Energy Insiders Podcast November 27

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The Queensland poll result, the COAG meeting, and an interview with the lead author of the new Finkel report on energy storage.

Energy storage is the topic du jour in the Australian energy industry at the moment, particularly with the start-up of the Tesla big battery in South Australia this week, and the numerous other battery and pumped hydro projects across the country.

Bruce Godfrey, who headed the Australian Council of Learning Academies talks of the findings on what has been branded the new Finkel review on energy storage sector in Australia – and the roles, needs and opportunities for battery storage, pumped hydro, and other forms of storage, including wind and solar “fuels” -not to mention the behind the meter market.

Godfrey joins regular insiders Giles Parkinson and David Leitch to talk of this, and of course the results of the Queensland poll, the COAG meeting on the National Energy Guarantee, and the recent sale of Loy Yang B and what it means for the future of coal.

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  • Farmer Dave

    Giles and David, thank you for your podcasts. I was struck by the absence of a discussion of solar thermal with storage in the conversation. Clearly, that technology is currently too expensive, but it is too early to tell what the slope of the learning curve cost reduction graph is likely to be. The big advantage on solar PV, of course, is that almost all of the components of a solar farm can be mass produced, leading to the cost reductions we have seen. For solar thermal, the heliostats can be mass produced, while the remaining components are not so amendable to mass production. It would be interesting to know what the cost split between the heliostat field and the rest of system is, as that would help us assess the scope for cost reductions.

    Another part of the discussion talked about the potential for renewable electricity to be used to make a storable fuel, such as hydrogen or ammonia. We already have devices to convert sunlight (and CO2) to fuel – they are called plants. The only problem is that photosynthesis is not so efficient, and so I would not think that the potential for biomass to be a major energy carrier is great. What biomass can do, though, is fill renewable heat gaps and to back up other thermal systems. For example, the very first BZE report into stationary energy, relied a lot on solar thermal with storage, and saw a place for wood pellets as a backup renewable fuel for use during periods of bad weather. This approach made a lot of sense, I thought.