JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Robbins Island Mega wind farm: killing birds and baseload power at 300 kilometers per hour

After nearly two weeks the ABC carrier pigeons finally brought the news that Bob Brown, former Greens leader, is campaigning against this gigantic wind farm — the $1.6b one in NW Tasmania that wants to be the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. Could it be the ABC doesn’t want to admit they were wrong too, pushing wind power non stop for years?

Look how erratic that wind is — 90% one day, zero the next

Tom Quirk looked at the nearest wind farm to Robbins Island, and it’s a fitful machine (see that graph below). Worse, it fails in synchrony with most wind farms in Australia. Thus exacerbating the unstable, fickle supply of wind energy.

Tom Quirk predicts the demise of another coal plant

Quirk was Deputy Chairman of VENCorp, which managed the transmission and wholesale natural gas market and system planning for the electricity market in Victoria, Australia.

A wind farm on Robbins Island will simply extend the variations in power supplied to the mainland while making no difference to the correlations of wind through the states in the wholesale market. Thus more backup would be required from gas and hydro sources. Loy Yang B […]

Methane emissions: don’t blame cows and camels, blame the oceans

Steak-lovers — look at the volatility in the graph of methane levels. That is not the cows…

Methane emissions are a bit of a sleeper. They are ignored (even by me) yet and cows, sheep, pigs and lamas produce a whopping 11% of the Australian national greenhouse emissions (mostly as methane and nitrous oxide). Livestock emissions are 70% of our entire agricultural sector emissions. They are so important, at one stage Australia was considering a camel genocide — hoping to stop storms and reduce droughts by knocking off some camels. So if we like ham, steak and hamburgers, we need to pay attention. The carbon-politisi are coming.

The UN thinks we need to worry about methane which has 34 times the impact of CO2 (which is 34 times something immeasurably insignificant, so who cares?). Somehow global methane levels are often blamed on fossil fuels and farting cows, but this latest analysis suggests humans are pretty much irrelevant.

Tom Quirk tracks the annual changes in methane and finds that it bumps up by both big and small amounts, and the volatile pattern doesn’t match human agriculture or mining but rises and falls in time with El Ninos. This is not […]

New finding: Phytoplankton are much bigger players in CO2 levels than realized

Mysterious CO2 activity in New Zealand shows Phytoplankton at work

Tom Quirk both finds a mystery and solves it.

Emiliania huxleyi coccolithophore | Alison Taylor.

Carbon dioxide is a “well mixed gas” yet CO2 levels over New Zealand start rising there each year in March — a whole month before we see it CO2 start to rise over Tasmania. Air over Cape Grim in Tasmania will be blown by the prevailing wind over to New Zealand about five days later. So these two stations should be showing similar numbers throughout the year. Instead some process in NZ is pushing up CO2 early. Levels also peak earlier in New Zealand, and by September, in early spring, some process around NZ is pulling the CO2 out of the sky. Both NZ and Tasmania share large forested areas, so that wouldn’t explain the difference.

Quirk wondered if it had something do with phytoplankton, so he searched for satellite data that measures chlorophyll in the ocean and shows, voila, that there is major activity right around the Baring Head station at the same time as CO2 levels are falling. Indeed, the station is smack in the middle of a mass phytoplankton bloom.

He […]

Climate Models are a Joke

An update on the graph that is death to climate models

Good people of Earth are spending thousands of billions of dollars to prevent a future predicted by models that we know don’t work. The debate is over, climate spending is an unscientific, pagan, theological quest to change the weather. Just another iteration of what Druids and Witchdoctors have been promising for eons. Don’t expect the vested interests that profit from this Golden Climate Gravy Train to tell you this.

The top 23 global coupled climate models don’t understand the climate and can’t predict it. Our CO2 emissions are accelerating, the effect should be amplifying, but millions of weather balloons and satellites that circle the Earth 24 hours a day show unequivocally that the models are wrong.

TROPICAL MID-TROPOSPHERIC TEMPERATURE VARIATIONS MODELS vs OBSERVATIONS5-Year Averages, 1979-2016 – Trend line crosses zero at 1979 for all time series

The Climate Study Group have placed this graph in an advert (why do skeptics have to pay to get graphs like this — a public service — printed?)

Read the whole Climate Reality PDF here.

Acolytes and fellow parasites will say that surface temperatures measured by NASA and Hadley […]

Windpower set to destroy Victorian baseload power just as it did in South Australia

Crash Test Dummy Update: Data analysis thanks to Tom Quirk

In the South Australian experiment total wind power capacity is now far above the average state demand most hours of the day. This effectively destroys any economic case for cheap baseload power (I hear that was the aim). This fleet of unreliable generators is being supported by forced subsidies through power bills from all around Australia. Sadly, despite this rain of money falling in SA, those funds end up with renewable investors, not South Australian consumers who pay some of the highest rates in the world.

These legislated subsidies have fed so much wind power that sometimes the state produces more power than it can use. That excess power will be exported, but may or may not be actually useful at whatever time it happens. Unless it happens at peak-time, it will be eating into the efficiency of baseload providers in other states. Like an infection, inefficiency and underutilization of infrastructure spreads…

This volatility appears to make freak wholesale price spikes more likely. Quirk calculates that one hot January day last year was so wildly expensive in South Australia it added $2/MWh to the entire years average wholesale cost. Can’t […]

Australia needs to sacrifice cows and sheep for Paris too

Everyone is talking about the NEG (National Energy Guarantee) which will supposedly attain the mythical trifecta of cheap, reliable, and planet cooling electricity. In terms of meeting our Paris “commitment” Tom Quirk wondered how we are doing in other sectors, like farms, cars, rubbish — and whether we had cut emissions there. Well, ho, ho, here’s that report. Thank you, Tom. Looks like a lot of cows and sheep will have to go. Still, we want to stop storms don’t we?

Key points: The NEG is not enough on its own to reduce Australian emissions from 608Mt to 444Mt. Most of our reductions so far have come from just two sectors: the electricity sector and from changes to land-clearing. We’ve “achieved” nothing in other sectors like agriculture, transport, waste and industry. Methane emissions from sheep and cattle amount to 60Mt. Trashing the live-export trade may help reduce

With enough bad luck, and poor management, plus some sacrificial lambs on the altar, we might be the only country on Earth that meets its Paris agreement. Rejoice.

This is assuming that our population stops growing and Australia blocks all immigration tomorrow. That’s right, Tom Quirk has not made any allowance for the […]

The Australian magical NEG target which turns black coal to white elephants

Australia is figuring out how to change the global climate and power up the nation. It’s the old “have cake: eat cake: sell cake and build a sea-wall with cake” dilemma. The PM, Malcolm Turnbull, has come up with a plan called the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), which will manage to hurt the environment, jobs and industry at the same time.

Who benefits? Gas companies, Renewables Co. Who loses? Everyone else.

One of the key ideas is that we should have an average emissions target of 0.4 magical tons of CO2 per MWh, because “storms”. Tom Quirk has laid out our current situation below and how (theoretically) we might meet that target. (Especially if clouds start raining money, thinks Jo, preferably in USD and filling Lake Eyre.)

The “good news” is that South Australia can stop already, it’s there. The bad news is that the rest of Australia will need to catch up with South Australia, including the size of the electricity bills (and then some).

In 12 years Australia needs to shut nearly every single coal plant thus turning black coal into white elephants. The one last black coal plant or two will operate barely at break-even point, sitting […]

BOM homogenization errors are so big they can be seen from space

It’s just not cricket. And in so many ways.

Shame to let a perfectly good dataset go to waste… Australian data comes from some of the longest stations running in the Southern Hemisphere; it could be useful. Instead we get more evidence here that the BOM’s magical and secret homogenization adjustments can take poor data and spread false signals into better data. Homogenisation errors are already visible in a site-by-site analysis, but this shows the problems may be so big they affect averages across the whole of Australia, and we can detect them with satellites.

Tom Quirk continues comparing the satellite record of Australia with the BOM surface version. Previously, he (and for the record, Ken Stewart in 2015) showed that some discrepancies are due to the effect of heavy rain or drought. But now he looks further and finds that not-so-coincidentally, the largest gaps and most “inexplicable” differences occur in the mid nineteen-nineties, the same years the BoM shifted from using old large Stevenson screens to electronic thermometers. Around the same time, the large screens were often also swapped for much smaller ones too — like double jeopardy for data. Oddly, spookily, the BOM makes many adjustments to data […]

Mystery solved: Rain means satellite and surface temps are different. Climate models didn’t predict this…

A funny thing happens when you line up satellite and surface temperatures over Australia. A lot of the time they are very close, but some years the surface records from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) are cooler by a full half a degree than the UAH satellite readings. Before anyone yells “adjustments”, this appears to be a real difference of instruments, but solving this mystery turns up a rather major flaw in climate models.

Bill Kininmonth wondered if those cooler-BOM years were also wetter years when more rain fell. So Tom Quirk got the rainfall data and discovered that rainfall in Australia has a large effect on the temperatures recorded by the sensors five feet off the ground. This is what Bill Johnston has shown at individual stations. Damp soil around the Stevenson screens takes more heat to evaporate and keeps maximums lower. In this new work Quirk has looked at the effect right across the country and the years when the satellite estimates diverge from the ground thermometers are indeed the wetter years. Furthermore, it can take up to six months to dry out the ground after a major wet period and for the […]

Victoria paying big to drive at breakneck speed to repeat South Australia’s blackout

Victoria is driving down Blackout Drive. They have reports from South Australia up ahead, they know where the road goes, but the state is paying for the first class ticket on a trip to RiskyGrid.

Victoria has 5.7 million people, over three times bigger than South Australia. Right now SA relies on the Victorian grid stability to keep running, and gets up to 800MW of reliable electrons from the state-next-door. But Victoria wants to add more wind power — theoretically the equivalent of a big coal fired plant (like Hazelwood).

Tom Quirk and Paul Miskelly looked closely at the numbers and patterns and see the writing on the wall. To help expensive, unreliable, intermittent green energy survive the government subsidizes it by around 9c per KWhr (bear in mind the wholesale rate for coal fired power is 3 – 4c per kWhr.) The government also demands retailers have a 12.5% mix of renewables, and that they accept most electrons from wind power whenever and wherever it is available. This strange anti-free market rule is called “nondispatchable” power, meaning the system can’t just throw it away if there is any demand at all. Whereas coal […]