Just another Habitat Association site

by David Holland

This work is from a Master of Environmental  Management undertaken in 2016.

Subject Environmental Policy.

Name of Paper:

Analysis of State Policy Formulation and Implementation

Case Study – Energy Efficiency Policy in New South Wales, Australia

This paper is on the development of the New South Wales Energy policy in Australia. Policy is extensive and the paper covers most of the policy.

Follow the link to the paper.

New South Wales Renewable Energy Policy

By David Holland

This article has been adapted from assignment work from a Master of Environmental  Management. Subject Environmental Policy.

Under the 1992 United Nations convention on climate change a global strategy was agreed to at the Kyoto meeting in 1997 on combating Climate Change. (European Commission Directorate-General for Research Information and Communication Unit 2003) As a result Australia committed to a series of targets, one of which was a target on renewable energy production. The Howard government agreed to a target of 20% renewable Energy production by 2020. In 2001 the government introduced the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target scheme (MRET). (Kent 2006)

Early on within Australia, very little concern was raised about climate change issues and as a result did not drive the policy agenda for the Australian government. Only after the introduction of the MRET and investment started to flow into this area of renewable energy did the public awareness grow. Even though environmental groups were aware of climate change, it wasn’t until after 2009 when investment became unmanaged and the Gillard government had to split the MRET into two parts, one for small-scale energy systems (Small Renewable Energy Target (SRET)) and one for large-scale projects (Large Renewable Energy Target (LRET)) that public opinions became vocal. (Holland 2010)

This complication in the RET allowed a considerable political attack to be mounted by the Liberal opposition on the mismanagement of the scheme and allowed the media and parliament to build a case for climate change not being real. This started to divert public opinion away from a concerted effort by Australia to reduce carbon omissions.

By the 2013 federal election many Australians believed that climate change was not really occurring in the face of a much quieter scientific community who had the damning data that exposed the facts of not only climate change occurring but that the climate change the world was experiencing was human induced (anthropogenic) and was poised to course damage to the earths biological system.

As indicated above, originally the Australian government was under pressure from the United Nations to participate in the Kyoto protocol, however environmental groups in Australia were agitating for inclusion and action within Australia, but the softening of policy after the 2013 election was as a result of pressure put on the government by big business through impassioned advocates for the case of climate change does not exist and latter that it is not anthropogenic climate change.

As a result, the government in 2015 took the step to reduce the LRET arguing that a reduction from 41,000GwH to 26,000 GwH was an acceptable target by 2020. Parliament finally agreed on a 33,000 GwH target adjustment for large projects.

As a result of these policy changes, renewable energy investment is at risk in 2015 within Australia, while the world trend is for more investment. (Frankfurt School-UNEP Centre/BNEF. 2015) (Uibu, Katri, 2015, ABC News).

This policy change had no direct public support, but was part of a perceived mandate by the people at the 2013 federal election when the Liberal Party gained power. This election was fort over the carbon pollution reduction scheme and putting a price on carbon (Carbon Planet). After the election the new government implemented a new scheme called the carbon emissions reduction scheme, which was regulated by the Clean Energy regulator and funded by the Emissions Reduction Fund.

The real reason the government changed the way a reduction scheme would operate from a carbon market to a emissions regulation system was because businesses were seeing the costs of producing goods rising and households were seeing power prices rising.

The government has kept a lot of the detail of the Carbon Emissions Reduction scheme out of the media and as a result people have no clue as to how much money is being spent on this scheme and even what the resultant emission reductions achieved actually are. Many would be apathetic as to the efficiency of this policy and will only be outraged when they are actually told the cost of the program. (Hannam 2015)

Still there are others that are happy that their wallets are not being hit with high power prices and have no interest in the future expenses that may occur when climate change starts to affect economic circumstances out of the control of the government. (Remeikis 2015)

So the new system has quieted the public outrage of increased power prices, but there is still concern in the environmental lobby that Australia is not doing enough and not sharing enough of the burden to reduce carbon emissions. (Sturmer, Jake 2015)

As mentioned earlier the policy of the RET was introduced by the Howard government in 2001 at 9500GWh. A review in 2003 found that by 2007 the incentive to invest in renewables would decline. As a result Victoria in 2006 started a scheme called the “Victorian Renewable Energy Target”. Due to the need to give more incentive for investment the Gillard government in 2009 increased the target to 45,000 GWh, a 20% renewable mix. Later in 2009 it was found that small renewable energy projects had devalued the price of the Renewable Energy Certificates (REC)s affecting the investment returns for large scale projects. The MRET was split in February 2010 allowing 41,000 GWh for large projects with a cap on the price of a small scale REC of $40 and an allocation of 4000GWh. (Holland 2010 pp.6) (St John 2014)

Pressure on the Liberal government in 2015 by the power companies and an argument that had arisen, and argument that the LRET is impacting the budget, a proposal was put by the Liberal government that the target should be reduced to 26,000GWh by 2020. Since the LRET costs are bourn by the consumer at about 5% of the cost of electricity, it is difficult to understand how this impacts on the budget. Due to Labor Party pressure and the cross benches, parliament only reduced the LRET to 33,000GWh. (Burge 2014)

After the Labor party agreed to the 33,000 Gwh compromise in the parliament for the LRET there was considerable negative sentiment for the decision in the Labor movement. Labor members, who are a cross-section of Australia from all areas both rural and urban, and after a survey of 365 branches across Australia voted, (in most cases unanimously), to increase the target to a massive 50% by 2030, which was well publicised as a policy change by Labor as courageous. (Wade 2015)(Kenny 2015)

As we move from 2016 into 2017, little change seems to be on the horizon to address the impending impacts of climate change into the future, even as we continue to break weather records on a monthly basis which could be the canary that indicates that we are experiencing increasing effects of climate change.

References:

Holland, D.(2011), Renewable energy initiatives budgeted by the Gillard government, Habitat Association, http://habitatassociation.com.au/2011/06/11/renewable-energy-initiatives-budgeted-by-the-gillard-government/

Holland, D.,(2011), Influencing the Australian Federal Government on Renewable Energy Policy, Habitat Association, http://habitatassociation.com.au/2011/12/21/influencing-the-australian-federal-government-on-renewable-energy-policy/

Habitat centre for renewable energy,(2011), The introduction to Renewable Energy production on the Central Coast and Lower Hunter in New South Wales (NSW)https://habitatcenterforrenewableenergy.wordpress.com/2011/10/15/the-introduction-to-renewable-energy-production-on-the-central-coast-and-lower-hunter-and-new-south-walessw/

Anthea, Bill., Mitchell, William, Welters, R., A policy report, a just transition to a renewable energy in the hunter region, Australia, Report commissioned by Green Peace Australia Pacific, Centre for full employment, University of Newcastle, http://e1.newcastle.edu.au/coffee/pubs/reports/2008/CofFEE_Just_Transition/Just_transition_report_June_30_2008.pdf

Long, Stephen, (8th July 2014), Solar experts say Australian renewable energy investment being stifled by Government policy, ABC News, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-07/renewable-energy-investment-killed-by-government-policy/5575262

Clean Energy Council, Renewable Energy target, (2015), https://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/policy-advocacy/renewable-energy-target.html

The Conversation, (July 22, 2015), How much would Labor’s 50% renewable energy policy cost Australian households?, https://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/policy-advocacy/renewable-energy-target.html

Climate Council, The Australian Renewable Energy race – Which States are winning or losing, http://www.climatecouncil.org.au/uploads/ee2523dc632c9b01df11ecc6e3dd2184.pdf

Climate Council, about, https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/about-us

Holland, D. (2010) The Renewable Energy Report Card Don’t Sell Australia Short Discussion Paper, Habitat Web site, https://gallery2020publishing.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/the-renewable-energy-report-card-identification-of-renewable-energy-sources-revision.pdf

Wikipedia, Renewable Energy in Australia, Government policy, The Mandatory Renewable Energy Target, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy_in_Australia

European Commission Directorate-General for Research Information and Communication Unit, (2003), Renewable energy technologies and Kyoto Protocol mechanisms, United Nations, Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Printed in Belguim, http://www.eurosfaire.prd.fr/sustdev/documents/pdf/Renewable_Energy_kyoto-mechanisms_en.pdf

Kent, A., Mercer, D.(2006), Australia’s mandatory renewable energy target (MRET): an assessment , Journal Energy Policy, Vol. 34, Issue 9, Page 1046-1062, Research repository, RMIT, Publisher Elsevier Science, https://researchbank.rmit.edu.au/view/rmit:8447

Frankfurt School-UNEP Centre/BNEF.( 2015). Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2015, http://www.fs-unep-centre.org (Frankfurt am Main) Copyright © Frankfurt School of Finance & Management gGmbH 2015, http://fs-unep-centre.org/sites/default/files/attachments/key_findings.pdf

Uibu, Katri, (2015), Renewable energy investment: Government ‘sabotages’ thousands of jobs as it ends wind, solar power investment, Australian Solar Council warns , ABC News, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-13/government-‘sabotages’-thousands-of-solar-energy-sector-jobs/6615778

Carbon Planet, Australia’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, http://www.carbonplanet.com/CPRS ,

Clean Energy Regulator, About the mechanism, http://www.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au/Infohub/CPM/About-the-mechanism

Sturmer, Jake, (14 Aug 2015), Government’s ‘substantially weaker’ emission reduction targets not enough, Climate Change Authority says, , Reported by, ABC News, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-14/emission-reduction-targets-not-enough-climate-change-authority/6699034

Wade, Felicity, (May 2015), LEAN response to CFMEU on renewable energy targets, Labor Environmental Activists Network, http://www.lean.net.au/lean_response_to_cfmeu

Hannam, Peter, (Nov 2015), Turnbull climate plan to deliver only one seventh carbon cuts: climate institute, Sydney Morning Herald,  http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/turnbull-climate-plan-to-deliver-only-oneseventh-carbon-cuts-climate-institute-20151110-gkvwx6.html#ixzz42ewVwnai

Remeikis, Amy, Electricity prices likely to drop: LNP, Labor claiming credit, 30th April 2015, Brisbane Times, http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/electricity-prices-likely-to-drop-lnp-labor-claiming-credit-20150430-1mwtee.html

Noonan,  Andie , (2015), Paris climate talks: What have world leaders had to say on climate change?, , ABC News, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-30/world-leaders-on-climate-change-ahead-of-paris-talks/6847992

COAG paper, RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGET SCHEME DESIGN, https://www.coag.gov.au/sites/default/files/Renewable_Energy_Target_Scheme.pdf

St John, Alexander, Dr.(2014), The Renewable Energy Target: a quick guide , Science, Technology, Environment and Resources Section, Australian Parliament, http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1314/QG/RenewableEnergy

Burge, Ben, (19 Sep 2014),The dirty dozen myths of the RET debate , The Australian Business review, http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/9/19/renewable-energy/dirty-dozen-myths-ret-debate

By David Holland,
December 2016
Grad. Dip. Environmental Management, B.A.S Env. Planning.
This article has been derived from research related to studies in the subject climate change impacts, mitigations and adaptation compiled by Professor Andrew Rawson as part of a Master of Environmental Management at CSU.

This blog is about a scenario of a briefing note to a minister on anthropogenic climate change.

This briefing note is to a government official somewhere in the world whom is somewhat convinced of the existent of climate change and recognises that climates do change over thousands and even millions of years, but is unsure of the fact that the effects of climate change are actually caused by man-made processes and that the burning of fossil fuels has made any difference to something as fundamental as the climate. He is unconvinced that a few degrees will make any large difference to the climate in the long or short term and such changes, he would suggest, would have little effect of the national or world economies. (A. Rawson 2016)

This note below is an attempt to convince a government politician of the need for urgent action to reduce the causes of anthropogenic climate change. Climate change that will occur in the near future that will affect global natural and economic systems.

 

A fictitious briefing notes to a Minister on anthropogenic climate change

 From the start of the industrial revolution in the 1880’s, the world has used fossil fuel energy to power an ever increasing amount of applications for industry and the home through coal powered electricity generation and fossil fuel powered transport. The invention of the steam engine and then the coal fired steam turbine has been at the forefront of the transformation. In the early 1900’s Road transport changed from bullocks to truck and buggies to cars, both powered by the application of burning fossil fuels in the form of petrol and diesel.

Staggering amounts of oil based fuels are used every day. Coal is still used in very high quantities to power all our homes and workplaces even though many countries have small plants of more sustainable fuels to generate power. The use of this type of fuel has a cost and that cost is the by-product of the burning process which is carbon dioxide (CO2).

In pre-industrial times humanity burnt wood and then trees were replaced by natural processes or planted giving the opportunity for more wood fuels to be burnt and the cycle did not add a considerable amount of CO2 to the atmosphere, but over the last 150 years mankind has been mining fossil deposits at an ever increasing rate and burning this to produce energy. These fossil deposits are materials laid down over millions of years. These materials contain carbon that has not seen the light of day for millions of years and now millions of tons of this material is burnt and produces tons of CO2, liberating it to the global atmosphere.

As a result, the carbon cycle from plants to the atmosphere is now out of balance. This means that there is a CO2 positive contribution to our atmosphere.

But out of that positive contribution 93% of the CO2 is able to be absorbed by the ocean and other carbon sinks. So where is the problem?

The problem is that the CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as methane and nitric oxide create a warming effect in the atmosphere. This warming is created by the suns radiation being converted to heat energy when it hits the land and the heat being trapped in the atmosphere by these GHGs.

As the concentrations of these gases increase over time more heat is retained and the average global temperature increases in the atmosphere. This increase is set to change global climate.

That means that although we will still have cooler days and warmer days, overall combined the temperature will be warmer.

Increased global temperatures will also have a flow on effect where warmer atmospheres will make the oceans warmer. Warmer oceans will affect a range of weather patterns over time through changes both to evaporation patterns and the potential for oceanic currents to change. 

 Monsoon rains will move from the tropics to the temperate zones. There will be more precipitation along the coastal regions and less in the interior. There will be bigger storms creating more damage to life and property.

With warmer atmospheres and warmer oceans there will be more glacial retreat and more melting of the sea ice in the polar regions. This will affect the food supply, breeding habits and habitat of many cold region animals.

Agriculture will be affected in the inland due to less rainfall. Coastal regions will have higher storm surge events creating flooding.

With the warming of the oceans, the melting of polar ice and the melting of mountain ice caps there will be more water in the oceans and with higher temperatures there will be an expansion of the sea water, both contributing to an overall sea level rise along our coastlines.

This sea level rise increases the risk of storm flooding and will affect not only private property but sensitive eco-systems in salt marshes and freshwater wetlands. It will affect low lying agricultural land and the net result will be higher insurance premiums.

It is true that the climate has changed over the period of the earth’s existence, but present changes are much more rapid than the earth has ever seem.

 Although there have been many extinctions over the years, because of this rapid change many more organisms will be at risk simply because they will not have the capacity to move in the face of this rapid change. In past global warmings and coolings extended over thousands of years. Animal species and their food sources had time to migrate to suitable climates. But this climate change event is different and ecological systems will be severely affected.

Coral’s symbionts are sensitive to warmer water and on many occasions over the last few years coral bleaching has occurred were these symbionts have been killed off.

Polar bears are reducing in numbers due to the sea ice retreating and now in 2016 very little remains in many areas of the habitat of the polar bear.

There have been paleoclimate changes in the past. Ice ages and interglacial periods have often been driven by changes in the earth’s orbit. And as far as can be determined the earth is now in an orbital pattern that should be providing cooler climate conditions, but in opposition to this pattern the earth is heating up. (according to recorded data over the last hundred years and from ice core data going back in time over 400,000 years)

By assessing the ice core data and correlating the atmospheric temperatures when the ice was laid down and measuring the concentrations of CO2 found in tiny air bubbles in the samples, scientist can make a correlation of the temperature and the CO2 concentrations over that 400,000 year period.

Their data analysis concludes that long term temperature trends are affected by CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.

But there is a large amount of CO2 mixing with the ocean waters and this is tending to acidify the oceans ever so slightly. This, over time, may have an effect on a range of marine animals not least shell accreting molluscs which may find it harder to build shells in acidic conditions.

Warming seas causing more coastal precipitation could produce fresher waters in coastal regions and saltier waters in mid oceans, potentially altering subduction patterns, which in turn could alter sensitive and important ocean currents.

Changes to these currents, in particular currents that bring nutrients from the ocean floors could affect food chains for fisheries in some regions.

It is not just about the atmosphere warming it is about changes to a range of ecological system that will affect human habitation and our life style long term.

 If we were to consider the precautionary principal, we should reduce our emissions of CO2 immediately. But it is evident that the volume of new CO2 that has been poured into the environment over the last 150 years is massive and it has to have gone somewhere.

The volumes of methane (one of the GHGs) from agriculture that goes into the air from farm practices and animal husbandry is massive let alone what emanates from land fill.

The amounts of nitrates (that produce nitric oxide another GHG) that come from agricultural fertilisers and from other source is huge and all contribute to not only global warming but a range of other effects as well.

Can the planet cope with the CO2 humanity is producing? The answer is yes it can for a period, but when the oceans become effectively saturated with the gas CO2 and conditions for the growth of phytoplankton at the bottom of the food chain in the oceans becomes too toxic for them and they die, the oceans will become hypoxic and will no longer be able to absorb the CO2. In fact, the oceans will tend to produce CO2 putting it back into the atmosphere. By then large amounts of the oceans will be unable to sustain habitats for many marine creatures.

 It is evident that man-made CO2 emissions is not just about global warming and a shift of warmer climates towards the poles, it is about fundamental changes to the way ocean currents run which effect global weather patterns. It is about fundamental and deep changes to ecologies and the very survival of mankind in the medium and long term or at least how humanity lives and what resources will be available to help create any kind of stable economy into the future.

 

 

 

 

by David Holland

There are some great opportunities for rail non-bulk freight transport to become powered by renewable energy without any large advances in technology. Presently rail freight is powered by diesel locomotives. But the massive diesel engines in each locomotive simply power electric motors to drive the wheels through generating electric power by a generator. This system allows a much more smooth transfer of power by the diesel engine to the wheels. Many outer metropolitan train services use electric power straight from the line to drive the electric engines that are placed in several locations along the train. By electrifying any freight line, a similar system could power any freight train.

Many electric rail networks have dedicated generators to power the rail network. By substituting these generators with renewable energy sources of electric power, any rail network could become powered by a sustainable source of renewable energy today.

On the other hand, road transport has a long way to go to develop appropriate technologies with enough electrical power to replace a diesel engine in a road transport prime mover. The problem, although not insurmountable, is to find a technology that is sustainable and that can store enough power in a portable form to power these freight  trucks over long distances. Until this can be found, transport operators will continue to use diesel power as a main source of locomotion for road freight transport.

However to move towards rail transport for non-bulk freight and take advantage of this conversion of rail to renewable sourced energy we need to identify the inefficiencies of rail and examine how these came about in a competitive market place with road transport in the non-bulk freight sector.

Over the years successive governments have built more intercity roads and made them more durable and safer for long haul transport. The reasoning has been to make the roads safer for the private vehicle travelling these roads. As a result this investment has given a competitive advantage to road transport over non-bulk freight rail transport.

There is an augment made and studies have shown that non-bulk road transport has been largely subsidised by tax revenues in many of the Australian states. It could even be said that it is flatly subsidised by grants from the Federal government.  Spending on roads over the last 50 years has been a political motivator for voting in one government or another. Road freight transport, in conjunction with private vehicle transport has been the beneficiary of this spending.

This has led to an inequity in the improvements made to the road networks for non-bulk freight as opposed to infrastructure spending on rail over this time.

I would like to introduce a paper I wrote as my thesis for my final year of a degree in town planning. The paper was published in 1995 and pulls together a range of documents produced by government studies in the 1980’s and 1990’s that indicate that there has been an unfair competitive advantage given to road transport over the preceding decades to the writing of the my paper.

In the paper  “Melbourne – Sydney Freight Transport Corridor” by David Holland a range of issues about taxation and government subsidization of road freight over rail non-bulk freight is addressed. A statement is made that rail has had to pay higher costs for developing new infrastructure than road and that externality costs paid by the public good for road transport allow transport operators to have an unfair advantage when directly competing with rail forwarders. (Melb -Syd Freight Transport. Corridor pp. 4-5)

The paper suggests that the improvements up until 1995 have shaved off 5 hours of travelling time for a freight truck between Melbourne and Sydney. This can only have been improved in recent years with the completion of the Hume dual highway between these two cities in the last 12 months.

The paper suggests that road transport has a 20% market advantage over rail due to these efficiencies caused by government spending on this road asset. If road transport were to pay this 20% extra cost it would be able to operate in a similar cost structure to rail.

However this is also a fallacy. Rail has not had money spent on  modern systems of rail transport. Rail transport would be still taking the same time to haul its freight between the two cities as in the 1970s. This inequity on spending is borne out by the drop in rail freight between 1965 to 1986 from 51% to 25% with an overall Australia wide increase of 3% in a climate where road freight increased between 1976 to 1989 from 63% to 75%.

Freight loading systems may have had marginal improvement over the years but nothing like the improvements made in bulk freight handling at the ports. Bulk rail is where rail forwarders make their money and common sense dictates that investing money into non-bulk freight is not smart business.

The paper tells us that the rail industry is able to pay for all its own maintenance from revenues from freight. In contrast road freight through truck registrations and fuel tax doesn’t come close to paying for road pavement maintenance needed to repair roads due to truck movements on the roads. In fact the paper states that private car users pay for much of this overall maintenance cost. (4-5, 7-11)

To make matters worse, truck forwarders can register there trucks in a state that has cheaper registration costs but still operate on any states roads. This means that in reality a business cost associated with road damage are not  related in any way to the operation of the business. They are externalities of running a trucking business and never appear on the balance sheet. Even the governments with the best road infrastructures do not account for road damage by trucks.

As mentioned before, much of this road infrastructure money comes from the federal government and trickles down to local government. (pp.12) But even local roads constructed by local governments have heavy vehicle damage due to what is called the first and last kilometre of the non-bulk freight operation.

If we look at carbon emissions from freight transport we get a whopping 78% of carbon emissions from road transport the paper states. This may be because we have more trucks on the road due to the bias caused by government spending.

But if we were to look at diesel-powered rail as opposed to road in the non-bulk sector only, rail produces  60 grams per tonne-kilometre as opposed to road transport at  237 grams per tonne-kilometre for rigid trucks and 104 grams per tonne-kilometer for articulated trucks. Clearly rail is more sustainable when considering climate change effects even using diesel powers freight methods. (pp. 5-7)

It is interesting to note that even with all these advantages provided by the public purse to the non-bulk road freight industry it is still only just breaking even. Small operators are continually being swamped by freight pricing pressures. There seems to be an over-supply of operators vying for a slice of an ever smaller market place. Larger operators are employing larger trucks and gaining better efficiencies. And this seems good, but because of business investments of the truck and rig that take many years to play out through repayments, corners are continually cut by both smaller operators, and larger ones as well.

This is where driver fatigue and financial stress issues surface in the debate. This is not a pretty subject, but if any  changes are considered to boost the rail non-bulb freight sector, this part of the road freight sector will suffer badly. Union power will surface and any good progress to curb carbon emissions and improve Australia’s inefficient non-bulk freight sector will be politically nobbled.

It is interesting to note that the writers of the NSW LONG TERM TRANSPORT MASTER PLAN 2012 -2013 recognise that there is a distortion on the economics of the non-bulk freight transport sector in NSW between road transport and rail transport. Although they cite a conflicting report that agues that registration and fuel excise cover the full cost of the road freight industry and therefore the sector is fully paying for its own costs.

This is erroneous as explained above and the writers of the NSW master plan are correct in the first instance in observing that inequity in the sector is caused by government funding of roads over many years.

It is also interesting to see the short-term plans for NSW transport from the master plan which are in the following statement and how they relate to plans made from before 1995:

Develop a metropolitan network of intermodal terminals

We will seek to increase the share of freight that is transported by rail by developing an efficient and competitive network of intermodal terminals in Sydney. 

In the short to medium term, we will complete the new Enfield intermodal terminal and work with the Australian Government and industry on the development of the Moorebank terminal precinct. These intermodal container terminals will be located on dedicated freight lines and will each provide around one million additional TEUs of rail capacity per year in the Sydney metropolitan area, providing a more competitive rail alternative to road freight. 

Development of the Moorebank intermodal container terminal precinct will have impacts on the local road network. Initial analysis suggests that traffic on the M5 (between the Hume Highway (M31) at Casula and Moorebank Avenue) could exceed capacity as early as 2016, and capacity will be exceeded at key intersections that provide access to the precinct. We will work with the Australian Government on a road access strategy for the intermodal terminal precinct.”

In the paper dated 1995 many of these projects are itemized as improvement from 1989.

1. Upgrade intermodal terminal at Enfield by extending siding by 1500 meters

2. Construct a dedicated freight track to Enfield terminal

3. Extend main line cross loops to 1800 meters

4. Increase height clearance to 6.6 meters to allow double stacked containers.

5. Upgrade track alignments in New South Wales to increase speeds and reduce fuel consumption

6. Replace timber with concrete sleepers

7. Rail improvements including primarily replacements with heavier gauge to raise axils loads from 19 tonne to 25 tonne.

8. Upgrade signalling, communications and information systems

The question must arise as to how much of these planned improvements were actually have done over the last 20 years?

The paper by David Holland suggests that a reduction in fuel excise and/or pay-roll tax for the public run rail freight provider would go some way to even the playing field between road and rail freight.

Follow the link to see an argument that puts forward a link between government funding of roads and the loss of market power for rail non-bulk freight system.

Melbourne – Sydney Freight Transport Corridor

It is important for the future sustainability of non-freight transport systems that intermodal infrastructure is prioritized for government funding to equalise the distortion caused by road funding over the last 30 years. It is also important to design appropriate road access to these intermodal terminals to allow efficient egress and entrance for the local truck transport.

Intermodal systems should include roll on and roll off systems for prime movers and trailers as well as container handling systems. Trains should accommodate drivers on the journey in either sleepers or seater carriages.

Electrification of the rail lines should be progressive as more and more renewable energy sources of power come on-line. In fact dedicated wind and solar plants should be planned along or near the rail route, providing low-cost power to the freight system.

With these improvements and adjustments to the price of road freight to better account for road user externalities through taxation, a more sustainable and more efficient non-bulk freight system is possible between our capital cities and throughout Australia.

Executive Summary

The following paper is a designed as a discussion paper on the progress of the uptake of renewable energy in Australia.  The purpose of the paper is to highlight the progress Australia has made under government policy settings up to and including 2010. Under the Renewable Energy Credit scheme (REC) important changes have been made in the variety of renewable energy sources now being used to produce electric power. These are detailed in the paper and include, wind powered generation plants, solar hydro energy plant to produce steam fed directly into existing power station turbines, solar photovoltaic cells to produce domestic power, wave energy utilization to produce power for desalination plant applications, tidal power to produce grid power in various locations around the continent, thermal or hot rock installations to harness heat energy to produce base load grid electrical power and a cutting edge form of power generation known as convection energy systems. Convection energy is sourced simply but harnessing the power of rising hot air. Some of these convection power plants are designed to be enormous. The paper outlines how at least one United States of America (USA) state has embraced this technology that was first developed in Australia. The paper also introduces a little thought of area of power generation known as micro renewable energy power systems. These are systems that might be called scavenger power system. The paper explores a range of applications that could be implemented to use power that is a byproduct of other applications and processes to generate power; systems similar to water or sewage flowing down conduits or the process of decomposition within a waste dump. These micro generating systems use available resources to generate electricity. The paper touches on a new technology in its infancy where the applications are not fully realized or evaluated. This technology utilized vibration to produce small amounts of electrical energy. At present this technology has only produced one commercially viable product, but even this application of the technology has enormous potential. The paper explains the introduction of RECs, and how the federal government introduced a correction to the scheme to avoid a collapse of the REC trading market. It introduces the New South Wales Feed in Tariff (FIT) scheme. This scheme allows domestic generating power systems to be connected to the main grid enabling this power to be bought by the grid power supplier. This renewable power is then sold on to other power uses. This seems to be a good idea, but when it comes to larger non-domestic producers like local councils the power companies disallow these systems to be connected into the grid through the FIT scheme. The paper finally shows some inequity in this type of policy, highlighting that with a more flexible approach to organizations like local councils, opportunities of collaboration between the power companies and councils could better utilize unused power available in scavenger power systems when power demands are higher than the supply from renewable sources. This means that at these times of high demand, power companies will need to source electrical energy from conventional sources such as coal fired power stations, diesel generators or gas turbine plants connected to the grid.

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Executive Summary

This is a discussion paper about renewable energy and how Australia is placed to act on reforms to improve the uptake of renewable energy. The paper also comments on a series of letters sent to Federal Government Members and Ministers from 2006 to 2010.

The commentaries on the letters add additional information not given in these letters to the federal government. This additional information has been added with a contemporary nature relating to the year 2010.

This discussion paper has within its appendix list the actual letters sent to the federal government. In addition it has the two replies from two federal departments received from the final letter written in 2009. These letters are from the Minister for Resources and Energy and the Department of Infrastructure, Transport.

These replies outline some interesting plans for the direction of the then Rudd government and actions containing exciting programs underway. The commentary on the letter from the Minister for Resources and Energy analyses information presented in the letter that explain the government’s promoting of the ‘hydrogen economy’, and the continuation of research into carbon abatement programs. Some interesting results are emerging from this program that may be environmentally friendlier than the simple carbon capture and storage concept.

The commentary on the reply from the office of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, makes two important points. Firstly the government is continuing the planning for coal extraction by providing additional rail infrastructure for the coal mining industry. Secondly, though the introduction of Infrastructure Australia a range of much-needed infrastructure within Australia can be planned, This will ensure proper investment in future infrastructure provided consideration is given to issues surrounding the impacts of climate change and peak oil. These should include best practice planning for the use of renewable fuels and renewable energy.

The commentaries on the letters are detailed, adding to the information contained in the letters. When reading these commentaries the original letters should be referenced to get a better picture of how the subject has evolved over the 2 to 3 year period between the letters and the commentary.

Some of the subjects canvassed by the letters include; ‘the future of fuel cell technologies’, ‘the hydrogen economy’, ‘using hydrogen as an energy carrier’, ‘the efficiencies of heavy freight rail’ and that a move towards higher levels of public transport use will help reduce carbon emissions and reduce government spending on high cost infrastructure such as roads.

The letters cover, as does the commentary, the issue of a carbon trading system or carbon tax. It outlines in brief the need for some market based system to line up with world’s carbon trading systems or programs that provide ways to give disincentives for producing greenhouse gases by manufacturing enterprises. These enterprises utilize the ‘public good’ resources such as a balanced gaseous air mix in our atmosphere and clean seas that still have a capacity to absorb carbon dioxide. However many industrial and transport processes are impacting on the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere which is tending to cause changes to other economic systems reliant on stable weather patterns. These economic systems such as food production and other systems including natural systems rely on stable climate and weather patterns. When these systems are impacted the world’s population and general economy can be drastically affected. High levels of CO2 impact the very wellbeing of human life on earth and any compensation by manufacturing and industry is meaningless. However, these externalities explained above are considerable and morally they should somehow be accounted for in the manufacturing process. With these externalities accounted for by an artificial but morally sound price signal, it then may be that a cheaper and more economically sound (assuming the pure economics of a level playing field) process may be found that is better for the manufacturer. This is where a price on carbon helps to artificially price the damage these externalities are causing and attempts to give industry some impetus to find more carbon neutral forms of energy production.

One of the most important areas the commentary covers is that of a future change in energy sources from a fossil fuel driven economy to a renewable energy economy.

This move must be accompanied by a government planned response to supporting infrastructure. It is one thing to drive a renewable energy industry and connect it to an existing grid, but another to plan for and encourage infrastructure development by private industry to build plant in areas away from the grid.

Similarly, an organized plan is need for the infrastructure needed to support a move away from fossil fuels in the automotive industry. Without government initiatives and proper planning to a standardized type of automotive support infrastructure, private investment will continue to identify a move towards renewable automotive fuels too risky.

With no standards for a supply route for a renewable energy fuel, private industry will find it a mammoth task to provide both a vehicle to run on a particular renewable energy source as well as provide the infrastructure, this with the high possibility that the whole new type of renewable energy system, including the vehicle and infrastructure, will not be embraced by the public due to its initial costs or lack of convenience etc.

The paper makes no apologies for being prescriptive. Although many of the concepts in the paper have been thought through by government experts, there is always the danger that assumptions can be made about the detail of what is being explained in a paper. So the avoid this some level of detail in some of the concepts and processes are present in the document.

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By David Holland   During the year 2006 the local federal member for Dobell NSW sent a letter to his constituents asking them to write to him outlining any issues that concern them.  Not to be deterred by never taking up such an opportunity before, I wrote back to the member detailing some of my […]