The government will go to great lengths to claim credit for economic recovery, but any serious economist knows when we have a recession as deep and destructive as Australia’s, of course, the economy will recover.
Josh Frydenberg will pretend that it was his genius that saw it happen, but most economists know that from such a very low base, there will of course be a substantial recovery in quarterly GDP. I don’t think any objective observer of the way the government is implementing this stimulus would say that they are doing everything right. They don’t do everything wrong, but they also don’t have everything right.
We are calling for a wage subsidy and we are happy when the government changes its mind and brings it in, but that doesn’t mean that it has been implemented perfectly. Too many people are excluded. Too many people in the unemployed queue are being intentionally removed from jobkeepers by the government. This means that the unemployment queue is longer than it should be and we will have problems with unemployment and underemployment for longer than we would like.
The trials will start in 2024 and will last for one year.
The collaboration between Siemens Mobility and Deutsche Bahn will also look at the associated infrastructure required for the project.
Siemens Mobility and Deutsche Bahn have drawn up plans to develop and test a hydrogen fuel cell train, in the latest example of large companies turning to technology that could have a significant effect on the environmental footprint of transportation systems.
According to a joint announcement issued earlier this week, the trial is slated to begin in 2024 and will include train travel between Tübingen, Horb and Pforzheim in the southwestern German state of Baden-Württemberg.
The prototype train, known as the Mireo Plus H, will use fuel cells and lithium ion batteries. Consisting of two carriages, its range will be as far as 600 kilometers, or just under 373 miles. It will have a top speed of 160 kilometers per hour.
As the year-long trials take place, the hydrogen train will replace the diesel train. This experiment is expected to save about 330 tons of carbon dioxide.
The collaboration will also work on the related infrastructure needed by the train.
To this end, Deutsche Bahn will partially repair one of its maintenance workshops to repair the train and will also develop a refueling station for the vehicle.
Using electrolysis, water will be broken down into oxygen and hydrogen, with the latter being compressed then stored in a mobile unit. The electricity used in this process will come from renewable sources.
Support for this initiative came from the state government of Baden-Württemberg. Funding will come from the German Federal Ministry for Transport and Digital Infrastructure.
Currently, Deutsche Bahn has around 1,300 diesel-powered trains used on regional routes. In addition, about 40% of its 33,000 kilometers wide network has not yet had electricity.
“Particularly on the non-electrified route, hydrogen fuel cell propulsion can be a climate friendly alternative to diesel propulsion,” Winfried Hermann, who is the transport minister of Baden-Württemberg, said in a statement on Monday. “Whether it is powered by air line electricity or hydrogen – the determining factor is that the energy comes from renewable sources,” he added.
One of many projects
The partnership between Siemens Mobility and Deutsche Bahn comes at a time when a number of projects focused on hydrogen powered transportation are taking shape.
In comments sent to CNBC by email, a spokesperson for Transport & Environment, a campaign group focused on clean transportation, stressed the need to ensure hydrogen is used in the mix of transport options.
“Trains in Europe are mostly electrified, so that’s not where a big environmental benefit will be made,” they said.
“We need hydrogen in transportation where batteries don’t allow it,” they added. “First and foremost, it means shipping and aviation. For long-haul trucks, the race is wide open.”
The spokesman went on to state: “The biggest obstacle we face is ensuring that hydrogen is made from clean electricity. Producing hydrogen from fossil gases is not clean. We need to ensure that it is based on additional renewable electricity.”
Interest in green hydrogen – a term used to describe hydrogen produced using renewable sources such as wind and solar – has started to increase in recent years.
A number of big players like Orsted and BP is do the project by looking at the sector, while the European Union has drawn up plans to install 40 gigawatts of renewable hydrogen electrolysis and produce as much as 10 million metric tons of renewable hydrogen by 2030.
To put the EU’s goals into context, the International Energy Agency said global hydrogen production currently amounts to around 70 million metric tons per year.
An EPFL PhD student has calculated the maximum amount of geothermal energy that can theoretically be extracted using a ground source heat pump in the Canton of Vaud and Geneva. In a study that combined data on the area available for the system with computer modeling techniques, he found a stark difference between the potential for geothermal energy in urban versus rural areas.
Switzerland is one of the countries in Europe that most relies on geothermal energy for residential heating. A study conducted by the Swiss Federal Energy Office in 2019 found that the country has one 101,600 ground source heat pumps (GSHP) – “the highest concentration per square kilometer in the world”. Many of these pumps are installed in residential yards up to 400 meters deep and use a vertical closed loop system to transmit heat to the surface.
The advantage of GSHP is that it has little impact on the environment. They can heat homes and buildings all year round because geothermal energy is a stable source of heat. And they offer a promising alternative to decarbonizing the heating sector. In Switzerland, building heating and cooling systems account for a third of total energy demand, and 75% of the country’s energy comes from fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas.
Limited energy sources
In 2017, Doris Leuthard, then president of the Swiss Confederation, called geothermal energy a “tremendous source of energy” but warned that it was unlimited; it needs to be extracted according to special rules. For example, the borehole heat exchangers used in the GSHP must be spaced to prevent thermal disturbance – the heat exchanger equivalent of a short circuit – and prevent the ground from cooling. “Heat transfer fluids absorb heat that’s in the soil,” says Alina Walch, a PhD student at EPFL’s Solar Energy and Building Physics Laboratory. “If too many of these exchangers are packed into a small space, the ground will cool off, which is something we have to avoid.”
Thermal interference is one factor that the team of scientists, including Walch, considered a study published in Renewable Energy on November 18th. They calculated the technical potential of the GSHP at the Cantons of Vaud and Geneva. “The technical potential is the maximum amount of geothermal energy that can be extracted by a heat pump using all available areas in the two cantons, assuming they are operating at least 80% of their rated power,” he said.
The research team estimated the available area using existing topographic data in Switzerland, excluding built environments and natural habitats such as forests from their study. They then simulated the GSHP installed across the area based on factors such as ground temperature, thermal conductivity and thermal diffusivity. “We combined various technical constraints and estimated the optimal borehole spacing that would meet installation standards and maximize the heat that could be extracted,” said Walch.
Insufficient capacity in the city center
They are the first study of its scale in Switzerland to consider not only the earth’s geothermal capacity but also the technical limitations of GSHP. The scientists estimate that the annual technical potential of the area they studied is 4.6 TWh, which is equivalent to about a third of total heating demand. They also calculated a maximum energy density of 15.5 kWh / m2. “Geothermal energy only has limited potential to be the only source in this region. This could cover demand in many suburban and rural areas, but very little in the city center, ”said Walch. City planners can use this information in the technical and economic feasibility studies of implementing the GSHP system.
The research team also found that the cumulative depth of the borehole should not exceed 2 km per hectare to avoid overexploitation of the soil’s heat capacity.
Walch emphasized that their findings are only theoretical for now; this study did not take into account local phenomena such as the phreatic zone and groundwater flow, which can affect the time it takes for the soil to cool down. It is important to drill the test holes before installing the borehole heat exchanger.
The team hopes that by measuring the heat generation capacity of shallow geothermal energy, and by pinpointing areas where additional energy sources will be needed, their work will inform a decarbonization strategy for the Swiss heating sector. “Our ultimate goal is to conduct a national study and combine these findings with similar findings for other types of renewable energy,” said Walch, also working on a study to evaluate The potential for Swiss solar power capacity. “It is important to estimate the technical potential that does not depend on heat demand. We wanted to evaluate the capacity of a hybrid system combining geothermal and solar power, using data on these two renewables. “
The Australian government needs to make decisions about whether they want a national electricity market, or five state markets, rather than “nagging” each other about not making decisions, according to systems operator Audrey Zibelman.
Zibelman, Australia’s chief executive Energy Market operators, however, said at an energy summit on Monday that the energy market has reached a “turning point”.
“The decisions and actions we take this year and next year will really inform the results of this industry over the coming decades and they will have a profound effect on the health of our energy economy and the economy as a whole,” he said.
Zibelman said it was time for the government to make a decision on the reform of the system being championed by Energy Security Council. “What we can’t do anymore is not make decisions and keep complaining about each other about not making decisions.”
He said the energy market needed “the right kind of market signal” to ensure investors would build the infrastructure needed to supply adequate deliverable or compacted power. “The most important thing is we have a mechanism that everyone agrees on and then people can rely on it.”
“It would be very helpful to have one mechanism that we can use in the national energy market, otherwise we have to make decisions like I said, we won’t have a national market, we will have five states. the market, “said Zibelman.
“One way or another we have to make a decision”.
Zibelman’s emphatic intervention followed New South Wales Energy Secretary Matt Kean shrugged off criticism from his federal counterpart, Angus Taylor, about a $ 32 billion renewable energy roadmap, saying state policies had been modeled extensively and would not encourage early coal closure.
On Monday, Taylor said at an energy summit hosted by the Australian Financial Review that he would like to see the modeling behind it state road map, which aims to support 12 gigawatts of wind and solar power as well as 2 gigawatts of energy storage.
Taylor argues that participants in the energy market need to avoid “reactionary schemes that appease self-interest and ignore customer interests” – adding that “the triumph of hope over reality and reason must be avoided”.
But Kean said at the same forum that the prospects for the Australian energy market have fundamentally changed. A decade ago, he said, Australia risked reducing national economic growth if it moved too fast to embrace low emissions technologies. But now, if Australia fails to reduce emissions “we will lose the opportunity to ensure our prosperity”.
The country scheme involves awarding long-term government contracts for three types of technology: wind and solar power plants to be built in three regional renewable energy zones; long-term storage that can provide back-up power for eight hours or more, most likely from pumped hydro or batteries; and the generation of fast-starting “buckling” that ensures grid stability in an increasingly varied network of renewable energies, most likely from batteries or gas.
Kean said he had worked “very constructively with minister Taylor” when he signed a bilateral agreement with Canberra early 2020, “$ 3 billion Memorandum of Understanding that will allow us to achieve the goal that Angus and I have set – reliable energy cheaper, reliable energy cheaper here in New South Wales ”.
The next state roadmap, released this month, which has cross-party support, is designed to ensure there is an orderly transition as aging coal assets leave the system, rather than risk outages and price spikes, he said.
“We know that four out of our five coal-fired power plants are about to expire and we need to ensure that high price risks, unreliable system risks, are not borne by consumers like when Hazelwood and Northern closed unexpectedly,” said Kean, Monday.
“We need to make sure we have the right regulatory settings and the right investment signals to ensure that the private sector will provide the infrastructure we need to keep the lights on and lower prices – and that’s what our road map does.”
The NSW minister said Taylor was “right” concerned about maintaining network reliability and affordable prices. He will work with federal partners to provide both.
The country roadmap has been modeled extensively and “it will not lead to an earlier closure of coal, in fact the most important thing is to ensure that we have infrastructure replacement before the existing infrastructure closes”.
Energy company AGL has raised some objections to the scheme, and the business community is concerned that the lack of transparent national policies is pushing states to go their own way. But Kean replied: “I’m not here to support self-interest, I’m here to support community interests, and that’s what this policy is doing.”
The clash between Kean and Taylor arose when Scott Morrison used contributions to the virtual G20 summit over the weekend to declare guarding the planet is a “collective, long-term and sustainable responsibility” and the country “must pursue an economic model that supports growth and sustainability”.
Separately, the Commonwealth and Victoria have reached a $ 200 million deal for transmission infrastructure. The two governments have agreed to jointly secure initial work to advance Victoria’s western interconnector project to NSW – on a preferred route known as KerangLink – so that it can be delivered by 2027.
It is estimated that the project will generate an additional 1,800 megawatts of capacity during peak demand periods and allow Victoria to export 1,930 megawatts to NSW.
A A new report by the Grattan Institute undermines the government’s argument that Australia needs a “gas fueled recovery”. Not only does gas add to our emissions, the report finds that far from being cheap, gas is set to be an “increasingly expensive energy source”.
Let’s pause to note that the first 10 months of the year recorded the highest average global surface temperature, which means, depending on the temperatures for November and December, 2020 will be either the warmest year on record or the second warmest.
To make matters worse, the hottest year now, 2016, occurred during an El Niño event; this year we experienced La Niña. When you are still breaking records for La Niña, it’s a sign that the climate is being damaged in a big way.
And, of course, damaged by the emission of greenhouse gases.
Which brings us to gas.
It is now more than six years since I first wrote about gas. Back in 2014, I wrote down that mining more gas will not lead to lower gas prices, and so it happened.
Grattan Institute Report, Flame Out: the future of natural gas, released on Monday, shows that although energy recovered from Victoria’s oil and gas fields has shifted heavily towards gas (up from 30% in 2000 to 75% in 2018), gas prices have also risen:
But the government still wants us to believe that cheap gas is on its way, and is also necessary for our economy.
It is not that.
The energy minister, Angus Taylor, stepped in parliament in August argued that “the truth of the matter is, if you want a job in manufacturing in this country, you need gas and electricity that are reliable and affordable. That’s the key. We know that there are great opportunities to create jobs in manufacturing in the country, but gas is one of the important raw materials for doing so. “
That may be the case but it’s not true.
The Grattan Institute report notes that, across the manufacturing industry, gas accounts for only 1% of total input costs and for more than half of that sector accounts for less than 0.2%:
The reality is that for some highly gas-intensive industries such as plastics, fertilizer manufacturing and alumina, gas becomes important. However, they only account for 2.4% of all manufacturing activity (only 0.1% of Australian GDP) and only 1.3% of all manufacturing employment.
The report notes that even if the east coast market “operates perfectly, it will not be enough to reduce gas prices to provide a meaningful boost to manufacturing” and that the benefits of government policies such as guaranteeing new gas pipelines or gas production will “be very narrow, and too small to materially help the economic recovery after the Covid recession ”.
We have known for a long time that energy is renewable cheaper than coal and gas and the Grattan report found that over the past year the reason for the decline in energy prices was not because of the increase in gas, but rather the shift from brown coal to black coal and, importantly, to renewable energy:
Gas of course it will continue to play a role, but that role will dwindle. As the report notes, gas will have the role of “supporting reliability and moderating price spikes, but cannot materially lower prices” because it actually costs too much to produce energy.
Okay, so forget about the economy. How about the environment?
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, in August told that parliament “What we do know is: gas is an essential transitional fuel for the country’s changing future energy needs.”
Again, this is wrong.
The report found that, in South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland, choosing to install gas instead of electric heating and cooking in a new home will increase your emissions because electricity generation in the state as a whole is already less emissions intensive.
Even in Victoria, which relies heavily on dirtier brown coal for electricity, it would be better to switch from gas by the middle of the next decade.
And the report also found that each gas fired power plant would be dirtier than the average energy produced for the national energy grid in 15 years – well before the end of its use:
The reality is that gas is neither a major driver of economic growth nor a reduction in emissions. For nearly a decade now, such reports have made this point clear.
For too long, gas has been used by climate change deniers as a lie to take no concrete action. But now, not only is the environmental justification completely bogus, so too, as the Grattan Institute has pointed out, is an economic problem.