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Finkel decoded: The good, the bad, and the very disappointing

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Our coverage of the main Finkel findings can be found here, along with the reaction, and a look at his modelling. Here is our initial take on what the final Finkel Review all means.

This is not Grid 2.0

In the first draft of the Finkel Review, chief scientist Dr Alan Finkel spoke of an “unstoppable” energy transition, driven by new technologies and the role of the consumer.

But but he may just have found a way for skittish politicians and incumbent utilities to throw a spanner in the works and slow it down. This report had the opportunity to redefine the energy markets. But, to borrow an expression, it reads more like history ++ at best, rather than Grid 2.0.

That’s because Finkel has been focused on trying to find a pathway through the toxic energy politics in Australia, and accommodating the Coalition’s modest climate targets, rather than seizing the moment and outlining what can and should happen, and what Australia would need to do to meet the Paris climate targets.

That it only modeled the Coalition’s initial down-payment for the Paris climate deal. It shows it a path to reach that, but not its likely obligations in a world that vowed to cap average global warming at “well below 2°C” and so can be seen as a huge victory for the incumbents.PowerLines2

We need a plan

Finkel emphasises there is no plan right now, and one is needed to manage the scale of the transition. “We need a plan,” he says.

So he has recommended a whole series of actions, including the Clean Energy Target and only because of opposition to the emissions intensity target. Other options such as a high renewable energy target were not considered, even though it’s clear that wind and solar are the cheapest forms of new energy,

Finkel suggests a wave of market and regulatory reforms, but appears to rely heavily on the Australian Energy Market Commission, whose snail-pace approach to reform and new technologies has driven most players crazy with frustration (apart from the incumbents, of course).

The suggestions include new market rules, particularly for distributed generation (household solar and storage), but it also demands AEMO set up a planning regime and review its own management practices, particularly on short-term forecasting. He proposes a new energy security board.

Wind and solar are cheaper

The report does acknowledge that wind and solar are the cheapest forms of electricity, even with storage (or the costs of firming. i.e. signing a contract with a gas generator) added. But we might have to wait a while for that fact to sink in for the government to truly absorb it.

Finkel insists the Clean Energy Target is the cheapest option. He wants the renewable energy target to end in 2020 and not be extended.

But despite the lower costs of wind and solar, he only sees the share of large-scale renewables creeping up to just 33 per cent by 2030, from 23.5 per cent in 2020.

The report predicts rooftop solar will only account for 11 per cent of total generation by 2050, which is more akin to AGL’s vision of the future, than the CSIRO report which credited nearly 50 per cent. This is hardly the Grid 2.0 he talked of in the draft.

The Coalition may be mollified by Finkel’s modeling that suggests some existing power stations will last longer, and cannot close without three years notice. The reasoning for allowing coal-fired power stations to stay longer in the system seems to be that this is a better outcome than having new fossil fuel generation.

Finkel says: “A mix of wind, solar and coal generation would be equally acceptable as a mix of wind, solar and gas generation as long as the (modest) emissions reduction trajectory is achieved.” But what about the Paris climate target?

Retailers reign supreme

By recommending a system that generates credits, and obligations on retailers, means that this powerful oligopoly reigns supreme.

Over the past few years we have seen how the all-powerful gen-tailers have been able to manipulate the renewable energy targets, first going on an investment strike, forcing policy changes, and then pocketing the benefits of the high LGC price they created when they finally started signing contracts.

They have fought elements of carbon pricing, pushed back on energy efficiency and demand management schemes, and rule changes such as the 5-minute rule. By creating a new certificate scheme that puts the obligation on retailers, they again get to sit in the driver’s seat and protect their generation and retailing interests.

States will have to lead the way

It will again be up to the states to go it alone if they want a quicker transition and greater ambition. According to Finkel’s numbers, Australia will get to 42 per cent renewables by 2030, and just 33 per cent large-scale renewables). A cynic would say that was deliberately calibrated to fit in with the Coalition, given the way it criticised Labor’s 50 per cent renewable policy.

The states, however, have far higher ambitions – the ACT 100% by 2020, Queensland and the Northern Territory 50 per cent by 2030, and Victoria 45 per cent by 2025. South Australia is already well past its 50 per cent target for 2025. Finkel does not recommend that the states be forced to abandon their own targets (they can’t), and one can see why, although they will remain subject to partisan politics and the electoral cycle.

Controversy over “reliability” plan

The most controversy among the industry will be around the storage issue and system reliability. The report recognises that battery and pumped hydro storage can give the grid the reliability and security it needs, but notes that in the short term, higher levels of flexible, gas-fired generation will be needed to support “variable” renewables.

Finkel suggests that new wind and solar plants, beyond 2020, be required to be paired with a certain amount of storage or contracts with “firm capacity”. The renewable energy industry might well ask, and they will: Why are renewable energy generators obliged to sign up for “dispatchable” generation and the coal and gas fires stations are not?

It was the failure of coal and gas plants last summer that put the grid at risk on most occasions. Yet under this recommendation, any new solar and wind plant built after 2020 will have to come with some measure of dispatchability or its own storage attached.

This is despite CSIRO and the networks saying repeatedly that any penetration of wind and solar below 40 per cent can be considered “trivial” and this target will not be met by 2030. AEMO will have some discretion over where and how much storage will be needed.

“This makes no sense and there are likely to be far cheaper and easier ways to manage the fact that output from wind and solar farms varies,” says Tristan Edis from Green Energy Markets. “Reliability isn’t a function of each individual power station, but all of them.” The Clean Energy Council is also concerned.

Coal gets to write the rules of its own exit

Another controversy is over the requirement for coal fired power stations to give three years notice on their retirement, but the rejection of any idea of a staged exit. This, more than anything, is designed to salve the far right, but NGOs say it makes no sense.

“Expecting coal-burning power stations to voluntarily nominate their closure date 3 years in advance is wildly unrealistic. In the absence of a government plan for orderly retirement of coal power stations, generators have been reluctant to signal their intentions and give their competitors a leg-up and that’s unlikely to change,” said Nick Aberle from Environment Victoria.

Tougher rules on all generators:

Wind and solar plants might have to add their own storage, and they will also be required to provide voltage and frequency control, which should not be an issue. However, Finkel said an FCAS market should only occur if there is a demonstrated benefit.

But Finkel has also identified a significant security issue with existing coal and gas generators, and has ordered AEMO to decide on a requirement for all synchronous generators to change their governor settings, this would provide a more continuous control of frequency and fall in line with international practice, and avoid some of the dramatic voltage swings that threatened more major blackouts last summer.

The bipartisan question

Will there be bipartisan political agreement? It’s not clear. It is neutral enough for both mainstream parties to find common ground, but might really be designed to soothe the coal-protecting, climate deniers in the Coalition back-room, and conservative voices in the media.

But the conservatives will protest anyway, and it is difficult to see how Labor can endorse a plan that undercuts renewable energy so comprehensively, and completely ignores the Paris climate agreement.

Even if bipartisan agreement on the design of a CET is agreed, there still needs to be a clear path to ramp up ambition and accelerate this transition. And there isn’t one.

As Finkel notes: The Australian, State and Territory governments must agree to a national emissions reduction trajectory. That is going to be hard to achieve, despite the fact that Australia has signed on to Paris.

The Coalition envisages a zero carbon grid in 50 years, climate experts says it needs to happen at least 20 years before that, and the CSIRO at least says that is eminently possible.

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 1.14.17 PMCheaper prices? Will the consumer be king or not?

Will it reduce prices? Finkel says yes, the Clean Energy Target gives that indication in the graph above.

The key to wholesale prices will be in how it reduces the ability of the gas generators to impose high fuel costs and the way they control the market. Rule changes like the 5-minute settlement could help that, and so will increased competition from battery storage and demand-side initiatives, such as voluntary load shedding and energy efficiency.

But these are not big savings, and it seems to ignore the impact and the opportunity that the plunging cost of solar and storage will have for households and businesses. Why stay with the grid for a measly saving of less than $2 a week when solar and battery storage costs are likely to be one half of the cost of the grid? In 35 years time?

The question needs to asked: despite all the rhetoric, will the consumer still be king? The report talks of the need to reward consumers for the benefits they may offer in demand management and reducing network spending, but there is no talk of the substantial savings they could obtain from their own generation.

The benchmark

Finkel says it does not really matter whether the benchmark is set at 600kg of CO2 equivalent of every megawatt-hour, or 700, or even 800 or higher.

It will depend on what the actual carbon intensity target of the government is, and this will relate to the government’s climate policy and abatement targets. Given that these targets are so modest, that results in more coal generation in the system than would otherwise be the case.  

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  • Nick Thiwerspoon

    Essentially, he squibbed it. He’s produced something that Barnaby Joyce will like and that’s the opposite of what is good for the country and the world. A disaster.

    • riley222

      We need a plan. This at least has a chance of threading it’s way through the political minefield.
      Better a plan with some good parts,than no plan at all.

      • Nick Thiwerspoon

        A Baldrick plan …. “I have a cunning plan!”

      • Alastair Leith

        Not if it locks in roadblocks to the economics of RE, and that’s my fears with this, it’s actually not based on science or technology but political gamesmanship.

        • riley222

          Yep 100%correct.
          Standing up for 85% of what you believe in, when a compromise can be reached at 70% has led to our current situation, (cue the Greens).
          Surely we can learn from history, get something going, it can always be modified if public opinion is with the changes proposed.
          You will never get perfection straight up.

          • Alastair Leith

            Not sure what you are saying or what point you are trying to establish @riley222:disqus

    • Murray Ross

      Exactly how has he squibbed Nick. I’ve taken the time to do my own research , There are weather situations in mid winter when we need significant (80%) capacity that does not rely on Sun or Wind It is not an easy problem to solve in the short term but Gas is the best answer. In the longer term Nuclear ( Fission 4th Gen or Fusion ) will solve permanently Renewables have a place but they are not the whole solution..

      • Alastair Leith

        Not correct @disqus_2Wecz9DWiH:disqus. Sustainable Energy Now have modelled renewable scenarios extensively for the SWIS grid (south-west WA for Perth and beyond) right up to 85% RE and 100% RE and no, we don’t need nuclear and it would be damm fool (not to mention prohibitively expensive) to build it just to run for two to four weeks in winter every other year.

        Yes winter wind droughts are a serious limitation on wind and solar generation —‚ even including some CST with thermal storage and PHES which can account for the day to day range of inadequate variable generation, but bio-gas OCGTs and (sustainable plantation mallie gum) biomass burnt to boil water in a similar manner to coal can cover for those periods. And you can use fast startup OCGT conventional fossil gas to gap fill in the mean time as you build out the wind, solarPV, PHES, solarCST, biofuel and biomass assets.

        And as for fusion, you do know it’s been only 25 years off for the last 55 years don’t you? 4th gen Fission, unproven, uncomercial and unavailable. Would be good for any nation without great RE resources that Australia and most other countries have, and who don’t have an economic supergrid potential. I don’t think that’s going to be enough countries to ever get economic modular 4th gen fail-safe, waste free nuclear generation up, but it would be helpful if it ever did eventuate. Meanwhile developed nations have unitl 2030 to decarbonise their entire economies. Entire economy, get it. No time to wait.

        • solarguy

          Glad to hear you are a believer in bio gas for those situations!

          • Alastair Leith

            Whatever works, lets get it done now!! By the time we get to 85% on the SWIS or NEM all the LCOEs will be completely different and god knows what technologies for storage will be around and at what price then.

          • Gary Rowbottom

            Yeah, lets just crack on and lower emissions, heaps of low hanging fruit in most states of the NEM. Hopefully SA will be smart and start adding big storage now and show the other states how it’s done, and they can follow suit. By the time we’re halfway there we will be able to see the best way forward for the more difficult last half of power sector emissions. Our headlights don’t have to see all the way there now, more of the road will be illuminated as we go forward – as long as we keep moving.

        • Murray Ross

          At the end of the day what we do in Australia only affects climate change to the extent on how much it influences policy with the big polluters like China and India. Of course we have a moral obligation and for this reason alone we should do something.however we should not kid ourselves that we will solve global warming even if we fully decarbonise. Our best efforts would be better spent on helping the big polluters decarbonise and this could be by helping R&D in low emissions technologies that help cold climate nations (like nuclear ) The next generation of nuclear technology needs long term government support which in turn needs public support and unfortunately the general public has been badly misinformed by the scare campaigns of parts of the environmental movement. I also think we should also be looking at technologies that can ultimately pull carbon out of the atmosphere and store it back underground ( like carbon capture and storage ) . If we are really serious about climate change we should be technology neutral provided it does the job for the lowest cost and within the environmental constraints. It is amazing at what can be achieved in a short period of time when a country is on a war footing ( look at the Manhattan project in WW2) Its a pity we can’ mobilise the same resources in this case .

          • Jolly Roger

            Yes Australia’s contribution to limiting climate change will be greatest by doing things like stopping the Carmichael mine. However I don’t agree that you can write off the likes of Fukushima and Chernobyl as part of a scare campaign. There are no better examples of the reasons why Nuclear is unsafe, regardless of design. Nuclear is still the most expensive and the most unsafe way there is to boil water.

          • Murray Ross

            Your argument is the same as we should never fly aircraft based on the risks of the Hindenberg. Take the time to educate yourself on what modern nuclear technology really involves and you will probably change your opinion.

    • Alastair Leith

      And sullied the Office of Chief Scientist at the same time I feel (without having actually read it myself yet just going on him modelling fossil use out to 2070 FFS!)

  • Robert Comerford

    From what I am hearing he has tried to come up with something that Malcolm can get away with and remain party leader rather than telling people the truth.
    i.e. Fossil fuel use needs to stop now!

    • Alastair Leith

      When did truth ever hurt anybody?!

      • Robert Comerford

        Sadly, telling the truth doesn’t always get you in a position to do something.

        • Alastair Leith

          And lying does presumably. What consequences though?

  • Simon

    I think people are taking their electricity supply into their own hands. I have just spent a couple of days on a stand at a mining investment conference. We had a home battery system from Magellan on the stand. The amount of interest in that battery from the punters was very high – even from people who were yet to install pv on their roofs but were now getting very serious about moving in that direction.

    • Alastair Leith

      Good business to be in ATM 🙂 Finkel seems to be saying install solar and storage because the grid is going to be dirty until the planet carks it.

  • AussieEngineer

    More absolute rubbish that wind and solar are cheapest. They are anything but.

    Here are the facts: /f784f884dce3308289c7c47b5a0f40abff74594a1c48e038c8f1feba08532c9c.jpg

    And here is how tiny a contribution that they make, despite all the noise and cost thus far:
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f784f884dce3308289c7c47b5a0f40abff74594a1c48e038c8f1feba08532c9c.jpg

    • Ken Dyer

      RUBBISH. Wind and solar account for a helll of a lot more in Australia

      https://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/technologies/wind-energy.html

      Do stop crapping on about nuclear power

      http://reneweconomy.com.au/nuclear-priced-out-of-australias-future-energy-equation-in-new-report-67465/

      Get your facts straight.

      • AussieEngineer

        Ken, wind provides about 1% of Australia’s total energy. Perhaps 1.5% at a stretch. Electricity is only a small part. And please spare the swearing… it is a sign of a loser.

        • Ken Dyer

          If you had bothered to read the Clean Energy Council link, you would find this sentence
          “In 2016, Australia’s wind farms produced 30.8 per cent of the country’s
          clean energy and supplied 5.3 per cent of Australia’s overall
          electricity during the year.”
          That is a significant percentage, and rising. “These figures place Australia 17th in the world for wind power.”
          I quote my sources. I suggest you quote yours.
          And I do not hide behind a fake handle.

        • solarguy

          Ken wasn’t swearing, you goose.

        • Alastair Leith

          So we do the grid first, eminently doable and cheapest with wind and solar, then we electrify industry. Read the BZE RE Superpower Report for how it will give Australia an economic competitive advantage if we move first to RE and don’t wait for the investment (some US$15B according to Bloomberg) to go elsewhere.

    • Ren Stimpy

      85% cost reduction in solar since 2009.

      How long did it take monolithic coal plants to achieve that? Damn sight more than 8 years I reckon!

      There have been two doublings in solar/wind volume in just 8 years. There’s no reason why solar/wind can’t continue to reduce in price at that rate therefore increase in volume at that rate. Engineers know about rates, right?

      https://www.lazard.com/perspective/levelized-cost-of-energy-analysis-100/

      https://www.lazard.com/media/438038/levelized-cost-of-energy-v100.pdf

      • AussieEngineer

        Cost reduction, measured from a supersubsidised high. If wind or solar were half as good as Reneweconomy contends, there would be no need for subsidies and no complaints from those sectors; they would be too busy doing instead of complaining.

        • Ren Stimpy

          That 85% reduction in LCOE is a reduction in “UNSUBSIDIZED Levelized Cost of Energy”

          Typical bloody engineer! Didn’t even read the provided notes before stumbling in with an opinion on the design.

        • technerdx6000

          You are forgetting all the subsidised fossil fuels. Renewables need subsidies to be on a level playing field

        • solarguy

          Fossil fuels, Mr fossil fool, are subsidised and continue to be.

        • Alastair Leith

          globally renewables have had 2% of the subsidies that nuclear and fossil fuels have had over the last century.

          And unless you’re also a Climate Change denier you want to be considering that we actually don’t have any choice but retire Fossil energy. The GBR is already a deadman walking, with 75% of it gone already (50% by 2012 from sedimentation etc and another half of what was left in the 2016/17 mass bleaching events). Polar icecaps in terminal decline… we don’t have any time left.

      • Murray Ross

        Solar might come down some more but most believe that Wind is now matured and won’t come down much more . Your graph also shows it levelling out !

        • Steven Gannon

          Off shore wind will continue to get cheaper due to larger and more efficient turbines. Fewer foundations need to be laid. I’m sure I’ve read recently that both wind and solar costs are predicted to continur to fall at 5%/pa.

        • Ren Stimpy

          Wind LCOE came down by 13% in 2016.

        • Alastair Leith

          “most believe” === “I’m making this shit up ok?”

          Wind is still on a learning curve as turbines get bigger, fans get bigger, wind speed effective range gets broader and towers get higher putting the fans in more consistent and stronger airflows.

          Solar might come down?! It fell 18% in the last year and long term 2 and 3 decadal trend is 22% reduction in module price for every doubling, which consistently is at least every two years.

          Keep it coming Murray, this is too easy.

          • Murray Ross

            Apart from getting bigger the only advance has been the move to direct drive instead of gearbox driven generators in the last 10 years . There are no step change improvements of technology in the pipeline but there are incremental improvements in materials that have made larger turbine blades possible. But without radically different materials the improvements the will get progressively smaller. It also stands to reason that we will eventually reach physical limits on what can be easily transported and erected on site . A fan is normally used to describe a device that pushes air with a motor ( the opposite of a turbine ) not sure how they relate to Wind energy generators .. please elaborate.
            OK I really by might that meant solar will come down but not so much for residential PV

          • Alastair Leith

            Thanks for playing Murray.

        • Nick Thiwerspoon

          The “levelling out” is because it’s a linear scale. In percentage terms (i.e., using a log scale) the cost decline is (close to) a straight line.

          • Alastair Leith

            We have deployed almost any wind farms since Tony Abbott became leader of the LNC. The ones that went in under PPAs with ACT recently broke all records for cheap wind in Australia.

        • Ren Stimpy

          Further to the above, Wind LCOE has come down by 32% since 2013.

          Why mention 2013? Because “most” who looked at the 2013 LCOE report would have (to paraphrase) >believed that Wind was then matured and wouldn’t come down much more.<

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/72f544155e763092cc6513c2aa2fd210cf210fd97459cd5ddc78a84778e85612.png

      • Alastair Leith

        Globally wind installed capacity doubles every three years and solarPV every two. Not sure about solarCST, it’s still in infancy and remains to be seen if it gets going in a big way. Nuclear flatlining for last five to ten years. Serious decline in investment, almost untouchable now Westinghouse and others are collapsing.

    • solarguy

      Your a bar stool idiot.

      • AussieEngineer

        See the above comment re swearing. You just lost.

        • Alastair Leith

          You need to take a lot of wins on the rules you make for yourself because your citations are invisible. Come back with some facts, we all have modelling for LCOE at out fingertips. You read Forbes magazine, good day to you sir.

    • AllanO

      Apparently you can’t read a simple chart AussieEngineer. That is a graph of emissions intensity, not energy output.

      I hope you’re not currently engineering anything people’s lives depend on 🙂

      • AussieEngineer

        Agreed. Wrong graph. So what? Google the facts and surprise yourself.

        Oh, thanks for mentioning lifetime CO2 emissions. Nuclear does look good by comparison, doesn’t it?

        • Mike Dill

          My latest information was that nuclear waste will need a few thousand years to become somewhat less radioactive. Where is that cost in the lifetime? Are there any CO2 costs associated with building and monitoring nuclear waste facilities?

        • David Boxall

          By comparison with coal, perhaps:

          Lifetime carbon emissions by source (g/kwh)
          Coal: 1,006
          Oil: 742
          Natural gas: 466
          Solar: 17 to 39
          Nuclear: 16 to 55
          Hydro: 18
          Geothermal: 15
          Wind: 14
          Nuclear might just edge out solar, but probably not.
          Source:
          http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2008/04/nuke-vs-solar-carbon-calculus/

          Then there’s:
          http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2736691/false_solution_nuclear_power_is_not_low_carbon.html
          “Remarkably, half of the most rigorous published analyses have a carbon footprint for nuclear power above the limit recommended by the UK government’s official climate change advisor, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).”

        • My_Oath

          Resorting to the ‘do your own Googling/research’ gambit means you lost.

    • John Norris

      Wind plus solar probably amount to more than 1% of total global energy consumption. And for electricity, 5.5%.

      [source: http://www.ren21.net/gsr-2017/chapters/chapter_01/chapter_01/%5D

      UK renewable electricity: 22.3% for 2016, and 23.4% for Q1 2017.

      [source: http://www.enappsys.com/news_and_rep/summary_reports.jsp%5D

    • Alastair Leith

      Oh brother…

  • technerdx6000

    It is evident from his preliminary report what he really wants to happen and what really should be happening. But this is designed to get through the far right coalition and start us on the correct path rather than getting dismissed entirely and nothing happening at all.
    Australia can and should be emission free by 2030 but sadly we won’t be because of the LNP

    • solarguy

      Then vote them out, I will. Simple!

    • AussieEngineer

      Surelyby “carbon free” you are referring only to electricity. The other 3/4 of our CO2 emission remains unchanged? Yes, I know that Finkel was restricted to electricity only, but that won’t solve much.

      IMHO, electricity is the easy part. Land transport is next, but that leaves air transport and industrial… not so easy. So we need an achievable, robust 100% plan for the electrical sector.

      • Michael Murray

        You are right but as a nation we seem to struggling with the easy part. No great surprise. We struggle with even simpler things like marriage equality.

      • technerdx6000

        Yeah, emission free electricity. Transport is another game altogether, but EVs are coming

        • Alastair Leith

          And HSR would at least halve domestic flights on any route it covered. That’s the experience in Europe, China and anywhere else with HSR.

          • technerdx6000

            Hyperloop should remove domestic flights altogether with the exception of small and remote communities. Flying will only be international in the future

          • Alastair Leith

            It’s unproven but is exciting. I’ve been racking my little brains for a few years trying to think of a way to submerge a rail track that could be elevated above water just as the train is passing over it to run intercontinental HSR. Maybe HL tunnels?

      • Alastair Leith

        You are forgetting Land Use sector which BZE found to be more like 44% (GWP100) or 56% (GWP20 which is significant because short-term warming is now as important as long-term warm in addressing) if you add in land clearing, savanna burning, enteric fermentation, the role of methane and CO as a precursor to tropospheric ozone etc. And that’s not even counting black carbon from vast burning off.

        Methane alone has accounted for *one third* of anthropogenic global warming to date. And land use sector (and largely ruminant livestock but also rice paddies and manure mismanagement) is the main source of methane globally and in Australia today.

        The best part is BZE LUR shows how we could reduce that from an emissions source to a zero negative impact. Going further with organic farming methods that build soil life (i.e. carbon) not destroy it like fertilizers and sprays do could see us go to sequestration in the land use sector if all the land clearing (vast in QLD and soon will be in NSW if govt gets current legislation though), savanna burning and overstocking of extensive zone pastural properties also occured. And some measure of reforestation on all farms (which would help with dryland salinity etc and even provide a biomass crop in some cases while still building carbon in the roots like with mallie gums).

        Finkel actually pointed to Land Use sector but then siad we can’t do anything about it. He also said in the Exec Summary going faster than his pathetic model would “cause problems”. Does he have any idea of the “cause problems” associated with 5–8º C of warming because that’s what his prescription is for with fossil fuels use out to 2070.

    • Alastair Leith

      Not buying it, sorry.

  • Jack Gilding

    Giles congratulations on such a quick response to this important, if very disappointing, report. The article says “Finkel does not recommend that the states be forced to abandon their own targets” but I am not so sure about this. The section and recommendations on page 167 with their talk of ‘unilateral action’ certainly seem to be putting pressure on states not to take initiatives outside the national framework. Given that the proposed national framework and emissions reductions are woefully short of what a safe climate requires, this is very worrying.

    • Alastair Leith

      And all Josh Frydenburg seemed to have to say about this report was exactly what your comment goes to, very worrying that is all he got out of it, i

      It’s as if Minister Frydenburg actually read it in great detail

  • AussieEngineer

    Cheapest? Wind and solar? Not by a country mile.

    • solarguy

      Deluded, bloody oath fool.

      • AussieEngineer

        That’s what I like to see – rational discussion based on facts. See comment re swearing… you just lost.

        • Charles

          “You just lost” says who? Is that a rule that you made up, just like the other things your said?

        • Steven Gannon

          Where’s your facts about the comparative costs?

        • solarguy

          The only facts you provide are the manufactured kind. You lose!

        • Zac Eagle

          Nuclear?…, you can not be serious. bankruptcies, bail outs, cost overruns, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of highly radioactive filth sitting in temporary storages all over the world with no solution in sight. mankind must end nuclear before nuclear ends mankind.
          Deadly, filthy Nukiller.

        • Barri Mundee

          People are frustrated with you as you make unsupported claims. You can fix that.

    • My_Oath

      An engineer? An Australian engineer? Not by a country mile.

    • Steve Fuller

      How’s the weather in Moscow today?

      • AussieEngineer

        Cool late spring weather, I’d imagine. Never been there. Never will. Why do you ask?

        • Ren Stimpy

          Just fuck off!

          • AussieEngineer

            Does your mummy know that you haven’t gone to bed yet?

          • Hettie

            Oh dear. Personal attack.
            You lose.

          • Ren Stimpy

            To be completely fair, I threw the first one so he had every right to throw one back.

        • neroden

          He was just checking whether you were paid by Putin. So you’re paid by Saudi Arabia, then? Or maybe ExxonMobil?

    • Nick Thiwerspoon

      Wind and solar are cheaper than fossil fuels even with storage, according to AGL.

      http://volewica.blogspot.com.au/2017/06/agl-says-renewables-cheaper-than-fossil.html

      Without storage, wind is coming in with PPA contracts at $55/MWh to $65/MWh, solar at $70/MWh. The 12 month average wholesale price is $80, and currently $100/MWh. Therefore wind and solar are cheaper.

      • AussieEngineer

        Nick, market prices must be adjusted to allow for subsidies in order to determine which is cheapest. Keep looking – in USA the average subsidy for solar last year was $85/MWh, which reverses the ranking. I haven’t the time to dig out a current Australian comparison.

        • AllanO

          The PPA price paid to large scale renewables in Australia effectively includes the subsidy, because the buyer gets rights to both the electricity output and the Large Generation Certificates (LGCs) that are the subsidy mechanism under the Renewable Energy Target scheme. There are no separate tax breaks or other financial support mechanisms.

          If you’re going post about this stuff AE then for heaven’s sake first do some basic research to ensure you have some idea what you’re talking about. On the evidence so far you have little idea.

          • AussieEngineer

            Thanks, AllanO, for agreeing that the LGC’s must be taken into consideration.

            Here’s where we might differ a bit – I would also allow for the cost of the various combinations of batteries, hydro, gas or other energy sources that are essential to provide system stability, plus something towards the massive increase in HV transmission systems that are essential to move the power from where the sun is shining or the wind is blowing to where it is not.

            So, all things considered, do we agree that solar and wind are not favoured by cost comparisons. A reasonable cost of carbon would justify eliminating coal and even gas from consideration.

            Regarding your insult about my “not knowing what I am talking about” – that is akin to swearing. As above, you went first. Another debating point lost.

          • Catprog

            So does that means coal and gas has to increase as well?

            During the recent heat wave they failed.

          • Alastair Leith

            Suggest you actually read any of the 100% RE studies before shooting your mouth of Aussie. It’s doable and around same cost as BAU depending on learning curves, which for solar and wind are consistently and steeply south heading. Same cannot be said for nuclear in spite of six decades of taxpayer largesse in six or more superpower nations.

          • To be more precise, the developer of the wind and solar farms usually get only the contract price. In the case of Goldwind’s Stockyard Hill, that is just $55/MWh, no extra subsidy, no nothing. that’s it. But that a good deal for consumers, cos the average wholesale price of the coal and gas plant is double that.

        • Nick Thiwerspoon

          According to this paper by ENA (2014), environmental policies — the RET — account for just 5% of retail electricity pricing. (http://www.energynetworks.com.au/sites/default/files/electricity-prices-and-network-costs_2.pdf )

          According to Lazard, the go-to ppl for alternative electricity costings, wind and solar without subsidy are cheaper than coal and nuclear, and about the same as gas. (https://www.lazard.com/media/438038/levelized-cost-of-energy-v100.pdf )

          Your assertions are unsupported by facts

          • AussieEngineer

            Since energy subsidies are such a hot topic and I have been accused repeatedly of not having supporting facts, please allow me to point to some public and very well recognised sources.

            Starting with the often ridiculed Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_subsidies. Not authoritative, but accessible and, in this instance, offering a reasonably broad view and citing sources, Wikipedia draws on IEA, OECD, among many.

            I “borrowed” my table from a very recent article in Forbes Magazine by James Conca, who cited University of Texas studies published this year. It showed that, in USA, over the period from 2010 to the present, federal (USA) subsidies favoured solar and wind, in that order, maxing out at 88 cents US per kWh. Thankfully, the amount has decreased with time but solar still leads the field.

            This, of course, does not include US State and local subsidies.

            I am not aware of any particular reason for Australian intermittent energy sources to be massively cheaper or more efficient than its global comparisons.

            Essentially, I could continue this all night, but the results would not change. I would continue to rely on international, current, authoritative sources and experience. You would point to other sources and claim that they are somehow superior and that large, experienced, international sources with no stake in the outcome are less to be trusted than those handpicked on this site.

            So I guess that we must leave this here… until the art and science of energy economics matures a little.

            Meanwhile, I do appreciate that your position does not demonstrate any need for subsidies of wind or solar because they are so cheap. Go to it. Does your day job agree with this approach?

          • Alastair Leith

            Wikipedia is authoritative, or is it Forbes business magazine you are talking about? The LCOE methodology is mature, your understanding of it is not. Citations or STFU.

          • Nick Thiwerspoon

            The amount of past subsidies is irrelevant, because the costs of solar have fallen 85% since 2009 and wind has fallen 66% (page 11 of the Lazard paper) The critical question is what is cheaper now. And wind and solar are undoubtedly cheaper than everything except gas (Lazard page 3). And gas in the USA is much cheaper than here, for reasons we know all too well.

            Also, I would have to believe AGL’s cost calculations as being realistic. And they are unambiguous: wind and solar are cheaper than fossil fuels even with the cost of storage. What’s more, the costs of wind and solar and CSP and storage continue to decline. So what is cheaper today will get even cheaper still in the future.

            At last year’s Macquarie Companies Conference, I asked the CFO why their new solar farm was going to cost A$100/MWh, which was materially higher than costs overseas, and his answer essentially was that it was a learning curve and they were getting there. This year their latest solar farm is delivering electricity at $70/MWh. Lest you think this rate of decline unusual, solar in India has dropped 40% in cost over the last 18 months. (India’s renewables are unsubsidised)

            When renewables first started 40 years ago, they were an order of magnitude more expensive than fossil fuels, and the subsidies were therefore also large. That is no longer true, and if we were to start charging fossil fuels the costs of their damage to health and the environment, no fossil fuel generators would ever be built again.

          • Alastair Leith

            Gas is much cheaper in US than here though. In Australia some (Giles for one I think) has said solarPV + batteries (which isn’t the cheapest form of storage) is cheaper than gas for powerbalancing, FRAS etc. PHES in turkey nests is a viable option for day to day scale energy shifting. CST more on the hours to hours scale for best LCOE (the more you cycle storage into high price events the cheaper it gets).

          • Nick Thiwerspoon

            Indeed.

        • John Norris

          Lazard (see Nick’s links below) show solar new build costs at between 46 USD/MWh and 61 USD/MWh. Without subsidy.

        • Alastair Leith

          How about a link then Aussie?

    • Steve159

      @AussieEngineer:disqus
      In my experience, engineers aren’t known for their vision, or creativity. The current facts can quickly be superseded by new developments. Recall the early years of ICE vehicles and how quickly they overtook horse-drawn transport.

      In any case, we only need to “follow the money” and it isn’t going into nuclear. It’s going into renewables, and for good reason.

      As for how much power is currently being produced by solar, a simple arithmetic calculation shows (as others have done – http://landartgenerator.org/blagi/archives/127) an area of less than 1/2 that of South Australia filled with solar panels would be sufficient to power the whole planet, replacing all nuclear, coal, gas, petroleum.

      • Alastair Leith

        And in WA even solar within 10km of existing transmission lines could power at least Australia’s entire energy needs (electricity grid currently being only 25% of that)

    • BushAxe

      Lol, I can’t take you seriously when you look at the stuff ups the nuclear industry has had (I’m talking about cost blow outs not accidents either).

    • Barri Mundee

      Please supply references for your claims.

    • neroden

      Lazard LCOE 10.0. Wind and solar are cheapest by a country mile and *everyone* including the investment banks knows it.

      Which fossil fuel company pays you to troll websites?

  • solarguy

    The only chance we have of a rational plan for our future grid and keep RE going on a steep trajectory is to get rid of these fools at the next election. It seems the ball is in the court of Labor and The Greens now, as well as ours. I heard on the radio today that, the overwhelming majority of Australians want more RE, their more concerned now about climate change than ever before in this latest survey.
    Finkel has given a few hints of what he truly believes needs to happen with RE, now and into the future. With his suggestion, that solar and wind should come with a certain amount of storage after 2020, is a way of ensuring that renewables displace flexible gas generators, because as we now know that gas and coal are too expensive. The fact that gas is flexable means bugger all when RE with storage trumps it on price, so why do you think Finkel made that suggestion. Because he believes it and he knows that investment bankers won’t put the money into FF anymore. Game over fossil fools!
    Apart from that, after I read the report I’ll use it for kitty litter!

    • Murray Ross

      Have a look at the simulations that show in mid winter Wind and Solar do not cut it . The only renewable way out are either Biomass or Geothermal (30GW of capacity) , We should not discount medium term future with 4th gen Fission or Fusion (20years) Finkel has correctly identified that the current energy market does not provide incentives for backup capacity when the variable renewables are not producing .

      • Alastair Leith

        Have a look at the 100% RE studies that show it can be done. Let’s see, BZE SEP, UNSW 100% RE studies (update several times since 2011), AEMO (who keep the lights on 99.998% of the time), GetUp!’s homegrown 100% RE plan, Uni Melb have MURIAL optimization modelling all kinds of scenarios over the years though I’m not sure of a publication of a 100% RE model yet. Sustainable Energy Now, three different models for 100% RE on the SWIS using 30 minute interval weather data and generation profiles on a per turbine and PV panel basis using the NASA SAM dataset. I think you are talking out of your hat, or maybe it’s your nuclear book.

        • Murray Ross

          Yes some of these are what I was referring to
          UNSW http://www.ies.unsw.edu.au/sites/all/files/profile_file_attachments/LeastCostElectricityScenariosInPress2013.pdf This requires 23GW out of 35GW provided by biofuelled gas turbines to get through winter .. Also is based on only one year of actual weather data
          AEMO
          https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/d67797b7-d563-427f-84eb-c3bb69e34073/files/100-percent-renewables-study-modelling-outcomes-report.pdf
          2030 scenario 1 13GW Biofuelled gas turbine 9GW Geothermal 7 GW hydro for 35GW maximum demand 2030 scenario 2 21 GW biofuelled GT 7GW hydro for 40GW maximum demand ( much greater installed wind capacity )

          • Alastair Leith

            I’d suggest the generation mix in the AEMO modelling is the least optimized of the many models that exist, in fact I doubt it was cost optimized at all. The point for them was could 100% RE generation even supply a grid to their standards i.e. 99.998% up time. Geothermal is a non-starter these days (and Finkel says he lost a bunch of dollars investing in it years ago incidentally)

          • Murray Ross

            I lost a bunch of dollars on Geodynamics too when Abbot trashed the carbon tax.
            What these studies show is that you need a large amount despatchable stored energy capacity to back the whole thing up. Aemo considered all types of renewable energy storage including pumped hydro .
            BTW You’re now refuting the very reference you used to justify your initial response to me . ie doubting the expert opinion when it doesn’t fit your argument.

          • Alastair Leith

            No I’m just saying I’m not aware of them doing cost optimizations in the modelling, there’s many ways to model energy networks for many different purposes.

            I gather for AEMO it was more about ‘can the network function to it’s current level of reliability using 50% and 100% RE?’. I guess that’s why they threw a lot of GE thermal at it in hindsight, more dispatchable power and inertia probably sounded good to them, though many at the time raised eyebrows about the generation mix.

          • Murray Ross

            the whole basis of the AEMO study was constrained by 100% RE and yes it is cost optimised
            Para 3.2 ” For each of the four cases, the model was used to find the lowest cost mix of generation and
            storage that met the current reliability standard. Based on those hypothetical costs, the expected
            annual costs of supplying power could be calculated covering both capital and operating costs.”
            The choice was determined by the mathematical optimisation of the model not by their own subjective choices of technologies although the outcomes are heavily dependent on the assumptions used . It is interesting to note that the UNSW 100% renewable modelling also seeking the least cost renewable mix but using their own assumptions reaches similar conclusions re level of depatchable renewable sources required .

        • solarguy

          Andrew Blakers,(ANU) has a plan for 100%, I would have thought you would be aware of it. It relies on solar and wind with massive PHES dotted around the country. The only problem I have with PHES is this, if enough regions have heavy cloud cover for several days and as a consequence solar is much reduced, then there may not be sufficient power to pump the water back up and so become exhausted if, the wind is also insufficient. Sure other regions may be able to spare their excess, but this will require a good deal of solar and wind oversizing, but perhaps balanced with Biogas, as every region will have a good supply of feed stock from sewage and green waste.
          In the near future, as we introduce more EV’s that will become critical long before we reach a critical mass of EV penetration.
          Finkel’s idea of RE plant having storage as part of the deal in certain areas is logical, but there will have to be good planning, looking at the big picture going forward, in order to keep the costs down.

          • Alastair Leith

            Yes, I’m aware of Dr Blakers and his PHES work (not to mention solar PV primary research for slither and PERC cells). I’m not sure the modelling was as extensive as other models. What I’m aware of is his team investigating the GDR and finding more than enough suitable locations for small turkey dam style PHES projects on previously cleared land (i.e. no disruption to national parks and state forests). And an earlier paper with similar results for the SWIS (WA/Perth).

            PHES very effective in the scale of energy shift from one day to another. Prolonged wind drought in middle of winter is problematic for any model of 100% variable RE. Overbuilding generation and storage to cover these events (usually once or twice a year and not every year) results in blowouts in the LCOE. That’s where biogas and even biomass (although there’s a a raft of health from air pollution and native forest endangerment issues) can be very cost effective. I expect to see the field of power2gas and power2liquid fuel advance dramatically as some nations approach 80% RE supply and higher. But in meantime biogas and biomass burning can cover the prolonged gaps and are much more cost effective than overbuild of wind, solar and storage on today’s prices and tomorrows projected prices even.

            Also who knows how efficient and cheap PV will become for low light generation in winter. Already I expect to see large amounts of summer spill from BTM PV in 2030 on occasions of high solar irradiance and low demand beyond that which the grid operator wants to take — even for free.

          • solarguy

            Thanks for your response, BTW what is GDR and BTM?

          • Alastair Leith

            sorry, Great Dividing Range (but they also looked at other locations I think). Behind the meter.

            Good presentation by Blakers where, incidentially, he also critiques Snowy 2.0 months before Turnbull and Frydenberg had a though
            https bubble about it.

            :

          • solarguy

            Cheers, but you left out BTM.

          • Alastair Leith

            you didn’t read! Behind The Meter (BTM).

          • solarguy

            Oh yes of course, sorry.

    • Alastair Leith

      Having storage is fine, (not that SA really needs it yet with even 60% RE and an interconnector to VIC). But insisting it be paired with wind and solar seems to be just a way of raising the LCOE for wind and solar because they’re already cheaper than existing gas and new coal. The devil will be in the detail and presumably that’s going to be up to the Minister, who’s plainly politicised renewables to the point of absurdity during the SA blackout (but not during the near misses in QLD or NSW). I trust Minister Frydenburg to only do what coal and gas ask of him.

      • solarguy

        Well the first point I would like to make, is that it has been stated in RE frequently, by AGL and others, that solar, wind and STORAGE are cheaper than coal and gas. I welcome that fact, but that being the case, how can it raise the LCOE?
        Storage makes PV and CST more usable, somewhat less so wind, if there is enough and it placed is widely about .As we are going to need an over capacity of both going forward to 100% RE, we need to employ storage to capture more of the generation, without it going to waste.
        Although we both know you can have a high penetration of solar and wind on the grid without storage, I think it would be a mistake not to start adding storage to some capacity now and more than is being implemented now. Finkel hasn’t offered much in the way of a plan for this, but have one we must and RE experts should be the ones to develop that plan.

        • Alastair Leith

          Because storage adds to the LCOE, it’s cheaper to have a PV panel and sell the power when the sun is shining than have a PV panel and a battery always charged and be prepared to sell power at any time of the day or night. Same for wind. If it’s just primary FR they’re after wind can do that without too much added cost, just the technology for FR and some reduction in output to allow headroom for increasing power output for higher or reactive power.

  • Chris Drongers

    Is the recommendation that renewables have storage to maintain dispatchability that much of a problem?
    I suppose depends on definition of dispatchability – should be for five minutes, five hours or five days?
    For durations of up to several hours the dispatchability requirement looks like a business opportunity for a dedicated battery/pumped hydro storage company to build storage at key points in the grid and contract them to renewable generators according to network strength and location.
    Days long storage would be a very unseemly requirement and probably could only be met by contracting ‘price for availability’ from a large hydro scheme to reserve water for infrequent long outages (Snowy 2?) or a robust demand management scheme.

    • Alastair Leith

      And that gas and coal don’t have to ensure it is all about level playing fields isn’t it, and still no price for destroying the Climate and the $50B p.a. hospitalisations from coal air pollution related diseases.

  • Steve Fuller

    Silly me. I thought our Chief Scientist Finkel would provide a fact based review based in the hard sciences.

    I didn’t realise that he’s the Chief Political Scientist.

    • Murray Ross

      I’ve read the report and its pretty good . Finkel has a PHD in Electrical Engineering and had totally based his review on facts . Please state the ‘facts’ he had not considered

      • Alastair Leith

        Modelling coal and gas use out to 2070 is equivalent to assuming 5–8º C of warming is okay. It isn’t. Even 2.0º C is the offical (conservative) guardrail for catastrophic Climate Change.

        Maybe they didn’t talk about CC at Monash uni much, I know Climateworks spent years promoting “transition” fossil gas with Origin Energy et al and the like while good old low-funding BZE was trying to get traction with it’s No-Gas policy released with the Buildings Plan which showed that gas was an unnecessary, redundant and expensive network we were best off without. And made the prediction that domestic gas prices would rise to parity with export prices (or higher) as soon as export trains were in production. Which turned out to be true, and now Climateworks have backed away from promoting transition gas (though I’m not sure if they take money from fossil industry today)

    • fehowarth

      Would have to give report within guidelines set by the govt. Which I suspect were developed to make SA look bad. #auspol

      • Alastair Leith

        Terms of reference included our committents to the Paris Agteement. Note those committed to Paris were not just committing to certain emissions reduction pledges, but committing to a process whereby those pledges would ratchet up over time to pledges ensuring Earth will stay well under 2.0° C of warming on 1850-1900 acerage (add 0.2° for preindustrial) and aspire to 1.5° C. (1.5° C is a pipe dream and even if we stopped all emissions tomorrow ithw temperature would rise to 1.5° just from lag and absence of the cooling aerosols coal
        stacks and aircraft to emit).

        Finkel neatly sidestepped all that, presumably under instruction from Turnbull, to appeal to climate deniers in the LNC and model his NEM scenarios for ~5–8° C of warming. That’s somewhere in the middle rings of dantes inferno as far as civilisation and current ecosystems stand.

        2.0° C is said to be the “guardrail” bw is and catastrophic climate change. We’re already outside safe climate and have lost the world’s coral reefs almost certainly already, just a matter of the end game playing out.

    • Lightfoot

      $cience $ale! Limited time offer! Buy one Scientist, get a free couch!

  • Robert Westinghouse

    Consumers need to have the balls to say NO to high electricity prices. Put on their own PV and batteries and the electricity generators and retailers can go bankrupt together. Democratise electricity. Tell them to stick it….

  • Robin_Harrison

    What a remarkably unscientific chief scientist. No prizes for guessing who’s pulling his strings. Expect the fossil fools to get much dirtier as they get more desperate but it won’t help. The superior economics of this energy transition is about to make them irrelevant.
    Exciting times.

    • BushAxe

      Yep, the market will continue to push towards the cheapest option, even if the FF industry throws hurdles like mandatory storage. Can see coal plants handing in their three years notice because they can’t sell power to anyone.

      • Alastair Leith

        The three year thing is extraordinary, how the hell would AGL, Origin, EA have any idea until the economics is over or a plant failure is too expensive to repair? Do they just hand in notices now just in case? Or beg leniency when it suits them?

        • solarguy

          I agree it’s a difficult one this 3yrs notice. Perhaps they should be told when to go, when it has been determined they are not needed, rather than they throw their hands in the air when not financially viable. Once again no plan!

          • Alastair Leith

            And it doesn’t resolve the central closure riddle: no gentailer wants to close coal first because the others get an benefit with increased (short term) coal generation from their plants. So it’s really must just there to keep Turnbull and his circus of denialists and immoral coal owning donors to the LNC happy.

        • Alastair Leith

          Having read the report, the recommendation is the AEMO will keep a public list of these *non-binding* three year notifications. Non-binding, expect to see them all pile up on day one I suppose just in case. Or is it non-binding such that to also submit and close in, say, 12 months from lodging is okay too?!

        • fehowarth

          Wasn’t everyone aware that the Vic brown coal was closing dowm. Problem was not believing. #auspol

          • Alastair Leith

            Engie genuinely surprised many when they announced closure of Hazelwood in six months time or whatever the timing was. Even though as a corporation it was their enlightened policy to get out of fossil generation and into renewables asap. And they spent a year of so trying to sell Hazelwood on the market so, yes, that should have woken some people up.

            Most fossil plant owners aren’t as enlightened as Engie by a long measure and will squeeze every last (immoral) buck out of coal and gas if they can.

  • Hettie

    Reading through the comment stream, I notice many references to subsidies for renewables skewing prices, but not one reference to the far greater subsidies for fossil fuels.
    Those who ask for a level playing field for cost comparisons are all on the side of FFs.
    This is hypocrisy writ large.
    As well as direct subsidies in the form of deisel excise rebates, FFs enjoy the indirect subsidies of paying no charge for the massive health damage they impose on workers and surrounding communities, for damage to water supplies, for remediation works not done.
    Estimates as high as $41 billion per year have been cited.
    No, I can’t give a source for this, but have seen that figure quoted several times. The Climate Council seems a likely source.
    I will check, and post the details when I find them.
    As to the disussion of the Finkel Report, yes.
    A huge disappointment.
    A missed opportunity.
    Anyone who has worked in business will be familiar with the concept of the SWOT report. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.
    To this I would add an initial S for Situation.
    A dispassionate exposition of the current situation of the electricity generation, distribution and market without commentary would have laid the ground for a much more productive discussion. Such a shame.

  • Hettie

    OK. Citation for fossil fuel subsidies, as promised.

    https://scholar.google.com.au/scholar?
    cluster=5946961097365494622&hl=en&as_sdt=0,5&sciodt=0,5

    The data are there in plenty. Many from IMF.

  • Alastair Leith

    What expression is “history ++ “, etymologists?

  • Alastair Leith

    “The report predicts rooftop solar will only account for 11 per cent of total generation by 2050, which is more akin to AGL’s vision of the future, than the CSIRO report which credited nearly 50 per cent. This is hardly the Grid 2.0 he talked of in the draft.”

    He obviously hasn’t spoken to Prof Bill Grace, UWA who has modelled PV + battery storage growth BTM on pretty reasonable price assumptions and shows it could actually reduce demand such that proposed growth in wind could be curtailing generation due to lack of demand, especially summer half of the year by 2050 or even a decade sooner.

    • juxx0r

      I know Bill, but i know him as “Blind Freddy” as in Blind Freddy could see that coming.

      No offence to Bill’s sterling work.

      • Alastair Leith

        Well it raised a few eyebrows at the SEN presentation, I can tell you. His central thesis is BTM growth of PV+storage could make wind and solar deployed under the RET (and/or whatever replaces it) unable to earn enough income in later years (2030+) to pay itself off. Did you see that coming?

        • juxx0r

          Well yes. The disconnect, which nobody employed for a company with *.gov.au in their email address is able to see, is that the cost of electricity is not being determined by the cost of generation but all the A-holes taking a cut. So as everyone leaves because of the A-holes, those left trying to provide a service will be left high and dry.

          • Alastair Leith

            We shall see…

  • Alastair Leith

    “Finkel says: “A mix of wind, solar and coal generation would be equally acceptable as a mix of wind, solar and gas generation as long as the (modest) emissions reduction trajectory is achieved.” But what about the Paris climate target?”

    This reflects profound ignorance of energy systems (and I know Finkel isn’t in any way ignorant about energy systems so it’s basically him talking pollie-speak read: bullshit). Reason being gas can power balance wind and solar far more effectively for the same level of given emissions than coal. In fact the duck curve (Emu-curve) is probably going to kill the business case of any coal that is still profitable today (in WA it’s subsidised by Synergy to keep them selling power) within a decade or certainly two decades.

    • juxx0r

      “In WA coal is already unprofitable as it’s subsidised by Synergy just to dig the stuff out of the ground at a cheaper contract price for Collie power station.”

      that’s just union BS multiplied by government incompetence.

      • Alastair Leith

        Both mines were privatised and now are owned by Chinese and Indian interests. Conditions and wages have been slashed at Griffin. Not sure what the unions have to do with it?! They’re struggling to keep workers in jobs.

        Synergy decided to keep coal price artificially low for the coal plants by subsidising one of the mines to continue output. Barnett claimed it was to keep
        power prices down (which all sounded fine in a boom economy). Only thing is no large scale wind farms approved in 8 years so. I climate action and no downward pressure on wholesale power price from wind like other states.

        WA got started early on RE revolution but then had two terms of nothing under Colin Barnett and Mike Nathan.

  • john

    In summary most people are underwhelmed with the report.
    As i see it.
    1 Wind generators will be built.
    2 Solar farms or generators will be build.
    3 Solar with molten salt or some other method of storage will be built.
    I think the point 3 will be very important in the Australian context as the power generated which is in excess of demand can be stored to augment the night time demand.
    I think this is the most important way to move forward considering the solar energy the country is given.
    Is there any way other to use the fee energy available other than wind solar or tidal and wave which i have not mentioned?

    • fehowarth

      Yes, tidal, geothermal. Many more. More efficient use solar on roofs & batteries. Better use grid & computer programs leading to better marketing.

  • Craig Allen

    Watch the storage mandate. The conservatives will seek to set the amount of storage required at many times capacity. They would obviously like to make it high enough to make renewables completely uneconomic regardless of future cost falls. Expect a Murdock-LNP campaign pushing for anywhere between a day and a week’s worth of storage.

    • riley222

      Surely Snowy Hydro 2, (and perhaps 3,4 and 5) could be a large part of the storage solutions needed.
      Very real chance here for the project to go ahead purely on economic grounds.

  • juxx0r

    This is great news. The 1000 applications AEMO are getting a month for renewables will be motivated to be up and running before 2020. That’s at least 24000, at 10MW each on average, that’s 240GW. BY 2020.

    On top of that, 30c/kWh will be the retail price. Solar is currently 5-6c/kWh, Storage, about 22c/kWh, which basically makes off grid break even. But by 2020, residential and commercial storage will be about half that, totalling 15-16c/kWh, making the grid overpriced by double. As we have seen in the solar market, people will vote with their wallets.

  • Mike Carroll

    Finkel is the equivalent of the head cardinal of the Curia, threatening Gallilao with excommunication if he does not recant on his claim the Sun is the Solar System’s centre. The “settled science” knows it is the Earth. Like crows on a fence, all the scientists wedded to this theological certainty, caw in suppprt of “Goebbels” Finkel. Wake up! With our abundant fossil fuel, Australia should have created a domestic retail and manufacturing reserve, powering pur competotive advantage here and attracting world industry and more jobs than solar or wind ever will. A national suicide note is all Finkel has written.