Tag Archives: renewable energy

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

A tsunami of renewables

The AFR reports that Josh Frydenberg and Labor’s Mark Butler had a bit of a love-in when they shared a platform late last month. Ben Potter said they were peas in an energy pod.

    Frydenberg waxed lyrical about the shrinking cost of solar photovoltaic – from $1.6 per kilowatt installed in 2014 to 19 cents per kilowatt last year. Battery storage has also halved in cost and added half as much capacity again in just five years, he enthused, and “demand response” – where customers curtail their usage or offer their batteries and smart appliances to the grid during demand spikes to avert blackouts – has an “incredibly” important role.

    Butler took his cue, noting that the system is undergoing a “massive, profound and irresistible transition which will just continue whether we like it or not”.

Butler said that if anyone could get the Clean Energy Target (CET) through the LNP party room it would be Josh. Continue reading A tsunami of renewables

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

Climate clippings 209

1. Power price wave slams business

That was the headline on the front page of the AFR on Friday.

Households are facing increases of up to 20 per cent, but businesses on five-year contracts signed in 2012 are facing hikes of as much as 83%. Continue reading Climate clippings 209