Category: Daily News

Can German engineers brighten the future of diesel?


The VW emissions scandal sent the reputation and sales of the diesel car generally into a nosedive, but one German firm has new ideas that aim to reverse its fading fortunes.

Robert Bosch GmbH said its engineers have developed a new diesel-exhaust system that cuts emissions significantly below legal limits taking effect in 2020, reports TechXplore.

Bosch is positioning the diesel technology as a solution to the NOx problem.

In turn, anyone who says there is no future in diesel will find no solace in the words of Bosch Chief Executive Volkmar Denner: “There’s a future for diesel. Soon, emissions will no longer be an issue.”

Diesel critics have had their reasons for concern over diesel. While it emits less CO2 than gasoline-fueled engines, critics point to the technology generating nitrogen oxides, which contribute to harmful smog.

But what about the need to cope with a Plan A if Plan B is not quite ready?

Jonathan Gitlin, Ars Technica automotive editor, wrote that “New engine management software is optimized for low fuel consumption at a lower NOx level. High- and low-pressure exhaust gas recirculation means the engine’s air flow management is more finely controlled, coupled with revised fuel injection to reduce transient NOx peaks.”

So, can the Bosch technology breakthrough save diesel? The Insider Car News made the observation that the “levels of NOx are dramatically cut whether the auto is being driven in urban areas or on motorways, and whether you poodle along or drive like a loon. From 2020, this limit will be cut to 120 milligrams. Equipped with the latest Bosch technology, diesel vehicles will be classed as low-emission vehicles and yet remain affordable.”

One thing is clear; diesel as a climate-friendly option has its supporters. “Despite the behavior of the 2015 scandal and its continued fallout, diesel remains an effective tool in reducing total petroleum consumption, and remains a viable part of a larger strategy to reduce oil dependence,” said Matt Piotrowski in The Fuse.

He said diesel engines have led to environmentally friendly vehicles sold at competitive prices. “Diesel fuel remains a top environmentally-friendly alternative to gasoline because it’s one of the most energy dense fuels available with 30 percent more efficiency than gasoline.”

Continued here.
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See also: For Bosch diesel claim, technical details to come | Automotive News
[includes link to Bosch tech. report]

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April 30, 2018 at 06:48AM

Skin in the Game

Emotionally attached to ideas, we have little interest in how these ideas perform in the real world.

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April 30, 2018 at 06:23AM

Renewables Rip-Off: Despite $4 Billion in Annual Subsidies, Wind & Solar Delivers a Trivial 2% of Australia’s Power Demand

In any bargain, those stumping up their own cash, tend to ask what they’re getting in return. When it comes to the billions in subsidies thrown at windmills and solar panels, the answer is: not much.

Including domestic, rooftop solar annual subsidies to wind and solar add up to a staggering $4 billion. The cost of which is added directly to retail power bills. The greatest government mandated rort in the history of the Commonwealth, started in 2001 and runs until 2031.

Now, the value minded might forgive the scale and duration of that forced ‘largesse’, if there were a commensurate increase in the output said to be drawn from nature’s wonder fuels, sunshine and breezes. Except, as David Bidstrip points out, the combined contribution of wind and solar generation to Australia’s energy demand remains risible, and little more than a rounding error.

Money for nothing
Catallaxy Files
David Bidstrup
20 April 2018

Ex-Nationals senator Ron Boswell wrote in “The Australian” today, (19 April 2018), making the point that the RET is failing us and forcing electricity prices through the roof, putting ordinary folk in energy poverty and destroying businesses.

His solutions echo my thoughts and I suspect those of many others where he advocates long term contracts with organisations that are able to supply reliable power, also known as dispatchable power as it is available when needed rather than be subject to the vagaries of the wind and the sun.

I have trawled through the statistics provided by the Australian Government Department of Environment and Energy to look at the contribution of renewables to total consumption over the period 2000 to 2017. These statistics are released each year around about August and cover the preceding financial year as well as giving historical data on consumption and generation.

Total consumption for 2000 to 2017 was around 3,860,000 GWh. (A GWh is 1,000 Megawatt hours). In percentage terms generation figures become:

  • Coal: 72
  • Gas: 16
  • Oil and “other”: 2

Total “fossil fuel”: 90.

  • Bagasse, biogas and geothermal: 0.8
  • Wind: 1.9
  • Large PV: 0.02
  • Small PV: 0.68
  • Hydro: 6.4

Total Renewable: 10.

Excluding Hydro capacity, which existed long before “renewables” became fashionable, the “new” renewables of wind and solar contributed just over 2.5% of the total generation for the period and coal, gas and hydro total 94.4% of the total.

We pay a subsidy for the privilege of having intermittent sources like wind and solar. For the purposes of this exercise wind attracts $80.00/ MWh, hydro the same and solar $40.00.

Total renewable MWh for the period and the associated subsidies are:

  • Wind: 74,100,000 at $80/MWh = $5.93 billion.
  • Hydro: 245,800,000 at $80/MWh = $19.7 billion
  • Large PV: 614,000 at $40/MWh = $24.5 million.
  • Small PV: 25,300,000 at $40/MWh = $1 billion.

The total extra cost to consumers is about $27 billion for 9% of the total consumption. This is in addition to whatever those generators manage to get on the very flawed “market”. If they have some spare power when the real gouging is happening, it might be in the thousands of dollars per MWh.

If we consider the average load on the system in the first quarter of 2018, gleaned from AEMO data, it is about 22,200 MW which gives 533,000 MWh per day. This is an average so there are peaks and troughs but it should not be that hard to set a minimum rate of generation to cover the demand. It needs a bit more digging to find the limits to set and I do not have the expertise to do this however it can be done. There can be a “minimum” base load and the additional “peaking” plants to manage this in a way where the power is reliable and reasonably cheap compared to the prices people pay today.

Contracts for power would be set up as long term “take or pay” arrangements with the appropriate prices for the different types whether they are base load or peaking power.

Lots of people get their knickers in a knot about ideological/economic purity and froth at the mouth about “socialism” but the facts are that the “market” as it is fails to provide the best outcome for citizens, which should be the focus for government. We need to remember that electricity production and distribution was once in public ownership and the systems were designed and managed to produce the lowest cost/best reliability outcome. These assets were “sold” to fund government budgetary shortfalls, (remember the State Bank collapse in SA?), not because they were inefficient. I hear the economists now asking “what would he know?”

In order to maintain ideological purity for the “free market” people I am not suggesting nationalisation, although it is my personal preference. I would like to see generators operating in a regulated market where the opportunities for “unconsciable” conduct are limited. This is not the case now and it needs to be fixed. The current Banking Royal Commission is an object lesson in regulatory failure and corporate bastardry and the electricity “industry” is not far behind.

I find it infuriating to watch as politicians attempt to have us believe they can get the square peg into the round hole with a big enough hammer and the expenditure of lots of our money.

Finally, my research on average wholesale power prices in $/MWh for Q1 2018 shows the following:

  • Cheapest: QLD $72.16
  • Next: NSW $73.65
  • Middle range: TAS $91.18
  • Second most expensive: VIC $120.71
  • Most expensive: SA $147.21.

Can someone explain to me how this happens in a market that is supposed to deliver electricity at affordable prices?
Catallaxy Files

STT covered the Ron Boswell story, mentioned by David Bidstrup here: Economic Mercy Mission: Monash Forum’s Drive for Reliable & Affordable Power Gets Steamed-Up

To close the show, we’ll hand over to a guitar virtuoso called Knopfler, with a fair summation of the RE ‘bargain’ – from the rent-seeker’s perspective.

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April 30, 2018 at 02:30AM

Study: Weather linked with sentiments expressed on social media

Study suggests Facebook, Twitter sentiments correlate with weather patterns – no mention of climate linked sentiments

Sentiments expressed on Facebook and Twitter may be associated with certain weather patterns, according to a study published April 25, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONEby Patrick Baylis from the Vancouver School of Economics, Canada, Nick Obradovich from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, and colleagues.

Previous research has identified a potential link between weather and people’s emotional states, but which specific weather conditions trigger positive or negative emotions and how to measure these sentiments in an accurate and consistent way require further investigation.

To examine the association between weather conditions and expressed sentiments, the authors of the present study gathered 2.4 billion posts from Facebook and 1.1 billion from Twitter between the years 2009 and 2016. They analyzed the sentiment for each post using a special tool that categorizes posts based on keywords as positive or negative.

The researchers found that temperature, precipitation, humidity, and cloud cover each were strongly associated with an expression of sentiment, whether positive or negative. Positive expressions increase up to 20 degrees Celsius and decline as the temperature goes over 30 degrees Celsius. They also found that precipitation was associated with more negative expressed sentiment. Days with a humidity level of 80% or higher were associated with negative expressions, as were days with a high amount of cloud cover.

While the sentiment analysis tool used is imperfect, this study can help provide insight into how weather conditions might impact sentiments expressed via social media, which can act as a proxy for underlying human emotional states. Understanding the potential impact of weather on our emotions is important considering our constant exposure to weather conditions.

“We find that how we express ourselves is shaped by the weather outside,” says Nick Obradovich. “Adverse weather conditions — hot and cold temperatures, precipitation, added humidity, and increased cloud cover — reduce the sentiment of human expressions across billions of social media posts drawn from millions of US residents.”

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The study: Baylis P, Obradovich N, Kryvasheyeu Y, Chen H, Coviello L, Moro E, et al. (2018) Weather impacts expressed sentiment. PLoS ONE 13(4): e0195750. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0195750

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April 30, 2018 at 01:35AM