Meet the “Genius” Authorities Local weather Advisor – Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to Sydney Morning Herald, MIT and University of Sydney Graduate Saul Griffith thinks we can completely replace the Australian vehicle fleet with EVs by 2030, though more research is required to decarbonising heavy industry.

Carbon dreaming: how to fix the climate crisis

By Nick O’Malley and Peter Hannam
August 14, 2021 — 12.01am

One person worth asking is engineer and physicist Saul Griffith, who lives in a rambling suburban home backing onto the rainforest of the Illawarra escarpment at Austinmer south of Sydney.

Before he fled a locked down Los Angeles to return to Australia, Griffith, a graduate of the University of Sydney and MIT, completed the most detailed inventory of how American households use power.

He and a team at one of the non-profit organisations he co-founded, Rewiring America, worked out how much power and gas American homes and small businesses used for transport, heating, cooling and lighting and household appliances.

NSW Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean says Griffith, who he uses as a “sounding board” on similar issues, is “basically a genius”.

So can Australia decarbonise at the speed the IPCC says is necessary?

“Oh yeah,” says Griffith. “We could shit it in.

Griffith’s mantra for Australia is the same as it is for America – electrify everything. Indeed he is establishing a Rewiring Australia organisation to advocate for such policies.

By his calculations Australia can reduce emissions by more than 50 per cent by the end of the decade by replacing gas and coal-fired power with renewables and helping households, small business and light-manufacturing deploy solar and battery technology to replace internal combustion vehicles as well as gas-burning water and space heating appliances.

A further benefit of a large electric vehicle fleet would be that the batteries in parked cars would serve as a vast and interconnected back-up to the grid.

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Skipping past the bit where Saul Griffith proves Santa Claus is real, by ensuring everyone in Australia receives a brand new EV, without massive tax hikes, vastly increased household or government debt, or other major economic dislocations, and overlooking Australia’s huge distances, imagine for a moment that your brand EV was part of the grid battery backup system.

It is a freezing cold, cloudy windless winter morning, the solar panels have not yet come on stream, but everyone switched on their home heating to drive back the morning chill, as soon as they got out of bed. Some people left the heating on all night. Many people had a hot shower or bath to shake off the chill – they had to use electricity, because the solar hot water system is not yet receiving enough sunlight. Having enjoyed a breakfast of eggs on toast (its cold) and a hot coffee or two, now you need to get work. So you hop into your shiny new EV, which has been draining back into the grid all night to cover the winter surge in demand, and push the start button.

I don’t think you need to be a certified genius to figure out what happens next.


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