O Canada!

Written By: - Date published: 11:20 pm, December 13th, 2011 - 89 comments
Categories: climate change, International - Tags: , ,

Canada is to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol, making it one of 2 nations in the world (along with the US) to be formally outside it1.

The reason?

The protocol “does not represent a way forward for Canada” – as it faces $NZ17.4 billion in fines because its Greenhouse Gas Emissions have risen by one third.

Their current government is blaming the previous administration for signing up.  The real fault is that the current Canadian government has done absolutely nothing to fight Climate Change – it hasn’t taken its international responsibilities seriously.

We will all suffer in the brave new world we’re creating, and if everyone doesn’t pull their weight we all suffer more.

Our own government has not been too clean, green and clever in its approach either.  Rather than taking and enhancing our environmental reputation – growing a green economy while they’re at it – they’ve been more about pushing out environmental standards, watering down the ETS and subsidising polluters.

With the likes of keeping agriculture2 out of the ETS and handing out carbon credits willy-nilly to keep our carbon price artificially and ridiculously low, we, the tax-payers, get to pick up the cost in large Kyoto fines.

In theory this government wants us to be fast followers (because that will help our 100% Pure image…) – but what if those fines get too big?  We now have a precedent, and this government is all about short-term balancing the budget regardless of long-term cost (see: Asset Sales).  They’re also about looking after the environment when the economy can afford it3.

As it’s doing little-to-nothing to stop those fines, will it suddenly decide to leave the Kyoto Protocol to avoid them like Canada?

And what would that do to 100% Pure Branding?

And for the world and its people?

1 Taiwan, Afghanistan, Palestine, Western Sahara, Andorra and The Vatican have yet to formally ratify it.  Somalia has managed.

2 Agriculture makes up 49% of our emissions.

3 As I was told repeatedly by “blue-green” Maggie Barry in debates – forgetting entirely that there is no economy without an environment…

89 comments on “O Canada! ”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    As it’s doing little-to-nothing to stop those fines, will it suddenly decide to leave the Kyoto Protocol to avoid them like Canada?

    I woldn’r be surprised – they’ve gutted the ETS in such a way that the fines will land on the taxpayers. At the same time they’ve gutted the governments revenue by cutting taxes for the rich and they won’t reverse those. The financial economy (local and global) is collapsing and so revenues will continue to fall. Eventually they’ll have to get to a point admitting that they can no longer afford the tax cuts and giving away carbon credits and so they’ll reach for the only ideological solution that they’re comfortable with – dropping out of the Kyoto Protocol.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    Canada is now a petrostate, and masses of oil money lubricates its politics and corporate life.

  3. Ari 3

    Indeed, Viper.

    Honestly, at what point will the world wake up and realise that we need to sanction countries that won’t even try to address climate change? The US and Canada have made their contempt for the rest of the world clear.

    (Although sadly the government still has some of that same contempt given that they supported delaying past the window to prevent disaster)

    • queenstfarmer 3.1

      at what point will the world wake up and realise that we need to sanction countries…

      Who is “we” Ari? The UN – which is HQ’d in New York, to which the US is the single largest funder, and over which the US holds a veto?

  4. clandestino 4

    I can’t see them doing anything but dropping out. Can’t see it being too popular handing over wads of cash in fines for something most NZers seem to not care much about, if polls I’ve seen are anything to go by.

    People need to consume less. That’s the bottom line. It all doesn’t mean anything unless the masses stop driving so often, stop eating too much meat and stop with the plastic throwaway culture. But these are human rights, apparently, so there’ll be riots in the streets before it happens.

  5. Grumpy 5

    what are these fines and who are they paid to?

    Sounds dodgy to me.

    Maybe USA and Canada have made the right choice?

  6. felix 6

    Why do I keep feeling that the whole idea of trading in emissions is a giant scam being played out?

    • rosy 6.1

      I’ve thought that for a long time.

    • RedLogix 6.2

      It was always a complicated mechanism designed to be played. Simple mechanisms, like a straightforward blanket carbon tax, are hard to fiddle.

      Anyone paying attention back when Kyoto was introduced would have been aware that many, many of us ‘warmists’ regarded these forms of ETS’s as very much a second or third best effort to a carbon tax.

      There are after all only four ways governments can implement change:

      1. Regulate. Make a law against something.. Useful in stopping bad things happening, like murder, but less useful in promoting things you would like to happen, like people being nice to each other.

      2. Tax it. Works well if there is an obvious cash flow associated with the activity. For instance it’s why we shifted towards GST tax on consumption, while lowering PAYE tax on earning. Not so good at stopping murder.

      3. Set up an artificial market mechanism. This is what we did with electricity and carbon. Turns out these things can be easily gamed by insiders with privileges. As we can see in so-called ‘free markets’ everywhere, unless they are tightly regulated they simply turn into ‘free to do whatever you please’.

      4. Invest directly in the change you want. This is why governments built railways, ports, schools, hospitals and power systems…. because left to it’s own devices the private sector wasn’t interested in taking on that much risk.

      The solution for climate change possibly involves all four such mechanisms. For instance;

      1. Regulate against new un-sustainable carbon fueled power plant. Set fuel-efficiency and carbon-footprint targets.

      2. A blanket carbon tax starting low, but scheduled to ramp up steeply over a decade.

      3. A market trading in carbon capture eg Soil Carbon (A good link about the limitations of Kyoto as well.)

      4. Directly investing in start-up green tech companies or mitigation methods (eg around agricultural methane)

      ALL of these mechanisms are part of the solution. Getting ideologically locked into just one of them is wrong.

    • queenstfarmer 6.3

      Couldn’t agree more, and the number one promoter of the corrupt scheme is Al Gore.

      • thatguynz 6.3.1

        Perhaps my view is overly simplistic but at the end of the day – follow the money.. Who owns and administers the “exchange” on which carbon credits are traded and thus makes money off every transaction? Irrespective of ones view on global warming, in this particular instance the hype is being subverted to create a new market – in much the same vein as any other exchange traded financial product in existence today.

        • Colonial Viper 6.3.1.1

          unfortunately the bankers will be taking a big fat cut out of this system, and using it to create new generations of financial derivative products. It is one reason why a trading system is far less desirable than a tax and tarriff system.

          • thatguynz 6.3.1.1.1

            Precisely CV. In fact I would posit that the bankers created the system – not simply are taking a big fat cut of it 🙂

        • queenstfarmer 6.3.1.2

          Follow the money indeed:

          Al Gore, the former US vice president, could become the world’s first carbon billionaire after investing heavily in green energy companies… Few people have been as vocal about the urgency of global warming and the need to reinvent the way the world produces and consumes energy as Mr Gore. And few have put as much money behind their advocacy and are as well positioned to profit from this green transformation, if and when it comes.

  7. Jenny 7

    Te Whanau a Apanui might have something to say about deep sea oil drilling off the East Coast of the North Island.

    And the rest of us might have something to say about the destruction of the Deniston Plateau for open cast coal mining. Not to mention dangerous and polluting fracking in Taranaki.

    The Nats may be buying a fight they can’t win if they persist in backing the polluters.

    To save our world and defeat the Nats the Labour Party will have play a big roll in leading these protests.

    • Galeandra 7.1

      ‘the Labour Party will have to play a big roll in leading these protests.’ – I can only assume you meant a big role in supporting the Greens in leading these protests, if Labour’s history as a governing party is anything to go by…….

    • grumpy 7.2

      The Denniston Plateau is hardly pristine. Have you been there????

      • insider 7.2.1

        unlikely. But it’s not about accuracy, it’s about hitting all the right buzz words. She won buzz word bingo in about five lines.

      • John D 7.2.2

        @grumpy. Yes I have been to Denniston. It is a fairly barren place, but has its own beauty. There are lots of great mountain bike tracks up there.The area that Bathhurst are proposing to mine is relatively small. You can’t see much of the open cast operations when you are up there.

        I think the greater impact on the locals will be the trucks rolling through Westport, though no doubt there will be more jobs too.

        • grumpy 7.2.2.1

          Denniston is an area of worked out mines. …..and yes, certainly the Stockton Mine has created huge employment.

          Don’t think there will be many trucks – the coal goes by rail thereby helping keep the rail link open to the coast.

          as for vehicle traffic in Westport – every second vehicle is a Stockton Mine one, must have bought up large at Toyota – the largest selection of brand new Prados anywhere.

  8. One Anonymous Bloke 8

    Felix is right about the elephant in the corner.
    The ETS is a con, pure and simple. Scrap it and tax carbon emissions directly.

    Canada has joined the race to the bottom. I wonder how many lives it will cost.

  9. You have 2 choices Ben

    Stay in Kyoto and try to reduce carbon emission (a joke)
    OR
    Invest in Kiwi Saver and continue to destroy the human friendly environment.

    We can not live on a finite planet and continue to grow enough for retirement scams to pay out.

    Labour proposing to make the scam compulsory shows your friends prefer the latter ….. fuck the future generations.

  10. nadis 10

    Everything about ETS and Kyoto is illogical.

    Firstly – follow the money. Who are the driving forces behind the establishment of carbon credits as a commodity and ETS schemes? That answer won’t sit well with anyone who has misgivings about the role of investment banks. Carbon trading is nw a $100 billion market – guess who controls trading?

    Why choose 1990 as the base year? Pretty much the most fvourable baseline year ever possible for UK, Germany and the rest of Europe.

    Why should Canada be exposed to $15 billion of costs but Saudi Arabia is a net gainer?

    Why give emissions credits to the heaviest polluters? They are not incentivised to reduce emissions unless the price of carbon rises significantly. And if it does Kyoto allows countries to issue more credits to those polluters so they aren’t disadvantaged.

    Who really truly vouches for the provenances of cross border credits – Russia and Eastern Europe countries have been officially cheating let alone individual rogues having a go. By some estimates up to 30% of credits circulating in the European ETS are bogus.

    Look at the price of carbon credits – in a constrained market where demand (vs 1990) is hugely higher we are witnessing an epic crash in the price of carbon.

    Comment above says only 2 countries arent in Kyoto now. Technically that may be true but I would wager there are more than a hundred who have no constraints on what they do in terms of emissions. Look at the top ten list of emitters:

    China
    USA
    European Union
    Indonesia
    India
    Russia
    Brazil
    Japan
    Canada
    Mexico

    How many in that list have either:
    a) reduced total emissions over the last decade?
    b) reduced emissions per capita over the last decade?
    c) are actually subject to real emissions constraints?

    By my count not one of those top 10 countries is an honest player.

    There’d be a lot more buy in to pollution control if we ditched ETS and taxed pollution.

    • John D 10.1

      USA and EU emissions have decreased in the last few years, but China’s have skyrocketed

      • Colonial Viper 10.1.1

        The USA and EU have outsourced their industrial emissions to China. So what?

        • John D 10.1.1.1

          I was commenting on the previous commenters statement about whether emissions had decreased or not.
          However, you raise an interesting point. Carbon taxes, ETS systems, etc, merely move manufacturing industries offshore.
          Unless everyone is onboard with a global treaty (which looks increasingly unlikely), this will always be the case.

    • mik e 10.2

      Get your facts right more than half the states in the US have an ETS as well as a pollution reduction target !

  11. queenstfarmer 11

    This was not unexpected at all, and is a sensible choice for Canada given that it’s only – and much bigger – neighbour was not in the protocol, nor will be any time soon.

    • Colonial Viper 11.1

      You mean it was sensible for Canada because the US is buying billions in tar sand oils from them every week.

      • queenstfarmer 11.1.1

        What difference would that make? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think that simply selling fossil fuels to another country has any Kyoto implications for the seller (putting aside extraction).

  12. John D 12

    Canada has decided to opt out of this flawed system (Kyoto did nothing to deduce emissions) and avoid transferring wealth to other nations.

    Sounds like a good move to me.

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      And they’ve decided to replace this “flawed system” with which more effective system to reduce emissions? Oh, that’s right they haven’t, and they have no intentions to.

      Smart mate.

      • John D 12.1.1

        So you think that transferring wealth from the poor people of developed nations to the rich people of developing nations (which is what Kyoto does) is a good idea?

        Amazing how many of the so-called left support these hair-brained schemes.

        • Colonial Viper 12.1.1.1

          you appear to have no idea of what Kyoto does. A country could easily choose to penalise its wealthy industrialists and emissions generators if it wished to. Or like National, could choose to lump the cost on the general populace and get them to subsidise polluters – something that you like no doubt.

          • John D 12.1.1.1.1

            something that you like no doubt.
            What do you know what I like?

            Kyoto doesn’t work. What’s the point of continuing with a process that isn’t working?

            Besides, if we penalize these evil corporations, then they will pass the costs onto the public

            It truly astounds me that anyone would think anything different.

            • Colonial Viper 12.1.1.1.1.1

              1) You don’t continue to work with something which is failing, you improve it and go to something better. All you’re saying is ditch Kyoto (which is an extemely elegant and well thought out system) and carry on business as usual.

              2) Don’t worry about corporations passing costs on to the public, just tax the money back from the corpoprations and use the revenues to provide social services to the public, and also to nationalise the corporations or build up public alternatives (like Kiwibank).

              You really are unimaginative, just like most right wingers.

              • John D

                You really are unimaginative, just like most right wingers.

                A predictable response; I shall ignore the ad hominem and resist the temptation to resort to troll-esque statements.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Oh that’s noble of you.

                  You were astounded that anyone could think differently to you – and that is the reason why I said you lacked imagination.

                  • John D

                    You were astounded that anyone could think differently to you – and that is the reason why I said you lacked imagination.

                    A previous post I gave quite a long and detailed post on why I thought Thorium was a viable technology.

                    Someone – you I believe – told me that there was “no time” to develop this carbon-neutral technology that could potentially solve all our energy problems.

                    No one, NOT ONE PERSON, came back to me on any of the points I made on Thorium.

                    Who is lacking imagination?

                    • RedLogix

                      The point about thorium JD is that it’s been around for a few decades now. If it was ever going to be a runner the industry would have a solid well-funded prototype program in place, and be well on the well on the way to having a licensed production reactor on the books.

                      But they don’t.

                      And the reason why they don’t is that the nuclear power industry and the nuclear weapons industry have been twinned together from birth. Thorium is useless to the weapons people, therefore it’s of no real interest to the power generation people.

                      I’m not arguing the elegance and technical attractions of thorium… but the simple reality is that unless a major government makes a bold political committment to making thorium work, soon and on a massive scale… it will never contribute anything significant to the solution.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Technofantasists aren’t going to solve the impending energy crunch the global world economy is facing.

                      Unlike a bad Star Trek episode, there is no ‘dilithium’ to be discovered in the nick of time.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Until the first 100MW thorium plant is up and running and operating as part of a national grid, it remains a technofantasy.

                    • John D

                      These global grid ideas are all jolly interesting ( and expand on our existing grid systems) but they do rather assume that the energy from “renewables” is worth distributing and not piss-weak low energy density that requires thousands of hectares of land to be devoted to them.

                    • RedLogix

                      not piss-weak low energy density that requires thousands of hectares of land to be devoted to them.

                      Sarnia Photovoltaic Power Plant near Sarnia, Ontario in Canada, is as of September 2010 the world’s largest photovoltaic plant with 80 MWp.[1]

                      In 2009, Ontario introduced a Feed-in tariff renewable energy payments program paying up to CDN 44.3 cents per kW·h for large ground arrays such as the Sarnia plant.[2] This makes Ontario’s one of the top feed in tariff programs in the world.

                      Phase I (20 MWp) was completed in December 2009[3] and Phase II (60 MWp) in September 2010.[4][5] The project is developed by Enbridge.[6]

                      First Solar developed, engineered, and constructed the facility, and it will operate the Sarnia Solar Project for Enbridge under a long-term contract. Enbridge will sell the power output of the facility to the Ontario Power Authority pursuant to 20-year power purchase agreements under the terms of the Ontario government’s Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program.

                      The plant covers 950 acres (380 ha) and contains about 966,000 square metres (96.6 ha), which is about 1.3 million thin film panels. The expected annual energy yield is about 120,000 MW·h, which if produced in a coal-fired plant would require emission of 39,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarnia_Photovoltaic_Power_Plant

                      Here and now with existing technology in a high latitude country. The ideal areas of the world in the tropics and deserts are even more favourable from a production point of view.

                      As for costs: http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/11/07/362705/krugman-solar-power/

                    • grumpy

                      Amazing!! It’s bad enough when a NZ river or valley gets dammed for power for other parts of the country – but here we are talking about potentially damming up one country to power up another?

                      A use for Afghanistan after all!

                    • RedLogix

                      Australia has vast areas of outback that are ideal for solar arrays. The world’s entire peak power production could likely be produced in an array covering a smallish corner of Aussie that you’d fly over in a 747 inside a few minutes.

                      Consider the Sahara, the deserts in China, New Mexico and so on… all vast areas of desert and only a tiny fraction of which would ever need using.

                      Wind power will likely eventually migrate offshore.

                      Wave/tidal power remains in it’s infancy, but will likely be a useful component.

                      Hydro by contrast is a mature technology that has had the best opportunities already tapped out. I don’t see a lot more installed base.

                      And none of this techno-fix stuff changes the need to the world to simply use less energy…

                    • John D

                      Draco D Bastard

                      Of course, I think your problem is that you think it would look ugly and so you’re just being a NIMBY.

                      A well-titled moniker I must say.

                      Do you realise how much opposition to wind farms there is in Europe?
                      Do you realise how much of the countryside is being chopped up by rent-seeking profiteers who are making short term gains via subsidies, with no consideration for the locals?

                      Great scam, by the way. A reverse Robin Hood tax in effect.

                      Do you realise that there are serious health problems occurring as a result of wind farm placement near to properties? e.g elevated blood pressures, lack of sleep etc.

                      How would you like it if someone built 150m high turbines 800m from your house, so that your house was worthless, and your life a misery?

                      People are being forced from their properties because they cannot live there anymore. Their properties are worthless, and they receive no compensation, and they have to rent somewhere else.

                      Vast tracts of Scotland are being despoiled by these things. Parts of Scotland known for their rugged beauty, littered with concrete and pylons. Killing protected species such as Golden Eagles, Sea Eagles and Kites

                      Just imagine your favorite Craig Potton calendar. Now imagine it where every picture has been industrialised. Funny how you bitch and moan about mining, but when it comes to industrial wind turbines, no one complains. Mining is a short term thing. Wind turbines chop up the landscape for 25+ years.

                      This issue is now reaching breaking point in Europe. Offshore wind is about 20 times more expensive than thermal generation.

                      If “progressives” can think they can wreck the countryside and call anyone who disagrees with them a “NIMBY” then I suggest you have a very big shock in for you.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Do you realise how much opposition to wind farms there is in Europe?

                      They’ve got a choice – no electricity or wind farms. I’m sure they’ll complain more about the no electricity.

                      Do you realise how much of the countryside is being chopped up by rent-seeking profiteers who are making short term gains via subsidies, with no consideration for the locals?

                      Regulation made by the bought and paid for politicians that benefit those who own them – what a surprise.

                      Do you realise that there are serious health problems occurring as a result of wind farm placement near to properties?

                      Got link?

                      Mining is a short term thing. Wind turbines chop up the landscape for 25+ years.

                      IIRC, the open cast mine in the Deniston Plateau is going to be operating for 30+ years, totally remove all the rugged beauty that you suddenly seem to be concerned with, poisoning the air and water and, when the coals gone, we’ll be looking to do the same damage somewhere else.

                      Offshore wind is about 20 times more expensive than thermal generation.

                      But does have the advantage that it’s not going to run out.

                    • RedLogix

                      All of this diatribe against wind power John, not all of it invalid, more or less makes a perfect case for an HVDC super-grid so that these renewable generators, wind , solar whatever… can be located in places where people are affected far less.

                    • insider

                      offshore wind is unneccessary in NZ. Too expensive when there are heaps of opportunities on land.

                  • RedLogix

                    Or more to the point, arguing Kyoto’s limitation is all very well … but precisely what are you arguing for in it’s place?

                    Because you JohnD, are silent on that point. I’d have to assume from your previous position that you would say, “Nothing”.

                    • John D

                      Countries should be free to pursue whatever mechanisms they chose to adopt. Canada is doing this, or at least they say they are.

                      However, I don’t really see why I need to make a statement about an “alternative”.

                      We are discussing Kyoto here.

                    • John D

                      I’m not arguing the elegance and technical attractions of thorium… but the simple reality is that unless a major government makes a bold political committment to making thorium work, soon and on a massive scale… it will never contribute anything significant to the solution.

                      So this would be the same kind of “bold commitment” that is required to “tackle climate change” then? We can “tackle climate change” but not create a technological solution?
                      Hmm let me think about that.

                      BTW, I think China are going to do a pilot Thorium plant soon.

                    • RedLogix

                      It’s the exact parallel of arguing against 1080. Sure you are welcome to make a case against it. But you cannot morally demand it’s use be discontinued, without being willing to propose and support an equally effective alternative.

                      I agree Kyoto, despite a decade or more of development, still has it’s inherent limitations. In particular the 1990 date locked far too many un-developed nations into absurdly low targets… no wonder China and India have refused to play ball.

                      But simply saying “Kyoto is not good enough nor working well” is not an excuse for simply ditching it and doing nothing.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Yeah mate of course nationans can choose the nations that they would like, they chose Kyoto, you can tell because of all the signatures of world leaders on the bottom of the bit of paper.

                      Yes we are discussing Kyoto but don’t be disingenuous by leaving the rest of the debate as a black hole, what options are you suggesting after Kyoto?

                      BTW pilot maybe in the next 10 years, but China has no hope of commercially deploying a grid ready thorium plant of any size within the next 20 years.

                    • RedLogix

                      BTW, I think China are going to do a pilot Thorium plant soon.

                      One miserable pilot plant.. decades too late. You completely misunderstand the sheer scale on which new plants have to brought online in order to make any difference to coal consumption anytime within decades.

                      I don’t have a linky at hand, but I’d guess to have any impact at all on carbon emmissions we should be building hundreds on new gigawatt scale plants per year right now.

                      It will take at least a decade, if not longer, for the IAEA to fully approve and license a new thorium design. One miserable maybe pilot plant in China simply doesn’t cut mustard.

                    • John D

                      RL – Re: your “one miserable pilot plant” comment; I could use exactly the same argument in regard to the Cloncurry solar plant in Australia.

                      Pielke Jr has done the numbers on how many of these will have to be deployed for Australia to meet its renewable targets.

                      So, you are right, it takes a huge commitment to undertake these energy paradigm shifts, and it’s the countries with deep pockets that can do it.

                      The question is, which ones will they back?

                      In response to the alternatives to Kyoto – I don’t really buy into the idea that transnational agreements can work. I propose that technological fixes are what we should be striving for, pretty much on the lines of Lomborg, but look where that got him.

                    • RedLogix

                      The crucial point is not that thorium is a bad idea. It’s just that it’s large-scale implementation is too far off to be useful. If we had started a thorium pilot program 20 years ago we would be having a quite different discussion right now… but as with so many aspects of the carbon debate… real action has been delayed to the point where many technological fixes that might have worked if we had stared on them in time, are now too late to make any real impact.

                      Solar power by contrast, can and has been scaled up very quickly. There simply are not the inherent radiation and engineering issues that make nuclear so very problematic and time consuming. In fact solar power is already more or less break-even on a cost basis with gas. Which of course doesn’t mean that solar is a magic wand either, it too has the inherent storage problem.. what do you do at night-time?

                      What is do-able in a decently short time frame is a global HVDC grid. The idea has been around for decades, but like most good ideas got totally ignored. What we already do know is that solar, wind and wave power renewables are far more reliable than we imagined IF they are spatially diverse. Europe already does very well with wind power simply because they have a grid large enough to connect diverse generation elements across an entire continent. So do the North Americans.

                      A global HVDC grid simply and powerfully extends the concept everywhere… and almost entirely solves the renewables storage problem. And can be done tommorrow with proven technology we already have.

                      I don’t really buy into the idea that transnational agreements can work.

                      They have to. Otherwise you will always get some nation willing to cheat.

                    • John D

                      “A global HVDC”

                      Are you serious? You want to connect a gigantic electric cable from NZ to the rest of the world?

                      How much energy loss, if it were even feasible, would this incur?

                      You, on one hand, claim that Thorium is not possible, and on the other hand claim that wind and solar are “effective” (no references needed, I know it is complete and utter BS) and you want to cable up the entire world.

                      Never mind that every last piece of countryside will be littered with solar panels, industrial wind turbines, and pylons,

                      Holy crap, we are doomed!

                      I hope David Shearer is a bit more realistic about these issues

                    • lprent []

                      For those interested http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-voltage_direct_current

                      The advantage of HVDC is the ability to transmit large amounts of power over long distances with lower capital costs and with lower losses than AC. Depending on voltage level and construction details, losses are quoted as about 3% per 1,000 km.[14] High-voltage direct current transmission allows efficient use of energy sources, remote from load centers.

                      Which is why you see this for Europe with the planned (blue dashed) lines starting to get very long as the shorter lines prove themselves.

                      The various generations of ‘room tempature’ superconductors required for very long cable stretches have been tested. They look promising for the future, but HVDC is available now at loss rates that are quite acceptable given that we are talking about renewable power that requires high capital costs and low production costs.

                    • RedLogix

                      Oddly enough NZ is perhaps the one and only country in the world that doesn’t need to be connected. Besides NZ is also one of the few nations that already has better than 60% renewables.

                      You are right, spanning the Tasman with an HVDC cable simply doesn’t make economic sense now or any time soon.

                      But the rest of the world is surprisingly doable.

                      You, on one hand, claim that Thorium is not possible, and on the other hand claim that wind and solar are “effective” (no references needed, I know it is complete and utter BS) and you want to cable up the entire world.

                      I never claimed thorium reactors were not possible, just not available in a useful timeframe.

                      Do your own homework.. the net is littered with references to the rapidly dropping installed price of various forms of solar power, both pv and thermal.

                      As for cabling up the whole world? What kind of festooning fantasy nightmare have you created for yourself there? The relatively small HVDC link we have in this country is no more intrusive than a standard AC line.

                      A global HVDC supergrid (google it) is very straightforward and acheivable with systems we have right now… not in 20 or 30 years time.

                    • John D

                      Why does that diagram that lprent just put up remind me of the intro to Dad’s Army?

                      Or maybe it’s a diagram showing debt flow?

                    • RedLogix

                      Do you want a grown-up discussion or not?

                    • insider

                      There’s talk about regional HVDC grids out of North Africa to Europe (and Lynn’s diagram supports that) and south to exploit the Sahara’s solar potential- not sure he truly means a ‘global’ grid. But it is only a potential, there is no grand scale solar and we are a long way off having technology and investment of the scale that would support a DC link.

                      And it certainly doesn’t solve the storage problem with renewables. Most renewables will be relatively small scale generation and diverse. You are better using them locally than trying to aggregate them and sending them trans continental via HVDC. The cost and losses with the latter will likely outweigh advantages.

                      There’s been talk here of extending the HVDC grid north to Auckland to more efficiently link the SI hydro system in but it is very expensive as it would have to duplicate the AC system because building conversion stations all along the route to link to local networks would be hugely expensive. DC is mainly good for point to point transmission rather than a networked system as a result.

                    • lprent []

                      DC is mainly good for point to point transmission rather than a networked system as a result.

                      I think that is the point. It is best used as a long distance transmission system rather than a network system.

                      Massive outlay of capital cost, but once it is in place the cost is largely in the maintaining rectifiers at either end – which isn’t that bad. If it allows you to transport unwanted power long distances from one place to another where it is wanted than you’re getting the effect that has been happening in Texas and the southern US and with the windfarms in the Baltic with southern Germany – cheaper power.

                      Ummm simple and probably unrealistic example with a renewable. A HVDC line between Auckland and Sydney would be something like 2200kms. Say that loses 10%. The tidal time difference between the two cities is about an hour. That means that their dead time from tidal is different in both countries. So ship power at the appropriate times and you need less other power to cover the dead hole. Of course the aussies can do the same with their west coast as well. Effectively what is being networked is the gravitational power of the moon.

                      Same kinds of things with wind power, solar power, or whatever. The current problems with renewables is that of unpredictability and storage. That is less of a problem when you widen scope between where the power is generated and where it is consumed. The total amount of renewable power from solar or wind or tidal worldwide is pretty much a constant and cheap generation hour by hour. The problem is to build large enough power grids to transport renewable cheap power from where it is currently being generated to where it is being consumed. Losing 50% of the power doesn’t matter much when you were going to lose 100% anyway (and the pricing models with renewable power have been fascinating examples of that in Texas and Denmark).

                      The renewable sources there aren’t exactly small sources either. They are pretty damn big in aggregate.

                      It isn’t even an engineering problem. It is less of a problem than dropping fibre into the ocean with the short segments that requires.

                    • RedLogix

                      The point is that the current generations of HVDC technology… quite unlike the first generation of mercury arc rectifier based systems… are exceedingly reliable, remarkably efficient and increasingly cost-effective.

                      The crucial advantage of such a super-grid is that is would span multiple time zones, allowing diverse forms of solar, wind and wave energy to be linked into a single reliable supply.

                      We have the technology….now.

                      The investement to implement a global scale super-grid within say a decade is large, but still only a tiny fraction of global GDP. The only limitation is political….as usual.

                      DC is mainly good for point to point transmission rather than a networked system as a result.

                      Agreed absolutely. But that is exactly how the global HVDC supergrid would work. It would essentially act as another grid layer over and above the existing national AC grids.

                      In fact that’s how it works in this country right now, linking two separate AC grids in the NI and SI.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      But it is only a potential, there is no grand scale solar and we are a long way off having technology and investment of the scale that would support a DC link.

                      Its 99% existing and proven technology, and it could be built for a tiny fraction of the 500B euro bailout fund they were trying to put together a week ago.

                      Far more achievable than thorium reactors.

                    • insider

                      @ red

                      I question if it would be that simple in reality. What you are saying is you have distributed renewable generation which almost by definition will be at fairly low MW linked by an AC network into DC hubs for interregional/intercontinental distribution of excess generation (and that excess is a big assumption). Seems highly complex and so more prone to unreliability with the intermittency and AC/DC changes, as well as very very expensive. We don’t have anything like that grid complexity now let alone the underlying renewable generation capacity, so to say we could do it now seems a bit like CV’s dilithium analogy.

                      It could be quite inefficient – it may be better using excess generation locally rather than aggregating over a large area in order to get enough for a DC connection. I can’t see say tidal power generating the scale of current needed to make a truly long range DC cable worthwhile any time soon (given there is no real proven reliable and scaleable tidal power in existence).

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      In fact solar power is already more or less break-even on a cost basis with gas.

                      Solar Electricity Costs

                      In 2013, solar residential prices without incentives are expected to reach “parity” with conventional utility prices.

                      And when you consider that fossil fuelled power will be going up in price moving to solar is getting better and better.

                      Which of course doesn’t mean that solar is a magic wand either, it too has the inherent storage problem.. what do you do at night-time?

                      It’s being worked on. Like the idea of the global HVDC grid as well. Done properly it would mean that all voltages around the world would become standardised making things even cheaper.

                      Never mind that every last piece of countryside will be littered with solar panels, industrial wind turbines, and pylons,

                      Nope. Best place for wind turbines is actually out at sea as the wind isn’t as turbulent as what you get over land – just takes a bit more R&D. Also, the land under wind turbines can still be used for things like farming. Pylons are actually a bad idea and they’re only used because an underground network is more expensive to install.

                      Of course, I think your problem is that you think it would look ugly and so you’re just being a NIMBY.

                      There’s been talk here of extending the HVDC grid north to Auckland to more efficiently link the SI hydro system in but it is very expensive as it would have to duplicate the AC system…

                      Why do we maintain AC into the home? Last time I looked most of the appliances in the home used DC and had an inbuilt Wheatstone bridge and regulator. IMO, the only reason why we aren’t shifting to a full DC grid is because the politicians are too scared about the backlash from having to change those last few appliances to DC.

                      We don’t have anything like that grid complexity now…

                      Actually, the US and the EU already do.

                    • RedLogix

                      @insider

                      It could be quite inefficient

                      No that’s the whole point of HVDC… it’s highly efficient because:

                      1. Typically they run at about 500kV, or more. That means the currents are relatively low and the resistive losses (proportional to the square of the current) are much lower.

                      2. The DC voltage means no capacitive AC coupled currents to ground. This eliminates a large part the reactive (or non-power carrying) component of current that is always present on an AC system. These currents create losses of their own in an AC system, entirely absent in a DC one.

                      3. For similar, but rather more complex to explain reasons, DC systems are much more stable to operate and can be run a lot closer to their thermal capacity than an equivalently rated AC system.

                      We don’t have anything like that grid complexity now let alone the underlying renewable generation capacity,

                      No-one invests in enormous amounts of peak renewable energy right now… mainly because right now carbon based electricity still undercuts it.

                      But IF carbon was properly priced for its full climate change externality (which is what the deniers have been striving against all along…follow the money) then the next hurdle would be the storage problem.

                      As DtB points out there are a number of promising approaches to this problem, but all of them are easier to solve if you spread the generation/demand profiles widely enough. All distributed generation schemes work much better with a grid tie-in.

                      Put this another way. Your argument about complexity and unnecessary cost can equally be applied to the existing continental wide grid systems… if we have applied your logic we would never have built them either.

                      And DtB makes a valid point. If we were to build an entire new power system from scratch today, with the technology we now have… we might well go with DC.

                    • insider

                      re DC to the home – that war was fought and lost years ago. Changing local networks would be very expensive compared to the gain.

                      But we aer really talking about long distance HVDC. The issue there is it needs large MW sources to be worthwhile because you don’t want lots of nodes that you’d get with DG. I don’t agree we have the generation technologies that make that doable and reliable in the near term. Some places will be able to do huge solar arrays with high hundreds to thousands of MW that will make thousands of km DC links viable. But not yet.

                      The efficiency issue is not in DC transmission, it is the gathering of small distributed generation MW via the local AC grid into large enough quantities to support the DC interconnects. That’s as much an economic efficiency issue as electrical. We see that problem in NZ where pricing and policy settings encourage generation some distance from load when it may be ‘better’ to have it closer.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Changing local networks would be very expensive compared to the gain.

                      Considering the extra unnecessary losses that are inherent in AC grids I think that we’ll be looking at changing in the next few years anyway. We’ll need the extra efficiency. Yes, it’ll be expensive but we’ll still need to do it.

                      The efficiency issue is not in DC transmission, it is the gathering of small distributed generation MW via the local AC grid into large enough quantities to support the DC interconnects.

                      The distributed generation would, I suspect, be connected via a DC grid and not across the AC grid. Which actually makes shifting to a total DC grid even more viable.

                    • insider

                      Draco

                      I think you need to discount local network DC and grids as the DC losses benefit is at very high voltages. At low voltages DC is much worse, which is one reason for AC being chosen 130 years ago. Nothing has changed AFAIK. Also a note on terminology, I tend to think of grids as serving a nation or large region with HV power from power stations, local networks as being city/suburban and fed by ‘the grid’ – like highways vs local suburban roads. I think we are talking past each other slightly by using slightly different terminology.

                      The reason you give of most things being DC in the home is not relevant because you’d still have to step down voltages just as you do now and that is apparantly much easier to do with AC – your laptop won’t run on direct fed 110V DC. Also the network has to work for a range of applications – some customers want higher voltages than others. AC can deal with that variety much better through use of transformers.

                      Long distance DC is cheap in wiring terms but expensive in converter stations so it is not the best way to run a local grid with lots of connection points. The tipping point is in the low hundreds of km, so no good for supplying a citywide network but fine for trunking large volumes. Similar to the trains v cars argument.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      At low voltages DC is much worse, which is one reason for AC being chosen 130 years ago.

                      Actually, it’s exactly the same. The reason why AC was chosen was because, at the technological level at the time, it was easier to step AC down from high values to low values. This no longer applies as the transformer has been replaced by the transistor.

                      …your laptop won’t run on direct fed 110V DC.

                      No but you could plug the 110v DC into the laptops PSU – possibly the same one that presently takes 110v AC. I haven’t seen a transformer based PSU for a long time.

                      And why we’d want to go to full DC is because of transmission losses that do not occur with direct current.

                    • insider

                      When has the transformer been replaced by the transistor? Do you mean thyristor? Even if you did it still doesn’t make sense as they haven’t.

                      Transmission losses benefits for DC refer to long distance high voltage lines, whcih I don’t dispute. But DC will not be practical for local distribution to the home. The limited ability to step down DC current with something simple like a transformer means everything has to run at the same voltage or you have multiple plugs through your house. That seems overcomplicated.

                      Note You missed the following quote in your link “However, total losses in systems using high-voltage transmission and transformers to reduce the voltage [ie AC] are very much lower than DC transmission at working voltage.”

                    • RedLogix

                      The perils of blogging when your not sure what technical page everyone is on. Just for the record I do have a degree in Electrical Engineering and once upon a time designed switched mode power supplies for a living… although I’ve moved more into process and software design the last 25 yrs. So I’m way rusty and not claiming up to date expertise.

                      But in essence both of you make valid points. AC distribution became the norm mainly because the AC transformer was such a low-cost and hugely reliable way of changing voltages… and unless you can step-up and step-down the voltage at the required locations the grid systems as we know it today would be impossibly lossy. So yes AC did have a very real and valid reason for being the original choice. And no-one is in any rush to change from it in the immediate future. Far too much sunk cost to consider abandoning it.

                      However in the last two decades power electronics has advanced rapidly, and continues to advance. What was impossibly expensive or unreliable 30 years ago is now a commonplace. Just last week I commissioned a 1 MW drive for a large pumpset… easy-peasy and done by lunchtime. When I was a boy that was unthinkable.

                      The argument DtB is making is that if the envelop of what is possible in power electronics continues to advance as it has been, then quite soon the balance may well tip in favour of DC.

                      You may also want to consider that already many homes that have their own Off the Grid solar/wind systems are often wired for low voltage DC, usually 24 or 48v DC. There are many advantages in doing so. They only use AC if there is a grid-tie inverter involved.

                      But all this is a distraction from the original point; which is that there are many existing technology solutions that can mitigate the climate/carbon challenge we face. No single one of them is a magic wand. Ultimately we also have to Power Down and transition to Permaculture; in that our recently banned AFKTT is still correct.

                      My final thought is this. We have solutions, we already know some of the most important things we should and already could be doing to wean ourselves off carbon. The real problem is not quibbling over technology… leave that to the real experts (not me either).

                      The real problem is purely political… because despite all our knowledge… we have obdurately refused to act.

                      Gargh.. this thread has gotten way too deep to keep track of the reply point!!!

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      When has the transformer been replaced by the transistor?

                      In an AC system you would use transformers. In a DC system you would use transistors.

                      The limited ability to step down DC current with something…

                      That’s just it – it’s not limited. Not as simple as a transformer but probably more efficient and possibly cheaper.

                      Note You missed the following quote in your link “However, total losses in systems using high-voltage transmission and transformers to reduce the voltage [ie AC] are very much lower than DC transmission at working voltage.”

                      And you’re missing the point. The main transmission would still be at high voltage and then use semi-conductor based regulators to step down to the working voltage. Current losses on the line would be the same but the added losses of AC would be removed.

  13. insider 13

    Exactly who was going to fine Canada and how were those fines going to be collected and under what authority?

  14. ChrisH 14

    Ah well. Germany’s Kyoto response is quite different, namely “Smart Technology Forcing,” see this presentation here from a top official who is, of course, a Prof. Dr. as well: http://www.bridgingthegap.si/pdf/Sustainable%20consumption%20and%20production/Martin%20Janicke%20THE%20POLICY%20DESIGN%20OF%20ENVIRONMENTAL%20INNOVATION%20AND%20SUSTAINABLE%20PRODUCTION.pdf . See, further, http://www.polsoz.fu-berlin.de/en/polwiss/forschung/systeme/ffu/bst/veranstaltungsarchiv/berlinsustainabilitytalk3.html . The plan is that by pushing ahead with such technology while others argue about decimal points, Germany will leave the “dinosaurs” behind and thus lock in a new generation of high-technology capital-good exports. Vorsprung durch technik, anyone?

  15. prism 15

    3 As I was told repeatedly by “blue-green” Maggie Barry in debates – forgetting entirely that there is no economy without an environment…

    It is interesting to see the trend to the right from radionz personnel yet Radionz are always being accused by the RWNJ of a left bias. Maggie Barry and Richard Griffin for two.

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