Thursday, July 27, 2023

Here's fun! Power Companies Could Remotely Switch Off EV Chargers to Reduce Grid Stress

Energy providers could have the option to switch off home EV charging stations remotely to reduce pressure on Queensland’s electricity grid.

The proposal is part of the Australian state’s Queensland Electricity Connection Manual (QECM), which provides a framework for the grid’s operation.

Section 8 of the QECM proposes that EV charging equipment may be limited or switched off by operators Ergon Energy and Energex (distributed network service providers or DNSPs) if it has an output of more than 20 amps—a standard domestic single-phase EV charger uses 32 amps.

The use of such “demand management” schemes is largely unique to Queensland and is also used on residential pool cleaning machines, hot water systems, and air conditioning units under the Peaksmart program.

Peaksmart gives households a cash rebate; in return, the operator can turn off air conditioners remotely during peak operating times (summer) to reduce pressure on the energy grid.

The large-scale roll-out of such programs has been earmarked as a potential catalyst to close down coal-fired power stations faster—amid the net zero push—and to, instead, adopt more intermittent renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and battery.

Federal Nationals MP Keith Pitt, himself an electrical engineer, says a proposal to use demand management on EV charging reveals that operators have little confidence the grid can handle the uptake of electric cars expected in the push towards net zero.

“EV take-up could increase peak demand by as much as 60 percent right across the National Electricity Market,” Mr. Pitt told The Epoch Times.

“That would mean you need a 60 percent increase in generating electricity capacity, transmission, and distribution. So that’s every substation, every cable, every supply point, every house—it will cost an absolute fortune.”

The federal Labor government has set a lofty goal of having 3.8 million EVs on the road by 2030—there are currently 83,000 in use.

Further, the government is also pushing to expand the charging network, aiming for 100,000 for businesses, 3.8 million chargers in households, and 1,800 publicly available fast chargers.

The initiative comes as part of a wider push towards net zero by 2050 and to reduce emissions by 43 percent by 2030. Further, the Labor government hopes to have 82 percent of the National Electricity Market powered by renewables.

Advocacy groups have argued against a demand management system saying it will dampen enthusiasm for EVs. “We know from surveys that average consumers aren’t particularly keen on mandated orchestration of their appliances,” says the Electric Vehicle Council in its submission on the QECM (pdf).

“The Peaksmart program enlists between 10,000 and 15,000 air conditioning units for orchestration each year … out of a total of about 300,000 that get installed. About 95 percent of consumers prefer retaining control of their air conditioning, overtaking the financial incentives on offer.”

Meanwhile, Melissa McAuliffe, acting director of energy services at Energy Consumers Australia, says it would erode consumer trust that the “energy system is working for them.”

“Our 2023 Energy Consumer Sentiment Survey finds that only 35 percent of households are confident that the energy industry and regulators are working in their long-term interests now,” she wrote in a submission (pdf).

“Further, such measures are unlikely to be completely effective for consumers or the system, as consumers may look to workarounds that circumvent giving DNSPs control. For example, through disincentivising the use of EV chargers, consumers may just use regular power points.”


WA Labor Government Popularity Crashes as Controversial New Law Causes Concern

The West Australian Labor government’s popularity with the voters has plunged, according to a new poll, following the passage of controversial new laws which have seen farmers and landowners across the state concerned about their rights.

The Utting Research poll of 1,000 voters, which was conducted between July 18-20, shows a resurgence of support for the Liberal party, which now has a 54 percent to 46 percent two-party preferred lead over Labor.

The last poll conducted in May, after leader Mark McGowan stepped down at the end of May and was replaced by Roger Cook as premier, had Labor ahead at 61-39, The West Australian reported on Monday.

The Utting poll also shows the Nationals are carrying six percent of the primary vote, with the Greens at 10 percent and other parties were at 15 percent.

Labor’s primary vote has also fallen to 32 percent, from 52 percent previously recorded in May.

After the 2021 state election, the Liberal and National parties banded together to form the opposition, with the Liberals as the junior partner.

The Liberals hold two parliamentary seats in the Legislative Assembly, while the Nationals hold four.

Western Australian Government Under Pressure

The drop in popularity comes as Western Australians become increasingly anxious about the state’s updated Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act, which has already seen Indigenous advocacy groups make million-dollar demands on councils and environmental groups over issues like reforestation.

The Act was designed to protect culturally significant landmarks in the state from potential “harm” and was updated following the destruction of the Indigenous heritage site Juukan Gorge by mining giant Rio Tinto. It establishes the Local Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Services (LACHS), which is responsible for ensuring areas of significance are not harmed.

Yet, farmers, landowners and councils are worried they could be easily caught up in red tape or face heavy penalties under the new laws.

Under the system, a landowner with over 1,100 square metres of land (11,840.3 square feet) must first apply with LACHS if they wish to carry out work that could disturb over 50 centimetres of soil—encompassing activities like land clearing, drainage work, and even building a fence. LACHS will then send out a consultant—at the landowner’s expense at around $160 (US$108) per hour—to determine if the site has any cultural significance.

Stephen Johnston of the South East Regional Centre for Urban Landcare said the two revegetation events run by Landcare, which were scheduled to plant 5,500 seedlings, were cancelled because of the lack of clarity in the laws.

“I’ve been poring over the websites and the act, the 255-page act, the 47 pages of guidelines and the printouts, which are all available on the state government website,” he told ABC Radio Perth.

“So there’s a lot of information there, but there’s information that begs questions,” Mr. Johnston added, noting that it was unclear whether Landcare activities were exempt from the new requirements.

Around 30,000 people signed a petition calling on the West Australian government to delay the rollout of the state’s Indigenous heritage protection laws just days prior to the implementation.

The Liberal and Nationals alliance said the government needed to provide more information to those affected by the laws about their rights and obligations, with Liberal spokesman for planning and environment Neil Thomson declaring the Labor government needed to make the laws clearer.

“Farmers, pastoralists, and companies that provide services such as plumbing and civil contracting are all trying to work out the implications, as are hobby farmers around the metropolitan area that are deeply concerned about what they will be allowed to do on their land without a permit,” Thomson said.


Teachers cannot teach what they do not know

Well, here we are with another review of teaching. Australia has itself a bit of déjà vu with a well-meaning Education Minister who wants to do his bit to fix the problems in our schools – this time by focusing on how we train our teachers.

To be fair, the Minister seems to be asking some of the right questions. Given the money we spend on education, why don’t we do better as a nation? Looking at how teachers are trained is important – they cannot teach what they do not know.

Here is a practical example. After recently marking the first essays of first year teacher trainees, I saw the need to do some revision of grammar. I asked the group a simple question: ‘What is a sentence?’ One of the young students, who was embedded in a school while doing her degree, said, ‘I don’t know, but my teacher is doing that with her year 5 students – I’ll look it up.’ The answer she found from her mentor teacher was: ‘A sentence is a clump of words that makes sense.’ Really…

So, my experiences would agree that there is core content that we simply do not consider important to teacher training, so a review might help there.

But it may not. There are complexities that go much deeper than simply adding ‘what the latest science says we need to do while we get back to basics’ (which is the reported framework through which the Minister is thinking).

I wonder if Minister Clare has done his homework in order to understand just how complex this apparently simple problem is? My suggestion is that The Minister should start his homework by reading Chapter 1 of the 2014 Donnelly and Wiltshire review of the National Curriculum, as commissioned by former Prime Minster Tony Abbott. These two reviewers fairly note improvements nationally with the introduction of ACARA – for we now have a curriculum that can translate across borders, to an extent.

But a decade ago these reviewers highlighted two deep areas of structural difficulty within the education system. Each of these aspects bring with them assumptions about the purpose of teaching, and therefore which ways of teaching are privileged over others. As Donnelly summarised later in his book How Political Correctness is Destroying Education:

As noted by the late Ken Rowe in the Commonwealth inquiry into the teaching of literacy, the prevailing orthodoxy in teacher education is based on constructivism; an approach to teaching that emphasises child-centred, inquiry-based learning and less explicit forms of teaching.

Such ‘child-centred’ approaches do not simply imply knowing your students well so that you can teach them better. It implies that teachers cannot impose sequential core knowledge into their lessons. Why? Because, according to the constructionists, all we need to do is to help our students think, and they can find the rest on the internet.

So, when the terms of this review suggest getting back to the old fashioned teaching core of Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, it begs the questions, ‘to what end’, ‘in what way’, and ‘with what content?’

For example, is the purpose of our education simply utilitarian – aimed at getting everyone to work in the government’s priority areas, which include environmental alarmism, anti-family identity theory, and victim-blaming anti-Judeo-Christian history?

To help the Minister understand these dynamics better, he might also do another piece of homework that involves reading Professor John Sweller’s work. His theory flies in the face of the popular notion, supported by pseudo-science, that students do not need to learn anything off by heart because it is on the internet. The fact that the internet is also littered with conceptual rubbish seems to escape proponents of ‘21st Century education’. The constructivist process of education is given so much privilege that we have students who simply do not know enough (like, ‘What is a sentence?’).

But neither do the teachers of these trainees know good content, because they have not learnt about it – the problem is generational. After reading Sweller’s work, the Minister could then graduate to E.D. Hirsch’s Why Knowledge Matters, and the report by the John Hopkins Institute, What We Teach Matters. Or he could read the case study about Sweden’s decline in standards by Henrekson and Wennstrom.

So, does the Minister understand that the methods by which teachers teach reflect their deeper assumptions, or what we used to call ‘philosophy of education’? And similarly, does he understand that these presuppositions which we bring to our teaching also have an impact on what we consider is good content? This is where Minister Clare needs to do even more homework. An ideology is the belief system in which we put our faith. Such deep beliefs steer what we believe is essential content for education. That is why the IPA report that came out earlier this year by Bella D’Abera and Collen Harken would be the next homework piece for the Minister.

This report revealed afresh the depth of distortion in the content of the ninth iteration of the National Curriculum. This national document is what the teacher trainers will still be expected to work too. But as the authors summarised:

As this report reveals, where the National Curriculum is failing in one area, it is succeeding in another. Instead of teaching children how to read and write, it is indoctrinating them with identity politics, radical race theory, and radical green ideology.

These emphases reflect the priorities of the current political elites. The authors note ‘… as this report demonstrates, Version 9 of the National Curriculum is a highly politicised document; it reflects the current ideologies held by bureaucrats who have control over what is in the curriculum.’

These privileged emphases are in line with the ideologies of the Labor Party. Will the Minister really reject his party’s ideology to release teacher trainers to revise the content away from environmental and pantheistic alarmism, the racially biased critical race theories, and the emphasis on history that downplays the constructive aspects of Western heritage?

I doubt it – we have been plagued by Ministers who seem to lack experience with these educational philosophical assumptions, knowledge of the National Curriculum, and an understanding about the teaching of teachers. Yet here we are, with another Minister trying to evaluate whether teachers and their trainers know enough about going back to the basics in schooling…


COVID Vaccines Show 24 Times More Adverse Reactions Than Others

The latest report on adverse reactions to vaccines in Western Australia has revealed that COVID-19 vaccinations have 24 times the rate of adverse reactions in the state compared to all other vaccines.

According to the state’s vaccine safety surveillance report (pdf), COVID-19 vaccines showed that for every 100,000 COVID-19 vaccines administered, 264 adverse events following immunisations (AEFIs) were recorded.

For all other vaccinations, 11.1 AEFIs were recorded, making the COVID-19 vaccines 23.8 times more likely than non-COVID-19 vaccines to result in adverse events.

The rate of adverse events varied among different types of COVID-19 vaccines.

The Spikevax (Moderna) vaccine recorded 281.4 AEFIs per 100,000 doses, Comirnaty (Pfizer) recorded 244.8, and the Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) vaccine, which was removed from the vaccine program after reports emerged of blood clotting in younger people, recorded 306.

Adverse events following vaccination can range from mild, such as a sore arm, to serious conditions, such as anaphylaxis, thrombosis with thrombocytopaenia syndrome (TTS), Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), myocarditis, and pericarditis.

Collaboration Continues With 3-in-1 Super Jab

Meanwhile, despite these concerns, the Australian government’s partnership with Moderna to produce vaccines using experimental messenger RNA technology to prepare for the next pandemic means these vaccines are here to stay.

The company has been forming a trifecta jab to address the main respiratory viruses—influenza, COVID-19, and RSV to maintain its market share amid the falling revenue of vaccine companies as the health crisis subsides.

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine sales of US$18.4 billion in 2022 are expected to dive to $5 billion this year.

Recently, it was granted expedited approval by Australia’s authority for medicines for its mRNA-1345 (RSV vaccine), meaning that the company will be able to launch the vaccines in Australia before any other country in the world.

A spokesperson from Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration told the Epoch Times that Moderna was granted an accelerated approval process on March 30 after satisfying all of the following criteria:

the medicine is new

the medicine is for the treatment, prevention, or diagnosis of a life-threatening condition

no other medicines that are intended to treat, prevent or diagnose the condition are included in the Australian drug register or there is substantial evidence that this medicine provides a significant improvement in efficacy or safety of the treatment, prevention or diagnosis of the condition compared to those goods already included in the register
there is substantial evidence that the medicine provides a major therapeutic advance.

However, phase 3 clinical trials for Moderna’s mRNA version of the seasonal influenza vaccine have been underwhelming, showing a high rate of side effects.

Although the vaccine generates a strong immune response against the A strains of the flu, its efficacy against B strains is not better than existing approved vaccines.

Additionally, 70 percent of trial participants who received the shot reported adverse reactions such as headaches, swelling, and fatigue compared to 48 percent for the conventional flu vaccine.




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