Climate change has sharply focused everyone’s attention to the need to find energy sources that do not pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Into that void has come a whole host of renewable energy options.
That has resulted in a bank of solar panels becoming a common sight on people’s homes and in the springing-up of wind turbines along the ridge line of hills.
Such options are so attractive because once the initial capital investment has been made, the ongoing cost is negligible – simply, energy from the sun or from the wind is free.
And the technology used is being constantly refined to make it even more cost-effective, especially in energy storage options that help to deliver power for longer.
In some countries – such as Germany and the Netherlands – it has been so successful that renewable energy has met requirements on some days. But without more substantial investment and government support there appears unlikely in the foreseeable future that a similar result can be achieved in Australia.
Government in particular, certainly at the federal level, has been too erratic and lukewarm to help foster what is widely considered to be the inevitable need for far less reliance on fossil fuels.
And that is despite Australia repeatedly having developed the type of new technologies to ensure that will happen.
The imminent closure of the Hazelwood coal-fired power station at Morwell highlights the importance of heading down the renewable energy path.
But one of the clear stumbling blocks is renewable’s ability to deliver the base power needs the country needs. And further complicating the energy dilemma is the expectation of substantial energy price rises.
One Border company, Howlong pet food processor Cool Off, believes the hike could be as much as 40 per cent this year. Fossil fuels remain a way forward for Cool Off free of such a financial whack – specifically, using the unpopular option of coal seam gas to fire the business’s ovens and boilers.
That prompted his sharp criticism of a moratorium on gas exploration, something Cool Off’s Edward Staughton says cannot be dismissed out-of-hand. What is most obvious is how this exposes the lack of a comprehensive, future-proof strategy for meeting Australia’s energy needs – one in tune with both the environment and affordability.