In this post I meant to show how the science has been showing for years now that we need rapid and concerted decarbonisation for a safe climate, and any hope of keeping global warming to 1.5˚C, in order to frame a consideration of the Finkel review. However, Abbott’s climate denialism is dramatically on full show and now George Christensen has thrown a grenade into the ring by saying he won’t vote in favour of Finkel’s Clean Energy Target. He says that most other Nationals won’t vote for it either. Indeed:
He said that, rather than legislating a clean energy target, the government would be better off building high-efficiency coal-fired power stations to replace the ageing coal fleet. Christensen contended that approach would reduce carbon pollution.
The Finkel review of the National Electricity Market is due to be revealed to the premiers at COAG tomorrow, but is you’ve been reading the Australian Financial Review it’s all done and dusted. There’s really only one horse in the race, and it’s the Low Emissions Target (LET), which Tony Wood of the Grattan Institute says is the third last horse in the race, but picked because it’s better than the other two. That may be harsh, but the visionary scheme was first proposed by John Howard in 2007. Here’s Howard and Costello launching the scheme way back then:
The initial stimulus for this post was an article in the AFR entitled We are at an energy crossroad (paper version) by Tony Wood of the Grattan Institute, based on a new report Powering through: how to restore confidence in the National Electricity Market and a series of articles mainly at RenewEconomy. I’ll summarise them Climate clippings style, so the story should emerge and you can follow the links for elaboration if you choose. Continue reading Energy crossroads→
The Four Corners program Power Failure added to the sense of crisis around our power system, beginning with the breathless comment that there was almost a breakdown of civil order in South Australia when the lights went out in September. The program looked at the difficulties experienced when the power went off for three days. Recently in some places affected by Cyclone Debbie, crews couldn’t get in to start fixing for about double that time. I’ll come back to Four Corners via a series of articles published on the same day.
First, in the AFR tucked away on page 8, Mark Ludlow penned an article Renewables, EIS ‘make gas-fired power redundant’ (paper edition title). Ludlow interviewed Professor Frank Jotzow, director of the Centre for Climate Economics and Policy at ANU, who said gas had been overtaken by renewable energy, including battery storage, in the transition away from coal-fired power. We should skip gas and go straight to renewables with batteries. Continue reading Power tipping point→
Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg have now added a second myth to the earlier one that South Australia had rushed madly and blindly into renewables without thought for the consequences. They say that South Australia is now “going it alone”. Unfortunately this meme was picked up in the media, so that Philip Clark on ABC Nightlife recently had SA “going it alone” as his topic of the day (most of the comment supported SA, but no-one, not a single one, had their facts right).
The fact is that the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) runs the market, calls bids for supply on a 30-minute basis, and balances supply and consumption. That is what it has done every day for years, since 1 July 2009, and will continue to do so into the future. Except that 30-minute time-slots are bound to be reviewed in the Finkel report and may end up at five. The Australian Energy Market Commission is currently considering a request for such a change. Continue reading SA power plan: intervention, not going alone→
“Ten years of brutal, opportunistic politics has left this nation with no credible energy policy.”
The money quote from Jay Weatherill’s outburst was this:
“Josh Frydenberg was humiliated back in December. We were working with him to introduce an emissions intensity scheme. He knows that. It was well advanced. It was about to happen. Coal interests in the federal Coalition government basically cut him down before he even had a couple of hours explaining it.”
I can’t make up my mind whether Malcolm Turnbull’s brains have fried, or whether he is just plain evil. I think of Godwin Grech, and think the former. My wife is convinced it’s the latter, and she’s usually right about people.
Anyway politics reached a new level of absurdity last week, as Scott Morrison brought a lump of coal into the parliament, which ended up between a crazed Barnaby Joyce’s legs, while in Question Time Turnbull’s answer to every question about the omnibus bill to change social security entitlements (and save a heap of cash) was to rant about Bill Shorten, blackouts and dreaded renewable energy in South Australia.
All the while, fossil fuel generators are gaming the system, to extract more from electricity consumers, while the market regulator ends up splitting the profits.
Frank Jotzo recently pointed out that if we are to meet our Paris commitments of keeping global temperature rise below 2C we will need to close about one coal-fired power station every year. I believe we have 24.
A bit further down I’m going to look at what Tristan Edis has to say about electricity pricing, but first what the whole affair is doing to Turnbull.
Mark Di Stefano at Buzzfeed has a detailed account of Turnbull’s year in 2016: The Year That Broke Malcolm Turnbull, and the pictures follow the story. Turnbull starts out as a confident leader, full of hope and bright ideas, and ends as just another politician that people don’t like very much. And there is rising anger about him within the conservatives of his own party.