Natural gas

Australia’s coal and gas exports are being left stranded

By Stephen Bygrave, The Conversation, November 21 2014

Australia’s official forecasts for expanding fossil fuel exports don’t match up with what’s needed to avoid severe climate change. Jeremy Buckingham/Flickr, CC BY

In the last week the US and China announced goals to reduce emissions by 26-28% and cap emissions by 2030 respectively. India also signalled its aim to end coal imports within 2-3 years.

These are telling signs of a move away from fossil fuels by some of the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, including countries that are key importers of Australia’s coal and gas.

Dr Sara Bice talks social licence

Need for understandable data on increasing prevalence of unconventional gas and its impact on sedimentary basins

The BZE team talks to Dr Sara Bice with a history of journalism, sociology and now research fellow at Melbourne School of Government, University of Melbourne. 

Dr Sara Bice spoke of the need to create a regulatory basis and need for management of underground resources considering sedimentary basins comprise to a great extent  Australia's primary energy and water for agriculture and general rural population needs - in particular relating to CSG. This will have major effects on environmental economy and communities.  There is of course a need for a baseline for the effects of CSG and fracking in particular and with a moratorium such as that in Victoria.  The growth in CSG wells in Queensland alone has amounted to possibly 40,000 from 3000 in 2003! There is in particular a need for a better connection between University research, industry and policy makers and for the use of social media to provide a strong platform and despite for example, AGL giving the reasons for withdrawal as being financial with no mention relating to the power of protests. Reference to  AGL and "the license to operate" was also made by Green's Jeremy Buckingham. Is "social license" controlled by companies?

(Summary written by BZE volunteer Bev McIntyre)

Further reading:

Coal seam gas debate is more than hot air: Did community opposition have a role in AGL’s decision to quit exploration of natural gas?

The Sustainable Sensibility - Blog by Sara Bice

Sara Bice on The Conversation

Do mining companies have a "social licence" to operate?

Dr Sara Bice Awarded Research Fellowship

Karl Fitzgerald - the easy economics of high speed rail

Beyond Zero talks to Karl Fitzgerald, an economist, "tax geek" and Project Director at Prosper Australia and Earthsharing. He talks about land value capture and how it can fund the building the high speed rail network from Melbourne to Brisbane, researched in BZE's Zero Carbon Australia High Speed Rail report.

Tim Forcey

Tim Forcey, Energy Advisor, Melbourne Energy Institute, University of Melbourne talks about how the export boom is shaking up Australia’s gas market. He also explains "economic fuel switching" where a modern reverse-cycle air conditioner - also known as an air-source heat pump - can be far cheaper than heating your house by burning gas. Heat pumps can work both ways: cooling and heating when required.

Tim has 35 years of industrial experience (electricity, oil and gas, petrochemicals) with focus on energy production, transmission and consumption. Former employers include Exxon Mobil, BHP Billiton, Jemena, and the Australian Energy Market Operator. Tim also works part-time as a home energy consultant with the Moreland Energy Foundation - Positive Charge.

Craig Memery - Switching from gas to electric

Craig Memery, Energy Specialist and Consumer Advocate at the Alternative Technology Association (ATA), will present findings of their new report, Are We Still Cooking with Gas?  Many households in Australia would be better off switching from gas to efficient electric appliances - for both financial and enviromental reasons.

Tim Forcey- NSW gas demand could halve in 10 years

Tim Forcey is the Energy Advisor at the Melbourne Energy Institute (MEI) at The University of Melbourne, and is a regular guest on Beyond Zero (speaking previously on pumped hydro energy storage). In this podcast, Tim Forcey speaks about a new MEI paper which found that gas demand in NSW could fall to as much as half within ten years. 

MEI made a submission to the New South Wales Parliament's Upper House Inquiry into 'The supply and cost of gas and liquid fuels in NSW'. Tim was recently invited to testify at this Inquiry and present his work. The NSW goverment, AGL, Santos and many other organisation also testified, focusing on the supply side and warning of gas shortages. However Tim's research was really the only one that was focusing on the demand side. 

Network costs often make up the largest part of a consumer’s gas or electricity supply bill. Investments in network infrastructure are based on estimates of future demand. If demand is overestimated, unnecessary infrastructure is built. Such poor investment decisions drive up the costs that small and large gas consumers must pay.

Recent unprecedented electricity price increases across eastern Australia were partly due to overinvestment in network infrastructure that, in turn, was partly a result of year-after-year overestimation of electricity demand by the responsible planning bodies.

A present danger is that future gas demand in eastern Australia now likewise being overestimated.

Clouds gather over coal market as Treasury predicts price ‘flatline’

By Sophie Vorrath. RenewEconomy, December 16 2014

In yet another sign that the global coal market is in terminal decline, the federal government’s mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (MYEFO) has predicted that thermal coal prices will flat-line through to mid-2016 at $US63 per tonne – well below current market expectations.

The gloomy Treasury forecast for coal reinforces multiple analyst warnings that Australia risks being saddled with billions of dollars in stranded fossil fuel assets, as prices fall, climate restraints kick in and fossil fuel projects become uneconomic and/or unsustainable.

Last week, UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey warned that fossil fuel companies could become “the sub-prime assets of the future… Investing in new coal mines is going to get very risky”.

According to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), the MYEFO coal forecast is further evidence that Australian governments – both state and federal – should exercise extreme caution on any plans to commit taxpayer funds to building infrastructure to open up the Galilee Coal Basin in Queensland.

Is Canberra prepared for a China carbon slowdown?

By Tristan Edis. Business Spectator, November 27 2014

The government is finding itself in the rather uncomfortable position of feeling a bit like former Labor treasurer Wayne Swan. It appears that, in spite of apparently choosing highly conservative assumptions about likely budget revenue, the government faces the prospect of having to make significant downgrades in expected revenue inflows due to a large slide in the price of iron ore and coal.

As the Parliamentary Budget Office illustrated in a report released recently, the outlook for the government budget is built on a series of assumptions of what is believed to be likely to occur into the future. But these can turn out to be wrong for a variety of reasons (as we are now seeing) which can have a material impact on the government budget. For that reason we need to actually prepare for a variety of potential plausible scenarios, not just one single outcome.

Beyond Zero warns Lib-Nat govt on coal forecast

By David Twomey. EcoNews, November 26 2014

A leading climate change think tank has challenged forecasts from Australia’s conservative Liberal-National government on future coal and gas exports, arguing they pose a risk to the national economy.

The Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) report has taken aim at predictions by the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE) of exports continuing to increase until at least 2050. 


BZE said that was despite recent announcements on carbon emission reductions by the United States and China, and the UN Environment Program’s (UNEP) call to end carbon pollution by 2070.

Beyond Zero warning on coal forecast

ABC News online, November 26 2014

A climate change think tank has challenged federal government forecasts on future coal and gas exports, arguing it poses a risk to the national economy.

 Dean Lewins, file photo

PHOTO: Record tonnages of coal continue to be exported through the Port of Newcastle with 154 million tonnes shipped in the past financial year. (AAP: Dean Lewins, file photo)

MAP: Muswellbrook 2333

Beyond Zero Emissions has taken aim at predictions by the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics of exports continuing to increase until at least 2050.

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