Energy literacy

Chris Hartcher: "In Australia, and I think across the world, people have two contacts with energy, one is when they turn on the switch, the second is when they get the bill, they’re the only two times when they think about energy.  There’s an automatic assumption that when you flick the switch on the energy will be there and that’s it, you just assume it and work on that basis, and we have 99.97% reliability in this state, so it’s incredibly rare for people to flick on a switch and not get the electricity or the energy that they need.  The second time of course when they think about it is when they get their bill and electricity has become increasingly expensive for quite a number of reasons.  Yes, just like there’s always this argument that a lot of children think that milk comes out of bottles, they don’t realise the connection between their lives and the farming industry, so too there’s a lot of disconnection between the average consumer of energy and the sources of energy and how it gets from the coal mine or the gas well to them, because overwhelmingly of course our energy comes from goal or from gas.  There’s not that connection.  We had a great sight recently, we had a protest about a coal seam gas well and there were some 20 protestors standing, holding up ‘no gas’ signs and they were gathered round a gas barbecue, no connection between the fact that they’re using gas all day every day and where it comes from.  So that’s part of the challenge for government, it’s also the challenge for industry, that you … industry and government cannot simply rely upon the fact that what the community believed once, the community will still believe when there are other voices and other sources of information telling them a different story.  So it’s up to industry and government to continually educate the community about the importance of energy, where energy comes from, why it costs what it costs and what the alternatives are.  Sure, you can have alternatives from solar and from wind, if people are prepared to accept the constraints of both solar and wind, but they are unreliable, the sun doesn’t shine at night, we all know that, pretty obvious, the wind doesn’t blow all of the time, certainly not when you want it to blow.  And the cost, the cost is simply astronomical compared to the cost of coal and gas at the present time.  So if people are going to have realistic choices between the use of fossil fuels and the use of renewable energy they need to know the reliability and they need to know the cost, both of those tend to get ignored in the debate."

Categories: Activism, Coal in Australia, Energy Choices, Energy Concerns, Government
Author: Chris Hartcher MP
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