Sections

Services

Information

UK United Kingdom

Electricity

Analysis and Comment (55)

As early as 2015 China’s use of thermal coal for electricity could peak. As early as 2015 China’s use of thermal coal for electricity could peak. Bret Arnett/Flickr

Ross Garnaut: China to reach ‘peak coal’ for electricity by 2015

China’s use of coal for electricity could peak as early as next year, then decline until 2020 in a turnaround of “global importance”, according to economist Ross Garnaut in a lecture presented at the Melbourne…
While Australians love Michael Leunig’s whimsical ducks, there’s another ‘duck’ pushing your power bills higher. While Australians love Michael Leunig’s whimsical ducks, there’s another ‘duck’ pushing your power bills higher. Used with permission from Michael Leunig

Slash Australians’ power bills by beheading a duck at night

Rooftop solar power has slashed Australians' demand for electricity during the day, but left evening peak power demand largely unchanged. That’s why, as strange as it may sound, we now need to behead a…
The sun is setting on a heavily coal-dependent power sector, a new Climate Council report argues. The sun is setting on a heavily coal-dependent power sector, a new Climate Council report argues. Tao Zero/Flickr

Australia’s ancient electricity sector urgently needs a new plan

It takes 10 years or more to plan, permit, finance and build major new power plants. That means the decisions we make today – or don’t make – will have lasting consequences for generations to come. And…
Alcoa is to close its Point Henry smelter in Geelong. Alcoa is to close its Point Henry smelter in Geelong. AAP

Australian aluminium outgunned by cheap, coal-free global rivals

Alcoa’s decision to close the Point Henry smelter, at a cost of almost 1000 jobs in Geelong and elsewhere, comes amid a perfect storm buffeting Australia’s aluminium industry. Point Henry will be the second…
Taste the current. Taste the current. arselectronica

Explainer: what is a Tesla coil?

Picture a reclusive man, dripping with sweat all night in a dark lab, illuminated only by crackling sparks that periodically leap from enormous machines and cast a purple glow across his face. This was…
Cooling towers at Yallourn, one of Victoria’s major brown coal power generators. Cooling towers at Yallourn, one of Victoria’s major brown coal power generators. Flickr/ccdoh1

Is $15 a year really too much to pay for renewable energy?

Australia’s Renewable Energy Target looks likely to be weakened or even axed, with the Prime Minister saying the scheme needs to be reviewed because it is causing “pretty significant price pressure”. But…
Brisbane’s annual City of Lights show, which is sponsored by an oil and gas company. Brisbane’s annual City of Lights show, which is sponsored by an oil and gas company. Flickr/Wei Lun Koh (some rights reserved)

When will Australians finally stop wasting our energy?

From flicking on a light to travelling around town, our lives are utterly dependent on energy. That’s why it’s so surprising that Australia has been so bad at thinking about our country’s future energy…
Good news! Christmas electricity consumption might surprise. Good news! Christmas electricity consumption might surprise. Malingering/Flickr

What can we learn from looking at electricity use on Christmas day

On Christmas Day in Australia, fewer people are at their paid employment and more working premises are closed than on any other day in the year. How does this affect demand for electricity, widely seen…
Break down the reduction in demand and you’ll find price matters. Break down the reduction in demand and you’ll find price matters. Nicholas Lieby

Why is electricity consumption decreasing in Australia?

Until 2010, for well over a century, through two world wars and the Great Depression, the quantity of electricity used in Australia each year was greater than the year before. In the three years since…
We need more types of electricity in our mix. We need more types of electricity in our mix. Flickr/Chip_2904

Act now on Australia’s power system or pay more later

Australia has a problem with its power system that goes to the core of many issues we’re facing at the moment — increasing coal and gas prices, changing electricity usage, and climate change. That’s the…
The 2011 Tesla Roadster Sports could hit 100 km/h in less than four seconds and be charged from a standard power point. The 2011 Tesla Roadster Sports could hit 100 km/h in less than four seconds and be charged from a standard power point. AAP Image/Tesla

Will electricity save the car?

Cars defined the 20th century … [They] shaped the wars that were fought, the way cities developed and how people and goods were moved around … [As] we look to alternative technologies to fuel more than…
How does the power get from there to here? How does the power get from there to here? alkhodarev/Flickr

Explainer: how does the electricity grid work?

Where would we be without electricity? Assuming that you own a fridge, there won’t be many points in your life when you aren’t making use of it. But what do we mean when we talk about the electricity grid…
Electricity prices, renewable energy, climate change, uranium exports: what does the Coalition plan to do about our energy future? Electricity prices, renewable energy, climate change, uranium exports: what does the Coalition plan to do about our energy future? akeii/Flickr

Where to for energy policy under a Coalition government?

The Coalition has returned to government at a time of uncertainty and rapid change in almost every area of energy policy. With an energy policy released and a responsible minister named, what can we determine…
When it’s hot, the sun is shining. That’s good for solar power. When it’s hot, the sun is shining. That’s good for solar power. Flickr/jimwhimpey

When the sun don’t shine, the power don’t flow … or does it?

Renewable energy seems to be on a roll. One million Australian homes have rooftop solar cells. There’s so much renewable energy it’s reducing wholesale electricity prices. But then, that old chestnut pops…
It’s up to us where Australian energy heads, but we need to understand the options. It’s up to us where Australian energy heads, but we need to understand the options. Maxine Sherrin

What will Australia’s energy future look like?

If things keep going as they are currently Australia’s energy future is pretty clear. By 2030 we will have seen continued energy price rises and we will still be reliant largely on fossil fuels for our…
Over a million Australians are now green electricity generators: how much difference will the shift to an ETS make? Over a million Australians are now green electricity generators: how much difference will the shift to an ETS make? Heidi Blanton

From fixed price to ETS: the complications of reducing emissions

There is little doubt that Kevin Rudd’s plan to bring forward international linking and trading of emission permits is a smart political move. It removes a key option for Tony Abbott. Now Mr Abbott is…
Wind power now contributes 3.8% to the electricity market. Wind power now contributes 3.8% to the electricity market. Flickr/Bush Philosopher - Dave Clarke

Electricity prices fall: renewable energy deserves merit

Let’s be honest: the relationship between renewable energy and the electricity market is complex. So what does the latest report from Australian energy research firm RepuTex tell us? Well, for a start…
Blackouts remind us what life was like before cheap, readily available electricity - but it’s time to think about the true price of our power. Blackouts remind us what life was like before cheap, readily available electricity - but it’s time to think about the true price of our power. Candle in the dark image from www.shutterstock.com/Ronen

Save now, pay later: the hidden costs of lower electricity bills

No lights, no power, no internet - and no easy solutions. Fumbling around in a middle of a blackout, hoping to find a torch or some spare batteries, I was struck by just how utterly dependent most of us…
It is not currently possible to find the energy source sold by any of the licensed electricity retailers in Australia. It is not currently possible to find the energy source sold by any of the licensed electricity retailers in Australia. Flickr/dereckGavey

Do you know how clean your electricity is?

In Europe and America, electricity retailers let their customers know whether their electricity is coming from renewable energy or fossil fuels. In Australia, your retailer has no such obligation. The…
Campaigns to switch off won’t work until they fit in with the ways we already behave. Campaigns to switch off won’t work until they fit in with the ways we already behave. Andrew Huff

Hard habit to break: getting out of our energy wasting ways

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions requires behavioural change. But how do we get individuals into this habit or, for that matter, any habit that reduces energy consumption? Two academic disciplines concern…
New technology - among other things - means our estimates of electricity consumption are based on old ideas. New technology - among other things - means our estimates of electricity consumption are based on old ideas. Meg Lessard

Four years of falling electricity demand: can this continue?

In 2012, National Electricity Market electricity consumption continued its four-year decline. Everyone seems surprised that electricity demand continues to decline despite population and the economy growing…
Electricity prices have been rising rapidly during the past decade. Electricity prices have been rising rapidly during the past decade. Sir Bennikins/Flickr

The PM’s electricity plan: it’s a Band-Aid not a cure

A few days ago, the Prime Minister Julia Gillard foreshadowed a “plan to make sure that families pay $250 less per year for electricity” to be discussed at this Friday’s meeting of the Council of Australian…
History suggests privatisation of the electricity industry is not such a bright idea. History suggests privatisation of the electricity industry is not such a bright idea. Image from www.shutterstock.com

Why we should pull the plug on privatising electricity

Surging power prices are having savage consequences for household discretionary incomes. Some would blame the government’s carbon tax, but the real culprit is price gouging. Judging from the pronouncements…
Yes, Australia gets hot. But let’s investigate some other ways to cool it down. Yes, Australia gets hot. But let’s investigate some other ways to cool it down. John Harvey

Air conditioning is peaking out, time to rethink cool comfort

As the recent Energy White Paper and Senate Committee report confirm, Australia’s electricity prices are going up. The Productivity Commission states that they have risen by 50% in real terms over the…
Australia could soon have millions of small electricity generators. Australia could soon have millions of small electricity generators. absentmindedprof/Flickr

Energy White Paper underestimates solar

The 2012 Energy White Paper has much to commend it. In particular, the far greater acknowledgement of the need to shift to clean energy sources is a fundamental shift from previous White Papers. The emphasis…
Deregulation of the energy retail market will address the current politicisation of energy prices. Deregulation of the energy retail market will address the current politicisation of energy prices. Bes Z/Flickr

Deregulation is crucial for lowering Australia’s electricity costs

The issue of deregulation of the energy retail market is an important one and I think the much-anticipated Energy White Paper, released by Energy Minister Martin Ferguson yesterday, does well to emphasise…
The power we need twice a year is making us pay year-round. The power we need twice a year is making us pay year-round. Andrew J Cosgriff

Explainer: What is peak power and how does it affect prices?

This is the year of electricity prices. Everyone, from the Prime Minister to your favourite barista, is talking about the recent rapid escalation in electricity prices. These increases are a complex story…
The National Electricity Market is in chronic failure mode. The National Electricity Market is in chronic failure mode. Sveter Sveter

Who will hold the balance of power on electricity?

The Senate Select Committee on Electricity Pricing tabled its report in Parliament on November 1. The inquiry found substantial evidence of failures in the rules and operation of the electricity market…
AEMO is modelling the path to 100% renewables. AEMO is modelling the path to 100% renewables. Stefan Gara

Federal Government commissions scenarios for 100% renewables

The Federal Government (presumably under pressure from the Greens) has given the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) the job of coming up with a 100% renewable energy scenario for 2030 and 2050. The…
The role of powerlines in bushfires is raising some pressing issues of climate change adaptation. The role of powerlines in bushfires is raising some pressing issues of climate change adaptation. Paul Hocksenar

Hot issue - bushfires, powerlines and climate change

We have unwittingly hardwired a bushfire ignition source throughout our flammable landscapes – powerlines. Powerlines can fail under any conditions but the risk increases on days of high bushfire risk…
Australian household energy use increased by more than 30% in the past two decades. Australian household energy use increased by more than 30% in the past two decades. ctandjung/Flickr

Electricity and the power of choice - for whom?

Electricity prices are a hot topic. Prices have skyrocketed in recent years and politicians have finally realised that people are struggling to pay energy bills. Power of Choice, an Australian Energy Market…
If closing brown coal power plants is part of the lowest cost mix of emissions reduction opportunities, then they will close without additional payment from the government. If closing brown coal power plants is part of the lowest cost mix of emissions reduction opportunities, then they will close without additional payment from the government. ccdoh1/Flickr

Carbon price is about low-cost emissions reduction, not closing power plants

This week the Australian Government announced that the “payment for closure” element of the Clean Energy Future package would not proceed. The decision has saved taxpayers a multi-billion dollar outlay…
Electricity price rises can be traced to a number of factors. Electricity price rises can be traced to a number of factors. AAP Image

The real cause of electricity price rises in NSW

As the political debate around rising power prices and the carbon tax heats up, there is a renewed debate around the privatisation of electricity distribution in New South Wales. With power prices sure…
The Origin Smart portal provides customers with an estimate of future electricity bills. The Origin Smart portal provides customers with an estimate of future electricity bills. fudj

Is Origin Smart sleepwalking into a shocking personal data breach?

Early last week, Origin Energy, Australia’s pre-eminent energy retailer, launched an online energy-use monitoring portal Origin Smart to much fanfare. All good – but what about the the privacy and security…
Pretty much everyone agrees with Julia Gillard’s assessment of why power prices are up. But there are many views on how to bring them down. Pretty much everyone agrees with Julia Gillard’s assessment of why power prices are up. But there are many views on how to bring them down. Tom Taker

We know why power prices are up, but what should we do?

Mr Abbott has learnt the hard way that the electricity industry is complex and that there is more to rising electricity bills than carbon pricing. Ms Gillard correctly identified rising costs of “poles…
The government should have been addressing electricity arrangements for the last four years. The government should have been addressing electricity arrangements for the last four years. Laurent LaSalle

High time the PM talked power prices, but don’t expect change

The Prime Minister gave a speech on August 7 entitled Electricity prices: the facts. She explained, correctly, that the costs of transmission and distribution (network costs, otherwise referred to as “poles…
Not winning them over… some plain speaking might have helped the Gillard government explain just how the carbon tax will impact on electricity prices. Not winning them over… some plain speaking might have helped the Gillard government explain just how the carbon tax will impact on electricity prices. AAP

Plain speaking on the carbon tax and electricity prices

Confusion continues on how the carbon tax will hit the electricity bills of Australian households. While messages from electricity retailers may be on their way, Gujji Muthuswamy from Monash University’s…
Switching off the beer fridge in the garage when you’re not using it could save you as much as you’ll spend on the carbon tax. Switching off the beer fridge in the garage when you’re not using it could save you as much as you’ll spend on the carbon tax. Keenan Brown

The carbon tax needn’t cost you: easy ways to cut energy costs

If Treasury modelling is right, about half of household carbon cost will be included in energy bills, which are now about 3% of household expenditure. That means the carbon cost on energy adds about 0.3…
Australian researchers are looking for ways to reduce the energy consumption of aluminium smelting. Australian researchers are looking for ways to reduce the energy consumption of aluminium smelting. AAP

The trouble with aluminium

The Australian aluminium industry is in the doldrums. A high dollar, low prices and Asian competition are threatening the industry, with older plants in New South Wales and Victoria under threat of closure…
Smoking is sickening, but coal and coal-fired power stations? Don’t you worry about that. Smoking is sickening, but coal and coal-fired power stations? Don’t you worry about that. AAP/Greenpeace

Something in the air: time for independent testing in coal areas

Tens of thousands of Australians live and work close to coal-fired power plants. The cocktail of gaseous and particulate pollutants arising from coal power generation is injurious to human health. All…
Electricity retailers will have some explaining to do once the carbon price begins. Electricity retailers will have some explaining to do once the carbon price begins. reallyboring/Flickr

Power prices will be the real test of the carbon tax

The first real test of whether the public will accept Australia’s carbon tax will be when electricity bills start landing in peoples’ mailboxes after 1 July 2012. The main issue is that while the carbon…
There’s a lot of carbon in there. There’s a lot of carbon in there. John Tann

Is using native forests for energy really carbon-neutral?

Australia’s forest conflict gets easier to solve as every day passes. In reality, the conflict will solve itself if the government can just resist reviving the environmentally and economically inferior…
India has ambitious plans to expand nuclear power. India has ambitious plans to expand nuclear power. Truthout.org

How will Australian uranium affect India’s energy mix?

Earlier this week, the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard indicated she wants to reverse the ban on selling uranium to India. India’s government has welcomed the idea. Australia has close to 40% of…
Environmentalists are getting off the streets and into the courts in an effort to stop coal. Environmentalists are getting off the streets and into the courts in an effort to stop coal. Takver

Dragging coal through the courts: an alternative emissions-reduction strategy

The bill creating the carbon price has passed through Parliament. However, the campaigning efforts of the environmental lobby will not pause. More than ever, the coal industry is in its sights, with court…
Microbial fuel cells: a bit of mud or sewage, a few bacteria and, bingo: electricity. Microbial fuel cells: a bit of mud or sewage, a few bacteria and, bingo: electricity. engineering for change

Mud power: how bacteria can turn waste into electricity

When you read the word “bacteria” you probably think about illness, advertisements for “probiotic” food supplements, and maybe about brushing your teeth. Chances are, you probably don’t think about electricity…
Future demand for electricity is hard to determine, but one thing’s for sure: prices will rise. Future demand for electricity is hard to determine, but one thing’s for sure: prices will rise. freefotouk

Power prices rising, time for politicians to act

On August 31, the Australian Financial Review reported that “Power-hungry states face energy shock”. Another article on page ten read “Electricity price explosion predicted”. So, what is going on? Should…
Australia’s switching off, but for how long? Australia’s switching off, but for how long? Andrew Huff/Flickr

Powering down - has Australian electricity consumption hit its peak?

A number of recent reports have documented an unprecedented decline in electricity consumption. The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Research Economics, in its 2011 Energy Update, shows a decline…
Fossil fuel power generation doesn’t look like a great investment. Fossil fuel power generation doesn’t look like a great investment. jon hanson/Flickr

Increasing electricity prices: watt’s the culprit?

New fossil-fuel power plants that nobody wants to pay for, electricity companies saying power prices will go through the roof: the economy of generating electricity is a complicated business. Last week…
Is paying for power lines pushing up bills? Is paying for power lines pushing up bills? AAP

What’s really pushing up the price of power?

Household electricity bills are rising and about half of a typical bill goes to paying network costs. Are we paying too much for network infrastructure? Electricity networks are undeniably important. They…
Battery-operated cars can plug a quickly emerging gap in the market. Battery-operated cars can plug a quickly emerging gap in the market. Thomas Bräunl

Why electric cars are in pole position

With global warming, carbon trading and record-high petrol prices in the news, not to mention the ever-looming spectre of peak oil, we need to find an environmentally sustainable and socially acceptable…

Research and News (2)

Research Briefs (14)

Waste battery heat converted to electricity

New technology allows researchers to capture low temperature (below 100C) waste energy from batteries. Researchers at Stanford…

Does turning cow poo to power pay?

Studies have estimated that converting manure from the 95 million animal units in the United States would produce renewable…