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Biomass

 

Biomass is already widely exploited in Australia with over 30 generators (as large as 63MW) in Qld and five in NSW consuming sugarcane bagasse. Co-firing in thermal stations has also been applied on a limited basis. Installed biomass capacity has been surpassed by wind power because the present biomass resource is limited to agricultural by-product and hardwood woodchip.

 

In the Bayswater B Submissions Report - AECOM states:

 

The inclusion of biomass co-firing is an option for thermal plant. It increases the capital costs and degrades plant performance. Macquarie Generation has been active in the utilisation of biomass firing to replace coal. The quantity of saw mill residue and vegetable oil co-fired at Bayswater and Liddell was less than 1% by mass due to limited supplies of biomass and plant performance issues. Furthermore biomass had to be sourced from distances up to 300 km incurring prohibitive transport costs. An additional concern is the use of diesel fuel consumed with associated GHG emissions for the transport of the biomass.

 

Macquarie Generation does not currently fire biomass at Bayswater and Liddell due to the impact the low energy fuel has on plant output and the high cost of transport and handling which makes it uneconomic. The lack of available locally sourced biomass and its high cost make biomass co-firing presently non-viable. It is also understood that the future availability of sawmill waste is threatened as a result of the declining native timber hardwood industry.

 

The specific energies of softwoods are significantly lower resulting in little if any useful heat release.

 

A related, emerging technology, might be called bio-solar. This employs genetically modified algae or other biological organisms to absorb solar energy to convert CO2to hydrocarbons for fuel (or plastic and other organic chemistry manufacture). This technology has potential to reduce electricity demand by displacing electricity in a number of industrial and transport processes.

 

 

 

 

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Travel

Denmark

 

 

  

 

 

In the seventies I spent some time travelling around Denmark visiting geographically diverse relatives but in a couple of days there was no time to repeat that, so this was to be a quick trip to two places that I remembered as standing out in 1970's: Copenhagen and Roskilde.

An increasing number of Danes are my progressively distant cousins by virtue of my great aunt marrying a Dane, thus contributing my mother's grandparent's DNA to the extended family in Denmark.  As a result, these Danes are my children's cousins too.

Denmark is a relatively small but wealthy country in which people share a common language and thus similar values, like an enthusiasm for subsidising wind power and shunning nuclear energy, except as an import from Germany, Sweden and France. 

They also like all things cultural and historical and to judge by the museums and cultural activities many take pride in the Danish Vikings who were amongst those who contributed to my aforementioned DNA, way back.  My Danish great uncle liked to listen to Geordies on the buses in Newcastle speaking Tyneside, as he discovered many words in common with Danish thanks to those Danes who had settled in the Tyne valley.

Nevertheless, compared to Australia or the US or even many other European countries, Denmark is remarkably monocultural. A social scientist I listened to last year made the point that the sense of community, that a single language and culture confers, creates a sense of extended family.  This allows the Scandinavian countries to maintain very generous social welfare, supported by some of the highest tax rates in the world, yet to be sufficiently productive and hence consumptive per capita, to maintain among the highest material standards of living in the world. 

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Fiction, Recollections & News

Remembering 1967

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1967 is in the news this week as it is 50 years since one of the few referendums, since the Federation of Australia in 1901, to successfully lead to an amendment to our Constitution.  In this case it was to remove references to 'aboriginal natives' and 'aboriginal people'.

It has been widely claimed that these changes enabled Aboriginal Australians to vote for the first time but this is nonsense. 

Yet it was ground breaking in other ways.

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Opinions and Philosophy

Energy and a ‘good life’

 

 

 

Energy

With the invention of the first practical steam engines at the turn of the seventeenth century, and mechanical energy’s increasing utility to replace the physical labour of humans and animals, human civilisation took a new turn.  

Now when a contemporary human catches public transport to work; drives the car to socialise with friends or family; washes and dries their clothes or the dishes; cooks their food; mows their lawn; uses a power tool; phones a friend or associate; or makes almost anything;  they use power once provided by slaves, servants or animals.

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