Brought down on the side of ‘creative’ people – Caveat Emptor – the budget

The Government has not yet explained some Budget proposals in detail. Caveat Emptor: a principle in commerce: without a warranty the buyer takes the risk. The excitement is the budget will allow small business to get a tax advantage for spending, and being creative. The carrot is to encourage you to be a start-up. The beware warning is because; generally the announcements made, as part of the Budget will have to pass as legislation before they take effect. Therefore, Budget proposals should not be taken as fact yet, even if a starting date is proposed.

It is right to get excited, it is a policy turnaround with promise. A promise you will be rewarded for being creative. Now comes another issue: While it helps start-up, being creative just does not cut it at all when it comes to describing what you do (why you are a desirable product). You see a well thought out plan is more than a document; it is the display of your method to success.

As a small business owner you realize the measure of your worth is how you can innovate and compete. There is even a separate government program designed for that purpose. The necessary step is you must have a plan that is focused on an idea and method. If you think about this you realize a politician emphasizing ‘creative’ might be silly. Our PM has repeated wailed the word on the media as describing the primary need for being successful and rewarded by the budget.

What is wrong with the word ‘creative’ you ask? The word ‘creative’ may mean “deceptive in presenting financial information”. The dictionary tells us so, and it seems a poor choice of word to be used in the Budget meant to build confidence.

Maybe the Treasurer is doing a better job of showing an understanding of language – of the budgets intended purpose, and I quote: “If small business people are investing in innovation and job creation, we should be celebrating. That’s fantastic and that’s how you grow an economy.” Then we take notice the PM was reluctant to use the word ‘innovation’ in his address; he preferred to embellish ‘creative’.

Continuing with the Treasurer’s words: “We focused on continuing with our economic plan which is built on last year’s budget, is built on a number of decisions we have made since we came to government.

We are continuing with that economic plan”.

The above comments while confusing are at least reflective of a change to the mindset, or at least, a thought – Start-ups will save us?

Where did that idea come from? A recent start-up economy study undertaken by PwC and commissioned by Google Australia forecasts high-growth technology companies could contribute four per cent of gross domestic product (or $109 billion) and add 540,000 jobs by 2033 from a base of about 0.2 per cent of GDP today.

However, they also warn of market failure and the reason why it is likely.

Then comes the worrying bit of all this enthusiasm. According to a World Economic Forum report, “Australia’s start-up ecosystem is already lagging behind those of many other developed nations due to a lack of emphasis on entrepreneurship education, limited engagement with universities and poor cultural support for entrepreneurs.”

Back to more worry: Treasury makes no forecasts beyond 2016-17. After that, it only makes a technical assumption that all will be well over the following five years. In other words the assumption we will able to achieve nirvana. To this point we read one media report even said :It’s what Happy Joe’s Fairy Godmother might deliver for him, if he had one. It’s not what you would want to base our economic policy settings on.”

To recap earlier in the blog. The risk of being creative is the creator may be seen as deceptive in presenting financial information. The risk of presenting innovation is that might be seen as coincident and opposed to the purpose for the statement.  The case for the cost benefit for the policy would have to ask and answer: Is this idea creative or innovative. It cannot be both otherwise you might be opening for a consensus. Consensus has a habit of finding a rule against the ideals. If you have had policy training, you might be saying – bloody ‘creative’ budget got me going. If we play semantics with the wording, and the PM can spin this morning as encouraging ‘creative’ small – to mean what he did not intend? Did he intend to omit to say innovative small business to be encourage, the day after the budget?

We tested that thought, and to paraphrase some of the responses:

  • We need local employment opportunity to go along with the incentive, something we often see social planners forget about.
  • We to be producers too, not just service providers.
  • We see a different economic reason altogether, the incentive increases our reliance on imports. We have had our manufacturing sector stripped of its ability to compete.
  • Startups are not just IT companies. Real innovators make things, not just create.
  • They don’t get the supply demand balance!
  • Does anyone have a spare $200million laying around, we have a outstanding start-up ready to go. But we have no government support! That got our attention. It is real and the problem policy does not want to know.

Think again if you think they got. Than listen to this game of semantics, on ABC TV: Interviewer Leigh Sales (LS) and Interviewee Joe Hockey (JH) –

LS – The Government’s spending as a percentage of GDP is 25.9 per cent. That is the same as the previous Labor Government (was) spending at the height of the global financial crisis.

JH – Not true. They got to 26 per cent.

LS – You’re at 25.9 per cent?

Another commentator of the semantics, said:

Maybe Australians are thought they don’t know when their legs are being pulled!

Now the dust has started to settle on the hype of the budget. There is a realisation that the accelerated depreciation schedule that was announced for those nice to have tools of trade (sometimes called big boys toys) is not gifts. The scheme is designed to offset your tax liability when you earn enough money to pay for them. The issue them is one of equity. A positive of this is that the plumber or electrician is now fully aware that a market is supply and demand. Albeit the new measure makes them aware they do need to make enough money to pay for the toys. The story continues as we received a plumbing quote a week before the accelerated depreciation for small business was announced – it was $1,700. A few days after the announcement – it was changed to $2,400. Why, the reply to pay for items I need to buy? Why, do you need to buy them? Because I realised I had to earn more money to have a liability to pay tax and that tax is what I can claim from what I buy? And, we were to be a willing to pay for that purpose? Yes. We did not find that equitable – so we put off our purchase.

So the problem is ‘start-up’ are not stand-ups or creative types on how to make money. A genuine start-up is backed by a method that will create money and not just redirect money from old to new etc. We think – nay – still confused!

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All about gas, coal has lost it

It is all about gas. Coal has lost it, but it is a good distraction. Petroleum is a convenient price setter. Renewables are the future and the trick is to be to get the traditional utility models to take ownership. But what is the price?

World wide scholarly types have put forward a number of maps of energy analysis for, Japan and globally. Japan is topical because they are more likely to be a first tier part of Australia’s trade. 

The trade approaches call for model development for energy demand, costing, efficiency, and green house gas emission – We trust you noted that models needed included Greenhouse Gas emissions. Why? Because Japan for its energy security must consider its short and long selling trades on energy. Energy needs include considering an individual process basis including fuel cell technology, vehicle technology, internal electricity needs and the usage strata on all levels including regional or national levels with a multiplicity of competing energy processes.

That said, Japan is only one of our global partners with similar concerns. All must consider in their national interest what are some of the comparable energy pathways. Those pathways include: Coal importation, fuels used for electricity production, electricity use in either residential, commercial, and transportation sectors etc. In all these considerations the answers can change over time and some of the drivers will be the relevant technology needs, the gaps in sustainable delivery mechanisms to meet the demands and gaps in supply, and they must also consider the time frames needed to close each fuel supply type and substitute them.

Australia’s politics is sending up a big smoke screen – Coal is King. World prices and demand says something different something like ‘Coal is dead long live the Coal’ 
 We hear of ‘clean coal’ and then we hear it is a nonsense. What is certain is it becoming an undesirable fuel source. This is not saying unnecessary it is simply saying much less attractive on the world stage. Why, technology can now provide better fuel sources without the climate change consequences. So much so that at any price, coal is too expensive. Coal can be burnt, but needs processing to be useful for other purposes. The term embodied energy come to mind here. It means the amount of energy needed to convert may be higher than the value of the material compared to alternative process. Then there is gas! Gas can be used for its molecule – to make fertilizer for instance, to fuel your stove, boiler, it can be a by-product of another process such as syngas. Your waste can even be used to produce it. Gas can be processes or extracted to supply. But the choices are better, cleaner. Granted, not the best energy source, but far more sensible than relying on coal. Hence, the now is all about gas.

Then there is the markets that determine viability to produce. Despite what our Australian policy makers might be telling us – the truth is more than ‘real’, it more than to be affective it is about being effective. It is not good enough to be positioned well, you also need an effective agenda. Or, at least have you agenda smarter than the other guys. What is there to critique about our stance, now:

Carbon Tax – the UK, US Republicans are all active in thinking a Carbon Tax is good. It is a market mechanism that works. This flies in the face of Australia’s Environment Minister saying it does not – even though the evidence suggest Australia’s Carbon Emissions reduced 11% since the introduction of a carbon price. Even more perplexing is why the Australian government put forward to confuse carbon price and carbon tax. For instance in the legislation for clean energy was the term the Carbon Price. The ‘price’ included offsetting for a transition of industry to a low carbon future. In the repeal legislation is substituted the words Carbon Tax as meaning Carbon Price. The UK and US clearly think there is a difference between the two definitions.

An example of the critics is, on 9 July 2014, Lord Deben – a UK Tory and is noted from the Thatcher years to now as expert on the environment has issued a statement through the ABC saying the Abbott Government “appears to be more concerned with advancing its own short-term political interests” than dealing with global warming.

Also, on 7 July 2014, Solar Reserve chief executive Kevin Smith told the ABC’s Four Corners program the company had been deterred by a drift in policy and the planned scrapping of the carbon tax.

It was also concerned about the appointment of Dick Warburton, who doubts that carbon emissions are causing global warming, to lead a review of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target.

“That policy change pretty much took the life out of the renewable energy sector as far as large-scale projects for utility applications [are concerned],” Mr Smith said.

“Other markets around the world are advancing. Australia is going to get left behind.”

On Mr Warburton’s appointment, Mr Smith said: “Clearly that appointment was made because they want to move back towards conventional fuels, coal and oil.

“It’s pretty clear that the policy in Australia is now being centred around big coal. The coal industry clearly has rallied to move policy away from renewable energies because they view renewable energy as a threat and want to move back to convention coal.”

“Just think, these coal companies won’t be able to sell their coal overseas unless they get sequestration or offset commitments and the only way they can do that is if they have an ETS; they can’t pay for it unless they’ve got carbon credits.

“They’ve killed themselves. Coal is dying anyway, but they’ve killed themselves even quicker.

“The whole politics of climate change has regained a bit of ground.”

Then consider:

Palmer United Party’s commitment to keep part of the architecture of the carbon laws in place – the Renewable Energy Target, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Climate Change Authority – is a big win, and the reality is it’s driven by the market, ‘Newman’ says.

“That’s enough for now; we’ll regroup. We’ll get there.”

But do we really have to lose the ETS mechanism?

The suggestion Is then that the government cross benches are not happy:

This disaster started to unfold to vote for the ETS in 2009?

“A Victorian senator, Judith Troeth, a senior figure in the Liberal Party’s moderate faction, and a Queensland senator, Sue Boyce, crossed the floor to vote with Labor senators when the legislation was finally put to a vote,” reported the Sydney Morning Herald at the time.

Both these women are now gone. But maybe there are a few other senators willing to vote with their conscience.

It’s a time for bravery. There are Titanic shifts everywhere right in both the US and Australia and impressively they are from the conservative big end of town.

Last week was the think piece in the New York Times from the über-conservative Republican politician Hank Paulson, a former US Treasury Secretary, that ricocheted around the world.

It was based on a bipartisan report, Risky Business, that argued that global warming was no different to the global financial crisis and even more dangerous. And yet it was if the world was ploughing straight into a mountain, Paulson said.”

You might even note here – we are not talking technology, it is the passion of addressing the ‘real’ issues.

We wonder what would happen if you introduced the technology issues with wind-based electricity for water electrolysis for hydrogen production and the use of hydrogen in fuel cell vehicles, the use of biomass to produce biofuels for transportation. I bet the vested interests would do all they can to stop the innovation. Despite how short sighted it is to oppose.

To recap why we mentioned our agenda needs to be smarter. Consider this:

“LNG spot prices for Japan at 3-year low

TOKYO — Spot prices of liquefied natural gas for Japanese buyers have been hovering at the lowest level in about three years due to increased supplies and sluggish demand.

     Spot prices are about $11 per million British thermal units, about the same as immediately after the March 2011 earthquake in Japan. From February this year, the price has dropped about 40%.

     Supplies for Asia are increasing. An LNG project in Papua New Guinea, in which Exxon Mobil and JX Holdings have stakes, began production in May instead of the originally scheduled September or later. Now, more than 300,000 tons of LNG from Papua New Guinea flow into the spot market monthly. And shipments from Indonesia and Australia are also steady.

     In contrast, demand is not as strong. Ten Japanese power companies had 2.44 million tons of LNG inventories at the end of April, up 13% from a year earlier. With the temperature through May having been warmer than usual, these companies did not have to generate as much electricity as a year before.

     In South Korea, state-owned gas company Korea Gas piled up LNG inventories as the country restarted nuclear power plants. It is now asking such Japanese companies as Tokyo Gas and Chubu Electric Power to buy its excess.

(Nikkei)”

Danger Danger no doubt!

An honest opinion – Why Electricity Prices are Rising

It started, if one cannot express an honest opinion to one another – than we have no freedom. So why was a recent writer not particularly pleased when we said: “The ‘why’ needs a follow up and maybe a sharper focus on the Institute of Public Affairs motivations”? By this was meant they are an institution that makes a claim as the ‘The Voice of Freedom – Freedom and Optimism” – yet they seem so negative to progress and innovation. So we feel it is fair to say what motivates needs a sharper focus.

What was it all about? It started with the comment: “Good article on the ‘what’ – Elegant, eloquent, easy to read. The ‘why’ needs a follow-up and maybe a sharper focus on the Institute of Public Affairs motivations? That regulators tend to anticipate growth and expenditure from information supplied by the networks. Then there is the ‘how’. How did this happen, or at least more detail on the how! For instance: Is falling demand from energy efficiency, or the commercial sector in decline and/or manufacturing slowdowns/showdowns. Will it happen anyway because to be more effective you need to be more efficient? “ The article being commented on was “Why Electricity Prices are Rising, 27 June 2014” – posted by Turlough Guerin. In the preamble he said “When I worked in the telecommunications sector someone told me that you don’t need a PhD to understand how pricing works – but it sure helps. Perhaps the same holds for electricity. However there is no doubt that power prices are rising across Australia. This is clear not only from federal government statistics, but you need look no further than your power bill with the average household now paying close to $1000 each year.”

But, CO2Land org finds a major issue with the use of past data in determining the facts. – For instance the variable are changing in their focus, the model of the business are changing or at least being forced to change. More importantly the changes are being driven by the need to more efficient. All brought about the world wanting us to be measured on comparative advantage of our products. It you do not believe us: Why is carbon a focus elsewhere in the world? Why is it that penalties are being sought against those that do not seriously consider carbon in the world markets? This is not an argument on the setting of the price, it is about the need to be aware that future predictions from past data is dangerous, and you must consider the circumstances are changing.

In the article above, it was good, but only because it was the first installment in what should be a series of facts being presented. For instance we could write about why Victoria sold it assets and that at that time Victoria had an excessive redundant infrastructure available, and this gave rise to ‘a good buy’ to those that buy the asset with a cash cow potential. Bring that forward to today, and those that own the Victorian Assets have a conundrum; the private owners need to find more money to improve the services in a tight market. Now if we move to NSW, today, we see a very different problem; they are trying to sell a run down network that might not be viable to buy. Queensland has another set of problems and the long runs between population centres and the concentration of the southeast corner make dissimilar circumstances that make it difficult to say a common variable affects the business.

All that said what are the variables? We propose a new model the give weight to:

  • What is the costs to maintain the existing the Poles and Wires (Transmission and Distribution networks)
  • What is the costs of stink of politics – Science v’s Fiction argument
  • The reality of a carbon market and its global significance to our local markets
  • The existing infrastructure – new and aging generation coefficients
  • The existing infrastructure – transmission and distribution future needs
  • The infrastructure – gas system – this is a very complex issue as it is sensitive not just to the environment as it is to world politics. In effect we have very little control of what is happening in that industry. Why because the deals done elsewhere are linking the gas price to movements on peak oil price predictions.
  • The potential of the suite of alternative energy sources. This means the current infrastructure is very likely redundant. The really sensitive fact is that the models of distribution will change because of it.
  • The Electricity Demand. Be it new or additional generation, the transmission and distribution constraints, the regulator findings or simply consumer behaviour (despite climate change); the biggest problem is the supply demand balancing equation. The supply demand balancing equation is persistent is being 20% of the time is setting 80% of the costs. It then follows that of that 20 % of time the larger costs are 80% likely to occur 5% of the time. With this sort of issue it become apparent consumer behaviour set the theme. We should also put out there to you business slowdowns affect consumer behaviour.

That last comment leads us to the question: Is electricity a commodity or a service? It is not a new question, and political ideology will elicit different answers. Our point is no mater what you think the provision of electricity does determine if we are third world or not. In the pure sense price is simply the cost of providing? Ironically, when you crunch the numbers of our Treasury recommendations our ‘budget emergency’ does seem to settle on 17% increases in everything as good. Justifying the need is far more complex.

So while we liked the quoted story, it is only the first part of a big story. If you are looking for a really good read of how it all happened in Australia, read: Booth Robert R (2000) Warring Tribes: the story of power development in Australia, West Perth WA: Bardak Group. Robert is no longer with us, but bet you he would have plenty to say – had he been here.

 

 

 

 

Have a chuckle – without coal we are third world!

We had a chuckle when we were told carbon is killing jobs. If it were not for the coal industry we would be a third world country was said. Then chided in a fellow that looked Greek but claimed he is Irish; I was born and bred in the Albury district, and when I was a boy we were told the Myrtleford area in Victoria would die without the Tobacco industry. Tobacco farms were everywhere it was the lifeblood of the community. Well, Myrtleford has survived and it one of the true natural beautiful places in the world and extremely well sought after and prosperous – and no Tobacco – all gone. Mark my words, we can live without coal too – Australia I mean!

All this kicked off over the words ‘natural resource’ and even if it was harmful it was a natural product and this should be sufficient when combined with the economic benefits of the use of. Therefore it was reasonable to consider the claims to the extent that the economy would suffer without Coal Mines. It was concluded that problems would exist, but it was overblown in the effect. The overblown claims had one purpose – to appeal to public perceptions and gaunter support for its importance – and the industry’s survival. The difficulty for the industry is they want us to completely ignore market realities. For instance the falling off of demand, price, and global imposts on carbon pricing. So much influence has those factors got that a local view has no relevance anyway!

So we must say, for local views to be true they would need to defy what is the evidence for existing National and Global infrastructure and markets. Take for instance this story:

Coal not bedrock of Hunter Valley economy, jobs, By Sophie Vorrath on 13 June 2014: “ A new study has found a huge gap between public perception of the coal industry’s importance to the NSW economy and jobs, and the reality of its contribution to the state’s coffers and its people.

The report, Seeing through the dust: Coal in the Hunter Valley economy, launched by the Australia Institute on Friday, finds that Hunter Valley residents believe the local coal industry employs four times more people than it does, and that coal royalties contribute 10 times more income to the NSW Budget than is the case.

It’s a discrepancy, says the report’s author, Roderick Campbell, that illustrates how successful the industry has been in inflating its importance.”

The story goes on to say:

“The coal industry’s public statements invariably emphasise its apparent economic importance. But when the industry is placed in context we see that coal is not the bedrock of the Hunter economy,” and

“The reality is that 95 per cent of Hunter workers do not work in the coal industry and only 2 per cent of NSW government revenue comes from coal royalties.”

As Co2Land org has already mentioned. It is an issue Australia wide. Actually, it may be better described as a global issue of national importance. When you look strategically, it is seen as a war! The tools used are the spread of ‘misconception’, or distortion of truth.

In the article above and reported elsewhere is that the United States (US) has introduced new Environment Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that outline and describe misconception as a war on American jobs, economic growth, and GDP. The point of these regulations is a focus on CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants.

In the media US economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman recently wrote, “coal mining accounts for only one-sixteenth of 1 percent of overall US employment; shutting down the whole industry would eliminate fewer jobs than America lost in an average week during the Great Recession of 2007-9.” The columnist goes on to say “the so-called war on coal – or on coal workers – this happened a generation ago, waged not by liberal environmentalists but by the coal industry itself,” when it turned to machinery to produce more coal, using far less miners. And coal workers lost”. We need to note here that in Australia our Liberal Party is not liberal, it is better described as Tea Party like. It is confusing, but!

Despite all the grand rhetoric, the bigger issue facing the coal industry is cost, and its cost position as the global shift to low-carbon technologies begins to render the fossil fuel uncompetitive. As an aside all are now called ‘natural fuels’ and it might seem ‘clean’ is gone from the Australian policy.

Back to the Hunter Valley, the Seeing through the dust report is quoted “the a subsidiary of Brazilian mining giant, Vale, sacked 500 workers from the Glennies Creek underground and Camberwell open cut mines near Singleton, blaming poor global coal prices for its decision”.

We can only comment with: The spin is spinning, but in the end it will get down to cost – but we don’t need to pay the earth!

 

Trade with Asia – price points of gas

We are part of Asia, and an island. We are isolated and that works for and against our security. Energy Security that is, our trading partners have different views on what is a benefit. As an island we need to transport singular purpose vehicles with product from point A to Point B in the most direct line and this method does not share any of the wealth or contribute to other points and their economy.

If you did not know Russia is on top of this issue and they intend to supply gas to Asia and have been into the driver’s seat in the last two years, to do so: A related project to the gas deal announcements is the intention to build a railway transport system from South Korea though to North Korea into Russia, and then connecting to the Trans-Siberian Railway. The intention is to create high-speed rail connections directly from South Korea to the markets of Europe.

“If such a natural gas line and railway were to be built — and there is strong support for this in parts of the South Korean establishment and business community — it would not only provide South Korean producers direct land access across Central Asia and all of Europe.

It would also provide the impetus for transforming the North Korean economy — and change that region’s frozen geopolitics in the process.

In short, if its vision comes to pass, Russia would become anchored in Asia as it never has been in the past. Better yet for Moscow, all major economies of East Asia would become linked to Russia in a way few had previously imagined possible. And that would be truly a pivot to Asia.” Source The Russia-China Energy Agreement Is the world’s largest commercial deal ever. By Kenneth Courtis, May 25, 2014

What about our (Australia’s) great trade hopes? We are deliberately killing off our innovation capabilities, our industries are moving out – even New Zealand seem more preferable! Even the US learnt it lesson that being a service industry country is a lesson of folly. It takes innovation and small innovations to grow into big to be great. So the question must be asked: Do we think we will be rewarded for thinking Asia revolves around Australia? I guess Russia is laughing uncontrollably at this time at such a thought. After all we have our leader saying I am confident, and the advisors or facts did not substantiate that. It seems that Russia will become enmeshed in East Asia in ways to pose new challenges for Russia and Australia.

The opening paragraph of this post said there are differing views on energy supply within Asia. This evolves around the fact that the new Russian Deal on Gas supply to China has been based on an oil price reference formula. Meaning when oil prices are high, the oil-based price formula for natural gas allows the sale of gas at a higher price than if it were based on spot-market natural gas prices. The implications are the entire world’s gas price will follow this formula. The only difference will be transport costs!

Should have mentioned earlier “the size of the Russia China Deal The largest previous natural gas deal which China has signed was with Australia, a dozen years ago. That was a $25 billion deal and runs through to the end of the next decade. The China-Russia natural gas deal is about 16 times larger.

By any measure, it is a big, big deal. Indeed, it is the single largest trade deal ever.” Again the source is Kenneth Courtis.

Now it seems the odd one out of this deal is Japan, our shining light, maybe:

“Japan is the world’s largest importer of natural gas. It continues to seek to diversify its sources of supply.

Japanese buyers are less focused on price than is China, as they also include in their calculations security of supply, stability of supply and consistency of the composition of imported natural gas. Japan also has accepted an oil reference formula for pricing its natural gas purchases.

Now comes the big question: Who in Australia is talented enough to head us in the right direction?

ERF funding – is it a play on words.

The Government is confident it will stem the march of climate change with its $2.55 billion Emissions Reduction Fund and its Green Army of tree-planting enthusiasts. So confident, in fact, that it has commissioned $10 million for a new icebreaker in Antarctica.

At least one problem is solved – broken ice will be served with drinks. It sort of makes sense does it not?

But, where is the money, it was not mentioned at all in the budget speech. Even more interesting is submissions on the draft legislation for the ERF are due to close 23rd May 2014. So how will it be funded if it is to start 1 July 2014? As kids often say, Daddy it will just wish-t-appear – how mature of them to understand the minds of our pollies!

In her coverage of the Federal budget Annabel Crabb makes another point on health – why strip away the ability to service our health in order to fund health research. A similar parody could be said a tipping point is fast approaching that mankind is under threat for its existence – anthropogenic influences of climate change will outpace the ability to research a medical solution. Doesn’t make sense except give the opportunity for a fiddle! On reflection Annabel said something about twiddle – could that be what she meant?

Perhaps the last word should go to the Prime Minister, speaking on August 22, 2011:

“Nothing could be more calculated to bring our democracy into disrepute and alienate the citizenry of Australia from their government than if governments were to establish by precedent that they could say one thing before an election, and do the other afterwards.”

Source – Annabel Crabb is the ABC’s chief online political writer – www.abc.net.au .

Co2land org now asks about the $20 billion to be spent on health research, is that a play on words – a weasel? Another worry is as an Australian entity I am at a disadvantage at influencing the wealth of this country, and it is suggested we should register as an offshore entity and get preferential treatment in Australia? It is not a flippant comment: For example, register in Singapore as a $1 company ($500 setup cost), pass their Directorship rule test and there you go! You can sell back your Australian ideas as a new desirable off-shore package and thumb your nose on paying the correct tax. Albeit the UK now says money shifting will be discouraged via London markets. But I guess that only affects the likes of tech suppliers, mining etc. As they tend to use those markets.

What has this got to do with sustainable futures? Nothing. Even the economics make no sense in terms of society – but maybe a small community might do well from it!

Co2Land org has a theory it reflects in the term ‘hubris’. Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War (9780307346827): Michael Isikoff, David Corn: Books

www.amazon.com/Hubris-Inside-Story-Scandal-Selling/dp/030734682X.

The theory is we are being spun the same text book sell on something of an ideal as opposed to a solution. It is even something tried and failed in other political arenas of the world. As in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland – Alice in wonderland grew a mile high after eating one mushroom. She was then subject to rule 42 which says that anyone taller than a mile must leave the court immediately. That thought line then mandates that if you think it is a joke you will be subject to rule 13. And, do not dare to ask what is rule 13. If you paraphrase this you just might understand Joe the Treasurer is a Lewis Carroll fan.

Maybe – yes, we are a fan of the real Malcolm Turnbull. He might just turn bull into hope. For those that did not know, he was a former Environment Minister in the Howard Government and is credited with strongly supporting sustainable solutions.

 

Is chalk and talk past tense – a victim of ‘dash for cash’.

I guess the days of chalk and talk are over, in my view, merely a taste of things to come. From conversations throughout the education sector, there is wide-scale disenchantment and frustration with the system and the apparent breach of promise our politicians speak on school funding will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and bring many to the point of protest – students, teachers and parents.

The question that appears to be wanting in the ‘dash to slash cash’ mindset is changes are needed but what is surviving in the face of technology upgrades is education remains the means of survival and how we learn to fine-tune the way knowledge is delivered.

That said, according to Leanne Mezrani writing for the Project Manager – www.aipm.com.au – in the February/March 2013 edition (but still very relevant) “truly effective teaching relies on the give-and-take between teacher and student. Feedback can be as subtle as a facial expression or tone of voice”.

What is all this based on? Invaluable lessons learnt through industry experience, face to face feedback and deliver using a combination of face to face, online and project based assessment. According to Leanne’s article. So rather than cuts more needs to be spent on knowledge delivery. Especially when we are slipping in world ranking and failing our regional area needs on education.

Is there a revolution or evolution of education delivery though technology? Evolution we think, and if you consider this timeline, also courtesy of Leanne Mezrani:

1911 – first distance education scheme in Australia offered by the University of Queensland and extended to correspondence schools in the 1920’s in NSW and Queensland.

By 1933 – correspondence lessons replace the last itinerant teacher.

In 1935 – All Australian mainland states now have Classroom lessons broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC).

1960 – The school of the Air is established. Lessons are broadcast by radio from the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Cloncurry Queensland.

1975 – The personal computer meant users did not need to rely on mainframe computers for use of education software.

IN the 1990’s – Leaning tools went through a significant upgrade in graphics and sound. CD-ROMs become the preferred method of content delivery.

1993 – Under ownership of Monash University Open Universities Australia was formed as a nation wide means of providing distance education using printed courseware and non-commercial television.

1999 – e-Learning was the term used for internet and other interactive or electronic media sources.

2008 – Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) used as a term to describe an online course offered by a US University. The significance – online classes offered free of charge.

2011 – The Centre of Online Learning Excellence is launched by Open Universities Australia with the purpose of becoming a centre of best practice in online education.

2012 – A total of 20 universities and other education providers across Australia offer 1700 units and 180 qualifications through online courses.

2013 – it is recognized that MOOC was a revolution, but it seem only the highly self-motivated student derive any great benefit from this type of learning. What is now apparent is that is it is an evolution of delivery as the average student is more likely to require motivation and inspiration, and are likely to lose their way in an environment that doesn’t offer scheduled classes or feedback from instructors.

The CO2Land org reads, April 2014 – Australia rates 14th in the place to get a quality education. Rating first is South Korea because of the way they give quality time to students. Since writing this post it has come to our attention Australia is now 15th place according to BBC, 8 May 2014. Also worth noting is that UK is second to South Korea according to BBC.

Does it make you think – dash for cash or offer quality learning? What gives the better future payback?

 

A glimpse of our new utility model

Change the name Hawaii for Australia in this story. Then you might get a glimpse into our new utility model. Just like in Australia – east or west coast, Hawaii Electric, the US state’s biggest utility, has failed to create a long-term, customer-focused business model. The problem, according to the Hawaii PUC as reported as said last week is “An increasing penetration of utility-scale renewables and distributed generation has ‘broken’ the traditional utility-customer regulatory compact….An overhaul of the traditional cost-of-service utility regulation model is being touted as a possible solution.”

Now we hear you say but Tony and Joe are going to put an end to the renewable industry in Australia by 1 July 2014. Well, according to the Climate Speculator and Tristan Edis the Environment Minister, Greg Hunt says his Cabinet Colleagues are dreaming. http://www.businessspectator.com.au/climate .

We might get cheeky here and refer to CO2Land org’s last posting, 7 May 2014 – Fantasy and Budgets, in particular on after eating a mushroom Alice in Wonderland grew a mile high – we guess it was a magic one! However, no amount of distorted truths can hide the reality and its acceptance here, as in the US state utility regulators, there is a need to take steps to incentivize changes to the utility business model, and utilities should lead on these issues, instead of being dragged along. One furphy that can be dispelled by recent reports cannot attribute renewable to price increases, again quoting, 8 May, 2:22 PM, Explaining electricity markets to dummies by TRISTAN EDIS: “While economic modeling shows that the injection of lots of solar and wind power via the RET will lower wholesale electricity prices, 95% of politicians and 98% of journalists struggle to understand and accept it” (RET refers to Renewable Energy Target). We can only say, sad but true.

Now back to the utility change model, rather than waffle on like a ‘polly’ – aussie slang for politician. You might better get a grip on the case and idea by directly reading –

http://www.utilitydive.com/news/hawaiis-overhaul-of-the-utility-business-model/259923/

We should also add that in Australia, after eight years of study there is no evidence that Wind Energy in South Australia has been causal of wholesale energy price increases in that state or the eastern seaboard to which it is connected. To refer to that story refer to the Climate Speculator again.

Have got to go now – put my waste into the gasifier, produce syngas to start the generator for our power needs, it is cold overcast and foggy outside – need a backup for the solar on the roof. It is just like having a battery without acid. Sorry Alice!

Solar mean and means

It is not ‘means’ tested. But it can mean a nightmare. The phone call: My business is wanting to purchase a small scale solar PV array, and I noticed the contract will not guarantee my price, and the price potentially will increase indirectly because the import of electricity will not remain a constant and directly because it is likely the Small Scale Technology Certificate (STC) will not be fixed for the duration.

Why is import of electricity important? The price of electricity is generally either regulated or contestable. Regulated prices are reset according to an application for price changes – you are a price taker. In short, the price changes each reset period and usually set by state government bodies. In a contestable market set by rules of the national body, to reduce your energy consumption you can carry penalties and price risk. Hence, you might find you have to pay a higher price because you have reduced your import of energy needs. Therefore there is no incentive to reduce your energy use.

Next matter is the popular selling point of Solar, and it is the opportunity to benefit from the export of energy. It follows that just as import prices changing is a risk, so is export energy a price risk. Especially when feed in tariffs (FITs) are being phased out, and in Australia – a review of the Renewable Energy Targets (RET), and the promised repeal of the carbon pricing mechanism could see a collapse of the renewable certificate price. The new’ish’ government is hopeful ‘affordable’ energy will follow the review.

So, if you want to protect your purchase by way of a price guarantee from third parties. You most likely cannot if you are larger than 7.5kWp (residential) but under 300kWp. Why? The energy retailers have no interest because of uncertainty exposing them to the price shocks, and commercial buyers of power have a line drawn in the sand of an economic value of no less than 300kWp export capability.

So, if paying a fixed price is important to you – then you should choose an installer who guarantees the price quoted – clearly and irrevocably. Is it possible? Yes, but the vendor needs to be courageous and needs to laterally rethink how they operate. But, we will save that thought for another post.

Still interested in Solar. Onward then we go: What can still be done in Australia to reduce the upfront cost of solar power systems even after hearing “the solar rebate ending”. There is still a financial incentive from the Australian federal government for installing solar. But you need to be quick if you consider the report on the RET review will reach government by July and ‘put to death by the Reich’.

What is tipped to go is the solar subsidy for anyone buying a solar system of up to 100kW. It is called the STC program. Which stands for Small-scale Technology Certificate. Whilst CO2Land org has previously been concerned that the STC is a distortion of the market, it believes any change should be phased out and not shut off suddenly. Another thing to consider is the STC scheme is not described as a rebate (even though it is = it is politically difficult to call it that). If you check what The Clean Energy Regulator says on their website, it says:

“Under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme the reduction in the cost of your solar panel is not a rebate. You will not qualify for any Government-based financial recompense at the completion of any process relating to STCs.”

The meaning of this is that the cash you get off your solar system price does not actually come from the government. It is a government scheme that compels other people to buy your certificates.

So it is a government run scheme, using other people’s money, and it becomes confusing when you consider the question what must change when all government schemes use other people’s money – is it not?  So, if you are confused over why does a scheme that will save you money and tick the box as a financial incentive be considered to have to walk the plank.

The solar Financial Incentive is a subsidy to assist with the upfront cost of installing a Solar Power System. Currently, it is not ‘means’ tested in any way. However, the criteria for claiming it are:

1) Your system is less than 100kWp in size.

2) You get it installed and designed by an accredited professional.

3) You use panels and inverters that are approved for use in Australia.

We said FITs are being phased out, but each state may differ in what is offered. So check out the following, as an example: The Feed In Tariff (FiT). “The FiT is a State Government subsidy in which some states pay you for the electricity that your solar system will export to the grid”.

How to get involved in the Solar Financial Incentive Scheme involves:

1) The regulator creates Renewable Energy Certificates (RECS).

2) The government mandates that fossil fuelled generators have to either build a certain amount of renewable generation (wind/solar) or buy the right to other people’s renewable energy systems in the form of RECs.

3) When you purchase a solar power system for your roof, the government gives you a number of RECS depending on the size of your system is and the region of Australia it is installed.

4) The special type of RECs that you get for under 100kWp solar system are called “Small Scale Technology Certificates” (STCs).

5) You (or more likely your installer) sell the STCs to the fossil fuel generators and use the cash to offset the upfront cost of the solar system purchase.

6) The STC price is a bit like a share price – it fluctuates on the open market depending on supply and demand. E.g. when the solar industry is booming (usually just before the rebate is cut!) then the STC price drops and vice versa.

7) “You can see the current market price of a STC here. Look for the number in the box in the bottom RH corner labeled: STC”.

8) Almost all solar system prices you see advertised will already have the solar Financial Incentive included in the pricing. So watch out for that too.

Earlier we said the amount of solar rebate that you can claim depends on where you live: It is broken down into zones that roughly mean live in the lower southern parts (zone 4) and get less incentive than other parts with central west parts (zone 1) getting the most.

But, beware of a small number of unscrupulous companies that use the “Inflated STC Price Scam” appear to be deceiving the customer into thinking they are getting a great deal and then hitting them with a bill for thousands more than the quoted price when the system is installed.

——

Be clear on what you want:

CO2Land org is aware that many installer/vendor quotes are virtually silent on saying they guarantee what is said in the quote as the STC price.

Co2Land org believes the truly good guys will be totally upfront and transparent that the final amount payable may go up (or down) based on the STC price on the day of the install.

It is up to you to make the decision to buy based on the facts. When ready to sign – why not say ‘This contract is signed for this fixed price only’ and make it a written condition, and have all parties endorse each copy!

 

Hot Air and the Unfair

We nearly choked, Malcolm Turnbull – Liberal Front bencher – Minister for Communications, said the loss of Holden’s local manufacturing operations is a watershed event for an Australian economy that must 
commit itself to innovative, high-tech industries. We then lamented, this and previous governments have demonstrated that they have contempt for promoting small innovative firms that demonstrate they can provide globally competitive technology best in its class and fully capable of entering multi billion dollar markets. Proof,

–       Look the number of innovators that go off shore for success.

–       Then look at the procrastination going on about reviews and approvals processes.

–       Then look at the discussion going on about cutting red and green tape etc.

Then CO2Land org thought, maybe we could write a book instead of a post about this and call it – Hot air and the unfair – something like that! Or is it that Mal is planning a new power base in getting a fair deal?

On with the story: Why Malcolm Turnbull saying? Recently the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) wrote The inconvenient truth for the Coalition’s NBN By David Braue Updated Fri 13 Dec 2013, 1:23pm AEDT that the NBN Co of the coalitions model was grossly underestimated in what will cost. Maybe there is cabinet reshuffle of portfolios coming already? It has already been reported that Ian McFarlane is unhappy with Warren Truss’s intervention on Holden. That considerable unrest is around with Government performance to date, and the endless control measures such as Joe Hockey’s handling of money movements. Comments like need to review, measures against etc. All this meaning the excuse to do nothing.

Maybe Liberal frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull saying to Sky News on Sunday 15 Dec 2013, Australia has to realise its future is not in “large scale, very low cost manufacturing” where it can’t compete.

“Emotionally this is a big watershed event,” Mr Turnbull told.

“This should be seen as a wake-up call, a reminder that we must recommit ourselves to an economy that is based on innovation and technology, and that is globally competitive.”

What Malcolm said is precisely our point. Thank you.

Does Australia have “globally competitive technology best in its class and fully capable of entering multi billion dollar markets”? Well if you consider China as a desirable trading party, then as you should, take notice of this invitation for a ‘little aussie battler’: The 4th Annual World Congress of Bioenergy

Theme: Roadmap toward 2020  Time: September 21~23, 2014     Venue: Qingdao, China.   Website: http://www.bitcongress.com/WCBE2014/default.asp

“Dear Peter Davies,

On behalf of the Executive Committee Office, it’s our great honor to announce the most influential bioenergy event in Asia – The 4th Annual World Congress of Bioenergy (WCBE-2014) will hold in Qingdao, China during September 21~23, 2014. In view of the fact that your enthusiasm for biological applications and outstanding achievements in the field of bioenergy. The organization committee cordially invites you to be a speaker in our program and give a presentation at Pipeline 315: Integrated Biochemical Conversion Processing and Bioreactors for Scale-up.
Main Characters of Annual World Congress of Bioenergy

Comprehensive agendas: With the bioenergy steady economic growth and biomass technology is improving by the day. This congress will discuss on biotechnology development and bioenergy sustainable development. The agendas cover Bioenergy Economy and Sustainability, Applications, Commercialization, Biofineries of Bioenergy, Biomass Conversion Technologies, Feedstock Landscape. This congress with the “Roadmap toward 2020 “as the theme to focus on bioenergy and look forward to the new era.”

Well what is there wrong about our posturing? What is wrong with having a front bencher of the cabinet having the courage to make statements that make sense, that is very close to what the ‘real’ world takes notice of! CO2Land org is saying it goes to say to make government relevant again it must have Headship – the current Leadership talk is exactly that – talk.

Then Mungo MacCallum said 16 Dec 2013, “And if Tony Abbott would rather spend the money on building lots of roads around our choking cities and restoring tax rorts for those who get part of their salary in cars to drive on them, so be it. Perhaps we can pretend that the cars are Holdens. That would make us feel better, wouldn’t it?”

Mungo MacCallum is a political journalist and commentator. View his full profile here.

Over to you Mal – show yourself, please.

But, have we lost something here!