By Viv Forbes
The Australian Minister for Promoting Useless Energy thinks that hydrogen fuel, carbon capture and storage, soil carbon and biofuels are priorities for energy policy and greenhouse gas reduction.
If that’s the best our leaders can come up with, Australia should have voted Green last election to speed the inevitable recession and blackouts that will eventually kill this tsunami of energy nonsense.
“Hydrogen” does not supply net energy – burning it can return some of the energy used to produce it from hydrocarbons or electrolysis of water. It is an expensive explosive gas that makes less sense than Snowy 2 – more energy in than out!
Moreover, we have no infrastructure that can safely store, distribute or use hydrogen in our transport fleet, energy network or smelters. Governments should not force energy consumers or tax payers to promote Canberra’s thought bubbles – let the “green hydrogen” entrepreneurs risk their own or shareholders’ money.
“Carbon capture and storage” is another dumb idea. To capture CO2 emissions from coal, gas or biomass power stations consumes a lot of energy to separate, store, pipe and pump it underground (hoping it will stay there). It would be far better leave non-polluting CO2 in the lower atmosphere and surround every power station with crops and forests hungry for the CO2 plant food so essential to their growth.
Trying to extract CO2 from the atmosphere is even dumber because the mighty oceans will quickly release CO2 from their huge stores to restore equilibrium between atmosphere and oceans. Even if it could be done, it is a bad idea – why steal plant food from grass, crops and forests?
“Soil carbon” is green-speak for what every sensible pastoralist tries to do – increase the humus and biological activity in soil. The quickest way to do this is via keyline/contour ripping to retain water in the soil (as shown in Australia by P A Yeoman), and by managed periodic heavy impact of grazing animals to promote pasture growth (as shown in Africa by Alan Savory). But it is total nonsense to turn “carbon farming” into a costly rural rort run by a bureaucracy of soil samplers and modellers who think it will cool the climate.
“Biofuels” are another way to waste energy, food crops and trees to do jobs better done by coal, gas and oil – a crime against humanity and the environment.
If our Minister for Promoting Useless Energy is determined to sequester and store carbon, there is only one sensible way – restore the forestry industry. Harvest mature forest trees for poles, posts, sleepers, paper, cardboard or dance floors. Then replant with new trees. Young trees grow rapidly and extract much CO2. But old trees reach a stage of carbon equilibrium when the CO2 they extract in summer is equal to what they lose as leaves, branches and trunks fall to frosts, droughts, bushfires and termites.
Simon Benson “Hydrogen provides lift in post-Covid tech recovery”. The Australian – Page 1 & 4 : 21 May 2020
The Carbon Capture Con:
“Livestock are the Solution not the problem”:
P A Yeomans, 1965: “Water for Every Farm”, K G Murray Publishing.
“The fundamental reason why carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is critically important to biology is that there is so little of it. A field of corn growing in full sunlight in the middle of the day uses up all of the carbon dioxide within a metre of the ground in about five minutes.” Freeman Dyson – a prominent scientist specialising in physics, mathematics and astronomy.
Viv Forbes is a geologist, financial analyst, weather watcher and pastoralist with long experience at maintaining the health of pastures and soils. He and his wife have used a Yeoman ripper for about 30 years and have studied and practiced Savory animal management techniques for a similar time. He is Executive Director of the Saltbush Club.