Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s inevitable path away from fossil fuels investment

Dim future for coal as renewables rise, research finds SMH, September 4, 2013  Peter Hannam Carbon economy editor,  Australia’s energy industry is on an inevitable path away from fossil fuels and further investment in the sector, particularly in coal, would be very risky, according to research by UNSW.

New analysis comparing the likely costs of pursuing 100 per cent renewable energy for the power sector by 2030 against a range of coal and gas options found a shift to commercially available clean energy would be cost-effective and relatively low-risk.

The tragedy is that superannuation and other funds have invested in this industry

The research assumptions included a price on carbon emissions of at least $56 per tonne by 2030, as modelled by the Australian Treasury, and estimated a range of costs for capturing and storing emissions from coal or gas-fired power plants underground………

“We think that whatever the year-to-year politics in Australia, in the long run there will be quite high prices for carbon around the world inevitably,” Professor Diesendorf said.

The research builds on earlier work, including from the Australian Energy Market Operator, which found Australia could shift towards 100 per cent renewable energy for its power sector for a similar cost of using fossil fuels without undermining reliability.

The modelling assumed wind would provide about 46 per cent of energy to the power sector, with concentrated solar thermal power 21 per cent, solar photovoltaics 20 per cent, and the remainder sourced from biofuels and hydropower. The risks of sticking with fossil fuels included being tied to nascent carbon capture and storage technology and being exposed to gas prices that are expected to rise steeply in the future.

“There is no need to invest in new, expensive, unproven, high-risk, fossil-fuel technologies,” Professor Diesendorf said……..

UNSW’s Professor Diesendorf  predicted further investments in the coal industry would be risky as the local and international economy faces up to a more carbon-constrained future.

“A lot of that could be dramatically stranded assets in the future,” he said. “The tragedy is that superannuation and other funds have invested in this industry.”


September 5, 2013 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy

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