1. Liddell to go
The die was cast at the AGL annual general meeting. Liddell will be closed and not sold.
- Mr Vesey spent the bulk of his address explaining how AGL would replace the capacity lost at Liddell, including new wind and solar farms, up to 750 megawatts of new gas-fired plants and a 100-megawatt upgrade to the more modern and larger Bayswater coal plant nearby. A 250 MW battery at Liddell and demand response will also come into play, he said.
- Vesey’s outline of AGL’s line of thinking was centred around the 250MW of battery storage and 100MW of “demand response” – including tapping into the household batteries of consumers – which he said could provide 150MW of “firm capacity”.
“We will deploy both grid-scale batteries, as well as residential batteries combined with orchestration technology to enable customers to participate in and benefit financially from demand response,” he said.
An upgrade of the neighbouring Bayswater coal generator due to close in 2035 would add 100MW, as well as new gas capacity of 750MW alone would almost meet the 1,000MW of reserve capacity shortfall identified by AEMO to be required in 2022.
And that’s only part of their investment portfolio.
Who could complain?
Answer, Barnaby Joyce, who came up with some stupid analogy about selling an old car. Giles Parkinson does not hold back:
- it’s a tragic indictment of the state of Australia’s energy policy. It finds itself in an appalling state of stupid, driven there by a triumph of incompetence and ideology over economics and engineering, and of folksy nostalgia over modern technology.
One year on from the state-wide blackout in South Australia that sparked the Coalition’s extraordinary jihad against wind and solar, it is clear that the answer to the trumped up energy crisis is exactly what the Coalition doesn’t want it to be: yet more wind and solar.
2. $2.5bn on a coal-fired power station is good old pork barrelling
- The Queensland Liberal-National party (LNP) are promising that if they are elected to government they’ll build a new coal power station in northern Queensland. And just this week the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, announced that if Queenslanders elected the LNP at the next state election, all Australian taxpayers would help fund it.
Estimated cost is $2.5 billion, which tax payers would have to fund, because banks are not interested.
Edis did some basic maths.
Queensland’s overall electricity demand over the year averages out at less than 6,000MW and is unlikely to grow much. Meanwhile it has 8,186MW of coal power plant capacity, plus another 3,297MW of gas. Over the past four years Queensland’s biggest coal power station at Gladstone has been operating at less than half its capacity. Several other Queensland coal power stations are running at about two-thirds of their capacity.
It’s about votes, not power.
3. Tesla Powerpack battery to power Logan reservoir
Meanwhile at Logan, just south of Brisbane a new water reservoir at Round Mountain will be powered by solar and a large Tesla battery.
It will operate entirely off-grid.
Brisbane Airport have embarked on a $11 million expenditure program to install a massive 6MW of solar panels on six sites. I believe it totals twice the area of the MCG.
Ultimately capacity will be 10MW with batteries.
The expenditure will save $1 million pa in electricity charges at current rates.
A fleet of 11 BYD 70 passenger electric buses, is set to run an inter-terminal shuttle service starting early 2018.
Largely that was because of a mismatch of supply and demand in China in the manufacture of solar panels. The US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL) estimates the levelized costs of electricity at $50-66 per megawatt-hour (MWh) for fixed tilt systems and $44-$61/MWh for tracking systems, excluding the effect of the U.S. federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC).
The article says:
- it is not coincidence that there is currently a case before the U.S. government on potential trade protection for U.S. solar cell and module makers.
ANU engineering professor Andrew Blakers has found at least 22,000 suitable pumped hydro locations nationwide.
- “We only need to build about one or two dozen to support a 100 per cent-renewable electricity grid.”
Pumped hydro is highly dispatchable taking about one minute to ramp up to full power.
He says that we could decarbonise electricity, land transport, heating and cooling to yield 75 per cent cuts in Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.
It can all happen over the next 15 or 20 years. He says:
- Pumped hydro is also widespread in Europe, especially in the alpine parts of Italy, Germany and France, and in Scandinavian countries like Norway. It is also widely used in Japan and the United States.
Time to get on with it here.
7. Renewables will be cheaper than coal in the future
Ken Baldwin at ANU has done the numbers.
It’s a detailed article, but the bottom line?
- By the time renewables dominate electricity supply in Australia, it’s highly likely that a price on carbon will have been introduced. A conservative carbon price of at least A$20 per tonne would put coal in the A$100-plus bracket for a megawatt-hour of electricity. A completely renewable electricity system, at A$75-80 per MWh, would then be more affordable than coal economically, and more desirable environmentally.
- The construction boom in large-scale solar farms and wind projects in Australia appears to have hit a significant road hump, with new rules imposed by the Australian Energy Market Operator causing delays, and in some cases adding costs and technology reviews, for project developers.
The issue is causing controversy because the rules changes have not yet been endorsed by the market rule-maker, but AEMO is insisting they be respected because of the sheer number and scale of the projects under construction, and because of their anticipated life-span and their role on the grid.
The changes are part of a suite of actions proposed by AEMO in response to last September’s “System Black” in South Australia. But the biggest impact for solar and wind farms appears to be around the refined definition and requirement for “continuous uninterrupted” power.
This standard – known as S188.8.131.52 – is being reinforced so as to require wind and solar farms to maintain the same level of output in the face of any big changes in frequency and voltage. No exceptions.
These changes are accepted by the industry as a good thing and are not too expensive when planned at the outset. However, AEMO is insisting that they be introduced to projects already under construction. About 20 projects are caught up in this way.
The standards applied are greater than those applying to existing coal generators. Some are querying AEMO’s legal position because the rules have not yet been approved by the Australian Energy Commission, so we’ll see how it all works out.