Australia’s Energy Market Operator might count the failure of large fossil fuel generators in summer heatwaves as one of the biggest threats to Australia’s electricity supply in coming years, but what about the threat coming from fossil fuel ideologues?
Victoria-based radio and TV personality, Tom Elliott, this week expressed his hope that the state would “suffer from a giant statewide blackout on a super hot day this coming summer,” as a sort of just desserts for policymakers and any others out there who advocate for the shift to distributed renewables and away from coal.
“Such a blackout will be uncomfortable at best and deadly at worst,” Elliott concedes. “Yet it’s exactly what we need to put our energy policies back on track,” he writes in an editorial published on the 3AW website on Wednesday.
His piece was titled “We need a blackout this summer”, which he said would force experts to “acknowledge that renewable power is nice in theory but doesn’t always work in practice.”
And Elliott – who goes on to argue that if we remain determined to shut down coal-fired power stations, the only viable alternatives are gas and/or nuclear – is not alone in wishing for some sort of black-out related, epiphany-triggering coal comeuppance.
On Wednesday, we heard Barnaby Joyce musing that a few hours stuck in a lift, busting for a pee, would snap renewable energy advocates out of their green stupor and put them back on the coal bandwagon.
“I’ll tell you what happens when people get caught in a lift, somewhere between floor 24 and 25, and they’re there for a few hours,” he said in a speech to the Minerals Week Seminar. “At one stage or another, if they’re there long enough, someone wants to go to the bathroom.
“This becomes an absolute seminal point of where their attitude to how power is generated changes. This becomes a seminal point about their views on the coal industry, and therefore the mining industry.”
The threat to grid supplies when such ideologues are also in control of certain generation assets. It might be all too easy to declare a boiler tube busted or some other problem that takes away capacity at critical time.
No wonder AEMO wants a strategic reserve and more fast and smart response on the demand side.