Category Archives: biofuel
Back to Bolted-Down Industries
by Viv Forbes, Science Writer
Once upon a time Australia was attractive to processing, refining and manufacturing industries using our abundant mineral and food resources, our reliable low-cost coal-fired electricity and a workforce trained in technical skills.
Our last oil refinery has closed, leaving just 3 weeks supply of refined motor fuel in the country and for the first time in at least 60 years Australia no longer produces motor vehicles. China and India have about 430 coal power plants under construction but Australia has not built a single coal-fired power station for seven years – some politicians even rejoice when they manage to close and demolish one. Brisbane’s new trains are being made in India, Victa mowers are made in China and most coastal shipping died decades ago. Steel works and refineries producing aluminium, copper and zinc are under stress. All these industries are being pushed overseas by costly unreliable electricity and other government barriers and burdens.
Red-green policies being pushed by all major parties are making Australia more dependent on bolted-down industries such as mining and farming that can’t be sent overseas because their basic resources are here. And green opposition to nuclear power increases Aussie reliance on coal.
A century ago Australians relied on wool, wheat, gold, silver, copper, lead-zinc, butter, beef and timber – all products of bolted-down industries.
Red-green policies are pushing us back to those days. Politicians need to remember Newton’s Law of Bureaucracy – whenever the government tries to use the force of law to achieve economic goals the long term results will be equal and opposite to those intended.
So in the long run, red-green energy and environmental policies will make us more dependent on the industries they now attack – mining, farming, forestry and fishing.
Construction of new coal-fired power plants is increasing in at least 35 countries:
Asia is returning to Coal:
Greens Disappointed by Economic Growth:
You can have your solar panels
and your turbines on the hills;
You can use the warmth of sunshine
to reduce your heating bills.
You can dream you’re self-sufficient
as you weed your vegie bed;
As long as you make sure to keep
A diesel in the shed.
by Viv Forbes, Science Writer
When I was a kid on a dairy farm in Queensland, we relied on green energy – horses and human muscles provided motive power; fire-wood and beeswax candles supplied heat and light; windmills pumped water and the sun provided solar energy for growing crops, vegies and pastures. The only “non-green” energy used was a bit of kerosene for the kitchen lamp, and petrol for a small Ford utility.
Our life changed dramatically when we put a diesel in the dairy shed. This single-cylinder engine drove the milking machines, the cream separator and an electricity generator, which charged 16 lead-acid 2 volt batteries sitting on the veranda. This 32 volt DC system powered a modern marvel – bright light, at any time, in every room, at the touch of a switch.
There were no electric self-starters for diesels in those days – just a heavy crank handle. But all that effort, noise and fumes were superseded when every house and dairy got connected to clean silent “coal power by wire”. Suddenly the trusty “Southern Cross” diesel engines disappeared from Australian sheds and dairies.
In just one life-time, candles and kerosene were replaced by diesel, which was then replaced by clean silent ever-ready electricity.
Today, after Aussies have enjoyed decades of abundant reliable cheap electricity from coal, green energy gambling has taken Australia back to the era which kept a diesel in the shed.
Tasmania is the greenest state in Australia. It once had a vibrant economy that created mines, saw-mills, farms, orchards, oil and metal refineries, dams, hydro-power and railways. It is now a green no-go land. Greens have stopped new hydro developments, opposed mining, crippled the timber industry, prevented new wood-chip developments and will probably celebrate when their last refinery closes.
Tasmanians get their electricity mainly from hydro assets created long ago by their more productive ancestors. But recently a long drought caused a shortage of Tasmanian hydro-energy – they became reliant for up to 40% of their electricity needs on the Bass-link undersea cable bringing electricity from reliable coal-fired stations in Victoria and NSW. However the overloaded Bass Link cable failed, and an old gas-powered station was brought back into service (importing gas from Victoria) to keep the lights on. Subsequently their politicians hurriedly put 150 diesel generators in their shed (costing A$11 million per month).
South Australia is the next greenest state in Australia, hosting about 35% of Australia’s wind turbines. These were force-fed into existence by mandatory green energy targets and tax benefits. In a burst of green destruction they also closed their gas-fired power stations and demolished their coal-fired station. However wind power failed recently and a storm tore down their life-line bringing reliable coal power from Victoria. Now Premier Weatherill is planning to install up to 200 megawatts of diesel generators in his shed. Many residents are following his lead.
As some wag said: Question: “What did South Australians have before candles?” Answer: “Electricity”.
The UK has been badly infected by the green energy virus. Engineers warned that this intermittent and unpredictable supply had increased the risk of blackouts, so the UK government offered subsidies for emergency backup power. This subsidy, plus consumer concerns, put so many diesels in British sheds that they now provide a major backup capacity for UK electricity.
Many Spaniards found a diesel in the shed was very profitable. Their government had been drinking green-ale and offered attractive subsidies for solar power produced. The subsidy was very successful – so successful that someone eventually noticed that some suppliers were even producing “solar” power at night. It was coming from diesels in their sheds.
Finally, our green media likes to feature some green energy enthusiast who is “off the grid”. But it usually emerges later in the show that there is a diesel in their shed too.
Those who remember the days of relying on a noisy smelly diesel in the shed have no wish to be dragged back there by green zealots.
The Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter believes the $16 million biofuels pilot plant announced yesterday in Gladstone is a big win for Queensland.
Southern Oil Refining is the NSW-based company behind the plant which has the potential to expand to a $150 million commercial-scale refinery with the capacity to produce 200 million litres of fuel per year.
The initiative aligns with the long established policy of KAP to create a biofuels industry in Queensland.
“The announcement of $16 million for the diesel-from-fibre plant at Gladstone is very big news for North Queensland,” said Mr Katter.
“I think most of us are scared that public money is going into new technologies but very big commercial money has also gone into this, indicating that large commercial players take this project seriously.”
“KAP would like to thank its Queensland MPs, Robbie Katter and Shane Knuth. Their contribution was small but it was significant.”
Mr Katter pointed out that this kind of initiative is linked to the future of development in the North West,
“If we were to do this kind of thing in Cloncurry, and we’ve already had discussions with the new Mayor of Cloncurry about the project, and similarly at Hughenden, onsite production of diesel would be a massive boost for the mining industry. The really big benefit would be to Richmond.”
“In the case of onsite produced diesel, the mines, the railways, the livestock and banana haulage… you’d only have to contact 20 or 30 of these industry actors before you’d have a market.”
But Mr Katter also pointed out the incongruity of the Australian Government’s current methodology to fuel procurement.
“This plant proves the total incompetence of the ALP and LNP Federal Governments that we’re sending $23 billion a year to the Middle East to buy petrol. That $23 billion should be going into rural Australia and specifically regional North Queensland to develop this kind of industry.”