Transition to LLS – the failure to connect

In Australia the voting turnout was lower than Zimbabwe for the recent LLS elections. When you consider the build up to the elections was enthusiastically promoted by the NSW Government and the DPI you can understand the embarrassment of the turnout. What is difficult to understand the refusal to release the figure and facts of what went wrong?

On two previous occasions CO2Land org posted positive expectations for the process. On December 21, 2013, the story – Transition to LLS – NSW, 1 year on: “From 1 January 2014, the new Local Land Services (LLS) organisation will commence operating under the Local Land Service Act 2013” Source . Notice of election – LLS Board Members to be conducted early 2014 and mooted to be ballot to close 12 March 2014. Prior to that Transition to LLS – NSW, December 2, 2012: “The theme of the transition is ‘let’s work together’ and it is said that ‘business as usual’ will continue in terms of maintaining commitment to the landholders”. So what went wrong, why is the Shadow Minister for Primary Industries (DPI), Steve Whan, calling for an inquiry into the low voter turnout?

To use what Whan is quoted as saying in a press release is, and published in the Bungendore Mirror 26 March 2014: “From my discussions with land owners, though, the main reason for low voter turnout was they had no confidence whatsoever in the LLS model nor that their voices would matter”, and “These boards are unrepresentative of NSW landowners and importantly they are appallingly unrepresentative of the vital role women play in rural communities”.

So it seem that the model is the issue for up to 90% of the eligible voters. The other matter was the voter registration process was botched. It might not be appropriate to comment any further on that matter, or at least until it is clarified by the DPI, or through any inquiry that might follow.

Is there any other information that might be relevant for the story? Well, yes get ready for this: The call for new Landcare action, a press release on the 25th anniversary of Landcare’s formation, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), and the National Farmers Federation (NFF) have joined forces. This is not the first time they have teamed up for activities to reverse the degradation of farmland, public land and waterways. What is significant is that this alliance is meant to build relationships, not dictate or prescribe political edicts.

We could also draw the long bow here and say it is an ominous sign for the Green Army policy hopes for the Federal Government. Recently seen is a placard saying it had the answer to our rural woes – a Abbott proof fence! For those readers outside Australia, to help with controlling rabbits a rabbit proof fence was built in the outback. This reference to Abbott Proofing is part of the Australian form of humour. If you don’t get it – that’s OK it will come to you one day!



EV’s – not cost, heat management the issue.

The advisor to the minister responded to a call from a colleague – we want to talk about saving an industry. Advances in electric car technology can make it viable to say many of the limits for production are no longer the problem – the batteries that is.

We went looking for the facts, and a quick search then found a story ( ) Why do electric vehicles use so many batteries? From that story we learnt the cost of batteries are only part of the issue. It is the battery technology that is the dominant problem. “The world’s most recognisable electric vehicles (EVs), such as the Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf, run on hundreds, or even thousands, of small battery cells.” Then there is the type of battery construction “BMW’s new i3 electric runabout spreads 96 battery cells across eight modules in its pack. The Leaf uses almost 200 thin laminated film cells that are packaged into 48 modules, and the Model S has more than 6,800 small lithium-ion battery cylinders.”

However, cost is important in the decision on the number of cells to be used. Explaining Tesla’s decision to use lap top type batteries: “Leigh Christie, an EV engineer, says manufacturers’ embrace of smaller batteries boils down to cost. “The capital cost for manufacturing equipment for 18650-size cells is as about as low as it gets,” he wrote. “This cell has been manufactured longer than pretty much any other lithium-ion cell.”

From what is said forums note “a nuanced view of why so much variation exists around how many batteries an EV uses, and why the industry is not quite ready for a mega-battery.” So it is not that mega batteries are not available, it is they are more expensive to produce. And, smaller batteries offer temperature control benefits, and were “easier to stack in unique ways to distribute weight and make use of small spaces in a vehicle chassis.”

All that said on further reading it becomes obvious heat is and the managing of heat is the bigger cost issue. Yes, that is correct the cost of managing heat and heat from EV battery cells is something all manufacturers must learn to manage. “The gaps between the cells allow for cooling and minimize the possibility of thermal runaway,” and “That’s why Nissan’s flat laminated cells are designed with a large surface area that quickly disperses the batteries’ heat. Because of this, the Leaf does not require a separate battery-cooling unit, such as those in the i3 and Model S.”

Co2Land org must now conclude electronic vehicles still need more time to be mainstream and the issues with the batteries are the matter that needs the most attention. Namely,

The cost of manufacture, the number required to be diverted from other product needs for similar batteries, the size range available, the matter of managing heat.

Therefore to be fully desirable those problems and issues need to be overcome for long-term success.   It follows we have success in making plant available, we just need technology to catch up with the battery needs.

Ironic RET – the sum is bigger than the whole.

The conversation was fluid, and as the Renewable Energy Forum wound down to its closing stages. What was obvious was we all shared a concern that what is policy is not what was understood as the intention of the policy. If we make example of the Renewable Energy Target (RET): After a review of the 2001 target set under the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET), the Australian Federal Government in August 2009 committed to the RET and it was designed to ensure that 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity supply will come from renewable sources by 2020.  Then in June 2010, the Federal Parliament passed legislation to separate the RET into two parts to commence on 1 January 2011 – the Large scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) and the Small scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES). These changes are in order to provide greater certainty for households, large-scale renewable energy projects and installers of small-scale renewable energy systems.

What has happened since is the 20% Australian Federal policy changed to GWh available targets.

What is wrong with that you say? Well previously 20% meant 20% no matter how much the demand for electricity grew. In other words the renewable energy requirement will grow to ever-higher numbers as electricity demand grew at approximately 5% per year. This suggested traditional generators would lose market share to new renewable starters. To get accord on the issue, the setting was then addressed as a Gigawatt target that said 20% was desired but was ‘real’ in that it actually reduced the % of the renewable energy production each time total energy demand increased. What now worries the traditional generators that agreed to the accord is that demand is reducing at around 2% pa and that it is trend, ironically because of the policies of the new Australian Government towards manufacturing and innovation. So at the time of change to Gigawatt target until demand actually dropped we saw the actual % of the target drop to about 13% and now it will rise on predictions to have demand reduce we will find the target will again be closer to 20%. It even affects the Energy Retailer in that the risk of being caught ‘short’ or ‘long’ in the market is a much bigger risk.

Another issue is that states and territories always need to do more, and they have set their own targets. The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) recently amended its 25% target to reflect 90% by 2020.  ACT have even introduced a 20 cents per kWh feed in tariff (FIT) to encourage large scale renewable to supply business and industrial needs in the region. What they have effectively done is create a capacity market inside a Spot Market for electricity.

So – If you studied my phone records, what would you unearth about me and my intentions, seriously? The irony is metadata collection on individuals might give you the wrong conclusion. Why is that so? I am a collaborator and a competitor, the cluster I might frequent will change according to the clients needs. Imagine this I am at the Renewable Energy Forum, I tell all about the wonderful deal I have done based on coal fired generation, that it was a wonderful outcome – and all agree they needed to know that outcome. They now knew what tactics they needed to counter those arrangements. But as metadata it might read or profile, they are here, they are everywhere, what are they up to – must be no good!

Oh dear, getting paranoid about the RET review are we? No actually feeling very positive. Why? CO2Land org can remember at least 7 reviews of different sorts on the matter. Yes, something will change, and distortion in the market place will be adjusted. Maybe even new models for the industry will be mandated to accommodate change or the transition strategies for the inevitable continued growth will be clearer.

Why be so confident? The Abbott government largely is a carbon copy of the Howard era. Even when Howard introduced the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET) it was not his preferred vehicle to protect the environment, but it was a means, through pluralism to remain in power.   In this case to appease the Democrat Party faithful (sorry Green Party faithful but that is a fact). Abbott is a former Howard Minister, as is many of the Abbott cabinet, and the difference is, in Abbott’s case, is the need to appease right wing entity(s). The problem with the right wing groups is they tend to be Elitist and leaning toward returning to feudalistic ideals.  Howard tended to favour Roman times, and you must suspect Abbott does too.

So CO2Land org does not believe that Abbott, who previously endorsed Carbon, is doing anything other than adjust the rules to appease concerns and continue with what China is doing – encourage continued renewable uptake.

What if Turnbull takes over as Prime Minister, would it be better? By degrees we suspect rather than radical. We can be encouraged that Turnbull does continue to support the ideals of sustainable business.  In our opinion he had one fault, too honest in his previous stint of party leader. Maybe he did learn that lesson – don’t be too visible in setting your agenda.

Don’t give up on renewables surviving the RET review  is our advice. If you note the style of the current executive it is similar to neurolinguistic programming, that in effect means we just give up trying to comprehend meaning. More proof listen to the language being used; ever changing degrees of view point and you might even notice yourself saying: Did he not say something else yesterday – I give up!

Don’t give up because the Pollyanna moment is to come, suddenly, Abbott will say I always supported the environment, I was waiting for the right moment and mechanism. It is about how a relevant government can govern to maintain a community obligation. NOTE: All weasel words have been carefully chosen so no disclaimer is required!