Monday, December 21, 2015

Batteries And Bulldust: Why ‘Living Off The Grid’ Is Not As Green As You Think

The arrival in Australia of the Tesla "Powerwall" storage battery has produced lots of erections among Australian Greenies.  They see it as the longed-for solution to the intermittent nature of wind and solar power.  The article below however points out that such systems do not add up as a replacement for reticulated electricity.  The author offers nuclear power as the best replacement for hydrocarbon energy sources.

As you could probably guess from the angry tone of it, the article appeared in a far-Left publication, "New Matilda".  It is however perfectly rational and numerate in its critique of the batteries.  There have always been some Green/Leftists who like nukes.  The Left in fact hailed nuclear power when it was first rolled out in the '50s.  It was "new" so they liked it.

This is not the first pro-nuke article to appear in "New Matilda". Editor Chris Graham is evidently balanced in his thinking on some occasions.  He even published a critique of extreme feminism recently. But he did have to publish a Greenie reply to the article below which I don't think is worth linking to.

By Geoff Russell

You can bet that a newsreader who pronounces film as ‘fill-em’ will receive a flood of complaints. Similarly, spelling mistakes in the written word will be pounced upon by the eagle-eyed readers with howls of protest and claims of declining standards and the impending end of civilisation.

But when people screw up with numbers, there’s a stunned silence. Our innovation hungry Prime Minister recently announced $48m to combat falling maths science standards, but it isn’t just children that need help with numbers.

Take, for example, the Climate Council’s Tim Flannery and SBS journalist Emma Hannigan in a recent news report about household battery technologies. Flannery responded to Hannigan’s statement that sales of battery systems were predicted to be 50,000 per year for the next decade by saying "… when you get to that point, you won’t need coal fired power systems any more".

Get any 10-year-old (with a phone) to do the maths. 50,000 x 10 is half a million batteries. And how many households do we have?

Maths won’t help you here, you need data. Google it… number of households in Australia. It’s about 9 million.

So will half a million batteries make a dent in our electricity emissions? A tad useless would be an appropriate technical estimate, but since household electricity is only about a quarter of electricity, it’s really a quarter of a tad useless.

Put simply, half a million batteries, at around $7,150 dollars each (current price) is an incredibly stupid way to spend $35 billion dollars. For comparison, the United Arab Emirates bought 4 x 1.4 gigawatt South Korean nuclear plants for $20 billion (US) and they’ll all be running by 2020.

That would generate enough electricity to charge half a million 7kw Tesla batteries 126,000 times in a decade; if they could handle it. They are only rated to handle 5,000 charge discharge cycles.

But cost isn’t the biggest reason for not using big batteries in houses. Let’s consider the situation in Germany, mainly because the data comes easily to hand and because they’ve just wasted 15 years mucking around with renewables at great cost, but with trivial impact.

They expect to take 50 years to do what France did in 15 with nuclear power. Consider the following chart of German electricity use in January 2015.

Can you see the days with very little wind and sun? There’s one run of five in a row starting on the 19th of January. In the absence of their fossil fuel and nuclear plants, how much battery storage would the Germans need to cover this kind of run?

They’ve just signed the COP21 agreement that should stop them expanding their logging of forests for electricity; in fact I’d argue that Article 5 requires them to reduce it.

To make the maths trivial, lets assume they only need to supply 50 gigawatts of power for five days. That’s 5 x 24 = 120 hours. Do the sums and you’ll see that the batteries will need to supply 6,000 gigawatt-hours of energy (120 x 50). A gigawatt is a ‘1’ with 9 zeros. So, how many fully charged Tesla 7 kilowatt-hour Powerwalls would you need to supply this? All those zeros make what is a trivial calculation look complex: 6,000,000,000,000 divided by 7,000 is 857,142,857.

That’s 857 million batteries at a current cost of … $6.1 trillion dollars.

In the real world, many industries need their electricity in a particular form, but the numbers at least give us a feel for the scale of the problem.

But, as I said, cost isn’t the biggest reason people shouldn’t do this.

Consider the much-vaunted Tesla gigafactory? When it’s finished in 2020, it will produce batteries for half a million vehicles a year. That’s impressive and useful, but how many such giga factories will it take to supply batteries for those five days of German power?

Each year the giga factory can produce 35 gigawatt hours of battery storage. So how many years of production will it take to supply 6,000 gigawatt hours worth of batteries… 6,000,000,000,000/35,000,000,000… roughly 171 years; assuming Germany is the only customer.

You can do such calculations without all those zeros by using the Exp button on your phone calculator App.

But of course, real engineers wouldn’t use Tesla Powerwalls for such a purpose, they’d go for something much cheaper like pumped hydro. This is where you pump water from a low place to a high place when you have cheap electricity and then let it fall back down through a turbine to generate electricity at some later time.

It’s great when the geography is suitable and you don’t mind trashing some high mountain valley.

But surely batteries will get cheaper? Agreed. The Climate Council has just published a modest battery report. They make a general claim that the cost of battery storage should fall to $200 per kilowatt hour by 2020.

If that comes to pass, the Germans could provide for a run of 5 cold still days using an as yet undeveloped technology at a projected cost of just $1.2 trillion. That makes me feel much better!

So we probably can’t afford them, and it will be incredibly tough to build enough of them, but there’s still another far more important reason that using big batteries in houses, or for general grid backup, is dumb enough that it should be made illegal where there is no actual need.

Has the penny dropped yet? Here’s a hint. The world sells 70 million cars a year and the Tesla giga factor will make half a million car-sized batteries a year when it’s finished in 2020.

It should be obvious now… we will desperately need good, big batteries for electric vehicles.

Batteries and hydrogen fuel look to be our only choices for vehicles. So we shouldn’t be wasting valuable battery production resources to make batteries for houses because some puddle shallow thinkers reckon it’s cool to live off-grid.

We know how to cleanly and efficiently power houses; you build nuclear power plants and hook them into a grid. In developing countries, there is a pressing need for grids and that will be a huge challenge. Wasting valuable battery production capacity on powering houses will make everything that much harder.

The whole batteries-in-houses idiocy is part of what is inevitable when rich countries transfer spending decisions from Governments to individuals via low taxation rates and small government; or more accurately, incompetent Government; Governments who no longer have the skills and vision to pursue major projects in the national interest, let alone the international interest.

Traditionally, when Governments spent money, there was at least a fighting chance that a competent bureaucracy would act rationally and in the public interest.

But when it’s up to individuals, particularly rich, self-centered individuals who can’t think quantitatively, then they will buy Tesla batteries and Tesla will happily supply them.

If Tesla boss Elon Musk had even half the environmental concern he professes, then he wouldn’t make the bloody things.


Former PM Tony Abbott hints he will be staying in politics

FORMER prime minister Tony Abbott has hinted he won’t quit politics and fired a warning shot over Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s tax reform plans at a gathering of Liberals who remain furious he was knifed as PM.

Mr Abbott rallied a crowd of supporters at an invite-only event organised by former Defence Minister Kevin Andrews who also hinted the ex-PM would not quit politics.

As the Turnbull government weighs options to increase the GST to 15 per cent, Mr Abbott warned any reform must meet his tax mantra to ensure taxes were lower and fairer.

"I have a very simple mantra when it comes to tax change,’’ Mr Abbott said. "The results of tax change has got to be tax which is lower, simpler and fairer. If it doesn’t produce taxes that are lower, simpler and fairer it’s not reform. It is just change. "We want change that’s worth it, not just change for changes sake.’’

His comments came on the same day a ReachTel poll found just over 50 per cent of voters in his Liberal electorate believed he should quit.

"I will be working to ensure that we have the best possible government out of next year’s election,’’ Mr Abbott said. "We will do everything we humanly can to ensure the best possible Coalition government is there in Canberra. And I know we will all be working, together, for that great end.’’

Mr Andrews said he looked forward to "working together’’ with Mr Abbott in the "years ahead".

His suggestion that Mr Abbott will not leave politics follows the former Prime Minister’s recent decision to delay an announcement on his future until later next year.

"We don’t know where that journey ends. We often don’t know how it will end," Mr Abbott told the attendees.  "To lead our country for two years was the greatest honour of my life. It’s all happened thanks to you.  "I know there’s been a few ups and downs this year. It’s important that we keep them in perspective.’’


Anti-vaxers taking posters and pamphlets promoting vaccination in hospitals and clinics

Dangerous and deluded fanatics

ANTI-vaccination vandals are ripping down posters that promote the benefits of lifesaving injections at hospitals and health centres.

They claim they are trying to protect children by removing vital information, even stealing pamphlets from childcare centres in attempts to prevent parents knowing when and why they should vaccinate their families.

One woman suggests taking the action further by printing A5 sheets listing "vaccine affected deaths" to place on parents’ cars at childcare centres.

One anti-vaccination vigilante is a Melbourne hospital nurse, who says she refuses to immunise patients. She is under review by Australia’s health watchdog after boasting she had falsified her employment details to hide the fact she had not been vaccinated.

A father last month boasted of roaming through a Melbourne hospital with his sleeping baby while his partner was in a medical appointment.

"I came across the room we actually attended when we did our antenatal classes, as nobody was in there I pushed the pram in and had a look around," he wrote.

Anti-vaccination campaigner, Mary Parkes, has boasted online of tearing down vaccination posters. "I soon found the ­important whooping cough vaccination poster, plastering the false message into the faces of people. I proceeded to take it off the wall and hide it under one of the cupboards. One less bullshit sign is a small win."

A fellow female anti-vaccination supporter responded with a photo of stolen and vandalised posters, with the message: "When I was in hospital last week my husband removed quite a few vaccination posters. He took them to the car and edited them but didn’t manage to put the edited versions back up unfortunately."

A registered nurse who works at a Melbourne hospital told how she stole the health information from her child’s childcare centre last year.  "These brochures were scattered all over my kid’s child care ... needless to say I took every single copy home for ­recycling (they don’t know who did it) ... the poster is huge it’s hard to see ... ugh ... made me sick ...

"Here it was mission impossible ... but pretending to look at other brochures I just grabbed them ... there were 40-50 of them ... I also removed the reorder application lol. "And I’m the president of the Committee lol."

Mary Parkes, an artist who now lives in Mullumbimby, boasted she did the same at the local parenting rooms at Townsville shopping centres, "ripping them up and binning them."


Black dolls used to represent the baby Jesus in two Australian nativity scenes

Just a Leftist stunt of course. The Dandenong hospital doll above.  It is not literally black, of course, but it has the same colour as many people who are called black.  It is essentially a representation of an African. As such, it is likely to be an inaccurate representation of the historical Jesus, who would have had the coloring of other Mediterranean people.  He would have been a stocky little swarthy-skinned guy with dark eyes and dark hair like a modern-day Southern Italian.  That is of no importance in itself as the traditional European representation of Jesus as tall and blond is also inaccurate.

What is of some concern, however, is that this stunt feeds into and encourages now-common misrepresentations of history.  Some American blacks claim that all sorts of European inventions were in fact the work of Africans.  And Muslims often deny any historical association of Jews with Israel.  These are simply ego-salving lies but they do contribute to confusion about where the truth lies. And this is essentially another lie.  We all wade through a sea of lies as we go through life so it is sometimes a major challenge to figure out what the truth is.  Adding to the lies is therefore very unhelpful

Black achievements in many fields are much less than white achievements and Arab achievements are much less than Jewish achievements but the starting point for doing anything about those gaps is to accept their reality -- not lie about them

In the wake of the controversy surrounding a black doll representing baby Jesus at Pascoe Vale state Labor MP Lizzie Blandthorn’s office, Dandenong Hospital has also used a similar doll for its scene.

Ms Blandthorn said her staff members had fielded complaints, but Shane Butler, spokesman for hospital operator Monash Health, said feedback had been positive. "The nativity scene at Dandenong Hospital features a baby perhaps best described as being of Middle-Eastern ethnicity," Mr Butler said.

"We have had no negative feedback from passers-by, and, in fact, our staff have received a number of positive comments about the nativity scene."

The doll’s colour sparked fearsome online debate yesterday. Fired up readers were divided over the use of the black doll, with some arguing that Jesus could have been black or olive-skinned, due to his Middle Eastern roots, others saying history had always depicted him as a white man, while some wondered why it was an issue because they did not believe he existed.

Eddie had a simple message for those arguing over the colour of the doll.  "Really, it’s Christmas, so all who believe in the birth of Christ, let’s just celebrate it and be grateful that someone has put up a nativity scene," Eddie wrote.

Some said Ms Blandthorn was "grandstanding" and questioned if MPs should be allowed to erect nativity scenes at all, considering the multicultural electorates they represent.

"What is relevant here is simply that a Labor MP has deliberately done this to get a negative reaction from people and I suspect to try and prove a point," Leslie wrote.

Jason wondered: "Should politicians be putting nativity scenes in their office windows? I think this might be a broader issue to talk about."

Paul thought Jesus had "blond hair and blue eyes".  "You’re in good company Paul, so did Michelangelo and Da Vinci," John replied.

Guy said readers were creating an "incredible amount of fuss over the accuracy of a depiction of... a fictional character! Lol."

Yesterday, Ms Blandthorn told Leader she wanted to present a "multicultural" nativity scene in keeping with her diverse community it Pascoe Vale.

"Some people have suggested it wasn’t appropriate because it was dark-skinned, but my view is it’s more historically accurate given the part of the world in which the nativity happened," she said.

Ms Blandthorn said people were free to represent the nativity how they wished. "I’ve got a Mexican nativity set at home, which has dark-skinned llamas," she said.  "Culturally, people represent the nativity in ways that mean something to them."

Maria, who didn’t want her surname published, said she felt using the black baby was "changing what Jesus was".  "I’m not saying he would have been blue-eyed and blonde, but I don’t think he would have been that black either," she said.

"It sounds like I’m being racist but I’m not. I’m Italian, I was born here, and I used to get called a dago — I don’t like racism.

"All I can say is that he can’t have been black because that’s then going into Africa."

The Archdiocesan Vicar General Monsignor Greg Bennett said Jesus was Jewish, "and we can presume his appearance would have reflected the people of the Middle East".

"However, throughout the centuries, the images of the Holy Family in art, sculpture and windows have reflected the diverse cultures of the world and therefore the depictions of the Holy Family have reflected this reality," Monsignor Bennett said.

"Jesus was born for all people — all nations — in history for history."


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