The Bullroarer - Friday 30th January 2009

Sorry about the late update. They say it is a recession when your neighbour loses his job, and a depression when you lose yours.
Well, as of yesterday it is a depression. Anybody looking for a slightly used CIO?

ABC - Recession presents economic opportunities

PETER CAVE: British climate economist Nicholas Stern whose ground breaking report gave climate change a financial perspective says the world's economic crisis presents opportunities for countries in recession.

He's told the World Economic Forum in Switzerland they should be using idle labour in the construction industry to build green projects and he's told our correspondent Emma Alberici that if Australia wants to continue its dependence on coal, it should be aiming to have up to four carbon capture plants built within the next decade.

NICHOLAS STERN: Australia has great opportunities. Australia could be a leader in carbon capture and storage, both in the technology and in the application of the technology. I mean Australia has holes in the ground where you can put the carbon that's captured. So I think this is an opportunity for Australia and I believe the leading thinkers on this, like Ross Garnaut and Kevin Rudd himself, understand these issues very well.

National Business Review NZ - Stockton coal production to drop

State-owned energy company Solid Energy has confirmed it will spend $100 million in a new coal processing plant at its Stockton mine but says it will also cut coal production at the mine by 20 percent from July this year.

Workers at the mine, north of Westport, may lose their jobs as a result.

Uncertainty about the extent and duration of the international economic downturn has resulted in steelmakers, worldwide, cutting production by up to 30 percent, said chief executive Don Elder.

Stockton produces hard coking coal to steelmakers in Asia and elsewhere.

Bloomberg - Shell Declines to Comment on Reports of Possible Bid for Nexus

Royal Dutch Shell Plc Chief Financial Officer Peter Voser declined to comment on reports of a possible bid for Nexus Energy Ltd., the developer of the proposed Crux natural gas liquids venture off northern Australia.

The Australian - No relief in sight from SA heatwave

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said the breakdowns, along with those in Melbourne, underscored the need to upgrade the nation's ageing transport infrastructure.

"It's an ominous sign that federal and state governments are not adequately funding transport infrastructure," Senator Ludlam said.

"Taxpayers deserve public transport infrastructure that's resilient and able to withstand the changing climate."

ABC - Heatwave states brace for more power, transport outages
I can hardly wait to see what Global Warming looks like.... oh, wait...

Commuters are experiencing another day of disruption on Melbourne's rail network, with more than 40 cancellations so far.

Yesterday Connex had to cancel 200 services, mostly because of problems caused by the heat.

A similar number of trains could not run on Wednesday.

ABC - Aust 'should be leading world' in carbon capture and storage

A leading economist has told the World Economic Forum in Davos that Australia should be leading the international community in the development of carbon capture and storage technology.

Nicholas Stern has called Australia's decision to cut emissions by 5 per cent on 2000 levels by 2020 on the low side, given the world is aiming for a reduction of 80 per cent by 2050.

"I think a clear path too for all the heavy emitting countries, that includes Australia, the United States, the UK, a clear path for those rich emitting countries to cut by 80 per cent by 2015 is absolutely fundamental and we all have to ask ourselves, are we on a credible path?" he told the ABC on the sidelines of the forum.

Southland Times - Windfarm foes deny climate change

Wind farms have no environmental benefits because carbon emissions are actually a good thing, a climate expert said in the Project Hayes hearing.

Dr Chris de Freitas, of Auckland University, appeared in the Queenstown Environment Court yesterday to give evidence for Roch Sullivan, who is opposing Meridian Energy's Project Hayes wind farm in Central Otago.

The climate change sceptic said building wind farms would be of "no consequence" as carbon emissions had very little effect on the climate.

NZ Herald - Windfarm may force pilots to change course

Pilots flying in and out of Wellington may be forced to change course with the construction of a new windfarm.

The construction of 62 turbines from Makara Beach to Cape Terawhiti, west of Wellington, is due to begin next month.

The Australian - Bushfires 'to burn up climate efforts'

AUSTRALIA is sitting on a time bomb when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions: bushfires.

Researchers said bushfires can release as much carbon pollution as the whole of industry combined.

While bushfires are not officially counted towards Australia's emissions, researchers said they will be in the future and it could cost billions.

The Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre says the problem will snowball because climate change will cause more bushfires, which will release more carbon pollution, which makes climate change worse.

ABC - Climate change funds offered to local councils

The Federal Government has announced another $500,000 funding to help local councils across the country respond to climate change.

The money will be made available under the second phase of the Local Adaptation Pathways Program and individual councils will be able to apply for up to $75,000.

ABC - Resource industry woes won't stop emissions scheme: Wong

The Federal Government says the downturn in the resources sector will not deter it from implementing its emissions trading scheme.

ABC - Power bills should rise by 78 per cent: Energy Office

Western Australia's Office of Energy has recommended a 78 per cent increase in charges for household electricity over the next 2 years.

It has forecast that a 52 per cent increase is needed in 2009/2010 with a further 26 per cent rise the following year.

The Age - Shell reports first quarterly loss in a decade

Royal Dutch Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, posted its first quarterly loss in a decade following a record plunge in oil prices, and warned that industry conditions “remain challenging.”

Sorry Gav, our heatwave is not evidence of global warming anymore than a cold snap is evidence there's no global warming. It's the trends, baby. If we're going to slap down denialists when they say "but it's raining outside" then we can't get all triumphalist when we're sweating in the heat. We have to be consistent and logical (denialists suffer no such burden).

And the trend continues to be that it's getting warmer and that governments and corporations are entirely clueless in preparing for any kind of crisis.

I mean... we have a problem... four 40+C days in a row lead to high power use... and then there's solar photovoltaic and thermal, which produce the most power during the hottest days, in fact the most during the hottest part of the afternoon when power use is greatest. Hmmm, could we possibly connect the two? Surely not. Madness, I know. Next I'll be saying something ridiculous like how we should not grow crops requiring lots of water in low-rainfall areas, instead growing crops requiring little water. I'm a wild-eyed radical!

Oh well.

Errrr - it wasn't me who connected global warming with your heat wave.

It seems like El Nino is returning though - Sydney's weather this summer is vastly different to last year's miserable, wet La Nina experience.

I do agree that solar PV and solar thermal are the way to "peak shave" summer peaks down to avoid brownouts and/or building expensive but rarely used peaking capacity.

Some smart grid demand management would also help a lot.

Really sorry to hear your news aeldric - hope you pick up something soon.

Sorry Kiashu

Just to correct a common misconception as I discovered on a 5 week renewable energy course I attended back in August 2008 in preparation for swtching over our farm, most of the current batch of solar photovoltaic needs light NOT heat eg


Solar modules come in two distinct categories – crystalline silicon and amorphous silicon.

Crystalline solar modules are covered with tempered glass on top and a tough ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) material at the back. The glass and backing material protect the solar cells from moisture.

The most efficient crystalline silicon cells are made from slices of a large single crystal ingot (hence known as monocrystalline). While multicrystalline or polycrystalline cells have a speckled appearance from multiple small crystals which slightly reduces their efficiency.

Crystalline modules need to be cool. Output efficiency of crystalline PV arrays decreases by 0.5 per cent per degree Celcius over the standard test temperature of 25°C. Good ventilation is required at the back of modules. Exposure to cool breezes when siting modules is an important consideration."


I know counterintuitive, but PV in Alice Springs could potentially be less efficent than down here in TAZ due to the higher ambient temperature. There is a lot more to PV than throwing a few panels on your roof and crossing your fingers.

But your principles are sound eg when business and industry need energy most and we are all out at work [if we still have a job due to the developing recession/ depression as I stated in my response to Aeldrics optimistic comments for 2009] then our grid connected home PV systems can power the factories.

As to global warming a trully depressing read I was put onto by a friend in the oil industry of all places is 6 degrees. Our future on a hotter planet by Mark Lynas. Quite a dry tomb and review of the scientific literature but by 4 degrees 60% of the human race is dead and the rest is heading for the poles and of Australia only Tasmania is hapitable.

The future is not a pretty picture especially down under!! Fortunately we are still dealing with a geological timeframe [hopefully] so it is some other generations problem to deal with. [I am not feeling very altruistic today!!]

kiashu did say say solar PV and thermal.

Solar thermal (which has the potential to be our biggest single source of energy, worldwide) does work best on hot, sunny days.

PC just needs lots of light, but as you say, can have problems if it gets too hot.

There is also thin-film solar to keep in mind, ans well as solar hot water (which also does well on hot days).

I never said that PV needed heat not light. I said it works well on hot days. In southern Australia, particularly in the last week, hot days are associated with a lot of light from the sun.

In northern Australia they have hot days which are also overcast. But I was specifically talking about Victoria and South Australia, saying that we had two problems: the heatwave and the strain on electricity generation from all the airconditioning. And the very thing that causes the problems - bright sunlight - can also give us the solution - solar PV and thermal.

This is the kind of thinking we have to do. Many of us are a bit muddled about things. For example, when the Premier of NSW heard about the proposed desalination plant using lots of electricity, he said, "couldn't we build some more hydroelectric power?" Hmmm... problem... the state has no water, let's use a power source which requires on accumulating water to... make more water." GENIUS.

We need the opposite kind of thinking, where we solve several problems with one solution, or where we find the solution within the problem.

I don't know if solar pv and thermal could provide a large part of our energy. But they can certainly provide the extra energy required during the periods of peak consumption here in the southern parts of Australia.

Aeldric mate - your "Depression" tag line is terrible news! Bummer!

About the only pithy thing that I can add is that when I took redundancy in the middle of the 1991 recession it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. My employer needed to do the hairy-chested "staff cost reduction" thing to impress the financial markets (and the share price did indeed rebound!) but of course all crucial IT systems have a nasty habit of falling over, and I was soon "consulting" back to my old firm on about four times the rate and with a lot more control over my working hours. (And people suddenly jumped to implement my recommendations once I was an omnipotent member of the exalted consulting fraternity. These were ironically the same recommendations that had been consistently blocked when I was an in-house plonker...)

So my suggestion is:
Send your details to every IT consultancy that you've ever employed as CIO and try to keep a straight face when the phone rings on a Sunday morning in a few weeks time...

And don't forget to make yourself available to the business consultancy who recommended the staff cuts in the first place - usually they ease their IT arms into the action too. (Shocking I know, but it's a big bad world out there and sometimes one needs to swim with the sharks...)

Somehow I doubt aeldric's employer took advice from an outside consulting firm.

But you are right that a good redundancy package can often see you safely through a downturn and opne doors to interesting new opportunities.

Kets hope things pick up (economically) later in the year - viva the green new deal...

HI Aeldric
Some more friendly advice. This is going to be a long recession/ depression. The recovery will be 5-10 years out then killed off by power shortages due to the current lack of investment in the oil industry [even Gate’s sees this but thinks the great god of technology will save us yet again] which will self destruct if it is not careful according to Matt Simmons and I tend to agree with Simmons more than Gates.

I chose a short term contract role to get into a government department for part time work. They like my CV which like yours as a CIO should have all the T's crossed and I's dotted. The advantage is in the end government is safety for the present and if you are good you will make permanency.

See this as the opportunity to switch your life- you were wondering in your predictions for 2009 what to do eg take the big money in the city or prepare for a post carbon lifestyle etc.
Before it goes really south do both!! Work on part time contract/ consultancy work whilst you investigate realistically the new paradigm. That is the real challenge to really think through "what can I do if this is all no longer a constant I can rely upon”. Break the consensus trance imposed upon you your whole life, wake up and swallow the red pill.

It is another piece in the puzzle so to speak and may answer the question of your needs and wants.
“You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you just how deep the rabbit hole goes."
Another good place to start is to watch the century of self by Adam Curtis

One of my staff from Perth has just visited and is having a really hard time making choices about whether to move across. I gave him simple advice, make a decision and stick to it basing everything on facts, your needs and where you think the world is going. When you stop making decisions that is when you are in trouble.

Best of luck with the job hunting.

A couple of reports from the coal seams:

The ABC reports that one UCG hopeful has apparently prevailed over the coal seam gas juggernaut and won some acreage in Queensland - Metrocoal secures Surat Basin exploration rights.

Energy company Metrocoal says it has secured exclusive exploration rights over a coal seam deposit in the Surat Basin.

There have been disputes between companies that conduct underground coal gasification (UCG) and those that build coal seam gas fields, because their mining permits often overlap each other.

Metrocoal says a coal seam gas company has withdrawn its application over the 60 square kilometre site, which will allow it to test whether the coal deposit is suitable for the UCG process.

The Business Spectator - Origin Energy production gains 3% yr/yr

Origin Energy Ltd has posted a three per cent rise in production to 23.9 petajoules equivalent (PJE) for the December quarter 2008 compared to the same quarter last year, boosted by new projects and a higher contribution from the energy company's coal seam gas assets.

G'day all. I need some help. I'm trying to find the TOD ANZ story about Australia and our imports of Oil from our top ten (from memory) suppliers, but I can't seem to find it. I have found Australia and the Export Land Model, but that's not the one I remember.
The reason I'm after the information is that I'll be attending a 'consultation' on the Governments Green Car Innovation Fund on Monday in Brisbane (they will also be holding consultations in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and perth until Feb 10, call AusIndustry on 13 28 46 to reserve a seat), and I'm planning on going armed with reams of graphs with which to hammer a point home.

If somebody can come up with the link sometime tonight or early tomorrow (Sunday), that'd be fantastic! Cheers.

I've done some searching and the only article that seems to list our major oil suppliers is the one you've found...

Basically it's Vietnam, PNG, UAE and Malaysia.

According to APPEA's submission [pdf] to a Senate committee,

as of 2004/5
Vietnam, 25.2%
Malaysia, 18.3%
Indonesia, 12.8%
Other, 12.3%
KSA, 11.9%
UAE, 7.4%
PNG, 6.6%
NZ, 2.5%
Singapore, 2.5%
other middle east, 0.6%

I'm not sure who "other" is. But next you'll see that just in the past few years numbers have changed a bit.

According to aeldric's old article, we have as at Nov 2007,

[figures in Mlt for reasons unknown...]

These figures would be up and down a lot - I mean 1% of imports is only 5,000bbl/day or something. That's one supertanker in a year. Indonesia pumps a little less, UAE a little more, when we're talking about relatively small amounts like this...

Also various new projects will alter it. For example, from talking to a mate working for Shell over the other side of the bay, the NZ and PNG stuff is NG condensates rather than crude. And PNG has these big NG projects coming up, plenty of Aussie investment, presumably if we get more gas from them we'll get more condensates, too.

OK, thanks boys. I'll print out a bunch of graphs from those links and see what else I can glean from the site in the next day.

I'm unsure what format this 'consultation' will take (I only found out about it on Friday), so wether it's a presentation followed by a genuine question-and-answer session, or if it'll just be a 'we're fantastic and here's why, there's tea and biscuits at the back if you want, thanks for coming', type affair, I guess I'll find out. I'll report back on what went down.

No worries - I look forward to your report.

I wish that we could leave the carbon in the ground. The hazzards we face are eutrofication events.
Sumary: The earth has two competing ecologies, oxic and anoxic (archiac). The anoxic were here first. We, the oxic, polluted their world with oxygen. We won, yeah!!But they are still here. eg cyanobacter and botulin
I hear that the shallow seas are eutophying.
When these little beasties get going they poison our atmosphere with sulphur dioxide. The good news is that they capture carbon from the atmosphere in the ocean, creating oil. The bad news is that the event takes 5 Million years. Then the planet cools enough at the poles which starts the ocean currents again bringing surface oxygen to the deep.
Leave the carbon in the ground. Go nuclear. Go Thorium!! Thorium fluride salt reactors. Pebble bed reactors. (5% U233. 95%carbon)Scatter the spent pebbles in the equtorial forests. Frighten the natives with scary stories. Save the forests. Much more effective than hand wringing.
The stakes are too high to be squeemish.

We're much better off expanding our grid, making it smart and transitioning to a mix of solar (CSP and PV), wind, tidal / wave, geothermal, biogas and hydro power (with the hydro doubling up for energy storage purposes).

No need to go with riskier options like commercially unproven thorium power, which still has problems even if they aren't as bad as those caused by nuclear power using uranium.

Its time to lay the extract and burn model of power generation to rest.

Nice idea but as you have touched upon in other parts of this thread we are also undergoing a climate change event at the same time we deal with the power down. The hot days in South Australia and Victoria are a prelude to a long term trend or as they like to say "climate shift" - pretty phrase for hot and dry.

If you hadn't noticed most of the hydro in Australia is produced in Tasmania and currently our dams are only at 29 percent and if we have another dry winter then we will have power cuts next year never mind feeding power across to the mainland to cool everybody off. Likewise New Zealand's low dams were a major feature in their power discussions last year.

Hydro needs water and Australia is drying out so will have less water and therefore less potential for hydro power.

The rest are hampered by the current world recession/ depression with investment in renewable energy down due to low oil prices which has multiple references and sources to back this

If you want more references Iam happy to oblige.

We all know what should be done it just can't happen due to the populations inability to see beyond the short term eg 3- 5 years and business simply can't get credit to invest. Here I am being generous since most people can't even look from month to month.

Even if it were pissing down rain every day in Australia we still couldn't have much more hydroelectric generation. Tassie's only got one wild river untapped by dams or irrigation left (Franklin-Gordon), Victoria and SA have none, and so on.

Whereas inland it's bloody sunny, and along the southern coast it's windy like old Neptune guzzled a bucket of baked beans. We have got to make use of the resources we have.

Private money follows government money. We spend in Australia more than $10 billion on roads, about the same in subsidies to mining, and bugger all to manufacture - except for cars. Surprise surprise, private corporations put their money in cars and digging stuff up, and not much in renewables and manufacturing.

It's got nothing to do with the world economy. A couple of years ago under Sheriff Johnny we were all congratulating ourselves on the resources boom and boasting how swimmingly everything was going, and I certainly don't remember windmills jumping up in every public park. I mean, just a few months ago Krudd tossed $10 billion at us.

The money's there, enough for heaps of mass transit, renewable energy, efficiency and so on. We're just spending it on other stuff instead. It's just the Aussie mindset - "dig it up, sell it overseas, making stuff is for them foreign buggers, pass us a tinnie mate it's hot." We are just as dumb as the Americans, just in a different way.

As kiashu notes, we can do it all on solar and wind alone if need be - hydro is best used for pumped storage.

There are plenty of other storage options of course, even if it never rains again - see some of my posts here like the one on graphite based storage twinned with solar thermal power.

Not to mention wave energy. The Southern Australian Coast has some of the highest potential in the world... (And ironically Kiashu, it's the one type of "water power" that makes sense for producing desalinated water - if one must have the stuff - because wave-power buoys can directly output pressurised seawater without the power losses of all other renewable sources - having to convert to electricity and drive pressure-pumps.)

Also the geothermal hot spot right next to the power grid in the NSW Hunter Valley has now scored some funding:

These two complimentary sources, plus storage, will help wind and solar to blend into the baseload.

Yes - I agree absolutely - ocean energy and geothermal energy could be very important parts of our energy future.

Arthur, which beasties do you mean - anoxic or anoxic.
Cyanobacter, although anoxic, converts and processes O2, and this was what polluted the world with O2.

Is nuclear or thorium really the answer? What do we do with the byproducts? Current bioremediation requires O2, but we can't use this because people are too scared of the U233 half life and leaving it on the surface, so we have to bury it. As in the current CO2 burial debate, we haven't been disposing of byproducts sub surface, using anaerobic bacteria, long enough to understand the effects of leakage, or the full life cycle of anaerobic breakdown or efficacy.