Tag Archives: gas

Queensland, the sunshine state, is also being promoted as the solar state, but how much of this new Qld Government campaign is true? The reality of Qld’s renewable energies, especially solar, is sadly mostly illusion.

So what is true?

  • Only about 2% of Qld’s electricity comes from renewable sources
  • Historically, our energy comes from burning a by-product of sugar production
  • 88% of Qld’s electricity comes from mining and burning coal, which is Qld’s giant industry
  • The remaining 10% of electricity comes from another fossil-fuel source – gas
  • The state of Qld emits more greenhouse gases per person than anywhere else in Australia (and Australia emits more greenhouse gases per person than any other developed country)

While Qld’s coal reserves are massive, they are not limitless, but our solar, wind, biomass and geothermal energy resources are mostly limitless, and definitely more sustainable and valuable than coal in the long term. The government’s collective small measures to cut emissions does appear greener to Queenslanders, but is just distracting us from the larger issue of Qld’s carbon addiction. Qld may be the Sunshine State, but we are not the Solar State by a long shot, and to promote Qld as such is deceptive and misleading to the public. The reality is, the government is yet not serious about this issue. Australia is a mountain of coal surrounded by a sea of gas, but sunshine should be number 1.

In April 2010, the government vowed to double solar energy use across Qld within 5 years, from 250MW to 500MW, which would be 4% of Qld’s current power. So small changes are happening, but are they happening is it fast enough?

A few things that are happening include:

  • Since its big solar push started in July 2008, around 32,000 homes and small businesses have installed solar systems
  • Not-for-profit group Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) has issued a 200-page report to help Qld join an Australia-wide effort to produce all our electricity from renewable energy in just 10 years
  • Renewable energy technology is already being used in many places around the world, and has been for a long time, so it is more than possible and available
  • Qld could transition easily to Concentrated Solar Thermal power, which could generate around two thirds of all our power
  • This technology uses mirrors to reflect the sun’s power onto towers, storing energy in molten salt for up to 17 hours, which then heats steam to drive turbines
  • When combined with wind and hydropower, this would give Qld more than 22,000MW of electricity – well beyond the 14,000MW Qld will need by 2020
  • Consumers could pay around 6.5c/kW hour extra, which is similar to the rise we could expect for non-renewable energy now
  • The only obstacle to this transition will be political, from the government and from big mining companies, who are still transitioning from the ‘old economy’

For more info about the Queensland Government’s Do The Right Thing Campaign visit http://brightthing.energy.qld.gov.au

by Tony Juniper - Executive Director, Friends of the Earth UK & Vice Chair, Friends of the Earth International

Passionately written and well argued, Tony Juniper’s 95 articles (suggested solutions) are essential reading for anyone who cares about the world we live in and the world our children will inherit. To read the full articles, I highly recommend getting a copy of How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take To Change A Planet? By Tony Juniper.

36-51 A to B

Solution 36 - Divert government expenditure away from road building and towards more sustainable forms of transport.

Solution 37 - Put in place city congestion charges and national road-pricing schemes.

Solution 38 - Increase the road-tax differentials between the most polluting and the cleanest vehicles.

Solution 39 - Introduce mandatory environmental labelling for all new vehicles, with the aim of doubling feul-efficiency within a decade.

Solution 40 - Reintroduce and maintain the so-called fuel-duty escalator so that the actual and relative price of fuel is gradually but consistently increased.

Solution 41 - Introduce standards for biofuels so that steps to reduce the impact of transport emissions on the climate do not lead to damaging impacts on the wider environment, biodiversity and indigenous peoples.

Solution 42 - Spend the money derived from road-user charging, vehicle excise duty and fuel tax for the development of cleaner, greener public transport systems.

Solution 43 - Replace diesel-powered buses with buses powered by hydrogen fuel cells

Solution 44 - Help to revitalise town centres by connecting them to suburbs via safe cycle routes, walkways and buses.

Solution 45 - Place a moritorium on the expansion of airports, and tax aviation fuel at the same rate as road fuel.

Solution 46 - Introduce emissions charging for aeroplanes to encourage the adoption of cleaner technology.

Solution 47 - Invest in high-speed rail routes to cut back on short-haul aviation.

Solution 48 - Promote video conferencing and other modes of long-distance communication as an alternative to business travel.

Solution 49 - Use government, international and regional development agency funds to invest in ‘local’ holiday facilities, including a renaissance of the traditional holiday options.

Solution 50 - Regenerate public transport, for example, by reopening closed railway lines and expanding bus services.

Solution 51 - Restore rural services.