Transcript: Energy Insiders podcast interview with CEC’s Kane Thornton

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This is a lightly edited transcript of the recent Energy Insiders podcast, featuring the Clean Energy Council CEO Kane Thornton.

Giles Parkinson  00:29

Hello, and welcome to this latest episode of the Energy Insiders podcast. My name is Giles Parkinson. I’m the editor of Renew Economy, and joining me as usual is David Leitch, ITK Principal. David I trust you are well?

Kane Thornton  00:43

Giles, I am well. I trust all our listeners are enjoying Winter. I extend my sympathies to those in Victoria who are in lockdown. I myself am well, but I’ve had a COVID jab yesterday and a few after effects today, and but what a pleasure it is to welcome our special guest today.

Giles Parkinson  00:59

Yes, all the way from lockdown Melbourne. Kane Thornton, the CEO of the Clean Energy Council. Look, thanks for joining us and commiserations on another lockdown.

Kane Thornton  01:09

Oh, that’s OK. Hi, David. Hi, Giles. And to your listeners. It’s great to be back with you. A little bit gloomy in Melbourne this afternoon, as we are obviously heading back into lockdown, but you know, we’re pretty tough down here in Victoria. We’re not like you northern daffodils, so we’ll be fine. We’ll get through it.

Giles Parkinson  01:31

Okay, how’s the homeschooling gonna go?

Kane Thornton  01:34

Look, pretty well. My daughters are fairly independent and pretty tech savvy so this just means they don’t have to get out of bed till about 855 each morning and get their laptop out and kick off. So I think they’re quietly pretty happy with it.

Giles Parkinson  01:50

And one of them is learning renewable energy I understand.

Kane Thornton  01:53

She is. She she came home just yesterday and was telling me all about the challenges with renewable energy, why it’s so expensive and why we can’t  the run the country on it. So needless to say, I have asked for the contact details of her teacher.

Giles Parkinson  02:08

I never knew that Angus Taylor had actually got a double job as a school teacher in Melbourne, but there you go.

Kane Thornton  02:15

Look, I always assume that generational change was really important to, you know, get the community and our country accelerated on the energy transition. But if that’s what young people are being taught I’m a bit concerned.

Giles Parkinson  02:28

So are we all. We’re having you on the podcast today because you guys have just issued another investment update, and apart from a couple of new investments in battery storage, which is very welcome, and the Victorian big battery that we’ve heard of, and the Wallgrove battery in New South Wales, it’s a very sorry story for wind and solar. Tell us more.

Kane Thornton  02:51

Yeah, well, let’s start with the good news. And the good news is that in the last quarter, we had record levels of investment, commitment to utility scale batteries, as you said. We’ve been tracking previous quarters and the last quarter of 2020 at 150 megawatts of utility scale battery capacity, that’s leapt up to 600 megawatts of capacity in quarter one of 2021.

So a 300% leap in commitments there, which is good news, and obviously a sign that investors are very committed to battery solutions. But at the same time, unfortunately, we’ve seen a real slowdown and a stalling in investment flows for utility scale renewables. So we had just the one project, just 400 megawatts of capacity for the  quarter, which is down about 45% on the quarterly average from last year and down 30% on the previous quarter.

Giles Parkinson  03:58

I just looked at the Clean Energy Regulator’s latest report too, saying for the month of April there’s just a trickling of stuff in, in fact I think one single project might have even been less than 10 megawatts. You’ve previously stated that the two problems putting investors off at the moment is connection issues and commissioning issues, and also federal policy issues. Are those still the big two red flags for investors?

Kane Thornton  04:23

Yeah, I think they certainly are,  the grid and network issues continue and, obviously, as we’ve seen more projects connecting and coming online and trying to connect, I think it’s fair to say these challenges have just grown. You know, obviously material delays in connections, we’re seeing congestion, constraints applied to projects. So the risks in that area have just increased and continue to increase unfortunately, and that obviously all makes investors think long and hard about making their next wave of commitments.

But also, obviously government policy and whether that’s about the lack of a strong national coherent policy for climate and energy, or probably more topical at the moment, unpredictable and unhelpful government interventions in the market. And, I guess those two things combined just create more and more uncertainty in the energy market, more concern for investors.

David Leitch  05:25

Giles, all I would say in addition to the points that Kane’s mentioned, not just the Federal government, but as we’ve previously remarked, we’ve got the New South Wales energy roadmap. And all everyone in New South Wales knows that there’s going to be a very strong decade long demand for projects in New South Wales. But the details are still being worked out. So it’s only natural to expect everyone to hit the pause button while they’re waiting to see how that plays out a bit more.

The second thing I would mention is that the prices in the in the market, the pool market, the wholesale prices have been very low. And that that’s works, you know, we’ve said 1000 times that low prices will stop investment. That’s, that’s what they’re supposed to do. And guess what, they worked.

And the third thing that and this is much more controversial, is that when you look forward, we know that to get to 100% renewables, we need basically about four times, four and a half times as much wind and solar as we have now because we’re doing about 20% or more, right this instant, so we’ve got to go up by four times. But the shape, the load shape, or the, sorry, the production shape of what we get from wind and solar, is very, very heavily influenced by this middle of the day peak in solar. And even though solar is a bit cheaper than wind, it’s not a whole lot cheaper. And, you know, I think that there’s a, there’s a case to be made for hitting the pause button and thinking about the central planning issue. And saying that, wouldn’t it be better if we built most of the new stuff that we need in terms of wind rather than solar? Because then overall, we’d get a much better balance over the day with demand, and you need to spend a lot less on the total firming investment. But I understand that’s a bit controversial.

Giles Parkinson  07:26

Kane, I invite you to respond to that idea.

Kane Thornton  07:29

Look, I certainly agree with David on the earlier points about lower wholesale pricesare clearly having an impact, and you know, there is a lot of both policy change and New South Wales program as an example, there’s also a lot of the big market reform work that the ESB is looking at, and progressing. All of that, I mean, a lot of that is quite welcome. And I think really important  for the medium and long term. But it does create a level of uncertainty about what the market will look like, and particularly, some of those ancillary services and other new markets, what they might look like, and how you then play them into the business case.

Look central planning, I think, I mean, our preference is still for governments to set the market conditions and let investors decide, you know, which technologies and solutions. I mean, I think, David’s absolutely right, in terms of the complexities of, particularly solar on the market throughout different times of the day. And I think that’s a big part of I expect the driver for the sort of investments that we’re starting to see in battery solutions because they’re obviously a big part of helping  to address some of those, those pricing and market issues.

David Leitch  08:48

So that’s the point. I mean, you can put the battery, look, don’t get me wrong, no one is a bigger supporter of batteries than me, and particularly their role as we, as Giles and I’ll talk about a bit later in actually controlling and running the grid. But, you know, solar and a battery is probably more expensive than a wind farm, to put it out at its exact crudest. And I just think it’s not that we shouldn’t have a market mechanism. But one of the things that when you’re doing PPAs, as a state government or something like that, is that you can sort of finesse what it is that you want. You still have market competition but  if you have a sort of guide or a plan, like I mean, you don’t let the markets run a war, do you? You don’t just say, you know, we’ll, whatever it is, we’ll go in and invade Afghanistan and let the market work out. Which, who’s going to attack who, at what time. You’re going to have a plan, you know, and some objectives and stuff like that.

Giles Parkinson  09:48

Not too sure if Afghanistan is the best example of having a plan, but still, I get your point. But what we’re all agreed on is that basically coal is exiting the system and probably needs to exit the system. Therefore, as you said, David, we probably need four times as much wind and solar, therefore we need to start getting it into the system, not necessarily waiting for high prices. Kane, can I just throw this back to you, I mean, you’ve talked about sort of central planning and not really liking that.

But you also mentioned the ESB changes, and we’re going to have another update of the ISP, the Integrated System Plan, and new scenarios will be coming out next month, an even quicker transition that was outlined last time. Are you confident that these things will actually be able to deliver the change, and the ability to jump over the hurdles that you talked about at the start of this podcast?

Kane Thornton  10:41

I think you’d have to be a bit delusional if you thought that we’ve got all the building blocks in place to manage the change. I mean, clearly, we’ve got the technology and the solutions there. But let’s face it, we haven’t been doing a very good job of coordinating all of this, and, you know, putting aside different views on the levels of government intervention and the nature of that and the role of markets, I mean, clearly, you know, we’re still playing catch up in this country. We spent most of the last sort of 15 years bickering about whether climate change was real or not, and throwing Prime Ministers out if they said the wrong thing.  I think we’re just now starting to turn our attention to what does the market need to look like. And I think the ESB have done a reasonable job having a crack at what that might be. Albeit at the same time, there’s just so much moving around, you’ve got the federal government weighing in to build a new gas fired power station, you’ve got States all setting levels of ambition and looking at different mechanisms to deliver it.

I think the ISP is, is a bit of a standout as far as a sensible, strategic long term plan. But I think the thing we’re struggling with now is how do you deliver it and how do you bring each of the different bits of reform, the role of different market bodies, the role of different markets in actually delivering the right amount of investment in the right form at the right point in time. And if we just let the market rip, and wait for the sort of pure market price signals, then it’s gonna be a pretty difficult, bumpy, bumpy transition. So it’s all a bit of a mess to be honest at the moment. And people are starting to think longer term, but we are playing catch up at the moment.

David Leitch  12:39

So yeah, the ISP is a great document for transmission planning, transmission planning, in looking forward. But I argue that we still need to have a separate document that starts at the end where we want to get to, and works back to how we get there from here. And, of course, things change very, very rapidly. Now we’re all talking about hydrogen and ammonia, and trying to understand how that might fit in, to the thing.

And then there’s electric vehicles, which are, every time I start on them I nearly blow boiler, because, you know, we just should be incorporating them into our thinking and policies and everything like that. Because that’s just clearly, you talk about being left behind for Australia, but Australia is actually keeping up quite well on renewable energy despite the federal government’s, the way I would put it, or thanks to the federal government’s policies with the RET from years ago, before, you know, the Abbott government. But, so we’re 20%. 20% is quite comparable with a lot of places. And we know we’ll be at 30%, the investments already taken place for that to get there, but on electric vehicles, which can add 30 or 40%, to electricity demand, you know, we’re just nowhere, nowhere at all.

Kane Thornton  13:59

Yeah, I think there’s so much planning and sort of strategic thinking yet to come. And I think EV’s are a great example of that. We should be deeping, developing that plan, driving the reform, you know, market technical grid reform that’s necessary. We should be doing that thinking and planning now. But instead, we’re still, again, we’re still catching up  with much of the last decade. And yeah, I think the same goes, is probably even more challenging on things like rooftop solar and DER technologies.

We’ve now got nearly 3 million Australian homes with rooftop solar and we’re only now getting our teeth into, you know, the complex technical standards around inverters and how to take advantage of smart technology, and how we should be setting tarriffs for export etc. Where we’re really playing catch up in in so many ways at the moment. Well, thankfully, I think particularly both AEMO and particularly the AEMC I think have now kind of got their skates on these issues and pointing in the right direction, but there’s a lot to do in a short period of time.

Giles Parkinson  15:07

Can we just go to the Energy Security Board, and they’re sort of draft rules. And look, they’ve they’ve left a fair bit up in the air at the moment and it just seems to be lot more, it still looks like just a bunch of suggested ideas. But is there anything there that you guys are just like, just don’t want to see? Or is there anything there that you sort of say” Yes, that’s absolutely fantastic.” It’s pretty open to interpretation, which way they’re going to go in many of the key elements at the moment.

Kane Thornton  15:33

Yeah, that there’s still a lot to, there’s still a lot to work through. We’ve  actually just been holding some intensive workshops between the ESB and the industry to make sure we understand what they’ve put forward. I think it’s fair to say they’ve taken, you know, they’ve consulted heavily over the last six months, and I think they’ve taken a lot of our concerns, you know, things like, what was known as COGATI and some of the access reform areas that the industry was very concerned about, I think they’ve heard the concerns, and I think they’ve had a genuine go at, you know, refining different proposals or creating some new options.
You know, so that there’s nothing right now where there’s sort of immediate red lights or alarm bells going off. But there is a lot of complexity. I think what they’ve done is as they’ve thought more about these issues, I think some of their proposals are more complex, which, you know, has a different set of risks about well, how do we understand some of these proposals and trying to understand how they impact the market and, you know, the extent to which they help or hinder some of the problems or the opportunities that they’re trying to open up. So that’s, that’s sort of our early assessment, there was a lot to do……

David Leitch  16:50

Kane  I just wonder, I mean, surely the physical reliability kind of thing, I mean, you must have, your guys must have been thinking about that?

Kane Thornton  17:00

Yeah, look, that’s the one, that’s the one area that I think there’s growing, well there’s increasing consensus and concern about. I think that certainly, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of positives to that. And there seems to be a bit of concern about the physical RRO sort of option. But, you know, there’s still, I mean, there’s, in some of these areas, there’s, there isn’t a lot of detail. And there’s a lot of gaps to fill in, people making a lot of assumptions about what they mean, or how some of these areas might work. So there’s still a lot to work through over the next next couple of months, you know. All the strength to the ESB, they’ve still got a fair bit of work to do.

David Leitch  17:47

One of the things that I think would worry anyone is that when things are left vague, then the person making the decisions gets to interpret them how they want, and by the time you’ve worked out it wasn’t what you first thought it was, the horse, wrong, wrong, wrong century, has bolted, so to speak.

Kane Thornton  18:04

Yeah, I think that’s right. I mean, noting that a lot of these proposals are ultimately, if they go forward, are ultimately gonna turn into real changes and real proposals. And obviously through that process, generally, there’s a lot of scrutiny and a lot of detail to work through. But for some of the proposals, the ESP have outlined, there’s a lot of detail to work through between where they are now  and actually turning into a real change in some form,

Giles Parkinson  18:32

Well given all this, given the time that all this will take, and then another two years from the next, another year for the next ISP, and another couple of years before we get clarity over the new market rules… when do you hope, or expect to see, the rebound in wind and solar, that investment that we probably need to meet the targets that we want to meet?

Kane Thornton  18:53

Yeah look,  it’s a really tough question. It’s, yeah, the analysis we release is based on what happened in the last quarter of the last year. It’s much easier to predict the past than the future. So, I don’t know is the short answer. I mean, if you look at that collection of issues and barriers, I mean, if you look at Grid connection as an example, you know, we’re working very closely, particularly with AEMO at the moment on the grid connection process and reflecting on how it works at the moment and how it might be reformed and improved. You know, that’s got some good momentum. And we’re hoping to see, you know, as this year rolls on some change and improvement for that. You know, we know there’s, you know, there’s rule changes, like the AEMCs rule change around systems strength and do no harm, which is thankfully now being being changed. That’s been, that’s pun intended, created a lot of harm for renewable investment. And so that change is really welcome.

So there’s some things that are in play that take us forward and I think address some of the important risks facing investors at the moment. There’s others, you know, government policymaking, the sort of wholesale energy market outlook, but that’s still difficult, you know, for a number of years to come. And so I think, unfortunately, we’re gonna see sort of a bit of a stalling in commercial decisions around wind and solar utility scale for a while to come. Although noting the flip side of this is that the customer demand just continues to strengthen. And so that’s, you know, that’s something we’re seeing more and more, you know, big businesses make commitments to 100% procurement of renewables, we’re seeing, you know, major resources companies, we’re seeing a lot of investment in, you know, early stage demonstration around hydrogen, etc. So, there’s a real tension here, the customer demand for utility scale, renewables just keep strengthening. But those, some of those grid and market challenges, you know, are going to be here for a while longer.

David Leitch  21:10

Yeah, I agree with you about, about the customer demand. I do think that’s still there. But I would say that myself, it’s not much use talking to the ESB and AEMO about the transmission. I mean, they already, you just talking to the cheer squad, it’s the AER you know, and getting project, the South Australian one done, you know, would be a good energy connector, would be a good start. But anyway,..

Kane Thornton  21:36

Yeah, I agree totally, though my reference to AEMO there, and I think it’s easy to confuse the grid connection issues that industry’s most focus on is less about the transmission capacity and backbone, and it’s actually more about the specific process that particularly AEMO oversee and manage working with the renewable proponents and obviously, the team ESPs the transmission business have an interaction with that, but that  process itself is has been very challenging.

David Leitch  22:08

Those PSCAD studies that would seem to go on forever and take every expert no one on earth to work on them for quite a while, and then they get charged about two weeks after you first come up with a result.

Kane Thornton  22:22

Yeah, that I mean that there’s a lot of complexity and obviously, you know, connecting in integrating a renewable project into the system is, it’s complex. But that process, and obviously the extensive modeling and interpretation and judgments, etc, around that, they’re really challenging.

Giles Parkinson  22:43

Guys, let’s get on to some news of the past week. I guess the biggest event in the last week was a big explosion at the Callide C coal generator in Queensland, that had a cascading effect. Although digging deep into the, or digging where we can into some of the events, it seems like the two Callide C units went out and then it took a little while longer for the Callide B to sort of sit there and oscillate for a bit and then they fell over and then the multiple lines crashed and a whole bunch of other coal generators went off the line. The result was a million or more people lost power for an hour or two. And it was a little squeaky bum time in the evening as demand rose and AEMO and Powerlink and all the local companies struggled to find enough power to keep the lights on for everyone.

David Leitch  23:33

Giles It’s like a quarter of a Lidell was last in, you know, 10 seconds. And it took us two days to get over it.

Giles Parkinson  23:42

Yes, look, it was actually a bigger sort of loss of power in terms of sort of megawatts and size than than the South Australian blackout. Although it wasn’t a system blackout. David and Kane, I’m not too sure what you guys make of this. I mean, this is a quite a modern coal power generator. And we don’t know the reasons why one of these turbines suddenly exploded.

David Leitch  24:06

Giles, I think the first thing to be said, reading from the power engineers and I love really what those guys have to say, because they don’t say anything very much, so it’s always interesting when they do say it, is that in fact, you know, AEMO and Primary Frequency Control have done a good job. In the end, this was a major incident. And frequency was managed very well due to the primary frequency control of all the generators. But I think also in part due to all the batteries, whether it’s Hornsdale and other things around there. We’ve got a lot better at managing these shocks. And that’s just as well because there’s going to be lots more of them in years ahead.

The essential point too, is that there aren’t very many coal generators. I mean, this one was like 15% of Queensland supply or something like that, and maybe not quite that much, but it was quite significant and a meaningful share of the whole Australian average demand, and the system survived that. They’re all like that now. Every time a big coal generator goes out, it’s a big hassle. And this is another policy imperative, right? The price is low because there’s oversupply in the wholesale market. But the essential policy problem is to get the new supply built before the old coal generators go away. And someone has to bear the cost of that, right. That’s where governments actually have to step in and bear the cost, because the private sector needs to earn a return on its capital, but it can’t get it out of the market until the coal generator exits. So that’s the sort of chicken and egg thing where policy is required.

Giles Parkinson  25:37

Yeah, well it was interesting that we, I mean, you mentioned battery storage, and certainly we wrote an article and pointing out that what a big battery in Queensland might have done and might have actually stopped a lot of that, those blackouts that did happen, a lot of that power lost. And it was interesting to see the Queensland energy minister rushing straight out to a construction site of the one big battery that is being built in Queensland at the moment to announce that it was being built, as everyone probably already knew, and that they’re going to build another one at the Tarong coal power stations again, I guess, nothing like a bit of a crisis to sort of inspire some yet more investments in the right place.

Kane Thornton  26:13

Yeah, look, it’s I mean, I think it instantly triggered a sort of a bit of a brawl and the usual hysteria between those sort of trying to defend coal and see that it continues to expand and those who take a different view. I mean, I think it’s worth noting up front, I mean our first thoughts were with the workers on site, and I guess glad and pleased that it doesn’t appear that anyone was injured in the event, I mean it  looks like an industrial accident in some form or another. And obviously, a lot of analysis and investigation to go I always, my eyes glaze over when people start talking about rate of change of frequency rockoff. It’s my favorite acronym, but I really don’t know what it is. But there’s obviously a lot of complexity about  what exactly happened after it tripped and impact on the system. But I mean, I think the conclusion for me is, I mean, it just highlights the risks in a centralized energy system, where you’ve got a very small number of units that are very large, and I guess just reminds us of the strength of a more distributed energy system where you’ve got a much larger number of generators, whether it’s on people’s roofs or wind and solar farms out across the system, and much smaller points of failure. And when one unit trips out, that they’re unlikely to have a system wide impact as a very large coal unit might.

Giles Parkinson  27:43

Well look, I’m glad you mentioned rockoff, because  David and I are just about to talk about that. But first, before we do, I do want to do a hat tip to George Christiansen, the LNP MP who managed without a hint of irony to actually publish a picture of an exploding coal plant on Facebook and sort of say that this was an argument for having yet more coal plants. So it’s just quite extraordinary to me. But David, we actually sat in on a webinar today hosted by ARENA and good on them for doing it. It was about grid forming inverters.

So this was about the next level of inverters which we see, which are the things that basically connect wind and solar farms and make batteries do interesting things. And it was fascinating to hear about it, we heard from the people behind the Hornsdale battery, about their synthetic inertia and their response to that Callide explosion. And there was providing inertia, which actually addresses rock off, because rock off is basically the rate of change of frequencies. If it falls too quickly, it makes it very hard for everyone to respond. You need inertia to slow that down. And this is what the battery was able to prove that it could do. That was really interesting. The other fascinating thing I found about this, David, was that you had people from the transmission companies and from university and researchers and even the AEMC talking about a grid without synchronous generation, the future grid and using grid forming inverters and a whole new way to manage the system.

David Leitch  29:07

Yeah, that’s right Giles, that was, even to us old journalism or finance type, it was still very interesting. I mean, this has been one of my hobbies, you know, for the past year or two,  to read about all this stuff. Regular listeners might recall that we interviewed Stephen Sproul from Hitachi ABB about virtual synchronous machines. It’s not just the grid forming inverter per se, but it’s hooking it up with a battery that can provide and absorb real power to maintain the frequency. And, you know, we also had, we’ve also had, actually forgotten, embarrassed on to talk about the fact you don’t actually need a high inertia system, it may be that a lower inertia system is much easier to control. So it’s this balance between stability and ability to move it around and out when you need to that’s of interest. But no, of course, the ARENA people are, you’re always going to get the enthusiasts, you’re not going to get the negative guys turning up and speaking at ARENA type thing.

We need to remember that these are the guys leading the pack, not the guys following, but having said all of that it was very encouraging. Transgrid is putting a battery in at Wallgrove to test out grid forming capabilities, Powerlink is doing stuff in North Queensland that the Powerlink guy was quite enthusiastic about. The head of power management, I forget the exact title at AEMO was, you know, clearly, there was a lot of enthusiasm for grid forming inverters, and virtual synchronous machines and a sort of recognition that, that they still got some things to prove for those people that are interested in the technical side of it. You know, the fact how do you make a whole lot of them work together? And, you know, there are other sort of secondary disturbances that have to be sort of watched and how do they go in grid following and grid forming mode? You know, there’s that kind of, you know, there’s all that sort of stuff. But the fact that we’re actually looking at doing that now, is really very encouraging. And most people on this seminar seem to think that grid forming inverters have a very big future.

Giles Parkinson  31:16

Kane, have you got anything to add on that? I don’t think you were at the actual webinar today but I mean, it’s, we are sort of hurtling towards a completely different system.

Kane Thornton  31:24

Yeah look, I’m not an engineer. And I don’t know what many of these acronyms stand for, and much, much technical insight, but I’m just wrapped that we’re having this sort of conversation. And, you know, again, we know there’s an inevitability about the future, you know, shifting towards an inverter based system. And yeah, these are exactly the sort of discussions and thinking we should be having. It’s, I’m sure, it’s complicated. It’s not easy, but having the work of ARENA kind of leading and coordinating this stuff and bringing the right people together, I think it’s exactly the sort of work and planning that we need to be doing.

Giles Parkinson  32:04

And on that note, I should also just point out that Renew Economy this week has published its big battery storage map of Australia, which is all the operating and under construction, and proposed, and announced battery storage projects that we can think of, and some people have pointed out that we have actually missed a couple, but we’re going to add them to it. But it’s a really useful resource and quite satisfying to actually get that app as a visualization. And it’s got some sort of, at least some, some information about each of those projects. And interestingly enough, David, all the operating batteries were installed in 2019. We haven’t actually had a new battery connections for two years. So we look forward to things like the Wallgrove battery in New South Wales in the Victorian big battery in Victoria to actually get hooked up.

Kane Thornton  32:48

And I think even Stanwell is talking about another 150 megawatts today near the Tarong power station. Having said all that, and saying how wonderful big batteries are, and they’re cheaper, certainly. But we need to remember that household batteries continue to have their very big place being used out at the fringes of the grid, right where the power has been consumed. And so having the battery right there is sort of very efficient. And I noted today that Tesla said that they’ve sold 200,000 of their power walls globally now, which is up from 100,000 a year ago, to give you an idea of what’s happening on a global scale.

Giles Parkinson  33:28

That’s interesting. Guys, look, I think it’s about time we wrapped up. So I’d like to thank our sponsors Evergen and Pylon for their ongoing support. Thank all our listeners for listening to this podcast and glad you’re doing that. It’s great to get the feedback that we do through your emails and text messages, and particularly at the conferences that we attended recently. And Kane, I’d like to thank you very much for joining us in your first day of lockdown and I do hope you get out of it pretty quickly, because it sounds like you’ve got an urgent appointment with your daughter’s teacher.

Kane Thornton  34:01

Thanks. Yeah. Thanks Giles. Thanks, David. We’ll be just fine. Yeah, I hope my colleagues across Victoria get through this period okay. 2020 was a tough year for us. Yeah, I think we were hoping we were through the other side of it in 2021. But we’ll hang in there. We’ll be right, and of course listening to your dulcet tones on this podcast, you know, always always lifts our mood.

David Leitch  34:24

Giles. One other thing I think not all of our listeners will have seen was the annual survey released by the Lowy group this year, which looks at Australia’s attitudes towards climate change. And there was, you know, increased level of support, which remains up around 60 or 70%. for Australians doing more and stronger and young people but also even in old people, like a clear majority, but also there’s a surprising number of people, I think a majority from memory, actually would favor Australia getting out of coal mining altogether. So I mean, this is why Matt Keene can do what he does. It’s because it’s basically popular.

Giles Parkinson  35:05

And interesting, a court decision as well today that found in a Federal court decision that found in favor of group of school kids and a nun who wanted  basically the court to rule that the environmental minister Sussan Ley has a responsibility of taking climate into consideration when she’s asked to approve or not approve new coal mines such as the Vickery coal mine in New South Wales. But haven’t got time to discuss that now. Thanks again David. Thanks once again. Kane, thanks for the listeners. Thanks to our sponsors. Once again Pylon and Evergen. Goodbye for now.

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