Smart Energy and the Climate Emergency
Earth is likely to reach 1.5 degrees global warming above pre-industrial levels by 2040 and maybe sooner, and to stay within 1.5 degrees, carbon emissions need to decline by 45 per cent by 2030 and reach near zero by around 2050. Those were just some of the stark warnings delivered at last week’s Climate Emergency webinar staged by the Smart Energy Council.
Kicking off the webinar was John Grimes followed by Prof Mark Howden, Director of ANU Climate Change Institute who in a series of slides highlighted the extent of the climate crisis around the globe, from unseasonal and prolonged bush fires in California, Greece and Australia; and rising temperatures across the world.
Among the deeply concerning trends are a series of large scale changes: heatwaves; extreme events, increased fire risk, lower rainfall in some regions, record sea level rises and glacial ice melt at a frightening pace. The slide highlighting record atmospheric carbon dioxide levels was alarming, and reinforced the very real risk of irreversible changes to climate and biodiversity.
The outlook is bleak.
Despite these and multiple other warnings, those on the far right political spectrum are calling for more coal plants. It appears the threat of the existential crisis is yet to cut through.
Speaking at the webinar Amanda McKenzie referred to the latest Climate Council report The Angriest Summer showing 2018/19 was the hottest summer on record in Australia, with record breaking extreme heatwaves, devastating bushfires, torrential rainfall and flooding.
“One of the biggest challenges is for the fire services sector which needs to be well resourced for a longer season,” she said.
Amanda compared the 1 degree Celsius temperature rise to the energy of four Hiroshima bombs being detonated each and every second.
What are the solutions?
Prevention – don't let it get worse
Energy – the lion’s share is oil and gas, accelerate the shift to renewables, wind and solar, and
Thirdly – find a cure. How to take carbon out of the air.
Ending on a positive note she said ‘we have three times the potential to reach Paris targets’.
Simon Corbell who positioned Australia as a global leader in renewables focused his webinar contribution on the opportunities presented by clean energy and the means of accelerating the transition.
And never doubt the potential, he says. There are more solar and wind projects waiting and wanting to be developed than there is MW connecting capacity available in a renewable energy resource rich location. The appetite is there and AEMO has identified a series of renewable energy zones (REZ) and locations in its Integrated Services Plan, the blueprint for the energy future.
“We need to drive opportunities to drive growth,” said the man behind the 4 GW Walcha wind and solar project in New England. “And it is the central role of governments to drive the move to encourage investment in the private sector and the scaling up of ambition.”
ACT Minister for Climate Change & Sustainability Shane Rattenbury highlighted the unprecedented heatwave in the capital territory that produced record breaking warmth during its hottest ever summer.
“January wasn’t just a little bit hotter, it was 6.3 degrees Celsius above the long-term average, at an average of 34.5 degrees, so it was an extraordinary experience in terms of seeing the fingerprints of climate change. And for the first time ever we recorded four days in a row above 40 degrees Celsius,” he said.
The ACT is of course a global trailblazer with its 100 per cent renewables target by 2020 within striking distance, and plans for net zero emission by 2045.
“We feel that we have managed to, as a small jurisdiction, hopefully be a glimmer of hope in an otherwise difficult national debate at times, and be able to roll out policies that others can copy over the coming years as we all seek to fulfil the role we have to play to be good global citizens and reduce our emissions,” he said.
“Politically however I think we need a stronger national target. And we need no new coal.”
The ACT minister also called for greater clarity among the COAG energy ministers.
John Grimes commented on the moral authority of the ACT to speak out nationally and internationally and concluded the 60-minute webinar stating the need to amplify the conversations.
“New coal has no place, not now or in the future. It is expensive and polluting and cannot compete financially or environmentally with wind and solar,” he said.
Tune in to the full webinar at www.smartenergy.org.au
Recapping the Australian Utility-scale Solar Market and O&M Best Practices for Optimum Performance
The Smart Energy Council is a partner in the SolarPlaza webinar taking place on Thursday March 21 at 4PM AEDT
In preparation for the inaugural edition of Solar Asset Management Australia, SolarPlaza has joined forces with Green Energy Markets' Tristan Edis and Canadian Solar's Simon Chau to bring a session on the most pressing topics and challenges posed for utility-scale solar in Australia:
· State of the Australian solar market
· Latest market and policy developments
· Key challenges related to the environment: market, regulatory, geography
· Learnings from O&M in other countries relevant to the Australian case
· Important O&M considerations for maximum performance and ROI