Australia faces significant risks to national security, energy security and climate change mitigation, due to a heavy reliance on imported oil and access to only a limited amount of fuel at any one time, according to new analysis from the Australia Institute. The new research finds that Australia is unprepared to deal with any potential fuel security crisis. Key findings: 90 per cent of the fuel consumed in Australia is derived from oil sourced outside of Australia. In FY2018 Australia had on average access to 20 days’ worth of fuel. The emergency powers to ration fuel stocks would take up to three weeks to be implemented. Australia’s oil production has already peaked and is likely to continue to decline. Addressing Australia’s fuel security risks requires reducing oil use through increased fuel efficiency and transition to non-oil-based transport. Electric vehicle uptake increases transport energy security by replacing imported fuel with domestically produced electricity. “Last year Australia had access to only 20 days-worth of liquid fuel, but the emergency powers to ration fuel stocks take up to 3 weeks to be implemented. This means that by the time the rationing powers come into force, there may not be any fuel left to ration,” said Richie Merzian, Climate and Energy Program director at the Australia Institute. “90 per cent of Australia’s fuel – like petrol and diesel – is sourced from overseas, and Australia only has about 20 days of fuel in reserve. Given Australia is clearly not equipped to deal with a liquid fuel security crisis, we strongly support a review of the Liquid Fuel emergency Act. “Australia Institute research makes it clear that producing more oil in Australia is not the answer to the fuel security problem. Australia’s oil production has already peaked and there is great uncertainty surrounding the scale, quality and viability of oil production in prospective resources. “Addressing Australia’s fuel security risks requires a reduction in oil use. This involves increasing fuel efficiency and transitioning to non-oil energy sources through electric vehicle targets and fuel efficiency standards. “Australia is an international laggard when it comes to fuel efficiency. Weak fuel standards and an absence of a national electric vehicle policy leave Australia among the least fuel-efficient fleets in the OECD, and far behind the rest of the world in electric vehicle uptake.” The submission, Liquid Fuel Security Review, was prepared by Tom Swann, a senior researcher at Climate and Energy Program at the Australia Institute.
Volvo Penta’s chief technology officer Johan Carlsson and system engineer Karin Åkman discuss innovation for electromobility at the company’s new development-and-test laboratory in Gothenburg.
The latest quarterly edition of the National Energy Emissions Audit by The Australia Institute’s Climate & Energy Program shows Australian transport emissions are ramping up thanks to a significant increase in diesel usage. “We’re seeing little if any further reduction in electricity generation emissions, this combined with continuing growth in diesel consumption, are likely to cause energy emissions to increase – not reduce.” said Dr Hugh Saddler, energy expert and author of the Audit. “Improving electricity efficiency and replacing coal with renewables is the cheapest way to cut national emissions, yet the National Energy Guarantee’s 26 per cent target seeks to reverse this, “Fossil fuel use for electricity and transport accounts for nearly three quarters of Australia’s emissions. Australia is an outliner globally, with no mandatory emissions or fuel economy standards for vehicles, leaving transport emissions to climb. While diesel cars help drivers save money based on fuel efficiency, using diesel emits around 17 per cent more than petrol by volume and now accounts for half of all petroleum emissions. “Unless the Australian Government takes action on emissions standards, we will continue to drive up emission in the transport sector with one of the least efficient, highest emission motor vehicle fleets in the world.” The report also showed Australia’s annual energy emissions decreased in the first quarter of 2018, thanks to the closure of the highly polluting Hazelwood power station. “Decreased energy emissions over this three-month period were entirely caused by lower electricity generation emissions, resulting from the closure of Hazelwood power station,” Dr Saddler said. Bring on electric power On the supplier side of the equation, Volvo Penta has set 2021 as deadline to introduce electric power. With the aim of becoming a driving force in sustainable power systems, Volvo Penta is going full charge into hybrid and all-electric drivelines, offering electrified engines in both its marine and industrial segments by 2021. Underpinned by the success of hybrid and all-electric technology introduced by the Volvo Group, Volvo Penta’s electrified powerplants will demonstrate the company’s long-term commitment to offering the latest and most appropriate power source for their user applications. “Volvo Penta is embracing the electric transformation and will be at the forefront in delivering compelling business cases to customers using this new technology,” says Björn Ingemanson, president of Volvo Penta. “We will take a full systems supplier approach helping our customers in the transition to the new technology. This will happen application-by-application, on the basis that the business case for switching to electric will differ across our many customer segments. “This is the start of a long-term transition,” he adds. “Diesel and gasoline-powered primary drive systems will remain the most appropriate power source for many applications for years to come.” Time to start switching over “Volvo Penta is already several years into its electrification journey,” said chief technology officer Johan Inden. “We have spent this time building competencies, experience and establishing the technologies required to deliver a sustainable power road map. The advanced engineering projects we are currently running and the performance data received gives us confidence that we are on the right technology path to offer customers a compelling business case for electrification.” As part of this increased commitment, Volvo Penta has restructured its organisation to accelerate the switch towards electrified power and has committed to an ambitious ramping up of its electrification investment program. An electromobility development-and-test laboratory has also been established at its Swedish headquarters.
A new report into Australia’s $80 billion transport industry urges vigilance from its leaders to maintain its health, amid the looming disruption of automation and the rise of the gig economy. The Future of Transportation Work: Technology, Work Organisation, and the Quality of Jobs by Dr Jim Stanford, from The Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute outlines transport’s critical economic importance: the industry employs 625,000 people, paying more than $45 billion in wages and $25 billion in taxes. The ninth largest employer in Australia, transport’s broader economic spin off benefits are worth at least as much as the industry itself. However, the authors warn that twin headwinds of automation and the gig economy could threaten transport’s capacity to provide quality jobs. The industry’s workforce is largely older, male and highly skilled, though few have formal qualifications The report suggests that with appropriate planning and cooperation, the industry can integrate new technologies and new forms of work organisation while still ensuring its economic and social benefits are shared equitably and sustainably, with an emphasis on safety, training, career-progression and proper retirement planning. However, there is also a risk the transport sector could move instead towards a lowest-common denominator ‘gig’ jobs approach, characterised by insecure work, underemployment, and weaker safety standards. Already, technology platforms and lax labour regulations are enabling the growth of ‘informal transportation activities’ – such as the movement of goods by individuals. A person can register online and become a carrier without the safety and security regimes that quality transport businesses take seriously. Economists Jim Stanford and Matt Grudnoff were commissioned by TWUSUPER to assess the impact of rapid technological change and digital disruption on this key sector of the economy. “The general future for Australian transport is bright, and demand for services in Australia will almost certainly outpace growth in the wider economy,” Dr Stanford said. “However, there are some worrying trends. In particular, the trend toward non-standard or precarious forms of work and employment in the industry could threaten both livelihoods and the quality of services. “This is likely to pose a bigger threat to quality transport jobs in the medium-term than automation and new technology (like driverless vehicles, machine-learning and big data). While new technology will certainly have an impact over the next two decades, it’s unlikely to result in mass job losses in the near term. “Many barriers will slow automation of transport, including the need for appropriate regulation, investments in infrastructure, proof of safety, capital investment lag times and insurance. The extreme pessimism of some forecasts of mass technological unemployment in the sector, and across the economy as a whole, are not credible, and should not guide the sector’s planning and preparations.” TWUSUPER CEO Frank Sandy said The Future of Transportation Work provided a compelling argument for a planned approach by the transport industry, other stakeholders and government. “We commissioned the report mostly to help us plan for the future, but we also recognise the need to understand the potential for disruption, which can impact on the businesses and the people we serve,” Mr Sandy said. “There are potential flow-on impacts if the ‘gig’ economy disrupts business models and full-time jobs. Apart from safety and security issues, we could find ourselves in a position where many more Australians are not adequately insured or prepared for retirement due to by-passing of our superannuation guarantee system.” The report is available at this link.