Australian news, and some related international items

Australia at ‘the back of the pack’ in renewable energy progress

In Australia, while the RET changes will reduce the growth of renewables from the previously legislated target, the scheme will still produce a dramatic lift in the amount of renewable energy in the system.

Paths to renewable energy efficiency THE AUSTRALIAN SID MAHER, JUNE 24, 2015 As Australia moves to rein in the growth of renewable energy in its electricity generation mix, Germany, Europe’s most powerful economy, is doing the opposite.

Germany is doubling down on its bet that solar, wind and hydro-electricity will become cheaper as more is produced, underpin its future as an economic powerhouse, and allow it to take on China in industrial production………..

Climate Institute chief executive John Connor says it is important for Australians to understand Australia is the only country scaling back on renewables and on carbon abatement markets.

“We are at the back of the pack when it comes to the carbon intensity of advanced economies,” he says. “It is walking backwards when others are striding forward.’’

The arguments over whether it is the Germans or the Australians who are tilting at windmills will continue to rage ahead of the Paris climate change conference at the end of the year, where the architecture that will underpin global emissions reduction efforts will be thrashed out.

Connor says the core of the argument will be the post-2020 carbon reduction targets which will be crucial to Australia’s climate credibility and economic competitiveness.

Germany is driving a 40 per cent emissions reduction target by 2020, although it must increase the pace of its cuts to achieve this.

Australia, which currently has a 5 per cent below 2000 target by 2020, faces diplomatic pressure in Europe after the Coalition’s decision to abolish the carbon tax last year.

In France, senior government officials describe Tony Abbott’s attitude to climate-change negotiations as a “problem’’. In Germany, Australia is described behind the scenes as a “black sheep’’. The criticism will either be muted or intensify when the government announces its post-2020 emissions reduction targets next month……..

Addvocates [in Germany]argue the take-up of renewables is reducing their costs. The price of wind power has fallen to as little as 3 euro cents a kilowatt hour, less than half its price a decade ago.

The cost of solar photovoltaic panels is also reducing, from about 56c/kWh a decade ago to 11c/kWh.

In Australia, while the RET changes will reduce the growth of renewables from the previously legislated target, the scheme will still produce a dramatic lift in the amount of renewable energy in the system.

Under the changes, the amount of renewable energy in the total generation market will rise from about 16 per cent this year to more than 23 per cent in 2020.

However some thinkers such as Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, the director for the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, argue a generation system that uses fossil fuels operating in parallel with a renewables system is not sustainable in the long term.

Schellnhuber, who was a scientific adviser to the Pope’s climate change encyclical, doubts fossil fuels will be able to maintain a share of economies that move decisively towards renewable energy and then gain a comparative advantage.

“History tells you that once a system gets tipped into a new mode which has a comparative advantage, (the new mode) takes it all,’’ he says………..

Volkmar Klein, a member of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union led by Chancellor Angela Merkel backs the increase in renewables on competitiveness grounds. “If we are able to manage it successfully, it will be the next step of gaining competitiveness,’’ Klein says.

However advocates of renewable energy argue Australia also has abundant sources of wind and solar compared with Germany, where sunlight hours are reduced to as little as an hour in midwinter.


June 24, 2015 - Posted by | General News

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