Tuesday, February 16, 2021

A new $20m hydrogen plant in Australia is part of an ambitious green agenda

We read: "LAVO™ is a solar sponge, using patented hydride to store hydrogen in metal alloy to enable the world’s first, long term capture, hydrogen battery within a secure vessel."

From what I can gather this is an extremely inefficient way to store low voltage DC current. Who would want that? It's a clever way to bypass the need for a massive pressure vessel but the "battery" is a massive object too and it would be hard to use the output

An Aussie firm that has pioneered one of the world’s first hydrogen energy storage systems plans to establish a foothold just outside Brisbane.

We learned on Monday that Sydney-based tech outfit LAVO expects to start production next year at a $20 million plant at Springfield.

Work on the facility, which will kick off later this year and create about 200 jobs, is just one part of a larger and highly ambitious green agenda promoted by Springfield City Group co-founder and boss Maha Sinnathamby.

Costing nearly $35,000, LAVO’s batteries are about the size of a big refrigerator, last up to 30 years and can be connected to solar panels, using the power to create hydrogen from water. The company also makes hydrogen-powered household goods.

They are part of a fast-growing global shift to renewable power, with the current $US150 billion a year spent on hydrogen expected to soar to $US2.5 trillion by 2050.

LAVO’s new outpost will be based at Springfield’s 40ha Vicinity business park and help the city achieve the lofty goal of producing more energy than it consumes by 2038.

“LAVO has the first and only commercial-ready hydrogen energy storage system in the world designed for everyday use by residential homes and businesses,’’ Sinnathamby said.

“We will work closely with LAVO to identify co-development opportunities, including the integration of LAVO technology into utility scale solar farms developed in Springfield City.”

Late last year Sinnathamby, in collaboration with French power group ENGIE, vowed to commit $3.1 billion to make Springfield “the world’s greenest city’’.

That means the current population of 46,000—which is expected to triple over the next 20 years—will all get their power from renewable sources and have access to electric vehicle charging stations.

Hydrogen-powered buses will provide public transport, solar panels are set to proliferate and at least a third of the city should remain as green space.

Meanwhile, Sinnathamby is also ramping up pressure on the federal government to help fund a range of initiatives that could create 20,000 jobs and help kickstart the post-COVID recovery.

He lobbied deputy PM Michael McCormack in person late last week for Commonwealth financial backing for at least a dozen shovel-ready projects in a planned new 120ha “knowledge and innovation district’’ expected to pump around $12 billion in to the economy by 2026.

McCormack, the Minister Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, toured Springfield for the first time and pored over a model of the city with Sinnathamby and his colleagues.

Accompanied by Senator Paul Scarr, he also met with a group of two dozen players in the health, education, defence and IT spaces across Queensland.

McCormack seemed pretty impressed with what he called the “national and internationally significant development going on in Greater Springfield’’.


Australian National University hope to introduce gender-inclusive education

Utter nonsense that will go nowhere

Staff at Australian National University in Canberra have been asked by academics to stop using the word 'mother' and instead say 'gestational parent', alongside a list of other bizarre changes.

In a bid to introduce gender-inclusive teachings, ANU's Gender Institute Handbook also asked for fathers to be referred to as the 'non-birthing parent' and 'breastfeeding' to be replaced with 'chestfeeding'.

'Mother's milk' was also said to be replaced with 'human or parent milk'.

'While many students will identify as "mothers" or "fathers", using these terms alone to describe parenthood excludes those who do not identify with gender-binaries,' the handbook, obtained by The Daily Telegraph, reads.

'This non-gendered language is particularly important in clinical or abstract academic discussions of childbirth and parenthood, both to recognise the identities of students in the class, and to model inclusive behaviour for students entering clinical practice.'

Staff have been asked to 'correct' themselves if they accidentally use the wrong terms. 'Language habits take practice to overcome, and students respect the efforts you make to be inclusive,' the guide read.

But a spokesman for ANU, Australia's top ranked university, said the document is not an official policy of the institution.

The spokesman said the handbook was produced by experts who are allowed to 'research in their field of expertise under our policies on academic freedom'.

The changes come a week after a hospital in the United Kingdom told staff to use terms like 'birthing parents' and 'human milk' rather than just referring to 'mothers' and 'breast milk' to avoid offending transgender people.

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust unveiled a blizzard of 'gender inclusive' phrases in a drive to stamp out 'mainstream transphobia'.

The Trust is the first in the country to formally implement such a radical overhaul for its maternity services department - which will now be known as 'perinatal services'.

Other changes include replacing the use of the word 'woman' with the phrase 'woman or person', and the term 'father' with 'parent', 'co-parent' or 'second biological parent', depending on the circumstances.

It said: 'Gender identity can be a source of oppression and health inequality. We are consciously using the words 'women' and 'people' together to make it clear that we are committed to working on addressing health inequalities for all those who use our services,' a policy document read.


Minister says country has ‘human duty’ to stranded Australians

Health Minister Greg Hunt has argued the country has a “profound human duty” to help Australians abroad return home after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews questioned the practice.

Minister Hunt said there are “mums and dads coming home to see their sons and daughters, children who have been studying overseas, families that have been separated, people coming home to say goodbye to loved ones, some themselves who may have terminal conditions”.

It comes after Premier Andrews suggested Australia lower its arrival numbers and needed to have a “cold, hard discussion” of how best to keep new variants of COVID out of the country.

“With this UK strain – and we haven’t even got on to South Africa yet, because it’s just as bad – should we be halving the total number of people coming home?” said Premier Andrews last week. “Or should it be a much smaller program that’s based on compassionate grounds?

“That’s a conversation we should have, particularly given that we’re so close to being able to vaccinate those who, if they get this, will become gravely ill.

“It’s not for me to make announcements about how many Australians get to come back to Australia. That’s for the federal government. What I’m saying is the game has changed.

“This thing is not the 2020 virus. It is very different. It is much faster. It spreads much more easily.”

Meanwhile, The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that the federal government is on the verge of striking a deal to enlarge the quarantine facility in Darwin, currently accepting repatriations from selected government supplemented Qantas flights.

The centre is currently taking 850 people but has rooms for more than 3,000. Its capacity is currently limited by staff and health facilities needed to quarantine returning Australians.

“We have so far struck two deals with the Northern Territory and a third one is very close but it is simply dependent on their capability assessment of what is the safe carrying capacity for the third stage of the Howard Springs facility,” said Hunt.

On Monday, Australia’s arrival caps returned to their previously higher December 2020 levels, which were cut at the start of 2021 following a second COVID cluster in Sydney.

From 15 February, NSW will return to its weekly cap of 3,010 and Queensland to 1,000.


The Australian property market is booming but the gains are generating a lot of debt

The Australian housing market is going gangbusters and all the signs are the boom is here to stay.

When property data firm CoreLogic tracked 1,191 auctions last weekend, it found 86.1 per cent of properties that went under the hammer sold, a 2.3 per cent increase on the week before.

The company’s head of research, Tim Lawless, says it is a result not seen since 2015.

“When auction clearance rates are high, you expect house prices to be rising and vice-versa,” Lawless said. “At the moment we’re seeing clearance rates well above 80 per cent. The last time we saw the same was in 2015, but you have to go back a decade to see auction markets as strong as this.”

House prices continued to grow strongly through January with CoreLogic’s Home Value Index recording price growth of 0.9 per cent nationally and regional areas growing at rates double that recorded in cities.

Nerida Conisbee, chief economist at global real estate company REA Group, said the situation was driven by a combination of cheap money, a high savings rate among those who held onto a job through 2020, a receding pandemic and an exodus from densely populated cities into regional areas.

“You’re watching a realignment as people work out where they want to live and where they want to be employed,” Conisbee said.

“The recession we saw with the pandemic is not quite like what we’ve seen elsewhere in the GFC where it was finance-led. What that’s meant for property is there’s no shortage of money. Interest rates are at incredible lows and those who had jobs were forced to save during rounds of lockdowns.”

However, while property values in regional areas like south Queensland and northern New South Wales have been growing, Conisbee said units and apartments in city areas have remained flat thanks to lower migration.

“When you have a look across Australia, you’re seeing price growth everywhere, but at a suburban level, particularly those closer to universities, rents have dropped and values have dropped,” she said.

The activity comes off record low interest rates of 0.1 per cent, a situation the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) expects to hold until 2024.

RBA governor Philip Lowe shrugged off any concerns that the country may be facing the start of a new housing bubble earlier this month, saying the growth was good news for an economy recovering in the wake of the pandemic.

“There’s a lot of focus at the moment on the fact that housing prices are rising again, and the stock market has been strong,” Lowe said. “Well, the national house price index today is where it was four years ago … and the equity market, we’re back to where we were at the beginning of last year.”

Other key factors include the government’s pandemic response plan.

To date, around 82,000 homeowners have subscribed to the homebuilder scheme at a cost of $2 billion, while other initiatives like the cash-flow boost program directly injected sums up to $100,000 into small-to-medium businesses earning less than $50m a year.

Prof Hal Pawson from the University of New South Wales said this “cheap money” has been a big driver in the recent price spike – and one that may prove disadvantageous to renters and those living in regional areas.

“Cheap money is the most important thing by far,” Pawson said.

“It’s the ability to take out $150,000 more on a mortgage than you could have had a year ago on the same salary. The concern about this is that, for lower income earners in regional locations, they’re going to be put under pressure as the result of these changes and it doesn’t flow through [to renters] immediately.”

The federal government is looking to boost the situation further by winding back responsible lending laws, Martin North, the principal of Digital Finance Analytics, said. The gains were not without risk as they relied on the “massive” creation of new debts, he added.

“Scott Morrison said three years ago he wouldn’t let prices drop and that is proving to be true, but we’re building these rises off the back of massive debts.

“Banks are lending six or seven times average incomes. They’re doing what they were doing before the royal commission. This is an unsustainable and a highly risky extension when we should be investing in more sustainable or longer-term solutions.”

Dr Cameron Murray, a post-doctoral fellow at the Henry Halloran Trust at the University of Sydney, said what is happening in Australia has to be seen in a global context.

Even without the pandemic, he says, the world is experiencing a global housing boom, while central banks everywhere have come to view the housing market – and the associated consumer spending – as a key plank of their economies.

“Our macro-stabilisation policy works by juicing house prices,” Murray said.

“This is a policy most central banks have adopted. Secondly, we’re just at that point in the cycle. The best parallel to the situation now is 2004. I think we’re in a very similar phase right now. Sydney boomed early, then it tapered off. Then the rest of the country shot up for four years in line with the broad global house price cycle.

“The economy runs in cycles and a lot of regional Australia hasn’t been through that boom cycle. Now it’s their turn.”


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE TIED)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)


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