More colossal green waste – and the collapse of a key assumption behind the Gillard Government’s “clean energy future”:
In 2009, the then prime minister, Kevin Rudd, pledged to ‘’lead the world’’ in carbon capture and storage technology, which traps carbon dioxide emissions, permanently storing them deep underground.
The Rudd and Gillard governments allocated almost $2.5 billion to push the idea, which would be used to ‘’clean up’’ coal-fired power stations in Australia and in the countries to which we will export $44 billion worth of coal this year. But so far there is almost nothing to show for their effort.
Instead, the fledgling technology is struggling. Critical assumptions about when it will be available could be wrong, with dire consequences for efforts to slow climate change and for Australia’s revenue base as the world’s largest coal exporter.
So far, not one industrial carbon capture and storage project is running in Australia, and even the technology’s most enthusiastic backers say that without big changes to government subsidies and policy there won’t be one for many decades.
Really? Then Treasury must urgently revise the laughable modelling its done to back up the Gillard Government’s wild claims for its “clean energy future”.
I don’t just mean revising this clearly preposterous claim:
A carbon price is projected to reduce electricity emissions 60 per cent below current levels by 2050…
Or this assumption – which sounds like one of Mao’s forecasts during the Great Leap Forward;
Output from the renewables sector, excluding hydroelectric, will grow by over 1700 per cent to 2050.
No, what also needs urgent revising now is this:
Once commercially viable, carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology will deliver significant emission reductions, comprising almost 30 per cent of generation by 2050.
Treasury has actually assumed that 30 per cent of our power by 2050 will come from a source of generation no one can make work in any feasible way, and which experts now predict won’t be here for decades. If even then.
Note also Treasury’s extremely optimist assumptions for geothermal power. Sadly, the geothermal projects undertaken so far here have been largely flops. Hence the share price performance of Geodynamics, a geothermal company which the Rudd Government gave $90 million (red dot) and in which Climate Commissioner Tim Flannery has invested:
It’s a mercy that a lot of this money is still unspent, but when will we finally absorb the message:
- governments are bad at picking winners
- they are even worse at picking winners when motivated not by economics but ideology.
Yet this same planet-saving government, having already given us so many green disasters – the free pink batts, the solar hot water rebates, green audits, failed solar projects, limp wind farms, carbon capture – is still pushing ahead with a $10 billion green energy fund that is guaranteed to waste even more.
It’s insane that even after trawling though this latest smoking ruin, author Lenore Taylor and those she interviews don’t conclude that “stopping” global warming is not worth this pain, but that we need to spend yet more. Much, much more:
Dr Peter Cook, former head of the CO2CRC and now professorial fellow at the University of Melbourne, says progress is being made, particularly in understanding how carbon dioxide can be sequestered.
But he agrees with Wells that ‘’a $23 carbon price will not drive this investment – you need $100 a tonne or something of that sort to drive it. Other low-emissions technologies get effective support of that order.’’
And what difference will all that spending actually make to the climate?
Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and hosts Channel 10’s The Bolt Report each Sunday at 10am, and his book Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.