For over a month now I’ve been trying to do two posts – one on climate as an existential threat, and another on whether 1.5ºC is at all still possible. I keep being diverted.
Malcolm Turnbull has been dithering for months over whether the government would accept the Finkel review recommendation for a Clean Energy Target. For some time now, it has been clear that the climate contrarians in his own party, and the Nationals starting with Barnaby Joyce, would not accept anything that is negative about coal. In the end they asked the brand new Security Energy Commission for advice, in terms that were severely constrained. They got their advice, faithful to the brief in an eight-page letter, and announced a “breakthrough” in the form of a National Energy Guarantee to deliver affordable, reliable electricity with industry and stakeholder consultations to follow, plus the necessary modelling to be undertaken only after the states have agreed. Therein lies the problem. Continue reading Turnbull does energy policy on the back of an envelope
1. Electric shock
The big story in Australian politics this week was the shocking state of the political debate on electricity. Giles Parkinson says, when you thought it couldn’t get any dumber, it did.
‘People will die due to renewables’, said Turnbull government MP Craig Kelly.
Commentators who don’t understand the grid should butt out of the battery debate, said Ketan Joshi, a communications consultant for the renewable energy industry. Continue reading Saturday salon 15/7
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
AGL, Origin and Energy Australia are gouging electricity retail prices, according to a report by The Grattan Institute titled Price shock: Is the retail electricity market failing consumers?.
The report which focusses on Victoria finds that electricity retailers charge a margin double what other retailers make, for doing little other than marketing a service we are going to buy anyway, and sending out a bill. Continue reading Retailers gouging electricity prices: Grattan
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
A bit further down I’m going to look at what Tristan Edis has to say about electricity pricing, but first what the whole affair is doing to Turnbull.
Mark Di Stefano at Buzzfeed has a detailed account of Turnbull’s year in 2016: The Year That Broke Malcolm Turnbull, and the pictures follow the story. Turnbull starts out as a confident leader, full of hope and bright ideas, and ends as just another politician that people don’t like very much. And there is rising anger about him within the conservatives of his own party.
Michelle Grattan’s piece in Has Turnbull’s credibility deficit reached a point of no return? leads with an image that says it all: Continue reading Turnbull and energy policy broken
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
Continuity of electricity supply is no trivial matter. Back in April-May 1996 at our place we had rain on 14 consecutive days. Over the period we had 833 mm or over 33 inches in the old language. A renewable energy electricity supply system needs to survive such a challenge, as do home off-gridders. Imagine not just the lights out, but rotting food in the refrigerator, no pumping of petrol at the bowser, the refrigerators and lights failing at the supermarket, no water coming out the tap. For the whole Brisbane area.
Now with interconnected grids through the National Electricity Market (NEM) established in 1998 South Australia withstood a lesser challenge recently albeit with a huge spike in electricity spot prices, arguably prompting a showdown on where we are going with renewable energy and fossil fuels in this country. Continue reading Keeping the lights on: Josh Frydenberg wants more gas
PERC technology developed by UNSW is likely to become standard in more than half of all solar cell production across the globe by 2020, ushering in new dramatic falls in the cost of solar technology. Continue reading Climate clippings 147
These posts are intended to share information and ideas about climate change and hence act as a roundtable. Again, I do not want to spend time in comments rehashing whether human activity causes climate change.
This edition is completely about implementation issues and is largely based on a number of links drawn to my attention by John D, for which gratitude and thanks. I’ve restricted the offering to six items to make it more digestible.
1. The battery storage system that could close down coal power
A German company is developing relatively large scale battery storage (up to 10MW-sized battery parks) which could “stabilise the grid faster, cheaper and with greater precision that conventional generation.”
It says that these systems can substitute 10 times the capacity from conventional generation – coal, nuclear and gas – and at a fraction of the cost. According to Younicos spokesman Philip Hiersemenzel, each battery park can be installed at around € 15 million, which means that for an investment of €3 billion, conventional generation in Germany’s 80GW would no longer be needed – at least for frequency and stability purposes. Continue reading Climate clippings 88