Terry McCrann referred to a suggestion from Kohler 2 years ago to look to the RE future with special reference to a “little company named ReNu Energy” that was putting solar panels on the rooves of shopping centres. At the time the shares were worth 14c, currently they are around 6c, it has sold out its interest in rooftop panels and is concentrating on ”bioenergy.”
There was no hint about what bioenergy might deliver. McCrann commented on the disappearance of geotheremal from the scene and he might have mentioned that wave power seems to have gone the same way.
He noted the 24,000 derelict windmills in the US, no doubt a number that is growing rapidly. That is not far short of the total number in the German wind fleet that is also starting to lose the first wave of bird munchers.
His main point was that the intermittent dribble of power from the ReNu roof panels made no contribution to the real power requirements of the shopping centre in the same way that the RE from windmills and solar farms cannot provide the continuous baseload that is required to keep the lights of an industrial city burning. With all the scramble to install fields of solar panels and windmills the essential adjunct is gas to fire up quickly during slack times when coal and water power are ramped up as far as they can go and there is still a shortfall that calls for “demand management” aka rotating blackouts.
When Liddell is shuttered and any coal station goes down the situation will be critical and it will only get worse as the coal-fired plants are allowed to run down and fade away because are losing money.
The problem is worldwide. A coal tracking site reports that worldwide the volume of coal-fired power may be approaching a plateau despite the large number of plants that are under construction because many old plants are closing and a great many are running less of the time. Australia is just one of the many places where unreliable energy has first access to the grid and coal plants run less and less as the volume of RE grows. Of course the situation is unsustainable in the medium to long term in the absence of mass storage but the interests driving RE have so far trumped efforts to rationalise the system.
Alan Kohler is on the side of the interests driving RE and he is really excited about the amount of RE coming on line. Maybe more than the grid can handle! Fancy that, what a great problem to have, he might think. Amusing to see his column sharing page 38 with Terry McCrann, although Alan got a spot on the first page of the business section for the first paras of his piece.
He notes that we have about 50GW of capacity at present with demand peaking around 30GW at this time of year and higher in summer. That looks like a fair margin but of course for the RE component the contribution can be well below 5% of plated capacity at night with low wind. There is really no spare capacity at all.
The headline reads We’re power-poor but renewables-rich as the electricity grid struggles to cope. He reports that last year we added 3GW of big solar and wind, plus 1.4GW on rooves. He neglected to mention the amount under construction, someone can remind us, I have a figure of 8GW in my head with the figures somewhere in the pile of papers near the desk.
And the real news for Alan is 18GW of new RE at the feasibility stage and 78GW at pre-feasibility for a total of 96GW seeking AEMO approval. That looks absurd, he attributes the number to Giles Parkinson reporting for the website reneweconomy.com.au.
OK, all things are possible in that universe. Including flying pigs😊 There is a major issue with new poles and wires to get to the grid and the AEMO has warned that some of the assets under construction may be stranded if more infrastructure is not provided.