During the storms in South Australia last week, two tornadoes flattened twenty-three transmission towers, which resulted in a state-wide blackout for three hours. Power was out in some parts of the state for several days.
“A preliminary report into the mass three-day power outage has been released by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). The report says it remains unknown what role wind power played.”
“Renewables were supplying 70 per cent of generation in South Australia at the time of the incident and we know that they work differently to conventional thermal generation,” ” abc.net.au
Clearly wind power via the tornadoes played a large part in the blackout, but politicians were quick to blame green energy in the state for the outage, long before knowing any facts.
The first reaction was from Independent Senator Nick Xenaphon, who instantly blamed SA’s high take up of renewable energy. “Mr Xenophon said while he supported the renewable energy target – 40 per cent of South Australia’s energy supply comes from renewable energy – the transition had been “reckless” and heads should roll over the blackout.” afr.com He was soon joined by Liberal and National Party politicians, including the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who questioned the speed of the take up of renewable energy:
“Now, I regret to say that a number of the state Labor Governments have over the years set priorities and renewable targets that are extremely aggressive, extremely unrealistic, and have paid little or no attention to energy security.” Huffingtonpost.com.au
Paul Gilding in The Great Disruption, says we have done too little too late to avoid catastrophic climate change events. He also argues that once we see the effects of climate change we will act fast to radically reduce carbon emissions. We obviously haven’t reached the point of peak stupid. (My observation, not Paul Gilding’s).
“NASA’s data showed that each month in 2016 was the warmest respective month globally in the modern temperature record, which dates to 1880. This trend suggests 2016 will surpass 2015 as the hottest year on record, NASA said.Jul 20, 2016″ livescience.com
I’m astounded that with a consensus of scientific opinion around the world, that politicians still can’t get their head around the urgency in reducing carbon emissions. Do they think they are reflecting the will of the people? Our former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, was voted in on a platform of scrapping the Carbon Tax. At present, the Right of the Coalition wields power over a Prime Minister who was previously passionate about addressing climate change. The present Government is also funded by powerful coal interests.
If Paul Gilding is correct, and we have left the move too late to avoid catastrophic weather events, then I hope we have a better attitude to accepting climate refugees. Given our current acceptance of off-shore detention and refusal to settle refugee boat arrivals in Australia, we need to reflect on our future as global citizens. The irony is, Australia may be one of the countries most effected by climate change, and do we expect our neighbours to show more humanity towards us than we have towards them? What goes around comes around.
To end on a more positive note, this is from Paul Gilding’s book:
“Apart from the lack of CO2, the extraordinary amount of solar energy arriving on the planet means renewables make intuitive sense. Consider this: Every hour an amount of energy equivalent to what all of humanity uses in a year hits the earth’s surface from the sun. Even after allowing for the limits in accessibility and converting this into useful energy, a year’s supply arrives every week.
Another “annual supply” of energy is available from the wind every month and another one again each month from geothermal. Then there is the hydro from rivers and energy in the waves and tides. So there is just so much energy available, it is implausible that we cannot access it effectively and at a reasonable price if we put our minds to the task.”