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Renewable Energy - Megathread


With the bushfire season starting early, you might live to regret saying that. :wink:

Australia has different problems, but I have heard it suggested that warming of the East Australian Current could see cyclones down past Sydney.


Interestingly the carbon lost to the environment due to a bush fire does not appear as a reporting item in our national accounting of greenhouse gas emissions. Nothing to worry about unless you live in a forest?

It does leave open a discussion on the benefits and cost of increased deliberate forest harvesting to provide fuel for power generation and iron smelting, providing the resource is accredited and renewable. A contrary position against would be to consider the adverse impacts to wildlife, although the example of the UK suggests that it is not a direct threat to human advancement given most of the UK has been cleared.


The release of some of the costs around the SA Battery provided by Tesla makes an interesting read. It’s also possible to infer the approximate cost and value of the investment. It appears to have been delivered at lower cost (approx $750kWh capital investment) than domestic battery storage options ($1,200kWh to $1,500kWh or higher)? Which is contrary to costs for roof top solar PV which by my observations is the opposite with lower cost per installed kW than large scale PV farms.

There remains a hope battery costs for residential systems will also come down soon. They have not fallen significantly over the previous two years suggesting domestic installers are keeping prices higher deliberately. ie playing on the emotive drive to spend the extra on storage while demand is still low to maximise opportunity. Perhaps we need some form of rebate like STC’s on battery storage to drive uptake, increase competition, and lower prices.


I think the picture is far more complex than just the costs of renewable energy generation and storage. Their value is also changing. The degree to which individual households will be able to participate in the demand response and virtual power plant markets potentially makes investment in renewables & storage less costly, if not cost-negative.


The potential for disruption to the market due to distributed generation creates another potential problem

Noted the current PV proposal I have on the table has caveats on battery storage.

While I am permitted to export to,the grid, I can only sell direct generated PV to my retailer, and no one else. It also read as though I can only do so once my batteries are fully charged and that I cannot charge these from the grid. I am not permitted to feed power into the grid from any onsite storage system including battery storage.

This all suggests that the retailers intend to keep tight control of the future use of the grid and lock out any alternative strategies they cannot benefit from. As noted the major value In the retail price of power goes to the retail distributors. Reduce the size of their share or take that away, there is much for them to loose.

The states already have the power to regulate and control all grid connected generation. It is a very small step to use these powers to have consumers hand over total control of residential generation to a retailer and on their terms only. Is this a risk to consumers once residential installs reach a critical ratio? System stability and safety concerns may be the excuse.


One wonders whether there will be a tipping point, where the need to connect to the grid simply wont exist - storage will be cost effective, appliances will be more energy efficient … it will be particularly interesting for those of use where sunlight is in abundance - yes we still get clouds from time to time, but our last real rain was March, and I’m currently over $300 in credit :slight_smile:

One can only imagine how much the puppet masters will make the puppets dance then …


Things like generation, storage and demand response are all network concerns. The network operator should be in control. It’s weird that the retailer is involved at all.

Sounds to me like a problem with the industry structure. If retailers are getting in the way, then consumers suffer. Something for Choice to look into?


There are many sources of information concerning renewable energy uptake. The ABC has a rather bare take on Solar PV in Tasmania buried deep in a discussion of how sunny Hobart Is or is not?

It’s left to judge whether more than $200M spent on roof top solar to more than 32,000 properties providing between 1% and 2% of Tasmania’s electricity needs was a sound investment compared with other options including wind generation.

On this cost basis for rooftop PV that’s $5billions need to provide between 25% and 50% of their electrical power. Noted that Tasmania may be better able to leverage wind generation or solar PV through a pumped storage projects. There was much discussion of this in June this year, but so far no clear outcome of what could be very good for the Tasmanian consumer and their economy?


We are once again considering installing solar power after reading a brochure from Solarhart, but the only reviews I can find for them are not very impressive.

Has anyone had any experiences, good or bad, with Solarhart PV systems?

As an aside, does anyone else recall the FUD TV advertising campaigns the Qld electricity industry ran when Solarhart started to really gain traction in the market in the 1970’s and 1980’s?

They featured a man standing in a shower cubicle in a cloud of rising steam and the jingle.
“I’ve been in the shower for an hour, but that’s OK, we’ve got power,
electric hot water systems keep on working when the sun goes down”.

Not as good as the Solarhart Tv ads featuring a man holding a red corded telephone receiver to his head saying “Solarhart, how fast can you get me hot water?” where upon hot water streams out of the telephone earpiece, much to his delight.


Australia is not short of pumped hydro potential, particularly in the south east where much of the market for power also lies.


The key point behind this observation by the news item was Tasmania appeared to be in a better position to be investing in wind generation rather than PV due to their low solar intensity. With pumped storage given the large scale hydro already in place it would appear to be a good fit for their needs. Assuming this does not lead to another Gordon below Franklin moment?

How this translates to the other states is more than just a list of options. Proposals to dam the Mary River in SE Qld with a mega dam when the state was running short on water, brought the government to crisis with the local member crossing the floor and resigning from the party. These options need to be well researched and environmentally sustainable.

Every dam floods a valley or river catchment. We have a surplus of flat drier land. But far fewer riverine and raparian environments that remain as wilderness or unoccupied. Many environmental activists already live lower carbon lifestyles and may not share the same views, preferring the rest of the community to give up electricity before daming one more river?

I’d hope that in purporting to save the environment from ourselves to save ourselves we don’t simply move the problem to another part of the environment. With time you can offset forests. River systems as the history of the Snowy River attests are much more complex.


You’re confusing off-river pumped hydro with run-of-river. Pumped hydro doesn’t even need potable water.

Everything that we do has some environmental impact. The best we can hope for is that we choose the lesser evils.


You might try following the links from the Choice Solar purchasing guide to Solar Choice, if you need to find other suppliers and further advice.

We are on the same path at the other end of the state and now have four quotes to compare. Every supplier has different preferred solutions, and universally it is a Holden vs Ford vs Valliant scenario. Every installer has their favourite brand/s and reasons why not to buy that other brand of panel or invertor. Unfortunately none of the panel brands offered are on the latest Choice review!


Something similar was recently asserted in the media:
and promptly debunked:


That theory about wind turbines robbing the breeze reminds me of what we told our daughter when she was quite young. We picked up pizza from the shop and while driving home admonished her for inhaling so deeply there would be no more nice smell for anyone else to enjoy. She would hold her breath as best she could.

Both stories seem to have similar relationships to reality, although a sufficient number of turbines could affect airflow patterns. I would think that many turbines would be counterproductive though, interfering with each other as do racing yachts stealing their competitors wind.


That is the case, the array is carefully constructed to keep that affect small. Although some say not small enough and they ought to be further apart.


Perhaps the first article is as unreliable as the second attributed to Michael Barnard. Although the second does state the author MB has a “BA English Literature & Environmental Studies, University of Toronto”. Which suggests the second can only be an opinion piece and not a scientific study.

As a fact the question MB was specifically responding to is: Are wind farms causing global warming? The answer does not need research, as global warming is way ahead of wind turbine development. It does not need an Arts degree in literature to respond.

Holding an opinion is different to fact and not a “debunking”. Whether a large number of wind turbines in a concentrated area will have any measurable effect on the local or greater environment, factually what do we know?

That wind farms may have effects, measurable or not it would be a better to ask and expect a position scientifically.

My response is in no way intended to say we should not have wind farms. History is however littered with good ideas we turned into invention only to regret the outcomes decades or centuries later. Micro climates are valuable to agriculture in many ways such as wine grape production, and to a variety of natural habitats.

Should we build more wind powered generation is not the argument. I’m happy to see as many wind turbines built as necessary. It is that in each installation we need to understand the potential for unintended consequences, ensure they are properly assessed and respond as necessary.

Miller and Kieth in the first article were actually presenting an assessment on the wind energy potential of the USA vs generation outcomes. They politely suggested that wind power alone would not be sufficient in scale to meet all of the USA needs.

As an additional observation from data they had acquired they noted localised environmental temperature changes specific to areas with large scale wind farm development. Using atmospheric simulations predicted there was potential for a measurable and wider area of effect if 100% of the USA electrical power came solely from Wind Power. They further noted that they could find no evidence of a similar localised effect on temperatures in areas of large scale solar development. They suggested Solar PV was a good solution with less impact.

It is the Bloomberg reporter who appears to be sensationalising the work by Miller and Kieth with an inappropriate headline, that distracts from a more informed understanding. There is no evidence MB is responding in an informed way to the Bloomberg article. The simulation Miller and Kieth referred to indicated a 0.24C potential rise for the USA if 100% wind power for electrical generation.

MB responded by saying "wind farms sufficient to power the USA would raise the surface temperature of the USA an amount equivalent to global warming. I won’t bother to link to it as it’s really not worth increasing traffic to it, "

The current targets of keeping the whole planet to 2.0C globally is not the same as 0.24C for just the USA. There is one possible reason MB did not provide a link to the other article. Anyone reading it would see a very different take on the information presented.

p.s. I’m still trying to breath all the the nice smelling air in while it lasts. Am I against renewables? - you might ask the Solar PV installer who took the deposit today for our 20 panel rooftop.


There’s no evidence to suggest that a wind turbine has any more effect on the wind than does a tree. The effects are localised. To quote from the first piece that I linked to:

So yes, localised effects. Wind farms are not likely to change the tilt of the Earth or send it out of orbit.

If it can’t be measured, then what are we investigating?

To paraphrase Confucius:
The more that wise people learn, the more they come to appreciate how much they don’t know
We can’t afford to be paralysed by fear of the unknown. There’s too much that we don’t know. We’ll never know everything about anything. Eventually, we just have to screw up some courage and get on with it.

Mr Barnard is well respected. He’s written extensively on climate, wind turbines and engineering, among other things. Here’s another piece by him, on a question triggered by the same article:

As to the study in question, the fact that to get it published they had to resort to a junk journal is an indicator of its quality.


The effect that I was referring to was inefficiency brought on by turbulence due to the interaction of rotors. I have nothing to say about any possible interactions with the environment. Did you read the linked article? It’s all about optimising spacing for turbine efficiency - nothing about keeping the frost off tomatoes.


I was responding to the broader context. For obvious reasons, effects of wind turbines have been well studied. They’re no more malignant than trees.