ELS Fortnightly News Wrap-Up #2

Each fortnight, the team at ELS publish a news digest covering energy and sustainability. We read for our own pleasure but to save you time we identify a handful of pertinent articles from Australia and around the globe and add our own commentary. It used to be an internal memo but we kept being asked to share it, so here it is.

It has been quite the fortnight in the energy space across the spectrum with a number of reports and articles which caught our interest. One thing not mentioned, is the recent ‘approval’ update for the Adani mine. Given we covered the mine status/approval last fortnight it hasn’t been covered here.

World’s biggest companies report $US 1 trillion in climate change risks
Quite the headline coming out of work completed by the CDP, who surveyed 215 companies with a market capitalisation of almost US$17 trillion and found these companies were facing almost US$1 trillion in potential financial implications resulting from climate change. However, it’s not all doom and gloom, with the value of climate related opportunities coming in at US$2.1 trillion and having costs of US$311 billion, representing quite an incentive to try and realise these opportunities.

Cheap solar and wind can re-boot Australia’s economic advantage
Continuing down the opportunities path, McKinsey have come out with some analysis highlighting the opportunity for Australia to leverage cheap renewables to regain a competitive advantage in energy intensive industries such as steel and aluminium production. They expect fully firmed renewables to be cheaper than existing coal fired power by 2030. There are some big bets being made on this future in Australia, as mentioned last week, with companies such as Sun Metals in Townsville who used a solar farm to help lower costs and allow for an expansion in their zinc refinery.

Electric cars ‘should help pay for roads’
There has been some interesting discussion of late around electric vehicles and their contribution (or lack of) to fuel excise revenues. This has been, in my opinion, one of the more overlooked topics when discussing whether the future of how light vehicles are powered. If things go as predicted (see above article), there will be a huge hole in the funding in government revenues that are to allocated to assist in the maintenance of roads. The discussed proposal about introducing user-pays road system would represent a massive shift in the status quo, and although it may not be politically popular at the moment, it should definitely be part of the conversation.

Managing energy use is the key to transition to renewables
The Energy Efficiency Council has come out with a new report highlighting the opportunities in Australia for energy efficiency for households, businesses and industry. Their report states there could be savings on energy bills to households and business of $7.7 billion per year and would met more than half of Australia’s 26-28% emissions reduction target. The EEC state vast opportunities for business, small and large, that stem from improving energy efficiency. In the interest of full disclosure, EnergyLink Services are members of the Energy Efficiency Council.

Nuclear power doesn’t stack up without a carbon price, industry group says
Some very interesting commentary coming out of Queensland this fortnight with the prospect of nuclear power being put back on the agenda. The Australian Nuclear Association has come out suggesting that a carbon price is necessary for nuclear power to compete with coal and gas in Australia. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your persuasion), I think it’s safe to say there is little political will for a carbon price in the near future and as a result, highly unlikely nuclear will be built in its current form in Australia. One also needs look no further than Britain and the Hinkley Point C reactor. A more detailed wrap from Bloomberg can be found here, but essentially it needed a guaranteed price from the government of £92.5 per MWh, which is significantly higher that the current spot and futures market prices in Australia.

UK unveils 2050 net zero carbon target, in a first for a major economy
A political commitment coming out of the UK that has been largely lost among Brexit and selection of a new PM, however, an important commitment none the less. From an outside perspective, it is quite interesting to see how the difference in attitude among the ‘Conservatives’ on carbon in the UK compared to Australia. As always, the devil is in the detail and it will require some significant effort to ensure workers in energy intensive fields don’t unfairly bear the brunt of the shift.

The climate crisis is our third world war. It needs a bold response
A bold statement and headline coming from Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. I personally think it’s a shame in this article he’s gone down the path of appealing to emotions and preaching to the choir on the Guardian, instead of rationality and statistics being at the forefront of his arguments and targeting a wider audience. Having said that, I’m a huge Stiglitz fan and definitely think its worth a read.

ELS Fortnightly News Wrap Up #3

ELS Fortnightly News Wrap-Up #1