Batteries

Systemic Change our only hope. #StopAdani #auspol 

By Richard Heinberg.

Systemic Change Driven by Moral Awakening Is Our Only Hope
Our core ecological problem is not climate change.

It is overshoot, of which global warming is a symptom.

Overshoot is a systemic issue.

Over the past century-and-a-half, enormous amounts of cheap energy from fossil fuels enabled the rapid growth of resource extraction, manufacturing and consumption; and these in turn led to population increase, pollution and loss of natural habitat and hence biodiversity.

The human system expanded dramatically, overshooting Earth’s long-term carrying capacity for humans while upsetting the ecological systems we depend on for our survival.

Until we understand and address this systemic imbalance, symptomatic treatment (doing what we can to reverse pollution dilemmas like climate change, trying to save threatened species and hoping to feed a burgeoning population with genetically modified crops) will constitute an endlessly frustrating round of stopgap measures that are ultimately destined to fail.

The ecology movement in the 1970s benefitted from a strong infusion of systems thinking, which was in vogue at the time (ecology—the study of the relationships between organisms and their environments—is an inherently systemic discipline, as opposed to studies like chemistry that focus on reducing complex phenomena to their components).

As a result, many of the best environmental writers of the era framed the modern human predicament in terms that revealed the deep linkages between environmental symptoms and the way human society operates.

Limits to Growth (1972), an outgrowth of the systems research of Jay Forrester, investigated the interactions between population growth, industrial production, food production, resource depletion and pollution.

Overshoot (1982), by William Catton, named our systemic problem and described its origins and development in a style any literate person could appreciate.

Many more excellent books from the era could be cited.
However, in recent decades, as climate change has come to dominate environmental concerns, there has been a significant shift in the discussion.

Today, most environmental reporting is focused laser-like on climate change, and systemic links between it and other worsening ecological dilemmas (such as overpopulation, species extinctions, water and air pollution, and loss of topsoil and fresh water) are seldom highlighted.

It’s not that climate change isn’t a big deal. As a symptom, it’s a real doozy.

There’s never been anything quite like it, and climate scientists and climate-response advocacy groups are right to ring the loudest of alarm bells. But our failure to see climate change in context may be our undoing.

Why have environmental writers and advocacy organizations succumbed to tunnel vision?

Perhaps it’s simply that they assume systems thinking is beyond the capacity of policy makers. It’s true: If climate scientists were to approach world leaders with the message, “We have to change everything, including our entire economic system—and fast,” they might be shown the door rather rudely.

A more acceptable message is, “We have identified a serious pollution problem, for which there are technical solutions.”

Perhaps many of the scientists who did recognize the systemic nature of our ecological crisis concluded that if we can successfully address this one make-or-break environmental crisis, we’ll be able to buy time to deal with others waiting in the wings (overpopulation, species extinctions, resource depletion and on and on).
If climate change can be framed as an isolated problem for which there is a technological solution, the minds of economists and policy makers can continue to graze in familiar pastures.

Technology—in this case, solar, wind and nuclear power generators, as well as batteries, electric cars, heat pumps and, if all else fails, solar radiation management via atmospheric aerosols—centers our thinking on subjects like financial investment and industrial production.

Discussion participants don’t have to develop the ability to think systemically, nor do they need to understand the Earth system and how human systems fit into it.

All they need trouble themselves with is the prospect of shifting some investments, setting tasks for engineers and managing the resulting industrial-economic transformation so as to ensure that new jobs in green industries compensate for jobs lost in coal mines.
The strategy of buying time with a techno-fix presumes either that we will be able to institute systemic change at some unspecified point in the future even though we can’t do it just now (a weak argument on its face), or that climate change and all of our other symptomatic crises will in fact be amenable to technological fixes.

The latter thought-path is again a comfortable one for managers and investors.

After all, everybody loves technology.

It already does nearly everything for us. During the last century it solved a host of problems: it cured diseases, expanded food production, sped up transportation and provided us with information and entertainment in quantities and varieties no one could previously have imagined.

Why shouldn’t it be able to solve climate change and all the rest of our problems?

Of course, ignoring the systemic nature of our dilemma just means that as soon as we get one symptom corralled, another is likely to break loose.

But, crucially, is climate change, taken as an isolated problem, fully treatable with technology?

Color me doubtful.

I say this having spent many months poring over the relevant data with David Fridley of the energy analysis program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Our resulting book, Our Renewable Future, concluded that nuclear power is too expensive and risky; meanwhile, solar and wind power both suffer from intermittency, which (once these sources begin to provide a large percentage of total electrical power) will require a combination of three strategies on a grand scale: energy storage, redundant production capacity and demand adaptation.


At the same time, we in industrial nations will have to adapt most of our current energy usage (which occurs in industrial processes, building heating and transportation) to electricity.

Altogether, the energy transition promises to be an enormous undertaking, unprecedented in its requirements for investment and substitution.

When David and I stepped back to assess the enormity of the task, we could see no way to maintain current quantities of global energy production during the transition, much less to increase energy supplies so as to power ongoing economic growth.

The biggest transitional hurdle is scale: the world uses an enormous amount of energy currently; only if that quantity can be reduced significantly, especially in industrial nations, could we imagine a credible pathway toward a post-carbon future.

Downsizing the world’s energy supplies would, effectively, also downsize industrial processes of resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, and waste management.

That’s a systemic intervention, of exactly the kind called for by the ecologists of the 1970s who coined the mantra, “Reduce, reuse and recycle.”

It gets to the heart of the overshoot dilemma—as does population stabilization and reduction, another necessary strategy.

But it’s also a notion to which technocrats, industrialists, and investors are virulently allergic.
The ecological argument is, at its core, a moral one—as I explain in more detail in a just-released manifesto replete with sidebars and graphics (“There’s No App for That: Technology and Morality in the Age of Climate Change, Overpopulation, and Biodiversity Loss”).

Any systems thinker who understands overshoot and prescribes powerdown as a treatment is effectively engaging in an intervention with an addictive behavior.

Society is addicted to growth, and that’s having terrible consequences for the planet and, increasingly, for us as well.

We have to change our collective and individual behavior and give up something we depend on—power over our environment.

We must restrain ourselves, like an alcoholic foreswearing booze. That requires honesty and soul-searching.
In its early years the environmental movement made that moral argument, and it worked up to a point.

Concern over rapid population growth led to family planning efforts around the world. Concern over biodiversity declines led to habitat protection. Concern over air and water pollution led to a slew of regulations.

These efforts weren’t sufficient, but they showed that framing our systemic problem in moral terms could get at least some traction.
Why didn’t the environmental movement fully succeed?

Some theorists now calling themselves “bright greens” or “eco-modernists” have abandoned the moral fight altogether.

Their justification for doing so is that people want a vision of the future that’s cheery and that doesn’t require sacrifice.

Now, they say, only a technological fix offers any hope.

The essential point of this essay (and my manifesto) is simply that, even if the moral argument fails, a techno-fix won’t work either.

A gargantuan investment in technology (whether next-generation nuclear power or solar radiation geo-engineering) is being billed as our last hope. But in reality it’s no hope at all.
The reason for the failure thus far of the environmental movement wasn’t that it appealed to humanity’s moral sentiments—that was in fact the movement’s great strength. The effort fell short because it wasn’t able to alter industrial society’s central organizing principle, which is also its fatal flaw: its dogged pursuit of growth at all cost. Now we’re at the point where we must finally either succeed in overcoming growthism or face the failure not just of the environmental movement, but of civilization itself.
The good news is that systemic change is fractal in nature: it implies, indeed it requires, action at every level of society.

We can start with our own individual choices and behavior; we can work within our communities.

We needn’t wait for a cathartic global or national sea change.

And even if our efforts cannot “save” consumerist industrial civilization, they could still succeed in planting the seeds of a regenerative human culture worthy of survival.
There’s more good news: Once we humans choose to restrain our numbers and our rates of consumption, technology can assist our efforts.

Machines can help us monitor our progress, and there are relatively simple technologies that can help deliver needed services with less energy usage and environmental damage.

Some ways of deploying technology could even help us clean up the atmosphere and restore ecosystems.
But machines can’t make the key choices that will set us on a sustainable path.

Systemic change driven by moral awakening: it’s not just our last hope; it’s the only real hope we’ve ever had.

Press link for more: Eco watch

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South Australia to build World’s biggest Solar Thermal Plant. #auspol 

South Australia Will Be Home to the World’s Biggest Single-Tower Solar Thermal Power Plant
South Australia has approved the biggest solar thermal power plant of its kind in the world. The 150-megawatt structure received the green light from government officials this week. The plant will be constructed in Port Augusta. 

The project will provide employment for over 600 construction workers and will provide more than enough energy for the state’s requirements.

[Image Source: Solar Reserve]
Project expects to be running by 2020
The renewable energy project will kick off next year and be completed by 2020. 

The US$510 million project is the latest in a long line of renewable energy projects the state is tackling.

 Wasim Saman, from the University of South Australia, explains “The significance of solar thermal generation lies in its ability to provide energy virtually on demand through the use of thermal energy storage to store heat for running the power turbines.”

 He adds, “This is a substantially more economical way of storing energy than using batteries.”

The most common form of solar power uses solar photovoltaic panels to convert sunlight directly into electricity. 

This method of energy production then requires batteries to store the excess power.

 Solar thermal plants on the other hand use mirrors to concentrate the sunlight into a heating system. 

The method of heating can vary but for the South Australian plant, molten salt will be heated up.
This is a much more economical method than using regular batteries.

 The hot salt is then used to boil water, spin a steam turbine, and generate electricity when required.
Designers of the Port Augusta project say that the plant will have the ability to generate power at full load for up to 8 hours after the sun’s gone down.

 The South Australian project will be modeling itself off another big solar thermal power plant. 

The 110-megawatt capacity Crescent Dunes plant in Nevada was built by the same contractor who will use the US model as the base.

[Image Source: Solar Reserve]

South Australia leading the way in renewables.
South Australia is a world leader in renewable energy. 

This latest project now means that around 40 percent of the state’s entire electricity needs are generated by renewable sources. 

It is hoped that the conversion to solar will also mean a cut in residential electricity costs. 

The new plant costs less than building a new coal-fired power station and works out to a similar cost per megawatt as other renewable sources such as solar and wind power.

Challenges still lie ahead
It isn’t all happy news though. 

South Australia was plagued by electricity blackouts last year and the unreliable renewable sources were blamed. 

Engineering researcher Fellow Matthew Stocks, from the Australian National University, says we still have “lots to learn” about how solar thermal technologies can fit into an electric grid system. 

He explains, “One of the big challenges for solar thermal as a storage tool is that it can only store heat. 

If there is an excess of electricity in the system because the wind is blowing strong, it cannot efficiently use it to store electrical power to shift the energy to times of shortage, unlike batteries and pumped hydro.”

Press link for more: Interesting Engineering

Cynical & Dishonest Denial of #ClimateChange has to end! #StopAdani #auspol 

The cynical and dishonest denial of climate change has to end: it’s time for leadership | Gerry Hueston
“Each day that goes by without policy settings that invite investment in large-scale renewables only makes the inevitable transition harder.” 

Australia has enough renewable energy to power the country 500 times over. With South Australia a step closer to unveiling the largest lithium ion battery storage facility in the world, it is clear just how fast we can make the transition to large-scale renewables when the right policy settings are in place and investors have certainty. 

More than a decade ago, as the head of BP Australasia I pushed for action on climate change.
At the time many Australian business leaders, global companies, governments and the world’s major scientific institutions accepted the science of climate change. As a sector, we wanted certainty. Ten years later and business is still calling for certainty. That is, long-term policies that allow businesses to commit to do the heavy lifting in response to an identified, significant and growing business risk – climate change.
A carrot-and-stick approach will be required to nurture the transition to a clean energy future and move potential investments from discretionary to mandatory categories. Often there is no competitive advantage in being a first mover.
Businesses will not drive investment without the right policies. Our preference a decade ago was for a price on carbon established by an emissions trading scheme as a core part of policy settings.
The last decade’s climate policy debate has been characterised by U-turns, a lack of bipartisanship, short-term populism, denial and misinformation, not to mention the scoring of political points rather than developing a long-term framework for what is a global and intergenerational issue.
The transition to a low carbon future will now be more expensive and more disruptive than it ever needed to be. An absence of climate and energy policy has left Australia lagging dangerously behind, missing out on significant investment and facing major disruptions in local electricity markets.
Governments have also, for the most part, elected to overlook the social disruptions that our inevitable energy transition will cause.
The recent closure of the Hazelwood coal plant in Victoria was foreseen many years ago. Regrettably, a refusal to acknowledge the need for future planning until it was too late left the La Trobe Valley community to live with the consequences.
Likewise in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, a huge amount of political energy is being wasted talking up the benefits of the nation’s biggest planned coal mine, which will be bad for local communities and puts the Great Barrier Reef at risk.

Big business is often accused of making expedient short-term decisions with little regard to the long-term viability and survival of the business. Rather than long-term planning to address the very real issues being faced by the people in Queensland, we are seeing at best ill-informed and at worst cynical and dishonest denial of the reality.
The effects of climate change are happening now. This looks like sea-level rise and coastal flooding. It looks like record-breaking temperatures and worsening extreme weather events. There is widespread business and public support for action as well as widespread acknowledgment that inaction will leave us increasingly exposed to social and economic disruption.
Strong leadership is vital. Whether we get carrots and sticks or both, industry needs a political consensus that policy arising from the Finkel Review process will stand the test of time and changes of government.
Procrastination is not a good option. It’s time to take responsibility for our past decade of avoidant politicking. Each day that goes by without policy settings that invite investment in large-scale renewables only makes the inevitable transition harder.

Press link for more: The Guardian

Federal Govt. Stalls Councils take over #ClimateChange #StopAdani #Auspol 

Australian local councils lead the way in tackling climate change as federal policy stalls

Local councils across Australia are taking climate action into their own hands as climate policy paralysis plagues the federal government.
Thirty-five have pledged to switch to renewable energy, build sustainable transport, and develop greener, efficient and more climate-resilient communities.

The pledges by the councils, which serve three million Australians, were made as part of the Climate Council’s launch of the Cities Power Partnership, which encourages towns and cities via local governments to reduce emissions and increase resilience.
The launch came as the Climate Council released a report showing the unique threats and opportunities climate change poses for Australian towns and cities, and highlighting earlier findings that 70% of the emissions reductions required to keep global warming at 2C can be achieved by making changes at the local level.

“Cities and towns are leading the way in Australia with many putting the federal government to shame,” said the Climate Council chief executive, Amanda McKenzie. “This follows the US example where 250 mayors have committed to the Paris agreement in spite of the Trump withdrawal.”
Councils from every state and territory except South Australia signed the pledge, and included Canberra, Alice Springs, Newcastle, North Sydney, Kur-ring-gai and Penrith.

The participating councils will select five actions from a list of 32 that will help them achieve the aims of the partnership, and will report on their progress every six months. The possibilities include rolling out energy-efficient street lighting, setting minimum energy-efficiency benchmarks for planning applications, ensuring new developments maximise public transport use, and setting renewable energy or emissions-reduction targets.
The report also highlights the number of councils already implementing many of the 32 options for action.
The chief councillor of the Climate Council, Tim Flannery, urged “councils across the rest of Australia to take the pledge and get on with the job of combatting climate change”.
Writing in the Conversation, the Climate Council councillor and scientist Lesley Hughes said: “Ultimately, the [Cities Power Partnership] is designed to help local communities sidestep the political roadblocks at national level, and just get on with the job of implementing climate policies.”

Press link for more: cThe Guardian

Elon Musk exposes deep coal divide in Australia. #StopAdani @AnnastaciaMP #Qldpol #auspol 

Elon Musk Exposes Deep Coal Divide in Australia Bloomberg
Elon Musk’s intervention in Australia’s energy crisis is widening a divide over the future of coal.
The billionaire Tesla Inc. founder, who has promised to help solve an Australian state’s clean energy obstacles, sees no place for the fossil fuel. 

That conflicts with the national government’s push for it remaining a mainstay source of electricity generation, as well as the “clean, beautiful coal” technologies that U.S. President Donald Trump sees helping to save American mining jobs.

Elon Musk in Adelaide on July 7.


Photographer: Ben MacMahon/EPA

“Coal doesn’t have a long-term future,” Musk told reporters in Adelaide last week during a short trip to Australia. “The writing’s on the wall.”


His declaration in energy-strapped South Australia, where the 46-year-old entrepreneur announced plans to build the world’s biggest battery to support the state’s blackout-plagued power grid, has rankled lawmakers.

Photo Green TNQ (Tablelands Far North Queensland) 

Energy minister Josh Frydenberg, 45, accused the state of tapping a celebrity to paper over its patchy clean energy record. 

Tesla’s battery plan “is a lot of sizzle for very little sausage,” Frydenberg, a member of the conservative Liberal-led federal government, said Monday. 

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, 50, said Musk’s plan “doesn’t make a hell of a lot of difference” to the nation’s struggles over energy security.


Most of Australia’s states and territories — free to determine their own energy and climate policies independent of the national government — beg to differ. 

Just hours after Musk’s announcement, the neighboring state of Victoria closed the door on new coal-fired power stations, saying energy companies would rather invest in renewables.

Adani Project
The northern state of Queensland, where India’s Adani Group is planning to develop the $16.5 billion Carmichael coal mine, expects a move to clean energy will completely wipe out its carbon emissions by 2050.
Energy policy is a fraught subject Down Under, where a push by the majority of Australians for more renewable power sources is clashing with the government’s political imperative to keep a lid on soaring power prices. 

Currently, some 76 percent of Australia’s electricity is drawn from coal-fired power stations which, while a cheap supply source, are at odds with a commitment to lower climate emissions.

A series of power outages in South Australia the past year spurred fears of more widespread blackouts across the nation’s electricity market and raised questions as to why one of the world’s largest producers of coal and gas is struggling to keep the lights on in a mainland state.
The nation’s largest and also dirtiest power generator, AGL Energy Ltd., says its investment appetite for coal has reversed in the space of just a few years. 

The economics of building new coal plants don’t stack up and increasingly renewables will dominate base-load power, AGL Chairman Jeremy Maycock said last week. 

Australians overwhelmingly want the government to focus on clean energy, according to a June poll by the Sydney-based Lowy Institute.


‘Highly Improbable’
“It’s highly improbable that AGL will be constructing new coal-fired power stations because we don’t think the economics are likely to favor that,” Maycock said in a phone interview. “As the largest generator we want to play our fair share in the country’s emissions reduction targets.”

For Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, banging the drum on coal is proving a treacherous task.
In 2009, Turnbull lost his job as leader of the then opposition Liberal Party to Tony Abbott due to his support for an emissions trading program that was eventually installed by a Labor Party government in 2012.
After defeating Labor in 2013, Abbott’s Liberal-National coalition dismantled the levy on carbon emissions, claiming it was responsible for higher electricity costs, and cut targets for how much energy Australia aims to draw from wind and solar generation by 2020.
‘Good for Humanity’

While in power, Abbott claimed coal was “good for humanity” and his government attacked wind farms for being “ugly.” Since seizing the leadership from his unpopular predecessor almost two years ago, Turnbull has toned down the government’s attack on renewables.
Turnbull announced in March a plan to boost capacity at Australia’s largest hydro-electric power project by 50 percent in a bid to tackle surging electricity prices and supply constraints.

Yet the climate issue continues to create rancor within Turnbull’s party. When Chief Scientist Alan Finkel proposed last month that Australia gradually increase its renewable target to 42 percent by 2030, at least 22 members of his ruling coalition spoke out about it. Renewable energy generation provided 17.3 percent of Australia’s annual electricity generation in 2016, according to an annual report from the industry-led Clean Energy Council.

Abbott, who remains a lawmaker on the government backbench, is now calling for the government to subsidize the building of new coal-fired power plants even as investors shy away from it. Turnbull has refused to rule it out while his deputy Joyce has talked up the potential for the government taking an equity stake in any new plant. For now, the official political line is all energy sources need to be in the mix. Just don’t rule out coal.
“When it comes to energy sources, ours is a technology-neutral and all-of-the-above approach,” Frydenberg said in an emailed response to questions last week. “With a significant amount of base-load generation being phased out over the next 15 years, we need to ensure we are prepared and have enough power to meet future needs.”
‘An Absurdity’
Joyce, whose New England electorate in rural New South Wales is home to a number of coal mines, is typically more blunt. Not having any coal-fired power generation in Australia is “an absurdity,” he told Sky on Sunday.
Frydenberg and state and territory energy ministers agreed to implement 49 of the Finkel report’s 50 recommendations at a meeting in Brisbane on Friday. Among those endorsed were a requirement that renewable energy sources provide a backup in the event of blackouts, and that large power generators give at least three years notice before plant closures.
Not sanctioned was the report’s recommendation that a national clean-energy target be implemented. Instead, most state and territory Labor governments moved to have the Australian Energy Market Commission press ahead with designing options for a benchmark that could be introduced by the states.
Australia exported more coal than any other country in 2015, and has the fourth-largest share of the planet’s coal resources, the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science said in December. Still, the existing and perceived political and environmental costs attached to coal are deterring lenders.
‘Run a Million Miles’

“The high risk and cost associated with new coal plants make investors and financiers run a million miles from it in Australia,” said Ali Asghar, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance in Sydney. “The only way new coal could get built is if the government funds it and indemnifies any private entity against all future carbon risks.”
And doing so makes little sense, given that the cost of building cleaner, so-called high-efficiency, low-emission coal plants in Australia exceeds that of new projects relying on solar, wind, or gas, Asghar said.
“As solar and wind become cheaper and continue to undermine the economics of operating coal, investment in new coal plants become an even riskier proposition.”

Press link for more: Bloomberg.com

How did Australia get this stupid about Clean Energy! #auspol #qldpol

How did Australia get this stupid about clean energy?

By Giles Parkinson

Just when you thought that the public debate around clean energy in Australia could not possibly get any worse, any dumber, or any further divorced from reality, it did.
Conservatives have been railing against renewables and carbon pricing for at least a decade. 

So ingrained has it become in our national psyche that it is like a State of Origin contest between energy sources and their fans. “Queenslander”, shout the league fans. “Fossil fuels” screech the incumbents.

Photo courtesy Green TNQ (Tablelands Far North Queensland) 
But it plumbed further depths this week. 

And it got really stupid and really nasty. 

Conservatives in the government and the media rebooted their attacks on wind and solar energy, and extended it to battery storage and vehicle emission standards, with the Murdoch media dubbing the latter as a “carbon tax on cars.”
Craig Kelly, the chair of Coalition’s energy policy committee, said renewable energy “would kill people”, a claim happily repeated by columnist Andrew Bolt.

Resources Minister Matt Canavan urged the Queensland government to “forget about climate change”, while the LNP in Queensland will this weekend consider a motion urging Australia to quit the Paris climate deal.
Worse, the conservatives started attacking individuals. 

The verbal assault on chief scientist Alan Finkel was launched way back in February when it was clear he would not toe the fossil fuel line. 

And even after delivering what many consider a “soft option”, the conservatives rekindled their attack.
“The Finkel report is a blueprint for destruction — of the Australian economy and destruction of the Liberal Party,” Murdoch columnist Piers Akerman wrote.
Then they added another target – the new head of the Australian Energy Market Operator, Audrey Zibelman. Broadcaster Alan Jones urged that “this woman”, who he accused of being a “global warming advocate and a promoter of wind turbines”, be “run out of town”.

On the same day, writing in Quadrant magazine, Alan Moran, the former head of regulation for the Institute of Public Affairs, described Zibelman as a “refugee from Hillary Clinton’s presidential defeat.”

 (Actually she worked for New York governor Andrew Cuomo).
“Alan Finkel’s otherworldly prognosis is bad enough. But toss in Malcolm Turnbull’s advocacy of renewables and then add an imported American chief regulator who would have been happier working for Hillary Clinton and where are you? 

The simple answer: thoroughly stuffed,” Moran wrote.
These attacks on Finkel, and now Zibelman, come in groups. 

It begs the question, are they co-ordinated? And if so, by whom?
But really, how did Australia get this stupid? And this ugly?

South Australia’s energy minister Tom Koutsantonis thinks it’s because the conservatives, or at least the Coalition, are in the pockets of the fossil fuel lobby.
“The only thing standing in the way of lower prices, improved grid security and meeting our carbon reduction commitments is a divided federal Liberal Party that is completely beholden to the coal lobby,” Koutsantonis said on Thursday.
He may have a point, because ideology alone does not explain the absurdity and ignorance of some of the remarks made this past week.
It seems there is nothing about the clean energy economy that these people like. The conservatives and the Murdoch camp has been relentless against wind farms for years now and this week they turned its target to battery storage and solar panels.
One story focused on fires from solar panels, claiming 40 such fires occurred over the last five years in Victoria.
Context: Victoria has around 3,000 house fires a year, mostly from heaters and clothes dryers and electric blankets. Fridges cause one fire a week in London, including the recent tragedy at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington that claimed 80 lives.
The Murdoch media’s campaign against Elon Musk’s “bulldust boutique batteries” was actually kick-started by energy minister Josh Frydenberg, who made some ridiculous remarks about how a single battery could not power the whole state, or store its entire wind output.
(But it was 20 times bigger than the 5MW battery storage “virtual power plant” he was hailing earlier in the year).
No one is suggesting that this battery storage array can provide all of the state’s power needs: It is designed to help make up any energy shortfall, which occurred last year when the biggest gas plants sat idle, or when they unexpectedly tripped, and to help ride through network faults and generator failures.
And battery storage would have prevented, or at least reduced, all three major outages that occurred in South Australia since November 2015. It would certainly be smarter and quicker than the dumb, slow responding fossil fuel generator that did the wrong thing and extended the blackout on that day last November.
Battery storage is a threat to the incumbents, and their defenders, because it and other storage will make wind and solar dispatchable, will make more expensive gas peaking plant redundant, and eventually – with the addition of pumped hydro and solar thermal – allow the coal fleet to be entirely replaced.
The attack on proposed vehicle emissions standards was extraordinary. Australia has become a dumping ground for inefficient and polluting vehicles because of its absence of any such standards.
That is causing health issues and higher prices (it means more fuel consumption), but the Murdoch media had no hesitation in calling it a “carbon tax” on cars, and epithet that even Fairfax used to lead its coverage.
“Hands off our cars, warmists,” warned Andrew Bolt in the Herald Sun, echoing the extraordinary push back by conservatives against the idea of autonomous driving. “Don’t try and steal my pick-up, I’ve got a gun.”
One wonders: Do any of these people use modern technologies? Or are they still riding a horse and cart, sending telegrams and listening to the wireless, storing their beers in an ice box.
Of course, the clean energy industry doesn’t help itself – either too brow-beaten by the media or scared to offend the government. When I started writing about clean energy a decade ago, I was astonished by the circular nature of the mutual put-downs from the wind, solar, geothermal and biomass industries.
Last week, when the Murdoch media got their “scoop” on an issue well reported in RenewEconomy, the draft standards that may effectively ban lithium-ion batteries from the inside of homes, and bring a halt to the nascent household battery storage industry – a major threat to incumbent utilities.
The response from some of Australia’s leading battery storage developers? The promoters of vanadium and zinc bromine flow batteries hopped on to their soap-box and crowed about how their product was not affected.
No sense of a common purpose there. Sauve qui peux! Every man for themselves. The story of Australia’s energy industry.
Meanwhile, the fossil fuel push continues unrelenting. The Minerals Council producing yet another report claiming that “High efficiency, low emissions” coal plants could meet climate targets. To understand how preposterous that claim is, read this.
“Low emissions” is just another marketing lie. “High emissions, low efficiency” might be a more accurate description of HELE coal plants compared to the alternative smart technologies.
It is an absurd situation we find ourselves in. The public support for these new technologies is overwhelming, as it is in business (apart from those seeking to protect stranded assets), and among most politicians – even many in the Liberal Party, as NSW energy minister Don Harwin revealed late last month.
Yet here we are: Short-term policies; a patchwork of rules on energy efficiency; the worst building stock in the world; the most inefficient and polluting cars; and the world’s most expensive and dirty grid, soaring emissions, and rising temperatures.
And two years after obtaining power, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull is still defending policies he once describes as “bullshit,” too afraid to call out the nonsense spread by those keeping him in power.  

Press link for more: Renew economy.com

The far right have hijacked Australia’s energy policy! #Auspol #StopAdani 

How the far Right have hijacked Australia’s energy policy

By Giles Parkinson

If you ever wondered just how comprehensively the Far Right has hijacked the Coalition’s energy policy, it’s worth reading the speech by NSW energy minister Don Harwin we reported on last week.
It’s a speech that might once have been made by prime minister Malcolm Turnbull – and in fact large parts of it, particularly the focus on energy efficiency and demand management, are exactly the sort of things Turnbull did talk about.
That was, however, before he was prime minister and became master of all he surveyed, apart from his own climate and energy policies.


The thrust of Harwin’s speech was this: the era of baseload coal is coming to an end, fossil fuel plants are not a guarantee of reliability, wind and solar offer the cheapest forms of new generation, we need to look at storage, and we must not lose sight of the long-term climate targets.
Turnbull is not allowed to say any of these things, for fear of upsetting the Far Right. 

The sight of the craven apology offered by front bencher and government whip Christopher Pyne last weekend for daring to suggest that the moderates had some influence over policy matters was testimony to that.

And so too have been the efforts of federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg to placate the Far Right by suggesting that each individual new wind and solar farm should carry an equal amount of storage for its rated capacity – megawatt-hour per megawatt – effectively trying to turn the new technology into the same monoliths that exist now in the current energy market model which is clearly past its use by date.


Frydenberg said this to the party room and then repeated it when addressing an energy conference in Melbourne a week later. 

He made clear it was not about energy security, but “levelling the playing field” between lower cost renewable and expensive and polluting coal.


It’s a classic case of overkill – of politics over policy, and of ideology over technology.
It is true that the Far Right in Australia have not had the same powers as their colleagues now have in the US, where climate science, environmental protections, renewable policies, and emission controls are being systematically trashed and dismantled by the Trump administration.
But they have given it a good shot. 

While in power, the Abbott government abolished the carbon price, slashed the renewable energy target and other institutions. 

Since losing power, they have still succeeded in freezing their policy, or politics, in time.

The whole debate around the potentially ground-breaking Finkel Review boiled down to whether it was good for coal generators or not.
The climate science was discarded, and then the fossil fuel industry and the conservatives began to question the very idea that wind and solar were cheaper than new coal.

 Fake news made front page headlines in the Murdoch media as the incumbents fought back.
Harwin’s speech puts a nonsense to this, and highlights the fact that to be a member of a conservative government does not necessarily equate to the need to deny basic facts.
It is worth repeating Harwin’s major themes, because like the $565 million investment in Nectar Farms, the creation of 1,300 jobs and the shift of one of Australia’s biggest vegetable growing operations to 100 per cent renewables, it did not get a single mention in the mainstream media.
It seems there are some things MsM doesn’t want you to know. (Although we should belatedly note that the Guardian did finally write a story on the Harwin speech on Tuesday, nearly a week after it was delivered).
The major themes of the speech were in direct opposition to the positions and beliefs held by the Far Right.
The era of baseload power is coming to an end: This is not a new concept – the head of the UK National Grid, the head of China State grid, even Australia’s AGL and the BNEF and goodness knows how many others have acknowledged it. 

“Our old paradigm was based upon a notion of a baseload of energy demand being supplied by large thermal generators, and then a peak. Over the coming decades, this will change.”


Wind and solar are cheaper than coal. 

Full stop. 

Harwin says wind and solar are even cheaper than modelled by the Finkel Review, and noted the history of underestimating cost reductions, particularly from the IEA. 

Not only are wind and solar cheaper than new coal, Harwin suggests they will soon be cheaper than existing coal plants. 

“We could see a situation in the 2030’s where existing coal plants struggle to compete during the day because new solar is cheaper.” 

This is in direct contrast to the Coalition view that somehow new coal is cheaper, an argument vigorously promoted by the Minerals Council of Australia and the Murdoch media.


Coal and gas plants do not equate to reliability: Harwin was appointed just a week before the heatwave in NSW, and describes the “white knuckle ride” as authorities tried to keep the lights on as coal and gas-fired power plants tripped across the state.

 In NSW, the grid lost more than 2GW of capacity as coal plants succumbed to the heat and gas generators failed. 

Renewables, and in particular solar, performed as expected and kept the lights on. 

“Clean energy performed as forecast. Thermal generation did not,” Harwin said.
Energy storage will fill in the gaps between renewables: Harwin came out in support of one of the few positives to have emerged from the federal Coalition government, when glimpses of the “old Malcolm” were briefly visible: Snowy Hydro 2.0, and the need for flexible rather than baseload generation, this time through pumped hydro. 

It is not yet clear if this is a go-er financially, but the implications are important if it is. 

Harwin says it will be a “game-changer” and support 5GW of new wind and solar in the state – which makes a nonsense of the Frydenberg push for each new wind and solar plant to match each megawatt of rated capacity with a megawatt-hour of storage.


New rules are needed: Harwin supported new rules and mechanisms to level the playing field for new technologies. 

It is not enough that wind, solar and storage offer cheaper alternatives to coal and gas if the rules are fixed in favour of the incumbents. 

The most important of these is the 30-minute settlement, which most people agree allows the big generators to manipulate prices, and does not encourage battery storage.

 “It (the 30-minute settlement) is a classic example of a rule made to suit existing technologies. 

I have supported change so we can benefit from new technologies such as batteries.” 

Without reform, Harwin noted, “the National Electricity Market could start to resemble Voltaire’s view on the Holy Roman Empire – which he quipped was neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire.”
We have to take climate change seriously.


 “We must end the self-indulgent climate culture war,” Harwin says.


 The Paris climate deal has to be taken into its main target, not the initial down-payment made by Abbott. 

NSW has a goal of net zero emissions by 2050, and first off the rank will be electricity.

 The Finkel Review, prepared to mollify the Far Right, had a net zero emissions electricity sector target of 2070. 

“Investors know that emissions are expected to go down in the future” Harwin said. “And it’s not ideological. 

Whatever your view on the science, carbon is risk, that’s how investors see it, and this is an exercise of risk management.”
We have to be ambitious with renewables: Harwin spoke of a vision of having two renewable energy spines running across the state: the first running from west to east – South Australia to Snowy – unlocking Riverina solar and Western Division solar and wind, along with a huge balancing battery in Snowy. 

The second would run from the Hunter to Queensland, tapping wind in the tablelands and solar from the Central West, and use the Hunter’s existing infrastructure for a balancing battery and bioenergy hub.
Such vision is anathema to the Far Right, who are still pushing for new coal generators in Queensland and Victoria, with the loud support and editorials from conservative commentators, and the Murdoch media.
Harwin is not the only one to lament the influence of the far Right. 

Labor’s energy spokesman Mark Butler makes mention of it in his book Climate Wars, describing in detail how the Far Right has skewered climate policies and politics over the last decade.
Butler described the campaign against the “carbon tax” by media commentator Alan Jones, who was “joined by other right-wing commentators and News Limited papers in a campaign of vitriol, the likes of which none of us had ever seen in Australia.” 

But which continues to this day.
Ross Garnaut, the economist whose work was central to much of the policy designs, including the carbon price that was in place for two years, and the associated institutions that remain (such as the CEFC), said in a speech this week that it was only a small minority.
“(Some people) have ideological objections to modern atmospheric physics, or ideological or vested interests in old ways of supplying energy,” Garnaut said in a speech to the Melbourne Energy Institute this week.
“There is no way of building a bridge across to the ideological and vested interests. 


But people of such mind represent a small proportion of the Australian community, and it must be possible to establish effective policy stability without them.”
And Ian Hunter, the climate change minister in the South Australian Labor government, had this to say in a speech late last month in response to Finkel and the reaction to it from the federal Coalition:
Following the release of the Finkel review, the federal Liberals spent the whole week debating climate change science rather than seriously looking at the challenges facing our country in terms of energy policy.
“We are still struggling with federal Liberals like Tony Abbott, the former Liberal leader, who said that climate change was crap, who led his troops into battle once again in the party room, discrediting and debating the merits of climate science all over again.
“The science is very clear.

 To achieve the ambitious targets set out in the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to 2o or less means decarbonising the economy and it means more clean renewable energy. 

It is clear from across the country that there is a set of ageing energy infrastructure which has to be replaced.”
To be sure, the ideological interests are not just the province of the federal Coalition. 

At state level, we saw an unbelievable push-back against renewable energy by the Northern Territory government; the former WA LNP government vigorously opposed any new wind and solar development; the state opposition in Queensland promised to put the wagons in motion for a new coal generator within 100 days of winning election; and the Victoria and South Australia Coalition parties remained implacably opposed to their state government’s ambitious renewable energy and climate targets.
Several senior Coalition operators who might have guided the party to more science-based and economically realistic policies have lamented their impossible position. “You have no idea what we have to deal with (in the party room),” is a common refrain.
Oh, but we can imagine.

 At least now we know what might be said, assuming they had the courage of their convictions, as Harwin seems to do.

 And, the ideologues should note this point that Harwin made: “The coal sector should accept the Finkel framework as potentially the best deal that coal will get.”

Press link for more: Reneweconomy.com.au

6-Point plan to save the world. 

How To Save The World: 6-Point Climate Change Plan Laid Out By Scientists, Policymakers
President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement, but that doesn’t mean the Earth is doomed. 

Scientists and policymakers laid out a plan in the journal Nature listing six ways humans could help save the planet in three years.

In the past three years, carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels worldwide have flattened after increasing for decades, suggesting certain actions taken to curb pollution have worked.

The authors pointed out that although Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, it won’t be able to do so until November 2020. 

If global emissions rise beyond 2020 or remain level, the Paris temperature goal will be hard to reach, which is why the authors launched Mission 2020, a campaign that will work toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions by that year.


The one-degree Celsius warming driven by human activity has impacted ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica while sea ice disappears in the Arctic and coral reefs suffer from heat stress. 

There have also been heatwaves and droughts because of climate change.

However, scientists say there are ways to meet the Paris temperature goals if emissions start to decrease by 2020. 

The authors are optimistic, noting U.S. emissions went down by 3 percent in 2016 while gross domestic product rose. 

Researchers also pointed out that wind and solar power in the EU made up more than three-quarters of new energy capacity installed.
Referencing those positive notes, the scientists and policymakers revealed six milestones that could reduce global carbon emissions.
Energy
Renewable energy sources, like solar and wind power, would need to make up at least 30 percent of the world’s electricity, up from 23.7 percent in 2015. Furthermore, no more coal-fired power plants should be approved by 2020, and all the existing one should be retired, the paper said.


Infrastructure
Cities and states will have to decarbonize buildings and infrastructure fully by 2050.

 This goal wouldn’t be impossible since many governors and mayors nationwide have pledged to uphold the Paris accord despite Trump’s decision.

Read: Coral Reefs And Climate Change Facts: Massive Bleaching Event May Be Coming To An End
Transportation
To lower global emissions, electric vehicles will have to make up at least 15 percent of new car sales worldwide, a spike from today’s 1 percent market share of battery-powered and plug-in hybrid vehicles sold. 

Use of mass transportation will also have to double in cities, and there must be a 20 percent increase in fuel efficiency for heavy-duty vehicles and a 20 percent decrease in greenhouse-gas emissions from aviation per kilometer traveled.


Land
Land-use policies will have to be changed to reduce deforestation since current net emission from forest destruction and land use changes make up about 12 percent of the global total.
Industry
Industries including iron, steel, cement, chemicals, oil and gas emit more than a fifth of global carbon dioxide. Heavy industries will need to develop and publish plans to cut emissions in half before 2050.
Finance
Governments, private banks and lenders, like the World Bank, will need to hand out more “green bonds” to fund climate initiatives.
“These goals may be idealistic at best, unrealistic at worst,” former U.N. climate negotiator Christiana Figueres and her colleagues said in the paper. “However, we are in the age of exponential transformation and think that such a focus will unleash ingenuity.”
Mission 2020 scientists called on leaders who will get together at the Group of 20 summit next week in Hamburg, Germany, to focus on global warming.
“There will always be those who hide their heads in the sand and ignore the global risks of climate change,” the authors said. “But there are many more of us committed to overcoming this inertia. Let us stay optimistic and act boldly together.”

Press link for more: IBtimes.com

Clean Energy Revolution. #StopAdani Why open new coal? #Auspol 

A clean energy revolution is underway. This is why

Power-generating windmill turbines are seen near Port Saint Louis du Rhone, near Marseille, May 7, 2014. 

The French government has awarded a tender to build and run two offshore windfarms to a consortium led by French gas and power group GDF Suez, French Energy Minister Segolene Royal said on Wednesday. 

REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier (FRANCE – Tags: ENERGY SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS) – RTR3O7ZZ

In 2016, more renewable energy was added to the global grid than ever before, and at a lower cost. A global energy revolution is clearly underway.
What catalysed this transformation?
In our latest study, Faster and Cleaner 2: Kick-Starting Decarbonization, we looked at the trends driving decarbonisation in three key sectors of the global energy system – power, transportation and buildings.
By following the emission commitments and actions of countries, we examined what forces can drive rapid transition through our Climate Action Tracker analysis.
It turns out that, in these fields, it has taken only a few players to set in motion the kind of transformations that will be necessary to meet the Paris Agreement’s target of keeping the global temperature increase to well below 2˚C, ideally to 1.5˚C, over its pre-industrial level.

Renewable energy on its way
The most progressive field in the power sector is renewable energy. Here, just three countries – Denmark, Germany and Spain – were able to show the way and start an international shift.
All three introduced strong policy packages for wind and solar that provided clear signals to investors and developers to invest in these new technologies.

 Renewable energy targets and financial support schemes, such as feed-in tariffs, were central to them.
By 2015, 146 countries had implemented such support schemes.
Next, we established that the United Kingdom, Italy and China, along with the US states of Texas and California, pushed bulk manufacturing of solar technology even further and provided the kinds of economies of scale that led to this massive increase in renewable capacity globally.
Between 2006 and 2015, global wind power capacity increased by 600%, and solar energy capacity increased by 3,500%.

    

Image: Climate Action Tracker
Solar is projected to become the cheapest energy generation source by 2030 in most countries. 

In some regions, renewables are already competitive with fossil fuels.

Information released this month by the United Nations Environmental Programme and Bloomberg New Energy Finance confirms that, in 2016, the rate of renewable take-up rose yet again, with clean energy providing 55% of all new electricity generation capacity added globally. 

This is the first time there was more new renewable capacity than coal.
Investment in renewables doubled that of investment in fossil fuels. 

Yet clean power investment dropped 23% from 2015, largely because of falling prices.
To meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, we need to fully decarbonise the global energy system by mid-century. 

That means the historic trends in the energy sector – 25% to 30% annual growth in renewables – must continue for the next five to ten years.
This will require additional policies and incentives, from increased flexibility in the energy system to new regulatory and market approaches.

Electric vehicles poised to take off
A similar trend is beginning to transform the transportation sector.

 In 2016, more than one million electric vehicles were sold, and new sales continue to exceed projections.
Again, our research tells us that it took only a few players to kick off this trend: Norway, the Netherlands, California and, more recently, China.
Their policies focused on targets for increasing the share of electric vehicles for sale and on the road, campaigns to promote behavioural change, infrastructure investment, and research and development.
The European Union saw sales of electric vehicles pick up in 2013. And in the US, their market segment grew between 2011 and 2013, slowed down slightly in 2014 and 2015, and bounced back again in 2016.
China’s market took off a little later, in 2014, but sales there have already surpassed both the US and the EU.
Though, to date, it lags behind the renewable power sector, the electric vehicle market is poised to see a similar boom. Current sales numbers are impressive, but we are still far from seeing a transportation transformation that would allow us to meet the Paris Agreement targets.
For the world to meet the upper limit of 2°C set in Paris, half of all light-duty vehicles on the road would need to be electric by 2050.

 To reach the 1.5°C target, nearly all vehicles on the road need to be electric drive – and no cars with internal-combustion engines should be sold after roughly 2035.

To get us going down that path, more governments around the world would need to introduce the same strict policies as those adopted by Norway and The Netherlands.
Buildings come in last
The third sector we examined is buildings. 

Though higher energy efficiency standards in appliances are really starting to curb emissions, emissions from heating and cooling buildings have been much more difficult to phase out.
There are proven technological solutions that can result in new, zero-carbon buildings. If designed correctly, these constructions are cost-effective over their lifetime and can improve quality of life.
In Europe and elsewhere, there are some good initial policies on new building standards that make new constructions more environmentally friendly, and some EU states – the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands among them – are also beginning to mandate that older buildings be retrofitted.
Still, the rate of retrofitting falls well short of what is required to substantially drop building emissions.
Innovative financial mechanisms to increase the rate of retrofitting buildings, along with good examples of building codes for new constructions, would go a long way to drive adoption of these technologies.
And, as our study showed, only a handful of governments (or regions) would need to make a move to kick-start a transformation.

 It worked for energy and transport – why not buildings, too?
The more governments work together sharing policy successes, the bigger the global transformation. With collaboration, we can meet that 1.5°C goal.

Press link for more: World Economic Forum

Western Australia’s first solar car park #auspol #wapol 

WA shopping centre
AAP, PerthNow

May 2, 2017 12:50pm
WESTERN Australia’s first solar car park will provide 40 per cent of the electricity needed by its adjoining shopping centre.
The car park and shopping centre redevelopment in Northam will be officially unveiled by Minister for Regional Development Alannah MacTiernan on Tuesday morning.
There are close to 900 solar panels involved, which also provide shade from the summer sun.

Perdaman Group chairman Vikas Rambal says the project has been well received and he hopes to bring solar to more commercial properties.

Press link for more: Perth now.com