UNRELIABLE ENERGY CAN DISPLACE COAL BUT IT CAN’T REPLACE IT

INCREASING PENETRATION OF UNRELIABLE ENERGY CAN DRIVE OUT COAL PLANTS BY MAKING THEM UNECONOMIC…THEN WHAT?

ANOTHER BILLION DOWN THE DRAIN IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA. Still a billion is not what it used to be, you spend a billion here and a billion there and you are still nowhere near real money nowadays.

The billion will be spent to make the power cheaper and more reliable and other things.

“The initiative we are partnering with South Australia today will help keep the lights on, lower energy prices, strengthen the economy and create more jobs as we rebuild from the coronavirus pandemic.” Said Taylor.

South Australia’s Prime Minister (sic) Steven Marshall said the deal would enable a hydrogen export industry in South Australia, carbon capture and storage to reduce emissions and the infrastructure needed for electric vehicles. Said that it would coordinate efforts to generate new revenue for farmers from carbon reductions. ..

“Simply put, the deal will reduce electricity prices in South Australia and create jobs in the fast-growing renewable energy industry,” he said.

THE SIMPLE TRUTH IS THAT UNRELIABLE ENERGY CANNOT REPLACE COAL IN THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE

Looking at the recent records, with a lot of wind droughts about (WA down at 2 to 3% of the installed capacity a lot of the time for two days) it is clear that SA and Victorian are stuffed when they lose any more coal power, regardless of the amount of installed wind and solar power.

Check the widget.

A typical dinnertime scenario on a low wind day has SA importing from Victoria oftentimes with input to Victoria from Tasmania. At present, in the late evening, gas is contributing 89% of the local generation in SA. In Victoria coal (77%) and gas (7%) dominate the local generation. What happens when there is less coal power in Victoria and the wind drought in southern Australia is more serious than it is at present?

Don’t look to New South Wales, we are almost all the time beholden to Queensland or Victoria (plus Tasmania), and we will soon be down a coal station. 

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55 Responses to UNRELIABLE ENERGY CAN DISPLACE COAL BUT IT CAN’T REPLACE IT

  1. Tim Neilson says:

    UNRELIABLE ENERGY CAN MAKE COAL UNECONOMIC BUT IT CAN’T REPLACE IT

    I know headlines have to be brief, but what you mean is “taxpayer funded subsidies and government regulatory preferences for unreliable energy can make coal uneconomic [etc.]”.

  2. Richard says:

    I enjoyed the Hunt reference/inflation entendre anyway

  3. jupes says:

    “Simply put, the deal will reduce electricity prices in South Australia and create jobs in the fast-growing renewable energy industry,” he said.

    Are these tossers really that stupid or are they corrupt liars?

  4. duncanm says:

    Does anyone have an idea what the plan is for transporting H2 in this new export industry?

    Can’t liquify it economically.. can you.. so what’s the deal?

    Also energy density of liquid H2 is actually quite shit. Less than half that of LPG, and about 1/3 that of petrol.

    oohh… ans there’s that matter of what you put it in to convert the H2 back to a useful energy form.

  5. duncanm says:

    .. and don’t mention coal. That has about 4x the energy density of liquid H2.

  6. FlyingPigs says:

    lib, lab, green

    Who’s your communist now?

  7. Muddy says:

    I’m pleased about the label of unreliable energy, Rafe, but might I suggest a tweak?

    I think we need to ditch ‘Fossil Fuels’ and rename them Reliable Energy, and apply the label Intermittent (or similar) Energy to the previous ‘Renewable.’ I realise that reads as awkward, but bear with me:

    The label ‘fossil fuel/s’ while correct regarding their origin, has absorbed a great deal of negative propaganda, with barely a defensive whimper. Continuing to use the term which our opponents use to their advantage, brings us no benefits.

    Secondly, the term does not describe its reliability and affordability in comparison to the alternatives. It needs to do so.

    Thirdly, adopting (amongst ourselves, admittedly) the same initials as our opponents – R.E. – could in some circumstances, work to our advantage. I’m loathe to explain why in an open forum such as this.

    By adopting the above, we would not be able to use the term Unreliable Energy. I’ll admit that Intermittent Energy reads as awkward, as does Pro-Poverty Energy, and a few other terms I can think of.

    I believe, however, that everything begins with language. Our first step is to cease using the terms that are used as weapons against us.

  8. RobK says:

    Fossil and nuclear fuels are natural embedded forms of stored energy.
    Solar and wind are chaotic forms of low intensity transient energy.
    The former can be dispatched as needed in an orderly fashion cheaply.
    The later requires extensive buffering on all time scales to be available on demand.
    It’s natural embedded energy versus chaotic transient energy.

  9. PB says:

    “That means having on hand people who willing, able, and ready to kill foreigners who are a threat to our sovereignty and/or national interest.”

    We could keep them busy right now without them ever leaving our shores.

  10. Nob says:

    Muddy says:
    April 18, 2021 at 10:45 pm
    I’m pleased about the label of unreliable energy, Rafe, but might I suggest a tweak?

    I think we need to ditch ‘Fossil Fuels’ and rename them Reliable Energy, and apply the label Intermittent (or similar) Energy to the previous ‘Renewable.’ I realise that reads as awkward, but bear with me:

    The label ‘fossil fuel/s’ while correct regarding their origin, has absorbed a great deal of negative propaganda, with barely a defensive whimper.

    Well, speaking as a mother, I mean as someone who’s worked in the oil & gas (and geothermal, and some off-the-wall things …) drilling industry most of my life, we didn’t mind it being called “fossil fuels”.

    Hydrocarbons is more correct term, if only because they are used for many more things than fuel.

    There is no monolithic “fossil fuel industry”.

    Oil is seldom used in Western countries for large-scale power plant fuel (SE Asia is an interesting area where it is though) but of course is in a zillion smaller emergency and primary generators. One can only expect that to increase as more wind and solar are introduced to the grid.

    Gas is a direct competitor to coal and nuclear for electricity generation – they are in competition as fuel sources.

    Wind and solar are not fuel sources and so far the economic and environmental cost of converting their low-density potential to usable large-scale energy comparable with what we get from coal is way more than high-density hydrocarbons or nuclear.

  11. Mark M says:

    What is green hydrogen, how is it made and will it be the fuel of the future? jan 2021

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2021-01-23/green-hydrogen-renewable-energy-climate-emissions-explainer/13081872

    “Its storage requires compression to 700 times normal atmospheric pressure or refrigeration to minus 253 degrees Celsius, which is near absolute zero.
    It’s estimated that the cost of doing this could add anything from 60 cents to $7 per kg, making it less competitive with other fuels.
    On top of the cost of storage, there’s a problem with pipes.
    Hydrogen atoms under pressure are small enough to slip through solid steel, meaning natural gas plumbing often cannot be easily converted for pumping hydrogen, Dr Beck said.”

  12. Rafe Champion says:

    Thanks Muddy, I often use the term conventional energy in place of coal or fossil fuels, and I might have done that in the SA context but they have no hydro.
    Good point with the language.

    We have a wind drought over much of the nation at present, with SA windmills running at 3% of capacity, WA 5% and NSW 6%.

    The widget.

  13. 132andBush says:

    Are these tossers really that stupid or are they corrupt liars?

    I used to think it was just stupid.

    It’s more obvious now that “corrupt liars” is being kind.

  14. Jo says:

    Tossers, stupid, corrupt liars. Greater enemies than any foreign power could be.

  15. Nob says:

    Rafe Champion says:
    April 19, 2021 at 6:20 am
    Thanks Muddy, I often use the term conventional energy

    In industry jargon, “conventional gas (development)” is the term we use for drilling wells that aren’t coal seam gas or tight shale (thus requiring fracking).

    E.g when Origin sold its conventional upstream oil and gas business to Beach Energy” it meant the Otway Basin , Taranaki etc, as opposed to the Queensland CSG fields.

    Note that Beach is saying there’ll be a significant shortfalls in gas supply in coming years.

    And if anyone starts waffling on about Australia exporting most of its gas (as LNG) then ask them why the flippity feck did the green lunatics of all parties block the proposed Westernport LNG import terminal on extreme Green spurious “environmental” grounds?

    OK, I live in UK so maybe don’t see all the Australian news, I cannot see any critical media comment , or even awareness, about this idiotic decision at all.

    It would’ve allowed the use of NW Shelf or Qld gas in SE Australia.

    It was intended to address gas supply shortfalls and improve gas supply certainty in south-eastern Australia, starting from 2024.

  16. calli says:

    Are these tossers really that stupid or are they corrupt liars?

    They are both.

    The axe eventually falls.

  17. Boambee John says:

    Muddy says:
    April 18, 2021 at 10:45 pm
    I’m pleased about the label of unreliable energy, Rafe, but might I suggest a tweak?

    Muddy

    I will steal your new labels for donaitkin.com, to annoy a particularly stupid commenter there.

    Many thanks for the idea.

  18. Tel says:

    Every time they promise lower energy prices, our electricity bills go up.

    Then they tell us there’s no inflation.

    Hey did anyone notice that the RBA used free child care to claim low inflation? Something sounds sus about that, because it wasn’t really free, it was paid for by government … with borrowed money which they didn’t have so the RBA purchased the bonds and printed the money. Thus, you print money to pay for a service and then you can claim printing money makes inflation go down. Weird.

  19. Roger says:

    Don’t look to New South Wales, we are almost all the time beholden to Queensland or Victoria (plus Tasmania), and we will soon be down a coal station.

    As will Queensland be when Callide B closes early in 2028, 10 years ahead of schedule.

    On the bright side we’ll be nearing our 50% renewables target by then.

    Or should that be the dark side?

  20. wazz says:

    The ABC reports today – [The deal will aim to deliver more affordable and reliable power to South Australians, unlock gas supplies, and kick-start work on a new interconnector between SA and New South Wales.]

    But NSW is already an importer – mainly from Qld.

    So what will this “new interconnector” transmit? What would the losses be sourcing power from Qld to SA ?

  21. egg_ says:

    UNRELIABLE ENERGY CAN MAKE COAL UNECONOMIC BUT IT CAN’T REPLACE IT

    The best that Gummint interference can muster!

  22. Mark M says:

    I’m old enough to remember when a Sa/NSW inter-connector was for exporting free, renewable extra, over-produced SA energy to other states to save the planet …

    https://reneweconomy.com.au/get-on-with-it-regulator-urged-to-approve-sa-nsw-interconnector-as-coal-lobby-objects/

  23. Tom Devlin says:

    SA, Vic, and NSW power supplies are teetering on the edge of brownouts now. Imagine what it’s going to be like when Liddell closes. Then add in a huge demand as the various governments throw electric vehicles into the mix. Just a figure of something like 10% of the total cars on the road being electric will put huge demands on the electrical grid. Power rationing is going to be so much fun combined with owners of electric vehicles who won’t be able to go anywhere anyhow because they can’t charge their batteries. So much fun.

  24. m0nty says:

    Rafe, I am glad that you are now conceding that coal is uneconomic. This is an important step in your recovery from your unhealthy coal obsession.

    It will be interesting to see whether battery technology catches up with the long-term localised demand for baseload power in the evenings, or whether the solution will eventually be a global electricity interconnector market, so that wind/solar power on one side of the world can be sent to the other side to make coal truly obsolete.

  25. Rex Anger says:

    Hi m0nty!

    What happens when there is nothing left to recharge the batteries because all the proles wanted 17 seconds of air conditioning, and all the viewers of Married At First Sight have hit an ad break and want a cuppa?

    After a cloudy, oppressive day with no breeze?

  26. m0nty says:

    I suppose the answer is that there will be both: batteries to cover short-term spikes and global interconnectors to flatten out the supply graph over the course of each day.

  27. Gerard says:

    They need to prop up SA to make sure blackouts there don’t show the rest of Australia that renewables are a crock.

  28. RobK says:

    Monty,
    Coal is paying for your largess with transient weather based energy. Transient energy doesn’t carry the load. It needs buttressing not just firming. The greater the penetration, the greater the amount of buttressing required. The impost on coal will only carry it so far before the golden goose dies. Then you’re on your own.

  29. Rex Anger says:

    You didn’t answer the question though, m0nty.

    What will flow through these global interconnectors to recharge the batteries?

    More batteries?

  30. m0nty says:

    And yes, I am aware there are technical limits to interconnectors with thermal overloads and voltage collapses. Those are engineering challenges that will be solved by either improved equipment or just building more interconnectors, like how they often just throw extra CPUs at bottlenecks in computer design these days.

    The sun is always shining somewhere, the wind is always blowing somewhere.

  31. Rex Anger says:

    The sun is always shining somewhere, the wind is always blowing somewhere.

    But can you guarantee it will always be in the Goldilocks range for optimal generation to power the rest of the world’s interonnectors and batteries?

    Why is this sounding like Electrical Marxism- Redistribution of power?

  32. Rex Anger says:

    Are you sure you believe in this, Benito M0ntylini?

    Or are you having a laugh?

    If so, excellent trolling.

    If not- Oh dear…

  33. m0nty says:

    If you believe in the power of the free market to enable beneficial outcomes for every citizen, you must believe in a global power market.

  34. Rex Anger says:

    If you believe in the power of the free market to enable beneficial outcomes for every citizen, you must believe in a global power market.

    Righto, m0nty…

    Superb troll. Keep it up- It’s much better than when you go full NPC.

    At least, there is less mess to scrape off the walls…

  35. incoherent rambler says:

    m0nty says:

    I stopped reading after the colon.

  36. Kneel says:

    “It will be interesting to see whether battery technology catches up with the long-term localised demand for baseload power in the evenings…”

    Clearly, you have no idea of the scale involved – absolutely none.
    How much was the cost of that SA battery again?
    That’s 100MWh.
    Full renew-a-bubble electricity – before we talk about transportation electrification, which would at least double the electricity requirements, then add more for the replacement of gas for heating/cooking – would require near enough as make no odds to 100 times that at the absolute minimum, and likely closer to 1000 times.
    How much environmental damage are you prepared to accept?
    You have to dig up the lithium, refine it etc and you need to do this at a time when the EU and USA appear to be going down the same path, so it won’t be cheap or easy to get.
    You have to collect the diverse and dispersed wind and solar energy, which consumes much more land than the coal station and associated mine would – again, talking about 100 times more, minimum, plus you need to create roads and other infrastructure to allow for the building and maintenance of them.
    You need tonnes of steel and concrete to anchor a 2MW wind turbine, so to match a coal fired station you need 1000 such turbines if they actually made their nameplate, which they don’t, so you can at least triple that number as well. Then you need to double it again, so that you can supply the load and charge the batteries while the energy is available.
    Because the “generators” are so physically sprawling, you also need to massively expand the electricity distribution system, and then double the capacity of it to allow you to charge the batteries and provide load at the same time.
    You have to replace the wind and solar “generators” at least 3 times more often than the coal stations.
    The replaced wind and solar generators contain much which is either toxic or unrecyclible or both.
    The batteries contain toxic metal (lithium) plus toxic acidic or caustic electrolyte – containment failure of a leak or worse a fire will contaminate vast swathes of countryside.
    The batteries also need to be replaced at about the same rate as the generators themselves.
    By the time you “finished” creating the system, or perhaps even before then, you have to start all over again spending at least the same amount, if not more and find a way to dispose of the old ones.
    And all that money won’t go to locals, it’ll all be sent to your mates in the CCP.

    Renew-a-bubbles make no sense, neither economically nor environmentally. Worse, the only reason to do this is concern about what might happen in 100 years time. Really? There was 10 times as much technology change in the 20th C as there was in the 19th C. The 21st C looks set to have the same scale of difference – 10 times. You can’t even imagine what the world might look like with that sort of change, and what problems will simply disappear because of that progress.

    FFS think, you clot! Do some research and freaking THINK about it before you stop opening your mouth for donuts and start speaking.

  37. Rex Anger says:

    @ Kneel-

    Save the logic for us Cats. Just laugh at and kick m0nty.

    You can’t change its mind- The Ideology won’t permit it…

  38. wal1957 says:

    incoherent rambler…

    “m0nty says:

    I stopped reading after the colon.”

    Good choice.

  39. Kneel says:

    “You can’t change its mind- The Ideology won’t permit it…”

    I don’t argue with leftists to change their mind Rex – as you say, they are impervious to logic with their 6 inch thick titanium skulls and laser focused tunnel vision.
    I argue with them because it can change the mind of those who are undecided, or who made a thoughtful choice without the requisite details of what is involved. Spending 100 times what we need to, three times as often while at the same time making no use of our natural advantages and natural resources is dumb, full stop. It’s even dumber when doing so leaves a legacy of pollution and toxic waste at a scale that makes the alternative a complete no-brainer.
    I don’t expect the politicians to get it, which is why we need a grass roots revolt against this insanity – preferably before violence and chaos ensue.

  40. Rex Anger says:

    Agreed Kneel

  41. RobK says:

    If you believe in the power of the free market to enable beneficial outcomes for every citizen, you must believe in a global power market.
    This statement is internally incongruous and lacking in logic.

  42. egg_ says:

    The sun is always shining somewhere, the wind is always blowing somewhere.

    And so “fossil fuels” keep renewing themselves, storage ‘n’ all.

    Windmills are a regressive technology.

    How are wave generators faring, far worse?

    Graveyards for non recyclable wind turbine blades?

  43. RobertS says:

    Morrison should ask the locals in Whyalla if they would accept a nuclear reactor in their town for free electricity.

  44. MatrixTransform says:

    If you believe in the power of the free market to enable beneficial outcomes for every citizen, you must believe in a global power market.

    dumbest thing I reckon I’ve ever heard

    policy == hope ^2

  45. Nob says:

    I had made a post about several things, especially the decision to cancel a LNG terminal for Westernport Bay, which would have helped guarantee SE Australia’s gas supply from Australian gas albeit from distant parts of Australia.

    However it spent one or two days in moderation , then disappeared.

    Possibly through some word in the text, or too many links – I don’t know.
    Does this happen often?

  46. m0nty says:

    You can’t even imagine what the world might look like with that sort of change, and what problems will simply disappear because of that progress.

    That is a stupid argument, Kneel. You might as well say coal pollution is going to be solved by fairies and dragons.

    If you still believe that argument, try applying it to the other side. Green tech is a lot younger than fossil fuel tech, if there are advances in dealing with pollution and scarce resources then they are far more likely to come in green tech to ameliorate the issues you describe.

  47. Snoopy says:

    coal pollution

    LOL

  48. Rex Anger says:

    That is a stupid argument, Kneel. You might as well say coal pollution is going to be solved by fairies and dragons.

    But it IS!

    This is what you’ve been telling us for years, M0ntylini!

    Are you admitting you were wrong? 🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯

    If you still believe that argument, try applying it to the other side. Green tech is a lot younger than fossil fuel tech, if there are advances in dealing with pollution and scarce resources then they are far more likely to come in green tech to ameliorate the issues you describe.

    Lovely word, ‘if.’ Let’s jump back to your ad-hom regarding fairies and dragons.

    Your assumptions regarding ‘if’ Green Tech (i.e. Our generation’s Snake Oil and Perpetual Motion Machones) can solve your alleged problems of pollution* and resource scarcity,** can only do so by somehow miraculously and repeatably overturning everything humanity knows about Physics, Chemistry, Geology, Earth Sciences and even Human Nature.

    In short, you and your co-ideologists (Cultists) demand that we rely on Science to subvert science…

    * Nearly always catastrophic under Socialist and Fascist governments who produce impoverished, desperate and uncaring populaces (Met quotas and food? Or pristine environments and starvation? Or Gulag? Hmmm… 🤔).

    ** See above.

  49. Nob says:

    It’s noticeable that “green tech” electricity doesn’t attract the best engineers.

    It’s government and subsidy driven.

    It’s not really a value proposition that investors go for without government guarantees such as feed-in tariffs far above the market rate for extended periods.

    A good example is the Geodynamics project near Innamincka.

    Only people I know who made money off that were the ones who bought in on the eve of the government’s $90 million grant (which everyone in the industry knew was coming, even if the media didn’t seem to) then took profits in the next few days.

  50. Tel says:

    If you believe in the power of the free market to enable beneficial outcomes for every citizen, you must believe in a global power market.

    If you believe that shoes are a good idea you must believe that oversized clown shoes are even better! Yuk yuk yuk.

  51. Rex Anger says:

    Nothing quite like leftist who hates markets to tell us that a globalised, controlled market is the solution we must believe in.

    Cos markets…

  52. Albatross says:

    CAPS LOCK IS CRUISE CONTROL FOR COOL.

  53. Rafe Champion says:

    Monty, please pay attention!

    As long as prolonged periods with effectively zero solar and wind power persist, the march towards net zero is futile. 100% backup from conventional power will still be required, assuming that we want security of supply.  That means we will be stuck witha hybrid power system for the foreseeable future until the problem of grid-scale storage is resolved.

    The “holy trinity” of transmission lines, batteries and pumped hydro will not maintain the power supply through periodic shortages of unreliable energy from the sun and the wind. Transmission lines cannot distribute spare wind power to places that are short because during wind droughts across the whole of SE Australia there is no spare wind power anywhere.

    “Big batteries” attached to the grid do not have the capacity to provide grid-scale power for any useful length of time. Their function is to provide some stability under the impact of short-term fluctuations in the wind and solar input.

    Pumped hydro is too expensive to provide the amount of storage required to support the grid through prolonged wind droughts. It depends on power generated from other sources and it wastes  30 to 40% of the power in pumping and transmission.

    International transmission of power will not help because everywhere in the western world nations are running down their reliable power capacity and they will all be short, have a look at California and most places in Europe and North America during wind droughts.

    You don’t find out about these things through the fake news media.

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