Tag Archives: renewable energy

AGL’s $1.36 billion plan to replace Liddell

Andrew Vesey, CEO of AGL made his attitude to new coal clear:

    “It is very simple: We are overloading the atmosphere with heat-trapping gas and the rest is details,” Mr Vesey told an investor briefing in Sydney, where he again forcefully ruled out any investment in new coal-fired power.

He said there were two strategic imperatives that govern all AGL’s investments – affordability and the tenet that the future will be carbon-constrained, making new coal too risky as an investment.

AGL has confirmed its plans to close the Liddell coal generator in NSW and “replace it with 1.6GW of renewables, plus storage and other technologies – saying it was a smarter, cheaper, cleaner and more reliable option than keeping the ageing and unreliable coal plant open.” Continue reading AGL’s $1.36 billion plan to replace Liddell

Turning old mine pits to electricity gold

Miners are meant to rehabilitate old mine sites. An attractive alternative can be to turn them into money-making concerns by means of pumped hydro.

On 27 November Sophie Vorath wrote that the first phase of the Kidston Renewable Energy Hub – a world-first solar and pumped hydroelectricity hybrid – would be generating power for the grid within the next 10 days, which means it started to operate while the votes were being counted in the Queensland election.

There’s more from ARENA, which contributed funding, at Renewable, reliable energy from an old, abandoned mine site? That’s gold Continue reading Turning old mine pits to electricity gold

Climate clippings 118

1. South Australia going for broke

Malcolm Turnbull would call it a ‘reckless, irresponsible, ideological frolic’, but South Austria has been running 63% on wind and solar during the last few months, and is going for broke.

Giles Parkinson says SA must, and will, lead world on renewables.

    The Weatherill and Koutsantonis strategy is to embrace new technologies, cheap wind and solar and storage, smart software and smarter management, and put into practice the sort of scenarios envisaged by the CSIRO, Energy Networks Australia and more recently by the storage review commissioned by chief scientist Alan Finkel.

All that can stop Weatherill and Koutsantonis is Nick Xenophon at the next election putting the LNP into office.

Turnbull and Frydenberg will be swept aside as irrelevant detritus.

If I get time I’ll do a longer post.

2. Finkel’s frustration

Chief Scientist Alan Finkel is fed up with our conservative national politicians:

    Finkel argues that Australia has managed a unique trifecta – high prices, high emissions, and high uncertainty – and fallen behind the rest of the world. And he has no doubt who is to blame.

    “Everyone else has a strategy,” says one of the key points of his presentation (see above). The next line is equally damming: “Regulatory system suffering 10 years of policy paralysis.”

    Energy insiders and observers know exactly what Finkel is referring to: the first is clear, the political impasse caused by the Far Right and its opposition to basic economics and science.

    The second offender would be interpreted as the Australian Energy Market Commission – the rule maker that has stood in the way of blindingly obvious reforms such as introducing environmental considerations into the National Electricity Objective, and which has resisted and delayed nearly every proposed change that would nudge Australia’s ageing, creaking energy infrastructure into the 21st Century.

3. Finkel says there is no need to panic about energy storage

    While the ESB, in arguing for a National Energy Guarantee, speaks of the system threats and urgency to act with a level of “variable” renewables accounting for between 18 and 24 per cent of total generation, this new report says surprisingly little storage may be needed with 35 per cent to 50 per cent wind and solar.

I suspect that there will be real worries about the credibility of the ESB (Energy Security Board) while John Pierce chairs the Australian Energy Market Commission. You may recall that during the Finkel review, Finkel questioned the point of meeting with the AEMC because no engineers were present.

4. Queensland chooses sunshine over coal, to relief of solar industry

    Phew, that was close. That must be the reaction of the Australia solar industry, and local and international renewable investors, after a result that puts the Labor government within touching distance of a small majority or at least a workable minority government.

    The re-election of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in Saturday’s nail-biting poll will guarantee the medium-term future of the solar industry in Australia, along with several large-scale wind and hybrid projects, and some key storage installations.

    It will also likely have a bearing on federal politics too, given that the Queensland government is unlikely to approve a National Energy Guarantee that seeks to choke the level of wind and solar that can be added to the national grid, or reinforces the power of the energy incumbents.

It was an important win for Queensland, the nation and the planet.

5. More gas on the way

The Adelaide press carries a story about New report into potential fracking expansion in the Cooper Basin

In Brisbane we have Queensland on cusp of new gas boom

    QUEENSLAND is on the cusp of a new gas boom with exploration for shale gas to start in the Cooper Basin.

    In what could be a new money earner for the state — and ease the cost of energy prices — millions of dollars will be spent to determine if the extraction should start.

    It is understood Geoscience Australia estimates prospective shale and tight gas resources in the Cooper Basin could provide 29 years of east coast gas at current production rates.

    The Turnbull Government will use cash from the $30 million geological and bioregional assessments program to evaluate the priority area.

It’s basically the same story, just different parts of the Cooper basin.

Then there is this story – Arrow Energy strikes major gas deal with Shell in Queensland’s Surat Basin:

    A deal to extract gas from Queensland’s Surat Basin will create 1,000 new jobs, boost domestic gas supply, and unlock one of the largest gas reserves on the east coast, the resources industry says.

    Arrow Energy has signed a 27-year agreement to supply more than four times the forecast east coast domestic gas shortfall to Shell’s Queensland Curtis Liquified Natural Gas project every year.

So there is plenty of gas around without NSW and Victoria changing their anti-fracking policies. Price is another issue. I recall Matthew Stevens in the AFR saying all the cheap gas had been developed. However, we should all hope that it is not necessary to burn the gas.

6. Tesla big battery switched on

One might say it was an important step for mankind.

Apart from anything else, I’m told it is a tourist attraction.

    It marks a momentous day for the national grid, and a major step towards a modern network that will ultimately deliver cheaper, cleaner, smarter and more reliable energy than we have now.

It is the first of a number. They will have a role in grid stabilisation more than backup power. For that SA is relying on dirtier energy during this summer. In just 58 days (the Tesla took 66, I think) US firm APR Energy have just built a diesel-powered bank of generators capable of putting out 276 MW of power. The bank of generators can fire up from a cold start in just eight minutes.

I think this facility is to be replaced by a 300 MW gas plant designed for emergency standby, when it is built.

7. Syria joins Paris climate accord

    Syria has announced it intends to join the 2015 Paris agreement for slowing climate change, leaving the United States as the only country in the world opposed to the pact.

    Syria, wracked by civil war, and Nicaragua were the only two nations outside the 195-nation pact when it was agreed in 2015.

    Nicaragua’s left-wing Government, which originally denounced the plan as too weak, signed up last month.

8. A Kodak moment for coal

John Quiggin says The Queensland election’s renewables versus coal debate isn’t about jobs. It’s a culture war.

There is one thing I disagree with Quiggin in this article. He says no-one can reduce electricity prices by much. Prices, perhaps not, but Labor has reduced electricity bills by 16.1%. Why has no-one other than me noticed? And you could reduce them by a further 25% by nationalising retailing.

Other than that it’s a good article.

Christiana Figueres has really laid it on the line. She reckons Adani is a Kodak moment for coal.

    She hopes to see coal, like those sentimental moments in time captured in photographs, confined to history — with the world remembering the contribution the fossil fuel has made to human development, while recognising the need to retire it as a fuel source because of its contribution to global warming.

    And, she says, it’s happening.

    “We just had 25 countries come together [at the latest international climate change talks] in Bonn to say that they are moving out of coal in the short term.

    “That does not include Australia or India or China, but you can begin to see the trend.

    “India is headed for peaking its coal consumption by the year 2027.”

News has just come through that China Construction Bank won’t grant loan to Adani.

Turnbull’s New Energy Guarantee – ‘shambolic policy’ or ‘innovative and elegant’?

Bruce Mountain in an opinion piece in the AFR (pay-walled) said the NEG was “shambolic” policy which “snatches defeat from the jaws of victory”. Bloomberg New Energy Finance, according to Laura Tingle (also pay-walled) says “the concept is innovative and elegant, and could well prove ingenious”. Continue reading Turnbull’s New Energy Guarantee – ‘shambolic policy’ or ‘innovative and elegant’?

Turnbull does energy policy on the back of an envelope

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

Queensland powers up for a warm summer

One morning recently, 10 October I think, local ABC radio host Steve Austin called up Queensland energy minister Mark Bailey to ask him about an announcement the Queensland government had made. Something about, on a voluntary basis, turning down your aircon so it runs at 26C and being paid for the power saved.

Bailey obviously had a story to tell, but wasn’t given a chance to tell it. Austin is not a boofhead, but he sometimes does a good imitation of one. In this case Bailey was bullied and harassed, “Just answer my question!”, which was whether the purpose of the scheme was to save people money, or to keep the lights on, I think there was a third option which I’ve forgotten. In any case the answer “All of the above” was not permitted, and we never found out what the scheme was about.

With Bailey dispatched, Austin gave LNP spokesman Scott Emerson the opportunity of a free rant, presumably in the name of ‘balance’ with no right of reply for Bailey. Later in the morning Austin told us he had trouble getting people to come on the show! What a surprise! Continue reading Queensland powers up for a warm summer

Climate clippings 115: beyond coal

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.

Continue reading Climate clippings 115: beyond coal

Are we serious about our Paris commitments?

The Australia Institute has looked at the penetration of renewables required in the electricity market to meet our Paris commitments, and come to the conclusion that we need from 66 to 75% renewables by 2030, rather than the weak 26-28% currently being assumed in relation to the Finkel review.

The basic issue is simple. If we don’t maximise the reductions in the electricity sector, we’ll have trouble meeting our overall Paris commitment, full stop. It will require a large and expensive effort in other areas such as agriculture. Completely decarbonising electricity was always the low hanging fruit. We appear to be ignoring this strategy completely, and the new report does not help all that much. Continue reading Are we serious about our Paris commitments?

AGL struggles daily to keep Liddell going, and looks to ‘flexible’ power

According to the AFR, AGL Energy faces “a huge daily challenge” just to keep its “geriatric” Liddell coal-fired power station running and will need to spend up to $150 million just to “keep our noses above water” until 2022. It will cost $900 million to keep it open for another 10 years, as Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg would have it.

“It’s exceptionally challenging,” AGL Macquarie general manager Kate Coates told the group of press representatives and other interested persons on the tour on Tuesday. Continue reading AGL struggles daily to keep Liddell going, and looks to ‘flexible’ power

Turnbull’s choice – a clapped out coal burner or a clean energy plan

You guessed it, he chose the clapped out Liddell coal-fired power plant.

AEMO, the Australian Energy Market Operator, said New South Wales may be short of power when Liddell closes, as scheduled, in 2022, based on known plans and government policy positions, federal and state. AEMO had just published two documents – Electricity Statement of Opportunities for the National Electricity Market and Advice to Commonwealth Government on Dispatchable Capability. Apart from the risk of blackouts this coming summer in SA and Victoria, the next pressure point could be in 2022 in NSW with the closure of Liddell.

As David Blowers of the Grattan Institute said, the second report carried a clear message, though not stated directly – the system is broken a bipartisan clean energy policy is badly needed. Continue reading Turnbull’s choice – a clapped out coal burner or a clean energy plan

AEMO sees electricity markets reshaped

While Malcolm Turnbull equivocates on a Clean Energy Target, he has called the electricity retailers to Canberra once again to jawbone them about electricity prices. Yet the industry keeps telling him the single factor most needed to bring electricity prices down is more investment in renewable energy, which would be facilitated by a Clean Energy Target (CET).

Whether the CET is central or not, it is what the industry believes. But Turnbull will not move until he has a report from AEMO on what the future need for ‘baseload’ power will be, which in the minds of hardcore recalcitrants within his own party, means coal-fired power, throbbing away.

Giles Parkinson says Turnbull does not need baseload, he just needs balls. Continue reading AEMO sees electricity markets reshaped

Climate clippings 212

1. South Australia to get 30MW battery to create renewables-based mini grid

    The Australian Renewable Energy Agency says it is providing $12 million towards the $30 million cost of a major battery storage installation to be located on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia and create a renewables-based mini-grid with the nearby Wattle Point wind farm.

The battery will pair with the local 90MW Wattle Point wind farm and local rooftop solar PV to form local micro-grid to ensure grid security and so keep the lights on in case the network failures elsewhere in the state. Continue reading Climate clippings 212