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Analysis and Comment (46)

A tourist train from Sheringham to Holt steams past an offshore wind farm, one of many that have sprung up along the UK coast. A tourist train from Sheringham to Holt steams past an offshore wind farm, one of many that have sprung up along the UK coast. Gerry Balding/Flickr

UK shows how Australia can cut emissions without a carbon tax

Australia’s carbon price has gone – but a UK review released this week shows that to lay the foundations for a low-carbon economy, pricing carbon is far from the whole story. Over recent months, as Australia’s…
Don’t let gas price flare ups catch you by surprise: there are better ways to save your money and energy. Don’t let gas price flare ups catch you by surprise: there are better ways to save your money and energy. Ben Jenkins/Flickr

Don’t get burnt by gas price rises: tips for homes and industry

Gas prices are on the rise, starting tomorrow with a 17.8% increase this year in New South Wales, with other parts of eastern Australia expected to follow in coming years. That means it’s a crucial time…
Without a new deal soon the Green Deal will go from hot to dead cold. Without a new deal soon the Green Deal will go from hot to dead cold. House thermal image by Image Point Fr/Shutterstock

Heat is on for new way to sell Green Deal to householders

Among the UK government’s pronouncements for the new parliamentary session were measures designed to boost zero-carbon home building in order to reap the benefits of lower emissions, lower household energy…
Britain’s Energy Performance Certificate - could do better. Britain’s Energy Performance Certificate - could do better. Grant Wilson/National Grid

Energy efficient homes could help Treasury balance the books

We’ve just been through an unusually mild winter for the UK. Despite the excessive rain and storms, the warmer temperatures meant we’ve needed less energy to heat our homes. This has reduced household…
Keeping it cool: well insulated buildings give nothing away. Keeping it cool: well insulated buildings give nothing away. Passivhaus Institut

Homes are changing too slowly – but you can make your house a superhome

Britain’s homes are responsible for almost a third of the nation’s energy use, despite decades of gradually improving energy efficiency. For the UK to meet its targets for carbon emissions reductions by…
Make one change, cause another - everything’s closely linked. Make one change, cause another - everything’s closely linked. Dominic Lipinski/PA

Drive to improve housing can bring unintended consequences

The UK is one of only a handful of countries that has put in place legally binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, relative to 1990 levels. How the country intends to go about…
Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey hosting the recent G20 finance ministers' meeting in Sydney, a lead-up event to November’s Brisbane Summit. Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey hosting the recent G20 finance ministers' meeting in Sydney, a lead-up event to November’s Brisbane Summit. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

Double or nothing: Australia’s G20 energy challenge

When Australia hosts the G20 Leaders' Summit in November, a top agenda item for its “Brisbane Action Plan” will be “practical actions to improve productivity and competitiveness”. So here’s a good place…
A mini power plant in a North Sydney basement. Trigeneration plants like these generate electricity, heating and cooling far more efficiently than with mains power. A mini power plant in a North Sydney basement. Trigeneration plants like these generate electricity, heating and cooling far more efficiently than with mains power. AAP/Short Communications, Girrit Fokkema

How to save business billions, without cutting renewable jobs

The debate about the future of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) has largely focused on the issue of immediate costs to business. But if we’re thinking about Australia’s long-term economic interests…
A protester makes her feelings clear about the pink batts scheme in 2010. A protester makes her feelings clear about the pink batts scheme in 2010. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Pink batts: what did it teach us about building better buildings?

The political fallout over the ill-fated Home Insulation Program continues, with former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard now having been summoned to appear before the Abbott government’s royal…
Restructuring the market is harder than it looks. Restructuring the market is harder than it looks. David Cheskin/PA

Ofgem faces select committee, but market reform still lags

With high energy prices all anyone can talk about this winter, Ofgem’s interim chief Andrew Wright appeared before MPs today to defend the regulator’s performance. Predictably, he was met with some hostile…
Using less energy costs less. Using less energy costs less. urbansolar

High bills? The cheapest energy is energy we don’t use

What’s the world’s most important fuel, as we head into the 21st century? Oil, coal, gas, renewables? A recent International Energy Agency report stated the most important fuel for the future is energy…
New homes go up at a housing estate at Cecil Hills in western Sydney. New homes go up at a housing estate at Cecil Hills in western Sydney. AAP/Dean Lewins

Why energy-saving homes often use more energy

Energy efficient houses are often thought to be a promising way to reduce our environmental footprint by using less energy and producing fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, surprisingly, if you consider…
Rent is free, but scientists turn your lights on and off and open and close your doors remotely. Rent is free, but scientists turn your lights on and off and open and close your doors remotely. University of Salford

Close doors, boil less water, turn down the heat – save £600

Britain’s housing stock is old and leaky. The vast majority fails to meet modern energy efficiency standards, is responsible for over a quarter of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, and is often very…
Solving energy problems requires more than just putting on a jumper. Solving energy problems requires more than just putting on a jumper. Steve Parsons/PA

Rising energy bills require brave leadership, not cuts

The nights are drawing in, leaves are changing from green to gold, and energy suppliers are announcing price hikes. Along with animals disappearing into hibernation, energy price rises have become what…
If bills are kept low, will there be a price to paid in other ways? If bills are kept low, will there be a price to paid in other ways? Rui Vieira/PA

Miliband bill freeze won’t fix fuel poverty or leaky houses

First the banks lost the public’s trust, then the tax activities of some large corporations were brought under scrutiny. So perhaps taking on the “big six” UK energy companies as household fuel bills incessantly…
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…
An aerial view of the Cononaco River in the Ecuadorian Amazon, with a huge emergent Ceiba tree in the foreground. An aerial view of the Cononaco River in the Ecuadorian Amazon, with a huge emergent Ceiba tree in the foreground.

FactCheck: is protecting global rainforests the best way to rapidly tackle climate change?

“Nothing would do more to rapidly decrease the risk of climate change than a major plan to protect global rainforests” – Opposition climate action spokesman Greg Hunt, media release, 30 August. Launching…
Bricks and mortar, yes, but how much insulation under the tiles? Bricks and mortar, yes, but how much insulation under the tiles? Rui Vieira/PA

Plugging 25 million leaky houses is no small task

The UK has some of the oldest – and leakiest – housing stock in the western world. The vast majority of it will still be standing in 2050, the year by which the government has set itself a target to cut…
Passivhaus homes at Wimbish, Essex. Passivhaus homes at Wimbish, Essex. Mark Baigent

Making homes better for the climate, your wallet and health

In the UK, a third of all the energy used goes towards heating buildings and providing hot water, most of this, a quarter of the total, in homes. The thermal efficiency of UK homes has increased by one…
Keeping the heat in the places you want it is the most important part of any heating plan. Keeping the heat in the places you want it is the most important part of any heating plan. Wunkai/Flickr

How to heat your house efficiently

Winter is coming, and all across the southern states eyes turn to energy bills and minds towards how to make them smaller. What is the most efficient way to heat your house? As with anything to do with…
Making power-hungry datacentres like these more energy efficient is vital. Making power-hungry datacentres like these more energy efficient is vital. Schlüsselbein2007/Flickr

Your next computer can be any colour, so long as it’s green

Do you have a computer on a desk somewhere? Fans whirring, screensaver flickering, left on for days. Would you leave your washing machine running for days? Because over time, a desktop computer draws on…
Australia has so many energy sources to choose from: which way will we go? Australia has so many energy sources to choose from: which way will we go? AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Energy revolution or bloody war – it’s our choice

Running a business in Australia’s energy sector is difficult. Proprietors have to contend with intense competition, rapid technological change, climate change, natural disasters…even complaints about rising…
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…
We are all now used to an international standard of cooling comfort: 22 degrees celsius. We are all now used to an international standard of cooling comfort: 22 degrees celsius. bondidwhat/Flickr

Air conditioning: we need to talk about indoor climate change

For the past few weeks, billboard posters across Doha have promoted the International Climate talks with the < 2°C logo - a reference to the ambition of maintaining average global temperatures less…
Buildings in New York are given an environmental energy rating. Less than 750 buildings in Australia have been similarly rated. Buildings in New York are given an environmental energy rating. Less than 750 buildings in Australia have been similarly rated. L C Nottaasen/Flickr

Why we should be diagnosing the environmental health of buildings

Improving the health of our building operations is one of the most effective, current ways to reduce our impact on climate change. And just as in medicine, being able to diagnose and improve health requires…
The internet of the future could consume 10% of the world’s electricity supply. The internet of the future could consume 10% of the world’s electricity supply. rachel_titiriga

The internet is sapping the world’s energy, so let’s improve it

Despite its new economy sheen, the internet represents a surprisingly large old economy drain on energy resources. Industry and academia must work together to ensure the internet is a positive contributor…
Tony Abbott described the carbon tax as a python that would strangle the economy, but it’s more of a lolly snake. Tony Abbott described the carbon tax as a python that would strangle the economy, but it’s more of a lolly snake. Flickr/anenomeprojectors

Why the carbon-tax ‘python’ won’t squeeze the economy

Some critics of carbon pricing have pointed out that, over time, the carbon price will increase to a much higher level and devastate the economy. Indeed, the image of a python squeezing the life out of…
Other countries laugh at the energy performance of Australian buildings. Other countries laugh at the energy performance of Australian buildings. purplemattfish/Flickr

One small step for government: a national approach to appliance energy efficiency

A mere 26 years after appliance energy labelling was first introduced in New South Wales and Victoria, Australia is about to move to a national legislative framework for appliance energy efficiency. A…
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…
Emissions spiked, thanks to more intensive energy use. Emissions spiked, thanks to more intensive energy use. Louis Vest

The emissions rebound after the GFC: why greenhouse gases went up in 2010

Recessions are not the way to permanently cut greenhouse gas emissions. Global emissions surged during 2010, cancelling out the reductions from the global financial crisis (GFC). Emissions took off in…
Research says Melbourne could benefit from less black. Research says Melbourne could benefit from less black. mugley/Flickr

Cooling the urban heat island with more reflective roofs

Can a whiter roof make your home cooler? What about your whole city? The existing literature and theory suggests that increasing the albedo - or reflectiveness - of a building will reflect incoming sun…
An “eco village” in the UK. With the right policies, energy-efficiency has a future in Australia. An “eco village” in the UK. With the right policies, energy-efficiency has a future in Australia. telex4

How to make home buyers see the value of energy efficiency

Mandatory energy efficiency ratings for houses have been in force in parts of the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe for some time and appear to have gained general acceptance. New homes in particular…
There’s no shortage of hype around thorium, but how justified is the excitement? There’s no shortage of hype around thorium, but how justified is the excitement? AzureGrackel

Thoughts from a thorium ‘symposium’

You have probably heard at least a little about thorium. There are certainly advocates out there who strongly believe it could help solve the world’s energy problems. The idea is that thorium-based nuclear…
Energy production worldwide has become even more reliant on coal. Energy production worldwide has become even more reliant on coal. Joost J Bakker IJmuiden

The emissions juggernaut rolls on, and everybody is on board

DURBAN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE: A paper published yesterday shows global industrial emissions of carbon dioxide, overwhelmingly from fossil fuels, jumped by 5.9% from 2009 to 2010. This is a big increase…
Emoticons may be soon be a feature of your energy bills. Emoticons may be soon be a feature of your energy bills. Flickr/Jessica Tam

It takes energy to smile… the psychology behind smaller power bills

How would you feel if you opened your energy bill and there was a smiley face next to your usage? Or you found yourself being compared to your neighbour? Would this influence you to use less energy? The…
Businesses that talk about maximising the benefits could find the carbon tax is good for them. Businesses that talk about maximising the benefits could find the carbon tax is good for them. Mays Business School

Smart businesses can profit from a price on carbon – it’s all about attitude

For most people, the debate about climate change and what we should do about it is not really based on the science. It’s much more about what they think the implications are for them. Let’s face, it if…
To meet the energy challenge we have to think big. To meet the energy challenge we have to think big. AAP Image/Snowy Hydro Limited

Australia’s low carbon economy: do the heavy lifting here

Today’s carbon navel-gazing by politicians, business leaders and media scribes seems determined to constrain Australia to the stone age of industrial competence, workforce skills and international environmental…
Solar is now a viable industry that should be taken seriously. Solar is now a viable industry that should be taken seriously. AFP Photo/Sakis Mitrolidis

Solar will force coal and nuclear out of the energy business

A solar energy revolution is brewing that will put the coal and nuclear industries out of business. Solar is already reaching price parity with coal in many parts of Australia. In contrast to coal and…
Technology can save fuel and cut emissions, so why not drive more? Technology can save fuel and cut emissions, so why not drive more? me2myself/Flickr

Why tech fixes - even when they’re ‘green’ - can make matters worse

Antibiotics cure many diseases, but also lead to resistant bacteria. The rise of computers, far from inaugurating the paperless office, increased office paper use. The unintended consequences of our actions…
If businesses develop the skills to assess energy efficiency, they could be on a winner. If businesses develop the skills to assess energy efficiency, they could be on a winner. Passivehaus via Wikimedia Commons

Businesses could benefit from efficiency under carbon tax

Being energy efficient has always made financial sense for industry. The introduction of the Clean Energy Future package and a price on carbon makes it even more sensible. But many businesses will struggle…
The power to save money under a carbon tax is in your hands. The power to save money under a carbon tax is in your hands. EssG/Flickr

How households and businesses can become winners from a carbon price

Will paying a price for carbon dioxide emissions make our lives miserable and destroy the economy? No. In fact, the carbon price could make households and businesses better off if they take a few important…
Australia struggles to keep up in the efficiency race. Australia struggles to keep up in the efficiency race. Flickr/adambowie

Australia ignores energy efficiency, burns money

Energy efficiency is globally seen as the biggest and best option for cheaply reducing greenhouse gas emissions and dealing with rising power bills. But in Australia it still struggles for recognition…

Research and News (1)

Research Briefs (12)

Natural gas leaks more than predicted

Natural gas wells in the USA have considerably higher levels of leakage — fugitive emissions — than officials predicted…

How green is your coffee?

A full life cycle assessment of a new brand of coffee with special packaging finds that it lives up to green credentials…

City shadows reveal its energy flow

By calculating the amount of solar radiation reaching streets and buildings, researchers could help optimise the way energy…