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CSIRO says Australia can get to 100 per cent renewable energy

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The Australian government’s chief scientific body says there is no apparent technical impediment to reaching 100 per cent renewables for the national electricity grid, and levels of up to 30 per cent renewable energy should be considered as just “trivial” in current energy systems.

Renewables could benefit from more energy storage capacity in the electricity network. reupa/flickr, CC BY-NC

The CSIRO estimate was made in the Senate select committee into the “Resilience of electricity infrastructure in a warming world,” which is providing some fascinating insight that we will be reporting on (because mainstream media won’t).

Of course, the whole proposition of the committee was considered absurd by One Nation Senator and climate conspiracy theorist Malcolm Roberts, who repeatedly insisted that global warming was not happening and constantly badgered the energy experts on this point.

But what did emerge was a general consensus that the electricity grid was in the midst of a rapid and massive transformation, and a change of rules and regulations could likely accelerate that transformation and make it cheaper.

And amid the toxic political debate about the level of renewable energy, specifically wind and solar, that can be accommodated into the system, CSIRO energy division’s principal research scientist Paul Graham said there were no barriers to 100 per cent renewable energy, and lower levels could be easily absorbed.

This is despite contentious claims from conservatives, and many in mainstream media that even having 23.5 per cent renewables (the 2020 target) would “force feed more … instability into the grid,” as the AFR editorialised on Wednesday.

Solar-thermal-plant-at-Princess-Noura-University-source-SASIA-px466

Graham’s testimony indicated that such fears and scare mongering were bunkum.

“We could probably add that introducing renewables at a share of 10, 20 or 30 per cent is fairly trivial on the basis that the existing generation capacity has a lot of flexibility to deal with the variability,” Graham told the committee, noting that existing back-up and redundancy for the current coal-dominated grid was already in place.

“Traditional approaches around peaking gas, using the dispatchability of coal and the interconnection between states allow renewables to contribute to the system. That has generally been the approach in most states.”

Graham said the challenges could start to emerge when the penetration of wind and solar move above 40 per cent –as it has in South Australia, which explains why it is focusing on storage and is finally getting traction on its call for changes to energy market rules.

“When we do modelling where we increase the renewable penetration above around 40 per cent of the energy delivered (where South Australia is now) that starts to force out some of that existing dispatchable generation, and then we find that you need to add other technologies to support renewables,’ Graham said.

“That can include storage, as we have been talking about, and there are a number of different storage technologies.

“It can also mean adding other dispatchable renewables. We often think about solar thermal as a dispatchable renewable, and there are geothermal technologies.”

And Graham, a co-author of a landmark report with the country’s network owners last year that showed high levels of renewable energy could be incorporated into the grid, and produce a $100 billion cheaper outcome than business as usual, says renewables could go much, much higher.

“When we have done modelling that goes to very high renewable penetration, getting close to or up to 100 per cent, we have done calculations of very, very high battery deployment to achieve that, and we are also using technologies like biogas, which is dispatchable, and dispatchable biomass.

“But I should add that that takes care of the sort of energy balancing on a half-hour basis. There are also other issues around the need for frequency control and so forth, where you need additional technologies that provide inertia.

“That could include things like synchronous condensers and more advanced inverters for the battery technologies, and so forth.

“So generally there appear to be engineering solutions for lots of different levels of renewable penetration. The only uncertainty is that we have not actually seen them deployed, but, in theory and in simulation and modelling, there do appear to be solutions going forward to achieve whatever is desirable.”

So, the committee chair asked, technical capability is not the issue?

Graham : “Yes, that is correct. There are some aspects of that that we have not explored and some aspects that we have. A lot of that is outlined in the recent work with the Energy Networks Australia report around the Electricity Network Transformation Roadmap, where we have highlighted things such as that it would be useful if we had price signalling and communication between technologies down at the distribution end of the market and up into the wholesale market. There are number of barriers that could be removed that would support a higher penetration of renewables. I will not try to list them all, but certainly I take the direction of your question, and the answer is yes.”

These comments go to the market rules that include changes such as the 30-minute settlement rule, which most experts say favours incumbent gas generators at the expense of fast-response new technology such as battery storage. The incumbent generators are furiously opposing this proposed rule change.

Several of the Senators on the committee, including Roberts and Liberal Senator Chris Back, expressed their complete distaste for wind energy, and held to their pre-conceived ideas that only fossil fuel “baseload” could deliver reliability and security.

Roberts was quickly disabused of this notion by energy expert Dr Matthew Stocks, from the College of Engineering and Computer Science, at Australian National University, in this exchange.

Senator Roberts: Like Senator Back, I totally oppose wind generation and, if ever solar becomes competitive, then that will be ideal for me when I look at the overall lifespan of the solar technology. Would you all agree that stable base load supply is essential?

Dr Stocks: No, I would not. My submission quite clearly points out that the system could provide a stable balanced system with a combination of wind and PV and pumped hydro storage. I take a very different position: base load is not essential.

  

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  • lin

    Excellent. The government will be furious. I suspect there will be more attempts to shoot the messenger (again).

    • RobSa

      It will not matter. The return on government spin is decreasing towards nil.

      • Michael Murray

        There are also other issues around the need for frequency control and so forth, where you need additional technologies that provide inertia.

        So maybe the solution would be a factory full of politicians and advisors all spinning at 50 Hz.

        • john

          I would think they spin at about 1 Hz frankly

          • Michael Murray

            Hhm. You are probably right. Maybe some step up gearing ?

        • lin

          I’m hurting plenty already from all this crap spin. Not just hurts. Killer hurts. perhaps even mega hurts.

          • Michael Murray

            Punny. Very punny.

  • Peter Campbell

    Senator “I totally oppose wind generation” Roberts seems to generate more wind than anyone else.

  • Hettie

    Indeed, baseload is not the issue. Peak load is the issue and that’s what we should be focused on.

  • Hettie

    And would it not be frabjous if the level of rage among Coalition MPs is sufficient to trigger a few strokes.

  • phred01

    Heard that headshrinkers Josh & Barnaby have been appointed head hunters to go thru’ CSIRO.

    • john

      Typical of one should expect from Neanderthals.

      • Richard

        Don’t insult the Neanderthals!

  • Cooma Doug

    If we have a million electric cars. By then most will be auto pilot. If only 25% were on charge, this would be enough storage for all system disturbance.
    Cars would be all storage and residential poles and wires. Large scale solar and wind would be on a major infrastructure grid.

    This is just one out there idea. There are many such visions in the pipeline. Large coal generators are sitting there like jam tins connected by string and claiming the only answer to communications.

    • Andy Saunders

      Yes. Don’t forget that EVs may dramatically increase demand as well.

      At present, EV chargers don’t support export and various storage services, but theoretically they could. And possibly more importantly, there would need to be an economic incentive for an EV owner to export some of their energy…

      • Adrian

        Why would EV owners want to export their energy. Would they not want their car fully charged in the morning ?….using EV as storage is just pie in the sky feel good rubbish.

        • Andy Saunders

          The simple answer is “if they get paid for it”.

          The peak is usually in the early evening, probably the EV plugged in in the garage still has a fair amount of charge, and plenty of overnight hours left to fill it up by the morning.

          • Adrian

            If they export the energy it is income neutral because they still need to recharge the car

          • Andy Saunders

            That’s why tariff reform is needed. Or an aggregation model.

    • Apocalypso

      Everyone should watch the following video at least once.

      Cars will indeed be storage devices connected to the grid and clean disruption is happening right now despite the fools running the country. They seem to think that they can stop it, or delay it, but that will fail:

      https://youtu.be/Kxryv2XrnqM

  • Steve Fuller

    Phhttt. What would the CSIRO and similar experts know? Just plain boring facts.

  • Andrew Lang

    So in this article when you say ‘energy’ you mean electricity. So what term do you use when you mean ‘energy’ (i.e., the total of electricity, heat energy and transport fuels combined). This slack use of terms is what may help result in most of the public in Australia (not to mention politicians) getting confused about ‘renewable energy’.

    I was at a conference in Victoria today and someone was talking about Victoria aiming for ‘25% renewable energy by 2020’. Meanwhile the ACT is aiming for ‘100% renewable energy’. Do you mean to say, all this time, maybe they are referring only to electricity (which is maybe 25-30% of our total energy mix)?
    How about we start conforming with the terms the rest of the OECD (or the EU countries anyway, and the entire scientific community) use when talking about ‘energy’. Otherwise they might think we are uneducated hicks.

    • john

      It is power from electricity for use in industry or the consumer.
      As to the other usage of energy as you fear yes transport can be done by electricity.

    • Alan S

      Agreed it’s electrical energy in units of kWh or MWh . In discussions about such an important topic too much sloppiness is accepted – my old physics teacher would have thrown the board duster at you. Flow rate (kW) is being confused with total flow (kWh) and with the growth of battery systems this is going to cause misunderstanding in system sizing.
      When technically illiterate politicians start getting in the act with their buzzword of the week it doesn’t help. They talk about ‘baseload’ as though it’s a straight line on a graph and are now getting excited about spinning reserve.
      Perhaps Giles could write an energy primer.

    • Andrew Thaler

      Ive been long saying this. electricity is what.. 20% of our ‘energy’ requirements.. so even making it to 100% as is this claim.. we would only be 1/5 of the way to where we really need to be.

    • Mike Shackleton

      When you look at the way technology is developing I think we can all agree that in the next 15 years there will be a transition towards electric vehicles – as that transition occurs the demands upon the electricity network are going to increase. It won’t be enough to replace existing generation capacity with renewables, we’re going to need to build a whole lot more so we can charge our vehicles too.

      • solarguy

        Something I have been saying on this forum for a long time.

  • john

    I notice the very across every part of science Malcolm Roberts asked a few questions or to be fair stated his position which is ” There is no Global Warming it is all made up by Scientists who are paid millions of dollars and are in this conspiracy to bring down western democracy ” or some such rot.

    The poor buggers who do the work are paid a pittance against what they could be paid a lot if they worked for a FF company.

    I do remember this person swimming near Great Keppel Island last year and saying there is no Empirical Evidence about any harm to the Great Barrier Reef.

    How about we look at the evidence. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/37408c991b3a58f90eb8fe785df426ede82ee0a5019f7ec86b2d0da05fd1278e.jpg

    • lin

      I think it was the red devil who braved the water, not the desiccated old fool. Anyway, it was far enough south that it would have been a refreshing dip, not the bath temps killing coral in the north.

  • Bernd Felsche

    Here’s the scale of the technical solution to the storage issue:

    http://wp.me/p5YSpg-92

    Technically possible. Looking beyond what is possible with “Engineering”; look at what is financially possible and even what is environmentally acceptable.

    I seriously question Paul Graham competence to be speaking on such things. He’s obviously dropped a few decimal point somewhere IF he’s done a boundary-value check; and hasn’t noticed that the result he’s got is “stupid”.

    Germany’s “experience” is deeply unpleasant and will cost them €2,000,000,000,000 (two trillion euros) by 2025. What they’ll reap is sitting in the dark and shivering through winter; as in the current one where wind and solar provide 2% of installed “capacity” http://wp.me/p1QUg8-P3

    • john

      I will check your figure for the 2 trillion and get back to you.
      I notice you comment on dismal blogs who think the end of the world will happen as soon as FF use is ended.

    • Stephen Gloor

      Well no – they will be sitting in their super insulated homes warm as toast with the batteries or the EV keeping the lights on fine. Remember the Germans are leaders with things like PassivHaus. Then in the morning they can use solar and wind from surrounding countries that have plenty. Batteries are replacing spinning reserve which is becoming a thing of the past already. What they will reap is keeping the planet from warming beyond 2 deg. What will be the cost the all of us if this happens? That will make the 2 trillion, if that is the case, seem insignificant in comparison.

      • Bernd Felsche

        Where are batteries replacing spinning reserve?
        It seems to me that you’re simply making things up.

        Germany gets its “domestic” wind power from a region of roughly 1 million km². When Germany’s wind farms are becalmed, so are most of its neighbours’. And even if they do have something to spare, it will fall way short of Germany’s energy requirements.

        Their super-insulated houses in Germany are rotting from sick building syndrome; or elsewhere their retrofitted, exterior styrofoam insulation is catching fire.

        One cannot insulate a house so that it stores sufficient heat in a few short summer months to remain warm enough for the other 9 to 10 months of the year. Passive heating is insufficient; especially at times when the sun is weak/obscured by clouds and the weather is very, very cold.

        Houses with rooftop PV solar are left to burn if there’s a fire in the attic (usually occupied space) because of the shock hazards to firefighters while there’s light onto the panels and they are still intact.

        You persist in repeating illusions; perhaps in the hope that they are true. But reality does not comply. Battery storage is at most practical for hours; grid-scale battery has capacities rated in minutes.

        Real data, from the real world, reported by proponents of renewables in Germany, reveal a massive shortfall in generating and energy storage capacity. https://contrary2belief.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/a-winter-of-discontent/

  • Robin_Harrison

    Leave the owned political puppets on both sides to do as they like. The high energy prices they are creating for their masters is making Australia one of the fastest growing renewable energy markets around. This energy transition needs little, if any, govt help anymore. The superior economics are starting to bite.

    • Andrea

      This could be true of rooftop solar, but this contributes only a few percent of Australia’s electricity. I can’t see how our could be true of wind power especially in the current electricity market. Wind can’t compete with despatchable power because when wind is generating the spot prices are low. It’s only when there is little wind power available that the spot prices rise. So wind power gets less money than the despatchable power plants. Unless there is a mechanism that gives extra to renewables, wind is at a disadvantage.

      • Robin_Harrison

        You’re forgetting about the constantly lowering cost of storage which will rapidly make FF despatchable power plants redundant.

        • Andrea

          No I was thinking of storage costs as well. Lazard’s levelized cost of storage puts compressed air as the cheapest followed by pumped hydro, but the costs are still substantial. I think pumped hydro is the most likely to get rolled out, though it does present other environmental challenges. It is also a mature technology so the cost won’t drop much. Lazard has the cost of battery storage dropping by 20 to 40% over the next 5 years. These costs will start to level out as the technology matures. As to whether batteries are appropriate for grid-scale storage – well that is another matter. I think they will be used for specific applications.
          The point is that IMHO the market will not deliver 100% renewable energy. We need to push for specific mechanisms to drive the transition.

          • Richard

            That is a very conservative and wrong prediction by Lazard
            on the dropping cost of battery storage. As we have seen with Tesla the cost of their lithium batteries have dropped 35% in 12 months. And they have only just started ramping up production at the Giga factory which is still under construction.
            Battery storage is at the very early stage of a massive price drop across a number of technologies as production is ramped up.
            Lazard also predicts that renewable plus storage unsubsidized, will be cheaper than all forms of generation in the US in five years. That fact alone will result in investment pouring out of fossil and into renewable and storage lest it misses the boat and left stranded.
            Hang on to your hats, this is going to be a quick paradigm shift leaving a lot of dead bodies in its wake.
            Nothing governments can do about it, or the fossil lobby.

          • Andrea

            If we look at the history of predictions in the energy area, we will find that most of them have been wrong. 🙂
            If you are predicting that prices of renewables plus storage will drop dramatically and therefore argue that we don’t need any specific mechanisms to push renewables – then what happens if your prediction is wrong? Tackling climate change is too important for such a gamble. We cannot rely on the hope that costs will fall and the market will deliver. We need specific mechanisms to drive the transition. If costs do fall dramatically then all is good. If costs don’t fall dramatically, then we are still making the transition.
            I might add that fossil fuels have some very attractive features (such as being energy dense, portable, ready when available). If we are going to tackle climate change, they really need to be locked up. I wouldn’t be relying on the market to do something that important.

          • Richard

            I agree that a carbon tax will get us there quicker, but as we have seen it is difficult politically. However there is a lot of government support for renewable energy globally. Hence, why we have seen such massive drop in price already across renewable tech.
            The market is the only way we will get there IMO. And when the market switches it will happen fast.

          • Andrea

            The difference between a carbon tax and the RET is that the RET makes the installation of renewables mandatory. Last time we had a carbon tax, it hardly made any difference (except that the hydro generators gamed the system, giving the new illusion of a drop in emissions). No energy transition in the history of humanity has been fast. See my ref to Vaclac Smil bok in this thread.

          • Richard

            The carbon tax wasn’t in long enough to make a proper assessment.
            We live in different times. The energy transition will be driven by robotics and technology. As we have witnessed just in ten years with the smart phone, how fast things move with technology.

            The problem with government intervention is that the policy changes every time the government changes. So business hasn’t been able to invest in renewable to the extent we need. Luckily that doesn’t matter
            anymore because the economics and technology development has improved so much in such a short time. It’s the only way to invest now
            regardless of government policy. So when Labor says they want 50% renewable by 2030. They don’t have to do anything to achieve that because it will happen anyway. In fact it will be more like 75%.

            The reasons why it will be a quick transition are simple.

            – Renewable energy uses a zero cost energy source.
            – Even at the early stage of roll out, renewable is the cheapest source of energy generation.
            – The scale up in battery/storage technology is in it’s infancy and is already cost competitive when tied with renewable generation, against fossil fuel new build.
            – Electricity is a far cheaper way of powering transport than fossil fuel.
            Not just as a fuel source, but it enables vehicles to be cheaper to build and maintain because they are much simpler.
            – Last but not least. It enables individuals, business and countries to become largely energy independent.

            So stand back and watch what is going to the one of the most remarkable changes in the history of mankind unfold in the next ten years. And I can’t believe I am alive to witness it. It will change EVERYTHING!

          • Andrea

            Well all I can say is that it is interesting to hear that such techno-optimists exist. I can imagine a more dystopian world in 10 years time. But only time will tell. Let’s meet back here in 25/2/2027 to see who got it mostly right. ?

          • Richard

            That’s a good idea :). There is one caveat on all this that really worries me. Like a sore loser playing monopoly, fossil fuel interests may upend the board. That is what the Trump/Putin axis is about, protecting fossil fuel. They might just destroy everything to maintain control.
            Is that dystopian enough for you.

          • Roger Brown

            Lithium prices have been moving up ( $8000/t ) on a 45 degree angle .

          • Richard

            That maybe so but it deosn’t seem to be affecting the price of batteries which are going down on 45 degree angle the other way

          • Mike Shackleton

            There is about 63 kg of lithium in a Tesla 70 kWh battery – that equates to about 12 kg in a 14kWh Powerwall 2.

            That’s about $100 of lithium in every Powerwall. Or roughly 1% of the installed price.

          • Observer2

            still need base load.batteries are still too small by factor of 20

          • Robin_Harrison

            Pumped hydro may well be part of the mix but it’s by no means widely appropriate and, as you say, it’s a mature tech so not much price reduction can be expected. By contrast battery tech is not remotely mature so large movements can be expected and, indeed, are being experienced. Particularly given the growing amount of R&D taking place which is also driving the ultimate takeover of EVs.
            The infrastructure costs of RE+storage is reaching parity with the infrastructure costs of FFs and getting cheaper. Given parity or better of infrastructure costs, FFs can’t compete with free inputs. 100% RE is not only possible, it will happen faster than you think.
            The current rate of battery tech improvement and cost reduction predicts EV cost and convenience parity with ICEVs by 2025. Given the massive difference in maintenance and running costs, nobody will be buying new ICEVs by then.
            We are in the middle of the transition of our entire energy sector, both generation and usage, and most predictions are based on linear growth. It’s not, it’s exponential and that’s the difference between a firecracker and a nuclear explosion.
            This transition will happen a lot faster than people think.

          • Andrea

            I just read the Guardian article on Tony Abbott’s speech. Apparently he is arguing that we should just let the market deliver renewables, rather than have government programs to support them.
            As to the argument that certain technologies will take off exponentially – I would hardly want to be betting the future of the planet’s liveability on somebody’s prediction. None of us can predict the future. But I have commented on this below.
            I have also heard the argument that the collapse of our society will happen a lot faster than people think….

          • Robin_Harrison

            I’m not saying help for renewables wouldn’t be useful. A cut in the massive subsidies to FFs would be a good start but our political systems are clearly owned by ‘business as usual’.
            The energy transition is only part of the larger transition we are going through; towards a sustainable future. The most significant transition our species has ever experienced. Coming down out of the trees and the discovery of fire were big but our survival didn’t depend on them. It most certainly does this time.
            Change is under weigh and also growing exponentially but I wouldn’t give you odds either way. That’s a huge improvement on my view just a few years ago when I thought we had no chance. The speed of the energy transition has evened up the odds.
            We can get an indication of the future by examining current patterns and, in my estimation, we will know within the next 30 years whether we will make it or not.
            The race for survival is on but, as with the energy transition, economics is on our side. Sustainable practice in all areas makes far better economic sense than anything we’ve ever done.

          • Andrea

            I recently read Vaclav Smil’s latest book on Energy Transitions. It examines the speed of energy transitions historically. These have always been very slow, suggesting that without massive government intervention, we are not going to get anywhere near a sustainable energy system in the timeframe required. It is well worth reading. https://books.google.com.au/books?id=X2doDQAAQBAJ&dq=Energy+Transitions:+Global+and+National+Perspectives&source=gbs_navlinks_s

          • Robin_Harrison

            As I mentioned, most predictions for this energy transition are based on a linear growth model and Smil is no exception. It’s growing exponentially and being driven by increasingly superior economics. The next 10 years will see massive change as the fossil fuel age draws to a close.

          • Andrea

            You are making a prediction – that’s all. None of us can predict the future. What’s more, the argument that you are using is not particularly helpful for those activists who are out there trying to stop fossil fuel projects. Basically, you are saying that they needn’t bother as the transition will happen anyway. I would rather that they were out there fighting against these projects rather than trusting in these “superior economics”.

          • Robin_Harrison

            Firstly, current patterns can certainly indicate future directions. You appear to be ok when Vaclav Smil does it.
            Secondly. please don’t put words in my mouth. As an environmental activist for over 40 years I wouldn’t for a moment suggest they are wasting their time. I am, however, suggesting different tactics to get where we need to go; a sustainable future.
            Our political systems are almost wholly owned by ‘business as usual’ and seem to be totally devoted to obstructing this transition. One thing the unprincipled lying thieves on both sides are susceptible to is money and we are on the verge of having the economic high ground. It would be foolish not to use it.
            Please read what I’m actually saying and not what you imagine I’m saying.

          • Andrea

            Smil says all energy transitions take a long time. And this one night is more difficult than previous ones due to the nature of the energy resource.
            Re my other comment. Fair enough. I should have qualified the comment. However, I regard the argument that the market will deliver renewables anyway as demobilising.
            And the market won’t deliver a sustainable society, which will require a lot more than just renewable energy.
            I think that we should also be wary of the predictions of people in the renewables technology industries (especially the crazy one who wants to set up colonies on other planets). They are just in the business of talking up their products. Moreover, they are only selling a “solution” for the easy stuff and still promoting the growth paradigm.

          • Robin_Harrison

            Knowing we have superior economics on our side is far from being demobilising; it’s massively empowering. Not just for the energy transition, for our major transition to a sustainable future. The transition we must make to avoid extinction.
            We’ve spent decades defending this earth which is essential for our existence, and now we have new tools. As Sun Tzu said in The Art of War, The best means of defence is attack, and we’re on the verge of having the ability to attack economically.

            Sustainable practice, on all levels, makes far better economic sense than anything we’ve ever done.

          • Robin_Harrison

            He’s right, energy transitions take a long time. Most of that time is taken up in establishing, the early doublings of exponential growth. The last 3 doublings are always very rapid.
            How long before we reach 12.5% RE and EVs?
            That leaves 25%, 50% and 100% very rapidly.
            Once infrastructure costs reach parity and better, the FF industry can’t compete with free. We are reaching that point right now.

          • fehowarth

            Tony fails to see, market won’t deliver coal-fired electricity.

          • fehowarth

            Is happening I believe faster than most ever dreamt. Grid, distribution and marketing lagging behind.

          • Robin_Harrison

            Have the grid, distribution and marketing forgotten what happened to Kodak? Well yes, who remembers Kodak?
            They keep up or disappear.

      • Mike Shackleton

        Wind obviously can compete with dispatchable power, or at a minimum at least be profitable, otherwise companies wouldn’t be building thousands of MW of generating capacity.

        • Andrea

          They are getting extra money from Renewable Energy Certificates, currently near $90/MWh I believe. Without this, they couldn’t compete

        • Ian

          Wind and batteries can be dispatchable though

  • trackdaze

    Why do we have a one nation senator on this panel who denies the existence of thermometers?

    • Graham

      Its good he’s on the panel. Let them speak and dig their own graves, need conservative fence sitters to be embarrassed by association. It is annoying that we have to give them oxygen, but we are also giving them rope to hang themselves by allowing their loony tunes positions to be publicly dismantled.

      • trackdaze

        The optimist in me thinks this too.

  • Brunel

    I’m sorry but saying “100% renewable electricity grid” just gives the anti-climate mob a boost.

    We should aim to get a 90% renewable electricity grid and when we get that, we can aim for a 99% renewable electricity grid.

    Also ban supermarkets from giving away plastic bags for free. That is not renewable and polluting to the oceans.

    • stalga

      Write to the supermarkets and tell them, or your local MP. If you feel strongly about something getting proactive s the best way. For example, I wrote to Woolworths and Westfarmers recently, suggesting they could reduce their carbon footprint, save money on electricity and generate (pun accidental) goodwill by installing solar. Woolworths have responded, saying the board will be informed.

      Funny how most people don’t use greenbags any more.

    • trackdaze

      my thoughts exactly. it matters more the first 30% which is possible now.

      ultimately id be happy with 10% fossil fuel powered grid. the longer we take the more. likely 100% will be neccesary.

    • Miles Harding

      Ultimately, we will have to get to 100%, but it represents an end point of a decades long process.
      Modelling suggests that costs actually reduce up to about the 85% point, making this a reasonable intermediate goal.

    • Brad

      I live in tassie and we have to take our own bags (which there is a 75% chance they get left it the car till you are in the shop). Its so good when you visit the main land and can just walk into the supermarket and they are just giving aways bags!

    • Brad

      I live in tassie and we have to take our own bags (which there is a 75% chance they get left it the car till you are in the shop). Its so good when you visit the main land and can just walk into the supermarket and they are just giving aways bags!

      • Niru

        We have to do this in France, and it is a brilliant idea. There are NO plastic bags given away, and if you leave it in the car, you just go back and get it. Or take your trolley out and pack at the car. It has become automatic for us now to pick up plastic bags if we are going shopping. And you can also buy bags at the shops. They bags are very colourful, strong and are treated as advertising for the shops that hand them out.

  • I think decentralised, local, distributed energy with storage and trading (with blockchain microgrids) is better than utility scale energy. Have a look at this petition:
    https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/The_AEMC_Reconsider_the_change_request_for_local_electricity_trading/edit/

  • MaxG

    If they keep peddling this stuff (science) they will get further de-funded by the neo-libs 😉

  • Ron Chandler

    What does ‘dispatchability” mean in this context?

    • Bernd Felsche

      Dispatchability means that electrical power is available, in the required quantity, on demand.

      It’s the reason why even the primitive steam engines easily displaced windmills as a power source. Power was available when needed to run the machines that eventually freed the western world of slavery.

      [Power output, doing useful work, of a human slave is max 200W for about 8 hours a day; or about 120W over 18 hours; but they tend to “wear out” fairly quickly under those conditions. For comparison, the “slaves” powered via electrical power transmission in an average Australian household do around 20 kWh of work every day; that’s more than 9 slaves-worth.]

  • Ron Chandler

    The AUSRA Consortium solar thermal technology (invented here) IS baseload, as an intrinsic part of the desgn, incorporating 16-hour energy storage by molten salt solution under pressure.
    This whole system is scalable. RMIT priced a conversion of our entire energy system to 100% carbon-neutral at $38 billion, some 10 years ago. That scheme involved 12 very large ST plants.
    What the hell is the hold-up? (rhetorical question)

  • solarguy

    Every time I hear that tosser Malcolm Roberts mentioned, I growl and grit my teeth. It’s a wonder the nut case can even blink and breath at the same time. If I had the chance to speak to this idiot, I would only offer this advise to him, stop trying to think, it doesn’t do you or anyone else any good.

    • DoRightThing

      One of the most punchable faces in Australia.

  • Flynn Thompson

    If I owned my own house I’d be dropping off the grid with solar and batteries real quick

  • Don McMillan

    The only people who get media attention are the ones who hold extreme views on both sides. The middle of the road is just ignored. The cry’s for help [Alco, Blue Scope & IPL and especially the small manufactures] are ignored.

  • Peter Cunningham

    That was one of the most prejudiced, naive, mypoic articles / opinion pieces I have ever read – accordingly, should be relegated to the dustbin.
    I don’t have the time to deal with nonsense and lies, but to correct a blatantly WRONG statement regarding Malcolm Roberts – he has NEVER said that the climate is not warming.

    Then to read the self righteous comments from some here — no wonder the nation is in a mess.

    Clearly nobody who has commented here has any understanding of mathematics or how a grid energy network functions, but to put it into perspective – something Malcolm Roberts has tried but failed against the armour plated heads here – chew over this:

    1) What is the optimum level of CO2 in the atmosphere? If that cannot be answered, then no benchmark exists against which current levels can be judged!

    2) Combine the population of Australia and New Zealand and we equate to just 0.36% of the worlds population. Even if we were all DEAD and NIL CO2 produced, then our combined demise is insignificant. Now sub divide that until you arrive at our actual output and compare that against the rest of the world.

    3) If CO2 and coal is so bad, then why are governments still digging it up to sell to others to burn? Australia is assigned the legacy as a terrible emitter – but most is burned by other nations.

    This world has many problems and the very least is CO2. The real problems are pollution of all types, and the ability to generate more than ample, affordable, clean, power and do so safely.

    Sitting in USA at present are sufficient decommissioned nuclear warheads that if used in inherently safe modern nuclear facilities, is enough to power the entire world for at least 500 years, and result in an insignificant amount of high level but very short lived waste (300 years to TOTAL degradation).

    That alone should be sufficient reason to adopt modern nuclear and CLEAN UP the planet from the excesses of assorted governments.

    If they put as much into the fight for a global strategy for power generation as they do to warfare – then and only then will we and the planet be better off.

    Now – snipe and bicker as you will, but for those doing so, then YOU are part of the problem, if not the problem itself.

  • oommike

    They key phrase is ” “When we have done modelling that goes to very high renewable penetration, getting close to or up to 100 per cent, we have done calculations of very, very high battery deployment to achieve that,” Unless and until the cost of batteries drops by a factor of at least 10 The model is too expensive.

  • Observer2

    base load at much reduced level will be needed for stability (when the sun is not shining and wind is low.hydro storage is hard to find slow to be built and may be too small in proportion in future as total demand rises) so c02 will be markedly reduced anyway.Forget carbon pricing as a way to prop up renewables their cost will be cheap enough we don’t need that incentive.but we still need coal as say 10-20% of load as well as lots of redundant transmission lines.End result co2 low but system stable.the problem for producers is that coal fired stations must be running below capacity so less economical .new ones won’t be built as a consequence.Batteries are still too expensive and small scale yet.