Back in the heady, long-gone days of 2009, The Oil Drum web log hosted a discussion about Australia being highly vulnerable to oil shortages :-
“Aleklett: Australia highly vulnerable to oil shortages : June 11, 2009 : ASPO International president, Professor Kjell Aleklett of the Global Energy Systems group at Uppsala University has been in Australia over the past week, presenting lectures in Adelaide and Sydney on peak oil…warned that Australia will be one of the first countries hit hard by oil shortages as oil production peaks within the next three years. Kjell Aleklett, a physicist from Uppsala University in Sweden, says Australia’s relatively underdeveloped public transport system leaves the country more vulnerable to a downturn in energy production. “Australia is very sensitive to such developments,” Professor Aleklett told the Herald. “Much of your industry and transit is dependent on oil, and supplies will decline.” Professor Aleklett addressed the NSW [New South Wales] electric car task force and the Federal Government’s Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics yesterday…”
One commentator to the discussion, Neil1947 said this :-
” Neil1947 on June 11, 2009 : Since Australia is one of the most urbanized countries in the world, electric vehicles should be very realistic alternatives to ICE [Internal Combustion Engine] vehicles. Moving from 10% of passenger miles by public transport to 20% is not going to solve the problem, it’s the other 80% that have to reduce oil consumption…”
To which commentator savvas replied :-
“savvas on June 11, 2009 : …I agree with the notion of electric behicles being very useful in our urbanised communities. The problem however is that there’s no way our largely import-dependent small car market could be supplied (on current trends) with appropriate vehicles to satisfy such a potential need, especially given the short time lines we are all concerned with. It took nearly 2 decades to swap Australia’s car fleet over to unleaded fuel, even with the incentive of a UL discount etc. I reckon this gives us a fair idea of the scope involved in even swapping over to something like 25-50% electric vehicle use…”
To which Neil1947 replied :-
“…Short term CNG [Compressed Natural Gas] conversions would be a fast response just as Iran did a few years ago, surely we are capable of converting more than the 400,000 vehicles per year…”
This history of sound warnings and good, practical advice needs to be borne in mind when considering Australia’s recent green policy announcement :-
“Solar plan raided to pay for guzzlers : MELISSA FYFE AND MARK METHERELL : July 24, 2010 : AUSTRALIA’S renewable energy industry was reeling yesterday after discovering a $520million budget cut to low-emissions technology in the fine print of Julia Gillard’s ‘‘cash-for-clunkers’’ announcement. Ms Gillard said that owners of pre-1995 vehicles will be able to claim $2000 from January 1 next year to upgrade to cleaner cars. She estimated that handouts would benefit 200,000 of the 2 million owners of pre-1995 cars in Australia at a cost of $394 million over four years. But the move will be financed by cutting into existing carbon reduction programs, including $200 million from the flagship solar power incentives and $150 million off the renewable energy scheme that provides rebates to householders for solar hot water and heat pump systems…”
The basic intention is sound – get “gas-guzzling pollution-spewing” old cars off the roads.
But in the long run it’s not going to be very useful to replace inefficient petroleum-burning vehicles with more efficient petroleum-burning vehicles.
The future is electric. And that electric is going to be Renewable.
Far better to invest in the future Renewable Energy infrastructure and research on electric vehicles, rather than simply offer a green stimulus to car manufacturers and sales organisations.