House debates

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Matters of Public Importance

Climate Change

4:05 pm

Photo of David GillespieDavid Gillespie (Lyne, National Party) Share this | Hansard source

The government do have a plan and we are delivering in spades with regards to this matter of public importance. Australia is going to exceed the targets we signed up to under international agreements. We have had an explosion in the last couple of years of investments in renewables—in fact, $13 billion in 2018 and $25 billion up until 2020. That, per capita, is more than the combined investment in France, Germany, and the UK. We are meeting our greenhouse gas reduction targets of 26 to 28 per cent by 2030, ahead of time. Our electricity emissions have dropped 15 per cent. The emissions intensity of our economy has also dropped 65 per cent. One in five houses have solar generation on their roofs.

The Climate Solutions Fund, which has taken over from the Emissions Reduction Fund, will deliver another 102 million tonnes of abatement. That's at a low cost of $12 per tonne. We do realise there is something to do in reducing our greenhouse gases but we do have an economy to run. People confuse their own personal circumstance and their household circumstances in turning to batteries and solar panels, both as a cost-reducing exercise and to do their bit. But when you have an industrial economy, you need baseload power and that's what everybody is starting to realise. You can't just unplug a baseload power system and plug in intermittent energy. The system integration required when you have intermittent sources of energy means you have to have inverters, which chew up some of the energy. You need whole new transmission lines to locate the new generation sources to the grid, because the economy runs on it. The total number of batteries in the country would run a place like Tomago Aluminium smelter for about 45 minutes. The biggest battery in one place in the world, in South Australia, can only take over running South Australia for four minutes. Batteries have a place in system integration but they're not a source of energy; they're a place that energy is stored.

We on this side are doing things. We have new generation being encouraged. We have 12 new generating plants—gas, pumped hydro. We've got the Snowy Hydro plan being worked up. We're connecting the hydro electricity in Tasmania with the Marinus Link. But, again, you can have all the hydro in the world in Tasmania, except if there's no water or there is a drought. There was a time when Tasmania relied on diesel generators, like South Australia does. There is $750 million allocated for diesel generation in the South Australian budget, so we need baseload power. You can only get so much before your whole system has problems, like we are finding out. Some states have created their own problems, like South Australia and Victoria, pulling out their baseload capacity prematurely. The reason is that the engineering and the economics are not part of the narrative of this blind obsession with getting renewable generation. You can only use renewable generation when the renewable energy is available. You know, you may only get the energy out of a solar system 20 or 30 per cent of the time because there's night-time, there's daytime, there are cloudy days and weeks when it's raining.

It's the same with wind. You can only use it when the wind generating will allow a frequency and a voltage that fits with the grid, so there's a limit. The International Energy Agency issues reports on this all the time, and the magic number is 10 per cent—that's when you start having problems. Then, when you get to 20 per cent, it increases. Then, when you get to 30 per cent, you've got to re-engineer your whole system. You need voltage and frequency controlled, you need inertia in your system and you need a whole new transmission grid if we're going to do distributed energy. All those poles and wires around the suburbs will have to be replaced. If we're going to send electricity back down into the grid from everyone's three-kilowatt energy source, you'll need thicker wires and copper. It's going to cost an absolute fortune, so we have to maintain our industrial capacity because everything comes from an energy source somewhere. Whether it's coal, whether it's hydro and gravity, whether it's diesel running a generator or, as earlier speakers have outlined, it's nuclear energy, which heats— (Time expired)

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