A window opens to dump dirty generators

This article originally posted at Climate Spectator. View the original article here.  The continued decline in demand for electricity in Australia is great news for our transition towards a decarbonised economy. This is a ideal opportunity to retire our old, … Continue reading A window opens to dump dirty generators

Nigel Morris: Dear Prime Minster Tony Abbott – can you please stop lying about the RET

The letter below was written by Nigel Morris, Director at SolarBusinessServices. The original letter can be found here. Dear Prime Minister I don’t like to publicly criticize leaders but I am compelled to take you to task. Can you please … Continue reading Nigel Morris: Dear Prime Minster Tony Abbott – can you please stop lying about the RET

Generators to cash in at expense of renewables and consumers

Originally posted at Climate Spectator. View the original post here

Hugh Bannister from one of Australia’s handful of electricity market modellers, Intelligent Energy Systems, has released analysis looking at who would win and lose out of a move to axe the large scale component of the Renewable Energy Target (the LRET).

The headline answer is that the winner won’t be energy consumers, in fact they’ll lose to the tune of a half a billion dollars over the next decade on a net present value basis. Indeed what is likely to cause quite a deal of shock is that the average NSW household would end up paying more on their electricity bill per year from abolishing the LRET then the entire extra cost associated with the carbon tax. Continue reading “Generators to cash in at expense of renewables and consumers”

Another summer on the NEM

Originally posted at The Conversation. View original post here. 

Imagine listening to your CEO explain sales down 30% on forecasts of just five years ago when your company signed off a multi-billion dollar investment plan designed to secure its share of the predicted sales growth. Your CEO goes on to explain how you had been blindsided by new technology. Feeling a bit sick in the stomach, you might be thinking “Kodak”. You can’t risk another five years like the past, so you ask what is the strategy, “to defend or to embrace?”

With that in mind it is worth taking another look at what’s been happening in the electricity sector. For example, take a look at summer afternoon consumption of electricity dispatched on the National Electricity Market (the NEM is the electricity market that serves the east coast states and South Australia).

Continue reading “Another summer on the NEM”

Vic govt on naptime as mine fire poisons Morwell

By Ben Courtice — an updated version (March 2) of an article originally published at Green Left Weekly

Vic govt on naptime as mine fire poisons Morwell

Premier Denis Napthine is living up to his new nickname “Naptime” as the Hazelwood coalmine fire continues its terrible impact on the town of Morwell, in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley.

The edge of the town is only a few hundred metres from where the fire has been burning since February 9. The plume of toxic smoke and ash from the fire is blanketing the town much of the time.

A protest rally in Morwell on March 2 drew around a thousand angry locals. A panel of speakers, and many people who stood up on the floor to vent their rage, confirmed that it is a widespread view that the government has left the town in the lurch and given them false information about the health risks from the fire.

Morwell rallies for action
Morwell rallies for action

The unfolding disaster demands an immediate escalation of action, and Greens MLC Greg Barber is right to demand that the government declare a state of emergency, even while health minister David Davis denies it is needed. Continue reading “Vic govt on naptime as mine fire poisons Morwell”

Wind energy lowers market price of energy during seasonal peaks

The rapidly increasing cost of utilities in Australia—energy in particular—has had much media coverage lately. We found an interesting, industry-backed article on the AWEA blog by Michael Goggin about wind helping lower energy prices during peak usage periods. In addition to … Continue reading Wind energy lowers market price of energy during seasonal peaks

All New Australian Power Plants Will Be Renewable Through 2020

Published by www.cleantechnica.com. View original article.

According to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), all new electricity generation capacity in Australia will be from renewable energy. It will mostly be from wind energy, while 13% of that is expected to be from large-scale solar PV, and 3% from biomass.

After years of hearing very little about Australia’s transition from fossil fuels, there has been Sydney’s plan to go 100% renewable by 2030 and a lot of big news in 2013. But the next several years will be even bigger. Continue reading “All New Australian Power Plants Will Be Renewable Through 2020”

Direct action vs carbon pricing: we can have it all

Published by The Conversation. View original article here.

By Alan Pears AM, energy policy guru and Adjunct Professor, RMIT University.

We should not be debating a choice between direct action and carbon pricing: we need both, but with credible, well-designed mechanisms.

Why we need both

We need a carbon price based on certificate trading for several reasons.

It sends a signal to both emitters and investors that they need to cut emissions, starting today. The price rises if there is insufficient action, and declines if action is effective. And there is the potential to profit from trading. All of that makes emitters more likely to innovate and bring down the cost of reducing emissions.

The revenue from a carbon price provides funds to support additional cuts and help those affected by the price to adapt. Because a price brings in revenue, funds don’t have to be dragged from other government activities.

We need effective direct action because carbon pricing is a relatively crude and imperfect incentive. A carbon price can be undermined by non-financial barriers and market imperfections. Weak carbon caps lead to low carbon prices that do not reflect true long-term costs of climate change.

Businesses and households also tend to put more value on money they have now than money they have in the future. That means future carbon costs are not necessarily powerful motivators when compared with other factors.

In the electricity industry, profits increase with higher sales, so a carbon price will encourage action that reduces emissions per unit of electricity sold, such as renewable energy, but not actions that reduce sales. Energy companies won’t encourage energy efficiency, the most cost-effective abatement option, because it cuts their profits.

A carbon price does increase the prices consumers pay for fossil fuel sourced energy, but it is a small increase in a small part (1-5%) of most business and household costs. If we want consumers and businesses to improve their energy efficiency, or set up distributed energy generation such as solar panels, direct action can help.

Direct action can be applied to activities that cannot be included in a carbon trading scheme. We have already seen this approach under the Carbon Farming Initiative, which encourages sequestration by rewarding those who act. Continue reading “Direct action vs carbon pricing: we can have it all”

Pumped hydro energy storage – making better use of wind

Published by The Conversation. View the original post

By Tim Forcey, energy advisor at the University of Melbourne Energy Research Institute. 

South Australia produces plenty of wind power, but it might become more than the grid can handle.

In late September, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) released a report investigating how wind can better be integrated into the power grid. AEMO reports that as more wind turbines are deployed over the next seven years, constraints on the way our electricity grid works – including bottlenecks in the system – mean there may be limits on how much wind-generated electricity we can use.

AEMO has not yet investigated what long-term solutions exist to avoid curtailing wind. But a joint study by the engineering and consulting company Arup and the University of Melbourne Energy Institute is looking at one possible solution.

Electricity system operators and investors could use pumped hydro energy storage to complement the growing deployment of renewable energy. The current grid struggles to push power through when it is being generated in large quantities, and to meet demand when generation is low. Storing energy from wind using pumped hydro means the electricity wouldn’t have to be sold as it is being made, but could be saved for later.

Continue reading “Pumped hydro energy storage – making better use of wind”

Wind farms: What we can’t hear, can’t harm

Published by Renew Economy. View original article.


In a new analysis, the Australian Energy Market Operator estimates Victoria will have 4,090 MW of new wind energy capacity installed by 2020. Those who support more renewables in the energy mix will welcome the forecast, yet it may be optimistic.

Today (Friday September 27), the Victorian Civil Administration Tribunal (VCAT) will resume the decision making process on the Cherry Tree Range wind farm proposed for central Victoria. Despite meeting the world’s strictest wind farm planning laws and laying outside the multitude of no-go zones imposed by the Baillieu government, the project could be thwarted. By what? The self interest and pseudo-science trumpeted by anti-wind farm groups.

The fate of the Cherry Tree Range wind farm is a test case for wind energy in Victoria. If it’s approved then there’s hope Victoria will achieve the high-penetration of wind energy AEMO predict by the end of the decade.

VCAT adjourned with an interim determination in April, finding the permit application was in accordance with all the planning considerations that the Mitchell Shire had contested. However the Tribunal decided it would await the outcome of an EPA SA study into alleged noise complaints at Waterloo wind farm, and also a new review by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

VCAT left us to ponder the question: whether there is a causal link between sound pressure emissions from wind turbines and adverse health effects of a physiological nature. Continue reading “Wind farms: What we can’t hear, can’t harm”