Elon Musk’s intervention into the national energy debate was timely last week. Call me a pessimist if you will, but I don’t have high expectations of Musk being taken up on his offer to solve the South Australian power uncertainty issues within 100 days, even with the money back guarantee he offered. Just because the man says it can be done, doesn’t mean it will be done. There are still plenty of details to be worked out around the economics and there are also Australian technology companies who claim they could provide the same capacity (but who have been ignored by a government which is considering changing the Clean Energy Corporation’s charter to allow it to invest in coal).
But whether or not it is accepted, Musk’s offer was an important catalyst for reaffirming the status of renewable energy, which has suffered terribly at the hands of this Luddite government as it dances to the tune of its coal industry donors. But for all the lies about ‘clean coal,’ renewable technology remains the way of the future and when someone of his status speaks with such confidence of what his technology can offer, people listen.
Scientific illiterates such as Malcolm Roberts and Tony Abbott have no credibility arguing with men like Musk. Almost instantly the national discussion is changing. ‘Renewable’ is no longer a dirty word and look how quickly the government responded. South Australia, who it must be said have been ahead of the nation in this regard, have announced a plan to tackle their power uncertainty, featuring battery technology (along with more LNG).
And just today, the federal government responded with an admittedly vague proposal to invest more money in the Snowy Hydro scheme to increase its capacity. While it is tempting (and probably accurate) to view this as a desperate government ploy to look less out of touch in comparison to their South Australian counterparts, two weeks ago Turnbull would have happily kept blaming renewable energy.
So thanks Mr Musk. Hopefully your words are remembered in this country for some time to come.