The average person might think that a storm strong enough to take out 23 transmission towers and black out a state five times the size of the UK, would spark urgent discussion about climate change.
In part II of this saga, the energy ministers meet together yesterday to address how South Australia could be without power for at least three hours. According to theage.com.au, Climate change wasn’t mentioned at the meeting.
Worse still, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg told the states, renewable energy targets were a bad idea. There is no Federal policy on renewable energy targets. Existing national targets to 2020 are 23.5%. South Australia, under a Labor government, chose to set its own targets and is already producing 40% with a target of 50% by 2025.
Liberal Senator Eric Abetz said yesterday, “With great respect to solar power and wind power, they cannot and will not provide secure base load and that has now been shown in South Australia in a manner that is devastating.” He also stated that as SA sits on 25% of the world’s uranium deposits and the storage of nuclear waste was now safe, that we should look at nuclear power.
Abetz has no respect for renewable energy and for years has been a leader in climate change denial in the Liberal National Coalition government. SA is currently going through a process of community consultation to create favour for permanent storage of low to high level nuclear waste, which is anything but safe. Nuclear power in Australia is not economically viable. Environmental business expert, Paul Gilding says, “I would be very happy to hear of a proven way to use nuclear power without radioactive waste, risk of meltdown, or producing materials that were dangerous in the hands of terrorists or rogue states.”
What annoys me most about Mr Abetz and similar attitudes is the playing down of safety issues and disregard of the environment. No one can clean up a site properly as we have seen with Maralinga, Fukushima and Chernobyl. The storage facility for the waste has a shorter life span than the waste itself. More importantly, why permanently bury something in the ground, that can potentially contaminate the Great Artisan Basin, when the technology for recycling spent rods is not that far into the future?
The most obvious course of action is to look at renewable energy sources with zero emissions that are as safe as possible, and then investing to make sure they work, such as battery storage.
I mentioned in the last post that we haven’t yet reached peak stupid in recognising climate change is an urgent issue. It’s beyond understanding that any action can be undertaken addressing energy supply and transmission while ignoring climate change, in 2016. I don’t know why we fund science and encourage our children to study it at school when we don’t accept international consensus of scientific opinion.
Footnote: On Friday 11th November, Adelaide experienced a storm with hailstones the size of golf balls. I asked my mother if she remembered hailstones that size ever falling in South Australia in her ninety years and she said no, and it’s the kind of thing you would remember.