Sep 27, 2011

Will Australia miss the global solar boom?

Ferguson has mostly been interested in protecting the supply of fossil fuels or export or use at home, although he has shown an increasing interest in solar of late, writes Giles Parkinson from Climate Spectator.

Federal Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson next month will have the honour of chairing the biennial meeting of 36 energy ministers hosted by the International Energy Agency. The topic will be the world’s energy future, and the contents are likely to be surprising — so much so that Ferguson may have cause to consider if Australia is well prepared for the energy revolution ahead.


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14 thoughts on “Will Australia miss the global solar boom?

  1. Jimmy

    If Germany can be a leader in Solar, Australia should have no trouble.

  2. Stevo the Working Twistie

    @Jimmy, Australia will never be a leader in anything. Have you listened to what laughingly passes for political discourse in this country lately? Heard what our leaders try to sell as “vision”? Listened to our captains of industry squeal every time they perceive a threat to their guaranteed profit margins? Watched our best and brightest escape overseas because of the entrenched conservatism and niggardly, penny-pinching attitudes of our corporate and government sectors?

    Australia is a great place to live, at present, but if you want forward thinking and innovation, it’s just not in our genetic make-up any more.

  3. Mark Duffett

    see comments at direct link:

  4. Microseris

    Ferguson is a monotone, robotic party hack busy spouting party lines. All the while welding Australia to last centuries technology that is soon to be obsolete. You don’t have to have talent to be in politics only do your time and follow orders.

  5. nicolino

    Ferguson has and always will be a slave to fossil fuel and the lobbyists in that sector.

  6. Bohemian

    God this really is bollocks.

    The biggest solar producer in the world solar company in the world is hangin’ on by the short and curlies and without further massive govt subsidies is about to go belly up because…. solar is great for your and my house but is not looking viable on scale because ……we still dont know how to store the energy over any period. Got me!

    Let me give you a tip. The reason people keep buying oil futures isn’t that they think its about to be rendered redundant any time soon. And, there is an unlimited supply under the surface of the planet. There is no such thing as peak oil…only peak gullibility.

  7. Microseris

    Yeah Bohemian. Fossil fuels are a magic pudding, we keep using them in ever increasing volumes and they never run out. Thats why the west initiates wars in far off lands and exploration is occuring in ever more difficult to access locations. Who woulda thought? Oh thats right the gullible..

  8. Bohemian

    The Bakkan under Montana, North Dakota, Colorado et al and Prudhoe Bay Alaska are two of four major capped basins in the US. You’ll find they will come on stream as soon as war in the ME gets a roll on sending oil upwards of $200/bbl. But heck you read the papers you oughtta know!

    There is no record of any fossil finds below 16000 feet yet the Russians are drilling for oil in the Arctic and finding it at 40000 feet. By the way they are the only ones who have been successful at drilling at that depth. BP nearly poisoned the earth attempting a 30000 feet drilling escapade – mind you it was in the ocean whereas the Russians are doing it on land.

    Come back when you have read the Seven Sisters:The Great Oil Companies and the World They Shaped by Anthony Sampson.

  9. AR

    BoHo – do you also believe in young oil – as in, it ain’t fossilised dinosaur shit? It’s perfectly simple to store energy – perhaps you meant “store electricity” which, using batteries, is a dead end, 19thC technology.
    However, as Sydney Water does daily, nothing like old, if good, ideas – water lifted by excess electricity can be used to generate electricity later when needed. A 10-20% loss but nothing like that of battery, inversion & HT lines.

  10. michael r james

    [Mark Duffett wrote: CEO endorsement of renewable energy says nothing about the merits of the technologies, and everything about how they know a big fat subsidy when they see one.]

    Funny that big fat subsidies for nuclear still cannot persuade any companies to build new nuke plants in the US. And France! The whole thing has been fantastically subsidized, quite probably a correct decision since, like Japan, it was done to avoid spending trillions on imported fossil fuels. Remember both Areva (nuclear) and EDF (electricity generator/distributor/retailer) are both government created and owned entities. So the reason why the power in France is cheap (but in fact not that much cheaper than many other European countries) is that it does not reflect the huge capital cost invested by the French state over those 30-40 years.

    Alas because Australia uses its own dirt-cheap coal, and soon gas, nuclear cannot compete economically. (Similar problem in US). But one thing we do have in wonderful superabundance, and we don’t even have to dig it out of the ground: sunlight.

    So what does this ultra-condensed summary suggest Australia should do? Build extremely capital expensive nuclear that takes an age to build and is politically dead anyway? No, but use the French model and to say the hell with the initial capital cost (of both solar-PV and solar-thermal) and go for it. As Giles says, we could even build an industry, yet again what the French did with nuclear (who is building the only two nuclear reactors under construction in Europe? Areva. Probably they will build most of the proposed Brit ones too, if the Brits ever approve them.)

    Of course we knew this a decade ago. It is too late and we have missed the boat. Nothing has changed since I wrote over 2 years ago: (about CCS & coal subsidies)
    This appears to be another failed bit of industrial policy which one would imagine clever political operatives like Kevin Rudd might believe they were too savvy to have fallen into. One wonders if Rudd imagines getting a line in Australian history for favouring an 18th century industry, by a factor of about 30-to-1, over 21st century ones (solar-thermal, solar-PV, geothermal, wind etc)? ]

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