A new study attempts to flesh out a blueprint for a rapid energy descent for Australia
It’s clear that the world is heading into an extremely interesting new decade. While the world’s insatiable demand for energy shows no sign of slowing in its exponential curve upwards, it’s clear that in the not-too-distant future supply issues are going to become acute. These two clashing parameters promise to take us into an economic ride of almost biblical proportions. If we think the energy price spikes of 2008 and the subsequent recession of 2009 have been a tough time, brace yourselves – there’s much more to come yet….
Whilst wholly late in arriving, at least now we’re seeing these serious issues being increasingly focused on in the mainstream media. Governments, however, are still exceedingly slow to apply the precautionary principle – largely choosing to cherry pick the most optimistic forecasts so they can leave the hard decisions to whoever lands the miserable task of taking on the next term in office. The irony is that even their most optimistic forecasts provide a time frame for transition that still leaves us needing to make serious haste if we’re to avoid major social upheaval, and yet we’re still doing little to nothing. And, when we examine the more conservative and realistic estimates out there, we see we’re now put in the unenviable position of trying to minimise the worst aspects of that upheaval, as it will be impossible to avoid major difficulties entirely.
One thing that is often overlooked when we think of the necessary transition is the energy it takes to make that transition. Building new infrastructure to accommodate renewable technologies like wind, wave and solar power takes copious amounts of fossil fuels – from production of components through to transport, installation and maintenance. When fuel prices skyrocket once more, and skyrocket they will, the rollout of ‘green’ technologies will thus also become more difficult and price-prohibitive. We can really get caught between a rock and a hard place, and this is exactly why getting proactive about transition right now is imperative. The old saying, ‘a stitch in time, saves nine’, has never had such urgency of meaning.
The people at BeyondZeroEmissions.org are giving some thought to a rapid energy descent, specifically in regards to Australia’s electricity production. As a result they’ve just released their Zero Carbon Australia report – an attempt to produce a blueprint for making a ten year transition to 100% renewable electricity. The full report isn’t out yet, but the six page executive summary is worth a peek:
Yes We Can! – Zero Emissions Electricity by 2020
For immediate release, 17 February 2010
Zero emissions electricity by 2020 – affordable, sensible, do-able
- See how – 6 page preview executive summary is available now for download:
- The full report will be available for distribution and download by mid year.
Beyond Zero Emissions’ cutting-edge Zero Carbon Australia 2020 (ZCA2020) Stationary Energy Plan is a detailed, costed blueprint demonstrating how Australia can reach zero emissions electricity by 2020 using proven, existing, commercialised technology.
Whilst not all the solutions proposed may be perfect (the only truly clean energy I know of is the result of photosynthesis), they’re a whole lot more appealing and practical than any government policy directions I’ve seen to date. Material like this needs to be examined, discussed and improved on in the halls of power today – unless they have something more pressing to do that is….