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.”

Graphs: Can high-speed rail cut air travel emissions?


Australia’s domestic air travel (and its associated greenhouse emissions) has grown markedly – especially in the last 10 years, as this graph illustrates.

Air travel (passenger km) data from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics

We have calculated emissions using the short-haul average emissions per passenger-kilometre as used by the UK government. This takes into account radiative forcing effects of combustion at altitude, nearly doubling the climate impact of the emissions compared to Australian government estimates.

Film: Generation Green

Generation Green follows the journey of Patrick Hearps, a young chemical engineer working at an oil refinery, as he becomes increasingly concerned about his companies contribution towards adverse climate change.

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."

Announcing the 5x4 Hayes Lane project

Beyond Zero Emissions is proud to be an official Project Supporter of the 5x4 Hayes Lane Project.

The goal of the development is to be a super energy efficient and zero carbon dwelling in the heart of the City of Melbourne.

The team are looking to transform an under-used laneway into a demonstration of how to build and operate a sustainable, small footprint, high rise dwelling. It will be zero fossil gas, with a highly insulated and air-tight building envelope, featuring efficient electric heat pump heating and other cutting edge efficient electrical appliances.

Solar campaigner dies

Joy Baluch the mayor of South Australia's Port Augusta, who campaigned for solar energy for her city has died but not before South Australia's take-up of rooftop solar has risen to double the national average.

Transcript (ABC TV Lateline)

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Joy Baluch, the legendary mayor of South Australia's Port Augusta and fierce campaigner for a solar energy future for her city, died overnight.

Her death came only hours after the Federal Budget revealed deep cuts of more than $650 million to renewable energy funding and efficiency programs.

South Australia now leads the world in wind generation and its take-up of rooftop solar is double the national average.

Joy Baluch's beloved Port Augusta was leading the way in solar energy. She campaigned until her dying breath to use the energy from the sun to convert the city's struggling coal-fired generators.

Kerry Brewster has this exclusive report.

Solar warrior, Port Augusta mayor Joy Baluch dies, age 80


Port Augusta’s long-serving mayor, Nancy Joy Baluch AM, died in hospital on Tuesday night, after a long battle with cancer.

Baluch, who would have turned 80 on Wednesday, was mayor of the South Australian city for 29 years over three separate terms – a large part of which she spent fighting to have the town’s polluting coal-fired power stations replaced with a concentrating solar thermal plant.

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.

Earth to moon in 8 years, Melbourne to Brisbane in 45

By Gerard Drew

When John F. Kennedy saw a challenge worth taking he decided to get on with it as quickly as humanly possible, and in eight years Neil Armstrong was walking on the moon. On the other hand, our federal transport minister would have us believe building a high-speed railway from Melbourne to Brisbane will take 45 years.

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

Forty-five years is laughable.

Much has been made of the ‘technical and logistical challenge’, but we must get some perspective. Australia is in large part flat and vacant – a luxury that no other country operating HSR (high-speed rail) can boast. While there are some challenging points on the alignment, such as from Sydney to the Central Coast, a high proportion of the route is flat fields.

Spain and China have been rapidly constructing HSR in order to reduce the huge cost to those countries of imported oil and have completed 3,000km and 15,000km of track respectively in the past decade alone.

Indeed, these findings are an insult to the capability of Australia’s construction industry.

High Speed Rail. Image Source: Better Nation

Beyond Zero Emissions has done its own study on the HSR route in partnership with the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). The research, which will be published in full in May, indicates that the chosen HSR route could instead be built for around $70 billion.

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