Australia on fire

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Re: Australia on fire

#21  Postby quas » Jan 07, 2020 12:06 pm

TopCat wrote: I'm often stunned by the fact that the Capitalist types aren't falling over themselves building solar farms...


The solar cell industry is too risky. It's far more profitable to sell electric sports cars as substitutes for small penis.
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Re: Australia on fire

#22  Postby angelo » Jan 08, 2020 12:49 pm

TopCat wrote:If you'll forgive a slight tangent...

Given how much uninhabited land there is in Australia, and indeed the USA, that gets lots and lots of sunny sunshine, I'm often stunned by the fact that the Capitalist types aren't falling over themselves building solar farms... and factories that build solar cells.... on an unimaginable scale that would a) generate lots of power and b) generate lots of money and c) generate lots of employment.

It would be hugely scalable, be hugely fashionable, gain lots of planet-saving brownie points.... yet they don't do it.

What nuance am I missing here? Is it really no more complicated than that the people with the power have lots of rich mates in the fossil fuel and mining industries and they're only interested in a short-term buck and fuck everyone else?

It could also be that to build solar panels here in Australia is uneconomical. They would likely cost three to six times what they cost to build and ship here from China. It's got nothing to do with rich mates etc! In fact until recently, [ some states may still have the scheme going] the West Australian government subsided around more than half the cost of installing solar panels to private homes at least. As for solar and wind farms, the reality is a backup system of fossil fueled power generation is still required for when the sun doesn't shine, or there's a lack of wind.
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Re: Australia on fire

#23  Postby Spearthrower » Jan 08, 2020 12:58 pm

angelo wrote:
It could also be that to build solar panels here in Australia is uneconomical. They would likely cost three to six times what they cost to build and ship here from China.


That's a very short-term and short-sighted view.

The reason they'd cost more is because of a need to develop the technology and processes, to bring manufacturing up to scale. But given the potential demand for them and ultimately for maintaining and repairing them, even if the cost ends up fractionally higher, the value to the Australian economy would outweigh that minor difference.


angelo wrote:It's got nothing to do with rich mates etc! In fact until recently, [ some states may still have the scheme going] the West Australian government subsided around more than half the cost of installing solar panels to private homes at least. As for solar and wind farms, the reality is a backup system of fossil fueled power generation is still required for when the sun doesn't shine, or there's a lack of wind.


There's also batteries.

Australia is extremely well placed to ensure that there is very little opportunity for no alternative power to be generated - plenty of sunshine, tens of thousands of km of coastline... methinks the 'when the sun doesn't shine or there's a lack of wind' is not the kind of claim that's going to stand up well to scrutiny.

And even if there still needs to be a backup fossil fueled power generation... so what? That's still superior to burning it all the time.
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Re: Australia on fire

#24  Postby OlivierK » Jan 08, 2020 2:21 pm

Yep, there's also hydro (pumped or old-school) for baseload/loadmatching, tidal for 24/7 power and shitloads of other non-fossil storage options, as well as pricing schemes that encourage use when excess power is available, and discourage use at times of lower supply.

With the decline in cost of solar panels, the economics of solar in Australia are a no-brainer. We've just invested $6000 in solar for our house, and that will save us around $1800 a year.

But you'll always get people saying "But you need fossil fuels for baseload, even in a country which has had an aluminium smelter running on 100% non-fossil energy since 1955. The Murdoch press report it, and people who don't educate themselves believe it. How anyone voluntarily consumes Murdoch media - the news equivalent of daily shit sandwiches - astounds me.
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Re: Australia on fire

#25  Postby aban57 » Jan 08, 2020 2:32 pm

So, while some people abroad raise money to save koalas, Australia is deciding to kill 10K camels to save water.

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/01/07/australia/australia-camel-cull-scli-intl/index.html

About 10,000 camels are at risk of being shot and killed in a drought-ravaged region of Australia, after complaints that the thirsty animals are endangering locals as they desperately search for water.
Aboriginal officials in the remote northwest of South Australia approved the cull, which is due to begin on Wednesday and is expected to last for five days.
The area's local government, Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY), said in a memo posted on Facebook that "extremely large groups of camels and other feral animals in and around communities" are "putting pressure on the remote Aboriginal communities" as they search for water.
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Re: Australia on fire

#26  Postby Hermit » Jan 08, 2020 3:18 pm

"When the winds don't blow and the sun doesn't shine" is the usual canard trotted out by troglodytes. Firstly, even a partial replacement of coal and gas by renewable sources of energy is beneficial. In this regard I can mention that wind, rooftop solar and large scale solar electricity covers over 30% of South Australia's requirements. Not many years ago it was 0%.

Secondly, except for Western Australia the entire continent is interconnected via high tension cables. If the wind does not blow in one area, wind farms from elsewhere can be switched through. Coincidentally, wind farms took care of 60% of South Australia's total electricity consumption yesterday. Where I live, I hardly noticed any wind at all. It must have been blowing elsewhere in the state.

Thirdly, massive-scale battery storage may be in its infancy, but it is growing. The 100MW Hornsdale plant just outside Jamestown has saved consumers more than $50 million in its first year of operation merely by shaving the top off at times of peak demands. During peak demands energy producers charge premium rates that electricity retailers obviously pass on.

Unlike coal and gas powered plants, which can be cranked up only gradually, the battery can deliver its juice within 150 milliseconds if needed. Or when needed, I should say. On the 25th of August 2018 lightning knocked two major circuits on the main transmission line linking New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. Queensland was successfully islanded, but there were blackouts in New South Wales and Victoria. South Australia was saved by the speed with which the battery could react to the drop and again when the reconnection caused a surge. Tasmania remained unscathed because if its hydro powered electricity generation.

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The Hornsdale battery is about to be enlarged to a capacity of 150MW. Meanwhile, rooftop solar contributes up to 250MW.

100% reliance on renewable sources for electricity requirements is not only possible, but in Australia it is closer than you fear.
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Re: Australia on fire

#27  Postby OlivierK » Jan 08, 2020 3:21 pm

aban57 wrote:So, while some people abroad raise money to save koalas, Australia is deciding to kill 10K camels to save water.

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/01/07/australia/australia-camel-cull-scli-intl/index.html

About 10,000 camels are at risk of being shot and killed in a drought-ravaged region of Australia, after complaints that the thirsty animals are endangering locals as they desperately search for water.
Aboriginal officials in the remote northwest of South Australia approved the cull, which is due to begin on Wednesday and is expected to last for five days.
The area's local government, Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY), said in a memo posted on Facebook that "extremely large groups of camels and other feral animals in and around communities" are "putting pressure on the remote Aboriginal communities" as they search for water.

Not sure of your point.

Feral animals stress delicate ecosystems at the best of times. During drought, those stresses can be overwhelming. Obviously it would have been better for humans not to introduce camels to Australian deserts in the first place, much as it would have been better for humans not to have done any of the vast array of environmentally stupid things we've done.
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Re: Australia on fire

#28  Postby Hermit » Jan 08, 2020 3:49 pm

aban57 wrote:So, while some people abroad raise money to save koalas, Australia is deciding to kill 10K camels to save water.

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/01/07/australia/australia-camel-cull-scli-intl/index.html

Before the advent of the internal combustion engine camels were an important part for freight transport in Australia. They were imported from Afghanistan and India.

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An Afghan camel driver with a camel train loaded with chaff, ca. 1911. Photograph courtesy of the State Library of South Australia. SLSA: B 14808

Once the cameleers became truck drivers, the camels were basically abandoned, became feral and have proliferated prodigiously ever since. In 2013 there were an estimated 600,000 of them trampling about the countryside despite sporadic culling programs. Since 2013 those programs were implemented more systematically, but there are still about 300,000 camels left. So, yeah, another 10,000 is not all that newsworthy here, especially since camels are only one of several introduced species the populations of which have gone out of control. Others are buffaloes, pigs, rabbits and of course cane toads. Not quite as damaging are feral cats, goats, horses, donkeys, rats and foxes. We would exterminate all of them if only we could.
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Re: Australia on fire

#29  Postby Macdoc » Jan 08, 2020 6:35 pm

Australia ships camels to Arabia.

Saudi Arabia imports camels from Australia. This is because their own camels are bred for domestic purposes and racing, with the camels from Australia being used for the meat, which is considered a delicacy.
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Re: Australia on fire

#30  Postby Ken Fabian » Jan 08, 2020 11:56 pm

OlivierK saved me from having to write a reply - this says it well -

OlivierK wrote:
Beatsong wrote:What worries me is that once this has died down - burnt itself out, rained out or just petered out with the seasonal changes - Morrison will announce a few half-arsed measures to be better prepared next time, without in any way dealing with the underlying cause, and next year it will all kick off again, the same or probably worse. And people won't care, cos we can't have all those silly trendy green ideas threatening the economy, right? It seems inconceivable, but that seems to be how they actually think.

I'm afraid I'm a bit more wearily cynical than that. This season will remove a lot of fuel, and that alone should protect us from anything similar for around a decade, which will lead to policy apathy, and unfounded claims of successful action when it doesn't kick off again next year. Also, we're probably close to the end of the natural drought cycle, so this season is a perfect storm in ways that are unlikely to be repeated soon. No matter the quality of Morrison's response, it will be possible to spin it as a success, but more likely a few quiet fire seasons will drop it off the radar, and they won't be keen to bring up the issue at all one way or the other by the next election.

As far as preparedness goes, I'm a bit wary of that, too. We were actually pretty well prepared for this season. The RFS (volunteer fire service in NSW, of which I'm a member) is well resourced. We've got everything we need, and more. The two trucks at my station have been replaced 3 times in the 14 years I've been a member, and are currently under 2 years old. We get any gear we need by simply going in to our regional office and picking it up for free. Regional support, such as aircraft, is strong. Training is plentiful, high-quality, and free. It's a bit of a different story in National Parks, where firefighting crews are paid, and conservative governments are cutting funding to the National Parks Service because it's a bit too green for their liking. But in general, the RFS is massively well-prepared for big fires from a logistical perspective. Whether that's having large communications control rooms ready to go, to having copious educational resources promoting and facilitating individual bushfire response plans for every rural resident, to having a system in place where the RFS has to sign off every rural building application for bushfire risk management compliance, all the risk management systems that would help in situations like this are already in place. But sometimes the fires are just too big to control, much as floods still get into people's houses despite dams, and regulations against building in predictably flood-prone areas, because some are just bigger than most others.

The biggest criticism is that not enough hazard reduction burning happens over winter, but NSW exceeded its targets (which were appropriate) this year, as we do every year. But much of that was west of the Dividing Range, and not in the areas now burning. But... That's not because of green regulation, and it's not because nobody wanted to do it, it's because we're in a fucking drought, and winter was full of days where the ground was dry, temperatures were above 25C, and most weeks had at least one period of strong wind. While you might get some fuel removed under those conditions, you might - by lighting a hazard reduction burn - also start a fire not hugely different to what we're seeing now. Any idiot who reckons that's not possible is welcome to come for a tour of some unburned bush near my place next winter, and walk through a forest floored with 10-50cm of leaf litter that crackles as you step on it.

Anyway, that's probably a bit disjointed, but I couldn't be fucked going back to edit, so take it for whatever it's worth...
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Re: Australia on fire

#31  Postby Ken Fabian » Jan 09, 2020 1:42 am

I think this diversion into renewable energy options probably deserves it's own thread - if one doesn't already exist. But since it is under discussion here -

Angelo said -
It could also be that to build solar panels here in Australia is uneconomical.


But installing them and using them here in Australia is economical - with better economics because they are made by major global manufacturers where it is least cost to make them.

the reality is a backup system of fossil fueled power generation is still required for when the sun doesn't shine, or there's a lack of wind.

Investment in the systems for non-fossil fuel backup are unlikely ahead of circumstances making that necessary, although application of foresight and planning is beneficial. Where the fossil fuel plant is already there, downgrading use from primary energy supply to backup to RE ahead of deploying low emissions backup is reasonable step along the way. The rate of the transition also allows R&D to flow through; we don't know how much the technologies will improve before the amounts of RE make solutions critical but it is a sure bet that it will. The recent deployment of largish batteries in South Australia was and is a combination of factors, including that has been a lot cheaper to add them after a lot of wind and solar entered the network than do it before it was necessary, at much greater expense.

I think we will find a (relatively) small amount of storage can go a long way when used in conjunction with other options like efficiency improvements, geographically dispersed transmission capacity, load shifting/demand management. Enough storage (especially in combination with those other contributing factors) to carry a network through one night is a significant step that turns (for example) a gas plant that was used every evening to one used only during and following low sun conditions. Which takes us further in the direction we need to go.
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Re: Australia on fire

#32  Postby Macdoc » Jan 09, 2020 3:52 am

and get the damn central authority to turn on the gas turbines when needed.

Rapid on gas turbines is the cheapest base load support ...something we use in Ontario but they are rarely ever turned on.
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Re: Australia on fire

#33  Postby Ken Fabian » Jan 16, 2020 3:00 am

Macdoc wrote:and get the damn central authority to turn on the gas turbines when needed.

Rapid on gas turbines is the cheapest base load support ...something we use in Ontario but they are rarely ever turned on.


I think there is great potential for gas power plants to transition to Hydrogen; many in current use can support high amounts of H2. Not necessarily100% but often above 90%. They sit where wide reaching power networks converge and making and storing H2 on site sidesteps some of the problems H2 has for being transportable or for use as transport fuel; no need for economy wide infrastructure first or for storage at extreme pressures.

But back to fires. If Australia's conservatives are to be believed, they are only exceptional for being caused by extremist greenies preventing "sensible" people burning off undergrowth without (green infected) regulators getting in their way. The Prime Minister does not want Australians feeling needless anxiety. As an aside, I suspect the old style "light it and leave it" approach probably only worked because cooler temperatures meant dew would form during the night and the fires would (mostly) go out on their own. The same practices in a warmer world result in fires that do not go out and spread far and wide.

My anxieties come from the seriousness of the current drought and bushfire crisis, but with plus 3 C degrees (if the world gets serious about emissions) or more than 5 C (in the kind of world Mr Morrison's pro coal and gas government appears to be wishing/praying for). Needless anxiety? I do not think so.
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Re: Australia on fire

#34  Postby Hermit » Jan 16, 2020 3:44 am

Ken Fabian wrote:But back to fires. If Australia's conservatives are to be believed, they are only exceptional for being caused by extremist greenies preventing "sensible" people burning off undergrowth without (green infected) regulators getting in their way.

One of the most ridiculous assertions the conservatives have made lately. There are no regulators, let alone Green-infected ones. Hazard reduction burns are the responsibility of, initiated and organised by the owners of the land. In the case of Crown owned land the responsibility lies with the respective state governments, none of which are controlled by the Greens. What reduced the amount of this work done last winter was unsuitable weather for it.

In the wrong conditions the hazard reduction burns get out of control, which defeats their purpose. The best known instance of that happening was the 2005 Wilsons Promontory fire. The hazard reduction fire got out of control 10 days after being ignited and forced the evacuation of about 600 people, including then-premier Steve Bracks. It burnt out 17,000 acres. There have been many others, but because they occurred on private properties and did not involve public figures media exposure was restricted to local papers.

What the right wing lunatics don't tell you is that hazard reduction burns don't actually prevent a lot of bushfires. The only way to accomplish that is to burn everything. They just slow them down, which makes them easier to get under control.
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Re: Australia on fire

#35  Postby OlivierK » Jan 16, 2020 8:18 pm

Agreed to all the above from Ken and Hermit.

Meanwhile on the subject of scale, over three-quarters of NSW's World Heritage-listed forests have burned this season...
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/17/its-heart-wrenching-80-of-blue-mountains-and-50-of-gondwana-rainforests-burn-in-bushfires

FWIW, the ecologist interviewed lives up the road from me.
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Re: Australia on fire

#36  Postby felltoearth » Feb 01, 2020 8:34 pm

Chris Watson, field recordist, musician and former member of Cabaret Voltaire has put out a benefit release on Bandcamp.

The Quietus | News | Chris Watson Releases Piece For Australian Bushfire Charities
Released via Bandcamp, money raised by sales of the piece will be donated to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery for the Australia Bushfires as relief efforts continue following the recent devastating Australian bushfires.

Speaking about the recording of 'The Rail Trail', which happened in Queensland in 2009, Chris Watson has said: "The sunset had left us in limbo. Lewis and I were hanging over the reeds on a bend in Blackbutt creek. One hand grasping an overhanging branch whilst with the other I clung to Lewis by his belt as he hung out over the water arcing a microphone pole towards the source. The frog chorus picked up, our conversation ceased, and we tuned into the darkness."
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Re: Australia on fire

#37  Postby Macdoc » Feb 03, 2020 2:42 am

:shock:

Black Summer

Their survival videos were watched over 53 million times.

What happened next?


https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-02-03/ ... s/11890458
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Re: Australia on fire

#38  Postby OlivierK » Feb 13, 2020 3:08 am

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