Submission: Australia’s Technology Roadmap not enough to address the Climate Emergency

June 22, 2020 at 12:59 pm 1 comment

Climate Action Moreland submission on the Draft Australia Technology Roadmap. This is the document that Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor has been pushing. The document itself provides a survey of different technologies that can be used in address climate change. But it is insufficient. The decision processes that approve expansion of emissions (such as in new coal mines or gas extraction), or maintain present high pollution levels in existing sectorial processes needs also to be considered. Strategic Technology Roadmap is only one tool that should be used to driving climate action ambition to tackle the climate crisis. We have a climate emergency.

CAMoreland Technology Roadmap Submission (PDF)

The first annual Low Emissions Technology Statement is scheduled to be delivered to Parliament later in 2020. The statement will articulate the Government’s technology investment priorities and progress towards them. Australia’s technology-focussed Long Term Emissions Reduction Strategy to be released by end of 2020 before COP26.

 

Attention: Department of Industry, Innovation, Energy and Resources

Submission on Australian Technology Investment Roadmap

We welcome the work done in developing the Australian Technology Investment Roadmap, although we highlight this is insufficient for meeting Australia’s commitments for a new Nationally Determined Contribution to be submitted in 2020 to the UNFCCC ramping up our action.

It is not enough to talk about the Technology Investment Roadmap, we need to take a step back and look at what we need to do given the climate emergency we are facing.

We put forward some general notes in reading the Technology Investment Roadmap, then some notes on prioritising certain technologies.

John Englart, Convenor,
Climate Action Moreland



Australia’s advantages.

Australia has excellent solar insolation, good onshore and offshore wind resources, many opportunities for pumped hydro, surrounded by ocean to generate power from waves, tides, currents, potential for geothermal energy.

Energy can be exported directly to Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia through High Voltage DC (HVDC) submarine cables, and also exported by ship to the world by converting renewable generated hydrogen to ammonia.

Australia is well suited for developing renewables and being a global energy powerhouse attracting energy intensive manufacturing for production of value added products and providing a range of high skilled, highly paid, secure jobs.

Australia has great potential for Nature Based Solution Carbon Dioxide Removal technologies, through landuse management, forest management, reforestation, soil carbon and blue carbon.1


General Notes

 

1. Present 2030 Australian Target of 26-28 percent emissions reduction on 2005 levels is grossly insufficient, not Australia’s fair share. The Climate Council described this target in 2018 as “woefully inadequate to protect Australians from intensifying climate change” and “more appropriate target for Australia in line with the science would be a 45-65% emissions reduction target by 2030, as recommended by the Climate Change Authority and zero net emissions well before 2050.”2

Current assessment by Climate Action Tracker highlights “Under current policies, Australian emissions are headed for an increase of 8% above 2005 levels by 2030 (excluding LULUCF), and if rated would be “highly insufficient3

2. Tackling emissions should be done using multiple tools including: technology investment, taxes, subsidies, regulatory action, carbon market trading, and social behaviour change. Climate Policy is about interweaving this mix for maximum effect at minimum social and environmental cost. The Technology Investment Roadmap is just one tool that should be used.

3. Boost and extend funding of CEFC and ARENA. These organisations drive public and private investment in innovation in Australia. ARENA funds are nearly exhausted.4 The CEFC mandate should not be changed to allow investment in fossil fuel technologies.5

4. Technology Investment Roadmap policy is about continuing present business models/ extractive policies and using technology to adapt, such as in technologies to ameliorate coal or CSG fugitive emissions. We need to consider the decision processes that start and maintain high emissions processes and activities, such as new mine or gas approval, or maintaining existing airline unsustainable growth models.


Prioritising technologies:

 

Fast Track Firmed Renewables technologies

Give Energy (electricity) technologies a high priority as the technologies for decarbonisation are mature. Including: large scale solar PV, off-shore and onshore windfarms, concentrated solar thermal, large scale batteries, pumped hydro schemes6, micro-grids, rebuilding the grid for changing generation technologies, energy efficiency programs (Negawatts). Mining exploration and drilling resources reallocated for development of geothermal energy sources.


Demand management in Energy Intensive Industry

The aluminium manufacturing Industry is extremely energy intensive, and also provides opportunities for more effective grid management through efficient demand management and energy trading with investment and upgrading.7 Clark Butler highlights, “Australia is one of the world’s most emissions-intensive aluminium producers. Accelerated deployment of renewable electricity is a path out of this quagmire.”


Hydrogen economy

Aim to well exceed 100 percent renewables, putting excess energy into generating green (renewables) hydrogen for storage, used as a fuel, exported as ammonia.8

Hydrogen can also replace metallurgical coal for manufacture of green iron and steel. Upgrade to Australia’s heavy industry would also provide high skilled and high pay manufacturing jobs to replace mining jobs that are increasingly being automated.9


Transport

Fast-track electrification of private vehicle fleet, delivery vehicles, long haul road freight.

Niche role for Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles especially in road freight, some fleet applications. Co-benefit in reducing fuel security risk.

The paper mentions transport “mode shift technologies” with no explanation or definition of this term or examples.

For cities we need to enhance public transport network and active transport infrastructure for modal shift, including micro-mobility options: e-bikes, e-scooters and e-skateboards.

Co-benefit of reducing pollution, enhancing population health.

Rebalance infrastructure funding to increase weighting towards public and active transport, reducing funding of major road projects

Inland rail freight line (in planning and construction)

East Coast High Speed rail network

Build East Coast High Speed Rail Network providing low emissions competition to aviation high capacity routes.

Beyond Zero Emissions report into High Speed Rail concluded:10

  • 45% of Australian regional travel is contained within the proposed High Speed Rail network corridor
  • Journey times of less than three hours from the centre of Sydney CBD, to the CBD of Melbourne or Brisbane
  • 60% of Australian population is within 50km of a High Speed Rail station on proposed network
  • Three million fewer domestic passengers at Sydney Airport in 2030 than current levels, removing the need for a second airport in Sydney
  • 40 year capital repayment from operating profits
  • 100% renewable energy powered HSR allows zero emissions journeys
  • Internationally, comparable HSR projects have been delivered in less than 10 years
  • $7 billion estimated fare revenue when fully operational in 2030.

Upgrade regional train services to fast or high speed.

Aviation:

Aviation only briefly mentioned in the report.

Battery power aviation for short haul regional services for 20 people up to 400km distance may be 5-10 years away according to Nordic research.11

Current airline technology can be configured for fuel efficiency and limiting CO2 emissions, but this comes at the expense of more NOx emissions, which can have a large climate impact at cruising altitudes.12

Biofuels

Biofuels for aviation are likely to remain, at best, a limited partial solution for the volume of land required for current aviation levels.13 Some scientific research argues biofuels are very far from being carbon neutral.14

Production and certification of biofuels face substantial financial and technical barriers to overcome.15

John DeCicco et al (2016) conclude in their analysis of biofuels production in the USA: “this analysis found that the gains in CO2 uptake by feedstock were enough to offset biofuel-related biogenic CO2 emissions by only 37 % over 2005– 2013, showing that biofuel use fell well short of being carbon neutral even before considering process emissions. When this estimate of the real-world offset is considered together with values from the literature for displacement effects, the conclusion is that rising U.S. biofuel use has been associated with a net increase rather than a net decrease in CO2 emissions. This finding contrasts with those of LCA studies which indicate that even crop-based biofuels such as corn ethanol and soy biodiesel offer modest net GHG reductions. The global GHG impact of biofuel use remains highly uncertain. Nevertheless, the necessary condition for a biofuel to offer a CO2 mitigation benefit, namely, that the production of its feedstock must increase NEP, can be evaluated empirically. Doing so provides a bounding result that suggests a need for greater caution regarding the role of biofuels in climate mitigation.”16

Aviation Demand Management

What is often neglected in limiting short to medium term aviation emissions and emissions growth is demand management. Professor Alice Larkin argues “the more simply structured aviation sector is pinning too much hope on emissions trading to deliver CO2 cuts in line with 2C. Instead, the solution remains controversial and unpopular – avoiding 2C requires demand management.”17

Demand management implementation would be easy to do given the current situation with Covid19 pandemic disrupting air travel for next 2 – 5 years.18 Also an ideal time to place a Moratorium on all present airport expansion programs.19

The pandemic may result in major change in behaviour for business, given the systemic shift to online video conferencing and communication and weakened corporate budgets post-COVID19.20

Shipping:

Mentioned just twice. Australia is surrounded by sea, so shipping should be a priority area for tackling emissions reduction through technology investment. Researcher Simon Bullock says “The [Shipping] sector does, however, have significant potential to reduce this committed emissions figure without premature scrappage through a combination of slow speeds, operational and technical efficiency measures, and the timely retrofitting of ships to use zero-carbon fuels.”21

Climate Action Moreland made these recommendations on shipping to the Climate Change Authority:22

  • Australia should set targets for transitioning it’s domestic coastal shipping fleet to battery power, or use of hydrogen or ammonia as fuels for longer domestic shipping journeys.
  • replacing/updating Spirit of Tasmania with electric/battery power or hydrogen fuel cell electric vessel
  • Set targets to replace/update urban waterway and harbour passenger ferries to 100 per cent battery/electric power to replace fossil fuel ferries
  • Australian Marine Safety Authority set interim greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets for all shipping, aiming for 2050 zero net emissions.
  • AMSA should rigorously monitor, report and verify CO2, NOx, SO2 and other pollutants from large ships, including container and cruise ships, using Australian ports.
  • Australia should advocate in International Maritime Organisation forums for a target of zero international shipping emissions by 2050

Buildings

Building standards upgrade needed.

Insulation standards upgrade for new constructs, retrofits.

Elimination of residential gas with a transition to all electric homes.

Integrated PV solutions for windows and roofing tiles.

Co-benefits in reducing heating/cooling costs, increasing health and safety. 23


Cement

Use of Portland cement produces 8 percent of present global emissions.

Rapid transition to using zero emissions or low emissions geopolymer cements.

Mandate use in government infrastructure projects to drive production at scale.24


Agriculture

Soil carbon farming initiatives ramped up further.

Eco-agriculture, eco-forestry, permaculture, indigenous fire farming increased.

If done effectively opportunity for negative emissions.

Use seaweed as carbon drawdown technology, food additive to ruminants to reduce methane production.25


Blue Carbon

Not mentioned in report.

Conservation and expansion of coastal wetlands, saltmarsh, mangroves and seagrass meadows an important potential negative emissions (carbon drawdown) nature based solution, with large environmental and fisheries co-benefits.26


Fugitive Emissions

While technologies to capture methane emissions are useful for existing coal, oil and gas projects, of greater use would be to not approve any new or expanded fossil fuel projects. There is no room for new fossil fuel projects compatible with meeting the Paris Agreement temperature target.27


Recycling and Waste

  • Reduce use of single use plastics, engage in advanced sorting, recycling programs (providing skilled jobs).
  • Food and organic waste diverted to compost, redirected to farming feedstock.
  • Set a target for zero waste to landfill
  • Waste to energy combustion should be absolute last priority of a recycling process. Perhaps Coppen Hill, in Copenhagen, provides an example of a modern high efficiency Waste to Energy plant.

Technologies to avoid

 

Little future for nuclear in Australia, just on a straight cost basis.28

Widespread community wariness of nuclear technologies: many people ranked it very low in preferred energy sources.29

Development of Fossil Gas infrastructure poses high stranded asset risks should be avoided.30 Gas fugitive emissions are underestimated31, gas is not a transition fuel.32

Investment in technologies that increase efficiency of existing thermal fleet is throwing further money into stranded assets that could be better spent in firmed renewable technologies.

Some usefulness in research and development of niche carbon capture and use technologies in certain manufacturing processes.

Carbon capture and storage has proved highly expensive, highly energy intensive with limited successful projects globally using this technology.33 from 2003 to 2017 Australia invested $1.3 billion with little commercial success. Further investment should be avoided.34


End Notes

1 Falko Ueckerdt, Roger Dargaville, Hans-Christian Gils, Malte Meinshausen, Yvonne Scholz, Felix Schreyer, Changlong Wang, Energy Transition Hub, 18 September 2019, Australia’s power advantage energy transition and hydrogen export scenarios, https://apo.org.au/node/259901 https://apo.org.au/sites/default/files/resource-files/2019-09/apo-nid259901.pdf

2 Climate Council, June 2018,AUSTRALIA’S RISING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS ISBN 978-1-925573-58-9. https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/resources/australias-rising-greenhouse-gas-emissions/

4 Michael Marzengarb, Renew Economy, 28 Jan 2020, Morrison urged to act as ARENA funding about to be exhausted, https://reneweconomy.com.au/morrison-urged-to-act-as-arena-funding-about-to-be-exhausted-22604/

5 Anthony Klan, Michael West Media, 24 February, 2020, Coalition struggles to push coal and gas into Clean Energy Finance Corp, https://www.michaelwest.com.au/coalition-struggles-to-push-coal-and-gas-into-clean-energy-finance-corp/

6 Andrew Blakers, Bin Lu, and Matthew Stocks, The Conversation, September 21, 2017, Want energy storage? Here are 22,000 sites for pumped hydro across Australia https://theconversation.com/want-energy-storage-here-are-22-000-sites-for-pumped-hydro-across-australia-84275

7 Clark Butler, 11 June 2020, IEEFA, How aluminium smelters can help decarbonise Australia’s industrial economy, https://ieefa.org/ieefa-how-aluminium-smelters-can-help-decarbonise-australias-industrial-economy/

8 Bruce S, Temminghoff M, Hayward J, Schmidt E, Munnings C, Palfreyman D, Hartley P (2018) National Hydrogen Roadmap. CSIRO, Australia. https://research.csiro.au/hydrogenfsp/wp-content/uploads/sites/247/2018/08/18-00314_EN_NationalHydrogenRoadmap_WEB_180815.pdf

9 Tony Wood, Guy Dundas, and James Ha, Grattan Institute, 10 May 2020, Start with steel: A practical plan to support carbon workers and cut emissions, ISBN: 978-0-6487380-6-0 https://grattan.edu.au/report/start-with-steel/

10 Beyond Zero Emissions, High Speed Rail Plan (2014), ISBN: 978-0-9923580-0-6 https://bze.org.au/research/transport/high-speed-rail-plan/

11 John Englart, 9 March 2020, Climate Citizen: Nordic Countries pursuing short haul electric aviation at COP25 https://takvera.blogspot.com/2020/03/nordic-countries-pursuing-short-haul.html

12 Scheelhaase, Janina D., 2019. “How to regulate aviation’s full climate impact as intended by the EU council from 2020 onwards,” Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 68-74. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S096969971830334X

13 van Vuuren DP, (2009) Future bio-energy potential under various natural constraints. Energy Policy 37:4220–4230

14 John DeCicco, The Conversation, 5 October, 2016, Biofuels turn out to be a climate mistake – here’s why, https://theconversation.com/biofuels-turn-out-to-be-a-climate-mistake-heres-why-64463

15 David Chiaramonti, Sustainable Aviation Fuels: the challenge of decarbonization, Energy Procedia Volume 158, February 2019, Pages 1202-1207 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.egypro.2019.01.308

16DeCicco, J. M., Liu, D. Y., Heo, J., Krishnan, R., Kurthen, A., & Wang, L. (2016). Carbon balance effects of U.S. biofuel production and use. Climatic Change, 138(3-4), 667–680. doi:10.1007/s10584-016-1764-4

17 Alice Bows Larkin (December 2014), All adrift: aviation, shipping, and climate change policy, Climate Policy, Pages 681-702 | Published online: 06 Dec 2014 https://doi.org/10.1080/14693062.2014.965125

18 IATA press release, 13 May 2020, Don’t Make A Slow Recovery More Difficult with Quarantine Measures https://www.iata.org/en/pressroom/pr/2020-05-13-03/

19 John Englart, 14 May, 2020, Climate Citizen, Aviation growth disrupted, time for a moratorium on airport expansion, reassesment of aviation climate impact, https://takvera.blogspot.com/2020/05/aviation-growth-disrupted-time-for.html

20 Audrey Quicke and Emily Jones, 1 April 2020, Grounded – Aviation Emissions during Covid-19, The Australia Institute, https://www.tai.org.au/content/commercial-aviation-emissions-could-halve-due-covid19

21 Bullock, S., Mason, J., Broderick, J. et al. Shipping and the Paris climate agreement: a focus on committed emissions. BMC Energy 2, 5 (2020). DOI https://doi.org/10.1186/s42500-020-00015-2

22 Climate Action Moreland, August 2019, Submission to Climate Change Authority on policies necessary to achieve Australia’s commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement http://www.climatechangeauthority.gov.au/sites/prod.climatechangeauthority.gov.au/files/Updating%20advice%20submissions/040%20-%20Climate%20Action%20Moreland%20Submission.pdf

23 See Beyond Zero Emissions Zero Carbon Australia Building Plan (August 2013) ISBN: 978-0-646-90735-2 for a full outline of what could be achieved in Buildings https://bze.org.au/research/energy-efficient-buildings-plan/

24 Beyond Zero Emissions, August 2017, Rethinking Cement. ISBN: 978-0-9923580-2-0 https://bze.org.au/research/manufacturing-industrial-processes/rethinking-cement/

25 Carlos M. Duarte, Jiaping Wu, Xi Xiao, Annette Bruhn and Dorte Krause-Jensen, Front. Mar. Sci., 12 April 2017, Can Seaweed Farming Play a Role in Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation? https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2017.00100 See also Tim Flannery, Sunlight and Seaweed, 2017 Text Publishing, ISBN: 9781925498684,

26 Macreadie, P.I., Anton, A., Raven, J.A. et al. The future of Blue Carbon science. Nat Commun 10, 3998 (2019). DOI https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-11693-w

27 Christophe McGlade & Paul Ekins, 2015, The geographical distribution of fossil fuels unused when limiting global warming to 2 °C, Nature 517, 187–190 (08 January 2015) doi:10.1038/nature14016

28 Giles Parkinson, Renew Economy, 6 February, 2020, New CSIRO, AEMO study confirms wind, solar and storage beat coal, gas and nuclear https://reneweconomy.com.au/new-csiro-aemo-study-confirms-wind-solar-and-storage-beat-coal-gas-and-nuclear-57530/

29 The Australia Institute, 2019, Climate of the Nation 2019, Tracking Australia’s attitudes towards climate change and energy. ISSN: 1836-9014 “Three times as many Australians rank nuclear power their least preferred power source of all power sources (34%) as rank it their most preferred energy source (11%)” https://www.tai.org.au/content/climate-nation-2019

30 Bill Hare and Ursula Fuentes, The Conversation, May 27, 2020 A single mega-project exposes the Morrison government’s gas plan as staggering folly https://theconversation.com/search/result?sg=d1e8d24e-b0fd-4dc9-a87e-54c7e3209aa8&sp=1&sr=4&url=%2Fa-single-mega-project-exposes-the-morrison-governments-gas-plan-as-staggering-folly-133435

31 Robert McSweeney, Carbon Brief, 19 February 2020, Methane emissions from fossil fuels ‘severely underestimated’ https://www.carbonbrief.org/methane-emissions-from-fossil-fuels-severely-underestimated

32 Melbourne Energy Institute, The Australia Institute, 25 October 2016, A review of current and future methane emissions from Australian unconventional oil and gas production, https://www.tai.org.au/content/review-current-and-future-methane-emissions-australian-unconventional-oil-and-gas-production

33 Bill Browne, The Australia Institute, 19 November 2018, Sunk costs: Carbon capture and storage will miss every target set for it, https://www.tai.org.au/content/sunk-costs-carbon-capture-and-storage-will-miss-every-target-set-it

34 Bill Browne and Tom Swann, The Australia Institute, 30 May 2017, Money for nothing, https://www.tai.org.au/content/money-nothing

Entry filed under: Energy efficiency, Policy, renewable energy, submission, transport, waste.

Moreland Council adopts coal filter as part of social sustainability criteria in procurement policy Submission: Moreland Nature Plan needs to recognise existential threat to biodiversity

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Christopher Moss  |  July 2, 2020 at 11:24 pm

    I think that this is a good submission, clearly put and backed up by references. However it could say more about the effects of methane gas leakage, which has negated the savings from the adoption of renewable energy in the last few years. Most of this is due to leaks in pipes and unflared exhaust pipes. It is cost effective in most cases to fix these issues, but there is little measuring equipment or requirement to stay within the high limits set by environment authorities.

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