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The Forum > Article Comments > Power failure: some inconvenient renewable energy realities > Comments

Power failure: some inconvenient renewable energy realities : Comments

By Geoff Carmody, published 30/1/2018

Stated energy policy is to deliver affordable, reliable power, with lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Policy isn't delivery.

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The costly policies are NOT reducing emissions. Emissions are actually INCREASING despite the enormous cost to consumers of subsidising inefficient windmills and solar panels.

First World politicians are more stupid than they have ever been, falling for the biggest con of the century. Like all stupid people, when what they are doing does not work, they do more of it.
Posted by ttbn, Tuesday, 30 January 2018 9:24:43 AM
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Of course emissions increase.
Population is rocketing up at ridiculous rates.
We are doing stuff all to stop either.
Hanrahan was indeed correct.
Posted by ateday, Tuesday, 30 January 2018 9:32:58 AM
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Do wake up ateday.

We are not using any more electricity, just generating it with the wrong technology.
Posted by Hasbeen, Tuesday, 30 January 2018 11:18:05 AM
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I see this article ignores the better option of concessional loans to renewable energy generators, which would reduce both emissions and costs.

____________________________________________________________________________________

ttbn and ateday,
What is the source of the claim that emissions are still increasing? Considering the closure of Hazelwood last year, it seems unlikely. And it is contradicted by http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/62506dca-2cb1-4613-82cd-fa46c7a0df42/files/nggi-quarterly-update-june-2017.pdf
Posted by Aidan, Tuesday, 30 January 2018 11:27:41 AM
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It is a sorry mess. Trouble is it will take up to 10 years to fix !
A clue to what is happening; a report I received shows that some
businesses that cannot go overseas are installing diesel generators
as they are cheaper to run than mains electricity !

The real problem is that politicians believe that 4 - 5 = +1.
The proof of that is that the closure of Hazlewood has surprised them
and not produced a happy result for everybody.

They do not understand that when you change the nature of energy you
lose some of it. Their waffle about batteries is an example of that.
When you fill a battery with electricity it changes into a chemical.
A loss of energy.
The battery has an internal resistance which uses electricity, a loss
When you draw electricity from it another loss.

A study was done in the UK using real time data to see how much
battery capacity would be needed to maintain the grid in typical January conditions.
The result was a shocker; 13,954 of these 129 MWh facilities costing
405 billion would have been required to back up UK wind and solar in 2016.]

http://tinyurl.com/y8aa6qhq

Yet people are still talking about batteries !
Yet we still take notice of them when they talk !
They are just ignorant, we are mad for listening to them.
Posted by Bazz, Tuesday, 30 January 2018 12:25:24 PM
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We need to remain focussed.

If the goal is to reduce CO2 emissions then it is not "more renewables" or Electric cars" or "Public transport" - they are secondary goals, when justified. THE goal is reduced CO2.

For that reason, I support this author's article whole-heartedly and thank him for writing it.

Unfortunately, money talks and government subsidies are more attractive than the hard work that is implied by competing in the market for a share and, hopefully, a profit. So the public teat it is and will remain until the money dries up.

Someone mentioned that emissions are decreasing. Not true. Two statistics that absolutely demonstrate that CO2 emissions are increasing are:
1. Fossil fuel consumption globally is still increasing with little sign of slackening off, apart from minor substitution of natgas for coal. Reference: Google BP Statistical Review of World Energy or any of dozens of other sources.
2. Germany's national CO2 emissions have remained flat for the past 8 years, despite all the effort and money spent on renewables. https://www.cleanenergywire.org/factsheets/germanys-greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-climate-targets.
Posted by SingletonEngineer, Tuesday, 30 January 2018 2:11:16 PM
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No, Bazz, we should be talking (and listening) about batteries. But rather than baulking at the cost of using them in a way that nobody's seriously suggesting, we should look at what they can do and how we can take advantage of that. We should also be wary of assuming the requirements of other countries to be relevant here. We're a lot sunnier than the UK, and also have much lower population density. Nor do we have the external connections they do. So the economics of our situation is very different to theirs.

The fact that there are power losses from batteries does not amount to a reason to ignore them. It is quite sensible to charge batteries using cheap electricity from wind and solar power when there's a surplus, then sell it to the grid at a higher price when demand is higher.

__________________________________________________________________________________

SingletonEngineer,
Germany is (unwisely) phasing out its nuclear power, hence the absence of a declining emissions trend. It's not directly relevant to Australia as we've never relied on nuclear power and the economic case for doing so in the future is far from compelling.

Even if the statistics don't yet show a slackening off of fossil fuel consumption, use of solar power is growing so rapidly that they're likely to soon.
Posted by Aidan, Tuesday, 30 January 2018 2:26:27 PM
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The first line in Table 1 of the report cited by Aidan states that Australian national annual CO2 emissions increased by 0.7%.

That is an increase. Aidan has managed to contradict himself in three short sentences.
Posted by SingletonEngineer, Tuesday, 30 January 2018 2:26:35 PM
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SingletonEngineer,
Table relates to emissions from all sources, whereas this article, and by default this discussion, relates to electricity generation.. Emissions from electricity generation have fallen - see Table 2.
Posted by Aidan, Tuesday, 30 January 2018 2:33:52 PM
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Why is it that governments of both parties keep kicking the energy can down the road? Into the forseeable future we will be relying on the grid to maintain a stable source of power, but when the present lot of coal fired generators reach the end of their lives, no one seems to have a clue where all the necessary stable base load energy is going to come from. The answer is not solar and wind combined with batteries or any other sort of storage. Neither is gas which is also another source of CO2.

No one seems to realise the immensity of the cost of producing all our power from renewables, let alone the massive amount of storage required. If we don't start building some nuclear power stations very soon, in twenty years time we will be in very serious trouble. We need to get rid of all the bankers, solicitors, accountants and unionists from the parliament and replace them with engineers who understand the problems. End of story.

David
Posted by VK3AUU, Tuesday, 30 January 2018 2:56:33 PM
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After nearly 20 years of the RET and billions of dollars on power bills we have increased emissions. Apologists will blame other factors but if I recall the power sector emitted about 200 Mt back then now it's about 190 Mt. Whoopee schweppes. The ACCC have quantified direct RET costs like LGC subsidies and feed in tariffs. They left out frequency correction, the extra fuel needed for fast response gas and diesel and new transmission.

If I recall we barely had problems in the 'bad old days' of dominant coal baseload. Replace it with nuclear to cut emissions. I wonder if the Finkel recommendations cover #4 in the article in that all generators must have some firm capacity. That is to say intermittent generators subsidised or not can't cut into reliable generation when it suits as they have to pay a price themselves.
Posted by Taswegian, Tuesday, 30 January 2018 5:01:27 PM
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Aiden what I was talking about was the use of batteries as despatchable
backup. Yes some people are suggesting them as just that !
Of course they have a use for smoothing, just like a capacitor
in a power supply and for frequency adjustment.
My comments about internal losses was because some people think that
any loss means they are unusable.
They think that 0% loss is the normal.
The same applies to the governments Snowy 2.0.
Of course it will not provide as much power coming down as going up.
Some people simply do not understand these realities.
It is that ignorance that has got us into this long term muddle.
Posted by Bazz, Tuesday, 30 January 2018 5:43:06 PM
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Aiden, if the challenge is to reduce CO2 emissions, then that is the challenge.

You claimed that emissions are decreasing and nominated a source to support your case.

I pointed out that your cited document does nothing of the kind.

You responded by moving the goal posts, to only consider some emissions, which makes the discussion pointless.

Aiden, please explain why CO2 emissions are relevant and dangerous only when they are due to the generation of electricity, if that is your position. Personally, I feel that stance is irrational and unsupportable. Over to you.
Posted by SingletonEngineer, Tuesday, 30 January 2018 8:13:19 PM
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One of those inconvenient truths is. In order to lower carbon emission, lower the cost of reliable base load power!

The only way we can do both is with thorium. Namely in walk away safe, molten salt reactors.

And we can afford these power plants if we just use the brains we were born with and accept other folk's nuclear waste, then use the molten salt reactors to harvest enormous free energy that other folk will pay us annual billions to reprocess then safely bury.

We could earn enough proving that service to build a couple of dozen molten salt 350 MW thorium reactors and then use them to safely burn other folk's nuclear waste until all that is left, is completely spent fuel and far less toxic waste.

That is then eminently suitable as long life space batteries, we could use in our new aerospace industry. And a win/win/win all round!

Time to stop with the moribund prevarication and allowing special vested interest to steal our best possible future.
Alan B.
Posted by Alan B., Tuesday, 30 January 2018 10:04:08 PM
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Bazz,
Batteries can be practical for dispatchable backup.
But there are a it of people who seem to think that because it is (at current prices) impractical to use batteries to provide the insane amount of dispatchable capacity that it would take to totally eliminate generation from fossil fuels, it therefore means batteries shouldn't be used to provide dispatchable backup at all, and should be confined to uses such as smoothing and frequency adjustment.

Their reasoning error seems quite clear to me, but can you spot it?

_____________________________________________________________________________________

SingletonEngineer,

The overall challenge is to reduce the rate of increase (and ultimately the amount) of CO2 in the atmosphere.
A subset of that is reducing CO2 emissions.
And a subset of that subset is reducing the CO2 emissions from electricity generation.

While we should not ignore the other parts the challenge, there's good reason to focus on emissions from the generation of electricity; it's one of the biggest parts of the problem, yet it can be solved relatively easily even with existing technology. The commonly used metaphor is "low hanging fruit".

The article was about CO2 emissions from electricity generation. Neither ttbn nor ateday claimed to be referring to something different. It was you, not I, who shifted the goalposts. And as shifting electricity generation to renewables does not directly impede (and if done right, may actually enhance) other sectors cutting emissions, the discussion is far from pointless, and I regard your claim otherwise as irrational and unsupportable.
Posted by Aidan, Wednesday, 31 January 2018 1:28:24 AM
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Hi Aidan,

You pointed out earlier that " ..... concessional loans to renewable energy generators, which would reduce both emissions and costs."

Thank goodness for that. I thought that maybe every shonky energy company would hop in for the subsidies. I'm glad they're all so above-board clean, that it's only 'concessional Lons' they're after.

By the way, electric cars are clearly the transport means of the future, since they produce no CO2. Well, except that some has to be produced by existing power stations in order to have some of their electricity coming out of the power-point and into the car. Oh, and the energy used to produce (and later dispose of) the batteries. And the vehicles themselves. But apart from that .......

Cheers,

Joe
Posted by Loudmouth, Thursday, 1 February 2018 12:07:28 PM
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More bad news for renewables, or rather for the rest of us.
http://tinyurl.com/yckzcp4s

This article refers to an article in the German Economics Journal.

The Real Lesson of the Energiewende is that the German Economy uses Too Much Energy
By Brian Davey, originally published by Feasta

January 31, 2018

Whether in German or English the data he presents is bad news because
it is about the difficulty of storing electricity for the German
economy at its current scale of energy and electricity use and
storing energy is going to be necessary to further expand renewable
generation without having fossil fuel based generation to back it up.

Bazz: the conclusion appears to be that if you do not have fossil fuel
to back up the renewables you must reduce your electricity consumption
and your standard of living.
That is my conclusion when taken together with this talk by Nathen Hagens.

https://postcarbon.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=311db31977054c5ef58219392&id=8306382408&e=36becf6230

I hate those long urls;

http://tinyurl.com/y7mvcy59

It certainly looks like Australia with our bunch of 24% & 50% pollies
has shoved our heads in deep do do.
Posted by Bazz, Friday, 2 February 2018 1:20:27 PM
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Bazz. Your logic is impecable.

David
Posted by VK3AUU, Friday, 2 February 2018 2:55:27 PM
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