CHOICE membership

Renewable Energy - Megathread


A nice piece to add to this thread is about the operation of the Tesla Battery bank in Sth Aust. It has commenced operation a day early. Congratulations to all involved in this achievement.


AGL is standing its ground too. Retire coal and replace it with renewables and some gas.


A revealing overview of where we’re going - like it or not:

“The technologies that we are seeing in South Australia and Victoria are what are going to start setting the transformation that people are talking about in this industry,” Zibelman says.

She spoke of the “amazing” development of producing electricity at zero marginal cost (wind and solar), and the need to use data and storage to manage this.

“The game changer around storage is that we can address the variability of these resources,” rather than keeping spinning reserve in place in case of any issues. She talks of conducting “baseload”, storage and demand response rather like an orchestra. It’s how it all works together that is important.


A report, by the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney, found that Australia has enough onshore wind resources to supply the entire country’s electricity demands more than 12 times over. That’s onshore wind alone! Why are our politicians holding us back?


An interesting report on embodied energy of various types of generation. I wonder about ongoing energy requirements of nuclear waste storage.


In another thread, I outlined my grand vision:

Turn the entire nation into one coordinated mass of generation and storage. Extend that to our near neighbours, which have significant tidal, hydro and geothermal resources.

That’s looking more and more practical:

We certainly live in interesting times.


A free eBook on energy storage:

As renewable energy use expands there will be a need to develop ways to balance its variability. Storage is one of the options. Presently the main emphasis is for systems storing electrical power in advanced batteries (many of them derivatives of parallel developments in the electric vehicle field), as well as via liquid air storage, compressed air storage, super-capacitors and flywheels, and, the leader so far, pumped hydro reservoirs. In addition, new systems are emerging for hydrogen generation and storage, feeding fuel cell power production. Heat (and cold) is also a storage medium and some systems exploit thermal effects as part of wider energy management activity. Some of the more exotic ones even try to use gravity on a large scale. This short book looks at all the options, their potentials and their limits. There are no clear winners, with some being suited to short-term balancing and others to longer-term storage. The eventual mix adopted will be shaped by the pattern of development of other balancing measures, including smart-grid demand management and super-grid imports and exports.


That’s what hydro-electric storage uses! The talk of using steel weights on rail lines for similar gravity based storage makes no sense to me, as steel costs vastly more than water, but weight for weight, stores exactly the same amount of energy…


Just asking, when there is a drought is the water still available, and is the steel block still available? It is not always just about cost.


We are talking about hydro-electric energy storage here, not run of river hydro, so water doesn’t actually get used up, merely transferred from one storage to another, so drought isn’t really relevant. Storage systems would only be set up where water is available for initial filling anyway, and for locations near the ocean, salt water would be used.

For significant storage capacity the amount of steel (or other heavy metal) required becomes ridiculous. For the Snowy Mountains Talbingo Reservoir-Tumut 3, the storage contains not far short of a billion tons of water. Total Australian steel production currently runs at under 500 thousand tons per month. That’s >150 years worth of production, for just one reservoir, and we’ll be needing a lot more than that! We need storage in the next decade or so, then there’s the energy and raw materials required to produce that much steel, and the associated environmental damage to consider.

You are right though, it isn’t always just about cost :wink:


There is still a lot of other materials added in the creation of the storage and ducting of the hydro plants/systems. These include masses of concrete, & steel not only for the pipes but also the reinforcing. Also in a report @blank linked to, it labelled Hydro power as not really low carbon footprint partly because the water storage causes carbon release from the rotting organic matter as per this quote

“The footprint for hydro is highly variable, the paper notes, with lifecycle emissions largely due to the rotting organic matter flooded by the dam [97gCO2e/kWh with coal being 109gCO2e/kWh and Solar at 6gCO2e/kWh]. This means certain sites should be avoided, in particular shallow dams in warm regions, with large variations in water level.” .

Also cement production is a big producer of Carbon emissions and the IPCC estimates it is about 2.4% of Global CO2 emissions.

Like all options there is an initial cost in terms of carbon, in the rail gravity one this is in the production of the steel and other components but once it is in place it has little to add to the carbon footprint I would think. I could be wrong but I think as a choice particularly in areas of scarce rainfall, potable and surface water but sufficient sloping of ground this could be a very good means of energy storage, think of it being like a house you build and put solar on, it is a one off cost with many years of return.

Some additional reading on the Trains (I am sure they have bias so read with some caution)


An intriguing insight into traditional centralised generation:

AGL says switching to renewables, backed with storage, demand management and some gas peaking plant, will be cheaper, more reliable, cleaner, smarter, and provide a long-term future for its investments.

The NSW energy minister Don Harwin has since hailed the role of solar and other renewables in keeping the lights on in a grid which relies on coal more than any other in the world (88 per cent in 2016/17). …

Wind and solar output may be variable, but they are largely predictable, and AEMO can work around it.


Unreliable fossil fuel generation in hot weather… the same thing happened in SA and NSW last summer, SA had a blackout, in NSW Tomago had to cut power, and we avoided a blackout, apparently by less than 1 second.

Re the NSW Energy Minister, it depends on who the minister is talking to at the time as to what gets the credit! See my comment under that RE article.


Pooled Energy aims to power down household pools during daily peaks to return power back to the grid:


Visit the link and read the report, then if you feel strongly enough about it use the form on the site to contact your State’s/Territory’s Energy Minister.


Industry is leading politics in the USA, and hopefully here.

‘Despite President Trump’s promise to keep the coal industry in business, one coal plant has closed every 19 days since he took office.’


California has been a leader, even when Republican Arnie was governor:


Do South Australia’s Liberals risk being excommunicated (or whatever happens to Conservatives who don’t toe the line)?

… the Steven Marshall-led Liberal government actually appears excited by the fact that the state will, according to AEMO’s Integrated System Plan, based on current policies and building intentions, reach around 73 per cent renewables by 2020, and 100 per cent by 2025.


The article is an inconvenient truth. It is always better to check data used in potentially persuasive articles to see if in fact it is correct. In this case, the data is fiction…here is why…

See the Aemo website:

The average wholesale price for SA in 2008 was $73.50 and not around $120 as reported on the grapth. If using SA as an example, the wholesale price did not decrease but in fact increased from $73.50 (2008) to $108.66 in (2017). The website also uncorrectly used 2018 wholesale price data which is incompete and therefore inappropriate for comparing with a full year.

If one slso looks at the remainder of the couintry, with exception of Tasmania, all wholesale prices also increased over the same period (2008 to 2017). Tasmania is somewhat unique as much of its generation capacity comes from hydro, so during dry periods the wholesale price increases and likewsie decreses with wet years.


Yet the Liberal SA government is still forging ahead. Maybe you’ve missed something.