Time to focus on climate policy, not energy policy

Australia’s emissions are set to far exceed our Paris accords target. Yet our national discourse is around ‘secure and reliable’ energy rather than a proper review of climate policy, setting up the likelihood of a weak response to both. The government must be brought to account on the reality of climate change and the urgency of climate policy. If there are climate deniers / doubters in the cabinet room, make them speak up, so their opinions can be challenged by the science, not hidden under the fig leaf of secure and reliable energy policy.

Towards a New Age of Reason

The historical advancements in human society that have greatly increased the human population, average living standards, and reductions in violence are a result of the application of reason to our ever growing knowledge base. However our political and policy culture (including the influence of vested interests) tends to resist the full application of our knowledge to properly address our problems. This resistance can only be addressed by increasing a commitment within all cultures to evidence and reason based policy formulation, i.e. to a New Age of Reason.

Why Finkel is wrong on storage

The Finkel review proposes an obligation (under certain circumstances) on renewable generation projects to be able to dispatch a set proportion of their nameplate capacity, a requirement that in reality will force generators to either install or contract energy storage. Not only is this an impediment to investment in renewable energy projects, it will lead to sub-optimal storage outcomes that will be paid for by consumers.

Coal fired power – twin elephants in the room

Ever since the South Australia blackout, debate has raged about the role of coal vs renewables in meeting Australia’s future electricity generation needs. The debate was ramped up significantly by the Prime Minister’s recent call for new generation coal to underpin future baseload power. However, energy market experts believe the cost of future coal will not stack up against the alternatives, it would undermine our commitment to reduce emissions and overlooks the practical realities of private solar PV on baseload power, and the dwindling global stocks of fossil fuels.

The holy grail of trend growth

The core objective of Australia’s economic policy is growth. The world has seen unprecedented GDP growth over the last half century and Australia has been a beneficiary of this. But how realistic is it that GDP can grow year on year, apparently forever? Or is achieving a steady-state economy and improving how income is distributed a more important and achievable objective than hoping and praying GDP goes up forever. In this article the question is addressed by examining recent and projected trends in population and GDP at the global scale.

Simulating sustainability

A global population – economy – resource model explores the future impact of declining resource availability on the world economy. The model tracks the likely future consumption of renewable resources, fossil fuels and non-renewable materials and the economic impact of availability.

Exploring the death spiral

Power networks worldwide are facing challenges from their own consumer base in the form of private, grid-connected solar photovoltaic systems, and emerging growth in accompanying energy storage. This paper reports the findings from a system dynamics model of the electricity system of Western Australia, used to explore plausible scenarios resulting from the impact of private solar and storage for the period 2015-2035.