Reliability guarantee? It now exists in name only | RenewEconomy

Reliability guarantee? It now exists in name only

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Energy Security Board has finally got smart about reliability, and dumped plans promised to conservatives that would try and turn wind and solar plants into “base-load” generators. This is a huge development, and a victory for smart economics, and engineering.

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How quickly things change, and sometimes for the better.

Amid the ongoing controversy over the emissions component of the National Energy Guarantee, at least it can be said that the Energy Security Board has finally got smart about reliability.

In doing so, the ESB has effectively rejected the push by conservative elements to insist that all wind and solar farms be saddled with storage, in a half-baked attempt at trying to fit them into decades-old thinking about a centralised grid.

Instead, the ESB’s thinking on reliability is now focused on moulding the grid to fit around what are clearly the cheapest form of power generation – wind and solar.

Forget “baseload”, the idea for the future is base-cost renewables.

Remember, less than a year ago, energy minister Josh Frydenberg took this slide above – among others – to the Coalition party room to argue the benefits of the Finkel Review, and particularly its proposal for a generator reliability obligation.

The idea – in those intense days of the energy culture wars – was for renewables to “pay for their intermittency”. It was an attempt to try to jam wind and solar into old-fashioned ideas about the grid, that if they couldn’t act like “baseload” then they didn’t merit a place in the system.

That thinking was embraced in the first two versions of the National Energy Guarantee, which threatened to impose a cumbersome, complex and ultimately costly contracting requirement on both reliability and emissions.

That has now been more or less abandoned. Indeed, it is arguable that the NEG exists in name only.

The emissions component is abandoned because the Coalition effectively has no target that is greater than business as usual, and the proposed physical contracts will be replaced by financial ones similar to those that already exist, if they are needed at all.

The reliability component is effectively made redundant, because the ESB recognises that there is no pressing problem on reliability now or in the near future,

And any issues that do arise – such as from the sudden departure of several coal-fired generators – is best managed centrally (by the market operator) and mechanisms outside the NEG.

The reliability assessment will be done 10 years out, updated each year, and only if, within three years of a potential issue arising, is the reliability guarantee triggered.

This is a huge development. In a sense, you could call it a victory of the futurists over the traditionalists.

We will have to see exactly how the market operator carries out its mandate, but the focus now is clearly on embracing new technologies, rather than penalising them, and forming rules and mechanisms that recognise their speed and flexibility.

Of course, it remains to be seen if the final rules established by the AEMC and AEMO will be the most efficient. ITK analyst and RenewEconomy contributor David Leitch, for instance, argues that auctions should be the most efficient mechanism.

The AEMC has called for comments on various mechanisms that will be linked to, but remain separate from, the NEG. These include demand management, day-ahead markets, and strategic reserves.

If you ever wanted a clear indication of the transformation that is going on inside energy institutions, then this quote from the AEMC document sums it up:

“Demand response is our future. It can help keep costs down by avoiding unnecessary investment.”

This, from the organisation that took years to adopt demand response mechanisms, but which has now rushed through a key rule change and is contemplating others.

Still, the reliability component remains hostage to the government’s hopelessly inadequate emissions reduction targets – 26 per cent by 2030 for the electricity sector – and is, in effect, worse than if it had no policy at all.

This, of course, is the great weakness in the scheme, because it means little or no new investment in renewables, and therefore storage, apart from those mandated by state schemes, the corporate sectors, or behind the meter by households and smaller business.

One thing we do know is that no new “baseload” is needed.

The issue for market operators is not having enough power for general day-time and night-time use, there is plenty of that; it is for those demand peaks that occur in hot weather spells, that also cause trouble and put stress on the existing fleet of coal and gas generators.

This was illustrated by AGL economist Tim Nelson, in a presentation to the (appropriately named) Smart Energy conference last week, with this graph above.

It makes quite clear that NSW – probably the state with the biggest issues because it faces the most coal plants closures in the coming 10-15 years – has more than enough baseload.

For those occasions when there is not enough coal to meet the peaks, the system will use what it has for the past few decades: gas generation and other peaking plants.

And now there are more alternatives, because the peaks are narrower, thanks to rooftop solar, but they may be getting more acute as climate change takes hold.

The ESB speaks of demand management, and demand-side options, rather than new supply-side options like gas generators.

AGL’s Nelson suggests that in the medium term it will be a mixture of demand management and fast-response gas generators, and over the longer-term, battery storage and pumped hydro.

It was interesting to note that Morgan Stanley analysts also looked at this in a separate report last week, which was focused on Australia’s status as a “global test case for disruption” of the conventional utility industry.

In one of its many interesting observations, it reports on the so-called “merit order” for dispatchable power solutions.

Morgan Stanley rates these – from the cheapest to the more expensive – as:

(a) demand response (especially where demand curtailment comes at a low opportunity cost to the user);

(b) supply portfolio optimisation (noting that wind and solar production has a very low correlation);

(c) increased interconnection between regions (an extension of portfolio optimisation);

(d) new dispatchable plants (e.g., gas-fired OCGT or reciprocating engines);

and (e) storage solutions (e.g., pumped hydro, chemical batteries, and hydrogen).

This underlines the AEMO and AEMC passion for demand management, and it’s also interesting to note the second option, supply portfolio optimisation.

More and more renewable energy developers are looking to combine wind and solar, some with a little storage, others with a lot.

And while AGL have rolled out contracts for “wind firming” –  i.e. pairing with a gas generator – others are looking at how the combination of wind and solar can do the same thing, with a minimal amount of third-party firming, or storage on site.

Still, the ESB does note that while some wind and solar farms are adding storage, it wants more dispatchable options over time, particularly when those ageing coal plants come out of the system.

On the subject of battery storage, now considered to be one of the costliest “firming” technologies, Morgan Stanley noted that this does not include the value of all the other services that battery storage can bring to the market.

These include grid services, of the type being delivered by the Tesla big battery in South Australia, and other new batteries to by installed near Wattle Point wind farm, the Ganawarra solar farm in Victoria, and a Bendigo grid facility.

Once these value chains are recognised by the market operator and rule maker – and it now appears there is every intention to do so  – it’s hard to imaging that anyone would think of building anything other than a scaleable, modular, and quickly installed piece of machinery such as a battery storage, with a few pumped hydro projects for longer dated storage.


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  1. Tom 3 years ago

    Cannot read charts

    • Peter 3 years ago

      There is a link directly below the second figure for the AGL graph

    • Coley 3 years ago

      Me neither,

  2. Simon 3 years ago

    “Once these value chains are recognised by the market operator and rule maker – and it now appears there is every intention to do so – it’s hard to imaging that anyone would think of building anything other than a scaleable, modular, and quickly installed piece of machinery such as a battery storage”

    Which country are we going to buy these batteries from? It sounds like we are going to need quite a few.

    Unfortunately we dont have a battery industry in Australia that could do this job. We only supply over 50% of the raw material the world needs to make them however. You might even say we control the battery supply chain. The battery revolution couldn’t happen for several more years if Australia shut down its lithium industry.

    It is a shame we dont have any way to attract investment in battery manufacturing expertise here – unlike Chile and Argentina. They must be smarter than us or something because they arent able to supply as much lithium as Australia.

    Lucky we know how to make big rocks into little rocks tho – otherwise we would be totally lost.

    • Chris Fraser 3 years ago

      The need for batteries is somewhat mollified by assurance that the lower hanging fruit such as demand management will be picked first.

    • Jon 3 years ago

      There was two battery factory projects being talked about in Aus, Townsville and Darwin, not sure how they are progressing.

      • Frank Speaking 3 years ago

        Magnis (ASX : MNS) is doing the Townsville one, they have the land.
        Focusing I think on building their New York one at the moment, they bid for the equipment from a bankrupt battery maker (making the wrong type and shape) from North Carolina, being shipped down and Siemens is contracted for the Automation of the production line. ($200Millions worth for $5Million and in excellent shape) – So not dummies
        Once that is up and running I suggest Townsville is next.

        We do have a couple of Vanadium redux “Manufacturers” , one with battery units made in Korea, the other with a plant in Thailand

        • Edgar 3 years ago

          …and tragically, the technology behind Vanadium Redux batteries was AUSTRALIAN!

          It’s actually a far superior technology than Lithium batteries and mcuh more suitable for industrial scale applications. Unlike Lithium it only requires the electrolyte to be recharged when exhausted, not the whole thing replaced.

          Many thanks to Abbott et al. for dealing us out of a world-leadership position.

    • Ian 3 years ago

      The paralysis of government regarding the new renewables economy is seriously screwing up any first mover chance we have of domestic manufacture of lithium batteries. We may just have to accept the continuance of the current import and consume culture, for ever being a primary producer of raw materials.

      • My_Oath 3 years ago

        The reason we have that culture is because we don’t invest in ourselves. It takes capital for innovative idea to see production – capital that can’t be found in Australia…. so the innovators have to go OS to get that capital. Or they are a cheap share due to no support, and get taken over.

        The answer is simple. Support the innovators. Invest in them. Get them the capital they need. Where are you invested? Where is your super invested?

        • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

          As long as the government incentivises existing housing investment we won’t have capital for either new housing or innovation.

    • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

      There’s new chemistries on the horizon not requiring expensive elements and compounds. Australia would be smart to get at the forefront of manufacturing them. With automation overtaking labour price differentiation and our advantages in clean power prices we risk letting these opportunities go begging, just like PV, just like the black box, just like so much Australian innovation and inventiveness.

      • My_Oath 3 years ago

        Compared to the cost of the battery, the raw material cost of Li Ion is negligible. If lithium were to double from current levels, the battery manufacturers wouldn’t notice it even as a rounding error.

        The other chemistries (also known as Blackboard Batteries because the only exist on blackboards) have to be cheaper to produce a final product. It doesn’t matter what the raw material costs are. The production cost relies more on economy of scale not on automation. The lithium ion chemistry is already rolling out their economy of scale. Nothing else is even a decade away from attempting to start.

        If we want to get into the industry, we have to get into Li Ion…. and we have a LOT of steps to go through to get to that point.

        * Raw material production (1.5-2% lithia) – Check
        * Concentration (6% lithia) – Check
        * Conversion (to LiCO3 or LiOH) – nope (but being built out now)
        * Refining (to 99.9% purity) – nope
        * Cathode manufacture – nope
        * Cell manufacture – nope (Darwin and Townesville mooted)
        * Battery packing – planned (Sonnen in Adelaide)

        Very few companies do more than a couple of those steps. The Australian miners are working to move down that stream, but no one has any firm plans to even move into cathodes. (One has plans to move into Anodes with lithium-titanium to replace the graphite but its a decade away).

        Consider Tesla. They don’t make cells. All they do is pack cells into batteries and put them into retail products. The same as Sonnen.

        Chemistry is hard. Especially what is still a niche sector like lithium ion. The first 3-4 steps are doable (but need a lot of capital investment). The last couple of steps are doable (but need a lot of capital investment). The middle chemical steps are where we really lack expertise, experience (and a lot of capital investment).

        The reason Australian inventiveness goes offshore is due to the lack of local capital investment. Want to make it stop? Ask yourself what you are invested in. Ask yourself what you have your super invested in.

        • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

          “ Nothing else is even a decade away from attempting to start.”

          Can you provide evidence to support this claim?

          The material inputs and the manufacturing complexity of lithium ion batteries are not insignificant, that’s why I can’t have a Tesla wall battery for $2,000, the cost of manufacturing a box with a computer in it that size. I understand the other things you are saying, not news to me. Wish I had super to be vested in anything ethical frankly.

          • My_Oath 2 years ago

            Only the historical evidence of how long it takes to roll out the new tech… For a more detailed answer by people whose job it is to follow an analyse the new battery market, Benchmark Minerals is the place to look. They are the guys who get called in to answer US Senate inquiries about where their 3rd Industrial Revolution metal supply is going to come from.

            “The material inputs and the manufacturing complexity of lithium ion batteries are not insignificant, that’s why I can’t have a Tesla wall battery for $2,000,”

            That’s not the metal cost – its the cost off the supply chain value add. It doesn’t yet have the economy of scale to really drive the cost down.

            Yep, the government rejected the capital investment.

            They weren’t the only ones. You rejected it too. You, and your super fund didn’t invest in them.

            The point I am making here is that Australians are all individually to blame for the failure of our innovators to earn capital here. Its not the gubmint’s fault. Its all of our faults. Its not going to change until individuals stop bemoaning ‘the others’ and get off their jaxxies and do something about it themselves. Where are you invested? Where is your super fund invested?

          • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

            I reject your attempt to personalise the debate. What if I’m a poorper with not a cent to my name, does that remove my entitlement to have a view? As it happens the tiny bit of super I have is with UniSuper, who are more ethical than some but not ideal, outperform those vested heavily in FFs though is my understanding.

            Having spent a fair bit of time observing and pressuring governments, I can assure you they have a role to play.

            I understand the on-sell market. But all other things being equal, if a product is vastly superior and the input costs are less the supply chain will rapidly expand and in this case, gigafactories will energy with superior performing, low-toxicity, lower cost supply chains. Especially if they are the only batteries with enough energy density to fly a commercial airliner with 🙂

            This might come as news to you, My_Oath but government regulation and mandates are responsible for over ten times the innovation in the free market is. They force companies to adopt innovations already around but that they’re too lazy to bother with as there’s maybe no financial incentive. Prof Ray Wills in his talks gives a dozen examples in the car market alone, seat belts, ABS, etc… Other public speakers also point to this fact, much overlooked by the neoliberal business school, like BCA et al.

          • My_Oath 2 years ago

            Reject away. Keep blaming others when there is something that each and every one of us can do > ask where they are why capital has to be sought overseas.

          • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

            I do plenty. What’s more I don’t need faceless troll accounts to try and make me feel bad about it.

            If you don’t understand the critical role of Government in all this then, well to hell with you, I guess.

          • My_Oath 2 years ago

            Here’s how it works…. with carbon reduction, we as individuals can reduce our energy through efficiency, and generate our own through solar, and reduce our animal methane generation through eating less or no red meat and beef, or by walking or riding a bike instead of driving, but government policy is critical making changes happen at scale and speed.

            Capital investment is different. The financial market is a far bigger factor in where the capital comes from than government. Government is a factor, but it is nowhere near as big as the faceless trolls on this forum pretend – as they sip on a beer and scratch their guts while blaming the gubmint for what they could have done themselves. If you can’t see that, then to hell with you too.

          • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

            “ Nothing else is even a decade away from attempting to start.”

            Can you provide evidence to support this claim?

            (Still waiting)

          • My_Oath 2 years ago

            I did. Go to the people who are actually monitoring the market for these developments…. >>> Benchmark Minerals.

            Do you need me to say it again?

            Or, go have a look at 1414 molten silicon thermal storage. Guess how long they have been in development for? Yep. 10 years. Still not on the market, but might get up later this year as a pilot project.

          • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

            Might never get up too (would be my guess). So what?

          • neroden 2 years ago

            Tha’s how long it takes for new battery tech to reach mass production. Minimum 10 years. Are you seriously disputing this?

            If you think one of the blackboard batteries is closer than that, the burden of proof is on YOU to show us the lab tests, prototypes, demonstration factories, etc. which mean that it’s closer.

            There aren’t any.

          • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

            Hey guess what, I’m not sharing anything with you. That doesn’t prove your point, let’s just bookmark this conversation for when you decide you have a real name and the guts to use it.

          • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

            In ten years from an initial pilot plant to say the first gigafactory in ten years a lot of batteries could get sold. But hey the past is always a perfect reflection of the future isn’t it?

          • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

            Benchmark is a price data collection and assessment company specialising in the lithium ion battery supply chain. What if the batteries of the future we’re discussing are a) unknown to them and b) don’t use *any* lithium, cobalt, nickel or graphite. As in zero?

            For all I know 1414 will never get to market. So what? What does that prove? Nothing in terms of general rules about how long it takes to ramp production from production design to pilot plant to full-scale gigafactory? And even if it took 10 years to go from initial product to gigafactories, they could sell *a lot* of MWh of storage in that ten years.

          • My_Oath 2 years ago

            I didn’t say anything about gigafactories. I am talking about getting a product to market. The alternate battery tech that keeps getting all the headlines all have one thing in common – they are blackboard batteries. They exist only on blackboards.

            You can make a battery out of anything. Heck, even a pushbike. Add a carbon fibre frame to titanium alloy spokes, then spray it with an electrolyte – like human sweat – and voila, you got yourself an electronegative differential reaction.

            The challenge is making it viable, and there is testing pathway for that.

            1) Button cell batteries
            2) Pouch cell batteries
            3) 18650 cell batteries.

            When you read an article about a new lithium ion killer battery chemistry, look for where in the testing chain they are at. About 50% have done early stage proof-of-concept button cell testing (and not even performance testing). The other 50% don’t even mention button cells – which causes a “This is still on a blackboard” itch.

            Of all the alternate chemistries, there is only one I know of that is at the 18650 stage, the LTO Anode chemistry which is being tested at CSIRO currently. As positive as I am about it, I still won’t hold my breath for it being on the market by 2025, even though it is only a minor retooling of Li-Ion manufacturing. Its still a lithium ion battery.

          • My_Oath 2 years ago

            Oh yeah, and part of Benmark’s due dilligence is to keep track of alternatives so they can accurately track and predict where the commodities will trend. While they do specialise in lithium cathodes, because that is where the headlines are, they also track cathode chemistries and any alternatives as they develop. Its their job.

  3. Chris Fraser 3 years ago

    I’m still suspicious of the NEG. The coalers are still polluting for far too long. Given the benefits of this new merit order and associated technologies, coal will be gone due to lack of efficiency and reliability much sooner than the right wing will be comfortable with.

    • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

      Main thing is ALP have headroom to immediate legislate a RET or other mechanism to enforce/facilitate their 50% RE by 2030 policy commitment.

      Then, after half to a full term of Govt when they realise Australia can easily, and is morally obliged, to aim way higher than 50% RE by 2020 (say 85% as a minimum as a no-brainer on LCOE modelling by many credible groups) that it can push higher without any legislative skeletons in the closet from the coal protection racquet days.

  4. Jon 3 years ago

    Good news, now there’s just the little issue of realistic emissions targets to get sorted and they’ll have a plan.

    • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

      Exactly, while the economists and astrologers might be preoccupied price, the engineers demand supply & dispatch, the climate realists amongst us no that emissions is actually the most important thing to get right or we may as well all get some rest (for a long long time).

      If this imposes any legislative limits on future governments to upgrade the ambition when they wake up to that fact that as the worlds worst per capita historical emitter then it’s a big problem and not a relevant solution. We have to be up with the leaders at the next COP not down with the laggards. Even some relatively poor nations are putting Australia to shame on GHG reductions.

      • PLDD 3 years ago

        I agree that emissions are the goal and by far the most important. However, I suspect the political war will be won on price – people want cheaper electricity. Climate change and emissions don’t resonate with the general public, but they understand the price/cost of things.

        There is so much Coal BS about the cost of electricity from renewables (including storage). Win that battle and the war is won.

        • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

          Except even then the war isn’t won, power is small part of energy emissions and energy a significant but not majority share of national GHG emissions.

          Climate change and emissions do resonant with the public, it was top three issues during the WA election, consistently. People get it when the polar ice caps are melting and one in a hundred year bushfires are happening every decade. The problem is there aren’t clear choices for them to make on it at the election, Labor is heavily influenced by the right of their party who look to swing electorate issues to focus their policy development and campaigning emphasis around. And the right wing unions (if that isn’t offensive to them) who are always backing coal and gas and probably had a hand in the absurd Victorian gift of $50m to AGL to make hydrogen from brown coal.

          • PLDD 2 years ago

            I do think you need to be careful to separate sentiment from a willingness to act. People do support the environment – we want: no pollution, clean air, clean water, fewer cars, to save whales etc. But we don’t want to pay to do this.

            So yes green energy is supported but not if it means higher bills. Sustainable agriculture is supported but not if it means more expensive food. And people will buy EV’s but not if more expensive.

            Get the price right and the good will and sentiment will achieve the goals. Add a cost and the sentiment soon disappears.

            And yes electricity generation is just one war in the fight. But win that one on price and the next war (cars?) could be far easier.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            I don’t expect consumers or their politicians to drive the change, I expect it to come thru insurance companies. They go broke if they fail to foresee rising risks to cover, and they pass on their costs to consumers.

          • PLDD 2 years ago

            Their time horizon is too short. They calculate premiums annually based on last years payout ratio. So they quickly follow change they don’t drive it. The past claims experience drives risk premiums.

            Building on flood plains didn’t see premiums affected. Lots of flood damage because it was dumb to build on flood plains and premiums go up in anticipation of more flood claims.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Given pollies don’t shift until the protests have become a roar, the insurers in comparison are way out in front. The flood plains thing is a good comparison. Councils continued to approve properties or allow flood levels that were too low way after insurers started refusing cover or pricing it so high properties were rendered worthless. Rooftop solar is so much cheaper that even rock solid deniers are buying in. Wind farms and large scale solar have only recently had compulsive enough cost benefits, pumped hydro is struggling and batteries and solar thermal only get up with heavy subsidies. But higher insurance premiums relating to more extreme weather, including cyclones, fire and floods are already here. Insurers “spread” using past data but also future predictions.

          • PLDD 2 years ago

            I think you underestimate politicians. They understand the zeitgeist of the moment and adapt to exploit it for their personal, party and doner needs – and they are happy to adapt in fake ways to exploit the voter sentiment.

            The right of the LNP has exploited the fear of energy price rises and changed the discussion to price not climate and that change has been fast. The person in the street now talks of baseload and dispatchable etc.

            Insurers insured flood prone houses for years and years. It’s only when actual floods damaged homes did they start to address the issue. They followed the claim risk model. If they had rapidly anticipated the issue they would not have offered cover on the first houses, not simply withdrawn cover once the entente occurred.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Pollies are 50% salesman 50% mirror but 100% fearful of losing the next election, so I understand their motivation. Fear is king. What worked for AIDS will work for climate change. What held up SSM will hold up decarbonisation.

            Price when it comes to energy has proven to be a fraught issue: Abbott claimed the carbon tax, which had a clearly quantifiable cost, if ditched would result in a fall in prices. When it didn’t, people added it to the list of flaky things he said. People put solar on their roof because it has an immediate and quantifiable impact on their power bills, but not so large scale solar. Storage doesn’t make sense to most households objectively or conceptually, nor at large scale, so is an easy target for naysayers. Yet storage is a crucial success factor in decarbonisation, and it needs to happen now. The cost superiority is not hard to show, but won’t win the argument.

          • PLDD 2 years ago

            Agree about pollies and fear. But I think you need to disaggregate fear as a motivator. AIDS was perceived as an immediate risk for many (I know it wasn’t really) and the fear campaign was needed to reach the vulnerable segments of the population.

            The fear of higher power bills is also immediate – after all they can see it every quarter. In reality it’s not a major household cost for example petrol for the car is probably a far higher cost as a percentage of budget and the crazy Australian pricing doesn’t get people too heated. But it is a fear because it’s so fundamental to the lifestyle – cooling and heating.

            I agree price and energy is a fraught issue and agree people don’t get it. But it’s the battle that has to be won and I get frustrated more effort isn’t made to win it, given renewables really do have the advantage.

            Climate change is a very abstract fear for many. It’s too big for individuals to feel they can affect. Look at all the pro-coal propaganda that talks about China and India building lots of coal power stations and how our tiny amounts of CO2 won’t make a different until they change (I know the new coal stats are BS). It does influence…..but not as much as more money in the pocket from lower bills.

          • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

            I see it rather the other way, it was the sentiment *and* a willingness to act in Germany by the Greens and Socialists who devised their calibrated FiTs for wind, solar and biomass which saw great popularity for FiT schemes locally and then world wide.
            These German FiTs started a revolution in costs via a learning curve of doubling global deployment every two years for PV and three years for wind. At a certain point China saw all the money to be made in PV and tried to take the market through domestic mandates which cause big mega factories to be built, which then had idle capacity so dumped on the global market.

            Back to Germany in the early days (80s), conservative rural folks loved the self-sufficiency aspect of using their biomass and earning for exports on all three types of generation.

            As for organic, when I lived in Melbourne I loved shopping at Terra Madre for organic fruit and vege, groceries etc. When ever I had to step foot in a Duoloply supermarket to get a single item I’d look at there prices and have a inner glow that I was often paying same price or less for organic produce like bananas and sometimes a little more for root vegetables just to know that the soil hadn’t had decades of being doused in what are now illegal chemicals, and currently being doused in the more toxic varieties of ag sprays.

            For sure there are some who think along the lines you say, and clearly China’s motivation for getting into renewables to begin with commercial (and forward thinking) only, but now their burgeoning and politically more influential middle class are demanding cleaner air, water and soil. But the kind you describe aren’t the people who change the world directly, the follow along with the changes.

          • PLDD 2 years ago

            It’s interesting how the examples you give underline how price drove or didn’t drive change. The Germans got their FiT right and the pace of change gathered as people saw the economics were no barrier. The same with biomass – they loved the earning for export.

            Then you cite something that hasn’t changed much – organic food. It’s still a very minor part of agriculture and the space given to organic sin high street shops indicates it’s position. I bet if you priced organics at the same or less than the usual products a lot of people who love the idea but are put off by the cost would happily switch.

            China is slighly different. The motivation for change is to avoid an immediate tangible harm. Social unrest is feared by the CCP so action is taken and as it’s centrally planned it happens quickly.

            Exactly, the people I describe are the followers. But if no one follows then you have no leaders. In Australia the political parties need votes, they need policies to encourage followers.

            Abstract arguments about climate change will get a few. But solid arguments about money and especially the money in their pocket gets more ( as your points demonstrate). Sell green energy on its cost advantage. Demonstrate the cost of renewables is cheaper than coal/gas. And push back strongly on the price propaganda of coal advocates. That will get followers and votes and votes drive political policy and investment.

  5. michael nolan 3 years ago

    Hey, really great article Giles.
    Demand Response and its cousin FCAS (Frequency support for 10 minutes) are working well in my experience. I think in the long run Pumped Hydro will be the ‘Mercedes Benz’ of Storage (good for 30 to 50 years) and Batteries the iPhone of Storage (good for 8 to 15 years). Nod to your “World of Wind and Solar Podcast” 🙂
    We need to find ways to build both Storage types, which will then enable Renewables generation to get built at pace and bring down emissions and cost.

    • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

      And power2gas gas potentially the Hyperloop/HSR of Storage, not here quite yet but on paper very very interesting for seasonal scale storage to last 30-60 years.

  6. Ken Dyer 3 years ago

    So it now seems that the renewables message is getting through to the COALition. Or is there an election in the wind and the focus groups are saying that if the COALition has any hope of re-election they need to embrace renewables, or at least give the impression that they are?
    I have yet to see the talk walked.

  7. Nick Kemp 3 years ago

    “The idea – in those intense days of the energy culture wars – was for renewables to “pay for their intermittency”

    Made me chuckle – why wouldn’t coal fired have been required to do the same to make up for ‘unplanned breakdowns’

    Renewables night be intermittent but they can still be forecast reasonably well

    • Rod 3 years ago

      And that idea supposedly came from Finkel. As it stands now, a coal unit trip usually rewards the culprit via temporary spot price spikes.

  8. Les Johnston 3 years ago

    This is an amazing read. What a turnaround.

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