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Battery baloney, hydrogen hype and green fairy tales

By Viv Forbes - posted Wednesday, 10 July 2024


How low Australia has fallen - our once-great BHP now has a "Vice President for Climate", the number of Australian students choosing physics at high school is collapsing, and our government opposes nuclear energy while pretending we can build and operate nuclear submarines.

Our Green politicians want: "No Coal, No Gas, No Nuclear" while Our ABC, Our CSIRO and Our Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) are telling us that wind and solar energy plus a bit of standby gas, plus heaps of batteries and new power lines can power our homes, industries AND the mass electrification of our vehicle fleet. This sounds like Australia's very own great leap backwards?

There are two troublesome Green Energy Unions – the Solar Workers down tools every night and cloudy day, and the Turbine Crews stop work if winds are too weak or too strong. And wind droughts can last for days. The reliable Coal and Gas Crews spend sunny days playing cards, but are expected to keep their turbines revving up and down to keep stable power in the lines.

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Magical things are also expected from more rooftop solar. AEMO says we need to quadruple rooftop solar by 2050. But panel-power has four huge problems:

  • Zero solar energy is generated to meet peak demand at breakfast and dinner times.
  • Piddling solar power is produced from many poorly oriented roof panels or from the weak sunshine anywhere south of Sydney.
  • If too much solar energy pours into the network (say at noon on a quiet sunny Sunday), the grid becomes unstable. Our green engineers have the solution – be ready to charge people for unwanted power they export to the grid, or just use "smart meters" to turn them off.
  • More rooftop solar means less income and more instability for power utilities so they have to raise electricity charges. This cost falls heaviest on those with no solar panels, or no homes.

 

Magical things are also expected from batteries.

When I was a kid on a dairy farm in Queensland, I saw our kerosene lamps and beeswax candles replaced by electric lights. We had 16 X 2 volt batteries on the veranda and a big thumping diesel generator in the dairy.

(At least those old lead acid batteries on our veranda did not catch fire and explode while re-charging.)

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It was a huge relief, years later, when power poles bringing reliable electricity marched up the lane to our house. All those batteries disappeared with the introduction of 24/7 coal power.

Batteries are NEVER a net generator of power – they just store energy generated elsewhere, incurring losses on charging and discharging.

There has to be sufficient generating capacity to meet current demand while also recharging those batteries. What provides electricity to power homes, lifts, hospitals and trains AND to recharge all those vehicle batteries after sundown on a still winter night? (Hint: Call the reliable coal/gas/nuclear crews.)

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About the Author

Viv Forbes is a geologist and farmer who lives on a farm on the Bremer River.

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

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