‘Carbon Price’ Won’t Reduce Emissions from Power Stations

THE Australian government has announced plans to introduce a carbon price scheme forcing industry to buy a permit for each tonne of carbon dioxide emitted from July 1, 2012.  A trading system, with the carbon permit price set on a market linked to other schemes overseas, could follow in three to five years.  But the scheme is unlikely to achieve a reduction in carbon emissions from coal fired power stations.  Tony explains:

The Carbon Price and Coal-Fired Power:  A Note from Tony

We are being told that the introduction of this ‘Carbon Price’ will drive down the emissions of the offending greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide.

When those politicians stand at the podium and tell you this, it indicates only that they have no idea whatsoever of how electrical power is generated.

When I try and explain that what they say is incorrect, that is somehow perceived as my taking a political standpoint by disagreeing with the politics of either the Labor Government who are introducing this, or The Australian Greens Party, who are in fact driving the Labor Government on this matter.

To effectively understand what effect a ‘price on carbon’ will have on coal fired power generation, you need to understand how a coal fired power plant produces its electrical power, and once you can visualise this, then it becomes patently obvious that just placing a price on those emissions will not lower those emissions by any amount whatsoever.

Consider the electrical power that, er, ‘comes out of the hole in the wall’ at your house. It’s a regulated 240 Volts at 50 Hertz, (HZ) or 50 cycles per second, and that second part is what I want you to keep in mind here.

Here comes some pretty basic electrical theory here.

If you pass a wire capable of carrying an electrical current through a magnetic field, a small flow of electrons will occur in that wire. This flow of electrons is the flow of electrical current.
It then stands to reason that if the magnetic field was much larger, that current flow would be larger. The same applies for the wire. If there were a lot of wires, then the current flow would be larger. The same also applies for the speed at which those wires are passed through that magnetic field. The faster they are moved, then that current flow would be larger.

This is how electrical power is generate with a, well, generator, in the most basic of terms.

Let’s then scale it up.

Huge electromagnets are placed around a shaft. They are heavy and are made out of materials that best conduct high magnetic fields, so it’s not just the old iron magnets you remember from school. To further increase this magnetic field, these magnetic ‘cores’ have heavy gauge wire wrapped around them, and a current is then passed through these wires. This then intensifies that magnetic field, a classic electromagnet. To even further enhance that magnetic field, those cores can also be supercooled, as extreme cold also increases and intensifies that magnetic field.
Each wire wound magnetic core can be anything up to 6 feet in length. This ‘core’ is then attached to the shaft. Around that shaft there are numerous of these cores, an even number, (sometimes as many as 16 of them) because the same core directly opposite is the South Pole of the North Pole on the direct opposite side.   These ‘cores’ are arranged around the shaft with respect to their magnetic polar orientation, North South North South etcetera.

Then, along that shaft other assemblies of these cores are placed. This final assembly of all those magnetic cores is called the rotor, and for a large scale generator, this rotor can be up around 80 metres in length.

You can see how the weight has become pretty substantial now. A large scale generator can weigh anything up to 1300 tons, and read that again, 1300 tons. That’s around 900 Toyota Land Cruisers.

The rotor, well, rotates.

In the housing around that rotor are wrapped huge amounts of wire arranged so that the rotating magnetic field, induces a current flow in them. This is the stator, and that is where the power that is eventually transmitted is generated.

Back to the rotor.

That immense weight now rotates at high speed inducing the current flow into the stator. That speed is 3,000 RPM, and just consider that for a minute 3,000 RPM. That’s 50 rotations every second, or 50 cycles per second, or 50 Hertz.

Sound familiar?

That’s the electrical power that ‘comes out of the hole in the wall’ at your home.

That 3,000 RPM has to be maintained and maintained exactly. It cannot go up or down from that speed at all, because the electrical power it supplies must be at that exact regulated frequency, 50Hz.

So now, you must drive this 1300 tons at that 3000 RPM. That’s 1300 tons rotating 50 times a second.

Snap your fingers and then snap them again. 1300 tons and 50 rotations.

Consider the generator (really an alternator) in your car. It produces all the electrical power your car needs. It is driven by a fanbelt attached to your car’s engine. The engine drives the generator.

The same applies here.

To drive that huge generator, a huge turbine is needed. This is a multi-stage turbine. It’s sort of similar to a jet engine turbine, with many blades around the shaft, and many rows of blades, and there are three separate stages of many rows of many blades, those rows of blades diminishing in size with the length of each stage.

This huge turbine can be anything up to 300 metres in length.

That huge weight of the generator is added to by the weight of the turbine as well.

To drive that turbine, in this case, the most efficient way is by using high pressure and consequently very high temperature steam.

That steam is ‘generated’ in a huge boiler.

The high pressure steam drives stage one. Some of the steam is then diverted straight back to the boiler, and the remainder goes to stage two, where again some is diverted back to the boiler, and the remainder to stage three, and again, some steam is diverted back to the boiler, and the remainder goes to the pond under the huge cooling towers where you see that ‘white stuff’ rising from the top, that being just cooling steam. This is the classic three stage steam turbine.

To generate that immense requirement of steam, a supercritical furnace is required to generate the immense heat required to make that steam.

This furnace uses coal as the fuel.

Crushed coal is fed into the furnace, and here’s where people have no concept of the amounts needed for a large scale coal fired power plant.

On this scale, for around a 2,000 MegaWatt (MW) plant, and they would typically have anything from 2 to 4 generators, some more, depending upon the size of the generator, the amount of power it can produce.

The amount of coal needed for something like this is around 6 million tons per annum, and work that out. It comes to around one ton of crushed coal being burned every five seconds.

Now, each ton of coal produces 2.86 tons of CO2, and that’s not complex science, but basic first year high school science.

Each atom of carbon combines (in the furnace) with two atoms of oxygen (CO2) and oxygen is slightly heavier than carbon, virtually tripling its weight, and as coal is basically all carbon with other elements in it as well, then that multiplier is in fact 2.86.

So, 6 million tons of coal burned each year produces 17.2 million tons of CO2, that direct target of this proposed ‘carbon price’.

The ‘people’ who operate the plant have to buy that steaming coal. That’s at around a cost of $100 per ton, so you can see that their costs just for the fuel are quite high. That price varies.

Hence, they operate the plant as ‘leanly’ as possible with the coal they consume, knowing exactly how much is needed to keep the required amount of steam up to the turbine enough to keep driving that generator at the exact 3000 RPM.

Because of the immense weight, a generator like this cannot easily run up and down in speed, well, it has to remain exactly at that 3000 RPM anyway.

The only time it runs down is for scheduled maintenance, one generator at a time, so the furnaces still need to be fed with coal to keep the others running. Before running it down, that power it provides to the grid is turned off, and then the generator runs down, never completely stopping as that immense weight could bend the shaft, making the generator then inoperable.
When that power is removed from the grid, other plants, mainly natural gas fired plants have to run up to provide the power that has now been removed from the grid.

So, that amount of coal that the plant burns is exactly regulated, because the plant must run at such exact tolerances.

So, when a politician stands at the podium and tells you that placing this ‘price on carbon’ will drive down emissions like those from these coal fired power plants, this shows me specifically that they have no concept whatsoever about how a plant of this nature works.

The plant is either running at its full production or it is not running at all. There is no middle ground. They cannot consume less coal, hence emit less CO2.

The introduction of this ‘price on carbon’ in this case is the most blatant grab for money from a target that cannot reduce what it emits, at any time.

Do not allow yourself to be taken in by warm and fluffy statements that this is for the good of the environment, or that imposing this ‘price on carbon’ will drive those emissions down, because it will not.

These politicians seeking to introduce this can only be one of two things.   They are either lying outright, or they are hopelessly misinformed. It has to be one or the other, and either way it proves conclusively that they are misleading the public they represent.

When you understand how a plant of this nature works, then it becomes patently obvious that this is only about one thing.

The money.

This plant must burn 6 million tons of coal to operate at its capacity of delivery of electrical power. That coal consumption produces 17.2 million tons of CO2. This large scale plant, at Ross Garnaut’s figure of $26 per ton, will now see an increase on their bottom line of almost $450 million per year.

They cannot burn less coal.

They either pay that $450 million extra, or stop completely, and if they pay that extra, that will then be passed directly down to consumers.

There are 8 of these large scale plants in Australia, and 15 medium sized plants as well. All of them burn an exact required amount of coal, because the electricity they provide just has to be there.

What I have said here has nothing whatsoever to do with a political point of view.

These are incontrovertible facts, that even when explained like this, they will still be called into question by people with a political agenda. 


To read more from Tony scroll and click here: http://jennifermarohasy.com/blog/author/tony/

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95 Responses to ‘Carbon Price’ Won’t Reduce Emissions from Power Stations

  1. Neville February 25, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    Tony you obviously understand more about this than I, but I’ve always known that it is difficult to shut down one of these plants and then restart again.

    So what you are saying is that at nearly half a billion dollars per plant increase ( $26/ tonne) then this will cost many billions of dollars per year more just to pay for our existing generating capacity in Australia?

    But everyone should understand also the cost to replace these plants with hopelessly inefficient solar and wind farms that at times are totally unreliable.

    But this is a total lie coupled with hypocrisy because we are increasing our exports of coal overseas every year and now trying to reduce co2 emissions at home.

    So we sell more coal for increased co2 emissions in China etc and at the same time slug our industries and consumers at home with higher and higher costs for electricity, presumably to reduce our emissions.

    This is total madness and proves we are led by donkeys, liars and fraudsters.
    The chief liar should change her name to Juliar because she stated several times during last years election campaign that there would be no carbon tax, particularly in the last week.

    While we help the developing nations to increase emissions we force our industries at home to bear the burden and higher cost of energy so that they become less efficient and will find it harder to employ Aussies into the future.

    This must mean more of our jobs and industries will be exported overseas.

  2. A C of Adelaide February 25, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    Nice one Tony,
    You might add the “spinning reserve” that is required to cover for every wind turbine and solar panel in case the wind drops or a cloud drifts past. Denmark’s per capita CO2 output is rising because of the number of wind farms it has. Go figure.
    You might also add that China has the stated policy of increasisng its electricity grid by the same size as Australia’s grid – every year for the next 25 years.
    They are going to need it to cover for the de-carbonising of the western economies.
    Deuche Wellar ran a story the other day on VW creating 40,000 jobs in China in the next ten years.


  3. A C of Adelaide February 25, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    Just a brief comment to Neville too – one of the problems with these turbines is thermal inertia. If you heat them up or cool them down too quickly, the thermal gradients can distort the turbine blades. They just have to keep running.

  4. TonyfromOz February 25, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    Difficult to shut down is not the word.
    Months of planning just for scheduled maintenance is required.
    A typical large coal fired plant will have between two and eight of these large generators. Any scheduled maintenance is staggered so that plant will only close one generator.
    The power that one generator is producing has to be turned off first, and to achieve that, then the power needs to be replaced, and another plant, typically a natural gas fired plant, these specifically designed to in fact be able to run up and down in speed quickly needs to be brought on line run up, turned on and regulated.
    Only then can the power be turned off at the coal fired plant’s generator. That turbine runs down slowly, helping with the braking the generator’s speed till it slows to a few revs and then any work can be carried out. This slow deceleration is because of the immense inertia from such a huge weight revolving at such a high speed.
    The once the work is completed, the start up procedure starts.
    Get the furnace back to maximum operating temperature, get the steam back up to its maximum, set the turbine speeding up process driving the generator back up to speed very slowly, again because of the huge inertia involved with something like this.
    Also, it takes more coal to fire the thing up and get it back to speed than it does at normal operating speed.
    So, it actually emits less CO2 at normal operating speed than it does running it up and down.

    Now , remember I mentioned that Australia has 8 large plants of this scale.
    China is currently bringing one of these ‘monsters’ on line every seven days.
    Not just planning them, but bringing them on line finished.
    One every seven days.
    The same is happening on a lesser scale in India as well.

    This has nothing whatsoever to do with China being a so called environmental ‘vandal’ but that, and wait for this, nearly one billion Chinese have NO electrical power at the residential level that we have here in Australia.
    As part of China’s expansion and industrialisation, that power they need currently to do this is also being made available at that residential level.
    Here in Australia, 38% of the total electrical power being generated goes to the residential sector, 37% to Commerce and 24% to the Industrial sector.
    In China, barely 8% of electrical power goes to that residential sector.

    One new plant every seven days is the headline thing though.


  5. TonyfromOz February 25, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

    Another thing that is quite often misinterpreted is in fact that situation in China.
    All their advancements and Industrialisation has been happening only over recent years.
    Currently, right now, they have taken the lead in virtually all forms of electrical power generation, and they now lead in the number of coal fired plants, wind plants solar plant Natural gas fired plants, and especially Hydro plants. The only area where they lag is in the number of nuclear power plants, but that will be a thing of the past quite soon as well.

    As a result of all this expansion in power generation, I want you to consider this.
    China currently generates the Maximum amount of Power on the Planet, only recently overtaking the U.S.

    Refer this now to Australia.

    Currently China generates 30 times the power that Australia does.
    China’s population is 725 times that of Australia.

    See that anomaly.

    Also, now can you see that, gee, Australia is one the largest ‘per capita’ CO2 emitters on the Planet.

    It’s an easy thing to say, and then, all of a sudden, someone puts it into context.

    That ‘per capita’ emissions furphy is just that, a furphy, and one of the most blatant of misrepresentations.


  6. Mick In The Hils February 25, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    Is there a way that Tony’s article could be made into a slideshow and presented at youth media outlets, universities, etc?

    Just the engineering and operational facts, not his (obvious) conclusions that pollies pushing reductions in coal consumption are off with the fairies.

    People can reach these conclusions themselves from the info laid out before them.

    Maybe, just maybe, many of the naieve gen-x/y/z’s will comprehend, and start thinking for themselves (at last).

    And we can start having a mature, rational approach to finding sustainable, affordable alternative energy options to investigate.

  7. Larry Fields February 25, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

    There are several categories of environmentalists, which include, but are not limited to, the following:
    •the 1960s variety of conservationists and preservationists (including yours truly), who emphasize things like national forests, national parks, and wilderness areas in the US, as well as endangered species worldwide;
    •NIMBYs, who only care about the market values of their houses;
    •clueless guys, who labor under the illusion that carrying the environmental banner will help them get laid;
    •fast-buck artists, like Al Gore;
    •latter-day Commies, who look upon CAGW as a useful ploy for transferring wealth from the greedy evil Capitalist countries to corrupt dictatorships in the developing countries (and who have conveniently forgotten about the abysmal environmental record of the old Soviet bloc countries);
    •misanthropes, who believe that Nature is always good, and that people are usually bad;
    •and screaming hordes of useful idiots, who desperately need to believe in a glorious cause, in order to give meaning to their empty lives.

    My impression, as a American participant of this blog, is that the misanthropic variety of Australian Greens is more out-of-the-closet than its Merkin counterpart. I saw some extraordinarily callous Greenie remarks in the 2009 Bushfires threads of this blog.

    Misanthropic Greenies view most types of economic sabotage as being worthwhile. Why? First, because it puts those non-Green humans in their proper place. Second, because increased economic hardship in developed countries tends to decrease overall human birth rates (one feature of the Demographic Transition), which eases the pressure on fragile ecosystems, in the long term.

    Misanthropic Greenies (MGs) embrace the CAGW crusade for at least two reasons. First, because they WANT to believe that this secular religion is true, i.e. that we humans are to blame for the warming of the 1980s and 1990s. Second, because the proposed ‘solutions’ to CAGW–emissions trading schemes, carbon taxes, and the like–are forms of economic sabotage. I’ll bet that the smarter MGs laugh up their sleeves, whenever they think about all of the poor schlemiels that they’ve persuaded to believe in the myth of ‘Green Jobs’.

  8. el gordo February 25, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

    Good read, Tony.

    ‘The plant is either running at its full production or it is not running at all. There is no middle ground. They cannot consume less coal, hence emit less CO2.’

    Yep, it’s a tax grab.

    Mick, it could be condensed into a one minute vid as political advertising.

  9. Johnathan Wilkes February 25, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    I appreciate your post, but it would have been better if you did not go into technical details, you have a few items wrong

    ” that generator at the exact 3000 RPM.”
    No large scale alternator, or even a smaller one really, ever runs at that revolution, it would destroy it! (they use multiple magnetic poles, don’t want to complicate it here, look it up)

    “The plant is either running at its full production or it is not running at all. There is no middle ground. They cannot consume less coal, hence emit less CO2.”

    Not quite true, again getting too technical, but when power consumption is reduced, the the steam required to drive the generator is reduced.

    This happens to a limited degree, the output cannot be reduced below a certain limit otherwise
    a sudden power requirement cannot be met.
    To accommodate this situation the power has to be shed (dumped).

    This is where the hydro and gas fired systems come in, they can produce power “very fast” from stand by.

    Basically you are right, what happens is, that a tax on CO2 will make the price of electricity dearer, but in no way makes the power station emit less of it, unless we stop using it completely.


  10. TonyfromOz February 25, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

    thanks for that clarification.

  11. Neville February 25, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    Tony I know all the facts about China’s unbelievable increase in energy use in all the categaries and the completion of a CF power station every week, but most people I talk to just can’t get their mind around the sheer scale of Chinese development.

    Our real sacrifice of reductions in emissions from say 1.4% to 1.12% ( global emissions) would be horrendous for our economy but would be wiped out by China’s increases in a matter of months and we are selling them the coal to support our economic wreckage.

    BTW Tony have you thought about a youtube presentation, because it could be promoted easily via all the blogs.

  12. Johnathan Wilkes February 25, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

    if you liked that clarification, you will like this even more, yes the new gas fired turbo generators of the two pole system indeed are running at 3000 RPM.

    Sorry about that chief

  13. val majkus February 25, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    and if you needed any backup

    Written By Terence Cardwell
    The Editor
    The Morning Bulletin.
    I have sat by for a number of years frustrated at the rubbish being put forth about carbon dioxide emissions, thermal coal fired power stations and renewable energy and the ridiculous Emissions Trading Scheme.
    Frustration at the lies told (particularly during the election) about global pollution. Using Power Station cooling towers for an example. The condensation coming from those cooling towers is as pure as that that comes out of any kettle.
    Frustration about the so called incorrectly named man made ‘carbon emissions’ which of course is Carbon Dioxide emissions and what it is supposedly doing to our planet.
    Frustration about the lies told about renewable energy and the deliberate distortion of renewable energy and its ability to replace fossil fuel energy generation. And frustration at the ridiculous carbon credit programme which is beyond comprehension.
    And further frustration at some members of the public who have not got a clue about thermal Power Stations or Renewable Energy. Quoting ridiculous figures about something they clearly have little or no knowledge of.
    First coal fired power stations do NOT send 60 to 70% of the energy up the chimney. The boilers of modern power station are 96% efficient and the exhaust heat is captured by the economisers and reheaters and heat the air and water before entering the boilers.
    The very slight amount exiting the stack is moist as in condensation and CO2. There is virtually no fly ash because this is removed by the precipitators or bagging plant that are 99.98% efficient. The 4% lost is heat through boiler wall convection.
    Coal fired Power Stations are highly efficient with very little heat loss and can generate massive amount of energy for our needs. They can generate power at efficiency of less than 10,000 b.t.u. per kilowatt and cost wise that is very low.
    The percentage cost of mining and freight is very low. The total cost of fuel is 8% of total generation cost and does NOT constitute a major production cost.
    As for being laughed out of the country, China is building multitudes of coal fired power stations because they are the most efficient for bulk power generation.
    We have, like, the USA, coal fired power stations because we HAVE the raw materials and are VERY fortunate to have them. Believe me no one is laughing at Australia – exactly the reverse, they are very envious of our raw materials and independence.
    The major percentage of power in Europe and U.K. is nuclear because they don’t have the coal supply for the future.
    Yes it would be very nice to have clean, quiet, cheap energy in bulk supply. Everyone agrees that it would be ideal. You don’t have to be a genius to work that out. But there is only one problem—It doesn’t exist.
    Yes – there are wind and solar generators being built all over the world but they only add a small amount to the overall power demand.
    The maximum size wind generator is 3 Megawatts, which can rarely be attained on a continuous basis because it requires substantial forces of wind. And for the same reason only generate when there is sufficient wind to drive them. This of course depends where they are located but usually they only run for 45% -65% of the time, mostly well below maximum capacity. They cannot be relied for a ‘base load’ because they are too variable. And they certainly could not be used for load control.
    The peak load demand for electricity in Australia is approximately 50,000 Megawatts and only small part of this comes from the Snowy Hydro Electric System (The ultimate power Generation) because it is only available when water is there from snow melt or rain. And yes they can pump it back but it cost to do that. (Long Story).
    Tasmania is very fortunate in that they have mostly hydro electric generation because of their high amounts of snow and rainfall. They also have wind generators (located in the roaring forties) but that is only a small amount of total power generated.
    Based on a average generating output of 1.5 megawatts (of unreliable power) you would require over 33,300 wind generators.
    As for solar power generation much research has been done over the decades and there are two types. Solar thermal generation and Solar Electric generation but in each case they cannot generate large amounts of electricity.
    Any clean, cheap energy is obviously welcomed but they would NEVER have the capability of replacing Thermal power generation. So get your heads out of the clouds, do some basic mathematics and look at the facts not going off with the fairies (or some would say the extreme greenies.)
    We are all greenies in one form or another and care very much about our planet. The difference is most of us are realistic. Not in some idyllic utopia where everything can be made perfect by standing around holding a banner and being a general pain in the backside.
    Here are some facts that will show how ridiculous this financial madness the government is following. Do the simple maths and see for yourselves.
    According to the ‘believers’ the CO2 in air has risen from .034% to .038% in air over the last 50 years.
    To put the percentage of Carbon Dioxide in air in a clearer perspective;
    If you had a room 12 ft x 12 ft x 7 ft or 3.7 mtrs x 3.7 mtrs x 2.1 mtrs, the area carbon dioxide would occupy in that room would be ..25m x .25m x .17m or the size of a large packet of cereal.
    Australia emits 1 percent of the world’s total carbon Dioxide and the government wants to reduce this by twenty percent or reduce emissions by .2 percent of the world’s total CO2 emissions.
    What effect will this have on existing CO2 levels?
    By their own figures they state the CO2 in air has risen from .034% to .038% in 50 years.
    Assuming this is correct, the world CO2 has increased in 50 years by .004 percent.
    Per year that is .004 divided by 50 = .00008 percent. (Getting confusing -but stay with me).
    Of that because we only contribute 1% our emissions would cause CO2 to rise .00008 divided by 100 = .0000008 percent.
    Of that 1%, we supposedly emit, the governments wants to reduce it by 20% which is 1/5th of .0000008 = .00000016 percent effect per year they would have on the world CO2 emissions based on their own figures.
    That would equate to a area in the same room, as the size of a small pin.!!!
    For that they have gone crazy with the ridiculous trading schemes, Solar and roofing installations, Clean coal technology. Renewable energy, etc, etc.
    How ridiculous it that.
    The cost to the general public and industry will be enormous. Cripple and even closing some smaller business.
    T.L. Cardwell
    To the Editor I thought I should clarify. I spent 25 years in the Electricity Commission of NSW working, commissioning and operating the various power units. My last was the 4 X 350 MW Munmorah Power Station near Newcastle. I would be pleased to supply you any information you may require.
    1,204 Words.


  14. el gordo February 25, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    Val, just a small criticism, you will get your message across more readily if you create pars like Tony.

    Apparently the punters think Dullard is dead in the water, which is entirely understandable under the circumstances.


  15. TonyfromOz February 25, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    What is most heartening to see is that now, the debate is actually gaining an airing, not here, but is small pockets popping up all over the place.

    Because of the scale of ‘the thing’ it’s been almost impossible to try and explain, and because it all sounds so incredulous, it’s an easy thing to not believe it when you are told about it, or, as has happened, for those being told those realities to say that the person offering the explanation has a disagreeing ‘political agenda’.

    Basically, it’s not an environmental thing to try and explain, It’s an engineering thing, and, not coming from that electrical engineering trade background, it’s almost impossible for the ‘lay’ person to understand the scale involved.

    When the facts are heard from just one person, then that aura of disbelief attaches itself. When more and more people confirm the actualities, then those who are finding it impossible to believe start to comprehend that scale.

    This is sometimes so infuriating to try and explain that the tendency then becomes to just shut up, and others who can confirm the realities won’t comment at all for fear of being shot down by those whose sole thing is to carp.

    I’ve been doing this for three years now, and finally, I really think that I’m actually starting to make some headway.


  16. TonyfromOz February 25, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

    I know I have well and truly exceeded my one comment for the day, but another thing with respect to coal fired power, and especially regarding China.
    Because coal fired power plants have become virtual ‘poison’ to even consider as a thought bubble, they are not being constructed anywhere around the Western World out of fear of the backlash.
    So, the only place that they are being constructed is in fact in China, virtually.

    Those Chinese plants are smaller and more efficient, and are the latest in technology.

    For a large plant, they are now half the size, and an equivalent sized generator is producing up to four times the power of those now rapidly aging plants here in the Western World.

    They burn less coal, thus emitting less CO2, and everything about them is so far ahead of existing plants that we are now so scared to even contemplate.

    Consider this.

    The average life span of a large scale coal fired plant is 50 years.
    The current age of the WHOLE U.S. inventory of every coal fired plant that they have is 48 years.
    The life span of some has been extended out to 60 years, and some even to 75 years.
    That technology is now almost ancient, but there is nothing to replace the power that they produce.

    The same applies here in Australia.


  17. val majkus February 25, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

    Tony; thanks for this comment which I’ve linked to Jo Nova
    and in relation to el gordo what do you mean by ‘create pars’
    I’m not an electricity expert like Tony and Terry and Peter Lang
    So what does ‘create pars’ mean
    If it means something I can do; I’ll do it
    otherwise all I can do is rely on experts like Tony; Terrence and Peter

  18. el gordo February 25, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

    Sorry, I meant pars as journalists use. Old media demand a young recruit to construct a story – how, when, where and why.

    It is supposed to be placed in the opening two pars and then get into more detail as you pad the story out.

    No offense meant.

    Those we have to convince, the MSM, will be looking to us and other sceptic blogs for answers in the run-up to the next election.

  19. val majkus February 25, 2011 at 5:49 pm #

    El gordo; no offence taken; didn’t know what you meant
    the letter from Terrence Caldwell is exactly as I downloaded it from the net
    and he was the composer
    I looked at the content not the composition when I first saw it

  20. el gordo February 25, 2011 at 6:39 pm #

    This is a huge story, Tony, yet to be discussed in the MSM.

    ‘For a large plant, they are now half the size, and an equivalent sized generator is producing up to four times the power of those now rapidly aging plants here in the Western World.

    ‘They burn less coal, thus emitting less CO2, and everything about them is so far ahead of existing plants that we are now so scared to even contemplate.’

    This debate will come to fruition when the nuclear option is put on the plate. I noticed Hawk hanging around parliament the other day selling snake oil, but he won’t get far.

    In a funny way the Greens may have done us a favor by delaying the building of new power plants prematurely.

  21. Gordon Walker February 25, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    A very interesting discussion!
    I have a quibble about the large increases in efficiency that have been claimed.
    My understanding is that one cannot get round the Second Law of Thermodynamics, particularly the Carnot Cycle, which limits the efficiency of heat engines. If we assume a high temperature heat source of 1000°K and a sink at 300°K then the maximum efficiency is (1000-300)/1000 =70%, minus the usual losses that occur in any machine. If we assume that the avreage generator in current use gives 40%?? then there are certainly useful improvements to be made, but perhaps not as high as all that?

  22. John Sayers February 25, 2011 at 11:04 pm #

    Additionally, the point is that when the sun hits Joe Citizen’s new Government subsidised solar panel array the power company couldn’t give a s**t .

    This is obvious to any power expert – so why have they all been silent?

  23. Hasbeen February 25, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

    Thanks for putting that together so succinctly.

    As an engineer I really knew everything that was in the posts, although not down to the tonnages involved, somewhere in that bag of jumbled facts I call my mind.

    However I have not tried to explain it to others, even those who would be willing to try to understand, as I could not have put it into a simple explanation. Like many things, it is so obvious how it should be done, when someone else has put it in front of you, I can’t imagine why I couldn’t do it myself.

    It would be great if you could put together a table of facts, like rotating weights, tons of coal, approximate tine for the gear to cool to temperatures where it could be worked on etc. Such facts just may get through to some doubtful, but interested folk.

  24. cementafriend February 25, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

    Tony, good post, something that needs to be said. However, I would not want you to be criticised on a small point by some AGW believer or greenie. The boiler and turbines can be turned down ( I think to somewhere about one third of rated capacity) but when turned down they are less efficient and most importantly both the boiler and turbine have to be ramped up or down very slowly- a 10% change may take 30 minutes. You are right about the speed of the turbine but it is load or output current which can be changed. The steam turbines and boiler are most efficient at 100% of capacity. Gas turbines and hydro are used for peak power. Wind and solar are useless for both peak and base load because they can suddenly turn off (when wind drops or for solar if dark clouds come over head and of course when the sunsets.) Wind generation is capital intensive as it needs an equal amount of standby power and does have a running cost in the fuel cost of standby power which needs to idle or be run at low capacity.

  25. TonyfromOz February 26, 2011 at 1:09 am #

    this ‘Efficiency’ thing is also something that is difficult to explain.
    Different disciplines have different ideas of what ‘efficiency’ is, and your scientific efficiency, conversion of heat from the burning of coal etcetera, is a completely different to the electrical explanation for efficiency.

    The electrical ‘efficiency’ when applied in this case is the efficiency rate for delivery of power when compared to the Nameplate Capacity of the Plant.

    For example. let’s take a plant with a nameplate capacity of 2000MW.
    There is a set formula for finding this efficiency rate, and it is applied to every power generating plant in the same manner, and that formula is as follows:

    NP X 24 X 365.25 X 1000 where NP is the Nameplate Capacity, 24 for the hours in a day, 365.25 for the days in a year (averaged for the leap year) and 1000 to convert from MW down to KiloWattHours (KWH) (power of ten cubed, mega down to kilo)

    So the maximum theoretical power delivered over a full year for this 2000MW plant comes to 17.532 Billion KWH.

    After the year’s operation they know the exact amount of KWH delivered to the grids for that area the plant supplies, and from that, they work out the electrical power delivery efficiency rate.

    If the plant actually delivers 15.34 Billion KWH, then the efficiency rate is 87.5%
    This is around the average for large scale coal fired power plants.

    That missing percentage is due in the main to down time for scheduled maintenance, and any unforseen shut downs. The older the plant, the lower the efficiency, naturally, and some of those newer technology Chinese plants are up around the low 90’s

    The best efficiency rates are for Nuclear power plants and that is up around the low 90’s, and in the U.S. their whole Nuclear power inventory are currently delivering their power at around 94%.

    At the opposite end of the scale Wind power is currently averaging 20%, and that’s a Worldwide figure. The U.S. which has so many of them second in the World after China now, are delivering their power at around 24%.

    For Solar Power, the current average is around 15%, and that is mainly Solar PV, as Concentrating Solar (Solar Thermal) is still in its relative infancy, but the solar component for them is also quite low.

    It cannot really be applied to Natural Gas fired plants used for the short periods of Peaking Power, but while ever they are running they are delivering at 100%, as are all plants.


  26. Phillip Bratby February 26, 2011 at 5:33 am #

    I agree with cementafriend. Coal-fired power stations can be used for load follow (and often are). Their speed of rotation is dictated by synchronicity with the grid, but their output can be adjusted at will. Their output can also automatically adjust to support maintaining grid frequency at 3000rpm in a mode known as automatic frequency responsive operation.

    TonyfromOz: You are mixing up efficiency (which is a defined concept, being output energy compared to input energy) with capacity factor or load factor (average amount of energy produced compared to maximum amount of energy that can be produced).

  27. cinders February 26, 2011 at 10:24 am #

    thanks for the article.
    could you go through the maths of the statement: “Each atom of carbon combines (in the furnace) with two atoms of oxygen (CO2) and oxygen is slightly heavier than carbon, virtually tripling its weight, and as coal is basically all carbon with other elements in it as well, then that multiplier is in fact 2.86”

    I seem to have forgotten my high scool science and eqations for burning coal, and I would like to quote your $ values based on this ratio.

  28. Dave February 26, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    I think the opportunity exists to destroy Labor and the Greens’ hysterical reaction to climate change and this carbon tax.

    Firstly, she will tax the businesses who will pass on the cost as there are a small number of businesses and she can appear to keep her hands clean with the voters. Every bill: power, gas petrol, diesel etc. needs to display the value of the carbon tax, then every voter will be reminded of the extra tax they now have to pay. GST will also be added to the carbon tax as GST is the final tax added to the transaction.

    If Tony Abbott drones on about a big new tax he will have no effect or might even lose some of his support. He needs to oppose the tax with reasoned discussion and education. The level of discussion and education needs to be set at the appropriate level. If it is too simplistic or too complicated he will again lose people.

    One of the problems with Australia’s electricity system is that all governments have not spent money on the infrastructure when they owned it, to make it look more attractive to sell and while they claim that private enterprise and competition would keep power prices down, I don’t believe it has and the real reason was that the assets had been run down and generation and transmission capacities were at their limits. Essentially the government had failed to properly manage the system.

    While wind and solar are contributing in a small way, when attached to the grid, they create a number of other problems associated with managing the network. That’s not to say that they don’t have their place in the total energy picture or even as stand alone systems where there is no grid access. The fact that the government provides various subsidies for these schemes simply distorts the real economics. Similarly, with the insulation scheme, has anyone seen any figures to show that the energy savings (if any) of houses which have had insulation installed under the scheme have been worth the cost of installing the insulation. I’m not talking about the deaths or house fires as that is a different issue.

    Some of the discussion that has appeared above might be at what I consider to be near the top of what the general voter cares to understand about the electricity generation system.

  29. TonyfromOz February 26, 2011 at 11:23 am #

    oddly, with all the Posts I have made over the three years now, and quite a lot of them have Maths involved, this one concept is the one I have to explain the most, because, no matter what, people will not believe that one ton of a solid coal can produce an actual physical weight of 2.86 tons of a gas CO2.

    In that first year of high school, during some of those early Science lessons, the teacher will mention the Periodic Table of elements, H, He, Li, Be, B, C, N, O etcetera.

    Note there how Oxygen is just that slight bit heavier than Carbon.

    During the burn process in the critical furnace, every atom of Carbon combines with 2 atoms of Oxygen to form CO2, so it virtually more than triples the weight of the original Carbon atom.

    As coal is basically all Carbon with other elements in there as well, that multiplier is in fact 2.86.

    When I first mentioned it, I was greeted with absolute astonishment, because really, this is not complex Science, just basic Science we all learned, and then promptly forgot.

    So, I then had to make a Post to very carefully explain it, and because people will just not believe it, no matter what, I had to find a reference, other than for me just saying it.

    Here’s the link to that Post from December of 2008 at the site I contribute to:


    More importantly, here’s the link to the reference from the U.S. Government’s site the Energy Information Administration:


    Scroll down the page slightly to the heading that says:

    Coal Combustion and Carbon Dioxide Emissions

    This explains it in greater detail than I can.
    And the thing is, people still won’t believe me.
    You just have to shake your head and wonder sometimes.


  30. Luke February 26, 2011 at 11:57 am #

    So this is a high risk strategy for Labor given the intensity of feeling. Therefore why do it? So where is Gillard coming from (a) she really care about climate change herself (b) pandering to the Greens to stay in power (c) figures there are more people wanting carbon action than those who don’t (d) trying to transition the economy to new low-carbon state with diverse, alternative energy sources e.g. nuclear, solar, biofuels with a carbon tax as but one part of a grander plan

    So if it was option (d) where is the roadmap? so therefore more likely option (b)??

  31. Dave February 26, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    Why not in future turn those turbines from geothermal sources? There are virtually no post construction input costs either to the environment or shareholders.
    Brazil gets 15% of its base load power this way.
    “Geoscience Australia estimates that if we were able to extract just one percent of Australia’s geothermal energy, it would be equivalent to 26,000 times Australia’s total annual energy consumption.”
    Source: http://minister.ret.gov.au/MediaCentre/Speeches/Pages/MinisterialStatementTheVastPotentialofAustralia'sGeothermalResources.aspx

  32. Johnathan Wilkes February 26, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    I can only think, that the only reason is that she wants to stay in power at all costs.

    If it were choices a, (and, or) d, while I still wouldn’t agree with either the need nor the solution
    I would respect her commitment.

    But if she was convinced of the necessity, then she should have come out before the election and say so, integrity and honesty even in politics, have a place in life.

  33. TonyfromOz February 26, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

    prior to the election, she said, well, we know what she said.

    Had she been elected in her own right, then she would have stuck to her word.
    However, with the deal with the one Green in the House and the Independents, she needs their support to stay in Government.

    Then, any legislation the Government proposes has to get through The Senate.

    So, even though she knew this would bite her on the, er, fundament, she has Legislation to get through the Senate, Flood levy, etcetera.

    The Greens say that they will support her ….. if …..

    Hence, with the backing of the Independents and with The Greens now in the drivers seat, she has to introduce something like this to get support in both Houses for her OTHER legislation, if you can see that point.

    Note the image from the media release at the doors.
    A grinning Bob and Christine with only those two Independents who have thrown in their lot with her, Windsor and Oakeshott. with her ‘token’ Greg Combet, Minister for Climate Change in the background.
    That grin on Brown and Milne was enough almost to split their faces.
    They know fully well the power that they now wield.

    Prime Minister Gillard did not introduce this proposal for the Legislation for the express purpose of ‘Pricing Carbon’ (Dioxide).
    She introduced it for all her other Legislation she needs to have passed.

    What they are then relying on specifically is that no one understands the full implications, and I might suggest that is not out of secrecy, but due in the main that they have no real idea themselves, because if word of the full implications did get out, the outcry would lead to something similar to what happened in Egypt. That’s a bit strong I guess, but the public would be absolutely furious.

    I really suspect no one knows.


  34. Luke February 26, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    Well Tony – Milne and Brown’s smiles could evaporate as quickly too with an unforeseen by-election.

    It’s obviously crash through or crash for the red queen.



    This is a take no prisoners position for either side.

    My concern is losing on her agenda will freeze out any action for a decade – all this due to the lack of a roadmap for a serious alternative energy path. A carbon tax plus what ????

    Abbott is playing games not declaring if he would repeal any carbon legislation.

  35. Neville February 26, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    Luke it’s definitely option b, if she really wanted to tackle CC ( total bs I know) she would refuse to export coal overseas and would promote and encourage every country to buy uranium and go nuclear, Australia included.

    If she did this we could have a bit of respect for her position.

    Labor and the greens are going to force up energy costs for Aussies but couldn’t care less what the big emitters are doing, just proves tackling CC is a total lie and fraud.

    I mean we don’t provide much of an influence on global emissions even if we were to cut 1.4% by 20% leaving 1.12%.

    Of course we could always throw in NZ muscle and hope they reduce their total of 0.1% by 20% = 0.1 less 0.02 = 0.08 + 1.12 = 1.2% , problem fixed by the Anzac alliance.

    Ever get the sinking feeling that some pollies are not the sharpest knives in the drawer?

  36. val majkus February 26, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    Tony I found this comment on another blog – can’t find it in the online Aust but haven’t bought a paper copy yet

    The Australian today notes :

    But new figures released by the Department of Climate Change yesterday showed Australia’s biggest energy companies would be put out of business if they had to pay the world price for carbon emissions under a carbon tax without compensation.

    The giant NSW power company Macquarie Generation, Australia’s biggest emitter, would face a bill of $613 million if it had to pay the $26 a tonne the Rudd government’s emissions trading scheme was based on. The tax bill would be more than three times the company’s latest profit of $196m, while the second ranked Delta Electricity would face a bill of $538m or almost 10 times its last full-year profit.

  37. Neville February 26, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    BTW this cartoon says it all, “just brown nosing” and just look at that lonnng nose.


  38. John Sayers February 26, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    Paul Kelly wrote in the Australian – “For Gillard, a carbon price law is a victory she will parade to the nation and world.”

    Unfortunately the world has been there done that! The greens pushed for renewable energy schemes and they failed, so the Europeans are now building new coal power and nuclear.

    The US is also retreating with the Republicans defunding the EPA and the UN’s IPCC. The white house head of climate change has just resigned because she sees the writing on the wall.

    The polls are showing support for global warming is dropping fast and now a majority don’t accept it.

  39. allen mcmahon February 26, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

    Val; the solution is simple our government will provide compensation to the power generators this money will be used as a dividend to shareholders and the increased costs will be passed directly onto the consumer. The government will, the power companies win, and we are screwed.

  40. Aynsley Kellow February 26, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

    Subject to the corrections form Terence Cardwell, this is a useful post, though I would make two corrections/refinements.

    The first is minor: the water coming out of the (wet) cooling towers is not that which has passed through the turbines. That is the cooling water that has passed through the heat exchangers in the condensers. The steam system is largely a closed loop, and the condensers are an essential part of the system because it is the cooling of the superheated steam and its conversion into liquid form that provides the pressure gradient across the turbines (an provides a major source of inefficiency). Cooling towers are not necessary where (rarely) there are large quantities of cold water for once-through cooling. Wet cooling towers, of course, still need some topping up as they lose water. The steam they give off is usually shown as a visual representation of CO2 on television news footage, because the flue gases containing the (invisible) CO2 and water vapour from combustion are practically undetectable (unless ambient air temperatures are enough to condense the water vapour). Ironically, of course, this water is a more significant GHG!

    Where there is limited water for topping up the cooling towers (or sometimes ponds), dry cooling towers can be used – a closed circulation with electric fans, which saps some efficiency.

    The more important point is that the generating stations are not isolated, but part of a national grid (and market). Each competes for generation – seeks to be ‘dispatched’ according to demand and the price at which they are prepared to contribute output.

    In the short term, a carbon tax affects the cost for each generator, and therefore the ‘merit order dispatch’ of each generator on the system (including gas and hydro). In the short term, Victoria’s brown coal stations (25% efficiency and up) are less likely to be dispatched (and will be last), while Milmerran near Toowoomba, the newest, most efficient pulversied coal-fired generator at close to 40% – an interesting federal dimension!

    In the longer term, gas, nuclear and more efficient coal stations are built, especially because those in the La Trobe Valley become worth less and less. The important question is whether they are built here – or in China! If we set the tax high enough, it becomes attractive to export aluminium smelting (eg) to China, where (last time I looked) they have built the only Hyper-supercritical PCF coal-fired station, with around 50% efficiency.

    These, CCGT, and nuclear are likely to be the future (not solar or wind), but there has not been any investment in coal generation for a decade in Australia and political opposition is likely to be strong if any is considered.

  41. cinders February 26, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

    Tony, thanks for the links to the web pages, and it clears it up for me. Like the National Greenhouse accounts, I have used in the past the conversion factor of 44/12 (3.666) which is also claimed to be the IPCC recommended default for CO2 to C. This is based on the atomic weight of Carbon (12) + 2 0xygen (16) divided by carbon (12) .
    Your EIA link uses as an example a Carbon content of coal as 78 percent, and 78% of 3.666 is 2.86, confirming the EIA example of 1 short ton of C gives 2.86 short ton of CO2.

    This would mean that if the Australian coal is closer to 100% C content then the conversion factor is closer to 3.666 and thus the tax and resultant cost to manufacturer, service provider and consumer will be even higher.

  42. TonyfromOz February 26, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

    thanks for that.

    When I started out submitting Posts three years ago, I wanted to get information, as opposed to opinion, so I went absolutely everywhere I could go to to find the information I needed for the purpose of accuracy, and, even as someone trained in that electrical field, I find that there are still some points where my accuracy is not as, well, accurate as it should be.

    That information ‘chase’ has led to many very interesting things.
    Because those large scale plants are hugely expensive, in the main, they are part of State owned infrastructure, and in the main those large coal fired power plants are owned by the State, which then has the private sector collect the, er, electricity bills, and after they take their cut, they then forward the cost of the electricity on to the State Government, a win win for the State, because if the price goes up, they can then effectively blame those private collection companies.

    Now, with respect to that Milmerran coal fired power plant.

    It is actually one of those in Private hands.
    It is run by Intergen, and the owners of Intergen are, and wait for this, The Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, based in Canada.


  43. el gordo February 26, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    Political opposition to investment in coal generation will evaporate, once the electorate realize the theory of AGW is badly flawed.

    This may take a little time.

  44. cementafriend February 26, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    Tony, I do not wish to be picky but some greenie may harp on minor issues to try and discredit you.
    Coal has a lot of Carbon but it is not all carbon. Firstly, coal has a lot of mineral matter of which about 90% is referred to as ash -for a black steam coal around 15% is a typical value of the ash content. Secondly coal contains a lot of moisture black steam coal is normally sold at a reference value of 8% moisture as received. Brown coal such as in Victoria can have upto 60% moisture. That is the major reason it has to be used close to the point of mining (and this has a relevence to the ease of mining or its low mining cost). On a dry ash free basis a black steam coal has about 83% carbon, 5.5% hydrogen, 1.5% nitrogen, 1.0% sulphur, 8.5% oxygen and 0.5% other. With younger lignites (brown coal) the oxygen can be upto 25% dry asf free while the carbon is down to 75% daf. The higher oxygen content of lignites is the reason for the lower specific energy. If you distill brown coal (in no air) you will get CO2 and CO off plus some CH4 at the end. Even coke made from black coking coal has some hydrogen in it.
    I should repeat what I put in a comment on another post. If one converts a black coal fired boiler to natural gas it will be less efficient and have less steam output because the flame is less radiant and the exhaust gases will be higher temperature. This can be fixed to some extent by spending capital on more economisers and special burners.
    For base load natural gas firing combined cycle which has a gas turbine and a waste heat boiler with a steam turbine can have a generation efficiency of over 53%. There has been considerable research into gasifying coal (including brown coal) so that it could be used in combined cycle power stations.
    Electricity generation is all about costs spread over the life of the installation (25-30 years). Solar and wind because of the low energy density (available energy input divided by volume required for conversion) which in turn feeds into the capital cost/ per unit of energy output can never be competitive. The Thorium nuclear cycle (on which the Chinese will be basing the major part of their future electricity production) has the highest energy density known to date.

  45. TonyfromOz February 26, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    thanks for extra input.
    Interestingly, the coal in the Bowen Basin, around Blackwater etc is some of the most sought after steaming coal on the Planet, as it is in fact, a much better grade of coal than almost everywhere else. Burns to a higher temperature, has less impurities etcetera. The same also applies for coal in the surrounding area, and talking to someone in that coal mining sector while I was in Blackwater, he mentioned that there are deposits as yet undiscovered that make this area one of the most abundant coal deposits anywhere. He says they could mine for hundreds of years and still have even more, most of it as yet unmined, but surveyed.


  46. TonyfromOz February 26, 2011 at 3:58 pm #


    Thanks for the input. This is good for me, because it adds perspective to what I have been attempting to do for these last three years without much input.

    That 2.86 figure I use is the accepted generic multiplier, and I have used that for consistency purposes rather than introduce new numbers all the time.

    As to your mention of Cogeneration, that indeed is an encouraging advancement, and when I say recent, CHP (Combined Heating and Power) has been around since the 1880’s in Manhattan, and as an example you only need look at that iconic image of Marilyn Monroe with her white dress billowing up around her. That is CHP, and just on Manhattan Island alone, there are 384 CHP plants.

    Cogen entails a natural gas (NG) turbine driving one generator and the heat given off from that exhaust of the turbine heats steam for a smaller turbine/generator complex.

    What is even more interesting is Trigeneration, and the advancements in miniaturisation of these ‘units’ which can be installed in the basement of large office buildings and supply all the power needs for that building.

    Trigen has NG turbine driving the one generator, exhaust driving a second turbine/generator and the waste steam being used for heating and cooling purpose for that building.
    I have a full Post on that at the following link, and in that Post, I actually used the Empire State Building for a projected example of how all its electrical needs could be met. Trigen’s efficiency rate is up around 80% and even higher in some I hear.


    Now this really is something that might offer something for the future, even if the NG does emit CO2, on the basis of one third that of coal fired power on a watt for watt basis. Those CO2 emissions can also be easily calculated. A set power requires a set amount of NG to drive the turbine, and each mcf (1,000 cu ft) of NG emits 22 pounds (10 Kilos) of CO2.


  47. Malcolm Hill February 26, 2011 at 4:21 pm #


    Terry McCrann in todays Australian make a good case for why the policy is just plain stupid stuff,and will see the end of Labor.

    That bit I like..but its the damage she and her greeny bed mates will cause on the way out, thats the worry.

    Only the self obsessed and delusional would do harm to themselves and everyone else for no benefit whatsoever.


    This is not a good reflection upon us all and even more so upon academics and advisers.

  48. cohenite February 26, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    Tony, cementafriend, Aynsley and Terence have made valuable contributions about the technical details of the utter fraud of Gillard’s carbon tax; while there will be varying cost imposts depending on the type of coal and plant the fact is that the mooted price for carbon of $26 will be an enormous cost to this economy; that this idea is bereft of sense or value is indicated by the fact that the market value of carbon when the Chicago carbon trading exchange collapsed was 5 cents; the market distortions are plain.

    Might I suggest that you technical minded guys get some media sized articles [500 – 1000 words] prepared, either together or seperately, with the main points dumbed down to the msm level and see if they can’t get published. This is crucial because as sure as eggs Gillard and her cronies are going to lie through their teeth about the true cost of this green wet dream.

  49. MikeO February 26, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    Something none of you mention.

    I follow business these days because I want to invest for my Self Managed Superannuation Fund. Energy companies are not doing that well but there are important facts from a business view that you are not considering. The Australian Financial Review had a lengthy article on this in the last few months as have others.

    We are out of time it takes many years to build a power station. I think the 5 years was given for a coal base load power station and 3 or 4 for a gas one which would be of smaller capacity. We do not have that time, power shortages will be occurring before then so hang on blackouts for the eastern grid of Australia are around the corner. This is a mess of our making, we have created situation where no one is willing to invest money into expanding the capacity because it entails to much financial risk.

    As an example before the last Victorian election Labor promised to close Hazelwood power station within the term. It generates 24% of Victoria’s power but that appeared to be inconsequential. The Greens reckoned close it straight away and the Liberals thought it should be closed sometime in the future. This is barking mad and all of it destabilises the whole industry.

    So if you had lots of money (billions) would you invest it in Australian electricity knowing that it requires decades of government support? Worse than that there is a real threat that existing power companies could go bankrupt. Talk of closure means when the assets are valued they are reduced. Companies run on debt so suppose the debt is say one billion on an asset of 500 million. The bank will then asks for 500 million immediately and the company folds.

    I know this scenario is bleak but that is where we are headed. The only bright part of it is surely it will bury the Greens and eventually we will recover.

  50. TonyfromOz February 26, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    thanks for the suggestion.
    However, for the first year or so while I was contributing Posts on these energy related matters at the site I contribute to, I would add comments at the ABC site at Posts which had that commenting facility, explaining things like this and other energy related matters.

    All I would get in reply was that what I was saying was absolute Charlie Romeo Alpha Papa, and then the moderators just stopped adding my comments altogether.

    I go there occasionally these days, but it’s no point even attempting to add anything there. They just don’t want to hear it, and the readers who do comment are so ‘deliciously’ uninformed, and if you can’t get on there, I see no need to even try any more, more’s the pity.

    Oddly the one thing that did give me results was almost right at the start. They would show those cooling tower stacks with the steam billowing out the top. When I jokingly pointed out that was not CO2 but harmless water vapor, the image changed from that point forward. However, on Friday, yesterday, they have reverted to the old stand by again, as shown with the image at this Post on that ABC News site.



  51. cohenite February 26, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

    Dead right MikeO, the concern will soon be no power rather than the cost of it; the AEMO, which rates and values all energy sources has already predicted power shortages within 2 years:


    That this should happen was more than obvious with the example of California which has had 30+ years of intensive R&D on wind and solar and has thrown billions into this crap; the net result is that less than 2% of California’s power comes from wind and solar; yet the green idiots who will wag this doltish Gillard government around will insist that all the money raised from a carbon tax be put into wind and solar and even more fringe idiocy like flannery’s hot rocks.

    My advice; buy a generator.

  52. Bronson February 26, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    Luke as such there is no cabon legislation so it is disengenious of you request Abbot to repeal something which currently does not exist in any form known to us mere voters. I suggest Terry McCann has nailed the hypocrisy of this government with his article in the Saturday Australian – tax the populace for the production of CO2 while at the same time relying on a tax on mining the mining industry for selling CO2 producing coal to mostly China to fund the budget deficit. The contradiction in these two diametrically opposed policies is mind blowing, for a political party to hold both positions at the same time is unsustainable and has the real possiblity of causing a major rift within that party. Not with standing the damage it will do to Australia and its economy in the mean time.

  53. Malcolm Hill February 26, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    Yes Tony and its not just the total misrepresentation of the imagery by using those cooling towers still…its the whole misuse of the language that goes with it.

    The continued and repeated insistence on calling it carbon pollution… when it is no such thing

    The blatant misrepresentation on calling it climate change, and thereby sweeping up all CC and blaming it on Co2. Even Combets Department plays this fraud on the public.

    The outright lie before the election of saying no carbon tax…. and now she is.

    Sorry, one can have no respect for the quality of our politicians nor their advisers who are either union officials on the make, or like her, dam lawyers of no particular ability, nor ethical principles.

  54. Aynsley Kellow February 26, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    On the policy and politics of this: A tax is a preferable instrument given the inherent uncertainty in the scientific predictions (which means we can have little certainty about how large the cap should be in a cap and trade system). It is also easier to abolish: property rights, once established can only be resumed with ‘just compensation’ under the Constitution (as those of us who are fans of ‘The Castle’ know). A tax can be removed easily. Perhaps Gillard finds herself in the position where she must act because her majority depends upon the Greens and Independents and the Greens get control of the Senate in a few months. She is not fan of a ‘courageous’ decision on climate change – remember she was instrumental in Rudd dropping the ETS, apparently. Perhaps the plan is to mollify the Greens, govern until 2013, hope the electorate will forgive or forget, confess to the government having lost its way, promise to abolish the tax, hope for re-election as a majority government, moving forward with yet another new Julia.

  55. MikeO February 26, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

    Thanks for the link cohenite. It thinks Victoria is okay I don’t think so it has a threat due to financing. The other thing I did not state clearly is that if a carbon price is set at $40 as the Greens want then it will reduce CO2 because a very many of us just will not be able to afford it and power generation will contract. The Greens should say we will reduce CO2 by making the public pay more. Wonder what the shares in green power will be like on monday?

  56. Aynsley Kellow February 26, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    Wind and solar have huge land-use requirements. Solar is limited by this inconvenient thing called the solar constant: 1366 W/sq.m. Divide roughly by 4 because the earth is a rotating sphere. Currently 15% efficient, let’s say they might get to 25%: about 85W/sq.m. So about 12 sq.m to run a 1kW appliance, 12,000 sq.m for a MW, or 48 million sq.m to replace the capacity of Loy Yang A (4,000MW) – not adjusting for the capacity factor of either. Don’t forget: there’s cloud and they have to be kept clean from dust, bird poop, etc to give 100% of their potential. Than all that land they need is remote from the population centres, so there are transmission losses.

    You can see why even Julia cut the ridiculous subsidies on those little babies!

    Incidentally, Tony, I must confess to having working on the climate change aspect of the Milmerran EIA. Intergen then was a consortium of Shell and Bechtel.

    There is definitely a place for coal, but who will tell Bob Brown?

  57. ianl8888 February 26, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

    I haven’t posted here for some considerable time – in truth, Luke’s earlier persistent rhetorical outbursts had convinced me that it was not worth the effort. I see he has made progress, particularly in his first post above, so perhaps the climate has changed (/irony)

    The topic on this thread is something I may be able to contribute to, as I’ve spent the last 30+ years completely immersed in these industries

    1) well over 30 years ago, I was astonished when I realised that most people simply did not have a clue where their electricity came from (how could people be so incurious ?) Then I became dismayed when I understood that they did not WANT to know … that widespread attitude is now Gillard’s most potent propaganda weapon. She can and does misrepresent the facts on power generation any way she chooses and most of the populace will not grasp this

    2) C + O2 -> CO2 + heat [simple burning of coal]
    CH4 + 2O2 -> CO2 + 2H2O + heat [simple burning of natural gas (methane)]

    Unassailable Chemistry 101 [no way out]

    3) coal is lithified vegetation (ie. swamp material that has been buried and compressed to rock over geologic times). The actual constituents of a coal depend on the specific swamp vegetation species and sediment inflow to the swamp at the time of burial, together with groundwater inflow material during the very long lithification processes

    4) there is a very large range of coals dependent on the length of burial and initial components, from peat to anthracite. Mineral matter content (ie. non-carbon matter, or ash) has a large range by percentage, from 1-2 % to over 40%. An old Aus Joint Coal Board rule-of-thumb definition has it that an ash content > 35% isn’t coal. There is also a variable water content

    Ash content is critical to power station design, from the low Specific Energy of high-ash coals to the volume of fly ash that needs to be scrubbed out from the exhausts before reaching the atmosphere. Most modern coal-fired stations aim to exhaust only water vapour and carbon dioxide.

    5) In Aus, grid-connected black coal power stations are generally designed to accept coals with an ash of ~25%, but can range from ~18% to ~30%. Brown coals from Latrobe have an ash content up to 50% and a water content up to 70%, so the LaTrobe stations are specifically designed for this. The aluminium smelter in Portland is designed to try and gather export income from the Victorian brown coal deposits in that the LaTrobe stations supply cheap power to it.

    Coals with lower ash contents are generally exported to various Asian countries and are priced accordingly. Current thermal coal export generally requires an ash ~15% or a little less. Coals with a much lower ash (5-6%) may be blended with higher ash coals for export at about 15%.

    6) Deposits of coals that are suitable for coke-making (manufacture of steel) are rarer than thermal coal deposits. They are (must be) lower in ash, ~5-8%, and have other characteristics essential for blast furnaces. Such coals are currently priced at about 2.5x the thermal coals, which is one reason why they are not used in power stations. The Bowen Basin coals, including those deposited around Blackwater, are examples of coking coals, although the Bowen certainly contains thermal coals. Most deposits are NOT undiscovered (as an earlier post mistakenly claimed), but are simply subject to the economics of market pricing

    7) coal-fired power stations are *very* expensive to put-on and take-off line. Flicking a switch may be a popular misconception but it’s a notion from some other galaxy. The boilers have to be regulated up to operating temperatures, or allowed to cool down under careful regulation. They *cannot* respond to fluctuating load with any immediacy.

    This is critical for renewabubble power supplies. When the wind drops or blows too hard, base load cannot be supplied by switching on another boiler in the backup coal-fired station. The European power grid engineers lose their hair prematurely trying to balance this. After sunset, when most people come home and need to cook, run the TV, turn on PC’s etc etc (a sudden increase in power demand as homes become active again), the solar panels go to sleep. Baseload cannot be supplied by just switching on another boiler in the backup coal-fired station.

    8) Gas-fired stations (ie. methane CH4) are able to respond with some immediacy and are more efficient (by about 10%) in supplying the heat to boil the water in that the methane does not contain the ash component or water that coals do. BUT see equation 2 in point 2) above – we still finish with one CO2 molecule exhausted for one molecule of CH4 that is burnt. Not a great advance, one might suspect

    9) If we are to de-CO2 our civilisation, as Gillard et al are demanding, then nuclear power is the only known technology for reliable baseload.

    I’m aware this is long post, but the misconceptions on this issue abound.

  58. cohenite February 26, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

    Tony, I was thinking of the papers not the ABC but no matter. In your essay you say this:

    “This plant must burn 6 million tons of coal to operate at its capacity of delivery of electrical power. That coal consumption produces 17.2 million tons of CO2. This large scale plant, at Ross Garnaut’s figure of $26 per ton, will now see an increase on their bottom line of almost $450 million per year.

    They cannot burn less coal.

    They either pay that $450 million extra, or stop completely, and if they pay that extra, that will then be passed directly down to consumers.

    There are 8 of these large scale plants in Australia, and 15 medium sized plants as well. All of them burn an exact required amount of coal, because the electricity they provide just has to be there.”

    Most of the msm chatter has been about the increase in electricity cost for the individual householder; in the Australian today they used 2 prices for carbon, $23 and $32; for the $23 electricity would increase by 17% and for $32 24%.

    I’m not sure about that. Just looking at your figures; each of the large plants produces about 17.2 million tonnes of CO2; there are 8 of them so that is 137.6 million tonnes; there are 15 smaller ones which produce say 10 million tonnes each which adds another 150 million tonnes for a total fossil fuel CO2 production of about 287.6 million tonnes; assume a $32 per tonne tax which gives a straight on top impost of $9.2 billion. How many households in Australia? 8 million? Thats about $1200 each divided by 52 for about an extra $23 extra per week.

    But that does not include multiplier effects through cascades in indirect prices other than electricity; if the multiplier is 3 then we are talking serious money, certainly more than 24%.

  59. TonyfromOz February 26, 2011 at 6:41 pm #

    as Ianl8888 above your comment mentions, people have no idea and in fact they don’t really want to know, as long as they turn on the switch and the power is there on tap, so to speak.

    Because of that, the misconceptions are so wild as to be almost laughable at times, and when you try and explain it correctly, it’s all bovine waste product.

    Over the whole of Australia, to produce electrical power only, an amount of 90 million tons of coal is burned, emitting around 260 million tons of CO2. Add on the CO2 from Natural Gas (Methane) fired plants and the emissions total out at around 300 million tons, and that’s a conservative figure.

    At Garnaut’s $26 that comes in at $7.8 Billion, just for electrical power generation.

    Now here’s where it gets hard to get across, because people (naturally) think of electricity as only in the personal sense.

    Electricity is consumed in three sectors Residential (38%) Commerce (37%) and Industrial (24%)

    So the residential sector is 38% of that $7.8 Billion or around $3 Billion.

    Now that’s not just every man woman and child. It’s every consumer account, your electricity bill. There are around 7.5 million residential consumers, so that comes down to $400 per annum per residential account, or $100 per (average) electricity account of an average $300 per quarter, or to even that out, take out your most recent account and add (around) 33%.

    So, when you think of electricity, it’s not just the residential sector consuming that 100% of all power.

    Having said that those other sectors will also be adding on their increases in increased charges for everything, so that extra $400 per annum now starts to rise.

    The Government says they will be assisting consumers at that personal level, eg at that residential level. Even if they give back part of it magnanimously, they are still making a motza from all those other areas, and then consider that electrical generation CO2 is only one third of all (man made) emissions, so the money coming into government coffers is almost into a bottomless pit.


  60. cementafriend February 26, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

    Useful post ianl888. One small point the ash of the Latrobe Valley brown coal is very very low. The ash content on a dry basis is well below 1% and even in the char (barbecue briquettes with the brown ash) has less than 2% ash (check it out yourself). The Angelsea brown coal (used by Alcoa to power their Aluminium smelter) has slightly higher ash, but also has less moisture indicating older age. Over in WA the Collie coal which is sub-bituminous C (just above lignite) has only 3 to 6% ash on a dry basis. The moisture of that is about 25% (12-15% inherent ). The Blair Athol coal (sub-bituminous) in Qld has a dry ash content of 7-8%, the sold moisture is 14-16% (8% inherent)

    All lignite and sub-bituminous coals mention above will spontaneously ignite if they get too dry. If the Latrobe Valley mines where shut down there would be some large damaging fires as has happened in the past around Yallourn. I don’t suppose the greenies realise it is better to extract the brown coal and use it for electricity generation rather than let it burn to waste in the open air. Some people maybe aware of Burning Mountain in the Hunter Valley.

  61. ianl8888 February 26, 2011 at 7:00 pm #


    Sorry, but the raw ash contents I posted for both LaTrobe brown coals and the Collie Basin are accurate. I’ve been very heavily involved in both these areas, examining the drillhole lab analyses for both

    The figures you quote can be applied to these coals if they are washed. Most power station suppliers try not to, since it only adds to the costs. Using an air-dried basis on washed coals will achieve the ash levels you quoted

    You are correct on Blair Athol. And spontaneous combustion is a variable risk with all coals

    I appreciate your comments. I was unsure if a long post like that would be useful

  62. Mack February 26, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    Gillard in her recent visit to NZ has seen how easy it was for a so called “right wing” govt. to slip in a 6c. increase in the price of petrol under the guise of an ETS ( the public generally dosn’t know the difference between coal and petrol ……it’s all carbon) and she certainly is convinced that her left govt. will be able to do likewise in Australia.
    Here in NZ it was pushed through with hardly a peep from our brainwashed simpering msm and even with the compliciity of the oil companies who 2 or 3 days later reduced the price back again to soften the blow…… and then hiked it up massively when our GST was raised from 12.5% to 15%.a month or so later. We are now paying 2.09c/litre for 91octane.
    The general public here are now virtually unaware or have forgotten that there is an ETS component in petrol. MSM certainly dosn’t remind them.
    Tony Abbot is sitting quiet because ALL politicians simply love to tax us any way they can ,especially for a noble cause like saving the planet,and save the green vote to boot.
    Politicians simply cannot resist the age old typical politics of fear of graphs pointing in the direction of doom and what they can do to correct those graphs and save us .
    Now, are there enough suckers (sheep) like we have here in NZ………?

  63. cementafriend February 26, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

    @ ianl8888 sorry, I have used coal from both mines at the Collie coalfield (Griffin 4% ash and Western Collieries <6% ash), I have also used briquettes (1.3% ash) from the Morwell open cut and brown coal from the the Yallourn North deposit (3-4% ash). I have visited both Loy Yang "A" and "B" stations and know exactly the type of coal they use. There is no benefication of coal on the Latrobe Valley coal, it would be far too expense. They use large bucket wheel excavators which load the coal on belt conveyors which then is fed directly into the bins feeding coal mills. At Morwell the coal from the open cut is crushed, dried with steam and then goes to the presses for briquetting.
    Here is a short bit on Loy Yang http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loy_Yang_Power_Station and here is something about the quality http://new.dpi.vic.gov.au/earth-resources/industries/coal/fact-sheet-brown-coal-victoria. In the latter you will see the ash is less than 4%. Then further down look that the comparison of differnet brown coals around the world.
    If you are a geologist you should know that a reserve is only that which is outlined and can be economically used. Brown coal with 50% ash would not be included in resources because it would be economically useless.

  64. el gordo February 26, 2011 at 9:22 pm #

    It is all fairly insidious, Mack. The propaganda has been highly successful because they have used scientific pseudo facts, which the average person doesn’t understand and cannot begin to discriminate.

    Half truths and monstrous lies can be got away with, because the MSM has given up its watchdog role. We have a real fight on our hands.

  65. tarpon February 27, 2011 at 7:32 am #

    My my, the extents that politicians will go to to tax things. It’s reached silly farm proportions.

    The global warming canard died in the snow, but it keeps on living.

  66. David February 27, 2011 at 7:45 am #

    Very clear article Tony. Will aid in getting the message through about this wrong tax.
    BUT – I question your CO2 emmission amounts. As everyone pointed out above – 1 tonne of Coal produces 2.86 tonnes of CO2. It should be 3.6663 tonnes.
    Carbon molecular weight is 12, Oxygen is 16 and the CO2 formula is 1 Carbon plus 2 X Oxygen equals – 12 + (2 x 16) = 44. This ratio then means that 1 tonne of coal (assuming it is all carbon) uses 2.6663 times it weight in Oxygen and combine with it to gives a total CO2 mass of (original weight) plus the 2.6663 the wieght of Oxygen = equals 3.6663 tonnes.

    This makes the Carbon Tax a huge multiplier.

  67. ianl8888 February 27, 2011 at 8:50 am #


    I had made no comment on Reserves – too complex for this website, and no real point here. Of course the LaTrobe power stations don’t wash the ROM, but “night” coal is not unknown to increase the Na content to the detriment of the boilers 🙂 This is now way OT

    On topic, having watched Combet on the TV this am, it seems much more likely that this is defacto an income tax surcharge on higher incomes, draped in a green cloak. The very thinnest of the wedge edge and typical of the ALP

    No point now – the MSM love it, it’s a done deal. As a last comment, it was Murdoch who pointed out that there is no requirement for the MSM to educate the public … so they won’t.

  68. MikeO February 27, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

    Tony I have no problem with the thrust of your article. I think though the economics of the issue means severe problems are closer than you think. The other thing I am curious about is where do you get your usage figures from? I have a copy of the ABARE report done in the Howard days. I think it varies from your statements quite a bit. For instance on memory 10% only is used by households. A carbon price can reduce emissions by causing blackouts due demand outstripping supply and closure of power stations. I think it will happen and just might wake the public up.

  69. cohenite February 27, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    So if David is right then Tony’s total of CO2 emissions needs to be increased by 28%: 3.6663-2.86 = 0.8063/2.86X100 = 28.2%.

    So a ball park figure for calculating the hip pocket cost is the toal emissions = ~384 million tonnes [from coal and gas]; times $32 per tonne = ~$12 and 1/4 billion to be taken out of the economic system.

    The residential sector is 38% of that 12&1/4 or ~$4.655 billion; in broad terms then the residential sector is looking at paying an extra $4.655 billion.

    How many of the residential customers will satisfy the threshold for reimbursement? 50%? 20% Say 30%. So from that $4.655 billion which is going to go into government coffers directly or indirectly, the government will have to pay out $1.3965 billion leaving it to clear, presumably on an annual basis, $3.2585 billion.

    From the other 2 sectors, commercial and Industrial there will be no compensation [?] so the government will pick up the remainder of the $12.25 billion, or $7.595 billion. That amount combined with the leftover from the residential reimbursement will give the government a theoretical increase from the carbon tax of $10.8535 billion per annum.

    I say theoretical because the purpose of the tax is to make fossil energy expensive enough for wind and solar to compete. However as Spain has shown that is a forlorn hope because carbon tax equivalents reduce the economy so much that the tax revenue drops below what it was before the carbon tax came in.

    California is also instructive. Here are the energy production figures from california for 2009:


    California has been R&Ding wind and solar for over 30 years and has been pouring 10’s of billions of dollars into that R&D. After all that time and money less than 2% of energy generated comes from wind and solar; less than 2%!

    California has also banned coal mining within its borders but still uses 31% of its energy from coal which is imported from neighbouring states.

    Australia has no such luxury and cannot import energy. So, when the fossil fuel fails due to being not maintained as a result of this tax and wind and solar is all that is left just remember who is responsible when you are freezing in the dark.

  70. David February 27, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

    Cohenite – the figures for power generation is 100 million tonnes (coal & gas) – but manufacturing industry (steel, aluminium, cement, bricks etc) use an additional 60 million tonnes per annunum on top of electricity. (Not counting fuel for transport) – so total CO2 emmissions is close to 586 million tonnes @ $32 per tonne works out to $18.75 Billion from Carbon Tax (CO2 Tax). If they add the tax on home electricity accounts also – they calculate 4 tonnes per $500 of electricity per household per quarter – and addition income of (7.5 million residential customers) the collection is an additional $3.84 Billion per annum.
    What else will they put carbon tax on? This tax has to stop?

  71. TonyfromOz February 27, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    Those percentage figures are generic across Western Society where there actually is enough electrical power to cover every contingency, and is in fact connected to every household residence.
    Those percentages have varied little over the years.
    Industry has come down, and by anything up to 10 percentage points over the decades since the Second World War ended, and the bulk of that has been split fairly evenly across increases in the Commerce and Residential sectors.

    As an example Go to the linked page, and as indecipherable as those statistics may seem to lay people what I want you to do is to scroll down the page until you see where it says ‘Rolling 12 months ending in November’, and then look at the figures for 2010.
    The Residential total is at the left and the total is at the right.
    This indicates that the Residential sector consumes 38.16% of all power being generated.
    The same applies across the Western World give or take a part of a percentage point here and there.



  72. cementafriend February 27, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

    Cohenite, David is not right because no coal or coke or char is 100% carbon as I put in earlier posts. It is a pity that David did not read all of the comments including those from Tony.

    In any case if one accepts that there are greenhouse gases ( which Van Andel and Miscolczi have shown from measurements are not present) then burning natural gas (ie CH4) is worse on a basis of emission per unit of energy.
    One molecule of CH4 when burnt results in one molecule of CO2 and 2 molecules of H2O. H2O has 8 to 10 times the absorptivity of infra=red radiant energy compared to CO2. However, the water vapour from the oxidation (burning) of CH4 is insignificant to the water vapour which comes naturally into the atmosphere from evaporation of oceans, in-land seas, large lakes and rivers. The pseudo-scientists have focused on CO2 because they think they can measure the amount in the atmosphere and blame human emissions.
    Some organisations (in Australia -Woodside, Santos, Shell, Origin etc) of course benefit from a switch from petroleum products to natural gas, or coal seam gas due to the pricing of carbon because it makes their product (piped natural gas or LNG) more competitive.
    It is all politics – the greens have a stupid agenda and a desire for power to manipulate an ignorant public, labour and the unions want power (and more taxes) to line their own pockets, some big business are happy to manipulate the greens and labour to get rewards for executives and some big investors. Nobody cares for the poor and disadvantaged; and the working families are there to be fleeced, but sometimes the latter say they have enough of the greedy and the power seekers and revolt.

  73. cohenite February 27, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

    cementafriend; I’m trying to get an idea of the total revenue that a CT will drag out of the economy; the initial port of call must be the total emissions from coal and gas fired power sources; if you guys can agree on that total that would be a good starting point to trace the effect of this madness through the economy.

    So, point one, what is the total emissions from coal and gas energy providers.

    2 Would be the emissions from energy users; this is already covered by the RET legislation which is already a drag on business.

    3 Petrol

    4 Agriculture.

    But lets start with a figure for 1.

  74. David February 27, 2011 at 5:29 pm #


    Sorry – I meant to explain as in my first post “assuming fuel is 100% carbon”. I am only new to this so will check first. Figures are only from total coal production minus exports etc etc.

    What about imported oil, fuel etc – will that attract a Carbon Tax – or only by end users?
    Item 1 of Cohenite is roughly 100 million tonnes of fuel for energy. TBC.

  75. TonyfromOz February 27, 2011 at 6:41 pm #

    It’s difficult to accurately say how much steaming coal is burned here in Australia for coal fired power.
    I have gone to each individual site and tried to calculate it exactly.
    Luckily I did this when I first started three years ago, and those exact amounts of coal were quoted at nearly all of those sites.
    Between then and now, those figures for coal being burned have, er, mysteriously, disappeared, surprise surprise.
    (Some of) the large sites still do mention how much coal they burn, but you need to look long and hard.
    Having traced as many of them as I can, I calculate them as all as burning 90 million tons of steaming coal.
    Some government figures, (and they’re also sketchy as coal burning figures seem to be anathema to everybody) put the coal burned figures as low as 75 million tons, but even adding up just those 24/7/365 operational plants, that total alone must come to more than that.
    Keep in mind also that smaller plants that can run up and down relatively quickly and are used for Peaking Power plants only run for those peaking periods of a few hours a day, so their coal burning figures vary as well.

    So, when I use that 90 million tons of coal burned, I then use the ‘generic’ multiplier of 2.86, and this gives a total of 260 million tons of CO2 emitted.

    As for Natural Gas fired plants, that’s a little more hazy.
    There is a recognised natural gas usage rate of (X) mcf (thousand cubic feet) per MW, and that varies also. (minimally)
    However, as they are used mainly for peaking power, their run times also vary, hence the amount of Methane that they burn is not really all that easy to calculate.
    CO2 emissions from Natural Gas are also calculated easily, at 22 pounds per mcf burned.

    As best as I can calculate, the total for that comes to around 40 million tons of CO2 per year emitted from those Natural gas fired plants.

    This gives a total CO2 emissions for Australia at 300 million tons, give or take.

    Electrical power produces around one third of all man made emissions.


  76. cementafriend February 28, 2011 at 1:01 am #

    Tony, Cohenite, you would not be far out if you assumed 890 tonne CO2 per GWhr electricity generation using black coal similar to that in NSW or Qld. Brown coal has a higher CO2 output mainly due to the high moisture in the coal which has to evaporated. For the Collie coal and Leigh Creek coal it is about 990 tonne CO2 /GWhr and the brown coal about 1040 tonne CO2/GWhr.

    You should be able to find the electricity production somewhere.

  77. cohenite February 28, 2011 at 7:53 am #

    Ok, Tony is sticking with this figure of ~300 million tonnes of CO2 taxable emissions from coal and gas energy sources; cementafriend’s figures would suggest a slightly higher figure and David higher still; so a ball-park is somewhere between 300-384 million tonnes of taxable CO2 emissions, just from coal or gas?

  78. TonyfromOz February 28, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    lotta work here, so Jennifer, I hope you’ll forgive me if this a little long.

    Because the scale of this is so huge, and because of that, people just cannot perceive that huge scale, there has been no real need for me to exaggerate those figures I use, so nearly every time, I have used ‘conservative’ calculations, and in fact, leaning on the low side.

    I use the multiplier 2.86 because that is the lower calculator, and even then, those figures are just so monumentally huge.

    I also use the U.S. data from the Energy Information Administration, because that is the ONLY place where this data is up to date. They publish their figures monthly with only a 3 month lag.

    Here in Australia, any figures of a similar nature are published yearly only. So those figures for the 2010 release are for FY 2008-2009, almost 2 years in delay, and then, if you go to the data, and you need an Engineering degree to decipher and I only have an Associate Diploma in Electrical Engineering, but that still enables me to decipher them better than lay people who would see all this as gobbledegook.

    Here’s the most recent Australian Energy Release, and beware it’s a (huge) pdf document.


    The relevant information starts at page 18, but scroll down to page 21 where it really starts, and you’ll see the ‘pie chart’ for electricity consumption Australia wide. This shows that here that 93.1% of all Australian power generation derives from fossil fuels.
    For relevance purposes, this section is only worth noting to the bottom of page 23.
    It shows consumption data for those fossil fuels there on those pages, but note especially that the data is only up to the end of 2008 almost three years out of date now.

    So, that’s why I stay with the EIA.

    They have recently updated their site to a much better way of being able to use it, so now you only need a Masters Degree to decipher it.

    Go to this page for relevant Australian data:


    Scroll almost to the bottom to the data headlined ‘Profile’.

    Look down the list and you’ll see there:

    Energy related CO2 emissions and you’ll see that total there as 437 million metric tons. It includes Oil there as that percentage figure of 30% and for electrical power generation that total is only 1% so here I would say this has included consumption from areas other than for electrical generation.

    As I contribute at that U.S. site, I have always used the U.S. short ton, and that metric total converts to almost 490 million short tons.

    Be not dismayed though, as the 2.86 multiplier works for both metric and other measurements.

    That figure there may seem anomalous, and the figure I use of that 300 million tons now does look to be conservative, but as I mentioned, because of the scale, there was never any need for me to exaggerate, because no one believes it anyway.

    Incidentally, in many cases that Australian document uses data from the US EIA anyway.

    Sorry to take so much space here with this reply.


  79. cohenite February 28, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    Well, that’s it lads; Milne has announced that the greens will be seeking a price on carbon of $45 per tonne.

  80. TonyfromOz February 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

    This just goes to show that she she has absolutely no idea whatsoever about what she’s proposing.

    I just can’t wait for the moment when it’s finally laid out in front of her just what impact this will have. You’d at least think that at least she’d attempt to find out the real implications.

    Just going on the base figures I have already worked out, that’s an increase in residential power bills of around 57.5%, and take out your last bill and work that out on a quarterly basis.

    If the average electricity account is around $1200 per annum, there’s an increase of close on $700 a year, or $14 per week, say around 4 Cappucino’s to use an old way of trying to rationalise it.

    That’s just the residential sector for electricity consumption, and that’s 38%.
    With Commerce consuming 37% and Industry 24%, those costs will also be passed directly down to consumers as well, and that’s just for electricity consumption which is one third of all emissions.

    Those emissions in other areas will also see increased prices, all passed directly down to consumers as well, so that $700 PA is just a starting point for the residential electrical power component.

    Also, if they say they are going to see that the less well off are more than compensated, and the average person will be no worse off, where is the incentive to make economies of consumption?

    She really has no idea whatsoever.

    The hard part to take is that she’s there in the Senate until 2016.

    Pity all of us.


  81. el gordo February 28, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

    Correct me if I’m wrong, at the moment there are state and federal taxes applied to all electricity users.

    Gillard will add to the list LRET and SRES. The LRET scheme covers renewable sources such as wind farms, while the new SRES scheme covers domestic hot water systems and solar panels.

    This won’t go down well with the electorate, but later I can see a successful Coalition government building ‘state of the art’ coal-fired power stations from China and looking for the money.

    Wondered if you could give me a ball park figure on the number of power stations needed and possible cost in today’s market?

    All the conservatives have to do is denigrate renewables and offer clean base load on a plate – at a much lower price.

  82. TonyfromOz February 28, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

    el gordo,
    I know it’s one of my own Posts at my Home site, but this explains it a little better, rather than do it all again here at length, because it is no simple ‘ballpark’ task.


    The problem is neither the cost, nor the number of plants needed, but the will to do it, and the time taken from thought bubble, through planning and approvals, to turning the first sod, to delivery of power, so quoting a number out of the blue like this will always be only conjecture.
    Currently there are are 8 large scale plants in Australia, and the will to actually replace them ahead of time is what you are up against, even if they are fast approaching the time when they should be replaced.


  83. cementafriend February 28, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

    Tony, Cohenite, just looked at the ESSA site and the fact sheet http://www.esaa.com.au/Library/PageContentFiles/d560ef51-89bc-477e-b3b1-8eece7427a58/Facts2010.pdf in 2008-2009 229,760 GWhr electricity of which 56.3% generated from black coal and 24.8% from brown coal. So with my CO2 figures (calculated from Joint Coal Board data) I get 174 Mtonne CO2 from coal. The CO2 from the natural gas is about 8Mtonne (but need to check that). Your figure for electricity appears high.
    There will be CO2 from other coal, gas, oil and biofuel (bagasse, wood) uses eg minerals smelting, cement, lime, sugar, refineries etc.
    If the greens get their wish with the carbon tax (they won’t) the aluminium, cement and oil refining industries will shut down and these will be imported. The steel industry certainly will be hit. Whyalla is due also to be hit with MRRT and will definitely close. The stupidity of sending jobs offshore to less energy efficient production of aluminium, cement and steel must be obvious to the thickest unionist and I am sure that they will revolt.

  84. cinders February 28, 2011 at 10:47 pm #

    To simplify the discussion on how much CO2 is produced by coal fired power just quote the WWF, the greens cannot dispute the figure, as it is from their own support base. The WWF published their glossy brochure “Australia’s polluting power” at http://www.wwf.org.au/publications/australias_polluting_power/

    It claims “Twenty-four coal power stations are the largest source of greenhouse gas
    emissions in Australia, pumping out 170 million tonnes of carbon dioxide
    (CO2) every year.” Then lists them in groups by State. This figure is for 2001 and is similar to that published in AGEIS http://www.ageis.greenhouse.gov.au for Stationary Energy from fossil fuel for public electricity and heat production (180 million tonnes 2001, 200 Mt- 2008)

    Now if the greens are demanding $45 a tonne as cabon tax then this is $7.6 billion each year assumming that its a tonne of CO2.

    However I am not sure what the greens have forced on government is it about carbon polution or carbon dioxide polution?

  85. CameronH March 1, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    A good start to explain how power is generated. A few corrections. There are about 8 large power plants in QLD alone. I believe that you will find that there are about 20 large generation plants in Australia.

    Although they need to keep the voltage outputs and frequecy consistent they can wind these plants down and produce less power. The power output of generators comes from the combination of both volts and amps ie Watts (Volts*Amps). They have speed governors on the turbines for frequency control and voltage regulators on the generators to control output voltage.

    The power output is, therefore, controlled by amperage control. As these are dynamic systems power out is allways equal to power in. As load (power) demands on the generator decreases it become easier to turn the generator at the required speed and the boiler firing rate is decreased accordingly. This uses less coal.

    The downside of this is that, as the boiler moves away from it’s maximum output is becomes less efficient and therefore uses more coal per megawatt output. There is also a point where the heat in the furnace decreases to a point where coal will not automatically combust. At this point oil guns need to be brought into play to support the coal combustion. Depending on the quantities of volatiles in the coal this can be anywhere fro one third to half load. At this point generation efficiencies start to get go downhill pretty quickly.

    Hopefully this helps.

  86. el gordo March 1, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    Tony, you’re a wasted talent, this is good stuff.

    ‘Both Nuclear and coal fired power however are much less expensive than for either of those currently favoured renewables, by a factor of between four and seven. The biggest factor in favour of both coal and nuclear is that they can just hum along comfortably each and every day, supplying huge amounts of power that those renewables will NEVER supply, even in the wildest dreams of those Green supporters.’

  87. TonyfromOz March 1, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

    thanks for the added input.

    My main task is to explain in the simplest of terms possible.
    I spent almost three years doing electrical theory and Prac, and trying to condense that into a thousand words is a little more than complex, hence there are mistakes I do make, and believe me, to this day, I’m still learning about electrical theory.

    As to plant size, here I’m categorising everything that has a Nameplate Capacity greater than 1500MW as large, and those from 800 to 1500 as medium sized. There are smaller plants as well that are coal fired.

    For you others, consider this for a minute.

    Eraring Power has a Nameplate Capacity of almost 2700 MW, just the one plant.
    To replace that with an equivalent Nameplate Capacity of Wind towers, and the average nacelle on top of those towers has a 3MW generator, you will need 900 huge towers.

    However, that’s not the end of it.

    Eraring can run 24/7/365.

    The best power delivery efficiency for wind plants is around 30% (quoted) while the current World average is closer to 20%. While ever those blades are turning they are producing their full power. So that 20%, and let’s be magnanimous here and hope they can run at 25%, then they are delivering their power for around 6 hours a day.

    So, that one Eraring plant delivers four times the power of those 900 wind towers.

    Can you see now how Wind will never replace coal, considering 65% of all power being consumed in Australia is required ABSOLUTELY for 24/7/365.

    And to el gordo, thanks.


  88. cementafriend March 1, 2011 at 3:43 pm #

    Tony, you forgot that sometimes the wind does not blow so that for every MW of wind turbine capacity there is a need for equal standby power. There was an article (can’t find it at present -could have been the UK Sunday Telegraph) about UK experience where for one week wind power contributed nothing to the grid and that was in winter during the heavy snowfall when everyone wanted more heating. This article http://www.walletpop.co.uk/2011/01/10/failure-of-wind-farms-in-cold-weather-to-cost-billions/ gives some indication of wind turbine failure to supply over 3 months.
    I have been to Cooper Pedy and saw the wind turbine stationary while they diesels were running to supply all the power. There is not even a payback (without subsidies) on the capital cost of the wind turbine and its controls, from the savings in diesel fuel. Over in NSW at White Cliffs the Solar power station (which had back up diesel) was closed and the town connected to the NSW grid.
    Why do people believe the greens? They have no understanding of technology, no experience of practical operation, no ideas of costs or economics. In the Irish elections the greens were wiped out. Could the same happen in NSW?

  89. TonyfromOz March 1, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    Again, I know these are Posts of my own, but if you want to see how poorly Renewable Power really does perform, read any one of these Posts.

    It’s a series that is spread over 12 months and I have ten months so far with the most recent almost real time data.

    This data proves conclusively that even the most recent technology for the two ‘flavour of the month’ renewables Wind and Solar Power fails utterly to deliver the power that is required.



  90. Tool man March 1, 2011 at 8:39 pm #

    I’m not a warmist, quite the opposite in fact…..

    But just to clarify my own understanding of the physics here.

    When more current is drawn then it loads the generator by increasing the magnetic resistance, thus slowing it down. If you have a small petrol genny you will hear the pitch drop as it slows down when you switch in a high power device. Thus, by reducing the current load from the system you need less energy to maintain the 50hz rotation as there is less magnetic resistance.

    The energy companies know via their historical how much demand is expected at any given time and adjust the generator fuel accordingly.

  91. el gordo March 1, 2011 at 9:34 pm #

    Christopher Booker says wind farms are an economic disaster, particularly in Europe.


  92. TonyfromOz March 2, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    Tool man, and other readers,

    there are just so many misconceptions out there about the supply and consumption of electrical power.

    If you have a small personal generator that is supplying what you use on a personal basis, then as you increase the load, then the small unit will work harder, hence the pitch change you hear.

    On the (very much) larger scale for power being supplied to the grid for hundreds of thousands of consumers in the area where it is being used, it is an entirely different concept, and that is sometimes difficult to understand, and also to try and explain.

    While the small unit reacts to the load change, on the larger scale, an amount of power is generated and made available at the grid enough to cover every power consumption demand, PLUS a percentage factor over and above that total demand.

    That power is then drawn down from that overall total.

    During Peak power demand (6AM to 9AM and 4PM to 11PM) extra plants, in the main natural gas fired plants that can run up and down to operating speed quickly, will be called upon to add to that total, again to take the level beyond expected demand

    Approximately 65% of all power being generated is required absolutely, and that applies across nearly every grid. That power is supplied by those huge coal fired plants that lumber along 24/7/365 supplying their maximum power to the grid all the time.

    So with the power being drawn down from the grid, any changes in load are not felt back at the power plants themselves.

    Grid distribution planners know those consumption levels, (give or take) and will always have a level of power available over their total grid area just that little bit greater than what is being consumed.

    Knowing those times, they then plan to have Plant (X, Y, Z) ready to come on line at a set time to add to the overall total so that it is available to be drawn down from the grid.

    Remember the brown outs of the 70’s when power was rationed to areas in NSW.
    There was not enough to cover every contingency for the whole State, so areas were removed from the grid on a rotational basis.

    So large coal fired plants run all the time, and smaller plants add to the total.
    Consumers draw their power down from that overall total, and there is a small percentage on top of what is being consumed.

    So extra demand is NOT felt back at the plants.


  93. TonyfromOz March 2, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    You know how something nags away in your brain, when you make an error and then cannot find where it is.
    Well that has been with me now for a few days, and for the life of me I couldn’t find it. You read something and no matter how you read it, your mind automatically inserts the correct fact if the wording is similar.

    The CO2 emissions from the burning of Natural gas was my error, and I couldn’t find it, even though I knew it was somewhere.

    Found it!

    In a comment in reply above on Feb 27 at 6.41PM, I mentioned that for every mcf (thousand cubic feet) of Natural gas being burned, 22 pounds of CO2 was emitted.

    That number is actually 122 pounds.

    The problem I have is that I live here in Australia, and I am from the pre Metric era. After we converted to metric, I trained myself to recognise the new measurements by converting them to what I knew, until I could actually perceive those new Metric measurements automatically, if you can see that.

    When I started this process of chasing up electrical power considerations, the most up to date data I could find with respect to Electrical power consumption figures was in fact from the U.S. and as I was contributing to that U.S. site, then I had to write my Posts in a manner that would be understood by the vast bulk of those readers, and to that end, I had to then convert in my mind to what I knew to better visualise it, if you can see that.

    Then there was the problem that when it comes to weights and liquid measurements, the U.S. uses different ways of putting that than does the old Imperial measurements, and for an example, the Imperial Ton is 2240 Pounds, the Metric Tonne is 1000Kg, and the U.S. ton is 2000 Pounds.

    (Be aware here that the 2.86 multiplier I use is the same across the board providing you work with the same measurement as the base.)

    Now with the CO2 emissions rate from the burning of Natural Gas, that is in fact 122 Pounds per mcf.

    An Imperial Pound is the same as the US Pound, so again then it’s just a matter of conversion at the Ton, Tonne, U.S. Ton rate if you can see that, but as I mentioned above, it is most definitely not 22 pounds per mcf burned but 122 Pounds.

    I have found some other data that uses another ‘form’ of conversion, that of 1.321 pounds per KWH but as plant burn rates for Natural Gas vary, in the main due to the size of the plant, then using the mcf rate becomes more accurate if you can see that.

    Anyway, I’m glad I found the error, and having done that, I had to correct it here.

    Sorry about that people.


  94. el gordo March 3, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

    Why solar doesn’t pay in the ‘top end’.



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