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State of the states
28.05.06 11:07 am2 comments
Analysis by Saul Eslake, here: State_of_the_States_May_2006.pdf
State of the Future Part 1
Electricity prices go up due to a dependence on one major power source, stored water, that failed to meet expectations last year when storages fell to a low. A one off investment in gas turbines and a power cable link to the SE electricity grid may have temporarily secured power but they will also result in those price rises.
A report on the climate crisis to the Hydro has predicted that rainfall will remain within the acceptable range in most of the Hydro Catchments up to 2040, the exception being the South Esk, where it will fall. [http://www.hydro.com.au/documents/Energy/climate change fact sheet.pdf]
Whilst the government, through its energy business arm, the Hydro, turned to wind power to grow the generating capacity it also invested in the Bass Strait cable in the belief that it could export the stored potential.
However it did not secure that stored potential through a reduction in domestic use and
we see the federal government has made wind power an unlikely growth area by removing the incentives allowed by the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target and the funding through the Renewable Energy Credits scheme
Hydro power generating capacity could remain at a low, making it difficult to sell into the national market without the penalty of buying replacement power if rainfall is below expectations.
Hydro generating capacity as reflected in storage levels has not exceeded half for the last 2 years, that empty half representing the drought proofing of the Tasmanian supply or the potential for export of either peak demand and thus high return power or the premium priced ‘green’ power. [http://www.hydro.com.au//Storages/Storage Summary.xls]
Buying coal power, or running the gas fired Bell Bay would allow, provided there is runoff, the storages to fill. However, it is pointless unless the value of the stored energy can be realized at a greater return than the cost.
And it will impact on the laurels that the Tasmanian Climate Strategy rests upon, do nothing but depend on the fortuitous fact that we have a hydro electric based power system.
I have suggested that a solar water heating program be instituted.
In Victoria it works this way. ■Solar Hot Water. Based on an average family bill, a solar hot-water system costing about $3000 will pay for itself within eight to nine years. It has a working life of 25 years. The State Government also offers a rebate of up to $1500. [http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/come-hell-and-high-water/2006/05/27/1148524934204.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap2]
The double benefit of a statewide government supported program is that the generating capacity saved has the potential for resale as the demand on water or wind from the system falls. I expect this to be a last resort, especially now there is an additional 92 million to be paid each year from sales of water we do not have stored.
Perhaps there will be a new Ministry, that of Precipitation, as anything that falls into the catchments and melts can be claimed as a government success and if not we can be amused by the antics.
State of the Future Part 2
Whilst tourism will not stop for the period that air fares remain low, the Spirit 3 did deliver passengers to Devonport, a port infrastructure saving, and they may have toured the NW region, the area least successful in attracting the short break flying tourists.
The impact of travel mode on the rise in greenhouse gases is not considered by the tourist or they would steam rather than fly, such factors can only be the prerogative of government and it is not about to restrict air travel in the interest of the future.
Otherwise we would also see positive large scale action in a range of areas.
It will be a long time before second hand, sail assisted, passenger ferry vessels come onto the market and so regardless of the carbon emission saving of the Sydney ferry it looks like a fond farewell to this vessel.
I wonder if a wake will be held as its arrival was the cause of a celebration.
On the Buses
The draft report into the MTT fares flagged the administrative costs of the GBE as higher than the private sector and I wonder if this is what they are seeking to address through further funding, the Government Prices oversight Commission having refused the MTT case for funding that through additional fares.
Perhaps they too have fuel costs that are escalating, some say unpredictably, although this rise was in the range of predicted outcomes
Still, if, as suggested by the author, MTT and the government had been proactive on biodiesel, the fuel price question may have an end point in sight as Tasmania stumbled toward some control over its energy cost inputs.
Having another crop for Tasmanian farmers where the place of production did not have to be on the label as the whole could be used domestically and at a reasonable rate of return, given the price of diesel, would have been a win for 4 parties if you include the balance of Tasmanians.
Whilst avoidance of proaction seems to be a constant of government, I have suggested above 2 reactions that have beneficial outcomes. I accept that it may be beyond the governments financial capacity to fund a solar hot water scheme by itself and that is why I suggested a cooperative program working with the householder [TT phill Parsons], the capital cost borne over time by the user and the government funding the administration and initial investment. With a 25 year life of a solar water heater I am sure even the gnomes of the Treasury Department could work out the costings.
A biodiesel scheme is too late for the Spirit 3 although with Tasmanian’s isolation and its dependence on exports having an alternative liquid energy for heavy transport is an essential investment in Tasmania’s future and if the government cannot support a business enterprise in the highly profitable, at least for private players, energy sector then it could offer 2 contracts, one for its diesel powered land vehicle fleet and the other for its 2 remaining ships.
I know that biodiesel can replace diesel at the pump, either like ethanol as a % or like Diesels first fuel, peanut oil, completely. I am unsure about heavy fuel oil but it best be considered if we are to avoid Tasmania again slumping into the doldrums of economic activity.
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