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!

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!