For the past five years we’ve been tracking the superb renewable energy activism of the Port Augusta community in South Australia in their quest for a solar thermal power station.
2016 marked the end of six decades of coal-fired power generation at Port Augusta and now we finally have the announcement of a replacement that will provide dispatchable renewable energy, using CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) technology.
It’s quite brave leadership from the South Australian State Government. They’ve had to put up with a year of denigration and ridicule from the Federal Government for an ambitious transition-to-renewables program. But they’ve pushed on relentlessly, culminating in the announcement of the world’s biggest battery storage last month and now the solar with storage plant announced this week.
The federal government has announced a A$2 billion plan to expand the iconic Snowy Hydro scheme. It will carry out a feasibility study into the idea of adding “pumped hydro” storage capacity, which it says could power up to 500,000 homes.
Hydro is one of the oldest and most mature electricity generation technologies. And pumped hydro storage – in which water is pumped uphill for later use, rather than simply flowing downriver through a hydro power station – is the dominant form of energy storage globally.
But there are limitations to how much freshwater hydro can be accessed, so it’s worth looking at what alternate approaches are available. One promising prospect is to use seawater instead of rivers. This tactic could potentially help South Australia resolve its highly publicised energy problems. Continue reading →
In a speech to the National Press Club, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declared that the key requirements for Australia’s electricity system are that it should be affordable, reliable, and able to help meet national emissions-reduction targets. He also stressed that efforts to pursue these goals should be “technology agnostic” – that is, the best solutions should be chosen on merit, regardless of whether they are based on fossil fuels, renewable energy or other technologies.
As it happens, modern wind, solar photovoltaics (PV) and off-river pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) can meet these requirements without heroic assumptions, at a cost that is competitive with fossil fuel power stations.
Aid was at its highest under Menzies, at 0.5% … when per capita income was much lower. – World Vision Australia chief advocate Tim Costello, quoted in The Sydney Morning Herald, December 28, 2016.
A news report highlighting the fall in Australia’s foreign aid spending quoted World Vision Australia Chief Advocate Tim Costello as saying aid was at its highest under Prime Minister Robert Menzies, at 0.5% of gross national income – at a time when per capita income was much lower.
It took 21 years of bureaucratic wrangling to transcend tactical boycotts and get everyone to the starting blocks. If nothing else, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) twenty-first conference of parties (COP21) can take credit for a full house.
Talks have often been fraught with tension: negotiations at COP6 at The Hague in 2000 broke down and talks were rescheduled for 2001 in Bonn; COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009 collapsed in disarray without agreement.
Leaving at a more civilized hour from the youth hostel led to a slightly less civilized trip in the shuttle bus from the RER station. Queuing to get past security gave me an idea of the sheer numbers that the organisers are dealing with at the COP21 site at Le Bourget.
Hard to imagine so many meetings, conversations, information and people can fit into a single day. I guess stalwarts who’ve attended numerous COPs take it in their stride.
Today began with a short briefing for our Climate Action Network Australia (CANA) team, before we walked in to meet Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten in one of the formal meetings room available for delegations and side meetings.
This is the final part of a three-part essay on the prospects for a global climate deal at the Paris 2015 talks. You can read part 1 here and part 2 here.
Much like the internet, climate change is here, and as each day passes, it only gets bigger. This is true not only of the science – another year passes, greenhouse gas concentrations rise, and the warming and severe weather events intensify – but also of the human, political and policy response to the problem. There is always another international meeting to prepare for, a new report to digest, a new policy to consider.
It is the relentlessness of the problem that can drive fatigue. People feel they have heard it before. Policies have been tried, their success has been mixed, and the debate – certainly in Australia – is either nasty, or tired, or both. Continue reading →
This is part 2 of a three-part essay on the prospects for a global climate deal at the Paris 2015 talks. You can read part 1 here.
For three years leading up to the last significant United Nations climate summit, at Copenhagen in 2009, I was the strategic director of the Copenhagen Climate Council. The purpose of this group – which included chief executives of major global businesses headquartered in China, Europe, and the United States, as well as policy experts, scientists and other leading academics – was to shed light on the importance of reaching a global climate agreement, and to define what that agreement should include. Continue reading →
With only nine months to go before the most important international meeting on climate change since Copenhagen in 2009, what are the chances of success at this year’s Paris talks? What might “success” mean? And can the mistakes and challenges that have befallen previous meetings be avoided and tackled?
To help address these questions, let’s first dispense with three pervasive myths that continue to make the task of achieving an adequate global response to climate change harder. Continue reading →