Flagship projects are duds

Ferguson run Flagships has picked losers not winners.

Feed-in tariffs have been shown time and again to be the superior market-based policy instrument for getting the best renewable energy deployed. However, if the government chooses to use grant mechanisms, the Department of Resources Energy and Tourism need to get a lot better at evaluating technologies.

Through Solar Flagships the government wanted to showcase one photovoltaic and one solar thermal plant.

Flagships Fiasco Ferguson Un-FiT

Today, climate and energy solutions think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions called on Minister Ferguson and the Gillard Government to stop picking losers through a renewable energy grant system and instead back a national feed-in-tariff (FiT)

"The reason to choose feed-in-tariffs over grants, guarantees and other schemes that Ferguson has picked, is that they provide a level playing field for investors and they actually get renewable energy built"  said Matthew Wright Executive Director of Beyond Zero Emissions.

"State based feed-in-tariffs achieved $5 billion worth of renewable investment last year in Australia, more than any other scheme has ever achieved."

"In cloudy Germany the 2012 feed-in-tariff scheme achieved over $30 Billion investment in solar alone."

Farmers squeezed out of energy boon

Stock & Land reports: LANDHOLDERS should be capitalising on seismic changes in how we generate energy, says Matthew Wright, but instead they are being pushed aside.

Mr Wright, executive director of Beyond Zero Emissions, thinks the thrust of current government policy will be to deny many landholders the ability to profit from wind generation, while compromising the enterprises of other landholders who host coal seam gas (CSG) operations without sharing in CSG profits.

Beyond Zero Emissions, a non-profit organisation, has the goal of moving Australia "from a 19th century fossil fuel based economy to a 21st century renewable powered clean tech economy".

Merit order: How solar FiTs could cut energy bills for all

A study from the Melbourne Energy Institute suggests that the benefits of solar energy on the National Electricity Market could outweigh the costs of feed-in-tariffs, and could deliver energy cost savings for all customers, rather than an impost as is commonly believed.

The conclusion comes from a draft of the latest update of its study – which also includes researchers from the ANU’s Solar Thermal Group, Beyond Zero Emissions, and Clean Technology Partners – into the merit order effect, which relates to the impact that energy sources with small or zero marginal costs (such as wind and solar) can have on the overall grid by lowering prices.

The merit order effect is considered crucial in the debate around clean energy deployment because it suggests that the cost of incentives – such as renewable energy certificates or feed in tariffs – can be offset by the benefits this energy has on wholesale prices in the NEM. Once a wind farm or a solar farm is constructed with an upfront subsidy, its low marginal cost means that it can bid beneath coal and gas generators into the energy stack. This reduces margins for the coal and gas generators, but it also delivers considerable savings on wholesale prices, particularly solar, as it delivers into the grid at times of higher demand.

Climate Spectator: Solar's hot, even when the sun is not

Matthew Wright

On the cloudiest day in the gloomiest weather, when I check my solar system I find it is still generating and exporting clean renewable energy into the grid. My solar system, like all rooftop solar systems, generates even when it's cloudy. That's because solar technology is able to produce electricity under diffuse light conditions.

Generally speaking, in the darkest, cloudiest hour on the gloomiest day, your solar system will be generating as much as 25 per cent of a normal clear day output. On a day with light cloud cover, your system could be achieving as much as 50 per cent of a normal clear-day's hour of production.

Why Germany should aim for 200GW of solar

Matthew Wright

German energy experts and the renewable energy industry are now calling for a national target of 200GW of solar power by 2030.

And Germans know how to meet a challenge. They set a target of generating 20% of the nation’s electricity from renewable sources and got there 10 years ahead of schedule in 2010. And rooftop solar, still in its infancy, came from nowhere and will power more than 4% of Germany’s electricity needs this year.

Speaking at the “2nd inverter and PV System Technology Forum 2012,” in Berlin, German renewable energy expert Professor Volker Quaschning, of the University of Applied Sciences, was met with applause when he suggested that Germany could meet a target of 100GW of rooftop solar by 2020 and 200GW of solar by 2030.

Solar can deliver in FiTs and starts

Matthew Wright

In the Icy German Winter, during the 12 days of Christmas, Germany installed more than 3 gigawatts of solar PV.

In comparison, for the past two and half years. our Federal Labor Government has been announcing, and re-announcing, its Solar Flagships program. And, as you might have guessed, despite the fanfare, nothing has been paid for or built. (Update, see our story on CS Energy quitting Solar Dawn consortium).

In May 2009, when Energy and Resources Minister Martin Ferguson announced the Solar Flagship program, he claimed the $1.37Bn on offer to build an additional 1,000 MW of solar generation capacity, "was funding on an unprecedented scale for the development of solar power in Australia."

Australian Car Manufacturing must go electric

Australian car manufacturing to become extinct unless we shift to electric vehicles. "The Australian car manufacturing industry will suffer a "Kodak moment" (they announced bankruptcy this week) if it fails to shift from polluting internal combustion engines (ICE) to efficient electric engines, said Matthew Wright Executive Director of climate and energy security think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions.

"It is unfortunate that successive Australian governments have been throwing good money after bad continuing to prop up an unsustainable auto manufacturing sector with little result."

"Subsidies supporting a 19th Century fossil fuel-based transport sector are about spending our hard earned money now to sell out our future" said Wright

Losing farmland to fossil fuels

Matthew Wright

Climate spectator reports:Today, across NSW, farmers are participating in wind projects by co-locating wind turbines on their land. Just 2,000 modern 7.5MW on-shore wind turbines would provide enough electricity to power more than half of NSW.

The NSW government is opposed to wind and the development benefits that accompany it, including financial benefits of $8,000 per wind turbine. This money flows to farmers who are choosing to diversify and play a part in the 21st century move to a renewable powered economy.

The NSW Liberal Party policy, now law, sets up a buffer zone of 2km around any house in the state for the sighting of wind turbines. Our farmers, many of whom are doing it tough, are being deprived by this ill-thought-out decision to effectively ban wind turbines from the entire state.

Piers Akerman's call for apartheid era coal to liquids wrong


Piers Akerman (Daily Telegraph Jan 20,2012) is calling for Coal-to-Liquids to be deployed in Australia. Coal to liquids is the technology choice of desperate regimes including the Nazis in Germany during WWII and the apartheid regime in South Africa. It is highly polluting and has only ever been used as a last choice for oil starved nations suffering from energy security risks related to prolonged embargo.

A modern economy like Australia will be moving to electricity which offers the only renewable solution to our transport needs.

Renault-Nissan is going to be producing 500,000 pure electric vehicles per year by 2014. To drive the 16,000 average kilometres each Australian car travels in a year it takes just 2,500 kilowatt hours of electricity. If this electric fuel is generated by solar then it's the same yearly requirement as the output of a small 10 panel 2,000 watt rooftop mounted system which takes up an area as small as 3metres by 3 metres which is the same area as the rooftop where you garage your car.

Germany installed 3000 Megawatts of rooftop solar during the December Christmas holidays in sub zero winter temperatures. If the German December total was installed in Australia this would be enough solar to power between 1.75 Million (Melbourne) and 2 Million (Brisbane) Nissan Leafs.

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