Sovereign risk is now real

Energy industry warns Morrison power plans would disrupt market was the story to begin the week in the AFR. Meridian Energy Australia chief executive Ed McManus said that the government intervention risked crowding out investors from the energy market and creating a “spiral effect”:

    “The more the government do things, the more private investors hold back. The more private investors hold back, the more there is a need for government to do things,” he told The Australian Financial Review.

    “You get in a position where, looking out several years, the market as we know it disintegrates. When that happens you need very, very deep pockets to fill the gap.”

The Commonwealth government under the tutelage of PM Scott Morrison and the minister for lower power prices Angus Taylor appear to have seriously spooked the market.

Giles Parkinson goes into some detail; about two meetings Taylor had with industry last week in Industry wants capacity payments, as Taylor pushes for new “24/7” power.

    The first didn’t turn out well, with the big retailers rejecting his demands that they cut the level of standing offers, agreeing only on the formulation of “comparison rates” that a consumer might be better able to comprehend.

Just by the way, Victoria’s power networks have just been granted a $30 pa increase by the regulator from January 1, and a draft ruling indicated NSW may increase by $70 for the same reason. Much of the power bill is outside a retailers control, and yelling at them won’t change that.

The second was:

    to get feedback on the Coalition government’s equally controversial proposal to underwrite new investment in “dispatchable generation”, which he defines as 24/7 power, and which many fear is a de-facto call to extend the life of ageing coal generators, or even investment in new facilities.

“24/7 power” seems to be the new buzzword along with “dispatchable”. Perhaps no-one has told him that coal is not particularly dispatchable.

He told the meeting his move was driven by the fact that he could see no investment in dispatchable generation.

    Taylor wants a formal tender for this new investment to be locked away before the next election, and is rushing through the process, calling for submissions to be tendered by the end of this week.

Taylor wants legislation setting up his new powers through the parliament this year. See Taylor confirms race is on to get new coal or gas finalised before federal election.

RenewEconomy was told that:

    the conversation was dominated by Trevor St Baker, the co-owner of the Vales Point coal powered station in NSW that Sunset Power picked up for a bargain. Sunset now wants to extend the life of Vales Point , and is also looking at the Goat Hill pumped hydro project in South Australia.

Of concern was the fact that AEMO, who have been doing forward planning for the NEM, was not consulted and were not at the meeting:

    RenewEconomy understands that AEMO will be consulted once Taylor advances his program and “it gets into actual projects and their viability.” The consultation paper released last week was written by Taylor’s department.

Parkinson points out that AEMO does not speak of 24/7, nor do utilities like Origin Energy who plan to exit coal. AEMO speaks only of the need for “dispatchable” and flexible capacity.

The industry is now pushing back against Taylor’s plans. See:

We also have Woodside’s Peter Coleman slams Australia’s ‘abyss of indecision’ on energy. Who would have thought that the likes of Woodside, BHP and Rio would be calling for a carbon tax? As international operators, these firms know how the world is moving.

However, Coleman does seem to be making a play for using LNG as a fuel to move mineral ore on land and sea, which does not accord with the urgency of reaching zero net emissions.

It’s ironic that the main reason the Commonwealth is involved in electricity markets is their external affairs powers and the fact that they have signed up to the Paris Agreement. Yet they see no need to take action to meet their Paris commitments.

I posted in some detail last month on the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory for March 2018, but did not then have this neat table available:

It comes from the November release by The Australia Institute Climate & Energy Program of their released the latest National Energy Emissions Audit.

My wife heard Taylor on the radio this morning spruiking that meeting our emissions reduction targets was a breeze and all in hand.

The table above shows what happens when you are doing nothing. Who was the Minister for the Environment again? Ah Melissa Price. A quick check shows she’s been busy saving a parrot, heritage listing, cleaning up marine debris on the Great Barrier Reef, and appointing a new chair of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. All good and worthy and fills in the day, so she doesn’t have to think about existential threats to life to animal life or the world burning.

See for example:

In the middle of this Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said a Liberal state government would underwrite a new power station by agreeing to buy the output to run the state’s rail and hospital networks in a tender.

That’s 500 MW of power, when Kane Thornton CEO of the Clean Energy Council pointed out that:

    there were 19 wind, solar, battery and pumped hydro projects under way in Victoria to deliver over 3200 MW of new generation worth more than $5 billion, largely driven by the national and existing Victorian renewable energy targets.

At least Mr Guy said it could be hydro, wind solar, gas, coal, battery or any combination that produced firm power 24 hours a day, and was not plugging coal as such.

However, politics on the right in Australia is so ignorant and/or wrong-headed about climate change and developments in energy that business operators who have other options could well regard Australia as a funny farm, best avoided.

42 thoughts on “Sovereign risk is now real”

  1. The International Energy Agency (IEA) published its World Energy Outlook 2018 yesterday. I haven’t had a chance to digest any of it, but some people have including this from greentechmedia.com headlined Gloomy Prospects in IEA’s Latest World Energy Outlook. It includes:

    None of the scenarios in the latest International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook show renewables growing fast enough to meet global climate goals.

    Under current policies, said the IEA this week, the world would see increasing strains on almost all aspects of energy security and “a major additional rise” in energy-related carbon emissions.

    And under a new policies scenario, incorporating measures and targets already announced by governments worldwide, global energy demand would still grow by more than a quarter through 2040, leading to increased demand for oil.

    The key point is that the IEA does not forecast out to 2040 – although the NSW Minerals Council would have you believe they do – they are only S..C..E..N..A..R..I..O..S. For a scenario to approximate a future reality requires an appropriate policy direction and action. None of the IEA scenarios will enable halting warming to the 1.5 degree C limit. We need to change the policy to get where we need to go.

  2. Power supply seems to be a dog’s breakfast at the moment. A key part of the problem at the moment is a noticeable lack of consensus within the LNP let alone between the LNP and Labor.
    Minister Taylor and his ideas aren’t helping and it is not helping that the LNP may be rushing to get a contract signed for coal fired power.

    Energy minister Angus Taylor has continued the government’s scatter-gun approach to energy and climate, seeking to downplay the back-flip from corporate Australia on carbon pricing and emissions targets, ignoring the IEA’s calls for a rapid transition to clean energy, and pushing again for the need for so called “base-load”.
    In a 10-minute interview on Radio National on Wednesday morning, Taylor managed to mention the word “base-load” nearly as many times as the International Energy Agency did in its entire 650-page World Energy Outlook, which concluded that if the world was serious about climate change, it had to dump coal in favour of wind and solar.

    Sovereign risk would be an issue for anyone thinking of investing in coal fired power.

  3. Also from RenewEconomy Coal dumped as IEA turns to wind and solar to solve climate challenge.

    Melissa Price did a pathetic interview with Patricia Karvelas tonight.

    She kept saying how wonderfully well electricity was doing with all those renewables, Which the LNP has opposed and continually denigrated, and ARENA the same ones Abbott tried to kill.

    She did say they were going to plant a billion trees, or something, and said all their policies were in place and were scalable.

    She talks like a very junior minister.

  4. John, at the end of that article you linked to – Energy minister Taylor digs in on baseload, pumps up Snowy 2.0 – there is a summary of The Australia Institue’s submission to Taylor’s consultation paper:

      In its submission, TAI said the program could jeopardise rather than improve the reliability and affordability of electricity, and questioned whether the Government even has the authority to sign such contracts.

      “The Government is rushing to fund its pet projects: coal power, clearing the decks before the election,” says Richie Merzian, Climate & Energy Program Director.

      “Asking for expressions of interest before it’s even completed the funding guidelines is Minister Taylor putting the cart before the horse. The electricity sector is suffering from poor policy planning and the Government’s knee-jerk response is policy on the fly — possibly without the authority to do so.”

      He said that to make matters worse, Taylor wants the Australian taxpayer to take on the liability arising from future climate policies by offering to indemnify any such investors against a future carbon price.

  5. Brian: One of the reasons I champion renewable auctions ahead of carbon prices is that the auctions result in long term contracts that cannot be voided by the next government without the government having to pay massive compensation. (The Abbott government provides a textbook example of the fragility of things like carbon prices and the NRET as mechanisms for (not) providing investor confidence.
    I guess I failed to anticipate that the LNP crazies would try this approach as a way of driving investment in coal fired power.
    The saving grace is that it takes time and money to prepare tenders and get all the way to a firm contract. Doubt Taylor could get it done in time or that anyone would want to go through the cost of preparing tenders when the chance of anything happening is hopefully remote.

  6. Giles Parkinson at RenewEconomy wrote on Monday (Nov 12) an article headlined Lazard hails “inflection point” as wind, solar costs beat new and old fossils. It begins with (bold text my emphasis):

    Wind and solar technologies have extended their lead over fossil fuel generation on costs of new plant, and are now as cheap, or even cheaper, than existing coal, gas and nuclear power plants – even compared to existing and fully-depreciated fossil fuel generators.

    These conclusions are made in the 12th edition of the annual Lazard Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis, which has become one of the major global industry benchmarks.

    Its conclusions, both on the huge cost advantage of new wind and solar over new coal and gas plants, and now with existing gas plants – tallies with observations in Australia from the likes of Origin Energy, Snowy Hydro, AGL, Simec Zen’s Sanjeev Gupta, and any number of private analysis.

    Moral Hazard:

    In economics, moral hazard occurs when someone increases their exposure to risk when insured, especially when a person takes more risks because someone else bears the cost of those risks. A moral hazard may occur where the actions of one party may change to the detriment of another after a financial transaction has taken place.

    A party makes a decision about how much risk to take, while another party bears the costs if things go badly, and the party isolated from risk behaves differently from how it would if it were fully exposed to the risk.

    In Minister Angus Taylor’s op-ed published in The Australian (paywalled) last week (Nov 7), he included (bold text my emphasis):

    We are working towards a shortlist of electricity generation investment projects by early next year that deliver when customers need it (likely to include coal, gas and hydro), balancing the unprecedented investments in solar and wind.

    Does anyone think that Angus Taylor is not engaging in moral hazard?

  7. Posted today at RenewEconomy is an article headlined Greens establish Senate Inquiry into “fair dinkum power”. It includes:

    Last night, the upper house voted almost unanimously to create a Select Committee into Fair Dinkum Power, an inquiry proposed by the Australian Greens to cut through the “meaningless and misleading” energy policy being served up by the federal Coalition.

    Slated to meet on November 28, and to report on June 30 next year, the inquiry will examine the workings of the electricity market, power prices and energy generation methods.

    First stop would be to look at the submissions to, testimony and soon to be released report by the NSW Parliament Select Committee on Electricity Supply, Demand and Prices in NSW.

    But will the federal COALition government take any notice?

  8. GM: The risk at the moment is that the conservatives will be able to set up a binding contract to build a coal fired power station before the next election. However, the normal time required to seek competitive tenders and finalize a contract combined with legal challenges makes additional coal fired power unlikely unless the LNP wins the next election.
    If Angus really wants to have an impact he should be working on the setting up of solar thermal/molten salt energy storage contracts that could provide long term 24/7 power source options as well as the option to use solar thermal to cover late afternoon and nighttime reliable power.
    I would favour solar thermal options with two generators per plant. This gives the option of:
    1. Running one generator 24/7 at a rate that can be supported by the mirrors.
    2. Running 2 generators to give more output during high demand/low solar PV times of the day.
    3. Using the molten salt back-up heater to either guarantee 24/7 supply (option 1) when the sun doesn’t shine much and/or provide 24/7 option 2 output during emergencies.

  9. Ambi: Not an expert but the salt would normally be molten with the energy stored by raising the temp of the molten salt, not melting it. The design would have to allow restarts with frozen salt but I don’t know how this is done.

  10. Ambi and John, here’s an article on how the molten salt produces power. The salt:

    remains in a liquid state throughout the plant’s operating regime, which will improve long-term reliability and reduce O&M costs.

  11. Here’s the link to the article about the Senate inquiry into fair dinkum power.

    Good on Senator Hanson-Young:

      “This inquiry will bust the myths being peddled by the Morrison government about renewable energy, grid stability and power bills.

      “If Scott Morrison was actually ‘fair dinkum’ about power, he would let evidence, not ideology, guide energy policy.

      “Consumers and the industry want to be empowered. The public sees through the Morrison Government’s bluster about using a ‘big stick’, and more coal, to put power prices down.

      “The best thing about renewable energy is that it is good for the planet and good for the wallet. It’s clean, reliable and getting cheaper every day. Now, that’s fair dinkum power.”

    I suspect the Greens and Labor will use this to stop Taylor doing anything before the next election. If the LNP are re-elected, the Australian people will deserve what they get.

  12. John, further to your comment about renewables auctions, capitalists and economists like carbon pricing because it is supposed to let the market do the work.

    Electricity supply is essentially monopolistic and can benefit from government planning.

    I can’t see any reason why retailing should not be done by a government owned entity. The money spent by retailers on attracting and maintaining customers end up being a charge to consumers, as the Victorian inquiry showed.

    The poles and wires are better as a government owned monopoly, as they need to be set up rationally like road and rail networks.

    Generation can be privatised, and there the auction method should be used to stir things along rather than let the market take its course.

    That said, I think things would work well over the long term with the present institutional architecture with the NEM overseen by COAG through the ESB, AEMO etc if the Commonwealth would just stop interfering. They only do it for political purposes.

    In March last year I asked a question in Snowy hydro 2.0: nation-building game-changer or giant red herring?

    I think it’s the latter. We’d be better off if pumped hydro was more decentralised and closer to where power is generated and used. Also this gargantuan project has taken a huge slice out of what should be a developing industry in pumped hydro.

  13. If the LNP are re-elected, the Australian people will deserve what they get.

    Unfortunately the ones who will really suffer don’t have a vote, if they’ve even been born yet.

  14. Thanks John and Brian

    Salt remains molten, but its temperature rises or falls as it absorbs or releases heat.

    Good.

    (Analogy: in pumped hydro the water remains liquid, only its altitude varies. And you always have some water available.)

  15. Brian: Our power supply system has been stuffed up by inappropriate privatization. (ex: privatizing the grid) and the use of inappropriate marketing/competition to determine what price is paid but not who is willing to bring a power generation up to the appropriate level of standby.
    My take is that:
    1. Control of power generation should be given to state owned corporations who operate the system, decide what power sources are switched on and off (and customers switched off) at any particular time and
    power generators should be as well as what investments are required to maintain adequate capacity.
    2. None of the above should prevent contracts between generators and customers.

  16. John Davidson (Re: NOVEMBER 15, 2018 AT 5:38 PM)

    GM: The risk at the moment is that the conservatives will be able to set up a binding contract to build a coal fired power station before the next election.

    Why the rush before the next federal election? Why lock-in binding contracts to build new coal-fired power stations before the next election? The evidence from Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis – Version 12.0 says new coal is more expensive than new renewables. The IPCC SR1.5°C warns that humanity needs to exit from coal.

    If Angus Taylor proceeds with what he says he will do, then I don’t think it’s in Australia’s best long-term interests. Australian citizens won’t be the beneficiaries – they will be the losers if new coal-fired power stations are locked-in. So who is Angus Taylor really working for?

    If Angus really wants to have an impact he should be working on the setting up of solar thermal/molten salt energy storage contracts that could provide long term 24/7 power source options as well as the option to use solar thermal to cover late afternoon and nighttime reliable power.

    The only appropriate/fair way is to have an open, fair, competitive tender process – that’s the states’ jurisdictions – not federal (so the feds should be butting out).

    I would favour solar thermal options with two generators per plant.

    Why only 2 generator units? Why not more generator units per site if the sites are suitable? More sites require more grid connections – that costs more money – it requires an optimization of competing factors.

  17. GM: I was talking about 2 generators per tower. All in favour of multiple, independent towers being located in the same area and feeding into shared transformers if appropriate. (My assumption is that there are practical limits on the number of mirrors that feed one tower.
    The BZE generators were 250MW sized to provide steady 24/7 output. 2×250 on one BZE size tower allows up to 500 MW for part of the day such as the late afternoon, early evening peak.

  18. By comparison each of the eight brown coal generators at Hazelwood were 200 MW max. output.

    Unusual for all 8 to be.producong power togetber.

  19. Today I heard on News Radio that the South Australian peak electricity demand in summer has.moved from 5.30pm to about 8pm because folk have installed tiny solar.

  20. John Davidson (Re: NOVEMBER 16, 2018 AT 1:51 PM)

    The BZE generators were 250MW sized to provide steady 24/7 output. 2×250 on one BZE size tower allows up to 500 MW for part of the day such as the late afternoon, early evening peak.

    John D, have you actually read the BZE Stationary Energy Plan? On page 47:

    The optimal plant capacity identified by SunLab of 220 MW with 17 hours storage forms the bulk of the installed CST capacity specified in the ZCA2020 Plan, once full industry scale-up has been achieved.

    220MW, not 250MW.

    The limitation is the thermal energy collection and capture – that’s determined by the mirror array and receiver system thermal efficiency. Heliostats (i.e. mirror units) beyond about 2.1km from the receiver are increasingly less effective at focusing the solar energy (i.e. more energy scatter away from the receiver/collector). And there are only so many heliostats that can be placed in a given area before overshadowing of adjacent heliostats occurs.

    The single 220MW generator unit with 17 hours storage design is optimized in the BZE Stationary Energy Plan. Why change it when (I suspect) you don’t seem to have the data that BZE have based their plan on? Why try to reinvent the wheel?

    Being able to meet peak demand is important, but also being able to cope with low solar irradiance likely around the winter solstice, as well as a succession of overcast days, is also a critical requirement. BZE have indicated they have done all the modelling of energy supply and demand curves, hour by hour, throughout a number of years. Have you done this also, John D, to support your suggestion that there should be 2 generator units per tower?

  21. GM
    I’d like to hear your opinion on what would be the optimal energy generation and distribution system based on currently available technology.

    I think everyone here would.

  22. GM: I was a BZE member and presenter years ago, did read the stationary energy report in detail and was aware of the detailed modelling that took place. You are right that the generators were 220 MW.
    At the time of writing (2010) BZE felt, quite rightly, that it was important to demonstrate that renewable baseload was feasible. At the time solar PV hadn’t took off and was not part of the plan. It is also worth noting that the BZE plan did include back-up molten salt heating so the system would work if prolonged cloud cover was a problem.
    Things have changed and the rise of solar PV means that solar thermal is more logically used to cover the late afternoon peak and nightime slot. Hence the suggestion that installed generator power should be higher and have two generators, both of which would be used for the late afternoon peak.
    These days BZE talks about several days worth of storage instead of 17 hrs. Makes it possible to run both generators whe things are overcast.

  23. John Davidson (Re: NOVEMBER 16, 2018 AT 5:49 PM)

    Things have changed and the rise of solar PV means that solar thermal is more logically used to cover the late afternoon peak and nightime slot.

    That’s what the South Australian project Aurora is configured to do – it defers electricity generation to cover the late afternoon peak and evening.

    The big disadvantage with solar-PV is any drop-off of solar irradiance due to cloud cover is impacted instantly in electricity generation – MW generation drops instantly.

    Solar thermal is different. Weather conditions will only affect the number of operating hours – the MWh delivered per day – but will not affect the MW capacity that the system can produce. Intermittent cloud cover won’t interfere with MW output – that’s a big advantage that solar thermal has over solar-PV.

    A recent report prepared for ARENA titled Comparison of Dispatchable Renewable Electricity Options: Technologies for an orderly transition indicates the ‘sweet spot’ LCOE for Concentrating Solar Thermal is with thermal storage of 15 to 20 hours (see page XI in the Executive Summary). That seems to concur with what BZE were proposing 8 years ago.

  24. GM: If we are talking about an individual solar PV generator,

    The big disadvantage with solar-PV is any drop-off of solar irradiance due to cloud cover is impacted instantly in electricity generation – MW generation drops instantly.

    is true. However, it is not true for solar PV as a whole because clouds don’t suddenly cover all of the eastern states. The reality is that spread out solar PV avoids the sudden large changes that can happen when a large coal fired set drops out.
    In terms of what individual solar thermal plants are used for, the size/number of generators linked to a single tower and heat storage capacity this is up for discussion and may change as both the consumer and generation mix changes.
    towers built now should be designed so that extra generators, storage capacity and back-up heating can be installed later.

  25. John Davidson (Re: NOVEMBER 17, 2018 AT 5:06 PM)

    However, it is not true for solar PV as a whole because clouds don’t suddenly cover all of the eastern states.

    But it is likely that there can be large swathes of regional areas cloud-bound.

    The reality is that spread out solar PV avoids the sudden large changes that can happen when a large coal fired set drops out.

    I agree that there are advantages in having more, smaller generators spread out over a wide geographical area to compensate for local weather effects. That requires a more extensive transmission network. Above-ground transmission lines are vulnerable to high energy storms.

    Other considerations when comparing installed cost of concentrating solar thermal (CST, with integrated storage) versus solar-PV (and wind):

    • CST with integrated storage projects have a minimum 40-year operating life, whereas solar-PV typically have a 25-year life before electricity generation deteriorates below 80% of the nameplate capacity, and wind turbine operating life is of the order of 30 years. That means solar-PV and wind have poorer longevity compared with solar thermal;
    • CST with sufficient storage projects can achieve high capacity factors (i.e. up to 70%), whereas solar-PV capacity factors are not much better than about 30%, and some site-specific wind farms are achieving about 50% capacity factors. That means building more solar-PV and wind capacity to compensate;
    • The price of CST projects includes integrated storage, whereas solar-PV and wind projects need to include a storage system, such as pumped-hydro or batteries, together with the efficiencies of storage (and transmission efficiencies, if the storage devices are remote from the generators), as these elements can be significant factors;
    • The price of CST projects also includes a range of ancillary services essential to the electricity network including “spinning inertia”, frequency regulation, load following services, etc., which are not provided by solar-PV or wind (without storage); and
    • Costs and environmental considerations regarding end-of-life disposal and recycling.

    towers built now should be designed so that extra generators, storage capacity and back-up heating can be installed later.

    John D, where’s the cost justification to add extra generators to a tower unit – as I stated earlier, the limitation with CST is the energy collection system, and you are suggesting draining that energy supply/storage system faster – John D, what’s driving your push to promote this pathway?

    Adding some extra storage capacity may be cost-effective, but as I stated earlier, the LCOE ‘sweet spot’ seems to be in the range 15 to 20 hours. The recent report prepared for ARENA suggests that the upper limit for CST storage is about 40 hours, but is that cost-effective? The ARENA commissioned report suggests demand management is probably a more cost-effective solution.

    Back-up heating using what fuel type? We need to stop burning (hydro)carbons. Burning crop waste eventually depletes soil nutrients – I suspect it’s not long-term sustainable. Back-up heating is a recurring cost if implemented – I suspect it would be more cost-effective to have more generators/storage? What’s the overall EROI for back-up heating?

    I suggest without EROI and cost-benefit financial analyses to compare proposals we are in the dark, and I think it’s impossible to make an informed decision – in other words, unsubstantiated, ill-informed speculation. I’m highlighting some key considerations that need to be resolved.

  26. The Independent Planning Commission NSW (IPCN) has now published quite a few presentations and submissions concerning the Determination of the Bylong Coal Project, a ‘greenfield’ open-cut and underground coal mine development proposal where there has never been coal mining in the Bylong valley.

    The documents published include:
    – a transcript of the public meeting on Nov 7 near Mudgee NSW;
    – my Presentation Slides for the public meeting (Nov 7);
    – Tim Buckley & Simon Nicholas (IEEFA) submission;
    – Ian Dunlop submission;
    – Rod Campbell (The Australia Institute) submission;
    – Professor Will Steffen (ANU) submission;
    – hundreds of other documents, most opposing the proposed mine.

    Check it out.

  27. Geoff Miell at 12.02pm.

    May I comment on your nitpickery with John D?
    He said “clouds don’t suddenly cover all of the eastern states.”

    He was correct: they don’t
    1) suddenly cover…
    and they don’t ‘cover’
    2) all of the eastern States.

    I’ve been observing clouds for many decades, m’boy….

    And in recent years my personal, “anecdotal” observations are supplemented by satellite images depicting cloud cover, BOM rain radar, and more recently a real-time solar-panel-output software that gives a graph of power output for every day.

    a) rarely is one whole state covered by cloud
    b) clouds generally move across the landscape
    c) at a moment that seems “thoroughly cloudy”, the solar power output can still be as high as 40% of maximum.
    d) the largest cloud system I ever saw was due to a deep low over most of NSW, which unfortunately our plane had to fly through, Brisbane to Melbourne; the storm system was too wide and tall to avoid; a bumpy ride
    d)2) I doubt that all three States could be cloud-covered simultaneously, or perhaps they could but very rarely
    e) we inhabit a continent with a long North-South extent
    f) the western parts of Qld, NSW tend to have fewer cloudy days, likewise Wimmera, Mallee in NW Victoria
    g) on very black-sky days, our total solar production is as low as 20% of the highest total; but even in dark, cloudy, miserable Victoria that is unusual.

    I could continue, but won’t.

    ***
    by the way, it is the right (and practice here) for persons to comment on other persons’ comments. It isn’t “ganging up”. It’s free speech.

    Vive La Liberte!

  28. I must have missed the energy plan Geoff Miell advocates for, could someone please point it out to me?
    Even just a bare bones outline would do, I not asking for a comprehensive strategy with a slide show presentation, modeling, study references or any of that, just an old fashioned skeletal concept.

  29. Geoff M again

    “That requires a more extensive transmission system”

    Hold on a tick, Geoff M.
    Yes, the interstate interconnectors require improving, BUT
    the existing network has been built for electricity supply to where people actually live, and where industries actually use power, and where generators are actually located.

    Seems logical and efficient to me.

    If you are advocating putting power lines underground to protect them from strong winds, may I suggest you look at
    1) relative construction and maintenance costs
    2) relative difficulty of locating faults in a concealed transmission line

    Yes, overhead high voltage lines can be likely causes of dangerous bushfires in Victoria, on hot and very windy days but…..

    Consider how long it took to fix the interstate connector between Tasmania and Victoria, located underwater in Bass Strait, and not very old when it malfunctioned.

    Local underground power lines are often damaged by excavators etc.

    Doubtless Australian engineers have carefully examined the costs and benefits of the various, competing transmission methods.

  30. I’m wondering whether Jumpy has had a change of heart regarding Anthropogenic Climate Change.
    We haven’t had one of his, “Well, in 1864 Bullamakanka had temperatures much higher than this and anyway I haven’t noticed any sea level rise at all so global warming’s a scam” comments in what seems like ages.

  31. Ambigulous (Re: NOVEMBER 20, 2018 AT 5:02 PM)

    May I comment on your nitpickery with John D?
    He said “clouds don’t suddenly cover all of the eastern states.”

    He was correct: they don’t
    1) suddenly cover…
    and they don’t ‘cover’
    2) all of the eastern States.

    Ambi, did you actually comprehend what my response was? I’ll repeat it again for your benefit:

    But it is likely that there can be large swathes of regional areas cloud-bound.

    Is there anywhere in my response where I say:

    1) Clouds suddenly cover…? No, I did not!
    2) Clouds cover all of the eastern States? No, I did not! I used the phrase “large swathes of regional areas“. You have, I think, deliberately misrepresented that to mean “all of the eastern States”.

    Ambi, I think you appear to have difficulty in reading comprehension. Too quick to post a comment before comprehending what has actually been stated, or is it a deliberate attempt to mislead? It also seems to me that John D has a comprehension problem as he seems to agree with you: “Thanks for detailed defense of what I actually said Ambi.

    a) rarely is one whole state covered by cloud

    That implies to me that it can happen on “rare” occasions. So, what would we do when that happens – go without power? That’s unacceptable – a solar-powered energy supply network needs to contend with these possibilities.

    b) clouds generally move across the landscape

    That implies to me that there are instances when cloud cover can remain for days. A solar-powered energy supply network needs to contend with these possibilities.

    BZE, the AEMO, UTS:ISF, Professor Andrew Blakers and others have done extensive modelling and developed plans/strategies for a 100% renewable energy future. Ambi, I pay far more attention to what they have to say than rely on your “anecdotes”.

  32. Ambigulous (Re: NOVEMBER 20, 2018 AT 6:50 PM)

    …BUT the existing network has been built for electricity supply to where people actually live, and where industries actually use power, and where generators are actually located

    Seems logical and efficient to me.

    It might have been for a fossil fuelled era. It isn’t for a renewable energy era. Extensive changes are required for a renewable energy era – there’s no way of avoiding this.

    If you are advocating putting power lines underground to protect them from strong winds, may I suggest you look at
    1) relative construction and maintenance costs
    2) relative difficulty of locating faults in a concealed transmission line

    Sweden has an extensive underground cable network:

    In total, the Swedish electricity grid contains 543,000 km of power lines, including 339,000 km of underground cable.

    Do you think the Swedes haven’t thought about these considerations? This is not something new.

    I’m not suggesting that the entire grid in Australia is put underground, but I think some areas at greater risk of storm damage and bush fire risk (causing or damage caused by) need to be seriously considered. Look at the consequences in South Australia with the “system black event”.

    Consider how long it took to fix the interstate connector between Tasmania and Victoria, located underwater in Bass Strait, and not very old when it malfunctioned.

    IMHO, a critical piece of energy infrastructure like the TasLink cable needed a back-up redundant cable. The reason it wasn’t in place was purely due to a perceived cost saving without looking at the consequences to Tasmania (and to a lesser extent Victoria), and costs incurred if the single cable failed.

  33. On the IEEFA website there’s an article headlined BNEF: Unsubsidized wind, solar are now the cheapest bulk generation sources, dated Nov 20. The article begins with:

    Falling technology costs means unsubsidized solar and/or onshore wind are now the cheapest source of new bulk power in all major economies except Japan, according to BloombergNEF‘s (BNEF) new 2H 2018 LCOE report. The report assesses the cost competitiveness of different power generating and energy storage technologies globally (excluding subsidies).

    And yet the COALition are still pushing for more coal. Will Angus Taylor be known as the Minister for More Expensive Energy?

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