The Bullroarer - Saturday 29th November 2008

SMH - Energy bills rising to help us keep our cool

THE average household electricity bill may be 15 per cent bigger next year, after the Australian Energy Regulator gave preliminary approval yesterday to another round of price rises. NSW electricity retailers had already received permission to raise prices by as much as 10 per cent next July. In a draft decision yesterday, the regulator said they could raise fees for the network component of the bill too.

The Age - Energy security vital: Alcoa head

AUSTRALIA must implement a long-term energy strategy or risk dire environmental and economic consequences, Alcoa chairman Alan Cransberg has warned. Mr Cransberg yesterday called for a national security strategy to guarantee the nation's energy requirements for the next 50 to 100 years.

"Energy security is absolutely critical in the issue of climate change and our capacity to meet the greenhouse challenge," he told yesterday's meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia. "For too long we have been focused on expanding and maximising energy exports, without proper protection for our own future generations."

SMH - A suburb for our times

Hard times, happy days. The former state MP John Hatton still talks fondly of his childhood growing up during the 1930s Depression in the new village of Hammondville.

ABC - Researchers develop method to store gas at sea

The simple idea of joining two tankers like a catamaran could be the future of energy storage, researchers say. The researchers have come up with a way to store liquefied gas at sea.

Engineers from the Tasmanian-based Australian Maritime College and the Western Australia Research Energy Alliance have designed an offshore storage facility that can hold 660,000 tonnes of liquefied gas. The project, the researchers say, could revolutionise Australia's energy industry by allowing energy companies to tap into massive but remote reserves under the ocean.

The Australian - Steel slowdown to crimp demand: Macarthur

MACARTHUR Coal said a sharp fall in global steel production is set to impact demand for raw materials over the next few months.

ABC - Coal industry 'costs environment, society $717b each year'

A report commissioned by Greenpeace has found the coal industry contributes more than $700 billion damage to the environment and society every year. The research, by a Dutch environmental consultancy, calculates the cost of dealing with natural disasters caused by climate change. It also looks at the health problems caused by air pollution such as respiratory diseases

Herald Sun - Virgin plans drastic cuts

VIRIGN Blue will cut back on flights, cancel routes and take other drastic cost-saving measures in the new year to cope with the slowing economy.

The Australian - Petrol below $1 as service stations cut profits

THE cost of petrol yesterday fell below $1 a litre as service stations opted to slash profits and sell fuel at close to the wholesale price. Assistant Treasurer Chris Bowen said Australians were enjoying the lowest petrol prices in 22 months because of a fall in the Singapore oil benchmark. "Falling petrol prices are welcome relief for Australian families, particularly in the lead-up to Christmas," he said. Mr Bowen said the national average capital city petrol price was $1.13 a litre.

But in Sydney, some of the cheapest petrol yesterday was sold for 98.9 cents a litre for an ethanol blend at an independent service station in the northern suburb of Frenchs Forest. Regular unleaded retailed for 101.9c per litre.

The Australian - Fond farewells for Richard Cottee at Queensland Gas

THE past few annual meetings of Queensland Gas have had the triumphant fervour of a religious revival. But yesterday the fervour reached a new pitch as the company farewelled its messiah, Richard Cottee. Queensland Gas is now 95.7 per cent owned by British Gas, which has indicated that it will proceed to compulsory acquisition of the remaining shares, putting it in full ownership in mid-December.

The Australian - Marathon set to expand wilderness drilling

URANIUM exploration company Marathon Resources has declared its desire to expand its controversial drilling program -- as soon as the Rann Government provides approval. It was forced to stop drilling after waste was illegally dumped. Exploratory drilling at the Mt Gee site, 700km northwest of Adelaide, has been on hold since February, when a government investigation found Marathon had dumped 22,800 core samples -- some of them radioactive.

ABC - Nuclear waste 'could be stored in Sydney', Senate told

The Federal Government's nuclear agency has admitted there is no scientific reason why Australia's radioactive waste could not continue to be stored in Sydney. The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) has told the Senate's environment committee that the only reasons a remote site for a national radioactive waste dump is being sought in the Northern Territory are political.

ABC - Hardening' our water supplies through purified recycled water

The National Water Commission sees water recycling, including for drinking purposes, as a viable option to "supply harden" water supplies to Australian cities and towns.

The key urban water lesson of the last decade has been that many Australian cities' supply systems have been found to be vulnerable and fragile - too reliant on single sources of water especially rain-fed dams. These cities need to harden their water supply systems by tapping into more secure and reliable water supply sources that can supplement variable rainfall, meet the demands of population growth and position us to withstand climate change.

Peak Energy - A Breath Of Fresh Air For Shipping

Peak Energy - The Severn Reef Plan

Peak Energy - Oiligarchy

Peak Energy - Smart meters: are they the answer to big bills?

Peak Energy - GetUp: Save The Net

From the article about electricity prices rising,

"The draft decision provides for $15 billion worth of investment[...] an increase [...] from the current level of $8 billion from the past five years," the regulator's chairman, Steve Edwell, said.

Much of the money collected as a result of the price rises would be spent on increasing the capacity of the network to cope with surges in demand, which occur on extremely hot days when everyone wants to run air-conditioners, Mr Edwell said. Such extra capacity is needed for only a few hours a year. As much as 10 per cent of the electricity network is used just 1 per cent of the time.

So, an extra $7 billion just to cope with surges. Could it be better spent? I think so.

Solar PV on rooftops would have their maximum power output on very hot sunny afternoons... the same time as that high demand. Installed retail cost for residential rooftop solar PV is about A$10/Watt. $7 billion could thus supply 700MW of peak solar PV capacity. According to wikipedia, NSW has a total peak generation capacity of about 16,600MW. So that $7 billion of rooftop solar would be 4% of peak capacity.

That assumes that if you're ordering $7 billion of something you can't do better than shopfront retail price... which I reckon you ought to be able to do.

Alternately, people could be encouraged by progressive pricing to not flick those aircon units on... and everyone could save billions.

Yep, progressive pricing sounds good to me. Instead of 16c/kWh rising to 18c, 20c, etc for everyone, how about (say) 15c/kWh for the first 5kWh/day, 20c/kWh for the second 5kWh/day, then 25c, and so on. So the biggest and most wasteful users pay up big, the frugal people do alright.

And of course yet another reason for Solar Thermal generation....

Quite right - building new peak demand capacity is usually a terrible investment.

Solar PV + smart meters + demand based dynamic pricing is a much better alternative.

Some more news:

The SMH has a report on Australian tidal power company Atlantis and their ambition to be part of developments in Pentland Firth - Tide turns for ocean energy.

Tidal looks good. It's commercially-proven, and its intermittency is periodic - with the tides - so it's predictable, you can work around it. I'm surprised there's not more support for it. I've got a poll over at my blog on what power source people are happy to have in their backyard, only a few votes so far but I'm surprised at not much support for things like geothermal and tidal.

I s'pose they're not as well-known as solar pv and wind...

Yeah - tidal is a sadly underestimated power source (other than by Wilson Tuckey, of all people).

I like your post on "the freedom to be left alone" - you're starting to sound like a libertarian :-)

Hardly libertarian,

When freedoms are restricted, these restrictions must be done under the rule of law and subject to review by a public court where common sense may be applied.

You think libertarians are against the rule of law (or common sense) ?

Virgin plans drastic cuts!

Aren't the airlines in a bind. It is either high fuel prices or low demand due to an (oil inspired??) economic downturn.

My view. They will over time reduce routes/capacity, until it is just the top end of the market that flys.