Shane Rattenbury: The Federal Government Is Renewable Energy’s Problem

Shane Rattenbury on renewable energy and the Federal Government

State energy ministers can rightly claim that they have acted well in advance of the Federal Government. But there remain worrying divisions between the states that could turn into faultlines.

Last week’s Smart Energy Council Energy Ministers’ Summit (archived here) provided plenty of scope for unity, but agreement wasn’t quite as solid as it could be.

(Caveat: there’s a reason relatively few voices dominate this story. Only three ministers were on hand for the Q&A session following their prepared statements. NSW and Victoria sent prepared videos by Matt Keane and Lily D’Ambrosio respectively; and South Australia’s minister spoke in person but couldn’t hang around. Federal minister Angus Taylor didn’t even send a prepared video.)

It’s a time when solidarity is vital. ACT Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury highlighted the threats that confront renewable energy’s immediate future in Australia: the Federal Government’s actions, its support for gas, and a market that offers an apparent “last window” for gas investment.

Here’s what he had to say about gas:

“It does seem from the work that’s coming through that there’s a window, about the next eight years or so, where gas has the potential to be very profitable. We’re very concerned about that – the way the government is constructing its post-COVID committee and the agenda around that, it does seem gas is going to get a real push.

 

“Once people have made the investments, they will fight like hell to protect that investment.”

And that, Rattenbury said, puts gas interests in the position of becoming “another vested interest” with the power to drive policy in this country.

‘They Don’t Want To Change’

On federal indifference to greening Australia’s electricity supply, Rattenbury was asked what was keeping emission reductions from being at the centre of energy policy.

“Three-word answer: the Federal Government.

 

“They just don’t want to change, they would not put this into the national electricity objectives.”

Nothing gets onto the national agenda if Angus Taylor doesn’t want it there, he added.

And there, at least, he had in-person support from Queensland’s Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, Anthony Lynham.

“A barrier has been, as my colleagues have alluded to, the barrier has been the Federal Government. We’d dearly love to have a Federal Government come with the states on our journey towards renewable energy.

 

“We hope we can convince the Federal Government: This is the goal of our entire nation. Come with us on the journey to renewable energy. Don’t be a barrier to renewable energy investment.”

As the cool kids say, Lynham “said the quiet bit out loud”: while Malcolm Turnbull was leader, there was (admittedly protracted) negotiation over the NEG.

“My biggest regret is that I did come into a period where Malcolm Turnbull was just removed, and the Federal Government completely changed.

 

“It became very difficult to engage.”

Lynham conceded it’s possible that the states might have got the Federal Government back on board, but:

“Some of the messaging makes it difficult to see that they have a clear vision for the nation’s future when it comes to renewable energy.”

While touting his own state’s success in achieving 100% renewable energy, and its plan supported by the Marinus Link cable to the mainland, Tasmania’s Guy Barnett mounted a defence of Angus Taylor, saying the Federal Government was showing leadership through support for such activities.

While the state ministers might have run way ahead of the Federal Government in terms of renewables in both policy and deployment, it’s not hard to spot the party lines splits – with the exception of Matt Keane, Liberal states are the most forgiving of the Federal Government (and Keane is, after all, without the burden of covering mining like his Queensland, WA and SA peers are – so defending his state’s support for unconventional gas is someone else’s problem).

Gas And Hydrogen

Everybody agreed with Rattenbury and Lynham that renewables have to displace gas if Australia is meet its fair share of global emissions reduction – but Western Australia’s Minister for Mines and Petroleum; Energy; Industrial Relations Bill Johnston (I suppose that’s a legitimate use of semicolons) made it clear that whatever happens onshore, gas export is sacrosanct.

“When we have discussions about global energy flow, it has to be done from the point of view of emerging countries’ rights to make their own decisions”, he said.

 

“Most gas that’s produced in WA is exported,” he said, because “there’s a customer that wants that gas.”

The gas will always be produced somewhere until there’s no more demand, he stated.

Let’s hope the move towards hydrogen works as well as its advocates (from Chief Scientist Alan Finkel down) believe it will, because since hydrogen is exportable, WA will support that development.

To be fair, nearly everybody wants in on the hydrogen hustle: Johnston, Queensland’s Lynham, South Australia’s Dan van Holst Pellakaan, and Tasmania’s Guy Barnett all agree that the state they represent has the chance to lead the country in gas production!

Still, having enough interest for competition has to be a good sign in what’s so often a dismal political landscape.

Rattenbury said the ACT would be in the lead as a consumer, were it not for the COVID-19 crisis: its hydrogen-powered buses are with Hyundai in Sydney, but the international experts who were going to come from America to help get the fuelling station built couldn’t travel.

About Richard Chirgwin

Richard Chirgwin is a journalist with more than 30 years' experience covering a wide range of technology topics, including electronics, telecommunications, computing and science.

Comments

  1. Ian Thompson says

    As Tony Abbot (as Prime Minister) has stated: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-01/tony-abbott-says-he-has-no-objection-to-nuclear-energy/5931252

    “But don’t expect a Government subsidy.

    “If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen because it’s economically feasible, not because the Government runs around offering a subsidy.”

    He was talking about Nuclear Power – which is another proven way to make very low CO2/CH4 emissions.

    Why would you consider Renewables any differently – shouldn’t these be capable of standing up on their own demonstrated benefits? Blaming “vested interests” just seems an excuse – even Natural Gas had to “get up” in face of Coal opposition – and SA has huge NG capacity, and no Coal.

    (Ronald has already pointed out that Rooftop PV will NEVER recover the “true” cost of deployment in a couple of States in Australia – and that this situation is only going to become more widespread as FiT and Tariff levels decrease in response to increased proliferation – I am considering those power sources with large externality costs, e.g. coal, NG, have been eliminated from the mix)

    • Geoff Miell says

      Ian Thompson,
      You state:
      “He was talking about Nuclear Power – which is another proven way to make very low CO2/CH4 emissions.”

      But Ian, are nuclear fission generation technologies:

      1. Timely?
      I don’t think so, going by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA’s) own “Project Management in Nuclear Power Plant Construction: Guidelines and Experience” document, published in 2012.
      Figure 8 shows typical durations for large nuclear power plant projects:
      a) 5 years for pre-construction, including feasibility study (12 months), pre-construction design and procurement, and site preparation;
      b) 5.3 years (64 months) for project implementation, including excavation (12 months), construction & commissioning (52 months).
      See: https://www.iaea.org/publications/8759/project-management-in-nuclear-power-plant-construction-guidelines-and-experience

      More than a decade away for larger scale nuclear power plants is just too late, IMO.

      Where are the so-called “factory built” small modular reactors (SMRs) that are demonstrating/validating the promises that nuclear proponents are offering? I don’t see any.

      Renewables are demonstrating they are far quicker to plan, construct and be operational, compared with nuclear.

      2. Affordable?
      I don’t think so. Even nuclear experienced countries like France (Flamanville-3), UK (Hinkley Point C-1&2), USA (Vogtle-3) and Finland (Olkiluoto 3) just don’t seem to be getting it right. How do you think an inexperienced nuclear power country like Australia would go?
      See: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/flamanville

      3. Long-term sustainable?
      I don’t think so. Fissile U-235 and fertile U-238 (transfigured to fissile Pu-239) & Th-232 (transfigured to fissile U-233) are finite resources. Where are the long-term nuclear fuel supplies coming from to sustain any ramp-up in new demand for fissile fuels? Known high-grade uranium ores at current rate of consumption will be depleted by around the end of this century. The thorium fuel cycle is not yet established. Where are the technologies that have demonstrated that uranium can be extracted from seawater affordably at large-scale? No nuclear fuel = no nuclear power.
      See my Submission #096: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Environment_and_Energy/Nuclearenergy/Submissions

      4. Safe?
      I don’t think so. Where are the long-term storage solutions to safely store nuclear waste for tens of thousands of years? I don’t see any.

      Meanwhile, climatologist Professor Will Steffen told the IPCN Commissioners at Day 2 (Jul 3) of the IPCN Vickery Extension Project public hearings (transcript page 27):

      “…we come to the conclusion that, already, on the books, we have far more reserves of fossil fuels that are under development or being used now, coal, oil and gas, than the budget allows, so that means, obviously, we have to get existing fossil fuel facilities phased out ASAP. The obvious conclusion from that is you cannot open up any new facilities or extensions of existing facilities. They will put the nail in the coffin for the upper Paris target really fast. So if we want to give our children and grandchildren even just a chance to have a planet they can live on, we have to get emissions down really fast by 50 per cent by 2030.”
      See: https://www.ipcn.nsw.gov.au/resources/pac/media/files/pac/transcripts-and-material/2020/vickery/200703-vickery-extension-project–public-hearing-day-2-transcript.pdf

      Ian, where’s your evidence that new nuclear power technologies can assist in providing timely, affordable, long-term sustainable, safe low/zero GHG emissions solutions?

      Ian, do you subscribe to Tony Abbott’s views on climate change? Do you agree with Tony Abbott’s statement: “The climate change argument is absolute crap…”?
      https://www.skepticalscience.com/skeptic_Tony_Abbott.htm

    • Ian Thompson says

      Hi Geoffrey

      I was kind of expecting you to trot out the same tired old missives.

      You have entirely missed my point – I was writing about the fact that renewables should be able to “get up”, without ongoing Government subsidy – if they are in fact “cheaper” than the undesirable alternatives.
      THAT was my reference to Tony Abbott’s much earlier comments – quite independent of his views on climate change (I, in fact, DO want us to move away from COAL, CH4).

      Perhaps you are blinded by a misplaced pious belief system?

      To answer your questions:

      1. Quite possibly timely – I’m not seeing a MASSIVE rate of uptake of your favourite wind, PV, Hydro, and battery solutions. SMR’s ARE well into the development/demonstration cycle – you need to look more with an open mind – see China, Canada. There has been a large reduction of renewables investment in Europe, due to uncertainty and the risk of being curtailed (voltage rise, grid instability). The longer we wait, the longer it will take.

      2. Yes, likely affordable – if allowed on a level playing field…! Please don’t be fooled by comparing installed power figures – we need ENERGY as well, and not only around lunch time in mid-summer. USA experience with 18-year old reactors, is that they operate with availabilites around 95%+, and I’ve even seen 101%.

      3. I know you are mistaken – here IS NOT a sustainability issue – you choose to ignore the evidence (Dr Jim Green responded to you about your misunderstanding of this issue previously).

      4. I wasn’t writing about nuclear per se – but since you raise the issue, yes, nuclear has demonstrated an order of magnitude lower fatalities per GWhr than, for example PV. About half that for wind. Hydro is not as safe.

      I’ve presented my evidence in previous posts. Please don’t act like Trump, by continuing to re-iterate incorrect or incomplete “evidence” in support of your own world view.

      I respect your belief system – but just happen to be more of a pragmatist.

      • Geoff Miell says

        Ian Thompson,
        You state:
        “You have entirely missed my point – I was writing about the fact that renewables should be able to “get up”, without ongoing Government subsidy – if they are in fact “cheaper” than the undesirable alternatives.”

        Not at all. Have you seen ANU Professor Andrew Blakers piece published on May 29? Or is that inconvenient for your narrative for promoting nuclear, Ian?
        See: https://theconversation.com/really-australia-its-not-that-hard-10-reasons-why-renewable-energy-is-the-future-130459

        I think Blakers addresses your concerns that “renewables should be able to “get up””.

        You state:
        “I’m not seeing a MASSIVE rate of uptake of your favourite wind, PV, Hydro, and battery solutions.”

        What’s you definition of “MASSIVE”, Ian? I’d suggest you are not looking hard enough, eh Ian?
        See: https://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/resources/resources-hub/clean-energy-australia-report
        Also see: https://ourworldindata.org/renewable-energy

        You then state:
        “SMR’s ARE well into the development/demonstration cycle – you need to look more with an open mind – see China, Canada.”

        I don’t see you providing any links/references – please be specific to at least attempt to prove your assertion. Where, specifically,Ian? Please nominate the specific units/projects so we can all know what you are talking about – is that too hard to ask, Ian? When did these supposed so-called “factory built” SMRs become operational? How long did it take to plan/design/construct/commission? How much did they cost? How much energy have they produced so far? I’m not aware of any so-called “factory built” SMRs even having certification yet. What are you referring to, Ian? Or are you just ‘hand waving’… again?

        I don’t see you addressing the timeliness of new nuclear – all you seem to say is: “Quite possibly timely”, and then proceed to sneer at renewables. Timely, how?

        You then state:
        “2. Yes, likely affordable – if allowed on a level playing field…!”

        We’ve been through this, again, and again, and again, Ian. Are you saying Lazard and CSIRO/AEMO (and others) have it all wrong? What’s your evidence, Ian. I only see more ‘hand waving’ from you… again! For the umpteenth time, what’s your compelling evidence (i.e. credible comparative numbers) for your assertion that nuclear is “likely affordable”, Ian?
        See: https://www.lazard.com/perspective/lcoe2019
        Also: https://reneweconomy.com.au/new-csiro-aemo-study-confirms-wind-solar-and-storage-beat-coal-gas-and-nuclear-57530/

        You state:
        “…here IS NOT a sustainability issue – you choose to ignore the evidence (Dr Jim Green responded to you about your misunderstanding of this issue previously).”

        Links please to the specific Dr Jim Green “evidence” to which you refer. There’s currently a glut of uranium ores, like there’s currently a glut of oil and gas. This is short term only (probably next few years for oil and gas). The evidence I see is the long-term situation is for fuel scarcity, for high-grade uranium ores, for petroleum oil, and for fossil gas in the decades to come. I’ve already given you a link to my Submission in my previous comment above. But I guess you just don’t want to know, eh Ian? It seems to me the evidence I’ve presented to you on numerous occasions is just inconvenient for your narrative to promote nuclear.
        See also my Submissions #215, #215a, #215b: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/inquiries/Pages/inquiry-details.aspx?pk=2542#tab-submissions

        You haven’t addressed: Where are the long-term storage solutions to safely store nuclear waste for tens of thousands of years? I don’t see any.
        Is that a problem for many future generations to deal with?

        I don’t see any “evidence” (or links) from you in your latest missive, or in many previous exchanges attempting to promote more nuclear (and fossil gas). All I see is ‘hand waving’. Who’s being like Trump?

        • Ian Thompson says

          Geoffrey Miell

          In my first comment, I was hardly promoting nuclear – more quoting a funding-related statement made by a former Prime Minister – which “just happened to be” about nuclear power. But, it could apply elsewhere.

          Shane’s topic of this blog is: “The Federal Government Is Renewable Energy’s Problem”. So – I am assuming there IS a problem.

          Just to help get you back on point – my comment was that Renewables, after considerable subsidization, should now be capable of responding to normal Market Dynamics. I see NT is about to subsidize home batteries to a huge extent – but do recognize that sometimes it is necessary to stimulate “economies of scale”, in order to assist a technology to become financially viable. Please don’t bother to argue about subsidy of other technologies, as that was not my point, and I’ll get to that now.

          I feel ALL technologies should deal with Financial, Societal, and Environmental needs – the “triple bottom line”.
          By Societal needs, I of course think for reliability and continuity of power supply. We need Power, and Energy – and I consider many aspects of these are “conveniently overlooked” by many commentators.

          As part of the Financial aspect, I feel the cost of Externalities should also be included. Think COAL.

          So – while I feel it is a little “rich” to blame the Federal Government for everything that goes wrong – I do feel we should have a carbon tax.
          I previously felt STC’s where de facto for a carbon tax, but now feel they really represent an investment opportunity for the coal companies.
          By this I mean, we may recover our personal stake in a rooftop PV system within 5 years with say 25% of self-use, for example. However, the purchasers of STC’s can buy our 75% FiT, and on-sell it with a considerable mark-up – thereby recovering their investment (the purchase of our STC’s), in HALF the time (at least, here in the West, 26c tariff, 7c FiT).

          You should be able to do the numbers – or get Prof Blakers to do them?
          You can also look up Dr Jim Green’s response to you re- nuclear fuel availability – it was in one of these blogs.

          • Geoff Miell says

            Ian Thompson,
            You begin with:
            “In my first comment, I was hardly promoting nuclear … which “just happened to be” about nuclear power.”

            I think (as per usual) you are being disingenuous, Ian. My observations of your previous comments is of a long history at this blog in many threads (at least) of promoting more nuclear (and gas). IMO, your comments above are consistent with your ongoing narrative to promote nuclear and denigrate/dismiss renewables.
            See examples of your promotion of nuclear: https://www.solarquotes.com.au/blog/powering-finland-nuclear-renewables/

            You then say:
            “Shane’s topic of this blog is: “The Federal Government Is Renewable Energy’s Problem”. So – I am assuming there IS a problem.”

            In my comment above I refer to Professor Will Steffen’s presentation to the IPCN and quote some of his speech. If what Steffen speaks about in his presentation and Expert Report to the IPCN (and by many other climate scientists) is not a grave problem for humanity and human civilisation, then I don’t know what is.
            See: https://www.ipcn.nsw.gov.au/resources/pac/media/files/pac/projects/2020/03/vickery-extension-project/comments/expert-submissions-provided-on-behalf-of-edo-nsw/200714-w-steffen-expert-advice.pdf
            Also: https://www.ipcn.nsw.gov.au/resources/pac/media/files/pac/projects/2020/03/vickery-extension-project/comments/expert-submissions-provided-on-behalf-of-edo-nsw/200714-w-steffen-supplementary-expert-advice.pdf

            Based on numerous comments I’ve observed in this blog by you, I suspect you are a climate science denier. I’ve challenged you a few times, and every time you deflect the challenge without ever confirming or denying. Why do you say: “I am assuming there IS a problem”? I’d say there is NO ASSUMING – the scientific evidence I see is so overwhelming that humanity is heading for catastrophe within this century if we don’t rapidly reduce human-induced GHG emissions within this decade.

            You state:
            “By Societal needs, I of course think for reliability and continuity of power supply. We need Power, and Energy…”

            Agreed – nothing happens without energy. But we also need to have a habitable planet to continue to live on. The science says our current GHG emissions trajectory is heading towards a 3 to 4°C mean global temperature rise (above pre-industrial age) by 2100. That means social chaos to civilisation collapse and a massive reduction in habitable area on planet Earth and human population to less than one billion (some say maybe no more than 500 million). And the science is saying if we don’t drastically cut our human-induced GHG emissions by 50% by 2030, we will be ‘locked-in’ to more than 2°C rise (perhaps as early as 2045), which likely activates positive feedback climate tipping points.
            See my Submission, page 4: https://www.ipcn.nsw.gov.au/resources/pac/media/files/pac/project-submissions/2020/03/narrabri-gas-project/20200810t115138/submissiongeoffrey_miellssd6456narrabri_csg_project.pdf
            Also: https://www.ipcn.nsw.gov.au/resources/pac/media/files/pac/projects/2020/03/narrabri-gas-project/correspondence/edo/sackett-narrabri-gas-project-ipc-advice-revised_final.pdf

            So the situation I see is a matter of survival – survival of human civilisation (and perhaps even survival of the the human species) on this planet in the coming decades, all dependent on the GHG emissions path we/humanity take in this decade (i.e. the 2020s).

            Did Britain quibble about the cost of fighting against the axis powers during WW2 when it was facing annihilation? It did what it had to do with the resources it had at the time to win the day and worry about the cost later. Much the same is happening now with dealing with the COVID-19 threat.

            By their actions, many governments still don’t appear to see the threat of dangerous climate change, or are in denial.

            This is what Dr Jim Green stated in reply to me, on 20 Oct 2019:
            “I agree with your statement that: “A nuclear power ‘renaissance’ (that the nuclear power boosters are trying to promote) CANNOT BE SUSTAINED FOR LONG as there are apparently inadequate known lower-cost global uranium fuel supplies remaining.””

            And Dr Green finishes with:
            “…just making the point that uranium supply constraints aren’t go to be an issue for many decades to come, perhaps centuries. Unless there is a nuclear renaissance – which seems incredibly unlikely.”
            See: https://www.solarquotes.com.au/blog/powering-finland-nuclear-renewables/#comment-513202

            So, I read that to mean a so-called ‘nuclear renaissance’ would be fuel-constrained. Fission fuel costs will inevitably increase.

            I don’t see where Dr Green fundamentally disagrees with me, only on nuance. As I said to Dr Green: It’s not a question of quantity, but of energy (and finance) – increasing energy (& financial) penalties for reprocessing spent fuel or utilising unconventional resources – otherwise (I would suggest) it would already be common practice.

            So again Ian, please show me where FINITE nuclear fuel “IS NOT a sustainability issue” for a so-called ‘nuclear renaissance’?

        • Ian Thompson says

          I’ll have to spell it out, Geoffrey

          “So, I am assuming there IS a problem”, was a direct response to the TITLE of the blog – the “problem” was stated to be about RENEWABLES – nothing at all to do with the separate although related issue of climate change. I agree with most of your projections for the future if we do nothing – just happen to think you are a little narrow-minded or paranoid or hysterical about several issues.

          Just to set the record straight – I AM NOT a climate change denier – my “take” is that you are prepared to throw the baby out with the bath water.

          Who said anything about nuclear being an INFINITE source of power? Not me. Although, I do understand nuclear fuel can be extracted from sea water – at a cost, but a relative low one – and that this source would last for thousands of years. GenIV reactors promise to burn nuclear waste from existing nuclear stations to generate power – and in so doing compact the waste products to a mere fraction of the existing stockpiles – thereby dealing with an existing growing problem of on-site storage. I happen to think you are grossly over-stating the issue of waste storage – and are therefore part of the problem for lowering the cost of new plant.

          My thoughts are that we should NOT STOP investigating and developing and innovating new viable sources of power – especially those that are largely proven – rather than hitching our wagon to just wind and PV – who knows what the future may bring? Nuclear is just 1 of these, and research IS going on around the world. It generates MASSIVE amounts of both power and energy, while saving Millions of lives compared to staying with coal. If you see this as “promoting” rather than a mere statement of fact, then so be it.

          • Geoff Miell says

            Ian Thompson,

            You claim to be “more of a pragmatist”. I’d suggest you are more of a fantasist, relying on the “promise” of technologies that don’t yet physically exist in reality, and evidently won’t be deployed at scale in the time-frame needed (i.e. within this decade – 2020s) to effectively mitigate escalating dangerous climate change. Humanity cannot now afford that luxury – humanity needs to utilise the zero/low-GHG emissions technologies that are demonstrably available now, like solar and wind, to deploy rapidly and at large-scale, or civilisation will likely collapse and billions of people will suffer/die due to an increasingly more hostile climate within this century. I’d suggest you are apparently risking human civilisation, human lives and livelihoods on the “promise” of technologies that don’t yet exist, don’t demonstrate the claims being made and may never exist at scale. IMO, that’s extremely foolhardy and unacceptable.

            I’d suggest nuclear fission technologies will only be a niche area in future, as it’s required for sourcing fissile material for nuclear weapons.

            You ask:
            “…who knows what the future may bring?”

            The science is clear: Get human-induced GHG emissions down by 50% by 2030, and down to zero by 2040, and we may just keep mean global warming to around 2°C above pre-industrial age. Failure to do so is not an option as there is no planet B.

            Meanwhile, high temperature records keep getting broken – Monday, Death Valley National Park, California recorded 130°F (54.4°C). The science I see suggest this is a forewarning of higher temperatures to come soon.
            See: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-53788018

            And the Greenland Ice Sheet seems to have passed the point of no return.
            See: https://cleantechnica.com/2020/08/18/greenland-ice-sheet-melting-passed-the-point-of-no-return/

            I don’t see how highlighting scientific evidence of reality, or the undeniable shortcomings of your favoured nuclear technologies, is being “paranoid” or “hysterical”. Perhaps you don’t like me reminding you – too uncomfortable for you, waking you from your unrealistic fantasy?

  2. Des Scahill says

    What seems overlooked in the ongoing debate between Ian and Geoff are the implications that flow from an ongoing social change that is occurring.

    Some of those changes have been accelerated by COVID-19, others by shifting patterns of personal consumption, or arise out of personal views by individuals as to the extent to which their daily life will be affected by extreme weather events or other ‘climate change’ related causes.

    Switching momentarily to recession impacts, this link here : http://www.epicdash.com/thousands-of-unsold-new-cars-are-being-abandoned-and-left-to-die-in-lots-this-is-insane/ gives some idea of what happened to the world-wide car industry during the recession of 2016.

    But 2020 is NOT the same as 2016. Climate change is now seen as ‘real’ by growing numbers of people world-wide. This 2017 article here: https://www.autodesk.com/redshift/promotional/earth-day-2017/

    is but one example of the kind of responses that forward looking businesses were making at that earlier time.

    Referring to this 2019 Coffs Harbour City Council Report: https://www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/environment/our-coast/Pages/coastal_management.aspx

    ‘ With more than 80% of the State’s population living and working along the eastern seaboard, managing coastline hazards is a difficult but essential task.’

    In a worst-case scenario – which nonetheless is a possibility’ – outlaying a large amount of money to upgrade the grid supply to (say) Coffs Harbour and its surrounds could maybe end up becoming a ‘power supply to nowhere’.

    What I’m implying is that the current political mantra’s about ‘bouncing back’ to business as usual and the implied assumption by nuclear power advocates that demand for electricity will continue to rise indefinitely; fail to recognise the full extent of the many and varied changes that are occurring and the implications of those for future electricity demand.

    It seems likely to me that these changes could include such things as:
    : growing migration away from ‘at risk’ coastal areas which could make some grid upgrades become a ‘stranded asset’ or to remain permanently under-utilized
    : increasing numbers of businesses migrating elsewhere ie will also move to where their customers are.
    : number of overseas tourists remaining significantly depressed for a long period of time
    : increasing trend towards significant degree of self-sufficiency in electricity supply by both firms and people, along with rising public desire for ‘environmentally friendly’ generation sources.

    So I don’t think its a ‘given’ that our national overall electricity demand will quickly revert back to its traditional upward trend once the current recessionary period we are about to enter passes by either. Many households and firms are now accelerating their efforts to reduce both their electricity demand and their dependency on a central grid structure,

    Their reasons for doing so are not always based solely on ‘economics’

    Although there are many forecasts about the extent to which ocean levels will rise eg. 3 cms per year etc etc, (usually expressed in a way that makes this seem of little immediate concern) what actually matters most is what oceanographers refer to as ‘significant wave height’. It is waves and the force with which those hit the foreshore that cause the most actual damage and inland flooding. You can read an introduction to that subject here.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Significant_wave_height

    Obviously, stronger winds (and especially extreme weather events) are a significant influence in regards to that.

    Local councils are increasingly recognising the dangers of climate change. At this stage, only preliminary steps have been taken. One is to advise residents that the council has no legal obligation whatsoever to provide funds so residents can take mitigation steps in regards to their own ocean frontages, and the other was to give some details of the mitigation work that will be done by councils so far as any of their own ocean frontage land ( mostly parks and reserve areas) is concerned.

    • Ian Thompson says

      Hi Des Scahill

      I totally agree with most of what you say – but with respect must once again disagree with a couple of things – namely about there not being ongoing upward trends in electricity demand.

      Again with respect – your views appear to reflect the the “world view” of a relatively minor number of reasonably “well heeled”, Australian early retirees. In my reality, only the well-heeled can afford a “tree-change” to a remote hobby-farm or the like, and would need to be retired to have sufficient resources and free time on their hands to become largely self-sufficient. Other countries have much higher living densities.

      Typically, increasing numbers of the greater proportion of the population need to be housed in flats, apartments, or Project housing, to allow them to have reasonable commute times to work. Older retirees commonly need to relocate back to population centres, for adequate medical support.

      Long gone are the days of the old “quarter acre block”. In Perth, there is a great amount of infill going on – while when 3 new houses replacing 1 older house may not result in the tripling of power demand (due to better insulation, more efficient appliances, etc.), that figure may be not too short of the mark – as most people want all the “mod cons”, and smaller properties necessarily need energy-consuming tumble driers (as there is not space to fit a clothes line). In our case, we bought a large upper-middle level house ~ 40 years ago – and it only had 1 wood fire for heat, and a solar thermal water heater with direct electric boosting. We soon fitted evaporative air conditioning and gas space heaters, and have more recently fitted reverse cycle units. Plus some other mod-cons.

      I think you need to think of two issues, Des:

      1. Why would the emerging upwardly mobile Billions of Chinese and Indians expect any less than the mod-cons of the USA, for example?
      2. Numerous studies show that “quality-of-life” strongly correlates to quantity of energy use. The most affluent countries consume the most energy, and have better medical care, a more comfortable lifestyle, etc. Why would billions of people prefer a lower quality of life (unless forced to do so)?

      Unless we have the predicted population-culling Armageddon – forcing a seriously curtailed life-style, and I hope we don’t, I just cannot visualise the World’s demand for power, and for energy, to do anything but continue to increase rapidly – Australia is an extremely small cog in the scheme of things.

      I am certainly “for” PV and Wind and Pumped Hydro and batteries and strengthened grids, etc., but so far do not see they are being deployed fast enough – for whatever reason. On the “Supply & Demand” widget, I am seeing SA only very, very occasionally generates 1.8 GW of wind power – basically covering their own demand for a short period of time (and even then, generating 0.5 GW from natural gas sources, to export). Tas is the only state that approaches full renewable status – due to their extensive Hydro – but even they import power mostly generated by coal from time-to-time, perhaps due to “fuel” restrictions. And, run some Natural gas.

      No, Des – I am almost as frantic and panicked as Geoffrey (well, perhaps not quite so desperate) – so only hope we don’t put all of our eggs in one basket, to potentially seriously regret that decision when things become too late down the track.

    • Geoff Miell says

      Des Scahill,
      You state:
      “Climate change is now seen as ‘real’ by growing numbers of people world-wide.”

      But are many people really aware of just how serious the climate dangers are and how quickly we need to act to mitigate the worst dangers? I’d suggest not. Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber reportedly said on 24 Sep 2019 (before the Australian bushfire crisis):

      “Based on sober scientific analysis, we are deeply within a climate emergency state but people are not aware of it.”
      See: https://horizon-magazine.eu/article/i-would-people-panic-top-scientist-unveils-equation-showing-world-climate-emergency.html#

      A recent twitter thread on “fear” versus “hope” in climate communications included this:

      “In the end, bright-siding strips away critical analysis. As Ehrenreich says, enforced optimism obstructs the progressive agenda, producing an enforced stupidity. In other words, optimism is conservative, while realism and forthrightness are progressive.”
      See: http://www.climatecodered.org/2020/08/fear-versus-hope-in-climate.html

      I’d suggest cries of “alarmist”, “hysterical”, and/or “desperate” generally reflect a lack of knowledge/understanding of the brutal truth about the existential risks of climate disruption (and the available solutions).

      A lack of knowledge/understanding of the current COVID-19 pandemic is also why the “current political mantra’s about ‘bouncing back’ to business as usual” is still a mainstream view and expectation by many, when all the evidence I see indicates otherwise without an effective and safe vaccine.

      In times like these, what’s apparently missing is brutal honesty. It’s why the Federal Government “just don’t want to change”, why governments keep approving more fossil fuel projects, and GHG emissions keep going up. Will we wake up before it’s too late?

  3. Fred Trevisan says

    Anyone that is installing solar systems is making money for the electricity supply companies which he will never recover. not knowing what I know today a few months ago I installed solar in my house at $4500. now the bills have started to come in from the supplier to find that I am being charged for the total units that I use at 26 cents per unit and then they credit what my system has produced at 7 cents which means that my system is making the supplier 19 cents per unit. Just a rip off. Why?????????????/

  4. Des Scahill says

    I’m surprised you weren’t aware of the info before you signed up Fred?

    Wouldn’t that info have been detailed on at least one of – an attachment to your original quote indicating your potential possible savings? Or in the supply agreement you signed with your electricity distributor? Or as a reference to your distributor’s webpage which gave the details of electricity charges and current FIT rates?

    Anyway, you may be able to ‘renegotiate’ your current agreement, (depending on the terms of the current supply contract you signed up for).

    For the time being you’ll still be getting a significant financial benefit from ‘self-consumption’ – ie, that portion of your solar system output that gets used by you to power appliances etc within your own home. Added to that will be any additional 7 cents FIT you gain for any ‘unused’ solar output production that ends up gets exported to the grid.

    If your distributor is charging you 26 cents, then a ‘fair’ FIT rate is roundabout 50% of that imo. Don’t forget that your distributor cant ‘store’ the electricity you send him, he has to ‘sell’ it virtually immediately at what ever price he can get for it at the time in the wholesale electricity market and that wholesale price fluctuates constantly

Speak Your Mind

*

GET THE SOLARQUOTES WEEKLY NEWSLETTER
%d bloggers like this: