AGL's war on solar

It is deeply troubling that AGL continues to suggest low income households, such as pensioners, are now paying more for their electricity to enable Australians to get solar. This is simply not true.

If we rewind, to a bit over two years ago, before AGL tried to deflate the solar PV industry, many Australians were saving, begging and borrowing money or using their hard-earned savings to buy a rooftop solar system.

Clean fossils of the future? How about ready renewables

There’s a lot of discussion and political jostling around energy options, decarbonisation, low-carbon or zero-carbon transition.

Looking at the options, let’s begin with today’s dominant player, conventional coal. It’s fate is easy to summarise, we burn it now in old, outdated power stations, but it no longer has a social licence and banks aren’t lining up to finance it.

Conventional gas is mooted by energy industry pundits and their bosses as the clean green option for our energy future, all the while ignoring fugitive emissions and not actually installing anything significant due to lower than forecast demand increases on the national electricity grid and the huge price uncertainty and volatility that comes with the fuel. This uncertainty is underpinned by the imminent linking of Australia to world markets and resultant export price parity. Will gas be cheap as in the US where the shale gas revolution has dropped prices, or will it be expensive like the Asian spot price or UK price, and will it trend towards parity with oil which itself is steaming towards $200 a barrel? (We don’t run our current electricity sector on diesel so why would we run it on gas at diesel prices?)

The minister for tourism signs tourism industry's death warrant

Martin Ferguson, the Federal Minister for Resources Energy and Tourism and previous head of the ACTU, today signalled that the mining industry will take precedence over tourism and manufacturing, despite the enormous damage it is doing to these industries.

In a speech in Brisbane today, Mr Ferguson acknowledged that the mining industry was damaging the rest of the economy, and then went on to blame the rest of the economy.

The merit order effect – actually, it’s a good thing

The Merit Order Effect, put simply, means lower electricity bills for consumers. That’s because it means lower-cost electricity in the wholesale market when additional renewables are introduced into the mix.

The effect has been demonstrated in Germany, where they have very significant deployments of renewables. The German government has identified that consumers saved €840 million in 2010 thanks to renewable induced Merit Order Effect.

Worley base case baseless but coal seam gas still worse than coal

A new WorleyParsons report states that gas plants can have higher emissions than even the worst coal plants, but under-estimates the problem by relying on misleading assumptions.

Understating the true level of coal seam gas (CSG) emissions will lead to massive gas fields being approved erroneously. It will also allow companies, including major clients of WorleyParsons, to avoid hundreds of millions of dollars through carbon liabilities that would need to be paid if emissions were properly accounted for.

"Deliberately failing to measure and ignoring potentially massive carbon liabilities is tax evasion" said Matthew Wright Executive Director of climate and energy security think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions.

This report illustrates the clear need for a comprehensive INDEPENDENT measurement and research of lifecycle emissions of gas. It is simply not adequate for government and investors to rely on research from companies with half a billion dollar contracts with oil and gas proponents, who would benefit enormously from underestimation of emissions.

WorleyParsons has a $500 million contract to develop an LNG field for QGC.

Feature: Learning from Spain’s HSR success

Australia has much to learn from the success of Spain’s Alta Velocidad Española (AVE) high-speed rail network, writes Matthew Wright, executive director, Beyond Zero Emissions.

The Spanish know how to get around in style and at speed. The country can boast it has the most comfortable, fast and frequent intercity travel service of any nation.

Where Japan has the highest patronage, Spain has speed; where the French have a comprehensive network, Spain has one longer.

RenewEconomy: South Australia’s big win with wind

Wind Power in South Australia has been a howling success; it now provides more electricity in the state than coal and in just a decade the wind industry has developed into one of the world’s leaders – and all to the benefit of South Australians.

Back in 1998 when the National Electricity Market was formed, South Australian generators charged more for electricity than generators in any of the other states. Today South Australian electricity is at its lowest price since the creation of the NEM and that is largely because of its choice to significantly develop its wind resources.

Wind Power costs a lot less than the savings it makes – it’s like a preventative measure; an insurance that you buy against high electricity prices. In the case of South Australia, they did just that and it paid off. According to the Essential Service Commission of South Australia wind power adds just 0.366c per kWh to the average South Australian electricity bill or just on 1 per cent (based on AEMC 2013/2014 South Australian 32c retail rate) The oft claimed outrageously high cost of wind is just $18.00 a year per household.

BZE submission to the Draft Energy White Paper now available

To download the submission click here.


Australia must rapidly decarbonise its economy if it is to play a constructive role in global efforts to address the climate change challenge. Present atmospheric levels of CO2 are at 390ppm1 and must be brought down to 350ppm to stay within the 2°C warming “guardrail.

Blessed with vast renewable energy resources, Australia can decarbonise its economy principally through the large-scale rollout of commercially available renewable energy technologies. The Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy plan, a research partnership between Beyond Zero Emissions and the University of Melbourne’s Energy Research Institute, demonstrates the technical feasibility of shifting to a 100 percent renewable energy system in ten years. It identifies Concentrating Solar Thermal and wind power as the primary technologies for a zero-carbon stationary energy sector.

BZE submission to the Victorian Feed-in Tariff Inquiry now available

To download the submission click here.

(Please note: the file sometimes has trouble loading in Firefox, if it doesn't work please try pasting the link into the Chrome browser)


Beyond Zero Emissions recognises the importance and efficacy of Feed in Tariffs and
distributed renewable generation in reducing emissions and moving towards a zero emission
future. We welcome the opportunity to respond to the Victorian Competition and Efficiency
Commission’s Inquiry into Feed-in Tariffs & Barriers to Distributed Generation.

The Issues Paper identifies two main elements to be addressed: “assessing the design, efficiency,
effectiveness and future of FiT schemes” and  “identifying barriers to connecting distributed
renewable and low emission technologies into the distribution system”.  We would agree the
importance of these objectives, and the (arguably even more important)  subsequent actions:
implementation of an effective feed in tariff and removal of barriers to distributed generation.

Unfortunately, we believe the following discussion within the Issues Paper misses some key
points with respect to distributed generation, and misrepresents the costs of distributed solar
photovoltaics (or other distributed generation ) and feed in tariffs. In this submission we firstly
identify some of the shortfalls, misrepresentations and missed concepts in the Issues Paper, and
then also answer the ‘Information Requests’.

The key issues include:

  • Incorrect use of Productivity Commission analysis
  • Analysis methodology is not suitable for distributed generation (does not value distributed generation at the retail price with which it competes)
  • Use of outdated Productivity Commission analysis (Incorporates outdated cost data)
  • Failure to acknowledge the ‘Merit Order Effect’, a key Feed in Tariff cost offset
  • Failure to acknowledge the inherent market failure with the carbon price mechanism
  • Failure to accept efficacy of Feed in Tariffs and distributed renewable generation in reducing emissions and moving towards a zero emission future.
  • Consideration of fossil gas as a feasible distributed technology

To keep reading, please click here (use Chrome if Firefox doesn't work)

Gas: not a transition fuel, more a fossil fuel prison cell

I'd much rather see a fleet of dirty old coal plants spewing out CO2 emissions than one newly built combined cycle gas plant.

Transition Coal should be a new uniting catch-cry of environmentalists. Transition Coal's time is now, following on from the success of Transition Gas.

Transition Gas should not be confused for an energy source. It has been dreamt up by the marketing departments of the same oil companies that have funded campaigns to deny the existence of climate change. The industry needs to come clean and admitTransition Gas is a marketing term. In its many forms – conventional; coal seam; shale; or even natural – Transition Gas is exactly the same fuel molecule by molecule as plain old fossil fuel gas. It is the same fuel that leaks significant amounts of climate dam

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