How Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Standards Work: They Save Lives & Money & You Can Still Buy A Ute

Vehicle fuel efficiency standards explained

A month ago Federal Labor announced that, if elected, they would introduce fuel efficiency standards for light vehicles that would be phased in by 2025.  As a direct result some people completely lost their shit.  But despite what you might have heard:

  • It’s not a tax.
  • The fuel efficiency standards will save Australians money, not cost them more.
  • It promotes fuel efficiency but won’t restrict what type of vehicles can be sold.
  • You won’t be required to buy an electric car.
  • You will still be able to buy a ute.

There are currently at least 35 countries with fuel efficiency standards of one sort or another, including India and China, and utes exist in every single one of them.  They just don’t call them utes.  And if India doesn’t find fuel efficiency standards costly, I think Australia — where the average income is 25 times higher1 — can afford it.

Australia no longer has a car industry producing petrol guzzling continental siege machines like the Commodore V8, so it’s a perfect time to introduce fuel efficiency standards.  All political parties would support the idea If they had any sense and the only thing they should argue about is whose fuel efficiency scheme is the best.

But for some reason the Liberal Party is dead set against it.  I don’t know why.  They can’t be in the pocket of Big Oil because we only have Small Oil in this country and it’s getting smaller all the time.  Australia’s oil production is only equal to 13% of our consumption and the figure is falling fast.

Australia oil production vs. consumption

This shows petroleum production and consumption only. I had to make my own graph because I couldn’t find one that didn’t count natural gas condensate and LPG as “oil”.  Information:  Australian Petroleum Statistics, February 2019

6 Good Reasons To Have Fuel Efficiency Standards

There are plenty of good reasons to introduce fuel efficiency standards.  Here’s 6 to start with:

  1. Reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. Reduced death and illness from air pollution.
  3. Money saved from reduced spending on petrol and diesel.
  4. Improved vehicle affordability for low income Australians.
  5. Encourages car manufacturers to improve efficiency more rapidly than otherwise, as they won’t be able to dump inefficient vehicles in Australia.
  6. Improves national security through reduced dependence on imported fuel.

Zero Good Reasons Not To Have Fuel Efficiency Standards

There are no good reasons not to have fuel efficiency standards.  There will be fewer fuel hogs on the market, but you will still be able to buy a car that’s fast, sporty, grunty, or suitable for towing or trade work.  There is nothing people want they won’t be able to get, so there won’t be a problem.  If the only thing you want in a car is lousy fuel efficiency then you have a problem with your brain and I recommend you see a brainologist to have your brain examined.  Either that, or become Energy Minister for the Liberal Party.

It’s Not A Tax!

One of the first things that happened after Labor’s announcement was the Liberal Party paid for Facebook ads saying Labor wanted to tax your ute.  This is an interesting interpretation because by reducing the amount of fuel excise that will be collected it’s kind of the opposite as it will decrease government revenue.

Liberal Party on Labor's "Car Tax"

It would be nice if political parties weren’t allowed to straight out lie like this and not suffer any real consequences.  Democracies, like markets, need information to function and our bullshit to info ratio is way off.  Can’t we take baby steps?  We could make it so next year politicians won’t be able to outright lie but we’ll still let them mislead us for a couple of years and we’ll let them slander each other on a personal level as much as they want.

Liberal Party on Labor's fuel efficiency standards

There, fixed it!

Regulation Can Be The Best Option

Fuel efficiency standards are not a tax but are a type of regulation.  Some people don’t like regulations and say they’d rather let the market work things out.  The problem with this is markets only give efficient results when they take into account all relevant costs.  We don’t want greenhouse gas emissions warming the planet and we don’t want people dying from air pollution.  We need to include those costs for the market to operate close to optimally and the only way to do that is through some form of regulation.  Doing nothing is an anti-market stance as it allows market imperfections to continue.

Correcting these market failures is not on the cards at the moment, so I will support fuel efficiency standards.  But if the Liberal Party ever comes out in favor of carbon pricing and pollution fees I’ll reconsider my position.

How Fuel Efficiency Standards Work

Labor has not revealed details about their fuel efficiency standards plan.  This is probably because as soon as they release the details journalists expect them to explain them and they are far too busy trying to win votes to worry about things like swotting up on their plans to run the country if they happen to win.

But back in 2014 the Climate Change Authority worked out a plan and Labor is unlikely to attempt to reinvent the wheel.  But if they did it would be interesting/horrifying to see what it looked like.

Labor says in 2025 they will require new light vehicles — which includes passenger cars, SUVs, vans, and utility vehicles — to on average emit only 105 grams of CO2 per kilometre driven.  This is down from the current average of around 180 grams per kilometre for new light vehicles.

This is not a strong standard compared to the rest of the world.  It is difficult to compare the figure with Europe, as they measure fuel efficiency differently and badly.  But in 2025 the average emissions for new light vehicles in the United States will be 102 grams per kilometre.  We used to always have better fuel economy than the United States and it’s a bit weak we’re not aiming to beat them now.  I can remember a time when we used to take more pride in our country.  When it came to international competition we weren’t satisfied with coming last.  We would get out there put our heart and soul into coming third.

It’s A Fleet Average

The 105 grams of CO2 per kilometre is an average for all light vehicles sold in 2025.  It’s not a limit no car can exceed.  This means manufacturers can still sell high emission vehicles if they want, but they’ll also have to sell enough low emission ones so the average emissions of what they sell will meet the 105 gram fuel efficiency standards figure.  Either that, or they’ll have to trade with a company that does produce low emission cars to make up the difference.

Selling emission credits is a major source of revenue for Tesla.  Fiat-Chysler in Europe says they will pay Telsa over $3 billion to “pool” Tesla’s electric vehicles with their own for the purposes of determining their average emissions.

An Estimate Of Average Fuel Savings

If a family has a petrol car that emits the current average of 180 grams of CO2 per kilometer and then changes to a petrol car that emits 105 grams per kilometer — which is equal to the 2025 fuel efficiency standard — it will burn 42% less petrol per kilometer.  The law of conservation of matter guarantees it. The car would need to be powered by Mr. Fusion for it to be any different.

Assuming they drive the average annual distance for a passenger car of around 14,000 kilometers, because petrol releases 2,310 grams of CO2 per litre when burned their fuel consumption per year would be:

  • Old car: 1,091 litres
  • New car:  636 litres

If petrol costs an average of $1.40 a litre, their annual fuel bills would be:

  • Old car:  $1,527
  • New car:  $890

They would save $637 a year by switching to the more fuel efficient car.

The Climate Change Authority has their own estimate which is in the graphic below:

As you can see, their estimated annual savings are considerably higher.  They use a 2013 figure for emissions since they came up with their plan 5 years ago and also seem to have used a much higher average cost for petrol.

Lives Will Be Saved

One estimate is that — statistically speaking — roughly 2,000 Australians die from vehicle pollution each year.2  That’s more Australians than were killed in wars in the past 70 years or by dingos in the last 6 months.

If terrorists were killing 2,000 Australians a year, or just 100 Australians per year, you can bet the Morrison government would move heaven and earth to put a stop to it.  But in this case, because the terrorists are vehicle exhaust pipes they’re like, “Eh, terrorists will be terrorists.  What can you can do?  Sure, we’d like it if they killed less Australians, but it’s not as if it’s worth going against the interests of oil refineries to save innocent lives.”

Because we place a value of around $200,000 on each year of life lost, lives saved from cutting pollution could make fuel efficiency standards worthwhile even if there were no other benefits.

It May Help Lower Income Australians Afford New Cars

If your income isn’t very high but you still scrape together enough to buy new cars, then those you buy are likely to already be small and fuel efficient.  For example, the Mitsubishi Mirage is one of the cheapest new cars available and, depending on the variant, can have a drive away price of $15,000 and emissions as low as 109 grams per kilometer.  It would not be a problem for Mitsubishi to reduce that below 105 grams in five and a half year’s time.

I know it won’t be a problem because there are already small cheap cars overseas with lower emissions than this.  In the UK there are low cost cars with emissions of around 92 grams per kilometer.  While these cars are small, because the British are so fat we know they’ll have no trouble hauling our densely muscled Australian bodies.

An easy way for car manufacturers to lower their average fleet emissions would be to make Australian versions of these kinds of cars available.  This will result in a greater choice of cheap new cars and because the portion of their emissions below the fuel efficiency standard could be traded, this may lower their price further.

It Can Help Second Hand Car Drivers

If you can only afford to drive second hand vehicles or just have better things to spend your money on, you might think these fuel efficiency standards won’t do you much good.  But — with help from other countries — you may have the most financial benefit of all.

Currently the world produces around 81 million barrels of crude oil a day3 at a market price of around $70 US a barrel.  Up until now — apart from a few hiccups — world oil production has trended up.  But thanks to a few factors:

  1. Stronger fuel efficiency standards.
  2. Decreased new car demand in China, India, and some other countries.
  3. Growing electric car and hybrid sales.

Oil production may be at or close to its peak and soon decline.  Because it only takes a small decrease in oil demand to produce a large decrease in price, by 2025 the cost of petrol and diesel may be much lower than they are now.

Oil is an internationally traded commodity and Australia’s fuel efficiency standards will only play a very minor role in lowering prices, but it will make owning second-hand cars cheaper, and it will make operating a highly efficient new petrol or diesel vehicle very cheap — but not as cheap as the running costs of an electric vehicle.

Fuel Efficiency Standards Improve National Security

Australia’s oil production is now only around 13% of our oil consumption.  The situation is actually worse than it seems because most of the oil Australia produces is exported while almost all the petrol and diesel we use is imported.  I know that sounds nuts but if the only consideration is cost, given the oil grades and refining prices and capacities, it is the cheapest way to do it.

I think a disruption in the supply of refined oil products from overseas is very unlikely, but it does seem odd our government is spending at least $17 billion on jet fighters that seem pretty crap, while actively opposing fuel efficiency standards that would save money and make our oil supply less precarious.

Fortunately, as fuel efficiency standards will encourage sales of electric vehicles, we’ll have more transport we’ll still be able to use if there is a disruption the oil supply from overseas.

Of course, we may want those fighter jets to deal with some of the stranger effects of climate change. (Image: Car.com)

LPG Allows Low Cost Emission Reductions

Australia is probably third after Turkey and Italy for number of LPG fueled vehicles per capita.  Perhaps 8% of kilometers driven in Australia are LPG powered.  Vehicles designed to use LPG and not simply conversions can have CO2 emissions that are 15% or more less per kilometer compared to petrol.  This would be a simple and low cost way for manufacturers to meet or beat fuel efficiency standards.  I doubt it will be popular compared to electric vehicles, but it is an option.

Electric Vehicles Will Make It Easy

I’m sure there will be no difficulty in meeting the fuel efficiency standard because electric vehicles will make it easy.  They’re taking off around the world and will take off in Australia.  We may even have self-driving cars by 2025 and any autonomous taxis will be electric to keep fuel and maintenance costs low.

Many people don’t pay much attention to fuel consumption when they buy a car.  Instead, they’re interested in how much “VROOM!!!” it has.  Fortunately, most electric cars have plenty of “VROOM!!!”  Except they’re very quiet, so it’s more like, “vroom“.  By 2025 I’m sure the sort of people who pay $40,000 or more for a new car now will mostly want to buy electric cars thanks to their excellent performance.  And the more electric vehicles sold the easier it will be to lower average vehicle emissions.

Electric Vehicles Cause Emissions

The fuel efficiency standard is likely to consider electric cars to have zero emissions.  But when electric cars are charged with grid electricity or with clean electricity that otherwise would have been sent into the grid, it results in CO2 emissions.  These will decline as the grid becomes cleaner, but I think it’s reasonable for an electric car to have an estimated CO2 emissions per kilometer figure based on the emissions it’s expected to cause over its lifetime.

I also think it would be reasonable to include emissions from extracting, refining, and transporting oil to be factored in the figures for internal combustion vehicles, as well as making them pay for the health costs of their pollution.

None of these reasonable things are likely to happen any time soon.

Car Manufacturers Cheat

Car manufacturers can be massive cheats when it comes to the real life fuel efficiency and pollution emissions of their cars.  But this is easily fixed.  Car manufacturers can use the fuel efficiency results given by tests if they like, but we will warn them that a random selection of cars will be monitored and if their real world fuel efficiency is significantly worse they will be significantly fined for every car sold.  They will, of course, also have to compensate the owners of these cheat-mobiles.

Fuel Efficiency Standards Will Be Easy To Implement

Because other countries are doing the heavy lifting for us in improving vehicle efficiency and because the prices of electric cars are falling and their excellent performance and low operating costs will make them popular, I am very confident it will be easy for Australia to meet Labor’s mild fuel efficiency standard and we will all be richer, healthier, and less likely to be killed by ridiculous, climate change induced, dingo-nados.

Footnotes

  1. India’s per capita GDP is around $2,300 US while Australia’s is around $57,000 US.
  2. These kinds of estimates can give the impression that 2,000 people die while everyone else is okay, which isn’t really the case.  What actually happens is all our lives are made worse by vehicle pollution but some are mildly affected while others cop it tough and die young.
  3. You may see figures that are higher than this, but those include things that aren’t crude oil such as LPG.
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. In Victoria, years ago, rego costs were based on capacity of the engine in horsepower, by a formula based on bore size and number of cylinders. Not stroke. Plus weight of the vehicle in hundredweight (cwt, remember that?) Power/weight “units”.

    Since weight and power are factors in efficiency this meant that a smaller car with less cylinders cost less to register.

    This to me seems like a far better way to encourage people into a vehicle really suited to their needs. You only have to look around you to see the proliferation of heavy utility vehicles and so called SUV’s that don’t really suit practical needs in many cases.

  2. Excellent write up, Ronald.

    Our dilemma: Get a RHD Model 3, wait longer for a Model Y, or even longer for the Tesla Pick-up?

    https://insideevs.com/news/346081/tesla-pickup-truck-render-video/

    If this render is even close to the final design, Cash is going to look pretty silly* when these take off in Australia. This will be our first ute… and given our age, possibly the last vehicle we’ll own….

    * Uhhh, I mean even sillier.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      I used to drive one of them in the Halo computer game except it had an open top. I believe it was called a “Warthog”. Tesla should trademark that name before Ford does.

    • Get a BMW i3 to tide you over until then. Used ones have come down in price dramatically, they still look and drive like the current model. And servicing is stupid cheap ($1000 for 5 years).
      Trust me, jumping in the EV market, now is the time to do it. Tesla will always promise there’s something better around the corner, but there’s plenty of excellent electric cars already here!
      I’ve been driving an i# for nearly a year, after twenty years of V8 and I6 Falcons. I don’t regret it for a second.

  3. If electric vehicles are so great and cheap by 2025 let the market decide don’t add yet another tax

  4. As long as it doesn’t encourage more diesel’s as I don’t care about there efficiencie if there dirty and I think they are , even modern one’s are and especially utes. Lpg and ethanol are clean fuels and less toxic. I wouldn’t get to hung up on efficiency persay as v8s on long distance can be just as efficient as fours . The fuel the car uses should be first concern, lpg and ethanol long distance and electric around town, fuel efficiency standards will punish those that want a bigger engine for various reasons, but overall use less fuel than a four cylinder commuter, over say the period of a year .

    • Andrew J says

      As some one who has actually looked into this I believe you have been misled/misguided. The human body has an inbuilt filtration system and can filter out things as small as the soot from the diesel engine. But the things that come out of diesel engine exhaust pipes nowadays with their re-gen burns and multiple catalytic converters actually comes out clear and with no soot. So average Joe sees no problems and assumes things are now safer. WRONG! The things coming out of the new vehicle are smaller than the human body can keep out and therefore we take them straight in. The brown haze/smog you see above cities is from petrol vehicles and not diesel. As bad as you feel diesel might be, petrol is acctually worse for you as it goes straight past your bodies defenses.
      The marketing of Ethanol as a wonderful fuel is poppy cock, as it is ~15% water and every mechanic will tell you that water in a fuel system will cause problem down the line. A mechanical business I know of in Brisbane (un-named) specializing in fuel injection has about 40% of their business due to water issues because of the ethanol in fuel

  5. Ronald didn’t the Liberals say that the local oil refineries would struggle to meet a 2025 date for the new fuel standard?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Yes, that’s for sulphur levels. They are basically trading the health of Australians for refinery profits. Fortunately, if we get vehicle fuel efficiency standards it will reduce the amount of petroleum fuel sold which will make it easier for refineries to meet those standards. (But I doubt they’ll see that as a good thing.)

  6. Greg Wootten says

    SOLUTIONS
    Look up Carbon Engineering this Canadian company is scrubbing CO2 from the air splitting water to H2 then cracking it to Diesel and Avgas (petrol is likely). If you use a solar array to run this we have CLEAN, CARBON NEUTRAL fuel at about $1/L.
    -This means locally produced fuel, no imports huge balance of payment gain.
    -because it is synthetic it has no impurities so no SMOKE
    -completely compatible with existing fleet, including Mining Agriculture Generators,
    -we can move to C neutral immediately as we transition to Electric (battery and H2)
    – this will give us 30% C reduction NOW
    – Plant will transition to H2 Electric supply and can also continue to pump down the atmospheric CO2 into limestone which is a building material
    – Batteries with 10X the energy density, lower cost and environmental impact are emerging so a slow walk up on electric cars isn’t a bad thing especially if we can go C neutral now.

    Utes Pickups SUVs see RIVIAN GM and Ford are building electrics NOW Tesla soon, what’s the problem.

    Political slandering is band in Holland why not here, I’m sick of the BS

    • Carbon Engineering’s idea of pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere is a good one and will be required as part of the solution in the future (particularly aircraft and shipping where electrification is unlikely to be an option and possibly trucking), but I have a hard time believing a any claims about $1/L fuel any time soon and even if they do achieve that, electric cars will still be cheaper overall by the time they get there if the current trends continue.

      Don’t get me wrong – if they can achieve what they claim in practice then that’s great and a necessary part of the puzzle, but it is going to take time for them to engineer the process at scale and even longer to the scale of plants required and while it looks promising, I don’t think that it could be considered to be a proven technology at this stage and we shouldn’t be counting on it to succeed.

  7. Mark Mannion says

    I assume there will be penalties (carrot and stick) for those of us who have just bought a new car and certainly wont be able to afford a new car when this standard becomes effective

  8. I would like to see a bit of interest in electric motorbikes. Road congestion would be reduced if more people rode bikes

  9. Jonathan says

    – Since 2002 there has been around a 30% reduction in Australia’s average car CO2 emissions.
    – Euro 6 standards are already being considered in Australia as are Fuel Efficiency Standards.
    – Although heavily reported Australia road emissions have plateaued (true) it’s mainly due to the large uptake in SUV’s
    – New cars CO2 emissions being sold in Australia are continuing to drop at a higher rate however people are choosing larger/bigger cars currently.
    – We often compare ourselves to Europe although we are very different in landscape, terrain and lifestyle.
    – It’s been questioned how reliable some of the European emotion reports are due to a lot of misleading and fake reporting.
    – EV’s are fantastic but being sold as a ‘green’ alternative I question currently as it’s not the full story (especially the large capacity cars if you take the amount of CO2 to manufacture the batteries)
    – Granted smaller EV’s are better and I’m looking forward to buying one in the near future once prices drop a little more.
    – Keep in mind all these improvements are already in the pipeline and getting better and better each month and without additional regulation and more red tape we are by default reducing our CO2 emissions

    – I like the direction we are headed with EV’s, Renewables and reduced fossil fuels, but I don’t think we are there just yet. It will happen in time (perhaps 20-30 years? only time will tell!) until we can be completely reliant on renewable energy only.

    – I’m getting solar at home to save money over time, I honestly believe it will offer just about 0 impact when it comes to making a global difference on the ‘green’ side of things.

    – There are significant challenges being worked on, they are in the works, solutions and improvements are always being made (it’s exciting) but I’m a firm believer in once it’s reliable & affordable the market will automatically take it up.

    – I don’t feel it’s all doom and gloom like so many are reporting…

    • Geoff Miell says

      Jonathan,
      You state:

      “I don’t feel it’s all doom and gloom like so many are reporting…”

      Ian Dunlop’s op-ed headlined “Stopping Adani is a National Necessity, Economically, Financially and for our Survival” was published May 2. It includes this:

      “Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten both assure us any decision on Adani will be based upon the science. But the real science tells a very different story from the politically-massaged version currently being served up:

      The Paris Climate Agreement voluntary emission reduction commitments, if implemented would lead to a temperature increase of around 3.5°C by 2100 if not earlier – a world which leading national security experts describe as “outright social chaos”. At present, we are on track for around a 4.5°C increase, which would be “a world incompatible with any organised society”, resulting in a substantial reduction in global population.”
      See: https://johnmenadue.com/ian-dunlop-stopping-adani-is-a-national-necessity-economically-financially-and-for-our-survival/

      Jonathan, I suggest that you have been misinformed about where we are currently heading. But there are solutions, as a recent report published by LUT/Energy Watch Group finds:

      A global transition to 100% renewable energy across all sectors – power, heat, transport and desalination before 2050 is feasible[1]. Existing renewable energy potential and technologies, including storage, is capable of generating a secure energy supply at every hour throughout the year. The sustainable energy system is more efficient and cost effective than the existing system, which is based primarily on fossil fuels and nuclear. A global renewable transition is the only sustainable option for the energy sector, and is compatible with the internationally adopted Paris Agreement. The energy transition is not a question of technical feasibility or economic viability, but one of political will.

      See: http://energywatchgroup.org/wp-content/uploads/EWG_LUT_100RE_All_Sectors_Global_Report_2019.pdf

      There is currently a lack of political will that is leading us to “a world incompatible with any organised society”.

    • Johnathan, I think you’re right.
      The rest of these comments are directed to Geoff.
      Do we need to transition? Sure. We need to do it steady. Have a look here for live energy consumption from the grid.
      http://www.whitehavencoal.com.au
      What would happen if we did it faster than the infrastructure was ready for? Catastrophy!!! Let me ask a question to all the people who are pushing for cutting of combustion engined cars. Would you ride a bike for 2 years while we rebuilt the grid so that it would be big enough to handle all the electric vehicle demands? Would you be ready to pay triple the cost for electricity than we do now to pay for that newly built infrastructure? Where would the government get money from to replace the fuel excise @60c/L? Roads would still need to get repaired and built.
      I know that Adani gets a lot of media attention but did you know that since it has gotten the media attention 10 new coal mines have been opened in the Bowen Basin and not a protest or mention of it in the media as far as I have seen. I know that there are new experts that claim that there will be super large catastrophies if the temp goes up 4 degrees but I was around when similar scientists have said that would couldn’t sustain a 2 degree rise and that islands in the south Pacific would get flooded by sea water – not happened yet. So while you may be convinced – not everyone is and that’s ok.
      If you’re worried about it, do the biggest thing you can – go vegan…it’s the only consistent thing to do (United Nations released a Doc 206). http://www.fao.org/3/a0701e/a0701e00.htm

      • Geoff Miell says

        Andrew,
        You say:

        “Do we need to transition? Sure. We need to do it steady.”

        Andrew, did you read Ian Dunlop’s op-ed in full that I linked to in my comment above? I draw your attention to this bit:

        “To stay below 2°C, global emissions must peak now and be reduced by around 7% annually, something no country has ever achieved. The lower 1.5°C Paris target requires even more rapid reduction. Meanwhile, emissions rise in line with worst case scenarios.”

        We have a choice to accept what the real science of climate change is telling us (NOT the ‘politically-massaged’ and vested interested propaganda versions) and demand/do what is required, or take a risk and not demand/do what the science is telling us is required, and face the consequences if we are wrong. Not doing what is required risks human extinction.

        Do you think we should be risking human extinction? Do you wish to risk your future, the future of your children and grandchildren (if you have any), and humanity? Your statement “So while you may be convinced – not everyone is and that’s ok” suggests to me perhaps you wish to risk it.

        Climate change science uses the same scientific methods that are used to engineer and approve the safety of many things we take for granted – building constructions, cars, and the myriad other goods through to medications we may use or benefit from.

        You also say:

        “What would happen if we did it faster than the infrastructure was ready for? Catastrophy!!!”

        Andrew, would that be so? Did you read the LUT/Energy Watch Group report I linked to above? I re-quote:

        “The energy transition is not a question of technical feasibility or economic viability, but one of political will.”

        Ian Dunlop’s op-ed also says:

        “Emissions from continued fossil fuel investment lock-in irreversible, existential climatic outcomes today. By the time the climatic impact of these investments becomes clear, it will be too late to take avoiding action. Hence the risk is immediate.”

        If we don’t do what the real climate science tells us IS REQUIRED, we/humanity risk EXTINCTION – that would be a catastrophe!!!

        • Jonathan says

          Do you think we should go nuclear in Australia?

          • Geoff Miell says

            Jonathan,
            You ask: “Do you think we should go nuclear in Australia?”

            No. See my reasons outlined in my Submission (#9) to the Australian Parliament Senate Select Committee into Fair Dinkum Power, found at:
            https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Fair_Dinkum_Power/FairDinkumPower/Submissions

            Do you agree? If not, do you have compelling contrary evidence/data to support your alternative view?

          • Jonathan Couvars says

            Hi Geoff ,

            Thanks for the reply, I’ll try to have a read a little later this week as currently travelling but seems you put quite a bit of effort into that,

            In regards to if I agree I’ll need to have a full read, but after a very quick skim through I do agree we need to move to renewables as mentioned above, I just disagree now is the time as we are not quite there technology wise. I have similar concerns mentioned in the video posted above in reality renewables don’t add up nor offer sustainable and reliable power…

            I believe a good question is what do we do when our solar is not working, from afternoon until early morning) and what do we do when there is no wind?

            Lastly, I should perhaps say I use to ‘believe’ more in global warming around 10 years ago but having watched our so-called professionals (climate scientists) I feel just about every prediction/model they have put out has been significantly wrong perhaps it’s the old story of crying wolf but I’ve lost a lot of respect and I simply don’t believe and also question what they put out now on how true it is as they don’t have a good track record not seem to know what they are doing I feel … I don’t have that feeling we are about to step over a cliff and die like I had many years back when this all started…

            I do still, however, believe we should have a goal to find a way to get renewables reliable, cost-effective and a way for it to offer good baseload power 24/7 as it’s obvious to me this would be the better way to go I’m just not happy investing in infant technology now that’s already pushed up our power prices dramatically and continues to do so… also with solar my understanding is our power plants still need to generate the base load during the day if/in case it’s required when clouds cover our panels so we don’t ‘loose’ power..etc so it seems we are simply wasting more and more energy to reach a goal that is causing more inefficiencies with our current technology as power stations can’t ramp up instantly so something like batteries are required to allow for this (Again we are getting closer as the Tesla system has proven) but we are not there yet and are heading in the right direction I feel…

            I just feel we are already paying so much more or power now (and everything else really as energy costs increase the costs of just about anything) and so many families are struggling as it is we just don’t need more pressure right now feel…

            Summary: I truly hope we do make some breakthroughs with renewables shortly and hopefully ‘storage’ of power as I feel if we manage to come up with a ‘new’ battery technology/system that would perhaps crack the code and allow us all to push through quickly…

            All the best and hope you have a great day all!

          • Greg Wootten says

            Again I say we can be carbon neutral in 5 years using LFTR reactors and Carbon Engineering’s, EXISTING, CO2 to synthetic fuel process.

            When you say nuclear are you saying High pressure Uranium (not wanted or viable) or molten salt Thorium. 2 very different answers, China India and several US start ups are looking to MSR or LFTR as a major cheap small footprint Safe reactor system to among other things burn existing high half life waste.

            A LFTR reactor of 50MW can fit in a 40″container (promised outcome by Copenhagen Atomic). Hence they can plug into existing grids, switch off old coal plants switch on reactor, we’re C free. Electric cars are C free not half dirty coal powered.

            Plug one into Lucas Heights burn our waste and see what happens using our abundant Thorium which is currently a problem to rare earth miner
            We need rare earth for electric cars.

            Carbon Engineering’s plants are not huge petrochem units but small local servos with a large solar array running into local tanks. If we’ve gone LFTR they can run off the grid.

            We save on foreign exchange and fuel transport. $1/L is quoted by Carbon Engineering bit high but ball park. Government may need to relax Excise and find other revenue stream which they need to address for electrics anyway.

            C neutral when its all built and Servos are able to charge electrics and locally produce H2 for fuel cells plus Avgas.

            The argument that technology doesn’t exist is similar to renewables and electric car argument Wrong.

            Thus all transport is C neutral NOW, sure existing vehicles are inefficient but they exist and will add to CO2 levels until they are retired.

            The above won’t happen because the looney lefts mantra won’t allow it, but it’s there.

            See Tesla bought Maxwell for new dry cell Li battery technology hoping to yield 10X the energy density or MUCH more. Now that’s technology waiting for. Also F and Cl batteries are coming with 10X densities and lower pricing.

            It’s all coming but ain’t here just yet. We need to transition but now.

            My grandkids will not forgive us

          • Geoff Miell says

            Greg Wootten (re your comment at May 20, 2019 at 2:59 pm)
            You say:

            “When you say nuclear are you saying High pressure Uranium (not wanted or viable) or molten salt Thorium. 2 very different answers, China India and several US start ups are looking to MSR or LFTR as a major cheap small footprint Safe reactor system to among other things burn existing high half life waste.”

            MSRs are not cheap in comparison with renewables (or most other electricity generator technologies), per the CSIRO/AEMO collaborative “GenCost 2018” report, dated Dec 2018, found here:
            https://www.csiro.au/en/News/News-releases/2018/Annual-update-finds-renewables-are-cheapest-new-build-power

            In the GenCost report:
            – Figure 2-1: Comparison of 2018 capital costs of generation technologies with estimates from previous studies, shows that MSRs are at least double the cost per kW relative to solar thermal (CSP) and around 8 times more expensive than large-scale solar-PV and wind;

            – Figure 4-2: Calculated LCOE by technology and category for 2020, shows MSR LCOE in the range AU$250-325/MWh, and the figures don’t change much for 2030 & 2040.

            IMO, AU$250-325/MWh is very expensive energy. Are you alleging that the CSIRO/AEMO have their figures wrong? What figures do you have?

            As for Carbon Engineering’s claims of producing cheap fuel, it would be good if true – I’m skeptical – see European Commission’s Scientific Advice on “Novel Carbon Capture and Utilisation technologies” report, dated April 2018, found here:
            https://ec.europa.eu/research/sam/pdf/sam_ccu_report.pdf#view=fit&pagemode=none

  10. Greg Wootten says

    Are you talking Uranium MSR or Thorium
    Not sure how the CSIRO can have figures as Thorium itself has no market value as no one is using it, plus all units available are prototypes. Copenhagen Atomic are promising a 50MW unit in a 40′ container which will plug into existing infrastructure. This is an enormous cost reduction on High Pressure Uranium plants and using existing grids and markedly small foot print cf solar.
    Solar is with a 2-8 hour storage which I guess is pretty lean therefore kind to total solar costs. Solar will use vast areas of farm land and be further from grid infrastructure or need new grid infrastructure. So on full system cost yes I am challenging CSIRO. Solar is not going to clean up our Nuclear waste either.
    It depends on the question asked.
    I run solar, love it, But today I’ll see 3kWh, peak Summer 30.Let’s not put all our eggs in one basket.

    Every time I fly I see acres of roof tops in industrial areas without a single solar panel at the load centre. Roof top is 2x as expensive as solar farms but is on farm land and remote. Is it really 2x total system cost. No.

    Carbon Engineering is a means to an end, we have a huge fleet of ICE machines which will not be retired until they wear out or become expensive to run. CE can turn the fleet to C neutral. I estimate 1L must use 10kW but probably 50+ when the entire plant is factored in. So it will not be anywhere near as efficient as direct electric or fuel cells but it is a step across that can happen immediately. The plant produces solar electricity and hydrogen and can be a Servo for all. Sceptical the far right is sceptical of climate change

    Until batteries become vastly more energy dense they will not fly planes so CE can fix their C emissions

    • Geoff Miell says

      Greg Wootten,
      You say:

      “Are you talking Uranium MSR or Thorium”

      CSIRO/AEMO report GenCost 2018″ says in section 3.2.7 Nuclear:

      “The nuclear generation technology capital cost projections shown in Figure 3-9 are not comparable because the 2018 projections relate to small scale modular reactors, while the projections in 2015 and 2017 are for large scale nuclear. However, we make the comparison to indicate that they share a common flat trajectory. The flat trend arises because, while nuclear is assigned a learning rate to recognise the potential for further improvements in the technology, they do not experience significant changes in costs due to the limited scope to double global cumulative capacity. In this sense, nuclear power is caught between having the existing deployment scale of a mature technology, but with the technological potential of an immature technology in terms of optimal technology design not being completely settled.”

      CSIRO refers to SMR as small scale modular reactor.

      You say:

      “Copenhagen Atomic are promising a 50MW unit in a 40′ container which will plug into existing infrastructure.”

      What are Copenhagen Atomic actually “promising”? How many of these units are now actually operating, demonstrating this technology is actually working with costs, delivery schedules and operational performances being well understood? Or is this currently non-binding wishful thinking? I note you offer no links.

      You also say:

      “So on full system cost yes I am challenging CSIRO.”

      IMO, that’s a bold statement! What’s your area of expertise?

      I suppose you would also be challenging Professor Andrew Blakers and his team’s work too?
      See YouTube video headlined “2017 CURF Annual Forum – Andrew Blakers keynote”.

      And perhaps you would also be challenging the findings of the LUT/EWG report “Global Energy System Based on 100% Renewables. Power, Heat, Transport and Desalination Sectors”?
      See: http://energywatchgroup.org/wp-content/uploads/EWG_LUT_100RE_All_Sectors_Global_Report_2019.pdf

      You also say:

      “Carbon Engineering is a means to an end, we have a huge fleet of ICE machines which will not be retired until they wear out or become expensive to run. CE can turn the fleet to C neutral.”

      It all depends on how much fuel produced by this technology costs (i.e. $/litre) and how quickly this technology can be deployed at large-scale. The European Commission’s Scientific Advice on “Novel Carbon Capture and Utilisation technologies” report, dated April 2018, includes these statements (p46):

      “CCU technologies face today a range of technical, environmental and economic challenges and research in novel technologies can overcome some of these challenges. Technology improvements to increase efficiency, to reduce energy and materials consumption and to prove the technologies at large scale and in different settings are needed.”
      See: https://ec.europa.eu/research/sam/pdf/sam_ccu_report.pdf#view=fit&pagemode=none

  11. Greg Wootten says

    just fully read CSIRO report, they refer to Nuclear as SMR (whatever that is, assume Uranium high pressure reactors). I’m referring to MSR Molten Salt Reactors different technology all together.

    I totally agree Uranium Reactors are very expensive to build long lead time inefficient to run and fuel process is expensive and waste manage. Large plants are prone to runaway disasters, a point made by the MSR designer in the 1950s. The new generation LFTR(MSR) answers all the above but the CSIRO has not evaluated them in their report.

    Interesting how French power 80% SMR Nuclear old Uranium technology is cheaper than German power 60% solar. Solar at 45+ North probably explains that.

  12. Greg Wootten says

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyqYP6f66Mw Thorium
    There are many more LFTR doc out there anything by Kirk Sorensen a ex NASA power source Engineer who was charged with powering the Moon Station found the early work of Weinberg who was a designer of the Nuclear Power source for US Submarines. Weinberg also designed the LFTR for powering SAC bombers. A beach ball sized reactor. Flying Nuclear bombers with a Nuclear reactor. He fore saw the runaway problem of high pressure reactors and built and ran a LFTR in Oakridge Tennessee. It ran for 5 years 24 hrs per day and they turned it off and went home for the week end. So this is existing proven technology which needs modernised controls and metallurgy but many are working on it. The program was stopped by Nixon in favour of breeder reactors which have proven to run away as Weinberg predicted. A sort of VHS Beta situation.

    Sorensen saw the small light weight LFTR as the power source for the moon station, 14 day nights saw solar out of the equation. Then saw the terrestrial advantage and with several US EU China and India are updating the design but see huge regulatory restrictions in the way.

    Solves many problems and because it isn’t a major construction it has hugely reduced installation and run costs. Thorium is 95% used in the system it is an annoying by product of rare earth mining and does not need expensive enrichment of Uranium is not weapons grade (the reason it was initially bypassed) produces many Nuclear medicines can clean up radioactive waste.

    I do not think the CSIRO considered it or dismissed it in their report as they did not mention Geothermal. CSIRO mention Pumped Hydro which is a huge waste of excess energy. by the time you transmit power to the pump, pump it up, run it down and transmit it back what do we see 10-20%
    I would suggest producing H2 and converting The cities to H2 for domestic gas supply and Fuel cells as a better alternative. Electrolysis is 30% and fuel cells are 90% currently and Material Engineers are working on 70% electrolysis

    I am but a simple Engineer who thinks we need all alternatives up front.

    Just back from flying over Lake Eyre in flood. We have a huge Solar capacity but well away from the Load centre s as is our hot rock for most Geothermal. H2 and a pipeline covered in solar panels?? East coast is running low on Gas and we are looking to ship it in from the NW. Let’s convert to H2.

    • Geoff Miell says

      Greg Wootten,
      Why offer a link to a YouTube video dated 4 Apr 2012 (>7 years ago)? The video appears to me to be discussing a whole lot of theories and “maybes” – there’s no demonstration of actual large-scale working prototypes.

      I would suggest to you that the CSIRO/AEMO “GenCost 2018” report did not consider Thorium-based energy technologies because it is not mature. Do you think they would ignore it if it was mature?

      Greg, are you able to nominate a working example of a full-scale thorium-based reactor? Links please.

      Geothermal in the Australian context is also not mature. The Geoscience Australia website includes these statements:

      “Geothermal energy is an emerging industry in Australia, with exploration being conducted in all states and the Northern Territory. While significant resources have been identified and there are several companies in advanced stages of exploration, presently there is no commercial production of geothermal energy in Australia. That said, there is significant potential for geothermal energy in Australia. It is estimated that one per cent of the geothermal energy shallower than five kilometres and hotter than 150°C could supply Australia’s total energy requirements for 26 000 years (based on 2004-05 figures).”
      See: http://www.ga.gov.au/scientific-topics/energy/resources/geothermal-energy-resources

      You say:

      “CSIRO mention Pumped Hydro which is a huge waste of excess energy. by the time you transmit power to the pump, pump it up, run it down and transmit it back what do we see 10-20%”

      Greg, where do you get “10-20%” from? A RenewEconomy article by David Leitch states the round trip efficiency of Snowy 2.0:

      at 1000 MW is 76%; and
      at 2000 MW is 67%.
      See: https://reneweconomy.com.au/first-thoughts-snowy-2-0-will-lift-emissions-without-more-renewables-91362/

      Transport and Environment is Europe’s clean transport campaign group. They have produced a comparison for battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), hydrogen-fuel-cell-electric vehicles (HFCEVs) and power-to-liquid-fuel-internal-combustion-engine vehicles (P2L-ICEVs), comparing the relative energy efficiencies from renewable energy generation to final delivery at the driving wheels. Overall efficiencies are:

      BEVs are 73%;
      HFCEVs are 22%;
      P2L-ICEVs are 13%.
      See: https://twitter.com/transenv/status/899976235794788352?lang=en&_ga=2.60608557.1658896519.1548824481-2081990504.1548824481

      You say:

      “I am but a simple Engineer who thinks we need all alternatives up front.”

      Ensure you get your data correct, current and relevant, before making decisions!

      But humanity now can no longer afford to stuff about!
      See: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/new-climate-change-report-human-civilization-at-risk-extinction-by-2050-new-australian-climate/
      And my comment: https://www.solarquotes.com.au/blog/inner-west-fossil-fuel-divestment-mb1082/#comment-453962

      • Greg Wootten says

        https://www.forbes.com/sites/davekeating/2019/06/06/batteries-on-wheels-in-the-future-electric-cars-can-power-homes/#33011a9b11e5

        This has to be better than pumped Hydro. Pumped Hydro. If local is good but remote? As in Snowy2.0. 78% return sounds magical, Transmission loss too Pumping stations 90% arrives, pump efficiency 30% up, turbine efficiency 75%, Transmission loss back to load centre 90% 100kW in 10-20kW back at load. Please correct my logic.
        Think figure is water head to power out at dam. My pump efficiency must be a lot old, but transmission efficiency is current Melbourne or Sydney to Snowy and therefore local source will assist local dam.

        The car battery solution will yield about 90% if directly plugged or less if by induction batteries are best efficiencies It is storage at or near source. H2 ( as a battery and replacement for Natural Gas) is less and Pumped hydro is less again. Plus we are using the problem to solve itself.
        H2 cars maybe needed in country and remote Australia OR better battery power density, Ag equipment, remote long haul trucks need super range. But these are outliers and may have to be Diesel until this technology arrives

        The car battery solution stands with; Tesla had an ability to charge other cars and feed back into the grid and was likely to reintroduce it, Leaf was also looking at it in a German experiment, Rivian has it and a German start up has it plus solar panels on the car itself, Hyundai are looking at a solar roof. Problem is it effects long term battery life. it’s very doable maybe the EU will act. Will need infrastructure like charger+- at curb side and carparks.1000000 car is 40megaWh probably 50% will be taxis/buses and high use vehicles but average vehicle spends only 10-20% of its day driving.
        Against this is the fact that self drive EV’s are expected to drop the fleet to 30% and take out the most of the low use cars. bit of a culture shock so we’ll see.

        The efficiency of EVs is totally amazing, 400km on 40kWh using 1L of fuel is 10kWh (bit more for diesel bit less for petrol) 1L/100km cf 6-8L/100km

        I yield on CE solution, it is a working technology, but efficiency is very low better to put power into grid. But we will have plenty of ICEs running around for a decade unless politicians get tough, which is highly unlikely here.

        Thanks for the education but I still can’t see 78%. I’m willing to learn.

        • Geoff Miell says

          Greg Wootten,
          You state:

          “This has to be better than pumped Hydro. Pumped Hydro. If local is good but remote? As in Snowy2.0. 78% return sounds magical, Transmission loss too Pumping stations 90% arrives, pump efficiency 30% up, turbine efficiency 75%, Transmission loss back to load centre 90% 100kW in 10-20kW back at load. Please correct my logic.”

          Battery storage has benefits for rapid-reacting, short-term energy storage and supply. They are currently not cost effective for longer-term energy storage and supply. Batteries also have limited operational life compared with pumped-hydro-energy-storage (PHES) – look at how long the original Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme has been operating compared with the life of batteries.

          ARENA commissioned a study and published a report “Comparison of Dispatchable Renewable Electricity Options: Technologies for an orderly transition”, released in Oct 2018. The summary includes:

          “ARENA commissioned a study of options for dispatchable renewable electricity generation that can support a secure, reliable and affordable electricity system with a higher share of renewable energy. The outputs are a report and a spreadsheet-based cost model.

          Comparison of Dispatchable Renewable Energy Options – Technologies for an orderly transition examines individual technologies and combinations to classify their characteristics, appropriate uses, costs and sensitivities in a transparent and consistent way. It provides a broad overview of different technologies, rather than a detailed, in-depth analysis of any one technology.”
          See: https://arena.gov.au/projects/dispatchable-renewable-electricity-options/

          Wikipedia’s “Pumped-storage hydroelectricity” (PSH) webpage includes:

          “Pumped storage is the largest-capacity form of grid energy storage available, and, as of 2017, the United States Department of Energy Global Energy Storage Database reports that PSH accounts for over 95% of all active tracked storage installations worldwide, with a total installed nameplate capacity of over 184 GW, of which about 25 GW are in the United States.[3] The round-trip energy efficiency of PSH varies between 70%–80%,[4][5][6][7] with some sources claiming up to 87%.[8] The main disadvantage of PSH is the specialist nature of the site required, needing both geographical height and water availability.”
          See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumped-storage_hydroelectricity

          So your statement that “As in Snowy2.0. 78% return sounds magical”, is only magical to you because you are apparently unfamiliar with the current technology and its capabilities and characteristics.

          As for understanding electricity transmission losses and where the technologies are currently at, and where it’s all heading, may I suggest you look at the YouTube video, from about time interval 8:45, at the bottom of my comment (at another discussion thread) here:
          https://www.solarquotes.com.au/blog/yallourn-coal-closure-mb1086/#comment-455395

          You also say:
          “I yield on CE solution, it is a working technology…”

          Is it? As far as I’m aware CE’s technology is only at small-scale demonstration plant phase. CE is looking for investors (and some have come on board) to scale-up to pilot plant phase. IMO, it has a long way (methinks at least several years) to go before it reaches large-scale deployment phase (it may remain only as a niche industry – too costly and energy intensive). The European Commission’s Scientific Advice on “Novel Carbon Capture and Utilisation technologies” report, dated April 2018, suggests to me that “CCU technologies face today a range of technical, environmental and economic challenges.”
          See my earlier comment to you above: https://www.solarquotes.com.au/blog/fuel-efficiency-standards/#comment-452486

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