On Thu, Nov 14, 2013 at 12:09:18PM +0100, Telmo Menezes wrote:
> On Wed, Nov 13, 2013 at 11:32 PM, Russell Standish
> <li...@hpcoders.com.au> wrote:
> 
> > The good news is that the figures I've seen is that its not such a
> > tremendous cost after all.
> 
> I am very interested in this. Could you be more specific? How can this
> be? Was there some breakthrough in sustainable sources that increased
> their efficiency?

The following is an article dealing with the economics in Australia of
PV vs coal fired stations

http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/renewables-now-cheaper-than-coal-and-gas-in-australia-62268

And here is one for wind power:

http://www.smh.com.au/business/carbon-economy/rising-risk-prices-out-new-coalfired-plants-report-20130207-2e0s4.html

These figure also do not include the existing carbon price of $20 per tonne.

Existing fossil fuel generators will continue for a while, though, of
course, particularly as renewables have not yet solved the baseload
supply problem. Vanadium batteries may be good for that.




> 
> >> > Obviously fossil fuel will run out anyway, so even without climate change
> >> > we'd have to do something.
> >>
> >> Yes, but that something we have to do is very different depending on
> >> whether or not we have to cut CO2 emissions and, more importantly, one
> >> of the path leads to immense human suffering.
> >>
> >
> > The point is whether we do something, or do nothing, energy costs
> > _will_ rise. Yes this _will_ lead to human suffering, either way. We
> > can either choose to pay a bit more now, and have less costs later, or
> > pay less now, and have steeper rises later.
> 
> I agree that energy costs will rise and this is a very serious problem
> that we need to face. If you don't have to worry about CO2 so much,
> it's easier and less painful -- the more expensive fossil fuels
> become, the more economic incentive there will be for renewable
> sources. In this scenario we can retain economic freedom, which is
> highly correlated with prosperity.
> 
> > A 10 or 20% energy cost increase to hasten decarbonisation by a decade
> > will save many billions of dollars of geo-engineering, or evironmental
> > restoration down the track.
> 
> Are you aware of geo-engineering proposals that would be very cheap?
> 

Nothing earth-scale will be cheap, or easy to understand all the
consequences. Ultimately, it will need to come down to a cost-benefit
analysis, factoring in the unknowns as some kind of risk factor.

> > Seems like quite an astute investment to
> > me. Our current conservative government, alas, doesn't seem to think
> > so.
> >
> >> Then there are the geo-engineering ideas that John mentioned. They
> >> appear to be ignored. This makes the entire thing start to smell a bit
> >> of religious moralism.
> >>
> >> Telmo.
> >>
> >
> > They're not being ignored. But they do require a lot more small-scale
> > research to understand their risk-benefit tradeoff.
> 
> I never see this as part of the discussion. I'm very skeptical that
> this is being seriously pursued.
> 

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/oct/15/pacific-iron-fertilisation-geoengineering

amongst many other similar experiments.

I can see why certain environmental movements have put geoengineering
off the table for political reasons, but this doesn't mean it
shouldn't be researched theoretically, and experimented practically on
a small scale so that we better understand the costs, efficacy and
risks if (or more likely when) it becomes a necessary part of the
total solution.

As for carbon pricing, which is the current hot topic in Australia. As
a philosophical point, I am in favour of some sort of carbon pricing,
but I'm not enough of an economist and energy technologist to know the
ideal timing for its introduction, nor the amount of the pricing. The
current fixed price scheme we have amounts to an increase of 10-20% on
fuel costs, which I would have thought to be "too little, too late". I
don't know how the price of $20 per tonne was arrived at. I do know
that the Eurpoean market price is even lower, at around $8 per tonne,
so I can't see economics providing much of a push.

The problem is that when our current newly elected government was in
opposition, they went around denying that there is even a problem. I
wouldn't have minded if they kept the political discussion to whether
a carbon price was appropriate right now, or questioned the economic
modelling used to set the price, or whether it should be set by a
market mechanism. Instead they denied the scientific consensus,
labelled the carbon price as a "tax", and stood on a platform of
"scrap the tax", which will be one of the first bills they will
introduce in parliament in the next week. It makes me mad -
effectively they have shut down much needed debate on how best we should
address climate change, and resorted to slogaineering and ideology.

I just hope that the opposition and independent parties act to block
this behaviour, and hopefully return discussion back to issues of
policy, not science, which is the proper scope for a parliament. But
we shall see... At least what Australia does is unlikely to bugger up
the whole world, we're too small for that.


-- 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 0425 253119 (mobile)
Principal, High Performance Coders
Visiting Professor of Mathematics      hpco...@hpcoders.com.au
University of New South Wales          http://www.hpcoders.com.au
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