Thursday, August 12, 2010

Oh Dear, Two More Of Those You-Beaut Green Schemes

Andrew BoltBy Andrew Bolt

Yet another government-backed solar plant, this one in Queensland, flares out:

Cloncurry in the state’s northwest was meant to be the centrepiece of a radical $30 million plan to use solar energy to heat water and generate electricity, cutting carbon emissions and reliance on diesel – and eventually taking the town off the grid.

But The Courier-Mail can reveal that three years after its launch, instead of a forest of 8000 mirrors the project consists only of four test panels and a fake tower behind a locked gate.

It was forecast that by now, a “groundbreaking” 10-megawatt solar thermal power plant would be using steam from water heated in a graphite block to drive a turbine to generate electricity. It should have been supplying power to the homes of 4828 residents.

The Government, which faces criticism over a series of expensive infrastructure blunders, is blaming the project’s failure on concerns about light pollution.

Boffins are now looking into concerns that residents could be exposed to blinding light from the plant.

(Thanks to reader OWA.)


Then there’s another green seeming-not-doing cockup, yet again involving the green-preaching CSIRO - and big bills for consumers. This time it’s the three star ratings for the energy efficiency of houses that the Rudd Government has endorsed:

The three software tools—the first one was developed by Australia’s peak scientific body, the CSIRO—calculate a star rating based on the proposed fabric of the home (the bricks, timber, concrete, tin, insulation and other materials planned for the walls, floors and roofs)…

“So far I have found no correlation between star rating and energy consumption in the home,” says (Monica) Oliphant, immediate past president of the worldwide International Solar Energy Society (and adjunct associate professor at the University of South Australia)…

One of the enduring frustrations of scientists in this area is the ongoing rollout of new policies dedicated to energy efficiency before the accumulation of evidence to justify the policy in the first place. It is a significant shortcoming that was highlighted by the Productivity Commission five years ago after a public inquiry into energy efficiency.

Oliphant points to the federal government’s National Strategy on Energy Efficiency last year as an example of policy that has leaped ahead of evidence… The ... Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency is calling for the existing energy efficiency policy for all new homes (which scientists and Australia’s peak building groups say is fundamentally flawed) to be applied to all existing homes when they come up for sale or lease; and at some point in the future, a comprehensive study will determine whether any of it actually works.

According to Oliphant, ... the study, and the evidence, should come before the policy, not after it…

Another respected scientist in this field, the University of Adelaide’s associate professor Terry Williamson, puts it more bluntly: “Can we please just have some evidence-based policy? The only data in Australia in this area relates to a study of 40 houses and it shows absolutely no correlation between the energy star ratings and the actual energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The policies and the department are just all over the place. It is a tale of mismanagement."…

(P)eak bodies including the Housing Industry Association and Master Builders have disclosed their studies showing serious problems with the accuracy of the software tools that calculate the star ratings.

Andrew Bolt is a journalist and columnist writing for The Herald Sun in Melbourne Victoria Australia.
Read more excellent articles from Andrew Bolt’s Blog

Andrew writes for Melbourne's Herald Sun, Sydney's Daily Telegraph and Adelaide's Advertiser. He runs Australia's most-read political blog, and appears on Channel 9, ABC TV's Insiders and MTR 1377, 8am each weekday.

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