Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Australian sunshine could soon be farmed to power an Asian nation

Setting one thing aside, this is one Greenie scheme that could work.  Australia is mostly desert so uninterrupted sunshine will happen most of the time.  So Singapore could get cheap daytime power from Australia and turn on its gas-fired generators at night.  And if there was any interruption to the Australian power supply they could just turn on their gas generators during the day as well.  Perfect. Cheap uninterruptible power.  The Holy Grail,

So where is the African person in the woodpile? Cost. Particularly with the undersea cable, there would be a huge capital cost before startup, a cost borne by banks who will want their usual 4% pa on funds invested.  Generating the power may not cost much but paying the huge bills needed to get the generating going will be another matter.  Just about all big projects cost at least twice the initial estimate so to pay the banks the operators will have to charge big for what they supply.  Will it be so big that the Singaporeans will simply say "No thanks"?  Could be.

And let me mention another nettle: Solar farms actually require a lot of maintenance and with so many panels that will be a big cost too. 

If the project goes ahead, it is my prophecy that all investors, including the banks, will lose their shirts.  And in a capitalist society destruction of capital is a big issue.  It means that money which could have been used productively was in fact wasted.  But that's standard Greenie form, of course

An Australian entrepreneur wants the Northern Territory desert to become home to the world’s biggest solar farm, with the electricity generated sent along undersea cables to Singapore.

David Griffin is an entrepreneur and leader in the development of Australia's renewable energy industry and his ambitious new plan to power Singapore from a 15,000-hectare solar farm in the Northern Territory has investors taking interest worldwide.

“It is first and foremost the largest solar farm under development in the world,” the Sun Cable CEO told SBS's Small Business Secrets from Singapore.

The Sun Cable project will be the first of its kind to try and export clean energy internationally.

A former GM Development at Infigen Energy, David has been developing solar and wind farms in Australia and South Africa for nearly 20 years.

His Sun Cable project would send electricity to Darwin, then along a 3,800-kilometre undersea cable to Singapore.

“It’s an extremely complex problem that we are solving. There are risks associated with that [undersea cable] and that’s why it’ll take a long time to go through the entire design process,” he said.

“It is the longest proposed project on the table at the moment but it’s certainly not the deepest.”

The solar farm would sprawl over 15,000 kilometres, backed by a 10-gigawatt plant.

The Northern Territory Government recently granted ‘major project’ status with construction expected to start in 2023. Environmental approvals are pending.

“If we look at Asia, no-one wants to see forests cleared,” Mr Griffin said.

“In order to truly see an electrification of global economy and to see it done in a way that doesn’t lead to climate catastrophe, we need to be able to move huge volumes of renewable electricity over vast distances and this is the technology that’ll allow it to happen.”


Report suggests changes to teacher pay and $10,000 scholarships to attract top students

Rubbish! Money is not the answer.  Making schools a pleasant working environment is.  That can be done but it needs a restoration of classroom discipline  -- which is mightily resisted these days

Australia’s top teachers should earn $80,000 a year more, and top students should get $10,000-a-year scholarships if they take up teaching, a new report has recommended.

The Grattan Institute has proposed a $1.6 billion reform package to double the number of high achievers who become teachers, and increase the average ATAR of teaching graduates to 85, within the next decade.

Attracting Australia’s best students could pay dividends, with the report suggesting a typical student could gain an extra six to 12 months of learning by Year 9 with a higher-achieving teacher workforce.

“Australia needs more high achievers in teaching, because great teachers are the key to better student performance,” Grattan Institute school education program director Peter Goss said.

“The low status of teaching in Australia has become self-reinforcing, putting off high achievers who might otherwise want to teach. By contrast, high-performing countries such as Singapore and Finland get many high-achieving students to apply, and then select the most promising candidates.”

The report recommends three changes.

1. $10,000 cash-in-hand scholarships for high achievers to study teaching. Scholarship holders should be required to work in government schools for at least several years.

2. The creation of two new roles in schools: an Instructional Specialist and Master Teacher. These teachers would be paid more and have responsibility for improving teaching at their schools and in their regions. Grattan suggests Instructional Specialists make up about 5 to 8 per cent of teachers and that they be paid about $140,000 a year — $40,000 more than the highest standard pay rate. Master Teachers would make up about 0.5 per cent of teachers and they would be paid about $180,000 a year — $80,000 more than the highest standard pay.

3. A $20 million-a-year advertising campaign, similar to the Australian Defence Force recruitment campaigns, to promote the changes and re-position teaching as an attractive, challenging, and well-paid career option.

The report shows bright young Aussies are turning their backs on teaching, with demand among high achievers falling by a third in the past decade — more than for any other undergraduate field of study.

Only 3 per cent of high achievers now choose teaching for their undergraduate studies, compared to 19 per cent for science, 14 per cent for health, and 9 per cent for engineering.

But a Grattan survey of nearly 1000 young people aged 18 to 25 with an ATAR of 80 or higher, found they would take up teaching if it offered higher top-end pay and greater career challenge.

The report recommends all three schools sectors in Australia — government, private, and Catholic — implement the reform package.

It believes state and territory governments, some of which have failed to adequately fund schools, should pay for the reforms in government schools.

Private and Catholic schools should pay for the reforms themselves, without extra taxpayer money.

“Our reform package would transform Australia’s teaching workforce,’ said Dr Goss. “In the long term it would pay for itself many times over, because a better-educated population would mean a more productive and prosperous Australia.”


ABC, Guardian journos give Pacific Islands leaders a free kick on climate

“Trust the science.” It’s the mantra of left-wing news outlets on any climate change story, yet many ­reporters at the ABC, Guardian Australia and the Nine Entertainment newspapers don’t seem to know the science.

The ABC’s reporting of the ­Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Tuvalu from August 13 to 16 was a spectacular case in point. In a bid to wedge Scott Morrison on the public broadcaster’s favourite subject, climate, Pacific leaders received a free kick. But here’s the thing: most of the islands are not sinking. That is what the peer-reviewed science shows.

In a famous paper from the University of Auckland released last year and based on sophisticated physical models, scientists showed many of the atolls on Tuvalu, Kiribati and Tokelau are actually rising. The finding confirms observations from satellite photos showing the islands are increasing in area, Tuvalu by 73ha between 1971 and 2014.

It gets worse. The ABC’s own fact check unit confirmed this in a ruling last year on claims by conservative federal Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly, who had said the Pacific’s islands were not sinking.

The fact check unit said on December 21 last year: “Mr Kelly’s claim checks out. The research cited by Mr Kelly suggests certain islands — specifically larger atolls and reef platforms — can adapt to the current pace of sea level rise.”

Where was Paul Barry’s Media Watch, normally the ABC’s ­climate science policeman? Perhaps news director Gaven Morris should have emailed the ABC’s own fact check to staff before the Pacific Islands Forum meeting so they would not be treated like useful idiots in a cash grab by the states Australia supports with aid.

Patricia Karvelas did not ­appear to know the science when she interviewed Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga on RN Breakfast on August 14. “What impact is the changing climate having on your country right now?” Karvelas asked.

Sopoaga replied: “People are about to be … swallowed into the sea because of erosion …”

Karvelas offered no defence of the science, allowing Sopoaga to make claims that fit the long-term, and to date false, narrative of ­climate refugees. Remember all the scare stories in the 1990s and early noughties quoting the UN predicting “50 million climate refugees by 2010”?

The interview went on for ­another six minutes as the leader of a nation of 12,000 citizens was allowed to demand Australia stop mining coal and open no new coalmines. Karvelas did not ask how Sopoaga thought Australia could keep the aid money flowing to the South Pacific if it shut down its largest export industry, worth $70 billion a year.

Nor did she ask about the ­elephant in the room: why are the Pacific Islands flirting with China if they are so concerned about carbon dioxide emissions they think will drown their island homes given China produces half the world’s man-made emissions of CO2 and Australia only 1.3 per cent? The best she could do was ask: “Do you think a bit of healthy competition is good for the ­Pacific?”

Karvelas hosted Insiders the following Sunday morning, Aug­ust 18. On the couch were Guardian Australian editor and climate activist Lenore Taylor, Peter van Onselen, columnist for this paper and Network Ten political editor, and David Crowe, political correspondent for Nine’s papers.

Taylor kicked off a session on climate saying Australia had a problem at the Pacific Islands Forum only because it lacked a credible climate policy. No mention Australia has one of the highest penetrations of renewable power generation in the world and has destroyed its competitive advantage in low-cost electricity in the process. PVO chimed in with the right observation: “We let China off the hook in relation to where their emissions are at and where their influence is at in the South Pacific.”

Taylor shot back in the carbon giant’s defence: “China is on track to meet its Paris targets.” That would be the target that allows China to increase emissions each year until 2030 by more than Australia’s total annual emissions.

Karvelas played footage of New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters bagging the island ­nations for their double standard on China’s emissions while criticising Australia, which he said had been generous to the region for decades.

Interview subject for the program was Labor foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong. She claimed with no evidence and without challenge by Karvelas that Labor would have done better at Tuvalu. She eventually was forced to admit Labor would not cut coal exports or ban new mines.

Wong said forum nations were at the forefront of the war on climate change, but she was not confronted with the science on sea-level rise. To be the “partner of choice” for the Pacific over China, Australia needed to do more on climate, Wong said. Again no mention of China’s emissions.

The media really should know more about changes in climate ­science, especially given UN forecasts on temperature and sea-level rise have been revised down regularly in successive Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports.

And journalists covering the Pacific should know much more about the history of Australia’s ­relations with its island neighbours. Since the forum was launched by New Zealand in 1971 this has largely been the work of Coalition governments as Labor after the Keating era looked increasingly to Indonesia and China for its foreign policy impetus. The Morrison pivot to the Pacific is back to the future.

This is something Peters understood even if his Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, and many journalists, did not. Even a combative Fiji today is replete with social and business connections back to Australian expats, many influential long before Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama stopped democratic elections in 2009 and his country was barred from the Pacific Islands Forum and the Commonwealth Games.

Yet Guardian Australia was breathless in its reporting of Bainimarama’s criticisms of Morrison in what it badged as an exclusive on August 17. Bainimarama said: “China never insults the Pacific. They don’t go … and tell the world we’ve given this much money to the Pacific Islands. They’re good people, definitely better than ­Morrison …”

Perhaps the Fiji Prime Minister should ask the leaders of north Pacific states such as Vietnam, The Philippines, Thailand and Japan if they think Chinese territorial expansion into the South China Sea is as benevolent as Bainimarama seems to imagine China’s influence in the South Pacific could be.

A rare beacon of sense from the progressive side of politics was Labor deputy leader Richard ­Marles, interviewed by Hamish Macdonald on RN Breakfast last Tuesday. Macdonald tried desperately to link a Papua New Guinea request for a $1.5bn loan to repair its budget to the forum climate troubles and increased Chinese influence in the region.

Marles said it was many years since we had underwritten PNG’s budgets, Australia was giving more than $600 million a year to PNG and “it is really important that we not engage with the Pacific by reference to China”. Macdonald claimed the Pacific was saying “give us what we want or we go to China”. Marles insisted that was in fact not the Pacific’s position and Australia should focus on the ­Pacific for the right historical and geographic reasons rather than to deny access to China.

Marles was correct but the ABC and Guardian Australia saw the entire Pacific Islands Forum meeting and China’s South Pacific interest as no more than a means to damage a new conservative prime minister on climate policy.


Chinese 'cash cows' For Australian universities

I think this is a false alarm. Chinese kids are coming to Australia not at the behest and expense of the Chinese government but at the behest and expense of their rich Chinese parents.  So the politics are unlikedly to affect anything

Australia’s universities are taking a multi-billion-dollar gamble with taxpayer money to pursue a high-risk, high-reward international growth strategy that may ultimately prove incompatible with their public service mission. Their revenues are booming as they enrol record numbers of international students, particularly from China. As long as the China boom continues, the universities’ gamble will look like a success. If and when the China bubble bursts, taxpayers may be forced to step in to clean up the mess.

The CIS Analysis Paper The China Student Boom and the Risks It Poses to Australian Universities published this week pulls together data from universities, state and Commonwealth agencies, foreign governments, international organisations, and press reports to present a full picture of the risks being taken by Australian universities in enrolling unprecedented numbers of Chinese students.

While the report was being researched, ABC’s Four Corners came out with its own investigation into international students, ‘Cash Cows’ (aired May 6, and now available online). The documentary uncovered weak international admissions standards at Central Queensland, Southern Cross and Murdoch, but our report shows that the potential exists for similar problems even at highly respected institutions like Sydney, Melbourne, ANU, UNSW, UTS, Adelaide, and Queensland.

Even more worrying, these seven universities have become so reliant on Chinese student money that it may pose a serious financial risk to the universities’ continuing operations. At these seven universities, Chinese students seem to account for more than 50% of all international students. All seven have higher proportions of international and Chinese students than any university in the entire United States. And they rely on Chinese student course fees for anywhere from 13% (Adelaide and ANU) to 22-23% (UNSW and Sydney) of their total revenues.

The University of Sydney alone seems to generate more than half a billion dollars in annual revenue from Chinese student course fees.

Chinese enrollments are particularly unstable because of macroeconomic factors like the slowing of China’s economy, the lack of full convertibility of the Chinese yuan, and fluctuations in the value of the yuan versus the Australian dollar.

Australian universities, and particularly the seven leading universities spotlighted in our report, should act now to mitigate the risk of a sudden revenue collapse by raising admissions standards and reducing international student enrollments. They should make, publish, and implement plans to reduce their reliance on international students (and Chinese students in particular) to manageable levels, with targets set both for the university as a whole and for individual programs.

Australia’s universities are taking massive financial risks in pursuit of international student revenues. As the world’s leading banks in 2008, they must be aware that they are ‘too big to fail’. As public and publicly-accountable institutions, they enjoy an implicit guarantee that if things go wrong, the government will come to the rescue. The government should step in now to ensure that the universities change course before it is too late.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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