Accelerating the Transition - The Way Forward

David Strang on accelerating our transition to zero emissions with a target of net zero by 2030, with particular emphasis on the electricity and transport sectors.

David Strang blog on zero emissions by 2030

The Way Forward

by David Strang

The key objective:

I believe that Victoria should target net zero emissions by 2030.

The reasons for this are as follows:

  • I understand that many people have been conditioned to accept that this is impossible.  However, I prefer to adopt the approach used by an organisation called Abundance Insider.  They attribute major change to people who attempt the seemingly impossibly – moonshot projects.  The concept is to set bold targets and the world will follow.  
  • I have read documents by Tom Kompas and it is clear to me that it makes no sense to delay transition as delay will prove extremely costly;
  • The IPCC encourages to transition as quickly as possible; and
  • Our children expect appropriate action now.

The appropriate response

I must encourage governments to adopt high-level policies that will result in Victoria meeting its targets.  In order to do that we need to have recommended policies for governments to follow.

Adopting these policies and the revised target will represent a major change for governments.  So, it is our role to show government that it is the wish of the people that these changes are made.  There are many examples of people power leading to change.

 

Draft policy framework

Status and aims

I have developed a range of policies to drive a fast transition to renewables and I would have no hesitation in recommending the use of public funds to break down barriers.  I do not claim that this is all my own work.  I have initially drawn on the work of Tom Kompas and the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute as set out in their paper titled : Australia’s Clean Economy Future: Costs and Benefits.

I am also aware that this list of policies is incomplete and there may be better policies in some areas.  Therefor this document should be flexible and we should move to expand and improve these recommended policies.

If this sounds as if I advocate excessive spending, nothing could be further from the truth.  I believe that smarter policies (more focussed incentives) together with well directed grants could result in a fast and cheap transition.  I also believe that this could result in new jobs and future prosperity for Victoria.

Fast and cheap

I know that the terms fast and cheap are far too vague, so I will be more specific.

By fast I mean that major transition is complete by 2030 and remaining emissions from generation and transport are offset by additional carbon offsets.  At this stage I would accept that there are some items that we might have to address through carbon offsets such as air travel, sea travel and the run down of legacy assets (old cars and trucks).  However, I would not rule out the concept that these problems may be addressed by 2030.

By cheap I mean at a cost that will not have a material negative impact on the economy.  In fact, many of the changes could be implemented at little or no cost and a fast roll-out of renewables is likely to create new jobs thus giving the economy a boost.

The new policies

I have followed the format used by Tom Kompas in his paper “Australia’s Clean Economy Future: Costs and Benefits” and have adopted his recommendations in many cases.  However, I have added detail and other ideas in a number of areas.

 

Electricity generation

Change 1 – A state-based emissions management for the electricity sector

I can’t top this one.  It is crazy that NSW had one before the Federal Targets were introduce and that no state has introduced emission management since the Federal Targets were removed;

Change 2 – Fast track investment in renewable generation

This can be done in a number of ways such as:

  • New reverse auctions; and / or
  • Direct investment in clean energy supply; and / or
  • Incentives for distributed generation.

Change 3 – Encourage renewables for industry

A number of industries are quoting the high cost of power as a reason to close down operations in Australia.  With renewables being the cheapest form of generation in Australia we should encourage financiers of new generation to work with industry to build the necessary generation.  This will also maintain the capacity of these businesses to provide demand response.  (The Portland smelter provided demand response by closing down parts of its operations last Summer at times of peak demand).

A fundamental cornerstone of any fast-track or investment is a sensible plan.

Change 4 – Fast track investment in firmed renewable generation

We should either:

  • Run reverse auctions for energy from firmed renewables;
  • Directly invest in firmed renewable generation.

We can also draw heavily on the funds available in the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to encourage this investment.

Change 5 – Community renewables

The Victorian government should support community renewables programs where the community installs the generation for the general good.  To make this work it may be necessary for the state government to:

  • Establish a state retailer to ensure that generation from the community generation is passed to users with minimal cost;
  • Make other changes to facilitate the program.

Change 6 – Rooftop solar and batteries

The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme should continue to operate until 2030 as legislated.

The current Victorian subsidy program should be amended to focus on:

  • Combined solar and batteries; and
  • Batteries only

At current costs rooftop solar requires no subsidy.

Change 7 – Feed-in tariffs

The current flat rate feed-in tariff should be changed to a time-of-use feed-in tariff to encourage the use of storage and to match market demands.

The factors to take into account are:

  • Grid prices during the middle of the day are low (sometimes negative) – refer the duck curve;
  • Prices peak in early evening.

 

Transport

Change 1 – Incentives for EVs

Sufficient incentives for EVs that the RACV analysis shows that EVs are cheaper than ICE vehicles.

Change 2 – Roll out electric buses

Follow the NSW example and ensure that all new buses are electric;

Change 3 – Improve public transport

Improved electricity or green hydrogen powered public transport.

Change 4 – Monitor the roll-out of electric delivery vans

Currently many organisations have committed to transition to electric delivery vans.  Victoria has a manufacturer SEA electric supplying into this market.

No further action is required if the current momentum continues.

Change 5 – Hydrogen for long distance trucking

The state government should provide support for the roll-out of hydrogen powered long-distance transport.

Change 6 – Ensure all ICE vehicles have low emissions

Ideally, Victoria would set emission standards for new vehicle in line with the proposed new Californian standards.

If this should prove difficult all vehicles sold in Victoria should have to disclose emissions information and to compare their vehicle emissions to US current standards and Californian proposed standards.  It is hard to believe that the Victorian Government cannot justify such disclosure.

Change 7 – Sea and air travel and a carbon bank

There are currently no viable renewable solutions for sea and air travel although scientists are working on solutions.  Until there are viable solutions for sea and air travel emissions should be offset by contributions to a Victorian carbon bank.

The operators of the bank should research the best carbon banking per dollar to ensure the lowest financial cost of the program.  However, depending on value, funds could be spent on installing solar in areas where investors cannot fund the installation.

 

What is driving me to produce this document

I am committed to ensuring a speedy transition to net zero emissions.  However, I have been searching for areas where I can make a difference.  In some ways I am still searching but I have some clarity.

Responsibility for actions

Hopefully there are already people who have similar views although many of these may already be involved in more direct action.  If not, I feel that I should just get started – following Greta’s example.

 

 

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