Politics and activism

Energy efficiency

On William Street, some Jeep promotional girls (amusingly the Jeeps all had P plates) gave me a brochure for the new Jeep Grand Cherokee. I can’t think of anything I am less likely to buy. There are few less efficient ways of getting around the place than in a hulking great juggernaut like that.

Meanwhile, let’s celebrate, ‘cos we’re number 1! Victoria’s Hazelwood Power station (which I’ve mentioned before) has been found in a World Wildlife Fund study to be the most polluting in the industrialised world. Now the state government is claiming we can’t afford to close it… which is not surprising if they want to cut power prices.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

7 replies on “Energy efficiency”

Hulking great juggernauts of vehicles. How about the Hummer? That piece of metal is a gas guzzling power-house. With our current gas prices, I can’t imagine the cost alone of filling the tank. The fuel consumption must suck!

Great news about Hazelwood – another first for Victoria! Because we all know that coal is the way of the future. Gah. Make me want to spit.

I hate to put down what you are saying in any way and I certainly agree with the sentiment, but I would like to see a much more meaningful analysis of the figures.
Well OK, the comparison you had in your linked page ( saying that the expansion of that power station is equivalent to 20 million extra cars does put things into context. But, I doubt there are much more than that many cars in Australia, let alone Vic. So assuming the expansion represents less than a doubling, then Victorians are already producing a lot more CO2 from electricity usage than all Australians are from driving. I find this very hard to believe, but psooible. And I can find no other way to read that statement.
Secondly the statement in that page that “the annual greenhouse gas savings from more energy efficient houses statewide is cancelled out by Hazelwood from just one week of operations” is a very poor use of the word “cancel”. It would be much better to compare the difference between Hazelwood and a good modern power station. And the “savings from more energy efficient houses statewide” is an extremely vague quantity that I think could easily vary 100 fold between reasonable interpretations. And then you would probably need to add to that that $1 spent by the government on energy efficient housing would go as far as, at a guess, somehting $10 spent by individuals.
Even if Hazelwood is the worst in the world, how much worse is it (than a modern “good” power station)? If it is only 1 or 2 percent then the money needed to upgrade it may well be better spent on energy efficent housing or other ways of assiting or encouraging citizens to use less power. If if 20% or more then the situation is very likely the other way around.
Well I could follow the various links further and perhaps eventually get somewhere, but I did take a short “surf” and it looks like this will take a lot of effort. And in any case it doesn’t do eny good that these type of summary statements that you have quoted are so meaningless.

Interesting Martin, thanks.

This study (figure 5, page 3) indicates brown coal produces 1100-1250 Kg of CO2 per MWh. In comparison, natural gas is about half this. It’s also interesting to see the info on other countries switching to clean power (though of course this may be triggered by cost, not a particular desire to reduce emissions). It looks at measures to clean up coal power, and seems to conclude that only small reductions in pollution can be achieved this way.

It also looks at burying CO2, which appears to reduce emissions by about 80%, and concludes that this is possible, but expensive, and not as economically viable as switching to cleaner power sources.

I’ll see if I can find CO2 emissions figures for other coal plants compared to Hazelwood.

OK, here’s the scoop on the Grand Cherokee: The problem with it is, it’s too small to be practical. I should know, I work at a Jeep dealership. A far better choice would be the Chevrolet Suburban or Ford Excursion–they’re both noticeably bigger and easier to work with when you’re hauling groceries.

Well Bob, for me (plus 1-3 passengers), anything bigger than a sedan is overkill. Ditto for groceries, unless I’m carrying enough to feed an army battalion for a month. The Suburban in particular is stupidly big for small numbers of people, and a total waste of fuel. They might be popular Stateside where petrol is cheap, but they’re certainly not winning fans over here.

I wasn’t asking you to get me more detailed information. Nor was I really criticising you, you have just quoted statements from elsewhere. I was pointing out that most of these statements that you read *anywhere* may sound bad (and I am sure the real situation is bad) but that they really end up saying very little. I was just using your 2 blogs as an example.
A statement like “replacing Hazelwood with a natural gas power station of the same capacity would reduce Vic’s CO production by x percent and only cost consumers an extra y percent on their electricity bills” would be much more meaningfull, and you get these from time to time. I realy hate it when you hear figure of x million tonnes fo CO2 per year and nothing else. If it comes from a vested interested of any sort I pretty much assume that it only represents a small fraction of the problem.
The problem with such meaningless statements, apart from being meaningless, is that they get passed on and quoted around but give no idea if politicians have done something bad or something terrible, what the most urgent problems are and whether something can feasibly be done.

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