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Zibelman: Resisting energy transition like trying to resist internet

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Audrey Zibelman 2.2

Australian Energy Market Operator CEO Audrey Zibelman says Australia will be a world leader in the transition to a smarter and cheaper renewables based-grid, and trying to resist that change is like trying to stop the internet.

In an interview on RenewEconomy’s weekly Energy Insiders podcast, Zibelman discusses new technologies such as battery storage, the proposed National Energy Guarantee and the need for demand response.

Zibelman talks of the need for fast-response technologies to balance the output of zero marginal cost energy sources likes wind and solar, and said some” baseload” capacity will be needed, but it does not need to be coal.

“(When) people think baseload, they think coal,” Zibelman says. “(Baseload) is not any particular fuel source, it is just the capability to run flat out, in an efficient way over a long period of time. And they are dependable.” She cites hydro as a particularly useful baseload resource.

But Zibelman also highlights the changing nature of technologies, and says much of the future focus will be on fast-reacting “dispatchable” options that can balance the variability of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, which will inevitably dominate the grid.

Asked if she is as confident now as she had been in March – when she left her position as head of new York’s Reforming the Energy Vision program, and took up her AEMO post – about the prospect of  a cheaper, smarter, cleaner and more reliable grid, Zibelman said:

“I absolutely am. I continue to think … as I see many of the things going on around Australia in terms of technology development, and certainly the solar penetration … that Australia is going to lead, and we have to lead.

“We will lead around how to use those resources, and how we make this transition.

“This is not a judgement about anything. It’s just the reality that the economics have changed, and technology has changed, and resisting this change is a little like trying to resist the internet. It’s just going to happen because of where technology is going.”

Zibelman’s comments come as AGL confirmed it would not be coerced by the federal government into prolonging the life of its ageing Liddell coal-fired generator, and would instead replace it with a mix of renewables, storage, gas peaking plants and demand response.

The Zibelman interview was conducted on Friday afternoon before the AGL announcement on Saturday morning, although its plans had been well foreshadowed. AEMO has been asked by the government to assess the AGL proposal.

It is difficult to see how AEMO would reject it, given that it meets its own assessment that around 1GW of dispatchable generation will be needed to replace Liddell, and that more renewables will also be important to head off any supply shortfalls.

One criticism of the AGL plan has come from the Institute for Sustainable Futures, which argues that if more emphasis had been put on energy efficiency and demand management, then the cost of the replacement would have been cheaper and more beneficial to consumers.

ISF says a true clean energy hub to replace Liddell would not only deliver zero emissions, but would cost just $56/MWh, as opposed to the $83/MWh contemplated by AGL’s plan. But it would need government policy action on energy efficiency, demand response and time varying prices.

Zibelman is also a fan of demand response, and admits she was frustrated to see the reaction in many parts of the media when AEMO’s own plans for significant amounts of demand response initiatives for the coming two summers were unveiled.

“People thought that we would be going around asking people to turn off their lights,” Zibelman says.

“What we are really talking about is managing machines better … if we can do these things in concert we can manage the grid and make it more efficient.

“There is a bit of snarkiness about it … which is unfortunate. This isn’t about not using electricity, it’s about not wasting it.”

Zibelman was also enthusiastic about the Tesla big battery, which was officially opened earlier this month, and the other storage projects – particularly in South Australia where solar towers with storage and more battery storage installations are planned.

Indeed, South Australia is now operating at penetration levels of well above 50 per cent wind and solar, and in September was operating at more than 60 per cent.

“The technologies that we are seeing in South Australia and Victoria are what are going to start setting the transformation that people are talking about in this industry,” Zibelman says.

She spoke of the “amazing” development of producing electricity at zero marginal cost (wind and solar), and the need to use data and storage to manage this.

“The game changer around storage is that we can address the variability of these resources,” rather than keeping spinning reserve in place in case of any issues. She talks of conducting “baseload”, storage and demand response rather like an orchestra. It’s how it all works together that is important.

Still, Zibelman admits that AEMO has some work to do to understand how to manage this system, as can be seen in South Australia where it is imposing new restrictions and standards to ensure that no mistakes are made as the share of wind and solar grow ever higher.

“AEMO is looking at it how we are going to operate a system that looks like South Australia, with a lot more renewables and a lot of distributed generation,” she says.

“It will take time for us to develop the capabilities to manage that. While we don’t predict what that future will be, it is a scenario that we have to plan for and understand.

“We need to make sure that our lack of understanding does not become a barrier (to new technologies).

On the issue of the NEG, Zibelman indicated that the policy was still something of an open book. The NEG has been criticised for not being ambitious enough, for not encouraging enough new investment, and for seemingly reinforcing the position of the big incumbent utilities.

Zibelman said that the modelling that raised those concerns was just that – an economic analysis – and not a prediction.

She said the mandate from the COAG energy ministers was to “go out and consult” and this would be a broad consultation process that included traditional incumbents and new players.

“… So the outcome of the design is  that you have a much broader tent of energy players being able to endorse this, saying ‘yes this can create a mechanism that we can invest against,’ and for AEMO this is a mechanism we can use, along with other actions we need to take, to make the market more efficient.”

As for the future, she says it will be vastly different, but will be as difficult to predict as it was for the internet even 10 or 20 years ago

“It is going to be vastly different. What that difference is, we really won’t know until we get there.”

  

  • MaxG

    Look at computing, e.g. AWS and what it does and has done in turning the IT industry on its head… the old was literally thrown out, made redundant… as long as we keep dinosaur politicians and dinosaur industry at the table the transition will not happen at the pace that is desired and needed.
    I just quit a job out of disgust where retro-fitting ‘old’ increased the cost by 50%.
    Look at this electricity industry, no innovation, no desire to change, milk the cow until it drops dead, no forward thinking, all there is ‘profit-maximisation’.
    Good luck Audrey, I certainly could not do your job.

    • john

      Frankly Max I did the same quit my job because i could not stand the way it was headed backward and was awful to the point of unbearable to be a part of.

  • Marg1

    This is great news, has anyone told the dinosaurs in the LNP this?

  • JohnOz

    Audrey Zibelman chose a good comparison – the internet.

    In 4 years this government has totally stuffed the original fibre to the premises network that Labor proposed. In the same 4 years the government has seriously back-pedalled on effectively tackling global warming and moving to a 21st century energy system.

    The really devastating result will be that those living in the areas which tend to vote conservative; country areas, costal zones and on the fringes of towns and cities, will be severely negatively impacted by the long-term results of global warming – or to be more correct their children and grandchildren’s generation living in these areas.

    Keep up the good work Audrey, the people are with you even though many of the pollies aren’t!

    • john

      Yes i agree rather a person for the job the right time and in the right place.

    • Rod

      Yep, Ruprect told the Mad Monk to knobble the NBN and Trumble did a stirling job.

    • neroden

      Right-wing parties in most of the world have done their best to *prevent* the countryside from getting broadband Internet. I think they’re afraid that if the country voters get broadband Internet, they’ll figure out that the right-wing parties are lying to them. (In the US at this point, *only* the countryside votes right-wing and the cities all vote left-wing.)

      • Hettie

        Yep. Knowledge is power. Don’t let it get away!

    • MaxG

      The problem is that these conservatives (as you call them) do not really have the brains to comprehend what they are dealing with or voting for.
      I always said: if you are a decent human being, and you are the sociable creature we ought to be, you cannot — as a matter of principle — vote the LNP. Understand what neoliberalism stands for, atomisation of the society, removal of government, privatisation of public assets; short-changing labour, serving the rich.

    • Jolly Roger

      The NBN was ruined when the politics was lost. The technology has run ahead of it, it isnt really being used to full effect. So Ziebelman’s analogy doesnt always apply. We are on the cusp of the same thing occuring with power. If the national government gets hold of AEMO like it has the AEMC and the coalition is returned at the next election then like the NBN the national grid will go backwards as the politics is lost and the new tech wont be implemented, despite what she says.

    • Joe

      I like the Audrey. She comes across very down to earth and his plenty of brain to mount and sustain the argument for the coming new energy grid. If only Two Tongues Turnbull and his ‘Non’ Environment Minister would listen to the Audrey. But I am guessing that The MCA and Rupe with his newsrags are the only ones that have the ear of our COALition Government.

  • howardpatr

    Try telling that the the AEMC’s Chairman, John Pierce, and the many in the Coalition Parties along with their fossilised financial backers.

    Just look at the AEMC’s resistence to the five minute rule.

    The Greens should challenge Labor and call for John Pierce to be called before a Parliamentary Committee for a thorough grilling.

    • brucelee

      In the senate estimates

  • joono

    I crunched some numbers on the back of a napkin (as you do) using Helioscope a while back.

    These assume the plants have been demolished and “rehabilitated”, and the arrays are tightly packed. So this is very theoretical maximums.

    327w panels, fixed ground mounts, 4×1 landscape.

    Liddell Plant and Coal Pit : 200K panels = ~ 65MWp
    Bayswater Plant and Coal Loader https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9b18f6e583c10d17ae1c42282770e4c67a330eb8a61c9594e8d40f0cc19c6801.png = ~ 150MWp
    Liddell Coal Mine (highly speculative) = ~230MWp

    So I got to ~495 MWp

    Obviously terrain is a factor, particularly for the mines.

    • Hettie

      Talking of terrain, and mines, I dont understand why the fixation on pumped hydro, when inclined rail with braking inertia generation can do much the same job, at much the same cost of power – 20%? without needing water, and with what looks to my uninformed mind to be far lower capital cost, far less time to construct, if the existing mine ramp roads are used. Lay the rails and away you go. Well, not quite, harnessing the braking energy obviously is not as simple as letting falling water turn a turbine…but still. Can someone enlighten me?
      I want to know!!

      • Mike Westerman

        Hettie the easiest way to think of the comparison is to think of the storage medium. In both cases, gravity does the work but it conceptualised rail storage systems the storage medium into which potential energy is imparted is steel and rock (if rock filled wagons are used) compared to water. Water is amazing stuff – plentiful, cheap, benign, well behaved and forgiving, needing only a very simple device to elevate it and store it reliably for decades and decades. I’ve visited running hydro schemes well over 100y old still in good condition – most rail systems of that age are in museums. Large traction machines and wheeled wagons on well supported rails are very expensive, compared to pumps and pipes.

        • Hettie

          Once again , Mike a clear, concise answer. Many thanks. I had been very puzzled.

          • Mike Westerman

            Glad of that Hettie coz the liars in the Conservative ranks are not going to make it easy to get the truth across!

  • Hettie

    While government dithers, obfuscates and flat out lies, to keep feeding the goose that lays the golden eggs, the mug punters get on with getting free from monstrous power bills.

    This mug pensioner has today received her first month’s account to include a whole month of FIT.
    I have been buying ahead, fortnightly to fit with the pension cycle, trying to stay 2 weeks ahead, but in mid November received a FIT credit, which, combined with low income rebate, allowed me to cover expected usage to date. Today’s account showed a credit sufficient to buy for whole of coming month, and still have credit to cover all of January too.
    This far exceeds my expectations, and completely vindicates my decision to go solar.
    Thank you Renew Economy.
    Back in May you published an article stating that solar plus battery was already economic for households. I wrote a comment moaning that it was impossible for those on low incomes .
    Was given a link to a company advertising free batteries.
    Suddenly it looked feasible. They turned out to be lying shits, and I tried again, with a company that withdrew finance the day installation was scheduled.
    Third time lucky.
    So thank you all on the comment pages. .

    • Mike Shackleton

      Hettie, great to hear your personal energy transition is going so well! I wouldn’t get too hung up on the battery, I don’t know where you live but I can’t get the economics to stack up at this stage – better off installing more panels!

      • Hettie

        Thanks, Mike.
        Armidale, NSW. 31 degrees South.
        1000m asl. Clean air and altitude help as does the generally cooler temps than much of Australia.
        In the month, I purchased (from account credit ) 59kwh, exported 719kwh.
        Looks like I could have bought fewer panels, but if I go to rc ac for heating, that will soak up some kwh. If I have broken even by the end of 12 months, that is, no power bill, no excess credit , I’ll be very happy, because I will have ditched the gas bill – $150 / month for 5 or six months.
        Hehehe.

        • Joe

          Young Hettie, marvellous testimonial on your solar experience and well done to your good self, yes.The Battery business, don’t give up. The prices will come down just like rooftop solar has. I’ve seen the dramatic drop over the 10 years since I started with my home rooftop solar. I have a gut feeling that battery prices will drop a lot quicker than rooftop solar has. Those energy retailer ‘sharks’ are providing free marketing for us 1.7 million solar homes to think about and then take the plunge to install Home Batteries.

          • Hettie

            I’m now just as well pleased that I decided to go ahead without a battery, Joe. Clearly at the moment the system covers the cost of all power, poles and wires, and will make short work of paying for rc air con to replace the gas heater.
            I have the local ac contractor coming on Friday to advise and quote. By the time that’s paid for, if the conditions warrant it, I’ll look at battery, but frankly, I don’t see the need now.
            Staying on the grid offers some security, and unless the standing charge really rockets, I’ll stick with it. A change of government will inevitably see a big change in market rules. Wait and see seems best.

  • neroden

    Oh! She’s the one from NY! Zibelman did a good job here in NY. You can trust her to be on the right side. We’ll see how much obstruction she gets from the COALition, but it’s definitely good to have her running AEMO.

    • Hettie

      One certainly gets the impression that she will have no part of the BaU bulldust. However did she get the job, when she won’t play their nasty games?

    • Joe

      Dr Finkel got knocked off…next victim…The Audrey?

  • Ken Dyer

    One of the problems of the energy market is that it has too many cooks, who do not understand the recipes.

    Firstly, we have the AEMC (Australian Energy Market Commission); then the AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator); then the AER (Australian Energy Regulator); then we have ASIC (Australian Securities and Investment Commission) and the CER (Clean Energy Regulator).

    The MOU’s (Memorandums of Understanding) that are current with AEMO can be seen here:
    https://www.aemo.com.au/Datasource/Archives/Archive169

    It’s a wonder Zimmerman has any hair left.

    All of these various bodies are governed under several State and Federal laws and are answerable to Federal Government, State Government and COAG. No wonder the energy industry in Australia is an unholy mess, and people are paying through the nose for their power.

    No wonder Zimmerman appears to taking on a more strategic role with regard to rolling out clean energy, when right wing coal loving trogodolytes like John Pierce head up the AEMC that makes the rules for energy in Australia, the most recent energy abortion being the NEG (National Energy Guarantee).

    This is what happens when you pile layer of bad bureaucracy on top of layer of bad bureaucracy that isolates politicians from consequences and responsibility. It becomes a cat herding exercise. Nothing less than a complete overhaul and simplification of the complete power bureaucracy is required, and a new national plan enunciated. It may take a royal commission to make it happen. Unfortunately, it will not happen while the Federal COALition is in power.

    • mick

      i think the lnp could do with a good enema

      • Hettie

        Where did I leave that flagon of fuming nitric acid?

        • mick

          i think between the hmx and rdx cupboard under the sink

          • Hettie

            Eventually got round to asking Dr Google.
            Both organic explosives.
            Very good.
            But would they easily be formed into suppositories?
            For wisdom, of course.

          • Joe

            The Abbott is willing to test it for free.

          • Hettie

            Joe, as an experienced RN, I would be delighted to assist him.
            Significant PPE would of course be required. I still have an old set of firie’s gear from volunteer days, but don’t have a respirator or acid resistant gauntlets.
            Ah, dreams.

          • mick

            id go with the rdx more stable and malleable

          • Hettie

            Sounds ideal for suppositories.

  • Ian

    Why does Zibelman say some Baseload is required? Clearly that’s not the case. ‘Zero marginal cost’ generation will at some point be able to fully cover generating requirements, and then some, for some of the time. What is needed is dispatchable electricity when the wind or solar resource is insufficient. What ever other generating option is considered, it should be dispatchable, and not plodding on Baseload. If a generator cannot vary it’s output then it should be required to install storage to make it dispatchable and variable . Considering generators like coal or gas, these have a carbon footprint and should pay heavily for unneeded generation when the zero margin renewables generators are meeting electricity demand.

    If climate change mitigation is the reason for a renewables based energy supply, as it should be, then there can be no compromise on fossil fuels, they should have one purpose, and one purpose only : to facilitate a smooth transition to reliable 100% renewables in the quickest possible time. Ultimately there should be the use of no fossil gas, no coal ,no oil, no nuclear – just renewables.

    Zibelman is perhaps right that we are reaching uncharted territory especially in S.A. with its high renewables penetration. I wish she would champion home and commercial behind-the-meter storage. This is the ‘internet of electricity’ that she is seeking.

    • Hettie

      Perhaps she is hastening slowly. Picking her battles, and where the economics are against the troglodytes, playing nice, but pushing where there is room to do so. I think she must be a very smart, strategic woman.
      Either that, or a glutton for punishment.

    • Hettie

      Am I wrong again, or does Snowy 1 Hydro not operate 24/7? If it does, there’s your baseload, Audrey. Add Wyvenhoe, Tasmanian hydro, and there is a decent chunk of renewable but constant power.
      And change the water heaters to heat midday, not overnigh , to mop up the daylight excess and reduce the overnight load.

      • David Osmond

        Hettie, you can look at current hydro output at the link below. Hydro in Tassie tends to run all the time. If you turn off Tassie, you can see the hydro in the rest of the country is ramping on and off nearly every day. The water is precious, so they only mostly only generate when the price is high.

        http://anero.id/energy/hydro-energy/2017/december

        • Hettie

          Thank you David.
          It’s amazing how much information is available just by asking. Love it!

      • Ian

        That’s the problem with using hydro the wrong way. It’s far too valuable a resource to be running 24/7. It should be conserved and run only when available solar and wind is insufficient . If you look at the snowy hydro web site:
        http://www.snowyhydro.com.au/our-energy/hydro/the-assets/power-stations/.
        That is exactly what they do: run to meet peak demand; 4100MW capacity, 4500 GWH generated per year.

        Tasmania’s hydro is run like a frigging coal power station 24/7, but then again, they don’t have the demand to warrant much conserving measures – too much water not enough Tasmanians.

        Wivenhoe apparently hardly runs at all it’s owned by people with too much gas to burn, but yes, 5000MWH storage is not a bad little battery.

        Demand management using water heaters has always been a thing and its a puzzle why the timing is not changed to suit the midday solar excess instead of the useless midnight coal power. As renewables deployment rises then you can expect their weight of numbers to shift the majority voice towards this sort of demand management. There’s hope yet!

        Do we really want assets generating constant power when there is so much solar deployed? Do you know how boring Christmas carols are when the lead singer drowns out the audience?

        • RobertO

          Hi Ian, Wivenhoe is not usually run because of costs. Each time it runs it removes $7.00 of profit the coal power for each $1.00 of profit that Wivenhoe makes (owned by coal company owned by Qld Gov). TasHydro is working on changing from 24/7 hydro to peaking hydro (and perhaps some PHES) but they also need more RE (mainly wind and some solar) and a new interconnect with Vic (battery of the nation project).

      • Calamity_Jean

        “And change the water heaters to heat midday, not overnight , to mop up the daylight excess….”

        Also separate the water heaters into groups, one-quarter start at 11 AM, half at noon, and the last quarter at 1 PM, to spread the load further.

        • Hettie

          Good plan. Add the spread provided by different time zones, even though eastern states account for most of the population, and there is a bit more smoothing of total load.

          • Calamity_Jean

            Don’t hold your breath for it to happen, you could faint and fall over.

        • Mike Westerman

          Or connect them all on the net (which our meters are already) and allow people to decide when they want to buy power for them (I’m sure there’s an app for that!).

          Oh! But that would shift the balance of power in the electricity market from sellers to buyers!

          • Calamity_Jean

            “But that would shift the balance of power in the electricity market from sellers to buyers!”

            Can’t have that, now, can we? /sarcasm

    • RobertO

      Hi Ian, We will need “baseload”and it will not be coal and it may not be natural gas or LPG. Biogas is baseload, CST is baseload, PHES is baseload. Here her quote

      “(When) people think baseload, they think coal,” Zibelman says. “(Baseload) is not any particular fuel source, it is just the capability to run flat out, in an efficient way over a long period of time. And they are dependable.” She cites hydro as a particularly useful baseload resource.

      • Ian

        To quibble just a little : Dr Zibelman’s definition of baseload, as you restate it , is the capacity to run flat out, in an efficient way over a long period of time. I might add to this definition the incapacity of Baseload to vary its output economically, ie it must run flat out regardless of demand. This is an important part of the definition of Baseload because it is the primary source of conflict between renewables generators and incumbent fossil fuel generators. The graph of electricity supply in the bad old days had the base load at the bottom of the graph providing electricity up to the minimum demand and dispatchable generators (and PHES) filling in the sinusoidal demand variance up to peak demand. That is the definition of Baseload, it’s coal running, unvarying 24/7 doing the heavy lifting ( and raking in the consumer dollar) while the rest fill in the gaps. Its reputed to be reliable doing the long distance run but, as Giles has been at pains to point out, our old coal clunkers and gas seem to conk out in the midsummer heat when they are needed the most. If you want to ignore the original definition of Baseload and instead go for the idea of always-on reliability then sure renewables plus storage of all kinds will give you that reliability – hopefully. Biogas is like a green gas-plant but it’s unlikely to ever do the heavy lifting without seriously consuming valuable tracts of forest and farmland. CST is interesting in that it needs thermal storage to make the sunshine’s energy last 24/7, whether it can run flat out over a long period of time is debatable, considering those prolonged cloudy days – these are the episodes when solar PV and daily storage are expected to fail, it also is better than the negative connotation of Baseload in that it has thermal storage built in and should be able to ramp up or down its electricity output to meet changing demand. PHES is a type of storage device and relies on some other generator to charge it , hopefully wind and solar, it might have sufficient capacity to last a couple of days but it is still just a battery and would have to fall under that category. The point of a renewables grid is that you have the various resources like solar , wind and once through hydro with their unique characteristics, couple them with storage and join lots of them over a wide geographic area to reliably supply electricity for any given load profile. The whole system is reliable , efficient, and performs over a long period of time but it does not seek to emulate the characteristics of a coal power station, its better than that.

        • Mike Westerman

          Ian what I find most objectionable is that the market structure rewards this inflexible generation so excessively that they are incentivised to keep running way past the end of their economic life. Forget definitions, the market must be reformed.

        • RobertO

          HI Ian, My comment was aimed at the idea the pollies keep spouting that we must have “Baseload” hence we must have coal. To me there is no such thing. No one can point out what electron is made by “Baseload” verses one made by any other form of all types of generation. For 2 tongues I have this message for SA. “To keep SA from its state wide blackout SA need to have 29 coal fired power station” (Attach one power station to each Transmission towers that fell over on that day and one extra on each side of the down pathway . Given the costs of a coal power station should Fed Gov support this (and send the country broke and destroy the environment while they work out a RE distributed network is safer in a storm).

        • Hettie

          Cue the truism that the more diverse a system (typically an ecosystem, but any system really) is, the more stable it is. And the obverse, the less diverse, the less stable.

    • JoeR_AUS

      SA just like now, yep running 90% gas!

    • AuldLochinvar

      What is baseload?
      If your regional electric power demand is always higher than a certain value, then that value is the base load (Duh!). Indeed, if during working hours there is a somewhat higher value, as tends to be the case, you do well to regard that as the base load for those hours. It is more troublesome to cater to the variations of demand above the baseload level, than simply to have generators that steadily feed the base load, for a long period of time each day .
      Now the one thing that solar or wind driven generators do even worse than providing power to a steady load, is providing additional power when the load goes up.
      The correct word to prefix RE of the weather dependent kind is not “Variable”, it is “intermittent” or to be really accurate, “Capricious”.
      Variable Energy is that which YOU can vary, not stuff that is at the whim of the local atmosphere.

  • John Saint-Smith

    The internet comparison is most apt. Tonight on Q&A, Turnbull poured scorn on the very idea that Australians would need internet data speeds ten times faster than what his MtM Frankenstein’s monster (remains of dead bodies sewn together) could deliver – circa 100Mbs.

    Looking back 10 years, internet download speeds have increased about 40 times, and over 20 years, more than ten THOUSAND times.

    In 20 years, either we will have solved the problem of generating 5 times as much electricity as we do today, but with zero emissions, or we will be facing run-away greenhouse warming, and Malcolm’s grandchildren will be asking why we couldn’t get our act together to throw out his Lying Nasty Party .

    • Hettie

      Indeed. Anyone remember when the smart money predicted that the world might need perhaps 7 computers, no more?

    • Did you tune in to watch the lies and propaganda on mainstream tv? Why? Do you enjoy watching liars?

      • John Saint-Smith

        No I don’t. But I like the ads on commercial tv even less, so I took in a few segments of turgid Turnbull in the breaks .

        • Gillard was the last leader I could stomach to listen to. Her stupidity on same sex marriage and her not pushing secularism were difficult for me.

      • Hettie

        I didn’t watch, but reports are that Waffles did himself no favours at all. Rude, dismissive, arrogant, his usual mendacious self.
        Waffles 0, audience 10.

        • Joe

          Mr Waffles, loving the new petname. I watched Two Tongues Turnbull / Mr Waffles on the ABC Q&A last night (11/12). He give ‘his NBN’ the big thumbs up… which he would of course. And he couldn’t resist giving South Australia another public spray about last years Tornadao Blackout…of course no mention of those 23 towers getting knocked over that resulted in the blackout. The man has no shame in continuing the tell lies.

          • Hettie

            Whats with the “Mr?” Joe? Waffles, because that’s all he does.
            No “Mr.” Why give a term of respect to someone who deserves none?

  • Ray Miller

    “go out and consult” this is what I thought Finkel did? The answer on the Clean Energy Target was not was the right answer, so a different strategy is being tried. This is just more kicking the can down the road.
    It is obvious (again) that the energy policy dead-lock needs to be broken and I would strongly support a national vote like the same sex marriage survey.

    Do you support Australia’s energy systems transitioning to renewable energy? yes/no

    A number of follow up questions regarding timing, means effort etc which need to be asked. So maybe our collective wisdom can be use to fine tune them?
    Should using energy efficiency be a high priority?

  • Michael Murray

    But this is LNP led Australia. We don’t need the internet. They made that clear at the last election.

  • RobertO

    HI All, 2 Tonuges made it clear on the ABC Q&A that his version of the internet is very slow. It will not improve untill we all go to fibre. On youtube there is a clip called “Did you know (officially up dated for 2017)”

  • AuldLochinvar

    Somebody tell Audrey that the way to replace good old reliable and filthy coal, gas, and even occasionally diesel, is clean zero amazingly safe nuclear. The painfully out-of-date (to knowledgeably people like its inventor) Light Water Reactors have had two meltdowns in the entire world in half a century, NO actual fatalities at the time, and only speculative cancer deaths based upon the discredited LNT predictions, which indeed predicted far more cancers than have occurred on account of EVERYTHING.
    Alvin Weinberg designed the reactor that uses water which is kept liquid at a pressure of over a hundred atmospheres (about 155), to moderate neutrons and transfer energy to the next stage, the generators.
    He designed the next for the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment, which not only uses a liquid nuclear fuel that needs no extra pressure beyond enough to circulate it, every nuclear fission creates a new fissile uranium nucleus from a thorium nucleus that itself is not fissile, and is about 420 times as common as the natural fissile uranium 235.
    So it is a renewable energy technology, because a ton of fissionable fuel creates several million kWh of electrical energy. It also creates a ton of quite short lived fission products, which contain conceivably useful stable elements, if there were enough of it to bother to the extraction.
    For instance, any neodymium in year -old “nuclear waste” is no longer radioactive. It isn’t the stuff that started off as radioactive neodymium, that has become some other element after its decay.

  • AuldLochinvar

    Australia being as sunny as it is, and solar panels inevitably DC in their power delivery I wonder if it is time for Australia to contemplate the existence of air conditioners driven by DC motors. I’ve experimented with USA mains-voltage capacitors and JFET power transistors, and I think they’re scary! I do not know how you build an inverter for even one megawatt of power, but I doubt that it can be as efficient to store a 300 MW windfarm’s worth of energy in batteries, as in gravitational storage like pumped water, or the other idea I’ve seen proposed, bloody great trains of solid mass on an inclined mountain railroad.
    Presumably the equivalent of pumped storage with a head of 50 m. and 1000 cubic metres of water is a 50 metre deep pit with a load of 1000 tonnes, complete with hoisting motors and generator attachments.

    People like Audrey Zibelman airily talk of advances in batteries, but have they even looked at the difference between solar energy in December and that in June or July, the winter of the Australian solar energy consumer’s discontent?

    • RobertO

      Hi AuldLochinvar, about 1/2 of Australia in north of the Tropic of Cancer so yes we lose a bit of Nuclear Energy but in total it not worth the worry. Ours is estimated to last another 5 million years so it not a concern as opposed to manmade stuff which only lasts about 50 years. On top of that our Nuclear Energy is that much quicker to install and get running (about 3 months per MW name plate as opposed to your one of 10 to 15 years). Winter are wetter in the south so Hydro is available to keep us going.

  • AuldLochinvar

    There is an organic compound that is literally carbon tetrahydride, written CH4 if you cannot use the HTML 4 style.
    It is also called methane, and flatteringly alleged to be “clean natural gas”. It is the stuff carried in gas pipelines and most emphatically is not the stuff that naturally comes out of the ground.
    Sixteen tons of methane in a typical gas turbine generator running at full power will generate about twice as much electrical energy as twelve tons of carbon from coal, which in the case of anthracite is reckoned very close to pure carbon.
    But both of these combustions create 44 tons of carbon, and burning the methane consumes twice as much oxygen, to create its additional 36 tons of water vapour.

    The thing that global oceanic warming and acidification by CO2 implies, is not so much that we need to reduce fossil CO2 emissions (which includes the burning of old forests), as that it MUST be eliminated altogether.
    Reducing the _entire world’s_ emissions of industrial CO2 by half will not cut the rate of global warming in half, it would merely cut _the rate of increasing it_, in half.
    That is why I hold that Al Gore himself does not fully seem to appreciate the Inconvenience of the Truth about which he wrote.
    Those who do, know that the answer to it is the alternative energy source that was unknown to Kelvin, Maxwell, Watt, and a dozen or two other famous energy names of the 19th century.
    Einstein predicted it, and Alvin Weinberg, who invented both the Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) and the Molten Salt Reactor (MSR), in the 1960s, established in essence that it could do everything that the Industrial Revolution requires, but without CO2, NOx, SO2 emissions, and with a trifling quantity of waste products.
    Since the first civilian reactor that the USA built, it has accumulated less than 75,000 tons of so-called “spent” nuclear fuel, which in fact, by the standards of Weinberg’s MSR, is only slightly used.

    • Hettie

      Fukushima aside, We simply don’t have time to build any new nuclear power stations. Besides which, the biggest nunclear reactor in reach can be harnessed quickly and inexpensively with zero risk of nuclear accident using solar panels and wind turbines.
      If hydro is kept for smoothing of variability, and the wind and solar installations are geographicalls widely spread, the degree of variability falls. Storage , industrial and domestic does more.
      Bring on electric vehicles, and the huge storage potential of those batteries.
      NO NUCLEAR!!!!!
      NONE.

      • RobertO

        Hi Hettie, the reason we do not use Railway lines as generator is that they need to be relative flat compared to water pipes. Steel on steel slips about 30 degrees so they must be flatter than that. Water on the other hand works best at higher angles (near vertical) and is much more adjustable in flow rates to vary the generator. Penstocks absorb the water flow if there is an issue with the generator or further down the pathway for the electricity if it need to be shut off quickly. Snowy Mountains Corporation stated that if 200 electric trains started in sydney at the same time they could adjust their capacity within 6 seconds (of them starting). Water power is equal to hight (Vertical meters) times flow rate (litres per second) times gravity (9.8 meter per sec squared) and this answer is in watts ( 250 MW is at a hight of 800 meters about 31,888 litres per second (plus losses say 35 cubic meters of water per second)

        • Hettie

          Thanks Roberto.
          Mike Western answered me on that one a few days ago, saying the capital cost of inclined rail is way higher than PHES, so I’ve got that bee out of my bonnet. I had googled it weeks or months ago when it was mentioned somewhere as a viable alternative to PH, but the extreme weight and structural requirements were not mentioned.
          Thanks for the full account. I learn something new every day.