More brilliance here from Andrew P Street, highlighting that we totally have the capacity to run Australia’s energy entirely on renewables. Hell Yeah!
Love, exciting and (re)new…
Then again, there is some legitimately good news that’s worth hearing, especially when the government is determined to expand mining and eliminate programmes that limit emissions of greenhouse gases: not only could Australia genuinely switch to 100% renewable energy right now, we’re uniquely well positioned to do it, and we’re already moving in that direction regardless.
It’s a story that doesn’t get a lot of play - certain US-based media magnates like to scoff about wind farms and the like, and it seems that much of the media kinda falls into the line with that - but as we’ve mentioned here before, on Friday June 30 South Australia’s wind farms generation exceeded the state’s supply for the first time.
And before you go “OK, it’s a one off”, a trio of UNSW researchers sat down and crunched the numbers on Australia’s energy mix - based on our existing generation capacity - and found yep, we could totally do it. The optimal mix, by the way, is 46% wind generation, 22% concentrated solar thermal with thermal storage, 20% photovoltaic solar (as in electricity generated directly from sunlight), 6% biofuelled gas turbines 6% and existing hydroelectricity. There’s an article on it right here, and it links to all of the data.
Ah, you might respond, but solar and wind are unreliable! They can’t possibly do it without interruption!
Yeah, they had all the power useage data to hand and crunched those numbers too. One of the researchers, associate professor Mark Diesendorf, responds thusly:
“It turns out that wind and solar photovoltaic are only unable to meet electricity demand a few times a year. These periods occur during peak demand on winter evenings following overcast days that also happen to have low wind speeds across the region. Since the gaps are few in number and none exceeds two hours in duration, there only needs to be a small amount of generation from the so-called flexible renewables (those that don’t depend on the vagaries of weather): hydro and biofuelled gas turbines. Concentrated solar thermal is also flexible while it has energy in its thermal storage.”
So, to recap: we can absolutely, 100% go entirely renewable with zero emissions any time we want. The tech is there, most of the infrastructure is there, and if you’re worried about power prices this is your best bet to see them drop. It’s a real thing. Hell, the power companies are already using them and passing the savings on to… well, themselves at this point. As professor Diesendorf explains:
“South Australia nominally has two coal-fired power stations, several gas-fired ones, and at least 15 operating wind farms. Wind now supplies an annual average of 27% of South Australia’s electricity generation. As a result, one of the coal stations is now shut down for half the year and the other for the whole year. And the state’s electricity supply system is operating reliably without the need for any additional non-renewable energy supply.”
Yeah, I didn’t know this either. Renewables are not a pipe dream, despite what Diamond Joe “Wind Farms Make Me Sad In My Feelings-Hole” Hockey says. You know how we know they work? Because South Australia is still on.
And now you know about it, and you’re going to start telling everyone, right? Because this is amazing, awesome, wonderful news.