Previous to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Prime Minister flagged the potential for deeper cuts in Australia’s emissions that may ship a internet zero economic system by 2050, a doubling of renewable power within the Nationwide Electrical energy Market (NEM) and “more than 100 new technologies” to reduce emissions.
Earlier, the Vitality Minister, Angus Taylor on two events each questioned “aggressive top-down targets” with no “clear pathways to deliver” and but famous that there’s “huge potential in established and rising applied sciences similar to hydrogen, carbon seize and storage, biofuels, lithium manufacturing and waste-to-energy”.
What we noticed within the 2019 emissions projections is that the federal government was solely actually contemplating one new know-how – electrical automobiles, and one not so new know-how – renewable electrical energy technology, coupled with pumped-hydro and battery storage.
Different enhancements in emissions efficiency merely mirrored the business-as-usual evolution in know-how.
Energetics evaluates different potential applied sciences in opposition to three evaluation standards: maturity, cost-effectiveness and potential influence on Australia’s emissions.
We present the place substantial funding might be made and the place some applied sciences are merely not possible throughout the Australian context.
Are there any ‘silver bullets’?
The most important single supply of greenhouse gasoline emissions in Australia is the burning of coal for electrical energy technology, adopted by gasoline combustion in automobiles.
Excluding emissions from coal-fired technology, the most important sources of emissions are transport, heating, motive energy, enteric fermentation in livestock and fugitive emissions.
Whereas a number of sources, the requirement stays to seek out low emission applied sciences that deal with a number of sources. Two applied sciences stand out.
The primary is electrification – of transport through electrical automobiles and of heating utilizing warmth pumps (in each circumstances utilizing renewable electrical energy). The second choice is zero emissions fuels – hydrogen and biofuels.
Two themes emerge. First, electrification can (and already does) present value efficient choices for decarbonising sure functions similar to gentle automobiles and low temperature heating.
Nonetheless, it isn’t but value efficient, or possible in some circumstances, to make use of electrification for heavy automobiles and excessive temperature heating.
Secondly, renewable fuels present a path to zero emissions the place electrification isn’t possible and may substitute for electrification even when possible and value efficient. For example, gasoline cell electrical automobiles are already accessible.
Renewable hydrogen is fascinating. An alternative to fossil fuels in vital sources similar to engines and furnaces, it could scale back sure industrial emissions similar to these related to the discount of metallic ores. Renewable hydrogen might be the subsequent silver bullet.
Nonetheless, whereas the pathway to renewable hydrogen is well-known, advances are required for it to be value efficient and broadly deployed.
Tackling the remainder – ought to it’s know-how or timber?
The decarbonisation of power might be achieved by means of a mixture of electrification and switching to zero emissions fuels. Decarbonising power can scale back Australia’s emissions by two thirds by 2030.
Low and nil emissions applied sciences have been recognized for non-energy associated emissions however will not be but accessible for business and even pre-commercial deployment. Some emissions could by no means be eradicated at supply.
The remaining emissions come from fugitive emissions related to power manufacturing and use, agriculture, industrial processes, waste and land use.
Three of those sources are related to the extraction and use of power (fugitives from coal mines, LNG and different home pure gasoline), two are attributable to enteric fermentation in livestock and two are attributable to industrial processes.
All require options to cut back emissions (feed modifications as a solution to scale back enteric emissions) or modifications within the markets (falling demand for fossil fuels or insurance policies to remove merchandise used as substitutes for ozone depleting substances).
The applied sciences to remove lots of the non-energy associated emissions are much less nicely outlined than the accessible or potential applied sciences that deal with power associated emissions, creating larger uncertainty concerning the magnitude and timing of abatement.
Australia wants a Plan B to cope with emissions that can not be eradicated in both a cheap method or in time to satisfy nationwide emissions discount targets. Land-based sequestration is Australia’s Plan B. In 2015, the CSIRO assessed the significant potential for land-based sequestration in Australia.
Nonetheless, land-based sequestration is the ‘straightforward’ choice and it mustn’t turn into Australia’s Plan A! Such a short-sighted resolution would do little to rework Australia’s economic system and go away our nation weak within the world transition to decarbonisation.
Our new imaginative and prescient ought to embody the continued uptake in renewable technology and electrical automobiles, adopted by electrification and nil emissions fuels, supported by land-based sequestration for sources the place no different emissions discount know-how is accessible.
Pending know-how maturity, cost-effectiveness and potential influence, we might have already got the silver bullets we want. May this be half Australia’s post-COVID-19 future?
— to reneweconomy.com.au