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Comment: Re:c-c-c-c (Score 0, Redundant) 148

by smegged (#29527097) Attached to: Aussie Data Centres Brace For Dust Storm Barrage

So Melbourne has been in drough for a good 8 years. QLD was in drought for a good decade before the rains came. The problem that Victorians have is that their quasi-religious problem with building dams has lead to their current dams to run dry while whole river systems that are not dammed are flooding. Did you know that if the Mitchell river was damed that Melbournites would be happily able to run with zero water restrictions? Did you know that the Mitchell has flooded three times in the last decade? Did you know that by damming the Mitchell less than a thousand individuals would be displaced - for the sake of nearly triple the Thompson catchment capacity?

But instead we have a government down there who wants to spend six times the amount to build a dirty and energy intensive water source that has a tiny fraction of the capacity of the Mitchell dam.

It is just another case of the blatant and utter disregard for logic which the green religion commonly displays, along with their condemnation of the only reliable baseload emissions free electricity source and their ridiculous condemnation of ecologically important acts like culling kangaroos and camels (which are not a native species by the way).

Comment: Re:All we need now (Score 1) 867

by smegged (#28449071) Attached to: Wind Could Provide 100% of World Energy Needs
They fit into the discussion because they are the elephant in the room. Carbon neutrality means jack if it is too costly to implement. A country would rather supply goods to its people than cut CO2 emissions. I'm not making a moral judgment on it, I'm just saying that until renewables can provide a cost effective alternative to other baseload power sources they will be not much more than a feelgood solution.

Comment: Re:All we need now (Score 1) 867

by smegged (#28447887) Attached to: Wind Could Provide 100% of World Energy Needs
Efficiency is the most important thing when looking at power investment - economic efficiency. The reason Australia relies so heavily on coal is that we can build a power plant on a coal mine and basically cut out the cost of fuel transportation. This gives us an economic advantage over our competitors in highly energy intensive industries (like smelting). No renewable is economically efficient enough for large scale investment.

You do not need academic papers to show this, you just need to look at what companies are building and buying. CS Energy built a huge waterless coal station called Kogan Creek and Origin built a massive gas fired power station in the last five years which combined dwarf investment in renewable energy over the same period.

Comment: Re:Wind Could NOT Provide 100% of World Energy Nee (Score 1) 867

by smegged (#28447815) Attached to: Wind Could Provide 100% of World Energy Needs
The same thing basically happened during the bushfires this year. Unfortunately the NEM isn't designed for a one-in-one hundred year event. The heatwave in Victoria last year was a very exceptional circumstance. The south-east corner of Australia was running several degrees higher than average while the majority of Australia was running several degrees below average. Basslink isn't designed to operate at high temperatures because Tasmania only exceedingly rarely gets to high temperatures, let alone temperatures that will shut down operation of Basslink.

Ultimately though Basslink is currently a net importer of electicity from Victoria to Tasmania. So all the Taswegians can thank the dirty Victorian brown coal generators for your lack of blackouts this year :).

Comment: Re:Wind Could NOT Provide 100% of World Energy Nee (Score 1) 867

by smegged (#28447751) Attached to: Wind Could Provide 100% of World Energy Needs
As with all electricity markets the NEM is designed for efficiency. So what that means is that when demand is high in NSW, demand probably will not be as high in QLD and so QLD can help power NSW. The same thing occurs in Tasmania. The so-called "green" state that relies so much on hydro and wind power will at times have very low demand compared to Victoria (what generally occurs in summer). At these times it will export power to the mainland. In winter the opposite generally happens.

Tasmania has just experienced the most expensive week of electricity prices that it has *ever* seen and was importing at maximum capacity from the mainland. Droughts have a nasty habit of ruining power supplies no matter *what* type of power is used, but particularly hurts hydro generation. Before Kogan Creek was operational it was QLD that had the high prices (which effected the rest of the national market as well) because Tarong had to switch off most of its generation to preserve water.

My point: connecting Tasmania to the mainland (actually to the brown coal generators in Victoria) has increased reliability of the power supply on both sides of the strait.

Comment: Re:All we need now (Score 1) 867

by smegged (#28447671) Attached to: Wind Could Provide 100% of World Energy Needs
As always the problem is cost. Our current energy supply mix ends up costing anywhere between $20-$50/MWh on the wholesale market. The long run marginal cost for solar has *at best* been estimated to be in the vicinity of $100/MWh. Photovoltaics are much higher - in the vicinity of $440/MWh (at least that is the rebate given for using PV cells to provide electricity back into the grid).

You bring up South Australia as a good example of using wind power. The fact is that SA is still ridiculously dependent on coal fired generation, both from inside the state and from Victoria. There is also the problem of South Australia having the most variable wholesale cost of electricity of all the states other than Tasmania (we have to exclude WA because it is not a part of the Australian energy market).

There is one state in Australia that is almost entirely dependent on renewable energy sources (hydro and wind) and that state is Tasmania. Unfortunately they have the problem of reliability. Without the big dirty brown coal generators that sit on the southern tip of Victoria, Tasmania would be experiencing rolling blackouts at the moment.

Finally, peak demand occurs at two times in the year - the middle of the day in summer, and around 6pm in winter. Solar might be great for smoothing over summer demand, but we still need enough generation to cover for the peak winter demand. The amusing thing about it all is that a CPRS won't get companies investing in renewables, but instead it will get them investing in gas, which currently sits at an emissions intensity factor of approximately 0.3 tonnes/MWh versus black coal at 0.7 tonnes/MWh and brown coal at >= 2 tonnes/MWh.

If people really want to make renewable energy an attractive alternative, find one that comes in at a long run marginal cost of under $100/MWh and watch the money roll in.

Comment: Re:I know this isn't the point.... (Score 1) 188

by smegged (#28397715) Attached to: Newspaper Crowdsources 700,000-Page Investigation of MP Expenses
We have evolved beyond tribalism because we simply cannot do things that way any more. Our numbers are too great. How many years do you think it would take for every American to even spend a minute with the president? It just isn't viable anymore.

I also think you place too much faith in tribalism. Tribes generally have the strongest or longest lived as the leader because living in a tribe is about survival, not about growth or prosperity.

I really think that it is you who has not thought this through.

Comment: Re:I know this isn't the point.... (Score 1) 188

by smegged (#28389405) Attached to: Newspaper Crowdsources 700,000-Page Investigation of MP Expenses

I'm pretty sure that almost ANYONE in their shoes would have done the same

Which is why we shouldn't be electing just anyone, but testing their ethics and wisdom etc. at least, or better yet, not electing representatives at all.

And who should administer this test? I can't work out whether you're a totalitarian or an anarchist from your post, but whatever ideology your espousing here it's quite frightening. It makes me very glad people only get one vote.

Comment: Re:Invisible Hand (Score 1) 599

by smegged (#28292373) Attached to: Why Isn't the US Government Funding Research?

Governments are not inherently less efficient than corporations. Just go look at various private companies (big and small) they're not all lean mean super efficient entities. Far from it. And it's not a matter of size. It's a matter of quality.

The major difference between government and free enterprise is that free enterprise has to be economically sustainable to survive. Government does not have to be economically sustainable at all, and can expand to the level of taxation (or past it even as the US has discovered). Free enterprise is concerned with producing a good or service that is useful to someone else in society and doing so in a manner which gives them an advaantage over other businesses seeking to provide the same services.

This means that the market is great at certain things and terrible at others. The free market is great at driving innovation and services in areas where there is adequate consumers. It is great at solving clearly definable goals. What it is not good at is providing services that are inherently extremely long term and risk filled investments. Private industry also has less capital available to it than the government. The space race and the manhattan project are two wonderful examples of the kind of big budget risk filled activities that government is better than industry at. On the flipside, creating consumer goods is something government is terrible at. An underperforming government body is generally not answerable to shareholders in the same way a corporation is.

I'm happy to leave defence, industry watchdogs and roads to government bodies and just as happy to leave manufacturing and service in the hands of private corporations. It's not a war of government vs industry. It's a war of "how much government" vs "how much industry". Dollars are a finite resource and the Right tend to tilt the dollar equasion to industry and the Left tend to tip it towards government. That's the theory at least.

Comment: You sir are wrong. (Score 1) 1142

by smegged (#28240937) Attached to: Ballmer Threatens To Pull Out of the US
Free trade is at the heart of wealth generation and economic efficiency. It also helps prevent wars (who is going to wage war on their neighbour if all of their tyres are produced in their neighbours country).

Besides, if MS did want to avoid tariffs it could do that too. It could simply technically produce the software in the US legally, but house their assets overseas (workers, buildings, IP etc...). There are ways around what you are proposing. There always have been and always will be.

It's not so hard to lift yourself by your bootstraps once you're off the ground. -- Daniel B. Luten

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