Posts Tagged ‘renewable energy’

The ostrich or emu-like resistance to renewable energy in Godzone is displayed by the contribution of renewables to each state’s energy supply so far this year.

Leading emu state by far is Queensland with 4.7% renewables, followed by NSW with 8.8%, Victoria 15.8% and South Australia 36%. The almost regular doubling of those figures from north to south and then west, struck researchers at Kookynie Lo-Tech University (KLOTU) as curious and worthy of closer investigation.

The technique used was to trace that trajectory with a thick black pencil. Lo and behold, a classic J curve! But our economists noted that there weren’t any trade or currency factors at play (apologies to non-economists), so other social scientists were called in to try and explain this mysterious J curve phenomenon.

Is there a perverse, inverse relationship between total daylight hours of the states and their interest in renewable? As in, the more sunshine you have, the more oblivious you are to its potential energy source, aka the Sunshine State, which also by the way, has recently approved a massive coal mine. The idea of a direct relationship with intelligence was discarded as too improbable.

However the hypothesis is refuted by the standout performance of SA with lots of sunshine, and the highest renewables by a long shot. So, what makes SA different? Could there be a positive relationship with wine-growing and refundable bottle deposits? Or less convict genes in the local free settler bloodlines?

No, an exciting clue to the puzzle is emerging in complex data-mining by our statisticians, who have noted the proportion of German ancestry citizens in the state. The KLOTU team has just retired to the pub’s back bar to further crunch the numbers over an Emu Bitter or three, but it’s looking promising.

And it certainly makes sense, as Germany is an early adopter of renewable energies, despite their uneven sunlight hours (but plenty of wind). Germans migrated to SA in the 1830s and Victoria in the 1850s, so the progressive renewables DNA arrived early and flourished there. Eureka!

Maybe all those German backpackers and other recent arrivals from the fatherland will over time help to raise the renewables intelligence quota in this recalcitrant coal-addicted corner of Gondwana.

Penong windmills 3

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Just after Anzac Day is a good time to reflect on our collective failure to meet the challenge of altering Australia’s energy mix. We all know coal is plentiful in the wide brown (oh yeah!) land, and that our polluting power stations produce cheap electricity, but that’s just the problem: it pollutes, to use an old-fashioned word. And one day the coal will run out (what’s left after exports to China), which is why it’s called a finite resource. Now, which part of that do people not understand? Oh, and yes, there’s a high probability that it’s also changing the climate.

A study by the University of Technology and Melbourne Business School on Australian attitudes towards society, politics and the economy has confirmed that we are ‘effectively indifferent to global and societal issues’. Concerns about industrial pollution, climate change, renewable energy, and depletion of energy resources fell dramatically compared to 2007. Attitudes in the UK and USA to environmental sustainability were equally parochial and selfish, and in stark contrast to Germany, where global issues ranked high.

The corollary is well explained in an excellent program on ABC Radio 702 – ‘Germany and Renewable Energy’ – in which a few experts take us succinctly through the politics and facts of twenty years of German experience of building a renewable energy network. National laws on feed-in tariffs were passed in 1990, and in 2000 with twenty year contracts. The cost of photovoltaics is tumbling, and demand so strong that Germany cannot manufacture enough at present. The base load power and economic viability of renewables are demonstrably clear there. Germany has an average of 1738 hours of sunshine a year, or 4.8 hours a day. We have that much before breakfast! Finding plenty of wind in our empty continent is also a no-brainer. Geo-thermal, bio-mass and other clever renewable methods make up the energy mix.  Wake up Australia!

Germany has grown its renewable energy from 2% of total supplies in 1990 to 20% in 2012; meantime Australia has managed to finally get to 5%. Anzac spirit my arse. At that rate Germany will reach 100% renewable energy by 2030, and decommission all nuclear power stations. ‘Beyond Zero Emissions’ shows that Australia could also reach 100% renewables before then using existing technologies. What’s missing is our political leadership. And our collective will, which may involve sacrifices on our part. Lest we forget indeed, wombats! Eats, roots & leaves a mess.

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