AER Ruling: Victorian DNSPs Must Offer Flat Tariff To All. Except EV Owners.

AER's final decision on flat rate electricity tariffs

Finally, it’s official – DNSPs must offer a standard tariff to Victorian solar owners.

I have just read the Australian Energy Regulator’s FINAL DECISION Statement on Victorian Energy Distribution for 2021-2026.  According to the document, Victorian electricity distributors will be required to:

  1. Make a flat tariff available to all residential customers, including homes with solar panels, unless…
  2. The household has an Electric Vehicle (EV), in which case a flat rate tariff is prohibited.  

This is a requirement for electricity distributors (DNSPs) and not electricity retailers.  But because distributors must supply a flat tariff, this will incentivise retailers to offer households a flat rate tariff. 

Homes that have solar installed will still be put onto a time-of-use tariff by default but will be able to opt out to a flat rate tariff. 

The exception is for households with an Electric Vehicle (EV).1  They will not be allowed a flat tariff.  Lily D’ambrosio will create a register of EV owners to enforce it. 

You can read the FINAL DECISION here but its 45 pages are pretty dense, so I’ll cover how it applies to households below.

Distributors Vs. Retailers

There are five electricity distributors in Victoria:

  • AusNet Services:
  • CitiPower
  • Jemena
  • Powercor
  • United Energy

Distributors are in charge of local poles, power lines, and substations that provide grid electricity to homes and businesses.  They take power from long-distance transmission lines and rooftop solar panels and make sure it gets where it’s needed.  They are commonly called Distributed Network Service Providers or DNSPs.  Households usually have no direct interaction with their DNSP and pay for their services through their electricity retailer.  

While many people don’t know who their DNSP is, they almost always know their electricity retailer.  Retailers take readings from electricity meters — which is easy in Victoria as almost everyone has a smart meter that retailers read remotely — and send out electricity bills.  Retailers also answer customer queries and offer the electricity plans Victorians have to choose from.

What retailers charge on electricity bills covers:

  • Generation costs — the cost of wholesale electricity.
  • Long-distance transmission costs.
  • Local distribution by DNSPs.
  • Environmental and other charges.2.
  • The electricity retailer’s own costs as well as profit.

Each property with a grid connection has a tariff applied by the DNSP in its area.  The three main tariff types are:

  1. A flat tariff:   This is also called a standard tariff.  Each kilowatt-hour of grid electricity consumed costs the same no matter when it’s used.
  2. A time-of-use tariff:  With these tariffs, the amount charged depends on the time of day.
  3. A demand tariff:  These have an additional charge based on the amount of power used during peak times. 

Electricity retailers pass the cost of these tariffs onto their customers.  My understanding is retailers don’t have to offer the same type of tariff the distributor charges, but that’s what often happens in Victoria.  Because of this, there were people put on a time-of-use tariff by their distributor who were then unable to get a flat tariff from their retailer.  But because DNSPs are now required to offer a flat rate tariff, retailers should have no reason not to offer one. 

Default Time-Of-Use Tariff With Solar

When you install solar in Victoria, you are put on a time-of-use tariff by default.  The desires of the people who have to pay the bills are not considered.  Their only choice is to either have a time-of-use tariff or a demand tariff.  But at least they should soon have no problem switching to a flat tariff if desired. 

Changing to a flat tariff will take time as retailers don’t like changing tariff types between billing periods.  But it shouldn’t take more than one full billing period.  If it does take longer than this, you may wish to contact the Energy and Water Ombudsman for Victoria.  If that doesn’t help, I know three weird sisters with a cauldron who can have a go at turning whoever is mucking you about into a cane toad.

Flat Tariffs For 5 Years

Solar households in Victoria should be able to have a flat tariff for at least the next five years, as that’s how long the Australian Energy Regulator’s FINAL DECISION on Victorian energy distribution is good for. 

When a household has a major change in circumstances, such as getting a solar system installed, they are considered a new customer.  I reproduced part of the document below because it contains a critical point on how these households are to be treated concerning tariffs:   

AER ruling on flat tariffs and solar power system owners

A micro-generation facility is almost always a rooftop solar power system. However, it is possible it could be something else, such as a tiny wind turbine or some sort of micro-hydroelectric system.3  So, this is good news for solar households.  While it doesn’t mean they will be treated the same as everyone else, the tariffs they are required to use will be based on their electricity consumption patterns rather than just the fact they have solar panels. 

It’s a pity this noble-sounding sentiment is immediately tossed in the bin by the Victorian Government when it comes to electric vehicles.

No Flat Tariff For EV Households

Households with an electric vehicle in Victoria will not be allowed to have a flat tariff and will only be permitted to have a time-of-use or demand tariff.  The Victorian government will create a register of electric vehicle owners in the state to enforce this.

This requirement was not introduced by electricity distributors but by the Victorian Government, specifically the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).

I have no idea how this will be enforced.  If it only applies to the person whose name is on the electricity account, then many households will be able to avoid it.  If it applies to everyone living in the home, then if your new roommate happens to have an electric car, it could end up complicating your electricity bill.  

This is the exact opposite of treating people with “similar connection and usage profiles” equally. 

VIC EV Owners Can’t Catch A Break

I don’t think the registry of EV owners will, at any point, be used to round up people and send them to Internal Combustion Engine Reeducation Camps.  I’m not worried by this possibility even though the only reason I exist is that, when Germany invaded the Netherlands, my Grandparents had “RC” printed on their papers instead of “J”.4  Rather, I am concerned because EV drivers can’t seem to get a break in Victoria. 

Those who want to own EVs already have to put up with the Victorian Government offering incentives with one hand and taking them away with the other.  Making electric car ownership dictate your electricity plan is an additional disincentive.  It may not be a major roadblock like the road charge, but it doesn’t help. 

Time-Of-Use Tariffs Are Useful

Those in charge of running the grid have a good reason for liking time-of-use and demand tariffs.  It’s so people will use less power during peak periods.  This lowers average wholesale electricity prices and can avoid the need for expensive grid upgrades.  These benefits decrease the cost of grid electricity for everyone. 

The downside is time-of-use and demand tariffs are more complex — especially demand tariffs.  To be of any use, households have to put some effort into changing their consumption habits.  While there are people who don’t consider this difficult, it is a drawback, and the burden falls heavier on the elderly as they are less flexible and find it harder to change5.

A Fair Go

To me, it seems reasonable that people on flat rate tariffs pay a little more per average kilowatt-hour than those on time-of-use or demand tariffs.  But I don’t consider it fair to force people onto a tariff they don’t want. 

I’m fine with persuading people to shift to time-of-use tariffs in a positive, non-coercive way.  For example, people who would have been better off on a time-of-use tariff can be sent a letter pointing out how much they would have saved and asked if they would like to change.  Those that wouldn’t have benefited could be offered free timers or smart energy management devices to help enable a time-of-use tariff to make sense for them.

I consider the Australian Energy Regulator’s FINAL DECISION to require DNSPs to offer a flat tariff in Victoria a helpful step to keeping things fair.  The Victorian Government prohibition on households with EVs using flat rate tariffs is not. 

EV Flat Tariff Ban Unnecessary

I understand why the Victorian Government decided to ban EV households from having flat tariffs.  They’re afraid that vast numbers of electric cars will be driven home from work and plugged in to charge during the evening peak.  The surge in peak power consumption would require billions in grid upgrades to prevent rolling blackouts and cause electricity prices to soar6.

The grid does need to be protected against this possibility, but banning an entire class of tariffs for EV owners and creating a registry to enforce this is incredibly ham-fisted.  I actually think it’s beyond ham-fisted.  When it comes to electric vehicles, the Victorian Government has been acting as though it has an entire pig on the end of each arm. 

It’s also unnecessary.  If any household does start consuming excessive amounts of grid electricity during peak periods, their retailer can send them a letter telling them to knock it off, or they will put them on a different tariff.  That would be fair because it would be based on actual grid electricity consumption and not simply whether or the electricity account holder — or possibly just someone in the household — owns an electric car.  After all, the car could be charged entirely by rooftop solar during the day or possibly by solar panels on the car roof.

Sunswift solar powered electric car

The Sunswift electric car. (Image: UNSW)

While in other states, it would be difficult to detect homes with very high peak period power consumption because of the limited penetration of smart meters, almost every household in Victoria has one.  But even in other states, people who buy EVs often either see the advantage of getting a smart meter so they can charge their car with cheap off-peak electricity or mostly charge it during the day using rooftop solar.

But the saddest — or possibly stupidest — thing of all is anything that discourages the uptake of EVs is likely to be counterproductive from the point of view of keeping electricity prices down.  This is because they have massive potential to support the grid and lower costs.  With the right incentives in place, electric cars could charge up when energy is plentiful and cheap and provide the grid with power when it’s most needed.  This would be extremely useful for avoiding costly grid upgrades while helping the nation shift away from fossil fuel generation.

A Humble Proposal…

I welcome the fact Victoria’s DNSPs will be required to offer a flat tariff to solar households.  While people will still be put on a time-of-use tariff by default when they get solar power systems, at least everyone in Victoria should soon have no real difficulty changing to a flat rate tariff if that’s what they want. 

But in honour of their recent EV policy, I suggest Victoria’s state animal be changed to the pushmi-pullyu on account of how every time it takes a step forward, it can’t help but take a step back.

Footnotes

  1. Technically there is also an exception for households that consume more than 160 megawatt-hours a year.  As this is an average of over 438 kilowatt-hours a day, it’s not likely to affect anyone you know.
  2. The largest environmental charge is for our Renewable Energy Target, which is a way of making everyone pay to compensate for some of the harm caused by fossil fuel generation, rather than just making fossil fuel generation shoulder the cost.
  3. Don’t laugh.  I know some Dutch people who have a micro-hydroelectric system.  It’s in Australia, of course.  The Netherlands is too flat for it to work.  In fact, the Netherlands has reverse hydroelectric power because they’re always spending energy pumping water up over their dykes.
  4. The Nazis loved Remote Control enthusiasts.
  5. After I explained to my father that he should try to shift his electricity to the middle of the day to take advantage of solar energy production, he spent the next few weeks telling his friends I was a crazy person who talked to the electricity meter and followed its commands.  This would have bothered me more if other people could see his friends.
  6. Again.
About Ronald Brakels

Many years ago now, Ronald Brakels was born in Toowoomba. He first rose to international prominence when his township took up a collection to send him to Japan, which was the furthest they could manage with the money they raised. He became passionately interested in environmental matters upon his return to Australia when the local Mayor met him at the airport and explained it was far too dangerous for him to return to Toowoomba on account of climate change and mutant attack goats. Ronald then moved to a property in the Adelaide Hills where he now lives with his horse, Tonto 23.

Comments

  1. Don’t forget the re aligning of ToU to 3pm to 9pm 7 days a week. Ausnet plans to shift all solar ToU to this new tariff 1st July whilst other distributors I don’t think had any plans to shift existing customers.

  2. I recently purchased a plug-in hybrid. It has a 10kWh battery and a low charging rate (max 6kW but ~2kW for single phase 240V). I usually charge it at night during off-peak times from a normal 240V outlet (with a clockwork timer!). During sunnier times I switch it on when generating excess rooftop solar.
    Anyway, the relevance here is that a few weeks ago I received, from the NSW RMS, a blue “EV” triangle to stick on my front and rear number plates with a statement that it was to aid first responders in the event of a crash.
    Now it seems that information could be used to target me for “special treatment” with electricity tariffs.

    • Those with holiday houses can choose where the car is registered and which is the house they primarily live in.

      • Erik Christiansen says

        With the concomitant consequence of changing which property will attract capital gains tax when sold, if primary residence is altered.

        I suppose that EV chargers would have to have timers built in and sealed if we were to simply exclude EV charging during peak times, rather than crudely discriminate in regulation.

        Mind you, I don’t understand why a flat rate exists. Even if solar shifts preferred HWS switch-on, peak and off-peak rates are still good for the network and educational for consumers.

        Remote control of HWS & EV charging by ripple injection might be a more flexible solution, seeing that the FINAL decision is not FINAL FINAL, just interim FINAL.

  3. I guess to be equitable (& probably more effective) the government should also insist on time of use tariffs for households with induction hot plates. They draw up to 7 kW & are used at peak evening times.

  4. Whilst they are rated to generally 32A its uncommon to have all 4 burners on high all the time… our induction cooktop generally draw between 15A and 20A..

    Whilst I see EV could be a problem most will just use the granny charger that’s rated to 10A.

    • Yeah, I take your point. But just as you do not need to run induction cooker flat out, (as you suggest) you do not need to run a charger at max during evening peak either. So why target EVs (especially those who do not have 32amp chargers installed) unless it is perhaps a vendetta against them?

      At night my charger draws a max of 1.4 kW. Only time it draws above that is when sun is shining, when it occasionally, but rarely, draws 7 kW.

      On the other hand I live in Canberra where I can still access fixed rates. Not as EV-phobic as Victoria but all governments like revenue and here they have just increased average electricity bill by $250/year – they say to pay for ACT energy neutrality.

      • True but with cooking it’s quite “short and sweet” whilst always vary the power used to make dinner..

        With EV, most people are being sold a “dumb” 32A single phase EV charger that they know none the wiser about adjusting settings…

        So they are just going to come home and plug in and be none the wiser the “damage” during peak hour it could do.

        Yes there is smarter chargers and over time people will come to understand but what most people will respond too, is “stuff that” I ain’t plugging in my car till after 9pm as it’s cheaper.

  5. Interesting…. I’m with Tango Energy and have solar and was put on a time of use tariff. Each bill I get used to say I was on the ‘best plan’.

    Today I got my May bill (3mths) and this time it says I could save money by going on a Home Select plan. ie flat rate.

    On my current bill, had it been flat rate, I would have saved around $50. And it’s not even Winter yet.

    I’m wondering if it has been offered for the reasons in your piece.

  6. Vicki Carlisle says

    I don’t live in Victoria – so who the heck is Lily D’ambrosio?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Lily D’Ambrosio is the Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change and Minister for Solar Homes.

  7. Glen you are the first person who has given a comparison cost.
    NOBODY SEEMS TO KNOW THIS.

  8. Steve:
    A bit more detail: (Tariff NEE26)
    Peak rate before was 30.14c/kWh
    Off-Peak 21.010c
    Daily rate 104.5c per day

    New Home Select Plan rates
    all day $0.187 / kWh
    Daily rate $0.814

    Feed in 10.2c on both plans.

    I will call them tomorrow and change to the Home Select plan. (TAN285945MR)
    Hope nothing goes wrong !

    • I am on the same rate with Tango. Please let us know how you go with switching to the Home Select Plan.

      • OK, how things change. I rang Tango and they said that plan does not apply to my area. Only to City Power areas. I’m in Ausnet.

        They insisted there is no flat rate plan if you have solar.

        So actual rates are not so great…. Home Select plan (TAN285971MR)

        Peak 28.60c
        Off-Peak 19.80c
        Supply charge 99c
        Feed in 10.2c

        I kept asking though why there is no flat rate plan for Solar homes. After being shunted around several people, finally a guy said that there are changes coming up on 1st July, but he doesn’t know what they will be.

        Wait and see perhaps.

        • I think Tango might be ripping you off

          • Its very hard to tell. If you use the Vic Govt compare site the cheapest comes up with three rates, Peak Shoulder Off Peak.

            You can’t easily do an actual compare using that plans rates as Tango has a 2 rate system. Even by trying to take a bit of a stab the ‘savings’ are minimal.

            Which is a problem with compare sites. They don’t always allow you to compare apples with apples. If you use some of the other non Govt. compare sites, they only compare a few retailers that they are getting a kickback from. So again, can’t be relied on.

            Plus based on a single bill, they try to ‘estimate’ your yearly usage.

          • John, After a LOT of searching I found a flat rate deal with solar panels on web.

            REamp energy P/L REA293202MR

            21.77c flat rate

            Supply charge 79.16c / day

            feed in 10.2c

            Not called them to verify.

          • Glenn P,

            Yes you can search the net and find alot of flat rate plans that have a FiT component for the Ausnet area.

            I can guarantee you once you call up or try and switch you’ll be put on peak/off peak unless the retailer chooses to bill you on flat rates and allow Ausnet to bill them on peak/off peak.

            As of yet I haven’t found a company willing to do that.

            Come 1st July as mentioned in this article a new tariff code is being created to allow solar customers in Ausnet to officially switch to flat rates.

            Be interesting to see what Ausnet says about only switching once per 12 months as I was denied switching to a different ToU as Ausnet said getting solar counted as my once in a 12 month option… but I’m sure we will hear more from Ausnet solar customers about it.

    • Hi Glenn.

      After a online chat with Re amped. I was able to access Offer ID:REA289595MR – Peak/Off Peak (Postcode 3805)

      Peak
      $0.2914 /kWh
      Off-Peak
      $0.1562 /kWh
      Supply Charge
      $0.8345 /day
      Feed-in Tariff
      $0.1020 /kWh

      Different rate card compared to Victoria comparison Website.

  9. Even though here in WA we do not have a choice of electricity providers, I think our policies are the right one.

    Rather than penalized EV owners, they are encouraged to charge their EV off peak between 9pm to 4am by get a big rate discount.

  10. David Grieve says

    I have a 2017 BMW i3 and when you get home can plug in to recharge, but the timer in the car can be set to avoid the peak dinner time, say 8pm to 6am, this is a once set only, and it’s automatic from then.
    I think all electric cars have some sort of timer built in. Its a question of driver responsibility whether it is used though.

  11. Ian Thompson says

    Isn’t the EV incentive issue a bit premature at this time?
    Surely EV owners at present will only be able to charge their vehicles from their own home micro-generation system, if:
    1. They actually OWN a system.
    2. They don’t go to work during the day.
    3. If PV, the sky is not overcast.
    This largely excludes people who live in flats, high-rise buildings, condominiums, etc.

    Surely most will therefore charge their vehicles at night – from largely COAL and GAS sourced energy – at about 34% thermal efficiency – or less if you include transmission losses, transformer losses, battery charger losses, battery round-trip losses, motor losses, increased vehicle mass rolling drag and inertial braking losses (less regenerative gains, if any).
    Given a modern IC engine can achieve close to 33% thermal efficiency – particularly if hybrid – why would you bother going electric – the GHG emissions won’t prove much different.

    Why not INSTEAD focus on getting our EXISTING electricity generation converted over to FULLY low-GHG-sourced – before adding in the transportation energy additional requirements. After all, we are presently FAR, FAR away from eliminating COAL, GAS, and now DIESEL, from our generation technologies at present – and our demand for even non-transportation electrical energy will only increase with time – efficiency improvements not withstanding.

    • Geoff Miell says

      Ian Thompson,
      From an AAP Factcheck dated Dec 2020, titled “Does making an electric car use twice the emissions of a standard model?”, includes:

      “Based on the available research, most electric vehicles produce significantly more greenhouse emissions during manufacturing than their conventional equivalents. While some studies found emissions were double, others indicated the emission premium was only 20 per cent.

      Most research shows EVs emit significantly less emissions over their lifetimes than ICEVs, even when they are charged from electricity grids with a high proportion of fossil-fuel sources.”
      https://www.aap.com.au/does-making-an-electric-car-use-twice-the-emissions-of-a-standard-model/

      Clearly, BEVs are already better than hybrids (plug-in or non-plug-in) and ICEVs, even with a high proportion of fossil fuels in the grid. As grids decarbonize, then emissions related to BEVs will diminish further.

      Evidence indicates we/humanity need to focus on getting ALL our GHG emissions rapidly reduced ASAP.

      A video published at Vimeo on Mar 23, titled “CES21 – EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH HANS VAN DER LOO AND SIR DAVID KING” shows an interview by Hans van der Loo, Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Institute for Integrated Economic Research & EU STEM Ambassador, with Sir David King, Founder and Chair of the Centre for Climate Repair, University of Cambridge, at the Clean Energy Summit 2021, duration 15:25.

      Key points revealed in the video below include:
      • There is NO CARBON BUDGET REMAINING for a safe climate for humanity;
      • Three stages are required to mitigate the climate emergency:
      – Deep and rapid decarbonization ASAP – no more new fossil fuel developments AND a rapid phase-out of utilization of existing fossil fuel infrastructure;
      – ‘Negative emissions’ or atmospheric carbon drawdown to get CO2 levels back to 350 ppm – the Earth System is currently nudging/breaching 420 ppm – see: https://keelingcurve.ucsd.edu/
      – Maintain arctic summer sea ice cover.
      • “What we, humanity, do in the next 4 to 5 years will determine the future of humanity for the next few thousand years” – Sir David King

      • It becomes even more problematic though, when you consider for the foreseeable future long distance freight (trucks, trains & aircraft) & military vehicles will likely never convert to electric power. Nor will international passenger travel.

        Means a greater GHG reduction burden will have to be carried by suburban EVs (family cars, etc). IMHO we’re still at the stage of needing to encourage, not punish, EV owners.

        • Geoff Miell says

          Tony,
          But what proportion of trucks are used for long distance? In the EU, half of truck activity is driven over distances of less than 300 km. These could be covered today by electric trucks.
          https://www.transportenvironment.org/sites/te/files/publications/2020_07_Unlocking_electric_trucking_in_EU_recharging_in_cities_FINAL.pdf

          Interesting to see how much different Australia is compared with EU. ABS stats on Australian motor vehicle use, for the year ending 30 Jun 2020 are in the link below, but a quick look doesn’t reveal what proportion of shorter to longer distance trucks there are in the data, only apparently averages as far as I can see.
          https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/industry/tourism-and-transport/survey-motor-vehicle-use-australia/latest-release

          For long haul trucks, I’d suggest piggy-back on rail to regional or intercity hubs then a final short haul.

          I’d suggest rail locomotives can be either electric (third rail or catenary pick-up) or hydrogen fuel cell, or dual energy.

          I think future passenger air travel, particularly international/long-haul, will be the province of the very wealthy soon.

          GHG emissions by sector are here:
          https://ourworldindata.org/emissions-by-sector

          Road transport represents only 11.9% of total human-induced GHG emissions. 60% of that is represented by cars, motorcycles and busses.

          • I wasn’t arguing that electric transport vehicles won’t have a place, especially within urban settings. My point was that it is unlikely we will ever reduce fossil fuel for transport costs to zero. Especially for emergencies such as grid failures, fires, floods, cyclones etc & military responses. We can speculate how low that gets, but we’re going to be stuck with it for a long time. Hence the government decision to prop up Australian refining capability.

            While not entirely relevant to that point, from a research perspective I have to draw attention to the problem of comparing Australia to Europe (& the world in general for that matter) because of distances. While a 500 km (one-way) range in the future might at a pinch allow trips between Sydney, Melbourne & Adelaide, other capitals & regional travel are another issue. Don’t forget if you add traffic plus pick-up and delivery to a trip, the effective range reduces from 500 km to more like 300~400 in reality. And would not help with regional NSW or Qld in particular. Travelling 300-400 km in Europe can take you through several countries.

            On the other hand Qld does have the best non-urban train electrification network in Australia, albeit at this stage mostly dedicated to transport for mining sector.

            Hydrogen may also be an alternative but is a nascent technology at this point in time, despite what the government keeps saying.

          • Geoff Miell says

            Tony (Re your comment at May 18, 2021 at 7:59 pm),
            You state: “My point was that it is unlikely we will ever reduce fossil fuel for transport costs to zero. Especially for emergencies such as grid failures, fires, floods, cyclones etc & military responses. We can speculate how low that gets, but we’re going to be stuck with it for a long time.”

            Ongoing GHG emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, fossil gas and petroleum oil) and other carbon-based substances is and will facilitate an increasingly more hostile planet for humanity and civilisation in the decades to come, increasing the risks of human suffering of billions of people and civilisation collapse within this century. Either humanity finds adequate alternatives to displace the burning of coal and fossil gas by 2030, and for all the other GHG-emitting activities well before 2040, or human civilisation will likely cease to exist within the second half of this century (or even perhaps earlier). I’d suggest you revisit my first comment (and view the video) above as I suspect (based on your comments) you don’t understand how dangerous a predicament we are all in..

            Ampol (for the Lytton, Queensland refinery) and Viva (for Geelong, Victoria) said they intended to keep their plants running to at least mid-2027. But I ask: what happens after that? More good money after the bad (worth up to $2.4 billion rescue package from the Federal Government)? It also ignores an inevitable post- ‘peak oil’ supply world, and the existential threat of climate change.

            More subsidies for fossil fuels is facilitating a more dangerous situation for us in future.

          • Thanks Geoff. Which brings me back to original comment. Because freight transport using fossil fuels cannot (or will not) be done away with, it is even more important that alternates (such as EVs) be encouraged for personal use, & not have sanctions like those being imposed by Victorian government levied against them.

            But I suspect it’s a lost cause. As Paul Keating famously said “never stand between a Premiere and a bucket of money”.

          • Geoff Miell says

            Tony (Re your comment at May 19, 2021 at 11:31 am),
            I don’t understand the logic of your statement: “Because freight transport using fossil fuels cannot (or will not) be done away with…”

            The Financial Times article headlined “Energy groups must stop new oil and gas projects to reach net zero by 2050, IEA says”, dated May 18, begins with:

            “Energy groups must stop all new oil and gas exploration projects from this year if global warming is to be kept in check, the International Energy Agency said.”

            Yesterday’s IEA Press Release includes:

            “Building on the IEA’s unrivalled energy modelling tools and expertise, the Roadmap sets out more than 400 milestones to guide the global journey to net zero by 2050. These include, from today, no investment in new fossil fuel supply projects, and no further final investment decisions for new unabated coal plants.”
            https://www.iea.org/news/pathway-to-critical-and-formidable-goal-of-net-zero-emissions-by-2050-is-narrow-but-brings-huge-benefits-according-to-iea-special-report

            Per the post “The decline of oil has already begun”, dated 22 Mar 2020, it includes:

            “According to a 2019 Geological Survey of Finland report, the world average decline rate on post-peak production is 5 to 7%, meaning that oil production could plummet to half its current volume in the next 10 to 14 years.”
            https://www.greenpeace.org/international/story/29458/peak-oil-decline-coronavirus-economy/

            If Figure 5 in the 16 Nov 2020 article headlined “Peak Oil Never Went Away” continues to be anywhere near accurate then we/humanity need to find alternatives to petroleum oil dependency fast!
            https://economicsfromthetopdown.com/2020/11/16/peak-oil-never-went-away/

            Summarizing:
            1. If we/humanity continue burning fossil fuels we likely won’t have a civilisation later this century.

            2. By stopping the developments of new oil fields (as we/humanity must) the global decline of existing oil producing fields will be of the order of 5 to 7% per year, year-on-year, or halving production in the next 10 to 14 years.

            3. Fossil-fueled transport will become increasingly more disrupted as global petroleum fuel supplies become scarcer. That’s the consequence of a post- ‘peak oil’ supply world.

            4. We/humanity need to find adequate zero GHG-emission alternatives to drastically reduce petroleum dependency fast!

            In conclusion: “If we don’t solve the climate crisis, we can forget about the rest.” – Professor Schellnhuber
            https://horizon-magazine.eu/article/i-would-people-panic-top-scientist-unveils-equation-showing-world-climate-emergency.html

          • I think we’re in heated agreement here. I couldn’t agree more. All I was saying was fossil fuel reduction won’t be instantaneous. And because some areas like freight & emergency services will be slower than others, we should encourage those areas where we can make a difference more quickly. Like personal use of EVs.

            I live in Canberra and it has been using 100% renewable energy since Sep 2019. I drive an electric vehicle and every year I feed more electricity into the grid than I use. Canberra is now rated the most sustainable city in the world. That’s what can happen if you provide the right incentives over time.
            https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7257624/canberra-named-worlds-most-sustainable-city/

    • You have made a lot of assumptions there Ian and I disagree with most of them and in my particular case the opposite is true. I am yet to charge my EV with anything other than Solar and know other EV owners religiously doing the same. PV generates on an overcast day – albeit not as much, and I’m yet to have two consecutive days of heavy overcast in Melbourne. If you do drive to work everyday you can charge at work from a green powered charge station. It doesn’t matter how efficient your GHG powered vehicle is or isn’t – it’s still producing GHG. Do you own a PV system or an EV?

  12. Reg Watson says

    Anything to stop you registering your EV to another home address ? Your sister who doesn’t have solar for example ?

    • If your sister lives in ACT an EV (new or second hand) gets free registration for first 2 years & access to a $15,000 Interest free loan!

      Certainly a different attitude to Victoria.

  13. ACEEE has been green-rating EVs and ICE vehicles for decades, taking into account whole-of-life factors. See their latest press release:
    Electric Vehicles Top GreenerCars’ 2021 Ratings as Automakers Push Electrification
    https://www.aceee.org/press-release/2021/02/electric-vehicles-top-greenercars-2021-ratings-automakers-push

  14. Ian, your assumption is incorrect. Even if a power plant is coal fired, a combined cycle coal fired power station has an efficiency of about 65%, so it’s far greater than an ICE vehicle!

    • Ian Thompson says

      Hi Ronald

      Are most of our COAL plants combined cycle in Australia? GAS plants CCGT? I hadn’t understood so – but am happy to be corrected.

      If so, then I totally agree that electric, even with all the extra associated inefficiencies, could likely come out better than ICE over life – including accounting for the extra upfront manufacturing burden for making batteries.

      In not – then perhaps your point is only theoretical – I had based my assumption on generally held opinions that related primary thermal energy use vs electricity produced – which proposed an average figure of about 34% – this was contained in a link I posted elsewhere. Perhaps a Greenie wrote the article? However, I do agree that as fossil fuels are progressively replaced, then the balance will move further towards BEV – of course!

      My earlier point was, really, that encouraging massive EV take-up NOW, will simply prolong the life of COAL technologies. I’d rather see we urgently replace COAL and GAS generation in our existing electricity grids, with low-GHG sources of power, first. After all, existing electrical demand will continue to use COAL, until COAL is replaced. Already I see funds are being thrown to Refineries, to secure our Diesel resources for the future!

      65% seems pretty good – I’ve only seen large diesel generators reach 45% brake thermal efficiency (based on the LCV of diesel fuel).

  15. Hi Ian,

    Petrol and diesel engines can never go very much beyond 30+ to 40+. They have seen incremental improvement over many decades and has reached the laws of diminishing returns!

    No, not much of existing Coal generation in Australia is combined cycle, not much of Australian Coal power plant is new either! Combined cycle power plants have been around for 3 decades. My point is, faced with such big differences in efficiency, old Coal fired power plant cannot compete and that is why they are mainly money losing business. The only way they can survive is with government subsidies and not making major maintenance and that’s why they are all falling apart.

    Against such scenarios, the efficiency of grid power will always continue to improve and ICE cannot beat EVs when it comes to carbon emissions no matter what is used to produce grid power. Further to that, a portion of EVs will be charged using renewable energy, whether it be home produced or otherwise.

  16. Ian Thompson says

    Hi Ronald 2 – well, you did challenge my assumptions (really based on references), with an irrelevant reference to combined cycle use – as they say, assumptions make an ASS out of U and ME.

    Here is a diesel engine that exceeds 50% brake thermal efficiency: https://www.garrettmotion.com/news/newsroom/article/worlds-first-commercial-diesel-engine-with-brake-thermal-efficiency-above-50-launched-by-weichai-boosted-by-garrett/
    Another by a Finnish manufacturer Wartsila (regards Finn) that reaches 51.7%: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W%C3%A4rtsil%C3%A4-Sulzer_RTA96-C.
    The engine I was referencing was a Dutch-manufactured (regards Ronald 1) Stork-Verkspoor medium-speed ship engine – a TM-410 as I recall – their engineer told me the new (then, late 1970’s) TM-610 was achieving 45% brake thermal efficiency at high load, still above 40% at only 25% load. The 610 related to the 610 mm cylinder bore – producing about 2,000 bhp/cylinder on a V12 engine!

    I was, however using the following reference to coal power: https://www.volker-quaschning.de/datserv/CO2-spez/index_e.php – this was in fact relating to CO2 emissions, but the introduction showed a 34% power station efficiency by way of example of emissions vs energy source.
    This figure is again confirmed (at 39% gross, 33% effective) in the following (if you scroll down to the table, and look for World Electricity Generation 2008) : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_conversion_efficiency

    Given Victoria, for example, uses poorer quality Lignite (brown) COAL, and even our best coals are not world-leading, I think is is a reasonably safe assumption that COAL in Australia produces electricity at a thermal efficiency of only about 33-34% (I’m guessing the ‘Net’ statement already includes allowances for transmission and transformer losses – other sources I’ve seen put this at ~ 6%). Now, when we charge a BEV we have charger losses, then round-trip losses in the battery, then motor-drive inverter, and motor losses – before we get to mechanical power out of the motor to the gearbox. I’d think these losses would easily exceed 7%, and may well go to 12%. So, 3kWh of COAL in, gets us about 1 kWh of electricity to our charging station, which ultimately gets us about 0.82-0.93kWh mechanical power out. This relates to about (0.82-0.93)/3 = 27.3-31% overall energy efficiency. Now, you agree an IC engine can achieve similar figures – hence my point, there is nothing in it.

    You will see I have not used a ‘blended’ source of fossil/renewable power – and this was very deliberate. My reason is that all of our renewable power is already fully committed – so the additional demands imposed by BEV’s will simply have to be met by COAL stations upping their output – if you say you’ll use your home rooftop PV excess, the same argument applies – the export that you divert to your car will then no longer be available to offset COAL elsewhere – so, again, COAL output will have to be increased.

    My biggest concern – if we ‘ramp up’ BEV’s too soon – is that our Prime Minister will be forced to either subsidise COAL generators to prolong their life, to secure our energy future – or worse yet, have new COAL stations built. How dumb would that be? Clearly, IC-engine cars have a shorter lifespan than a COAL plant – so to me a better approach would be to bring on BEV’s progressively, but only AFTER we have displaced ALL of our fossil-fuelled power stations – during this time, natural attrition would allow people to convert to BEV.

    As the overall thermal efficiencies of IC and COAL-derived BEV are about the same, I could even argue the IC option produces LESS GHGs than the present BEV option – as gasoline generates about 0.25 kgCO2/kWh, vs 0.37 kgCO2/kWh (thermal) for COAL : https://www.volker-quaschning.de/datserv/CO2-spez/index_e.php

    Are my presentations of ‘Inconvenient Truth’ calculations difficult to follow?
    Why on earth would we want to substitute a higher emissions strategy, by getting into BEV’s too soon, when they are effectively COAL-powered at present, so will emit more GHGs than IC vehicles? At the same time DELAYING retirement of COAL stations? It beats me…!

    • Geoff Miell says

      Ian Thompson,
      From the Joint Declaration of the Global 100% RE Strategy Group, dated 8 Feb 2021:

      “2. A transformation to 100% RE can occur faster than current expectations: the power sector can transform by 2030 and the other sectors soon thereafter. With political will, a transformation of the global energy sector by 2030-35 appears to be possible!”
      https://global100restrategygroup.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Joint-Declaration-of-the-Global-100-RE-Strategy-Group-210208.pdf

      It seems to me the only thing that’s missing is political will. There’s no other reason to delay the rapid transition from ICEVs to BEVs.

      Ian, where’re the adequate petroleum fuel supplies coming from in a post- ‘peak oil’ supply world? See my summary in my comment at: https://www.solarquotes.com.au/blog/aer-vic-flat-tariff/#comment-1062121

      You state: “Why on earth would we want to substitute a higher emissions strategy, by getting into BEV’s too soon…”

      A rapid transition to BEVs is a LOWER overall emissions strategy, even with a higher proportion of fossil fuels in the grid, or have you forgotten my earlier comment to you above (at May 18, 2021 at 2:36 pm)?
      See also: https://www.energycouncil.com.au/analysis/evs-are-they-really-more-efficient/

      Ian, why do you advocate for delaying a rapid transition to BEVs, which effectively means burning more fossil fuels? It beats me!

      • Ian Thompson says

        Hi Geoffrey

        Your last paragraph represents a serious misrepresentation of my calculations, so does you a considerable disservice – it makes you appear to lack even a modicum of comprehension, and certainly not much knowledge of simple mathematics nor applied physics.

        My hypothesis was NOT, and has never been, that we should burn MORE fossil fuels, but rather that if we switch to BEVs too soon, in the Australian context we could well unintentionally INCREASE our GHG-burden. If we are to switch carte-blanche to high BEV implementation, we’d better damn-well know what we are doing!

        Geoffrey, I know, and you (should) know, that in the ‘closed system’ of the NEM, generation MUST match demand – this INCLUDES rooftop PV sources.
        I know, and you (should) know, that in the NEM context all our renewable sources are being fully utilised – all the time – and that the large % shortfall of generation, day and night, is being made up for largely by COAL stations.
        I know, and you (should) know, that if we ADD to this demand, our renewable sources cannot increase output – they are already running ‘flat chat’ – so this extra demand can ONLY be met by COAL stations increasing their output – the source of this power to support the extra demand is in no way ‘blended’.
        This means BEVs can only be effectively charged from COAL-sourced power – anything else is just ‘creative accounting’ – despite my thought of charging my own (hypothetical) BEV from my own rooftop PV generation excess to self-use – in reality, as Ronald has stated previously, that energy can then no longer be used to offset COAL elsewhere. Good for me, but not so good for the Nation as a whole.
        Geoffrey, with due respect to the Dr Whitehall in your previous AAP Factcheck link, in my opinion his use of blended renewable/fossil charging is logically flawed – that IS NOT how the NEM works at present in Australia. That error then brings into question the veracity of all his subsequent determinations.

        My hypothesis is, that COAL-power BEVs, depending on several factors, could well EXCEED the GHG emissions of a modern IC-engine vehicle. My initial calculations appear to CONFIRM that hypothesis.

        Delaying transition to BEVs would then imply emitting LESS GHGs, not more. And, NOT burning more fossil fuels – just cleaner gasoline instead of dirtier COAL. I do not see this is for more than the medium term – only until we can get sufficient renewable sources available to charge these BEVs without recourse to dirty, stinking COAL.

        Geoffrey – my calculations are simple – firstly, depending on what figure you use COAL generates about 0.36 kgCO2/kWh, about 44% more than gasoline’s 0.25 kgCo2/kWh. https://www.volker-quaschning.de/datserv/CO2-spez/index_e.php

        In your recent AEC link, even Justine Lovell speaks of a renewable/coal mix (flawed logic, for our NEM) – but does go on to say ‘EVs convert over 77 per cent of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels. Conventional gasoline vehicles only convert about 12 per cent – 30 per cent of the energy stored in gasoline to power at the wheels’ – this is useful information, but of quite a bit lower EV efficiency than I was using in my earlier calculations. I do agree that the efficiency of an IC engine depends very much on the mode of operation – hence the range of efficiency values. Justine mentions extended idling is inefficient – interestingly, my IC car is 10 years old, yet switches the engine completely OFF very shortly after you come to a stop – NO idling. Is she a reliable source?

        I do like to calculate from basic data – rather than simply quote figures from sources of unknown provenance as do you – in this case Justine states ‘77% of energy from the grid’. Just what point she is referring to is not stated. Does she mean from a fully charged battery (which would not include charger and battery charging losses), or does she mean at the charger power point (which would include these losses). Who knows? Lacks engineering rigour.
        However, if we assume she meant from the power point, we can work backwards – starting with a reference point of 1 kWh delivered to the BEV wheels. Using her figure of 77%, we would then need to draw 1/0.77 = 1.3 kWh from the power point. Given grid losses of about 8% (probably nearer to 10%, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-29/sa-businesses-cop-the-cost-of-energy-lost-leaving-the-state/11051718) in transmission and transformers from the power station, this would become 1.3/(1-0.08) = 1.413 kWh from the power station. If the power station is 37% efficient, this equates to 1.413/0.37 = 3.819 kWh of thermal energy from COAL to drive the station, or even more if the station is being forced to operate off-design and is less efficient (as most of our stations do). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossil_fuel_power_station
        Given our figure above re- CO2, then 1 kWh at the wheels of a BEV will emit 3.819 x 0.36kgCO2/kWh = 1.375 kg of CO2 emitted (or more, if the COAL station is operating off-design, or we use the likely higher grid losses). Note: for a 100kWh battery, 137.5 kg of CO2 goes into the air.
        We can similarly work back for the case of 1 kWh at the wheels of an IC vehicle. Now I will first use the higher 30% figure quoted in Justine’s notes for IC efficiency (to the drive wheels) – the engine thermal (gasoline) power then becomes 1/0.3 = 3.333 kWh. Multiplying this by the 0.25 kgCO2/kWh above gives 3.333 x 0.25 = 0.833 kgCO2 emitted for the gasoline-powered vehicle.

        In this case (assuming 30% efficiency for the IC), the COAL BEV will emit 1.375/0.833 = 1.65, that is, 65% MORE CO2 than the IC vehicle!

        Ok – if we now use the AVERAGE of Justine’s 12-30% figures, say 21%, the IC vehicle will emit 0.833 x 30% / 21% = 1.19 kgCO2 – this means the COAL BEV would STILL emit 1.375/1.19 = 1.155, nearly 16% MORE CO2 than the IC vehicle – for just an AVERAGE figure of IC efficiency!

        The break-even point comes at an IC efficiency of only 18% – my calculations conclude the COAL BEV would have lower emissions only for ICVs operating below this figure.

        So – Geoffrey – there you have it. On AVERAGE, it would appear using COAL instead on gasoline will INCREASE GHG-emissions overall by about 16%. Not a surprise really – if you know anything about thermodynamics.
        Clearly, though, the benefits to ICVs favour those uses that allow the IC to perform at higher efficiencies – probably not those doing only short, stop-start, slow commutes. Here in WA, though, and perhaps in Queensland, SA, and country NSW and Vic, the answer would appear to clearly be – DO NOT go to BEV! Until, of course, with additional renewable sources these additional BEVs CAN be charged without recourse to fossil fuel burning.

        And – I have been conservative using grid losses of only 8% not the 10% referenced to SA and have not included the likely lower efficiencies of the COAL stations operation off-design. Nor have I included any upfront CO2 premium for manufacturing batteries (an impact I hope would be small over lifecycle) – these produce an upfront GHG burden, without any return benefits. Adding these would tip the balance further in the ICs favour.

        I put this proposal to you, Geoffrey – if we ramp up BEV’s too soon, then as well as increasing GHG emissions significantly, we may also (inadvertently) DELAY the retirement of COAL generation – would you really want that? Wouldn’t it be far more relevant to encourage the use of small-sized BEVs only, for only the city commute – when IC may not be able to compete on emissions? Or encourage people to take the electric train instead (I do).
        The worst-case scenario, I feel, is that to secure our energy future some Government may decide we need to build a new, modern, highly efficient, and ‘clean coal’ power station or two! Would you REALLY want that on your conscience? The advantage of staying with ICVs for the interim, is that in addition to concomitant GHG emissions being significantly less, these vehicles have a much shorter lifespan than a new COAL station, so can be phased out relatively quickly in favour of BEVs when the time comes. I am only speaking of the Australian context, and only for the relatively near-term (I hope).
        Geoffrey – I really think many of your references lack engineering rigour and acumen. They tend to spout more populist mythology, than solid fact. Politicians perhaps, or novice advocates with little technical competence?

        Here, I present simple, and transparent maths that you are free to change or challenge – not just mere verbiage, nor unsubstantiated claims.

  17. Ian, I find your argument very much cherry picking. Picking the worst case for coal fired power station, is Victoria and best case, is ship engine! We are comparing cars here, so your argument makes no sense. Btw I was a ship’s engineer in another life.

    Most will agree with me that taken as a whole, grid power will always be more efficient then a car ICE! Because grid power station can run at higher temperature, with better efficiency through steam reinfection, etc which a car engine simply cannot. In time grid power can only get cleaner and with higher efficiency without government negative intervention as higher efficiency means lower cost and greater profitability for operators!

  18. I appreciate your detailed analysis. BUT your comment “all of our renewable power is already fully committed” is such a defeatist attitude that won’t help solve the bigger problem. Yes we need more renewable generation, and as solar is the easiest we need more devices that can store energy as solar is only daytime. EVs are the perfect solution.

  19. Ian Thompson says

    Hm-mm Ronald 2 – the evidence doesn’t appear to support your contention.

    Sorry – I was NOT trying to cherry pick – just demonstrating that diesels have reach greater than 50% brake thermal efficiency. I do agree road diesel is unlikely to exceed 40%. Nor was I trying to cherry pick brown coal – was just pointing out that brown coal is in the mix. In fact, my calculations used the Wiki source, so I was not even using EITHER of these so-called cherry-picked figures – it’s surprising you did not pick this up.
    Where is your evidence that grid power IS in fact of high enough efficiency to make a COAL charged BEV more efficient than IC?
    Just what do you mean by ‘steam reinfection’? I’ve never heard of this term, and in a previous job I lectured in steam power – showing students how to calculate things like recuperators, super-heating, critical systems, etc., etc.

    In fact, because gasoline emits 0.25 kgCO2/kWh, to COALs average 0.37 kgCO2/kWh, the power station would need to be 0.37/0.25 = 1.48, that is 48% more efficient that an IC engine to break even on CO2 emissions – in fact even more so if we include the charging, battery return trip, motor drive inverter, and motor inefficiencies.

    Unless you can demonstrate this, your argument is quite simply, not worthy of further comment.

    • Geoff Miell says

      Ian Thompson,
      Only 12 per cent to 30 per cent of the energy in gasoline/petrol is used to move a vehicle, with most of the remaining energy lost as heat. BEVs are far more efficient than ICEVs, with over 77 per cent of the energy in electricity converted into movement when including regenerative braking.
      https://energi.media/news/battery-evs-more-fuel-efficient-than-ice-vehicles-cer/

      Diesel road trucks aren’t significantly more energy efficient compared with gasoline/petrol vehicles.

      Where in your calculations do you factor in the woefully poor energy efficiency of ICEVs?

      It seems to me you appear to be one of these ‘inactivists’, advocating more delay and spreading doubt about the energy transition, that Professor Michael E Mann is warning about in his book “The New Climate War”.
      https://www.sciencenews.org/article/new-climate-war-book-exposes-tactics-climate-change-inactivists

      • Ian Thompson says

        My goodness Geoffrey – you have really confused yourself again.

        YES, my calculations most definitely DO include the ‘woefully inefficiencies’ you speak of. I used the data from the link YOU provided.

        I was NOT considering ICEVs, only COAL BEVs, vs ICVs.

        YES, BEVs do convert electrical energy efficiently to wheel energy, much better than IC engines convert gasoline to mechanical energy. But that is only part of the story. The fact remains that COAL stations DO NOT make electrical energy very efficiently from COAL, AND COAL produces about 44% MORE CO2 emissions than gasoline, for each kWh of thermal energy generated.

        As per the Persian proverb “the man who knows not, but knows not that he knows not, is a fool. Shun him.

        Geoffrey, if you really can’t get your head around my most simple maths, then to quote yourself, please leave this to those that can.

        • Geoff Miell says

          Ian Thompson,
          You state: “…if you really can’t get your head around my most simple maths, then to quote yourself, please leave this to those that can.”

          I do leave it to the competent experts that know what they are doing – see these:
          1. https://www.carbonbrief.org/factcheck-how-electric-vehicles-help-to-tackle-climate-change
          2. https://thedriven.io/2021/02/12/evs-smash-petrol-cars-on-emissions-even-with-a-coal-powered-grid/
          3. https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/12/22/9390/pdf

          The IEA press release on May 18 includes:

          “…from today, no investment in new fossil fuel supply projects, and no further final investment decisions for new unabated coal plants.”
          https://www.iea.org/news/pathway-to-critical-and-formidable-goal-of-net-zero-emissions-by-2050-is-narrow-but-brings-huge-benefits-according-to-iea-special-report

          There is NO CARBON BUDGET REMAINING for a safe climate for humanity. We/humanity need to stop burning fossil fuels and other carbon-based substances ASAP. ICEVs must be displaced/retired ASAP.

          I could go on, but I think further arguing with you is futile.

          It’s clear to me (based on the plethora of your comments I see here at this blog) you appear wilfully ignorant and seem unable to recognise your own incompetence.

          • Ian Thompson says

            So Geoffrey – I do realise you feel the need to ‘save face’, but more ‘character assassination’. Really? Yes, I am one of those competent experts you speak of – and have been used often as a (paid) Consultant in this regard. Engines, fuel systems, and thermodynamics are my specialities, as well as machine design.

            I have scanned your links – but find them nothing much more than verbiage regarding the calculations I’ve made. To quote Einstein ‘Information is not Knowledge’. I did find item 2 the most interesting – but again they use flawed logic in their determinations. What happened to their ‘Table 2’? Yes, you CAN say your BEV is powered from your home rooftop PV excess, or from shares in a wind farm. but as I’ve said before, this is simply creative accounting, robbing Peter to pay Peter. The reality is that by doing this you do not export the excess, thereby diluting the renewable ratio over the entire grid – which means ALL consumers then use a little bit more COAL-source power than renewable. This is a ‘zero sum’ game.

            I stand by my calculations. But of course if some of my reference data is incorrect, then my (mathematical) conclusions would change. It would be more helpful if you pointed these out, rather than make weak-minded character attacks.

            Let me see if I can present this from a different angle – to assist your understanding. Referencing my previous links, Ronald 2 is quite correct – our run-down, old technology, decrepit COAL stations at 37.5% thermal efficiency, are more efficient than an IC’s efficiency range of 12-30% (quoted by Justine). What Ronald 2 does not understand, is that this is nowhere near the end of the problem.
            You do understand hopefully Geoffrey – that series efficiencies can be ‘lumped’, by multiplying them together? 50% of 50% = 25%?
            We have transmission losses out to the charging point of, say 8% (my reference showed 10%, but of course you could choose a smaller number, or even assume the transformers and power lines are infinitely efficient). This equates to 92% efficiency. Justine quotes BEV efficiencies of 77% – charge point to wheel – is she wrong?
            Multiplying these together, we get 37.5% x 92% x 77% = 25.565% efficiency from COAL to the road wheels.
            This fits squarely in the range of 12-30% efficiency quoted by Justine – admittedly at the higher end – or, again, is she wrong?
            So – we have to conclude that overall thermal efficiencies of both COAL BEV, and IC-engine vehicles, are somewhat similar. In fact (and I have just noticed this), very close to the efficiency I had estimated for a hybrid EV (not plug-in) – I had referred to this as an ICEV. Item 2 in your references appears to confuse IC, vs ICEV – the 1st does not have a battery.
            So far, so good – but we still must take into account the fact that, for every kWh provided to the wheels, COAL produces 44% more CO2 than Gasoline.
            Geoffrey – if your contributions are to be useful – you would need to show where my assumptions deviate. Are our old COAL stations more efficient than 37.5% (I would doubt this)? Are transmission lines more efficient, on average (maybe)? Is Justine’s BEV efficiency figure of 77% incorrect (you provided the reference) – or higher than this (I doubt it, given all the inline losses involved)? Perhaps her (inconsistent) IC efficiency figures are wrong (I recall her saying 60% of the gasoline energy is wasted as heat – this would imply an IC efficiency of 100%-60% = 40%, clearly false)?

            My numbers otherwise show, quite clearly, that COAL BEV use, on average, would produce 16%, 32% more GHG than IC, or ICEV (hybrid) respectively.

            There is a way out. Firstly, and most importantly, put your focus on increasing our rate of renewable commissioning. As I have indicated in a separate blog from separate calculations regarding total energy demand, we need to be commissioning 1-2 Hornsdale-sized wind farms (or 1TWh/year solar equivalents) per week in Australia – to meet our 2050 objective. Costing ~ $16 billion per year, in yesterday’s dollars.
            Second, in the interim encourage hybrid (but not plug in) EVs – these use gasoline more efficiently, don’t need to draw on dirty COAL sources, and will substantially reduce GHG emissions compared with COAL (which also emit other nasty pollutants, like particulates, radon gas, non-organic mercury, etc., etc.). Nasty, nasty stuff – mercury retards intellectual development, and non-organic mercury has been found in mother’s milk in the USA – explains a lot!
            Thirdly, Natural Gas has a lower CO2 rate per kWh of thermal energy produced, at 0.2 kgCO2/kWh https://www.volker-quaschning.de/datserv/CO2-spez/index_e.php , nearly half the rate of COAL at 0.36, and less than gasoline at 0.25. I stayed away from considering this before – as from your observations, if accurate, fugitive emissions may dwarf NG’s apparent gains vs COAL. But, we COULD replace COAL stations, with NG stations – unpalatable though I’d think this would be.

            I feel our best focus, would to get as many low-GHG sources on-line and into play, ASAP – worry about BEVs later, when we CAN charge them GHG-free. Interestingly, WA’s Yandin 0.214GW wind farm has just been officially opened – about 68% the installed capacity of Hornsdale – and has already achieved rated output. They hope for a 50% capacity factor, which means, hopefully, it will probably generate about the same as Hornsdale’s 1TWh/year output, or more. https://reneweconomy.com.au/western-australias-biggest-wind-farm-formally-opened-with-ppa-to-come/
            Also interesting, it had been due for completion in 2020, so is circa 6 months or so late (perhaps due to COVID impacts). https://www.alintaenergy.com.au/wa/about-alinta-energy/sustainability/yandin-wind-farm/#:~:text=Project%20overview,around%20175km%20north%20of%20Perth
            Again interestingly, this job was started in 2012 – so has taken about 9 years to build. If this is typical of the genre, then I estimate we will need to have 8-16 equivalent sized projects on-the-go in parallel within Australia, at any point in time. Do we have this Geoffrey – or are we falling behind? 8-16 TWh/year of ACTUAL GENERATION, not merely installed capacity.
            Another interesting link popped up on my phone – without me even asking for it – Google perhaps? – worth sharing:
            https://www.skynews.com.au/details/_6255178097001

          • Ian Thompson says

            Oops! I made a boo-boo.

            I stated 8-16 TWh/year of actual generation – but this is quite clearly incorrect.

            The fact that we might need 8-16 plants of 1 TWh/year each, on the go at any one time is to achieve the 1-2 plants per week requirement – on the basis of an 8 year build time.

            More correctly, we need to complete 52-104 TWh/year, of ACTUAL GENERATION, not merely installed capacity. This might work out at between 150-300 TWh/year of INSTALLED wind capacity, or ~ 200-400 TWh/year for PV – using estimated capacity factors (and, I have been conservative here).

          • Ian Thompson says

            Double Oops! This will teach me not to rush a correction…

            If it takes 8 years to plan, approve, design, construct, and commission a single wind farm, and we need (according to my calculations on reaching demand by 2050) to complete 1-2 Hornsdale-sized 1 TWh/year plants each WEEK, then obviously we would need 8 years worth of 1 week time-frames, to achieve this – to ensure we CAN output the 1-2 plants be week.

            That is, 8 x 52 x 1-2 = 416 to 832 large projects ‘on-the-go’ at any point in time, in Australia (allowing for all the steps required).

            I truly doubt we are anywhere NEAR that level of urgent investment.

        • Ian Thompson says

          Hi Geoffrey

          I think I may have got to the nub of your problem! You and your cohorts appear to be using references to European sources, without critical review, which in several important ways are not entirely relevant to our Australian circumstances. I started here: https://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/indicators/en19-efficiency-of-conventional-thermal/en19-efficiency-of-conventional-thermal

          Obviously, my calculations rely on the efficiency data for Australian coal stations. In particular, I think the problem is that our coal stations are of largely what are known as sub-critical designs – that is, they do not reach the ‘critical point’ of water and are therefore in a lower bracket range of 34-40% thermal efficiency (c.f. my reference of 37.5%).

          In Europe, Germany and several other countries new, higher performance coal stations have been built in the last few years, some of which are of super-critical design – this puts them into the 40-45% efficiency range, and a little greater. https://airclim.org/acidnews/germany-still-constructing-new-coal-power-stations
          Germany even has an ‘ultra-super-critical’ plant in service, that reaches a thermal (to electricity) efficiency of 47.1%. https://www.fastcompany.com/3055915/new-german-power-plant-takes-coal-burning-efficiency-to-a-new-level. Their coal is better too, with lower emissions at 0.34 kgCO2/kWh.

          If I use these latter figures, my calculations become:
          47.1% x 92% x 77% = 33.36% – a good deal more than my Australian figure of 26.6% overall thermal efficiency for BEVs.
          The emissions then become 0.34/0.3336 = 1.02 kgCO2, per kWh supplied to the wheels of a BEV. c.f. my 1.19 kgCO2/kWh for an IC vehicle at an average 21% efficiency, and now we see the BEV is ahead by (1 – 1.02/1.19) = 14% lower CO2 emissions.
          What we also see, is that my previous described hybrid ICEV works out at 1.03 kgCO2/kWh at the wheel – practically identical to as the ultra-super-high-performance coal BEV. Even in this case I would prefer to stay with the hybrid, rather than put additional demand on coal station outputs for little benefit, and risk new stations having to be built. And to avoid killing us with cancer or damaging our children’s intellectual development from other nasty coal emissions.

          But Geoffrey & cohorts, we are not in Germany, and we do not have a significant number of near brand-new, ultra-super-critical coal power stations in service. Only old, decrepit, low performance ones.

          Perhaps you should thank me for finding this major flaw in your strategic plans, before they they have become a major calamity.

          BTW Geoffrey – I have been concerned enough to write to several of your reference sources, Australian and Overseas, to describe my hypothesis and calculation methodology – asking them what I am missing. In view of the above, I suspect I’m missing nothing, and look forward to getting back some replies. Perhaps you could also refer my viewpoint with your favourite Professor Blakers – or preferably have him contact me direct – I’d hope he should understand my concerns. This is a stuff-up.

      • Ian Thompson says

        Sorry Geoffrey – I did not specifically answer your question about ‘Where in your calculations do you factor in the woefully poor energy efficiency of ICEVs?’

        Well – I factored this in the very first paragraph of my calculations relating to ICV’s, as we are comparing COAL BEVs to ICVs, not ICEVs – in the following ‘– the engine thermal (gasoline) power then becomes 1/0.3 = 3.333 kWh.’. The 0.3 figure relates to the 30% upper efficiency figure provided by Justine. Do I REALLY have to spell this out to you?
        The I go on, to factor this to the 21% average of the efficiency figures provided by Justine. Then I (off-line) went further, to show the break-even efficiency of 18% efficiency.

        You know Geoffrey, many years ago in another life, my undergraduate University Engineering students displayed much greater easy as grasping far more complex subjects, than you are having with these very simple maths.

        To move on to ICEVs. You should first understand (‘he who knows not, but knows he knows not, is a Student. Teach him’ – old Persian proverb), that an IC engine is asymptotically inefficient at idle (small fuel in, no mechanical energy out), but that this drops dramatically as engine load is increased – very much in the form of a ‘J’ curve. You’d have to scroll down past the engines, in the attached to see an example of this: https://www.greencarcongress.com/2017/09/20170908-spcci.html
        Just be aware that BMEP, brake mean effective pressure (a measure of engine torque), is graphed against BSFC, brake specific fuel consumption (a measure of efficiency). Clearly, and IC engine performs quite poorly at idle and low loads. However, at about 20% load the efficiency improves dramatically, and continues to increase as load is further increased (up until Wide Open Throttle fuel enrichment kicks in).

        In a Hybrid vehicle, the objective is to have the engine operate closer to it’s ‘sweet spot’ (actually a broad area of torque/speed), for as much of the time as possible – thereby maximising it’s efficiency. During low load operations (creeping along in traffic, reversing, slow stop-start driving), the engine can be switched off – or, used at a higher load to recharge the (small) battery, and drive the wheels.
        By this means, they can get the best of both worlds – electric efficiencies at low load, and (relatively) good IC engine efficiencies at higher loads.

        To analyse this, you have to realise:
        1. The engine efficiency when operating, will be at the high end of Justine’s range – because the lower end is avoided, and
        2. The electric system WILL STILL have a similar ‘grid to road’ efficiency, as that of a BEV – Justine quotes 77% efficiency.

        So – the IC engine has to provide power both to drive the road wheels (when in engine mode), and also to charge the battery and provide the 23% losses (100%-77%) when for when the system goes into electric-mode.

        To simplify the explanation (and make it easier for me!), I am going to have to make some ‘guesstimates’ – firstly, I am going to assume the engine will not be run, unless it’s efficiency is no less than 25%. Secondly, I am going to estimate 85% of the energy required when driving the wheels is directly from the engine, with the other 15% provided from battery operation only (e.g. in heavy stop-start traffic, with intervals of acceleration and higher speeds).
        In electric mode, 1 kWh at the wheels, will require 1/0.77 = 1.3 kWh from the engine for charging purposes (a 0.3 kWh surcharge). The engine will see 15% of this figure, plus 85% of the direct figure of 1 kWh.
        So, the engine needs to provide a total of 1kWh, plus 15% of the 0.3 kWh.
        1 + 15% of 0.3 = 1.045 kWh.
        With an engine efficiency of 25% (Justine seems to imply this might be 100%-60% = 40%, but I do not believe she is correct – engines are just not that good), we require an engine thermal input of 1.045/25% = 4.18 kWh thermal.
        Now we multiply this by the CO2 generation rate of 0.25kgCO2/kWh, to get the emissions 4.18 x 0.25 = 1.045 kg of CO2 emitted per kWh at the wheels.
        Given our previously calculated 1.375 kg CO2 for the COAL BEV, we now see 1.375/1.045 = 1.316. That is, the COAL BEV will emit nearly 32% more CO2, than a typical ICEV…! The difference being, that the hybrid technology allows the IC engine to avoid regions of poor efficiency, and so operate at something greater than the average efficiency Justine proposes.

        Obviously – this is just a ‘snapshot’ example. In different modes of operation, the efficiency may prove considerably better, and in others somewhat poorer. But my point is (again) made.

        Geoffrey – I am not at all the ‘inactivist’ – and my call for ‘delay’ is only to avoid loading up the atmosphere with more CO2 than could be achieved with a more considered approach. FYI – when I started calculations regarding my ‘hypothesis’, while on-line, I just had a feeling that ‘something is just not quite right’, and I was prepared for the results to go either way – it was only when I got the the end of these calculations, that I realised my concerns where correct. If you strategy is to DELIBERATELY increase GHGs, so you can then cry ‘look, look, CO2 concentrations are increasing – we must spend more and more on renewables – we’ve already got the BEVs, but are being force to run them on COAL’, then I feel these actions would have high risks, and lack integrity.
        I am, in fact, a Professional Engineer – with many many years of experience. I’ve dealt with engines for many years of my life, and have even presented a professional paper at the august Society of Automotive Engineers annual congress in Detroit, Michigan. Not a politician, not a denialist, not an inactivist, no vested interest at all. But – I DO NOT WANT SOMEONE LIKE YOU TO TOTALLY SCREW UP OUR GLOBAL EFFORTS TO DEAL WITH REDUCING GHG EMISSIONS.

        I can see, clearly, that many advocates are using technically flawed logic in their analyses (‘he who knows, and knows he knows, is a Teacher. Listen to him’ – another part of the old Persian proverb).
        You continue to spout character assassinations, with no basis whatsoever, and I am quite ‘jack’ of it. Grow up. I simply present FACTS.

  20. Ian Thompson says

    Matt – not at all defeatist – merely realistic.

    The reality is that at the present time we are not generating any where near enough renewable power to have an excess. Yes, I do agree we need batteries to ‘firm’ intermittents – BUT, that is so we can feed that energy back, to displace COAL generation.

    You’ve got yourself confused again – using this stored battery power to drive a vehicle DOES NOT displace COAL power.

    My calculations in a blog to Ronald 2, show COAL-sourced power would need to be in excess of 50% more efficient than an IC engine, for a BEV to break even on CO2 emissions.
    I’m not convinced our aged, old technology, run-down COAL stations and distribution systems ARE that efficient. If COAL is that good, better than 45% efficient through to the charger, of course I am happy to stand corrected. But I suspect you would have trouble demonstrating that.
    Of course, once we have enough renewables that we CAN charge BEVs without having to bring COAL power online, then there is no question – BEVs are the answer.

  21. Meant to say re-injection, spell check must have corrected it. You’re right, your argument is not worth further comment like others have come to realize.

    You’re just going round in circles.

  22. Ian Thompson says

    Ronald 2

    You haven’t put anything up – except accuse me of going around in circles? Really – are your arguments that weak – not able to stand scrutiny?

    Well, I cannot help it if your knowledge of the most simple principles of physics, thermodynamics, and mathematics is so much less than you think.

    BTW, your assumption that steam plant temperatures greatly exceed that of IC engines, is simply false. Peak flame temperatures in IC can exceed 3,000 deg K.

  23. Ian, since you could never get your head around the fact that grid power, given it’s size and hence ability to utilize additional technology to improve it’s efficiency, comparing like for like energy source and in time become even better with greener energy source, I’ll let others speak on my behalf.

    https://www.energycouncil.com.au/analysis/evs-are-they-really-more-efficient/

    I do not wish to further discuss this with you as it is clear that you are never going to change your mind no matter what the actual facts really says.

    • Ian Thompson says

      Why don’t you read my comments to Geoffrey Miell first.

      The FACTs are, that COAL stations a not all that efficient, despite all you protestations, and COAL generates ~44% more CO2 than gasoline, for each kWh of thermal energy produced.

      Facts are facts Ronald – and I do provide references to my data – if you could only look at and understand them. Maths do not lie.
      But by all means bury your head in the sand, to avoid having to face REALITY…!
      You fit my old Persian proverb rather well.

  24. Thanks John. I hadn’t found that plan. I will talk to them next week. It looks good.

    My system is 4kW solar. Although it only seems to peak about 3.2kW.

  25. Ian Thompson says

    Ricardo in the UK have developed a HEV power-train design that offers 45% Brake Thermal Efficiency – although it may only be a fully analysed and tested design at the moment, clearly many other modern HEVs are going to have overall thermal efficiencies greater than the 25% figure I was utilising.
    https://automotive.ricardo.com/engines/engine-efficiency-for-hybrid-vehicles

    Through further research, I have found Justine’s 77% efficiency figure for BEVs may be over-stated – other sites would suggest this efficiency figure is from an already-charged battery – so does not include the additional losses of the charger, nor of 1/2 the battery round-trip losses. A truer figure might be 69%.
    Other sites suggest transmission, transformer, and grid efficiencies could be much, much worse than 92% – especially when the grid loads are increased and their i2R losses go up. Perhaps 88%?
    Several sites suggest that our aged, old technology sub-critical coal stations may have thermal efficiencies closer to 34%, than the 37.5% figure I utilised.

    That being the case – I could say with some confidence that coal-charged BEVs will emit far, far more CO2 than an HEV – while we are using coal. The links Geoffrey has provided lack due diligence, and use data largely for the EC – not relevant to Australia.
    Coal use also has cancer and retarded intellectual development issues.

    BTW – I mentioned to Geoffrey Miell that I was writing to several of his reference sources. I have 1 answer back, which had no issue with my hypothesis and methodology, but did note ‘the Grid is changing’ (which I 100% agree with – but my proposal was only for the next few years). They also mentioned that my assumption that all renewables are used was incorrect – because many are being curtailed – because of low demand. Say what? I thought our OBJECTIVE was to displace coal.
    He mentioned that a market penetration of BEVs would increase demand – so the extra renewables could be used (rather than to displace coal). Further correspondence revealed SA and Qld have been having problems with grid stability margins – which has been addressed in Qld with modified inverter settings, and will be resolved in SA once the synchronous condensers are commissioned (surprise – NOT batteries). None of this changes my determinations.

    Another site (AEC) responded with a link to Justine’s commentary – which, with respect, I think is flawed at several levels and was the reason I made the enquiry in the first place. I’ve got back to them with specific details, and hope they respond.

    So far, nothing I have proposed has been determined incorrect, nor have my conclusions been found ‘out of kilter’ – if anything, my further research has strengthened my observation that the present strategies will prove bad for us. Better to shut down coal, then incentivise BEVs to eliminate some of our gasoline and diesel use – which will then force the implementation of further renewables to cover the developing shortfall from the extra demand for electricity – that would exert much more pressure on Government.

  26. pierre lantrin says

    Could someone explain to me what work needs to be done to change tariff on a smartmeter? I asked my retailer to change my tariff and they told me they had to charge me for this because the electricity distributor is charging them to do it. I asked my retailer to explain what work had to be done to change tariff and they could not tell me. I then asked the distributor to explain what work had to be done and they told me to ask my retailer. From a common sense point of view it seems that a smartmeter can handle any kinds of tariffs without needing any reconfiguration. Am I missing something?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      To change a tariff on a smart meter someone has to click on some buttons on a screen. It’s not difficult, but that doesn’t mean they won’t charge you for it if they can. I suggest waiting and trying again after the 1st of July. If they still want to charge a fee that seems unreasonable you can try contacting your ombudsman and seeing if they can help.

  27. Ian Thompson says

    Hi Pierre

    My old meter was replaced with a 3-phase smart meter, when we were about to have a rooftop PV system installed. As far as I can see, this meter stores a whole lot of data about my usage and exports – although I don’t know if TOU time points have to be set (we have a flat rate). The buttons on the meter certainly allow you to scan through a series of tariff-like data (although, not to change anything).

    You didn’t mention how much your retailer was asking for the change. Could it be a simple administrative cost? After all, they will have to get someone to open your account, so that your tariff arrangements can be reset. Shouldn’t be a huge figure!

    However, if they have send someone out to your premises to program set-points on your meter, I’d expect this would cost more. I had understood some meters can be read remotely (someone comes to our house here in WA to read the meter, so we can’t have the technology yet), so you’d think any changes could also be done remotely in some jurisdictions.

    I’d go back to your retailer – and demand details – after all, if they are going to charge you, you should have a right to know what they are charging you for.

Speak Your Mind

Please keep the SolarQuotes blog constructive and useful with these 4 rules:

1. Real names are preferred - you should be happy to put your name to your comments.
2. Put down your weapons.
3. Assume positive intention.
4. If you are in the solar industry - try to get to the truth, not the sale.
5. Please stay on topic.

GET THE SOLARQUOTES WEEKLY NEWSLETTER
%d bloggers like this: