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a renewables national electricity grid « Previous | |Next »
January 5, 2010

The Rudd Government has been around long enough for us to know that it says that it wants to promote renewables (the 2020 target, which requires Australia to generate 20% of its energy from clean sources?) whilst it goes for other policies to protect the coal-fired energy companies behind the scenes.

solarpowerstation.jpg photovoltaic solar power station, Granadilla, Spain

First, the Rudd Government has no intention whatsoever of kicking dirty energy sources like coal off the national electricity grid. Secondly, a lack of connections to the national grid, which were not designed to channel power from the scattered and remote locations that suit renewables, has stalled the uptake of alternative energy. Thirdly, there is no real policy to transform the national grid to a renewable one, or even to remove the barriers that currently prevent renewable generators connecting to the national grid.

There is no vision in Australia for a continent-wide renewables supergrid so that electricity can be supplied across the continent from wherever the wind is blowing, the sun is shining the rocks are hot, or the waves are crashing.

solarpowerplantgranadilla.jpg photovoltaic solar power station + wind farm, Granadilla, Spain

There is no such action from the Rudd Government. Their action--and those of the states--- is about protecting the coal fired power stations vis-a-vis the national electricity grid, whilst doing little to solve one of the biggest criticisms faced by renewable power – that unpredictable weather means it is unreliable.

What we have in energy policy terms are little bits of investment in renewables here and there rather than a concentrated investment to create a low-carbon economy. Penny Wong's talk about creating a low-carbon economy is just rhetoric that covers up the continued use of coal fired power stations. There is no attempt to increase the size of the renewable energy target, no moves to start building gas-fired power stations on the sites of the existing brown-coal power stations, nor any requirements that mining companies source power from off grid solar/thermal power stations .

In an op.ed in The Australian Richard Denniss says that:

The CPRS legislation proposes that we begin with a fixed pollution permit price of $10 a tonne. Wong has said while her scheme isn't perfect, something is better than nothing. She should take her own advice and introduce a carbon price; $10 isn't enough but it's better than nothing.The advantage of a $10 starting price is it would raise revenue to invest in efficient technologies and send a signal to new investors that the old days are over, while not being so high that it would have a significant effect on our so called emission-intensive trade-exposed industries.

Investing in efficient renewable technologies is the key. However, the Rudd Government is more focused on defending its flawed emission trading schemes--its such a poor example of an emissions trading scheme---- from those who would question it. All we get is the standard talking points repeated over and over again. Block block block.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:23 PM | | Comments (14)


The SA Government says that it leads the nation in renewable power. Is it connected to the national electricity grid?

Figures released by the Bureau of Meteorology say that the past decade was the hottest on record, with a rise of 0.4c over the 1960-1990 average.The year 2009 was 0.9c above the average and the coming year promises to be even hotter, boosted by an El Niño effect.

The ETS, which is about to be resubmitted to parliament faces the same opposition as it did pre-Christmas. What then?

We still have the problems surrounding the renewable energy target – which have brought the renewable energy industry to a halt. When are they going to be resolved?

Apparently my home town Whyalla in SA is the [future] site of a PV whatever power station.
From this site:
comes this:
"The Australian National University and Wizard Information Systems have negotiated the terms of a licence to commercialise the Big Dish solar concentrator technology and are working towards construction of a demonstration plant in Whyalla, South Australia (See Figure 11). The project will consist of up to twenty 400m2 solar dishes producing steam that will be carried via insulated steam lines to a central grid connected generation plant."
Note the words 'central grid connected" whatever that implies.
The illustration [fig 11] is clearly artistically inclined cos the landscape looks nothing like my home turf.
I'm visiting there this weekend I may, time allowing, see what I can find out.

presumably, the words ''central grid connected" refers to the connections of the photovoltaic trough concentrators and parabolic dish concentrators within the solar power station itself; rather than the solar power station being connected to the national electricity grid.

I understand that the stand alone Whyalla solar power station is just a pilot/demonstration plant at this stage. It is unclear whether the fully operational plant will be connected to the national electricity grid. I presume that it will be given the closeness of the coal fired Port Augusta power station.

I understand that the large-scale solar power plant in north-west Victoria (Mildura?) will be connected to the national grid, despite having solar power up and running in remote locations.

Australia is moving so slowly on investing in renewable solar energy infrastructure.

Ah lost opportunities, there they were, gone!
Maybe we can get them back.

I suspect that the solar station at Whyalla is associated somehow with BHP's desal plant in the Gulf and I know for a fact there are many locals who are up in arms about that.
And locals who welcome it with open arms.

I suspect so too---help to power the desalinisation plant? Or to help power the energy hungry expansion of Olympic Dam?

I do not see it as a replacement for the Port Augusta power station.

I suspect its for the desal, I think water is a higher priority for BHP at Olympic than power.
Their bore water capacity, and quality, is declining I think.
I'm not really informed on those issues its too depressing and there is a blanket of silence at all levels of government and non-government which makes getting hard reliable info difficult.
Whyalla has always been a company town and the state govt is scared of BHP.
Literally and really.

In an op.ed in The Australian Richard Denniss says that the:

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong likes to talk about creating a low-carbon economy but the reality is the government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme will neither result in a reduction in Australia's emissions compared with today's levels or lead to a single coal-fired power station shutting down.

He says that what we should do is increase the size of the renewable energy target and start building gas-fired power stations on the sites of the existing brown-coal power stations.

I agree about there being a blanket of silence at all levels of government and non-government which makes getting hard reliable info difficult. I've tried digging around to find out what is going on beyond the spin but I've found very little info.

I'm basically relying on the work of Mark Parnell of the SA Greens. What he says is that:

Olympic Dam (OD) is already the single biggest user of electricity in the state (120 MW). BHPB say they will need to find an extra 650 MW - and their current plan is to source it from the (mostly fossil fuel) SA electricity grid or a (fossil fuel) gas plant on-site. This will be more electricity than every single household in Adelaide combined. In addition, the company will use about half a litre of diesel fuel for every tonne of rock they shift. That's over 1 million litres of diesel fuel a day.

He adds that the State and Federal Governments should make BHP Billiton do much more to minimise greenhouse pollution. There is an enormous opportunity for this project to invest in new renewable energy, in particular off-grid solar thermal. This will help make SA a world leader in next generation energy and limit the increase in our state's emissions.

Why is BHP using diesel fuel when they could invest in a solar power station.There is sun everyday in that part of South Australia.

Presuming you are not already familiar with David Bradbury [dual Academy Award nominee] and his films, including "Hard Rain" which is partly based on Roxby, check this out Gary and see what you think of it.

nope I didn't know about David Bradbury's recent film work Nor did I know anything about his Frontline Films

I've posted the short video clip from A Hard Rain on Conversations with a link to more interviews.

I knew about the possibility for cancer from uranium mining but not about the transmissions mechanism. I didn't know about the radon gas.

The biggest impediment for Australia making the shift to clean tech is not just getting politicians to impose a cost on carbon emissions. It also comes in reversing many of the subsidies for fossil fuels that are infused throughout the tax system.

What is amount of the subsidies flowing to the fossil fuel industry, compared with the amount of subsidies for the renewables industry?