Media Release: Badgerys Creek airport no solution for transport problems

An airport at Badgerys Creek is a patch job which does not address the fundamental constraints on Australia's economy, according to the publisher of the recent study into high-speed rail, Beyond Zero Emissions.
 
Media release, Beyond Zero Emissions, April 15 2014
For immediate release
 
"High speed rail has been shown by our report to dramatically reduce domestic air traffic at Sydney airport as well as addressing deeper deficiencies in our current transport infrastructure", said lead researcher Gerard Drew.
 
"Infrastructure is sorely needed but when we contemplate spending large sums of money in this day and age on long lived infrastructure we really must consider the needs of the future: the livability of our cities, the development of regional Australia and the reduction of our greenhouse gas emission."
"These issues will remain even if an airport is built at Badgerys Creek," said Mr. Drew.
 
"In fact, when we realise that high speed rail is still needed, the second airport will end up a mothballed relic."

Media Release: Australian high-speed rail line could be running by 2030

High speed rail linking Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane would reduce carbon emissions and provide a profitable and popular service, according to research which will be released next week.

Climate change think tank Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) is launching the new report on the potential for high speed rail in Australia in Melbourne on Wednesday April 9, and Sydney on April 30.

According to BZE CEO Stephen Bygrave “the research shows that high speed rail can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport, in addition to the regional development and economic benefits previously identified.”


The report, a collaboration between BZE, the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and the University of Melbourne’s Energy Research Institute, has been two years in the making.

The report recommends an alignment broadly similar to the government's recent study, connecting 12 major regional towns, and the cities of Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Newcastle, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.

“Regional travel in Australia is highly concentrated in the east coast corridor, generating some of the busiest flight paths in the world as well as significant traffic on our main interstate highways”, says lead author, Gerard Drew.

Regular investment key to upgrading PT and curing Melbourne transport woes

Media release, 20 November 2013

A budgeted annual investment of $1.74 billion would build the comprehensive rail network upgrade and expansion proposed by Public Transport Victoria, according to a study released today by environmental think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions.

“To deliver the PTV rail upgrade requires structured and ongoing infrastructure investment” said researcher Gerard Drew. “The major parties are yet to show that they can deliver the long term network this city needs to deal with growing population pressure.”

The BZE study and appendix can be downloaded from the following locations:

The metropolitan rail Network Development Plan released by PTV in March this year is a systematic plan to upgrade and expand the network, delivering better than 5 minute peak frequencies for much of the network, metro style interchanges throughout the CBD area and connecting areas of Melbourne that have been promised a train line for decades – such as Doncaster, Roweville, Mernda and Melbourne Airport.

 

Image: Melbourne's rail network after the NDP is completed, from PTV

Fossil fuel billions better invested in zero emissions alternatives

MEDIA RELEASE, Beyond Zero Emissions, 16 October 2013

Billions of dollars currently invested in fossil fuel industries can and should be withdrawn and re-invested in zero emissions technology immediately. This is the message Dr Stephen Bygrave, CEO of climate solutions think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions will deliver to a Brisbane audience tomorrow.

“Beyond Zero Emissions' research is demonstrating that zero emissions technologies can be implemented in Australia across all sectors of the economy right now,” said Dr Bygrave.

“Investment in these technologies is already a reality at a large scale around the world. Divestment from dirty technologies is inevitable, and for investors, every day is a day's missed investment opportunity. There's no reason to wait and every reason to act.”

Image: Grasmere windfarm, Albany WA (from http://www.ausenco.com/)

Beyond Zero Emissions welcomes a new CEO

It is our pleasure to announce that after a long and exhaustive search we are finally able to announce the appointment of our new Chief Executive Officer - Dr Stephen Bygrave. 

Stephen will be commencing as CEO of Beyond Zero Emissions on Monday the 9th of September 2013.

Stephen has worked on climate change, renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable transport for the past 20 years, primarily in policy and research positions at a local, national and international level.

Dr Stephen Bygrave

Hundreds launch Zero Carbon Buildings Plan

Australia's buildings could halve their energy use within a decade, to make a major contribution to reducing the nation's carbon emissions – and save money on energy bills in the long run as well.

A large crowd packed out an auditorium at Melbourne University to hear this message at the launch of the Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan on August 8.

The report, from climate solutions think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions and the University's Melbourne Energy Institute, is “the largest crowd-sourced research project yet, and has maintained high academic quality,” said Dominique Hes, University of Melbourne senior lecturer in Architecture, addressing the launch.

Download the full Plan here (PDF, 28MB)



A plan to fix Australia's buildings

The first comprehensive, nationwide plan to fix Australia's buildings' energy use and greenhouse impact is to be launched this week at Melbourne University.

The Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan – a joint project of climate solutions think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions and The University of Melbourne Energy Institute – demonstrates how all existing buildings can reach zero emissions from their operations within ten years.

“Australian buildings are not up to the challenges of today,” explained lead author Trent Hawkins.

“Our buildings are generally too hot in summer, too cold in winter, and use a phenomenal amount of energy to run basic services.

“This plan shows how Australia can transform our existing buildings to reduce energy bills, increase comfort and health, and generate renewable energy.”

The Buildings Plan outlines how Australia's existing buildings can cut their energy use in half.

Image: retrofit modelling for a typical Melbourne residential building category (from ZCA buildings report)

It's time to start limiting the gas industry

Gas industry campaign omits gas price hike

July 29 2013

Australians should stand with the farmers who are stopping coal-seam gas developments, not the gas companies who stand to gain, according to a leading climate solutions and technology think-tank.

“It's time to start placing more limits on this industry, not removing what limits we have,” said researcher Richard Keech from Melbourne think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions, in response to the gas industry's "natural advantage" campaign.

Seaspray "No Gasfields" human sign, July 28 2013. Image: Quit Coal

Govt underestimates high-speed rail profits by $190 billion

The government has underestimated by $190 billion the profits of its Melbourne-Brisbane high-speed rail (HSR) plan, enough to repay the capital cost of the network, according to Researchers at independent think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE).


Sydney's energy backdown: first step to zero gas future

Trigeneration gas power stations not the way to green energy

Beyond Zero Emissions, 11 June 2013

Climate solutions think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions has welcomed yesterday's announcement that the City of Sydney is abandoning plans for its fossil-gas powered trigeneration precinct.

“We opposed this ill-informed scheme from the outset,”said BZE buildings researcher Trent Hawkins.

"At a time when fossil gas reserves are running down in Eastern Australia, and prices rising in line with the export market, increasing reliance on gas was always a mistake. It could only be supplied by increasing the production of coal-seam gas.”

National Food Plan blind to biggest threat: climate change

This week’s National Food Plan ignores the serious threat to agriculture posed by climate change. Yet research shows that an expanded Carbon Farming Initiative could have major benefits in combating climate change.

Andrew Longmire, research fellow with Beyond Zero Emissions, said, “The Federal Government’s National Food Plan released this week downplays the impact of climate change on Australian agriculture and the large impact of agriculture on climate. The Plan relies on the $1b Clean Energy Future Plan for mitigation and adaptation in agriculture, which is not nearly enough.”

“Revenue generated under the Clean Energy Future Plan is paid back to carbon intensive industries. These and other resources would be better spent improving the resilience of our food production systems and advancing sustainability of farming. Our national food plan missed this opportunity."

100% renewable energy advocates validated by new report

The authors of Australia’s first significant study into providing 100% renewable energy have welcomed the new report from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), which has found that it is technically feasible and affordable to run the National Electricity Market with 100% renewable energy.

“This validates the ground-breaking Zero Carbon Australia plan we launched in 2010, which outlined a way to get to 100% renewable energy in ten years,” said Patrick Hearps, Research Fellow with the Melbourne Energy Institute, at The University of Melbourne.

The Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan, released in 2010 by climate solutions think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions, and the Melbourne Energy Institute, showed how Australia could run on 100% renewable energy in a decade.

As in the Stationary Energy Plan, AEMO’s analysis identified that concentrating solar thermal power with molten salt storage is a key enabling technology as its thermal energy storage provides reliable power around the clock.

High-speed rail cost and timeline “laughable”

April 11, 2013

Researchers who have performed their own analysis of the high-speed rail link from Melbourne to Brisbane have today questioned the governments announced 45-year timeline and $114 billion costing.


“When John F. Kennedy saw a challenge worth taking he decided to get on with it as quickly as humanly possible, and in 8 years Neil Armstrong was walking on the moon. On the other hand, some would have us believe building a high-speed railway from Melbourne to Brisbane will take 45 years,” said Gerard Drew, high-speed rail researcher for climate solutions think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions.

“The economic windfall which high speed rail will deliver to Australia has finally been recognised by the Federal Government, and that's a good thing.

“But we fear that political delay and gold-plating could leave this as just a dream for another two generations of Australians.

“The rail network that was built all over the eastern states was built with picks and shovels over 100 years ago, much of it in less time than has been suggested for this project,” Mr Drew said.

“45 years is laughable.”

Beyond Zero Emissions have done their own study on the HSR route in partnership with the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). Their research, which will be published in full in May, indicates that the chosen HSR route could be built for under $70 billion, a lot less than the $114 billion quoted in the latest government study.

Solar panels reduce everyone's power bills

 

May 10, 2013

Australia's one million (and counting) solar powered households could be keeping everyone else's power bills down, by suppressing wholesale electricity prices.

That conclusion is drawn from a peer-reviewed paper recently published in the Journal of Energy Policy. The paper is a result of a joint research effort between the Melbourne Energy Institute and climate solutions think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions.

“Feed-in tariffs have been criticised by some, because all electricity users – with or without solar panels – pay the costs of the tariff on their electricity bill,” said Beyond Zero Emissions spokesperson Ben Courtice.

“However, the “merit order effect”, explained in this paper, offsets the cost of a low to medium feed-in tariff. It is often overlooked in setting policy in Australia, with the result that solar households aren't getting fair recognition, with feed-in tariffs being set too low.”

State governments in the last two years have been keen to slash the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) arrangements that guarantee a premium (or at least minimum) payment for solar electricity generated, saying they cost too much.

The merit order effect (see explanation below) means that solar power (and other renewables) displace more expensive forms of generation in the national electricity market, thereby lowering the wholesale price paid by all users. Failure to include this effect misrepresents the overall costs of solar support schemes.

“Contrary to state governments' assertions, feed in tariffs and solar PV may actually lower electricity prices paid by consumers. The current feed-in tariffs in several states are abysmally low and could be raised to a fairer level without impacting consumer prices,” said Mr Courtice.

The paper models the effect of up to five gigawatts (GW) of rooftop solar panels across the Eastern states' electricity network. This is about double what is currently installed in Australia. The researchers calculated the effects of from zero to 5GW of extra rooftop solar panels on the electricity market, over the years 2009 and 2010, based on the real electricity market data from those years.

The researchers' modelling suggests that the price suppression (merit order effect) resulting from 5GW of solar would have been worth $628 million in 2010, 8.6% of the total value traded that year. In 2009, the value could have been $1.2 billion, over 12% of the total value traded that year.

The lower electricity wholesale prices caused by the merit order effect should flow through to consumers in their electricity bills. This effect can offset the cost of support schemes and results in a wealth transfer from electricity generators to all consumers.

“When governments cite the cost of FITs but ignore offsets such as the merit order effect, they are effectively overstating the overall cost of supporting solar,” Mr Courtice said.

“Solar power is a cheap and effective way to reduce pollution, and it should receive better support so it can keep growing in Australia.”

Clean electricity makes fossil gas redundant

Climate solutions think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions have today published a briefing paper on the use of gas as a fuel in buildings. The evidence shows that fossil gas' reputation as a clean, safe and cheap fuel needs to be re-considered.

Beyond Zero Emissions have criticised the fossil gas industry for increasingly using dirty and controversial coal-seam gas (CSG) for both export and domestic gas supply.

CSG has raised questions about leaks of the gas from and around the gas wells, as documented on Four Corners last week.

However, even traditional fossil gas mains and distribution networks leak.

CSG wells

The briefing paper was prepared by Richard Keech, who is working on the Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan for BZE.

Mr Keech explained that “In the production and distribution of gas there's leaks all along the way.

“There was some limited data out of South Australia that suggested it was in the order of 7%, but the official figures put it at around 1.5%. In reality it's probably somewhere in between.”

Fossil gas is methane. Mr Keech said “The 20-year climate effect of methane is currently understood to be about 105 times that of CO2. It only takes about 2.6% leakage to effectively double the net climate effect of gas.

“With any technology that carries some risk, we weigh the hazard against the benefits.

“That balance has now shifted, especially as fossil gas supply is now moving to CSG. We're seeing that the hazard is much greater than it was once seen as, and the benefit much less.

“Ceasing gas use in buildings is the low-hanging fruit of a larger fossil fuel phase out that is ultimately necessary if a climate catastrophe is to be avoided.

“BZE concludes that clean electricity now makes fossil gas redundant.”

BZE will release the Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan in mid 2013. The plan will outline how replacing buildings' gas appliances with renewable electricity powered heat pumps and induction cooktops can make a large reduction on carbon emissions and energy use.

This statement has been changed to correct the leakage rate to double the climate effect of methane, which is 2.6% not 1% as we had erroneously stated.

Download the briefing paper here (PDF) http://media.bze.org.au/nogas.pdf
Richard Keech interview on Radio Beyond Zero (podcast) http://bze.org.au/media/radio/richard-keech-130407

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