Australia Can Shape Global Energy Futures

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15th November 2009, 03:37pm - Views: 614
Harness Technology To Meet Emissions Targets

Significant opportunities for Australia in shaping global energy futures
As Parliament reconvenes to debate the Federal government's proposed emissions trading scheme, Australia must look to a wide range of technologies to meet the emission targets. Whether the targets are set in Canberra or at the Copenhagen meetings next month there are significant economic, technology and leadership opportunities for Australia.

This was the message given by Professor Gregory McRae, Professor of Chemical Engineering, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. McRae, an Australian, is an advisor to many industrial, academic and government organizations including the National Academy of Sciences, the National Research Council and the U.S. Department of Energy.

"It's absolutely vital that Australia's decision-makers and business leaders recognize the critical linkages between national economic growth, energy development and environmental impacts."

"With its rich resource base and technical talent, Australia has a unique opportunity to show the world how to address some of the most challenging problems of climate change."

"Australia, if it acts now ahead of other nations, can shape how new energy technologies might be developed and then exported to the rest of the world. Given the scale of investments required, this is also an ideal time to forge partnerships with other countries to both share development costs and reap the income and employment opportunities that will come from new industries."

He told the conference that access to stable, low cost sources of energy is one of the key components of long term economic growth for any country.

Professor McRae was speaking at the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering 2009 National Symposium "Future-Proofing Australia - Rising to the Challenge of Climate Change" in Brisbane on 16-17 November.

"This week's deliberations on an emissions trading scheme are just the beginning. There are many possibilities for Australian business creation in such areas as clean coal combustion, geothermal electricity generation, carbon capture, CO2 sequestration, markets for emissions reductions and the next generation of nuclear reactors. There are many ways to add value to the current exports of coal, minerals, uranium, thorium and natural gas," said Professor McRae.

"By acting now, we will have the best chance to be at the leading edge of creation and deployment of these new technologies and in fact, become a global leader."

"It's important to get the right mix - how Australia invests in new energy technology will have enormous long term economic and environment impacts. While it's crucially important to consider all alternative energy technologies, each must be assessed in a systematic way to evaluate the impacts over their whole lifecycle."

"Some renewable sources, in particular biofuels, require a lot of energy to produce them in the first place. A broader view than just CO2 is needed. Fossil fuel combustion can have impacts on urban and regional scale pollutants like ozone, sulfuric and nitric acids," he said.

"There are four key components of an energy policy: competitiveness, sustainable development, the security of supply, and life cycle impacts of new technologies," he said.

McRae was co-author of a recent influential MIT study that explored the options for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal fired power generation facilities in the United States, China and India. The study provided an evaluation of the current technologies for carbon capture including: Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC), Oxygen Firing, and CO2 capture technologies applied to conventional coal fired power plants. Many recommendations from the report are of direct relevance to Australia. A key recommendation was the critical need to do demonstrations, at scale, of carbon capture and sequestration technology.

"I am very pleased to see that Australia is pursuing these experiments."

Other speakers attending the conference include:

* Dr John Loughhead - Executive Director, UK Energy Research Centre addressing future energy technologies and philosophies
* Mr Revis W James - Director, Energy Technology Assessment Center, Electric Power Research Institute, USA on electric power
* Professor Luuk van der Wielen - Bioseparation Technology Group, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands on the future of energy from agriculture
* Mr. John Pierce - Vice President, Technology, DuPont, Applied BioSciences, USA on renewable fuels and materials
* Dr Zhengrong Shi - CEO and Chairman, Suntech Holding Co Ltd, China on solar power
* Dr Ziggy Switkowski - Chairman, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation
* Professor Kelly Thambimuthu - Chairman, International Energy Agency Greenhouse Gas Program on low emission coal technologies

Full program available

ATSE wishes to thank the sponsors for this event
University of Queensland, Monash University, Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, University of Melbourne,
University of Western Australia, Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation (QCIF), Powerlink, CRC Mining, Engineers Australia
(Qld Division), Australian Power Institute, Energex, Griffith University, Ergon Energy, Queensland University of Technology, BP

Cathy Reade,
Media Manager,
ATSE Symposium
0413 575 934
[email protected]


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