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The Political Economy of Renewable Energy Generation in Australia

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Presentation (with Jemma Williams) at the Australia New Zealand Society for Ecological Economics, Australian National University, Canberra, 11-14 November, 2013

Presentation (with Jemma Williams) at the Australia New Zealand Society for Ecological Economics, Australian National University, Canberra, 11-14 November, 2013


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  • https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.350.org/images/climate_cigs_2.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e2/Couverture_Turning_the_Tide_On_Climate_Change.jpg
  • http://cdn.theconversation.edu.au/files/2208/width440/aapone-20110710000330836301-carbon_package_announcement-original.jpg
  • So to the context of my research:In July of 2011, the Australian Government released the Clean Energy Future Package, in an effort to reduce green house gas emissions that lead to Climate Change. The package was enacted later in that year and it aimed to transform the nation’s energy production, distribution and usage systems.The package included, in addition acarbon price, initiatives to promote innovation and investment in renewable energy that target businesses, communities and householdsIn short, this package offers potential changes to the way we govern energy in Australia.  Away from the old centralised energy generation system, towards a integrated network energy grid. Now this extensive package offers significant opportunities for a number of stakeholders (namely businesses, communities and householdes) in the transition to a renewables-based clean energy future. But due to the limitation ofmy research being an Honours thesis and not a PhD, I will only focus on the renewable energy businesses and local communities, as they encapsulate both the large scale and small scale renewable capacity.And allows for ample opportunity to investigate the uptake of the package by a diverse range of stakeholders.In order to investigate the uptake of the Clean Energy Future package by both business and communities, I am working in collaboration with two projects, one centred around business stakeholders, and the other within a community context.Now, I am aware of the challenges in defining a ‘community’ and therefore I have chosen to focus on a community ’hub’, through a case-study on Theodore Primary School, a prototype school for the ACT’s Green School initiative. A school also ties into an important objective of “communities engagement”; ENERGY LITERACY. On a basic level it includes some understanding of the relationships between energy consumption and, for example, an electricity bill. How much is to boil a cup of water or to turn a heater for 3 hours? On a bit higher level - energy literacy is becoming critical for Australian democracy. To make informed voting decisions, e.g. supporting or rejecting certain policies people must now understand why electricity is getting more expensive, underlying issues, climate change, etc...Frank Mills will be supervising me on this component of the project.The business side of my thesis comes in the form of a project run by the ANU’s Energy Change Institute, and for this component of the project I am supervised by Igor Skryabin.Which means that Rob Dyball has the wonderful task of overarching supervisor of the WHOLE thesis.
  • While these initiatives offer much promise for the region,  As seen articulated in chapter 6 of the package. And seen on the slide..there is considerable work required to translate these opportunities into action. This is evident in the implementation gaps that arise from the contrasting perspectives between policy makers and the energy generators and RDAs.  
  • This far-reaching package offers significant opportunities for the ACR to build a renewables-based clean energy future. (The ACR is represented in the lighter red on the slide) Wind and solar are the most well developed of the renewables options, but other possibilities, such as bioenergy, should not be ignored.  And hence I have included them in the scoping exercise.
  • These are the barriers to the adoption of renewable energy as they have been identified in the existing academic literature.
  • These barriers were grouped according to whether they were:- Barriers unique to renewable energy policy- Barriers not unique to renewable energy policy- Barriers addressed by the CEF renewable energy initiatives Thiscategorisation provided the basis for a preliminary analytical framework
  • The analytical framework was modified following data collection.Data was collected from semi-structured interviews with a broad cross-section of key stakeholders within the ACR, including …What emerged from this data is that – by and large – the CEF package successfully address Technical Hurdles and Economic Hurdles (… elaborate briefly here)
  • Data analysis also showed that Regulatory Hurdles and Policy Control by Incumbents could be effectively merged because of their significant overlap.In addition a completely new barrier – Media Misinformation - not identified in the existing literature was clearly an influential factor in the eyes of survey respondents.Each of the barriers in the modified analytical framework was then scrutinised closely to to make recommendations about the shape of future renewable energy policy
  • FINDINGS: A number of themes emerged, most notably, the problem of access to the grid, and the related problem the power wielded by the incumbent fossil fuel generators.[Company Name] came to Australia because of the solar flagships program and stays here because of programs like ARENA and the CEFC and the renewable energy targets. So without the package[’s] support there isn't a reason to be within Australia. Renewable energy is not yet competitive with coal or gas so we wouldn't be here developing projects if it wasn't for those programs.
  • http://www.dreamingnewmexico.org/energy/distribution‘they come from an inflexible energy past and now we are moving towards a flexible energy future’
  • http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/globalbusiness/10294623/Australia-open-for-business-says-new-PM-Tony-Abbott.html
  • http://images5.fanpop.com/image/photos/31500000/Justin-Bieber-RollingStone-photoshoot-Magazine-2012-justin-bieber-31532686-2000-1531.jpg#
  • http://www.pik-potsdam.de/members/mmalte
  • http://seeker401.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/cancun-mexico-climate-change-conference-2010.jpg?w=497
  • http://www.carbontracker.org/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2012/08/Unburnable-Carbon-Full1.pdf
  • http://www.tu.no/migration_catalog/2011/07/11/tu20110711fossile-utslipp---carbon-tracker-initiative-201150415_05_15-1107111420.jpg/ALTERNATES/w940f/TU20110711Fossile+utslipp+-+Carbon+Tracker+Initiative+201150415_05_15+1107111420.jpg
  • http://www.wwf.org.au/?8180/Australia-has-nearly-blown-its-carbon-budget-already
  • http://www.theage.com.au/business/carbon-economy/bursting-the-carbon-bubble-20130214-2efob.html#ixzz2LGNA1QGyhttp://www.hsbcnet.com/gbm/images/zone2/global-insights/nick-robins.jpg
  • http://www.theage.com.au/business/carbon-economy/bursting-the-carbon-bubble-20130214-2efob.html#ixzz2LGNA1QGyhttp://www.afr.com/rw/2009-2014/AFR/2012/08/08/Photos/6f3bc784-e18f-11e1-ac36-173e1a3f7313_syd-5oi2k4eu0kk156afh56z-9154--646x363.jpg
  • http://blogs.smh.com.au/lifestyle/renovationnation/cartoonwilcox.jpg
  • http://entelios.de/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/en-energieversorger-01-word-cloud.png
  • http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2013/09/virtual-power-plants-a-new-model-for-renewables-integration‘A virtual power generator aggregates different types of energy sources, at different geographic locations, and controls it as through it was one source.
  • http://reneweconomy.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/FirstDogOnTheMoon3.jpg
  • Transcript

    • 1. The Political Economy of Renewable Energy Generation in Australia Jemma V. Williams Fenner School of Environment & Society Australian National University Jeremy B. Williams Asia-Pacific Centre for Sustainable Enterprise Griffith University
    • 2. 0C <2
    • 3. November 2011
    • 4. Aims to transform Australia’s energy production, distribution and usage systems The carbon pricing scheme Improving energy efficiency Creating opportunities in the land sector to cut pollution Promoting innovation and investment in renewable energy
    • 5. The Australian Capital Territory Region (ACR) Is a quasi-official subregion of the state of NSW, with Canberra in the ACT as a regional capital city
    • 6. Legacy Grid Regulatory hurdles Public Antipathy Policy control by incumbents Political Discord Barriers to the adoption of renewable energy Institutional Dissonance Technical Hurdles Economic Hurdles
    • 7. Barriers unique to renewable energy policy Legacy Grid Public Antipathy Institutional Dissonance Regulatory hurdles Policy control by incumbents Political Discord Technical Hurdles Economic Hurdles Barriers not unique to renewable energy policy Barriers addressed by the CEF renewable energy initiatives
    • 8. Barriers unique to renewable energy policy Legacy Grid Public Antipathy Regulatory regulatory control Policy control by Policy and by the incumbent hurdles incumbents Political Discord Institutional Dissonance Technical Hurdles Media Misinformation Economic Hurdles Barriers not unique to renewable energy policy Barriers addressed by the CEF renewable energy initiatives
    • 9. Barriers unique to renewable energy policy Legacy Grid Public Antipathy Institutional Dissonance Media Misinformation Barriers not unique to renewable energy policy Policy and regulatory control by incumbents Political Discord
    • 10. Clive Hamilton Climate Change Authority “So the Clean Energy Package … it’s a small first step [but] nowhere near enough to be an adequate response to what the science demands. … But at least it has initiated the process and has some small but significant impact.”
    • 11. Meeting the Cancun Agreement commitment  International commitment to limit global warming to 2°C above preindustrial levels Dr. Malte Meinshausen  Meinshausen et al calculated that to reduce the chance of exceeding 2°C warming to 20%, the global carbon budget for 2000-2050 is 886Gt CO2  Deducting emissions from the first decade of this century, leaves a budget of 565Gt CO2 for the 40 years to 2050
    • 12. July 2011  The carbon budget for the 40 years to 2050 is 565Gt CO2  All of the proven reserves owned by private and public companies and governments are equivalent to 2,795Gt CO2  Only 20% of the total reserves can be burned unabated, leaving up to 80% of assets technically unburnable http://www.carbontracker.org/wpcontent/uploads/downloads/2012/08/UnburnableCarbon-Full1.pdf
    • 13. At the present rate of consumption, the 2000-2050 carbon budget will be exceeded around 2024
    • 14. Nick Robins, Head of the Climate Change Centre at HSBC Bank, London, on the impact in Europe of a deflating carbon bubble: Could nearly halve the value of coal assets on the London exchange, and knock three-fifths from the value of oil and gas companies. “At the moment this risk is not being priced at all”
    • 15. John Hewson Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP) “The average pension fund invests about 55 per cent of its portfolio in high-carbon intensive industries and only 2 per cent in their low carbon counterparts. How are they going to manage the risk of catastrophic climate change going forward? The best way is to put a higher percentage of their funds in low carbon-intensive industries.”
    • 16. @TheGreenMBA @jemmavwilliams slideshare.net/jembwilliams slideshare.net/jemmavwilliams