Josh Frydenberg has just written an opinion piece in the AFR about Why we can’t do without the power of Snowy 2.0.
Can’t do without it, that’s what he said. To impress us he said:
- With only 2 per cent of construction visible above ground, the scheme involved 16 major dams, seven power stations, a pumping station and 225 kilometres of tunnels, pipelines and aqueducts.
He says that it will create up to 5000 jobs, produce enough power for 500,000 homes and store enough energy to run for seven consecutive days at its maximum output.
And it would cost a mere $3.8 to $4.5 billion compared to the equivalent in Tesla batteries which would cost $180 billion.
He says that 97% of the world’s energy storage is done through pumped hydro. What he doesn’t say is how much bang you would get from spending $4.5 billion to subsidise smaller pumped hydro schemes on a decentralised basis instead of drilling 27 kilometres through very unfriendly rock. In costing this one, the cost of even connecting it to the grid has not been calculated, let alone transmittimg power to where it is needed to support renewables.
Bruce Mountain has said he can’t see the numbers stacking up, so we should worry. What it does do is give Malcolm Turnbull photo opportunities, which are supposed to convince him, us, and his less than completely loyal party room that he is forging an appropriate energy future:
In an article published under the title Power mess still needs to be fixed on the front page of the AFR, Ben Potter says AEMO boss Audrey Zibelman has challenged other energy agencies to deliver AEMO the tools it needs to build a “strategic reserve” to protect the power system from blackouts this year and next summer.
- AEMO has raised 1150 megawatts of “demand response” capacity to help prevent blackouts this summer, but the mechanism the agency had used to ensure enough supply called the Reliability and Reserve Trader or RERT, won’t be available for the summer of 2018-19.
The rule-making body, the Australian Energy Market Commission, has changed the rules governing the RERT so that from 2018 the mechanism can only be used on short notice, leaving the market operator to lobby for a strategic reserve in its place.
I’m really not sure what is going on here, so Giles Parkinson will no doubt tell us when he gets back from the break. Zibelman sees demand response as like a big power station, and indeed as a strategic reserve.
John Pierce, Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) chair seems to do what he likes and what he likes is to make it hard for innovators in the market. Kerry Schott, the new Energy Security Board chair is paid the big bucks to sort this kind of thing out.
- AEMO has contracted with 14 companies – including Alcoa Portland Aluminium, Agrekko Diesel Generators, SA and Victorian distributors SA Power Networks and CitiPower/Powercor, and Australian Steel Company’s Laverton mill – to deliver demand response capacity under the RERT this summer.
Apparently Zibelman can’t simply roll this over next summer because Pierce thinks a ‘strategic reserve’ needs to be actual electricity.
Perhaps they should all visit Queensland where this kind of thing has been done since 2006. Will Queensland be allowed to keep doing it?
Zibelman said the other trick tried in Queensland of remotely turning customers’ pool pumps and air conditioners up and down could potentially lower demand by 800 MW. It’s called PeakSmart. Will Energex be allowed to keep doing it? My guess is that they won’t ask.
Richard Dennis says that there is nothing in the constitution that obliges politicians to use evidence in making policy. It is perfectly open to them to use feelings, so that is what many do. Dennis says:
- During last February’s heat wave fossil fuel-based power stations failed in NSW, SA and Queensland, and most of these failures were heat-related. In NSW 20 per cent of coal and gas generation (2438 MW) failed on February 10 during the peak demand period.
Nevertheless many politicians feel that coal is cheap and reliable, so they act as though it were. Even so, surely they can only maintain these positive feelings if they don’t actually live near any such facilities. Here is a vision of keeping old coal alive, which seems to be a central purpose of current policies:
Meanwhile A month in, Tesla’s SA battery is surpassing expectations. It can provide contingency services within 6 seconds when there is a drop in power supplied. However, it also provides frequency regulation services to smooth frequency achieved through control signals sent by AEMO at a 4-second intervals.
Victoria is going for a big battery at Stawell, and there will be an even bigger one at the Kaban Green Power Hub, 80 kilometres south-west of Cairns in Queensland. That one will be topped by a 150-megawatt lithium-ion unit Hyundai Electric & Energy Systems is building in Ulsan near the south-east coast of South Korea, which will go live in a few months.
Battery prices have almost halved since 2014.
Batteries have set a new standard for backup power as Snowy Hydro found to its sorrow. Seems Snowy does more than hydro, as it is buying solar from Tailem Bend in SA. When it wanted to relocate some of its fast-start diesel generators from the Hunter Valley approval was declined by the SA authorities with advice from AEMO. The requirements for dynamic voltage control capability and fault-ride could not be met without expensive upgrades, made more uneconomic because the connection charges were more than six times higher than charged for an equivalent project in Queensland.
This morning Richard Di Natale was on the airwaves calling for leadership on climate change policy. At present it looks like another year in the wilderness venturing up dry gullies. The Energy Security Board is preoccupied with trying to square the circle in working out the details of the National Energy Guarantee, considered by people like Finkel as the third best option available.
We aspire to mediocrity.