Or Old Ideologies v’s the Future. I’m starting this post with a fascinating live link to the energy sources powering Australia at the moment:
The next installment of the Perfect Storm II began earlier this week when our Premier, Jay Weatherill, announced South Australia was taking control of its own energy needs. This came after constant sniping from the Federal Liberal National Government over our blackouts the last few months.
Some history to the blackouts
South Australia wasn’t the only state experiencing blackouts over summer, but the other states are powered mostly by coal. The Federal Government has an unusual obsession with coal. Against majority international scientific opinion, they regard coal as the future, and do everything they can to ensure Australia’s main energy source is coal.
After each blackout the Federal Government would blame our high uptake of renewable energy. In every case, this wasn’t the cause. In contrast there was silence when the other states experienced blackouts.
The last coal fired power station in South Australia and the Leigh Creek coal mine closed last year. This was due to economic reasons. The Victorian Hazelwood brown coal fired power station is also going to close this year.
In contrast, the Queensland Government with assistance from the Federal Government, is in the process of allowing Adani to open the biggest coal mine in Australia, and is attempting to push through amendments to the Native Title Act to over-ride any opposition from the First Nation peoples. The Adani CEO was responsible for a major environmental disaster in South Africa, and here are some more reasons why the mine shouldn’t go ahead:
As part of our state taking control of its energy needs, our Premier announced we would install a 100mWh battery storage system, after visiting Tesla boss Elon Musk offered to solve our blackouts by installing a 100mWh system in 100 days or it would be free*. Tesla has already installed a 80mWh system in California. Germany is also aiming to increase their storage from 60mWh to 200mWh this year.
The announcement included increasing our gas extraction (we are assured it doesn’t including fracking) and also building a new government owned gas fired power station to ensure (cheaper?) reliable energy supply.
We are told gas is a bridge between coal and 100% renewable energy for our state. Port Augusta is very keen on building a solar thermal plant, and the Government is due to make a decision on this by June. Many renewables supporters think we should stop investing in gas and put all the money into renewable energy sources only. As more money is invested, the cheaper renewable energy becomes.
The fact is, the power purchase solar panels on our roof have generated an average of 23kWhs/day from October to January, and with battery storage we could have easily powered our household and put energy back in the grid. There are many roofs without solar panels in SA.
Like most other Australian states and territories, there is massive land space in South Australia for wind, solar thermal, and solar panels. With battery storage, we have the weather to power South Australia and further afield. Our Federal Government has removed incentives for renewable energy and recently talked about using the clean energy fund to finance a ‘clean coal’ power station, to the disgust of many. it is extremely frustrating watching the Government bypass opportunities to support renewable energy based on old ideologies.
Our Premier’s announcement sparked a panicked policy announcement by Prime Minister Turnbull to increase the size of the Snowy Mountains hydro scheme by 50%. Along with the newly elected Labor Government in Western Australia, hopefully this is the beginning of a turnaround towards renewable energy.
*The SA system is going out to tender so one or a multiple of companies can bid for the project.