David Bidstrup: Will “pumped” hydro save us?

Two reports in the Adelaide “Advertiser” caught my eye. One was headlined “Hydro to keep our electricity pumping” and the other concerned another billionaire who wants to save us – “Gupta pledges to fix SA’s energy debacle”.  At least he was right in describing it as a debacle.

The hydro article lists five proposed “pumped hydro” schemes and lists capacity and output for each, but fails to mention how much water might be needed and that the schemes are nett users of electricity rather than generators.

Mr Gupta says he will install “one gigawatt of dispatchable renewable energy” which will power his Whyalla steelworks and have a bit left over for the rest of us. The articles confuse power with energy; the reporters constantly claim we “use MW”. Clearly they have no idea what they are talking about. The critical question is how long Mr Gupta’s “one gigawatt” will produce electricity for.

It is interesting that there are two mutually exclusive terms used; renewable and dispatchable.

I thought I would analyse the 5 hydro proposals to see how much they can provide as a percentage of average daily consumption, how much electricity they need to re-fill the dams and how much water is needed to run them.

The following analysis is based on a head difference of 150 metres. This is a bit generous but I do not have access to enough detailed topography. Remember, Mt Lofty is only 711 metres high and it is the second highest peak in SA.

The table below lists the 5 schemes and shows installed capacity, water flow required in cubic metres per second, stated output in MWh, the time each needs to operate to achieve that output and the total quantity of water in Megalitres for that time period.

Scheme Capacity

MW

Water flow

M3/sec

Output MWh  Hours Total water, Megalitres
Goat Hill 230 174 1,840 8 5,000
Baroota 200 162 1,600 7.5 4,350
Cultana 225 170 1,770 8 4,800
Iron Duchess 90 68 390 4.5 1,060
Highbury 300 226 1,200 (see * below) 4 3,260
Totals 1,060   6,800   18,500

(*: Cannot confirm this number but have seen it somewhere).

South Australia’s average daily power consumption is 31,600 MWh so the total output of the 5 schemes above can contribute 21% but they require the equivalent of 24% to pump all that water back uphill, so they are nett energy users, not generators.

The total cost quoted for the 5 schemes is $1.86 billion and the result is a deficit in power available for consumption. We are told that they will use “spare capacity” from wind farms and perhaps some solar installations to provide their pumping power. Today at noon wind was producing 1.25% of the total grid load. In SA we managed half of that, running at 150 MW). This is common during summer and lots of wishful thinking will not change it. My recent article on a proposed solar farm indicated the miniscule amount they can provide.

Adelaide’s average daily water consumption is about 550 Megalitres per day so the schemes require about 33 times this amount to be stored in “turkey’s nest dams”, an appropriate word. Where will this come from in the “driest state”?

If we consider a dam of 100 hectares surface area the depth of water needed for the largest scheme is 5 metres. Intakes must be submerged below the minimum level otherwise they will suck air so the full depth will be even greater. Also evaporation of around 3 metres per year needs to be considered.

There is some naive idea that these schemes can be a bit “agricultural”, just get some gear and build a couple of “turkey’s nests”, get some pipes and turbines and Bob’s your Uncle. The reality is very different, having been involved in a couple of hydro-electric schemes myself.

There is also the added cost of transmission and the complexity of running these things on the fly whenever we are a bit short of juice.

The point that is never mentioned is that the destruction of the Playford B and Northern power stations removed 760 MW of generating capacity, 76% of “one gigawatt”, and it was available every day of the year, night and day, windy or not. None of the proposed schemes can come within a bulls roar regarding economy and reliability and neither can wind and solar. We should remember that when we hear all the bullshit sprouted about “renewables” and recognise that it is all political and has no technical merit at all.

All this pain is to “reduce emissions” when there is plenty of evidence that it is a pointless exercise and that we actually do not have a problem called “anthropogenic global warming”. How do we get off this train to the madhouse?

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73 Responses to David Bidstrup: Will “pumped” hydro save us?

  1. cohenite

    I don’t know what threshold of electricity shortage/cost it will take before the punters singularly or collectively start hauling imbecilic pollies and their green seducers out from the comfort of their air conditioned dens and apply medieval punishments.

    Gupta is another decline in the path to that threshold.

  2. John Constantine

    The most important undefined value here is:

    “Us”

    If we consider that Us means the Australian quisling orcs actively progressing the agenda of the Great transnational looting cartels, then yes, pumped hydro is a profitable politically progressive proposal.

    If Us means the poor bastard proles that will pay, then the thing is a failure.

    Therefore, Us means their Australian insider crony class that capitulate for cash and happily take a kopeks in the Kohinoor commission on the deals they commit the country to.

  3. herodotus

    The energy debacle is the single biggest mistake politicians of both “major” parties have participated in. How to punish?

  4. Fat Tony

    How do we get off this train to the madhouse?

    The same way you get off any out-of-control train – it crashes and the survivors get dragged out, and their lives are never the same again.

    John Constantine has it worked out – the de-colonisation of Rhodesia, South Africa, now Australia, Canada & New Zealand. (For a profit, of course).

    You just got to look at the fuckwits running each of these countries – they are stooges for whomever is pulling the strings.

  5. duncanm

    How do we get off this train to the madhouse?

    Put some engineers in charge; rather than arts grads, lawyers, accountants and political operatives.

  6. hzhousewife

    From the Open thread

    The SA government seems to be living in a parallel universe as far as the laws of thermodynamics are concerned.

    It is OK, that nice Mr Turnbull has assured us that the laws of Australia override the laws of mathematics. I’m sure he can extend that to make the laws of Australia override the laws of thermodynamics.

    STEM students are rare indeed. None of them become politicians. Energy companies must be laughing all the way to the bank.

  7. Chris

    They are like children let loose in a science lab. We will be lighting our fa*ts next to generate electricity.

  8. Speedbox

    Promising to “solve” the power supply problem combined with follow-up promises to reduce household electricity cost is merely the platform for the next round of scamming and distortion by assorted spivs, snake-oil salesmen and politicians.

    The whole thing is crap and they know it. Only a few days ago I was hearing it was “actually cheaper” to produce electricity via renewables than with either coal or gas. The only reason, that coal/gas power stations still exist was to assist with base load power supply. All said with a straight face.

    If you think the Government care about your electricity bills – you’re dreamin’. This scam is based on ideology, not science. And, it will only get worse.

    How the f*ck a business is supposed to survive is beyond me.

    This country is too stupid to survive.

  9. manalive

    Just as the mobile phone disrupted the landline and the digital camera superseded film, the energy market is being shaped by the internet of things; behind-the-meter technology such as solar PV and storage; demand-side responses; and increasingly cost-effective utility-scale renewable generation … by 2020, costs of battery technologies are expected to fall 40 to 60 per cent and, by 2030, over 70 per cent …

    That’s an insight into Josh Frydenberg’s facile thinking echoed by an online commenter at The Australian comparing coal-fired generators to steam locomotives which were turned into scrap metal — s-o-o-o- last century.
    It’s a form of historical determinism used as propaganda, the ‘march of progress’ resistance is futile, except the so-called progress is regressive.
    The irony is steam locos were replaced by diesel electric a bit like Vic and SA electric generation today.
    Presumably the water for pumped hydro comes from the ocean, you wouldn’t want to have your electricity supply dependent on SA’s erratic rainfall.

  10. RobK

    David,
    Quite so. Pumped hydro is very site specific to be effective. Much like regular hydro steep gradients and large falls are the order of the day to keep costs and losses down. Evaporation and silting are issues. Of note too is the experience in Germany where pumped hydro had been economic for almost a hundred years in tandem with baseload, cycling daily in a predictable manner, now finding it difficult to make ends meet. With increased RE it becomes difficult to predict when supply is going to be short or in glut so it will be tricky to know when to release or how much to reserve. The intermittent nature of renewables means this problem is never going to go away and stand by fossil fuels will always be required. These schemes rely on the cost of energy to be high, they will also keep it that way.

  11. Jannie

    I wonder if this is the same Mr Gupta who is currently said to be involved in State Caoture of another SA. SOUTH AFRICA?

  12. duncanm

    Speedbox

    Only a few days ago I was hearing it was “actually cheaper” to produce electricity via renewables than with either coal or gas

    I come across that shit all the time, usually from one friend. My response is “so tell me again why we subsidise renewables”

  13. Fat Tony

    manalive
    #2634978, posted on February 12, 2018 at 5:32 pm
    Presumably the water for pumped hydro comes from the ocean

    Good luck at making it survive in a marine environment.

  14. RobK

    der Spegel article
    Referencing the difficulty with their existing pumped hydro.

  15. Botswana O'Hooligan

    The next silliest thing they can do is probably admit that we have a “slight” problem and import coal mined in Australia from India or Japan or wherever else we export it to. Never ever underestimate the stupidity of these bastards. Pumped water, and the experts who say that is efficient probably because they believe in perpetual motion, works in Japan because Japan has a couple of things we don’t, lots of water, plenty of hills, and power stations ticking along at night time when there is hardly any load on them so any excess electricity can pump water. We just do not have those luxuries of excess water, power, and not a lot of bloody hills, but we have good quality coal right up the Gazoo.

  16. Confused Old Misfit

    STEM students are rare indeed. None of them become politicians. Energy companies must be laughing all the way to the bank.

    The STEM students are running the energy companies. They’re not stupid. Like any other savvy business operator they know where the easy money is and their responsibility to the business owners mandates that they go after it.
    As voters we’re the stupid ones. We keep giving power to a$$holes who hypnotise us into thinking that we can get something for nothing while we’re being bribed with our own money.

  17. RobK

    Seems the links dont work. I googled “der spegel pumped hydro”. Its the 2013 article.

    “The Storage Conundrum

    The Cossebaude reservoir is Dresden’s largest and most popular open-air pool. On summer days, up to 8,000 sunbathers lounge on its sandy beach or cool off in the 10,000-square-meter (2.5-acre) lake.

    Cossebaude is also part of the enormous Niederwartha pumped storage hydroelectric plant. At night or on weekends, when there is plenty of available power, lake water is pumped electrically through big pipes into a second reservoir 140 meters above the main reservoir. At noon, when electricity is scarce, the water is released from the higher-elevation reservoir, spinning giant turbines as it descends. The system generates electricity when the cost is high and consumes it when the cost is low. Plant operator Vattenfall makes its profit on the difference. When the plant was connected to the grid in November 1929, it was considered the technology of the future.

    Now the power plant, along with the recreational lake attached to it, could soon be gone. The company plans to shut down the energy storage facility within the next two years. This is bad news for Dresden’s swimmers, but it’s especially detrimental to Germany’s energy transition, which depends on backup power plants like the Niederwartha facility.

    When the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing, gas-fired power plants and pumped storage stations are supposed to fill the gap. A key formula behind the Energiewende is that the more green energy is produced, the more reserves are needed to avert bottlenecks.

    This is true in theory, but not in practice. On the contrary, an ironic result of the green energy expansion is that many of the reliable pumped storage stations could be forced out of the market. There are roughly 20 of these power plants in Germany, with Vattenfall being the most important operator. The plants were very profitable for utilities for decades, but now the business has become highly unreliable. Dresden is a case in point.

    When it’s sunny and people are most likely to head to the lake, solar power is abundant and electricity prices drop. This means the pumped storage station earns less money, so the power plant is shut off. In 2009, for example, the turbines in Niederwartha were in operation for 2,784 hours. Last year, Vattenfall ran the facility for only 277 hours. “Price peaks that last only a few hours aren’t enough to utilize the plant to full capacity,” says Gunnar Groebler, head of Vattenfall’s German hydro division.

    No Incentives for Storage

    Not surprisingly, the company invests very little in its pumped storage plants today. In Niederwartha, the buildings are filled with the musty smell of earlier floods, the paint is peeling from the walls and the reservoir leaks.

    It would cost Vattenfall €150 million to modernize the plant. But company executives are hesitant, fearing they won’t recoup that money with future profits. Vattenfall has also hit the brakes elsewhere, like in Hamburg suburb of Geesthacht. Plans to increase the capacity of the existing reservoir there have been put on hold. Instead, the plant is used only as a backup.

    Meanwhile, competitors RWE and EnBW have also shelved plans to build a large pumped storage power station in the southern Black Forest. Trianel, an association of about 100 municipal utilities, withdrew from a similar project at Rursee Lake in the western Eifel Mountains in late June.

    All this gives credence to the claim that Germany’s energy reform is its own worst enemy. Despite the erratic expansion of wind and solar projects, the backup power capacity those projects require is lacking. One study found that Germany’s expansion of renewable energy will require additional storage capacity for 20 to 30 billion kilowatt-hours by 2050. So far the storage capacity has grown by little more than 70 million kilowatt-hours. And hardly anyone is interested in maintaining the existing storage facilities.

    At least that isn’t the case in Dresden, where a grassroots movement is working to keep the old pumped storage facility open — partly because of the popular swimming lake.”

  18. Zatara

    Why don’t they just build a perpetual motion machine to drive the generator. They could hire an alchemist to change lead into gold to finance it.

    SA – Where reality is just a concept.

  19. Confused Old Misfit

    SA – Where reality is just a concept.

    Love it! +1000!

  20. RobK

    Der spiegel ….not der spegel

  21. manalive

    Just a reminder that SA sits on the largest known single deposit of uranium ore on the planet.

  22. egg_

    South Australia’s average daily power consumption is 31,600 MWh so the total output of the 5 schemes above can contribute 21% but they require the equivalent of 24% to pump all that water back uphill, so they are nett energy users, not generators.

    Yup, throughput losses of 20%, only good for “peak shaving” use.

    Is Gupta re-invigorating the OneSteel Whyalla power station?

  23. Howard Hill

    It’s over for the lucky country, the grid is done. You can stay on it and go broke or insane or you can get off it and restructure your life.

    Isn’t it claimed, that if the madness stopped now, we’d have to wait another ten years before we had a fully functioning grid again? And even longer before industry got moving again.

    Expecting someone to step up and remove these parasites from our country is wishful thinking, it isn’t going to happen.

    For a look into the future, just look at the latest in Venezuela. This is our future. It’s pretty bad over there and yet even there no one is prepared to step up and remove the parasites destroying their lives.

    We’re boned!

  24. Adelagado

    Another scam gets S.A. Labor Government funding today….
    https://indaily.com.au/news/business/2018/02/12/bigger-lng-sa-get-first-green-hydrogen-plant/

    Apparently we are going to export hydrogen to Japan, even though they are more capable of making it than we are.

  25. Tel

    There is some naive idea that these schemes can be a bit “agricultural”, just get some gear and build a couple of “turkey’s nests”, get some pipes and turbines and Bob’s your Uncle. The reality is very different, having been involved in a couple of hydro-electric schemes myself.

    You need at a minimum TWO storage areas, one significantly higher up than the other one, and not too far apart. I agree there’s not too many mountains and valleys in that general area, more like rolling hills, but that said, just the general concept of building extra water storage around Adelaide must surely be useful for something. In particular it could be useful for water storage.

    If you tell the Greens it’s really a “pumped hydro” scheme to solve Global Warming, than suddenly farmers will be able to build the dams they always wanted but were previously told would destroy the environment. Think “age of seeming”. Don’t have a design… have an angle.

    If I remember rightly, the only remaining customer for Whyalla steel is government contracts (and even those guys are trying to find ways out of it) maybe building giant water tanks up in the hills would give them a bit of a sense of purpose??

    How about this one? Get them to dig a giant pit, at least 500m deep and lined with stainless steel… as a you know “hydro project”. Then afterwards we can say, “You know, that would be a great place to put a nuclear reactor”.

  26. David Brewer

    How do we get off this train to the madhouse?

    Put some engineers in charge; rather than arts grads, lawyers, accountants and political operatives.

    Well, yes, but that is the problem everywhere, isn’t it? Just too many arts grads, lawyers, accountants and political operatives, many with master’s degrees in management or “public administration”. 60% of the population goes to university and thus gets 15-20 years of indoctrination in PC nonsense before being let loose on society – having been told all their lives how clever they are.

    The university class has grown by orders of magnitude since the war. At first they only buggered up the sort of nonsense they were interested in – sociology, psychology, the yarts etc. But their sheer numbers now mean they bugger up everything. Even the most technical and practical matters are now subject to their ridiculous notions and turned into a shambles as a result. Think – power supply, water supply, garbage removal, bushfire prevention… even toilet design.

    As you say, the solution is to put some engineers in charge. But I am afraid they will never again be in charge of anything. There will always be some smartarse pill of bureaucrat telling them what to do to save the bloody world.

  27. RobK

    Simply putting engineers in charge wont help. Its the subsidies that are toxic…and the accompanying narrative.

  28. egg_

    If you tell the Greens it’s really a “pumped hydro” scheme to solve Global Warming, than suddenly farmers will be able to build the dams they always wanted but were previously told would destroy the environment. Think “age of seeming”. Don’t have a design… have an angle.

    Sounds like a cunning plan!

  29. Dingus MsGee

    We already have pumped hydro in NSW.
    Water flows down into the Jounama Reservoir from the Talbingo Dam generating electricity from Tumut 3 power station to meet peak demand when people want to cook their dinner.
    In the early hours of the morning when electricity is in less demand the water is pumped back up into Talbingo Dam. Talbingo Dam’s water level stays at about the same level throughout the year.
    Or so I believe.

  30. Roger

    …is the same Mr Gupta who is currently said to be involved in State Caoture of another SA. SOUTH AFRICA?

    No.

  31. Bruce of Newcastle

    I saw a mention of using sea water for SA pumped hydro. Not sure where.

    If they do that it will be fun. The corrosion would be epic. The whole box and dice would be pitted like crazy in only a few years especially if they don’t pay attention to galvanic mismatches.

  32. Muddy

    Can we not legislate, forcing the non-protected classes to hike up to their nearest height and urinate in a bloody great big slightly tilted metal trough, and use that to generate hydro power? Surely that’s a more efficient use of resources? A secondary benefit would be selling the television rights (ala Big Brother). If the physical exercise bit is too much of an effort, we could build enormous escalators (The Simpsons, anyone?) which would boost the economy.

  33. Adelagado

    RobK
    #2635013, posted on February 12, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    “The Storage Conundrum

    Likewise, Japan has a lot of pumped hydro plants that were built to use excess energy from Nuclear generators.

    Obviously they now have a problem.

  34. John Constantine

    Bruce, if their looting Class use seawater for pumped hydro and it fails, they will simply borrow more money and get their cronies to build another one.

    This is why ruinables profitability is front end loaded, and the decommission costs are rear ended.

  35. Mark A

    The article from the Der Spiegel.
    If this was the one RobK was referring to

  36. yarpos

    Put Engineers in charge? why? where have they been? why have they not spoken up? what are the professional associations doing? they just take the money and keep silent like everyone else, they are not your saviours.

    Personally I hope the SA Government proceeds full steam ahead with these proposals. The sooner we precipitate the disaster , the sooner reality may dawn.

  37. Dan Dare

    Fact check on comments here: True
    Big problem though.
    None of the imbeciles bent on the destruction of power supplies will listen and even if they did
    would be too shit scared to act because the low information voters would give them the arse
    as a result of the brainwashing from the mad greens and their fellow travellers that has been in
    overdrive since the dispicables such as Gore started their (self) money making schemes and subsidies for useful idiots.
    It’s the old story – follow the money.

  38. Dan Dare

    And, these scum will walk away from the disaster they have created with absolutely no responsibility sheeted home to them.

  39. Waz

    “How do we get off this train to the madhouse?”………not anytime soon given the voting behaviour the populace.

  40. duncanm

    what are the professional associations doing?

    Captured by just the sort of people who want to get involved in running such organisations — ie: the wrong sort.

    I give you Engineers Australia

    Read the energy policy and weep.

  41. Dan Dare

    Duncanm, more useful idiots.

  42. Robber Baron

    Voyage of the damned.

  43. wal1957

    I agree Yarpos. The sooner the sh!te hits the fan, the better as far as I am concerned.
    A dose of reality is what is required. Although even then I fear that the brainwashed politicians and voters would still worship the ‘renewables’ miracle.

    My vote in any future elections, be it state or federal, will be going to any conservative party that calls out the renewable sham for what it is. No country can prosper without a reliable and cheap electricity grid.

    The Libs are dead men walking. They know it, but they haven’t got the gonads to admit it yet. Any change of their policy direction will be too little, too late. As far as I am concerned, good riddance!

  44. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    My vote in any future elections, be it state or federal, will be going to any conservative party that calls out the renewable sham for what it is. No country can prosper without a reliable and cheap electricity grid.

    The sad truth is that it will likely only be a communist party in Australia that once in power will have the guts to change the renewables scam and sham. Socialism first, then outright communism. The future, folks.

  45. Rob MW

    The hydro article lists five proposed “pumped hydro” schemes………………

    Lol………… it would probably be more cost effective if they simply (sic) detached SA from the mainland, then put a jack under the northern detachment and jack it up 5 degrees and put a couple of turbines replacing the barrages at Lake Alexandrina then, pray for rain. Apparently lateral thinking goes out the door when you live on, and drink from, the end of a drain/sarc

    Ever wondered why most federal ministers for the environment are from sanity detached SA ?

    Obviously delusion can’t be cured in SA.

  46. J.H.


    “All this pain is to “reduce emissions” when there is plenty of evidence that it is a pointless exercise and that we actually do not have a problem called “anthropogenic global warming”. How do we get off this train to the madhouse?”

    There’s no “getting off”…. They won’t listen. They are using the Taxpool to fund the welfare state and the Welfare vote keeps them in power….. It will take civil conflict to change anything now. How large that conflict becomes….. Is anyone’s guess.

  47. Sydney Boy

    Pumped hydro loses energy. Of course it does. It is essentially a battery. Musk’s SA battery farm also loses energy between what is pushed in and what is drawn out.

  48. Sydney Boy

    I am also amazed at the number of people who believe that renewable electricity is cheaper than fossil fuel electricity. Score one for the false information campaign by the Greens and their ilk. Score another for their constant claims that coal electricity generation scores $4B worth of subsidies per year. Stupid people believe that shit.

  49. struth

    We talk about SA, as if it’s not going to happen to the rest of the country, including WA.

    Of course it is.

    You may note that on these U.N. decreed graduated attacks on the west, if some of their puppets get too enthusiastic about destroying the west and bringing on the revolution, they put them in a holding pattern until the rest can catch up.
    If SA went down too soon and the rest of the country woke up to what was going on, the Agenda 2030 could be in serious jeopardy.
    QLD and WA are being put into motion as we speak, and temporary Musk-y smoke and mirrors side shows are being deployed because South Australia has been too successful, too soon.

  50. Lutz

    Have I understood this correctly: You have some water high up which you send down a hill through a turbine (with losses) into a new lake. Then you pump this water back up (with losses) until you send it back down the hill again (with losses) through a turbine again (with losses). And this is Engineering? I must have studied the wrong courses.

  51. Stan

    How do we get off this train to the madhouse? Fucking good question.

  52. John Bennetts

    Pumped hydro has a place – for example, there have been three large examples in NSW for decades. NSW. Google will find them for you.

    Japan’s well-referenced pumped hydro experiment using salt water, one upper turkey’s nest dam and the ocean, was closed a couple of years back. It was only a demonstration plant. They aren’t replicating it… wonder why? Could it be the cost or the fact that it was in a national park and Japanese worship national parks, provided that they are in Japan. National parks in other nations are valued only as forestry resources, or future palm oil plantation sites, etc.

    There are three possible water sources for SA’s new pumped hydro.
    1. Fresh water. Good luck with that.
    2. Salt water. From the ocean. Must be pumped from sea level to the upper pondage, perhaps many miles across and a thousand metres vertically. Environmental issues include salt groundwater, unless the whole system is constructed inside a giant plastic bag. This could use two storages (inland) or one (the lower “pond” being the ocean)
    3. Desalinated water. Again, from the ocean, but with huge additional capital, maintenance and pumping cost, only to be evaporated or to seep away from the storage. This type needs two storages – upper and lower.

    Ultimately, it all depends on large amounts of surplus energy, on a daily basis, in order to make it work. If not daily (say, weekly, or monthly or annual), then the storage(s) must be increased in size to meet the largest projected demand on a daily, weekly, monthly or annual basis.

    Conclusion: Engineering knowledge, plus a large dose of realistic common sense, are essential to demonstrate that the numbers work, otherwise SA will continue to follow the failing path that the Germans have followed with their unique “Energiewende” money pit.

    For mine, nuclear power seems to be an essential component of any low carbon, reliable, part-renewables electricity system. Everything points that direction, but instead, the same folk who claim to want (demand) a low carbon emission future are those who spend most of their efforts erecting phony roadblocks when it comes to actually achieving that outcome.

    Surprise, surprise… Australia’s largest energy company talks the low carbon talk but has gas as its middle name. Australian Greenwash Limited.

  53. The pumped storage concept is that the system operates as a huge battery. The name is Pumped Storage . That refers to storage of electricity, not water. Installing large solar or wind farms allows surplus power to be used to pump water uphill on sunny and/or windy days. About 85-90% of the energy used to pump the water can then be recovered at times of high demand or when the sun does not shine (at night). Behind the Illawarra escarpment, sea water could be pumped up to 300m above sea level into a storage dam, suitably sealed like the Hunter Area fresh water dam at Grahamstown. That water could be discharged during the morning and evening peak periods and it would eliminating coal powered generation kept operating to meet those peaks. Some capital expense could probably be saved by preventing sea water entry into Lake Illawarra and after dredging to increase its storage capacity, discharging to the lake, and pumping back uphill, the water in the dams already on that escarpment (Sydney fresh water storage). The lake would increase the water storage available to Sydney as Lake Illawarra has a catchment area of over 200 square kilometres.. If this drought continues much longer Sydney residents will appreciate the desalination plant built a few years ago.

  54. old bloke

    Mr Gupta says he will install “one gigawatt of dispatchable renewable energy” which will power his Whyalla steelworks and have a bit left over for the rest of us.

    Does anyone know how Mr. Gupta intends to generate this 1GW “dispatchable renewable energy”?

  55. Flyingduk

    The most efficient way to store solar energy is as coal, gas and oil……

  56. old bloke

    John Turner
    #2635801, posted on February 13, 2018 at 11:04 am

    That water could be discharged during the morning and evening peak periods and it would eliminating coal powered generation kept operating to meet those peaks.

    Why eliminate coal powered generation when that is the cheapest and most reliable energy source?

  57. Speedbox

    As an ex-South Australian I can tell you that the geography of SA is generally flat. The tallest mountain (large hill) is Mt Woodroofe at about 1500m. It is located near the SA/NT border in the north west of the State. Bloody remote area!

    The tallest mountain (small hill) overlooking Adelaide is about 700m with rolling hills in the surrounding area.

    Given the lack of vertical geography, any hydro system would require a dam of immense proportions to release the volume of water necessary to generate any meaningful amount of electricity into a second holding dam. As SA is the “driest state on the driest continent”, where will the water come from to fill the primary dam? And don’t say seawater ‘cos that’s just bullshit.

    But, it won’t happen. There is no way that a) the Govt could afford it and b) the Greens would allow it. Flooding two vast areas when solar and wind is soooo much cheaper and more environmentally friendly!! Hell will freeze over first.

    South Australia has had a Labor Govt for 16 years with an election coming in March. Believe it or not, Labor are in with a chance to win another term meaning 20 years in Govt.

    SA is a telltale for the rest of the country. Too stupid to survive.

  58. egg_

    I saw a mention of using sea water for SA pumped hydro.

    Is pumped hydro the solution in SA?

  59. egg_

    more useful idiots.

    Technocrats are cucks to the Greenoid bureaucrats.

  60. Bruce

    “Pumped Hydro”; perpetual motion for the 21st Century.

  61. egg_

    How do we get off this train to the madhouse?

    If their Turnmerkel loses Govt could it be any worse under Labour?
    I doubt it – methinks KRudd would have stood up better to the Greenstapo.

  62. egg_

    Does anyone know how Mr. Gupta intends to generate this 1GW “dispatchable renewable energy”?

    Whyalla steel city goes green with 1GW of solar and storage

  63. RobK

    Does anyone know how Mr. Gupta intends to generate this 1GW “dispatchable renewable energy”?

    Will he hoover up all available subsidies?

  64. Speedbox

    Egg

    Thanks for the link. I see it but I still dunnu believe it. Not is SA. The Greens will push for an expansion of the home solar system with a vision that “every private property” will generate their own electricity and store it via a Musk weather wall system.

    Only business (and top-up for domestic) will need commercially generated power.

    I am certain that Labor and the Greens see SA as the “crash test dummy” for domestic power generation – regardless of cost to the populace. Then, in say 20 years, they will hold SA up as a global example of what can be done. The fact that power prices are obscenely high and industry has left the State, will be irrelevant.

  65. Delta A

    SA – Where reality is just a concept.

    SA Labor is facing an election in March. Anything – just anything – is on the table to keep the proles’ lights on and the votes coming to Wetherdill.

    Wind farms? Yes Ma’am! Solar? Yes Ma’am. Batteries? Yes Ma’am! Because Wetherdill is committed to clean, green renewable energy.

    … and if the power fails: dirty, polluting diesel generators? Yes, Ma’am. Because Wetherdill is committed to keeping his snout immersed in the trough.

  66. Lutz

    You cannot get something from nothing. This using ‘surplus energy from solar and wind’ amounts to so little as to be negligible. If you had that much energy available from the ‘renewables’ the problem wouldn’t be there in the first place.

  67. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    If this drought continues much longer Sydney residents will appreciate the desalination plant built a few years ago.

    NSW and much of the eastern seabord has always been subject to droughts, then flooding rains. Seven to ten year droughts are not unknown historically. It is in the nature of the place, and nothing to do with carbon dioxide from coal-fired power stations. The anthropogenic element in the CO2 composition of the atmosphere is absolutely a minimal part and there is little or no evidence that it is affecting anything. In world terms, Australian anthropogenic CO2 provides an almost unmeasurable percentage of the total anthropogenic CO2 anyway. We need ‘beautiful clean coal’ more than many other nations to get us through our climatic conditions cheaply and comfortably. As many commenters note above, we need to get off the useless virtue-signaling train wreck that we are currently on and stop funding green hangers-on to find a spurious climatic angle to every reef and tree frog study that is then used to stymie progress.

    Progress is not a dirty word.
    The paraphernalia of wind-farms wears out; it doesn’t ‘renew’ itself.
    Coal is renewable. Plenty of coal and gas in Australia.
    If we want to experiment with energy sources – fine. On your investment dime, not mine.

    We are increasing our populations and we should also be increasing our dams and other water storage systems. Desalination is an expensive last resort. NSW is not short of water, it is short of water storage systems. Pumping river water back into dams in our mountain gorges could serve a dual purpose of water storage and electricity generation. Not in the name of CO2 reduction (that matters not) but in the same of common sense regarding water storage. If there is an electricity spin off, then that could power the pumps in a self-providing system. Meanwhile, for the people’s aircon 🙂 and industry’s growth, more coal-fired power please. NOW.

  68. Peter Sommerville

    I happened to be in Adelaide and read the same article. A few qick calculations and I came to the same conclusions.

    Pumped hydro plants were engineered in a time when cheap and reliable baseload electricity was readily available. The economics made sense. But that time is rapidly receding.

  69. Byron

    He added that he expects Bitcoin mining operations will use around 840 gigawatt hours of electricity to supply data centre computers and cooling systems, for example. He estimated that the county’s homes, in contrast, use around 700 gigawatt hours every year.

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