future clean tech

green business, policy and technology in australia and abroad

Posts Tagged ‘opportunity

Economic benefits of emissions trading scheme

leave a comment »

This article appeared in the Sun Herald today: “Emissions scheme’s $6bn boost to the economy“.

An internal report by National Australia Bank seen by The Sun-Herald suggests the emissions trading debate in Australia has been dominated by claims about the short-term costs, and scant attention has been paid to new investment opportunities.

“The average year-on-year investment created by the [Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme] could be up to 60 per cent greater than that committed for infrastructure in this year’s budget,” the report says.

It warns there has been “little consideration of the investment stimulus” that would be created as the economy becomes less greenhouse-intensive.

“This is unfortunate, as discussion of any costs should be balanced with an examination of the opportunities.”

Duh. The only reason the scheme has been delayed in Australia is because the only industries set to lose from its implementation – heavy polluting ones – have lobbied to have it delayed. And they’ve convinced the public with their false dilemma of environment vs jobs. Here’s how the article ends; don’t worry, I’m not spoiling anything for you. Trust me:

Treasury modelling produced for the Government concluded the emissions trading scheme would only have a small net impact on employment.

But the Minerals Council says the mining sector will lose 23,510 jobs over the next decade if a 5 per cent target is adopted.

And, as I’ve written before, punch-card computer operators lost their jobs when technology improved. My question is: um, so?


Written by Gabriel Sassoon

May 24, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Security boon from distributed power generation

leave a comment »

hackersA postscript to this post from a little while ago about distributed power generation: the press recently reported that foreign spies had compromised the security of the US electric grid.

Two things emerge from this. First, I would argue that any move toward decentralising power generation inevitably increases the security of the system. Wind turbines on city streets and solar cells on residential and business roofs will manifestly reduce the load on our presently centralised power generation infrastructure. There are a plethora of ways in which this power generation infrastructure can be radically decentralised, as I’ve previously touched on, which I think will impact positively on our energy security.

Secondly, the article suggests that smart grids, which are a clean technology, increase the risk in the system by opened up more nodes for malevolent actors to infiltrate. I want to qualify this suggestion. While it is certainly true for the current, centralised system that smart grids increase the security risks, it is probably far less true for a more decentralised system. At the present time, if the grid fails in any particular region, all power is lost. However, should we decouple each local council area, even partially, from the main grid – that is, should we reduce our local reliance on the power generated by distant energy generation stations – we reduce the risks that attach to smart grid technology.

It’s my belief that eventually, clean energy technology will allow us to build multiple redundancies into the system. For instance, if your local urban wind turbines run into trouble, backup energy generated by wind farms or other technologies will be available from a broader grid. And vice versa. If the grid goes down in your area, you may still be able to use locally- or individually-generated and stored power – and a smart system may be able to allocate that power on a priority basis until the main grid comes back online. Ultimately, then,  I see cleantech as a potent tool for increasing our energy security.

Written by Gabriel Sassoon

April 12, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Opportunities in the midst of the “crisis”

leave a comment »

CrisisRegarding the global financial crisis (GFC): the Chinese word for “crisis” consists of two characters, which make up the compound word “problem-opportunity”.

While it is true that credit markets have seized up, and that there are undoubtedly rough economic times ahead, it must also be true that the GFC presents a tremendous “problem-opportunity” for those in the cleantech space.

This would in some sense be true even if governments didn’t provide regulatory and other stimuli for the industry. Good technologies and good business will bring the market to them because they will be appealing to the consumer (think Prius), and/or cheaper than legacy technologies and methods (think LPG).

The bonus for the cleantech industry is that governments around the world are banking (so to speak) on cleantech as the new economic driver. As I’ve mentioned previously, the Obama Administration has put its money where its mouth is. Barack is fair dinkum about cleantech. The Australian government is lagging behind, but in the event that the Rudd Government’s Carbon Pollution Reducation Scheme (CPRS) is passed, and some of the other regulatory elements make it through (such as the new renewable energy production target of 20% by 2020), the cleantech sector will probably boom.

We’re still waiting for the first big cleantech success story in Australia, but it will come. In the meantime, I will mention some of the overseas success stories and local hopes in the next couple of posts. Forget the Global Financial Crisis; think of it as a Global Financial Opportunity.

Written by Gabriel Sassoon

April 1, 2009 at 12:33 pm