Renewable energy

Australia can lead zero-carbon prosperity – group

Despite its contributions to the world's total carbon emissions, Australia can lead the way toward zero-carbon prosperity while United Nations negotiations are at a standstill, a report from Beyond Zero Emissions suggests.

The report, "Laggard to Leader," proposes that Australia institute a moratorium on new fossil fuel developments as the centerpiece of a global campaign to phase out fossil fuels.

They say that the country's "immense" sphere of influence over emissions - due to high domestic greenhouse gas output - and the growing coal and gas exports would be ideal to lead the world's "decarbonization."

The concept views that reducing carbon emissions must be a shared responsibility for many of the emissions that occur in any one place. In addition, the efforts must be done in smaller groups, focusing their efforts on the individual sectors and processes that cause emissions.

Queensland awaits the new BZE Buildings Plan

Eco-conscious Queenslanders will be pleased to learn the launch of a new Zero Carbon
Australia plan by the award winning non-profit educational and research group, Beyond Zero
Emissions (BZE) is fast approaching.

Like the Stationary Energy Plan launched in 2010, the new Buildings Plan draws on many
experts who have volunteered their time to compile it. The plan will explain how to transition
Australian's buildings sector to zero carbon emissions, through energy efficiency retrofits and
other clean tech strategies, saving consumers money and emissions.

Lead author on the plan, Trent Hawkins says, “Imagine buildings efficiency programs in the
near future which include the features of a "virtual power station", with solar panels, heat-
pump boosted solar hot water, reverse-cycle airconditioning, bulk and silver insulation, air
sealing, induction cooktops, and efficient LED lighting.”

Zero Carbon Australia 2020 Buildings Plan

The Zero Carbon Australia 2020 (ZCA2020) Buildings Plan aims to demonstrate that there are no technical barriers to zero emission buildings in Australia. A dedicated team of about 50 pro-bono researchers from architects, builders and economists, to engineers, programmers and much more, have spent the last 18 months designing a zero net energy consumption building stock for Australia, through energy efficiency retrofits and zero carbon standards for new buildings.

Port Augusta pushes for renewable energy

A COMMUNITY campaign to transform Port Augusta’s coal fired power to renewable solar thermal technology is gaining momentum.

Lobby group Repower Port Augusta has announced the result of a community vote that received 4000 responses, with 98 per cent in favour of solar thermal power over the alternative option of gas.

The coal-fired stations are to be downsized due to supply and demand factors.

Port Augusta's Solar Thermal Power Proposal Proves Popular

A campaign to replace Port Augusta's ageing brown coal power stations with base-load solar thermal power has received an overwhelming thumbs up from the local community - and also has support from the company that owns the coal plants.
Port Augusta is home to South Australia's only coal-fired electricity generation plants - Playford B (240 MW) and Northern power stations (520 MW). Both are fuelled by emissions-intensive brown coal mined at Leigh Creek, 250 km to the north. The two plants are responsible 50% of South Australia's electricity related emissions.
The end is nigh for both facilities; so the question now is what to replace them with. One alternative would be a gas-fired facility. However, the Repowering Port Augusta report, released in April by Beyond Zero Emissions, says establishing a solar thermal based power generation facility would create 1800 jobs, avoid over 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and help address some health problems in the area.
In a vote co-ordinated by community group Repower Port Augusta, 4053 local residents have thrown their support behind solar thermal and just 43 voted for gas.

Port Augusta to vote on a concentrating solar power future

Support the call for Australia's first concentrated solar thermal power plant.

The campaign for Port Augusta to become the site of Australia’s first solar thermal power plant has escalated. Port Augusta residents will be asked to vote on the plan.

Newly-formed community group “Repower Port Augusta” will host a weeklong community vote, which they say will show the overwhelming support that exists for a solar thermal future for the town.

Port Augustans have long-suffered serious health impacts from the town’s two coal power plants, which supply 30% of South Australia’s electricity.

Research by Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) says they need not suffer any longer. BZE says that shifting from coal to solar power will address longstanding public health issues and massively cut greenhouse gas emissions.

It will also offer big employment benefits, from the maintenance and operation of the solar plants to the manufacturing that will take place in the area.

Critically, solar thermal power will provide far more jobs for the community than gas power. Gas would also still detrimentally affect public health and the environment.

Repower Port Augusta will launch the community vote on July 13 and will collect votes for a week from July 15. The groups says the ballot will ask “the community to decide if it wants concentrated solar thermal or gas to replace Port Augusta’s ageing coal power stations”.

Proposal director talks to Business Port Augusta

One of the directors of Beyond Zero Emissions, Mark Ogge, was in the city last week to present to Business Port Augusta about the proposal to build a concentrated solar thermal plant.

Mr Ogge said it was “really great” to be invited to go into detail with the group on what BZE is proposing.

“The discussion was really good and the questions were great,” he said.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Port Augusta in terms of employment and business opportunities that would result in the proposal going ahead.”

See this week's Transcontinental for more.

It’s time to redesign the world’s energy markets

The path from point A to point B in the de-carbonisation of the world’s electricity markets is looking more problematic by the day. Even as more people can see what the destination looks like, few are sure of the best path to get there.

More and more reports are being produced that demonstrate how the world’s biggest economies can be powered by renewable energy sources – essentially the wind and the sun. The EU has done its own scenario planning, as has the International Energy Agency and numerous other institutions and think-tanks, including Australia’s UNSW and Beyond Zero Emissions. The US-based National Renewable Energy Laboratory this week released a report showing how the world’s biggest economy could be powered 80 per cent by renewables by 2050. But the problem is how to manage that transition.

Most studies, such as the IEA’s, Desertec’s and NREL’s, talk of a “new paradigm” in energy markets. But it’s not just a new way of thinking. Some utilities who operate in these markets are more prosaic – fearing that these markets are effectively defunct because renewables redefine the rules on which these markets were built. Or, at least, they displace those that were previously favoured.

This is in reference to the merit order effect, which we have documented on numerous occasions, and which is now entering the broad lexicon of policy decision-making.

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