Ironic RET – the sum is bigger than the whole.

The conversation was fluid, and as the Renewable Energy Forum wound down to its closing stages. What was obvious was we all shared a concern that what is policy is not what was understood as the intention of the policy. If we make example of the Renewable Energy Target (RET): After a review of the 2001 target set under the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET), the Australian Federal Government in August 2009 committed to the RET and it was designed to ensure that 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity supply will come from renewable sources by 2020.  Then in June 2010, the Federal Parliament passed legislation to separate the RET into two parts to commence on 1 January 2011 – the Large scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) and the Small scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES). These changes are in order to provide greater certainty for households, large-scale renewable energy projects and installers of small-scale renewable energy systems.

What has happened since is the 20% Australian Federal policy changed to GWh available targets.

What is wrong with that you say? Well previously 20% meant 20% no matter how much the demand for electricity grew. In other words the renewable energy requirement will grow to ever-higher numbers as electricity demand grew at approximately 5% per year. This suggested traditional generators would lose market share to new renewable starters. To get accord on the issue, the setting was then addressed as a Gigawatt target that said 20% was desired but was ‘real’ in that it actually reduced the % of the renewable energy production each time total energy demand increased. What now worries the traditional generators that agreed to the accord is that demand is reducing at around 2% pa and that it is trend, ironically because of the policies of the new Australian Government towards manufacturing and innovation. So at the time of change to Gigawatt target until demand actually dropped we saw the actual % of the target drop to about 13% and now it will rise on predictions to have demand reduce we will find the target will again be closer to 20%. It even affects the Energy Retailer in that the risk of being caught ‘short’ or ‘long’ in the market is a much bigger risk.

Another issue is that states and territories always need to do more, and they have set their own targets. The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) recently amended its 25% target to reflect 90% by 2020.  ACT have even introduced a 20 cents per kWh feed in tariff (FIT) to encourage large scale renewable to supply business and industrial needs in the region. What they have effectively done is create a capacity market inside a Spot Market for electricity.

So – If you studied my phone records, what would you unearth about me and my intentions, seriously? The irony is metadata collection on individuals might give you the wrong conclusion. Why is that so? I am a collaborator and a competitor, the cluster I might frequent will change according to the clients needs. Imagine this I am at the Renewable Energy Forum, I tell all about the wonderful deal I have done based on coal fired generation, that it was a wonderful outcome – and all agree they needed to know that outcome. They now knew what tactics they needed to counter those arrangements. But as metadata it might read or profile, they are here, they are everywhere, what are they up to – must be no good!

Oh dear, getting paranoid about the RET review are we? No actually feeling very positive. Why? CO2Land org can remember at least 7 reviews of different sorts on the matter. Yes, something will change, and distortion in the market place will be adjusted. Maybe even new models for the industry will be mandated to accommodate change or the transition strategies for the inevitable continued growth will be clearer.

Why be so confident? The Abbott government largely is a carbon copy of the Howard era. Even when Howard introduced the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET) it was not his preferred vehicle to protect the environment, but it was a means, through pluralism to remain in power.   In this case to appease the Democrat Party faithful (sorry Green Party faithful but that is a fact). Abbott is a former Howard Minister, as is many of the Abbott cabinet, and the difference is, in Abbott’s case, is the need to appease right wing entity(s). The problem with the right wing groups is they tend to be Elitist and leaning toward returning to feudalistic ideals.  Howard tended to favour Roman times, and you must suspect Abbott does too.

So CO2Land org does not believe that Abbott, who previously endorsed Carbon, is doing anything other than adjust the rules to appease concerns and continue with what China is doing – encourage continued renewable uptake.

What if Turnbull takes over as Prime Minister, would it be better? By degrees we suspect rather than radical. We can be encouraged that Turnbull does continue to support the ideals of sustainable business.  In our opinion he had one fault, too honest in his previous stint of party leader. Maybe he did learn that lesson – don’t be too visible in setting your agenda.

Don’t give up on renewables surviving the RET review  is our advice. If you note the style of the current executive it is similar to neurolinguistic programming, that in effect means we just give up trying to comprehend meaning. More proof listen to the language being used; ever changing degrees of view point and you might even notice yourself saying: Did he not say something else yesterday – I give up!

Don’t give up because the Pollyanna moment is to come, suddenly, Abbott will say I always supported the environment, I was waiting for the right moment and mechanism. It is about how a relevant government can govern to maintain a community obligation. NOTE: All weasel words have been carefully chosen so no disclaimer is required!


Regenerative Energy a better product

Very recently, in conversation it became obvious, that apart from hard line protagonists, on both side of the political divide they agree that climate change is happening. The disagreement is whether is it anthropogenic and how exact any remedial action might be in saving the planet. In common with all is that reliance on fossil fuels will remain to dominate our need for comfort. The degrees of the need for comfort and the energy needs to supply it will be lowered or raised by how we control our demand.

But, you know it might be possible that innovators are coming up with better product – a more affordable alternative that provides the same service. More affordable, not just in terms of price but also cost of resources.

If you have followed CO2Land org you will notice there is a strong emphasis on regenerative energy and innovation. You might also notice a practical stance on comments on the campaigns for emissions trading systems (ETS). It had never been denied that ETS has a role for helping switch from coal to natural gas right now and to some extent renewables. It is also advocated that the Mandatory Renewable Energy Targets (MRET) in Australia has encouraged uptake of renewable energy. But carbon allowances themselves have not been observed as being able to produce a better product.

Regenerative energy might be a better product and while renewables have made inroads and are already on the right path in the electricity sector. If you don’t think so take a look around you and you will see wind power is quickly moving to be a mature technology, and the cost of solar having plummeted in the past few years, and China is about to flood us with even cheaper solar products. Another reason to consider regenerative as a better product choice is efficiency as waste can be stored in what you might describe as a battery waiting for peak demand periods before being used. Our comforts for heating, transport, mobility, communications and peak energy use can be provided without the need for compromise.

CO2Land org is optimistic that this transition can succeed mainly because people will view it all as an improvement in their lives. The down side is there will be business as usual type resistance to the term ‘unburnable carbon’. Meaning if we remove the increasing demand trend for finding new fossil resources – such as shale oil and gas – and instead stretch out the fossil reserves by lowering current demand, and hence allow us to leave this carbon in the ground we will be accused of hurting jobs and shareholder returns.  What would be even more interesting is how BAU types could reinforce the constant negative when we can continue to feel comfortable.

Motivation for the post comes from:


Keeping carbon in the ground requires a better alternative

Thoughts on the new IPCC report