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Victoria steps up climate ambition. Turnbull takes two steps back

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As an increasingly divided Turnbull government rules out any new policy tools to cut power sector emissions or boost renewable energy development, Victoria’s Labor government has upped the ante on climate action, pledging to cut state emissions by up to 20 per cent within three years on the road to its ultimate target of zero net emissions by 2050.

The new interim target, announced by Victoria’s energy and climate minister Lily D’Ambrosio on Sunday, aims to cut the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by between 15-20 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020.emissions-380x240

Details on how the Andrews government aims to meet that target were released alongside the party’s Climate Change Framework, which maps out a plan to 2020 to put it on track for its 2050 goal.

As has been noted, the majority of the 2020 target will be met through the March closure of the state’s Hazelwood coal power station, following a decision made by the plant’s French owners, Engie, last year. But it will also require other cuts through energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.

The state has set renewable energy targets of 25 per cent by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025, on which it is currently being advised by former ACT climate minister and renewables policy mastermind, Simon Corbell.

Adding to Victoria’s emissions reduction momentum will be the TAKE2 program – Australia’s first state government-led climate change pledging program, which calls on local governments, schools and businesses to take action to reduce emissions.

As part of the program, the Andrews government has pledged to reduce its reported emissions from government operations by 30 per cent below 2015 levels by 2020.

However it winds up being reached, the new target puts Victoria at the front of the pack on government climate ambition, further highlights the disconnect between the states and Canberra, and tightens the screws on a PM faced with renewed internal discord on climate and renewables.

In a speech at a Young Liberals conference in Adelaide on Sunday, former PM Tony Abbott­ called on Turnbull to scrap the RET – an electoral promise he himself was never able to fulfil – and said that the party’s “first big fight this year must be to stop any further mandatory use of renewable power.”

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Frequent assurances from both Turnbull and Frydenberg that the national RET will not be increased, and the complete absence of any renewables target beyond 2020, suggest Abbott & Co have little to worry about on that count.

But according to a report released by Melbourne-based carbon consultancy RepuTex on Monday, the renewable targets set by Labor state governments in Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and the ACT are combining to effectively increase the federal RET to 35 per cent by 2030.

Ultimately, this could serve Turnbull’s duplicitous climate stance well – we look forward to what the PM has to say on renewables and climate in his press club address on Wednesday. But right now, it puts him in a rather uncomfortable spot.

Of course, the Turnbull government, which last week stepped up its promotion of “clean coal” as a key climate solution, isn’t the only one accused of climate hypocrisy.

Victorian environmental group Friends of the Earth has called out the Andrews government’s approval of an expansion to the Loy Yang B coal power plant – a neighbour of Hazelwood in the state’s Latrobe Valley – as “deeply irresponsible” and at odds with its ambition on climate change.

In what the FOE describes as a case of unfortunate timing, Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority approved the coal project just a day after the emissions reductions target of up to 20 per cent by 2020 was released.

“When you’re in a hole you stop digging,” said FOE campaigns coordinator Leigh Embank in a statement on Monday. “This decision does nothing to protect Victorian communities from the impacts of climate change.

“The Andrews government can articulate its commitment to leading on climate change in its forthcoming coal policy,” Ewbank added. “Misalignment between state climate and energy policy can be resolved. It’s why we need the upper house to pass the Climate Change Act and a smart coal policy from the Andrews government.”

RenewEconomy contacted Minister D’ambrosio’s office for comment on the FoE criticisms, as well as for more detail on its 2020 emissions target, but had not received a response to its questions by then time of publication.  

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  • Peter F

    Much as I am for renewables, a small upgrade of Loy Yang B which will improve its efficiency as well as its output is not worth going to the barricades on. It will lower the emissions intensity of Victoria’s generation and we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good

    • trackdaze

      Well articulated peter.

      Even though most of the reduction is effectively a decision by the french governmnent and private enterprise if the victorian governmemt says it will reduce emmissions by 25% in 2020 and among other things allows some efficiency improvements at loy yang then so be it. As long as its congruent with further reductions its good enough.

      • Greg Hudson

        Loy Yang B power station (80% owned by Engie, and 20% by Mitsui) is already the most efficient brown coal burner in the LaTrobe Valley, but that isn’t saying much. A small improvement will only delay the inevitable shutdown. Engies plan to supplement the grid with solar PPA’s (power purchase agreements) would be better served by them actually ‘building’ some (or one HUGE) solar farm in NW Victoria. We need approx 5Gw to replace ‘all’ brown coal being burnt. A similarly gigantic battery to allow for pre and post solar hours, and we are talking some serious development. (think snowy mountains scheme, but without the water).
        It could also supply Adelaide with enough energy to wipe out the need for the gas peakers, which when looking at the Renew Economy live feed, appear to be going berserk lately in Sth Aust. See:
        http://reneweconomy.com.au/nem-watch/
        Just my opinion…

        • Mike Shackleton

          We have another 1 GW of wind capacity in the process of being developed and Engie themselves want to build 1 GW of grid scale solar PV. The Victorian Government should set up some way for schools to install solar PV on their roofs. Schools are perfect for it as they are mainly used during periods of peak solar production.

          Perhaps the unit price paid for rooftop solar feed in should be tied to the wholesale spot price rather than being a fixed amount. That wouldn’t be hard to set up and would drive a lot more investment in residential rooftop solar. Maybe the same offer should be made to businesses. There are a lot of warehouses with massive roof space that could rapidly deploy solar.

          • Greg Hudson

            Good idea re the schools. And the businesses, they are currently the strongest growth area anyway. However we have a long way to catch up to the corporate PV installs of Germany (which is a sea of panels on just about every company roof – or so it seems when traveling by train through the country).

            Tieing the wholesale price to the spot price would be ideal, but I doubt there would be a retailer with the balls to do it. If I had the wherewithall to do it myself, I’d create a co-op from scratch, and piss the retailers off completely.

        • Ren Stimpy

          We can eat into that 5GW need with a serious approach to energy efficiency. Replace every light bulb in Victoria with a LED light bulb. Replace every old inefficient AC with a modern efficient AC, and so on and so on. Then we are looking at a need of 4GW or less.

          The total replacement of old inefficient-energy-using tech with much more efficient tech will happen by attrition anyway, but it does make sense to do it now, pro-actively, because the energy saving is that great that it makes sense financially to be aggressive with efficiency-based replacements in the now.

          Also, when we do get to a time when we have a surplus of daytime solar energy in need of a battery (and aside from the growing number of distributed batteries in homes) we already have a massive battery, that being the total potential for hot water heating.

  • Chris Fraser

    It’s Abbott who has lost touch with Liberal values. How embarrassing to be heard talking down the RET at the Young Liberals conference ? You probably could have heard a pin drop.

    • solarguy

      After the applause!

    • lin

      from the little I have seen, the Australian young libs have been taken over by the alt-right – the sort that bully the elderly party members to tears and silence as they branch-stack their way into safe seats.

    • MaxG

      The young ones are as stupid as the old ones… you will see fascism grow exponentially, alternative truth — as they have been perpetuated for years — are now the norm today in true Orwellian fashion… there is much worse to come… mind you, I come from a land where the rise of fascism has led to to what we may remember as WWII. Abbott, Trump and BREXIT where just the beginning….

    • stalga

      Many Young Libs are staffers to MP’S and senior party members. They’re not kiddies, they’re junior “players”.

      This speech is “the coach” telling the foot soldiers what to focus on, what the strategy is.

  • Keith Altmann

    I agree with Peter F it is not worth going to the barricades over Loy Yang B. Adani – yes. However, my concern is the energy emission reductions are only part of the picture and without Federal action including a carbon price and or regulations, as an Engineer I am concerned we are not leaving time for an orderly transition of emission from other sources, especially the built environment and agriculture. There is a strong consensus amongst many of my professional colleagues that worldwide emissions must be declining (all greenhouse gases including methane) by 2020. The decline of the Arctic ice sheet is such that it may produce a step change in weather in the northern hemisphere with further releases of methane accelerating, making the task of emission reductions, too little, too late.

    • solarguy

      Good to see an engineer who understands that climate change is actually happening.

      • Andy Saunders

        I think you’ll find the vast majority of engineers think that way… they (we…) are generally very pragmatic and accepting of scientific evidence

        • Don McMillan

          In engineering there is a saying “we can design anything with an unlimited budget”. Unfortunately and inevitably compromise is part of the equation.

          • Andy Saunders

            Too true. I remember in my long-ago engineering course a grizzled old professor saying “there’s a dollar sign in the denominator of every engineering equation”.

          • John Norris

            Quality. On-time. Within budget. Choose two of three…

    • Steve

      I suspect most engineers (and people who can read a chart) understand the clear and present threat of climate change.

    • Greg Hudson

      A carbon tax is useless. It’s been tried, and failed miserably. What happened when it was running? The polluters merely passed on the cost of the tax to the consumers, then when it was cancelled, they failed to pass on the full amount of the tax they were no longer paying. CT is a big fat FAIL !

      • Barri Mundee

        Emissions reduced though, particularly from high emitting brown coal stations, so from that perspective it was a success. That the reductions soon reversed when the CT was abolished has been well documented.

        However I favour a reduction by “executive order”. ie “Though shalt reduce thy emissions by X over Y period. The “market” can then operate to work out the details of how this is achieved.

        • Greg Hudson

          IMO, the only way emissions can be curtailed by corporations is by a shutdown order. Forget the tax, and force polluters to cease and desist. A carbon tax is useless because they just keep on polluting, pay the tax, and pass the cost of the tax on to consumers.

        • Chris Fraser

          The executive order can include “though shalt cease investment in fossil technologies, and put same investment into clean”. Then perhaps the market will determine which clean technology is used more.

      • RobSa

        If you describe the carbon pricing scheme introduced by Julia Gillard and the Australian Greens as a carbon tax you have no idea what your talking about.

        The carbon pricing scheme in Australia was a glorious success. Carbon emissions fell while economic activity expanded.

        • Greg Hudson

          You can try to pull the wool over peoples eyes by renaming a carbon tax as whatever you like, but the fact is, it was a carbon tax no matter what you call it (AND IT FAILED).

          • RobSa

            Taxes are designed to collect revenue and are collected by the ATO. A carbon tax is placed on fuels, unlike our carbon pricing. The carbon pricing scheme was designed to reduce emissions. Do you see the difference? It doesn’t matter if the effects are similar to a tax. Likewise a rise in fuel prices, say because of a war in the Middle East acts like a tax, but it is never a tax. Besides the carbon pricing scheme reduced emissions while maintaining economic growth and therefore can only be characterised as a raging success.

          • Greg Hudson

            You sound like a FF (fossil fuel) lobbyist that believes his own spin (bullshit to everyone else). The Federal, State and Local Governments all collect taxes, but in many instances, they don’t call it a tax.
            Fuel excise, stamp duty, council rates, are just 3 examples (one from each segment). A carbon pricing scheme was only called that so that Julia Gillard could apply it, and not call it a tax (she even admitted it), even though everyone could see through the BS as to what it really was. A carbon TAX. If you can’t see the truth, you are possibly stupid, a liar, a politician, or a FF goon (maybe all 4).

  • Don McMillan

    Great ideals. When reviewing the plan [Andrews Gov Climate Change Framework] they mention “energy storage” twice without giving any information what they plan. I think it is critical to the success of the plan. Is this an oversight?

    • Peter F

      According to 50Hz, the North German equivalent of the NEM, they can go to 50-70% without storage. I don’t think that necessarily applies in Victoria but we do have some hydro and flexible gas so we can certainly get to 30% without additional storage. Demand response and power to heat is far cheaper at this stage, then grid accessible behind the meter storage.
      However as storage technology is rapidly changing, it is financially and technically much smarter to defer decisions on storage for 3-5 years until the technology is more mature.
      If I were the government I would be running demand response trials, smart water heaters, grid accessible batteries and perhaps small output smoothing storage at renewable plants. Fast response batteries for grid stabilisation and deferral of distribution investment can also be trialed but the need for bulk storage is years away.

      • Don McMillan

        70% without storage? If you want 100% reliability you need to maintain facilities [Coal, gas & Hydro] to replace upto 70% of Victoria’s electricity at any point in time. I cannot imagine what cost that would be. Maybe the vics can rely on South Australia?
        Also forget about natural gas – the industry has been decimated. There is no investment not even close to replace the depletion rate.

        • Peter F

          They are not saying 70% of peak power they are saying 70% of annual energy.
          Victoria has 2400MW of Gas landfill &biomass, 750MW of hydro + about 800MW of its share of Snowy so that is 4GW + 0.5GW basslink +0.8GW link to NSW and 0.8GW to SA. Total non coal resource of 5.0-6GW

          Peak demand is about 12GW. Average demand about 6-7GW So if it had 5GW each of wind and solar there would be times on windy spring and autumn days where wind and solar could supply more than 100% of the power.

          40% of Winter peak (10-11GW) can be supplied by gas and hydro on a still night. On a windy night again at least 70% could be supplied from non coal sources.

          5GW of wind will supply a little over 20TWhr of energy 5GW of solar about 14 TWhr hydro & biomass etc another 6 so that is 40 out of 60 annual demand.

          Then there is behind the meter storage and distribution storage. Utilities are putting storage at substations to reduce investment in upgrades, customers are putting in batteries to store solar and shave peak demand charges. If after 5 years Victoria’s battery installations match current solar take-up we will have about 3-500,000 battery installations. That is in total there could be about 1GW of supply from batteries lowering peak demand. 10% of winter peak.
          Probably another GW at least from non disruptive demand response solar heating etc.

          • Don McMillan

            If I showed this to a Victorian manufacturer he would conclude that electricity costs and the potential of disruptions will increase. The manufacturer would need to model [economic stress test] to determine if they can remain solvent let alone viable. The stuff I have seen is that for the sake of the shareholders start planning to move OS. Example IPL’s ASX 10May16 announcement]

          • Peter F

            There is no reason to conclude energy prices will rise.
            a) Large scale co-located solar is cheaper than peak rate electricity
            b) Relatively small scale wind contracts in ACT and Silverton are supplying power at prices below the current year ahead coal/gas price in NSW and Queensland.

            If the government merely announced a target of 30GW of renewables over seven years like the Indian governments target of 180GW of renewables over seven years, prices would fall to or below Indian costs because companies could plan long term and set up efficient operations and financiers would lower capital cost because of a high certainty of return. Variations in long term financing costs are much more important to the cost of a wind or solar plant than installation labour costs

            The more renewables in the grid the less pressure there is on gas demand. Large scale solar tenders in other countries are coming in as low as A3c per kWhr. Almost every kWhr solar generates in SA displaces gas demand. Wind displaces hydro which can be used when there is no wind. So in future IPL will face lower prices than if there are no renewables.

            This is particularly so now as new coal is unbankable so if renewables are not encouraged more and more gas will be used for power generation

          • Don McMillan

            Then I hope you oppose AGL’s plan to import US Shale gas for the next 20 – 30 years. [ASX 14Nov16 page 33] There is a lot of political support behind close doors for this. So your confidence is not emulated by the politicians. Also the silence from the greens is very interesting.

          • Peter F

            I do

          • RobSa

            Great insight. Thanks for sharing.

        • David leitch

          There is plenty of modeling to show 70-100% renewablevis technically feasible and not that expensive.

          • Don McMillan

            So if Vic had 100% renewables and the wind stopped blowing at night. Where would the electricity come from?
            Cannot be natural gas that will be over in a few years if not now. Coal & Hydro -> The cost of maintaining this infrastructure would be expensive. Batteries -> many years away and to back up the state the cost?????? SA & NSW Hmmmm
            What would you recommended the Victorian manufacturers do? see comment below

          • David leitch

            Don

            1. The wind tends to blow mainly at night.
            2. If it stops in Victoria doesn’t mean its stopped in NSW or Tasmania
            I won’t go on. I’ll just say it again. There are good academic studies showing high percentages of renewables are completely possible and examples in Australia.

            For instance Coober Pedy expects to be 80% renewable in another year or so. Only small but if it can be done there it can be done anywhere.

            I won’t be saying anymore in this thread.

          • Steve159

            A few years back Stanford University research found that with enough wind farms connected to the grid, from different regions, the supply of power available on the grid effectively is constant and flat 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

          • Don McMillan

            There is a saying in engineering we can design anything with an unlimited budget. What concerns me is that our energy plan is guided by populism, not sound engineering nor good competitive business environment.
            Maybe it will all work out – just sounds like an experiment.

          • Steve159

            You may not be aware that the Abbott initiated report, headed by Warburton, found that keeping the RET will LOWER electricity prices.
            Renewables lower energy prices, and will continue to do so.
            And if you want to cite SA as an example, as an engineer, you’ll be able to review the facts that it is gas-peaking plants that push up the prices, not renewables.

          • Don McMillan

            Gas is what I know! Gas is not only continue to increase in cost but there is a high chance it will run out completely. For the first time in our history we have high gas prices and no investment. I wonder why????
            Renewables should have supported the gas industry until storage was in place. Renewables will continue to get bad publicity. Time will tell but I think the winner is coal, hope I am wrong.

          • Steve159

            Solar and wind are now cheaper than new coal. No company that does their homework will be building more coal-fired power stations (unless government subsidized).

            I do not understand what this means ” For the first time in our history we have high gas prices and no investment.”
            Investment in what? More gas fields? More investment in solar and wind will be the solution to our power needs (see previous reply re wind providing base-load power for the whole grid).

          • Don McMillan

            Well, you state that solar and wind can mange 24/7 reliability and peak loads- this is great and also cheaper! then there is no argument. This test will come very soon. Hope you are right.

          • neroden

            It’ll all be good. There’s going to be disruption for a couple of years though; it takes a while for the battery factories and solar panel factories to ramp up.

          • Don McMillan

            At what social economic cost. It is the least who can afford that get hurt. The number of potential unemployed is a horrible number.

          • Steve159

            The economic (adverse health) costs of coal (pollution) has been calculated at $600million per year, in the Hunter valley. http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/hunter-valley-coals-annual-health-bill-600-million-doctors-groups-say-20150222-13lfch.html
            Over $800 million per year for same in the Latrobe valley.
            Given that solar employs more than coal, gas and oil combined, (aka net economic benefit) specifically what economic costs are you referring too?

          • Don McMillan

            To the consumers especially the poor who rent and the manufacturers. Alcoa’s got their subsides but what about the rest. IPL closing their Bne plant. Unemployment from manufacturing goes to renewables? I guess we can import everything.

          • Steve159

            “To the consumers especially the poor who rent ”

            Exactly what part of “the RET will keep electricity prices lower” is difficult to understand?

          • Don McMillan

            We all want this. I know the manufacturers are very concern as their electricity costs are rising [today]. The PM tonight warned of rising electricity prices. Maybe the price will eventually come down but in the meantime what do businesses do?

          • Steve159

            “The PM tonight warned of rising electricity prices.”
            let me ask again, exactly what part of “the RET will keep electricity prices lower” is difficult, or impossible for you to understand.
            As to the quoting the PM … right. This is the crowd who have actively attempted to remove the RET, thereby ensuring increasing electricity prices.

            Perhaps they still hope they’ll remove the RET (and kill the RE industry) so their prophecy will indeed come true (so that their mates’ investments in FF power generation will increase shareholder value/profits).

            Want to know what’s really going on (for the PM) – follow the money.

          • Don McMillan

            Natural gas likes labor its the Libs [NSW & VIC] that have done most of the banning. Even the libs in South Aust if elected propose to ban exploration.
            If you are right that future electricity costs will be lower. I’ll look forward to this.

          • Steve159

            The solution for both reliable energy supply and to mitigate global warming is NOT more gas exploration.

            Again, we are the “Saudi Arabia of renewable energy”. We have immense solar resources, easily enough to replace all gas, oil, coal and nuclear, for the WHOLE world.

            Not forgetting that Morocco wants to export solar power to Europe. Plenty of other countries could do the same.

            Fair dinkum, what’s with this focus on a fossil fuel (NG) that is not, and will not be the solution.

          • Don McMillan

            The difference between you and me is that you want to turn off Natural gas now. I want a smooth transition where storage and reliability capacity is in place then turn off natural gas.
            I hope you oppose AGL’s proposal to import Shale gas from the USA [ this is a 20 – 30 year project]. ASX announcement 14 Nov 16 page 33. Cheers

          • Steve159

            “The difference between you and me is that you want to turn off Natural gas now.” NO I do not.
            However, stopping further gas exploration, yes, absolutely.

            On this site today there’s a report that 70% of owners of existing solar are looking to buy batteries. When they do so, we should be able to switch off a power station or three.

            In time, e.g. a couple of years or so, when solar is on majority of homes with batteries, probably can switch most of them off.
            Absolutely no need of further gas exploration, or wells.

            What is needed is more investment in wind farms to provide that 24/7 flat-line that Stanford University research revealed, as being the outcome when enough wind-farms are on the grid.

          • Don McMillan

            So do you oppose AGL’s proposal to import shale gas from the USA? This would be a 20 year plus commitment.

          • Greg Hudson

            There is already a glut of panels from China, so that fixes one part of the problem.

          • neroden

            Glut -> low price -> higher demand -> shortage -> higher supply….
            Growing businesses go through a boom-bust cycle like in ecology. (So do shrinking businesses; the difference is the direction of volume)

          • Steve159

            No, not an experiment — those who are investing billions (e.g. Rockefeller foundation, Biffett et al) into renewables aren’t interested in “experiments”. They’re investing because it’s sound financially.

            As for “plan is guided by populism” .. when listening to Butler, he demonstrates he’s across the issues, prices, etc. and understands the immense potentials for jobs, lower prices, and advances in technologies that will flow from investing in renewables.

            The reverse, at least from Butler, is true – a plan guided by common sense, facts and financial acumen.

            Just curious, but do you work in, or are employed by fossil fuel industry?

          • Greg Hudson

            The Vic Govt recently leased the Port of Melbourne for 50 years and received AU$8b. Spend some of this on a wind/PV farm to replace Hazelwood, and all the other polluters at the LaTrobe Valley…

          • Don McMillan

            As per most governments the wastage in expenditure is close to negligent.

          • Peter F

            So did the original idea of telegraphy, steam engines whatever. I even read articles by experts that said the internet was a fad, the iphone would fail and Tesla cars would never sell.

          • Don McMillan

            As I see it the experts write that renewables and electric cars are the future. I have not seen any articles that fossil fuels are the future? Predicting winners are impossible. Encouraging new technology is critical for our existence but when it introduced without thought concerns me. My criticism is directed at the renewables business model not renewables. Simply put they should have supported the gas industry until storage and backup systems where in place and operating. Disruptions & factory closures will be [unfairly or not] be blamed on renewables. I hope I am wrong

          • Steve159

            ” Predicting winners are impossible.” and “should have supported the gas industry”
            Why?
            Economics is economics. Solar and wind now cheaper than coal, and gas (https://qz.com/871907/2016-was-the-year-solar-panels-finally-became-cheaper-than-fossil-fuels-just-wait-for-2017/) and will even be more so in 2017+.

            Why invest in a costly infrastructure when cheaper systems are available AND are cleaner. Doesn’t make sense.

            No, it’s not impossible to predict the demise of fossil fuels — see my earlier post about health costs.

            Did I mention jobs, (and more jobs) than coal, gas and oil, combined?

            Not sure what sort of investment criteria you’re looking at, but the benefits of RE in the form improved health, clean environment, jobs and is cheaper than FF, is … well you tell me, a bad investment in our future?

          • Don McMillan

            If it is cheaper then there is no argument. The investment community main concerned in $’s.
            The proof in your statement and I hope you are right is that manufacturing should expand rather than contract. Time will tell.

          • Steve159

            yet you continue to argue.

            It seems to me you won’t accept the idea that FFs are not the answer. They’re simply not (at least not this century).

            If you’ve read enough of Renew Ecomony, you’ll appreciate that (at some point) in the near future, renewables will reach “God parity” — that’s the point at which, even if coal, or gas stations produce power at $0/kWh, home owners and industry will still choose solar, due to stupid network fees.

          • Don McMillan

            “sometime in the future” fine great! but what to we do now? Renewables i have no problems with, – its their business plan. Today, tomorrow, next week and probably next year they rely on gas to make up the difference. So renewables should co-operate with Natural Gas until they have developed to an appropriate size plus storage capacity installed and operational. Unfortunately with the NG business decimated [right now] therefore disruptions and short term cost increases will be blamed unfairly on the industry.

          • Steve159

            “sometime in the future” it is courteous to quote correctly. I wrote in the near future, God parity will be achieved. Before that, it is still viable to go solar with or without batteries.

          • Don McMillan

            Stand corrected and apologise. “in the near future” What time period is “near future”? next week, next month, year decade?

          • Steve159

            As per the main article section this website:

            “Australian battery price war resumes, with Powerwall 2 delivery just ‘weeks away’.”

            Just weeks away for a battery solution that beckons households to go off grid. As the article explains

            “Driving this shift is the sensational downward price trajectory of home battery systems, which in little more than a year has seen them go from an “emotional investment” to an economic no-brainer.”

            “an economic no-brainer”

            “an economic no-brainer” means the end of the need for fossil fuels.

            “an economic no-brainer” means the eventual discontinuation of gas-fired power stations.

            All of which depends on how fast households install them. When will that occur? Ask you neighbour.

          • Don McMillan

            Weeks away then there is no problem. South Australian & Victorian industry’s concern is unfounded.

          • Steve159

            a thousand mile journey begins with the first step. The first step being “weeks away” (is that well-enough explained, now?)
            There will be a time-lag for installers to install the necessary batteries and solar, but that is the journey, the direction to go. Not more gas exploration or wells.
            By the way, you asked when. Did you ask your neighbour and everyone in your community, and the one adjoining? There’s your answer.

          • Don McMillan

            I think my neighbour is renting. The issue is not households its businesses and manufacturers. They are worried. I do not know what to advise them.
            “No more gas exploration” I hope you oppose AGL’s proposal to import shale gas from the US.

          • Steve159

            Question for you: if all households were on solar and batteries, how much extra power would be available for businesses and manufacturers (do we still have some of those?)

            As for AGL – the market will respond, as it does. Is it not better to import shale gas than pollute our own waterways?

          • Don McMillan

            So Natural gas is environmentally sound product otherwise you would oppose it. It is a NIMBY issue!

          • Steve159

            ?
            I don’t understand your “natural gas is environmentally sound” — no, it’s a short-term solution to energy needs. But it is unsustainable, in the long term

            That said, given what’s happening in the arctic, gas and all fossil fuels might be gone sooner than expected.

            http://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topstories/%E2%80%98beyond-the-extreme%E2%80%99-scientists-marvel-at-%E2%80%98increasingly-non-natural%E2%80%99-arctic-warmth/ar-AAmvwVZ?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartanntp

          • Don McMillan

            Only less than 5% of the gas in place in geological basins resides in reservoirs that do not require stimulation [fracking, acid etc]. This is why the US went from gas scarcity in the early 2000’s to now and exporter. Australia has many hundreds of years of gas but would require fracking. All the science inquiries have OK’d Fracking. The technology is over 150 years old, 60 with high pressure water and no aquifers have been damaged. Proof -> no litigation. Trust me lawyers love suing E&P companies.
            Natural gas has replaced many many USA coal power station because it is cheaper. Thus reducing CO2 by ~50%, Nitrates by ~99% Sulphurs by ~99% and particulates bu ~99%. NG is not perfect, there is plenty of examples of bad behavior, abuse and irresponsibilty etc. Also good examples – water for farmers & repairing damaged [by agricultural wells] aquifers [SuratBasin] Renewables, batteries, storage and all the ideas are critical and gas short or long term will play a role. Unfortunately in OZ we have jumped the gun and decimated the industry in the short term. I am worried about OZ’s future but somehow it does seem to turn out ok.

          • neroden

            As the NY State DEC Commissioner found, all the scientific studies on fracking have shown… well, let me be specific.

            They’ve shown that while it is theoretically possible to do it safely, *this never happens*. Actually, it always contaminates the land and water.

            The reason, I’ve realized, is that the E&P companies are unprofitable if they do the job right… so they cut corners and don’t do it properly. Incompetent well casing jobs etc.

            And they’ve contaminated lots of aquifers in Pennsylvania. Oh yeah, the aquifers are only for private wells, so it’s just rural landowners who suffer.

            Maybe your laws in Australia are better and the companies can’t get away with such environmental devastation. If so, *the fracking companies will refuse to enter the market because they can’t make any money*

          • Greg Hudson

            What you really mean is the frackers have decimated the farmers. Poor gas companies being decimated? You need to get off the weed, and join the real world. Pro gas, pro fracking, pro importing shale gas from USA (What a dickhead idea when we have billions of cubic metres in the North West shelf – that should be left alone). You should start your own ProGas blog if you haven’t already. FF troll is ringing in my ears methinks.

          • Don McMillan

            Well do not complain about high gas prices. Moving NWS gas to the east would be very expensive.
            I am totally opposed to bring US Shale gas to NSW & SA & Vic. Unfortunately I cannot get any support from the greens, knitting nannies etc. I hope you oppose it.

          • Steve159

            “I think my neighbour is renting”. Disingenuous.
            Ask your neighbour’s landlord. Then ask your other neighbour, and those opposite, and those up / down the street, and in other streets in your community, and in other communities.
            Report back when you’ve done that for everyone in your state (there after you’ll be re-assigned to other states).
            Off you go now, there’s a good lad.

          • Don McMillan

            I did he is the owner but has just migrated and has not considered it. Me I am not earning money so I am not spending – which is why I have plenty of time to post
            I am sure many people will install batteries but their the ones with jobs

          • neroden

            Tell businesses and manufacturers to install their own local solar and batteries. Get a loan if need be. It’ll pay off.

          • Don McMillan

            Businesses and manufacturers are continually economic modelling their businesses. If it was that simple and remain competitive they would do it. With all the regulations, high salaries and now energy costs it is hard to remain competitive. IPL’s solution is to move to the USA and shutdown OZ ops. ASX 10May16 and more to come.

          • neroden

            The exact financial parity crossover point is location dependent.

            However, we have already reached the point where it is NEVER cost-effective to build a new coal plant ANYWHERE.

            Australia (excepting Tasmania) has superb sunlight so the crossover point for solar vs. natgas has actually happened earlier in Australia than elsewhere. Natgas makes no sense in the Northern Territory or western Queensland or Broken Hill, as of *right now* — they should all be solar + batteries already and the only things stopping them are lack of awareness and lack of financings.

          • Don McMillan

            If solar + batteries are cheaper then there is no argument. It would be very easy to finance. There is a lot of investment dollars for such economic projects. You are saying that solar and storage capacity is in-place today fantastic then e can turn off gas now. So why is this website and media linking gas prices to the increase in electricity costs?

          • Steve159

            “If solar + batteries are cheaper then there is no argument.”

            It seems to me you’ve not had any experience in professional systems sales.

            There are early adopters, then the early and late majority buyers, then the late adopters. Simon Sinek explains this well enough https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action/transcript?language=en

            Clearly, if your world-view prevailed, the rise from early adopters to majority would be near vertical. It isn’t.

            Neroden’s “just because solar + batteries is cheaper and better doesn’t mean people will actually (buy)” reflects the reality of buying by eary/majority/late adopters.

            (as per Sinek’s video, I’m guessing you still have a rotary
            dial telephone)

          • Don McMillan

            I hope you are a man of action -there is a lot of investment dollars looking for such projects. This is a rare time in history where huge dollars are available, governments and communities eager to support this technology – I do encourage you to try.

          • Steve159

            Furthermore, renewables provide far more employment opportunities than fossil fuels — US solar jobs number more than oil, gas, coal combined. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-solar-power-employs-more-people-more-oil-coal-gas-combined-donald-trump-green-energy-fossil-fuels-a7541971.html

            With more people in work (in Victoria, due to renewables) means more opportunities for all businesses.

            Renewables will mean greater prosperity for Victorians, not less.

          • Don McMillan

            US is practically self sufficient in gas and coal and on the way with oil. Based on BP statistics coal & Petroleum accounts for 86% of US energy needs whereas renewables 3.1%. Labor intensive usually implies expensive but I could be wrong.
            I can assure you business [manufacturers] are very nervous. With the pending shortfalls in natural gas and energy cost increases they are looking at moving offshore or going out of business. No one is thinking of moving their manufacturing plant to Victoria.
            Our energy plan is based on populism not good engineering. Time will tell…..

          • Steve159

            “No one is thinking of moving their manufacturing plant to Victoria”.
            really. You know everyone, and what their thinking.
            What evidence can you cite to support your opinion.
            btw, VIC and Qld are the only states seeing a net intake of residents (leaving NSW, WA).
            http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/australians-flock-to-melbourne-as-victoria-becomes-australias-fastest-growing-state-20150625-ghxj27.html
            and more recently another article (can’t seem to find at present) showing the trend continues.
            Maybe it’s all those manufacturers moving to VIC that needs all those extra people, which is driving the migration.

          • Don McMillan

            I have talked to a few manufactures which depend on NG and I see a very bleak future. The solution I see in the paper are subsides [Alcoa] or IPL [ASX 10May16] warn they have to close their OZ plant and move to the US. I hope you are right – I really do.

          • stalga

            Alcoa has enjoyed heavily subsidised electricity, courtesy of the Victorian government for years. The agreement ended very recently.

          • Don McMillan

            AGL announcement ASX 20Jan17 Subsidies are increasing. The AGL deal means its customers are not subsidising Alcoa. Now every manufacturer in VIC will start asking for subsidies. All could of been avoided.

          • Peter F

            It should never have been built it has been subsidised to the tune of billions of dollars over its life

          • Don McMillan

            Agree I am angry at the greens, Drew Hutton, Alan Jones knitting nannies etc all silent. The same happened in Germany and Scotland where onshore gas exp is banned. US shale gas is now exporting huge volumes to these places without protest. This is why I believe the activist groups concern for the environment is just a cover for NIMBY.

          • neroden

            Stored solar, duh.

          • Peter F

            No-one is saying 100% renewables. You need to bring the argument back to reality, You are putting up a “straw man” like “if there were no crime we wouldn’t need a police force or most of the justice system think how much money we could save”.

            As I showed above Victoria can still be 60-70% of annual power supply from renewables with existing gas and hydro. There will be batteries installed by customers and distributors which will reduce peak demand, There will be increasing energy efficiency which will reduce peak demand. There is enough gas in the system for 20-30 years without major new exploration and in 5,10 15 years there will be a whole lot of new options such as Peroskovite solar, liquid metal or metal air batteries 6-8MW onshore wind turbines etc. Even the old gas peakers can be replaced by new reciprocating gas which is 30% more efficient and much easier to integrate into CHP applications so further reducing gas demand

          • Don McMillan

            I’ll take your word for it that backup is not a problem.
            I know gas. There is absolutely not enough gas in the system for 20 to 30 years. No commercial business carries that amount of stock. From the raising funding to explore, to selling gas takes 5 – 15 years. Once discovered you contract out that gas in long-term contracts. You have to explore continuously so to have gas available once these contracts expire. This cycle has been broken about 10 years ago.
            Companies [manufactures] put out tenders for gas are not getting any replies. The shortage has commenced now. {IPL 10May16]. The amount of uncontracted gas onshore is negligible.

          • Peter F

            Don I absolutely agree that the system is broken. Why we did not put a reserve policy in place like just about every other country is beyond me.
            However the problem with encouraging more gas exploration in Victoria and SA at the moment is that it will just get gobbled up by the QLD exporters who will save money by not drilling more CSG wells.
            Many of the gas companies have behaved so badly wrt their economic and/or environmental responsibilities to Australia that I think the best thing for the country is to do everything we can do to eliminate demand for gas wherever we can

          • Don McMillan

            Under our constitution the States own the resources [NG], not the federal gov, not the Australian citizens and not the farmers. So in the early 2000’s when NSW invited in the gas companies, who spent 3 – 4 Billion dollars exploring, the QLD gov would see no need to have reserve areas for NSW. Honestly QLD gov only thinks about NSW at state of origin time. Forecasters including myself predicted NSW gas would flood the market causing gas prices to crash. Wrong.
            Subsequently NSW kicked the gas explorers out. First time introducing sovereign risk. NSW Gov must take some of the responsibility for the situation as they clearly know the longterm consequences of their actions. QLD has now issued new licences that are reserved.
            We are the most regulated industry in the country. Our negotiations with the farmers are set out in the constitution and the rules of engagement are legislated by the politicians. Yes it is weird the same politicians that criticise the compensation rules are the ones who wrote and voted for them. In QLD there are 4000 agreements with two toxic [60 minutes] I have worked with farmers for over 20 years and have never experience what I see on 60 minutes. EPA watches us with a very close eye. This is a problem as when we enter a farmers property we bring in EPA, native title & heritage issues. Interesting the aquifer monitoring has identified and expose damage from other industries. The aquifer in Oaky QLD i allegedly damaged by the defense department – litigation has commenced. If we do anything wrong we’ll be sued.
            Finally the NG industry has failed to modernise and communicate with the general public including social media. Their communication is a disgrace. This neglect has cause a lot if damage to their business. People in the industry are no different to anyone else.

          • Peter F

            The states own the gas but the feds control the export licences and can easily “deem” a suitable price to ensure there is enough left for us

          • Don McMillan

            CSG-LNG project = $60B Projects this size the financiers and banks demand that most if not all the gas to be contracted out. [same for Offshore projects] None of the Domgas wanted to sign up as the projects and investment indicated cheap gas in the future. No one complained and reservation was never mentioned. Pollies were happy – huge royalties & taxes & Domgas is safe due to investment in NSW & NT.
            What changed was the destruction of the gas business, no-one predicted. This maybe an historical event, depending on the consequences.
            The cost to the taxpayer to reneg on these contracts will be enormous or end up in court. The feds to “deem” a cost for QLD gas to be sold to NSW or Vic may contravene the constitution. Free trade between the states includes pricing. This is out of my expertise but not sure how the feds could do it. They can subsidise the customers.

          • Steve159

            “There is absolutely not enough gas in the system for 20 to 30 years”
            Excellent. Thanks heavens, now we can focus on expanding RE to take up the slack.

          • Don McMillan

            I hope you oppose AGL’s idea of importing shale Gas from the USA
            At least we should agree on this point!

          • Steve159

            Excuse Peter F, if you don’t pretend to speak for me, I won’t you.
            I not only suggest 100%, but, give we’re the “Saudi Arabia of renewable energy” (Jeremy Rifkin, 4Corners), we could go 200% or more (supply other countries with syn fuel, via SA solar – see my earlier post, area of half SA could power the whole world)

          • Peter F

            Sorry Steve You are right I meant at a political level. Exporting solar power embodied in synfuel, metals etc. will be difficult for a long time as most of the world has excess generating capacity where they can make their own, or very cheap hydro like China and India, Iceland etc. Controlled demand at smelters is actually a very powerful load balancing tool so that justifies keeping Aluminium smelters in Europe

        • Barri Mundee

          To me this indicates the federal government should mandate that a certain amount of gas be reserved at lower than ruling prices so that gas can be relied on an emergency source of supply.
          The companies that extract the gas are using OUR limited resources. Why should they have free rein? Free market ideology results in some perverse outcomes.

          • Don McMillan

            Unlike the USA we here in OZ do not teach the constitution in schools. The natural gas resources are owned by the States, not the federal, not the Australian citizens and not the farmers. The constitution mandates free trade between the states. So the federal government cannot mandate volume or price without a referendum or fight a lot court cases.
            The problem is that even if the gas companies charged $0 at the wellhead the transport cost from WA & QLD to VIC would make gas reliant industries un-competitive and probable uneconomic. Local gas or no gas.

      • Richard

        Goverment and rugulators better be careful because solar plus storage, behind the meter, combined with smart technology, will put all the control in the hands of the householder/business.

        Utility provided installations of behind the meter battery/solar, will
        likely be noncompetitive and untrustworthy compared with community based collective purchasing, or even individually tailored systems provided by smart local contractors.

      • David leitch

        Disagree. On that basis you would never buy a computer. If storage is economic today as I expect it is if properly modeled, the the fact it may be cheaper tomorrow is irrelevant.

        • Peter F

          I must be clearer in future. There will be storage but it is localised peak shaving/solar saving behind the meter stuff. We already have bulk storage in the hydro system and we won’t need more bulk storage until we are at at least 50% renewables. Given a combination of widely spaced high CF wind, aggressive roll out of energy efficiency and smart grid controlled power to heat, we may even get to 70% renewables before needing large scale bulk storage

      • neroden

        Germany has terrible sunlight and bad wind, so they need more storage than most places

  • Keith Altmann

    Solarguy – there are quite a few very concerned Engineers, but the dominant pushback is the assumption that business as usual must continue, despite clear evidence that it cannot and some slow moves in recognition of that. It is my firm view that until we face up to the need to price externalities, including adverse carbon impacts, and the laws of thermodynamics are incorporated into economic decisions, and most importantly accept that there are limits to growth that we need to quickly adjust to, we are showing the same behaviour (and foresight?) as bacteria in a petri dish!

    • Barri Mundee

      I think at least on of the basic stumbling block in the required transition to a low carbon economy is that owners of FF power generators are hell bent on extracting as much profits out of their investment as they can and will only ditch them when it becomes uneconomic to continue to operate them.

      In the meantime they have been very successful in co-opting (mostly conservative) politicians to till the playing field in their favour.

  • Cooma Doug

    If the market rules are adjusted in order to promote load management rather than supply adjustments only, our problem starts to get real.
    Efficiency and emmission control is last in the list of incentives. How stupid it is when these two are the cheapest options.

  • Radbug

    Trump: “Anthropogenic Climate Change is a worthless idea” … ergo, the Obama DOE-sponsored technological discoveries created to address this “worthless” idea are also worthless, right? Which means that the IP pertaining to this “worthless” technology is also worthless, right? Which means that the licences & the fees attached to this IP are also worthless, right? Okay, Donald, we’ll offer you 15 cents in the dollar for those fees, fair enough? After all, something is better than nothing for such “worthless” items, right? No, I mean it. I say to Daniel Andrews, “chance your hand on this one, mate, you never know your luck in the big city!!!” There’s some beautiful stuff in the DOE’s IP portfolio, you could pick up a goldmine for peanuts!

  • Rob G

    Bringing Corbell into the fray is a masterstroke by the Victorian government. Just think what he could do at a federal level…

  • Steve159

    In an earlier comment I wrote
    “Australia has enough solar resources (e.g. half the area of South Australia) to power the whole world, replacing all nuclear, gas, coal, oil. Check the link, the maths is quite simple and straight forward, based on facts. http://landartgenerator.org/blagi/archives/127

    To argue that renewable energy isn’t sufficient to supply 100% of Australia’s needs is astonishingly naive and ill-informed.”

    On reflection, I think that those opposed to renewables aren’t naive. I think, in light of the facts, and that renewables are an enormous jobs-creator, those who are against renewables are deliberately and willfully attempting to sabotage our economic growth and wellbeing.

    Why would they do that? I expect personal greed – they are either paid by, or employed in the fossil fuel industry, and seek to feather their own nest, at the expense of economic growth, employment and a cleaner environment.

    That said, as per the former, if they’re not employed in, or paid by the fossil fuel industry, they are astonishingly naive and ignorant of the facts.

    • lin

      Yep. There are rivers of gold flowing from our pockets into the pockets of the FF industry (oil, gas, coal and electricity), and those who own our “representatives” will do all they can to keep this going for as long as possible.

    • Greg Hudson

      ‘half the area of South Australia’ is of course way bigger than what ‘we’ need. But to further refine it, install the PV array on the radioactive land of Woomera. It can’t be used for anything else anyway.

      • Steve159

        Agree — that area could provide all power needs for Australia.
        And that’s before we start looking at wind, and wave energy.
        And if grid connection for WA is too impractical (expensive), pump in seawater, and produce synthetic fuel (for gas-modified power stations in WA). Whatever.
        Or some other solution, not really a technology problem, more a lack of political will.