20
Apr
2018

Energy Policy& China & Israel

The distribution of this edition of my Commentary has been changed in order to widen it and to correct some who have effectively dropped out over the past couple of years. However some of those added to my distribution list may not now wish to receive it. If so, please return my Commentary and I will drop them off the list.

China has Become Communised

Last night my wife and I attended an AIIA function to hear Rowan Callick speak about China under Xi. His analysis was truly alarming (see Callick on China). It seems that China is now run by the Communist Party even more than it was under Mao. I asked C what influence the military has on policy. He said that the previous military heads had been sacked and were replaced by those who were educated in the Communist line and this applies more or less across the board, including in the media. Just about every important organisation has been “communised”. At universities there are watchers who report on any dissidents and, at a recent discussion attended by students, seven cameras had been installed.

It is hoped that the AIIA will be able to send the text of this address to a wider audience.

Some Implications of NEG

Today’s meeting between Commonwealth and State energy ministers takes place as the independent Climate Study Group (CSG) publishes an analysis by experts which challenges the basis of the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) on which the Turnbull government seeks the States agreement. Astonishingly given the lengthy time since it was first proposed, this meeting is not the “final” meeting: that will take place in August.

The Australian has published the CSG analysis as a half-page advertisement on page 5 (see Climate Change Cycles). Richard Morgan is to be congratulated for forming the CSG, which in its third edition concludes that

Australia must develop a strategy that promotes reliable, efficient coal power stations including, if competitive, unsubsidised renewable energy which covers the full cost of meeting rated dispatchable generation.  Our industries will then have reliable and globally competitive power costs that they require to compete in world markets and at the same time improve living standards”.

The CSG acknowledges that, following a period when global temperatures fell, there has been a gradual increase over the past 150 years but this has occurred “independent of CO2 levels”. It also points out that models based on the burning of fossil fuels have failed in their predictions of even higher temperatures and a graph of Tropical Storms and Hurricanes shows no increase in strength or frequency since 1971 (if anything a decline). Moreover, even if Australia did not stick to its target to reduce emissions by 26% by 2030, any consequential increase in global temperatures would be tiny.

This leads the CSG to draw attention to the astonishingly large increase in government expenditure on measures designed to reduce or replace emissions of CO2. Importantly, it also has a graph showing that since about 2005 Australian electricity prices have about doubled. This is the period when various measures were taken by our governments to reduce emissions and subsidise renewables to replace coal-fired sources. The CSG claims that

the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), would still leave Australia with power costs much in excess of countries with efficient coal fired power stations.  The extent to which any improvements to power costs rely on cross subsidisation from coal fired power stations and/or direct subsidies should be made public.  A figure of total subsidies for the NEG of $60 billion by 2030 has been mentioned in media reports”.

This analysis confirms that the Turnbull government should not go ahead with NEG and it should institute a genuinely independent review of any such proposal.

McCrann on NEG

Terry McCrann has more directly attacked the basis of NEG with an article highlighting the deficiencies of using wind and solar power (see McCrann on Renewables). He asks whether we are “completely insane” in having invested in wind-driven capacity of 3400 MW and now paying electricity prices which run to over $100 a MWhour  compared with only $20-30 a MW hour before such investment started around 2000. He predicts that Victoria and South Australia will possibly require less electricity in the 2020s as “more and more factories are shuttered as a consequence of crippling power prices”.

Increased Threats to Israel

In February the T-4 airbase near Homs in Syria was used by Iran to send an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) into Israeli territory and was shot down by the Israeli military. The Israel Defence Force revealed last Friday that its investigation concluded the Iranian drone sent from T-4 was carrying explosives and was seemingly deployed to attack an Israeli target.

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported the T-4 base housed an advanced Iranian air defense system and drone hangar, underscoring Iran’s military expansionism in Syria as Tehran helps to lead Bashar al-Assad’s successful counterinsurgency against the rebels targeting his regime.

The Jerusalem Post has reported that Israel believes that Iranian retaliation could come in the form of direct missile or drone attacks launched from Syria.

Israel has an efficient defence force but will doubtless be looking for US support if necessary. Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly been in communication with Trump about handling the possibility of a serious attack (see Threats to Attack Israel).

 

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