Monthly Archives: June 2012

Is Australia & The Bellarine ready for the electric car ?

Charging station reflected in Holden Volt

MELBOURNE — Early this year, Victoria’s first solar-powered electric vehicle (EV) charging station was opened for public use at the CERES Community Centre.
By Lieu Thi Pham | June 27, 2012, 3:00 AM PDT
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Charging station reflected in Holden Vault
The solar charging station, located in Melbourne’s north, is currently generating clean and renewable electricity to power the city’s EVs.
The initiative is a result of a collaboration between the Australian and Victorian governments, solar companies Q-CELLS Australia, who donated 12 Q.PROsolar photovoltaic (PV) modules, and Delta Energy Systems, who donated the solar inverter.
Over the past few years, the Australia Federal and Victorian governments have, to a degree, supported the renewable energy sector, particularly solar PV, through feed-in-tariffs and other rebates.
Given the importance of energy security, the launch of the solar charging station is a modest but significant milestone for Australia’s energy future.
“Australia is following a trend that has started in Europe”, Pfeiffer said. “The community is much more aware of the need to be more environmentally friendly. The Victorian Government is actively supporting this trend through its EV Trial of which the station at CERES forms part of.”
To date, EVs (and their hybrid cousins) have been met with some skepticism in Australia (despite the country’s abundance of solar energy). The nation’s slow adoption of EVs is centred on four sticking points; how efficient, expensive, capable (i.e. their range) and environmentally sustainable they are, in comparison to their petroleum-fuelled counterparts.
“Of course the idea of EVs is to curb our carbon footprint and to make our lives more sustainable,” Pfeiffer said. “Provided they run on electricity generated from renewables, electric cars do go some way toward addressing the issues of oil dependency and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as air and noise pollution from cars idling around densely populated cities.”
“But if they run on energy generated from coal-fired power, then they merely transfer pollution from Australia’s cities to rural locations and do nothing to reduce emissions. This is where solar PVs can greatly contribute,” Pfeiffer said.
Judy Glick, a CERES spokesperson, indicated that the CERES charging station is emission-free. “Our charge station is fitted with a 2.8KW PV system which is the size of a system needed to charge a standard vehicle. It is therefore possible to have no carbon emissions resulting from the use of an electric vehicle charged in this manner.

Solar modules donated by solar provider Q-Cells Australia capture energy from the sun to power greener electric vehicles.

Solar modules donated by solar provider Q-Cells Australia capture energy from the sun to power greener electric vehicles.

The CERES charge station is fitted with aChargePoint, which is the interface between the electricity source and the car charging apparatus.
The ChargePoint is compatible with all major electric vehicles on the market or about to come on the market.
According to research, electric cars have an average efficiency of 80%, which is much higher when compared to conventional gasoline engines that can effectively use only 15% of the fuel energy content, or diesel engines which can only achieve efficiencies of around 20% [Source: Shah, Saurin D. (2009). “2”. Plug-In Electric Vehicles: What Role for Washington? (1st ed.). The Brookings Institution. pp. 29, 37 and 43].
According to CERES, current electric vehicles will take around 5 hours to fully charge from a flat battery and costs about $3 compared to around $15-17 for petrol to get the equivalent distance of 100km. The ChargePoint is designed to deal with advances in vehicle and battery technology to enable faster charging in the future.
“To date, prices of EVs are still higher compared to conventional vehicles. However taking running and maintenance costs into consideration, EVs will become a viable option within the next few years,” Pfeiffer said.
“Sustainability and renewable energy in particular are still quite new concepts in Australia and have not yet received the same traction as in Europe and especially Germany. Public education about the benefits of sustainable transport options and its relative ease of implementation are issues that need to be tackled,” Pfeiffer said.
ChargePoint Chief Executive officer James Brown claimed that Australia’s late entry into the market has been an advantage. “Other countries have been ‘debugging’ the technology on our behalf and developing the appropriate charging solutions…” he said.
The high capital investment required to get EVs to market in an economically viable form has, to an extent, depended on the initial take up in larger markets such as the U.S., Europe and Japan.
In 2009 the global EV market was worth more than $26 billion. This market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.5% between 2010 and 2015, this will result in a $78 billion global market in 2015 [Source: the BCC].

The CERES charging station is part of the Victorian Electric Vehicle Trial, a government initiative that will help to roll out much more efficient transport options, to improve air quality in our cities and above all, to create new job opportunities for Australians.
Victoria is one of only 15 places worldwide where a car can be taken from design through to the showroom floor [Source: Victorian EV Trial website].
This Victorian EV Trial will run until mid-2014 with vehicle participants such as Holden, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Blade Electric Vehicles, and EDay, all on aboard. The general public can take part in the trial by registering their interest to drive an electric powered vehicle for three months.
In 2011, the top-selling EV (the Mitsubishi i-MiEV) in Australia sold only 30 vehicles [Source: Drive]. Despite this low figure, Brown remained positive about Australia’s uptake of the EV in the coming years. ”Ten years down the track the expectation is that up to 20% of all new vehicles sold in Australia will be EVs,” he said.
Of course, the big oil companies claim that electric cars will never outnumber gasoline and diesel models. [Source: Reuters].
However, the Australian Government is confident that EVs will make up 20% of new car sales in Australia by the end of the decade and 45% by 2030.
The public release of the Nissan Leaf and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV (soon to be followed by the Holden Volt and the Renault Fluence) in Australia, seems to suggest that the country is ready for the electric car — but it still remains unclear just how quickly and successful this uptake will be.
Photo: © GM, courtesy of Holden Australia (main), CERES (insert).

Six innovations that could change the meaning of ‘news network’

By Mary Catherine O’Connor | June 20, 2012, 2:54 AM PDT

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If you haven’t noticed, the news media is in a bit of a flux period — to put it very kindly. Old school content delivery models are dead or dying, even though many readers still want to crack open a paper each morning (look at the outcry over the New Orleans Times-Picayune’s plans to go to a three-day publishing schedule for proof).

To keep pace with changing demands for news form factors, the Knight Foundation is offering a total of $5 million to individuals or groups with the smartest ideas for new ways to package and deliver news. The contest is being held in three rounds, with three themes. The first round of winners, which collected a total of $1.37 million, was announced this week. The theme: using existing networks (such as Ustream or Twitter) to create new ways for informing and engaging communities. – An aggregation engine for live mobile video streams of breaking news, using a searchable world map interface. – An online organizing platform that helps disaster-stricken communities launch recovery efforts through a website that generates relevant information, donations and volunteers. – This was designed to help newsrooms remain competitive by monitoring what is resonating with readers and make smarter editorial decisions about which stories get covered and promoted. It does this by analyzing social networks and competitor sites.

Watchup – Watchup is an app for the iPad that speeds the search for relevant video content by offering a curated playlist that aggregates news reports into a simple interface.

Behavio – An open-source platform that will help programmers build apps with smarter sensors, create tools for journalists that uncover trends in community data and launch a mobile application that allows individuals to explore data about their lives.

Tor Project – This protect journalists and their sources and allow them to communicate more safely by using the organization’s secure Web browser, an anonymous upload utility and other tools. It can be difficult for journalist to communicate safely with sources thanks to threatening (or threatened) government regimes or criminal organizations.

The second round of the contest is focused on data, and the foundation is accepting applications through noon ET June 21. The topic of the third will be announced later this year.

In past years, the Foundation’s support has helped launch important new journalism tools, such as DocumentCloud, which helps journalists analyze, annotate and publish original source documents. It’s used by more than 200 newsrooms nationwide. And it supported Ushahidi, a crisis mapping tool that helps organize and activate aid in disaster areas.

Image: Flickr/NS Newsflash

Renewable energy scorecard: How the G20 nations stack up

Renewable energy — once a mere blip on the world’s radar screen

— has finally gained a foothold, notably in the countries that compromise the Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Governors known as the G20.

By Kirsten Korosec | June 12, 2012, 4:15 AM PDT

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Since 2002, the G20 countries have more than tripled the amount of their electricity produced from wind, solar, geothermal, tidal and wave power, according to a Natural Resources Defense Council report released Monday. Global investment in renewable energy also has boomed, growing 17 percent to hit a record $257 billion in 2011, according to a separate report released Monday by the UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainability Energy Finance.
Despite these advances, the share of electricity from renewable energy sources is still a small portion — just 2.6 percent for the G20 as a whole — of their overall electricity mix.

The NRDC’s Delivering on Renewable Energy Around the World: How Do Key Countries Stack Up? report ranks the G20 nations based on the share of electricity that comes from renewable energy. The report also aims to petition world leaders ahead of this month’s Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro to commit to increasing the amount of renewable energy to 15 percent of total electricity by 2020 — more than double what is predicted under current trends.
The United States increased its share of electricity produced by renewable sources by 341 percent over the past decade. And it ranked second in total energy produced from wind, solar, geothermal and tidal with 111.93 billion kilowatt hours in 2011. Still, only 2.7 percent of its total electricity production came from renewable energy, putting it in seventh place behind France, the UK and several other European countries.
Within the G20, Germany had the largest amount of its electricity produced from renewable energy in 2011. The European Union as a bloc was ranked second. Italy, Indonesia and the UK rounded out the top five. (Check out the graphic below for the complete scorecard.)
All of these countries trail Spain, Portugal, Iceland and New Zealand, which produce 15 percent of their electricity from solar, wind, geothermal, tidal and wave power, the NRDC said. For example, only 10.7 percent of Germany’s electricity comes from renewable energy sources.
South Korea experienced the largest growth since 2002, followed by China and then Brazil.

Clean energy investments also increased in the past decade, according to the NRDC and separate UNEP reports. since 2004, new clean energy investment in the G20 nations grew almost 600 percent, far outpacing the growth in the overall economy in those countries.
This year could produce more disappointing results. Global investment in clean energydropped to $27 billion in the first quarter of the year, the weakest posting since the depths of the financial crisis in early 2009, according to an April analysis by research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Marine parks a buffer for marine species and the fishing industry

Extract from:

Carlos Duarte / Director, Oceans Institute at University of Western Australia


Carlos Duarte does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.
The Conversation provides independent analysis and commentary from academics and researchers.


The new marine reserves will take in just a fraction of Australia’s massive ocean resources.Carlos Duarte

Australia’s brand-new marine park proposal has great historic precedent. For hundreds of years, ocean managers have found that reducing fishing can repair fish stocks and benefit not just ocean species, but surrounding fishing industries.

Fixed Tuna traps, catching blue fin tuna in their migration into the Mediterranean, have a thousand-year tradition in the Mediterranean. The highest reported catches were reported in 1568, when two traps reported catches of 14,000 and 7,000 tuna each. But there were very low catches between 1700 and 1730. The King of Spain, alarmed by the decline, commissioned an inquiry. It recommended a three year no-take moratorium and the release of female blue-fin tuna. Soon after, the catches recovered¹.

The two great wars in the 20th Century, when fishing almost stopped over large areas of the European seas, provided ample evidence that a moratorium in fisheries lead to rapid rebuilding of robust fish stocks. Closing areas to fish extraction is a compelling tool to restore depleted fish stocks.

The Atlantic Cod stock in Georges Bank, one of the largest fish stocks in the ocean, collapsed in the late 1980s. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans kept providing financial incentives to build cod fishing boats and processing plants, despite warnings of imminent collapse. The Canadian cod collapse had devastating social and political consequences extending over two decades. Twenty years after the 1993 no-take moratorium was established, there are now, for the first time, encouraging signs of recovery of the Canadian cod stock.

Based on available evidence, the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 called for the establishment of marine protected areas consistent with international laws and based on scientific information, including representative networks by 2012. The Commonwealth has just delivered on this commitment: Environment Minister Tony Burke has created the largest network of marine protected areas in the world. With 3.1 million square kilometers, this network will expand four-fold the current protected area and will exceed the ocean area protected globally outside Australia. Hence, the area protected by Australia is bigger than all other protected areas elsewhere that together add to about 2 million square kilometers.


Shutting down fishing in the Mediterranean centuries ago did wonders for the long-term health of the fishery.Michele Molinari

The Commonwealth plan includes three types of marine areas. These are designated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) into categories II, IV and VI.     Category II, Marine National Parks, are large natural areas set aside to protect large-scale ecological processes and elements, with environmentally and culturally compatible spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities.                                     Category IV areas, Habitat Protection Zones, are designed to maintain, conserve and restore species and habitats.                                                                                                               Category VI, Multiple Use Zones, are designated to protect natural ecosystems and use natural resources sustainably, when conservation and sustainable use can be mutually beneficial.

Category II excludes commercial and recreational fishing, Category IV allows forms of commercial and recreational fishing that are compatible with the specific target species and habitats to protect, and Category VI is compatible with most uses.

Hence, the network has multiple goals. It builds additional resistance and resilience for fish stocks, protects fragile and critical habitats – such as shallow and deep coral reefs, seagrass meadows, kelp beds, shoals, and submarine platforms – and conserves the wealth of marine biodiversity in Australia’s waters.

Marine reserves can actually benefit adjacent fisheries. Adults and juveniles can emigrate across borders, and export eggs and larvae. This “spillover” should be welcomed by fishers. But marine reserves remain controversial. Critics contend they should not be implemented on a larger scale until more and stronger experimental proof of their efficacy is available. Fishers worry that reducing fishing grounds will decrease catches. They are also sceptical of whether people will comply with closed-area regulations. You will have heard all of these arguments since Minister Burke’s announcement.


The proposed reserves will protect a huge range of habitats.Carlos Duarte

However, a call for “more evidence” cannot be a perpetual scapegoat to adopt a precautionary approach to marine conservation. Indeed, a review published already 10 years ago reported increase in commercial fish abundance or catch per unit effort between 5 and 68 fold associated with marine reserves, with a tendency for fish size to increase as well. Evidence available shows a consistent tendency for the benefits of marine reserves to develop within two to five years of establishment and to continue to build for decades, including improved commercial fisheries in the periphery of the MPAs.

So how much marine area is being “locked up”? Two-thirds of Australia’s marine economic exclusive zone remains open to all uses. It is a vast expanse of ocean that, properly managed, should be able to deliver the wealth Australia expects and needs from the ocean.

Since my arrival to Australia a year ago I have been very impressed with the skills and competence of state-based fisheries managers. They correctly take pride in that Australia’s fisheries are the best-managed fisheries in the world. I concur.

However, in a world of change, fisheries managers cannot fully control the fate of fish. For instance, in a paper now in press in Global Ecology and Biogeography, my colleagues and I demonstrate a very large increase in larval fish mortality as a result of increased UVB radiation over the southern hemisphere.

Global pressures, including anthropogenic global change, and natural variability, including climatic oscillations, can lead to failure of the best fisheries models available. Natural variability, indirect anthropogenic pressures and both commercial and recreational fisheries can align in a perfect storm, with catastrophic consequences for fish stocks. Evidence indicates that, once collapsed, fish stocks may take decades to recover.

Fisheries managers can’t have total control over their stocks. Sensible management can help.

A network of marine parks provides a buffer against such “perfect storms”. It provides a safe and stable operating environment for all: conservationists, fishers – both commercial and recreational – and oil and gas industry.

The creation of the largest network of marine reserves is a game changing initiative of profound consequences. So much is at stake, as a model for a sustainable ocean for the world, that the Commonwealth must take all possible steps to ensure success.                  This must include:

· generosity with those affected

· willingness to listen closely to the critics of this network, who often have legitimate insights, and a commitment to spare no efforts to bring them on board

· the humbleness required to acknowledge the limitations of the science and the associated uncertainties

· a monitoring plan which will rigorously audit whether the network will achieve the desired outcomes.

At Rio +20 next week, the Australian delegation can proudly look their counterparts in the eye. If Australians, a society of relatively-wealthy, informed and responsible citizens, cannot lead the world in taking this game changing step, who can?

Planes, trains and automobiles: the importance of infrastructure.

Tim Mazzarol -Winthrop Professor, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Marketing and Strategy at University of Western Australia.

16 June 2012, 9.12pm AEST
Extract from

Infrastructure is one of those unusual words that have many meanings.

For example, we hear people talking of “hard” and “soft” infrastructure, with the first being a reference to roads and bridges.
By contrast the latter term refers to organisations such as the education or financial systems.
During a recent overseas trip I came face to face with the realities of just how important infrastructure is to a national economy. The road traffic to the airport was heavily congested and there was anxiety over whether the flight would be missed due to delays. The taxi driver commented that the traffic was getting worse each year, too many cars and not enough roads. He suggested that more public transport would solve the problem.
Once at the airport there was congested parking, a crowded entry hall and then flight delays as the aircraft were forced to circle until landing spots or gate access was available. When trying to use the internet at the air terminal there was both high cost and a patchy wireless coverage.
So where was this place? Well it could have been New Delhi, Manila or any number of other developing countries where infrastructure is inadequate. Yet it was actually Perth, at the heart of the booming WA economy. For many years now the WA economy has been caught in a game of catch up as each successive resources boom sees significant increases in population and pressure on road, rail, air and sea port networks.
Such congestion and delay serves as a ball and chain around an economy’s ankles. It frustrates business travellers and deters all but the most intrepid tourists. Infrastructure generally takes a long time to build and failing to get such infrastructure projects planned well in advance ultimately impacts in a negative way on the overall economic growth rate.
Infrastructure bottlenecks
In a recent article by Geoffrey Thomas published in Australian Aviation (June Edition) the nature of our infrastructure bottleneck problem was highlighted. According to Thomas Perth Airport’s annual passenger growth is likely to quadruple over the next 17 years. The overall growth in passenger numbers transiting through Perth Airport in the past five years has increased by 9.2%, with an outlook of around 40 million passengers by 2030. Much of this rapid growth is attributed to the expansion of the Fly-In-Fly-Out (FIFO) workforce operations used by the mining and energy sector in WA.
However, the overall level of planning for future growth being undertaken by the Perth Airport management was questioned. For example, Perth Airport CEO Brad Geatches was reported as having denied this forecast growth in passenger numbers. Apparently the Perth Airport is adhering to a plan developed in 2009 that predicted much less demand. However, senior airline officials were quoted in the article suggesting that the past history of resource-booms in WA as far back as the 1970s had seen the airport infrastructure constantly playing catch up.
The article also reported that the Perth Airport had originally promised a major upgrade of facilities to make it one of the best airports in Asia within the next 5 to 7 years. This vision would have seen the airport have a terminal with around 40 gates and aerobridges able to accommodate the new A380 Airbus fleet. However, this is now not taking place and the new terminal will have only 25 gates and aerobridges. This would make Perth Airport little better than Adelaide’s new terminal, despite WA being the fastest growing economy in the country.
By contrast Singapore’s new Terminal 3 has 28 aerobridges and was built at a labour cost estimated to be 30% lower than for an equivalent Australian project. Singapore Airport is truly world class because that country knows that if it does not maintain its infrastructure it will eventually lose its international competitiveness.
Other countries recognise similar challenges to invest in infrastructure to ensure that their economies are internationally competitive. Even the oil & gas rich states of the UAE know this. For example, over in Dubai they have constructed a 5 runway Aero-City that aims to be a major air transport hub for much of world’s air traffic linking Europe to Asia and the Pacific. Meanwhile, Perth Airport will only be a “Class C” facility even after its new upgrades. This is only of “minimum standard” and may not be enough to cope with future demands.
Similar patterns of investment to the UAE can be found in other parts of the Middle East. Saudi Arabia has invested significantly in the development of two large industrial cities of Jubail and Yanbu. The first is located on the east coast adjacent the main oil fields, while Yanbu is on the Red Sea adjacent the Suez Canal. Both are being connected to major water supply, transportation links, and high speed telecommunications, as well as provided with housing, schools and hospitals in order attract both foreign investment and foreign skilled labour.
Around the world similar levels of investment are taking place, particularly in those countries that Australia sees as its key export markets. Yet the infrastructure bottleneck illustrated by the Perth Airport case is not just unique to boom-town Perth. In 2011 a report by Infrastructure Australia to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) it was acknowledged that Australians are experiencing major problems caused by poor infrastructure planning. Road and port congestion, poor quality of water supplies and rising costs of power are all signals of this lack of investment in infrastructure. As noted in the report’s Executive Summary:
“In short, there is a sense that our infrastructure networks are barely adequate for current needs, and that they are beginning to impose significant, long-term costs. We need the courage to take difficult and decisive steps if our infrastructure networks are to continue to serve our needs and equip us to deal with significant economic, environmental and social challenges.”
Why does infrastructure matter?
The role played by infrastructure in the enhancement of a nation’s economic growth is significant, but often underestimated. Without efficient road, rail, sea and airport infrastructure it is more costly for trade exposed industries to operate. Even telecommunications can play a critical role.
This was highlighted in a study published in The Economic Journal in 2011 by Nina Czernich, Oliver Falck, Tobias Kretschmer and Ludger Woessmann at the University of Munich. Their analysis suggests that a 10% increase in broadband network access increases annual per capita growth by as much as 1.5%. Yet our politicians continue to argue over whether the National Broadband Network (NBN) is a worthwhile investment.
Infrastructure – whether hard or soft – matters to how efficiently business can operate and this is a critical factor in determining how internationally competitive the Australian economy is. The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report2011-2012 ranks Australia 20th out of a total of 142 nations. While this is not terrible, we are well behind Switzerland in first place, followed by the other top-5 countries, which in turn are Singapore, Sweden, Finland and the United States. Further, this was a fall of four places over the previous year’s ranking caused not by Australia backsliding, but by other countries moving rapidly forward with infrastructure investment while we remained stalled.
According to the World Economic Forum’s report while the Australian economy has much strength, particularly our banking and finance sector, our economic competitiveness is constrained by poor infrastructure. As the report noted:
“Finally, because of intensifying trade in commodities, the country’s transport infrastructure, particularly seaports, has been increasingly strained in recent years and it lags behind the world’s best.”
Other infrastructure areas of the Australian economy that were not highly ranked were roads, rail, electricity and telecommunications.
Australia in the global economy
The overall quality of our infrastructure matters because Australia is a trading nation that is positioned on the periphery of the world. Although our mining and energy sectors are major exporters, they are often located in remote areas and require substantial road, rail and port infrastructure to efficiently extract the minerals or oil and gas for shipment to overseas markets.
However, Australia is also a major food exporter and has an important services economy that is also dependent on good infrastructure. Tourism cannot operate effectively without well designed and efficient transport systems. Growth in our domestic air traffic is fuelled in large part by the FIFO work force of the mining and energy sector. Yet our tourism sector and much of its infrastructure has not enjoyed such growth.
When we look out beyond the short term to the middle of this century the forecast growth in our region will be significant. By 2020 the population of China is expected to grow by over 94 million and there will be similar growth in India. By 2020 the 10 largest cities in China and India will each have over 3 million people living in them. Shanghai is expected to have around 13 million while Beijing will have around 9 million and Guangzhou over 8 million inhabitants. Over in India Mumbai will be home to over 17.5 million people and New Delhi over 16 million.
These mega cities will be major hubs for trade and other commerce. They will influence the flow of goods, services and people into and out from these growing economies. Their infrastructure will be put under significant stress, but unless they are able to meet this challenge they will struggle to maintain economic growth.
The major corporations that dominate the world’s industries will seek to exploit these mega cities. They will need to develop their global supply chains to feed trade to and from these places and the shift in economic power from the west to the east will accelerate. For a country like Australia it will be very important for us to maintain our infrastructure, both hard and soft, if we are to avoid being bypassed by these economic trends.
According to the World Economic Forum, Australia’s international competitiveness is its banking sector, which ranked 4th at a global level. Our health and education sectors are also ranked favourably. However, we should not take it for granted that Australia will always be internationally competitive in these areas.
We must continue to invest in our hard and soft infrastructure. Whether it is our education system, water supply and power systems or our road, rail, sea and airports there must be a continuous investment. Failure to maintain international best practice will hobble our economic growth and lead to Australia becoming bypassed by the rapidly growing trade that will become a feature of the Asia-Pacific over the next decade.

Tim Mazzarol -Winthrop Professor, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Marketing and Strategy at University of Western Australia.

What can broadband bring to The Bellarine ?

IBM: Fast broadband to rake in $1 trillion for Australia by 2050

Productivity and revenue gains to come from faster broadband speeds, according to new report.       Spandas Lui (ARN) 14 June, 2012 15:24

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The availability of faster broadband in Australia has the potential to generate $1 trillion in revenue for the country by 2050, according to a report from IT vendor, IBM.

The A Snapshot of Australia’s Digital Future to 2050 report written by IBISWorld and commissioned by IBM, highlights Australia’s natural resources boom will pass in the next 30 years, making room for a “developed resources” economy.

The country will be known for exporting services such as tourism and business services with super-fast broadband will playing a crucial role.

IBISWorld classifies super-fast broadband as connections with download speeds of 100Mbps and above.

In forming in the base of our digital future, such high-speed broadband will boost productivity growth to 1.7 per cent and bring in more than $1 trillion by 2050, according to the report.

To put these figures into perspective, Australia’s productivity growth is currently at 0.6 per cent and brings in just $131 billion in revenue.

The report analysed the impact of broadband on 509 industries and found 10 per cent of them would not function without the “new utility” that is high-speed broadband. Around 17 per cent will use it to drive changes in their business and 70 per cent will reap productivity gains from it.

“Today, even with our present ‘pony express’ form of broadband, the value of the Internet to the Australian economy rivals iron-ore exports,” IBISWorld chairman, Phil Ruthven, said in the report.

He noted the rollout of superfast broadband has been in Australia was slow compared to other countries in the Asia-Pacific region but feels the National Broadband Network (NBN) will help catch up significantly.

Key beneficiaries of fast broadband include the health, retail, and mining sectors.

But the report predicts 15 industry classes risk becoming obsolete if they fail to reinvent themselves in the new digital economy. These include newspaper publishing, printed media wholesaling, and motion picture exhibition, though collectively they’re not huge contributors to the Australia economy.

Medium-sized businesses with revenue of $1 million to $100 million have the opportunity to thrive the most in Australia’s digital future. They will be able to take advantage outsourcing innovations, which results in lower demand for capital, provided by super-fast broadband

5 things we learned this week …. about green energy myths

A couple of months ago when I was chatting about my plans for RenewEconomy with a senior journalist friend, he considered the name and turned to me and asked: “You’re pro-renewables, aren’t you?”

By Giles Parkinson on 15 June 2012.
For complete article:

It wasn’t the detail of the question that startled me so much as the tone, as though he was seeking my views on gay marriage, or euthanasia.

And I wondered how it was that renewable energy had become a morally contestable issue.
The answer, of course, has much to do with the actions of vested interests, who have sought to delay the deployment of renewables – initially through challenging the climate change science, then on demonizing renewables as costly and useless, and then by fighting incentives, and finally through regulation.
They have been able to get away with this because there is a dearth of information. The public who don’t know whether to believe the advocates or the nay-sayers have been ill-served by the mainstream media, and supposedly independent statutory bodies such as the Productivity Commission and the state-based pricing regulators, who have either displayed ignorance, a lack of curiosity, or a blind hatred of green technologies. And given useless advice to the government, as was enshrined in the draft energy white paper.
We got a succinct update to this in this week’s IPART ruling on retail electricity prices, and the media response to it. IPART and the media chose to focus on the cost of green energy incentives, even though it was clear that the single greatest contribution was the costs associated with more poles and wires and keeping track of the surging demand for air conditioners. Both IPART and the PC have been stubbonly short term in their estimation of green energy costs and incentives, and their value, even when most of the literature, and current and past experience with other technologies and other sectors, suggests the long term view is more useful and more valid.
Even so, a series of reports in recent weeks from a range of authoritative sources have served to dispel some of the more egregious myths about green energy. You won’t get to read much of any of the reports in most of the mainstream media, so here’s a recap and summary.
Myth No 1: That renewables cannot deliver on the task at hand.
Myth No 2: That renewables are intermittent and cannot be absorbed by the grid.
Myth No 3: That renewables are too expensive.
Myth No 4: That renewables are not popular
Myth No 5 : That renewables do not contribute to the local economy.
A separate report released today by Sinclair Knight Merz, on behalf of the Clean Energy Council, found that for every 50MW of capacity, a wind farm creates direct employment of up to 48 construction jobs, who spend up to $1.2 million in the local area, direct employment of 5 permanent staff, indirect employment during the construction phase of approximately 160 people locally, 504 state jobs and 795 nation-wide jobs, and provides up to $250,000 for farmers in land rental income and $80,000 on community projects each year. The CEC says more than $4 billion has so far been invested in wind power in Australia, with another $17.8 billion in currently proposed and approved wind farm projects

Protecting fish from fishing is good news, even for fishers

4 June 2012, 4.27pm AEST

Extracted from


Kyle Kim


The Australian government today has announced a series of marine reserves that will make Australia a world leader in ocean protection. The reserves will cover over 3 million square kilometres, or nearly a third of Australian waters. Commercial and recreational fishing will be restricted or banned, and other activities such as mining and gas recovery will be limited.

This is a wonderful news story about which every Australian should be proud. It will protect habitat for juvenile fish, prevent damage to coral reefs and sea grass beds, and increase the outlook for many large species such as sharks, whales, tuna and marlin. Research on the impact of reserves has shown that they are more effective than expected in driving the recovery and sustainability of fish populations.

Unfortunately, the news cycle has been negative. The conservationists are unhappy, because the proposal does not go far enough. The fishermen are unhappy because the compensation may not be large enough. And another author on The Conversation is concerned that the reserves will not protect the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef because coastal development and gas exploration continues outside of these reserves.

I am sure that all these people have a point, but let’s remember which problem we are addressing. The degradation of oceanic ecosystems affects all of us, and commercial fishing is a large part of the problem. As fishing boats get bigger and more sophisticated, fish that were formerly protected by living in remote areas or deep waters are now regularly harvested. Some fishing practices, such as trawling, damage the sea bed grasses and coral that provide habitat for juvenile fish.

The overall impact of oceanic fishing is a decline in fishing stocks and a general decline in the health of oceanic ecosystems. The ocean is a shared resource. We all need to look after it.

So although the reserve system might have been larger and done more to protect our fisheries and marine ecosystems, I still think this is impressive, world class effort. Let’s praise the government for taking a bold move that makes Australia a world leader in the conservation of marine environments.

And although the compensation may not, at this stage, seem like enough for the fishers who have to face uncertainty and job losses, let’s not forget that this policy contains substantial payback for that industry.

Protecting our fish stocks into the future will mean that some fishers will be able to pass their livelihoods on to the next generation. This might not have been the case if overfishing and habitat destruction continued at current rates.

And for those who say that this will hurt our economy, remember the huge impact of tourism, and consider that this may only increase in a world where healthy marine ecosystems are getting harder to find. The reefs, the whales, and the magnificent clear waters of this great southern land will continue to attract tourists long into the future.

The next step is to turn toward the land-based conservation measures that will protect our oceans. Coastal development, pollution and rubbish need to be controlled. These are not affected by the marine reserves, but nothing is stopping us from addressing these issues in due course.

Tony Abbott, of course, wants to complain as well. He is quoted as saying that he is “Instinctively against anything that damages recreational … and commercial fishing.” But his instincts are wrong.

Research supports this initiative, and fishing outside of the reserves will be more successful and more sustainable because of it.

Marine parks: cause for optimism, but devilish details

14 June 2012, 3.33pm AEST

Extracted from



David Booth Professor of Marine Ecology at University of Technology, Sydney


David Booth receives funding from Australian Research Council for research relevant to marine parks. The Conversation provides independent analysis and commentary from academics and researchers.                                                                                                    We are funded by CSIRO, Melbourne, Monash, RMIT, UTS, UWA, Deakin, Flinders, La Trobe, Murdoch, QUT, Swinburne, UniSA, UTAS and VU.

clip_image002 Founding Partner of The Conversation.


Hard numbers: less than 1% of the world’s oceans are protected but marine scientists think 20% should be off-limits to fishing. AAP/Lloyd Jones

As a marine scientist, I welcome Senator Burke’s brave decision today to roll out Australia’s marine park system. This puts us on a par with other leading nations like the US and UK who have established large ocean reserves within their jurisdiction. A major element is that the parks are to be formalised all around Australia, not just in iconic places like the coral reefs of the north-east.

Despite anti-park lobbying, parks are vital in protecting marine biodiversity against the ravages of overfishing. There is clear world evidence that parks are effective, just as there is strong evidence that overfishing is a major destructive force facing marine biodiversity, yet less than 1% of oceans are off-limits to fishing. World scientific opinion is that more than 20% of the oceans need to be fully protected from fishing.

However, with marine park zoning the devil is in the details. While regions of high conservation concern have been covered, only a small fraction of the parks are at the highest level of protection (dubbed “Marine National Park Zone”). These are no-take areas where fishing is prohibited. Elsewhere in the parks, in over 80% of their area, fishing can continue.

Particular parks deserve comment

The Coral Sea Park is huge and significant, but no-take zones are restricted to its eastern half, with fishing allowed along the entire western half of that park (where recreational fishing is likely to be concentrated). For instance, in the southern region, complexes such as Wreck Reefs support impressive coral reefs and have high historical significance (the wrecks of the Matthew Flinders expedition abut the reefs) but are afforded the lowest level of protection.

The Central-Eastern Park harbours a unique string of seamounts that thrusts upwards from the deep ocean to shallower than 2000m, and span 4 degrees of latitude – only one seamount complex here has been offered full protection from fishing, despite CSIRO studies revealing important biodiversity! In addition, inshore zones are extensions of current State-based Parks such as Jervis Bay and Solitaries in NSW. While important (fish don’t recognize state/federal jurisdictional boundaries) in both cases the Commonwealth zoning allows fishing extraction.

The South-West and South-East Parks have high protection no-take zones that span the coast outward to the Park edge, which affords cross-shelf dispersal of key organisms and both shallow and deeper-water assemblage protection.

The North network covers Australia’s top-end where consideration must be given to balancing the needs of commercial fishing, as well as jurisdictional boundary issues with Indonesia. However, the very small (10% of the Park area) fully-protected Marine National Park zone is inadequate, especially given high by-catch from prawn fisheries in the region.

One issue that has been raised is the proximity of oil and gas leases to the new Marine Parks. This is of concern and needs to be properly managed to ensure parks are protected. However, it also represents an opportunity for partnerships with these industries to support both park management (costs of adequate enforcement will be a vital issue across the huge expanses of ocean) and research programs that increase our understanding of marine processes relevant to park design and effectiveness.

The future of oil prices

By Chris Nelder | June 13, 2012, 3:00 AM PDT

For full article:



Over the past several months, I have detailed the implications of the gradual shift from conventional to unconventional oil production, particularly its upward pressure on the cost of oil production. As it has been a little over three months since I presented my model for oil prices, this week I’d like to review what we know about unconventional oil, and offer an outlook on oil prices for the coming years.

The unconventional non-solution

First, we know that tight oil production, like that in the Bakken Formation of North Dakota,is a treadmill. The constant drumbeat of highly-placed editorials about incipient U.S. energy independence is strictly political fodder, with no sound basis in data. Yes, in theory, it’s possible that we could double the output from the Canadian tar sands and the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, quintuple the number of wells that have been sunk in the Bakken so far, and pull off some biofuel miracles. But local resistance to that drilling program will be fierce in some areas, and its cost will eventually prove prohibitive. And it won’t end there; to maintain that level of output, we’ll have to keep drilling like hell, with increasing risks to the environment and public tranquility.

In reality, despite the technological achievements that have enabled production from these difficult resources, the world is losing the race against the depletion of mature conventional oil fields. And the pace of that depletion is accelerating: it’s now an estimated 5 to 6 percent per year for OPEC, and 8 to 9 percent for non-OPEC. Unconventional oil cannot compensate for a drag of that magnitude for very long.

Further, even if the U.S. were to follow the path to so-called energy independence, it would likely cut the lifespan of our remaining oil in half, leaving us to struggle for decades afterward with greatly diminished domestic production at the very time when global oil exports are declining fastest and becoming intolerably expensive.

We also know that the shift to unconventional oil has moved up the floor of oil prices to around $85 a barrel, which I estimated to be the marginal average cost of profitable production worldwide. A report from Bernstein Research, covered in May by the ever-capable Kate Mackenzie for the Financial Times, suggested that the real floor was even higher at around $92 a barrel in 2011, on its way to $100 a barrel this year. This fits with the stated objective of OPEC members to defend a $100 price target.

But there is also a ceiling around $125 a barrel for the global Brent benchmark (roughly equivalent to $105 for the U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate). This is why world oil prices have been bouncing around the “narrow ledge” between that floor and ceiling since the beginning of 2011, as shown in the following chart.


Source: EIA

In short, unconventional oil doesn’t scale; it’s expensive, and getting more expensive every year; and its risks are increasing.

Finally, we know that we’re losing the race for vehicle efficiency, and probably will lose it forever. Emerging markets, particularly in Asia, have been outbidding the U.S. and Europe for oil since 2005, exerting a constant upward pressure on oil prices even as demand from the developed world continues to decline. Our response to this has not been a materially significant shift to greater vehicle efficiency, but rather a gradual shift from personal to public transportation, shrinking economic activity, and the “nearshoring” of manufacturing.

All of these factors augur higher oil prices as we move into the future.