Senate debates

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Matters of Public Importance

Renewable Energy

5:01 pm

Photo of John MadiganJohn Madigan (Victoria, Democratic Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

When it comes to energy conservation I believe we would do well to take a leaf out of the book of the John Muir Trust. The trust is the UK's leading wild land conservation charity and believes in conservation before generation. I believe we need to explore all ways in which we can use the energy we have more efficiently before expending more energy and taking up more land in schemes to produce energy. I agree with John Muir when he said 'not blind opposition to progress but opposition to blind progress'.

We need to be looking far and wide for renewable energy sources that work. Australia simply cannot afford to push ahead with one form of energy while ignoring equally good or better alternatives. Across the country we have traditional energy sources such as coal, gas and hydro. We also have more recent alternative and renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.

In my home state of Victoria there is a lot of interest in geothermal energy. Western Victoria and the Latrobe Valley show great promise, but without government and business investment this potentially abundant power source will go undeveloped. I believe all alternatives and energy solutions should be thoroughly and adequately researched under Australian conditions before a single plot of soil is turned.

In addition to these alternative sources, we should look at ways we can improve on the energy we already have. The John Muir Trust believes that the most efficient energy is that which is never produced—that is, energy that did not have to be produced because it was not required due to energy conservation or energy efficiency measures. Dotted across Victoria are roofs with solar hot water heaters and photovoltaic systems. This is something we should all be glad to see and should encourage. But it is not unusual to see these units facing the wrong way, facing south-east, thereby severely diminishing their productive output. Renewable energy certificates have been exchanged on these systems at the full rate of capacity, yet that capacity has been totally undermined by incorrect installation and lack of compliance at a state level. Further education for installers and consumers of these products would be a simple way to conserve the energy we have.

Another way would be to give Australians access to the most energy efficient products available. The E3 website—a Commonwealth government guide to energy efficient appliances—lists the freezer Elcold on its recommended lists. However, this freezer is not available in Australia. Allowing this freezer and freezer technology to be sold, or even better, manufactured in Australia would be a simple way of conserving the energy we have, promoting jobs—green jobs—and would no doubt foster a greater appreciation of energy efficient technologies.

In fact, there is a lot we can do to promote the manufacturing of energy efficient products in this country and many companies would welcome some promotion and support. Ceramic Fuel Cells is one of these companies. Ceramic fuel cells are the most energy efficient co-generation system on the planet, producing electricity and heat. This technology was developed in Australia and manufactured in Australia and the company operates out of Australia. However, the company cannot get Australian support on a feed-in tariff and has recently refocused its activities to Europe where its excellence in the field of energy conservation is fully appreciated. I believe we need to foster an environment in this country where these companies are not forced overseas to thrive.


Shay Holmes
Posted on 27 Feb 2013 1:35 pm

I strongly agree on using renewable energy , and in training those who place panels on the roofs. Ceramic Fuel cell has been lost to overseas because of the lack of government commitment to other forms of energy. The coal seam gas mining should stop; it is too risky to our water supply and to health.When will the government think long term and stop digging up coal?