1. Bill Ferris: Coalition can’t stop energy shift
That was the headline in the dead tree version of the AFR. Bill Ferris is the outgoing Science and Innovation Australia chair. He says he didn’t find the Coalition government’s rewriting of the ACCC report to support coal-fired power a helpful signal, but:
- what I am seeing – and you see it in the US as well – is that business and state governments are getting on with alternative energy sources, mainly renewables and storage,” said Mr Ferris, a veteran venture capitalist.
“That ain’t going to stop and it won’t stop because a government is concerned about the electoral impact.
“I think increasingly the Australian population understands climate change and where the science and innovation is just an amazing opportunity – not just for solving existing difficulties but for creating jobs. It’ll play out that way and governments will either keep up with it or not.”
Ferris said we needed people like software billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes and Elon Musk. The former famously attacked Scott Morrison on his call for “fair dinkum” power. ScoMo was the one who brought a lump of coal into parliament. Cannon Brooks’ tweets a couple of years ago ended up with Musk supplying a big battery.
Seemingly asleep at the wheel, NSW has come good, sort of, with an Emerging Energy Plan.
NSW is the state facing the biggest transition, because most of its 10GW of coal-fired generators were getting to the end of their life.
- Within 15 years, AEMO predicts, 70 per cent of that coal capacity will be gone – and it expects this to be replaced by large-scale solar, large-scale wind, storage, and rooftop solar, with the share of gas and hydro little changed from today’s level.
This is the graph from AEMO’s Integrated System Plan:
The NSW government will support capitalists to fill the gap by offering cash support for new large-scale projects that use ’emerging, dispatchable technology’. Giles Parkinson in the linked article says:
- It is offering up to $10 million per project, for a total of $55 million. But it is not the scale of the initiative that is significant, it is the acceptance that the energy transition is profound, rapid and unstoppable.
- The program will provide up to $10 million in capital funding per project, and up to $500,000 for feasibility studies. The projects must be grid-connected, at least 5MW in size, and provide “emerging and dispatchable” technology.
An emissions intensity cap of 0.5 tonnes of Co2-e has been placed on any projects. This effectively rules out coal – as the idea of “clean coal” is nothing but a marketing term. It may allow for some form of gas generation, but such projects may struggle to compete with the falling cost of wind and solar and storage. It specifically rules out upgrades and extensions of existing plant.(Emphasis added)
Angus Taylor, Scott Morrison and all Coalsheviks, please take note.
In Victoria the Liberal Party has focussed on power prices and promised to put solar on the roof of every school. Other than that it has no policy at all to manage the state’s low-carbon transition.
- Daniel Andrews’ Labor, meanwhile, has gone hard in the other direction, with a slew of policy announcements ranging from household solar and battery rebates, to support for microgrids, large-scale wind and solar farms and batteries; and – just today – a new announcement on solar for renters.
“In four short years, 732MW of new renewable energy capacity has been built, and more than 3,000MW of renewable capacity is under construction or contracted to be built,” Labor said in a statement on Thursday.
“Victoria’s first renewable energy auction is delivering 928MW of renewable energy, with the six projects across the state producing enough electricity to power 646,273 households – the equivalent of powering the towns of Ballarat, Bendigo, and Geelong combined.
“The power produced by these projects is also expected to drive a 16 per cent reduction in Victoria’s electricity sector greenhouse gas emissions by 2034/35.
And so on. Now it has announced a target for renewables generation to 50 per cent by 2030 if re-elected. Previously it had aimed for 40 per cent by 2025. Not all that radical in view of the business-as-usual “neutral” scenario mapped out in the Australian Energy Market Operator’s Integrated System Plan:
That was before the Labor government’s recent announcement of a massive solar PV incentive, which will see another 2.6GW of rooftop solar installed on another 650,000 homes over the next 10 years.
Victoria has already become a rooftop solar hotspot where October installations surged 40 per cent to 37.6MW for the month, just trailing NSW (39MW) as the hottest market in the country, and relegating Queensland to third place.
“We are working towards a shortlist of electricity generation investment projects by early next year that deliver when customers need it (likely to include coal, gas and hydro), balancing the unprecedented investments in solar and wind,” Taylor wrote.
“These new projects will drive increased competition and supply to enhance affordability and reliability.
“We need project proponents to sharpen their pencils, bringing forward bankable projects as quickly as possible. We recognise government has no choice but to play a role in underwriting these investments, given the distorted history of this sector, and the unavoidable political risks of future Labor-Greens policies.”(Emphasis added)
Wrong! The Government does have a choice and has chosen to intervene to stop those who would act to save the planet. He’s even prepared to indemnify any new coal and gas plants against the risk of carbon pricing in the future.
Clearly a man who wants to make a difference.
5. Taylor opens “fair-dinkum” off-grid classroom
Angus Taylor once said there was too much wind and solar in the electricity grid when he was standing next to Alan Jones:
Now his duties include opening a solar classroom in Brackenridge High School in Brisbane, which, with battery, has gone off-grid.
In fact a whole school in WA is doing the same, following a NSW pilot of the technology in January, backed by $369,115 from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency two classrooms, airconditioned, are also employing real-time energy metering, carbon dioxide metering, data capture and an in-classroom dashboard that provides real-time data and gives teachers control of the classroom environment.