AEMO: Cheapest way to replace coal is solar, wind, storage | RenewEconomy

AEMO: Cheapest way to replace coal is solar, wind, storage

AEMO says 70TWh of coal is to retire by 2040, and the cheapest way to replace it is with solar, wind and storage, and just a tiny bit of gas. And no coal. But it wants more transmission lines and renewable zones to manage this transition.


The Australian Energy Market Operator, in a ground-breaking study, has confirmed that the cheapest and smartest replacement for the country’s ageing coal-fired generators will be in solar, wind and storage technologies.

In the long awaited release of its Integrated System Plan, AEMO says much of Australia’s coal capacity will retired by 2040 because the assets will have reached the end of their life. That will equate to around 70TWh of lost generation by 2040.

Based on its “neutral” scenario, which comprises existing federal and state government policies, the lowest cost replacement will be solar (28GW), wind (10.5GW) and storage (17GW and 90GWh). Just 500MW of flexible gas plant will be needed, and no new coal.

It says this portfolio in total can produce 90TWh (net) of energy per annum, more than offsetting the energy lost from retiring coal fired generation.

AEMO says, however, that new transmission infrastructure is urgently needed to reinforce existing links between states and create new ones – such as between South Australia and NSW. It also want to create renewable energy zones so that this transformation can be properly managed.

“We are in the midst of transformative and unprecedented rate of change in this sector,” AEMO managing director Audrey Zibelman says in a statement accompanying the 100 page report.

“We are witnessing disruption across almost every element of the value chain.”

(Please listen to our Energy Insiders Podcast interview with Zibelman recorded today. either below or here).

Chief among those disruptions is the shift to distributed energy resources, notably the record uptake of rooftop solar, the growing interest in battery storage, and the opportunities of demand management.

The conclusions from AEMO are, needless to say, not what many conservatives and the fossil fuel industry want to hear, particularly as the core scenario, based around current Coalition policies, still points to a share of almost 50 per cent renewables by 2030.

AEMO and Zibelman have both been attacked over their views around the energy transition, and their recognition that renewables and smart technology offer a cheaper, cheaper, cleaner and more reliable future.

But the conclusions are unequivocal.

“The ISP’s analysis is predicated on sound engineering and sequenced approaches to investments in the transmission system, providing an identified least cost pathway to managing the transition,” it says.

“The ISP applies probabilistic scenario-based analysis and system optimisation to project the reliability and security needs of the power system while simultaneously identifying the lowest cost combination of resources to meet system and consumer needs.”

This graph below illustrates how the grid will be transformed. Note the huge reduction in black (coal) in NSW in particular, and Queensland as well, along with the reduction of brown coal (brown) in Victoria and gas (red) in South Australia.

In their place emerge yellow (solar) light green (distributed or rooftop solar), dark green (wind) and purple (storage).

AEMO estimates that between 14GW and 48GW of large scale renewables will be developed across the NEM – which excludes W.A. and the Northern Territory, depending on the growth in electricity consumption.

This will be supported by 4GW and 23GW of new flexible, dispatchable resources at utility scale by 2040, mostly in the form of utility-scale storage.

AEMO’s says its modelling shows that the total investment required to replace the retiring generation capacity and meet consumer demand has an NPV (net present value) cost of between $8 billion and $27 billion, depending on assumptions made around economic growth and rate of industry transformation.

“This level of capital investment is going to be needed, irrespective of this plan,” it notes.

But its foremost message – apart from the shift towards decent tallied generation and renewables, is the need for transmission investment. By spending 8-15 per cent of this sum on transmission, cost savings will be between $1.2 billion and $2 billion.

AEMO says it makes sense to keep existing thermal generators operating until the end of their lives, but not longer. It says existing generators will need to be flexible and are able to ramp up and down given the availability of lowe cost renewables.

The less flexibility, the more need of storage. Interestingly, AEMO says consumer-driven distributed storage systems are expected to provide a strong opportunity for demand management, even though the storage itself is relatively shallow.

“The ISP analysis assumes only a proportion of distributed battery penetration is controlled to manage demand at a grid level, with the remaining capacity operating to the householder’s own objective to minimise grid consumption (particularly when paired with a rooftop PV system),” it says.

AEMO says that while wind generation is typically available overnight and at higher annual energy contributions than solar generation, solar generation is more predictable during daylight hours.

And it also models a “fast change scenario” which incorporates faster emissions reduction scenarios, higher consumption, greater uptake of rooftop solar, more electric vehicles.

The faster emissions scenarios are now paired with the CSIRO-Energy Networks Australia low emissions roadmap which points to a 52 per cent cut in emissions by 2030. But less details are forthcoming apart from the general picture of the graph.

Perhaps this is an attempt to take the politics out of modelling, although given that conservative attachment to new coal generation that appears forlorn.

“The objective was to test the risks and benefits of candidate transmission plans under a scenario where consumption was higher and more peaky, to check that reliability and security could still be maintained.”

It was. But it ended up with even more renewable energy developments, additional storage capacity and greater consumption according to its modelling, and a greater focus on energy efficiency.


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  1. Jon 2 years ago

    Interesting reading, gives me some hope that it will happen.
    Guessing pumped hydro is shown under storage and single pass hydro is shown as hydro.
    It’s interesting how high a percentage of rooftop solar is forecast, guessing a lot of that is predicted to be commercial scale rooftop.

  2. Ray Miller 2 years ago

    Interesting summary and assessment, Australia’s move to renewables was always going to about the execution of a plan than anything else.

    I watched ABC 4 Corners on the Thailand’s soccer team cave rescue, it was all about the goal, teamwork, focus and efficient use of expertise, without any one would have meant failure.

    Just maybe we all can learn some lessons from the cave rescue and take seriously Australia’s Energy transition plan. Companies need to prove how their plans fit into the overall plan, if they do not fit they will not be approved!

    “AEMO says it makes sense to keep existing thermal generators operating until the end of their lives” this is one point of disagreement, for every extra kg emitted this is making the carbon account worse. But there again noting the extra flexibility needed with more renewables and storage this problem may solve itself.

    • palmz 2 years ago

      As long as solar wind & storage are cheaper it will result in a over supply of power making harder for for existing generators to make a profit. (low prices)

      So when repairs are needed they will be less likely to be done as they will cost too much compared with the profit they can make (think hazelwood)

      Our coal plants do not like being turned off so during low prices they will be making a loss. I doubt many will reach the end of their useful lives. (we could see their economic lives end long before refurbishment)

      • Ray Miller 2 years ago

        That is what I was meaning, you just need to watch the daily load behavior to see the increasing variable nature of the loads and generation. If your equipment is not flexible it will become increasingly difficult to operate your plant economically, then competing against cheaper and cheaper renewables as they upscale.

        • Aamir mirza 2 years ago

          Not cave dwellers actually very smart people who have managed to sell their Souls to the vested interest. Their whole purpose is to protect those they see as allies at the cost of the rest of the country.

          • solarguy 2 years ago

            They will loose. No question.

        • solarguy 2 years ago

          Yep, yep, yep.

      • solarguy 2 years ago

        In a word, exactly. And check mate coal suckers!

        • rob 2 years ago

          lets actually say what you mean solarguy….but I’m not allowed to type it……[email protected]@k suckers!

          • solarguy 2 years ago

            No, I’ll be unequivocal Rob, “Coal suckers” is what I meant.

          • rob 2 years ago

            sorry ….trying to be witty

      • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

        And refurbishment of Muja AB in WA producing power at around $250-300/MWh according to SEN analysis and being retired a few years after the work was completed stands as a stark reminder of where throwing clean money after dirty money can end up.

        (Even if a Deloitte consulting report to Synergy just a couple of years ago told Synergy and its shareholders — the people of WA — it would still be around and producing power in 2021)

    • MaxG 2 years ago

      Advertising (propaganda) promotes individualisation; sports promote competition, so do schools; making it hard to impossible to foster a collaborative environment. Talk to a few people outside your circle about a random topic, and you’ll find you have no common ground, let alone room for collaboration.

      • Ray Miller 2 years ago

        But Max we keep getting told competition is the best for us and will deliver the lowest cost! Unless its’ all a conspiracy by business to get as much blood from the many stones as possible?
        If we spent as much money and effort on transitioning our energy systems as avoiding and resisting doing anything we would have achieved 100% renewable a decade ago.

        • MaxG 2 years ago

          “We” are getting told a lot of things… and instead of saying all is bad, tell me one thing government, the press and corporations do that is actually good for us (the people).

          • Shilo 2 years ago

            Government almost never put anything in place for down the track, they operate in when things are needed (2 years ago). They also only do things on average to get re-voted in. The western system of government is flawed.

    • George Darroch 2 years ago

      Unfortunately, the entire Liberal and National Party are cave-dwellers. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, but when we escape depends on how much noxious gas the Australian population consumes.

      • Aamir mirza 2 years ago

        Not cave dwellers actually very smart people who have managed to sell their Souls to the vested interest. Their whole purpose is to protect those they see as allies at the cost of rest of us.

      • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

        All searching for their precious.

    • solarguy 2 years ago

      Ray, too true, with your example of cave rescue. It was never the case of can’t be done, but make it happen. In regard to your last sentence, you just answered your own question about existing coal.

      • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

        Just watched the brilliant 4corners episode also, I had no idea just how hard the rescue was, that the boys were all fully anaesthetised (out) and that nearly all the experts in cave diving involved expected fatalities in the order of 40-60%.

        So another point is that if we really go for it and take the only realistic course of action available to us, no matter how scary and unproven, we can actually surprise ourselves and the world.

        • solarguy 2 years ago

          Yep, planned and executed very well, but I think the lads were sedated, not anaesthetised.

          You are involved with BZE aren’t you Alastair?

          Anyway I agree with your point. RE isn’t scary or unproven to those like myself in the industry we know it works. A conversation came up the other week at the local pub, where a bloke stated we will still need coal no matter what. Well how could I resist giving this guy an education, so I told him my house doesn’t get power bills, but in fact gets paid credits and that if need be, could at the flick of a switch sever ties with the grid permanently.
          He then said, mate that’s just one house, we would have to power the whole bloody country.
          My reply was, simple it’s just a matter of up scaling….. just like a model RC aircraft compared to a full scale aircraft, the principals are exactly the same.

          I think he got it.

          • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

            Good work. It’s hard to do it one person at a time, which is why BZE used to engage various community groups and schools etc. Anybody legit group that rang for a presentation on any of our plans got one back in the day.

            Yeah sedated is a better word I think (not a doctor). The retired vet who was the anaesthetists dive buddy (sorry forget I these heroes names already) said they were pretty “out” because if they panic or anything like that and full face mask came of, even for a moment, lights out.

  3. Marcelo 2 years ago

    Thanks for the summary. What will happen is that conservatives and the fossil fuel industry will continue to retreat and collapse at faster and faster rates. In its place progressives will create infrastructure across the country that employs those without work and begins to restore Australia’s shameful pollution records with an epic transition. Planning and training for this needs to get rolling now.

    Market pressure appears to be ending coal for electricity generation. Still, 2040 seems too long to wait. We should ban the construction of new petrol service stations and subsidize the electrification of road transport as priorities. We need to get it into the mindset of Australians that our actions matter and since the majority of us burn fossil fuels for transport routinely this would be the best way.

    • George Darroch 2 years ago

      We can’t wait that long, especially to still be burning wet dirt in Victoria.

  4. Ben 2 years ago

    The gist of the AEMO report is that low cost of renewables will be offset by “increased investment” in transmission lines, with “initiatives” for storage and “price signals” for flexible dispatchable generation. Sounds familiar…

    • Eric 2 years ago

      There is no getting around it we have to rebuild the electricity system. And governments will have to subsidize it which effectively means a carbon tax by another name.

      • Pedro 2 years ago

        I think to call it a ‘carbon tax by another name’ is stretching it a bit. Transmission infrastructure will have to change to a distributed model rather than a centralized model. Probably with mini/micro grids for remote towns.

        Given that transmission infrastructure has to be maintained regardless and will always be an ongoing cost, there is opportunity to do it better and more efficiently.

        • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

          2 billion on new transmission amortised over 20-40 years amongst 25+ million Australians is less than $4 a year I think. If the population has tripled in 40 years its more like $2 a day.

          $2,000,000,000/(20×25,000,000) = $4

          god only knows what the population of Australia will be by 2040/60, very much depends on climate, productivity, viability of agriculture and resource wars I expect.

      • Malcolm M 2 years ago

        It’s a good report, and carefully written because of the political volatility of the issue. AEMO don’t control climate policy, so no matter the passion of the authors they can only work within constraints such as minimising power prices. They also don’t control investment in new generation, so the ISP is a scenario for transmission investment rather than a business case for a renewable energy developer.

        To me the biggest unknown is with the NSW coal generators, what their coal costs will be once their longer term contracts run out. A recent article on RenewEconomy showed that Vales Point was paying ~$61/t for coal compared with $156/t spot prices. The length of the these older price agreements would be commerical-in-confidence between the State government and the new owners. If these agreements only go until 2022 (as for Liddell), then NSW will need a lot more renewable capacity by then to offset much higher marginal costs for the coal generators.

    • Phil NSW 2 years ago

      Audrey acknowledges our future is clean and green. Maybe time you listened to what she has to say and get on board. Our NEM is changing and Audrey is trying to assist the transition. Storage will be an important part. Do you know some other way which competes on price, reliability and capital costs?

    • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

      I’d like to know how you gained that gist from what was actually in the report. It doesn’t suggest an “offset”. If there is a gist, it is that aging generators will retire as they reach their economic end of life, but won’t be replaced like for like because they are now too expensive to build. So instead the economics will drive renewables with storage depending on various factors, but certainly nowhere near the nonsensical assertions of some of 100% back up. Further it sees PHES as providing the necessary system strength that is lost when these fossil fuel generators are retired. The point of transmission is to maximise the use of strongly negatively correlated VRE to reduce storage and that with the lowest cost of supply, while improving the security of supply across the NEM.

      So you facetious remarks not only miss the mark in precis of the report but simply again reflect your own narrow focus. You know better than the experts who have laboured over this report. Sad.

      • Ben 2 years ago

        While it’s noble of you to leap to the reports defence, it’s completely unwarranted, as usual, to assume the antagonistic tribal stance.

        I’ll make it simpler for you.

        Increased investment in transmission – past gold plating is not enough now?

        Initiatives for storage – more subsidies? The tribe will love that.

        Price signals for generation investment – load shedding?

        What policy decisions have given us in the last 15yrs is zero chance of low cost power. If the politicians, AEMO, ACCC and the rest would admit it, we could learn from past mistakes and get on with it.

        As it is we are staring down the barrel of more massive investment in the power system, in a relatively short period, as cost of living keeps going up, there will probably be a financial crisis and commodity boom in between.

        What could possibly go wrong?

        • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

          No nobility required, or allegiance to a tribe, just the ability to read and understand English.

          Increased investment in transmission: TUOS is small compared to DUOS – most of the gold plating coming from overbuild of distribution including substations (I could take you to some that are not connected on the outgoing lines). So facetious tone once again misses the mark.

          We have always had subsidies for generation and transmission – all the coal stations were built with public money and often underwritten by subsidised power to large consumers. Nothing to see there.

          Not sure how you go from price signals to generation investment to a demand side signal for load shedding. And why should someone willing to curtail voluntarily in exchange for payment not be permitted to make that choice?

          What could go wrong is the attitude of the past 15y where the same power that gave us carbon pricing brought it back then dumped it, where we had politicians who supposedly were “misled” into signing major agreements, could continue. What could go wrong is that we continue in an ad hoc unplanned manner and let the vulnerable wear the pain. Or we could once again admit that markets are generally short sighted and that long range decisions are inevitably political, not able to please all but if based on evidence and an ounce of integrity, can actually provide the space and stability for private sector participation that is profitable but not exploitative.

          The cynics will never be satisfied nor contribute anything of worth.

          • Ben 2 years ago

            Cynical with good reason. If our lawmakers had the sense and the guts to avoid ETS, CPRS, RET then we’d have had clear investment decisions, greater price transparency and power certainty.

            Now we are stuck with investment in wind farms and large scale solar. In 50yrs the world will look back at this mess and say wtf.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            What reason? You don’t trust the science on global warming, and think it’s fine to tear up the countryside leaving deadly polluted pits and destroyed aquifers. You don’t believe in going for better when it wins the economic battle with old tech? Why not just say that your collection of conservative beliefs prevent you from going with the evidence and you’d rather cling to that identity?

            Individuals are going with solar because its cheaper here and virtually everywhere across the world and prices are still plummeting, no end it sight. Your view is ignore that. No chance that future generations will do anything but wonder what the issue with putting solar on everything and enjoying low cost reliable power!

          • Ben 2 years ago

            I trust science, but not when models and predictions don’t match physical evidence.

            I believe in better technology overtaking old technology, but not with subsidies, and not when it gives you a lower quality outcome.

            Individuals should be free to do what they like, but people are forced to pay for something they don’t want and didn’t ask for.

            I’m not ignoring anything – the reality is that without subsidies we would not have the large scale wind and solar projects and we would not now be staring at another 20yrs of transmission investment to make it work.

            Prices for electricity consumers are not plummeting, they are increasing everywhere there are subsidised renewables and carbon pricing.

            If power was cheap and solar not subsidised, virtually nobody would have PV! But you choose to ignore that and just heap scorn on anybody that mentions it.

            Reliable… only with baseload to fall back on.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Ben if you trusted the scientific method, you wouldn’t be searching for certainty, as you would understand science disproves bad theories. It is a bad theory to conclude increased carbon dioxide in the air won’t cause trapping of IR if you observe it elsewhere. It is bad theory to conclude that in a closed system, measurable inputs won’t have measurable outputs. And it is simply inaccurate to say climate models don’t match with physical evidence. I can tell you as a hydro professional that is incorrect, based on impacts on dam safety design and hydro potential impacts.

            What are subsidies? Your taxes don’t reflect your cost impacts on society other than in general terms. Neither do even so called user pays remittances. Averaging and cross subsidies are a fact of life. All the existing coal plants were built from the public purse. All the basic geotech supporting mines was paid for from the same. Our taxes subsidise accelerated right down of exploration costs by miners. The coal they dig up is ours, not theirs, and we have to make up elsewhere for what we allow them to keep. Their returns are not based on a mark up on their inputs, but rather the selling price for what they dig up! A great model: you sell something belonging to someone else and instead of being paid for your service you get to keep most of the price! But apart from the fact that the commonwealth owns all mineral wealth in this country as a sovereign right, all governments use public policy to drive outcomes they want. So if these facts don’t suit your philosophy then maybe you are living in the wrong place!

            But back to the realities around solar. When I did my undergrad these on concentrating solar power, I was given 3 solar tiles, 1cm sq. They were worth so much I had to pay a bond. Now panels are down below 28c/W – there are few technologies that have fallen in price so much. All other energy conversion technologies are now so far out of the money that as we have seen in the AEMO report, it’s simply time to get on with the future built around it. Your assertions otherwise, if you sincerely hold them, are fatuous. As is your oft refuted claims about the drivers of high power prices. I shake my head as to why those with a particular political line to spin don’t find more robust whipping boys.

            I’m comfortable about the reliability of my solar system, as I am about its grid scale counter parts. The weak link for them will be, as always, the lines to the load, and the probability of the grid being pulled over by the tripping of a large thermal unit. Hopefully before that inevitability, pumped hydros will be built around the NEM to provide all that is needed in security and reliability. And without pouring 5t per capita of CO2 into the air every year.

          • Ben 2 years ago

            Subsidies: If the federal RET didn’t happen then large scale wind and solar would not be a thing.

            Subsidies: if the state incentives didn’t happen then rooftop solar would not be a thing.

            AGW: correlation is not causation. If the “science was settled” the “models would be correct”. Or Al Gore would be.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Abject nonsense Ben. The only difference would have been timing. The slide down the cost curve for solar has been such that the cost now without subsidies is still less than it was 3y with them. And the cost reductions are ongoing. Just today I was looking at a report done 3y ago, and the predicted prices are arriving >5y early. If you think otherwise you are out of touch.

            AGW – you will note I didn’t argue from correlation but from fundamentals: CO2 is opaque to IR, the rise in CO2 in the atmosphere is traceable to emissions and to FF combustion in several different ways etc. There is no other source of increasing CO2. A scientific approach would be to adopt and test the simplest hypothesis, against competing hypothesis. All of the competitors have been readily discredited. The AGW hypothesis has not, but furthermore, economic imperatives are driving a change which will have positive pollution outcomes. What’s not to like? Unless of course you have a vested interest in the status quo.

          • Ben 2 years ago

            Not nonsense. Even the ACCC report has quotes from generators reflecting the renewable economics make sense due to the subsidies.

            Solar costs are coming down, not trying to deny it! But without subsidies the installed base would be nowhere near where it is now.

            And I’m not trying to say that CO2 isn’t part of a greenhouse effect. Science says it does. Its the amount of human effect on global temperature that is being discussed. You are still linking increased emissions to increased temperature. That’s correlation. If there was a predictable link between emissions and temperature, and with emissions known, temperature could be predicted. But it can’t, as every IPCC prediction for sea level and temperature reduces the predicted numbers and changes the base comparison. There’s some effect,probably, but emissions bring the major driver isn’t proven.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Ben I would hardly ask an incumbent generator about renewables! Although it is interesting among our clients how focused on the future with renewables as their mainstay they are. But you are merely agreeing that subsidies have done their job in pushing thru the inevitable faster. Now we are at the point where we should be getting on with the transition in a planned and orderly manner as suggested by Zibelman.

            I think I clearly have you saying the models of how carbon dioxide contributes don’t match reality, which I think is demonstrably untrue. That they have their limitation is axiomatic – they are models, not reality. Correlation is the first step: your statement disputes even correlation. That there are physical theories as to how the climate works, not merely stochastic models tuned to give the same outcomes as reality is a step beyond correlation. There are no other plausible explanations for the rise in global land and sea temperatures – all others have been readily disproved. As I have said before, the role of science is to disprove, not prove: that is a logical impossibility as we can never exhaust all possible explanations.

            But I still don’t understand why when you accept the majority view in other areas of science you selectively reject something as innocuous as the weather and pollution! Or resist replacing the destructive and dispoiling nature of thermal generation with the clean and amenable alternative!

            I explain one reason for not having difficulties in accepting AGW this way, and then use a gross example to reinforce it. The earth has 5×10^15t of air into which we are tipping 35Gt of carbon dioxide annually, and 1.4×10^18t of water into which we are tipping 8Mt of plastic. Scuba diving I have seen plastic floating everywhere, and this is also seen right across the oceans, in sediment in the ocean depths. So I have no difficulty in accepting that the 4375x more pollutants we are dumping into an air mass 1/280 that of the water (ie relatively 1.2million times more) will show a noticeable effect caused by us. Put it another way, each of us has only 720,000t of air and each is dumping 5t/a into it – that is the same dilution as 14 guys pissing every day for a year into an olympic pool (ugh my kids same, but they remember and understand why the current level of pollution has to stop).

          • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

            You are a denier Ben. It’s Yr 8 school girl physics linking air temperature averages to the greenhouse effect. You can put any GHG in a mass spectrometer and test it’s absorption of infrared (IR) or any other wavelength of ‘light’ radiation.

            The simple fact is that IR radiation leaving the Earth on it’s way to space that gets absorbed in the blanket layer of our atmosphere is reemitted at a completely random angle and there’s a 50/50 chance it will get reemitted in a down direction not an up and out to space direction. The more of that blanket the more heat is returned to the Earth’s surface. We know very precisely how much CO2, methane, N2O, CO and other GHGs we are adding to that GHG blanket.

            It’s totally proven and James Hansen’s early predictions were born out and our modelling is vastly more sophisticated that it was in those days. But the fundamental energy calculations aren’t so complicated for these scientist compared with all the nuances. That humans are driving the warming is the easy part and was hypothesised in the 18th century and demonstrated in the 19th century. This is too serious an issue to be peddling self interested lies and deceptions. You should be ashamed to do so.

          • Ben 2 years ago

            Hansen’s predictions borne out – lol.

            Do emissions affect El Niño?

            How much does Australia effect global temperature?

            Which prediction includes the last 2.5yrs cooling?

            Which prediction includes no warming between 1998 and 2015?

          • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

            Lols don’t really count as evidence in my world Ben. I’m not going to engage in you time wasting silliness. I wrote that mainly for anybody who is a bit inclined to think maybe you have some kind of a point.

            The scientific consensus which involves a huge consilience of evidence almost unparalleled in science, agreement across a huge range of disciplines, agreement across social/ethnic/class/cultural groupings and calibration amongst all those groups in the published literature. To rant against it is to imagine the sky is pink.

            If you are serious about your silly questions from Fox media answers them all and you can even debate the toss with scientist who moderate the comments on that website. But to debate you here would be a waste of my time and to suggest you have the faintest idea what you are talking about.

          • Ben 2 years ago

            Ah of course, skeptiaslscience, the blog started by Dr John Cook, PhD in psychology, BSc in physics, supporter of the famous “97% consensus” which turned out to be a crock, but continues to author climate change books, widely promoted on the blog.

            No vested interest there!

          • Alastair Leith 2 years ago
          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Ben now you have gone beyond embarrassment – your questions being ignorant dribble. Clearly you have made up your mind what you want to believe, rather than using your brain to explore what might actually be out there. You gave away your narrow Conservative credentials when you slagged someone about being a “unionist”, but unfortunately you lack the intestinal fortitude to come clean that you have no interest in actual factual debate.

          • Ben 2 years ago

            It seems to me that asking simple questions you can’t answer results in you responding with irrational angry immature rants.

            This is typical of people with unbalanced perspective, like many of the tribe on this forum, who can’t be bothered to truthfully investigate both sides of the argument and come to their own conclusions. It’s much easier to subscribe to the same groupthink and join the crowd.

            Here’s some more facts for you!

            – what you and I believe about the causes of climate change won’t affect climate change
            – turning off all the cars, trucks, power stations, planes in Australia and going vegan won’t affect climate change
            – going 100% renewable power won’t affect climate change

            Deny it, I dare you.

          • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

            Oooooh a dare, no really a dare!!

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Ben you are hardly one to lecture me about sledging given your extraordinary attack on someone who, in terms of their research on the subject and considerable efforts in educating the public, put you in the shade. And your ad hominem in this and other posts. But I am happy to call you out for lying repeatedly about the temperature record, and the asking ridiculous questions about a 2.5y “trend”.

            And as for your dare: what you and I believe does make a difference, it makes a difference to our children, to our pollies, to our friends and hopefully what we pursue in life. If you lack this conviction, why do you keep bothering to get up in the morning. The example Australia sets does make a difference. Maybe you haven’t had the opportunity to live outside Australia and understand that. Maybe you believe that global conflict or co-operation is ethereal, appearing by transcendental revelation or some such. But it doesn’t: it comes from individual interactions, the passage of members of society thru life as they interact. Trump and Putin are not pixels on the box: they are just people with histories and aspirations.

            Going 100% RE in Australia will impact on climate change. Maybe not significantly in your estimation. But if we embraced 100% RE we would be hard pressed to continue to be responsible for a 1billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year. And when our low cost zero emissions industries out compete because of our extraordinary natural advantage, the impact will have a knock on effect. So yes, not hard to deny your nonsense, your slippery assertions, your lack of honesty or the fact that you wouldn’t dare declare the real reasons you cling to the past. But like a limpet, you will soon be covered by the tide.

          • Ben 2 years ago

            Mate, I haven’t “attacked” anyone, nor made anything up.

            Claiming I have done so, without producing a quote, is a typical example of the progressive left wing tactics used by the AGW tribe to avoid reasonable questions they can’t answer about their theory/belief.

            So to recap, I ask simple questions, you call me names, claim I’m a liar and make unprovoked attacks, then state your dedicated belief that Australia has a measurable effect on global temperature.

            Who’s the whacky one here?

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Your blindness to your own words is a bit staggering: what do you call your derision of Dr John Cook? Go straight for the man, rather than engage with his evidence which is not his opinions, but rather collations of the leading science. You ask nonsensical things like 2.5y trends, refute the extant evidence of the actual ocean and surface temperatures, ignoring NOAA and NASA published data, and thorough explanations. Nah, doesn’t fit with your world view.

            And immediately go for the tags: “unionist”, “left wing progressive” etc as tho those pejoratives are an argument. Just admit it: the overwhelming scientific analysis and evidence doesn’t sit with your beliefs. It’s not the result on your part of analysis, it’s transcendental. Just cut the crap and stick to what you believe, but don’t expect it to be an argument in relation to debates on what we need to do in the face of a real and pressing issue of managing an extant transition.

          • Ben 2 years ago

            I’ve reviewed my entire set of comments from this site, all 172 posts.

            There is not a single comment where I have called people names, been abusive or done more than attempt to either answer the question put to me, pose a question of my own or make a critique of an article.

            Cook: I was directed to his blog as evidence of AGW – I responded with unemotional fact (but look at your response)

            Unionist: the person i responded to actually threatened violence, I thought a polite question designed to help me understand the individual’s philosophical grounding was fair enough.

            For your review, here is the exchange in context…

            solarguy > Ben • 11 days ago
            Christ knows I’m so sick and tired of idiots like you Ben…. so on ya bike and don’t come back………. that’s what I suggest to you!

            Ben > solarguy • 11 days ago
            Lol, naked aggression. How about you leave?

            solarguy > Ben • 11 days ago
            If we were in front of each other coward, I could give you a lesson in naked aggression, then you would crawl away to mummy troll.

            Ben > solarguy
            Apologies to the other readers, I know I shouldn’t but…
            Solarguy, are you in a union? You seem like the type!

            FYI taking people out of context is a typical left wing progressive strategy.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Ben – scoffing at someone with a PhD in psychology and a derisory tone is abusive, it is not objective. Tagging people as lefty, progressive etc is not an argument, it is abusive. There is nothing “typical” about aggression that would link it to either term. That’s prejudice, revealing more about you than the other party. What use do tired cold war era terms like left and right actually serve? Many who believe in internationalism are quite mercantile economically and socially conservative. Not all socially conservative are neoliberal economically – look at our farmers who mostly support regulated markets and significant state intervention.

            Your stance on engineering and science in general, compared to that on climate science and renewables, is incoherent and dissonant. Especially when you pose nonsensical questions like 2.5y trends or make claims readily proved false, like the 1998 hiatus that has been done to death in the science literature. It really is only fringe sites that adopt an aggressive antithetical stance as a job lot against RE, unions, big government, immigration and progressive issues, that seem to still be repeating it.

            I don’t agree with a significant amount of the posts here and I don’t even see everyone else is on the same page. I don’t agree with anonymous posts or abuse, even tho I’m often frustrated with intransigence and angered by trolls who have no interest in debate. To reject arguments as “tribal” is just weak. And the “taken out of context” call (al la Craig Kelly) especially so!

          • Ben 2 years ago

            Well then Mike, if you believe that being called progressive is abusive, you probably should look at your calibration settings. Let’s review shall we?
            Words used by Mike:
            abusive, scoffing, derisory, prejudice, incoherent, dissonant, nonsensical, extraordinary attacks, lying, lack conviction, limpet, slippery assertions, lack of honesty, cling to the past, ignorant dribble, narrow conservative credentials, slagged someone, lack intestinal fortitude, no interest in factual debate, facetious remarks, narrow focus, obtuse
            Words used by Ben:
            progressive left wing, whacky, irrational angry immature rants, unbalanced perspective, tribe, groupthink, choose to ignore, heap scorn, antagonistic, tribal
            Mike’s view, apparently, as inferred from debate so far:
            AGW is 100% a thing and the world will fall apart if we don’t go to 100% renewable energy, anybody that questions this theory is a bad person and deserves to be treated poorly, rather than have their questions answered
            Ben’s view, consistently stated, in several debates:
            CO2 has a warming effect, but the amount of influence is hotly debated, and the models are not accurate, and the IPCC predictions are less in every report, and reducing or increasing Australia’s emissions can’t affect the global climate
            Am I wrong?
            I’m very happy to moderate my language, because I don’t believe this type of engagement achieves much.
            Can you say the same?
            My only point in engaging in this, shall we say “environment”, is to both ask questions in the hope of getting sensible answers that allow me to challenge my own arguments so that my arguments can become stronger (whatever they may be), and to inject some reality into the overall discussion to based on sound engineering experience.
            I’m really not doing this to upset people, although it seems that asking simple questions can have that effect.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Ben I’m essentially utilitarian in outlook: is language useful or not. I find most political tags useless, especially in Australia. Generally left and right are quite inadequate. My science and engineering is strongly based on Popper: you can falsify, but not prove. “Proof” is most closely aligned with “belief”, ie knowledge that is “revelationary” not empirical. I find beliefs an unavoidable but dangerous human preoccupation, part of our tribalism (you must admit to that notion).

            I go beyond AGW: human behaviour is on a dangerous path of destroying its future, because our imaginations lift us beyond observed reality. That’s a good thing because we can invent things not found in nature, but dangerous because we don’t have the self restraint (because of our evolutionary journey) to care for our collective and interdependent future. Having imagined ourselves as transcendental we can’t see our physical bounds.

            So my interest in RE as a replacement for carbon based energy is in many ways precautionary: the impact of solar+pumped hydro would seem safer both in providing energy but also in balancing individual and collective interests. But it is also the attraction of the simple solution, the benign: you can graze cattle under the energy conversion elements of solar, you can swim and drink the energy source of hydro. And your kids will be able to do so, and their kids after them.

          • Ben 2 years ago

            Mike, we are destined to disagree when you interpret using the words “lying, ignorant dribble, limpet” etc as utilitarian, and you interpret the words “progressive, left wing” as abusive. Like I said, you might want to check your calibration.

            AGW theory claims that global temperature has increased 1degC because CO2 has increased about 100ppm over 100yrs.

            100ppm is 1 in 10,000.

            You think this minute change in atmospheric CO2 has adjusted the global temperature that much?

            You think there is only one possible explanation?

            You think the science is settled?

            You think there is a consensus?

            I think real issues are plastic in the ocean, doctor’s over-prescribing antibiotics, mashing together incompatible cultures and religions in the name of multiculturalism, and people taking offense.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Ben there is a distinct difference between objective assessments like “lying”, or “ignorant” and subjective terms time “progressive” or “left wing”. Progressive compared to whom, and in what sphere? Left of what? I challenge you to define these terms with any authority. Whereas, if you put forward things that can easily be demonstrated to be untrue, that’s objectively lying. If you say things that illustrate a lack of current knowledge, then that objectively is ignorant. I know you frame of reference wants to allow some notion of relativism, where you can hold opinions if you like as tho they were true simply because you want them to be, but debate cannot proceed on that basis.

            I have constantly referred to the tentative nature of science, its inability to “prove” things, rather, its sole prerogative to falsify. So again your attempts to paint me into a corner on climate change is ignorant. What I will say is that as far as I can determine, other explanations for climate change have been falsified. AGW has not.

            As I pointed out, the rate of plastic pollution is about 6 parts in 10^12, whereas carbon dioxide emissions are 7 parts per 10^6, ie about 6 orders of magnitude higher. I am simply staggered that you recognise the impact of one and not the other. You fatuously point out that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere alone has increased by 100ppm in 300ppm that is 30% as tho this is a small thing in comparison. You leave me at a loss.

            But I’m glad you at last nail your true colours to the mast: worries about cultures and religions – worried about all those brown people with their strange yibba-yabba voodoo religions? Guess what, I’m a heathen married to one, so of course I believe in AGW, tribal colours!

          • Ben 2 years ago

            Plastic breaks down and ends up in the food chain. CO2 helps plants grow and stops the planet freezing.

            It is actually ignorant to claim somebody is lying when they are not. It is also ignorant to imply somebody is racist when they are not. These are examples of traits exhibited by progressive left wing types – I hope that helps.

            I’m not claiming that a 30% increase in CO2 is a “small thing”. That’s a relative measurement. In absolute terms, 100ppm is minute and a small factor in the set of climate influencers.

            You can keep your identity politics and inplied insults too. Yet again, you go to the personal inflections and insinuations. I’m happy to debate AGW and RE in the context of this site. I’m not going to engage with people that want to get in the gutter about race and the rest of the stuff.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            What’s your point: that we can find pluses and minuses in everything? Plastics have provided enormous benefits, including keeping foods fresh, providing cheap clothing for billions, lighter cars with lower emissions etc, carbon dioxide is lethal to humans at 10% but this level promotes growth in some plants (but can also kill them if sufficient soil nutrients are not available). Elevated carbon dioxide doesn’t improve growth in grasses and those using the same photosynthesis pathways, so that sort of generalisation could be termed “ignorant”.

            You have repeatedly stated things that are not true about temperature trends despite having this pointed out to you, preferring instead to use early data now qualified. And there’s nothing “absolutely minute” about 100ppm – it’s easily detectable and measured accurately. Again, an attempt to obfuscate. Ditto the insinuation re “progressive left wing types” – a completely meaningless term that I guarantee you cannot define without tautology. Likewise “identity politics” from someone who characterises people into identity groups that serve no purpose except to support fatuous points of view. Those terms are merely “personal inflections and insinuations” that steer away from the debate on AGW and RE and into the gutter of race that you took us into by raising a supposed failure of multiculturalism and clashes of culture and religion. I’m quite sure whether Muslim or Christian, white or brindle, it will make no difference to the impact AGW will have, other than that for sure, the more vulnerable will carry more of the burden.

            Just keep digging that hypocritical subjective identity political hole you’re working on. But do some more research on the facts of pollution and climate change (tho’ I doubt you will – you “know” the truth).

          • Ben 2 years ago

            Mike, I’ll continue to comment on these pages where I feel it’s warranted, but I won’t be engaging with you again. Your thin veneer of civility is plainly too fragile to withstand challenging questions without resorting to personal attacks.

            All the best.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Yes I’m sure it just my problem that stands in your way, despite the fact that you have failed to respond truthfully to others that have refuted your stale borrowings from various fringe anti-AGW sites. Meanwhile I’ll get on with the crucial transition to secure, predictable low cost zero emissions RE in the hope that those like you on the fringe are a sufficiently small minority not to be an issue.

          • Calamity_Jean 2 years ago

            “turning off all the cars, trucks, power stations, planes in Australia….”

            Nobody has suggested that, fool. And people who suggest veganism are crackpots.

          • Ben 2 years ago

            Oh, hello! I was going to call you names in response, but I thought better of it.

            First sign of quality in a person – name calling!

          • Calamity_Jean 2 years ago

            I’m sorry, you’re right, I shouldn’t have called you a fool. My only excuse is that it was late (I’m not in Australia) and I was tired.

            What I should have said is that it’s hard to tell over the Internet when someone is joking, so you should indicate [joke] in your comments. Otherwise you may inadvertently cause a stranger reading it to get the impression that you are a fool.

          • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

            Even the ACCC report has quotes from generators reflecting the renewable economics make sense due to the subsidies

            Good-o those subsidies are working then, lets extend the federal RET and have state RETs in every state to act as a double lock against future government stupidity and personal aggrandisement of the Abbott kind. There really is negative time to lose on Climate Change action.

          • Phil NSW 2 years ago

            RET happened because it was cheaper for the government then investing in coal which it knew would be more expensive all round. Facts are facts Ben.

          • neroden 2 years ago

            I’m happy to tell you that the global warming models and predictions match the physcial evidence extremely well. In fact, predictions made by Svante Arrhenius over 100 years ago have proved accurate. So have the more recent models.

            I assume you’ll start supporting the scientific consensus on global warming now?

            No? Maybe you actually don’t listen to science, and listen to ideological garbage instead?

          • Ben 2 years ago

            Show one

          • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

            James Hansen’s early models for one.

            When they first built models they started them in the 1800s and ran them to see if they matched the exact historical record we know from our meteorological records. Guess what, Ben? These amazing scientists nailed it even without the help of the supercomputers they throw at this dynamic modelling today.

            Perhaps you should enrol in an online university course in Climate Change. I’ve taken two 8 week introductory courses and there is so much to learn in this fascinating subject and I’m sure you’ll have nothing but respect for the level of integrity in this field of science once you start to get a handle on how many interlocking parts there are and how, like jigsaw puzzle of 50,000 pieces this science could not be just made up and still fit together with so much physical evidence. They call that consilience of the science, and is one of three things that make up scientific consensus.

          • Ben 2 years ago

            We are close to Hansen’s “Scenario C”. This temperature prediction is based on “rapid decline in emissions after 2000”.

            Is this the correlation you mean?

          • nakedChimp 2 years ago

            Markets are not short sighted, monopolies/cartels acting IN THEM are and are the reason markets have a bad rep. If you look up ‘free market’ you’ll notice it defines the absence of monopolies/cartels. Food for thought I hope.
            And with monopolies/cartels I’m referring to things like patents, digital rights, trade unions, market entry barriers, money, etc. pp.

            All else is spot on from you.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Chimp, markets are exchanges between people, and so entirely governed by the parameters that best describe the players. The same power plays, ethics view points that govern other human interactions are there – commerce doesn’t sterilise them. Think of the lessons in “The Merchant of Venice”. And so I don’t believe in free markets any more than I believe in free will. We are a fundamentally social beast: individuals created by others and always confined and defined by our relationships with others. Markets try to inject certainty into an uncertain environment by explicating the constraints. They are thereby always a compromise, not a panacea. Planning is never displaced by them, and good planning requires wisdom and foresight, not the blind weight of the past.

          • nakedChimp 2 years ago

            You’re just making my point.
            The players are the ones acting short-sighted, by not getting the correct signals or listen to the wrong ones.
            The market itself is not at fault for this.

            If you have a signal that tells you to chop down forests to sell the wood and investing the money gained at more profitable endeavors instead of leaving the forest stay and only take out a couple of trees ever now and then and life from those prospects..
            Who is to blame?
            The market?
            No, it’s just the venue.
            You have to blame the actors or if you think even longer about this – the signals.

            And what are the signals on the market?
            Return on Investment.
            And the carrier of that signal?

        • Phil NSW 2 years ago

          I would like to add to your comment here about massive investment in the power system. That investment is required irrespective of which technology is used. It it therefore not wise to choose the lower cost model? Given you have been involved with feasibility studies and two technologies are line ball then you use other metrics to decide. Some technologies come with fringe benefits others with legacies for generations. When you have figured out the answer to these questions, we can debate on merit the technology.

          • Ben 2 years ago

            Transmission investment required anyway – no, the predicted demand isn’t going up much, the measured demand has reduced.

            Lowest cost generation is renewables (when it’s generating enough). But then add transmission, reinforcement and backup – not so cheap.

            RE comes with legacies for generations, just like everything else.

          • Phil NSW 2 years ago

            Ben, thank you for your answer.
            The ageing clunkers are going to be shutdown. Investment therefore will be required. The report actually considers the investment in transmission and concludes it will have savings for the network. Given the RE investment will be at a lower capital cost (and running costs considerably lower) compared to FF the overall system upgrade will be line ball not considering potential capital cost reductions in the future. The report considers RE with storage to be 1:1 with FF now.
            Demand will rise over the longer term as the report demonstrates, where do you reference your comment re reduction?
            RE does not pollute, FF does. RE does not have a fuel cost going forward, FF does. RE does not have massive trips like FF. RE is decentralised reducing transmission losses unlike FF. What other legacies would you like to discuss? The fact the market hasn’t built a new FF for over a decade whilst four shut down demonstrates FF is effectively redundant as a technology. RE with storage is taking its place. Don’t take my word for this, do some research and post your findings, please?

          • Ben 2 years ago

            AEMO ISP 2018, page 19.

            “…demand for grid supplied energy is forecast to remain relatively flat over the outlook period, and load growth is not the primary driver of new investment in this ISP.”

            Demand is less now than it was a few years ago.

            AEMO ISP 2018, page 20.

            2.3.2 Consumption
            Total NEM electricity consumption is forecast to remain relatively flat over the outlook period in most scenarios.

          • Phil NSW 2 years ago

            Welcome back Ben.
            Just look at Figure 18 above to realise the inaccuracy of your comment.
            Are you willing to tackle any of the above issues regarding legacy issues?

          • Ben 2 years ago

            Not my comments mate. Quotes are from the AEMO report.

          • Phil NSW 2 years ago

            Hi Ben. Consider my original statement was “Demand will rise over the longer term as the report demonstrates, where do you reference your comment re reduction?” Figure 18 shows the long term view of the AEMO. Your ignoring the relevance of my question and distorting it. Demand will rise and RE will take the place of the ageing clunkers.

          • Ben 2 years ago

            Demand goes up slightly, not enough to exceed existing transmission lines.

            I didn’t say load will be reduced, i said it has reduced, from peaks a couple of years ago.

            RE will be installed more, which necessitates additional investment in transmission, over and above what would be required if the existing power stations were replaced by gas or nuclear.

            Is that clear enough?

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Big but unfounded assumptions here Ben: nuclear requires much more cooling, and hence the tendency for seawater cooling. Australian coal stations tend to be mine mouth, so generally wouldn’t be suitable for nuclear. Gas would require pipeline capacity and contracts, which are currently significantly more expensive than renewables plus transmission as per the ISP.

            But of course your remark also ignores the higher cost of replacement coal, as pointed out in the ISP and other recent reports.

          • Phil NSW 2 years ago

            Thanks Ben.
            It is quite clear.
            Transmission cost increases as we include more RE.
            Nuclear won’t happen as the capital and fuel costs are even higher than coal let alone the legacy issue of the waste.
            Gas may be needed for a small while until sufficient PHES gets up and running but then will be obsolete.
            Demand rises over the long term. Yep clear.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Phil – Ben’s response obfuscates also that NEM demand is increasingly a subset of total demand because of BTM generation. And it is also clear that nuclear and gas are not going to assist in managing that. The ISP proposes that transmission augmentation will, by diversifying sources and providing inter regional back up, reducing the need for that to be local.

          • Phil NSW 2 years ago

            Hi Mike – Ben does try to argue against the tide but I suppose the more often he puts his views forward the greater the opportunities to educate the readers of this website. I do note how often he just fails to answer so many questions because he just got to an indefensible position. Audrey has articulate many issues in this article which must challenge his thinking. Just like Matt Canavan, he latches on to one part of a sentence and ignores the context it was written.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Yes but it’s hard if your views on energy are part of an identity which includes dismissive or narrow views on unions, “progressives”, multiculturalism and religion as a package. It produces a Henny-penny feeling that society would collapse if you concede anything!

          • Ben 2 years ago

            Time will tell. As for nuclear, the technology is changing and other countries will benefit, while it looks like we will be stuck with short life batteries needing a whole new recycling industry, inefficient windfarms needing changing out every 20yrs and who knows what we will do with solar farms as the panel efficiency tapers off.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Indeed, time will tell, as the stream of very expensively cancelled nuclear projects passes us by! The battery market is of course going to be primarily for EVs and I would hope we do better in recycling there than elsewhere. But the point is the need is coming from transport not power, which can be comfortably serviced by PHES coupled with enhanced conventional hydro using wind as the balancing energy source.

            I’m not sure which site the anti-AGW crowd have all been reading but the inaccurate depiction of windfarms “needing changing out every 20ys” seems to be a recent post being picked up by many. I guess most have not been to a windfarm and so that explains their extraordinary ignorance. Blade technology has improved over the years and so of course the option of upgrading is been taken up. In Australia windfarm life extension out to 35y is being adopted at some of the older farms. Gradual replacement of individual turbines is the more likely mode, to take advantage of extant HV connection, permits and community support.

            I would anticipate that panel recycling would follow the trajectory of glass recycling – the low value of the silica and low content of metals will probably mean the lowest cost solution is taking the modules out and grinding them up, recovering those that are still productive.

            More red herrings…maybe they could be recycled as well.

  5. Eric 2 years ago

    Thank god AEMO have injected some common sense back into the debate. I really wish the industry would unite publicly and kill of the new coal fantasy. All it would take is a collective press conference of the key industry players. It would probably be in their interests too because the ongoing bun fight in COALition is killing everybody.

    Once the new coal fantasy is killed off we can then turn our attention on how to maintain the existing coal generators during the transition. And i would remind anybody who thinks, just kill it as quickly as possible, that could be the worst possible outcome for renewable.

    The mature question is. How do we manage the difficult transition period and keep the old coal plants limping along while they need more and more maintenance and sell less and less energy?

    • MaxG 2 years ago

      “AEMO have injected some common sense back into the debate”… which will be disregarded as any other science-based recommendations; e.g. Finkel report.

      • Eric 2 years ago

        There is a major difference between Finkel and AEMO. AEMO is actually running the show.

        • MaxG 2 years ago

          I acknowledge that and agree… however, the gist of it is, whether the name is ABC, CSIRO, Finkel, AMEO, etc. the government decides what it wants to listen to, disregard, or defunds it, or stacks it as it see fit. We have more dramatic examples in the US; e.g. the head of the EPA has been charged 25 times for ‘crimes against the environment’. My point is: the system is rigged, and if it isn’t yet, if will be.
          When audrey came on board, my first thing to say was: wait until she gets chucked out for progressive ideas.

          • Andy Saunders 2 years ago

            But not that much the government can do to change the economics. Except distort markets, but that becomes pretty obvious if the subsidy is big enough…

          • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

            AEMO shareholders are 50% the gentailers and utilities, and 50% federal and state governments.

  6. Ben 2 years ago

    “Cheaper than coal” is actually, “cheaper than building new coal”, not to be confused with “cheaper than coal is now”.

    • Brian Tehan 2 years ago

      Then again,the price of coal is quite high at the moment and the running and maintenance costs on some of the old plants are also quite high and increasing.

      • JackD 2 years ago

        Quite correct Brian. And the older they get, the more prone to breakdown they get. Furthermore, the hotter our summers become, the more likely these old generators will reduce their output (either through breakdown due to heat stress or as a preventative action by their owners to minimise the risks of boiler failure).

    • George Darroch 2 years ago

      Well, only if you discount to zero the very large costs that burning coal imposes. Those costs are real, whether they’re counted or not.

      • Joe 2 years ago

        Here, here…the $Billions public subsidy ( externalities ) for Fossil Fuel. The cost that the Coal Huggers refuse to acknowledge.

    • Joe 2 years ago

      Coal isn’t Cheap. It destroys the environment, destroys peoples health, causes premature deaths, costs the country in mitigating man made climate change…these are all the costs of using Coal and other Fossil Fuels that those industries do not pay. Instead you, I, the rest of the population pick up the tab. It costs us / Aussie punters $Billions each year to publicly SUBSIDISE Fossil Fuel.

      • Ben 2 years ago

        How many billions do you think there are in fossil fuel subsidies?

        Localised pollution and environment damage is one thing, but what if we are on the brink of 50yrs of global cooling?

        • Farmer Dave 2 years ago

          “50 years of global cooling”. Interesting. I am not usually a gambler, but so sure am I of the physics of the greenhouse effect, I am happy to have a small wager with you. I am even happy to only wait 10 years to collect my winnings. So to be clear, you are predicting that for the next 10 years, starting with calendar 2019, each year will have a lower global average surface temperature than the preceding year. If the global average surface temperature stays flat or goes up even once, then I win the wager, and you pay up. We will need to agree which of the global temperature series will apply to the wager.

          So, how much are you putting on the table?

          • rob 2 years ago

            FARMER jOE (oops cap lock again)…….I’m with you on this one….I’m all in $3million

          • Ben 2 years ago

            Hi FarmerDave, I asked a question, I didn’t make a statement or try and influence opinion or make a prediction.

            And your supposed “wager conditiins” aren’t logical or balanced. Currently there are years, like the last two, that have been successively cooler, but overall the trend has been neglible since the late 90s to about 2014. Before that it went up from the 1940s to the 1980s. Each period the temperature was up and down. So your “it only counts if it goes down 10yrs in a row” is plainly not scientific.

            If you don’t believe in science, and just dogma from zealots, just say so. Otherwise be quiet.

          • neroden 2 years ago

            There’s absolutely no doubt that CO2 emissions are causing ocean acidification and global warming. Svante Arrhenius demonstrated the mechanism of global warming and predicted its trajectory 100 years ago, and we’re following exactly the climate change trajectory he predicted based on the emissions we’ve had.

            So don’t be unscientific. Overwhelming evidence is overwhelming.

          • Ben 2 years ago

            He did some lab work and came up with the greenhouse effect. That’s a far cry from real life atmospheric effects.

            Find a scientific model accurately predicting no warming since 1998.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Ben, don’t make us laugh. The lame claim of no warming since 1998 has been so thoroughly debunked that most people would not embarrass themselves by repeating it!

          • Ben 2 years ago

            Er no. It’s acknowledged in the IPCC rev 5. And it shows in the nasa temperature graphs. And everybody knows it.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Ben try reading beyond your habitual science sceptics websites. The data for IPCC Rev 5 was 2013 and suggested the trend rate had slowed. Since then there are bunches of papers on improvements of measurement of deep sea temperatures and the influence of cloud, particularly from increased volcanic activity that show how the underlying trends of warmer were briefly masked. Since then they have actually accelerated, with the hottest years on record in the last decade. And that IS something everybody knows!

          • Ben 2 years ago

            I mention IPCC and nasa, but you immediately leap to a bunch of other conclusions, which I must say is typical of AGW idealists.

            And you keep implying that I am saying the temperature hasn’t gone up in the last few decades. This again is a typical response to genuine questions by people with your point of view.

            It’s irrational, and if this attitude wasn’t so pervasive the quality of conversation would be lots better.

            Yes average temperature spiked in earl 2016. But it’s gotten cooler ever since, and we are back to 2014 values.

            You have said the “pause” has been debunked. Well, it’s still obvious in the nasa graphs.

            You mention volcanoes caused cooling, but the nasa graphs plot instances of large volcanoes in 63, 82 and 91. I suggest you look at the resultant temperature yourself.

          • Phil NSW 2 years ago

            How many times do you have to be told the NASA report demonstrates continual heating. Refer my earlier comment about your ability to read a graph.

          • Ben 2 years ago

            Hi Phil, when you say “continual”, I presume you mean on the NASA giss page, that on a 1880 to present graph titled, “global annual mean surface air temperature change”, the temperature anomaly at present is greater than the baseline from 1951-1980 using the graph’s 5yr moving average. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

            If you look further down the page to the graph titled, “global monthly mean surface temperature change”, you’ll see a graph of temperature from 1995 to present.

            In this graph the red line uses data from ships and buoys in addition to meteorological data.

            What do you see?

          • Phil NSW 2 years ago

            Hi Ben
            I attached the graph (which was the most recent edition) to a previous post in a previous article (please go back and look at it as you must of missed it). The graph demonstrated continual heating on the moving average (in both surface temperature of land and separately sea. I asked you to refer to the graph and note the Y axis was in degrees C. You made some reference to 0.56 drop in one year which I went through and demonstrated was only 0.07 in one year. You never answered that post and now you are come up with the same wrong interpretation you used previously which I corrected for you.

          • Ben 2 years ago

            I referred to a 2yr temperature drop, Feb 16 to Feb 18.

            The graph I referred to, shows basically flat temperature since 1995, with the exception of a spike in 2017, which has now returned below that.

          • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

            So all those hundreds of local heat records set in the last 10 years are imaginary?

          • Ben 2 years ago

            You might want to look up the definitions of absolute and relative.

            Then take a look at the graphs yourself.

            Then comment.

          • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

            Absolute records of local temperature highs exceeding temperature low records by easily more than 2 to 1 if I didn’t make myself clear.

            You have been thoroughly school here already by others and yet no humility. Please just take your denialism and objections to science back to your church of denial faithful who probably appreciate this garbage.

          • Phil NSW 2 years ago

            Hi Ben

            Yet again thank you for the opportunity to demonstrate your errors.
            I have attached the graph to ensure we are all seeing the same thing.


            What part of the average goes down?

            I think you are trying to cover something up as you continually reference this data which demonstrates heating at an ever increasing pace. Please keep up the dialogue so I and others can educate you to be a worthwhile citizen in the RE future (FF free).

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Phil – you must understand Ben – he likes the little dots which show that sometimes the temperature drops year to year. He doesn’t like averages or proportions (just as he doesn’t like brown people or religions other than his own) because they reach conclusions that challenge his own revealed understandings!

          • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

            AR5 said nothing of the sort. There was not “Rev 5” which shows how credible your knowledge is.

          • Ben 2 years ago

            AR5 said exactly that, when it discussed the warming hiatus observed in the temperature record from 1998.

            AR5, rev 5, fifth report, whatever.

          • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

            Wrong. Global cooling / plateau is one more myth idiots repeat without doing their homework, Ben.

          • Ben 2 years ago

            Buddy, you can keep saying that but it makes no difference to the graphs.

        • Phil NSW 2 years ago

          Like your thinking. Supreme optimism. What is going to reverse the current heating trend. I repeat current heating trend and I use your previous link to the NASA report to support that statement. Have you visited any glaciers recently?

          • Joe 2 years ago

            It’s a new game these days…spot the Glacier. They are in retreat and we have a goose like Ben telling us we have now have ‘Global Cooling’. Like I have said before FACTS mean nothing to the Ben.

        • Joe 2 years ago

          FACTS mean nothing to you. Now its ‘Global Coolings’ is it…your next chapter in The Benny Comedy Show? With every new posting you make yourself even more of a goose.

        • palmz 2 years ago

          Than we have an extra 50 years to fix the problem but unless you can show this to be the case we kinda need to stop the warming thing before worrying about global cooling.

          Besides we can afford a degree or so of cooling… warming not so much. oh and the movie The Day After Tomorrow cannot be used as evidence.

        • Phil NSW 2 years ago

          Hi Ben. I was wondering in what part of Australia you live. You make a comment about localised pollution. So it is far enough people who live in the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Hunter Valley, Latrobe Valley, Collie or Central Queensland are allowed to suffer for the greater good of the rest of Australia. Read this article please:

          Interestingly NSW power stations usually only have one unit monitored for pollution. Further to this issue most of the EPA limits are measure in concentration not quantity. This allows power stations to tailor the feed to those units to reduce their exposure to the limit and then further if it looks like they are going to violate the limit they can just add more dilution air to the tail gas to reduce the concentration. For a self proclaimed engineer I feel your comments lack the fundamental issue of public health and well-being is completely missing in your comments. Hopefully as add more and more comments which frame your convictions you take note of the comments made in response. Your personal education continues.

          • Ben 2 years ago

            Hi Phil, localised pollution in the context of a discussion about global effects. Pollution is bad, we all understand that. Plus I’m not “self proclaimed” anything.

            How many billions did you say there are in fossil fuel subsidies?

            As for AGW, what if it’s all a crock? What will you do if it turns out human emissions don’t contribute a measurable amount to warming, and we are in for decades of cooling?

          • Phil NSW 2 years ago

            We have had this debate before and your points were all refuted. It is happening, accept the facts and get on board figuring out how to limit (hopefully in the future reverse) the impact. This article demonstrates the AEMO accepts our future will be clean and green and wants to facilitate the transition. Live in the past if you want but use logic to argue your case not waffle please.

          • Ben 2 years ago

            Phil, nothing has been refuted, claiming it has been does not make it true.

            How many billions?

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            The Australia Institute estimates about $4B to mining, of which coal is a big slice: $2B in fuel subsidies, a 1/2 in condensate subsidies, 1/3 each on exploration, capital plant and accelerated depreciation deductions, plus states like Qld still plough over a billion a year into various freebies – exploration, geotech services, data, etc But then you have to question the way royalties are applied, allowing ROI much higher than most other industries, even tho’ the profit comes from selling something they don’t own.

          • Ben 2 years ago

            Was this the discredited 2014 “mining the age of entitlement” report? There were many problems with that.

            Does anybody believe anything the TAI produces? It’s a blatantly partisan political organisation.

          • Phil NSW 2 years ago

            Thank you Mike. I would add to that probably $1.5B in fuel supply contracts achieved by government leverage for new leases which is never an accounted figure.

          • JWW 2 years ago

            What if it turns out that cigarettes don’t cause lung cancer and cardiovascular health issues? What if those things are caused by -say- eating to many bananas?

          • Ben 2 years ago

            Hi JWW, the cigarette analogy doesn’t help much, because the causation between cigarette smoke entering the lungs and development of cancer is proven by: less cigarette smoke in lungs means statistical reduction in cancer. Plus of course the evidence of individuals.

            It is an interesting exercise to flip the argument though. Imagine if a bunch of scientists and vested interests paid off by the renewables lobby are trying to increase their profits by exaggerating the effects of CO2 on the climate. A few people question the inability of the AGW protagonists to predict future temperatures, they get labelled “deniers”, “skeptics”, mocked on forums, derided by all the believers…

          • Calamity_Jean 2 years ago

            The link between atmospheric carbon dioxide and planetary heating is even better established than the link between cigarette smoking and cancer.

          • Ben 2 years ago

            If that is the case, wouldn’t the temperature models be more accurate?

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            More accurate than what Ben? More accurate than your assessments of them or more accurate than your cherry picking of graphs? Or of using trends over 2.5y?

      • rob 2 years ago

        go Joe…… him by the BALLS

        • Joe 2 years ago

          Need to put ‘the squeeze’ on to wake these fools up.

  7. Robin P 2 years ago

    So my reading of this is, what AEMO are saying is we will need renewables; geographically diverse and connected by interconnectors. Also that WA and NT was not in scope of the ISP.

    So my question is, what is the viability of a SA-WA (U)HVDC interconnector? Would this not allow WA to generate solar (+2/3) hours into the easts peak / catch some more of the prevailing westerlies?

    • Jonathan Prendergast 2 years ago

      If 800MW from SA to NSW costs $2 billion, then let’s say SA to WA will cost $4 billion. The equivalent battery would be 800MW/2,400MWh, so around 10 Telsa Big Batteries at $130 million each, for a total of $1.3 billion. The beauty of these batteries is they can be strategically placed around the NEM to provide other services, like network support, FCAS, black start capability, and they would be distributed rather than a single point of failure.

    • john 2 years ago

      Yes it would if an HVDC connector was built.
      That would cost a considerable amount of money.
      It would help the Duck Curve on the east coast to lower it.

    • Pedro 2 years ago

      Not a bad idea to have a few GW of west facing PV in WA to lower the east coast afternoon peak. Worth doing a cost benefit analysis.

  8. Robert Comerford 2 years ago

    No doubt the Jones idiot and his mates Tony,etc will be on air saying how this is all a green conspiracy and this woman will lead us to ruination :>)

    • john 2 years ago

      Of course they well as along with the Jacks Joyce Abbot Abetz Canarvan and Kelly

      • rob 2 years ago

        will not well but your sentiments are shared…cheers rob

    • Phil NSW 2 years ago

      This evening’s news have Frydenberg stating a clear endorsement for coal. Amazing, when Audrey clearly articulates no new coal ever, no running past their use-by date and acknowledges potential early closure as long as it is technically visible. The only thing keeping coal in the loop is grid stability and Audrey points out early learnings from Hornsdale may show there is another way without coal.

      • Joe 2 years ago

        Frydosaurus is sucking up to The Moanashes in his party. Keep saying those nice words about Coal. What, another 20 years of ‘That Little Black Wonder Rock’. ‘Lump of Coal Scotty’ can do some more passarounds in Parliament….the Coal Wetdream can go on and on.

  9. The_Lorax 2 years ago

    Did AEMO consider mass adoption of electric vehicles between now and 2040?
    EDIT: Yes they did, just saw the “fast change scenario”

  10. Just_Chris 2 years ago

    I think it is interesting to think of what the energy mix
    was in 1998, 2008 and what it is today 2018 before thinking what it will be in
    2028 and 2038. AEMO are a bit limited in what they can model because they have
    to tie things back to plausible targets or state based policy. I am not
    criticising AEMO I just think that what they are modelling may be somewhat conservative.
    If we think about what has happened over the years. How many wind a solar farms
    where there in 1998? None, what about 2008? A little bit more than none, 2018?
    5 GW of wind and 7 GW of solar? enough to deliver about 10% of Australia’s
    power but with pretty much zero battery storage. What will we be at in 2028 and
    2038? I’m not really sure where we will be but my feeling is that Vic, NSW and
    Qld have done almost nothing and they are the biggest users by far. If solar
    and wind start taking hold in a big way in those states are going to see the
    coal power stations coming under a lot of pressure, I am fairly certain if you
    looked at AEMO predictions in 2010 there would still be coal in SA right now
    but as wind a solar came in the coal collapsed.

    • Rod 2 years ago

      I think she doesn’t want to spook the horses.
      No doubt about it, solar and wind were a factor in PT Augusta closing at least three years earlier than planned. The station itself was probably good for another 10 years but the easy to get to coal was running out.
      As RE levels increase in the other States, coal burner’s capacity factors and profits will drop.

    • rob 2 years ago

      AMEN (hopefully you are another proud South Aussie)!

  11. Joe 2 years ago

    Much has been made, rightly so of course, about the response and result of the rescue of the football team in Thailand. The shared goal of all involved was to save the boys and the effort saw people from other countries unquestionably lend their time and expertise. Were there any barriers of any kind in place to hinder the rescue? The answer is, no, of course. Last Sunday night (13/7 ) on SBS TV was screened a documentary called ‘How Reagan and Thatcher saved the World’. It was the story of how The Montreal Protocol was agreed in 1987. It took the research beginning in 1973 by two Chemists, Sherwood Rowland and Mario Molina, at University of California and their years of public advocacy that followed to get to the final goal in 1987…the world agreeing to stop the use of CFC’s which were destroying the Ozone Layer. Without the Ozone layer there would not be life on the planet as we know it today. Despite ‘Big Chemical’ in USA pushing back ( with a sympathetic ear from then Government ) for 14 years, in the end ‘The Science’ could not be resisted. PM Thatcher was trained in The Science of Chemistry and her trust in science also convinced her to start action on climate change. Reagan was not a Scientist but he had a ranch and he loved the outdoors. No Ozone layer for Reagan meant no more ‘ranching’ days. So Reagan was also convinced that action needed to be taken. The
    two Leaders together made it possible, The Montreal Protocol of 1987. Fast forward to contemporary times and The World has a new threat, that of dangerous man made climate change. Again we see it happening, the vested interests in their push back. This time it is ‘Big Fossil Fuel’. Despite the Science, despite the work of The IPCC and despite the Paris Agreement we still have Industry and Governmental resistance. We had a previous Planetary Emergency caused by CFC’s and we had the solution and implemented it which no one argues against….self preservation is a marvellous thing in focusing the mind to what needs to be done, yes. Now we have a new Planetary Emergency caused by burning Fossil Fuels and we have the solution but sadly we have all this argy bargy going on with the implementation of Renewable Energy. The Science is in, The Economics is in, Renewable Energy must replace Fossil Fuel. Dangerous climate change ain’t waiting around for us to get our shit together.

    • rob 2 years ago

      well said Joe

      • Joe 2 years ago


    • JackD 2 years ago

      Well everyone, for every Trump and Abbott there’s a Gore!!! I have been schooled in Science (Physics and Chemistry) and I have viewed both Al Gore’s “Inconvenient ….” documovies as well as formed my own opinions from reading independent material. It is quite scary as Al’s making sound, logical, rational and reasionable arguments for his “side” of the Great Climate debate.

      Yes, the world will act to ignore the steady-as-she-goes, more-of-the-same mantra espoused by the Vested Interests and even Australia will come around to thinking along the same lines. However between then and now, we have more well-intentioned and far-thinking individuals and thought leaders to be publicly denigrated by our far-too-concentrated media and our bumbling rear-visioned politicians. Europe is well down the road to a Renewables only future because they know they have much to lose if they don’t. America is well, America and their lack of action is probably best explained by their populace voting for Trump. Mind you Arnie the Republican Guvernator pushed the Renewables advancement in California.

      We need Leaders to take us forward as part of the quest and my summation is that we don’t have too many currently that fit that bill in the national theatre. Thank God for most of our State / Territory Governments. They understand the threat of Climate Change and the opportunites afforded by Renewables development. The ACT are to be congratulated for their stunning achievements even though the ACT is only about as big as the Illawarra. SA’s Jay Weatherill and Tom Koutsantonis were two far sighted politicians with conviction and fought hard against the continual heckling. The other States are sort of halfway there (even NSW haven’t bowled it over the fence – yet).

      To get us to improve our attitude (and thus our actions) requires strong minded charismatic individuals to step-up and be thought leaders in the debate. And others who believe that our inactive mindset can be changed, to actively work at changing the opinons of those who have been fed and soaked up the Vested Interest lines of “Deny, Bury and it will Go Away” mentality.

      Its a big, difficult but not impossible task!!

      • Joe 2 years ago

        Hi Jackie, I agree with what you say. I guess the real issue for me is that we don’t have more time to waste anymore. We have a climate emergency on our hands. The IPCC has been telling the world for man, many years now about the scale of the problem. Sure, RE is going ahead around the world but there still seems to be too much of this ‘transition’ mentality, that we have spare time up our sleeves. If we were at war there would be no holding back of ‘The War Effort’. I’ve said it before in the pages of Renew Economy we need to declare… ‘War on Climate Change’.

  12. Roger M 2 years ago

    Although the electricity pronouncements from that coalition of the disingenuous and fruit loops have always looked like a Goon show scripts; this looks like a plin of a plon of a plan! Congratulations to AEMO

  13. Alex Scarpa 2 years ago

    Only way to make energy more affordable is un privatise it. Government should buy it back. Big corporations only value profits. I’d rather government buy it then a petty tax cut

    • MacNordic 2 years ago

      Careful with that! The economics of RE are quite in favour, meaning corporations will have to have a look at them and adopt them once no government support for their old clunkers is forthcoming (see Port Augusta, Hazelwood and most of all, Liddell).
      A government entity would be at the mercy of the governing party – no need for fancy economics, just ideology or vested interests: cop the losses with taxpayer money forever…
      Better not!

      • Shilo 2 years ago

        Thank you for your very detailed reply to me in the other post, i could not reply in that one.

        • MacNordic 2 years ago

          A pleasure!

  14. Colin Edwards 2 years ago

    We are incredibly fortunate to have someone of the calibre of Audrey Zibelman running AEMO

    • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

      The next Govt of Australia should give Zibleman and all the other regulatory bodies in Australia instructions to also price and mitigate carbon emissions. Some like John Pearce at AEMC may choose to ignore them, but they’d be required to at least factor in a price on C emissions like CO2 and methane which would expose their biases towards fossil fuels if they went against their own modelling and analysis on carbon costs.

  15. solarguy 2 years ago

    Make no mistake people this is GOLD. It’s everything that I had thought would be needed re: RE capacity, although I couldn’t be sure on the numbers, but knew it would have to be around these figures. Sounds and feels right to me.

    Now, what I ask is for all RE concerned folk, is to get on the media, i.e. radio, write to editors of the news papers etc and hammer the message home. Doing that will get the punters thinking, maybe this is really the truth. Because it is!

  16. JackD 2 years ago

    I saw the coverage of Audrey on the media tonight and all the media highlighted and focussed on, was that coal-fired power stations were not to be closed too early. Once again selective reporting. One would hate to think that the AEMO has been hijacked by the Federal Government and/or Josh Frydenburg?

    Some items needing to be considered in the transmission context:

    1. The existing large scale coal-fired generation regions have multiple thick links back to load centres (Hunter in NSW, Latrobe Valley in Vic etc). With retirement of these Coal Generators, these links will largely become under-utilised (possibly Stranded) unless these regions are re-purposed for domiciling some sort of large scale storage or some new generation technology (not yet thought about).

    2. Some years back AEMO published documentation on the creation of SENEs (Strategically Efficient Network Extensions) especially to connect remote areas which will house Renewable Energy Clusters/Hubs. Work has been done by Electranet and TransGrid into identifying likely regional area candidates for siting of these Hubs and have indicated types of transmission most likely suited to conveying that energy to the load centres. The concept behind the SENEs was to ensure that the first to connect, didn’t pay for all of transmission infrastructure and that the infrastructure built was sufficiently scalable to accept further generation connections (who also paid their contribution share of the transmission costs).

    3. The places / areas where Renewable prospectivity is greatest, is likely to be distantly removed from the nearest grid point sufficiently robust to accept the levels of probable generation. One only has to look at the Solar Insolation Map or the Wind Maps, to realise this.

    4. The further away one gets from the main load centres, the “thinner” the grid becomes meaning that significant augmentation is required to carry that extra current. The best examples of this are the far ends of the NEM (e.g. at Elliston on Nullabor and at Lakeland in Far NQ) where long lines of thin distribution can only transport small amounts of generation or load.

    This is where State Governments should get involved through:

    1. Timely development of policy and regulatory settings which foster the development of Renewables Zones/Areas (e.g in the Far North of SA, or on the Australian Bight, in Far West Queensland, Broken Hill, Bass Strait etc)

    2. Subsidising the development of Transmission infrastructure to these Zones (avoiding picking winners at the same time where possible), to assist and foster development in these areas.

    Those that cry that this is no place for Government just need to remember the great Hume Freeway was built by Government for the good of many, if not all.

    The old saying is “Build It and they will come” and likely to more often than not, apply to this context as well.

    • Alastair Taylor 2 years ago

      In the case of the La Trobe valley and the 3 diverse transmission corridors leading back to Melbourne – once Yallourn, Loy Yang A and Loy Yang B shut down, the transmission wont all be made redundant – there still needs to be a line to connect to Basslink (it connects at Loy Yang’s substation) and the Star of The South, if it gets off the ground – or more to the point, if it ever rises out of Bass Strait, could add 2000MW or about the same nameplate as Loy Yang A.

      Likewise, the ANU report on pumped hydro sites around the country identified a fair few at the top of Mt Baw Baw (with Lake Thompson, Melbourne’s mega-water storage, potentially acting as the ‘bottom’ dam). If a project were to get up in that region, new transmission would need to be built and Thompson is ~30-40km north (as the crow flies) from the La Trobe valley substations.

  17. Francis Young 2 years ago

    You missed the bit where the AEMO report actually said to maximise the life of the existing coal stations, because whatever they are replaced with, the cheapest way to ensure reliable power for the next twenty years as we build that replacement, is to keep the coal stations operating by adequately maintaining them.

    • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

      We missed it because it isn’t there. Instead it says “Maintaining existing coal-fired generation up to the end of its technical life is a key element of a least-cost approach.” and “A need to retain existing coal-fired generation while planning for orderly replacement on retirement.” In fact the report expects pressure for early retirement from owners as revenue sufficiency drops, but warns against the sort of abrupt Hazelwood situation. There is no suggestion of maximising the life.

      • Francis Young 2 years ago

        Reread the sentence you posted. Orderly replacement means not hastily decomissioning until the END of its technical life. Maximising its life also means enjoying the cheap and abundant electricity until the END of its technical life. Anything else than this costs more, and that is the whole point. The urgent message of the ACCC and AEMO reports is that affordable and available electricity must be ensured, hence the cost comparisons of achieving this. Don’t turn off coal before you must, or you have a disorderly and costly transition, with blackouts, freezing old people, and incidentally give renewables a bad reputation because you didn’t make them dependable.

        • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

          No maximise means take to the maximum: ie no qualifiers. It’s the sort of idiotic policy promoted by the current government with respect to Liddell. Whereas the report accepts the current close date: no extensions. Extensions are not only expensive but increasingly risky. Furthermore the report urges the transmission and storage as a priority because it fully anticipates some of the coal plant will be decommissioning at the knell of the current AEMC rule of 3y notice but could by adverse circumstances be pulled early. The owners will make that decision, not the government which by and large doesn’t own the vulnerable plant.

          That is, the emphasis of the report is not on keeping the coal going for as long as possible (which is what the Australian is trying to project) but rather be prepared for it going early or face the consequences!

        • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

          The end of a coal fired plant’s “technical life” is not something anybody ever knows Francis. Design life is something the engineers write their specs to when the make blueprints. It isn’t a contract with god.

          Did Alinta know Playford and Northern would be decommissioned when they were? If they know Northern was going to blow up, and risk injury to workers why didn’t they step up on maintain or order or closure prior to the explosion?

          Did Deloitte Consulting get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) to write a report to Synergy and shareholders (the people of WA) saying that the money spent refurbishing Muja AB would see it run until at least 2021/22 actually have any evidence that what their analysis suggested was a reliable forecast?

          For how many years did Engie know that Hazelwood was beyond salvaging, and why didn’t other energy corporations accept the open offer to the market to buy it as it was operational and quite possibly profitable at the time?

          Why does AGL want to decommission Liddel and why did Alina want to buy it at fire sale prices?

          Uncertainty in technical life and maximisation potential is the answer to all these questions. Maximisation is an economists sounding word for ‘lets make believe and tell the shareholders this‘.

          • Ben 2 years ago

            I never knew that Northern Power Station suffered an explosion during operation – do you have a news report or something referring to this? It would be an interesting read.

            Engie was searching for emissions and efficiency upgrades on the boilers for a long time, I was involved in feasibility studies around 2008 looking at some of this. The work was never realised because of the high cost and low payoff. They would have been looking at divestment options for years, and the decisions are based mostly on shareholder benefit, so when the coal royalties were suddenly increased, it provided a perfect excuse.

            “Uncertainty in technical life” is not an answer to anything.

            From an engineering perspective, specifying a design life assists with making decisions on quality (e.g. metallurgy), serviceability (e.g. access for maintenance and replacement), and operability (e.g. ergonomics and automation). Specifying a design life allows designers to make defensible decisions on safety margins while justifying associated costs. Specifying a design life allows for more standardised designs, technical comparisons and evaluation. Specifying a design life goes some way towards defending against obsolescence.

            As rotating mechanical equipment wears, clearances increase, vibration increases, leaks increase – at some point a threshold is reached and decisions are made. Decisions can include replace, or repair, or refurbish, or de-rate, or continue with increased interventions, or decommission.

            As static mechanical equipment ages, wall thickness reduces, corrosion allowances are used – at some point a threshold is reached and decisions are made, as described above.

            As electrical equipment ages insulation degrades, wear on contacts increases clearances and increases resistance – again with thresholds and decisions.

            All these things are taken into account during design activities like HAZOP, FMECA, PSID to name a few. The design life is not decided at random, it is based on evidence collected from billions of hours of industrial design, operations and maintenance, and failure investigations across many industries and disciplines.

            It certainly is possible, and standard practise, for engineers to guarantee outcomes over the design life of equipment.

            Extending the design life of a plant or specific equipment is more problematic, and requires a whole suite of analysis, testing and studies to determine a new design life, with appropriate thresholds on which to make defensible decisions.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Ben you are a mystery to me – you argue so rationally and coherently in replies like this. You understand the engineering, and what can and can’t be done, what can and can’t be said. And yet on climate science, which in the same way, is data from billions of observations over long periods of time, collected and analysed by equally careful and dedicated scientists and engineers of integrity, you suddenly go for the fringe! Fatigue, thermal creep, resonance, particulate induced disease were all once unknown, inexplicable. Observations were taken, models postulated and subjected to scrutiny. A consensus eventually emerged, even tho’ there is still argument at the fringe on some of them. Chaotic climate models are no different!

          • Phil NSW 2 years ago

            Unbelievable!!! Ben you astound me. I can only endorse Mike’s comments. Why when you can see a graph which clearly demonstrates a very long term trend which statistically is still valid do you pick a extremely short term anomaly and use it to predict a future against the moving average?

    • Rod 2 years ago

      “adequately maintaining them”

      No private owner will keep up maintenance to the levels their previous (taxpayers) owners did.
      They will do the minimum of maintenance and squeeze every last dollar out of them. When a major issue occurs they may even leave a “unit” idle until the “station” retires.

  18. The_Lorax 2 years ago

    AEMO’s neutral scenario forecasts moderate uptake of EVs with just 10% of the vehicle fleet being electrified by 2030. No wonder they conclude: “Increases in electric vehicles will impact the uses of power, but over the plan period they are forecast to have a small impact on overall grid-based demand”.

    If we are serious about limiting warming to 1.5C or 2.0C we need to electrify transport over the next 20 years. Other countries are taking this goal seriously. Oil is still the largest primary energy source in Australia at 37%. How are we replace all this oil and only going have a small impact on grid demand?

  19. riley222 2 years ago

    This report really provides a practical way forward. A while ago I mused ‘ who or what is going to provide an overall plan’. The answer is AEMO, congratulations to them.
    Hopefully the inclusion of coal during the transition will quieten the calls for new coal fired power stations, the existing workforces will have a long lead in time to adjust, which is important. Hopefully renewable projects and storage will provide some employment to soften the change.
    We have an adaptable plan for the transition to RE that is almost mundane in its step by step approach. I believe it is something most people would see as necessary and non threatening, so I believe it has a good chance of being accepted and implemented in a bipartisan manner. Lets hope a bit of cooperation ensues and the knuckledraggers are left behind in the ignominy they deserve.

  20. Richie 2 years ago

    “decent tallied“ (Pará 5 below the map) = decentralised?

  21. Alastair Leith 2 years ago

    We need federal legislation from a new government to declare a Climate Emergency and that every government and quasi government regulator (like the AEMO) price climate change and at the very least price the impact of their decisions, analysis and projections in terms of climate impact. Preferably optimise their planning to minimise carbon costs along with energy costs (and obviously the damage we inflict on future generations and ecosystems that a carbon price will never adequately account for).

    One thing Australia has learnt is that by foreign renewables onto the market with LGCs and STC for private solar the soft costs (those things other than hardware purchased mainly from overseas) and locally manufactured components has strongly declined, which arguably would not be the case without the national RET, CEFC and ARENA etc.

    Really AEMO and the other energy regulators should be dealing with the trilemma not just the dilemma of security/reliability and cost. I haven’t had a chance to read the AEMO report, but I haven’t heard much reporting about the imperative to move to renewables in terms of decarbonisation (even given Australias feeble Paris commitments that saw us and Julie Bishop shunned from the 71 Nations of Ambition conference post-Paris).

    Just commentary from AEMO that renewables are cheaper than new coal (and of course gas on current prices) now. That isn’t a magic wand that puts renewables on the grid, and some analysis predict this pears boom of project starts to become a slump by 2020 when the national RET flatlines, leaving Victoria with the only active renewables policy mechanism in place driving new builds.

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