Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Square Kilometre Array

Australia's getting (fingers crossed) a BIG telescope!  Woohoo! 

From the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator the Hon Kim Carr 11/11/08.

Australian square kilometre array industry consortium >> Press Release

The Commonwealth is totally committed to Australia’s SKA bid, and it’s not hard to understand why.

The SKA is a huge economic opportunity – a $2 billion opportunity – and we’d be foolish to ignore that.

But it is also a great scientific opportunity, a great innovation opportunity – an opportunity to revolutionise Australia’s technological capabilities and the world’s understanding of the universe.

This is a project to fire the imagination, and I have no doubt that your presence here says as much about your spirit of adventure as it does about taking care of business.

The SKA is one of the largest mega-science projects ever conceived:

• comparable to the Large Hadron Collider outside Geneva

• comparable to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor under construction in France.

It has ambitious scientific goals, ambitious technical requirements, and an ambitious lifespan.

Are the times right for this kind of ambition?

I think they are. ...

Australian square kilometre array industry consortium >> Press Release

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Automotive help and greenhouse gases

Why do I get the feeling that the media is just parrot reading the first couple of par's from the press release, and even then, not recognising and including the big WIIFM for the average Aussie car buyer interested in doing their bit for the environment?

A $10.5 million expansion of the LPG vehicle scheme, to start immediately, that doubles payments [from $1000 to $2000] to purchasers of new vehicles using LPG technology.

Didn't hear a peep about it.

And the second most important thing, well actually, the MOST IMPORTANT thing,  "A better-targeted, greener, $3.4 billion assistance program, the Automotive Transformation Scheme (ATS), running from 2011 to 2020", which was mentioned, but with no context for treehuggers like me.

I have to come online and go and look for it myself.  Is this what it means?   From the Automotive Review Final Report
The Australian car industry has announced a voluntary target of reducing fuel consumption of new petrol-engined passenger cars to 6.8 litres per 100 kilometres by 2010.
Is this what some of the ATS money will be spent on?  Who knows?  No context.

But speaking of the Final Report, here are some interesting tidbits ...

8. Environment

In 2006, road transport accounted for 68.9 million tonnes (or 12 percent) of Australia’s net greenhouse gas emissions.  This was 14.5 million tonnes (or 26.7 percent) higher than in 1990.

Passenger cars were the largest source of these emissions, contributing 42.6 million tonnes. This was 7.4 million tonnes (or 21 percent) higher than in 1990.[2]

Fuel consumption

The Australian car industry has announced a voluntary target of reducing fuel consumption of new petrol-engined passenger cars to 6.8 litres per 100 kilometres by 2010.

The average rate of fuel consumption across all Australian-registered vehicles in the year ended 31 October 2006 was 13.8 litres per 100 kilometres, which means the average of the vehicle fleet was less fuel efficient than for the year ended 31 October 2004, when it was 13.6 litres per 100 kilometres.

This can be explained by the growth in the sports utility market, which has largely offset
improvements in engine technology as far as fuel efficiency is concerned.[3] Given this trend, the voluntary 2010 target presents a very difficult challenge for the automotive industry.

Lowering levels of fuel consumption will assist Australian motorists with the rising costs of fuel. The Australian Conservation Foundation’s submission to the Review noted that, at a petrol price of $1.50 per litre, a 6.8 litres per 100 kilometres standard could save the average Australian driver around $1,000 on petrol each year.[4]

Given that at least 2 passenger vehicles on the Australian market are already performing at lower than 6.8l/100klm (Audi A6 range and Hyundai i30), this should be a doddle. And even if we don't - let's say we get to 7.5l/100klm, then it's still a huge improvement in performance, with the flow on benefits to local hip pockets, environmental ambience, health care budgets and you'd think, international sales.

Hey!  Maybe we'll even be able to sell cars to China.

But not a mention in the coverage by the mainstream broadcast media.  And they wonder why eyeballs are looking elsewhere and profit margins are falling.

Frankly, I think improving the fuel efficiency of the vehicle, coupled with tighter emissions standards,  is the way to go.  Satuaration public transport would be even better.  And tax the gas guzzlers!

But we (humanity collectively) are in the end game - 5 minutes to midnight, and given we don't seem to want to forego any of our luxuries anymore, instead we have to throw everything we can at reducing our emissions as quickly as possible to avoid catastrophic (i.e. extinction level event - ELE) global warming.

I guess this is a start, even if it is 10 years too late.

Additional Related Links:
  • California’s Motor Vehicle Global Warming Regulations >> Main Page
  • The Role of a Low Carbon Fuel Standard in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions >>White Paper
  • Gov. Schwarzenegger Signs Executive Order Establishing World's First Low Carbon Standard for Transportation Fuels >> Press Release
  • Emissions standards - Global (Wiki)