Tag Archives: Electricity generation

Coal-fired power trade-off for new clean energy target

That is as reported by Simon Benson in The Australian:

    The Turnbull government is expected to take its revised energy policy to the Coalition partyroom early next month with a plan to make a significant investment in cleaner coal-fired power as a counterbalance to also adopting a clean energy target.

    The Australian has learned that Malcolm Turnbull and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg are working on a compromise deal on coal that would allow them to quell internal resistance to a CET.

Continue reading Coal-fired power trade-off for new clean energy target

Renewables make gas out of date, but coal not done yet

It’s the kind of article we expect in RenewEconomy, but this one by Angela Macdonald Smith is in the Australian Financial ReviewFuture for gas to be cut short by batteries and renewables:

    The conventional wisdom that gas will play an increasingly significant role in electricity supply as the market switches more towards renewables to back up that intermittent supply source, has largely gone out the window.

    Now it’s a discussion of how much an opportunity gas has before it gets squeezed out of the mainstream generation market by solar/wind and storage – not on carbon emissions grounds, but on costs.

Continue reading Renewables make gas out of date, but coal not done yet

Gas has got to go

The Climate Council issued a report on the future of gas-fired electricity just after Easter – Pollution and Price: The Cost of Investing in Gas.

Gas is often thought of as a ‘transition fuel’ from coal to renewables. Their advice is clear:

    Do not provide policy support for new gas power plants or gas supply infrastructure.

And:

    Existing gas plants should be thought of as a short-term, expensive, emergency backup as renewable energy and storage is rapidly scaled up.

Moreover, we should leave most of our gas reserves in the ground. Continue reading Gas has got to go

SA power plan: intervention, not going alone

Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg have now added a second myth to the earlier one that South Australia had rushed madly and blindly into renewables without thought for the consequences. They say that South Australia is now “going it alone”. Unfortunately this meme was picked up in the media, so that Philip Clark on ABC Nightlife recently had SA “going it alone” as his topic of the day (most of the comment supported SA, but no-one, not a single one, had their facts right).

The fact is that the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) runs the market, calls bids for supply on a 30-minute basis, and balances supply and consumption. That is what it has done every day for years, since 1 July 2009, and will continue to do so into the future. Except that 30-minute time-slots are bound to be reviewed in the Finkel report and may end up at five. The Australian Energy Market Commission is currently considering a request for such a change. Continue reading SA power plan: intervention, not going alone

Solutions to the energy crisis

Malcolm Turnbull has now, for reasons best known to himself, elevated “energy crisis” to a “national security” issue. Ben Potter puts the situation well:

    A decade of fighting over renewable energy, carbon prices and fossil fuels has left Australia with some of the world’s dirtiest and costliest energy – a bitter yield from historical abundance.

    Three years ago, manufacturers began complaining they couldn’t get gas, and 18 months ago the South Australian grid started to wobble.

    Now, electricity and gas prices across the eastern states are two to three times their levels only a couple of years ago.

    Gas exporters overcommitted to foreign buyers; the federal government mismanaged renewable energy and the regulatory apparatus – and politicians responsible for it – are frozen in the headlights.

Continue reading Solutions to the energy crisis

Gas, pumped storage and energy futures

Craig Emerson says we can get the gas we need, but is it necessary?

Craig Emerson has an article in the AFR, also on his site, suggesting that politicians need to urgently turn their minds to gas supply in east Australia. Emerson had warned them back in 2014, but they took no notice, and AEMO assured everyone there was no problem.

Suddenly there is. The price of gas-fired electricity threatens manufacturing jobs, and gas is needed to replace coal-fired power. Continue reading Gas, pumped storage and energy futures

Closing down coal

Frank Jotzo recently pointed out that if we are to meet our Paris commitments of keeping global temperature rise below 2C we will need to close about one coal-fired power station every year. I believe we have 24.

He was giving evidence to a Senate inquiry into the Retirement of coal fired power stations set up by the Greens and Labor, chaired by Larissa Waters and due to report on 29 March 2017. If you follow the links there is already an Interim Report and 133 submissions available for our perusal. Continue reading Closing down coal

Grid-scale battery storage: can it happen in Australia?

David Leitch’s article Battery storage: Bad advice about costs is fooling Australian governments reviews two American reports on grid-scale battery storage in the states of Texas and Massachusetts. He says the reports:

    are detailed, professionally modelled and far more forward looking and sophisticated than anything so far produced by traditional Australian electricity consultants such as Jacobs, Frontier, IES, Ernst & Young or ACIL Allen.

Leitch, the principal of ITK says in their view:

    Australia is being held back, in part, because consultants in Australia provide advice to federal and state governments based on expensive models that are basically out of date. The models don’t, and in fact can’t, take an integrated (whole of system) view.

Continue reading Grid-scale battery storage: can it happen in Australia?

After the blackout, a new dawn for renewable energy

sa-storm_4377924-3x2-940x627_250One of the more eye-catching comments on the SA blackouts was from AGL Energy’s CEO Andy Vesey telling the All Energy conference in Melbourne that a secure power system would be rooftop solar and batteries in a distributed power system with power being generated at the point of consumption. He also said that politicians were blaming the South Australian blackout on renewable energy because technological disruption was confounding their “mental models”.

Greg Hunt, a man clearly in a muddle, went in hard, as reported by Giles Parkinson at RenewEconomy:

    In an opinion piece written for the Australian Financial Review, and reported as the front page lead “SA blackout could have been avoided” – Hunt claimed that a coal-fired generator could have kept the lights on in Olympic Dam and Whyalla and avoided much of the damage, and he also chastised the states for chasing unrealistic targets.

Continue reading After the blackout, a new dawn for renewable energy

Grattan weighs in on renewables

Tony Wood from the Grattan Institute is one of those lucky people who seems to know everything, and repeatedly sets us all to rights. So when he spoke about the Institute’s new report Keeping the lights on: lessons from South Australia’s power shock (Press Release, where you can download the report) my BS detectors were fully operational. On further investigation, however, the report has value, but there is a twist.

In brief, he points out that we have no climate policy that will reduce emissions in our power system beyond the RET to 2020, and that we need climate change and energy policies that combine to produce reliable, affordable and sustainable clean power. Continue reading Grattan weighs in on renewables

Climate clippings 183

1. Preparing for driverless cars

Leaders from federal and state road and transport agencies, motoring clubs, local government and engineering and industry groups met in Brisbane in August to consider how government and industry can better collaborate to ensure a smooth transition to the world of connected and automated vehicles.

They are expecting partially automated vehicles on public roads before 2020, and highly automated and driverless vehicles within the ensuing decade. Continue reading Climate clippings 183

Stranded assets and subcritical coal

Coal_ZAH_smoke_LW-20140320233307179630-220Coal provides 40% of the world’s electricity, with 75% of this capacity deemed “subcritical”, in other words dirty. That’s a little over 1,200 GW of capacity. The IEA believes that we must shut down 290 GW of subcritical generation worldwide by 2020 in order to stay within a 2°C temperature rise.

The Stranded Assets Programme at the University of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment has identified the power stations, the companies and the countries, so that financers, investors and policy makers can weigh the risks and take appropriate action.

In addition to CO2 production, air pollution and the public pressure to close for that reason, is a risk factor. Finally, subcritical plants use 67% more water. Many are in climatic areas where water scarcity is a risk. Continue reading Stranded assets and subcritical coal