Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s govt betting on a fossil-fuel led recovery – despite expert advice on renewable energy

Trouble with gas: the Coalition is betting on the fossil fuel for recovery – but the sums don’t add up
The Australian government says gas is ‘essential’, but the global view is it’s the second-least desirable source of electricity  
Guardian,  Adam Morton Environment editor @adamlmorton, Sun 3 May 2020   The agency that runs Australia’s electricity last week gave its verdict on how to deliver what would have seemed fanciful not that long ago – a power grid that within five years should at times be able to run on 75% wind and solar energy.

The Australian Energy Market Operator delivered a report on integrating renewable energy into the system with an optimistic message.

As described by its chief, New Yorker Audrey Zibelman, the technical capacity was already there, but markets and regulations would have to be adjusted. There were no “insurmountable reasons” why the grid could not take even higher levels of renewables, as it will need to for Australia to meet the Paris agreement goal of zero greenhouse gas emissions.

The minister in charge of both energy and cutting emissions, Angus Taylor, chose a different emphasis.

In a statement issued as the study was released, Taylor said it had highlighted the challenges of increased amounts of solar and wind given the system needed continuous inertia – support from constantly running “synchronous generation” – to ensure grid stability. He suggested that inertia could come from gas-fired power.

The market operator’s report does not mention gas generation, but the fossil fuel – often described as having half the emissions of coal, though recent studies have suggested it could be much more – is clearly on Taylor’s mind. A few days earlier he had given interviews to Nine newspapers to support the idea of a “gas-fired recovery” from the Covid-19 pandemic, suggesting it may be a focus of future economic stimulus measures……..

Andrew Grant, head of oil, gas and mining with London-based financial thinktank Carbon Tracker, says the global view of gas has flipped from it being seen as a cleaner fuel than coal, to it being the second-least desirable source of electricity. He points to analysis by the International Energy Agency that found global gas-fired power generation must begin to decline later this decade under a sustainable development scenario. “Better than coal is not exactly a ringing endorsement,” Grant says. …….

t there is little evidence that the Australian electricity grid will need more gas power. Last year, it provided about 9% of generation. The market operator assessment suggested this could fall to near zero in the second half of this decade before returning in a much smaller amount – less than a third of what it is now – in the 2030s if the grid was to run at lowest cost……

Simon Holmes à Court, senior advisor to the Climate and Energy College at the University of Melbourne, says the services needed for a secure power grid are increasingly available from sources other than gas, including government-backed large batteries and potentially through adjustments at wind or additions at solar farms………

May 3, 2020 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, energy, politics

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