Lowering gasoline consumption for heating and cooking will not be the way in which to zero


Yarra City Mayor Gabrielle de Vietri of the Greens says she loves cooking on gas, but it is one of the “luxuries we have to give up if we are serious about climate change”. I have good news for you, Councilor. The best way for Victoria to decarburize is to keep cooking on gas but switch to renewable gas.

Australians, especially Victorians, have a long history of household gasoline. Colder than most parts of the country, Victorians endure longer and harsher winters that require quick and effective space heating.

Almost three million Victorian households use natural gas.Recognition:John Woudstra

There are nearly three million Victorian households that use natural gas to heat their homes, cook, and produce hot water.

The average Victorian house uses twice as much energy from gas as it does from electricity. The idea advocated by some that we can easily switch all gas consumption to electricity makes no sense. The Age reported this week that the city of Yarra has pledged to convert its buildings from gas to renewable electricity by 2030.

She is also trying to get support from the state government to support a ban on gas connections in all new houses.

But to be clear, the question is not whether we should reduce Victoria’s emissions from our gas usage, but how best to do it.

Renewable energy costs such as wind are expected to continue to decline.Recognition:Matt Young

The highest Victorian gas consumption is for cooking and heating on cold winter evenings. During these times, solar panels do not produce electricity. Indeed, switching from gas heating and cooking to electricity is likely to increase the need for gas-fired generation to provide the extra electricity on winter evenings.

Engineers all over the world are trying to figure out how to deal with what Germans call dark doldrums. It is when you have long periods of winter with little electricity generated by the sun and wind. Batteries, pumped hydropower, and demand response likely play a role, but one thing is very clear: When places like Victoria shift all of their existing gas heating and cooking loads to electricity, the dark doldrums become much more difficult and expensive to manage.