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Dispatchable wind and solar: They’ll be the death of coal and gas

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A year on from the February 2017 controversy over power supplies in South Australia, and since the Coalition government brandished a lump of coal in parliament, and how things have changed – both in South Australia and across the country. And not in the way most imagined.

Australia is now like it or not (and most people like it), setting a course for a high renewable grid. The CSIRO says it’s both achievable, and cheaper, and so do the networks. The Australian Energy Market Operator seems to agree.

More importantly than that, investors are voting with their feet – the cost of solar and wind continues to fall, storage is making its presence felt, and all of a sudden the path to a grid that is smarter, cheaper, cleaner and more reliable is made clear. And it’s not via fossil fuels.

Because it’s the anniversary, let’s just remember exactly what happened on February 8, when 90,000 customers lost power for around 40 minutes in the midst of an extended heatwave, because there was not enough supply.

It was an event that should never have happened. AEMO failed to keep an eye on weather forecasts, and found itself 90MW short when a major gas unit (240MW), that could have easily avoided such losses remained switched on, sat idle (the unit’s owner and AEMO blamed the other).

The impact was worsened when the local grid operator flicked the wrong switches and disconnected three times more customers than needed.

The media created a storm of indignation and misinformation. Renewables got the blame, of course, despite the fact that three other gas units failed at the same time, taking away more than 200MW of capacity, leaving a 100MW shortfall. (See AEMO timeline at bottom of story).

A day later Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison proudly and ignorantly held aloft a lump of lacquered coal in parliament, thoughtfully provided and lacquered by one of the Liberal Party’s most prominent financiers, the Minerals Council of Australia.

It was, Morrison insisted, the future. But for all its bluster, only thing the coal industry has achieved since then is an artist’s impression of what a new coal plant might look like in north Queensland.

And for good measure, it got a damming assessment from Australia’s biggest coal generator, AGL, and others, that investing in a new coal generator, or even extending the life of old ones, is economic, social and environmental insanity.

Australia’s coal units have been tripping out ever since – including on February 10 last year, leaving NSW perilously close to a total blackout, and with greater load-shedding than occurred in S.A.; and nearly 20 times over the course of this summer.

The developments on the renewable energy front, on the other hand, have been breath-taking – not just on improvements in technology and plunging costs, but also the changes in thinking by operators, network owners and energy analysts about the workings of the grid.

We should remind ourselves, for a start, that the South Australia grid has operated perfectly well even with half of its supply coming from the much decried “intermittent” renewable resources.

It just needed some decent management that allowed no contingency plan ahead of the state-wide blackout in September 2016, a constant check of weather reports, and a change of attitude, encouraged by the new CEO at AEMO, Audrey Zibelman.

There has also been new systems put in place. AEMO has been more conservative in its running of the South Australia grid, in particular, although it is now beginning to relax the reins.

It is turning to smarter options like demand management, and it is making sure that the operators of the biggest risks of network failures – the tripping of a major coal and gas plant – keep them in the best condition possible.

But it is the new technologies that excite.

The Tesla big battery, for instance, has won over even deepest battery skeptics, including within AEMO.

Its speed, flexibility, and its ability to add competition to the market have been convincing. It is already reshaping the way grid operators and network owners are thinking about the future, and has led to a flurry of further storage projects in South Australia and elsewhere.

That will be crucial.

Because South Australia is not stopping at 50 per cent. Port Augusta is host to two huge wind and solar projects already under construction (Bungala 220MW and Lincoln Gap 212MW), another 150MW of big solar are confirmed (Tailem Bend and Snowtown), and Sanjeev Gupta has plans 1GW of solar and storage around Whyalla.

Then there are the numerous other projects waiting in the pipeline, including Tesla’s proposed 250MW virtual power plant with some 650MWh of battery storage spread across the network in low-income houses.

There are another three confirmed utility-scale battery storage projects – Wattle Point (ready by May), Lincoln Gap and Snowtown – numerous micro-grids like this one at a major produce market, and five different pumped hydro storage projects. Not to mention the world’s biggest solar tower and molten salt storage plant, Aurora, due to begin construction later this year.

It is this emergence of “dispatchable renewables” that will put the final nails in the coffins of coal-fired generators and the bulk of the gas fleet.

Dispatchable renewables have only recently become a “thing”. Wind and solar have been focused on cutting costs, which they have done sop= successfully they are now indisputably the cheapest form of new generation.

The missing link has been how to store them, and how to make them dispatchable. This is not the same as making them “baseload”, because the challenge of the grid is not to meet minimum demand, but maximum demand, and that only occurs for minutes or hours at a time. But they seem up for the challenge.

The key has been two-fold.

One is in the falling costs of storage technology, particularly in batteries, but also in solar thermal technologies.

The other is in recognising the value of the technologies. A well managed battery can’t just walk and talk at the same time, it can do about 20 other tricks. The challenge for (forward thinking) regulators and market operator is to how to recognise that value.

It also explains the renewed interest in a relatively old technology – pumped hydro – which will likely perform some of those tricks (long-term storage and inertia) better than batteries.

The coal industry is stunned. Last June, the MCA attempted to mock battery storage as an idea that would never come. Its report into why a new coal generator was the best option for Australia assumed it would take three years to build a utility-scale battery.

Elon Musk’s Tesla built the world’s biggest lithium-ion utility-scale battery in South Australia in less than 100 days.

The MCA also claimed (page 69 of this report) that solar PV plants take four years to build. Neoen, which also happens to own the Tesla big battery, says the 150MW Coleambally solar farm in western NSW will be complete just two years after “conception”.

Even AEMO was reproducing graphs, like this one below, that suggested the maximum effective capacity for a lithium-ion battery was just 1MW. The graph was five years old, and represented a generational gap in thinking about new technology that still prevailed within the organisation.

The Tesla big battery is 100-times that.

Even Snowy Hydro has been caught short by developments. For mostly its own commercial reasons, it wants to build Snowy 2.0 – a massive 2GW of pumped hydro with 170 hours of storage.

It has hitched a ride of political convenience with prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is anxious to prove that South Australia and Labor are wrong about everything.

But as its own studies show, Snowy 2.0 will probably not be needed until 2040. And if it waits until then for the green light for construction, it will be overtaken by a plethora of smaller, distributed storage proposals, including pumped hydro, battery storage, and even solar thermal.

Snowy Hydro’s consultants justify Snowy 2.0 by claiming that battery storage paired with solar or wind is hideously expensive: between $350/MWh and $700/MWh.

But the real world says otherwise.

Bids for solar and wind and battery storage in the US in January revealed stunning proposals at less than one tenth of the price assumed by Snowy, and Tilt Renewables’ commitment to a solar and storage facility next to the Snowtown wind farm show Snowy’s estimates to be out of the ballpark.

Tilt will not reveal what its estimated cost for solar and storage will be, but suffice to say that it expects that it will be lower than the current wholesale price of electricity in South Australia, around $100/MWh. Otherwise it wouldn’t bother.

“We believe we can make an economic proposition out of it in current market,” CEO Deion Campbell told RenewEconomy this week. “We wouldn’t be bothering if it was not a good option for our shareholders. We are not here to throw money away.”

And that is going to be the case for projects around the country.

Solar and wind are building in dispatchability – at the Hornsdale, Snowtown, Lincoln Gap, Wattle Point, Bulgana and Kennedy wind projects to name a few, and the Genex, Lakeland, and Snowtown solar projects.

And there will be a bunch of others of massive scale to follow, combining wind, solar, battery and sometimes hydro, like Gupta’s plans for Whyalla, DP Energy’s for Port Augusta, and CWP’s for Glen Innes and Townsville

As we mentioned at the start, most of the power losses experienced in the last 18 months could, and probably should, have been avoided. The fossil fuel industry, and their acolytes, saw it as vindication of their ageing technologies.

Happily, the industry has turned to the future and not the past, and there is no looking back.

   

Pocket
  • Craig Allen

    Giles I’m sure you meant to put a ‘not’ in “And it’s via fossil fuels.”

  • Andrew Roydhouse

    I may have missed it BUT…

    I do not recall seeing one line, let alone a paragraph or an entire article discussing the fact that most of the PPAs signed in the last 18 months or even new RE projects are being quoted at prices at or below what the LGC?

    There’s company after company contracting at a price (and receiving the LGCs mentioned most of the time) that is below what they can sell the LGCs in the futures market.

    All these projects are getting the electricity and some cash in hand by selling the LGCs fwd.

    Surely this signals that the market expects LGCs in a year or two to either not exist or be worthless?

    Really does make the NPV an interesting calculation.

    • Tom

      The LGCs probably will be worthless in a year or two’s time, as all of the energy retailers will have more than their mandatory number of LCGs that they are required to extinguish each year.

      But that’s ok – LGCs have done their job and accelerated the development of wind and solar to a point that it is now the cheapest even without them.

  • George Michaelson

    Needs copyedit. this: “….when a major gas unit (240MW), that could have easily avoided such losses remained switched on, sat idle …” is missing (had it) as in could have easily avoided such losses, had it remained switched on, sat idle.

  • Roger Franklin

    History is unlikely to be kind to Tesla home battery Malcolm, Lump of Coal Scotty, No Solar Panels Josh and the sea is not rising – I’ve checked Tony!

    Lets move on with 2018. Someone buy Jay a beer and let him and others put two fingers up to a growing list of people!

    The future certainly looks much more interesting than the past!

    • Joe

      I love your conga line of ‘Liberal Fools’ that you peeled off…and they did it all by themselves!

    • “More renewable energy means cheaper power for South Australians.”
      – Tom Koutsantonis

    • Steve159

      Ah, the irony, the sweet irony of Turnbull’s “there’s never been a more exciting time to be an Australian”, or more to the point, a South Australian.

      So true, but not for Turnbull and co. How sweet is that.

  • Ray Miller

    While renewables and storage projects are accelerating the load side of the NEM is stagnating in an extensive swamp. The HIA is probably in bed with the Minerals Council. The problems in the distribution network will never be solved until the quality of our buildings is improved.
    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/the-real-cost-of-mcmansions-20180130-h0qy5w.html

    • Liam Cranley

      True.
      Improvement to building code up for public comment, just fyi’s.. https://www.abcb.gov.au/News/2018/NCC-2019-Public-Comment-Draft-is-now-available

    • Tom

      Good observation.

      Distributed battery storage (automatically tapping idle electric cars, for example) will likely solve some of the distribution problems, but we’re a little way off from that yet.

      • Jon

        I don’t quite understand the car battery equation.
        I’m guessing it built around the premise that the majority car fleet is plugged in when not being driven.
        Something along the lines of a car being plugged in during the day while the driver is at work and being charged with solar generated power, then being plugged in at home where it discharges some of its stored capacity to offset some of the evening peak?

        • Tom

          There are two different issues, and I didn’t answer them both well. The first issue is “the load side”, which I answered poorly. The second issue is “the distribution network”.

          The distribution network is a very large part of our energy bills. If it is built flimsily or maintained poorly, then there will be frequent power failures affecting only a few streets at a time. Not enough to make the news, but multiply it by every street, and it’s a major inconvenience for a lot of people and employers.

          If the entire distribution network was set up as – I’ll call it a flexible microgrid, then if there is a distribution failure to a few streets then energy reserves in those streets could be called upon to power those streets. The localised (distributed) energy reserves are most likely to be electric cars, unless batteries get so cheap that many houses with PV decide to install a PowerPack or equivalent.

          Houses with PV but without a battery could also potentially power a microgrid if it’s sunny.

          There are lots of cars at home during the day. Heaps of people don’t work (retirees, single income families), heaps of people work shift work, and there is no reason that the electric car at the destination (whether an office or shopping centre etc) can’t also be plugged in and called upon to supply emergency power.

          • itdoesntaddup

            If you expect transport by EVs then there will have to be major reinforcement of distribution networks to deliver the necessary energy. That one gets really expensive – digging up city streets, finding sites for bigger substations, replacing the cabling, providing high amp/high voltage connection points for fast charging, etc.

          • Tom

            Or … distributed storage.

            Mind you, when’s the last time you’ve driven more than 200km in a stint? I don’t think I have for more than a year. I’ve driven 200km then come back later in the day, but in the future grid there will be the ability to partly charge in the mean time – even a 15 amp cable to someone’s house will help.

          • itdoesntaddup

            Actually I do that quite regularly, despite living on a much smaller island than Australia. I place a high value on being able to make such trips as soon as I hear that a relative has been hospitalised, for instance.

          • Tom

            I suppose all coal-lobby trolls travel 500km several times per week.

          • Mike Westerman

            Grab an Uber – you’ll be more relaxed, able to call all the other grieving rels or sink a few drams as you go, and it’ll be cheaper, even if the Uber is a high end EV because of better utilisation. Even more so when the Uber is driverless and electric in a few years time.

          • itdoesntaddup

            Grab an Uber? I’d be waiting hours for one, and doubtless be squeeze priced for the journey. It would be enough to send me to sinking a few drams to get over the price shock.

          • So you live on a small island and none of your daily life experience reflects any of the things you’ve been writing about. So you are contributing your pearls purely for the benefit of the rest of us. Much appreciated, I’m sure.

          • Mike Westerman

            Oh – lost your faith in the market already? Of course then you could buy a Tesla, charge it with your own panels, run your own Uber …

          • itdoesntaddup

            I would not feel comfortable buying a vehicle from a manufacturer who could easily go bankrupt in a year.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            Like nearly all the US car manufacturers, in the Global Financial Crisis.

          • Barri Mundee

            Then don’t !

          • itdoesntaddup

            I won’t. In fact, I’m unlikely to buy any vehicle for several years yet.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            I think Queensland, just finished installing charging stations, from Brisbane to Townsville, 50 kilometers, is more than an hour’s driving in a city, with induction chargers, you’d need about 20 kilometers of range.

          • Mike Westerman

            Bollocks – the average car is mobile just 4-6% of the time, and EV’s use 1/5 of the energy inputs of ICE. Australia’s inputs to transport are about equal to inputs to our electricity industry, but most of transport charging could be intermittent because of the extraordinarily low load factor.

          • itdoesntaddup

            Australia uses 48 million tonnes of oil p.a.. If we allow 10 mtoe as the consumption assuming your efficiency figure on EVs, that’s 120TWh of extra demand on top of ~210TWh presently. And you think that can be delivered without beefing up the network? LOL

          • Mike Westerman

            Sure – in the same way the network is becoming more underutilised daily now: distributed generation doesn’t need “beefing up” of the network, that’s the whole point, doh! Covered footpaths down either side of our street could provide 1MWh/day, enough to recharge the 50 cars that park in it with 20kWh each – more than enough for them to get home and back I’d say, and potentially a nice little earner for the council. We just need the EVs so that our council can derive income from out of towners instead of them contributing it to Malaysia and Singapore in the form of imported fuel.

          • Barri Mundee

            We will gradually swith from the polluting petrol and diesel network to the electricity network. Ramp the former down and the latter up, as required, as demand for electic cars increases.

            Some other countries are more enlightened than us and actively encourage and welcome this switch.

          • itdoesntaddup

            I’ve noticed several countries reducing or withdrawing subsidies for EVs lately, with obvious consequences. The politicians in France and the UK are running ahead of reality in trying to go all electric by 2040: they haven’t even begun to work out what it entails yet, as is quite evident when they are prodded. What electorates will make of it as they start to see the consequences will be interesting to see.

          • Mike Westerman

            And of course the Chinese are deluded in pushing for EVs and as the biggest vehicle manufacturer in the world, will naturally get their comeuppance when the rest of the world doesn’t follow!! LOL, what do they put in your water little nameless one?

          • itdoesntaddup

            The Chinese are very happy to stitch up markets to suit themselves. They don’t always succeed of course – see the solar fiasco in China. But in general, if they can convince the West to buy something where they can have a dominant market role, they ‘ll win more often than they lose, especially as they learn how to be a better monopolist.

          • Barri Mundee

            The very success of the EV in Norway led to withdrawal of subsidies but not for the reasons you claim.

            https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-electric-analysis/road-to-electric-car-paradise-paved-with-handouts-idUSKCN1BW1AN

          • itdoesntaddup

            I made no comment about the reasons, but in Norway they plainly decided it was not affordable, just as in Spain they ended solar subsidies for the same reason. Unaffordable subsidies are a failure, not a success. Of course, when the subsidy is withdrawn further investment collapses.

      • Ray Miller

        Yes it might but it is at least a few months away. But the big issue is the temperature sensitivity of our buildings. When you have a building performing as a high star building especially in summer of 8 stars and above, results in significant reduction in energy demand and also delaying the energy peak. Preventing heat entering in dramatically affects the size of the heat pump needed to pump it out!
        This is the big secret anyone making money on the NEM wants hidden. So many people and organizations are making so much money in the building and energy industry delaying and avoiding making our building actually comfortable and economic to live in.

      • itdoesntaddup

        I can just see it. Your automated Telsa XXIV parks up and connects to the grid to meet a demand surge, and then tells you with its dying gasp that you’ll have to wait until the power shortage is over before it can even contemplate a re-charge. It’s 42 degrees, and it’s telling you to walk home.

        • Tom

          LOL. It would need to be voluntary, ie, “you can take up to 20kWh out of my car at $1.50/kWh. Once my reserves get to 40kWh, it’s all mine”. It could be like a reverse auction – the cheaper sell bidders are called upon first, while the higher sell bids miss out on the bounty.

          • itdoesntaddup

            The experiment at the moment shows that some are prepared to pay $142/kWh or more. A rich man’s game.

          • Tom

            I think you’ve got a “zero” in the wrong place. There are 1000 kWh in one MWh.

            Did you study Year 8 maths?

          • itdoesntaddup

            You should have said I missed the point. 14.2 it is.

          • Tom

            Rubbish that you missed it. You deliberately tried to fabricate that it was 10 times higher than it is, and you got caught with your pants down.

            Credibility: ZERO.

          • itdoesntaddup

            Now you are missing the point.

    • juxx0r

      I put the government’s model 7 star house through an energy balance model and it came out at 4.7 stars. Blind freddy could have seen that it would never have got 7 stars.

      • neroden

        Ouch, that’s terrible. The German Passivhaus standards of the early 1990s are based on the Superinsulated house standards developed in Canada in the 1970s — honestly why is anyone advertising designs which are worse than the *1970s* state of the art?

        • juxx0r

          It only needed 36kWh of cooling in summer and only 28kWh of heating in winter. PER DAY!!!

          And this is held up as a model house, something to strive for.

  • The acceleration of this trend toward renewables is now beginning to feel exhilarating: like when the Berlin Wall unexpectedly came down.

    No longer a “forlorn hope” requiring courageous souls to attempt to breach the towering ramparts erected by the fossil fuel industry, the gap in their defenses is now widening daily. Now more than ever it’s time to pile-on to finally conquer the entire energy-producing stronghold.

    And we owe a huge debt of gratitude to all the renewables veterans of the past 50 years – successful and unsuccessful – who made their run and gave their all to ultimately bring things to this pass.

    It’s tremendously heartening to see this happening now: Australia is once again poised to take its customary place at the vanguard of countries showing the rest of the world “how it’s done”.

    But there can be no “standing aside” anymore. To bring this transition home requires every single supporter to now become a participator.

    That means you, if you haven’t acted already. Yes, you can seal the deal for us all. Jump on the renewables bandwagon before you are left behind!

    • trackdaze

      The demise of fossil fuels is like watching a bankruptcy.

      It happens ever so slowly then all at once.

      I give it 3 years.

      • Tony Pfitzner

        Technological disruption is never linear, but “expert observers” such as energy agencies and governments typically project linear growth and use outdated data.
        Just the nature of the beast.

        • itdoesntaddup

          Technology isn’t going to change when the wind blows and the sun shines. We have a very long way to go to improve upon the energy stores that we already have in nuclear and fossil fuels. If there is any real technological breakthrough, it is most likely to come in forms of nuclear power.

          • Steve159

            nuclear power.

            ha ha ha, ha, ha, cough, ha, ha.

            Thank you for the best laugh in a good long while.

          • itdoesntaddup

            Your grandchildren are unlikely to be laughing, unless at your folly.

          • Barri Mundee

            Our grandchildren will curse us if we do not decarbonise the economy as they will inherit a world where life will be increasingly polluted and unpleasant to put it mildly.

            In contrast, our grandchildren will be grateful we took a “no regrets” approach of minimising carbon and other pollutants, increased jobs and improved overall quality of life.

          • itdoesntaddup

            Never mind: I’m sure you’ll be demographically transitioned in due course.

          • Barri Mundee

            Yes sure just post a BS remark. Trying to argue is bit more difficult.

          • itdoesntaddup

            Sorry that you find it so hard.

          • Barri Mundee

            LOL!

          • Steve159

            we ought best be thinking of how to advise the transition of coal-trolls who show up on this site, to a sustainable work model. They’ll kick, scream and yell for a bit, but eventually they’ll be the better for it, and healthier.

          • Barri Mundee

            I regard it as “last fart of the ferret” stuff, you know a sort of desperate attempt to stop the unstoppable.

          • Steve159

            will be happily enjoying 100% renewable energy, AND exporting a good wallop of excess renewable power OS.

            As per Jeremy Rifkin on 4Corners a while back, we’re “the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy.” We have enough resource (sun) to power the whole planet, replacing ALL nuclear, coal, gas, oil, diesel, hydro.

            To not capitalize on that resource is tantamount to criminal negligence by our politicians.

          • daw

            And you did that without subsidy?Methinks not

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            Subsidies are reducing all the time, with the success of renewables and storage, in 2020, they won’t be needed, at all, fairly soon, subsidies on Tesla vehicles will stop, because the unit numbers, will exceed the subsidy quota. Nowadays, they charge households more for having solar panels, on their service charges, too successful, this is encouraging people to install household power storage, especially with the very low feed in tariff, the households typically get for supplying electricity to the grid. Subsidies are disappearing fast, soon they’ll be getting significant tax revenue, as the cost of renewables, becomes less, than carbon dioxide emissions based power.

            Subsidies for coal, will have to increase, if they want to protect those powerplants, from increasing competition, from renewables plus storage, in 2024, renewables plus storage, ought to be half of the price, of CO2 based power. After all without subsidies, those people aren’t going to get cancerous tumors and emphasima, as often as they do now, so the government will have to pay, to keep up those medical expenses, that also come from the government coffers, that rhymes coffers and coughing.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            25% of our deserts solar power, is 1,250 times the amount, of energy we use annually, we can export it, as cable electrons, or liquid hydrogen.

          • neroden

            Or you can use that energy to refine minerals and export the minerals. (Like, aluminum refineries and steel mills and so forth.)

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            With dramatically more energy, we could refine lower grade ores, like diffuse titanium dioxide, which requires a lot of energy to crack away the oxide, it’s heat resistance, is it’s advantage, as well as it’s disadvantage, in that it takes a lot of energy, to refine into ingots. Trying to break down a ceramic into a metal can be tough, remember that underneath the carbon fiber coating, on the space shuttle, is a light ceramic, that can survive 16 minutes, of re-entry plasma heating. It makes good construction material, as it takes years of volcanic heat, in the presence of sulphuric acid, during planet formation, to oxydise.

            The ore is often low grade, as the formation of the Moon, took away much of the best concentration titanium dioxide, that’s why the Moon, has that white paint look, TiO2.

          • Pixilico

            Ammonia is also an option. See, for instance. page 27: file:///C:/Users/jos%C3%A9/Downloads/SC%20Repowering%20South%20Australia%20v03%20Full%20Report.pdf.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            Ammonia is a room temperature fluid hydrogen storage technique, whilst liquid hydrogen, is a good bulk fuel. It requires a lot of engineering, which makes sense, for aviation, shipping, storage, but not for road vehicles. So yes, it is a very interesting development, with huge potential. Overall I favour electric vehicles, but the range and rapid refuelling, of hydrogen based vehicle transport does have some potent advantages. But it requires a lot of it’s own engineering, rather than just using power cables, there have to be Ammonia stations everywhere. Energy has to be expended, to fix the hydrogen and to unfix it at the other end, to be fair, cryogenically cooled hydrogen, also requires energy, like liquid natural gas.

            They are actually complimentary technologies, like photovoltaic solar panels and photovoltaic lighting, which allows economical vertical farming. By taking desert light and transmitting it to the cities, where it’s needed for food production, carbon dioxide reduction, oxygen production. At drastically lower transport energy costs.

          • Pixilico

            Funny enough, using ammonia as a fuel never crossed my mind. I was really thinking about it as a basic feedstock for the chemical industry obtained from excess renewable energy, as wind and solar are getting ever cheaper. More like as competition for ammonia from natural gas, if it pans out economically speaking.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            LoL, yes they’re thinking of it as a fuel, as a fuel, you get rid of the nitrogen, as a fertilizer, you get rid of the hydrogen. Here’s something on the renewable energy target being exceeded, but new renewables going in anyway. http://www.afr.com/news/ret-is-met-but-wind-and-solar-wave-continues-20180208-h0vr7h

          • Pixilico

            Nice link. You see? It’s unstoppable. The more renewables deployed, the lower their prices tend to be. It’ll be like that for a very long time. And as a result of lower prices, renewables can displace other ff usage beyond power generation itself and most transportation. It’s no longer that far-fetched to consider a 100% (or very close to it) renewables scenario for all uses of energy based on ff as of now.

            For instance, for ammonia production (not just for fertilizer), but as a key feedstock for the whole chemical industry. But it probably won’t stop there, either.

            There’s also the opportunity of iron ore reduction using hydrogen instead of coal and maybe even cement production substituting hydrogen plasma for ff burning.

            The future looks bright, except for the ff incumbents. Some pollies, however, do seem to dwell in their pockets as they’re bent on doing everything possible to thwart the renewable energy revolution currently under way.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            Yes Tony Seba’s Clean Disruption, rightly tells us, it’s roaring twenties time again, last time, the number of automobiles increased by 10 times from 1915-25, electricity usage soared. Just I the last decade, high speed railways in the largest population country China and unconventional hydrocarbon production in the world’s largest fuel importer the US. So transportation energy, can change in a decade, 40 years of the Great Stagnation, doesn’t mean it will go on forever, it means it is all the more likely, to come to an end. Followed by the 30’s Grand Depression, at market saturation time, electric vehicles need 1/10th of the maintenance, therefore resale, that discourages new purchases, solar panels are solid state very little maintenance, high rise agriculture, software and robotics, due to it’s density.

          • itdoesntaddup

            LOL
            Saudi is closer to the consumers and has a big sunny empty desert too. No deep sea trenches to reckon with either. Keep dreaming.

          • DJR96
          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            But I thought there aren’t any deep sea trenches, between NW Australia and Irian Jaya, Indonesia, the straights of Malacca to Asia, hence the proposal to cable electricity, from the Pilbura desert to Asia. Seems to work fine, for the Basslink cable I’m getting my power from right now, National, European, Asian cables for power. Don’t we have fibre optic cables all over the world, high speed railway tunnels, through the Swiss Alps, English channel, between the main North South Japanese Islands, Suez and Panama Canals. Has Tony Seba’s Clean Disruption, caused a paradoxical reaction and all international engineering has stopped, because of cheap solar power, being on the way. See http://www.afr.com/news/ret-is-met-but-wind-and-solar-wave-continues-20180208-h0vr7h

          • Mike Westerman

            Subduction zone from Australian Plate sliding under the Indonesian Plate – deep unstable trench off Java, Timor, Flores…that makes producing fuel more attractive. But Asia has 100s GW of undeveloped RE of its own – Rajasthan and Gujurat have >400,000km of virtual desert and could easily supply the whole of India several times over, when combined with their 125GW of hydro. China has similar wind resources in Inner Mongolia plus solar in the Gobi Desert. That’s if you are looking for centralised supply. Indonesia could supply all its energy requirements just from rooftop solar, quite apart from undeveloped geothermal and hydro, and potentially offshore wind in the Java Sea.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            All true, every continent has sizable desert, it would be a shame to waste 1,250 times, Australia’s current energy usage, from just 25% of our deserts, so earthquake flexible cable and rapid repair ability could be worthwhile. If not the ability to ship a trillion tonnes, of liquid hydrogen, per year, from just 25% of our deserts, or some kind of very energy intensive industries.

          • Barri Mundee

            Fossil fuels will be around for some years yet but only because renewables plus storage are still ramping up. Eventually, FF’s will be edged out of the energy mix because they are becoming more maintenance intensive as they age, and their fuel cost is substantial even without pricing carbon whereas renewable costs are mainly capital and falling, with no fuel cost.

            So why would thus country need or even consider using nuclear power?

          • itdoesntaddup

            Because renewables plus storage is a very expensive, low ERoEI route for producing energy.

            BTW – I don’t expect there will be any significant change in the quality of a cubic metre of methane, or a barrel of oil or a tonne of coal: extraction methods have improved enormously with time and the ingenuity of humans. I wonder what you will be saying about the maintenance and replacement intensity of wind and solar in a couple of decades. How many of those facilities will last 50-60 years?

          • Barri Mundee

            The cost of renewables plus storage is coming down and will continue to come down.

            The cost of replacing it will also come down, unlike FF’s which will become increasingly expensive and no one wants to fund them as they are afraid of stranded assets. In contrast banks are happy to loan for renewables builds.

          • itdoesntaddup

            Financial reality will bite the banks’ posteriors soon enough. Just hope they don’t take too much else with them when it happens.

          • Barri Mundee

            So you know better than the banks ?
            I am not a fan of the banks but I think their stance is sound.

          • itdoesntaddup

            I’ll grant that Macquarie have mostly been nimble enough to leave others holding the baby when things go pear-shaped, but I doubt that even they can keep the plates spinning for ever. Banking is in the business of supporting asset bubbles – real estate, bonds, stocks – on the back of artificially low interest rates. Where those investments are not matched by real value, when the bubbles burst they will fall below even asset stripping breakup value. Some of the worst investment decisions have been made by governments – and that certainly includes the energy sector, where so often they decide what is invested in, even if they get some other entity involved in making the actual provision.

            It’s a hard rain gonna fall.

          • Mike Westerman

            Oh ye of little market faith! What’s this trash talk of “spin” and “artificially low interest rates” – that sounds horribly like you believe these wonderful markets can be manipulated!!?!

          • itdoesntaddup

            Central banks and governments are arch manipulators – at least until it all catches up with them.

          • Barri Mundee

            In what way does it “catch up with them?”

          • itdoesntaddup

            Bubbles burst.

          • Barri Mundee

            Bursting bubbles tend to affect private speculators on the share market, the crypto-currency markets not so much governments.

          • itdoesntaddup

            The biggest bubble is probably government bonds. Governments will be affected by that directly, because they will be unable to borrow or even to roll over debt. They are also affected when other bubbles burst, as they suddenly find themselves dealing with a whole host of consequences. Look at the aftermath of the 1929 crash for example.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            The roaring 2020’s, might be followed by the Grand Depression 2030’s, but clean disruption, will be a heady ride.

          • Mike Westerman

            Oh of course – it’s the guvment! Not like all those saintly private sector monopolists! And our inability to prevent manipulation in the public sector, which the private sector complains of being too overregulated, is somehow not a challenge in private boardrooms…

          • Barri Mundee

            Hmm the bank are profit-driven but not reckless.And what is that diversion about the role of government all about? I never mentioned it.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            Perhaps he meant, the federal government free billion dollar railway, local government free airport, state government free roads, tax free diesel. For the Adani Coal mine, with all those coal fired power plants, being cancelled in Europe, China and India, it’ll need huge subsidies and loan gaurantees. Rather than investing those billions, in renewables, subsidise lung cancer and emphasima.

          • Tony Pfitzner

            LOL

          • “Technology isn’t going to change when the wind blows and the sun shines.”

            I haven’t the faintest idea what that sentence means. You seem to have strayed into the wrong conversation because everything you say here has got nothing to do with what is being reported on.

            Or is there some other reason why you want to confuse the issue?

          • daw

            You are quite right in what you say itdoesntaddup but this forum of largely ideologists, fanciful dreamers and lefties isn’t much of a place to post realistic comments. Just watch the stream of abusive nonsense that follows like that of steve159.

            I find it laughable that they think building pumped storage using salty water near Whyalla great but sneer at The Fed’s building Snowy 2 in NSW using fresh water

          • Mike Westerman

            Cultana is also an expensive exercise but well intentioned, directed at getting more data at building and operating salt water plants. Snowy 2 is a politically inspired proposition where the cost and environmental impacts, as well as the extraordinary technical challenges are well known, and so has little justification.

            So you can stoop to trite accusations but that doesn’t change the hard nosed assessments.

          • Steve159

            “fanciful dreamers and lefties isn’t much of a place to post realistic comments”

            I decided to be off-grid, 24/7 with no backup gen, or gas. That’s real. Don’t know what “realistic” means to you, as it sure as heck doesn’t relate to me and many others I know of.

            But please, carry on with your fanciful comments and projections, while the great bulk of humanity transitions to renewables.

          • Barri Mundee

            You are free to take your comments elsewhere.

            I for one will not be persuaded by anyone who attacks people or groups for the views they have.

          • Alan S

            Nobody’s criticising the use of inland water for pumped storage. What we dislike is a government that showed no interest in renewable energy suddenly donning the hats and vests and heading off to Talbingo for a photo.

          • DJR96

            The stone age didn’t end because we ran out of stones.
            It ended because we worked out better ways to do things.

          • itdoesntaddup

            Precisely: we worked out better things than windmills and sun dried tomatoes – or burning firewood (which led to the first energy crisis and the original development of coal).

          • DJR96

            You really don’t get it do you?
            We’ve developed ways to harness zero cost sources of energy because it is a better way to do things.
            Such progress doesn’t happen unless it is better and cheaper.

            If you want to remain living in the 19th century that’s fine. The rest of humanity is moving on without you.

          • Mike Westerman

            I think his issue is that on his little island coal consumption is disappearing and he’s suffering withdrawal symptoms. And now that won’t build him a nuke at the bottom of his garden – real cause for a tanty.

          • itdoesntaddup

            There is no such thing as a zero cost source of energy: all sources take investment and effort to harvest and turn to useful account. The resources themselves are all free, whether it be fuels in the ground, or gravity and the water cycle, or the wind.

          • DJR96

            What a pathetic argument. Shows you really have no clue.
            I’m only talking about the cost of the source energy.
            You may have access to vast reserves of coal, but it is no good to you buried in the ground. It costs money to dig each and every bit of it up to be able to use it. And that’s after you’ve invested in all the capital equipment to dig it up and use it.
            With solar PV and wind there is a capital cost to establish as well, but once running the only cost is a tiny bit of maintenance (much less than anything handling/using coal) The energy source is zero cost.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Yes there is an available zero cost of energy, from renewables. Take solar panels for example. A 5kW solar panel system will cost about $5000 to install, and then given the cost of the status quo (coal, gas, gold plated networks, retailer margins, poor competition and other market manipulation costs arriving via ‘the grid’), the solar will pay for itself within 5 years through savings. For next 20 years after that, having paid for themselves via savings, the solar panels will deliver zero cost energy.

          • itdoesntaddup

            a 5kW solar panel will cost about $5,000 to install

            So it isn’t free. If I drill a gas well and hook it up , it will produce under its own natural pressure with no further intervention. So that is equally “free”.

            I’m glad you think your solar panels will never need maintenance or cleaning, and that your inverter will last 25 years.

          • Ren Stimpy

            The first five years isn’t free, but the next 20 years after that is free.

            Fine, add the cost of a replacement inverter and some maintenance if it pleases your argument. So the solar panels will still pay for themselves after 6 years through savings on a status quo electricity bill, then they will generate free electricity for the next 19 years after that.

            Actually most modern solar panels will generate for 30 years or more. Most home appliances will be replaced by more efficient models twice within the next 30 years, and all the premises lighting will be replaced by cheap efficient LED lighting within that time, along with other building-oriented retro-fitted efficiency measures, meaning the solar panels will export more power (earning more) as the years go by, all of which will cancel out the cost of the new inverter and the minor amount of maintenance, and then some.

          • itdoesntaddup

            And the gas well is equally “free”.

          • Ren Stimpy

            There’s just the small matter of the high cost $ per GJ that gas companies will charge for that gas, ad infinitum.

            The photons from the sun which supply the solar panels are free. Free of cost, ad infinitum.

          • itdoesntaddup

            So you export your surplus solar for free?

          • Ren Stimpy

            Yes, because the cost to connect for imports takes care of it.

          • itdoesntaddup

            So you get no credit for any export? Weren’t you one of those on the 44 cent feed in tariff (that’s 122$/GJ BTW)?

          • Ren Stimpy

            Whoa a misunderstanding there, my fault. There is an export FiT which brings in income, but no ‘cost to export’ – it has already been covered under the ‘cost to import’. The vast majority of people who have solar both import and export. Hope that clarifies.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Are you saying that a gas user can go from a $12/GJ payment to $122/GJ of income if they switch from gas to solar?

            If so then matey, you are a great spokesman for the solar industry, and well done.

          • itdoesntaddup

            The feed in tariffs are paid for by others. When they become too costly, then they have to be abandoned (as e.g. in Spain), and unsubsidised solar is no longer an attractive investment.

            You are a hypocrite for failing to admit that you get real credit for your solar exports – at a rate that is far higher than the price of gas supplied to e.g. Pelican Point.

          • Ren Stimpy

            The question is what do the gas generators e.g. Pelican Point then do with that gas? I’ll tell you, they withhold generation until demand is through the roof and only then start generating, gaming the 30 minute settlement period system to sell their gas fired power for up to $14,000 / MWh in some intervals.

            Solar usage and the exports that solar owners supply to the grid reduce the number and magnitude of those demand peaks which the unscrupulous gas generators take advantage of. Solar owners can’t game the market by withholding supply – at the instant they have an excess they export it. Solar owners are reducing the price of power for consumers by moderating the demand peaks.

            You will also find that feed in tariffs (FiTs) have stabilised at about 12 cents per kWh, which is about a third of the price of grid power. High FiTs are a thing of the past. Please feel free to keep spouting your $122/GJ number though, because we need to attract more people to solar ownership.

          • itdoesntaddup

            The only reason such prices are possible is because there is a shortage of dispatchable generation. Heck, even the HPR was capitalising on $14,200/MWh – and setting the market price. I do see that AGL is building another 250MW at Torrens Island – but unfortunately, not long after it starts up they’ll be closing Torrens A, so you’ll be back to square 1.

          • Ren Stimpy

            There is a shortage of dispatchable generation because we have this unhealthy over-reliance on incumbent gas powered plants for peaking power, but the cost of gas is now (at least) four times more expensive than it was ten years ago.

            It’s high time we realised that we need to diversify our dispatchable generation (to pumped hydro, CST and biomass) and utilise new technology (smart meters, demand response and energy efficiency) to integrate with low cost but intermittent solar and wind energy, and that that is the only way we will get our power costs back down again.

          • itdoesntaddup

            Pumped hydro and batteries are not generation. Biomass is CO2 accounting fraud – more unfriendly to the climate even than coal. Concentrated solar?

            https://www.pe.com/2017/01/23/ivanpah-solar-plant-built-to-limit-greenhouse-gases-is-burning-more-natural-gas/

            Doesn’t seem to be working yet – aside from the regular frying of birds.

            Powerwalls are rich mens’ toys. Demand response is simply imposing blackouts.

            None of it is cheap. It won’t get power costs down. Only ensuring there is adequate fully dispatchable generation, with competition can do that.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Pumped hydro and batteries charge up on excess generation. They are not generation themselves but they can eliminated waste from our generation system, and they are most certainly dispatchable, while coal stations are not.

            Biomass. We will never stop using wood as a building product. There is a lot of wood waste from milling and offcuts out of that industry. We can bury it and let it rot and generate emissions, or we can turn that wood waste into fuel pellets where it will displace some coal generation out of the system. Biomass is a much more climate friendly fuel type than coal.

            Modern concentrated solar with molten salt doesn’t need gas and has no emissions. From your link, “solar tower plants that use molten-salt energy storage systems have no carbon emissions”.

            Powerwalls are not just rich men’s toys. The poor love them too…

            https://reneweconomy.com.au/tesla-to-build-250mw-virtual-power-plant-in-south-australia-44339/

            Demand response cuts costs in a non-imposing way. Why use power on a pool pump and other low priority usage in peak demand during a heatwave? It doesn’t add up. Low priority power usage should be done in time of low demand / low prices.

            All of the above getting cheaper, because they are technologies following cost reductions along technology cost curves. On the other hand, the cost of coal and gas power is rising, and coal isn’t even dispatchable.

          • Barri Mundee

            Would you like to share with people what little island you live on?

          • Ren Stimpy

            I’d say Gilligans but they would’ve loved solar.

          • solarguy

            No you have a non renewable and consumable commodity that pollutes and costs everybody. Never ever free.

          • itdoesntaddup

            And there is no pollution involved in the production and transport and installation and even operation of your solar panels?

            LOL

          • Barri Mundee

            Good to see you acknowedge the polutants resulting from FF. That is implicit on your comment.

            I agree there are always impacts and pollution in the production of solar panels but as renewables increasingly replace FF their
            environmental “footprint” will fall. But FF will remain the much greater polluter.

            Precisely the reason they will be phased out over time. And the pollution from the nuke cycle is just as signficant.

          • itdoesntaddup

            Not on any sensible definition of pollution, but then you don’t have a sensible definition.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            Fracking chemicals, particulate soot and smog, CO2 emissions, would be a definition of pollutants.

          • Barri Mundee

            The sensible definition is CO2 pollution that is widely accepted across the globe. No more needs to be said.

          • itdoesntaddup

            The only thing that need be said is that your definition is not sensible. Try thinking what the world would be like with no CO2. A lifeless desert.

          • Barri Mundee

            We will always have CO2.

            You are making absurd extrapolation of my point: that human are adding extra CO2 to the atmosphere and that is adding to the natural greenhouse effect, with detrimental consequences. That has very well scientifically validated.

          • itdoesntaddup

            We seem to be seeing ever lower estimates of the climate sensitivity of CO2. Still seems to be a topic of much debate, with considerable uncertainty margins.

          • solarguy

            There is no pollution in operation of any solar panels. But I’m sure you will disagree and we would love to hear why you think they do?

          • itdoesntaddup

            There is pollution in disposal for a start.

          • solarguy

            1. That’s not in operation, is it.
            2. Panels can be recycled and there is stuff all currently going to land fill.
            3. I’m not going to engage moronic trolls.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            There’s very little pollution involved in the operation of solar panels, like your offshore gas rigs, natural gas liquifaction plants, they’re capital intensive at the construction production phase. Not the utilisation phase.

          • Andrew Roydhouse

            Unfortunately you do not understand the complex chemical reactions that occur with ‘drilling a gas well’ and the gas coming up under decreasing pressure immediately.
            You’re not alone there though – billions were written off NW shelf gas reserves due to its chemistry – being too ‘dry’ and corrosive.
            Gas has an increasing cost of production from day 1 andmodern day gas fracking has an increased cost projectory that is about 1.6 to 2.9x as rapid as traditional gas discoveries. Many fracked wells are uneconomic within 12 to 18 months – which is why there are drilling well counts in the thousands in the US.

          • Ren Stimpy

            With solar panels the cost of fuel production (i.e. the sun producing photons) is zero dollars from day one, and will be zero dollars for the next billion years or thereabouts.

          • itdoesntaddup

            Not all wells are as problematic as the ones you refer to: some can be hooked up directly to consumption – e.g. supplying a generator. In any event, gas treatment usually uses produced gas as fuel, which does of course reduce the yield, but it does illustrate that the produced gas is “free”: there is no charge for the gas used in running the treatment plant (or equally the compressors when the gas needs to be pressurised or liquefied for onward delivery).

            Perhaps you don’t know about that.

          • Mike Westerman

            You don’t know when to give up, blurting out you ignorance for all to see! Fracced or not fracced gas wells cost money to run, monitoring costs with expensive FIFO workforces, workovers, pump out for CSG, overhaul costs for compressors and engines etc so all self use carries a significant cost.

            Perhaps you should stick to your nukes.

          • itdoesntaddup

            The point I made was that all sources of energy come with costs of harvesting – none is truly free. However, the idea that only wind and solar can produce for “free” at the margin is not unique. They also require maintenance, plant replacements, monitoring, etc. But gas can also happily produce for perhaps extended periods on its own under natural reservoir pressure, just as a solar panel or wind turbine can operate on their own.

            Got it?

          • Barri Mundee

            Everything takes resources to build

            But capital cost is the main cost of installing renewables with maintenance/replacement low and falling. In contrast the fuel is a natural resource from that fusion reactor Sol.

            The fuel for any FF/Nuke plant is significant and ongoing, as is considerable,outages are regular and periodic very extensive longer overhauls are required.

            I know as I worked in the brown coal industry for all of my working life.

            Got it?

          • itdoesntaddup

            I think you forgot to count the cost of intermittency for renewables. Easy to assume away while it is being carried by the rest of the system, but hard to avoid when you seek to make it dominate.

          • Mike Westerman

            I think you forget to count the reality of intermittency of most of my consumption: hot water, battery charging, pool filter, washing machine and dishwasher, air con.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            Put a big Basslink cable to Tasmania, 100 days of our hydro electric power reused every night, could supply the whole country.

          • itdoesntaddup

            They managed to empty their reservoirs with just the existing Basslink. Not sure that you have really figured what 30GW of capacity would do to Tasmania, or what it would all cost relative to how often the full capacity gets used.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            You’re confusing hydro electric power, with pumped hydro, if you pump 100 days of hydro up hill, all day long, then in the night, you can drain, 100 days of hydro, all night long, do that 365 days a year. You can actually keep the reserves, at a higher level, if you like, a firm 2,000 days. Dam, to dam, to dam, day and night, up and down.

          • itdoesntaddup

            Not at all. Besides, you are getting way ahead of yourself. Hydro Tasmania reckon they may be able to increase generating capacity by 2.5GW (though it is unclear how much might be simultaneously available, as large chunks of current capacity is used in rotation rather than continuously, so as not to drain individual reservoirs/cause flooding downstream). There is no clear idea as yet as to the actual storage capacity that could be made available. In short, this looks to be no better than Snowy 2.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            Both parties are talking about seceding from the NEM, national electricity market, because we can make electricity more cheaply here. Labor are talking about Tasmania, being 120% renewable, no better than Snowy 2, well that’s not bad, we only have a population of 500,000. The population of Newcastle Australia, but an island the size of England. 1/100th the population density of England, with average European climate rainfall levels.

            Still not sure you get it, we wouldn’t be draining the dams, just recycling the water, pumping it uphill, in the day, using mainland desert solar power. Draining it at night, through turbines, to generate electricity, we could cycle 100 days of our current drainage every day. Because the water wouldn’t be drained permanently, the dam levels would barely fall, if we didn’t waste water, draining it to the sea, to make electricity. But instead recycled it, our dam levels, would on average, be higher, rather than lower.

          • itdoesntaddup

            So your plan is not to supply the Aussie mainland?

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            By 120% Labor means exporting a surplus average, of electrons, to the mainland, by Basslink cable, just not taking mainland pricing. As in, if you want our electrons, at a convenient time, were going to charge you, what you charge us, not subsidise you any more. We’ll take your electrons, when we need them, but we’re not going to charge our people and businesses, mainland prices, for our own cheaper electrons.

            We’ll do this on a commercial basis, not a set price determined before renewables, changed the price mix, favouring storage. Solar will double this year, further entrenching the value of storage, we have almost as low unemployment as NSW, that’s why so many people like me and our families, are investing here. 17.5% increase in house prices in Hobart, 11.5% increase in Launceston, these are 3/4 of our population. 3% price decline in house prices, in Sydney, tourism up from 900,000 in 2015, to 1.2 million in 2017.

            When it gets to 47°C in Western Sydney, it’s hard to keep you away, with discount airfares, Aibnb, Uber. 30 channels of high definition TV, NBN better than the national average, how do we get you off our shores.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            I remember that we went from drought to flood, the dams were low, we put in diesel generators, due to the Basslink cable going out, when the dams were full, we got rid of 60% of our reserves, in 70 days. That’s 20 days, of reserve, every day, without recycling it, we never actually used the diesel generators, according to one person. Just throwing it into the sea, not passing it from one lower dam, to a higher dam and back, freshening up Bass Straight, with fresh water.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            As I remember it, solid state, no moving parts PV solar panels, output 50% as much power in 50 years, by which time, if the trend from 1970, to 2020, continues, Solar power, would be another hundred times cheaper.

          • Mike Westerman

            So when spurious arguments are run your response is to run spurious arguments in response? Yes that’ll raise the level of debate…makes me conclude your nonsense about small nukes is just a spurious counter-argument.

            But the reality is that all FF plant costs significantly more to operate than solar or wind, and than nukes for that matter.

          • itdoesntaddup

            The reality is a trade off between capital cost and running cost, as you very well know. Other than where subsidised, or in a few specialised circumstances, renewables are not competitive, which you also know.

          • Mike Westerman

            What a sweeping ignorant statement. Hydro provides the lowest LCOE in the world other than waste gas, which is why a large proportion of the worlds competitive aluminium supply is hydro driven. Nothing comes near my roof top solar in supplying power to my pool pump and air con, on an unsubsidised basis, as almost 2M households in Australia have realised and are enjoying. And even tho’ 40% of my bill for grid power goes to keeping the grid reliable, 130,000 households had no power for many hours last night (50,000 still without power this morning) after a pretty average thunderstorm (another expected tonight). When we were kids we kept a kerosene lamp ready during storm season – things are not much better now, whereas when EVs start supplying a ready source of lower cost storage, I’ll be installing batteries so that when the storms come, my power doesn’t go off. Thousands of homes in Adelaide are doing likewise now because they know that local security is real security.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            The reason we developed unconventional hydrocarbon fuels, was because the supply of easily tapable fuel is running out. It’s giving the US a sugar rush, but it’s only bridging energy, till clean disruption. Where’s the light sweet crude, if we’re restoring to heating tar sands, with fracked natural gas, to make the guzoline Max. It takes more energy than you get out of the fuel, to make it, it’s just that it’s in a transport energy form.

          • Barri Mundee

            Everything takes resources to build

            But capital cost is the main cost of installing renewables with maintenance/replacement low and falling. In contrast the fuel is a natural resource from that fusion reactor Sol.

            The fuel for any FF/Nuke plant is significant and ongoing, as is considerable,outages are regular and periodic very extensive longer overhauls are required.

            I know as I worked in the brown coal industry for all of my working life.

          • Barri Mundee

            Whenever someone labels wind turbines as “windmills” I know they have an agenda, bit like the Waubra foundation or Joe Hockey.

          • itdoesntaddup

            I suppose you think you have no agenda? My agenda is for a successful future for mankind.

            Yours seems to be to regress us to the Stone Age.

          • Barri Mundee

            My agenda is for a sustainable future for humanity.

          • itdoesntaddup

            So you’ll be wanting to get rid of most of it.

          • Barri Mundee

            Straw man argument; makes your case look piss-weak.

          • itdoesntaddup

            No, I think it gets to the heart of what you’re about.

          • Barri Mundee

            Yeah how?

          • Alan S

            Could you make a clear point instead of just complaining and making negative inferences?

            Do you want Australia to build nuclear power stations or to retain fossil fuels or do you want to see the country realise its potential in renewables? Sure, they haven’t been developed as they should have been and you can thank a series of state and federal conservative governments for that.
            Of course the wind doesn’t always blow nor the Sun always shine but it would be a bit daft to point that, out wouldn’t it?

          • itdoesntaddup

            You may think it daft to have to point out that there is nothing that technology can do to make the wind and sun constant, and avoid the need for backup in some form (which can include storage) if you seek to employ them, but many here seem to have little to no appreciation of how much backup is required, particularly when you seek to increase reliance on the wind and the sun to high levels – nor on what the cost consequences are. These things are not solved by a handful of Musk batteries – do the sums.

            At the moment, the South Australian grid only works because it can call on 800MW of mostly brown coal generation from Victoria – and conveniently dump its surplus power when the wind does blow and it’s the middle of a sunny day. Turn Victorian coal off and fail to replace it with reliable, dispatchable power, and you’ll both be short at the same time.

            As to nuclear, I am merely pointing out that the earth has bounteous resources for nuclear power for the future (try calculating how much deuterium there is in the oceans), whereas I do not pretend that the bounty from fossil fuels will be available for ever (although I suspect we will make synthetic fuels e.g. for aviation for many years after). True, we now have close to record high R/P ratios for oil and gas of around 50 years (and exploration continues and we have yet to even attempt to exploit things like methane clathrates), despite burgeoning demand, and that doesn’t recognise that shale resources are effectively excluded from that account because of the definition of proven reserves, while coal R/P is even higher at over 150 years.

          • Alan S

            Import brown power from the likes of Loy Yang that tripped on Dec 19 and suddenly took 560 MW off the Vic grid? That the sort of baseload reliability you want?

          • itdoesntaddup

            Of course not. You need to ensure that there is sufficient dispatchable capacity to cover for trips and losses of transmission lines – which means you have to invest in new dispatchable capacity to replace capacity that is being retired (you should choose the dispatchable technology between gas, coal, hydro and nuclear with a view to minimising costs).

            You do not help that by threatening plant with closure – especially without having replacement capacity lined up, because it discourages maintenance and an attitude of running it until it breaks, because it may not be worth repairing if it does not have sufficient life to justify the expenditure. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, with inadequate grid supply the consequence.

          • Mike Westerman

            I thought we were fervent believers in the market? The private sector is putting in RE as fast as they can find sites, and actively developing pumped hydro to cover for outages and overnight. No one is threatening to close anything except the owners, and its not a threat as much as an evaluated decision.

          • Barri Mundee

            “At the moment, the South Australian grid only works because it can call on 800MW of mostly brown coal generation from Victoria – and conveniently dump its surplus power when the wind does blow and it’s the middle of a sunny day. Turn Victorian coal off and fail to replace it with reliable, dispatchable power, and you’ll both be short at the same time”.

            That may well be the case, for now. But SA is installing renewables at a rate where that inter-state grid import will become increasingly less important.

            What is now will not be the case into the future.

            There is little probability that nuclear power will be built in this in this country. Too expensive, too long to build, too expensive to operate, too dependent on scarce water resources (like coal plants), and significant risks in their operation.

            Where all those Gen 1V reactors? Where all those Thorium plants? Not too many of them are there?

            Besides the large central FF plant model is like coal, past its use by date and being replaced with distributed generation.

          • Alan S

            Indeed and mini grids, interconnected by low capacity transmission systems, are the answer to SA’s widely distributed loads.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            In Australia, air conditioning, uses a lot of the peak load, where solar power is ideal. More power, when there’s more demand, but still the costs went up, lower demand through efficiency, like the other photovoltaic cells, LEDs, reverse cycle air conditioning. Pink Bats, but still the costs went up, those executives 300% pay rises cost us a lot. Even with most of middle management gone, prices still went up.

            Trickle down economics, has turned out to be flood up economics, for 37 years. Wages actually declined last year, with respect to expenses, nothing for 40 years, of technological advances, for the majority of US citizens. Where executive pay, went up by 15 times, in that time, China went to a second world standard of living, from famine, over that time.

          • itdoesntaddup

            On the contrary, the interconnectors are becoming increasingly important: the Heywood line just had to be uprated. Every time you close down dispatchable capacity in SA, you increase the need for interconnection. You could of course forego export, and simply curtail surplus production when it occurs, accepting blackout when you have inadequate generation because there is no wind and it’s night or cloudy to boot. But that just increases the effective cost of your renewables generation.

            The reason to build larger plants is that there are economies of scale in doing so. You do not need to provide for peak capacity at every household, nor backup likewise, because you can take advantage of the stochastic nature of demand and the need only to provide backup for the amount of capacity that might be expected to be on maintenance/reduced output. High voltage distribution is efficient for larger power flows.

            If you go for distributed generation – especially making it dependent on the weather – you need a much bigger grid investment, and much more surplus capacity if you are to avoid blackouts.

          • Mike Westerman

            Unless of course you resort to basic intelligence and build pumped storage, then when Heywood is bound and can only transfer 150MW because of hot weather (as happened very recently), you are not caught out. And with prices in SA such that a rational consumer will be adding batteries to his solar panels because it is economic to do so, you lessen the need to rely on an unreliable lignite plant supplying thru a long, unreliable interconnector.

          • itdoesntaddup

            And with prices in SA such that a rational consumer will be adding batteries to his solar panels because it is economic to do so

            That’s the point: power has become so expensive that it can justify extremely expensive personal alternatives. But perhaps you should figure out how much storage and capacity overbuild you would need without the interconnectors, and what that would cost, covering say a 1 in 50 year bad run on the weather (which is way below the reliability standards that NEM are supposed to be achieving). Then try again assuming you shut all your fossil fuelled generation.

          • Steve159

            “extremely expensive personal alternatives” versus “supremely expensive gas-peaker”

            If one were to (yeah, you haven’t, obviously), calculate one’s monthly electricity bill based solely on those gas-peaker gouge rates (per MWh), it wouldn’t just be “extremely expensive” it would be catastrophically, diabolically expensive.

            Thank heavens solar and batteries are here to save us.

            Given you’ve ignorantly or willfully conflated those gas-peaker charges with solar and wind power, it seems to me you’re with the LNP. A staffer, perhaps.

          • itdoesntaddup

            I’m not Australian, nor do I live there. My interest in your experiments is to understand how you’ve ended up with even more expensive power than Denmark. It’s something that should be avoided, not embraced.

          • Steve159

            “We” stupidly and unforgivably privatized the public electricity infrastructure. South Australia had higher electricity prices before renewables were being installed.

            Then we retained the settlement period which favours the incumbents, so that small solar / wind generators couldn’t easily compete, save for the RET and LRET.

            As SA is now demonstrating, plenty of renewables in the grid, especially with the Tesla big battery is knocking off the peak demands when the big gen-tailers were gouging the system.

            More renewables, solar on domestic rooftops, large-scale solar, and solar commercial users, will put downward pressure on prices. That’s happening, as is explained on this website!

            I might rejoin the grid, if or when it becomes small-producer friendly, and a smart retailer offers mini, or micro grid connectivity without the onerous connection charges.

          • Mike Westerman

            Pretty straightforward really, just look at the average bill – Finkel did an analysis but others have reached similar results: 40% or so from trying unsuccessfully to make a grid that is the longest in the world function reliably to enable centralised power stations, who don’t pay for it but benefit from it, to make a profit, 26% of retail costs and margins to enable us to benefit from competition! What a laugh!

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            Because we dumped a carbon price, generators had no price signal and didn’t invest, so marginal costs exploded, from the cheapest price in the world, to the highest. Privatisation, meant no maintenance, of the coal fired power plants. So capacity declined, resulting in higher prices, they should have increased the efficiency, instead the coal plants are falling apart.

          • Barri Mundee

            We need the interconnectors as part of resilient grid. what we will NOT need, in decades to come, are huge centralised nuclear or coal plants.

            Coal was once good and needed but that era is coming to an end. No amount of hand waving will change that scenario.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            When solar plus storage, is half of the price of coal, South Australia will have an excess of desert solar power, which it will export, to the other states, via the interconnector.

          • Mike Westerman

            Yep – high prices set by gas. Something fairly easy to determine. And the 1:50y events very easily and cost effectively covered by voluntary curtailment. A 1GW of local storage in SA would in my estimation provide SA with the lowest cost and most reliable power in Australia. And the great thing is that with the interventions of the SA government, despite the lack of policy certainty coming from the Feds, has a plan in action to provide it.

          • itdoesntaddup

            You need to do the sums, which you have not done. You need to cover for several days of low renewables output, not just a couple of hours. Perhaps you had in mind to have “voluntary curtailment” lasting for several days continuously – rotating power cuts at a minimum? Just over the period of this chart from noon on the 16th, SA relied on over 20GWh of net supply on Heywood alone:

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b812434b7942a64b6e9e299278e763981c222b984de46f78faef8b694950a06b.png

            There is no need for SA to pay any more for gas than it would cost in competition with LNG markets. Heck, even build an LNG terminal. But you dropped the ball and failed to make adequate alternative arrangements.

          • Mike Westerman

            Doing my sums! A bit pot calling the kettle there! The notion of unserved demand provides the basis for valuing both curtailment and reserve, not some blanket ideological missive that all unserved demand must be met. That’s the difference between ideology and engineering/economics. So I don’t need to provide cheap storage to cover ALL unmet demand – only some much as will pay the margin cost. So the last few percent can be covered with quite expensive supply or demand management, to the net benefit of all. Markets are meant to act as clearing houses to facilitate just that – you can’t make up your mind whether you favour markets or intervention on any consistent basis! The gas price in SA is set by a market independent of government regulation but you seem to want the government to force prices down!

            The Feds are responsible for NEM regulation and market design: they have deliberately avoided bringing in a capacity market to cover security and reliability because the energy only market has suited the incumbents. Now they leap into action by funding an economic storage project and proposing an untested, non market security mechanism – sounds horribly like looking after your mates to me!

          • Barri Mundee

            When you are a hammer everything looks like a nail.

            I accept there are economies of scale but that has only limited validity in the case of renewables and storage.And renewables will ramp up in scale, reducing cost further whilst FF (inc nukes) will only become more expensive with time.

            That has been the lived experience.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            But the virtual power plant, planned for South Australia, from rooftop solar energy and Tesla batteries, includes storage. Many renewable energy projects, include storage, like liquid salt, from concentrated solar. Hydro electric pumped storage, from wind, doesn’t even have to be fresh water, it can be sea water.

          • itdoesntaddup

            You’re another one who has no idea how much storage it takes to go 100% renewables, and you’re afraid to find out.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            I suspect, with Tony Seba’s Clean Disruption, aviation will turn to liquid hydrogen, light composite material aircraft and light fuel, are an ideal fit.

          • itdoesntaddup

            You think?

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            When a solid rocket booster sends a tongue of flame, into a tank of oxygen and hydrogen, it’s as bad as an explosion, with any other fuel, plus oxygen. True harder to get started, because of the low temperature, the boiling off of the fuel, excluding the oxygen, what was the problem, was it the liquid hydrogen, or the solid fuel, it was the solid fuel, blowtorching the fuel tank.

            Have you seen the twin towers fire, hydrocarbons cause a lot of trouble when they go on fire, hydrogen floats into the upper atmosphere, doesn’t pool on the ground, like hydrocarbon liquids, or gasses.

          • itdoesntaddup

            LNG tanker fire

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            Nuclear power, takes 25 years to commission, costs 3 times as much as solar, plus hydro storage. Takes 25 years to decommission, increasing the cost to 6 times solar plus hydro storage.

          • solarguy

            Yeah, We could all put small nuke reactors in the shed, phone batteries would be a thing of the past and get some hard core radiation into your head.

            For f#%k sake Scotty, beam me up there is no intelligent life here!

          • itdoesntaddup

            Seems like a small nuke reactor could improve your thought processes.

          • solarguy

            No radiation for me thanks……………….I’ve seen how it’s f%#ked you up.

          • itdoesntaddup

            I thought you rely on solar radiation?

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            You go beyond the ozone layer and the van Allen belt, without packing your fuel, water, oxygen, supplies around you and see how you fair in a solar flare.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            My dad going to Maralinga, gave me a lifetime of arthritis, could the pro nuclear guy, take the arthritis and I get the cheap solar power.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            Is my next smartphone, going to take 25 years to commission, in this era of nuclear power. Solar power, will double next year in Australia, let’s slow down the wealth creation and go nuclear. The poverty created, would be able to stop up, all the weapons grade plutonium, after all.

      • itdoesntaddup

        I looked at the figures the other day: fossil fuels lost 0.5% of share in primary energy supply globally in a year. At that rate, it would take over 150 years before they disappeared. 3 years is a tad optimistic.

        • trackdaze

          Not saying they will be finished in 3 just plain for all to see by then

        • Barri Mundee

          I agree that three years seems unduly optimistic. But we are really only debating the timeline, not the end result which will be a marginal role if FF’s at best,

          • itdoesntaddup

            Longer term, only nuclear offers the reliable energy humanity will need if it is not to regress. Renewables come in at far too low an ERoEI.

          • Mike Westerman

            What a load of crap – that weak minded distortion has been discredited endlessly. ERoEI if the EI is from the device and contributing no net emissions means nothing – which is more or less the point of sustainability. Only nuclear will result in the spread of fissile material and the early demise of the human race, at a staggeringly high price.

          • Barri Mundee

            I suggest you are part of a desperation movement trying to stall the inevitable transition from a FF-dominated energy economy; Talk up coal, shit can renewables and then suggest ouir saviour will be nuclear.

            Most on this site will not buy your snake oil.

          • heinbloed

            He is an atom clown on his own running different alias in different media.
            The atom circus runs out of manpower, only the cheapest clowns are taken on.

          • Barri Mundee

            I suspect this is quite common ploy: comment using various nom de plumes to convey the (false) impression that many people are of similar views.

        • DJR96

          That reduction in FF use will only increase as new renewables generation is installed at accelerating rates.

          Most of us here realise building new coal-fired generation no longer makes sense. And this year is when the wider public (and politicians!), the nation as a whole will comprehend that too.

          It doesn’t mean the existing coal fleet will pack up and be gone in 3 years though. There is still a need for them for a while yet.
          Australia is in a prime position where the retirement of coal generators due to reaching their expected lifetimes coincides nicely with the growth of renewables to replace them. They can live out the rest of their natural lives.

          • Mike Westerman

            It’s 11y since the last coal fired power station was commissioned, during which time millions of rooftop generators have been commissioned, which produce as much energy in a quarter as that power station does in a year. We’re adding rooftop at the rate of equivalent of that power station every 2y. And that’s just behind the meter.

            According to the owners of coal power stations in Australia, they will be exiting coal within the planning horizon, and all are aggressively pursuing RE including pumped hydro.

        • trackdaze

          Watch exxon shares.

          Tick tock tick tock.

      • stucrmnx120fshwf

        The introduction of the efficient steam engine, oceanic steam ships, transcontinental railways; the introduction of automobile mass production, the elimination of horse transportation. Cheap Solar, Electric Vehicles, Tony Seba’s Clean Disruption.

      • Michael Murray

        So all the black, brown and red here gone in three years ?

        https://reneweconomy.com.au/nem-watch/

        • trackdaze

          Not at all. Rapid terminal decline will be evident though.

          • neroden

            Yep, that’s about right.

            For nearly all that black, red, and brown to be gone it’ll take about 12 years.

            But within 3 years the massive drops will be obvious.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            1/3 as much coal goes out of the port of Newcastle Australia, annually terminally rapid enough for you.

      • neroden

        From running the exponential projections, the actual total end of fossil fuels isn’t going to be until 2025-2030.

        However, by 2021 (three years) everyone will be able to see it coming.

    • Brian Dooley

      All good but why do we still need subsidies. End the RET robber baron subsidies and then see if the renewable investment continues.

      • Jacinta

        To compete with the fossil fool subsidies! Get rid of those then the playing field will be equal and dominated by renewables.

        • Brian Dooley

          What subsidies do coal power plants receive ?

          • Brian Dooley

            By the way Eoin Musk cant make a dime he lives on subsidies provided by fools

          • Mike Westerman

            And where’s your heavy lift rocket at 1/10 of the cost the government does it for? Where’s your electric vehicles that are driving mainstream manufacturers out of their sloth? The subsidies are inadequate compensation for the value he has delivered. Only fools who persist in shorting his stock seem sour about the outcomes.

          • neroden

            I’ve debunked that further up.

            If you mean that Musk’s companies are funded by optimistic stock market investors — possibly too optimistic — well, that’s true.

            But we don’t usually call investor financing a “subsidy”, or we’d have to call every corporation in the world “subsidized”.

          • Lamby
          • Brian Dooley

            Fuel excise is tax on petroleum not coal. Coal is levied with a different tax. Nice try but wrong.

          • Lamby

            Mining companies pay no fuel excise for all of their trucks and heavy machinery.

          • Brian Dooley

            Correct all off road fuel use is excise free in this country eg farmers. They do not receive direct subsidies from poor folks unlike wind farm operators.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            Every other business, has to pay the taxes, to pay for road construction, that’s an indirect subsidy if I ever heard one, save on road construction, use high rise agriculture.

          • Brian Dooley

            Miners such as iron ore miners in your sights now. Just anti industrialist middle class snobbery.we should all be baristas. But where would our metals come from.

          • Lamby

            “Miners such as iron ore miners in your sights now. Just anti industrialist middle class snobbery”

            Don’t be ridiculous. I am replying to the question “what subsidies do coal plants receive.” I, and an number of people have answered that question and you guys seem to be arguing tangents.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            Is that Tony Abott, saying you can’t make steel with solar power again, while Sanjeev Gupta, prepares to do exactly that, I’m pro industrial revolution, see Tony Seba’s Clean Disruption. There’s trillions to be made, in rapid global industrialization, with cheap solar, electric vehicles, high rise agriculture.

          • neroden

            Don’t be ridiculous.

            Probably iron mines should have subsidies — we probably want to promote iron mining. But making their equipment exempt from fuel tax *is a subsidy*, and making coal mining equipment exempt from fuel tax *is a subsidy*.

            You don’t get to pretend that it’s a subsidy when you don’t like it and that it isn’t a subsidy when you do like it.

          • Brian Dooley

            Tax deductions apply to all businesses from farms wind farms to green newsletters.

          • Lamby

            There is also the biggest subsidy – the Taxpayer paid to build almost every single Coal Power station in Australia. 100% subsidised to build (which were later sold).

          • itdoesntaddup

            So the government on behalf of the taxpayer invested? Shock, horror.

          • Mike Westerman

            Worse – the assets were privatised under false pretences, at enormous transfer of wealth to private operators.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            Who then failed to maintain the power plant, running them into the ground, thank goodness renewables plus storage, are getting cheaper than coal plant maintenance. Like Telstra copper lines, if they privatize the NBN, that won’t get any maintenance either.

          • itdoesntaddup

            The “I don’t think they tax coal enough” version of subsidy then, as opposed to e.g. the 30% cash contributions made on new solar installations.

          • Mike Westerman

            No, rather that the coal is ours, a commonwealth asset, that we allow them to mine, and keep the proceeds. Efficient resource allocation would only allow them a regulated return on their investments – anything beyond is a subsidy.

          • itdoesntaddup

            I don’t think you understand markets.

          • Mike Westerman

            Well that’s you unsubstantiated opinion – markets are human creations, subject to the rules of the most powerful ie they do what the powerful want. Our constitution makes clear who owns our minerals. The powerful determine how much of that wealth is transferred to others, and how much we keep ourselves. On the other hand, the powerful don’t regulate the sun, and people are realising that.

          • Barri Mundee

            And then there is that massive subsidy that is not reflected in your ERoEI involved in the failure to factor in the high cost of coal-fired pollution. Brown coal being the most egregious example.

          • itdoesntaddup

            I don’t think you understand the term. Energy Return on Energy Invested. It’s a purely thermodynamic concept that has nothing to do with money, but everything to do with the efficiency with which we procure our energy. some reading:

            https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421513003856

          • Barri Mundee

            Queh? I was talking about the massive subsidies that FF energy enjoys by escaping responibility for their CO2 and other pollutants.

          • itdoesntaddup

            So, your personal opinion that fossil fuels aren’t taxed sufficiently, with only the most handwaving of estimates to back that up. ERoEI deals in facts, not unprovable assertions.

          • Barri Mundee

            Why should a polluting industry escape CONSEQUENCES or MARKET SIGNALS for their high pollution? The cost of the pollution needs to be part of the cost of production.

            Isn’t that Free markets 101?

          • itdoesntaddup

            And the market signal is what?

          • Barri Mundee

            There currently is no market signal and that’s the problem. Externalities such as pollution should be reflected in the market price of the polluter. THEN we can talk about reducing subsidies for renewables.

          • itdoesntaddup

            Well, there are market signals elsewhere. The price of EU ETS is pretty low at around €9/tCO2 – and that’s the highest it’s been in quite a while.

          • Barri Mundee

            The EU scheme is a load of crap. A tax on CO2 that is gradually raised is the way to go or just impose ever tighter limits on CO2 emissions.

          • itdoesntaddup

            So, non market measures, just because you say so?

          • Tom

            1) The private operators of coal plants bought the plant for less than it cost the government to build it. (No coal-fired power station has ever been built in Australia by a private operator).

            2) The plant generally has access to a coal reserve that is either free with the plant, or sells coal to the plant for well below the global coal price.

            3) The NEM rules mean that the price of non-dispatchable coal energy is the same as the price of dispatchable methane (gas), hydro, or battery energy. (This also unfairly advantages stand-alone wind or solar plants).

            4) I don’t think any Australian coal-fired power station has paid any compensation for any health effects or for any climate-related effects of their use. Australian coal-fired power stations were partly responsible for the cyclonic devastation of Peurta Rico, for example. We know it contributes, but we just can’t say “these power stations caused this event, or this person’s emphysema”.

          • Brian Dooley

            Your points have validity in the way the plants were privatised and the flawed NEM not the ultimate economics of them. As to our coal plants causing cyclones in Puerto Rico human flatulence probably caused it. An incredibly dumb assertion.

          • Tom

            re. Puerto Rico – as I said – no-one can ever attribute complete responsibility, hence no-one will ever be sued, but everyone knows the frequency of these things is going up with the ocean temperature, which is warmed by the atmospheric temperature. Hence, not dumb at all, our coal-fired grid WAS partly responsible.

          • itdoesntaddup

            everyone knows the frequency of these things is going up

            They may think they know, but there is no evidence for the frequency of hurricanes increasing whatsoever. It’s a myth.

            https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2015/11/12/long-term-trends-in-atlantic-hurricanes/

          • Tom

            An American Flat-Earther’s home-made blog site. Well, it MUST be true then.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            Their frequency has decreased, but their severity, has increased, with ocean warming, 34°C in coastal Tasmania, tuna fishing in Greenland, 47°C in Western Sydney. This year in NW coastal Tasmania, I’ve had to use a lot more air-conditioning, my heating bills are very small, Hobart real estate prices have gone up by 14.5%, or was that 17.5%, I forget. 4-7 million people die of air pollution per year, vehicle noise blights our lives, instead of quiet electric vehicles, you don’t have to die to suffer from air pollution, just getting less oxygen into your lungs, reduces your quality of life. CO2, is a poison, ask the astronauts on Apollo 13, when they didn’t have enough CO2 scrubbers, they nearly died.

            Energy and transportation can change fast, hundreds of coal fired power plants have been cancelled in China, India, Europe, the US; China has changed to high speed railways. The US has gone to unconventional hydrocarbon production, reducing net transportation energy imports, to zero net. To see what’s going to happen to coal, see horse transportation, gas lighting, in the 1920’s, when was the last non LED screen, you saw?!!

          • itdoesntaddup

            There is no evidence that the severity of hurricanes has increased either. But then you didn’t bother to read about it, did you?

            Anecdotes about weather (which is not exactly unusual weather either) are not evidence about climate. CO2 is of course plant food – and plants have responded to its increased availability by greening the earth, reversing the trend of desertification that seemed evident 50 years ago. China’s oil consumption continues to grow in line with rising vehicle numbers – up from 10.2 million b/d in 2012 to 12.4 million b/d in 2016. The high speed rail projects don’t replace anything except perhaps a few internal flights, but those also continue to rise in number. Coal isn’t going away any time soon because there’s still lots of it in the ground – the global R/P ratio for known reserves economically producible at today’s prices stands at over 150 years. Mind you, with your plans I can see horse transportation making a comeback.

          • Michael Coleman

            itdoesntknowhowtoaddup, your ‘contributions’ are hilarious and as credible as your climate science denial. Pretending to be omniscient is so man-child, I suspect you are really Donald Trump!

          • itdoesntaddup

            If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.

          • Mike Westerman

            I’ve not seen evidence of far sightedness so maybe you should have those eyes checked. For someone who decries subsidies, nuclear would be the last straw. Likewise for a free market adherent, talking of market failure and manipulation is blasphemy! Maybe cross-eyed?

          • Barri Mundee

            Ah the “CO2 is plant food argument. It ain’t necessarily so. Its a simplistic argument at best.

            “More Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere is not necessarily good for plants.
            This conjecture is based on simple and appealing logic: if plants need CO2 for their growth, then more of it should be better. We should expect our crops to become more abundant and our flowers to grow taller and bloom brighter.

            However, this “more is better” philosophy is not the way things work in the real world. There is an old saying, “Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.” For example, if a doctor tells you to take one pill of a certain medicine, it does not follow that taking four is likely to heal you four times faster or make you four times better. It’s more likely to make you sick.

            It is possible to boost growth of some plants with extra CO2, under controlled conditions inside of greenhouses. Based on this, ‘skeptics’ make their claims of benefical botanical effects in the world at large. Such claims fail to take into account that increasing the availability of one substance that plants need requires other supply changes for benefits to accrue. It also fails to take into account that a warmer earth will see an increase in deserts and other arid lands, reducing the area available for crops.

            Plants cannot live on CO2 alone; a complete plant metabolism depends on a number of elements. It is a simple task to increase water and fertilizer and protect against insects in an enclosed greenhouse but what about doing it in the open air, throughout the entire Earth? Just as increasing the amount of starch alone in a person’s diet won’t lead to a more robust and healthier person, for plants additional CO2 by itself cannot make up for deficiencies of other compounds and elements”.

            https://skepticalscience.com/co2-pollutant.htm

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            Very valid points, but high rise agriculture, means CO2 reduction, and O2 production, in the cities where it’s needed, reducing CO2 overdose poisoning, to plants worldwide.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            China makes 60% of the world’s solar panels, from thin film technology we helped, the Chinese guy who studied in Newcastle NSW develop, he hired his professor. CO2 output levels haven’t increased, whilst global economic growth, has been 3%, for the last 3 years, soon they will reduce the output. The reduced demand for coal, has reduced the price, to a fraction of what it was a decade ago, Newcastle ships 1/3 as much per year.

          • itdoesntaddup

            China massively over-invested in solar panel production capacity, which has cost it dearly in failed bankrupt ventures, and left unsold surplus panels flooding markets at below cost prices as banks try to recoup something from the mess.

            China resumed its growth in coal consumption and emissions in 2017 I think you’ll find, following the recession they suffered in 2016.

            Coal prices may not be quite at the highs they achieved when oil went to $150, but they are at very healthy levels: $105 in early January:

            https://www.reuters.com/article/us-asia-coal-congestion/asian-coal-prices-hit-late-2016-high-amid-huge-shipping-congestion-idUSKBN1ET0M1

            It’s certainly way above the levels at the turn of the century when we had low oil prices, and coal was under $30.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            Coal was $30 a tonne, at the turn of the century, with inflation, that’d be more than a thousand dollars a tonne. As to oil, the Saudi Arabian’s have a transition plan, to use their deserts for solar power. Some of that Chinese solar panel oversupply, is heading to India, who have just built a GW solar power plant. Growth in Chinese coal consumption, I’m sceptical, return to nearly the previous consumption, I’d believe. With cancellation, of at least 85 planned coal fired power plants, increased output of power from current plants. Lower pollution, from current power plants, that I might believe, regular shut downs of powerplants, on bad pollution weeks.

            Increased coal purchases, is just replenishment, of the coal mountain stockpiles. They are dumping solar panels, at below price, hence the US tariffs, of 30%, to encourage their own industry. A real financial boost, for Tesla and other US solar panel manufacturers, better than a subsidy, which are rapidly reducing, due to lower cost per kWh.

          • itdoesntaddup

            You are claiming that inflation in the US is a factor of at least 35 since 2000? (Coal prices internationally are quoted in US dollars, in case you didn’t know). LOL

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            118 years, at compound interest, 1.04 to the 118 th power, you could buy an apple for a cent, that far into the past. Compound savings, in solar since the 1970’s, solar power is 1/100th the price per kWh, the price halved, in just the last 2.5 years.

          • itdoesntaddup

            So you can’t figure that 2018 is just 18 years on from 2000?

            LOL

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            Oh right, turn of the century, meant 1901 for my generation, your a millennial, smashed avacado and all that. Use the expression turn of the millennium, it helps to avoid that confusion. This weather is normal is it, the seas around Tasmania are 6°C warmer, when I got here, they’d had drought. That turned into flood, this year, it’s been drought and bushfires again, this is supposed to be a temperate European, 4 seasons climate, moist cool. Not monsoonal, like the mainland.

            What happens, when concentrated cooled high and low frequency solar cells, developed by Australia, makes the price of solar power, 1/4 the price of coal fired power. The physics of coal can’t change that fast, the physics of photovoltaic solar energy, can change fast. Electric vehicles need 1/10th of the maintenance, cost 1/5th as much to power, as Musk moves into mass production of the Tesla 3, at $35,000. The total cost of ownership, with high resale value, due to mass production of lithium batteries, has plummeted.

            I believe were hitting the roaring twenties again, but market saturation in the 30’s, could bring on the Grand Depression. The low maintenance and high resale of electric vehicles, low maintenance of solar panels. The software and hardware nature, of vertical farming, these mean a crash of employment, after the construction purchase phase, like the mining boom.

          • neroden

            I pretty much agree with your economic analysis, but rather than roaring twenties / great depression, I’d use Industrial Revolution / Panic of 1909 as the reference point.

          • neroden

            The Chinese coal situation is widely misunderstood. There was a weird conflict between the central government and the regional province governments.

            https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/reports/2017/05/15/432141/everything-think-know-coal-china-wrong/

            To summarize, provincial governors figured out that they could get kickbacks by building unnecessary, overpriced coal plants which wouldn’t operate often, and jacking up electricity prices. The central government has been trying to crack down on this scam and has mostly been successful. The “corrupt kickback” coal plants are not, in fact, operating much.

          • Barri Mundee

            That data looks to be out of date.

          • itdoesntaddup

            Trump just imposed dumping duties on Chinese solar panels. Looks like there’s still a big overhang in the market, so it’s you who appears not to be up to speed with events.

          • Mike Westerman

            Trump imposed duties in response to submissions by two foreign companies who are now bankrupt! And he now runs the risk of retaliation from the Chinese. Dumb politics more than progressive thinking.

          • itdoesntaddup

            The US solar industry has been bleating that they will see a big downturn in sales because their offerings will be uncompetitive if they have to pay a proper price for solar panels, rather than scooping up dumped ones – and the US solar panel manufacturing industry seems to have gone through some spectacular bankruptcies because they couldn’t compete with dumped panels from China. Solyndra, anyone?

          • Mike Westerman

            Dumping is selling in a foreign country at lower prices than in your own. There is no evidence that this has happened. Chinese manufacturers have over invested momentarily in production capacity and so a selling stock at near or at cost. Given the controlled economy in China, there is no cost of capital as such, so of course they can undercut a capitalist market where individual companies must price and pay a return to cover risk.

          • itdoesntaddup

            More nonsense

            Dumping is defined in the Agreement on Implementation of Article VI of the GATT 1994 (The Anti-Dumping Agreement) as the introduction of a product into the commerce of another country at less than its normal value.

            One of the bases on which countries may determine that
            sales are not made in the ordinary course of trade is if sales in the
            domestic market of the exporter are made below cost.

            https://tradingeconomics.com/china/interest-rate

          • Mike Westerman

            So you repeat my definition and then call it “more nonsense” – this is getting weird. Clearly tho’ the panels were not dumped by any definition. Nor was any American manufacturer harmed.

          • itdoesntaddup

            The panels were sold below cost. That is officially dumped.

          • Mike Westerman

            Where’s you evidence of the Chinese cost structure? Costed on what basis? Nothing except suppositions by the Americans of what they needed to convince protectionist Trump to jump.

          • itdoesntaddup

            Evidence from the Indians:

            http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/antidumping-probe-on-chinese-solar-panel-cells/article9786741.ece

            The EU has been imposing anti-dumping duties since 2013:

            https://www.forbes.com/sites/davekeating/2018/01/23/trump-follows-europes-lead-with-chinese-solar-panel-tariffs/#78be152531a8

            You should look beyond the end of your nose, but remove your rose tinted specs first.

          • Barri Mundee

            The planetary atmosphere is shared by all of us.

          • itdoesntaddup

            1) When the plants were sold off they weren’t exactly spanking new, so the price they could achieve reflects depreciated value.
            2) The value of coal at the mine mouth is the world price, adjusted for quality differences, netted back for transport cost to the closest export port, with an adjustment for sea freight if that is not Newcastle. It is often more economic to turn the coal into electricity, and export its energy over a transmission line.
            3) Coal has to keep running even when the temporary margin is negative: the average price secured by coal generation will be somewhat lower than for rampable, dispatchable gas.
            4) With electricity, the human condition has been improved beyond all recognition, far outweighing the negatives you cite (and where the real effect is far smaller): perhaps we should account for that too.

          • Tom

            So why has no profit-making private operator EVER built a coal-fired power station in Australia?

          • itdoesntaddup

            That simply isn’t even true.

            You’ll find the real history of electricity in Australia here:

            http://www.ewh.ieee.org/r10/nsw/subpages/history/electricity_in_australia.pdf

          • My_Oath

            4) Nonsense. We can generate electricity from a number of sources. As far as the benefits of electricity are concerned, therefore the comparative balance is nil. It is perfectly valid to look directly at the negatives of coal generation. Your argument really does fail to add up. Hilariously so in fact.

          • itdoesntaddup

            You are the kind who wish to keep under-developed nations under-developed, with no reliable power. Then you want to inflict it on the rest of us. Shameful.

          • My_Oath

            You are the kind who attacks the person with calumnies when you have been quite correctly called out for spruiking BS. Shameful.

          • Steve159
          • Barri Mundee

            Their pollution is being subsidised. That’s the key subsidy which is increasingly untenable.

          • neroden

            Which country? Tom listed some (but not all!) of the Australian subsidies.

            There’s a different list of subsidies for coal power plants in the US, and another list in India, and another list in China.

            And then there are the direct subsidies to the coal mines, which are even bigger. I know the US subsidies best (percentage depletion, submarket lease rates on federal land, “self bonding” in order to not fund mine rehabilitation costs), but the Australian direct subsidies for coal mines include the ones listed here:

            https://reneweconomy.com.au/coal-production-subsidies-cost-australians-1-8bn-a-year-77543/

            Then, of course, there’s the free license to dump toxins in the air and give asthma to people — that’s a subsidy too.

            If you were asking a genuine question, this is a partial answer — gobs and gobs and gobs of subsidies for coal.

            We should get rid of all these subsidies for coal. It would basically disappear immediately. In the US, coal-burning power plants are now begging state governments for taxpayer-financed bailouts, on top of the existing subsidies.

          • Brian Dooley

            Depreciation and off road diesel rebates are open to all businesses including wind farms etc. And the coal plants gave us the cheapest power in the world so it was was worth it. By the way pal Al Gores movie an Inconvenient Truth was found to be a lie by British Courts. Pacific island of Tuvalu is expanding…an inconvenient truth for greenie neolithics.

        • Brian Dooley

          Eoin Musk cant make a penny without fool governments subsiding him

          • itdoesntaddup

            Musk can only make losses. $675m in the latest quarter, over $2bn in the last year.

          • Steve159

            “Musk can only make losses”

            Rubbish. Their high profit margins are being reinvested in building greater production facilities.

            Like any new business on a fast development trajectory.

          • itdoesntaddup

            Rubbish. Musk is reporting massive losses, not just massive cash consumption. If he fails to turn that to profit by year end (as he has promised), expect the markets to take a very dim view.

          • Steve159

            High profit margins do not mean running at a profit, when those profits are “burned” by massive reinvestment, cost of growth (hiring new-hires, etc. new model development)..

          • itdoesntaddup

            ¿Qué? Musk is making massive losses, and unable to run his factory to produce the vehicles he promised. You can’t make a profit if you don’t produce anything. If he can’t get his act together soon, Tesla will be history. Market sentiment could turn very quickly – there is an awful lot of wishful thinking in the share price.

          • Steve159

            Could you at least, please, do a modicum of homework, and stop with your rubbish replies.

            “This is impressive, considering that the company’s far more expensive Model S and Model X vehicles garner similar margins” (of 25%)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            Tesla’s Detroit-based rivals, GM and Ford, typically see gross margins of under 15%.”

            https://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2017/08/03/tesla-beats-estimates-forecasts-attractive-margins-on-model-3/#30abe4b52d53

            what part of 25% profit margin don’t you understand?

            coal-troll please just go away, and let us who see the future, feast in its wonderful clean, “free”, power.

          • Barri Mundee

            Most other disruptive technologies will burn through cash in their initial stages. Startups require time to ramp up and get to economies of scale.

          • daw

            But ‘most other technologies’ haven’t had subsidies they survive or fail on their merits

          • Barri Mundee

            “But ‘most other technologies’ haven’t had subsidies they survive or fail on their merits”.

            So you agree then that FF’s ought to have the biggest subsidy of all withdrwawn and not be allowed to pump CO2 into the atmosphere?

            That’s a logical ramification of your view.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            And Henry T Ford, didn’t make a profit, while he was building his factories either, so what, he’s got enough money, to send one of his cars, to the asteroids.

          • Steve Woots

            ah, and of course established manufacturers of fossil cars *never* need subsidies / bailouts. Like GM going bankrupt or anything….

          • daw

            What has that got to do with the debate about electricity?

          • Barri Mundee

            Now you coming across as more of a troll than a serious contributor.

          • neroden

            Musk’s companies have never received subsidies from the US, Australia, or any other national government.

            They receive small “please put your factory here” subsidies from state governments, but so do Amazon, Wal-Mart, and pretty much every other company in the world.

      • Steve Woots

        to be fair, end all fossil subsidies too, and see which investment continues. Given that fossil is losing out even with huge subsidies…..

        • itdoesntaddup

          Where are the subsidies for fossil fuels being paid from?

          • Lamby
          • neroden

            The subsidies linked to by Lamby are *direct* subsidies — the government giving away taxpayer dollars to coal mines.

            Get rid of those ASAP!

          • Barri Mundee

            The biggest subsidy is the failure to withdraw a very large subsidy that has been in place for far too long, the penalty reflecting the pollutants that FF plants emit,briwn coal obviously being the worst example.

            We now have viable alternative which once were NOT viable. To assist a clean energy source it is sound public policy to encourage them to become firmly established.

          • daw

            Yeah ‘viable’ because they are subsidised! To my knowledge coal has never been subsidised NOR was the electricity systems (referred to as the Grid) They have all been paid for by electricity users and capital contributions to get connected. The people who can feel most cheated are those who payed capital contributions only to see the systems sold to Private enterprise. SA was second only to VIC in doing so with NSW running 3rd

          • Barri Mundee

            “Yeah ‘viable’ because they are subsidised!”
            Se my comment below.

            Coal and other FF’s ARE subsidised by means of the most massive subsidy known: the free kick that they get for their very high pollutants.

        • daw

          Tell us what and where these subsidies for fossil fuel are please I’ve heard it a number of times but never had any detail or proof that it is so.

      • Barri Mundee

        The alternative is to leave it to the market.

        But it’s the failure of the market in the first place (basically allowing pollutants to be exempt from being discouraged and penalised by means of either regulation-which I prefer- or a price on emissions) that favours the incumbents.

        Even without explicitly penalising pollution on existing FF plants (the failure to do so in in fact the REAL subsidy) an emerging technology usually require government support for some time until firmly established.

        A good case can be made for phasing out subsidies given to renewables when carbon pollution is no longer subsidised.

    • Jacinta

      Beat comment ever. Your articulated my feelings perfectly.

    • Brian Dooley

      Yes grab the money from the poor. Fact is you can publish all the misleading graphs you like before the great Al Gore lies coal gave us cheap power. Oh yes Tim Flannery another liar. Remove the $ 3 billiion anchor around our economic neck. And dont confuse tax rebates for productive industry with subsidies to spivs. Why did our power prices rise with the RET hippy ???

      • Barri Mundee

        Coal did give us cheap power- because its cheapness is based on a free kick- the “freedom” to pump and add to the ever-increasing CO2 that is in the atmosphere. It should NOT be free, there should be penalties.that are included in the cost.

        Why was Tim Flannery a liar in your opinion? Please provide a link to your source.

        I am pretty sure his words were twisted and used against him out of context.

      • Your liars, spivs and hippies are building a fossil-free world – whether you like it or not.

  • Cooma Doug

    It cant be said enough.
    The products being talked about on the emerging renewable grid
    are not yet fully appreciated, not just by the bloke down the pub, but the nerds involved in the science also. Its like picking chickens not knowing which one is a rooster.
    The complexity of the spot market and FCAS, make judgements about the value of all products impossible for the man with an Iphone on the lounge.
    One thing that hides in this fog is that the value of assets will change as things progress.
    The guy with 10 kwhr solar wont appreciate Snowy 2 until he gets offers utilising the market opportunities it creates.
    Until we have such products in the market the opportunities are narrow.
    We wont appreciate the opportunity Snowy 2 presents
    by thinking about coal, politicians and fox news. We will see it better if we understand how it can increase the value of big, small, load side and grid investments.

    • Tony Pfitzner

      Snowy 2.0 has no business case outside of a massive consumer or tax payer subsidy. The arbitrage market will cease to exist once the daytime peak gets flattened by solar, batteries and local pumped hydro.
      It’s a white elephant.

      • Steve Woots

        Oh, it’s proven to be a nice photo opportunity too !

        • Tony Pfitzner

          Newspoll Snowy 2.0

      • Mike Westerman

        The arbitrage market between “free” solar and evening demand will hopefully be priced by the marginal cost of alternatives in meeting it. That will be a competition between batteries and pumped hydro, with batteries having better round trip efficiency but shorter lives and higher LCOS.

    • neroden

      I have no problem with Snowy 2 if it can be entirely privately financed, and pass the environmental tests.

      It’s a poor investment of taxpayer money though. The same taxpayer money could build a lot more capacity in batteries like the Big Battery.

      • Carl Raymond S

        Definitely more MW if invested in batteries, and also locations can be anywhere desired, not bound by geography.
        Hydro investment however must surely deliver more MWh for each dollar invested. That ‘h’ is all important if you need days of storage.
        Do both, seems intuitively right. Full scale computer modelling of various 100% RE (and demand management) combinations, at which you can throw the worst wind and solar droughts and come out the other end unscathed, are a way to know for sure.

      • Cooma Doug

        The dams are already there. There is 5000 GWhr already stored in the scheme.
        Snowy 2 is about making that storage available to renewable energy. It is about making a further 2000 MW and 350MWHrs of load shifting available to the market.
        It reduces the value of large base load fossil fuel and increases hugely the value of all renewables, including batteries. It is not a prop for coal. It is not the enemy of technology. It is sufficient load shifting to enable the transition. It will be the platform for load side market technology.

        If we talk about battery at an optimistic 100 dollars a KWhr, it would cost 35 billion. That is without the associated infrastructure.

  • Jon

    It’s because of this ever accelerating installation of renewable that I think that Snowy 2.0 needs to go ahead.
    It will take a few years to build, by that time there will be more renewable generation out there than most of us could optimistically predict, probably with battery storage that will shave small peaks and fill small holes.
    The network will need some big hole fillers as well.

    • DJR96

      I think you’re grossly underestimating how much battery storage we’ll see in future. After coal is gone, Snowy hydro will need to operate as a gap filler, ‘peaker plant’ instead of continuous. Which means any further investment in it would be superfluous and a waste.
      Eventually the entire network will be maintained by inverters and ‘inertia’ as we know it we be obsolete. There will be times where the network is running without any synchronous generation operating.

      • itdoesntaddup

        If there is no margin in smoothing out the diurnal demand profile, then that applies to all storage, not just Snowy 2. Of course, Snowy 2 is designed around a different timescale, with 170hours of storage (if only for <10% of NEM demand) – one that is simply not covered by battery projects with an hour or two of storage, or the smaller PHES schemes that are designed to operate on a daily cycle of peak lopping together with some support services.

        Once you start closing down dispatchable generation below the level needed to provide full backup, you will reach situations where the weather remains unfavourable for a longer period of days across enough of the system to cause serious shortages. Those situations will be very expensive to cover with storage. Perhaps you should instead start thinking about the desirability of ending up with the need for massive storage that only gets used occasionally, with the cost it entails.

        • Mike Westerman

          I love your references to “weather that remains unfavourable for a longer period of days across enough of the system to cause serious shortages” – I presume that this is when the sun doesn’t bother to rise for a few days. The reality is that many locations, a short distance from large load centres, have very few days of majority cloud, that large portions of Australia are virtually cloud free almost all the time – not that surprising when you look at precipitation across our arid regions. No doubt during the transition from now to then, there will be periods when expensive back up is required, but ultimately ubiquitous solar will mean supply is not the issue on a daily basis, demand will move to maximise value during periods of maximum supply, and the task will be using pumped hydro meet evening peaks. Rarer events will be adequately covered by voluntary curtailment and low capex standby sets (with high marginal operating costs reflecting their very low capacity factors).

          • itdoesntaddup

            So the plan is:

            a) ditch the wind farms
            b) replace with solar in the Simpson desert
            c) build poles and wires from there to areas of consumption, and to
            d) several TWh of PHES in areas where there is sufficient water
            e) with how much capacity overbuild?

          • Jon

            Funny you should mention the Simpson Dessert.
            I’m working with a few people trying to get a solar project to run there.
            We have daily solar irradiation data since 1990, with that data we’ve taken the days that produce less than 20% of the average solar irradiation and then mapped out the consecutive days that are below that threshold.
            In mid winter most years have more than 1 occourance of a 6 consecutive days below that threshold.
            Chemical battery storage to get better than 90% uptime over the full year is big/expensive, chemical battery storage to get better than 90% uptime in every month is prohibitive.

          • Steve159

            “chemical battery storage to get better than 90% uptime in every month is prohibitive.”

            –>

            “chemical battery storage to get better than 90% uptime in every month is currently prohibitive.”

            TFTFY

          • itdoesntaddup

            Nothing like some real world data. Thanks for contributing it.

          • Mike Westerman

            Yep – which is where the arm chair commentators and text book enthusiasts are told to take a walk and you ask an engineer for options. Those that come to mind would include alternative back up ie HS diesel running on biodiesel if wishing to be totally sustainable, thermal storage if heating and cooling are a significant proportion of demand and curtailment including by load shifting (ie do the washing and water pumping on other days). 20% insolation would cover most baseline tasks in most environments.

          • Jon

            Thanks for your input, and assumptions on my skill set.
            It’s a single load, runs 24/7 at 6.5kW, current uptime target is >97% which we are achieving running on crude oil.
            The solution has to pay for itself in <8 years and be replicatable across ~200 sites

          • Mike Westerman

            Not a reflection on your skills Jon, but on those that leap on your conclusions and extrapolate them to a conclusion that RE “doesntaddup” across the globe.

            RE for your application sounds like an energy displacement solution rather than an energy replacement solution – you put as much solar in as pays for itself from the fuel oil displaced with a value to be sold elsewhere, plus whatever the reduced maintenance/extended life on your fuel oil generators is.

          • Jon

            All good 🙂

          • neroden

            Sounds like yours is a case where keeping the oil generators as “deep backup” makes sense. You already HAVE the oil generators.

            So, as Mike says, first you put in as much solar as pays for itself with the displaced oil usage. This will probably be a lot, and will probably leave you with some excess (“spilled”) daytime solar production. (This is the lowest-upfront-cost action.)

            Then you put in as much batteries as pays for itself with the displaced oil usage from the “spilled” solar. (This is the second-lowest-upfront-cost action.)

            Then you put in enough additional solar + batteries as pay for itself with the displaced oil usage from that. (This is the third-lowest-upfront-cost action.) You can do this all at once if you do the math right.

            (And if the site is right, before you do any of this you put in as much wind power as pays for itself with the displaced oil usage.)

            By the time you’ve done all of that, your oil usage in the generators is probably well under 10% of what you were using before. If these are oil wells (a real possibility given your description) you probably leave it at that.

            If they’re not oil wells, you consider at what point your maintenance costs for the oil generators and supply costs for the oil exceed the cost of throwing in more batteries. Eventually they will and it will make sense to go completely battery.

          • Mike Westerman

            Never one to miss the chance of a false dichotomy eh?!! Why ditch wind farms that in SA are very counter-cyclic to solar? Why go out to the Simpson Desert when the rain shadow behind Mt Lofty Ranges produces some of the best solar in Australia within an hour of a capital city? The poles and wires are there so why build more? The sites for PHES around Adelaide are there, and if filled with flood flows in the Murray will increase the stock of stored water in SA so why babble about inconsequentials? When solar is so cheap if is sold standard with every sheet of roofing, why calculate overbuild?

            The plan of a responsive government would be:
            a) identify trends in tech that are beneficial
            b) identity and prioritise where it can be deployed
            c) develop contingency plans to cover the transition
            d) develop and reform mechanisms for paying for what is needed equitably

            Sadly we don’t see any of that happening.

          • itdoesntaddup

            I thought Australia was a little bit bigger than just Adelaide.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            Australia is big, 25% of our deserts, could give us 1,250 times as much energy, as we currently use, mostly for cable electron and liquid hydrogen exports.

          • Mike Westerman

            Sigh…priorities little nameless creature: SA is furtherest down the road, with traditionally poor energy resources, so solve their problems first. Tas will be 100% renewables in the near future, and hopefully will electrify their transport sector soon as well to add further value to the clean and green trademark.

            The big three will take time, but Qld and NSW have excellent solar resources close to population centres. Qld has better solar resources year around but NSW has better PHES sites in the GW range – they will get there over a longer time period.

            Vic is a challenge as its wind resources are seasonal and altho’ it has reasonable solar resources it has limited local storage options. It may well rely on the other states for storage and supply diversity, unless some of the alternatives to Snowy 2 are developed and a significant HVDC link installed from the Snowy to Melbourne with some internal reinforcement between Murray and Tumut schemes.

          • Jon

            These “Rarer events” are actually quite regular and predictable if you look at statistical data with months and seasons that are high or low average wind speed and months that are high or low solar irradiation.

            The appetite for business to curtail demand will be inversely proportional to the frequency and duration, once or twice a year for an hour or so and most businesses would be openly to the idea, regularly curtailments will quickly effect their ability to run a profitable business.

            The “Horrific South Australia Blackaout” that the coalition and coal lovers drag out at every occasion was 1 event that lasted for 40 minutes. Australians expect and extraordinary level of power supply security.

          • RobertO

            Hi Mike Westerman, Just letting you know “I have written to my pollies asking them to can Snowy 2 (even though I do believe that we will need it eventually or something like it with longer term storage, more than just a days’ worth)

        • DJR96

          Those periods of extended unfavourable weather conditions are where the existing gas generators will continue a role. They can’t respond instantly, but can cold start in hours. Whereas coal needs days to cold start and therefore lose the ability to participate in the market at all. But again, don’t underestimate the potential capacity of battery storage.

          • itdoesntaddup

            Price out 10 TWh of battery storage. That’s the order of magnitude Australia would require to go all renewables. Some help: it’s about 740 million Powerwalls’ worth at $10,000 a pop. Replace every 15 years, being generous.

          • Barri Mundee

            Storage is what is needed but the type of storage depends on what makes both sense in supporting grid reliability and cost.

            But costs of battery storage will come down and its both unrealistic and disingeuous to omit the likely significant downward trajectory of battery storage.

            I do think pumped hydro will have a much larged role than now, including Snowy 2.

          • itdoesntaddup

            Battery storage need to come down by at least an order of magnitude to be competitive. It’s unlikely to happen: as a chemist puts it, storing energy in ion lattices is never going to be as effective as storing it in chemical bonds.

      • Jon

        Don’t get me wrong, I believe Chemical batteries are a massive part of our future but comparing chemical batteries to pumped hydro is like comparing wind and solar. They are both excellent tools and have a symbiotic relationship, each makes the other more useful and don’t compete with or detract from each other.

        • neroden

          True, but batteries are cheaper and can be deployed faster, so caution should be taken before putting money into pumped hydro. The cheapest pumped hydro schemes should be the priority.

          • Jon

            That’s like saying that solar is cheaper than wind so caution should be taken before putting money into wind. They do different jobs.

            I’m not saying that Snowy 2.0 should be the only Pumped Hydro that should be developed but it does have a few pretty big advantages;
            1. The dams are built, with water licences in place, any other project is going to have a fairly steep Environmental Approval and licensing process to go through, and rightfully so.
            1.1 Because the dams are built most of its embedded energy is already in place.
            2. It’s pretty well located between Aus 2 biggest cities.
            3. It’s Aus owned, the profits from it for the life of the project stay in Aus, our balance of trade needs all the help it can get.
            4. It’s big, (yes we do need lots of smaller ones as well) means it can run daily to timeshift to suit the mismatch between generation and usage but still have capacity to take daily surpluses for a couple of weeks and discharge it over a couple of consecutive days of non generating weather.

      • lin

        True. When EV become the main type of vehicle on our roads, they will be a potentially massive source of storage for absorbing excess and providing extra when supplies are low. Each vehicle will have several times the capacity of a home battery. This will happen very quickly as tumbling battery prices make EV the better, cheaper transport option.

        • mick

          just curious,if the car owner ship mechanism shifts to driver less and or unowned (by individuals) these acting like say uber or similar would shift the idea of ev being parked up all at once based around 9 till 5 to one of maybe fewer charging/discharging at irregular times

          • lin

            True, but even if most cars become driverless, there will be a significant period when most cars are parked and plugged in. No reason why they can’t make money from providing their battery services when not mobile as an additional revenue stream.

          • mick

            still leaves the model where less people own cars,rather use them like taxis whilst public transport gets more efficient and more utilised iv’e always assumed the the big smoke is where ev as grid stability but not so sure perhaps more so in large regional centers,less sevice longer distances ie:not walking distance agree totally personal use batteries or in localised energy trading communities awesome

  • Phil

    Not to mention the 800MW flow battery project in China

    These projects happen quickly. They need to look at POTENTIAL not just actuals.

    https://electrek.co/2017/12/21/worlds-largest-battery-200mw-800mwh-vanadium-flow-battery-rongke-power/

    • Steve Woots

      Aust has pretty good flow battery tech too. Always that question as to whether you can compete with China on cost
      https://www.zcell.com/

      • Phil

        The Aussie Z cell has limited scalability for projects that are 10 ‘s or 100’s of megawatts in output and Mega watt hours in run time

        The REDOX technology allows a larger chemical tank so can run for weeks.
        They also have a large factory able to manufacture volume.

        The REDFLOW type of flow battery the chemical tank can not be scaled up in size .They have to run multiple ZBM’s and this is the cause of the higher cost.They also have a very limited production capability

        Both technologies have their position in the market

  • Chris Fraser

    There’s a logical outcome for SA’s favouritism towards new renewable investment. And that is those ‘intermittent’ renewables are going to be eminently dispatchable in the eastern states. This will have impact on faster responding fossil generators such as gas. We could even see Vales Point and Loy Yang A and others idled until it gets really hot. If the other States are not getting with the program, perhaps at the least they should be organising better transmission linkages with SA !

    • Mike Dill

      Germany has a few coal plants that only run at peak.

      • neroden

        Yeah — those German coal peakers are wildly uneconomical and are mainly kept open by Merkel as a form of subsidy to the regions which contain them. It would definitively be cheaper to replace those with batteries + solar/wind.

    • Steve159

      “better transmission linkages with SA”

      I think SA have a better solution in mind — exporting surplus renewable power as hydrogen, ammonia, maybe even synthetic fuel.

      That way they don’t have to be beholden to slow-poke NSW, or anyone else. And the export facilities would likely occur before any additional interconnectors were built.

  • Eclectic Eel

    The effect the experience and intellect that Audrey Zibelman has brought to her role as chief of AEMO cannot be overstated. Her tenure in overseeing the complicated electricity network of New York City has made her a winner in the fight to overturn the troglodytes who ran the AEMO during the February 2017 shambles.

    She is the Elon Musk of electricity generation, distribution and regulation in the 21st century. Australia needs more people of her character and ability.

    • neroden

      Zibelman oversaw NY State, not NY City. For reference. (Way more complicated — power all the way from Niagara Falls to Long Island.)

      • mick

        we are keeping her

  • Barri Mundee

    This article has the FF shills/trolls/deniers coming out of the woodwork. This is surely a sign of desperation.

    BTW, I thin its unwise to debate whether or not the FF industry receives direct subsidies. That plays into their hands.

    Better to point out the hidden or indirect but enormous subsidy that the FF industry benefits from: the pollution it pumps into the atmosphere every single day.

    Coal and other FF’s were once “good for humanity” (to paraphrase a certain PM) because other than hydro and a few other sources of energy were the only alternatives.

    Not anymore and FF’s are now a liability to be phased out progressively by either a tax on carbon pollution or by regulation which requires FF plants to close according to a timetable that ensures dispatchable renewables will be able to ensure a high reliability electrical network.

    I favour regulation.

    • mick

      not sure about coming out of the woodwork seems co-ordinated

      • Barri Mundee

        Probably the case and edited accordingly!

        • mick

          meanwhile bhp mt arthur about to get shit canned in a class action over casual workers being underpaid and not being looked after when they get injured does this happen in ascendancy or decline oops bad question lol

    • neroden

      Actually, the deniers don’t believe pollution exists — they think inhaling the mercury-filled soot coming out of a coal plant is perfectly healthy (or at least that’s what they’ll say).

      They usually shut up when you point out direct government financial subsidies for fossil fuels, of which there are many.

      • Barri Mundee

        I have responded to the IPA propgandist/deniers/nuclear/ff shills/minerals council astroturfers, climate change contrarians (take your pick) that the most massive subsidy is the incontrovertible fact that the FF industry has been permitted to pump huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere with NO direct conquence or penalty.

  • heinbloed
  • neroden

    Tesla’s *quoted price* for batteries at large scale — which includes profit margin — comes out to about $50/MWh delivered before adding financing costs. Solar is typically cheaper than that. Under $100/MWh for the pair is easy; anyone can set up a system as profitably as Tilt is doing so. The real question is *how much* under $100/MWh each company’s costs are!

  • Barry Alternative Fact Covfefe

    “Australia is now like it or not (and most people like it), setting a course for a high renewable grid”
    https://grapestorm.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/jean-luc-picard-engage.jpeg

  • Alan S

    To the commenters who come here to whinge and make negative comments, here’s a list you can copy and paste wherever you see a positive story about renewables:
    The Sun doesn’t shine at night
    Windmills don’t turn when the wind doesn’t blow but if they did, they’d generate infrasound and kill birds.
    It takes more energy to build a windmill than it will ever generate.
    Lithium batteries explode and pollute large areas of China.
    Neodymium is bad in windmills but OK in mobile phones.
    Solar panels can’t be recycled, not even the glass and aluminium.
    Thorium fuelled small modular reactors are the best form of emission free baseload power and there are lots of them around the world.
    Have I missed anything?

    • Barri Mundee

      There are many Alan, though you have covered quite a few.
      I would add:

      “CO2 is plant food” refrain;
      Australia’s emissions are only about 1.5% of global so why do anything?

      China is building many more coal plants

      All have a certain amount of truth to them to ensure its plausible propaganda but they fail to tell the whole story.

  • Steve159

    @ itdoesntaddup, and affiliated coal-trolls.

    Here’s a question for. But think long and hard before you answer.

    In this thought-experiment: Consider a world in which there was, for domestic and commercial users, sufficient solar with battery for 24/7 power, even on cloudy days in the middle of winter, and that the combined package is provided at 5c/kWh (Australian). In that scenario, would you still advise we promote, build or continue the use of coal-fired power stations?

    Given that 5c/kWh is below the wholesale price, let alone well below the retail / distribution price, there would be negative financial incentive to stay on the grid.

    In that scenario why would you promote coal, or indeed, gas, given that a
    self-contained, independent system was cheaper, and more reliable?

    Actually I tell a lie. I have another question. When do you think that price will be achieved. Humour me. Make a guess.

    ps, if you say “never” that will speak volumes about your creative mind-set (none), and a poor analysis of history.

  • Sir John Maga

    “Dispatchable wind and solar”! Seriously. The only thing dispatchable about renewables is the coal power sent in to back them up. And don’t tell me a 30 MW
    Tesla battery matters a wit.