THE Australian government has committed to the introduction of an emissions trading scheme – officially named the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. I have previously suggested that this scheme may reduce the amount of energy available to every man; woman and child currently living in Australia by up to 35 percent, absent the discovery and implementation of new sources of carbon free energy.
Last Friday the Australian Academy of Technical Sciences and Engineering (AATSE) confirmed my pessimism.
In a A$6 billion plea for new research development and demonstration on new power generation technologies, the Academy explain in a 42-page report entitled ‘Energy Technology for Climate Change – Accelerating the Technology Response’ that we do not currently have the technology to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions .
The media release summarized these findings, “Much technology is already being developed, but it awaits large-scale commercial implementation before the costs come down to allow widespread utilisation, even with a price on carbon” .
The report focuses on stationary electricity generation because this is the largest manmade source of greenhouse gases in Australia. It explains that that the problem is part technological and part political in so much as nuclear energy is a low emission more-affordable technology but that neither state nor commonwealth governments will permit its use because of community attitudes. Solar is too expensive and wind, wave and geothermal each with their own particular limitations at this point in time.
The report concludes that the Australian government needs to back every potential new technology including carbon capture and storage for exiting coal-fired electricity generation because no single new technology for stationary energy production will be capable of achieving the projected reduction for carbon dioxide.
The bottom-line is that Australia is currently in no position to pursue ambitious “carbon pollution” reduction targets because we have neither the available technology or, in the case of nuclear, the fortitude, to replace our current dependence on coal.
1. Energy Technology for Climate Change: Accelerating the Technology Response. Background report by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), December 2008. http://www.atse.org.au/index.php?sectionid=128
2. Media release. Energy Research Needs $6billion. http://www.atse.org.au/index.php?sectionid=1259