The Future of a Changing World Energy Market

An interesting article regarding the future of energy.

A much broader discussion than electricity prices. Worth a proper read and discussion. It aligns with many other topics.

Edit italicised
The largest portion (not majority, my error in interpretation) of Australia’s energy needs come from imported petroleum products. They are also responsible for the largest portion of Australia’s Green House Gas Emissions. The pivot away from petroleum products for energy is the opening point of the article.

The opportunity and economic Interdependencies mentioned by the article are far behind any short term impacts on domestic electricity prices. The article makes zero predictions on any changes to electricity prices.

The most significant discussion is pointing out how strategically important China has become to the future of renewables. It now dominates world supply of the goods and arguably holds the manufacturing technology behind most of our future energy needs.

The two big issues for Australia appear to be an imperative to take maximum advantage of the opportunities that will follow, and perhaps how to do so without being highly reliant on China?

In the interim, the suggestion is the cost of petroleum products will be driven lower. This will only serve to keep more of us wedded to hydrocarbon fuels for longer, short of political intervention. EG Carbon pricing, or higher taxation on fuels.

I posted under that topic as it seemed the closet match without creating a new topic.

I don’t think either of those statements are right, do you have a source for it? IIRC it is true of the transport sector but not overall.

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I used to think this was true too, given the focus on coal fired power generation. The shift away from coal fired power stations has changed the balance in recent years.

For reference, just as there are quarterly and annual national accounts published for GHG emissions, there are annual reports for energy.

From the executive summary on energy consumption in Australia.

On GHG emissions while electricity generation as an industry is the largest single source of GHG (coal and gas) oil/petroleum products are more widely used, mostly in transport and the other sectors. There are more complete breakdowns of where within the referenced document.

Re the GHG emissions from oil/petroleum products consumption is mostly spread across three sectors, Transport - Stationary Energy - Industrial Processes. These account for 44% of emissions the majority of which are from oil. There are some from gas use and a minor amount coal. Apologies, this is indirect. I’ll post a more direct comparison of emissions by fuel type when I have time.

Really not for this topic. @PhilT might be able to shuffle this and the last few posts to where they best fit.

The graph of fuel consumption says to me that petroleum (the majority of which is imported) is the largest component of energy use but not the majority. My guess is about 2,400 PJ out of 6,000. You are quite right that coal has been declining in recent years.

The NGGI inventory shows the sector generating GHG not the type of fuel so whether imported petroleum is responsible for the greatest proportion of emissions I cannot say.

My bad with the sloppy use of ‘majority‘. I should have said ‘largest portion’ or similar phrase. I’ve made a short edit and note to the original post to correct.

It would have been more readily evident if I had posted the linked additional references.

Per the table that accompanied the chart I posted, Oil accounts 2,388 PJ out of a total of 6,171 PJ of primary energy consumption for 2017-18. It will be useful to see the 2018-19 stats, and if the trends continue.

Community discussion around electricity pricing and increasing use of renewables typically focuses on concerns with coal as a fuel.

It’s less evident in the public discussion that nearly 2/3 (64%) of our primary energy needs come from oil and gas. Approx 6% is produced by renewables, mostly wind and hydro.

We need also to consider what we should be able to do within our borders, to circumvent the sort of problems that the current pandemic has exposed:

  • making wind turbines?
  • making solar cells? Much of the technology was developed here, after all.
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The first solar panels we were involved with back in the late 1970’s were Solarex, designed and made in Australia.

They were the market leader in 12 VDC panels in Australia for many years but they obviously dropped by the wayside in recent decades.

The ideal topic would have been Renewable Energy but @PhilT closed it and a suitable alternative topic has yet not been created.

Perhaps someone could create one and move my post and the replies there.

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For context, Australia’s three dominant fuel sources with usage referenced to fuel source and emissions, rather than industry/sector. Note that the Federal Govt does not provide a report on the basis of fuel source. The chart had been produced by Climate Analytics, from Govt data sources.

It includes an assessment of future emissions assuming Australia retains an economy that is a substantial user of oil/petroleum products. The assumptions behind the forecasts are contained within the linked report.

I doubt it is going to impact present pump fuel prices, other than a possibility they may go up to help pay for the costs of establishing the reserve.

If only there was somewhere to store it all? Anyone got room in their backyard for 100million 205l drums of refined product?

Best done as crude rather than refined product. It is possible, site dependant to refill underground space left from prior oil extraction. Australia has also reduced it’s refinery capacity, as noted in the article. Did they mention how much we might need to store in the news item? A second question unanswered is who is going to fund the costs of transport and storage. The consumer after the event, the tax payer up front, or the oil companies? If it’s strategic the answer will be the tax payer in the long run.

It remains a great thought. You can only ask why it didn’t come with some more complete informed analysis. The ABC is tight for cash, might be a part answer.

We are also free to consider how important this is short term, when the world energy market and Australia’s needs are to move away from hydrocarbon fuels.

You’re saying we don’t? I’d be interested to see your substantiation.

From the article:

We’re already in breach of our IEA obligations by not holding the reserves. Do we really not even have the storage capacity to meet our obligations?

Do we have the necessary refining capacity? If so, in an emergency, would there be time for the refining?

As quoted above, 90 days supply. The Department of Environment and Energy will have further details.

It’s a question.
Perhaps you know the answer?

Possibly the same question with the answer in the same place.

Evidence presented to the Senate in 2018 suggested not.

Yes, 90 days of … dissection available Dept of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources. Measurement by volumes and months, not days.

This includes details of our monthly imports of refined product as well as crude used in local refinery production, for those interested further.


Yes, they would have, but were vaporised as of 01 Feb this year. We now need to check the above linked web sources at the Dept of ISE&R or newly amalgamated Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment.



If we don’t, then our government has screwed up monumentally.

Refer above.

But I don’t want to drag us off topic.

So you’re saying that the information has disappeared?

Events have progressed. I’ll not comment on the details excepting :roll_eyes:

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According to tonight’s Nine TV news, the last time Australia met its IEA fuel reserve obligations was 2012. As @mark_m implied, we now don’t even have enough storage capacity. What changed after 2012? :neutral_face: Might explain apparent obfuscation of the data (by “reorganising” relevant department[s]).

Is a stockpile that isn’t even in the country really strategic?

Getting back on topic, one way to address the strategic reserve issue would be to reduce our reliance on imported liquid fuels. Developing Australia’s abundant renewable energy resources would be a good start.

Speaking of which:

Are there forecasts of how future energy needs will be met?

IRENA - the International Renewable Energy Agency is forecasting.

  • Global investment in transition energy will need to increase to average US$ 4.4 Trillion each year.
  • Total expenditure of US$ 132T until 2050.
  • Electricity (>90% from renewables) will be the largest single source of energy in the future. 51% of energy directly used will come from electricity, with additional generation required to produce H2 (12% of future energy).
  • Generation will need to increase X3 times current capacity.
  • 30% of electricity generation will be used to produce green hydrogen.
  • A mix of energy sources and solutions are required.
  • National social and economic policies will be required to achieve the necessary transition.
  • Transition will deliver 3 jobs for every job currently employed in the fossil fuel sector.
  • The target GHG reduction will limit global warming to 1.5C.

Australia will need to invest each year from now on at least 5% of GDP to match the global roadmap.
Note: Australia currently spends just 2% of GDP on defence, ($42.75B for 2020-21).

If Australia chooses to become a net exporter of energy or energy intensive products average annual investment will need to be much greater than 5% of GDP.

ARENA assumes a straight line reduction in GHG emissions over time. Typical technology change follows an ‘S-curve’. EG similar to how the Corona Virus infection rates come down. Slowly at first, before a rapid decline and long tail.

Nothing in the ARENA forecast envisages a ‘natural’ gas led recovery. Hydrogen is a critical part of the model. Biogas (BECCS), CCS and CCU are also part of the forecast.

Currently Australia does not have an equivalent forecast or plan for comparison.


The full document is available to download from the linked summary. It’s approx 50 pages, with short direct points and numerous easy to follow graphics. Table 3 on page 14 offers a single reference point of now vs 2050.

Australia’s energy consumption profile is similar to the global average, but with a greater intensity per capita/GDP. This suggests more than the global average is required of Australia to be able to transition at the same rate of change as the rest of the world’s nations.

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