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Australia’s Natural Resources Minister showers lukewarm praise on gas as industry PR masks future doubts | Graham Readfern



Resources Minister Madeleine King’s words must have sounded like a salve for the Australian gas industry.

V last week’s speech in Western AustraliaKing told the resource industry in Perth that gas would be indispensable as Australia and the region were decarbonised.

Gas and LNG have been portrayed as a multipurpose ointment that can help reduce “energy poverty” in developing countries, decarbonise economies, prevent threats to energy and food security, be an economic lifesaver, and a critical ingredient for the metals and minerals needed to build solar panels, batteries and wind turbines.

The government has committed to zero emissions by 2050, and “natural gas will help us reach that goal,” King said at the Resources Technology Showcase.

Is there anything that gas can’t do? Fossil fuels also warm the planet, both when burned and when they leak out as methane, two things King didn’t mention.

So what else?

King told the conference that Woodside’s $16 billion expansion of LNG production from offshore gas in Western Australia “will help customers in Asia move away from higher emission fuel sources.”

“This will support Australia’s reputation as a reliable low emission energy supplier,” she said.

The minister’s bold statement is at odds with the work of the CSIRO, which Woodside has commissioned to answer precisely this question. What impact on emissions will the addition of large volumes of LNG to the markets of Asia and other countries?

CSIRO Report 2019 was technical and came with caveats, but the conclusions were clear. Gas could help reduce emissions if carbon prices or other signals were “strong enough to cause an increase in the share of electricity generation from renewable sources.”

But he added: “Until the price of carbon reaches this level, their impact on emission reductions will be either negative or neutral. Once renewables have reached a high share, additional gas supplies can no longer contribute to reducing emissions.”

economic booster?

King said LNG export revenues are projected “to reach $90 billion in fiscal 2023, providing a significant boost to the economy.”

Madeleine King (left) with Anthony Albanese. Photographer: Lukas Koch/AAP

This is true, and this figure is based on March Report of the Chief Economist.

This year’s revenues have tripled compared to last, but that’s because Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has seen countries scramble for alternative sources of gas and helped gas companies make huge profits.

But the report also said – something King left out of her speech – that as the world’s energy markets are “reorganized,” $90 billion would fall by half to $45 billion in just five years.

Energy poverty versus the climate crisis

“It’s often forgotten,” King said, “but Australia’s coal and gas resources are essential to energy security, stability and security both domestically and in the Asia-Pacific region, and will be for decades to come.”

“In many cases, Australian gas can lift millions of people out of energy poverty,” she said.

This claim that gas can help the developed world out of energy poverty is reminiscent of the thesis that the coal industry developed in the 2010s and then deployed in global marketing campaigns, convincing Australian government ministers to repeat them.

Bruce Robertson, an LNG analyst at the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said: “To reduce energy poverty, it has to be cheap and readily available. LNG is neither one nor the other, and haven’t been for the past few years“.

Solar gas?

Over the past three years, some major Australian heavy industry companies such as BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue have partnered with decarbonization experts to part of the project is funded by the state to understand how they can reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.

In her speech, King said that gas is “essential for energy-intensive projects such as the extraction, enrichment and processing of critical minerals.”

King said: “I repeat: batteries, wind farms, solar panels – they all need minerals, and we will need gas to process these minerals.”

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While fossil fuels do make up a large part of heavy industry, some of the largest mining companies say, unlike King, that they are waiting for change.

On the same day that King delivered her speech in which she stated that gas is needed to produce minerals such as nickel, cobalt, lithium and copper, the companies involved in this three-year project, made a statement.

They wanted the government to work with them to “accelerate development and demonstrate the new technologies needed” to reduce emissions.

“We are ready to take this opportunity and encourage others to join us,” they said in a slightly different tone than King, who on the same day appeared to be stuck on the idea that gas is the only answer.

At the same time, at least one of these companies, Woodside, plans to rapidly expand its fossil fuel production. Controversy all around?

Are the Victorians going off gas?

to “exclusive” history in Australian said last week that “over 60% of Victorians” believe gas should play “an important role in Australia’s transition to net zero carbon emissions”.

The story was based on a survey of 3,000 people “in Melbourne city centre, Melbourne suburbs, Bendigo, Ballarat and Wodonga” conducted by the RedBridge advisory group, commissioned by the Australian Pipeline and Gas Association.

The gas industry is doing public relations, trying to fend off calls for a phase-out of gas in residential buildings.

A press release from Apga shows how two survey questions were asked. Poll expert Emeritus Murray Guth of Macquarie University has some questions.

Guth told Temperature Check that they were written in a way that had “some of the hallmarks of a propaganda poll” and tended to encourage the reader to give “an affirmative answer”.

But judge for yourself.

One question stated: “Prime Minister Anthony Albanese recently said that gas plays a key role in our transition to renewables and will help smooth the transition to renewables. How important do you think the role of natural gas in Australia’s transition to renewable energy is?

According to Apga, responses showed that 63.8% of responses “recognize the importance of natural gas in Australia’s transition to net zero”, although the phrase “net zero” did not appear in the question.

According to Guth, it was a “leading question” that had a “contextual bias”. Respondents had four response options – “very important”, “somewhat important”, “not important” and “not sure”, which, according to Gut, meant that there were two chances to answer positively and only one – negatively.

The second question read: “Renewable gases are produced using natural biological processes or by converting water into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable energy sources. They are zero gases and can be used to replace natural gas in homes and businesses. How do you feel about using renewable gas in your home?”

Guth said the question “seems to have been designed to be answered in the affirmative” and did not point to any shortcomings such as cost.

The gas industry talks about the prospects of “renewable gas” despite the fact that it produces almost nothing. Adding hydrogen to conventional residential gas, experts say, will require either new appliances or modifications once the mix reaches about 20%.

Cosmos Samaras, director of strategy and campaigns at RedBridge, said the survey “used a robust methodology to explore a range of opinions/responses regarding our transition to renewable energy.”

The temperature check asked Apga and RedBridge about other questions that were asked, but none of them answered this question.

Apga said in a statement that it “supports the quantitative study conducted by RedBridge” and is “a strong supporter of a fast transition to zero emissions.”

Guth responded that it was irresponsible to say that commenting on a survey when only two questions were fully disclosed was “playing a game that only the market research firm and its client can win.”

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In 2022, wind and solar power generated a record amount of electricity in the world



Record growth in wind and solar power last year pushed global electricity generation to its cleanest levels, reflecting a renewable energy boom that researchers say could herald “the beginning of the end of the fossil age,” the report says.

An analysis published on Wednesday by independent think tank Ember showed that 12% of global electricity will come from solar and wind in 2022, up from 10% of global electricity generation in 2021.

The report said solar was the fastest growing source of electricity for the 18th consecutive year, growing 24% year on year and adding enough capacity to meet South Africa’s annual electricity demand.

The increase in wind generation, which increased by 17% in 2022, could power nearly all of the UK, the report says.

“We are entering a clean energy era,” said Malgorzata Viatros-Motika, senior power analyst at Ember and lead author of the study. “The stage is set for the wind and sun to achieve a blistering climb to the top. Clean electricity will change the global economy, from transportation to industry and beyond.”

Wiatros-Motyka added: “A new era of fossil fuel reduction means that coal power will be phased out and the end of gas power growth is just around the corner.”

Based on electricity data from 78 countries last year and representing 93% of global electricity demand, the researchers said the analysis provides the first accurate picture of the transition to electricity in 2022.

This shows that over 60 countries currently generate over 10% of their electricity from wind and solar.

It found that renewable energy and nuclear sources combined accounted for 39% of global electricity production in 2022, a new record.

Despite this progress, the researchers said that the rapid development of wind and solar energy is still not fast enough to meet all of the world’s growing electricity needs. Consequently, the report notes that coal and other fossil fuels are covering the remaining deficit, bringing emissions to a new record high.

Last year, coal, the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel, was found to be the world’s largest source of electricity, producing 36% of the world’s energy.

The burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas is the main driving force climate emergency.

“Much more needs to be done to ensure that developing countries are not left behind and stuck in a high-carbon future,” said Damilola Ogunbii, Director-General and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sustainable Energy for All.

Ogunbii said that the fact that coal-fired power remained the world’s largest source of electricity last year confirms that the energy sector is failing to meet zero-emission targets. “The deployment of wind and solar power needs to be significantly and urgently accelerated.”

Ember’s report says 2022 could be the peak year for electricity emissions and the final year of fossil energy growth, with clean energy to meet all demand growth in 2023.

Analysts are forecasting a 0.3% fall in fossil fuel generation this year, with sharper falls expected in subsequent years as wind and solar energy deployment accelerates.

International Energy Agency said last year that the electricity sector must move from being the most emitting sector to becoming the first sector to reach net zero by 2040 — if the global economy is to be decarbonized by mid-century.

For that to happen, Ember analysts say, wind and solar will need to account for 41% of the global energy mix by 2030, a sharp increase from the 12% seen in 2022.

Li Shuo, Greenpeace’s senior policy adviser for East Asia, called China “an 800-pound gorilla when it comes to the global energy sector.”

“This is not only due to the sheer size of China, but also to the alarming development trend of its electricity sector. China is without a doubt leading the way in the global expansion of renewable energy. But at the same time country speeds up approval of coal projects“, Lee said.

“This will not take the country far from true decarbonization. Rapid energy sector reforms are needed to bring the country back to the carbon neutral vision it has set for itself.”

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EHT image of the black hole Messier 87 reconstructed with a new machine learning algorithm



The famous Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) image of the supermassive black hole at the center of Messier 87 has received its first official change thanks to the PRIMO machine learning technique.

The EHT report on black hole Messier 87 reconstructed with a new machine learning algorithm first appeared on Sci.News: Breaking Science News.

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Oil spills in the North Sea exceeded the safe level – activists



Data and satellite imagery show five years of oil spills threatening species such as killer whales.

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