Energy matters – myth busting

If you find yourself at a barbecue or any kind of social gathering where you become involved in a conversation about energy matters, you might like to draw on the perfectly prepared platter of handy facts assembled by the Climate Council in its ‘Summer BBQ guide’.

When the banter around the BBQ shifts to energy … here are five common Australian energy myths and facts.

MYTH: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE SUN DOESN’T SHINE AND THE WIND DOESN’T BLOW?

FACT: RENEWABLE ENERGY AND STORAGE CAN PROVIDE ELECTRICITY 24/7

Renewable electricity can power the economy through a mix of wind and solar energy, together with on-demand renewables (such as solar thermal, biomass or hydro power) and energy storage (such as pumped hydro or batteries). Improved energy efficiency and demand response, such as installing modern appliances and ensuring these appliances are not running when electricity demand is high, can also help make the grid more reliable.

For more detail on how to power Australia’s energy system with renewables, check out: www.climatecouncil.org.au/powering-a-21st-century

MYTH: COAL IS RELIABLE

FACT: AGEING COAL GENERATORS ARE UNRELIABLE AND VULNERABLE IN HEATWAVES

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has identified ageing coal power stations as a risk to reliable electricity supply. By 2030, most of Australia’s coal fired power stations will be over 40 years old. Once the coal fleet reaches this age, they become increasingly expensive to run, and increasingly unreliable particularly during heat waves.

For more detail on Australia’s potential for a modern energy grid, check out: www.climatecouncil.org.au/powering-a-21st-century crowd-funded science information

MYTH: RENEWABLE ENERGY IS DRIVING UP ELECTRICITY PRICES.

FACT: RENEWABLE ENERGY IS THE CHEAPEST FORM OF NEW POWER

New renewable energy is driving down electricity prices by increasing electricity supply. Australia’s coal power stations are reaching the end of their lives and need replacing. Renewable power from wind and solar farms is the cheapest form of new power generation and is best suited to replace these old clunkers.

More than 1.6 million Australian households are reducing their electricity bills with rooftop solar.

For more detail on basic electricity facts, check out: www.climatecouncil.org.au/fact-sheet-10-basic-electricity-facts-to-help- you-navigate-the-finkel-review

MYTH: RENEWABLE ENERGY CAUSES POWER OUTAGES

FACT: MOST BLACK OUTS ARE CAUSED BY EVENTS AFFECTING POWER LINES

99 per cent of all interruptions to power supply, including blackouts, are caused by events affecting power lines – not a lack of sufficient generation. Common causes of blackouts include fallen tree limbs, possums, vehicle impacts, bushfires, lightning strikes and storms. And to make matters worse, climate change – driven by the burning of coal, oil and gas for electricity – is worsening many extreme weather events such as storms, heatwaves and bushfire weather.

For more detail on basic electricity facts, check out: www.climatecouncil.org.au/fact-sheet-10-basic-electricity-facts-to-help- you-navigate-the-finkel-review

MYTH: AUSTRALIA LACKS LEADERSHIP ON RENEWABLE ENERGY

FACT: STATES AND TERRITORIES ARE LEADING ON RENEWABLE ENERGY IN THE ABSENCE OF CREDIBLE FEDERAL POLICY

While Australia waits for a credible climate and energy policy from the Federal Government, states and territories continue to lead the charge on ramping up renewable energy and cutting pollution.

For more detail on what states and territories are doing check out: www.climatecouncil.org.au/2017-states-reportcrowd-funded science information

For the past decade international research firm IPSOS has been assessing Australians’ views on climate change and other environmental issues and 2017 marked one decade’s worth of data based on a nationally representative sample of more than 1,000 Australians.

The 2017 IPSOS Climate Change report highlighted the priorities of environmental action, stating once again, renewable energy is the top environmental issue Australians would act on if they were in charge of decision-making. More than half (56%) identify renewable energy as an issue they would choose to address. Significantly, the majority of Australians have identified renewable energy as an issue for action every year since surveying began in 2007.

Compared with 2016, there has been no movement in the top six issues of importance. Water and river Heath (49%) came in at number two. This is its highest rating for action since 2012 (when it was 52%).

In third place in 2017 is illegal waste dumping (46%), followed by deforestation (45%), sustainability and climate change (both 43%). More than half of Australians identify renewable energy as an issue for action

“In 2016 we noted that climate change had hit its highest rating since 2008 (when 47% believed it to be a top priority for action), and it retains that sixth place with more than two in five Australians once again identifying it as an issue for action,” the report states.

Australians in regional areas are more likely to identify renewable energy as an issue for action compared with their counterparts in capital cities (62% ‘rest of Australia’ vs. 53% capital city residents). The same pattern is observed for water and river health (58% vs. 44%) and deforestation (51% vs. 42%).

In other findings, Australians are sceptical about letting market forces alone determine how much power is generated from renewable sources. Only 27 per cent supported a deregulated, “market only” approach with no national target for the uptake of renewable energy.

As in previous years, Australians are most likely to think that the Federal Government carries the responsibility for action on climate change. Two in five (41%) identified Federal Government.

Seven in 10 were in favour of the federal government setting a national target for renewable energy use (32 per cent strongly support this) with just 15 per cent opposed.

The 2017 data was collected shortly after Prime Minister Turnbull announced the decision to adopt a National Energy Guarantee (NEG) instead of the Clean Energy Target (CET) recommended by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel. Perhaps it is unsurprising then, that this year’s report sees the joint highest proportion of Australians placing the bulk of responsibility with Federal Government since we started asking this question in 2010 (tying with 2014).

https://www.ipsos.com/sites/default/files/ct/news/documents/2017-12/climate_change_report_2017-finalsingles_web.pdf