Monday, September 13, 2010

John Brumby approves a new coal fired power station

Premier John Brumby and the Victorian Labor government has just approved a new coal fired power station to be build by a Chinese company in the Latrobe Valley.

More carbon emissions will obviously result - despite claims that it is somehow "clean".

We should only be building solar thermal power stations with molten salt energy storage, and wind farms.

Update 17 September 2010
Marius Kloppers, the CEO of BHP, today called for Australia to bring in a carbon tax to put a price on carbon and to plan for a transition off coal [link]

In California, the world's largest solar power station has just been given approval to proceed.  It will cost US$6b  and provide 1000 MW of power. [link]

Links

7 comments:

gavgams said...

Brumby makes me puke.. such a hypocrite.

Grant said...

The big problem the Gov has, is that they know that they will need to provide around 30 - 40% more electricity over the next 10 - 20 years to cater for a predicted 50% increase in the Melbourne population, and associated industry costs. Sure renewable generation resources will help part of the non base load supply issue, but unless a major base load generation plant is planned / contracted for now, the Gov will be in trouble as the electricity requirements escalate.
To me it appears that base load power can come from three options:
a. New gas fired generation
b. Hydro if we build numerous new dams
c. The ever hated Nuke generation, which Australia will eventually have to look at to meet its escalating requirements (estimated population increase of 60% over next 10 - 20 years).
All of the above can be supplemented with solar / wind etc, etc, but only as non base load supplies, and only when the costs, construction and output are reduced to amounts the public will accept. There is no use building generation capability, if the cost of energy to the public rises to a level that the general public will not accept.

Peter Campbell said...

Option 4 is to commission a mix of solar thermal power stations (with molten salt storage) and windfarms to produce the required energy. This would be 100% clean energy and not require any gas, new dams or nuclear waste!

Baseload is the minimum amount of energy that a coal fired power station puts out, it is not the minimum demand for energy. A clean energy grid doesn't have a baseload requirement - it just has to meet minimum and maximum demand across the 24 hour daily cycle.

The BZE report details how this can be done. All for the price of the NBN - nationally!

Grant said...

Hi Peter
I see the theory in your arguement, but with the existing coal fired power stations unable to keep up with the existing load requirement in summer, and Victoria needing to import electricity from NSW / Tas and anywhere else, we need confirmed methods of electricity supply, and the ones you mention are still developmental (according to the so called expert reports in the press).
I see you quote that the Gov could provide for the same cost as the NBN, but as we (Australia) are borrowing $43 bil for the NBN (god only knows why as the last figures I saw stated that around 75% of households have no intention of using unless the costs are cheaper than they current communication costs), there is no way the country could hope to afford to borrow a similar amount for electricity generation. If anybody expects the public to pay, they only need to look at the last election, where a large percentage of the population kicked the hell out of the Gov (as they were warned in the polls) as the public was told that they could expect high price hikes for energy, and across the board if a carbon tax was implemented (although an equal number kicked them for not implementing a carbon tax in other words stay with the status quo, it is safer).
Anyway I doubt in the current political environment, the Feds would risk upsetting the public with any scheme that will add costs to the daily lives of Mr and Mrs Average, without subsidising the increases to the same amount through reduced taxation or benefit increases.

Peter Campbell said...

Grant, I think we should spend $20b on getting broadband to rural and urban areas that don't have it, and spend the remaining $20b on clean energy and transport.

If there isn't federal funds available then issue government bonds to get some.

There are examples of large scale solar thermal plants up and running; several are itemised in the BZE report.

And there is this one in the US just approved - US$6b and 1000 Megawatt. [link]

Australia risks being left far behind, as Marius Kloppers (BHP CEO) pointed out today.

Grant said...

Yep, the BHP CEO did say we would be left behind, but he also said in the full report that, for a carbon tax to be accepted, the Feds would need to exclude, or subsidise, trade exposed industries. He also stated that the Feds would need to subsidise additional costs of any scheme to lower income families. I suppose that leads onto the Feds needing to subsidise energy to middle class families (Mr and Mrs Average) also, else they could very quickly kiss goodbye to being in Gov. To me it would be more effective for the Feds to pay for PV systems for each house, as the majority of the population would otherwise never fit them (eg. In Vic. the payback period for a small system currently is 9 - 12 years - refer recent ACA Choice Magazine investigation - http://www.choice.com.au/Reviews-and-Tests/Household/Energy-and-water/Solar/Solar-payback-times/page/State-of-play.aspx).
Anyway the future should be interesting, with Vic Gov trying to find ways of providing energy for large population increase expected in Melb, and the considerable energy requirements for the Desal plant when it comes on stream. Unless they find considerable increased energy sources, then I suspect the Vic Gov will be in deep trouble.

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