BrownPower: Finally Some Innovative Thinking From The Coal Industry

BrownPower - Accredited Coal-Fired Energy

Finally! Some innovation from the traditional energy industry.

During the recent kerfuffle about the Approved Solar Retailer scheme, I had an epiphany.

It dawned on me that the ‘new energy’ media landscape in Australia has become a victim of the ‘filter bubble’ culture – and is, in 2019, horribly lopsided. To be specific, scrolling through the news feeds there is very little coverage of what the other side of the energy industry are up to. Rather narcissistically the ‘Clean Energy’ industry only ever publish news about low emissions technology, blatantly ignoring any innovation from ‘the other side’.

Well, today at the SolarQuotes blog is a very special day. Today we will start to fearlessly and without favour shine a light on innovations from the traditional energy industry, alongside our usual renewable coverage.

To kick off this new, unbiased era, I want to promote a scheme announced by the Minerals Council last week. Whilst many reading this might disagree with its intent, I don’t think anyone can argue that it isn’t innovative way to get bills down for people willing to partake. Personally I applaud lateral thinking where ever I see it.

Introducing BrownPower

BrownPower is a joint initiative of the Federal Government and Australian mining industries to provide an accreditation program for fossil fuel energy.

When a consumer chooses to buy a BrownPower product from an energy retailer, a discount will be applied to their electricity bill that comes from money that would otherwise be spent on green energy.  The scheme is designed to reward consumers for choosing reliable energy over intermittent and unreliable renewables.

The new scheme will be complimentary to the development of renewable energy because it:

  • Facilitates construction of new fossil fuel generators across Australia.
  • Encourages growth in consumer demand for reliable fossil fuel energy, which provides the grid stability renewables rely upon.
  • Smooths the decline in greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity generation to levels that are consistent with health and safety.

How Does BrownPower Work?

By purchasing BrownPower, households and businesses commit their BrownPower providers to purchasing the equivalent amount of electricity from accredited fossil fuel energy generators, which generate electricity from natural geological sources such as coal, natural gas, oil, tar, and peat1.

By purchasing BrownPower, customers are helping support the fossil fuel energy sector in Australia over and above the support provided through the Wholesale Electricity Market.  ​

How Much Will BrownPower Save?

BrownPower costs less than standard electricity because it is mostly generated from older existing infrastructure that has been servicing the grid for many decades.  As more old fossil fuel generating capacity becomes fully paid off, the lower costs will become.  The longer these fossil fuel generators stay in service the greater the savings will be.

By participating in a BrownPower scheme households generate Fossil Fuel Underwriting Certificates.  They can keep these certificates for themselves, but if they give them to their electricity retailer they will be guaranteed the best possible price.  At the moment the price of Fossil Fuel Underwriting Certificates, or FFUCSs, is set the same as renewable Large-scale Generation Certificates or LGCs.  Currently, for every FFUC they give, households will save $35 on their electricity bills.

Each FFUC represents burning one gigajoule of fossil fuel, which generates approximately 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity – so participating in a 100% BrownPower scheme will lower electricity bills by around 3.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.  If a household gives the maximum amount of FFUCs possible it will lower their electricity bills by 10-15%.

BrownPower Funding

The funding from the BrownPower scheme will come from the sale of LGCs.  This revenue previously would have gone to large-scale solar power and wind farms based upon how many megawatt-hours of renewable electricity they produced, but according to Australia’s Minister for Energy, Angus Taylor, at the BrownPower launch on Friday:

“Renewables have been subsidized in this country for 18 years now.  That’s enough time to go from infancy to voting age.  Australia is the land of the fair go, but the other side of that is you also have to do your fair share.  And it’s time for renewables to do their fair share and pull their weight without subsidies.”

 

“Young people like renewable energy.  It’s a young technology.  And in this country we’ve always had the tradition that the young do their bit to help support the elderly.  Coal generation in Australia is over 100 years old.  Many of the nation’s highly reliable coal power plants are over 40 years old.  Renewable energy has the advantages of youth, massive quantities of overseas research, and huge amounts of investment.  It is blatantly unfair for renewable energy not to share some of the burden of maintaining Australia’s fleet of reliable fossil fuel generators.  For this reason we are proud to announce that the Coalition’s Reliability Levy2 on renewable energy shall finally achieve equality in the Australian electricity sector.”

Energy Minister Angus Taylor

The Minister for Energy, Angus Taylor, preparing for the Federal election. (Image: Goulburn Post)

A Reasonable Approach To Climate Change

The Minister denied the BrownPower scheme would subsidize greenhouse gas emissions and reiterated it was based on energy produced from burning fossil fuels and not carbon dioxide released.  When pressed on the dangers of climate change the Minister said:

“There is a strong scientific consensus in favour of the existence of biological evolution.  Darwin first proposed it in the Origin of Species 160 years ago.  For longer than that time humans have been contributing significant amounts to the natural release of carbon dioxide.  For over 200 years now.  This has been more than enough time for humans to have become adapted to ever increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  While the Morrison Government fully agrees on the need to act on climate change, the only safe and prudent course of action is to slowly reduce emissions over a period of hundreds of years to allow humans to gradually adapt back to lower levels of carbon dioxide.”

 

“We will not allow ecoterrorists driven by an ideological agenda to endanger our lives and those of our children by recklessly engaging in an unsafe rush to lower carbon dioxide levels and we will put in place the proper incentives to prevent this.  Otherwise, who knows what mutations could result?”

A Collaborative Effort

BrownPower was developed by the Morrison Government engaging in a collaborative process with industry bodies that included:

  • Queensland United Electrical Energy Forum
  • Fossil Alliance Against Renewable Targets and Subsidies
  • Coal Renewal Association Partners
  • Save Historical Ignition Technology
  • World Association for No Kilowatt Emission Reductions
  • Support Combustive Recycling Of Tertiary Underground Minerals

BrownPower Around The World

In addition to being introduced Australia-wide, the Morrison Government is currently in talks with Poland, Russia, and the US Trump Administration on the international adoption of BrownPower certificates.  The Energy Minister said:

“We are currently at work creating a international partnership that will allow BrownPower certificates to be internationally traded, initially between four countries, but our ultimate goal is to FFUC the world.”

Footnotes

  1. Peat deposits must be at least 100 years old to qualify for the scheme.
  2. Appears identical to the Coalition’s previously proposed Fresh Air Tax.
About Finn Peacock

I'm a Chartered Electrical Engineer, Solar and Energy Efficiency nut, dad, and founder of SolarQuotes.com.au. My last "real job" was working for the CSIRO in their renewable energy division.

Comments

  1. Daniel Debreceny says

    Hahahahahaha.

    Entertainment, much appreciated.

    In other news …. ScoMo announces this policy as part of Liberal Election Promises …

  2. And not a single FFUC was given. Seriously, I find the majority of people I speak to dont even read their bills let alone try to find out about cheaper rates.

  3. Timothy O'Leary says

    Article dated April 1st… just a thought

  4. Great! Where do I sign? How can I trumpet to the world that I really do give a FFUC?

  5. Gregory Ferrett says

    So – great effort for 1 April. Thanks for the chuckle, Finn

  6. This BrownPower sounds quite revolutionary. I also think the Ministers caution to adapting to lower levels of atmospheric Co2 is a wise decision. I feel if this doesn’t happen and we foolishly rapidly reduce emissions, there’s a very real chance of a Zombie Apocalypse.

  7. This really sounds like a rushed initiative. Surely if it was about “Brown Power” they would have considered the previously proposed “Sustainable Solutions Household Initiative Tariff” (SSHIT). Then we might be more convinced that the govt would use Brown Power to show they actually gave a SSHIT or two in the interests of combating climate change. Happy April 01 to SQ!

  8. The ultimate goal to FFUC the world! Love the effort great read. Think you messed up Google’s algorithm given it came up beside 5 articles seriously spruking the coal industry.

  9. Denis Cartledge says

    Don’t we already have an oversupply of Brown Power? And wouldn’t that be thoroughly mixed in with and be unable to separate out from that same source, an almost endless supply of hot gas generated power?

    Isn’t the May Election aimed at eliminating those sources?

  10. Gerry Maynes says

    Love the photo of Angus with a group of flat earth climate denier voters.

    Great article especially with the Budget about to be released. Look for the Brown Power announcements in the analyses.

    Gerry

  11. Daniel Debreceny says

    What, no Craig Kelly photos?

    Or would that be too close to the truth?

  12. Allen Burrows says

    This is either funny or sad or both, whilst satire is good fun, this scheme should be denounced immediately. Supporting the pollution of the Biosphere is no longer acceptable, In London 700 people have been arrested, yes been man handled and put in prison because they are against further pollution, Islands are being drowned and peoples all over the world are suffering horrendous deaths and injuries and loss of homes and property because of climate change which is directly related to man made pollution. I like a good laugh, but this article does not denounce this program and in my humble opinion, I think it should

  13. Des Scahill says

    I am in a state of shock. I used to think there was no truth at all to the rumour that Finn was directly descended from Cyani de Osis, a Transylvanian woman long suspected of being the secret founder of the European based Brown C Power movement, back in 1917. World attention was distracted by the Russian Revolution and WWI at the time, so nobody even noticed it was being formed, let alone the use of the letter ‘C’ in honour of its founder.

    But he’s slipped up BIG- time in this post. Did the reader notice the excessive use of blue in the heading graphic of this post? Or that Angus Taylor is wearing a totally blue outfit, all the while smirking as Finn takes his photo? And that nearly all the links within the website are coloured ‘brown’.

    Blue is of course the colour that the skin of victims of ‘cyanosis’ changes to, when they are about to take their last gasp of oxygen.

    That brown pipe-like object sticking up from the middle of the sheep in the photo is yet another clue. Looks suspiciously like a breathing tube to me. Is Ronald lying there being trampled to death by the sheep because he threatened to expose your true aims? Did you and Angus give him the breathing tube, not as an act of kindness but merely to prolong his misery?

    Whose side are you really on Finn? Time to come clean mate.

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