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Renewable Energy - Megathread


Nikola Tesla died in 1943. If, by “big battery”, you mean the Hornsdale Power Reserve, then it’s right where it’s always been.

Making money hand over fist:

Where do you think it should have been?


As someone who started their career in the electricity generation and distribution industry, I have a very good understanding of how it works.

However, I find it amusing that the whole SA network went down after the loss of a single tower a year or so ago, and after all the blame passing, the Telstra battery was touted as some sort of miracle cure, but the next storm leaves over 32,000 homes without power.

And all from winds of around 100 km/hr and less in comparison to Category 5 cyclones in North Qld, whilst SA pays the highest electricity prices in Australia.


You’ll need to link to your sources. Nobody in the industry that I know implied that Hornsdale would prevent power outages in the face of storm damage.

So the problem obviously isn’t with the generating technologies in South Australia.

The role of the Hornsdale Reserve is in ancillary services.

If you have any experience at all in the industry, then you’ll know that making a big deal of the battery’s inability to power the state is akin to expecting the shock absorbers to keep your car’s wheels turning when its engine fails.


Interesting - apologies if this has been mentioned before, couldn’t see it:


Interesting alternate view point, that CO2 becomes a renewable liquid fuel though the use of hydrogen to convert the CO2 to a hydrocarbon fuel. Of course the captured carbon could also be sequested.

There is limited empirical data in the immediate article to understand how the process might perform in a cost comparison with other renewables.


This also reminded me there is another renewable fuel cycle that splits CO2 into CO and O2, typically with water as well which provides for a number of positive outcomes including synthetic fuels or gas.


Yes, I watched a couple of videos and some ‘data’ is splashed around that gave me a ‘wow, but …’ reaction. They mention at one point it could be powered by solar/etc, the story sounds good and it’s encouraging to see people are striving at seeing problems from different angles not to mention there are some heavy hitters in behind this one including this guy which seems curious?, but I’d like to see something like a fully costed (cap and op) production model that could by some standards be considered ‘commercial scale’ with defined output - and by costed I mean, ‘there it is, we built it, it is running, and here are the receipts’ :slight_smile: That’s the kind of ‘data’ I like …


I believe we already have solar-powered carbon capture & sequestration technology. Vegetation. I’d like to see any artificial technology that can compete on grounds of cost and effectiveness.

One I particularly like is algae from sewage. The algae can be harvested for biofuel. In the process, they draw carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and consume nutrients from the sewage.



One of the videos I watched on the Carbon Engineering topic had a guy holding a jar with a clear liquid saying it was a simple process and cost effective to create it - the same fuel that drives your car or truck or tractor, petrol (gas) or diesel … it was at that point I felt a little too much was being ‘simplified’ as I’m usually fairly careful to ensure I get the right pump at the servo for the vehicle I’m filling … In another video they make some fluffy statements including that heavy vehicles can’t run on battery power, which set a distant but easily recognised bell ringing for me and I scoured the horizon for ‘el toro’. Maybe battery power isn’t practical in a heavy vehicle sense today, but that was a big and final sounding generalisation especially given that Tesla (hybrid) and others are playing with ideas in this area. Of course videos are often far more marketing than any real ‘evidence’ …

This is not an area of expertise for me, except to say I enjoy using fuel in various vehicles :slight_smile:


Tesla certainly already have a battery powered truck, as do a number of other manufacturers who either have one or have a prototype, including at least Volvo and Ford/DHL from memory, and perhaps others are working on it too now.


Indeed - and the other thing in the back of my mind was how appropriate electric motors are to high torque requirements as with heavy vehicles, something about generating max torque near stall/etc? from memory - and how they can be deployed at the wheels - like with the huge mining trucks - used for dynamic braking, which I imagine might simplify drive train mechanics and give options for power recovery. Locomotives also use electric drive … so I think I heard the right bell going off :slight_smile: even if my engineering is vague at best …


Lets not forget my tractor in all of this. Instead of 600kg of water ballast in the rear wheels there could be a 600kg battery. Perhaps for a 16 hour ploughing session it might not last, but for the hour or two at a time many of us need it would be a good way to repurpose older machinery with diesel power.

No need even for a more expensive high energy density battery to store that renewable goodness, as weight is not a problem. It’s lack of weight that is usually a problem. Accepting this is more a suggestion about how we can leverage off renewables it may also be one more opportunity that the Govt and Elec retailers can’t touch.

Drifting back towards renewables more directly:

  1. What is the scope or definition of renewables for energy?
  2. What is the scope of the secondary sources of energy that are enabled by or created using renewables. EG battery storage, or syngas?
  3. For each renewable energy there are options that are in use, others that are emerging (proven, costed early adoption), and some that are not here yet as the are either technically not ready or are too high cost?
  4. For each renewable which need or needs does it best meet?

Wiki to the rescue:

The original proposition of this topic appears to be simply about the potential for the cost of electricity to be driven down by the uptake of renewables in that sector. There was an alternate proposition perhaps doubting how this might manifest itself in reality given the influence of Government and interests or effects of Energy Retail/Distribution on final consumer pricing.

How can we continue to add for other consumers further value to this topic?


So is BIO-Methane a truely renewable energy source or is it an alternate fuel source?

It only exists for as long as we produce waste that can be turned into Bio-Methane. It arguably captures and converts methane which would otherwise have been lost to the environment as a very bad greenhouse gas, which is good. Typically sources usually also produce some CO2. When it is burnt it is still a hydro carbon which adds more (about half that of other liquid or solid fuels) CO2 to the environment.

There are already numerous small scale plants around Australia producing power from bio mass. Per those in the following with landfill as the energy source.

And surprisingly a large number on natural gas, all of which are much lower emitters of green house gas than coal or liquid hydrocarbon fuels.


It’s created (not extracted), then consumed, so why not?

Are they?

Or a slew of other types of storage:


It’s created (not extracted), then consumed, so why not?

Are they?

Or a slew of other types of storage:


Also if the bio-methane is not captured in many situations it will be released to the air, the garbage, manure or whatever will ferment anyway. Methane has a much more effect on climate change than CO2.


Only if the calculation is limited to comparing the emissions from burning. If you include fugitive emissions of methane during extraction and transport the story changes dramatically. The CSG industry tries to pretend the fugitive emissions are negligible or at least unquantified. The lack of comprehensive data at gas fields is because the industry doesn’t want the data available and State governments don’t insist.

A perverse outcome of the CSG export boom is that gas has become so expensive that less is now burned for power than if export didn’t occur.

The idea of methane as a transition fuel is somewhere between unproven and a total furphy.


yep, just now. Sorry, it was me …


Hope a single response will suffice.

Wikipedia has a slightly different take on the definition:
Renewable energy is energy that is collected from renewable resources, which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat.

It seems to ignore or sidestep energy derived directly from biological material:
I have tried to reduce this to a simple set of Yes/No propositions. There is no need to answer them. It’s more a challenge to ask how good bio-fuels may or may not be as a long term solution compared to other options. Given we have way too much carbon dioxide and methane in the environment already.

  1. Is it this way because there is an element of consumption or removal from the system?
  2. Is a key need with biomass derived energy ensuring there is a balance between carbon emissions and recovery?
  3. Is it relevant to ensure any process does not add carbon to the environment faster than the original source can take it back?
  4. Should we avoid using Biomass if it increases carbon in the atmosphere?

I recollect the comparison was specifically comparing emissions from natural gas with coal and liquid hydrocarbon fuels (EG oil. diesel etc).

Noted the link provided a useful reference on the nature of Fugitive Emissions from Coal Seam Gas extraction CSG.

The Australian Dept of Environment, Annual Reports and Quarterly Assessments and Forecasts are a more complete point of reference for the relative levels of emissions for each energy source and national statistics. It includes fugitive emissions in it’s overall assessments. Energy derived from gas has significantly lower emissions, typically half that of coal when used for electricity generation per the reports.

Storage systems for energy to complement renewable energy sources or support lower greenhouse gas emission strategies looks like it could be a topic on its own.


Think it through. From where does the material that comprises the biofuel come? To where does that material go when the fuel is used?

You seem to be over-thinking. Natural systems are balanced. Humanity has upset the balance(s).