2 November 2006

a tale of two energies

Comparing Emerging Technologies: Techno-Economic Assessment of Power Generation Options for Australia, August 2006
Solar thermal appears to be the most promising technology for large scale, baseload electricity generation from renewable energy. The technology is unique in that efficient energy storage as heat (a cheaper option than storing electricity) reduces the cost of electricity. Australia has one of the most promising solar resources in the world for this technology

Howard comparing emerging technologies in the House of Representatives, 31 October 2006
Are we going to say to ourselves, ‘We deny our nation the opportunity of taking advantage of that?’ You will never—and I have no greater authority on this than the member for Batman—be able to replace power stations, dirty or clean, with solar, wind or wave power. It is just not possible. Baseload power can only be generated in the foreseeable future by the use of fossil fuels or nuclear power. You cannot hope to use renewables in order to do that; so, if you are going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, you inevitably face a comparison on baseload generation between cleaner coal, which will be dearer, and nuclear power. The point at which those two cross each other is, at this stage, impossible to precisely determine. When we have Ziggy Switkowski’s report, we may have a better idea of where the two relate to each other.

Really, who are we to believe? And while we're at it, has anyone told Howard about the water usage of most nuclear reactors?

Solar thermal energy

Nuclear energy

1 November 2006

Dinosaurs trotted like emus

from the ABC
[Breihaupt] presented the latest on emus as proxies for dinosaurs at the recent Geological Society of America in Philadelphia.

The search for a modern animal to act as a proxy for dinosaur tracks started, says Breithaupt, because he was getting a little impatient with all the speculation about the tracks.

There was too much of what he calls 'prehistoric hyperbole'.Families of dinosaurs once walked here. But no-one knows what they looked like, as there are few fossils from this era. So after passing on ostriches, which have only two toes, and rheas, which have three-toes but overly rambunctious personalities, emus were the best alternative. Plus there was an emu ranch just across the state line in Colorado.

Breithaupt and his team now think that the Red Gulch dinosaurs were probably human-sized meat eaters, or theropods, travelling along in groups.

Somehow, Jurassic Park will just never be scary again to anyone who's ever seen an emu running. Now if they'd proposed that theropods behaved like cassowaries we'd all be in deep doo doo.