Running out of power – so let’s use less

SMH: We’re running out of power (on the front page of today’s broadsheet).

NSW faces blackouts and skyrocketing electricity prices within five years unless it increases supply, the national energy market regulator has warned.

The article does not take into consideration the most cost-effective method for avoiding the need to increase supply – using less energy.

WWF recently put out a report A prosperous low carbon future. It shows how energy efficiency is one of a potent and immediately actionable technique for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But it has a flow-on benefit: less use means the existing (and future) supply goes further.

Long enough, at least, until renewable energy technologies come into play, and as existing coal-fired power stations begin to be decommissioned.

Of course Costello has jumped on the nuclear band-wagon again. “They’ll be ready in as little as 10 years time” he says (paraphrased). We have solutions now – solar, wind, gas-fired power (which has significantly less emissions than burning coal and is suitable for base-load power) – all these technologies exist today and can meet a significant portion, if not all, of our energy requirements.

We can start reducing our emissions today, not in 10 years, while still meeting demand. I really wish that message was getting as much play as nuclear. Better still – put a price on carbon and let the market decide… I’m confident non-nuclear options will win in the end.

Disclosure: I work for WWF-Australia. The views expressed here are my own, and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

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