Interview: Australia’s Most Wanted
Industrial: The Fox and the Contractor
Unions: Industrial Wasteland
International: Two Bob's Worth
Economics: National Interest
Environment: The Real Dinosaur
History: Only In Spain?
Review: Clerk Off
Justice, Applied Liberally
The Real Dinosaur
John Howard remains in denial on climate change when even the Terminator is not doubting its impact and acting on the potential disaster. Howard has told Four Corners
"That sort of scenario, 60 per cent for Australia, would have enormously damaging impacts on our economy, on the price of petrol, on a whole lot of things," ...
"It would have a very big impact on ... our GDP, because to achieve that you have to impose a carbon tax."
Well well well we are heading towards bigger holes in the ground with coal exports, just as we see, with reduced CFC emissions, a reduction in the size of the ozone layer hole. This reduction is occurring because of international government and community action. The sort of action Howard has rejected on Kyoto.
The comments by Howard came as the CSIRO warned that if Australia does not cut emissions by more than half, the Great Barrier Reef will be lost and the Kakadu wetlands will dry up.
Howard says he wants compelling evidence. He obviously won't see that when it is in front of him because it already is.
In recent weeks we have had reports of governments actively promoting alternative energies successfully. The photovoltaic industry has seen world production double every two years, the annual additions to solar photovoltaic capacity will overtake those to nuclear in either 2007 or 2008.
Reflecting the booming business interest, global photovoltaic sector revenues are expected to be $25 billion in 2006, increasing to $100 billion by 2010.
This also shows the narrowness of Howard and his incredible economic ignorance, from someone who claims to be a good economic manager. And his aversion to facts when they get in the way of the blinkered view provided by his mates in the existing energy exporting industries.
recent article the real flaws in Howard's views, not by attacking Howard but by examining the solar industry and the impact of government regulation on its growth and development. He does not even talk about subsiding the industry with cold cash just pushing energy consumers (business and domestic) to have to use alternatives and energy suppliers are required to provide it. It comes in at a comparable initial cost and at a far lower cost to the environment that we all have to live in.
Australia and others have been talking about carbon taxes and carbon offsets for energy users. Green points out that another way of encouraging photovoltaics has been implemented in Germany and has been very successful. It has been the simple measure of guaranteeing a PRICE for all energy generated by photovoltaics for 20 years. As a direct result hundreds of thousands of German households and businesses have installed photovoltaics on roofs, offices, barns anywhere they can put them.
Interestingly, the claim that only nuclear power can supply the base load required for energy consumption if we get rid of coal fired power stations is shown to be incorrect by the example of what happened in Germany in July when nuclear power stations had to be slowed down because of water contamination and safety concerns, at exactly the time the solar power was working at best efficiency. Mark Diesendorf in the latest Dissent magazine also takes to task the nuclear for base load argument. He quotes Graham Sinden from the Environmental Change Unit at Oxford University "...if you plan the right mix, renewable and intermittent technology can be made to match real-time electricity demand patterns. This reduces the need for backup". The example from Germany illustrates this as nuclear energy can't be added to at varying demand periods. Diesendorf also points out that wind power is less expensive than nuclear power in the UK and the USA.
Other countries that are serious about changing their energy supply sources include Japan where the aim is to have one in four houses with solar electricity by 2020 (currently at one in a hundred with 300,000 homes fitted) and Switzerland.
Employment generation (surely important for GDP) has been a big factor in Germany with over 10,000 jobs created in the solar industry in recent times and this is pushing other European nations such as Spain, Italy France and Greece to act.
Technological advances in the industry, without the massive subsidies given to nuclear energy over 50 years and without the recently announced subsidies to carbon sequestration (ie to the coal industry) are coming thick and fast. The research centre that Green works with has developed a better way of using silicon making the wafers much tinner. Suntech will be introducing new types of photovoltaics by the end of this year. Costs, Green says, have declined by a factor of 10 since the 1980s and the same decline is expected very soon.
This does not even take into account the recent announcement from South African researchers of a completely new form of photovoltaic cell that works far more efficiently than current types and which have the potential to reduce electricity costs dramatically and provide the sort of power needed for a household very easily. Mini grids for neighbourhoods are envisaged.
All this for an industry that the PM thinks will adversely imp[act our GDP. It will do that if we have to import all the technological know how and the actually equipment but as now is a prime time to get involved it could be part of the remaking of our economy as a sustainable, efficient and qualitatively better one.
How about, instead of companies planting trees for carbon offsets, they are required to provide photovoltaics cells for houses. Origin Energy is doing this in Adelaide for 10,000 homes. Instead of new power stations, invest in photovoltaic research and manufacture. It would create scientific and technological know how, skilled jobs and a better world. I' d like to see that
Green refers to a report by Photon Consulting where the solar sector achieved a 44% growth in 2005 and demand is predicted to outstrip supply for a number of years. How would it harm Australia' GDP (a poor measure of the health and wealth of a nation to be sure) to get involved in this booming industry, when we have plenty of sun and as the world hots up more where that came from.
The largest technology float world wide in 2005 was supposedly a joint Sino-Australian one - Suntech - which of course is listed as manufacturing in CHINA. So by not encouraging massively the development of this industry we have lost a chunk already, at a time when China a rapidly expanding user of energy has invested serious amounts of money in the solar and wind energy areas (sadly they are also using more and more oil and coal - the coal part where Johnny Howard's thinking stops)
And if we have a government committed to a sound economy where is the backing for such remarkable ideas as that of , recent graduate from the University of Western Sydney, finalist in this year's Australian Design Awards who has developed a solar roof tile that generates electricity and heats water.
Mark Diesendorf (2006) In Defence of Renewable Energy and Its Variability? in Spring 2006 pp5-8
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