Sustaining Future

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Kyoto & Australia

If I have understood the Horward Government's argument on Greenhouse gas, the argument can be summarised as following.

Australia has lot of resources (Coal and Uranium included) and hence it would be silly not to utilise them. Since coal is still the cheapest energy source, we should continue to burn coal to power our country. In order not to damage Australia's economy, we cannot agree to lower our green house gas emission.

Unless immerse pressure, Australia has set up a hurdle. We shall agree to reduce green house gas IF everyone agrees, including USA and China, the largest polluters. We also invest in developing technology to store green house gas and consider using nuclear energy (since we have the largest reserve of Uranium anyway).

The Horward Policy is based on short term economical view - maintaining the status quo without significant policy into the future. I see several logic faults in this argument too.

Australia has lot of renewable resources as well - e.g. solar energy. We can, with the correct technology, export energy from renewable sources and minimise digging up our land and polluting our environment (as in coal mining). Alternately, we can "super-charge" natural gas using solar energy and hence command higher price. (Higher energy in solar gas cost the same to transport as natural gas!) If we develop the technology, we can export the technology without polluting our environment. With our beautiful environment, we have additional income from tourism and can keep our employment high. (Instead of keeping the employment high by mining coal!) That is we can continue our economic growth without increasing the mining of coal, but shifting to value-add our existing natural gas reserve with renewable energy source.

Our reserve of Uranium needs not be digged up in order to leverage on that reserve for political gain - Richard Bulter, former UN Weapon Inspector suggested. Nuclear energy, like storage of CO2 has long term consequence which we cannot control.

Technology for storage of CO2 is at its very early stage and the applicability depends on geographic location. hence it is not an EASILY transferable technology limiting its marketability even if it can be developed. Nuclear power is foreign technology and we have nothing to gain from using nuclear power and have a big burden later for storage of the spent fuel. We can maintain current Uranium export without commiting ourselves into nuclear energy!

Australia already has some head-start in solar technology and it is wise to continue investment in this area. Our car industries are foreign-owned and lack vision in leading and investing in future transportation. I believe if our government can activate an green car production, Australia can have an edge. CSIRO, our leading national research, has developed solution to enter hydrogen economy much cheaper.

From CSIRO website:
In the US, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has already put his significant weight behind developing a ‘hydrogen highway’ – hydrogen refuelling stations along the state’s 21 interstate freeways – by 2010.

The infrastructure costs for building new hydrogen service stations are huge, but the unit being developed by CSIRO could be a far cheaper alternative and be more readily usable in a range of applications.


This is where CSIRO’s latest work could make the difference. It is developing a solid-state system based on polymer electrolyte membranes for on-demand hydrogen production at homes, small-to-medium enterprises, remote locations, service stations and other end-user sites, where water and electricity are available.


The technology can best be described as reverse to fuel cell technology. “The hydrogen produced is of such high purity that it can be used directly in a fuel cell or anywhere else without further purification. The electrolyser responds instantaneously to applied load and is capable of accepting large load variations, making it easy to use this technology with solar or wind power.”

The hydrogen generated can be stored for long periods and be converted to electricity when needed. The ability to generate energy on-site and on-demand would reduce up-front infrastructure costs...

By kick-starting a local hydrogen electric car industry, we enable Australia a leading position in the world's future transportation. The potential is order of magnitude better than "status quo".

I hope our government can have a vision!


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