I am having trouble understanding this energy debate.
For starters, we own the resources and we make the rules. Remembering that would be a good first step.
Secondly, it is glaringly obvious that privatisation has not worked to keep retail prices down. The bastards won’t even turn the generators on unless they get paid enough.
As Ray Goodlass wrote in the Daily Advertiser
“evidence shows that privatisation leads to price gouging and deterioration of service levels, as so clearly demonstrated by what has happened to vocational education, child care, job centres, Sydney airport, and many other services.”
The third thing that troubles me is everyone is focusing on how we can increase supply but there is little to no discussion about how we reduce demand. With the existential threat of climate change hanging over our heads, surely this should also be receiving as much attention.
But I guess the capitalists don’t want to make it easier for us to reuse and recycle, and try asking them to stop designed obsolescence. Remember when appliances lasted a tad longer than just after the warranty ran out?
Perhaps if we made manufacturers responsible for the entire life cycle of their products, they might think a bit harder about waste.
Speaking of climate change, how wise is it to pin our future power hopes on water – particularly on a river that is fed by snowfall.
As experts point out, “Energy Security will be more uncertain by upgrading the Snowy Hydro scheme as water availability in the Murray-Darling basin dries up. With competing uses for water and the increasing likelihood of drought brought on by climate change, increasing our reliance on water to provide electricity is ill-advised.”
Writing for The Australian Financial Review, Frontier Economics’ Danny Price said the largest beneficiary of Snowy 2.0 would be base-load coal-fired generation because it would be many years before surplus renewable energy could be used to pump water up the hill.
On the other hand, ARENA has been partnering in two proposals that would not require coal but they get little attention.
The reason that has all of a sudden become a political football is because of the Coalition jumping on the blackout caused by a storm in South Australia.
But Snowy Hydro 2.0 will do nothing to help SA which is a very long way from the Snowy Mountains.
ARENA announced last November that they would be providing $449,000 of funding for the Australian National University (ANU) to map potential short-term off-river pumped hydro energy storage (STORES) sites around Australia.
As distinct from large-scale, on-river hydro, pumped hydro uses two reservoirs, separated by an altitude difference of between 300 – 900 metres and joined by pipe. Water is circulated between the upper and lower reservoirs in a closed loop to store and generate power.
According to ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht, there are “potentially hundreds of smaller, environmentally suitable, off-river STORES scale sites” waiting to be developed around the country.
A possible STORES site has already been identified in South Australia, with an altitude difference of up to 600 metres in the hills to the east of Spencers Gulf using sea water.
The proposed 100 to 200-megawatt power station, which could store power for up to 8 hours, would be close to Port Augusta and Whyalla, reducing the need for as much new transmission infrastructure, and the pumping could be powered by wind and/or solar rather than coal.
An off-river pumped hydro system can vary in size from 50 to 500MW, with the Australian National University estimating it would cost around $1 million per megawatt to construct — or about the same as duplicating an interconnector.
There is another ARENA-supported project being investigated in Queensland at the site of a disused open pit gold mine that would be used to store the power from a 200MW solar farm.
In his haste to outdo Jay Weatherill, it seems Malcolm failed to consult Infrastructure Australia, the independent statutory body with a mandate to prioritise and progress nationally significant infrastructure.
Their response was not enthusiastic.
“While the project would help manage electricity supply security during times in which traditional power generators would be too slow to respond, recent news that Tesla can supply 100MWh of battery storage to South Australia in 100 days shows that the lead time for a project like this may well be its downfall.
With the ability to locate storage batteries across a distributed network rather than having to move mountains a virtual storage plant can be built across a whole city connected not only to the grid but also networked to the internet where they can send and receive information to each other.”
Whilst Malcolm wants to move mountains, others are getting on with the job of providing electricity, where it is needed, as soon as possible, and with a focus on low to zero emissions.
If Malcolm wants a nation-building exercise, he should “get back to his knitting” and give us an NBN that works because I am over this FttN crap which drops out several times a day, taking my landline with it.
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