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!

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Closing 21 Feb – excluded

Closing 21 Feb 2013, Community Renewable Energy Projects: Message  – Innovations excluded and technology chosen must be commercial. This is despite many innovators being able to prove an environmental benefit at least cost.  It is not a new issue it is a matter that is a symptom of measures providing a pathway regardless of the evidence. Albeit, justification for this approach can be found by some oblique reference to some far away story.

As the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory explains “One of the most serious (and valid) criticisms of subsidies for “renewable” energy is that they heighten the perception (but not the reality) that wind and solar are less expensive and more energy efficient than conventional fuels”.

If we single out the NSW Renewable Energy Precincts Program and the expression of interest for funding the wording says “EOIs will only be accepted for projects proposing to use renewable energy technologies that are commercially available and have been demonstrated in operation at a similar scale generation capacity for 12 months or more. Solar photovoltaic technology and wind are the two most common, and commercially available, renewable energy technologies. Most CRE projects internationally use one of these two technologies”. This is interesting as world wide, and in Australia, there are technologies that offer a better power capacity ratio. It is also interesting that in Australia at least one public entity has taken legal action to restrict (Suppression) the opportunity for a commercial opportunity with alternative renewable energy. When the reference is made to power capacity ratio it simply means – coal fired can be replaced by this technology as base load. It should also be said at a lower cost than wind and solar. AKA – cost benefit is superior.

It is difficult to understand why a ‘community’ program is directing a bias in this way towards wind & solar. CO2Land org feels this is a shame because more than a few communities would be able to scratch together sufficient green waste and other biomass resources to run a genuine base load or peak lopping plant, from what is waste with the added advantage of also having very useful co-products and creating more permanent local employment.

It follows that local government have obligations for services and various industry is within the boundaries they manage. Industry does two things: 1) They tend to consume more of the fuel resources available in the geographical area, and 2) Produce waste that is often toxic or hazardous in the environment.

In a growing trend around the world (being a reference was made in the NSW REP EOI), and since 1980, as far as CO2Land org can see, major industry is increasingly looking at methods for recovering the fuel value from many wastes.

CO2Land org can identify some of the different methods to do so and each is superior in their own way, and certainly make use of existing problems of waste and remove much of the need for virgin material in the products they offer. The point is made – not one product such as electricity generation of wind and solar, but also other products that make up the needs of society.

To give examples: Gasification, Pyrolysis, Plasma conversion are increasingly being piloted or in production in other parts of the world. Not surprising is that many of the leading work was from Australia, then ‘discovered’ by America, India, China and other countries determined to solve their resource and waste problems. If you were to argue it is cost that is the problem. As a single product produced wind and solar can argue they the high ground. “But consider this case of cement kilns converting waste: The ash in waste fuels becomes part of the cement product in a cement kiln, this system is one of the very few that actually consumes all of the waste material – both organic and inorganic turning all of the waste into product – no ash, no change in emissions and no impact on product quality”. Patent Number 8268073 System and method for making cement and cement derived therefrom

Inventors: Burton J. Kunik, James C. Berns, David G. Gossman

More recently, engineered fuels (Synfuels) are carrying on to advance the latest step in the process that started over 30 years ago. Some might even recall or have read that in World War 2 years the need to ‘invent’ devices to get the family car around as fuel was rationed. The new advances present the real potential for using a wider variety of waste materials, including treated medical wastes, to consume waste materials instead of coal and other natural resource based fuels in the manufacturing process.

Then there is products from the treatment of medical waste including sharps: Embodiments of this invention provide methods for converting a used healthcare material including a complex mixture of components including pulp materials, polymer materials, metal materials, and/or other material such as ceramic materials, ash materials, etc. directly into a burnable fuel, Without the need for component separation. Patent Number 8163045 Method and system of making a burnable fuel Inventors: Burton J. Kunik, James C. Berns, David G. Gossman

Still struggling in Australia is Real Power Systems. Peter and Kerry Davies have built a considerable amount of bench testing conducted (circa 2009 to now) and are successfully testing, including onsite pilots of their gasifier and pyrolysis retort and this success continues to lead to product identification not previously considered. They started being most interested in bio-char production for agricultural purposes, and the range of fuels that can produce and the range of waste they can treat under various water saturation condition is striking. And, they can produce syngas, synfuel, syncrude and have solved problems such as “Cavitation Phenomenon at the Reactor Chamber” that plaqued or was the reason for more expensive offering in the field.

If you can consider the cost savings when compared with traditional fuels it can be enormous. The environmental saving through the use of engineered fuels (syfuels) is a significant reduction of GHG emissions. So much so that engineered fuels, are getting overseas regulatory approvals and are meeting EPA definitions for “sufficiently processed”.

We are saying we should compare complimentary and alternative solutions to our energy problems, and being we should be very conscious of the traps involved in the development of technology, It can be very hard to stay focused when development is proving there is so much flexibility and opportunity in direction.

Possibly this is why the 21 Feb 2013 closing EOI has chosen to stay focused on wind and solar, but then something more needs to be done in keeping with the developments and as such building on advances to ensure uniform characteristics can be judged to gain a higher level of understanding and open whole new avenues for applications of otherwise problematic materials. What could be better than the local government waste dump having onsite production capability of syncrude made from waste tetra packs and plastics? it does make things oddly enough, a tad more difficult…but not impossible.