Saturday, October 12, 2013

Whatever You do, don't copy Germany

results of naive energy policy

We have already gone a dangerous step into German territory by having super long agreements on price-fixing of feed-in tarriffs for a large enough chunk of electricity to distort the market. Reading the linked article, the embarrassing thing is that Germany still has a large carbon footprint and a much higher carbon intensity than neighbouring France. A negative price for a commodity is not a sign of achievement, it is a sign of a dysfunctional market structure. There is a perverse incentive to keep fossil fuel powered stations going because of the market necessity of the utilities to not go broke keeping a reasonably steady power supply.

If you want to understand my seemingly contrarian views on feed-in tariffs, read the link in its entirity. For a functional market, wholesale cost of a commodity needs to asymptote to the marginal cost of production. Thus solar electricity needs to be set up that - sure, generate your electricity for your own use first, saving you the retail price, but your excess needs to go to the grid for free. If that doesn't pay back the cost of investment quick enough, subsidies should be to reduce the capital investment, not to artificially increase the return for eternity.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Deal of the Century

Dear reader(s), My proposal for the generation of electricity at our commercial place of business involves selling the electricity excess to our daytime needs back to the grid. Our price is not the exorbitant feed-in prices that the evil Bligh government set at 44c/KWh I would refuse on principle to partake in any such outrageous out of market contract. Our price is not the 1:1 favoured by the ignorant majority - After all that would be selling the electricity back at around 21c/KWh which is about as much as the utility can get retail and doesn't allow for the costs of upgrading, maintaining etc. required on the grid, which far outweighs the marginal cost of generating a unit of electricity. Our price is not 8c/KWh which is the fallback wholesale cost estimated to be the cost of a utility purchasing electricity on the wholesale market. The excess electricity is fed back into the grid at ZERO cost to the utitilility. That's right Zip Zilch Gratis. It is unclear whether this is still a better deal for me than the utility, but certainly, if electricity prices do not drop from their current level, our solar plant will pay itself off within 3 years. Our use is virtually all daytime, and greater in summer and less when it is cloudy/rainy or dark. 30 KW ought to do it, plus a 2 KW off grid unit for emergencies. Regards

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Where I'm at with evolution and science

First of all science - To me the gold standard on science and scientific theories is "the prediction of new facts". Not to be confused with model fitting the data, this predicts what future data will be. If a climate model predicts global temperatures correctly in advance, then it is of a gold standard compared to if it would have predicted current temperatures correctly given past data.

The basis of modern technology is this ability to know that a design will work before going to the effort of building it. 

Modern evolutionary synthesis of itself does not predict new facts. It has been built from a consensus of scientists to explain how evolution works, but is not a basis in itself for predicting new facts. It does show that surviving species will be more adapted to an environment than species in which the environment causes them to become extinct or depleted. However, a teleological approach to genetic variation will lead to the same new facts, ie. species, than an approach based on random variation. Thus, the modern evolutionary synthesis has not reached the gold standard by me. This makes me very impatient with some types of evolutionary articles and theses.

Astrobiology - ie. the research and study of organics and biology in space allows us a unique opportunity to test competing theories on abiogenesis and evolution. The "strong" version of panspermia espoused by Wickramasinghe etc. will predict different future facts than geogenesis or other alternative theories on the origin and distribution of life. Whether a prediction about what a robotic spaceship's experiments will show in advance of that experiment being made will give credence to the narrative behind that prediction.

Predictions about what spacecraft would find looking at comets up close have been very wrong based on the narrative that they are pristine and unchanged from the birth of the solar system. The narrative won't change, however, as it is too entrenched. It is more convenient to fit unexpected facts into the same narrative than to think of a new narrative that would have predicted these facts. The narrative is very vague on details anyway. Virtually any new discovery can be fitted into it - It is, for the most part unfalsifiable. I can see why Wickramasinghe prefers to be on the fringe, and outside of the consensus. He is not disputing any of the data from say NASA scientists. For the most part, other scientists are not  disputing his data and rigour. It is a battle of narratives, and the prediction of future facts should be the gold standard in the battle of narratives.