The Australian government is keen on an economic recovery from covid that is led by gas — used domestically and also sold to our Asian trading partners. Gas, they say, is the bridge to a cleaner future. They promote and fund gas over any form of renewable energy.
Australian conservative politicians at the federal level are keen to point out that the problem with renewable energy is that “the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow.” Because the first half of this statement is obviously true, we are led to believe that the second half is also. Are renewable energy sources “lazy,” only showing up for work when they feel like it? Quite a contrast to hard-working coal and gas, eh?
Whereas the sun goes down and the solar panels stop working every night, the wind doesn’t stop blowing in the areas where it is most likely that wind turbines are situated. In fact, when you consider that the eastern states of Australia are all interconnected and cover an area of over 4 million square kilometres, it is highly likely that the wind is blowing and power is flowing into the grid somewhere.
This punches a hole in the government’s plan for a gas-led economic recovery. Gas is going up in price, and electricity from wind and solar is going down. Domestically, solar farms and wind farms are lining up to join the grid, delayed mainly by lack of interstate connectors and infrastructure to carry the power to urban areas. Both of these areas fall under federal jurisdiction. States are now taking matters into their own hands and funding these projects themselves.
That’s okay — we can export it. Not for long by the looks of the latest Japanese national energy strategy, which ramps up wind and solar and seeks to reduce the use of coal and gas. An 30% decrease is expected over the next 9 years. Japan is one of a plethora of Australia’s trading partners who have committed to net zero by 2050.
The bubble must burst soon — the sun will shine and the wind will blow — and perhaps recalcitrant politicians and their media co-conspirators will also enjoy a clean new minimal fossil fuel world with us.
David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He owns 50 shares of Tesla.