Green technology, transport & energy

Green technology, transport & energy

The Australian Academy of Science will call on the government to give priority support to geothermal and solar thermal energy as major national energy sources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while it was announced from Copenhagen that Cairns in North Queensland will host the 2011 Greenhouse Conference.

Cheryl Jones for Higher Education in The Australian (16 December 2009):

THE federal government has the opportunity to switch the nation’s power to renewable energy but favours attempts to make “dirty coal clean”, according to the Australian Academy of Science.

Next month the academy will call on the government to give priority support to geothermal and solar thermal energy to make them major national energy sources, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The recommendation is among 25 development options contained in the academy’s highly anticipated renewable energy report, according to Higher Education in The Australian, which also will call on the government to introduce a national seven-star energy rating standard for new houses by 2015 and a nine-star rating for houses built after 2020.

The academy also wants to see smart meters installed in all households, the phasing in of time-of-use electricity pricing and legislation to limit stand-by power consumption by domestic electrical appliances.

Its renewable energy report calls for a national system of feed-in tariffs, the price paid for green energy by householders and businesses into the grid. It recommends a coast-to-coast liquefied natural gas distribution network to replace petrol and diesel with this cleaner energy source, and incentives for motorists to buy green cars.

The academy also calls for an upgrade to the interstate rail network, and more federal and state government funding to push clean energy research through the development and commercialisation phases.

In an exclusive interview ahead of the report’s release, academy spokesman Michael Dopita told  Higher Education geothermal and solar thermal energy could soon replace coal as Australia’s main source of electricity generation, if the government chose to stimulate the development of green technology and invested in efficient long-distance electricity transmission.

“At the moment, the government is concentrating seed funding in things like geosequestration, which is trying to make dirty coal clean,” said Professor Dopita, co-editor of the renewable energy report.

Geothermal energy, which taps the heat of rocks deep within Earth’s crust to generate electricity, could fast-track Australia’s route to a low-carbon economy, he said.

The technology was mature enough for the government to act now to promote its take-up.

Solar thermal concentrating technology, which focuses the sun’s energy to heat fluids and generate steam to drive turbines, also had great potential as Australia pursued its emissions reduction and renewable energy targets.

“Both technologies can provide the reliable and sustained energy flow needed for home and industry,” said Professor Dopita, an astrophysicist at the Australian National University.

The report, titled Australia’s Renewable Energy Future, puts the scientific might of the academy up against sceptics claiming that renewables cannot meet baseload energy needs.

It challenges assumptions underlying an economic model of renewable energy take-up developed by the CSIRO and the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics on the grounds they are too conservative. In the virtual futures generated in the modelling, geothermal and solar thermal would remain as only minor components in Australia’s energy mix until 2040.

The model could not capture recent technological advances and the stimulatory impact of government intervention, Professor Dopita said.

In the real world, it risked becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, helping to reinforce a focus on fossil fuel in policy formulation.

“We can change the way we do business entirely by stimulating those new industries, getting them past the economic thresholds that make them appear to be uncompetitive with coal,” he said.

“If you give the appropriate financial incentives early on, the whole thing snowballs.

“As the technology accrues the advantages of scale, it becomes self-sustaining and provides new employment and export opportunities.”

The academy estimates Australia has enough accessible geothermal energy to meet 26,000 years of its power needs.

More than 30 companies aim to deliver geothermal energy to the grid, the renewable energy report says.

However, the accessible geothermal resource is concentrated in granite formations in the outback. To cut energy losses in getting the hot rock power to the cities, the government would need to invest billions of dollars in a high-voltage direct current long-distance electricity transmission system.


By Darrell Giles in the Courier Mail:

COPENHAGEN might have collapsed, but Cairns could be cordial.

Many of the world’s leading experts who have been in Denmark will attend the next major climate change conference, Greenhouse 2011 in Cairns.

Presidents, prime ministers and premiers will be absent from the Queensland event, but that might ensure real work is done on climate change negotiations.

State Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones made the Greenhouse 2011 conference announcement as the Copenhagen summit came to a close.

Ms Jones, a member of the 120-strong Australian Government delegation, said the April 3-8 meeting would attract up to 600 international and national experts.

“The conference will provide the opportunity to showcase not only Queensland and its iconic natural attractions, but also our leading edge climate science research, policies and programs,” she said.

“Our playing host is fitting given Queensland is the most vulnerable of all the states to the impacts of climate change. We have a world-famous Great Barrier Reef, treasured rainforests, a diverse landscape, a decentralised population, our traditional industries are carbon-intensive and 80 per cent of our population lives on the coastline.”

Ms Jones said the conference would focus on Queensland’s $200 million ClimateQ strategy.

“ClimateQ contains a wide range of programs supporting Queensland’s industry, business and households to reduce the impacts of climate change,” she said. “ClimateQ also contains projections for Queensland’s regions of what they can expect in terms of changes in temperature, rainfall and evaporation and what impacts these changes are likely to have on their communities.”

Ms Jones said the Queensland Climate Change Centre of Excellence had been working on global climate modelling experiments with the CSIRO and it would present findings at the Cairns conference.


One Response to “Green technology, transport & energy”

  1. Electric Generation is one of the most amazing discoveries of all times, but we have to learn to look after it in order to make good use of it. I know what I’m saying, I know that we need to be more efficient but we always find ways to generate energy from from our lovely Earth. I wanted to share my story about the use of electricity for stoping cancer but don’t thing you will be interested. Thanx for taking time to write.

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