blogging

Friendly Friday Challenge – Going Green

If you are put off by political-environmental topics you might want to stop reading now. I was ready to post some fun pics of the unique and amazing Banksia plants that I saw yesterday but decided that was a tad ordinary for the prompt Green.

Sandy’s Friendly Friday prompt of Green made me think of Green energy sources, particularly as there have been rumblings about load shedding and power blackouts since the energy regulators here stamped their foot.

Power-saving Measures at Times of Peak Energy Demand

People in my state, ironically called the Sunshine State, are being asked if they can manage their electricity usage by:

  • Considering the number of rooms being heated by air-conditioners
  • Turning off computers, TVs and other household appliances in standby mode
  • Turning off your pool pumps and second fridges

Commercial businesses are suggested to manage their electricity usage by: 

  • Considering the amount of interior and advertising lighting used
  • Turning off water heating systems and urns, except for food and beverage preparation and cleaning
  • Turning off advertising lighting and any unnecessary exterior lighting

Yet the city lights were ablaze in the CBD!

So Who or What Was to Blame for the Power Crisis?

The timing of the announcement of price hikes, potential load shedding and an energy crisis – shortly after a national election – sent my “scepdar” (my sceptic radar) spiking wildly!

This situation must have been obvious prior to the election but was kept from the public? Was there coercion to do so?

The federal energy minister, Chris Bowen, claims the previous Coalition government left behind a “bin fire” that meant Australia was “ill-prepared … for the challenges we are facing today”.

Zero power shortfalls from renewable energy

https://reneweconomy.com.au/five-years-after-blackout-south-australia-now-only-state-with-no-supply-shortfalls/

The above graph, though dated to 2018, is at odds with the former government’s blame-shifting for the power crisis to an over-reliance on renewable energy sources and their hesistancy at decommissioning old coal-fired power stations, but this was in a Pre Covid world and before the Ukrainian war. So ……

What Caused the Energy Crisis in Australia?

An Antarctic blast of cold weather, the war in Ukraine (the reason used for so many things), ageing coal, and Covid restrictions combined to create the ‘perfect storm’ in Australia’s power market, according to the Guardian.

What, I might ask, were those former Government ministers doing to address power shortages up to May 2022?

Did they not foresee a potential crisis, or did they choose to ignore it, thinking that a crisis would play into their hands? Manipulating public opinion to favour building more coal-fired power stations and opening more coal mines and away from renewable or green energy?

If so, what they didn’t factor in was that they would lose the election.

Energy in general has been getting more expensive since about the September 2021 quarter onwards. As economies started to come out of Covid restrictions there was a rush of demand as businesses ramped up and people returned to offices. But Covid also restricted the supply of energy, and if you’ve got the same demand, but less supply, prices will go up.

The Role of Coal Power in Australia’s Power Crisis

Producing coal is cheap in Australia and unfortunately, our country has been reluctant to move away from reliance on its production. Australia still relies on coal to supply electricity, but many coal plants are close to the end of their lifespan, break down and are not maintained. Coal supplies have been affected by the recent summer rains and flooding.

A third of the coal capacity is offline, which has also contributed to rising electricity prices.

And of course, the suppliers do want their money, so they refused to sell extra electric power needed at the ‘capped’ prices the government set, as it meant they would stand to lose money. The cap is to protect the public from price gouging during times of peak demand. (please correct me if I am wrong).

It was a kind of stalemate.

The crisis appears to be averted as the energy suppliers turned on the extra power generation to cover the energy shortfall after they were advised by the Government or regulatory body, that they would be compensated for losing money under the capped prices.

Win-win for them.

And the lights did not go off.

If you have a green energy story or a green photograph for Friendly Friday, join in over at Sandy’s blog.

Because it is better being Green.

Was it Kermit who said that?

44 thoughts on “Friendly Friday Challenge – Going Green”

  1. Great post Amanda and some very relevant points. I often wonder why Australia is not more solar powered with so much sun. I mean whoever heard of a first world country turning off the power to homes!
    I was at home today in Perth WA and the whole suburb lost power for an hour. My 4 yr old grandson said maybe we should ask Siri what to do.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. We all need affordable home batteries. i just heard this morning that the average battery is not matching the demand from households and batteries need to be larger in future…. one hopes the prices for them come down. Perhaps the coal magnates might like to invest in battery manufacture to replace their lost income from coal?

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  2. Kermit said it wasn’t easy being green. He was prescient on that point. It sounds like you have a mess going on. Here’s an observation in general: many times officials in charge of anything enjoy having their problems, that define them, more than they like having solutions. The former are status quo [easy] while the latter require effort [difficult]. Human nature and all.

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    1. Human nature is both curious and terribly frustrating, Ally! No doubt there are politicians that thrive on the attention derived from a problem being highlighted in the media. It raises their profile after all. But it is a tightrope they tread, isn’t it? They could fall off and be blamed as the face of the “mess,” couldn’t they? Perhaps a job description for politicians should incorporate a mandatory requirement of being solution-focused?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It seems a lot of us are trying to do what we can, but have governments who aren’t committed: links with Big Business, no doubt. Until more powerful nations embrace the challenge fully, nothing much will change.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I fear you are right, Margaret. Big business must manage the lion’s share of changes. We can but advocate that they do so. And educate anyone who isn’t yet convinced of the benefits.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Those are amazing plants! I have never seen anything like them.

    I lived in a coal mining area in Wyoming. There were 19 open pit mines surrounding our little town. The mines make a big deal about reclaiming the land when an area is mined out, so that makes it okay. And there are plenty of people dependent on the mines for employment who will happily shoot you if you suggest alternative energy solutions.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You can’t blame the residents of the coal mining towns for hating Greenies. They ruin their livelihoods. It is the same in some towns here, as it was in Tasmania when the Green movement tried to stop logging of pristine forest areas and the construction of dams. Much more compromise is necessary, Zazzy. I just watched a video of David Attenborogh in the 70’s visiting a declining population of mountain Gorillas who lived on the border of three countries and were surrounded by villagers who needed the Gorillas’ land for growing food. The Gorillas were doomed, however today they are thriving. Monetary incentives, derived from tourists visiting the Gorillas, were given to the surrounding villages who received a share of the tourist income in exchange for monitoring and caring for the Gorilla population. The result four decades on is the Gorilla population flourished and the villages became wealthy enough that they no longer needed to farm the land for food. Co-existence between interests can work, but it takes a lot of effort. Perhaps Wyoming isn’t ready for that, just yet?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Much of the state is supported through tourism, Yellowstone, the hot springs, the Bighorn mountains and other ranges, Jackson, the Tetons, and a bit of the black hills and stuff around there. But NE Wyoming is pretty much coal mining. Oh sure, some ranching – ever eat cattle raised on sagebrush? I don’t recommend it. And now another hot button in the green community, fracking. They are reclaiming methane from the oil rigs? Oh, I forgot the oil rigs. So it’s a state with tourism and energy interests and predominately a conservative population.

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        1. Fracking is a hot issue in the coal regions here too. The damage seems to be to the underground water aquifers, on which the farmers and graziers are so utterly dependent.

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    2. As for the Banksias, they are beautiful and unique to Australia with some wonderful adaptations to the environment. Like the seeds in the Banksia cones that germinate after a bushfire goes through, taking advantage of the extra nutrients from the ash in the soil. You have to burn the cone to get the seeds to germinate in the home garden!

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  5. I can hear your frustration Amanda.

    I was surprised to see how much Australia relies on coal but then I wondered how other countries compare. According to this link, the biggest consumers are China (50% world share),India (11%) and US(8%) . However, if we look at it from a per capita basis, Australia jumps to #1 position. It’s no surprise that the biggest producers are China, India, US and Australia.
    https://www.worldometers.info/coal/coal-consumption-by-country/

    I am disappointed with the stats, especially as I’ve been impressed with other recycling initiatives coming out of Australia.

    I’m glad for the possibility of change offered by your new government. I agree with Margaret that individual initiatives for climate change don’t effect much unless there is government and regulatory commitment to change. Actions speak louder than words.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the clarity and providing some stats, Sandy. Much appreciated, although not at all surprising. I was well aware that Australia is the pariah in the world for peddling coal.
      I think you are right that we can’t do much as an individual. But individuals have led to change before. The pressure on Governments is growing but is it growing fast enough. If push comes to shove and people start hurting, as in power blackouts, sympathy for going green might dissipate even more and send people to the extremist politicians, who always have a solution but never a desirable one.

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      1. From what I can see, the countries that consume the most, use coal for generating electricity. Canada is the second largest producer of hydroelectricity in the world and hydro powers 59% of our supply. The rest is generated by natural gas, fossil fuel, coal and uranium. Canada still produces coal but most of it is for manufacturing steel.

        Canada’s status is because of government decisions to replace coal fired power plants with healthier, more enviro friendly options. It started in 2003 with one province, up to today where every province has a goal to eliminate coal fired plants by 2030. I think it’s no coincidence that coal is eliminated when there’s a reasonable alternative.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Such visionary decisions taken by the Canadian government! Well done. No wonder we import Canadian solar panels.
          The air in Canada must be as pure as Norway’s! And Tasmania’s! If only coal was reserved for global steel production until an alternative was found……

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        1. So they are happier if people with solar stay off the grid?
          Up til 5 years ago in Australia, those who contributed solar power to the grid were compensated handsomely, now they are charged- apparently we are using ‘their’ poles and wires- even though we give them all that free solar power.

          Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, we are experiencing a multi-year drought here in the western U.S. that doesn’t appear to have an end. On our recent road trip up California to Canada, we saw the water levels of lakes and reservoirs were very low. Humans can exist without electricity (not that we’d want to) but not without water. So much of the worldwide immigration push is because of drought… and it will get much worse.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Good point about the migration of peoples to more promising areas. If I was one of those people, I would move and look for something more reliable if I was able to. I suppose that is what tribal homosapiens have always done. I wonder if your lack of rain is connected with our abundance of rain this year – you mention western US and I know Western South America often has the opposit of our weather. If we have drought, which is kind of the norm for us, the other side of the Pacific has rain _ El Nino and La Nina – but of course there are other factors at play too, such as deforestation affecting micro-climate. Is that a factor in the Western US droughts, Janis?

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  6. All utilities like electricity were previously run by governments. Since their privatization ‘profit above all’ became more powerful than service.
    Solar power generated get a credit pittance compared with charges, even so, my solar panels will pay for themselves in about 4 years and that is despite the low input price. It is a good return but above all helps our ecology.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We can be satisfied Gerard that we did what we could when we installed solar panels on our roofs. It may not be perfect but we did what we could within our budgetary means. I totally agree about the privatisation of power generation and utilities. The move was supposed to help our economy grow stronger but its has been nothing but a disaster and the consumer pays more.

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  7. The U.S. is already experiencing intense heat waves, especially across the American Southwest where water levels are dropping and droughts are creating health crises. High temperature records are being set almost daily. Another strange anomaly is the string of record high lows, when some nighttime temperatures don’t drop below 80F. In the state of Kansas, for example, an estimated 2,000 head of cattle are estimated to have perished already because of the sudden rise in temperatures.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. You and I, as well as most people with at least half a brain, know that! The globe is truly at the breaking point, and too many are in denial. Aside from a cataclysmic natural disaster – such as a super-volcano eruption – I don’t know what it will take to make humanity stop the madness. Obviously, politics isn’t the answer.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. At the risk of sounding cynically pessimistic, my exasperated mindset keeps thinking the planet needs one of those super-volcano –type of events to keep humanity in check. The more optimistic side of me says we’re making some progress with overall awareness. Acknowledging a problem is the first step to solving it. I believe most of us fully understand we have a serious dilemma with drought and high temperatures and that much of it is due to both the fossil fuel industry and overpopulation. But we’re smart people, Amanda. The key is getting everyone else to comprehend the truth about climate change.

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  8. I think Kermit said “It’s not easy being green” but close enough? 🤣 I think we will just see an increasing number of crisis like these; the world really is in quite a state. it really is quite a daunting consideration. overwhelming even. Nothing to do but whatever we can each day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Near enough is good enough, Ju-Lyn at least when I am quoting a talking soft toy!
      Globally things could be a lot, lot worse, so I am appreciating the good things while preparing for and advocating against the worst.

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