A tale of two or three energy policies

Not long ago Australia had almost 30GW of coal-fired power capacity reliably delivering some of the cheapest electricity in the world.

We are now reduced to 22GW of coal power and last night at the peak of demand it was delivering at 90% capacity to provide 70% of demand. The sun was down and the 7.7GW of installed wind capacity was providing 740MW (2.6% of demand). That was  up from 0.6% of demand earlier in the day, but who cares?

PLAN A  would have replaced the lost capacity with a couple of super-duper new coal fired power stations for a cost of (say) ten billion and we would still have cheap and reliable power.

PLAN B  cost many tens of billions of dollars to double or triple power prices and cause serious problems with the stability of the grid.

But it gets better.

PLAN C. This morning at Weetbix time we read under the headline   Clean energy ‘could create million jobs that the Beyond Zero Emissions think tank, backed by Atlassian’s Mike Cannon-Brookes, the James Kirby Foundation and the Lenko Foundation, has a plan to build 90 gigawatts of solar and wind energy to boost the economy and reduce emissions. Ten new transmission lines connecting renewable energy projects in regions like the Pilbarra and Northern Territory could create thousands of new jobs.

The story notes that there are already 160GW of renewable projects in the pipeline.

Say we end up with 250GW of installed RE. Leave out the 100GW of solar that provides nothing after sunset –  what do we get from 150GW of wind?   The demand in the SE Australian (NEM) grid ranges from a tick or two under 20GW in the night to 36GW in the late afternoon and evening of heatwaves.

At 10% of capacity that shrinks the 150GW of wind to 15GW. For several days of this  month the supply went below that level, oftentimes down to 2 or 3%. Have a look at the weather patterns – the high pressure cells causing “low to no” wind that Paul Miskelly pointed out a decade ago, and Tony from Oz is bringing to notice at present.

Grid-scale RE is dead in the water although it will be kept on life support for some time by taxpayer subsidies (plus the inflated power prices) and RE mandates.

But no amount of political influence or public money will make the sun shine at night or make the wind blow when a high pressure cell settles over SE Australia.

Give some credit for ingenuity.

The report notes that Australia is ideally placed to develop both wind and solar projects.

Its recommendations include the acceleration of new energy transmission and storage projects to unleash an abundance of cheap energy, implementing a national housing retrofit program targeted at eliminating bills for 2.5 million low-income households, building 150,000 zero-energy social housing dwellings, and building electrified transport infrastructure such as electric bus fleets with localised and regional manufacturing.

It notes that “land restoration to help fragile ecosystems recover from the devastation of the bushfires” would help revegetate 27 million hectares by 2025.

This would be just 6.5 per cent of existing farmland and create 40,000 new jobs.

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12 Responses to A tale of two or three energy policies

  1. Rossini

    We are governed by chicken little politicians.

  2. Jonesy

    We must get rid of the green voting public servants out of the Department of Energy. First secretary…or whatever she wishes to be named is an environmentalist by training and creed….how can a minister of the crown receive frank and fearless advice from such a person?

    Sack the first three levels of command and control. Apoint people who will impliment your brief and remove those who will not and random checks at the department coalface to ensure your will be done. There is no other way!

  3. shady

    And if everyone in the world gives me $1 I’ll be a multi-billionaire. That happening is as likely as the RE fantasy coming true.

  4. Tony Taylor

    Plan C from Outer Space.

  5. Wayne From Perth

    “Its recommendations include the acceleration of new energy transmission and storage projects to unleash an abundance of cheap energy, implementing a national housing retrofit program targeted at eliminating bills for 2.5 million low-income households, building 150,000 zero-energy social housing dwellings,..”

    So if the energy will be so cheap why would we spend billions reducing the need for energy. A tacit admission that the cost of energy will in fact not be cheap and will become worse.

  6. Bruce of Newcastle

    Two 2 GW nuclear plants (2 AP1000 reactors per plant).
    No CO2, long life on a geologically stable continent, totally stable baseload.
    You know it makes sense.

  7. Rafe Champion

    But is it approved by Michael Moore and Dr Bob Brown:)

  8. Ubique

    Canstar Blue publishes average electricity charges (June 2020) in cents per kWh: Qld 22.718; Vic 24.205; NSW 26.245; and SA 36.223.

    The woebegotten Croweaters are paying 59% more for their electricity than Queenslanders; and 48% more than the average of their three neighbouring States. No wonder there’s no industry left in SA.

    https://www.canstarblue.com.au/electricity/electricity-costs-kwh/

  9. wal1957

    But is it approved by Michael Moore and Dr Bob Brown:)

    No…and that’s the reason why you know it makes sense!

  10. Jonesy:

    Sack the first three levels of command and control. Apoint people who will impliment your brief and remove those who will not and random checks at the department coalface to ensure your will be done. There is no other way!

    Purge?
    Any incoming government needs to sack/transfer to Alice Springs the top third of any government department they inherit.
    Currently, we have a Dictatorship of the Bureaucracy and it is unresponsive to the nations needs.

  11. H B Bear

    The Grattan Institute gives The Ponds Institute a bad name.

  12. So if the rush to renewables does not serve we the people, who or what does it serve?

    https://tambonthongchai.com/2019/02/25/un/

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