The great gas con: There are cheaper, cleaner alternatives
REnewec onomy, By Giles Parkinson on 20 April 2017 [excellent graphs etc]
In Canberra on Thursday, as yet another “gas summit” hosted by prime minister Malcolm Turnbull ended without a “fix” to soaring gas prices, the Energy Users Group was complaining that one industrial customer in Queensland was being hit with a new gas supply contract at the usurious price of $23/gigajoule.
Frankly, it beggars belief that Australian industry is even bothering to ask for cheaper gas prices, when there are obviously cheaper alternatives available – for both electricity and for industrial gas users.
An Australian Renewable Energy Agency report last year identified how biogas, geothermal and solar thermal alternatives could provide industrial heat at the equivalent of $5/gigajoule – less than one-quarter of the price being asked for gas now. Why aren’t they embracing these patently cheaper and cleaner alternatives?
Part of the answer is the ingrained fossil fuel mentality in Australia. For so long, the true cost of fossil fuels has been hidden by massive cross-subsidies – to electricity users in remote and regional areas, and to big industrial customers……..
Andrew Richards, from the Energy Users Association, says it is because of the complexity, and the fact that renewable options require up-front investments, rather than paying-as-you-go commodity fuels. But he thinks that business is slowly getting their mind around the alternatives and looking carefully at the technology options.
Some, like the South Australian greenhouse tomato grower Sundrop, are using solar thermal technologies, and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation has backed other businesses looking to exploit biogas as an alternative to natural gas.
And more technology options will be on their way: Those outlined by the ARENA report include:
- High temperature solar concentrator driven processes to convert biomass, water, gas or other fossil fuels into chemical feedstocks or new solar fuels.
- Electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen as a feedstock or fuel.
- High temperature solar thermal approaches to direct driving minerals processing and other thermal processes.
- New advanced biomass gasification systems.
- Innovative systems for purifying gas streams from gasifiers or digesters for use in sensitive direct combustion processes (ovens etc) or for injection to existing gas pipeline infrastructure.
- New advanced biomass production or collection systems.
- Targeted innovations to improve existing renewable energy technologies. http://reneweconomy.com.au/the-great-gas-con-there-are-cheaper-cleaner-alternatives-13767/
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