco Sinner – reveals that the super-ships that keep the West in everything from Christmas gifts to computers pump out killer chemicals linked to thousands of deaths because of the filthy fuel they use. 
Bunker fuel is also thick with sulphur. IMO rules allow ships to burn fuel containing up to 4.5 per cent sulphur. That is 4,500 times more than is allowed in car fuel in the European Union. The sulphur comes out of ship funnels as tiny particles, and it is these that get deep into lungs.

Thanks to the IMO’s rules, the largest ships can each emit as much as 5,000 tonnes of sulphur in a year – the same as 50 million typical cars, each emitting an average of 100 grams of sulphur a year.

With an estimated 800 million cars driving around the planet, that means 16 super-ships can emit as much sulphur as the world fleet of cars.

Gas powered cat - Finishing touches on Incat vessel

Annah Yard, ABC, 7pm TV News TAS

The Tasmanian ship builder Incat is nearing the completion of what it claims is the world's first high speed car ferry powered by liquefied natural gas [LNG]

Over 200 people have been working on "Hull 69" for the past two years.

The 99-metre catamaran has been bought by an Argentinian company.

The $100 million vessel is capable of transporting 1,000 passengers and 200 cars.

Incat's Craig Clifford says it is the seventh ferry the company has sold to South America.

"The customer wants to make this his flagship so no expense has been spared to make this the best high-speed vessel in the world," he said.

Baltic LNG bunkering to set global benchmark

Author: Mike Corkhill who is a technical journalist and consultant specialising in oil, gas and chemical transport, including tanker shipping and chemical logistics. A qualified Naval Architect, he has written books on LNG, LPG, chemical and product tankers and is currently the Editor of both LNG World Shipping and LPG World Shipping.

The agreement in late June by seven Baltic ports to promote the development of an [liquefied natural gas] LNG bunkering infrastructure in the region marks a further important step in ensuring a future global role for natural gas as a clean-burning marine fuel.

The combination of liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunkering and the burning of natural gas in ship engines has been put forward as one of three possible ways of complying with the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) tightening regime governing the control of harmful pollutants in ship exhaust emissions. The other two options are the continued use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) in tandem with exhaust gas scrubbers and the burning of low-sulphur marine gas oil (MGO)/marine diesel oil (MDO) in ship propulsion systems.

The shipping industry acknowledges that the LNG option will be chosen by many ship owners, but the extent of this take-up remains the big question. Although the burning of natural gas in marine engines meets all existing and proposed emissions standards, the provision of LNG bunkering infrastructure in ports and special shipboard fuelling systems poses logistics and cost challenges.

See the related post Road Freight Transport Costs

This includes a discussion on measures in Australia to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueling network for road transport - cutting emissions and fuel costs for road freight and increasing fuel security as Australian reliance on imported oil is set to increase.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Higgs boson in the history of science

Scientific knowledge has developed over centuries. The journey of discovery includes long periods of experiments and the collecting of careful measurements (empirical data). Every once in a great while important milestones occur when a pattern in this data is recognised.

Identifying chemical compounds, chemical elements and developing processes to separate mixtures of each progressed gradually over centuries. A major milestone was reached in 1869 when Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev proposed a Period of Table of Chemical Elements that fitted the known elements according to patterns of physical properties that many scientists and researchers had discovered and studied.

The Periodic Table of Chemical Elements originally contained gaps that suggested a number of chemical elements may exist and that remained to be discovered.
Periodic Table of Chemical Elements
Periodic Table of Chemical Elements
Another milestone occurred at the dawn of the twentieth century when Marie Curie revealed two revolutionary ideas for which she was awarded Nobel Prizes in Physics and in Chemistry.

"Marie drew the conclusion that the ability to radiate did not depend on the arrangement of the atoms in a molecule, it must be linked to the interior of the atom itself. This discovery was absolutely revolutionary."
"For the first time in history it could be shown that an element could be transmuted into another element, revolutionizing chemistry and signifying a new epoch."

Together with her husband, she was awarded half of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903 for their study into the spontaneous radiation discovered by Henri Becquerel in 1896, who was awarded the other half of the Prize. Marie Curie was awarded a second Nobel Prize, in Chemistry, in 1911.

This type of scientific milestone is different in character to the work of Mendeleev. It occurs when completely new and previously unknown features of the natural world are revealed. It built on Mendeleev's work - Marie Curie's insights were gained after she discovered two new chemical elements, polonium and radium and devised techniques to isolate radium in sufficient quantities to study its properties. Polonium is named after her homeland, Poland.

Radium's radioactivity was so great that it could not be ignored. It seemed to contradict the principle of the conservation of energy and therefore forced a reconsideration of the foundations of physics. On the experimental level the discovery of radium provided men like Ernest Rutherford with sources of radioactivity with which they could probe the structure of the atom.

Rutherford conducted experiments with alpha radiation and as a result in 1910  introduced a new model of an atom that contained a minute nucleus possessing almost all the atom's mass.

The first half of the twentieth century was a period of remarkable scientific advances including Niels Bohr's atomic model (1913), Erwin Schrödinger's development of quantum mechanics (1925) and Albert Einstein's theory of mass-energy equivalence (1905) among numerous others.

It was also remarkable for an "embarrassment of riches" of fundamental sub-atomic particles that were discovered. At first each discoverer of a new sub-atomic particle was almost guaranteed a Nobel Prize in Physics. Later, each new discovery was greeted with dismay at the growing complexity of what was originally thought to be a simple quest to identify and characterise a limited number of fundamental particles.

The identification of new sub-atomic particles continued and eventually in the mid 1960s a model to fit all this empirical evidence into a coherent framework was more-or-less settled. This model known as The Standard Model of Fundamental Particles and Interactions parallels the breakthrough that Mendeleev's Periodic Table of Chemical Elements achieved in 1869.
The Standard Model of Fundamental Particles and Interactions
The Standard Model of Fundamental Particles and Interactions

Like Mendeleev's model of one century earlier, The Standard Model of Fundamental Particles and Interactions also identified a number of missing pieces that, if the model was correct, should be able to be found.

Of the missing pieces, the Higgs boson was predicted and its existence was crucial in checking the validity of the Standard Model.

See more information on the hunt for the elusive Higgs Boson at How Stuff Works:

What exactly is the Higgs boson?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Daily Telegraph belittles Small Business

Tony Abbott is concerned about fish and chip shops and spent time with the owner of one recently -
Seagull enjoying some fish and chips
Seagull enjoying some fish and chips

Tony Abbott Doorstop

12 May 2012

"If you take a fish shop, well, there’s the fuel that the fishing boats use, there’s the power that they use at the markets to freeze things, there’s the transport which gets the fish to the markets and to the shops. All of this is going to be impacted by the carbon tax and this is why this carbon tax is so toxic for the families and the workers of Australia."

The Liberal member for Benelong John Alexander shares Tony Abbott's concern for fish and chips -

Carbon Tax on Small Business

26 June 2012

"Small business will be hit the worst because they must pay for the tax at every single step in their production cycle. 
The fish and chip shop owner will pay the carbon tax from the minute the trawler fills up its diesel fuel tanks to go out to sea, through the machinery that processes and cleans the fish, the refrigeration costs that are set to skyrocket, right through to the delivery to the shop and the lights that need to flash outside the front door to attract passers-by."

After Tony Abbott and John Alexander put the Opposition's heart-felt interest in fish and chips shops on the public record Simon Benson of the Daily Telegraph let the Coalition have it with both barrels -

Worth the dung on which it's written?

3 July 2012

"Yesterday it was revealed that a leading Australian and international business group boasting up to 300 firms including Westpac and GE supported the Gillard government's carbon price.
And they took out ads across the nation to prove it.
However, after some scrutiny by the opposition, turns out the group is made up largely of obscure operations - none of which would be liable to pay the tax.
Only one company, AGL, is listed as a liable entity which would have to directly pay the tax.
Alongside some of the big names was ....a fish and chip shop. ..."

Great work Simon. Subtle. Biting.