Rudd’s epic fail at greenhouse gas emissions mitigation.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says Australia will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent of 2000 levels by 2020.

That’s it. 5 per cent from 2000 levels.

Rudd also says Australia “could make a cut of up to 15 per cent if other countries also sign up to stronger reductions”; but that’s just the old “But China’s not doing the same – so we don’t have to do anything” bullshit.

The 5 per cent cut is likely to anger the Greens and environmental groups…

Damn right… check out the vitriol flying around in the comments on the above news piece.

“No responsible leadership anywhere in the world can ignore the elephant in the room, an elephant of this proportion.”


Rudd’s announcement doesn’t come as a big surprise. Why haven’t more significant reductions been announced? Simple, really.

Because significant reductions in anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions can’t be done under current Labor government attitudes.

Where the government’s idea of an ETS means free permits for coal-fired electricity generators, free handouts of money to coal-fired electricity generators and other highly emissions intensive generators, where the electricity generators are just passing the full cost of ETS straight onto the consumers anyway, the government is “committed to coal”* and the government continues to hand out money to fictitious “clean coal”, whilst maintaining a complete dogma against nuclear energy, any significant mitigation of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions can’t be done.

It cannot be done in keeping with the Rudd government’s attitudes. That’s why it’s not being announced.

* Someone in the ranks of the ALP has clearly been wise enough to pull down the “Howard (boo! hiss!) committed to nuclear (oh noes!) – Labor: Committed to Coal” webpage.

If an industry produces over 2,000 tonnes of emissions per million dollars of revenue or 6,000 tonnes of emissions in the value it adds to a product it is eligible for 90 per cent of free permits.

If it produces over 1,000 tonnes of emissions per million dollars of revenue or 3,000 tonnes of emissions in the value it adds to a produce it is eligible for 60 per cent of free permits.

The Electricity Sector Adjustment Scheme will also provide $3.9 billion assistance to coal fired power generators over the next five years.

Assistance for what, exactly?

The white paper estimates that with a carbon price of $25 per tonne, electricity is expected to increase by around $4 per week, with a rise in gas prices of around $2.

Not bloody happy.

Fossil-fuel burning electricity generators and other high-emissions just continue emitting the same as usual, and on the off chance they’re actually expected to pay for emissions permits, the costs just go to the customers, so there’s absolutely no disincentive applied to high-emissions technology at all, which defeats the entire point of the exercise.

Meanwhile, Rudd tries to justify this fiasco with ridiculous, trivially small amounts of money being earmarked for mendacious, horrendously expensive “renewable energy” projects which generate completely insignificant amounts of energy, and which are backed up by some extremely dubious numbers.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has laid the ground work for tomorrow’s carbon pollution reduction scheme announcement by fast-tracking investment in solar and renewable energy.

The Federal Government’s $500 million renewable energy fund will be delivered over the next 18 months rather than the six years, as previously announced.

Mr Rudd made the announcement today at a solar farm at Windorah in Queensland’s far south-west.

500 million dollars? That’s it!? No matter what type of new, clean technology you’re building – solar, wind, nuclear, geothermal, whatever – that’s a pathetically small amount of energy. That’s nothing. You won’t even get close to seeing one coal-fired power station replaced for that amount of money.

Still… that’s enough money to purchase at least a dozen Hyperion Power Modules… but maybe that’s just wishful thinking… (Wishful thinking about the ALP’s politics, I mean… not wishful thinking about Hyperion’s product.)

Now… let’s consider this solar farm at Windorah in Queensland.

The Windorah solar farm is a small concentrating-solar-photovoltaic plant, consisting of five collector dishes, each of which “generates approximately 35 kW of electricity, depending on season, time of day and cloud cover.”
The solar farm is expected to generate about 360,000 kilowatt hours each year. If each of the five dishes has a nameplate capacity of 35 kW, and the system produces a total energy output of 360 megawatt-hours per year, then that corresponds to a capacity factor of 23 percent, so that makes perfect sense, for a solar photovoltaic installation.

The installation costs 4.5 million dollars – to generate 360 MWh per year. Suppose it has an operational lifetime of 50 years.

That’s a construction cost, then, of 25 cents per kWh generated over the plant’s lifetime.

25 cents per kWh? Nobody is going to pay that much for electricity! Keep in mind that that’s just the construction cost alone. At that price, if you scaled it up to an energy output on the same scale as a nuclear power plant or Loy Yang style coal-fired plant, the total cost would be an enormous 217 billion dollars.

A typical new nuclear power plant, say, with a pair of AP1000 reactors each with a nameplate capacity of 1100 MW, operating with a 90% capacity factor, will generate 17.4 billion kWh per year.
How much would it cost to construct? Well, to be extra conservative, we might say, say, on the order of 15 billion dollars.

That’s a construction cost, then, of 1.73 cents per kWh generated over the plant’s lifetime.

The four billion dollars Rudd is handing to the poor, disadvantaged coal generation industry (for no actual gain) would be very handy to kick off the construction of nuclear power in Australia.

These little solar or wind projects are political stunts – nothing more. They’re obscenely expensive, and they do absolutely nothing to displace coal-fired generation.

In 2007, the brown-coal-fired Loy Yang power station in Victoria generated a net electrical energy output, sent to the grid, of 14,968 GWh. (and in doing so, released just under 20 million tonnes of carbon dioxide up the chimney.)

Hence, the wonderful Windorah solar power station promoted by Rudd as the infallible solution to all our greenhouse worries generates… 0.0024 percent of one single coal-fired power station.
You just need to build 41,578 of them, and then you can close down one Loy Yang.

A nuclear power station, subject to the parameters as I’ve elucidated above, generates 116% of the annual energy output from Loy Yang – so, it’s a 1 to 1 correspondence – you drop in the single replacement plant to replace the coal-burner, perhaps ideally on the same site.

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