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addressing the energy problem « Previous | |Next »
June 21, 2011

This is via Barry Brook's post at his Brave New Climate blog. It's a session addressing the energy problem on Steve Paikin's show The Agenda at the Equinox Summit at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, which Brook attended.

The Summit aimed to reboot the global conversation on energy and learn how cutting edge science and technology may advance an electrified and sustainable future. It was about what options are currently on the table that would allow us to decarbonize the economy by cutting emissions to ease the rise in world temperatures.

The Equinox Communique's recommendations centred on four key ideas: changing the baseload of the current energy system, smart urbanization, electrified transport, and rural electrification. The communique identified three alternative means of delivering baseload power: geothermal power; solar with storage and advanced nuclear.

The talk of nuclear as one option for baseload power recalls the destruction of the uranium nuclear power plants at Fukushima, which seems to have dropped off the radar in Australia. This update suggests that the problems are much worse than we have been led to believe. Brook favours the thorium nuclear reactor in an energy mix, but this technology is a long way off being commercially viable in Australia, but not China).

Australia is still planning to build more coal fired power stations to replace our aging generating plant despite Labor saying that its environmental policy would be on renewables – both wind and solar.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:27 PM | | Comments (3)


Baseload power????
What is baseload power and why, presumably, is it so important?

Here is some input from Prof. Quiggin:

He states:
*There is no relevant sense in which baseload power demand is a meaningful concept in our current electricity supply system.

*Any electricity supply system likely to exist in the next 40 years and capable of meeting peak power demand will have no problems meeting baseload demand.

Users of energy produced by a nuclear power plant would have their electricity cut off if they fail to pay their bills. This cannot happen to people using electricity generated by the solar panels installed on the roofs of their houses.

One conception of baseload power appears to be steady supply of power 24/7. Another conception is that baseload power is the minimum amount a utility supplies to its customers and is available available at the flick of a switch.

For renewable energy that means storage to overcome the intermittency supply problem -- ie., the wind doesn't always blow nor does the sun always shine. The intermittency of renewable energy sources such as wind or solar generation---geothermal energy is exempt from this weakness-- is a major challenge in the integration of these resources into the national grid. Storage devices combined with optimal control provide the opportunity to overcome this challenge and to assure operational reliability in decarbonized power systems.

That means a major focus for the renewables industry is to find ways of storing energy, in order that it not be wasted. Without new storage technologies that can overcome this intermittency problem, much of the decarbonization of the economy will necessarily to come from nuclear, carbon capture and storage (CCS), and energy efficiency.