Today’s Australian, (29 June 2020), carries a story in the business section entitled “Clean energy “could create a million jobs””. A “think tank” called “Beyond Zero Emissions” wants to see the construction of a further 90GW of solar and wind generation capacity and then “harvesting that through the economy”, whatever that means.
It is interesting from the perspective of the reliability of renewables over the past years and the paltry amount they contribute to demand at any time. Some time ago I laboured through an analysis of the 2018 generation statistics and arrived at some conclusions that showed how little the “renewables” contributed to the total electricity consumption. In that year wind and solar supplied 9% of consumption and “reliables” supplied 91%. The highest load during the year was just under 31,000 MW, at around 5.30 p.m. Just for illustration that day’s load curve is shown below.
Note that the data is given in 5 minute intervals so a full day has 288 data points. In the chart above midnight is point 1 and the next midnight is point 288.
The chart above shows the contribution from wind and solar combined during that day. Note that on that day the total contribution to the daily consumption in MWh from the “renewables” was 2.3%. “Reliables” contributed 97.7%.
Note also that the red area for solar is only in the middle of the day.
Whenever the renewable spruikers talk about how many GW of capacity they want to add, they miss the crucial point that the intermittency of the generation means that only a fraction of the installed capacity is useable, so to meet the maximum demand there needs to be serious overcapacity that would sit idle much of the time.
The 90GW that these people want to add might provide 18GW over the full year, allowing a generous 20% capacity factor, (annualised), but there will be times when it contributes bugger all.
The article reports that the Zero Emissions report wants to place renewables in the Pilbara and the Northern Territory, presumably because “there is lots of sunshine”, but these places are a very long way from the load centres and any transmission, if we could ever afford to build it, would have severe losses along the way. There is the usual garbage about Australia being “ideally placed to develop both wind and solar projects” but a look at work done by Paul Miskelly and Tom Quirk some years ago will show that the idea that “the wind is always blowing somewhere” is not based on fact but on wishful thinking.
Some other “recommendations” include:
- “The acceleration of new energy and storage projects to unleash an abundance of cheap energy”, (whatever that means).
- “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”.
- “Building electrified transport infrastructure such as electric bus fleets with localised and regional manufacturing”.
They also think that we can “upgrade our Aluminium smelters to flexibly ramp up or down to run off renewables. Giving them extra sources of revenue, (how this is done I am at a loss to understand), and guarantee long term security for their workers.
There is the usual hype about how wonderful this would be, stuff like:
“We want industry, communities and investors to work with us in this framework, to create the best ideas, ready with key partners and private capital to work with government to rebuild our economy”.
This is of course pure twaddle and not worth a minute’s consideration. If these people could see past the obsession with carbon dioxide and recognise that the destruction of the good power stations in the quest to “save the planet” has been the most stupid idea ever implemented we might get somewhere. Alas, I think there is not much hope for that. The fact that the BCA thinks this sort of stuff is good speaks volumes about the intellect of the business “leaders”.