Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Coal's rapid decline won't cripple future energy grid: COAG study

What a laugh!  This is just a call to replace coal with natural gas  The Greenies won't be happy at all.  Natural gas is also a "fossil" fuel that gives off CO2!

Natural gas does tend to be cheaper than coal but that is subject to supply and demand.  On the East coast at the moment only Queensland mines it and their producers have long-term contracts with overseas customers.

It would certainly be cheap if NSW and Victoria relaxed their bans on gas mining but that seems a long way off.  An unholy alliance between Greenies, Nimbys and farmers is standing in the way so far

Coal’s rapid exit from the energy grid can run smoothly and governments won’t need to intervene in the market to keep the lights on.

The future energy market can serve consumers well without big government subsidies despite the unprecedented disruption in the shift to renewables, said Energy Security Board (ESB) chair Dr Kerry Schott. The ESB is proposing a range of market reforms in a new study released for consultation on Monday.

Established by the Commonwealth of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council in 2017 the ESB advises on the unprecedented market transition so it can deliver “security and reliability to drive better outcomes for consumers” in the national electricity market.

“Governments are pretty nervous about big coal plants exiting the grid, and old gas plants for that matter, and I can understand why they want to intervene,” Dr Schott said.

“But if we can get the market measures in place outlined in the report, governments may not need to intervene at all. But comprehensive change to the market design is needed “

The ESB’s Post 2025 Energy market design report found “the exit of generation is not in itself a problem” if forward-looking reforms are made.

It’s seeking feedback on a suite of policy proposals to manage prices and encourage private investment in not just large scale power generation but also firm dispatchable resources like hydro power, batteries and fast-start gas plants for when the sun isn’t shining or wind isn’t blowing.

Over the next 20 years 61 per cent of Australia’s ageing and increasingly expensive coal fired capacity is set to be shut down and mainly replaced by cheaper renewable energy with dispatchable back-up that can enter the grid as required at short notice.

The national energy market in the past year comprised 74 per cent coal, six per cent gas, 4 per cent solar, 10 per cent wind and 5 per cent hydro. This is changing rapidly.

The ESB noted governments have reacted to the volatility in consumer electricity prices with a wide range of uncoordinated policies that “do not align with incentives to encourage investment in the amount and type of resources that would meet consumer and power system needs”.

“What we’re trying to do with our reform options is to have a market for the essential services that firm and dispatchable power provides. We want companies bidding those services into a market that is properly valued so the Australian Energy Market Operator can stop intervening to ensure those services are available - which is currently very expensive,” Dr Schott said.

The ESB also emphasised the need for new market rules to harness the benefits of what’s known as the distributed energy resources - that is the two million households and business with rooftop solar panels that can feed power back into the grid, and store power in batteries.

The CSIRO has found a two-sided energy market, where households pay for using power supplied from the grid and are also paid for the power generated on their premises and demand savings they make, could earn up to $2.5 billion a year, or an annual electricity saving of $414 to an average household.


International Baccalaureate develops higher critical thinking skills than state programs

From what I hear, it is Leftist critical thinking that is taught

Australian high school students who sit the International Baccalaureate diploma develop significantly higher critical thinking skills than those taking a state-based equivalent such as the HSC.

New research conducted by the University of Oxford shows the difference in critical thinking was more pronounced for students in year 12 than in year 11, suggesting skills increase over the IB's two-year duration.

Founded in Switzerland in 1968, the IB diploma is a globally recognised senior school credential offered as an alternative to the Higher School Certificate in about 20 NSW independent schools.

It has slowly expanded its footprint over the past 30 years, with Cranbrook becoming the latest Sydney school to offer the IB diploma from next year.

While the HSC offers a flexible curriculum where students study any combination of units, the IB locks students into six streams: they must study one subject from the sciences, humanities, arts, mathematics, English and a foreign language.

Students must also write a 4000-word essay on a topic of their choice and complete a 100-hour course in the theory of knowledge, as well as participate in co-curricular creative, physical and service activities.

"Those are some of the reasons I chose the IB," said year 10 Cranbrook student Max Lindley, who will be in the school's first diploma cohort and hopes to write his major work on paleontology.

"Understanding how information is spread, what makes a good source – I find that very interesting."

The Oxford research used critical thinking tests to assess differences in samples of IB and non-IB students in Australia, Norway and England. They tested students’ skills in induction, deduction, evaluation, and credibility assessment of given statements.

The findings showed IB students "exhibit significantly higher levels of critical thinking in comparison with matched non-IB students, with the effect more pronounced towards the end of the program".

In qualitative interviews, students said they believed the IB diploma better prepared them for future studies than other school systems and suggested the teaching of critical thinking made them better learners.

Cranbrook headmaster Nicholas Sampson said those skills would give students an advantage in university and the workforce.

"The level of academic breadth keeps open so many options at university and beyond. We think the IB is accessible to most students, the key is attitude: you've got to be committed and organised," he said.

But he concedes the IB is not the most suitable course for all students. “For some the greater specialisation offered by the HSC is invaluable and we understand that," Mr Sampson said.

Year 10 student John Coleman struggled to choose between the courses for that reason: he would like to focus on the social sciences in his final year, and the IB would force him to drop either modern history or economics. "It's a tough decision and I don't want to do it," he said.

While the IB is studied in government schools in other Australian states, a spokesman for the NSW Department of Education said it did not support any IB programs in state public schools.

"The Higher School Certificate is a world-class qualification that is available to all NSW school students," he said.

The Australian component of the Oxford University research took place in four independent schools, with sample students from each course matched according to socioeconomic status, sex, age and cognitive ability.

An IB spokeswoman said it brought forward “important findings” about the program's impact on students’ critical thinking.


Safe spaces, pronouns in email signatures and don't say 'guys': Inside the PC training sessions where bureaucrats are told not to use the words 'husband' and 'wife'

Bureaucrats in NSW have been encouraged to adopt politically correct language and avoid using phrases such as 'husband and wife' and 'ladies and gentlemen'.

NSW treasury workers, who are amidst the state's worst economic crisis in almost a century, have also been urged to include their preferred pronouns in their email signatures.

But the focus on inclusive language has been slammed by One Nation MP Mark Latham, who believes there are greater issues to battle through during the coronavirus pandemic.

Staff received an official message from NSW Treasury's Economic Strategy Deputy Secretary Joann Wilkie following a training day in line with 'Wear It Purple', The Daily Telegraph reported.

The note detailed 'some of the things we can all do to help create a safe space' in the workplace.

'Things like adding a pronoun preference to your signature block,' she wrote.

'And not assuming when you're talking to a colleague that they are heterosexual/cisgendered/endosex, so use 'partner' rather than 'wife' or 'husband' and use an introduction like 'welcome folks' rather than 'hi guys' (I need to work on this one) or 'good morning ladies and gentlemen'.'

Mr Latham said treasury staff's priority should be on non-stop job creation as Australia struggles through a recession.

He said the notion of needing a safe space is 'ridiculous' and claimed Ms Wilkie would be on $250,000 a year while working in one of the 'safest' offices in the country.

'She should do her day job of 'economic strategy and productivity' instead of insulting the thousands of business owners who have closed down and the hundreds of thousands of workers who have lost their jobs with her work priority of safe spaces and PC-word training,' Mr Latham said.

IPA western civilisation program director Bella d'Abrera agreed with the One Nation MP's comments. Ms d'Abrera said treasury staff should focus on getting Australians back to work rather than whether they say 'wife' or 'husband'.

National accounts data released last week confirmed national GDP collapsed by seven per cent in the June quarter and around 6.3 per cent in the 12 months to June.

The 8.6 per cent decline in NSW for the June quarter was the worst of all states and territories and the worst in the state's history.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet told the publication all large organisations have plans for inclusion as staff should be treated with respect and feel safe in the workplace.

Treasury has been instructed to focus on preparing the budget, creating jobs and supporting business, he added.  


$500m worth of government waste

Australia has adequate generators already.  This money is just in a chase after a Greenie mirage

Half a billion dollars will be injected into a new renewable energy fund, increasing public ownership of projects and helping accelerate Queensland’s target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

The mammoth investment comes after the Government assured Queenslanders earlier this year the state was on track to meet its target in a decade’s time.

Treasurer Cameron Dick said a range of projects would be supported by the funding including generation and storage.

He said the Government would work to develop a mandate for the relevant government owned corporations, but conceded it would be hard to do before an election.

Asked why the funding was necessary when there was private investment, Mr Dick cited the 2030 target. “We think this is an appropriate step to take to help accelerate achieving a 2030 target,” he said. “It’s obviously a priority. “We think we can get there and this is an important step forward for us.”

Electrical Trades Union state secretary Peter Ong said the union welcomed the money but would have liked to have seen the funding put into Cleanco’s budget over the next three years and a reverse of the current mandate which delivers all profits from current generators to Treasury.

The ETU has been pushing for greater public ownership in the renewable sector.


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