How Australia Will Adapt To A Decarbonizing World Was Prime Of Thoughts For Oz Webinar Attendees

Not way back, I had the chance to speak with a number of hundred contributors in an Australian Good Power Council webinar. It was organized to use my uncommon timezone alignment with Oz as I spend a couple of weeks in New Zealand as a digital nomad. Many extra signed up, anticipating to take heed to the recording later. That recording is below the hyperlink within the opening sentence, by the way in which.

The organizer Steve Blume, former President of the Council, and I believed it will be helpful to reply many of the dozens of questions in articles and share with the registrants as nicely. That is the fourth of some articles with responses, which can be aggregated and shared by the Council as nicely for contributors. The primary article was on aviation and maritime transport questions, the second coated biofuels and HVDC , the third handled hydrogen and the fourth with fossil fuels.

The framing of my ready remarks was the Radical Electrification of Transportation. I’ve revealed loads on the topic as I’ve dug by way of most modes over the previous 15 years.

Intro slide to Michael Barnard presentation to Australian Smart Energy Council webinar

Intro slide to Michael Barnard presentation to Australian Good Power Council webinar

To summarize my presentation, all floor transportation will electrify. That’s automobiles, vans, buses, utility automobiles, trains, and mining automobiles. All inland transport and two-thirds of brief sea transport will electrify, with solely the longest routes requiring biofuels. Transport and rail will even drop in tonnage as a consequence of elimination of bulk fossil fuels from hundreds. Aviation can be disrupted by electrical regional air mobility, autonomous flight, and digital air site visitors management, and solely trans-oceanic flights would require biofuels in 50 years.

Which means the billions of tons of fossil fuels per yr requirement for extraction, processing, refinement, and distribution are going away and being changed by tens of hundreds of thousands of tons of know-how metals comparable to lithium and cobalt, in addition to a couple of hundred million tons of biofuels for aviation and maritime transport. That’s all very doable.

The ready remarks skimmed over all of that in half-hour or so, leaving far too little time for questions, and so I’ve chosen to reply to most of them in writing.

Politics & Geopolitics

Have you ever factored main worldwide disruptions into your mannequin to 2100, e.g. pandemics, geo-political conflicts?

Probably not, no. On the decade-by-decade stage, that’s principally noise. COVID had a a lot bigger impression than virtually anything, nevertheless it was dwarfed by the rise of China’s manufacturing and demand since 1990. Every part else is nicely under the extent of COVID’s impression.

My projection assumes a couple of issues round main geopolitics. The primary is that we received’t be stupidly entering into large scorching wars between superpowers. China and the USA received’t be coming to blows, Russia can be constrained to its borders greater than not, and North Korea will proceed to be remoted and impoverished. Fixing the issues with rogue states is a multi-decadal effort by itself, however a rounding error globally.

World commerce will proceed regardless of noises about decoupling. There can be some symbolic decoupling and recreation of regional North American and European mineral extraction, processing and manufacturing, however absurd quantities of all of that come right down to China persevering with to have vital buying energy and Wright’s Regulation benefits which western nations are going to be actually challenged to beat.

Pandemics will come and go, however having had a contemporary COVID, each nation is vastly extra ready for the following COVID, no matter that can be. Having helped construct the world’s most refined outbreak and communicable illness administration resolution within the aftermath of SARS, I merely level to SARS, H1N1, Ebola, and COVID as regular occasions, with COVID being the one which broke by way of to vital world impacts. Pandemics are enterprise as normal with some being greater and decrease impacts, and attempting to foretell which decade they could happen in shouldn’t be a helpful train. 

I do see China’s large infrastructure build-out coming to an finish, which suggests a really large change in demand for lots of drugs. I see India’s and Africa’s rise being slower than China’s for a wide range of causes, so the demand curves aren’t practically as robust. I see a lot higher downward pressures on transferring good and other people as we worth carbon emissions holding on till we begin actually reaping the advantages of low-cost, environment friendly renewables, transmission and storage making power actually low-cost, and battery power chemistries being in place to essentially exploit that. 

My curves do lean into demographic shifts which might be eliminating inhabitants progress. The UN’s projections are nonetheless peak inhabitants in 2100, however different very credible demographics organizations are projecting far more fast peaks, in 2070 and 2050. Personally, I discover the extra optimistic projections to be extra possible. The large inhabitants progress from 1960 onward goes to be flat, and that’s going to have a big impact on demand curves.

Rising affluence will proceed, however so will rising alternate options to flying. Witness the soon-to-be 50,000 km of high-speed electrified passenger rail in China. And except Africa and India repair governance, the deep inequity will proceed to go away solely a small proportion of wealthy individuals capable of fly.

My demand curves for the final 25 years of the century are much more nebulous than those for the previous a long time. Meals for thought and argument, not one thing to be thought-about remotely dependable.

Primarily based in your modeling, what are the optimum options for power importing economies comparable to South Korea and Japan to fulfill their decarbonization targets?

Identical as all over the place else. As a lot onshore wind and photo voltaic as there may be good useful resource for. Ditto offshore wind, which each nations have numerous room for in territorial waters. HVDC cables in all instructions. Israel is getting related to Europe with a 1,200 km undersea HVDC cable, so the 90 km from Japan to South Korea and the 350 km from South Korea to China are trivial distances. Pumped hydro the place there may be useful resource availability (and there’s tons) and batteries for a bunch of the remainder. Power interconnection much more than power importing.

Transferring molecules for power isn’t obligatory sooner or later when utilizing renewable electrical energy straight is a lot extra environment friendly and it’s low-cost and straightforward to generate renewable electrical energy. The transition can be fraught, however what transition isn’t?

Technically and economically, electrifying most issues is sensible to many. There are communities that won’t agree with this strategy, significantly if they don’t see particular person or group profit, which then has an affect in politics. How can we overcome or take care of the opposition to large electrification?

Two issues are going to kick resistance to the curb. The primary is European management. It stays the second or third greatest financial system on the planet relying on the place you draw the boundaries, does large commerce with each different financial system on the planet, and it’s going to start out pricing carbon at its borders in 2026 with the carbon border adjustment mechanism. That’s based mostly on its cap and commerce emissions buying and selling scheme, one thing similar to California’s and China’s. Chinese language enterprise executives are nicely conscious of this, as I used to be unsurprised to seek out when presenting to a gaggle of them in Dalian close to Beijing just lately on Europe’s decarbonization plans.

The European carbon worth has been butting up towards €100 for a few years, is seeing increasingly commodities and industries swept into it, is seeing fewer and fewer grants of entitlements like these to aviation and can proceed to extend in worth. Jurisdictions with out carbon costs can be more and more uncompetitive in European markets. On condition that China has a carbon worth and it’s going to see the identical trajectory as Europe’s, which financial system on the planet goes to take a look at that and say that they aren’t going to decarbonize?

The second cause is China. It’s the solely scaled producer of a really giant proportion of the applied sciences required to decarbonize, from electrical automobiles to wind generators to photo voltaic panels to batteries. And since it’s massively scaled, these applied sciences are more and more low-cost to purchase, and since these applied sciences are so environment friendly and low-cost to function, they’re strongly most popular coming and going by consumers globally. I do know Goldwind has a powerful presence in Australia’s wind power as an acquaintance works for them, for example.

China can also be approaching a tipping level the place its financial system goes to decarbonize quickly. It’s electrifying its financial system vastly extra quickly than some other nation on the planet and it’s constructing extra low carbon technology, transmission and storage than any nation on the planet. Sure, it’s constructing coal crops to stability the grid, however they’re operating at 55% capability components and that proportion will decline quickly within the coming years as they get shut down as a result of they’re unneeded.

Amongst different issues, China simply launched a 1,000 km route Yangtze electrified small container ship with swappable containerized batteries, and is about to launch one other. They’re going to electrify all of their large inland water freight simply as they’ve electrified most intercity freight and passenger miles with high-speed rail and most buses and vans with battery electrical automobiles. Business is coming subsequent, and will probably be blindingly swift as nicely. 

Decarbonizing electrical energy system: What’s the more than likely lengthy period storage the place pumped hydro shouldn’t be an choice, e.g. West Australia?

Nicely, West Australia has much more pumped hydro useful resource off protected land and close to transmission than you assume, I think. The hyperlink is to the ANU pumped hydro atlas. There’s fairly a bit, nevertheless it’s not within the inside.

However I fee redox circulation batteries because the lengthy period storage resolution that can be greatest after pumped hydro.

On value-added minerals processing & recycling, what’s your recommendation on Australia’s potential engagement with China to be taught on what they’ve been doing on this? Any examples of collaboration in LATAM, AFRICA, ASEAN Australia ought to pay attention to?

My steering can be considerably trite and superficial on this as there’s a deep historical past between the 2 nations that I’m solely considerably conscious of. Amongst different issues, I used to be stunned to seek out that the earlier federal administration really canceled Victoria state Belt & Highway Initiative agreements. 

That stated, there are some apparent issues to do. Lean into the truth that China is Australia’s greatest bi-lateral buying and selling associate. Lean into the truth that Australia is a part of APAC, not the west, no matter historical past. Work with ASEAN companions to establish the best contacts. Leverage present mineral extraction relationships with China to hunt out potential data sharing alternatives. Set up joint Chinese language-Australian analysis packages between Chinese language and Australian companies. Invite Belt & Highway Initiative efforts to determine minerals worth add together with iron manufacturing with inexperienced hydrogen created with Chinese language electrolyzers.

As I stated, trite and apparent. Additionally actually exhausting to do gracefully within the bizarre political local weather for the time being.

Relating to different geographical examples, I don’t have good ones to share, I’m afraid. It’s an fascinating query although, so I’ll concentrate and hopefully discover some.

What’s your view of the battery price curve going ahead? Plainly price reductions have slowed lately, or has this been a short-term impact as a result of demand is rising quicker than new provide can ramp up?

That’s a market demand vs provide bump. What’s going to occur is what has occurred for the previous twenty years, which is that battery power capability will go up for a similar worth and weight level. Additional, the upper market worth for Li-ion signifies that different chemistries that are appropriate for different market segments, like grid storage, have an actual alternative to maneuver. 

Batteries include loads of totally different parts, and most new chemistries like LFP and silicon chemistries that use cell-based batteries can leverage the economies of producing scale of that lithium-ion has created. Pouch-based batteries can acquire the benefits that the laptop computer and smartphone industries created. That’s a degree Vincent Pluvinage, CEO and co-founder of silicon nanowire innovator OneD Battery Sciences made to me just lately after we spoke.

New chemistries with nicely differentiated traits can get to market at a less expensive worth level far more rapidly than was beforehand potential.

And so, one other set of Australian questions on decarbonization, electrification of transportation, hydrogen, and the way forward for Australia’s position on the planet requested and answered.


I do not like paywalls. You do not like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Right here at CleanTechnica, we applied a restricted paywall for some time, nevertheless it at all times felt flawed — and it was at all times robust to determine what we should always put behind there. In concept, your most unique and greatest content material goes behind a paywall. However then fewer individuals learn it! We simply do not like paywalls, and so we have determined to ditch ours.

Sadly, the media enterprise remains to be a tricky, cut-throat enterprise with tiny margins. It is a endless Olympic problem to remain above water and even maybe — gasp — develop. So …