NSW Energy Security Summit: Old rhetoric rules the day

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I can’t wait until a powerful energy leader finally breaks ranks and embraces the energy future that has well and truly arrived.

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Last week’s NSW Energy Security Summit was (yet another) example of how the Australian energy industry is seemingly incapable of anything but rhetoric when it comes to embracing change. They aren’t alone of course and we shouldn’t be surprised that incumbent monopolies who profit from a model designed to supply perpetually more energy from ageing fossil fuel plants want to protect their investments. I just can’t wait until a powerful energy leader finally breaks ranks and embraces the energy future that has well and truly arrived.

As if to demonstrate the issue of lagging leadership, our old friend NSW Energy Minister Chris Hartcher said, as reported in RenewEconomy on Friday, “alternative sources of energy [to coal and gas] are expensive and unfeasible”. This type of attitude personifies energy leadership (or rather, the lack thereof) around the world and in particular in Australia where the majority of energy utilities remain Government owned. One member of this audience of “key energy stakeholders” even felt obliged to stand up and ask the staggeringly intelligent question “What’s wrong with emissions anyway?”. 

Minister Hartcher might do well to read the Wall Street Journal article that debunked the common renewables myths (again), in a recent article and confirms what the Australian Federal Government has been saying for some time now; that renewables are in many cases cheaper, today. And as for our climate skeptic emissions fan, well he might like to take a look at the latest data from the IPCC that shows we increasing emissions probably isn’t such a great idea.

Now let’s be clear. I’m not an ignorant, ideological zealot. I prefer to call myself an environmental realist.

I acknowledge that  in this privileged life I lead I rely on minerals that need to be mined, oils that need to be refined, synthetic products that are man made, gas for my cooking and heating and so on. I don’t  have any right to ask for unrealistic, ideological  perfection while ever I am a consumer.

But I can and will keep asking if there is another way of doing things, and like a groundswell of others I’m willing to pay for it.

The Energy Summit did not ask this question nor was it focused on setting targets for transitioning to alternative sources of energy. Instead it was focused on continuing to propagate myths, the status quo and excluding those who had alternative views. To my knowledge of the 150 delegates who were invited or attended 0.013% were from the renewable sector.

The traditional energy sector did acknowledge that the energy mix will inevitably change, recognised they haven’t handled the solar snowball at all well and that radical change is required. But then got back to focussing on how to access more Coal Seam Gas, survival and profitability.

I have good  news though.

  1. The evidence that viable alternatives exists is increasingly abundant which will discredit the purveyors of myth
  2. The need to change our energy mix is becoming increasingly clear and urgent which will force change
  3. The opportunity to profit from alternative energy is increasingly large and is attracting more investment

This is going to result in two key changes in the next 5-10 years:

  1. We won’t have to put up with ignorant views because leaders who fail to lead with vision and sound economic policy will not survive. Evolution is 100% inevitable.
  2. Renewables will continue to increase and many problems will be solved, despite the efforts of the incumbent utilities.
    Change is 100% inevitable

 

Source: Solar Business. Reproduced with permission

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3 Comments
  1. Coaltopia 6 years ago

    Can we afford 5-10 years for these crusty old barnacles to fall off the hull? It’s time the ships are put into dry-dock, scrubbed and the anti-fouling paint reapplied.

    It’s hard to escape the fact that our ageing population will continue to vote in neoconservative fools.

  2. John P 6 years ago

    The crusty old barnacles will go on for some time yet.
    They will be getting a whole new lease on life from the far right troglodytes that now hold sway in Canberra.
    By the time the penny finally drops, the contrast with the rest of the world will make us a laughing stock!
    Get off the grid and do it more cheaply and comfortably!

  3. Miles Harding 6 years ago

    Hi Nigel,

    In addition to the groundswell of environmental realist consumers asking, many of us are willing to do something. As can be seen from the problems state authorities are having with energy, this is underway and they can expect more problems if they do not put themselves in a position of leading.

    During recent interviews, David Suzuki commented about the conservative governments, paralleling those in Australia and Canada. What has been apparent for a while is that the leaders in both of these countries are incapable of grasping the fact that the world view is evolving and the economic ideals they have held sacred throughout their lives must now be largely discarded.

    I find it concerning that they have chosen such a regressive path, one which seeks to recapture the prosperity of the mid 20th century, when there is such a huge opportunity via the path to true sustainability, an opportunity that they are presently squandering.

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