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.

Solar programs pay for themselves and reduce the cost of electricity

This is an updated version of what was published in the Sydney Morning Herald today.

Solar energy benefits the state by providing electricity at much cheaper rates than those of traditional sources, writes Matthew Wright.

It may appear counter-intuitive, but getting millions of solar panels onto rooftops saves more money than it costs. Feed-in tariffs enacted by state governments have enabled ordinary Australians using their savings to build a solar power station at home benefiting the community.

When those solar households who had saved to get their panels installed under the solar feed-in tariff programs export their solar production to the grid, which occurs mostly during higher demand daytime periods, they are given a slightly higher than average retail rate for the electricity they are selling. The prices they have been paid are relatively meagre when compared with the ridiculously high rates paid to big coal or gas power plants.

At the same time that little solar households who have invested their money in a rooftop power station are being paid between 44¢ and 60¢ per kilowatt hour, the old power companies with their dirty belching coal and gas plants are receiving as much as $12.50.

In other words, the coal and gas guys are being paid as much as $11.90 more than a home solar generator for just one unit of electricity, or 20 times the solar price.

Renewable Energy Lifeline for Australian Manufacturing

By Matthew Wright

Coal’s days are numbered.

The transition to renewable energy is now well underway. It will put an end to the adverse health impacts coal mining and combustion now has on the health of Australian families such as those in the Hunter Valley. The increased rates of asthma, respiratory and cardiovascular illness that affect thousands will be a thing of the past.

In terms on climate change, the shift to renewables will do more for reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions than the carbon price championed by Climate Change Minister Greg Combet and the Labor government.

For a city like Newcastle, whose development is historically linked to the coal industry, the beneficiaries of business-as-usual will no doubt present the decline of coal as a threat.

The truth of the matter is that the rise of renewable energy is an economic opportunity the likes of which we’d be foolish to miss. The Pew Charitable Trust values the economic opportunity at up to $2.3 trillion over the next decade.

New investment, new jobs, and new export industries are all there for the taking. But securing these benefits for Newcastle and Australia will require political leadership today.  

Renewable Energy Milestone - Renewable Investment Tops Fossil Fuels for First Time

The journey to a 100 percent renewable energy economy reached a major milestone as investment in renewables has overtaken investment in fossil fuel energy for the first time. A new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance  demonstrates that a massive $187 billion was invested in wind, solar, and biomass whilst $157 billion was invested in fossil fuel electricity generation last year.

This shift in investment is a tipping point for renewables and the latest signal that the trajectory of our energy economy is towards renewable sources.

CSG Needs a Long, Hard Look

Matthew Wright, November 24:

The contentious issue of coal seam gas has become a federal government concern in the dying days of the 2011 parliamentary sitting year. To gain the backing of independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor for the minerals resource rent tax, the Labor government has agreed to set up an independent committee to study the environmental impacts of CSG, but the new body won’t end the uncertainty surrounding the controversial industry. 

According to reports, the $150 million Independent Expert Scientific Committee will advise governments on the impacts of CSG extraction on the environment and water. This is definitely a step in the right direction, but it is essential that the scope of the inquiry includes a comprehensive evaluation of the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of CSG, particularly fugitive emissions.

 The prudent course of action would be for Australian governments to impose a moratorium on CSG mining until its impacts, particularly on water and greenhouse gas emissions, are properly understood. To proceed without this understanding risks irreparable damage to Australia’s productive farmland and aquifers, and a pulse in emissions that could easily eclipse any emissions saving made under the Clean Energy Future package. In the meantime, these uncertainties represent a very real risk to those investing in this embattled industry.

Trophies and Titles - BZE awarded for climate change solutions.

The determination and enthusiasm of Beyond Zero Emissions and its members has been acknowledged with two prestigious awards over the last month. The honours build on BZE's momentum leading into 2012 with the anticipated launch of the visionary Zero Carbon Australia plans for the buildings and transport sectors. 

In late October, the NSW Nature Conservation Council recognised Beyond Zero for its community-based work with an award--including a $1000 donation from Australian Ethical Investment--for activating the  “most inspiring climate action initiative by a climate change community group.” 

 Beyond Zero Emissions is “a cutting-edge” organization whose “research is creating a paradigm shift amongst the public and political leaders at all levels," said the Conservation Council. “The group’s work is showing that a zero emissions vision is not only desirable, but possible!” 

WorleyParsons has publicly promulgated a falsehood in relation to BZE.

Media Release 18 Nov 11

WorleyParsons has publicly promulgated a falsehood in relation to BZE. WorleyParsons state in their media release dated 10 November 2011: "Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) engaged Worley Parsons to prepare a report to analyse the life cycle GHG emissions for Australian gas compared to other energy sources. BZE and WorleyParsons subsequently agreed not to proceed with this report."

It is true that BZE engaged WorleyParsons to prepare this report. The engagement is in writing, and a copy is attached. However there has been no agreement not to proceed with this report. Let WorleyParsons show any evidence or written agreement in support of their public assertion that the parties subsequently agreed not to proceed.

Serious About Solar

Sophie McCallum of The Transcontinental reports, November 16:

Alinta Energy is seriously exploring the idea of converting its Port Augusta power stations into solar thermal facilities.

Solar thermal was first proposed by renewable energy advocates, Beyond Zero Emissions and has already gained strong support by Port Augusta locals and leaders.

The idea has now been embraced by Alinta Energy, who is exploring replacement options if Playford is closed as part of the federal government’s buyout of dirty power stations, in which the company put up its hand to participate in.

So far, gas has dominated discussions as an alternative power source, but in an interview with The Transcontinental, Alinta Energy chief executive officer Jeff Dimery, said solar thermal had been identified as the most practical solution.

Take Action - Support a Zero Carbon Australia

Take action now

2011 has been a big year for Beyond Zero Emissions.  Thousands have heard us speak in audiences across Australia where they are hearing about our 100 percent renewable plan, we are working on zero emissions plans for transport, land use and buildings. Our ground-breaking Zero Carbon Australia research has provided the backbone for our Repower Australia public talks program, which has reached 18,000 people this year and will grow more than four fold in the coming 12 months.

But the battle has not yet been won. Australia is still one of the world’s leading climate polluters. We are still digging up over 250 million tonnes of coal each year and the political debate is still dominated by 19th century fossil fuel interests. When emissions from fossil fuel exports are taken into account, Australia will soon be responsible for 7- 8 percent of global emissions. We have not yet begun the full transition to the 21st century renewable energy economy that our changing climate demands.

You can help get Australia on track by giving a tax deductible donation to Beyond Zero Emissions today.

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