While welcoming the Prime Minister’s announcement to boost the Snowy Hydro scheme by a further $2 billion to increase generating capacity, clean energy expert David Bray from Cleveland Power says he remains deeply concerned for the short-term.
“There can be no doubt that the commitment to the Hydro Snowy Project is great news-but it’s a part of the long-term fix and there’s still nothing definitive about the looming short-term energy crisis being put forward.”
“That’s a crisis here in the next 30 or so weeks-Right now, not $2 billon away.”
The Prime Minister met with key gas companies yesterday to address that immediate short fall in domestic gas supplies and says he has secured a promise from them to boost production for domestic supplies.
“That’s an outcome that is no different to the original promises from the companies as part of their initial agreements. We need to know what price the boost will come at. Will consumers face be cost increases as we continue to pay world parity pricing or beyond? We need to also be sure we don’t end up back here and so far, nothing we’ve heard about yesterday’s talks addresses either point.”
Mr Bray says the outcome of those talks are at best vague.
Mr Bray says there’s also an issue with where the Snowy Funds will come from.
‘The total renewable investment commitment from Canberra is $2 Billion. So, is this largely east coast solution going to chew up all those funds? Or is Treasurer Morrison having to find $2 billion more?”
Mr Bray says there’s a key time line Canberra now needs to follow if the lights are to stay on.
“Firstly, we need the immediate fix. Secondly we need to know what are the cost implication of any deal that has been done with big gas and coal providers and thirdly we need governments at all levels to get real about renewable energy.”
Mr Bray says across Queensland there’s been some excellent examples of local governments working with renewable energy providers to make projects happen.
‘The solar and wind examples across the state and the geo-thermal discussions and plans in some areas in the west show it can be done when governments at all levels get busy and focussed.”
Mr Bray says that while Federal and State Governments can mandate and say what they like about targets, it’s local government that gets the final development calls.
“The transition must now be key-and we must move fast to stop us being a resource rich nation dependent on competing with a global market for our own fossil fuel sources.”
“And then we must get very busy, fast, with decentralized clean energy options. We need a suite of technologies; wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, Snowy Hydro and ocean currents to truly realize a resilient energy system and network.”
“Decentralized, far more efficient systems such as these, coupled to smaller systems of constant clean fuel sources is where biomass and geothermal clearly fit. They are by far and away the spine of any clean energy network.”
By example, the large Solar farm near Barcaldine will take up 93 hectares of land with 79,000 solar modules and it will have the potential to generate enough energy to power 9,800 homes.
The Cleveland Power Biomass Energy plant at Mount Cotton is the size of a small farm shed and will generate a constant source of power to provide energy to 50,000 homes, all day every day.
“And when the sun doesn’t shine, systems such as hydro, geo thermal and biomass keep on keeping on…And at the end of the day there’s no large scale environmental foot print such as there is with solar and wind.”
Mr Bray says he remains concerned that Prime Minister’s Snowy scheme announcement is a political ‘Look over here move’.
“One can’t help but wonder whether the PM is rolling this out today to keep eyes away from yesterday’s talks with gas providers that, from what we have seen so far, didn’t do anything in terms of solving the looming crisis due to hit in the next 12 months.”
“Well done on the Snowy moves, Prime Minister- But what about right now and where’s the more realistic approach to the domestic use of fossil fuels over a well-planned, staged transition period?”
“Then, where’s the whole of government directive to ensure a combination of readily available solutions to ensure this energy crisis doesn’t happen and can never happen again.”