Posts tagged ‘electricity’
No surprises in the Warburton Review recommendations published this week. The review panel was after all hand picked to return a result the conservative and ideologically driven Abbott Government would be happy with.
Chaired by self confessed climate denier and former chairman of Caltex Dick Warburton, the recommendations involve changing the target by either closing the scheme to new investors or by setting targets based on the growth of electricity demand. The review also called for the outright abolition of the small-scale RET scheme – the scheme that assists solar PV panels installation on domestic houses and small businesses. This change would push up the cost of panels by 50 per cent according to a Sydney Morning Herald Report.
The review was very narrow in focus and did not consider adequately the climate science imperative for rapid climate change action and need to rapidly transition to renewables in stationary energy, and the need to do this as part of the global uptake in renewables, and nor did it assess or model the substantial health benefits and reduced medical costs provided of reduced air pollution.
The Premier Denis Napthine warned Victorians that 100,000 premises may lose power during the extreme heatwave due to demand on the state’s electricity grid. Thank you Premier, for your incompetence at managing electricity generation in Victoria.
Climate scientists have been warning of the increased frequency and intensity of heatwaves, with a long term trend of increasing temperatures and 2013 being our hottest year on record. (See this 2009 study by Alexander and Arblaster – Assessing trends in observed and modelled climate extremes over Australia in relation to future projections (PDF))
Much of the electricity system is about managing peak demand through ensuring adequate generating capacity in the network. Victoria’s continued reliance on aging brown coal fired generators with impediments to diversification through renewables has let down the electors and residents of Victoria, badly. We are now seeing the results of poor climate and energy policy at the state level.
The renewable energy target bill has now been passed in Parliament, legislating that 20 percent of electricity will come from renewable sources by 2020. The scheme works by compelling electricity retailers to buy electricity from renewable sources.
Investment in electricity from tidal and wave technologies will get a boost, but the geothermal industry is voicing disappointment that no portion of the target was set aside for it. Considering the huge potential of geothermal energy in Australia, this is a kick in the teeth for large scale renewable energy production.
Industry has again put out its hand, demanding yet more government money. Under new concessions demanded by the Coalition, the number of industries to be compensated for higher electricity prices was increased from three to about 40. Once again the government kneels down before the already massively subsidised fossil fuel industry.
Incredibly, electricity from coal seam methane gas – a coal mining waste product – has been classified a renewable energy source and will earn rewards under the scheme. So coal miners are given renewable credits for burning fossil fuels.
While the government will now be patting itself on the back and promoting its green credentials to anyone willing to listen, there is a long, long way to go before Australia is free from the stranglehold of the fossil fuel industry. And a renewable energy target wouldn’t even be necessary if the market was set up to accurately reflect the true cost of carbon emissions. But that day seems a long way off.