Energy and Climate Policy A Low Priority Election Issue

Neither of the major parties are running an election campaign with climate change (let alone peak oil) as a major issue, with Labor handpassing the issue to a future "citizens assembly" (so much for the "greatest challenge of our generation" - now its "no carbon price until at least 2013 – if we have international consensus by then") and the Liberals hoping they can convince people that soil carbon and some other forms of government subsidy would be an acceptable form of action.

This regrettable state of affairs has lead observers like John Quiggin to note that the Greens are the only party advocating any sort of meaningful climate change policy (and thus being worth voting for).

One of the few positive announcements during the election campaign has been Labor's promise to spend $1 billion over 10 years to make it easier to connect renewable energy to the electricity grid (as well as making emissions standards for new coal fried power stations more stringent). The proposal was welcomed by SA Premier Mike Rann, noting it would help the development of wind, solar, geothermal and wave power projects in his state.

Cash For Clunkers Down Under

Besides the proposal to (slowly) improve the grid, Labor has also announced that it will promote a new "Cash for Clunkers" scheme to get more than 200,000 pre-1995 cars off the roads (stripping $220 million from the Solar Flagship program in order to do this, to the dismay of the solar energy sector). The scheme would provide owners of pre-1995 cars a rebate of $2,000 if they upgrade to a more fuel efficient model.

The head of the the Australian Solar Energy Society suggested the program should be funded by reducing the Fuel Tax Credits scheme, which subsidies diesel for mining companies, and costs $4.9 billion per year, instead of stripping money from solar power programs.

The Enhanced Renewable Energy Target

One brief glimpse of hope did emerge before the election campaign began in the form of the enhanced RET (renewable energy target), with the government mandating an increase requiring 20 per cent of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020 (still a long way short of the 100% target being promoted by Melbourne University and Zero Carbon Australia).

The new the scheme will create two different market segments, the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) and the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET), so that large-scale investments such as wind farms are treated differently from residential-scale renewable energy infrastructure such as solar hot water heaters and solar panels.

The LRET target will be for 41,000 GW-hr per year, with a series of intermediate annual targets being set - 10,400 GW-hr for 2011, 18,000 GW-hr by 2015 and 41,000 GW-hr by 2020 (this target remains until the scheme ends in 2030).

After the scheme was passed AGL Energy announced the fast-tracking of its plans to build the $800 million Macarthur wind farm in Victoria.

Brumby's Solar Plan For Victoria

While federal politicians have been largely ignoring cleaning up our power generation, Victorian Premier John Brumby has announced a plan mandating that five per cent of the state’s electricity come from solar power by 2020, with incentives encouraging industrial solar power stations and medium-sized commercial installations in places such as the roofs of shopping centres.

Brumby set an interim target of 500 gigawatt hours by 2014 (equating to around 285MW of installed capacity). The Climate Spectator put this in a global context, noting Spain overtook the US as the largest market for solar recently with a capacity of 430MW (Australia currently has less than 1MW of installed large-scale solar).

The plan includes a feed-in tariff, however the details are yet to be finalised (however the feed-in tariff for large-scale solar is expected to be set at a considerable discount to that of roof-top solar). Brumby estimates the additional cost on the energy bill per family at around $15 per year (without providing any details to back this estimate).

Spanish solar company Acciona quickly announced interest in participating in the scheme.

The government will also set a target of a 5-star equivalent energy rating across existing homes by 2020 and offer more rebates for solar hot water installation, and will look at establishing up to 50MW of co-generation power plants in hospitals, increase the government’s greenpower commitment to 50 per cent by 2020 from 25 per cent now, and add $100 million to the green buildings program. The program will also support to the introduction of electric vehicles into the state and will aim to reduce government car fleet emissions by 20 per cent by 2015, starting with the purchase of 2000 Camry hybrid vehicles.

While Brumby got plenty of good press following his solar initiative, he has also come under fire for another plan to replace one-quarter of Hazelwood, Australia's dirtiest power station, by 2014 (though some have argued this plan would be better value than the "cash for clunkers" program).

The criticism of the plan is based largely on its excessive cost, along with the obvious unfairness of making taxpayers pay compensation to the owner of a plant that should have been closed 5 years ago (as Crikey put it "Cash for clunkers: $1b for clapped-out, world’s worst-polluting coal generator).

Cross-posted from Peak Energy.

Our Pollies are not only ignoring Peak Oil; they actively don't want to know!
- As evidenced by the 31 to 6 defeat of the Greens motion in the Senate last year to even develop a P.O. plan... (

Of course, if the Pollies "don't know", then it can't be "their fault" when the inevitable happens!
Presumably the Pollies think it will be nothing more serious than a P.O. crisis boosting the popularity of whoever is "Leader" at the time...

Personally I think the population will be as mad as cut snakes when they realise that we've been sucking up short-term oil imports from such unsustainable suppliers as Vietnam and China (our two biggest sources last time I checked) with no more than a couple of weeks reserve held in the supply chain, no building program for renewable alternatives (electrified transportation being the main option) and no policies for conservation (the simplest government action would be a plain tax hike on oil to make said renewables attractive to commercial development).

Once the general consumers finally understand the Export-Land Model, it will be far too late. It's a government responsibility to understand and provide long-term policy and leadership on this.

I strongly suspect that serious P.O effects will emerge within the term of the NEXT Prime Minister.
- So everyone, please choose our next leader carefully...!

"I strongly suspect that serious P.O effects will emerge within the term of the NEXT Prime Minister.
- So everyone, please choose our next leader carefully...!"

Definition of our democracy:
A society in which you get to choose from 4 different banks, 10 different makes of car, 12 different flavours of ice-cream, 25 different brands of shampoo-
but only one political philosophy.

A young friend of mine wants to get into debt for the Harley of his dreams.
Do you tell him or shall I?
umm.. neither. He will not listen to anyone. They are are all in denial.

MY first thought when I heard about the cash for clunkers was "New car sales must be flat".
Second thought: "The Reserve Bank is worried about deflation, and want me to get into debt to create liquid money."
Third thought:"I must get out of debt. In deflationary times Cash is King"

I am in the process of finding out about registration of a Twike. in Australia.

Can you identify who is the puppet master in this Punch and Judy show that is the elections?

Let us hope that the powers that be are secretly planning to harvest huge amounts of energy at L5.

If not, it is every man for himself.

Brumby's solar target of 500 Gwh divided by 8760 hours a year is more like 57 Mw continuous average output, big but not yet a world beater. I think he should get cracking on it so we can see what the costs are. It's bleedin' obvious to me he has no serious plan to replace ultra-cheap ultra-dirty and un-carbon-taxed brown coal. The token solar sideshow is a greenwash.

In SA Rann's plann to build more wind farms evidently relies on RECs currently worth 4-5c a kwh. I presume they will be supplanted in some way by feed-in tariffs under the LRET. Rann must be pleased that Gillard will pick up the tab for new transmission. With depletion in the Cooper Basin one day SA won't have the gas backup to sell continuous wind watts with gas making up the lulls. They will have to sell windpower interstate in surges only. Hmmn I wonder if SA has any other energy resource that is smoother, doesn't need gas backup and doesn't need feed-in tariffs. Seemingly not.

Hmmn I wonder if SA has any other energy resource that is smoother, doesn't need gas backup and doesn't need feed-in tariffs. Seemingly not.

Are you baiting me or wot?
Nuclear anyone?
There is more fall-out from raising the issue than from the minuscule waste.

The nightmare is if we find enough hydrocarbon gas so that the electricity problem never materialises.
Then the problem will be food supply as Mr Goyder's line recedes over the ocean, due to the climate catastrophe.

Most Brad and Sheilas think "I breath, I turn on the lights. DUH What's the problem?".
Their most acute problem is the mortgage and whether their genius scheme of buying highly leveraged, speculative real estate is a bubble.
(It is).
They have much more urgent problems than worry about than whether the light switch works.
Just a reality check about who we are talking to here.

Did humans live at the same time as dinosaurs?

The answer is of course no, but about a third of Australians got it wrong in a recent survey.

The survey results are being used to highlight what is being described as a disturbing ignorance about science.

(ABC News)
It is not that they are dumb, but even good brains succumb to non-stop media saturation garbage.

I wonder if the modellers of wind farms take the climate catastrophe seriously? Have they taken into account that the future winds might be different to todays? My understanding is that the Hadley Cells will expand and the wind patterns will move south.

I visited a spot supposedly crossed by Goyder's Line a few years back now like the dinosaurs it's moving towards the nearest pole, the South Pole in this case
I think it highlights both climate change and Peak Oil. The 200 mm rainfall line represents the edge of wheat growing assuming you have cheap diesel and DAP. Not only is the rainfall line moving but diesel and phosphorus/ammonia based fertilisers are rising in price. Too bad if you get a lot of your calories from wheat based products. Whoops I guess that's most of us. Our leading politicians aren't worried so I guess it can't be a problem.

We discussed Goyders Line here a while ago too :

While it briefly surprised me that the percentage was that high (ie 30%) on The Age site where I saw this story a somewhat miffed 'Brad' pointed out that people really don't care about the ins and outs of the dinosaurs and humanity for the simple reason that it does not impact their lives. A bit like my (and my fellow students) inability to speak French even though my small country area school thought it might be a good idea. This particular 'Brad' went on to point out that many people who know about the dinosaurs are probably equally ignorant of practical issues and probably unable to service their own car or stop a tap leaking.

In some respects knowing this stuff is a bit like the 'elites' of the past speaking Latin. It is a social marker. Like the techno gobbledygook those of us are sometimes condemned to use in our professional lives. We can communicate effectively with our peers, but unless we take care, we alienate the general public.

Disparaging comments are always a bit alienating.

The south coast of Australia in general has good wave potential. Wave power has greater predictability. Even if the Hadley cells move south the waves will still travel north.
Hasn't ground been broken on that Port Augusta solar thermal venture yet?

Elitist and disparaging?
How so?
I am pointing out that we are in a battle for airspace.
A battle of memes.
And loosing big time to the tapes they bombard Brad and Sheila with endlessly to stop any foreign thought getting into their heads.

How is footy or any of the inane, vacuous, time wasting immanently forgettable soapbox dramas is going to protect him and his children from group think. a la the housing bubble.(Boy, is that one going to cook his financial goose)

Brad and Sheila's opinion carries as much weight as mine at the ballot. It is essential that we go into bat against their ignorance.

Here is disparaging.
The people I work with are proud their ignorance.

We do not have powerful muscles like lions, we do not have the ability to fly like a swallow.
Our one and only asset is our brain.

How can anyone defend such ignorance?
To know that humans and dinosaurs did not co-exist is elitist?

Lets see how low we can set the bar.

Have you heard about the magic pill that turns pee into petrol?
The nasty oil companies have bought the patent, and are keeping it secret so they can screw the poor little guy.
These conversation stoppers I deal with every day when I try to talk to anyone.

You tell Brad that I am a Tradesman and fix all his broken toys.
I can walk and chew gum.

i hate thinking

I stand by my post.

I stand by my post.

Then don't be surprised that you stand alone if this is how you broach the topic in public.
Personally, even a milder form of this language in public would make you sound loopy, and I suspect you are not.

Yes, people are uninformed about the issue, but approaching it the way you have does not endear people to your point of view. I would not be surprised if readers interested in the topic saw your posts above and thought "what an arrogant p@#%&" and left.

Telling people that they are ignorant shites who can barely walk and chew gum is the quickest way I know of loosing the audience. Surely that's PR101.

I agree that many people live lives filled with activities that perhaps you and I might deem frivolous, but then I have also been accused of being too serious and a kill joy.

How can anyone defend such ignorance?

I don't know that I did "defend" it, I thought I was pointing out why it happened. RELEVANCE. SIGNIFICANCE. Or the lack thereof. If they had a bad science teacher or a faith based school with a disinclination to teach this then maybe the idea didn't stick. And it has no consequence to their daily lives until some belligerent comes along and says "Hey, this dipshit doesn't know the stuff I know". And then how do you think they will react?

To know that humans and dinosaurs did not co-exist is elitist?

The phrase I used was "In some respects"... you know, that gray middle area of discourse.

Why don't Australian students know all the US state capitals?
Do you know where a Thalweg is located?

What I have learnt is that people won't own an opinion (ie change their minds) unless they believe they have come to it by themselves (to a large extent).

It helps if they share it with friendly voices.

I really only try to educate my closest family and friends now. I got tired of standing alone.
I try to do this calmly and in a manner that makes the topic relevant to them.

EG. My father is in the age bracket that is rather resistant to the whole climate change concept; being in your language a "Brad". To get the idea closer to acceptance I pointed out that the land my parents own next to the sea will not be an ideal location in the future, and regardless of his own personal opinions about climate change, other peoples opinions will lead to insurance premium changes and local council planning changes that might render that land unsaleable.

Fortunately for me, first Vic, then other states and then a federal guideline was issued to local councils. His opinions have softened. I never say "told you so". Other family members are 'converts' although some are still wedded to there current lifestyle having invested so much in it.

I know, I shall talk very sternly at them about how they will rue the day they ignored my self evident sagacity. Morons. That should do the trick, shouldn't it?


While SA has plenty of wind potential in the long run they'll need to supplement it with solar thermal, geothermal and wave power - luckily they have great resources for all of these...

Mars Rover finds evidence of Life