Australian news, and some related international items

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

Australia could soon export sunshine to Asia via a 3,800km cable

February 27, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Heavens to Betsy! Murdoch media suddenly discovers that wind and solar power are great for Australia!

How we’re riding a wind and solar wave to energy future,  PAUL GARVEY, THE AUSTRALIAN, FEBRUARY 21, 2020 A nationwide wave of wind and solar projects has Australi­a on track to become one of the world’s biggest users of renewa­ble energy, defying predictions a Canberra policy vacuu­m would make Australia a global climate laggard.

Such is the frenzy of new projects that parts of the electricity grid are struggling to accommodate the power now being generated, with a growing backlog of proposed developments waiting for grid infrastructure and battery technology to catch up…. (subscribers only)

February 22, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Solar thermal energy the way forward for Australia- says nuclear expert

Dr Wilson described nuclear power as simply “too risky”.

He also said the cost factor was also a major deterrent from going nuclear.

“It’s not the cost of building it. They are expensive to build and they are expensive to run but it’s the cost of demolition when it gets to the end of its life,” he said.

“Nuclear is not cheap, it’s not safe, and will be destructive to key Queensland industries like agriculture and tourism.”

February 20, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Greens leader Adam Bandt seeks new deal with “renewable mining and manufacturing” sector

 New Greens leader Adam Bandt will tour Australia’s mining regions to promote his plan to create a “renewable mining and manufacturing” sector and repair his party’s poor relations with ­resources industry workers.    THE AUSTRALIAN , RICHARD FERGUSON FEBRUARY 16, 2020

New Greens leader Adam Bandt will tour Australia’s mining ­regions to promote his plan to create a “renewable mining and manufacturing” sector and repair his party’s poor relations with ­resources industry workers.

Mr Bandt — who started his tenure as leader saying big business was “killing people” — wants to shift the mining sector towards lithium and process materials such as iron ore in Australia to build a domestic “zero-carbon” manufacturing industry…. (subscribers only)

February 17, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

South Australia’s renewable energy future hampered by lack of electricity infrastructure

South Australia’s renewable energy future hampered by lack of electricity infrastructure

By Emma Pedler and Lucy Robinson   South Australia’s drive to be the national leader in renewable energy is being hampered by infrastructure unable to support the future growth potential, according to economist Ross Garnaut.

Key points:

  • A lack of infrastructure is undermining SA’s goal to lead the nation in renewable energy, experts say
  • A windfarm that was approved almost 20 years ago was never developed because of a lack of support for large-scale operations
  • State officials say a proactive approach to infrastructure would attract businesses and create jobs

Dr Garnaut highlighted the Eyre Peninsula and Spencer Gulf as two of the regions most likely to be able to both create renewable energy and house the industries that want to use it.

But he said the region would not be able to capitalise on opportunities without high voltage transmission infrastructure similar to the interconnector recently approved to link SA and New South Wales.

“We need lots more of that kind of infrastructure … so that we can bring together at single points a range of high quality wind and high quality solar, so that we can balance the requirements of different parts of the region,” he said Continue reading

February 12, 2020 Posted by | energy, South Australia | 1 Comment

#ScottyFromMarketing and his crew – blind to the economics of renewable energy

Sydney Morning Herald 10th Feb 2020, One of the greatest frustrations as a scientist is to see interpretations of data misrepresented by politicians. Unfortunately in Australia, much of this bluster has come from the far-right side of conservatives, part of our broad church, whose members have traditionally prided themselves on prudence and level-headedness.
I am a solar photovoltaic scientist and engineer of more than 20 years’ experience and a director of Coalition for Conservation, a movement of grassroots conservative Coalition members who support greater action on climate change, and I have heard it all: from John Howard’s comments that “solar and wind can only be useful on themargins” to Tony Abbott’s description of wind turbines as “dark satanic mills”.
Sadly, last Friday, Scott Morrison and Michael McCormack
were at it again, warning that increased climate action would lead to
“higher taxes and higher electricity prices” and implying it was the
desire only of “those in the inner city”. Of course, this is nothing
more than marketing fluff. You could be forgiven for thinking that they
must have missed the memo on the record take-up of ultra-cheap solar and
wind power, now generating nearly 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity
supply, with more than 50 per cent renewables expected by 2030.

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