Why the future belongs to decentralised renewables, not centralised hydrogen and giga-scale nuclear

IIASA building in Austria

What the future of our energy system will look like continues to be a subject of heated debate. According to one well-established tradition, writes Professor John Mathews of Macquarie University in Australia, the route to decarbonisation will run via massive nuclear power systems to the hydrogen economy. But China and to some extent India are emerging as the principal practitioners of an alternative vision of energy growth, underpinning their … [Read more...]

China’s continuing renewable energy revolution – can it save the world?

wind farm China in Xinjiang (photo Tim Zachernuk from the train 2015)

China has made strategic choices favouring renewables over fossil fuels that are still not widely understood or appreciated, writes John A. Mathews, Professor of Management, Macquarie University, Australia. In this article he gives an overview of the latest trends in Chinese eletric power generation, which shows that the system is still "greening" faster than it is becoming black. But whether it is changing fast enough to save the world, is still … [Read more...]

The moral case for fossil fuels? Let them eat solar panels!

photo Asian Development Bank

In the wake of the Paris climate accord, there has been much discussion of the so-called ‘moral case’ for fossil fuels, particularly in countries such as India. But according to professor John Mathews of Macquarie University in Australia, rolling out renewable energy in developing countries should be the real legacy of the Paris climate agreement. Renewables offer them the best chance to break into manufacturing value chains. … [Read more...]

New: renewables can now play important role in industrial development

photo: COP Paris

Thanks to massive cost reduction, renewable energy can now be used by developing countries in their industrial growth strategies, which was unthinkable until recently, writes John Mathews of Macquarie University in Australia in a new publication from UNIDO, "Promoting Climate Resilient Industry". Mathews notes that renewables can help countries expand manufacturing and create jobs, reduce local pollution, increase energy security and reduce … [Read more...]

The Chinese model: backing up climate policy with green growth

Nasa satellite images show China's giant solar panel expansion in Gobi Desert

With the climate plan it has submitted to the United Nations, China demonstrates that it is prepared to back up its commitments to carbon reduction with real investments in green energy, writes John Mathews, Professor of Strategic Management at Macquarie University in Australia and author of a recent book on the Asian renewables revolution. It also shows it recognizes the authority of the UN - and provides a model for other developing countries … [Read more...]

The West must do as the Chinese: build renewables systems for energy security and abundance

Solar powered electric vehicles in Anyang, China (photo V.T. Polywoda)

In the western world renewables are burdened by the idea that they are a moral imperative, essential to fight global warming, writes professor John Mathews. By contrast China is building renewables systems as an economic imperative. Unless Western countries follow the Chinese model and intervene in their economies to build green energy and resource systems, they will continue to be defeated by China. … [Read more...]

Why the Tesla battery heralds the beginning of the end for fossil fuels

Elon Musk presents Powerwall

The introduction of the Powerwall, Tesla’s new battery, will change the global energy equation fundamentally, writes John Mathews, Professor of Strategic Management, at Macquarie University in Australia. This is because it will make renewable energy “the new normal” and will put fossil fuel companies on the defensive. Instead of asking “can we have our own energy system?” communities will be asking “why can’t we have it?” … [Read more...]