Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here’s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.


 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate

Subscribe!
Subscribe





On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.
___________

Syndicate
RSS/XML


RSS 2.0

Why won't politicians stop lying about 'reliable renewables'?

By Geoff Carmody - posted Thursday, 27 April 2017


Government policies forcing increased reliance on renewable energy were a response to political concerns about global warming. Renewable Energy Targets (RETs) and their ilk were intended to cut greenhouse gas emissions by cutting fossil fuel sources of energy.

What's the problem? We have one policy objective (cutting emissions) and a few policy levers to do that.

Wrong. While suppressed for a time, politically, delivering lower emissions was always subject to constraints and trade-offs. These included cheap and reliable energy – both central to our industry competitiveness and consumer benefits. (Reliability is reflected in the NEM reliability 'standard' of only 0.002% outages on average across the grid – which, however, excludes a bunch of 'excuses', which qualify its effective significance to the punter. This objective was set in 1998 and is retained today.)

Advertisement

Nasty trade-off chickens have come home to roost. Today, cheap and reliable energy are in the limelight – because we haven't got them. This is just where many politicians and their urgers don't want them to be. Energy market transparency, beloved of reformers and punters, is uncomfortable for those with a more exclusive focus on emissions ends regardless of means, and no interest at all in the notion of scarcity.

Today, we have a raging debate about whether renewable energy causes electricity grid volatility, higher prices and blackouts. Labor and the Greens deny it. They have faith in renewables. The Coalition isn't blameless: it also has a (less ambitious) RET policy, 'tho its 'broad church' is internally divided on this.

At all levels, most all politicians are accomplices before, during, and after the facts (blackouts and soaring energy prices). Unreliability and cost mud sticks more or less to all of them. (Let's not talk about gas supply in this article: it's embarrassing and worth another piece in its own right.)

Why do we have a problem?

Blame physics – and politicians' Canute-like attempts to deny it.

Alone, renewables wreck reliability.

Advertisement

Install as many wind-farms or solar panels as you like. Technology determines the maximum potential electricity supply capacity. Actual supply depends on the weather (and transmission losses). Too windy, or not windy enough, and wind farms deliver nothing. At night, or on dark days, ditto for solar panels.

Renewables electricity supply is volatile, from pretty much zero to some technical maximum. Some estimates suggest SA wind farms average about one-third of their rated maximum capacity over a year.

Electricity demand is much less volatile: high on hot or cold days, but with sizeable base-load demand.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. All


Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

13 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with del.icio.us Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Geoff Carmody is Director, Geoff Carmody & Associates, a former co-founder of Access Economics, and before that was a senior officer in the Commonwealth Treasury. He favours a national consumption-based climate policy, preferably using a carbon tax to put a price on carbon. He has prepared papers entitled Effective climate change policy: the seven Cs. Paper #1: Some design principles for evaluating greenhouse gas abatement policies. Paper #2: Implementing design principles for effective climate change policy. Paper #3: ETS or carbon tax?

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Geoff Carmody

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Article Tools
Comment 13 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend
Advertisement

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy