Jul 14, 2014

Get Fact: testing Ian Plimer on wind and solar power

Ian Plimer, an ally of Gina Rinehart, has written a new book criticising environmentalists and casting doubt on climate change. Renewable energy expert Dr Mark Diesendorf does some fact-checking.

No doubt Professor Ian Plimer is an expert geologist. He drew upon that knowledge in writing his well-known 1994 book attacking creationists, Telling Lies for God. Unfortunately his attempts to critique renewable energy in his new book Not for Greens demonstrate that he is out of his depth in this field. His treatment of renewable energy is mostly nonsense from start to finish.


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46 thoughts on “Get Fact: testing Ian Plimer on wind and solar power

  1. marco

    Before rushing into print, marcfranc, why not do a quick Google? Then you wouldn’t waste other people’s time informing you the all the Andasol solar power stations (50 MWe) and Gemasolar (22 MWe) in Spain have molten salt storage. In the USA, Solan (280 MW) has molten salt. These are all operating. In addition, Crescent Dunes (110 MWe) in the USA is about to start operating. There are others that you could find.

  2. Bill Parker


    Brightsource’s Ivanpah No 1 IS operational and supplying to the grid as planned, but this is not reflected at the website. The last of the 3 plants will become operational this year.

    Solar Reserve at Tonapah is in late stage pre operational checking right now. It will be a supplier to Las Vegas into the night. This I have from a Solar reserve executive.

    The answer is that CSP plants with storage are operational.

  3. marcfranc

    marco, perhaps you should start at the top of the thread before rushing in print yourself.

  4. Paracleet

    Molten salt is not routinely used for anything, it is a specific design of solar thermal plant that is only now coming into use which focus the light for collectors on a central point to heat a reservoir of salt that then generates electricity via turbines. This load is sufficiently large that the heat stored during the day can used to run the plant continuously. Traditionally solar thermal plants worked by heating liquid at each collector individually (oil usually) and could hence only run during the day.
    God knows what Pilmer was on about in terms of lighting up plants but if it was that then he is very confused (He isn’t, his object ideological of course so any objection he can use is fine no matter how outlandish).

    I believe Solar photovoltaics do draw a small charge at night which he could be using as a basis for suggesting this ‘objection’ but really we’d have to have a look at the book since the article doesn’t make it absolutely clear what he was talking about.
    Or we could not bother because Pilmer is childish clown.

  5. mikeb

    It’s exciting that Aust has the vast potential of supplying clean power to International as well as domestic markets. It’s all a bit inconvenient to big oil & big coal isn’t it?

  6. @chrispydog

    Fact testing Diesendorf et al:

    The green cult laps up this stuff, and so while there’s a market for it, someone will produce it.

    Show me ANY country with anything like 100% renewables. 50%? 35%?

    Germany’s green revolution is an absolute disaster, should we follow them?

  7. @chrispydog

    Zut Alors, CSP has the WORST economics of just about any renewable technology except maybe wave power.

    Ivanpah had to up the amount of gas it burns (yes, gas!) to ‘warm up’ in the mornings to try and make its numbers look better.

    And then there’s the tiny problem of frying birdlife which is not its only ecological impact.

    Really, that Stephen Long thing was “ooh, ah” but don’t ask the costs.

    Sadly, the ABC has let an economist talk about energy, and the rentseekers took him for a ride.

  8. @chrispydog

    Australia produces 850g of CO2/KWh, France just 80g.

    We can cut by 10/20/30 percent and still have very dirty electricity.

    No country has reduced emissions to such low levels without nuclear, and none will, because civilisation is built on dense energy sources.

    It’s maths.

    If solar was truly “cheaper than coal” then we’d be using it to replace coal.

    Solar PV is cheaper than coal just like a bicycle is cheaper than a Mack truck.

    Spin abounds on all sides, but the world’s CO2 levels are still rising and the hundreds of billions spent on RE are making no difference to that fact.

  9. Bort

    What a wonderful utopia it will be when we’ve burned every last hydrocarbon. We’re stuffed.

  10. pertina1

    I already know that it’s a pretty fair bet that anything written by Ian Plimer on climate change is going to be pure crap so please stop wasting my time by taking it seriously.

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