The Bullroarer - Tuesday 29 July 2008

The Australian - Investors cool to oil shale discoveries

WAS it memories of burned fingers or speculators' capitulation to the bear market? Whatever the reason, no one is getting excited about oil shale. It may be one of those stories that will -- unlike uranium and phosphate -- creep up on people rather than go into overdrive from the beginning, especially if oil prices cement themselves at some level over $US150 a barrel.

We talked here last week about the possible resurrection of the oil shale story. Extracting oil from such formations has a long history in Australia: between 1870 and 1911 oil shale was mined at Mittagong south of Sydney and there were other operations at Murrurundi, Glen Davis and at Newnes near Lithgow, the last closing in 1932 when sufficient crude supplies put it out of business.

frogblog - Second generation nuclear a bigger scam that the first

It seems that even America’s most pro-nuclear department is admitting that the economics of nuclear power simply do not stack up. I started to write a rant, then realised that Harvey over at The Smirking Chimp had said it all, and well:

A devastating blow to the much-hyped revival of atomic power has been delivered by an unlikely source—the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The NRC says the “standardized” designs on which the entire premise of returning nuclear power to center stage is based have massive holes in them, and may not be ready for approval for years to come.

Delivered by one of America’s most notoriously docile agencies, the NRC’s warning essentially says: that all cost estimates for new nuclear reactors—and all licensing and construction schedules—are completely up for grabs, and have no reliable basis in fact. Thus any comparisons between future atomic reactors and renewable technologies are moot at best. And any “hard number” basis for independent financing for future nukes may not be available for years to come, if ever.

In the larger picture, the depth of this scam is staggering. These reactor projects cannot get private financing, and cannot proceed without either massive federal subsidies and loan guarantees, or a flood of these state-based give-aways. They also cannot get private insurance against future melt-downs, and have no solution for their radioactive waste problem. Current estimates for finishing the proposed Yucca Mountain national waste repository, also yet to be licensed, are soaring toward $100 billion, even though it, too, may never open.

Given that it is easy, even here in NZ, to get private finance to line up and support renewable energy projects, without a penny of government subsidy, one has to wonder why we continue to buy into the hype that nuclear is the way to go. The economic rationale simply does not exist. With peak oil and climate change breathing down our necks, it is time to take decisive action. Action that can stand the test of time, sustainably.

SMH - Reactor leak delaying production

SOPHISTICATED repairs to a water leak in Australia's new $400 million nuclear research reactor have failed.

Bloomberg - Shell `Keen' on Stake in Australian LNG, Partner Says

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe's biggest oil company, is ``keen'' to acquire a stake and purchase the output from a coal-seam gas based fuel export project in Australia's northeast, said Arrow Energy Ltd., a venture partner.

Shell and Arrow in June signed a $700 million accord giving Shell a 30 percent stake in Arrow's coal-seam gas licenses in Queensland and a 10 percent stake in Arrow's international unit. Davies said then Shell would start negotiating with Perth-based LNG Ltd. to participate in the export project, which is one of five proposed for the Gladstone region based on coal-seam gas.

Courier Mail - Mitsubishi's plug-in i MiEV on sale in 2009

AUSTRALIA will have its first plug-in electric car by the end of next year. The baby Mitsubishi i MiEV has been confirmed for local sales, with a showroom target in the final months of 2009 and a starting price in the $30,000 range.

The company plans to skip the hybrid phase of future car development and go straight to a plug-in, with a claimed top speed of 180km/h and a range of 200km. "Mitsubishi don't make hybrid cars. They make electric cars. And we will have one here as soon as we possibly can," says the managing director of Mitsubishi Motors Australia, Rob McEniry.

Car Central - Motoring groups back push for green incentives

The NRMA released a report today on the future of Australia's oil dependence, with calls for oil consumption to fall to 50% of their current levels by 2050. Dubbed the Jamison report, the material was written and collated by four prominent academics and includes a 12-step roadmap to achieving the goal of reduced oil consumption.

The report strongly advocates the use of alternative fuels, including natural gas, biofuels and electric vehicles, although there is recognition that electric vehicles will remain a short-sighted solution as long as coal power plants remain the primary producers of electricity.

SMH - Clear the way for buses, urges Carr

THE former premier Bob Carr has called on the Labor Government to build a network of bus-only freeways as a quick-fire way to get more people onto public transport.

STCWA - "Fuelling Food in WA" Conference

The era of cheap oil is coming to an end as the World’s oil production peaks and the dual issues of increased fuel and food prices have received much attention in the media, with riots in many parts of the world. Western Australia’s food production is particularly susceptible to increased fuel costs, because over 70% of our food is imported from the eastern states and overseas, while over 70% of the food we produce is exported.

The Australian - QGC injunction deflates Linc Energy gaas plans

COAL seam methane producer Queensland Gas has won a Supreme Court injunction to stop coal-to-liquids hopeful Linc Energy getting access to some Darling Downs ground.

The Australian - Centennial Coal forecasts increased profitability

CENTENNIAL Coal has forecast increased profitability this financial year after a rise in output for the quarter. The miner’s equity share of production for the three months to June 30, climbed 7 per cent higher to 4.3 million tonnes on the same period in 2007 after record output at a number of the company’s mines. However, full year production was 4 per cent lower at 16.85 million tonnes.

The Australian - Gloucester Coal 4Q coal output down 7pc on year

The Australian - GoSwitch finds cheapest deals for electricity supplies

ABC - Cheaper country fuel predicted

The Motor Trade Association of Western Australia says motorists in country WA should expect lower petrol prices within a fortnight as world oil prices continue to fall.

The Australian - Nelson puts the house on climate change

The Age - Nelson fails to budge Coalition on climate change

Federal Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson has failed in his bid to alter the coalition's climate change policy. Earlier this month, Dr Nelson said he wanted a fresh policy which would delay emissions trading until the heavy-polluting countries took action. Today, his shadow cabinet stopped him from going that far, delivering a victory to leadership rival Malcolm Turnbull.

SMH - Anxiety over Greens' role in climate scheme

BIG business is watching nervously the political fight surrounding climate change amid fears that outright Coalition opposition to an emissions trading scheme could drive the Government to negotiate with the Greens.

Peak Energy - Industrial Agriculture Input Costs On The Rise

Peak Energy - Tidal Power In Korea

Peak Energy - Why we never need to build another polluting power plant

Peak Energy - Only The Electric Will Survive

Peak Energy - Fifty Cents For Your Thoughts ?

"Mitsubishi's plug-in i MiEV on sale in 2009"


Yeah, I thought that was impressive. It should arrive just in time for the market need. However, I'm thinking that my next vehicle will be a plug-in scooter, not a car.

I bought a Prius late last year, so I'm not really in the market for another electric car. I'm waiting for the plug-in battery packs for the Prius to come down in price a bit, and become more widely available in Australia (a possibility that might never eventuate, I admit).

The Prius is for transporting my whole family. Currently, if I only need to move myself I walk to the train station (25-30 minutes) and take a train. Although I don't need another car, it would be handy to have something small and economic that can get me to places that the train can't get me to.

A plug-in scooter might be the answer - or maybe an electrically-assisted pushbike.

A plug-in scooter might be the answer - or maybe an electrically-assisted pushbike.

An electric pushie is my plan by Summer. As much as I'd love to convert my cars to electric, I don't drive them far enough, often enough, to be bothered, or to make it financially viable (there would be a coolness factor in showing up at Redcliffe on a Thursday night and disgracing the V8/turbo crowd though).
A pushie with a trailer would be more than enough for the vast, vast majority of my trips.

Although it is exciting to see a large auto company coming out with an all electric car, it seems that production is only going to be 5,000 cars in 2009, and the few sold in Australia may be only for select fleet owners.
In any case, its seems that the big market is going to be for PHEV's even if they have a shorter battery only range and cost more than the MiEV. I see the MiEV being a city only vehicle, it's best hope would be if stay at home "mums" can be convinced that EV's are cooler than SUV's when dropping off kids to school and sports events.
I wonder if Kevin Rudd, is going to be offering $$$ for Mitsubishi to re-tool the Adelaide plant for actually building the next electric model?

I thought it was a good sign that some of the large car manufacturers are starting to get it.

It would certainly be a good use of the Adelaide factory to transform it into the first EV manufacturing facility in the country - regenerating the rust belt.

Hat tip to Neil for the link, by the way.

Bob Carr's call for a bus "freeway" network sounds depressingly like his 2004 "Metro Strategy", with its missed 2006 and 2008 targets...

Sigh! It would have been really useful by about now.

No new Bullroarer tonight I'm afraid (I'm sure David will have a new one up in the morning), but I've got a couple of links to share.

First Ross Gittins in the SMH - Stuck in traffic, blinded by bulldust

Being a denizen of the inner city I don't have much first-hand experience of traffic congestion. I have a terrible intolerance of commuting. I'd rather get walking than wait for a bus and I can't stand driving round car parks in search of a space, which is why I chose to live close to my work (and did so before the inner city became so expensive).

Our politicians profess to be greatly concerned about congestion, but are they ever likely to do much about it? Probably not.

And I confess that, if I were a pollie, I wouldn't either. The best solution to congestion is congestion. That is, ignore ...

What we do know from recent experience - including the Cross City and Lane Cove debacles - is that motorists are quite sensitive to price changes. We can see this also in the way the rise in petrol prices has seen people flocking back to public transport - to the point where we're already close to the target for 2016 set in the State Plan.

And I'll be amazed if, by 2016, the price of petrol is anything like as low as $2.26 a litre. Indeed, I'd say that, just two years into the forecast period, the modelling has already been confounded by reality. ...

When people oppose the use of prices, what they're saying is that they prefer to disguise the cost of congestion, paying for it in time behind the wheel, not cash. If I were a pollie, I'd accept that preference.

But I'd also bet on the continuing rise in the price of petrol, limiting future car use and the congestion problem. I'd give up on motorways and put all my money and effort into improving and expanding public transport.

Ross Gittins is certainly sounding very "loud and clear" on Peak Oil these days. A good sign that the message is attracting intelligent opinion-leaders.

Also from the SMH - GE Energy to build 'clean coal' plant

Global giant GE Energy says it could build a coal-fired power station in Australia by 2015 that would be the first in the nation to bury its greenhouse gas emissions.

GE Energy is garnering support from governments and industry this week to build a commercial-scale Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) power plant that costs about $3 billion.

GE Energy says an IGCC system will emit half the pollution of a more traditional pulverised coal plant and 30 per cent less water for each unit of output ...

The plant would be built only in NSW or Queensland because of these states' rich black coal resources.

Lucky us - only half the pollution of a regular coal plant.

Is the definition of "Clean Coal" now a burning process that only emits something less than exsiting processes.
This definition is now being used by Victoria whose "Dept Of Carbon Burning" is now called "Dept Of Clean Coal"
What I am waiting for is the authorities that regulate false and misleading advertising to properly regulate governments that are attempting to move the definition of clean coal to define very dirty coal as "Clean Coal"

The term is an oxymoron unfortunately - however its only purpose is greenwashing so we'll never see the end of it...

Is the definition of "Clean Coal" now a burning process that only emits something less than exsiting processes.

Yes. :(

Kiwis getting with it - Aucklanders to get smart electricity meters

Over 300,000 Auckland-based Mercury Energy customers will receive a new smart meter for their electricity services through Mercury's metering services provider, Metrix.

Smart meters record usage in 30 minute periods, meaning that information for bills will always be up to date. This information can also be used by customers to manage their power consumption.

The meters, which are now being installed, can also be read remotely, replacing physical visits by meter readers each month. The meters use adaptive radio mesh technology to conduct the remote readings, a system first developed for military applications.

More from the SMH - Metro a $12b disaster, says buried report. So much infighting going on in the NSW Labor Party that its hard to tell if there is any truth to this or not.

THE Iemma Government was warned a month before it announced the $12 billion north-west metro line that it would damage the NSW economy and should not proceed, in a damning top-level report commissioned by the Treasurer and buried by the Premier's office.

And Incitec recommissions Moranbah plant

Incitec Pivot, Australia's largest fertiliser producer, has recommissioned a $935 million ammonium nitrate development for Moranbah in central Queensland. The plant's former parent Dyno Nobel, which was taken over by Incitec this year, suspended the development of the Moranbah plant indefinitely late last year amid rising construction costs.

Ammonium nitrate is used in the manufacture of fertilisers and explosives. "The project is based in the heart of Australia's largest metallurgical coal region and adjacent to some of the largest coal mines in the world providing a substantial freight advantage over alternative domestic suppliers," managing director Julian Segal said in a statement.