Last night a reasonable crowd gathered at the Latrobe Performing Arts Centre to hear a presentation by Soren Hermansson from the island of Samso in Denmark about the transformation of the energy system to 100% renewables which they achieved some years ago. That presentation was followed up by a workshop with about 40 participants from across Gippsland. What is clear to me from the last 24hrs is that there is a real sense of excitement and of opportunity to make the transition from coal based energy in Gippsland to something much better.
It is now obvious that in only a few years there will not be any brown coal power stations in the Latrobe Valley. The age of coal is ending and brown coal is dying first. The market is moving to the cheapest form of new generation which is renewables. The CSIRO has advised that there are no technical barriers to a 100% renewables power grid. The issues of frequency synchronisation and matching supply with demand are manageable with adequate storage capacity in either chemical form in batteries or in potential energy like pumped hydro and other technology.
How Gippslanders respond to this new reality is crucial for the health of the community. We could step back and be the receivers of solutions from big multinational companies who will reap profits lost to our local economy or we could step up and create solutions ourselves. We could duplicate existing community ownership structures for a range of services from energy retailing (see Enova), generation of power through solar or wind or biomass or pumped hydro, hydrogen production, electric car charging points, managing our waste streams for profit through energy production, putting waste methane to good use from disused tip sites and more….. I think the key is to ensure that the community has a chance to be involved, to plan and to have ownership with reliable financial returns.
Gippsland Climate Change Coalition (GCCN) will be holding more community workshops as will BBSN, so watch this space and get involved. Do you have more ideas to share?