Out Of Gas

I love experiencing new things. It opens the mind to possibilities and potential that otherwise may lie unfulfilled. On Monday I had two such opportunities, which was a wonderful way to start the week.

The first was to take my first spin in a Tesla car. Regular readers would know I don’t think much of the Elon Musk business model. It’s unsustainable and heavily dependent on taxpayer subsidies but I was very impressed with the car.

On that bombshell… firstly, it goes like a thrill ride at a fairground, accelerating from 0 to 100 kph in just a few seconds. Even for a non-car aficionado like me it was breathtakingly fast. The technology within the vehicle was also super impressive and allows the vehicle to virtually drive itself. Naturally there are some caveats with that claim but the sophistication of the navigation and driving aids was a showcase of the future.

Of course the vehicle has some limitations such as range and recharging time but I can understand why people are enthused about the product. The owner claimed the car has 85kWh of batteries which would be enough juice to power an average house for a week. Perhaps that is the future: you charge your car up using cheap electricity and then use it to run your household at peak periods!

The biggest barrier to that scenario is the $180,000 price tag, meaning it is an option only for the wealthy.

Fresh from a drive in an electric car I then went to visit a renewable energy business - and once again I was impressed. Yes, you did read that right.

However, this business wasn’t your typical wind or solar boondoggle. It was an energy operation that could provide baseload power 24/7, and has an important environmental role and has been operating successfully (and independently) for many, many years.

The premise is simple. The company extracts gas from landfill sites and uses it to power massive generators, creating electricity to feed into the grid. Used in this way, the waste methane gas (which would otherwise just be burnt off or flared) actually becomes a valuable fuel source.

This particular project also had a solar farm within the premises and the contrast was quite significant. The potential power output and cost of the solar array and the gas generator (including operational costs) were about the same. However the big difference was that the gas power plant could provide continuous power whilst the solar setup was good only around 30 per cent of the time.

And that is the killer with this focus on wind and solar power. Sure, the fuel source is free when it is available but you can’t bank on it being there when you need it. Much like the Tesla. It’s great fun around the burbs but simply impractical if you want to head out and explore Australia’s beautiful countryside.

Things that make you go Hmm…

Adelaide wheelie bins get parking fines, their-ABC claims Australia is racist – towards robots, animal activists squeal after edgy artists’ eye poke and we’ll never know if Lakemba could handle Lauren. More mess at Perth council, Australia’s prisons are on heatColes bags a backflip and mums stoop to pantry-shaming.  Melbourne gives us dopey smoke smugglers, a cereal killer and fake doctors fleecing foreign students.

Say this quickly: a lewd Facebook feud cued clued prudes to seclude too-rude Rubens nudes, there’s something fishy about this tax office’s discharging illicit gains. The search for the perfect selfie turns deadly, there’s a Barbie cover-up in the US and Malaysia wrestles with Islamic child marriage. On a serious note, should the world concentrate on China’s camps? No Fathers’ Day for US baby daddies, something sphinx about this zebra, and is this the last straw?


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