Climate Change Schizophrenia: Australian Payoffs to Coal, and a 47% 2030 Emissions Cut

Essay by Eric Worrall

The details of the 47% emissions cut bill are sparse. The bill does not include any mechanism or funding for enforcing emission cuts.

Australia’s climate change targets will become law. What happens now?

Here’s what we know the new bill means for climate action and what happens once we have legislated targets

Adam Morton Climate and environment editor
Fri 5 Aug 2022 03.30 AEST

The Australian House of Representatives has passed the country’s first climate change legislation in more than a decade. The main part of the previous bill – an emissions trading scheme, introduced by the Gillard government with the support of Greens and independents – was repealed by the Coalition under Tony Abbott in 2014.

Here’s what we know about what the bill means for climate action, and what happens once the country has legislated emissions targets.

What does the climate bill do?

The climate bill enshrines into law two national greenhouse gas emissions targets: a 43% cut below 2005 levels by 2030, and a reduction to “net zero” by 2050.

The bill requires the climate change minister, currently Chris Bowen, to give an annual statement to parliament on progress towards the targets. Bowen has likened it to the annual Closing the Gap statement.

What doesn’t the climate bill do?

It doesn’t include a mechanism or funding to cut emissions from electricity, industry, transport, agriculture or other parts of the economy.

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Those ongoing capacity payments;

Why including coal in a new ‘capacity mechanism’ will make Australia’s energy crisis worse

Published: June 21, 2022 1.07pm AEST


Tim Nelson Associate Professor of Economics, Griffith Universit
Joel Gilmore Associate Professor, Griffith University

Australia’s electricity generators would be paid extra money to be available even if they don’t actually generate any energy, under a new mechanism proposed by the federal government’s Energy Security Board (ESB). 

Controversially, the ESB has recommended all generators be eligible for the payment, including ageing coal-fired generators that are increasingly breaking down.

The proposal comes after federal and state ministers last week requested the ESB advance its work on a “capacity mechanism … to bring on renewables and storage”. The ESB says a mix of generators is crucial for the mechanism to be effective, guaranteeing energy supply to the grid. 

So will this capacity mechanism lower energy prices for households? Probably not, because it includes unreliable coal-fired power stations, and consumers are likely to pick up the cost when the plants ultimately fail.

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Going by their speeches it is possible Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese actually believes the green revolution will now proceed with minimal government help, other than the installation of a few new power grid lines. The risible funding they’ve allocated for battery backup suggests they have completely misunderstood the magnitude of the renewable intermittency issue.

For now at least, the Albanese government is giving our near end of life coal plants cash to stay open in the form of capacity payments (see above), to prevent the lights from going out.

The Albanese government can’t even promise greens they’ll stop permitting new coal mines – maybe they have realised they need the coal tax revenue to fund their social programmes.

Energy storage is the real showstopper for Albanese’s green transition plans.

The government’s readiness to impose harsh price caps and force operators to provide power at a loss has in my opinion killed the business case for expensive backup systems like batteries.

Not that batteries were ever going to be a significant part of the solution, around $6 – $20 trillion AUD of batteries are required to backup the Australian national grid for 7 days, depending on how many people buy an EV, and expect to charge it from the national grid.

262232GWh per year / 365 x 7 x 1000000 (convert GWh to KWh) x $1200 per KWh battery cost = $6 trillion

If you assume a battery lifetime of 10 years, that $6 trillion is just the start – the government also needs $600 billion per year to maintain the $6 trillion battery pack.

You can obviously play with these figures, the worst part of the wind failure which helped cause last June’s power crisis lasted 1.5 days rather than 7 days. But longer outages are possible. In 2017 South Australia experienced wind drought which lasted two months.

Snowy 2, our showpiece pumped hydro system, the big hydro battery which is supposed to make green Australia possible, will lose 40%+ of the energy it stores. The distance between the upper and lower reservoirs is too great for efficient storage and retrieval. Even the deep green Sydney Morning Herald recently described Snowy 2 as a White Elephant.

There are hydroelectric options which have been proposed for the far North, huge tropical river systems which currently empty into the sea. But the cost of installing and maintaining thousands of miles of cable, to transport the electricity to where it is needed, and the cost of building and maintaining all the hydro infrastructure which would be required has so far been a showstopper. And of course the government would face a lot of political blowback for flooding river watersheds full of endangered species.

The Green Party deserves some blame for this charade. I don’t agree with his politics or green ideas, but I was actually starting to think Green Party leader Adam Bandt might have some political principles, when Bandt pushed back against this nonsensical bill – until he caved and waved it through.

Prime Minster Anthony Albanese, if you genuinely want to reduce emissions, if you truly believe in your green transition, just get on and do it. Lets have our Brandon moment. Do something significant to reduce emissions, like shutting down all coal exports and domestic coal use.

WUWT would applaud the courage of such a decision. Of course we would also report all the blackouts, business failures and financial blowouts which would inevitably follow.

via Watts Up With That?

August 5, 2022 at 12:19AM

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