December 22, 2012

Australian Christmas Carols

Australians and furry animals always surf at Christmas.

Dr Who, of course, has a broad Australian accent. Here skinny he and pretty Amy, praps after many, many drinks perform a traditional Aussie ditty:


And now Australia's most traditional Christmas Carol Snoopy the Fighter Pilot:


And now for something completely different. Mas Que Nada of course means "no way", or "you're pulling my leg" in Australian slang. Not officially Christmassy, but joyful, with dinky-di Sérgio Mendes and one of my favourite Australian groups, Black Eyed Peas starring the famous Aussie Fergie (Stacy Ann Ferguson) la la la la-ing away:

Merry   ChristmaS  from  orstralia

December 19, 2012

Coal IS the Energy Future

The International Energy Agency reported on December 17, 2012 that coal [and not renewables] will increasingly dominate the worlds energy future over the next 5 year period

see,34441,en.html :

"Coal’s share of the global energy mix continues to rise, and by 2017 coal will come close to surpassing oil as the world’s top energy source, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said today as it released its annual Medium-Term Coal Market Report (MCMR).
...China and India lead the growth in coal consumption over the next five years. The report says China will surpass the rest of the world in coal demand during the outlook period, while India will become the largest seaborne coal importer and second-largest consumer, surpassing the United States.
... carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) will not be available during the outlook period. “CCS technologies are not taking off as once expected, which means CO2 emissions will keep growing substantially..."

December 9, 2012

China worried about coming North Korean missile test

Dotted line is expected track of North Korean missile test. What has been publicized is the likely positioning of Japanese Aegis destroyers. What has not beeen publicized is the position of US Aegis destroyers and cruisers: protecting Japan; in the South China Sea; and, in Philippine waters. Also are Patriot missiles protecting South Korea?
reports in part:

"HONG KONG, Dec. 4 (Yonhap)  ...Confirming weeks of speculation, North Korea said Saturday it will launch a long-range rocket between Dec. 10 and 22 to put what it calls a "working satellite" into orbit, with much of the world suspecting it is in reality testing inter-continental ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. China immediately released a statement on Sunday expressing concern about North Korea's plan.

"The North Korean announcement is a baptism by fire for the new Chinese leadership," Brian Bridges, a professor of political science at Hong Kong's Lingnan University, said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency.

The outgoing Hu Jintao-Wen Jiabao Chinese leadership would have believed that they had a basic agreement with North Korea's Kim Jong-un regime that there would be no more missile or nuclear tests for the foreseeable future after the April failed launch, Bridges said.

Bridges did not expect the stunned new Chinese leadership to be able to stop the world's most isolated nation from carrying out its plan.

...Wang Li, a professor of international affairs at Nankai University in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin, said ..."North Korea's policy or 'sudden' diplomacy has put China into the corner of dilemma many times. On each occasion, Beijing has to take the blame from domestic and international circles. Chinese liberals are surely offended by the behavior of North Korea. But some Chinese consider it as a brave little brother in view of cold peace with Japan and even the U.S.," he said. WHOLE ARTICLE
-------------------------------------------------------- December 4, 2012 reported :

"SEOUL (AFP): South Korea has postponed its third bid to put a satellite in orbit until next year, after a technical problem forced the cancellation of last week's scheduled launch." WHOLE ARTICLE


First Article - While China shares some comradely Communist origins with North Korea no neighbour of North Korea can be relaxed about North Korea's fiery-brinkmanship approach to international relations.

Second Article - A South Korean technical problem may be genuine but is more likely a manufactured plausible reason not to give North Korea political ammunition to respond. What may have played on South Korean minds is the danger a South Korean launch could be used by North Korea as a pretext-response for the much feared North Korean weapons related missile test.


December 7, 2012

Conventional subs sinking carriers with ease

Dramatic - though a planned, intentional sinking.

See carrier vulnerability to relatively inexpensive conventional submarines

On one hand the US Navy, particularly in its air power and subs, (probably) has more naval power than all other Navies put together.

On the other hand most of the air portion is on those vulnerable carriers. Many Admirals and politicians (especially Congressmen in porkbarrel districts) love big ships - and carriers are the biggest on offer. China, the UK and India are gradually playing the same game building or renovating ever bigger carriers. So at least the extreme waste and vulnerability is afflicting these other navies.

Looks like the 1920s Washington Naval Treaty  should be revived.

December 3, 2012

Arihant's reactor nowhere near ready.

Click to enlarge toward readability
[Pete's Comments: This June 2012 article describes what must be major reactor development hurdles for Arihant's reactor. It seems unlikely that the reactor is mature enough to be permanently fitted in Arihant, let alone functional.]

Article reads in part:

"The miniature 83 MWe pressurized water reactor (PWR) fuelled by highly enriched uranium was developed with the help of Russians. The submarine was launched into the water last year  [2011?] and began its “sea acceptance trials” (SAT) earlier this year wherein it was taken out of the harbor to conduct crucial trials.

“The nuclear reactor was fitted into the submarine for the first time some time back. And since it is first time that India has built a miniature nuclear reactor for moving platform it has to be tested when the submarine undergoes various kinds of motion like rolling and pitching,” sources said.

“The reactor since then has been taken out of the platform and the teething problems witnessed during the trial are being addressed to. The process will be repeated several times to make it foolproof."

[Pete's Comments: Determining the real timelines of Arihant's development [was it only launched in 2011?]  is not helped by bizarre comments from retired Admirals].

The Deccan Herald, November 10, 2012 reported :

"INS Arihant will miss December [2012] deadline"
"Kalyan Ray, New Delhi, Nov 10, 2012, DHNS:
Nuclear reactor yet to produce energy to propel the submarine
The INS Arihant, India's first nuclear-powered submarine, will not go for its much-awaited sea trial by December—the deadline set by the Navy.

The 80 Mwe nuclear reactor on-board the submarine is yet to be functional more than three years after the submarine was launched in water. The reactor is yet to produce the energy required to propel the 6000-tonne submarine.

The non-functioning of the Arihant nuclear reactor has more to do with the completion of a large number of other systems and components inside the submarine vessel rather than any problem with the nuclear reactor.

“At the earliest, Arihant can go for sea-trial only in 2013,” sources in the department of atomic energy told Deccan Herald.

Former Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma had stated that the Arihant will be on sea patrol by December 31, 2012.

[Pete's Comments: Note Admiral Verma is retired - so he is not accountable for his comments. This is total Indian Navy propaganda. Sea patrol would come at the end of completed system development, a substantial period of problem free reactor functioning at sea, working up trials and the crew becoming suffficiently efficient in using Arihant. Check back in 2015 for any genuine "sea patrol."]

Asked to comment on whether the Navy still stood by that deadline, a defence ministry official declined to make any comment on Saturday.

The nuclear submarine, capable of remaining underwater for a month without surfacing, also has a diesel backup for emergency situations in the deep sea.

The hush-hush launch of the 104 mt-long Arihant inside a closely guarded dockyard in Visakhapatnam in 2009 marked the end of a 25-year long journey to developed an indigenous nuclear-powered submarine.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, his wife, Gursharan Kaur, Defence Minister A K Antony and then National Security Adviser M K Narayanan were present at the launch.

Even though there is no official admission, sources said Rs 7,000 crores had been spent on Arihant . Only the US, UK, Russia, France and China operate nuclear submarines.

“Everything was made in India up to the last nuts and bolts. Also the industry was not well developed when we started. We faced a lot of problems on materials,” said a nuclear scientist who was closely associated with reactor development.

But when the submarine was launched in water in July 2009, many systems and components were not in place. Over the last two years, the project management team was putting the instruments in place. The circular design of the submarine’s interior panel made the job more complicated for the team.

“More than 150 systems have to work simultaneously for the submarine to operate,” the sources said.

When inducted, the INS Arihant will complete India’s nuclear triad giving New Delhi second strike capability from the land, air and sea in case of a nuclear attack. At the moment, the N-submarine has 125 K-15 short range ballistic missiles with a one-tonne nuclear warhead, which can hit the target at a distance of 700 km. Eventually they will be replaced by 3500 km range submarine launched ballistic missiles, which are currently under development.

Construction has also begun for the second nuclear-submarine and its nuclear reactor as numerous systems and components are being readied. But the final assembly for the reactor as well as the vessel is yet to start."


November 30, 2012

US energy security not assured.

Even with a sharp increase in US fossil fuel production since 2005 (above)  no-one would claim the US is nearing energy self-sufficiency. It appears that consumption of low priced US fuels easily outstrips this increase in supply. Pete.

This report provides some good arguments why the US won't "become a net oil exporter by 2030"

Arguments include:

- the International Energy Agency (IEA) and Institute for Energy Research (IER)  have been wrong in their US energy self-sufficiency predictions before. Instead according to "...the Energy Information Administration of the United States Department of Energy, the US will remain dependent on imports for about 43% of its oil consumption even through 2035."

- an excessive amount of unconventional US oil and gas on the world market would tend to lower international (including US) oil and gas prices. The US government and industry might instead decide to limit the amounts released on the market to keep prices high and thus earn higher revenue.

- lower than predicted oil prices would make prospecting and extraction of unconventional oil and gas in the US uneconomic.

- domestic political opposition on environmental grounds to such processes as fracking.

- cheap, plentiful US energy exports might cause much higher US consumer use thus increasing greenhouse gas levels that world cause negative reactions to US production from foreign governments. 

November 29, 2012

Australia's Future Submarine - Virginia Class Best Option

Click to see large, detailed description of the Virginia Class sub - probably the best future option for Australia.

Australia's Future Submarine Project (SEA 1000) planning process continues to move at a glacial pace. If its moving at all? The issues appear to be too daunting to make decisions. The cost of the project may also be beyond Australia's declining Defence budget.

Australia's Department of Defence might also be slowing progress until politicians will agree to nuclear propulsion for the submarines. At present leftwing (or realistic?) elements who dominate Australia's "hung Parliament" have simply blocked official discussion of nuclear propulsion options. The next Australian Federal elections (probably in late 2013) might produce an Australian Government that agrees to nuclear propulsion.
There continues to be considerable unofficial support for nuclear propulsion - including Simon Cowan's  Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) Policy Monograph 130 of 2012 at

"Future Submarine Project Should Raise Periscope for Another LookSimon Cowan"

Executive Summary

The Future Submarine project seeks to replace the ageing Collins Class submarines with 12 new submarines (commonly called the Future Submarines). Early estimates indicate building the new submarines could cost anywhere between $10 billion and $40 billion over the next 15 to 20 years, making this the largest and most complex defence project ever undertaken by Australia.

In May 2012, the government committed $214 million to conduct design studies, scientific appraisals, and industry skilling needs analysis for the project; initial approval is expected in late 2013 to early 2014.

The current Collins Class submarines have serious flaws, including poor availability, high sustainment and running costs, and a history of classwide defects. Some of these flaws are systemic to the Royal Australian Navy, while others are the result of risks inherent in substantially redesigning an existing submarine to operate different systems and meet different objectives.

Despite the risks of this ‘evolutionary’ submarine design process and the poor outcomes from the Collins Class submarines, the government is likely to follow a similar design process for the Future Submarines. It is looking at submarine design options, has committed to assembling the submarines in Adelaide, and has repeatedly refused to consider leasing nuclear powered submarines like the US Navy’s highly capable nuclear-powered fast attack submarine, the Virginia Class.

With a much greater range, higher top speed, greater endurance, fewer ‘indiscretions,’1 much higher power output, better sensors, and superior unmanned undersea vehicle (UUV) technology, the nuclear-powered Virginia Class is an altogether better submarine than any diesel-powered Collins Class replacement might be.

The Virginia Class is much more reliable and cost effective than the Collins Class. Acquiring eight Virginia Class submarines might cost between $23 billion and $27 billion (including the upfront cost of leasing the submarines as well as program, facilities and set-up costs), a saving of more than $10 billion over current estimates for evolutionary designed Future Submarines.

In addition, up to three-quarters of a billion dollars a year can be saved in operational and maintenance costs from the Virginia Class if the costs of the Collins Class are any guide.

Acquiring finished submarines from the United States would also avert a potentially disastrous capability gap developing between the retirement of the Collins Class and thecommissioning of an evolutionary-designed Future Submarine.

Neither the arguments against nuclear-powered submarines (such as defence self-sufficiency needs, skills shortages, and safety concerns) nor the protectionist rhetoric on behalf of the defence industry stand up to scrutiny.

Nuclear-powered submarines require careful planning to ensure their safe operation, but US nuclear-powered submarines have a proven safety record over many decades.

US submarines have often visited Australia without nuclear incidents. Also, the nuclear reactor in a submarine is tiny compared to a nuclear power plant on land, so the potential damage in an accident is much lower. Too often an ideological phobia of nuclear power is behind these concerns.

Australia’s self-reliance is arguable at best. Australia is heavily reliant on the international defence community for the development and sustainment of its platforms (e.g. through Australian subsidiaries of global defence companies). The extent of Australia’s self-sufficiency also needs to be re-examined in light of capability concerns stemming from Australia’s declining defence budget.

As for skills shortages, leasing US submarines will give Australia access to the US sustainment supply chain. Australia can import capabilities for low-level maintenance and access US facilities for deeper reactor-level maintenance. The United States could also upgrade Australian submarines alongside US submarines and dispose of Australia’s spent nuclear fuel after the submarines are decommissioned.

It is unfortunate that the Future Submarine selection process to date has been marred by indecision and waste, conflicts of interest, and substandard procurement practices. Decisions already made have not been justified and long delays have occurred, all in an environment where the Australian Defence Force is facing serious challenges both at home and abroad.

The government needs to take immediate action to rectify this situation. A good first step would be to revisit some of its previous decisions on the Future Submarine project and ensure that the cornerstone of the Navy of the future is the best submarine for the job." WHOLE MONOGRAPH

November 28, 2012

Liaoning may prompt larger Japanese destroyer-carriers.

Perhaps Japan will build more or larger Hyuga Class helicopter "destroyers" (see above) really carriers (albeit defensive) to face increasing competition against China in the South China Sea. Hyugas stretch the definition of destroyers, weighing in at 20,000 tons. As a response to China's Liaoning Japan may need to build a "destroyer" large enough to ski-jump or catapult launch F-35s .

Posted on November 27, 2012

Japanese panel proposes greater defence force at sea

TOKYO (KYODO): With China stepping up its presence in Japan's neighbouring waters, a government panel on Tuesday proposed that Tokyo should beef up the capabilities of its defence forces.

The panel on ocean policy proposed that the government promote its marine resource development business and upgrade the capabilities of the Maritime Self-Defence Force and the Japan Coast Guard.

In receiving the proposals, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said the government will reflect them in its five-year maritime policy program due to take effect in fiscal 2013 and that it is willing "to take a strategic approach in tackling the development and use of marine resources".

The proposal also called on the government to launch a project to extract methane hydrate, a solid substance consisting of methane and water molecules that is a potential new energy source as an alternative to natural gas, by fiscal 2017 so that commercial energy production can begin by the mid-2020s.

The panel also suggested the government do more to promote renewable energy resources through projects to harness offshore wind and tidal power.

China and Japan are embroiled in a dispute over islands they both claim.

The row over the East China Sea islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, has strained bilateral relations and had sparked anti-Japan protests across China."

The Goanna Band and Judie Tzuke

From The band released its single, Solid Rock in October 1982.  The inspiration may have come from a ten day camping trip to Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) during 1980 - with a "spiritual awakening" which brought "the fire in the belly" to the surface over injustices to Australia’s indigenous peoples.
There were initial doubts whether record companies and radio were ready for such a weighty political subject but the Band insisted on its release to make a statement on the European invasion of Australia.

Live clip of one of the most underrated artists Britain ever produced. Judie Tzuke's  only top 20 hit was this beautiful ballad Stay with me 'till dawn, from 1979, peaking at number 16 from her debut album Welcome to the Cruise.


November 27, 2012

Update - Another successful Indian AAD Interceptor Missile Test

India on Friday [November 23, 2012] successfully tested its indigenously developed anti-ballistic missile, known as the Advanced Air Defence (AAD), off the coast of Odisha (also called "Orissa") and said it is readying to deploy the system in the National Capital Region for protection against hostile missiles.

Appears to be an infrared (heat sensitive) film of the same AAD Launch.

An Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile on launch.

Update. The following opinion of November 29, 2012 is interesting

"Any discussion on the ballistic missile defence raises technical questions about the possible success rate of a deployed system. While the odds of an interceptor missile taking out an incoming ballistic missile with multiple warheads are low, the odds of such an interceptor system taking out multiple incoming ballistic missiles (each with multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles) are even lower. The ‘successful’ tests that were conducted by the DRDO were in fact against the slow moving Prithvi missiles. The DRDO has not even tested them against its own Agni missiles. How such a BMD system would fare against missiles like the Dongfeng-41 with multiple sub-warheads with separate trajectories remains an unanswered question. The Indian BMD system does not even provide an answer to Indian vulnerability to the ‘stealth’ cruise missiles like the Hatf-VII that are possessed by Pakistan."


Brahmand November 23, 2012 reports

"India successfully tests ballistic missile shield"

BALASORE, ODISHA (PTI): India Friday [November 23, 2012] successfully tested its indigenously developed ballistic missile shield off the coast of Odisha and said it is readying to deploy the system in the National Capital Region for protection against hostile missiles.

As part of the exercise, it test-fired a supersonic [medium altitude Advanced Air Defence (AAD) "Ashwin" missile - see BACKGROUND below] interceptor missile which destroyed a 'hostile' ballistic missile off the Odisha coast.

"At around 1252 hours, the interceptor hit the target missile successfully at an altitude of 14.5 kilometres," DRDO spokesman Ravi Kumar Gupta told PTI here.

India is working towards development of a multi-layer Ballistic Missile Defence system.

"We are ready to deploy the system in the NCR region by 2014," DRDO's scientist and Director of the Missile Defence Programme Avinash Chander said.

The 'hostile' ballistic missile, a modified surface-to-surface 'Prithvi', mimicking an incoming enemy weapon, first lifted off from a mobile launcher at around 12.52 hours from the launch complex-3 of integrated test range (ITR) at Chandipur-on-Sea, about 15 kms from here.

Within about four minutes, the interceptor, Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile positioned at Wheeler Island, about 70 km from Chandipur, after getting signals from tracking radars, roared through its trajectory to destroy the incoming missile mid-air in an "endo-atmospheric" altitude, defence sources said.

Gupta said a simulated test was also done on Friday to check the system and it was also successful. In Friday's test, the hostile missile was simulated to be a ballistic missile fired from the range of 1,500 kms, he said.

The interceptor missile is a 7.5-metre-long single-stage solid rocket propelled guided missile equipped with a navigation system, a hi-tech computer and an electro- mechanical activator, the sources said.

The interceptor missile had its own mobile launcher, secure data link for interception, independent tracking and homing capabilities, besides sophisticated radars, they added.

BACKGROUND "The Indian Ballistic Missile Defence Programme is an initiative to develop and deploy a multi-layered ballistic missile defense system to protect India from ballistic missile attacks.

Introduced in light of the ballistic missile threat from Pakistan, it is a double-tiered system consisting of two interceptor missiles, namely the Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) missile for high altitude interception, and the Advanced Air Defence (AAD) Missile for lower altitude interception. The two-tiered shield should be able to intercept any incoming missile launched 5,000 kilometers away.

PAD was tested in November 2006, followed by AAD in December 2007. With the test of the PAD missile, India became the fourth country to have successfully developed an Anti-ballistic missile system, after United States, Russia and Israel. On March 6, 2009, India again successfully tested its missile defense shield, during which an incoming "enemy" missile was intercepted at an altitude of 75 km.

Wiki reports: "Advanced Air Defence (AAD) is an anti-ballistic missile designed to intercept incoming ballistic missiles in the endo-atmosphere at an altitude of 30 km (19 mi). AAD is single stage, solid fuelled missile. Guidance is similar to that of PAD: it has an inertial navigation system, midcourse updates from ground based radar and active radar homing in the terminal phase. It is 7.5 m (25 ft) tall, weighs around 1.2 t (1.2 long tons; 1.3 short tons) and a diameter of less than 0.5 m (1 ft 8 in).

On 6 December 2007, AAD successfully intercepted a modified Prithvi-II missile acting as an incoming ballistic missile enemy target. The endo-atmospheric interception was carried out at an altitude of 15 km (9.3 mi). The interceptor and all the elements performed in a copy book fashion validating the endo-atmospheric layer of the defense system. The launch was also shown through a video link at a control room of DRDO at Bhawan, Delhi.

The sequence of events of the test was as follows. At 11 a.m. the Prithvi missile lifted off from Launch Complex III at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur Orissa. Radars at Konark, Paradip detected the missile and were continuously tracking it. The target information was sent to MCC for further processing. MCC classified the target, calcuated the trajectory of the missile and assigned the target to a AAD battery located on Wheeler Island, 70 km (43 mi) across the sea from Chandipur.The AAD was launched when the Prithvi reached an apogee of 110 km (68 mi). The AAD with the help of midcourse updates and its terminal seeker manoeuvres itself towards the target. AAD makes a direct hit at an altitude of 15 km (9.3 mi) and at a speed of Mach 4.

Due to two successful interceptor missile tests carried out by India, the scientists have said that the AAD missile could be modified into a new extended range (up to 150 km (93 mi)) surface-to-air missile that could be possibly named as ‘Ashvin’.

On 15 March 2010, AAD interceptor missile test from the Orissa coast on Monday was aborted, as the target missile deviated from its path and plunged into the sea. The AAD missile was to intercept the target at an altitude of 15 to 20 km over the sea. The target, a Prithvi missile, fired at 10:02 am from a mobile launcher from the Integrated Test Range Complex-3 at Chandipur-on-Sea, 15 km from here, deviated from its trajectory after traveling about 11 km and fell into the sea.
On 26 July 2010, AAD was successfully test-fired from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Wheeler Island off the Orissa's east coast.

On 6 March 2011, India launched its indigenously developed interceptor missile from the Orissa coast.India successfully test-fired its interceptor missile which destroyed a 'hostile' target ballistic missile, a modified Prithvi, at an altitude of 16 km over the Bay of Bengal. the interceptor, Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile positioned at Wheeler Island, about 70 km across sea from Chandipur, received signals from tracking radars installed along the coastline and travelled through the sky at a speed of 4.5 Mach to destroy it. As the trial was aimed at achieving the desired result with precision, the interceptor missile had its own mobile launcher, secure data link for interception, independent tracking and homing capabilities and sophisticated radars. "It was a fantastic launch. The trial, conducted from two launch sites of ITR off Orissa coast for developing a full fledged multi-layer Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system, was fully successful," he said.

On 10 February 2012, AAD was again successfully test-fired from from Wheeler Island off the state coast near Dhamra in Bhadrak district, about 170 km from Bhubaneswar.

On 23 November 2012, India again successfully testfired its home-made supersonic Advanced Air Defense (AAD) interceptor missile from a defense base off the coast of the eastern state of Odisha. "The testfiring was part of India's efforts to create a missile defense shield against incoming enemy missiles. The AAD interceptor missile, which was fired from the Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast, successfully destroyed mid-air an incoming ballistic missile launched from the Integrated Test Range in Chandipur, about 70 kms from the Wheeler Island."

November 25, 2012

China releases air operation film of its Liaoning Carrier

It appears that over the last 24 hours China has released the first (?) reports (and footage above) of successful J-15 landings and takeoffs from its aircraft carrier Liaoning.

A J-15 landing - using arrester gear. 

The whole issue of carriers is a set complex timings and functions calculations and then comparisons.

This Liaoning aircraft activity would be of concern to India because China's Liaoning can most probably carry far more J-15s than the remaining Sea Harriers on India's only operational carrier INS Viraat. It is highly likely that the (perhaps) ten year old J-15 design is superior to the performance of India's decades old Sea Harriers.

Liaoning may not be fully operational (not just a training platform?) for several years but it has to be said that India may not really take delivery of its own ex-Russian carrier, INS Vikramaditya (ex Gorshkov) until late 2013 and probably longer. Vikramaditya then may take two or three further years to enter service.  Completion and in-service of India's indigenous carrier(s), under construction, may occur years after Liaoning is in service.

See further comments on the Liaoning below.


Posted by David Cenciotti at The Aviationist reports 

"Chinese TV airs first stunning footage of J-15 flight ops on board China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning, November 25, 2012"

Although it’s still decades away from achieving a combat capability comparable to that of the U.S. Navy, China’s People Liberation Army Navy is trying to fill the gap quite quickly.

According to Alert5, the first arrested landing on Liaoning took place on Oct. 21 with a J-15 piloted by a China Flight Test Establishment pilot.

On Nov. 20, PLANAF (People Liberation Army Navy Air Force) performed the first successful arrested landing on the Liaoning, China’s first Aircraft Carrier by a made-in-China Shenyang J-15, a multi-role Gen.4.5 plane (based on the Su-33 airframe with Chinese-developed technology).

On Nov. 23, flight ops on the aircraft carrier involved two PLANAF pilots.

Purchased in 1998, the Kutznesov Class 60,000 ton aircraft carrier, previously named “Varyag”, will be used to test qualify Chinese pilots flying with the navalised J-15 as well as to test and validate procedures, equipments for another future operative aircraft carrier (expected no sooner than 2020).

Purchased in 1998, the Kutznesov Class 60,000 ton aircraft carrier, previously named “Varyag”, will be used to test qualify Chinese pilots flying with the navalised J-15 as well as to test and validate procedures, equipments for another future operative aircraft carrier (expected no sooner than 2020).

Hence, not only China is currently the only country known to be developing two stealth fighters simultaneously (the J-20 and the J-31) but the successful landings on Liaoning have put its Navy on track for a future role as a maritime power capable to pose a threat to the U.S. naval forces in the Asia-Pacific theatre."

November 23, 2012

China's Liaoning aircraft carrier - locally built carriers next?

I originally said "China's Liaoning aircraft carrier: capable of accommodating an honour guard but not aircraft yet". But RAJ47, in Comments, has drawn to my attention the presence of two Chinese J-15 jets parked on Liaoning. I'll discuss the J-15 operations in more detail next post.

Under the Chinese system Hu Wenming, Chairman of China State Shipbuilding Corporation couldn't make his additional Chinese aircraft carrier comments (below) without Communist Party authorization. His comments are less confrontational towards the US and South China Sea competitors (like Japan) because he isn't a  Chinese, politician, government official or Admiral.

----------------------------------------, November 21, 2012 carries the report

"China ready to build more aircraft carriers"

BEIJING (PTI): The Chinese state-owned firm which had equipped the country's first aircraft carrier said it is ready to build more as China looks to become a maritime power to assert its influence in the region in the midst of South China Sea disputes and the big US push into Asia-Pacific.

China State Shipbuilding Corporation, which refurbished the hull of a former Soviet Union ship into an aircraft carrier on Tuesday said it has the capability to build more "seagoing airbases".

"We must enhance our independent weapons and equipment research and production capacity to match the country's clout, and independently build our own aircraft carriers", Hu Wenming, Chairman of the company told state-run China Daily.

The company is a major designer and maker of the aeronautical support system for the carrier named as Liaoning, which was refitted from the Soviet Union's Varyag warship.

His comments followed assertions by outgoing President Hu Jintao in his political report to the just concluded Communist Party Congress that it was a key strategy to build a strong national defence commensurate with China's international standing and to meet the needs of its security and development interests. Hu spoke of China emerging as a maritime power.

China is currently locked in maritime disputes with a host of neighbours including Japan and concerned about US policy to deploy its major naval assets including aircraft carriers in Asia Pacific.

Hu Wenming, who took part in the Congress as delegate declined to say when and how many carriers his company will build. "That hinges on the central authorities," he said.

Chinese officials previously indicated that China would like to build three aircraft carriers in the coming years.

Hu Wenming suggested that the country should develop carriers using what he called catapult stroke technology on the flight deck.

Planes on the Liaoning utilise a ski-jump takeoff.

"It is very difficult for fixed-wing Air Early Warning aircraft to use a ski-jump takeoff, and on such a carrier you can only use helicopters for early warning, which actually compromises early warning," he said.

The Liaoning is more than 300 meters long and over 70 meters wide. Flight coordination at sea obviously differs fundamentally from land-based runways, Hu said.

He declined to say how many people were involved in the project to equip the carrier, but said a whole research and development institute under his company was engaged in it, and its workforce had doubled in the process.

It took about six years for researchers to develop and install sophisticated technology and key infrastructure needed for the flight deck, such as those to command the launch and recovery operations of carrier-borne aircraft, he said.

He also said his company is ready to build the vessels for the carrier formation "at any time". Such a formation is generally made up of the carrier itself, destroyers, escorts, supply vessels and submarines, he said."

November 22, 2012

Comparing China's energy plans with Australia's

Sources of China's electrical energy.

According to the chart above ( from ) China's reliance on renewable wind and solar power will be only minuscule in comparison with China's overwhelming reliance on coal and oil powered power stations (at present and out to 2030). For wind and solar see the tiny "Other Renewables" line - so minute its only visible in 2030. This to a degree undercuts the arguments of the article below. Another issue is the article's attempt to compare overall solar and wind power use of vastly different population sizes - that is 23 million Australians compared to 1.3 to 1.4 Billion Chinese.

This article of 22 November 2012 from The Conversation is highly critical of Australia's Energy White Paper in comparison with China's energy plans.

“A tale of two energy visions: China and Australia”
by John Mathews, Professor of Strategic Management at Macquarie Graduate School of Management
"...[in the Australian White Paper] In place of outlining the steps needed to transform [Australia's] energy structure from one depending on digging up and burning fossil fuels to one that employs sophisticated technologies — so that solar, wind, geothermal and bioenergy could play an important and growing role — we find instead mere gestures towards the issues. There are no quantitative goals apart from the already announced Renewable Energy Target of 20% by 2020 (itself under constant attack).

There is nothing new in the White Paper concerning building a solar industry, a wind industry, a “smart and strong grid” or even an industry for building the vehicle charging infrastructure needed for electric vehicles. There is no discussion of export prospects for Australian producers of renewable energy technologies and equipment — even though the Australian Trade Minister was instrumental in gaining acceptance for lower tariffs for such exports within APEC at the last leaders' summit in Vladivostok. In other words — no ‘whole of government’ thinking.

The contrast with China’s Energy White Paper could not be starker. China clearly views its energy security as the most fundamental feature of its future prosperity. It is building renewable energy industries as fast as is economically and technologically possible, as its major ‘nation building’ 21st century project. All government departments are focused on achieving the energy goals.
The energy targets announced in the White Paper speak for themselves:
  • 100 GW for wind (more than doubling the current capacity).
  • 21 GW for solar PV (a seven-fold increase).
  • massive expenditure on the electric power grid to make it the backbone of China’s 21st century industrial economy.
The State Grid Corporation of China, for example, has announced a roll-out of its “strong and smart grid”. It is investing 4 trillion yuan up to 2020 (around US$600 billion), involving state-of-the-art high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission lines bringing power from the west, where it will be generated by huge wind and solar farms, to the east, as well as digital switching stations. Among other goals there will be diffusion of over 300 million smart meters, made and designed in China to Chinese standards. This is how to build an industry..." Whole Articlefrom this source

A article indicates China's solar energy sector would not function without massive government support and that 25% of Chinese wind farms are not hooked up to the grid (and are therefore useless).

In Australia the majority of electricity users - who can't afford solar - are paying for the preferences of the minority of richer Australians who can afford solar :) There's going to be a voter reaction against the input tariff system (poor paying rich energy habits) sooner or later.


November 21, 2012

Contradictory trends of climate change

A well argued example of the contradictory trends of climate change in terms of warmth melting ice:

"Global warming has caused nearly 200 billion tons of Greenland’s mass to disappear annually in the last decade but its icy centre actually grew, a new study has found...."

November 19, 2012

India's aircraft carriers slowly getting there

INS Vikramaditya - awaiting December 2013 delivery.

From DNA

Delays in Gorshkov deal impeding Navy’s modernisation plans

Published: Monday, Oct 22, 2012, 21:23 IST
By Ajay Vaishnav

Indian Navy will have to wait for another year (with fingers crossed) before the Gorshkov aircraft carrier, Indianised as INS Vikramaditya, gets delivered in last quarter of 2013.

If anything, it is a huge blow to the Indian Navy’s aircraft carrier programme which is facing dual crisis due to a two-year delay in the commissioning of INS Vikrant. Under construction at the Cochin Shipyard, the indigenously built aircraft carrier was originally slated to enter service in 2015 and will now be commissioned only in 2017 due to technical problems.

The delays deliver body blows to the Indian Navy’s plans to always have two functional aircraft carriers. At present, India’s lone aircraft carrier is INS Viraat centaur class, which too is on extension. It was suppose to retire in 2007 and replaced by INS Vikramaditya (formerly Gorshkov) in 2008, which is now delayed by five-years. In Vikramaditya’s case, the delays have resulted in massive cost escalations as well." MORE

November 18, 2012

Slowdown in US Basing in Australia covering Indian Ocean

Australian Defence Minister Smith visits USS Michigan (Ohio Class SSGN (154 Tomahawk cruise missiles) temporarily docked at Australia's major Indian Ocean naval base: HMAS Stirling. Australia and the US have agreed on a slower increase in US docking at HMAS Stirling.

The Australian, November 16, 2012 reports:

"WEST Australian Premier Colin Barnett this week took Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta to Perth's Cottesloe beach to remind them that WA's "long and exposed coastline" looks not to America but to Asia, the Indian subcontinent and Africa. 
But the US Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defence hardly needed a geography lesson from an enthusiastic premier to understand the strategic significance of this friendly corner of the Indian Ocean.

A report to the US Defence Department earlier this year and presented to congress said one option for President Barack Obama's plan to boost the US military presence in the Asia-Pacific was to base a US aircraft carrier group and nuclear submarines at HMAS Stirling, south of Perth.

But the message from the Australian-US Ministerial Consultations in Perth this week is that any such plan is a pipedream for now. Not only will there be no US military bases such as this on Australian soil, but there has been a go-slow placed on plans foreshadowed last year to allow US military planes greater acces to airstrips in northern Australia and US warships more access to HMAS Stirling near Perth.

"This is very much a consolidation, business-as-usual AUSMIN meeting," Defence Minister Stephen Smith said yesterday. "There is nothing that will surprise anyone." By "anyone", Smith was really talking about China, which had been so surprised by the closer military ties announced during Obama's visit to Australia last year that China's state-controlled press warned that Australia was at risk of being "caught in the crossfire" between the US and China.

During that presidential visit Australia agreed to the rotation of 250 US marines through Darwin, eventually building up to 2500 in addition to plans for more US aircraft and warships visits.
At the time it was described by The New York Times as "the first expansion of America's military presence in the Pacific since the end of the Vietnam War".

A year on, the tepid outcome of this week's AUSMIN meeting -- which contained not a single big announcement -- underscored the fact the Gillard government wants speed limits placed on the move towards a greater US military presence in Australia. Although it will not admit this publicly, Canberra was wary of antagonising China again by making sweeping new gestures less than a year after the plan for the Darwin marine rotation was announced.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr betrayed this fear when he volunteered twice during the final AUSMIN press conference yesterday that there was no need for China to be concerned because the AUSMIN communique "contained no language of containment". When asked about China's likely reaction, Smith said this week: "None of this is aimed at any one country. It is not aimed at China or any one country."

The Gillard government's caution about being seen to move too fast on US military presence in Australia is mostly driven by concerns about how it would be received in Beijing, although it was also wary of public opinion and the reaction of its own Labor Left faction.

The softly, softly approach at AUSMIN this week was driven more by Australia than by the US.
The strongest statement on China this week did not come from Australia but from Clinton, who said it was up to Australia and the US to show that their partnership was good for China and the region.
"The Pacific is big enough for all of us," she declared. The subtext was that China needed to get used to a strong and robust Australian-US military alliance.

As she was speaking, former Labor prime minister Paul Keating in Melbourne was accusing the government of being too eager to follow America's lead on Asia.

"Our sense of independence has flagged and as it has flagged we have rolled back into an easy accommodation with the foreign policy objectives of the US," he said in his Keith Murdoch Oration. "Our respect for the foreign policy objectives of the US has superimposed itself on what should otherwise be the foreign policy objectives of Australia."

Not surprisingly, Carr took exception to Keating's comments, saying the relationship with the Obama administration was "relatively comfortable because they share so many of our objectives".

The carefully stage-managed AUSMIN communique was framed to minimise scaring any horses in Beijing on the eve of China's momentous once-in-a-decade leadership transition.

The seven-member politburo, announced yesterday, led by China's new, more outward-looking leader, Xi Jinping, will be closely monitoring the US pivot to Asia, including its plans to make use of its strategically located ally, Australia.

One of the most repeated mantras of the Gillard government in recent years is that while Australia has agreed to host more US marines and also plans to host more ships and planes in Australia, there will be no bases. "Places not bases", it says, even if the distinction is sometimes a little blurry.
The government denies it is slowing down or speeding up the previously announced moves for marines rotations as well as greater access for US planes and ships.

But consider the evidence. Almost a year after the Obama visit, Smith said in Perth this week that preliminary discussions for greater access for US planes to Australian airfields in the north was "just starting", with no clear timeframe for concrete results.

The notion of more visits by US warships or nuclear submarines -- or even the semi-basing of such vessels at Perth's HMAS Stirling -- was an even a more distant prospect. This idea, Smith said, was a "third cab off the rank", which was "years away".

"In both these instances, particularly with HMAS Stirling, you are talking years rather than weeks or months. It will depend upon the way in which people start to appreciate the significance of the Indian Ocean."

Julia Gillard described the plans for more access for US planes and ships as nothing more than a "medium-term" plan, saying this week's AUSMIN was about "stocktaking" where the military co-operation was at. This is not the rhetoric of a government in a hurry.

The first rotation of 250 US marines through Darwin this year was an enormous success, with no embarrassing incidents, a warm welcome from local community in Darwin and benefits for the local economy.

Even so, the government has chosen a holding pattern, agreeing to have only another 250 next year, although it vows this will grow to the 2500 "over a period of five or six years".

The eventual increase in US marines in Darwin will also be subject to a social and economic assessment study, which gives the government cover to slow down the program if it feels uncomfortable.

Taken together, these things make it difficult to conclude anything other than that Australia is choosing to build up the presence of US forces here without fanfare, without headlines and, in the words of Smith, "step by step".

As the US seeks to reposition its forces in the region, the attractions of being allowed to use safe, friendly and strategically positioned facilities in Darwin and Perth are obvious.

As the report to congress noted this year: "Australia's geography, political stability, and existing defence capabilities and infrastructure offer strategic depth and other significant military advantages to the United States in light of the growing range of Chinese weapons systems, US efforts to achieve a more distributed defence posture, and the increasing strategic importance of Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean.

"HMAS Stirling offers advantages including direct blue water access to the Indian Ocean and space for expanded surface ship facilities, including potentially a dock capable of supporting aircraft carriers."

Smith has been sensitive to China's poor response to the rotation of marines in Darwin, and has tried, somewhat optimistically, to turn it into a positive for the Chinese.

He says that China would be invited to observe, then eventually participate in, Australia-US-Indonesia joint exercises beginning next year.

One complicating factor in the plans for more US forces using Australian facilities is that the US does not yet know how bad its defence budget cuts will be across the coming year and what it will be able to afford to do in the region.

After long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US, similar to Australia, is reducing its defence spending as a means of trying to improve its budget bottom line.

Unless the newly re-elected Obama can strike a deal by the end of this year with Republicans in the congress to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, a deal that would trigger massive spending cuts including in defence, the US defence budget cuts will be felt across the world.

"Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta is currently managing half a trillion dollars in defence spending over the next decade," Smith says. "And if the fiscal cliff problem is not solved or resolved, then he's looking at the prospect of $1.2 trillion over the next decade -- so that's an issue which all of the world is now watching."

In this climate, while some senior officials in the Obama administration are disappointed with Australia's steep cuts in the defence budget -- which will fall in real terms by 10.5 per cent next year, the largest year-on-year reduction since the 1953 Korean war -- the US is in no position to point the finger.

The cautious approach taken by Australia at AUSMIN this week will only fuel critics who argue that the government is too preoccupied with not offending China in its alliance arrangements with the US.

The government complains that China does not adequately explain its fast-moving military modernisation program, but beyond that Canberra is all but silent about Beijing's aggressive missile programs, its global promotion of cyber-espionage and its meddling in space security.

This week the Gillard government displayed a meekness in Perth at odds with the boldness it showed in signing up to the plan to rotate marines and welcome US warplanes and ships to this country.

That this agreement was struck by a Labor government was remarkable and a sign of the growing maturity in Australia's relationship with the US. The fact it has now been placed on the long-term "to do" list shows that the government is still spooked by China when it comes to enacting the next phase of the ANZUS alliance."

November 16, 2012

Rokkasho plutonium reprocessing plant a potentially dual-use facility making it that much easier for Japan to arm nuclear weapons if it wanted to.
Contradictions about Japan's nuclear policies. From The Economist

"Rokkasho and a hard place: The government’s fudge on its nuclear future remains unconvincing
Nov 10th 2012 | ROKKASHO

THIS remote north-eastern coastal village in Aomori prefecture would delight a North Korean or Iranian spy. Not because of the rolling countryside, but the uranium-enrichment facility, the plant undergoing testing to make nuclear fuel by reprocessing spent uranium and plutonium, and the stash of a good part of Japan’s stockpiles of more than nine tonnes of separated plutonium—enough, experts say, to make more than 1,000 nuclear warheads.
The Rokkasho plant seems an anomaly in a country that forswears nuclear weapons and that has shut down all but two of its 54 nuclear reactors. Yet the same government that says it wants to phase out atomic energy by the end of the 2030s also insists that it is committed soon to start reprocessing enough nuclear waste at Rokkasho to provide fuel for Japan’s nuclear-power plants to go flat out into the 2050s. It does not take much prodding for officials to concede a potential contradiction, big enough to render Japan’s nuclear policy almost meaningless.

… Polls suggest many of the electorate favour a firmer anti-nuclear stance. [yet] …Rokkasho has grown dependent on the reprocessing complex for nearly all its jobs and income…."

November 15, 2012

World Bank Research including Sea Level Rise

 Not connected with the World Bank paper - presumably the fate of Manhattan of a 5+ metre sea level rise (SLR).
The World Bank appears to be involved with a great deal of research,,menuPK:469435~pagePK:64165236~piPK:64165141~theSitePK:469382,00.html :

on energy and the environment,,menuPK:5991692~pagePK:64168176~piPK:64168140~theSitePK:5991650,00.html

encompassing climate change,,contentMDK:22200707~pagePK:64168182~piPK:64168060~theSitePK:5991650,00.html

As an example of what the World Bank researches - one easily visualized climate change risk and process is sea level rise. The World Bank has produced a 2007 
Policy Research Working Paper  "The impact of sea level rise on developing countries : a comparative analysis"

The Summary reads:

"Sea level rise (SLR) due to climate change is a serious global threat. The scientific evidence is now overwhelming. Continued growth of greenhouse gas emissions and associated global warming could well promote SLR of 1m-3m in this century, and unexpectedly rapid breakup of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets might produce a 5m SLR. In this paper, the authors have assessed the consequences of continued SLR for 84 developing countries. Geographic Information System (GIS) software has been used to overlay the best available, spatially-disaggregated global data on critical impact elements (land, population, agriculture, urban extent, wetlands, and GDP) with the inundation zones projected for 1-5m SLR. The results reveal that hundreds of millions of people in the developing world are likely to be displaced by SLR within this century, and accompanying economic and ecological damage will be severe for many. At the country level, results are extremely skewed, with severe impacts limited to a relatively small number of countries. For these countries (such as Vietnam, A. R. of Egypt, and The Bahamas), however, the consequences of SLR are potentially catastrophic. For many others, including some of the largest (such as China), the absolute magnitudes of potential impacts are very large. At the other extreme, many developing countries experience limited impacts. Among regions, East Asia and the Middle East and North Africa exhibit the greatest relative impacts. To date, there is little evidence that the international community has seriously considered the implications of SLR for population location and infrastructure planning in developing countries. The authors hope that the information provided in this paper will encourage immediate planning for adaptation.

The Paper concludes:

"Even if greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were stabilized in the near future, thermal  expansion and deglaciation would continue to raise the sea level for many decades.

 Continued growth of GHG emissions and associated global warming could well promote SLR [sea level rise] of 1m-3m in this century, and unexpectedly rapid breakup of the Greenland and  West Antarctic ice sheets might produce a 5m SLR. In this paper, we have assessed  the consequences of continued SLR for 84 developing countries.            

Our results are  extremely skewed, with severe impacts limited to a relatively small number of countries. For these countries (e.g., Vietnam, A.R. of Egypt, The Bahamas), however, the consequences of SLR are potentially catastrophic. [bolded by Pete for emphasis] For many others, including some of  the largest (e.g., China), the absolute magnitudes of potential impacts are very large. At the other extreme, many developing countries experience limited impacts.             

Among  regions, East Asia and Middle East/North Africa exhibit the greatest relative impacts. In this conclusion, we would like to highlight two important implications of our findings. First, the overall magnitudes for the developing world are sobering: Within this century,  hundreds of millions of people are likely to be displaced by SLR; accompanying  economic and ecological damage will be severe for many. The world has not previously  faced a crisis on this scale, and planning for adaptation should begin immediately. Second, international resource allocation strategies should recognize the skewed impact distribution that we have documented in this paper. Some countries will be little-affected  by SLR, while others will be so heavily impacted that their national integrity may be threatened. Given the scarcity of available resources, it would seem sensible to allocate  aid according to degree of threat.

 Under the provisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), some work has begun on National Adaptation Programmes of Action  (NAPAs). These are intended to facilitate the identification of priority activities, including  adaptation to SLR, for the least-developed countries. To date however, only 8 countries  have developed comprehensive NAPAs: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Comoros, Djibouti,  Malawi, Mauritania, Niger and Samoa. Of these, five are coastal states with potential  SLR problems. For comparison, our summary above reveals 10 poor countries that will be very severely impacted by SLR. With the exceptions of Bangladesh and Mauritania, none are included in the NAPA list above: Benin, Guyana, Suriname, A.R. of Egypt, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Many other developing countries will also experience significant impacts.

 We should reiterate that these results are not speculative: The current atmospheric concentration of GHG's is sufficient to drive global warming well into the next century, and much higher concentrations will undoubtedly be reached before any global  agreement can be implemented. For precautionary planning purposes, SLR in the range of 1m - 3m should therefore be regarded as realistic. To date, however, there is little evidence that the international community has seriously considered the implications for  population location and infrastructure planning in many developing countries. We hope  that the information provided in this paper will encourage more rapid action on this front."

November 14, 2012

US Energy Security

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for 21st Century Energy looks mighty interesting. The term "energy security" as an American priority appeared to be largely absent from peak US Administration statements for seveal years from 2002 but other than that see the discussion of US and international energy security at :

"Since the early 1970s, Democratic and Republican presidential administrations and other policymakers have made energy security a priority. Yet, we have lacked a tool to regularly measure our nation's progress and thus assess the impact of policy decisions on America's energy security. Indeed, energy is still recognized today as among the top challenges to our Nation's future prosperity, national security, and way of life.
The Index of U.S. Energy Security Risk: Assessing America's Vulnerabilities in a Global Energy Market is an annual energy risk indicator, which uses quantifiable data, historical trend information, and government projections to identify the policies and other factors that contribute positively or negatively to U.S. energy security. The Index provides a look at energy security retrospectively from 1970 to 2010 and prospectively from 2011 to 2035. From this data, policymakers and energy professionals can use the Index to track shifts in U.S. energy security over time and assess potential impacts of new policies.

In 2012, the Energy Institute launched the International Index of Energy Security Risk, a new tool designed to facilitate a better understanding of global energy markets. The International Index applies the same quantitative analysis used in the US Index to rank the top global energy users in 28 metrics."

November 13, 2012

Need for techical & economic solutions to redistribute renewable energy

Solar cells on an Australian home (from There are more clear, sunny days in Australia (part of having lower rainfall and lower air pollution) compared to most developed countries (and China).
The following article, calling for technical and economic solutions to redistribute the energy from small and numerous renewable energy generators, over widely spaced geographical areas, ties in with the previous post. That post concerns a possible component of the technical solution: HVDC (high voltage direct current).

Writing on The Conversation "Energy White Paper underestimates solar" of November 10, 2012


"The 2012 Energy White Paper [here on the Australia Government Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism website] has much to commend it. In particular, the far greater acknowledgement of the need to shift to clean energy sources is a fundamental shift from previous White Papers.

The emphasis on the need for power demand management, rather than simply meeting peak demand though capital expenditure, is also very welcome.

The energy landscape is changing rapidly. A fundamental change is the extraordinarily rapid decline in the cost of solar energy. Results from the 2012 Australian Energy Technology Assessment of various energy technologies is included. This was a radical departure from previous Government assessments in that it recognised that solar and wind are on track to be low cost, fully competitive energy generation technologies rather soon. The White Paper notes that “few could have predicted the dramatic reduction in solar PV costs that has occurred over the past few years”. The White Paper could perhaps have emphasised more strongly the large implications of this fact for electricity providers.

Rooftop solar generators now produce electricity for less than the retail tariff everywhere in Australia. This could fundamentally change the nature of the electricity business, leading to the establishment of millions of small generators to supplement wind farms and large conventional generators.

There is an urgent need to re-think the national electricity market and infrastructure to take account both of the need for demand management and to cope with widely distributed electricity generation. Changes to distribution infrastructure, tariff structures and the business models of utilities will all be required. Local and central storage will also need to be included as the penetration of solar and wind energy rises above the tens of percent range.

The urgency for amelioration of greenhouse gas emissions becomes ever clearer. The Renewable Energy Target means that up to one-quarter of Australia’s electricity will come from renewables by 2020. South Australia already generates one quarter of its electricity from the wind, and the ACT Government has a renewable energy target of 90% by 2020.

The White Paper mentions a relatively unambitious figure of a 40% share of electricity from renewable energy by 2035. Experience suggests that renewable energy will grow much quicker than envisaged in the White Paper. Aggressive targets for 2030 (50%) and 2040 (90%) should be established to rapidly shift Australia to low emission energy. Fortunately, the rapidly declining cost of solar and wind energy allows such targets to be set with little economic impact.

In summary, the White Paper is a large improvement on previous Government studies with respect to climate change and renewable energy."