How Australia’s energy transition might trip over the wires

How Australia’s energy transition might trip over the wires

It is time to consider the community and social factors

One relatively uncontroversial statement among advocates of climate action is that however well we’re doing now, it needs to be far faster.

One clean-energy-adjacent infrastructure venture that has received far more love than actual clean energy by Australia’s conservative government has been the build-out of transmission infrastructure. In New South Wales, for instance, Prime Minister Scott Morrison lent support to new transmission lines (on the grounds that it was paired with more fossil fuel extraction). In January 2019, Morrison pledged financial support to fast-track an additional interconnector between Tasmania and Victoria, named the ‘Marinus Link’, and in recent weeks, part of his post-COVID19 economic recovery plan involves removing environmental protection hurdles for that transmission link.

“While the expedited assessment process will help the project come online earlier, it does appear to come at the expense of the environmental approvals process, including under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, which the Morrison government has looked to curtail.”, wrote RenewEconomy’s Michael Mazengarb.

Environmental and social factors in big and pivotal development projects like the Marinus Link are deeply intertwined. Often, much opposition from people comes from demands for greater environmental protection. And human health and safety is deeply linked to ecology and biodiversity. The simple anxiety that stems from Morrison’s latest intervention is that speeding up the construction of a large technological renewable energy integration project actually decreases the possibility of it happening faster.

Australia is going to have to build a fair quantity of new transmission infrastructure, if vast quantities of wind and solar are to successfully replace coal and gas fired power stations. That is a given, and outlined neatly in the Australian Energy Market Operator’s Integrated System Plan.

Read the full article at Renew Economy

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