Thanks for your reply, David de Vries (Posted April 14, …

Comment on Too much sun power in Alice? by Bob Durnan.

Thanks for your reply, David de Vries (Posted April 14, 2016 at 7:45 pm). However, I am still puzzled by some aspects of your argument. I agree that we “need a real power supply, one that gets us through thick and thin”.
But what does such a system look like?
If creating a “storage system for the town would cost a billion in dollars and a billion in CO2 emission”, then surely we could retain elements of the existing fossil fuel system, modified for use in emergencies, along with smaller and less costly storage systems for some storage of solar-generated energy?
The thing is, it is difficult imagining the population of our region coping very well if there were to be periodic outages, even if they only lasted for just a few hours.
We would not be very happy if they effected all the complex machinery of our sophisticated society, including power-dependent sewerage and water and fuel pumps, traffic lights, railway signals, all types of communication systems, dialysis machines, oxygen machines, fridges and freezers, air-conditioning and lighting for schools, hospitals and other workplaces, power for workshops, and other such necessary day to day services and infrastructure, (and not least, devices for whiling away the hours writing letters to you via Erwin).
As you pointed out, some of these necessities could be sustained by using emergency generators and/or expensive home battery systems (if you are rich or upper middle class), but it would take thousands of diesel or petrol generators to cover them all, and, apart from not being very practical, wouldn’t that partly defeat the purpose of the project of reducing carbon emissions?
We might have recently “successfully survived a rickety irregular supply”; however, outages do produce fatalities, in the same ways that heat waves and cold snaps do. The aged, infirm and very young die at much greater rates than is normal when these events occur.
Twice recently we have had dialysis cancelled, water supplies failing, freezers defrosted and no air-conditioning because of outages during hot weather for over 10 hours at Hermannsburg. It is not all that rare that we get widespread cloud cover lasting two or three days, or more.
Australian climate change scientists have stated that an average increase of 1.5 degrees in Australia as a whole would likely produce an average increase in temperatures of around twice that amount in the centre of our continent.
A reduced population of residents and tourists over the Christmas / New Year holiday period is still likely to experience vast sheets of monsoonal cloud cover, and need reliable power, not least for fans, freezers, fridges and air-conditioners.
I think our best solutions may be a little more complicated than simply damning the consequences and going fully solar without providing due care regarding foreseeable complications. The most responsible way forward would seem to be a well-planned whole-system approach, which considers reliability, access and the social, environmental and economic cost-benefits of each element, and also factors social equity into the budgeting of such a plan, proceeding at a pace which doesn’t compromise important aspects of our services and systems.
And by the way: if gas is permissible for home heating in your scenario, then why is it not permissible for standby generation of electricity for the main system?

Bob Durnan Also Commented

Too much sun power in Alice?
KM (Posted April 26, 2016 at 8:51 pm): Do you mean that there are energy storage systems available to run the town’s public infrastructure in an emergency that don’t “cost a billion in dollars and a billion in CO2 emission” as alleged by David de Vries (Posted April 14, 2016 at 7:45 pm) below? If so, what do they consist of?


Too much sun power in Alice?
David de Vries (Posted April 13, 2016 at 5:59 pm) – interesting proposal, but what happens when we have prolonged cloud coverage over the whole of Central Australia?
For example, a succession of cyclonic systems in different parts of northern Australia led us to have pretty constant cloud cover (and very high humidity) over Hermannsburg, Santa Teresa and Alice (and many more communities) for nearly the whole of February in 1999 or 2000.
One cold July in the mid-80s there was rain and cloud cover for much of the month, and again this covered a very wide area.
In these situations, surely either quite long term storage or substantial standby systems would be very important issues?


Recent Comments by Bob Durnan

Ice Age in Alice
Steve Brown, you claim ice – crystal meth – is a “massively escalating issue in both the town and surrounding communities for a long time”.
I have just checked with experienced youth workers in several remote communities, and they are all mystified by your claim.
Could it be that you are being fed false information?
You are risking being seen as an hysteric, unless you can substantiate your claim.
The fact that there have been occasional reports of isolated cases of ice use in bush communities over the years does not mean that its use is either widespread or escalating.


Golf Club gets Masters liquor licence despite missing deadline
Mabel, presumably you mean “good logical thinking” by the Deputy Liquor Commissioner.
However, I don’t understand how you see the NT Government as being “wounded” in relation to these matters.
The Liquor Commission is independent of the NT Government, and the police are operationally autonomous.
The NT Government, like the police, can express its opinion to the LC, and ask the LC to consider certain arguments, but it can’t direct it as to how it must act.
Similarly, the NTG has guaranteed autonomy in operational matters to the NT Police.
Therefore Robyn Lambley MLA and others are barking up the wrong tree when they insist that Gunner and the NT Government are responsible for the police submission and the LC decisions around the Masters Games liquor licence application.


Police want parents to stop youth crime
Evelyne, you forget that half the adults of Alice work under contracts that forbid them from speaking publicly.
Others fear the repercussions to their employment, business prospects or social acceptance if they speak up and are seen as being trouble makers, unconventional or damaging to certain vested interests.
Their only recourse is to use nom de plumes, or remain completely silent.


Torrent of toxic Facebook posts after Mall melee
Russell Guy (Posted below on July 14, 2018 at 2:07 pm), as you and Sue Fielding (Posted below on July 14, 2018 at 8:46 am) both posit, “generational trauma, racism, alcohol abuse and domestic violence [are] some of the reasons for anti-social behavior among the young people responsible [for much crime and disturbance in our town]”.
What you and many others fail to recognise is that Chief Minister Michael Gunner, Territory Families Minister Dale Wakefield, and most other NT Cabinet members share this analysis. They are collectively taking serious steps to address these problems as quickly as possible.
They are doing this via several important measures, including by working in partnerships with Aboriginal community groups, organisations and remote communities to establish and support new out of home care and rehabilitation services; designing and building new therapeutic and educational rehabilitation institutions; as well as by assisting Alice Springs and other regional centres to develop positive directions and strategies.
As you observe, “Anger and frustration are two of the motivational issues, [as well as] mindless vandalism, which is existential for many kids”. However, anger, frustration and mindless vandalism, when permitted to flourish during the child’s development phases, can themselves become a driving habitual mode of operation and subconscious rationale for living.
These ingrained compulsions may be so strong that they become a huge obstacle to rehabilitation, and a powerful force undermining workers’ attempts to undertake generalised prevention strategies and early interventions with other young people who may be shaping up to replicate the patterns set by the dominant role models in their peer groups.
It is ignorant and patronising to suggest that [the politicians] are not completely aware of the need for investing “in healing, strengthening and skilling up young people”, and that they are not committed to achieving this as soon as possible.
The Chief Minister is providing strong support for both a national Aboriginal art gallery, and a national Indigenous cultural centre, in Alice Springs. He is also funding extra development of regional art centre facilities and staff accommodation in remote communities to help attract international tourists to spend time in Central Australia.
He is doing this to help provide direction for the town and region, responding to the requests by Indigenous leaders over many years.
His vision will extend the tourist season to year round activities, as these facilities will be air-conditioned and enable comfortable extended holiday breaks for Asian, European and North American visitors during the northern winter.
Trevor Shiell has some fine ideas, but he fails to see that the art gallery needs to be at the heart of the town, where it will maximise involvement not only of tourists, but also of townspeople on a daily basis, particularly local Aboriginal people, via jobs, training, social and cultural activities, and family events. A place to be very proud of, in a town that is providing futures for our youth, including Aboriginal youth.


Turn rock-throwing into backflips: how community can help
Nice exposition Rainer. Some very useful ideas and analysis there.
However, in relation to your advocacy for volunteer based programmes, such as on bus runs, night patrols or supervision of activities: I believe that it would be a grave error to make assumptions about the practicalities of these proposals.
Recent experience indicates that Alice does not have a reliable supply of such volunteers.
The midnight basketball came a cropper a few years back because of this factor.
The Uniting Church’s Meeting Place is not open very often for the same reason.
All the main existing youth spaces have appealed for volunteers at times, without much response.
A proposal to run Saturday night football for youth during the last Christmas holiday period failed for the same reason.
If a bus run or patrol is to operate through the night, I believe that it must be staffed by professionally trained, paid workers.
On the buses, a small core section of the client group are not easy to handle, even for the best professionals. Playing mind games with the driver becomes an integral part of their night’s fun. Chopping and changing explanations about what their problems and needs are, contradictory requests about where to go, and, in some cases, manufacturing reasons for not going being able to go home, are all part of the challenging behaviours displayed by some of the very alienated clients.
Threatening drivers and other staff may be a regular way for some to get extra attention. These rebellions sometimes become contagious within the cohort.
Your point about the need to employ workers who are fully cognizant of trauma informed theory and practice is, I believe, extremely relevant in this type of work.
For some young people, simply staying up all night and on the streets is their major act of defiance. They get a sense of achievement and success in their rebellion, including strong peer recognition, by this simple act.
The Department of Children and Families’ old YSOS unit (Youth Street Outreach Service) was very effective in dealing with these young people and their very difficult habits, before it was so tragically shut down by the Robyn Lambley/Terry Mills/Adam Giles budget cuts of 2012/13.
At the time, Giles said this service was no longer needed, because it was not dealing with a lot of clients.
Predictably, after its disbanding, problems associated with youth out at night rose inexorably, until things returned to the levels that had been occurring ten years ago, just before the YSOS was started.
It would now be very useful to find the people who worked on the YSOS, and get their views about what worked and why.


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