Australian news, and some related international items

In contradiction to Angus Taylor, Australia’s Minister On Behalf of Polluting Industries, the States are leading on clean energy

How Australia’s state energy ministers are turning the tables on Angus Taylor, Guardian Simon Holmes à Court  The state energy ministers still need to deliver on their promises, but imagine if any of them held the federal portfolio   @simonahac, Sat 11 Jul 202   Sometimes it just takes a bit of leadership.

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull likes to say that we must choose “engineering and economics” over “idiocy and ideology”. The New South Wales energy minister, Matt Kean, has been making the right choices.

In December 2018 I singled out NSW for its reckless lack of energy policy. The state, reliant on an ageing coal fleet for 80% of its power, had been shunned by energy investors……..

NSW is blessed with high-quality wind and solar resources, but lacks transmission lines between the best wind and solar areas and the state’s major population and industrial centres. In 2018, only one-in-20 proposed renewable energy projects could be accommodated into the weak grids in the west of the state, and developers were forced to turn their attention to the other states.

In a landmark speech late last year, Kean, the newly minted energy minister, made it clear his government would respond to the climate science and embrace the opportunities presented by decarbonising the economy.

“To those vested interests and ideologues who want to stand in the way of this transition, I say enjoy your Kodak moment,” he said.

Undeterred by attacks from the Murdoch media and even the prime minister, Scott Morrison, over the following months, Kean set about turning the tables in NSW……….

What’s stunning is how much ambition has shifted, and how it’s being driven by the states. Just two years ago the modelling for Josh Frydenberg’s failed national energy guarantee predicted that NSW wouldn’t build a single wind or solar farm from 2021 to 2030. Now Kean has a plan to build as much large-scale renewable energy this decade in NSW as all of Australia built over the past 20 years. …….

The Australian Energy Market Operator and CSIRO have determined that the cheapest way to “firm” the huge amounts of renewable energy is a relatively modest mix of better interconnections with neighbouring states, batteries and pumped hydroelectricity – Snowy 2.0 project and multiple smaller projects. On economic grounds alone, fossil gas is unlikely to play an increased role.

The Rezs will also open up opportunities for energy intensive industry. Flexible demand, such as hydrogen production, can help balance the grid. Instead of fracking the Pilliga forest to produce fertiliser with a huge carbon footprint, business could build a zero-carbon factory in the New England region, making fertiliser from renewable energy.

Angus Taylor, the federal minister for energy and emissions reductions, is famously no fan of renewable energy or of setting meaningful emissions reduction targets. On electricity, the state energy ministers – right across the political spectrum – are charging ahead without him, which is perhaps as it should be, given that electricity is the states’ responsibility…….

Every state and territory has now formally signed on to a net-zero emissions target by no later than 2050, a target backed by business, unions and the opposition – yet the federal government and its donors stand in the way.

Australia has three Liberal state energy ministers. South Australia’s Dan van Holst Pellekaan wants to see his state hit 100% renewables by 2030. His Tasmanian counterpart, Guy Barnett, is gunning for 200% renewables and Kean has outlined a plan for NSW to be an energy superpower.

Sure, these energy ministers still need to deliver on their promises, but imagine if any one of them held the federal portfolio.

July 11, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Australia could create hundreds of thousands of jobs by accelerating shift to zero emissions – report

could create hundreds of thousands of jobs by accelerating shift to zero emissions – report

Decarbonising the economy by investing in renewable energy, clean buildings, clean transport and manufacturing could help fight the recession, Guardian, Adam Morton Environment editor @adamlmorton, Mon 29 Jun 2020 Hundreds of thousands of jobs could be created in Australia by hurrying the shift to zero greenhouse gas emissions, a study backed by business and investment leaders has found.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates 835,000 jobs have been lost since the coronavirus pandemic shutdown began in March. A report by Beyond Zero Emissions, an energy and climate change thinktank, says practical projects to decarbonise the economy could create 1.78m “job years” over the next five years – on average, 355,000 people in work each year – while modernising Australian industry.

Called the “million jobs plan”, it says further stimulus measures needed to fight the Covid-19 recession are “a unique opportunity to lay the foundations for a globally competitive Australian economy fit for 21st century challenges”.

The report focuses on proposals it says are already being planned and could create jobs by accelerating private and public investment in renewable energyclean buildings, clean transport, manufacturing and land use that will happen in the years ahead anyway. Benefits would include improved air quality and new employment in regional areas.

Eytan Lenko, Beyond Zero Emissions’ interim chief executive, said the group had brought together investment, business and industry leaders to scope the best clean solutions that would drive productivity and growth.

“No one thought 2020 would turn out the way it has. We now have a unique opportunity to seize this moment, to retool, reskill, and rebuild our battered economy to set us up for future generations,” he said.

The plan would require hundreds of billions of dollars in investment. It says clean energy investors have indicated their willingness to spend on this scale, pointing to the more than $100bn of existing renewable energy projects proposed but yet to be built.

The report says Australia risks missing out on some of these opportunities, and others in electric transport, zero-carbon manufacturing and green steel, unless governments deliver policy certainty and help create an environment that encourages large clean investment deals. Reserve Bank research found the number of large-scale renewable energy projects reaching commencement fell about 50% last year after a record-setting 2018.

Beyond Zero Emissions says governments also have a role to play in direct investment in, for example, urgent transmission line projects to new renewable energy zones, the construction of energy-efficient social housing, and the introduction and expansion of electric buses and trains……….

June 29, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, employment, energy | Leave a comment

With Liberal Coalition business as usual on energy, thousands of renewable energy jobs will vanish

Up to 11,000 renewable energy jobs at risk if the government ignores calls for new policies,   Renewable energy groups are calling for greater public investment as companies risk losing thousands of jobs if the government ignores calls for a policy refresh. BY OMAR DEHEN, 26 June 20  Up to 11,000 jobs in Australia’s renewable energy sector could be lost over the next two years if no additional policies are introduced by the Morrison government, a new report has found.

Modelling from the University of Technology Sydney looked at several scenarios that predicted a reduction of jobs in the industry.

The modelling also examined scenarios that increased employment and reduced electricity costs across Australia.

According to its worst-case scenario – what would happen if there was no change in government policy – the number of people employed in renewable energy would fall from roughly 26,000 people to 15,000 by 2022.

June 27, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, employment, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Australian govt current energy policies will mean 11,000 renewable energy jobs lost

June 25, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Up to 40 Energy jobs to be cut from CSIRO

CSIRO to pull plug on energy jobs,    CSIRO management have announced this week that up to 40 jobs will be cut from its energy team, including key scientists, engineers, and researchers.The union representing the public sector including CSIRO workers, the CPSU, are calling on the government to halt cuts to the CSIRO.

These are the latest in a series of staff cuts to hit the CSIRO, bringing the total number of job losses to 619 this financial year alone, due to the impact of the governments’ Average Staffing Level Cap and continued budget cuts.

Projects that could affected as a result of these Energy job cuts are upstream oil and gas, the Low Emissions Technologies program, and post combustion CO2 capture research.

Four energy sites will be affected including Kensington (Western Australia), Clayton (Victoria), Newcastle and North Ryde (New South Wales).

Quotes Attributable to CPSU National Secretary Melissa Donnelly:

“There is no doubt that these cuts will have an enduring impact on the national capability to develop and implement energy and climate policy. At a time when the government should be focussed on the future of our energy needs, they are more concerned with cutting jobs.”

The CSIRO is on track to lose more than 500 jobs by 1 July and that does not include these latest cuts in Energy. We need to be investing in the CSIRO not cutting hundreds upon hundreds of jobs.”

“It’s time for the government to scrap the ASL Cap and invest in Australia’s scientific resources. If the past 6 months have shown us anything, its that the CSIRO is more important than ever.”

Quotes Attributable to CPSU CSIRO Section Secretary Sam Popovski:

“Job losses of any sort in CSIRO are bad news. CSIRO Chief Executive Larry Marshall needs to do a lot more to protect CSIRO jobs and start to make a case for increased public funding.”

“The recent King Review indicates that Australia’s energy policy remains far from settled and diminishing CSIRO’s specialist capabilities in this area harms government decision-making and future innovation.”

“There are growing concerns that the October federal budget may feature spending cuts and Dr Marshall and the Board must ensure that the case for CSIRO public funding is heard loud and clear over coming months,” Mr Popovski said.

June 25, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, employment, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Retain integrity of renewable energy agencies: ACF

Retain integrity of renewable energy agencies: ACF,   24 June 20, The Australian Conservation Foundation has welcomed Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s commitment to the integrity of the nation’s key renewable energy agencies, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

“Any moves to dilute the mandates of ARENA and the CEFC to allow them to invest in fossil fuel projects would be a perversion of their important and very successful clean energy investment functions,” said ACF’s climate program manager Gavan McFadzean.

“Australia is positioned to be a renewable energy superpower – any move to change the direction of ARENA and the CEFC is a step in the wrong direction.

The Australian Conservation Foundation has welcomed Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s commitment to the integrity of the nation’s key renewable energy agencies, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

“Any moves to dilute the mandates of ARENA and the CEFC to allow them to invest in fossil fuel projects would be a perversion of their important and very successful clean energy investment functions,” said ACF’s climate program manager Gavan McFadzean.

“Australia is positioned to be a renewable energy superpower – any move to change the direction of ARENA and the CEFC is a step in the wrong direction.

“It is important that Anthony Albanese has today closed the door on costly, high-risk, unpopular nuclear energy.

“The CEFC was created with a specific purpose: to help mobilise finance into clean energy.

“The CEFC has made profits and provided great public value by driving down the cost of new clean energy technologies, speeding the transition to clean electricity supply through projects that support reliability of electricity and helping Australia access the enormous benefits available through improved energy productivity.

“The coal and gas lobbies have tried for years to convince the Federal Government to manipulate the CEFC’s mandate to suit the interests of the fossil fuel industry.

“We urge the Federal Government to commit to maintain the remits of ARENA and the CEFC as renewable bodies.

“ACF welcomes moves towards a bipartisan approach to energy and the desire to agree to an emissions reduction mechanism that can be strengthened by future governments.”

June 25, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s best energy measure – to lift energy efficiency – Chief Scientist says

June 21, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

COVID-19 Commission stacked with fossil-fuel bigwigs. Surprise surprise -they find gas is the answer

Transparency called for in fossil fuel-stacked COVID-19 Commission,  Independent Australia, Martin Hirst | 2 June 2020   Who’s running the country and where are they taking us? Dr Martin Hirst thinks the Canberra bubble is filling with gas.

IN THE LAST WEEK of March, right at the start of Australia’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the formation of the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission (NC-19CC). He said it would “solve problems” so “we all get through to the other side”.

Now, at the start of June, we have some idea of what the “other side” looks like according to the leading figures on the Coordination Commission. From what we can glean from the cheap seats in the bleachers, the future is going to be a gas — literally gas……

For a start, the NC-19CC is an energy sector lovefest.

The Commission chair is Neville (Nev) Power and he’s well connected to the Australian energy and mining industries. He is Deputy Chairman of Strike Energy Ltd and for nearly a decade was managing director and CEO of Fortescue Metals Group.

Catherine Tanna is the managing director of Energy Australia, ‘one of Australia’s leading electricity and gas retailers’ according to the helpful but rather anodyne biographies provided on the commission’s website.

The commission’s “special advisor” is the American chemical industry leader, Andrew Liveris, a former CEO and chairman of the Dow Chemical Company and on the board of a major Saudi oil company.

There are two other important members of NC-19CC: the head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Phil Gaetjens and the head of Home Affairs, Mike Pezzulo. These are also political appointments — Gaetjens is a loyal fixer for Morrison and Pezzulo is Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s lieutenant.

Who does the Commission report to?

Australians first heard of the Coordinating Commission when Morrison announced it at a media event on 25 March, but he didn’t tell us how the members were selected, or why, or by whom.

Presumably, it was a “captain’s pick” by Morrison……

In mid-May, the Senate select committee that is holding an ongoing inquiry into the Government’s response to the pandemic requested Mr Power come and chat with it, but he didn’t show up. Instead, the PM’s protector, Phil Gaetjens and Peter Harris, the CEO of the Commission, came to block any real scrutiny of the Commission.

All that the senators were able to learn was that there are no rules in place for managing conflicts of interest and that the Commission’s members and advisors were being handsomely paid for their time and service. According to the transcript, almost every other question was stonewalled.

Apparently, the commissioners are also recruiting other people “through their own networks” according to Phil Gaetjens, but who remain largely unknown to the public — to help across various things to do with the economy re-opening.

Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson grilled Phil Gaetjens about the advice the commissioners might provide, but the PM’s advisor would only say that most advice would be confidential.

This has not satisfied a coalition of public interest watchdog groups who collectively issued a statement calling for greater transparency round the discussions and decisions of the NC-19CC………

I should mention that many environmental groups are concerned that the COVID-19 Commission is stacked with fossil fuel advocates, and with good reason. ……,13954

June 4, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, energy, politics, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

The Morrison government manipulates, to paint the coal industry as “clean” and “renewable”

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has this awkward word “Clean”
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has this awkward word “Renewable”

How can the those agencies put coal into those categories?     With some difficulty.
My heart goes out to them, -like those poor gardeners in “Alice in Wonderland”  –  forced to paint red all the white roses , lest the Queen should cut off their heads.

Government looks to carbon capture for climate action, The Age By Mike Foley, May 19, 2020 The Morrison government is considering legislative changes to allow its clean energy agencies to fund carbon capture and storage from fossil fuel projects in a bid to unlock $2 billion of private investment to reduce greenhouse gases.

Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor has accepted 21 of the 26 recommendations from an independent panel reviewing the $2 billion Emissions Reduction Fund, including all those relating to carbon capture and storage.

The panel, chaired by former Business Council of Australia president Grant King, said the government would attract more private investment in the Emissions Reduction Fund if legislation were amended to “enable a method to be developed for carbon capture and storage”.

The King report also recommended an “expanded, technology-neutral remit” for the Clean Energy Finance Corp (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency so they too could attract more private investment in a wider range of technologies outside renewables, such as coal or gas-fired power incorporating carbon capture and storage. This would be a significant change to the remit of the agencies, which were set up to promote the development of renewable wind and solar supplied to the electricity grid.

Carbon capture and storage, which has not yet been successfully implemented on a commercial basis, involves capturing carbon dioxide from industrial processes and transporting it to a suitable storage site for safe, long-term storage deep underground.

Mr Taylor said emissions reduction policy driven by “technology not taxes” would attract significant private investment.

“The government will target dollar-for-dollar co-investment from the private sector and other levels of government to drive at least $4 billion of investment that will reduce emissions across Australia,” he said in a statement accompanying the report’s release.

The Climate Solutions Fund was set up in 2015 with $2.5 billion funding under the Abbott government as an alternative to a carbon tax. It pays polluters to employ cleaner technologies and funds carbon capture through tree planting, soil carbon sequestration on farms and energy efficient systems in commercial properties, as well as methane capture from landfill and waste management.

Last year, the Morrison government topped up the fund with another $2 billion and rebadged it the Climate Solutions Fund. To date, it has issued 450 contracts to abate a cumulative 190 million tonnes of carbon at a total cost of $2.3 billion, or an average of $12 a tonne of carbon…….

Current legislation prohibits CEFC from investing in carbon capture and storage. But changing the legislation would enable the $1 billion Grid Reliability Fund to invest in new gas, hydrogen and coal projects relying on carbon capture.

. …..


May 19, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Australia is uniquely placed to be able to reinvigorate manufacturing through renewable energy

Powering onwards: Australia’s opportunity to reinvigorate manufacturing through renewable energy 8 MAY 2020 Dan Nahum  Centre for Future Work 

Australia enjoys a large landmass with an abundance of renewable energy resources and a low population relative to that landmass. We are the only developed nation to have access to such a large quantity of solar and wind power; we could generate many of our energy needs renewably by using just a very small proportion of our landmass. This means that we enjoy a considerable competitive advantage in the production of renewable energy.

Not only are we able to power an expanded manufacturing sector using renewables, but it is cheaper to do so than to continue down the path of an energy grid that favours and subsidises coal and gas. These economic advantages in turn can expedite a broader economic rebalancing, away from extraction towards production, in which value-added manufactures increasingly supplant the export of raw materials in our economic mix. This will be good for Australia’s economy—and for the world’s emissions.

This paper compiles evidence to demonstrate that Australia can achieve the continuation and resurgence of a vibrant, competitive manufacturing sector based on the even faster development of renewable power. To do this, the paper:

  • reviews the strategic importance of, and opportunities presented by, manufacturing
    • discusses Australia’s competitive advantage in renewable energy
    • shows that, based on the government’s own figures, renewables are already cheaper than coal—and quickly getting cheaper
    • debunks claims about the unreliability of renewables relative to more traditional energy sources
    • identifies examples where renewable power is already in use, or could be put to use, in manufacturing and industrial processes, and instances where we can use our natural and manufactured inputs to add further value to these renewables
    • examines international evidence showing that there is no connection between reliance on fossil fuels and success in global manufacturing trade
    • presents a range of recommendations for government action to capitalise on the opportunity of renewable energy for revitalising Australian manufacturing.

May 12, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Australian Renewable Energy Agency funds end in 2022 – a major blow for solar research

May 9, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Investors urge governments to go green for coronavirus recovery

May 5, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

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 | Leave a comment

Forget toilet paper, consumers are panic buying solar 

March 21, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Morrison to cancel Australia’s participation in the Energy Transition Hub

March 7, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, energy, politics | Leave a comment