Nice call Andrew!

This paper examines the renewable generation of electricity in Australia from photovoltaics (PV), solar thermal electricity (STE) and wind. PV, STE and wind have immense resources and small environmental impacts even when deployed on very large scales. They are the only fully sustainable technologies able to completely replace fossil and nuclear electricity generation during this century. Wind energy is now a low cost generation technology, and is likely to provide 10 per cent of the world’s electricity by 2020.

Andrew Blakers, (2000), “Solar and Wind Electricity in Australia”, Australian Journal of Environmental Management,” 7 (4): 223-236.

Blakers SolarwindANU

Impressive cv!

Mark Diesendorf is pretty hot too, see his comments on the winners of the Technology Roadmap Lottery.

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14 Responses to Nice call Andrew!

  1. I was managing some military projects on battlefield power generation for soldiers around that time and one of those involved an ANU project where Blakers was the ANU project head. Nice guy and he genuinely believed that wind and solar (notably solar at that time) was the solution to all the world’s energy problems. I was sceptical then as I am now and, as what we were doing had nothing to do with that side of his work, I just kept quiet when being told how nirvana was just around the corner.

  2. H B Bear

    Never make predictions about the future if you are likely to be around at the time. “No child will live in poverty …blah blah “. Hawkey knew the ropes.

  3. Scernus

    Wind likely to = 10% ?????
    I guess we are all saved then.

  4. Colonel Bunty Golightly

    You can’t run a smelter on unicorn farts.

  5. Hay Stockard

    Has he any tips for the Everest?

  6. David Brewer

    Blakers’ is a well-written article, and his prediction of 10% of world electricity from wind by 2020, while excessive, is fairly typical for the field. The actual figure will be about 6% judging from the 2019 figures in the BP Statistical Review of World Energy (see data on pp. 55 and 61).

    We need to reflect on the fact that he and his mates are also experts, with hundreds of publications in their field, who are having a strong influence on policy through their contacts in the bureaucracy. Why is it that they have such huge blind spots?

    Take, for a start, nuclear power. This is dismissed in 2 lines in Blakers’ first paragraph:

    Nuclear energy from fission has severe problems relating to waste disposal, reactor accidents, nuclear weapons proliferation and nuclear terrorism. Nuclear fusion is still many decades away from commercial utilisation.

    It’s not his field I suppose, but seriously? What about the waste disposal problems of millions of wind turbines and billions of solar arrays? How many more wind and solar power accidents are there than nuclear accidents? And hasn’t it been obvious all along why this would be the case? And how much difference to nuclear weapons stockpiles or nuclear terrorism possibilities would it make if we shut down nuclear power plants?

    Another huge blind spot is economics. The paper says that

    Wind energy is now a low cost generation technology

    and

    PV has found attractive niche markets

    …but then goes on to call for more subsidies. And 20 years later the calls are only louder. The third link is to an article by his mate Diesendorf, praised by Blakers, whining that:

    Congestion on transmission lines is limiting renewables growth. More infrastructure is urgently needed to connect renewable energy to the grid, and transmit it where required.

    Federal funding is also needed urgently to help the states create renewable energy zones, as recommended by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). These areas would involve the coordinated development of grid infrastructure, such as transmission lines, in places with big renewable energy potential.

    Yet the government package doesn’t prioritise these essential measures – and markets will not build them.

    If “markets will not build them” then they are uneconomic by definition. Still. Twenty years after Blakers said wind and solar were low cost and had found attractive niche markets. So how come yet more subsidies are still necessary? Again, the explanation is staring Blakers and Diesendorf in the face, and has been all along. Wind and solar impose huge infrastructure costs and ruin the economics of reliable baseload power sources. They provide low-quality, intermittent, unpredictable power that imposes huge costs on the rest of the system to ensure a reliable supply.

    How on earth can we get these experts out of their bubbles of delusion about wind and solar power?

  7. John

    Wind power in 2000 was roughly 0% of global electricity, compared with 4.8% in 2018 and 3.1% in 2014. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_by_country

    So forecasting the growth of a new technology to within 50% of the actual value over 20 year horizon is rather impressive. And if current growth rates continue, that 10% target will be reached not too far behind schedule.

  8. Leo G

    Windpower diverts energy from processes which transfer insolation energy from the surface to higher levels of the atmosphere, processes that mix air during the day and thereby expand the height of the atmospheric boundary layer.
    Windpower should therefor be expected to some extent lead to decreased winds, decreased cumulus cloud development, and increased surface dew points.
    That is, windpower contributes to global warming.

  9. Natural Instinct

    Andrew be-clowns himself with:

    It is apparent that wind generators in good sites are fully competitive with fossil fuel generation unless the fossil fuel has a particularly low price. In Australia the latter situation prevails. The switchyard cost of electricity is around 4 c/kWh in the eastern states, and the cost to consumers is around 8-12 c/kWh.
    However, measures taken recently by the Federal Government are likely to improve the position of wind energy, as discussed below.

    Given wind power (when it blows as per his averages) is 2 to 4.5 time more expensive that fossils fuels (see below), it is no wonder that an intervention to improve “the position of wind energy” is required.
    .
    Also if you load wind costs with a pumped hydro scheme at 55% efficiency (no evaporation losses, and no extra long transmission losses allowed) then wind electricity is 4 to 8 times more expensive than fossil fuels.
    .
    Note: I have used his 15 % discount rate numbers because that is what I would want as an investor in a high risk, poor track record, emergent industry. Bit like a kale farm investment, could be great because it is flavour of the month, but other greens could take over next decade.

  10. Eyrie

    Leo G
    #3599424, posted on September 27, 2020 at 6:26 pm

    Windpower diverts energy from processes which transfer insolation energy from the surface to higher levels of the atmosphere, processes that mix air during the day and thereby expand the height of the atmospheric boundary layer.
    Windpower should therefor be expected to some extent lead to decreased winds, decreased cumulus cloud development, and increased surface dew points.
    That is, windpower contributes to global warming.

    Glider pilots should hate windpower, then.

  11. Eyrie

    Blakers is an academic loon. No idea of the the real world.
    Universities – Fire them all, bulldoze the rubble, salt the earth.

  12. Ben

    I watched a webinar with ANU and Blakers this week – he rants a bit, wants fossil fuels gone forever, expects it. These people are given way too much airtime. It would be beneficial for all their past claims to be given some sunshine and thrown back in their faces.

  13. Nob

    John
    #3599392, posted on September 27, 2020 at 5:59 pm
    Wind power in 2000 was roughly 0% of global electricity, compared with 4.8% in 2018 and 3.1% in 2014. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_by_country

    So forecasting the growth of a new technology to within 50% of the actual value over 20 year horizon is rather impressive. And if current growth rates continue

    if I keep rising at the rate I just stood up at, I’ll be on the moon next year.

  14. Rob

    Competent engineers who are also economists (Are there any such people?) would never advocate for “renewables”.
    Competent economists who are also engineers would never advocate for “renewables”.
    Could it be incompetent engineers and incompetent economists that are leading us astray?

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