Australian news, and some related international items

Australia can get to zero emissions, as rooftop solar booms

solar-panels-on-roofHouseholds to power up to half Australia, zero emissions within reach: CSIRO, The Age, Adam Morton , 6 Dec 16 

As the Coalition backs away from a pledge to consider a climate change policy that the energy industry says it needs, a new study is projecting a rapidly growing mass electricity generator for Australia in the decades ahead: the public.

Consumers using rooftop solar panels and batteries will produce between a third and half of Australia’s electricity by mid-century if the right policies are introduced, according to a roadmap from the CSIRO and power and gas transmission body Energy Networks Australia.

The two-year analysis also found an emissions intensity scheme for the electricity sector – a form of carbon trading that was to be considered by a government climate policy review until that plan was abandoned on Tuesday afternoon – would be the cheapest way to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

It suggests it could save customers $200 a year by 2030, while helping create a reliable electricity grid with zero emissions by 2050. Energy Networks chief John Bradley said a low-cost shift to zero emissions would depend on a national climate and energy plan with bipartisan support.

“By contrast, carbon policy which could change dramatically at every election, or differs in every state, is a recipe for a high-cost and less secure electricity service,” Mr Bradley said.

His call for the Coalition and Labor to come together on climate policy echoes that made by bodies representing energy generators and major industrial companies.

The Electricity Network Transformation Roadmap forecasts that up to 10 million households and small businesses would have solar panels, battery storage, smart homes and electric vehicles if pricing and incentives were changed to better reflect demand. This would “transform the grid into a platform more like the internet, where customers can trade and share energy”.

It recommends an emissions intensity scheme for power stations be introduced by 2020, following a similar call by the Climate Change Authority, now dominated by Coalition-appointed board members.

On Tuesday, Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg backed away from saying the government would consider this sort of scheme as part of a wide-ranging departmental review of climate policy next year. A handful of Coalition backbenchers, including Cory Bernardi and Craig Kelly, had called for any form of carbon pricing to be rejected…….

The report found thermal plants, including coal and gas fossil fuels, would be critical in balancing intermittent renewable energy in the years ahead, but would eventually be replaced by technologies using battery storage and biomass.

Getting there would present significant technical, economic and regulatory challenges. It would transform the system away from its original design – large centralised power stations – to a much more decentralised network.

It said a coordinated plan for 2050 could:

  • Make average annual household bills $414 less than they otherwise would have been.
  • Cut network costs to consumers by 30 per cent.
  • Avoid $16 billion in spending on poles and wires.
  • Lead to customers with solar panels, battery storage and electric vehicles earning $2.5 billion a year from network businesses.

The roadmap comes ahead of the Friday release of an interim report into electricity reliability led by chief scientist Alan Finkel, commissioned after South Australia suffered a statewide blackout in September.

December 7, 2016 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar

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