The Big Switch
Publication Date 1 Jan 1994
OverviewThe technology used in Australia's giant coal-burning power stations comes from the steam age. By today's standards they are hopelessly inefficient, wasting more than two-thirds of the energy of the coal burnt and making the government-owned companies that run them by far the biggest single polluters in each state. Although both the electricity industry and governments argue that switching to increased use of solar energy and wind-power would be too expensive, Gavin Gilchrist argues that not using these techniques has cost Australia well over a billion dollars. And while governments plan to reform the way all Australians buy electricity, he argues that the strategy is wrong, that Australia is set to make the same mistakes already made in other countries. Governments have conspired with their power companies to stifle the promotion of new high-technology energy-efficient systems because they have become addicted to using these companies as tax-collectors; as a result, power bills are higher than they should be and Australian industry is less competitive internationally. Gavin Gilchrist addresses one of the great dilemmas of our time: how can advanced societies meet their essential electricity needs while reducing their impact on the environment? By making the Big Switch, Australia can have an electricity industry that pollutes less, costs businesses and households less, and creates more jobs.
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