Meters For Solar Panels
A gross feed-in tariff rate of 60 cents per kilowatt hour is available to all those with solar panels and wind turbines as of 1 January this year. That means a 2 kW system (a standard household size) will reduce a household electricity bill by almost $2000 per year. If the electricity bill is less than that, the difference will be paid to the household at the end of each year.
Up until this year under a net scheme, consumers were credited for the electricity they produced in EXCESS of their household consumption. The rules all changed on 1 January as NSW moved to a gross feed-In tariff, whereby consumers are credited with ALL the electricity they produce, regardless of household consumption. This is a far stronger incentive for people to invest in solar panels. The problem is that a new metering system is required.
It is going to take some time to transition from the old household net electricity meters to the new gross metering system.
If you are a household that has installed solar panels in the last couple of years, you will have a net meter connecting your panels to the grid. You need to change to a gross meter. That meter will be provided by Country Energy at no charge, but it will need to be installed by an Accredited Service Provider, and that cost (several hundred dollars) needs to be met by the consumer. A list of accredited service providers can be found at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au.
During a transition period from 1/1/10 – 30/6/10 customers with existing net metering arrangements will receive a credit of 60 cents for every kilowatt of excess electricity they generate. Only customers with gross metering arrangements will be eligible for the gross tariff after 30/6/10.
Everyone with grid connected solar panels on their roof needs a gross meter. The bottom line is that the sooner you get a new meter, the quicker you will recoup the cost of that installation.
The Planet Gets Hotter
If you look at the blogsphere you can support any position on climate change you wish to take. If you look at peer reviewed science then human induced climate change and its effects are strongly supported.
One of the most frequently used arguments by climate sceptics is to say that the planet has stopped warming, or is in fact cooling. This statement is made by looking at a short term fluctuation, and calling it a trend. Support for the global cooling argument is based on a solitary year, 1998, which was abnormally hot and outside of the trend line because of an intense El Nino event that year.
If you look at a decadal temperature trend, you eliminate short term influences like the El Nino Southern Oscillation, and other variables like sun spot cycles. If you look at the graph from the National Atmospheric and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of North America there is a clear warming trend of 0.2 degrees per decade since the 1970’s.This warming trend is supported by all the scientific organisations measuring global temperature. There is no evidence to suggest that this trend is slowing or reversing, and all the evidence in the peer reviewed literature suggests this warming is due to rising levels of atmospheric CO2 from human emissions. There is no genuine scientific evidence that casts doubt on that statement, although you can find as much contrary information you like in the blogsphere.
This is not just a global phenomenon. The CSIRO state very clearly that all Australian states are warming, in all seasons, and the warming trend will continue as human emissions continue to rise.
To say that human induced climate change is a hoax is to say that climate change is a conspiracy of unprecedented proportions.
A Bad Decision
Australia can reduce its emissions in an efficient and cost effective way by phasing out coal fired power stations as they come to the end of their working life, then gradually replacing them with renewable energy and natural gas generation. This will transition us away from the carbon intensive economy of the twentieth century
Australia will have to transition away from coal at some point in the future if we are going to be part of a global climate solution. The sooner we do it the better. Clean coal technology isn’t going to help Australia substantially reduce our emissions. There are no commercial clean coal power stations in operation, and none planned for the forseable future. The Australian coal industry invests so little of its profits into clean coal technology that they themselves seem to have given up on the idea
The NSW State Government has just approved the concept plans for two new power stations in the Hunter Valley. The government has narrowed the fuel options to either gas or coal, but given the proximity to the NSW coal fields, coal will be the likely fuel source. The power stations will not use clean coal technology, because it doesn’t currently exist.
These two new coal fired power stations will committ NSW to high polluting energy for the next 30-40 years. That is a move in the wrong direction. It is a backward step of monumental proportions.
Where is the science?
I have talked to a lot of climate sceptics, many of whom have thought long and hard about the issues. I have concluded that some sceptics have an entrenched position that is more to do with ideology than with science. I don’t think it matters how convincing the science of climate change is. No amount of scientific evidence or observation will change the minds of some of the people I have spoken to in recent months.
There are three arguments that emerge from the sceptics camp.
The first is to cast doubt on the credibility of the mainstream science of climate change. Sceptics are very enthusiastic to point out that some scientists have behaved badly, and some of the mainstream science is wrong. I think sceptics have some ammunition here with the leaked East Anglia emails, and the single mistaken report that got its way into the IPCC report on melting Himalayan glaciers. There are quite a number of minor scientific mistakes in the mainstream science that have been pointed out to me in recent debates, with the implication being that if there is a minor error in some of the science, then all the climate science is flawed. Climate change is a grand global scientific conspiracy, or so the argument goes.
The second argument is to confuse short term weather fluctuation with a long term climate trend. Sceptics have had a good time with the cold winter in Europe this year. Arguments that the Arctic sea ice is recovering, or that some of North America’s hottest days were in the 50s are examples of how sceptics try and turn a short term fluctuation into a long term trend. An extreme example of this is to say that the recent heavy rainfall in SE NSW shows that the global climate problem doesn’t exist. Malcom Oastler of Candelo demonstrates this distorted logic.
The third argument is a combination of the first two. Some sceptics claim that global warming has stopped, basing their information on an extremely short-term fluctuation and in defiance of the three scientific organizations that monitor global temperature. The Hadley Met Office, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) all state very clearly that the world is warming at an unequivocal rate of 0.2 degrees per decade. To say that global warming has stopped means that all the scientific organisations that monitor global temperature must be wrong. This comes back to the grand global scientific conspiracy argument.
None of the sceptics’ arguments are based on solid science.
A few weeks ago I challenged sceptics in our region to come up with 3 peer reviewed articles that cast doubt on the science of climate change. No one was able to come up with a credible response. I would like to re-issue the challenge. There are many thousands of articles about climate change that appear in the respected scientific journals “Science”, “New Scientist”, or “Nature”. Is there a single article, published in the last 10 years in those journals that casts doubt on the fact that human emissions are causing the planet to warm, or that warming will continue as emissions continue to rise? Is there a single peer reviewed article that casts doubt on the fact that sea level will continue to rise, or ice will continue to melt as we warm? Is there any genuine science that suggests that climate change will not change the planet in ways that are hostile to human civilisation?
I would enjoy a real debate on the science. So far, sadly, I haven’t had one.
We can face up to what the science is telling us, or we can pretend that what we are listening to is a hoax, a conspiracy of scientists from around the world who have banded together to fool us. We have a choice.