Asking our Local Member to Support the Get Off Gas Campaign

From the Metung Science Forum

Dear Tim,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my letter and for providing references to your research.

With help from some of my colleagues in the Metung Science Forum I have been trying to get my head around the “Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions” in order to respond to you but believe this would take a considerable amount of time to establish some degree of expertise on how these measures input into the price comparisons of gas v electricity in general. However, we have left further comment on your calculations for the moment and will return to them in the penultimate paragraph of this letter. 

In the meantime, we believe that your comparison ignores the reasons why electricity costs have escalated in Victoria. In this respect, we need to acknowledge that the use of gas to provide peak use power to the grid adds significantly to the costs of electricity as does the burning of coal.

The comparison of costs that you put forward ignores the very strong probability that anyone building a new home now will install solar panels to offset electricity from the grid, and probably heat pumps and possibly also batteries. Surely architects and builders would concentrate on installing all of these into new buildings in the current climate (no pun intended).

Your commentary regarding Hydrogen replacing gas and using the existing infrastructure is we believe well- intentioned but misplaced. It would appear that even our former chief scientist Alan Finkel (a known hydrogen enthusiast) has re-thought the use of Hydrogen in the residential environment, preferring to concentrate on the development of green hydrogen for industry and heavy transport and shipping. (refer his just released book “Powering Up”).

Before returning to your figures however, perhaps we also need to mention some of the reasons for “getting off gas” as follows;

·    The health risks of burning gas in the family home are now well documented and, as we are indeed talking about new homes, we would suggest that continuing to do so is contrary to issues that are designed to improve the safety and environmental performance of these buildings eg. Nathers 7 stars etc. We should note that the target for any new builds should be energy efficiency with at least double glazing, insulation and solar panels and that this translates to far less power being used.

·    The costs of changing new home owners over to more friendly energy systems when gas is no longer viable or desirable (possibly already the case). Even the use of the gas infrastructure for hydrogen if it were ever approved would no doubt involve costs of changes to reticulation systems and appliances. 

·    It is now well appreciated by many of your constituents that the fossil fuel industry could not exist without the enormous fuel subsidies that affect all of us one way or the other.

We could go on but perhaps we should stop there and return to your quoted figures which we are having some difficulty in reconciling as follows;

The Energy Australia information sheet quotes medium usage for gas of 159 Mj/day and high usage as 201 Mj/day.  You have not stated where the annual usage of 29830Mj that you have quoted comes from or how it was arrived at. You also state that 4000KW per year = 14400Mj/year which is half the energy usage for a household using gas according to your own figures.

But 159Mj/day = 56604Mj/year or 4 times the amount of energy and at a greater cost than using power. So, this seems to indicate that we need to consume more Mj for the same outcome and doesn’t take into account that households using gas are also using electricity.

Tim, we may be missing something here but, in summary, we believe that there is a need to further clarify your calculations regarding the short-term future of energy costs. But very importantly for your constituents there is a more urgent need to consider the wider ramifications of maintaining gas usage in the home and the ability to forecast what the actual future costs of doing so will be.

In the meantime Tim, thanks again for the opportunity

Kind Regards

Tom Moore on behalf of The Metung Science Forum