Friday 25th of May 2018

a turnbull twist in energy supply... now using clean water instead...

clean water

Senate crossbenchers are questioning whether the Government's plan to expand the Snowy Hydro scheme is feasible and a good use of taxpayers' money.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister announced he was prepared to invest $2 billion to expand the capacity of the Snowy scheme to increase electricity production by 50 per cent.

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg also indicated he may be prepared to chip in even more if the New South Wales and Victorian governments did not contribute.


Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonjhelm was not impressed by the Government's plan.

"I think it's being rash. I think it's policy on the run," he told AM.

Senator Leyonhjelm said while the plan might work from a technical perspective, he did not think it was a good use of taxpayers' money.

"Technically there's nothing wrong with the idea," he said.

"I think there is an issue over whether it will keep the lights on over the next four summers at least before it's introduced, but there's nothing fundamentally wrong with the idea. It's an issue over who pays really."

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It's okay David... Everyone pays and a few people profit... The Snowy Scheme used to provide about 5 per cent of the total electricity usage in Australia. Increasing its output by 50 per cent is going to increase the supply by 2.5 per cent. Can wind turbines and solar panels do better? Can we find pumps that can push water back uphill a few hundred metres? In term of logistics, can the electricity provided by WATER POWERED turbines be enough to pump THE SAME WATER BACK UP? Does this look like a perpetual motion system? How many do we need? Should we concentrate on "decentralising" the electricity production? What about making ALL NEW BUILDINGS energy neutral? What about using battery storage for excess electricity supply during down time in consumption? 

With the decision in leadership made before engineers can iron out the problems, we're in Lalaland, considering that five minutes ago, the leadership was about clean coal which was another Lalaland... 



when the federal government is doing an awful job...

Is this a bit awkward?", Mr Frydenberg is asked. "It's about to be," Mr Weatherill whispers.

For months the SA Premier has borne the brunt of the nation's energy jokes.

While electricity and solutions have been in short supply, criticism from Canberra has been flowing unhindered.

So, two days after his $500 million commitment in new energy generation was lambasted by Canberra, on the morning the Commonwealth was unveiling its own $2 billion promise of new generation in another state, the Premier seized his moment.

As is his wont.

Mr Weatherill's unassuming and quiet demeanour belies a rare political canniness.

Love or hate the Labor veteran, he's at his best on the front foot. Defining the conversation. And defining the enemy.

Especially when it changes the conversation from his Government's own failings on energy policy.

The outburst shouldn't surprise the Federal Government.

They know all about the South Australian Premier.

Picking a fight with the feds gave Jay Weatherill a raison d'etre — on the River Murray, on the car industry, on Gonski, on submarines.

On each issue, he was brazen. And it worked. Ask Tony Abbott.

It also helped Jay Weatherill neutralise his opponents within South Australia. What sort of oxygen does a state Opposition Leader get when the main game is the fight between the Premier and the Prime Minister?

Since he released it on Tuesday, Jay Weatherill's been clutching his glossy-blue energy plan like a baby.

He appreciates the visual imagery of "having a plan".

He even tried to hand deliver a copy to Josh Frydenberg prior to their spat.

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The Snowy Scheme extension will take a few year years before it can become a full pie in the sky in regard to pumping water back uphill. The plan by the South Australia government can be implemented in six months tops. Frydenberg is disingenuous and a bum who never learnt the art of making things work, apart from inflating stuff ups with hot air... 

has the king died as he should?

Cassidy: Energy policy has become a battle royale, but where is 'king coal'?


Politicians at the state and federal level — seemingly from nowhere — came up with nation-building energy solutions this week as they sought to out-do each other, says Insiders host Barrie Cassidy.

See video at:


See toon at top...

when the "free" market is designed to steal from the common good

For years, electricity and gas operated independently. But the two have become intertwined as the shift towards a cleaner environment and lower emissions has thrust gas firmly into the box seat as the transition fuel to generate electricity.

We've suddenly discovered, however, we don't have enough. It's no exaggeration to describe the power situation now facing eastern Australia on both fronts as a catastrophe. And here's why.

Within the next four years, Australia will overtake Qatar as the world's biggest supplier of gas. We are sitting on vast gas reserves. In fact, we're swimming in the stuff.

And yet, we face critical shortages at home which could starve manufacturers of fuel, see power outages across the eastern states and force energy prices through the roof while any profits that are made will be shipped offshore.

This is a public policy fail of epic proportions. 

And it's worth getting a handle on how it all came about and the shenanigans employed by the gas majors that have deliberately created this crisis and the supposed shortage which is a total con.

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hydro-upgrade may never get ahead...

Far from being the solution to Australia's energy crisis, bureaucrats have confirmed the upgrade to Snowy Hydro may never even go ahead, reports Mark Hipgrave.

RECENT TURNBULL GOVERNMENT announcements about renaming the 457 Visa system, toughening the citizenship test, and the one from Fiona Nash about decentralising Govt Departments, made me think about last month’s big announcement – the Snowy Hydro Scheme Expansion.

You will recall that, on March 16, the PM announced plans for a $2 billion expansion of the Snowy Hydro scheme that could add up to 50% to its capacity.

In his media statement, Turnbull outlined the basics of the project — a plan to‘supercharge the Snowy Hydro precinct’, with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), charged to

‘... examine several sites, which could support large scale pumped hydroelectric energy storage in the precinct.  These sites would involve new tunnels and power stations, connecting existing storages.’

In a speech in front of the penstocks feeding the Tumut 3 Power Station, he sounded positively Churchillian puffing out his chest, malsplaining to us all that the new Snowy Hydro scheme was the

‘... result of the vision and the courage of the generation that won the Second World War … they defended our freedoms …. and they came home and built this …. these are big dreams in these mountains, real courage...’

(He ignored the reality that around two thirds of the workforce employed in the construction of the scheme were immigrant workers, originating from over 30 countries. Not the winners of WWII, they were mostly the losers — displaced persons from Germany, Italy, Yugoslavia and other parts of Eastern Europe. They came with little English and no knowledge at all of Australian values. The work was largely managed by U.S. engineering contractors and, while an engineering triumph, it was achieved with what we would now regard as a shocking safety record).

The PM then contradicted his media statement, now telling us the projects were designed and engineered decades ago (so presumably no need for site selection studies), and that all that was missing was leadership and money, and that his government has both.  He told us the projects were ‘thoroughly commercial’ and the task now was now to provide extra funding for the feasibility study to review the geological studies and the tunnelling technology now available.

Securing Australia's Energy Future with Snowy Mountains 2.0

— Young Liberals (@FedYL) March 16, 2017

At the end of the speech he climbed into a helicopter, gave a cheery wave and flew off.

Various mainstream media reports at the time told us that construction work would commence immediately the feasibility study was complete and take four years to complete.

Energy Minister Frydenberg added that the scheme's expansion would "run into the billions of dollars". But the ABC reported that when asked repeatedly where the funding would be sourced, the best he could come up with was that "projects like this make money"

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another snow job from malcolm

Notwithstanding Mr Klan's efforts to diminish us, Internet Australia is resolute in its determination to press for #BetterBroadband. It's not the only Internet-related issue on our agenda, but it is one that affects every Australian.

The NBN debacle

Whoever is in office 3yrs will have the biggest ever infrastructure debacle on their hands#auspol

— Comrade (@waynethomasking) August 6, 2017

This, also from the copious material provided to The Australian, is what it's all about:

The biggest technical issue is that FTTN simply cannot deliver fast broadband. That's the case even with well-maintained copper. So far nbn has skirted some of the more problematic sections of the Telstra network. So as they move closer to completing the FTTN rollout no doubt the complaints will increase.

The biggest consumer issue is that around 40-50 percent of premises will be stuck with FTTN. This means a digital divide where half the country is stuck with an inferior service. You will have seen this week's announcement of 100Mbps speeds on fixed wireless. That means people with fixed wireless, which is generally seen as a second tier technology, will have faster broadband than half the country with FTTN. At Senate Estimates earlier this month Bill Morrow conceded that they have no budget to upgrade FTTN. He told Senators that anyone with FTTN wanting faster speeds will have to pay for their own upgrade.

As we've pointed out to both the current Coalition Government and Labor Opposition, one of them will be in office three years from now when the NBN roll out is due to be completed. If nothing is done in the meantime, they'll be lumbered with the biggest national infrastructure debacle in Australia's history. NBN Co will still owe the government the $19 billion it is having to borrow. 

On current revenue numbers, it will struggle to do more than cover the Interest charges. Worse still, as our globally recognised experts point out 40-50 per cent of the network – the areas lumbered with the inferior FTTN – will soon need to be replaced.

So it makes sense for everyone to come together, accept there's a better way and move forward in a bipartisan commitment to Australia's future in the emerging digitally-enabled world. It would be nice to see The Australian supporting such a thing. 

On television last week, Bill Morrow likened the NBN to the nation-building Snowy Mountains Scheme. I guess nobody told him it's political history? Labor launched the "Snowy" amid howls of protest from the the conservative opposition. However, on becoming prime minister, Liberal leader Sir Robert Menzies embraced the project and became an ardent supporter. What a shame we didn't see this happen with the NBN.

Laurie Patton is Executive Director of Internet Australia, the NFP peak body representing internet users and a chapter of the global Internet SocietyYou can follow Laurie on Twitter @LJPatton.

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