SEN Policies Required for 2021
SEN believes the following four policies need to be immediately implemented to ensure a rapid transition towards net zero emissions as we head toward the WA state election in March:
Long-Term Planning For A Major Energy Change Is Needed
Changes to the sources of energy in WA from the transition to renewable energy (RE) will be the biggest change since the arrival of the Internet and cannot be allowed to occur with little to no planning, if we want to see good results.
WA Should Target A Renewables-Led Jobs Recovery
Cheap, reliable, and abundant renewable energy that creates thousands of jobs and decarbonises our economy should be an easy target. There is plenty of data to show that transitioning through construction and operational management of new RE projects will provide many jobs.
Gas Producers Should Measure Their Emissions To Give Accurate Data
Producers must be held accountable for the carbon and methane pollution that occurs during exploration, extraction, processing and shipping but the first stage is accurate information on how much is produced.
WA Should Get Its Fair Share Of Federal Infrastructure Funds And Use Them To Help Fund The Transition
While Snowy 2.0 is being funded by the federal government for the eastern states, similar projects are not being funded in the West. There is a need to negotiate a better deal for WA. Federal funds could be used to strengthen the Western Power network in areas where cheap renewable energy can be added to ideal locations.
SEN Jobs Report 2020
14 September 2020
This report identifies new jobs resulting from the transition to Renewable Energy (RE) within the South West Interconnected System (SWIS) system. Our modeled transition to 90% RE by 2030 (including rooftop energy behind the meter) determined the following direct jobs:
- 55,100 job-years (2020-30) with an average of 5,000 jobs per annum
- 8,600 FTE jobs in 2030 of which approximately 2,700 would be ongoing operations and maintenance jobs
- Approximately 50-60% of the jobs created can be in regional areas
Ross Garnaut recording available
17 February 2020
The link to the recording and slides from Prof. Ross Garnaut's book launch in Perth "Superpower: Australia’s low carbon opportunity" is available from the SEN Events page.
SEN Submission to the WA EPA regarding Woodside's Browse and North-west Shelf Proposals.
13 February 2020
SEN Submission to the WA EPA regarding Woodside's Browse and North-west Shelf Proposals [PDF file, 1 MB]
Woodside’s proposed Browse Basin development will emit 4 gigatonnes of GHG pollution over its 30-50 year lifetime.
This includes 4.8 megatonnes of ‘reservoir CO2’ each year, which will be vented to the atmosphere.
It will increase by 19% the emissions needing to be reduced elsewhere by 2030 under Australia’s Paris target.
There are numerous flaws and misrepresentations in the Woodside proposals:
- They do not clearly report estimated methane emissions
- They under-estimate methane’s Global Warming Potential (GWP) by calculating the effect over 100 years instead of 20 years (over 20 years methane is 84 times more potent as a warming agent than CO2);
- They attempt to conceal the magnitude of the reservoir CO2 emissions;
- They use an unrealistic and discredited projection of global gas demand, which is at odds with other projections
Furthermore, Woodside is making no realistic attempt to avoid, minimise or offset these emissions.
Woodside repeatedly claims, incorrectly, that gas is 50% less polluting than coal. SEN’s analysis shows that gas is at best 25% less polluting than coal.
This massive gas development cannot proceed if the world is to keep global warming within 2.0ºC.
Sensitivity of Electricity Prices to a Carbon Price on the South West Interconnected System
31 January 2020
Sensitivity of Electricity Prices to a Carbon Price on the South West Interconnected System. SEN submission to Energy Planning WA.
Energy Policy WA has been developing a Whole of System Plan (WoSP), but a carbon price has not been considered in the modelling. This report argues that there are national and state requirements to manage climate risk, and provides a well-researched sensitivity analysis which shows that various levels of carbon price can add 20-50% to the wholesale cost of electricity. Our conclusion is that modelling and decision making which does not include consideration of a carbon price is flawed, given the size of the effect indicated by this sensitivity analysis. The report itself outlines some of the implications.
Joint Special Event JCIPP and SEN present Prof Ross Garnaut
Sustainable Energy Now (SEN) and John Curtin Institute of Public Policy (JCIPP) present Professor Ross Garnaut AC.
Professor Garnaut discussed his newest book "Superpower: Australia’s low carbon opportunity".
In the book, Professor Garnaut offers a road map for progress, covering energy, transport, agriculture, the international scene and more. Rich in ideas and practical optimism, Superpower is a crucial, timely contribution to this country’s future.
Slides and video links from the event on our events page.
SEN Submission to DWER intended to inform the formulation of WA Goverment's Climate Change policy.
6 Dec 2019
Among other things, the submission:
- quantifies the scale and scope of the emissions' reductions required to meet state targets. While SEN has responded within the context of the State’s emissions target, (which matches the federal targets of 28% reduction by 2030 and net zero by 2050), SEN has emphasised that much stronger action needs to be taken, along with a trajectory of reductions.
- summarises Negative Emissions Technologies and fuel switching approaches which can be applied or developed.
SEN has outlined targets that need to be met to meet the State's responsibility to meet WA's share of the national target of 28% emissions reduction over 2005 levels by 2030. To achieve this, the State needs to:
- Find 37 Mtpa of total abatement, to move from 88 Mtpa (in 2017) to 51 Mtpa in 2030.
- Reduce total emissions by at least 3.7 Mtpa CO2e per year between 2020 and 2030, equating to a total reduction of 37 Mtpa.
- Reduce energy sector emissions to 45 Mtpa by 2030, at a rate of at least 4.5 Mtpa CO2e per year. This figure is higher because some emissions are being offset by land use activities.
Submission to EPA on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Guidelines
2 Sept 2019
This submission responds to the Environmental Protection Authority consultation about Guidelines to consider greenhouse gas emissions in its future assessments of developments in Western Australia. SEN has reviewed the Guidelines in terms of the latest scientific understanding, agrees with their content as an appropriate minimum first step, and suggests some extensions to the guidelines.
To view a list of our recent statements click here
For a round up of renewable energy technologies and SEN, download our Flyer.
SEN promotes practical, affordable strategies for a sustainable global future by the adoption of renewable energy. SEN is a dynamic and independent WA association.
What happens when the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow?
As is the case now, a mix of different forms of generation on the WA grid will ensure supply regardless of weather conditions. During still nights or during periods of heavy cloud cover, biomass and energy storage will be used. Locating wind plant in many different areas will help ensure that windless periods are short and infrequent. Solar PV, being mainly dispersed on rooftops and varied in it's orientation, evens out the impact of localised cloud cover. Additionally, energy storage is inherent with Concentrated solar thermal (CST) generation and biomass thermal backup can also be incorporated.
During times when wind and solar generation exceed the load on the grid, storage facilities will be charged with any remaining excess generation curtailed.
What about the peak load?
Solar alone will go along way to supplying the peak load. Energy storage and biomass will be able provide the remaining power requirements. Peak 'lopping' (by delaying or precooling buildings and cold storage), and shifting of non-critical electricity use to other times, will reduce these peak loads. Other demand management and energy efficiency options will help even further.
What about Baseload?
Baseload is the load on a system that is on all the time, every hour of the year, the minimum generation required on the network. The load on the South West network varies with the time of day, day of the week, season of the year and the weather. This is demonstrated below by comparing the week with the biggest load (3,744MW, week beginning 20th of January) in 2014 with the week of the smallest load (1,438MW, week starting 7th of April).
Image is from the IMO website, http://www.imowa.com.au/#weekly-numbers-generation.
Baseload generators are designed to be run 24hrs/day every day of the week at a constant output. They are shut down when they need maintenance.
Baseload generation in WA is supplied by large centralised coal fired power stations that cannot be ramped up and down easily due to their size (thick chunks of steel and concrete can suffer cracking from thermal expansion and contraction if changes are too quick). They are also relatively expensive to build but ‘cheap’ to run and so have typically operated most of the time to make them more economic.
Currently, to ensure that the load is always met, on top of baseload generation, mid merit combined cycle gas turbines are used. They can be ramped up or down more easily to follow the load. This type of plant is cheaper to install but more expensive to run.
For the rare spikes in load that come from air conditioning after a run of hot working week days, peaking plant are used. They are usually cheapest to install but most expensive to run.
Baseload generators are not essential for the network if sufficient alternative generation is available.
Integrating continuously variable wind and solar
Into this mix, ever increasing levels of wind and solar can be added. While both produce according to the wind and sunshine available at the time, the larger renewable energy projects can be curtailed if required. They can do this balancing cheaper and quicker than fossil fuelled generators and, on the rare occasions when high winds cross the entire wind fleet late at night, this already occurs.
Increasing penetration of constantly varying wind and solar generation mean more ramping up and down of gas plant but reduce the actual gas consumed.
As solar only occurs during the day, it has little direct impact on baseload but will reduce the amount of gas consumed in the mid merit generators. Solar generators have the effect of reducing the peak load and pushing it further into the evening.
What about carbon capture and storage (CCS) or 'clean coal'?
Wind turbines, photovoltaics (rooftop solar and solar farms), solar thermal and biomass are proven and widely implemented technologies, while even proponents of carbon geo-sequestration admit it is 10 to 15 years away. The extra energy required for CCS and the limited availability of suitable sites are also obstacles.
Aren't renewable energy technologies expensive?
Depends very much on the resources available but here in WA, rooftop solar is already at 'grid parity' (competing with retail prices). Photovoltiacs have dropped 75% in cost over the past four years and are set to continue, albeit at a more gradual pace. The cost of wind generation continues to drop gradually. Costs of CST (with energy storage) are also competing with new fossil-powered stations.
Unlike sustainable energy, the burning of fossil fuels has additional costs from pollution, including carbon emissions, particulates, NOx, SOx, mercury and radioactive particles. While these costs are real and affect the health of locals and the environment, they are neglected in the economics of fossil fuelled electricity. This is a serious deficiency in current energy economics.
Note that the cost of generation is half the electricity bill. The cost of transmission, distribution, balancing, spinning reserve, backup and administration cover the other half.
Does switching to renewables mean fewer jobs?
Renewable energy generally employs more people than coal or gas per MWh generated. As of end of 2013, 21,000 people were directly employed in the renewable energy industry in Australia.