Three global fossil fuel giants have just suffered embarrassing rebukes over their inadequate action on climate change. Collectively, the developments show how courts, and frustrated investors, are increasingly willing to force companies to reduce their carbon dioxide pollution quickly. A Dutch court ordered Royal Dutch Shell to slash its greenhouse emissions, and 61% of Chevron shareholders backed a resolution to force that company to do the same. And in an upset at Exxon Mobil, an activist hedge fund won two seats on the company’s board. The string of wins was followed in Australia on Thursday by a court ruling that the federal environment minister, when deciding whether or not to approve a new coal mine, owes a duty of care to young people to avoid causing them personal injury from climate change. The court rulings are particularly significant. Courts have often been reluctant to interfere in what is viewed as an issue best left to policymakers. These recent judgements, and others, suggest courts are more prepared to scrutinise emissions reduction by businesses and – in the case of the Dutch court – order them to do more. Court warns of ‘irreversible consequences’ In a world-first ruling, a Hague court ordered oil and gas giant Shell to reduce CO₂ emissions by 45% by 2030, relative to 2019 levels. The court noted Shell had no emissions-reduction targets to 2030, and its policies to 2050 were “rather intangible, undefined and non-binding”. The case was brought by climate activist and human rights groups. The court found climate change due to CO₂ emissions “has serious and irreversible consequences” and threatened the human “right to life”. It also found Shell was responsible for so-called “Scope 3” emissions generated by its customers and suppliers. The Chevron upset involved an investor revolt. Some 61% of shareholders supported a resolution calling for Chevron to substantially reduce Scope 3 […]
A new Hydrogen Industry Mission launched today by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, will help support the world’s transition to clean energy, create new jobs and boost the economy. Hydrogen, when mixed with oxygen, can be used as an emissions-free fuel source to generate electricity, power or heat. But it is expensive to turn into a fuel. The research mission will help drive down the cost of hydrogen production to under $2 per kilogram, making the fuel more affordable and helping to position Australia to lead the world in exporting hydrogen by 2030. Over the next five years, more than 100 projects worth $68M have been planned by partners including: Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER), Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) , Fortescue Metals Group, Swinburne University, the Victorian Government, the Future Fuels CRC, National Energy Resources Australia (NERA), and the Australian Hydrogen Council, along with collaborators Toyota and Hyundai. CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said the unique mission-based partnership was the key to creating a new industry for the future energy needs of Australia and the world. “Australia can become a renewable energy leader through the production, use and export of hydrogen, but it will only become a reality if we breakthrough the $2/kg barrier. That needs Australia’s world class science working with CSIRO’s commercialisation expertise turning breakthrough science into real-world solutions,” Dr Marshall said. “Taking a Team Australia approach is essential to creating the 8,000 jobs and $11 billion a year in GDP that hydrogen can contribute to Australia’s economy as we build back better from the impacts of Covid-19.” CEO of the Australian Hydrogen Council Dr Fiona Simon said the Mission came at a critical time for the emerging Australian hydrogen industry. “We need a coordinated series of investments in industrial-scale research and demonstration activities, […]
First public viewing of SEA electric-branded trucks sets framework for company’s growth in global electrification. The recent Brisbane Truck Show held a significant presence for global automotive technology company SEA Electric, showcasing the first-ever public appearance of a full range of operational-ready electric trucks utilising proprietary SEA-Drive power systems, new SEA Electric branding, and the announcement of senior global leadership taking the company’s helm throughout the Asia Pacific region. SEA Electric is bringing electrification solutions and opportunities to nearly every corner of the globe, and in the United States it has added further assembly capacity, creating the current potential for approximately 60,000 units per annum. Further U.S. assembly, including in the area of batteries, is expected in the near future. According to SEA Electric President and Founder Tony Fairweather, SEA Electric has not only created a low-cost delivery solution, but equally meaningful it has developed a medium voltage/lightweight power system with performance outcomes that exceed the internal combustion engine equivalent. “Our own SEA-badged trucks – including the SEA 300 and SEA 500 in Australia – are derived from OEM Semi Knock-Down kits, creating further efficiencies to pass on to our customer base whilst supporting rapid OEM expansion into this segment,” said Fairweather. The product showcased in Brisbane sets the framework for SEA Electric to seamlessly fold into OEM dealerships and fleets, bringing forth both new and repowered electrification options. The current three medium-size EV truck models are sold through a dozen authorised dealers in Australia, while more than 220 U.S. dealers are available to support the North American market needs. SKD Assembly Provides Solutions Efficiency Semi Knock Down (SKD) Assembly Operation – creating SKD ‘Glider’ kits – a first-of-its-kind three-way process begins with the cab,frame rails, wheels and axle components arriving in Australia, within containers from Japan, and upon arrival […]
Peter Martin, Visiting Fellow, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University Not long ago it seemed as if the future was going to get better and better — not long ago at all.The high point was around 2005, fifteen years ago. I don’t know if you can remember how you felt at the time, but for me the surge in living standards, driven by an ever-building surge in output per working hour (“productivity”) suggested things were building on themselves: each new innovation was making use of the ones that had come before to the point where…. Ray Kurzweil, now the director of research at Google, summed it up in a book released in 2005 itself, titled The Singularity Is Near. Singularity was “a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed”. Changes would build on each other to the point where everything changed at once. Kurzweil dubbed it the “law of accelerating returns”. Year by year in the leadup to 2005, Australia’s productivity growth had accelerated to the point where in the 15 years to 2005 it had grown 37%. If it kept accelerating… In the 1930s economist John Maynard Keynes foresaw “ever larger and larger classes and groups of people from whom problems of economic necessity have been practically removed”. On average the working week might fall to 15 hours. In the 1970s, futurologist Alvin Toffler spoke of a four-hour working day. And then from 2005 on productivity growth collapsed. In the 15 years since, Australia’s output per working hour (productivity) has grown by just 17%. Thirty seven per cent turned out to be the high point. And not only here. In the United States and other developed economies productivity growth is divided into “before 2005” when it […]
By Peter Hartcher, Political Editor, Sydney Morning Herald How Australia woke up to China’s challenge – and what comes next What does China want from Australia? In this incisive and original book, Peter Hartcher reveals how decades of economic dependence left Australia open to the strategic ambitions of the most successful authoritarian regime in modern history. He shows how ideology, paranoia and Xi Jinping’s personal story have reshaped China, and shines new light on Beijing’s overt and covert campaign for influence – over trade and defence, media and politics. Australia has now woken up to China’s challenge, from passing foreign interference laws to banning Huawei from our 5G network. But at what cost? Will we see a further slump in relations? How best to protect our security, economy and identity? Drawing on interviews with Scott Morrison, Malcolm Turnbull and other key policymakers, as well as leading Sinologists and a rare interview with Australia’s spy chief, Red Zone is a gripping look at China’s power and Australia’s future.
The new Siemens – RMIT Digital Energy TestLab is the only one of its kind in Victoria, giving students and researchers the ability to simulate intelligent electrical systems for smart cities including national and local energy grids. Harnessing the power of data analytics, IoT, simulation and the same hardware and software being used by new generation national networks, the future energy workforce can test and model real-world scenarios and optimise energy systems for smart cities. This new initiative is an extension of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by RMIT, Siemens and Festo last year with the mutual aim of driving industry and workforce transformation said Jeff Connolly, Chairman and CEO of Siemens in Australia. “I’m really proud to continue to work with RMIT and other Australian key educators to help drive better outcomes for the nation on critical topics such as digitalisation and energy. Gone are the days of siloed responsibilities between educational institutions and industry. “If employers want better outcomes from universities, then they need skin in the game in terms of collaborating on curriculum and tools for educators and researchers,” said Mr Connolly. Deputy Vice-Chancellor of RMIT’s STEM College and Vice President Digital Innovation Professor Aleks Subic welcomed this strategic partnership, saying that it opens new education and research pathways to one of the nation’s most critical topics – the future of energy for smarter and more sustainable cities. “Energy impacts every industry and every home in Australia. Our cities need smarter energy grids and systems that support our sustainable development agenda. Digital energy systems demand new digital skills,” Professor Subic said. “With a growing mix of energy types coming into the market, we’re focused on developing new technological solutions and new workforces to help progress our economy through Industry 4.0 towards a more sustainable future. “By […]
Renewable energy may have been a loser in the Federal Budget, but businesses in the manufacturing sector are investing in solar to save on power bills and using the savings to innovate and increase production. These solar winners are demonstrating how to improve the bottom line, increase profit margins and become more sustainable at the same time. Thomas Bell, Sales Director of world-leading solar solutions provider Energus, commented that manufacturers are rapidly embracing solar which is the world’s cheapest form of energy. Energus is a world-leading solar-solutions provider which has helped over 200 businesses, schools and community organisations across NSW convert to solar and save big on their energy bills. Two of these businesses are Motion Asia Pacific based in Chullora and Cooks Confectionery in Shellharbour, both of which have been able to use the savings to innovate and invest in their operations. Cooks Confectionery is one of Australia’s leading confectionery companies, which supplies premium quality chocolate, toffee and nut products to wholesalers, supermarkets, convenience stores, service stations and other retail outlets Australia-wide. In July 2020, Cooks Confectionery engaged Energus to install a 70kw solar energy system on the roof of its 1000 M² property, which led to a huge reduction in energy costs, enabling the company to double its shifts. “We effectively doubled production without increasing our energy costs,“ said Cooks’ Managing Director, Daniel Lezcano. Bell said, “We were very pleased to see that the huge reduction in energy costs enabled the company to double its shifts. Even with the introduction of the second shift and operations spanning from 6 am to 10 pm, the company’s energy bill stayed the same, thereby saving them $10K/quarter.” Given that the production of chocolate is high in energy use with the need to refine it for 10-12 hours, motors on for the […]
The world’s first test of a 30% natural gas/hydrogen blend in the forging processes used in industrial steelmaking has been held in Rho (province of Milan), at the Forgiatura A. Vienna plant. The trial involved the use of the hydrogen/gas mix to heat the furnaces of the Forgiatura A. Vienna plant and was successfully carried out on site after a series of studies and laboratory tests lasting about a year. The companies involved in the initiative were: Snam, one of the world’s leading energy infrastructure companies and developer and promoter of the project; RINA, a multinational inspection, certification and engineering consultancy, which handled the engineering analyses and laboratory phase; and GIVA Group, a global leader in steelmaking, which made Forgiatura Vienna available for the field test. The blend of methane and hydrogen was supplied by Sapio, an Italian company specialising in the production and marketing of industrial and medical gases. Marco Alverà CEO of Snam said “In the medium to long term, hydrogen is in a position to become the solution for decarbonising steelmaking as well as all hard-to-abate industrial sectors that have a fundamental role in our economy. “This trial is a preparatory step to the gradual introduction of zero-emission hydrogen, initially blended with natural gas and then in pure form, in certain steelmaking production processes. “Snam intends to make its infrastructure, research and expertise available to contribute to the creation of a national hydrogen supply chain and to the achievement of domestic and European climate targets”.
With international pressure mounting on Australia to commit to more substantial action on climate change, Budget 2021-22 was an opportunity — coupled with a once-in-a-generation social license to spend strategically to ‘build back better’ — to set out the government’s strategy towards addressing these concerns. So what’s in the budget for the Circular Economy? Materials & recycling New funding for waste and resource recovery initiatives was a very modest $78 million. This was not unexpected after last year’s budget announcement of a historically significant ($250m) boost for Australia’s recycling infrastructure. The bulk of new funding has been directed towards diverting organic waste from landfill (thus also addressing emissions reduction). Recycling. The Government is investing $11 million to support Australia’s recycling industry, including an additional $5.9 million over four years from 2021-22 for the National Product Stewardship Investment Fund and $5 million over three years from 2021-22 to help small businesses adopt the Australasian Recycling label. Organic waste. The Government is investing $67 million over four years from 2021-22 to enhance organic waste facilities and support community education to reduce food waste going to landfill. This includes: $59.8 million to deliver grants in partnership with states and territories through a Food Waste for Healthy Soils Fund to enhance existing organic waste and processing infrastructure and make better use of this resource. $7.2 million to deliver a community and education program on the benefits of processed organic waste. NSW Circular welcomes these recycling and organic waste initiatives including the Food Waste for Healthy Soils. A similar grants program for textiles is urgently needed to tackle textile waste. Australia is ranked second in the world for textile disposal. Households account for nearly 90% of our textile waste. As a nation we threw away some 300,000 tonnes of textiles in 2018- 19. Of this, over 90% […]
Christchurch-headquartered cryocooler developer AFCryo in conjunction with Clean Power Hydrogen (CPH2) has unveiled its Green Hydrogen Production System to provide a cheaper and more reliable way of generating green hydrogen from renewable sources for refuelling transport, generating power and industrial use. The revolutionary system, which splits water into pure hydrogen and medical grade oxygen without the polymer membrane used in common electrolysers, combines AFCryo’s world-leading cryogenic technology for gas separation and hydrogen liquefaction with unique and patented Membrane-Free Electrolyser technology from UK manufacturer CPH2. AFCryo and CPH2 have signed a landmark agreement to collaboratively develop and market the on-demand green hydrogen and oxygen production system. AFCryo is set to ship its first production unit to CPH2 in the UK, for integration with its electrolyser technology, for a commission to deliver Ireland’s first 1MW (megawatt) electrolyser-based system to produce pure hydrogen and oxygen. Christopher Boyle, Managing Director and co-founder of AFCryo, says the company is on a mission to add hydrogen to the global energy network to help governments, businesses and energy consumers reach bold emission reduction targets. “Hydrogen is one of the most scalable and viable options we have to help us make the energy transition to a lower-carbon economy. By joining forces with CPH2, we’ve created a faster, more reliable and more cost-effective renewable energy hydrogen production system. Importantly, the oxygen, considered a bi-product of the hydrogen production system, is pure enough to be captured for use in industry or injected into existing waste-water systems to improve the aerobic process.” Boyle says government and industry investment in the hydrogen economy is critical to achieving global decarbonisation goals. “This technology is ready to help transport networks and industries globally transition to hydrogen to help achieve zero-carbon targets. “In New Zealand, an immediate opportunity is to turn the hydrogen refuelling network […]