smh Environment: Coal seam gas 'clean' claims under attack

SMH Environment reports: A REPORT commissioned by the coal seam gas industry into its own greenhouse gas emissions, and held as commercial-in-confidence for months, shows that Australian gas exported to China is likely to be little better for the environment than coal.

The industry has been running an advertising campaign claiming that coal seam gas is ''up to 70 per cent cleaner than coal''. But the report, by consulting firm WorleyParsons, compared black coal and coal seam gas exports from Australia to China and showed that only best case scenarios come close to the promised major greenhouse gas savings.

Gas would release less CO2 when burned in a Chinese power plant, but most of the difference would be eaten up by the extra emissions from extracting and processing the gas in Australia.

While the emissions from processing coal made up only 2.7 per cent of its total greenhouse gas output, processing made up 22 per cent of the total emissions from coal seam gas.

Stateline South Australia: Port Augusta looks to new power source

ABC's Stateline South Australia reports on the Beyond Zero Emissions proposal to replace the Northern and Playford coal power plants with Concentrating Solar Themral power.


Beyond Zero Emissions Strategic Director Mark Ogge in Port Augusta with the Playford B coal power plant in the background.

ABC Radio: Regional town replacing smoke with mirrors

ABC's Bush Telegraph reports:

The coal powered Playford B power station in Port Augusta is one plant which was nominated to be shut down. The owner of the plant, Alinta Energy, confirmed that they have tendered for the 'Contract for Closure' program.

But what will replace it?

A proposal to build a series of solar thermal plants is attracting local interest because of its ability to provide both base and peak load electricity.


Sunshine Coast Daily: Change is in the air

SUNSHINE COAST DAILY reports: THE Caloundra Greens are calling for Sunshine Coast residents to get behind a project to switch Australia to 100% renewable energy sources over the next 10 years.

But secretary Allan McKay has ruled out the placement of wind or solar thermal power farms on the Coast under the Zero Carbon Australia 2020 Stationary Energy Plan.

The proposal, put together by volunteer group Beyond Zero Emissions, was discussed yesterday at a Greens-sponsored public meeting at Lake Kawana Community Centre.

It detailed a rollout of large solar thermal plants at 12 proposed sites across the country to supply 60% of Australia's power, with the other 40% being supplied by wind.

Atherton, Georgetown, Collinsville and Stanthorpe in Queensland and Walcha, Orange, Cooma and Crookwell in New South Wales have been earmarked for wind plants.

Solar thermal energy is the focus for areas of Prairie, Roma, Charleville and Longreach in Queensland and Bourke and Dubbo in NSW.

It's time to rip up gas networks

By Matthew Wright

CLIMATE SPECTATOR reports:It's time to set a date to phase out Australia's old 19th century gas networks. In their place, the electricity network can take on all of the energy tasks of the old gas networks and do it with higher efficiency and better economies of scale, bringing cost saving to all consumers at a time when the cost of living is constantly rising.

Simply put, all the services provided by the gas network today can be provided more efficiently by electricity. Some of the money saved from the expense of keeping the old legacy gas network will be rolled into upgrading the electricity network and the rest will be delivered as savings to energy consumers, who will pay less when they pay once for electricity, rather than paying twice for both electricity and gas.

Here we have a big long-term productivity opportunity. It is completely inefficient and costly to be running an extra, redundant and inferior energy network. Already, in the 1930s, the role of gas was diminishing, being replaced by much safer and more controllable electricity for lighting. Since that time, the ever expanding energy needs of our modern economy – for powering computers, refrigeration and televisions – have been met by electricity and not by gas.

Zero Carbon Australia Researcher Interviewed on ABC's The Drum

Technical Director of the Zero Carbon Australia Transport plan Patrick Hearps joined ABC 24's The Drum program to discuss the future of Australia's transport system. Electric cars, trams, metros and High Speed Rail powered by renewable energy... Now that's a vision!

Is your solar hot water really so green?

By Matthew Wright

CLIMATE SPECTATOR reports: Showering in solar hot water, it feels good outside and in. But what if your decision to shower in solar was, in part, misguided and is propping up the gas industry?

Well that's the case with most of Australia's existing solar hot water, backed by perverse government subsidies which favour domestic solar boosted by fossil gas.

Now, if you've reading this and you've got a gas-boosted solar hot water heater already, don't get me wrong, you did the right thing at the right time.

But times have changed and the now climate solution is renewables boosting renewables. Edson, an Australian hot water services manufacturer, has released their Heat Pump boosted solar hot water heater – or, as they put it, their Solar boosted heat pump.

Edson are combining the two most abundant renewable resources available to Australians: renewable ambient heat, which is the biggest source of domestic renewable resource, combined with direct solar through a set of evacuated tube collectors, which is our second biggest renewable resource.

Is the Clean Energy Finance Corporation the best way to get clean energy?

THE CONVERSATION report: Last week the Coalition announced it would scrap the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) if it forms government.

As the main renewable energy investment measure included in the Clean Energy Future package, the CEFC is intended to fill a gap in Australia’s climate change and energy policy. Scrapping the CEFC would be a substantial setback to the emerging renewable industry.

By itself, Australia’s carbon price legislation will do little to deliver new renewable energy capacity. Instead, the carbon price is expected to shift the electricity sector from coal to gas generation.

As my Melbourne Energy Institute colleague Patrick Hearps explains:

“Analyses from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and Melbourne Energy Institute numbers show that if carbon costs around $25-70/tonne the electricity sector will switch from coal to gas-fired power, and would not drive any extra investment in renewables beyond the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target”.

Abbott opens new front in climate war

By Leigh Ewbank

ABC The Drum reports: This week Tony Abbott and the Coalition opened up a new front in their ideological war against climate change action and carbon pricing.

In a move reminiscent of the US Tea Party, renewable energy has become the new target of Australia's conservative party.

Not content with the 'blood pledge' to repeal the carbon price, Abbott lieutenants Joe Hockey and Andrew Robb announced that a Coalition government would scrap the Clean Energy Finance Council (CEFC). If well designed and administered, the body is a potentially useful aid for Australia's transition to a 21st-Century clean economy. The plan to abolish the CEFC threatens $10 billion of investment: $5 billion exclusively for renewable energy and the remainder available for cleantech manufacturing, energy efficiency and enabling infrastructure.*

The announcement confirms suspicions that the Coalition is becoming an anti-renewable energy party. This unwarranted position has implications for the domestic renewable energy industry, decarbonising the economy, and the political landscape.

Carbon price voted in: What's next?

CLIMATE SPECTATOR reports:A decade after it was first seriously discussed in Australian politics, and on its fourth attempt to make its way through a hostile parliament, Australian is now poised to finally implement a carbon pricing regime.

The passage of 19 bills through the House of Representative on Wednesday, propelled and finally approved by two country independents and a single Greens member, means that the passing into law of Clean Energy Future package is now a mere formality, as the government and the Greens have the numbers in the Senate.

There is no doubt that this signals the start of one of the greatest transformations of the Australian economy, ranking alongside the floating of the currency, the introduction of the GST and other major policy initiatives. But will this transformation be sudden and dramatic, or will it be a slow burn? Climate Spectator asked leading business people, advisors, politicians and lobbyists for their take. This is what they said:

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