Data from Australia’s solar farms show that utility-scale solar is working better than expected and is a lot more productive than official government forecasts suggest. And most new solar farms should have tracking devices to follow the sun.
A combination of price falls in the international markets, driven by increased scale of manufacturing, and falling costs in Australia, driven by the ARENA tender process, is expected to trigger a major rush in investment in large scale solar projects.
Coal-fired cars? Climate campaigner John Hewson promotes discarded technology that his business partners say could turn coal into a “universal fuel” and ensure long-term survival of coal industry – in Latrobe Valley and elsewhere. Environmental campaigners are horrified.
ACCC says it’s perfectly OK for big utilities to exercise their market power and force up prices, as they did to devastating effect in South Australia last month. And although the regulator identified the lack of competition in the state a decade ago, it still chooses to take a pot-shot at renewables.
If Australia fails to move on its climate policies, it may have no choice but to cut emissions to zero within five years to meet its share of the global effort to avoid a climate crisis. But it’s not something that policy makers want to admit.
BHP says potential for solar and battery storage at remote and off-grid sites is “enormous” as it signs on to world-leading project near Cooktown in north Queensland. Co-funders ARENA says it is clear battery storage is already competitive in certain locations.
Energy ministers hailed progress, but their summit ducked key issues. They refused to embrace the target zero net carbon emissions, while South Australia indicated it favoured an “emissions intensity” scheme to replace the renewable energy target.
More evidence emerges of how big utilities game the market in South Australia, and how the fossil fuel industry tried to blame it all on renewables. This comes as energy ministers meet to consider proposals to open up the national gas market.
Origin Energy says growth in energy markets will lie “beyond the grid” in the transition to low-carbon economy, but it doesn’t expect consumers to leave the grid in large numbers. Its solar sales doubled, but remain a small fraction of the overall market, while storage uptake is slow.
South Australia was supposed to show the limitations of renewables but instead has highlighted the abuse of power and price gouging by fossil fuel incumbents. Energy ministers can either seize the moment and push for change, or protect the narrow business interests of a few powerful players.
The Tory government in the UK has finally woken up to the fact that solar and wind is cheaper than nuclear. It may mean a big shift in its energy strategy, as it focuses on distributed generation rather than mega projects. Shouldn’t Australia be leading on this?