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Published on April 22nd, 2016 | by Giles Parkinson


Report Says Going 100% Renewable By 2030 Can Save Australia Money

April 22nd, 2016 by  

Originally published on RenewEconomy.

A new report from the Institute for Sustainable Futures in Sydney says a rapid transition to a 100 per cent renewable energy system can save Australia money – with avoided fuel costs to quickly offset the extra capital expenditure of building wind, solar and other renewable energy installations.

“The transition to a 100 per cent renewable energy system by 2050 is both technically possible and economically viable in the long term,” the report says. And by 100 per cent renewable, it means all energy use, including transport and heating.

The report canvasses two renewable energy scenarios, one based on a high level of renewable energy in the electricity grid, but with transport largely reliant on fossil fuels. The second is the Advanced Renewables scenario, which canvasses a totally renewable electricity system by 2030 and a fully renewable energy system by 2050.


This graph above shows the proposed fuel mix on the various scenarios, and how they compare to the “reference” rate of current policies, which continues to rely heavily on black and brown coal, and gas.

Interestingly, the ‘advanced renewables” scenario includes a significant share of ocean energy and geothermal energy, which have yet to make their mark in Australia, along with solar thermal and storage and biomass, which will add to the “flexible” generation capacity that will fill the gaps between wind and solar.

Another important component is hydrogen, which is introduced as a substitute for natural gas, and makes up a significant share of transport fuels after 2030. Hydrogen is assumed to be produced via electrolysis, via wind and solar PV – hence the large amounts of wind and PV “for transport” only in the advanced renewable scenario.

Indeed, the report, commissioned by activist groups Get Up and Solar Citizens, says solar and wind will become the “main pillars” of electricity supply in Australia, in a reshaped market that is not built around the conventional “base load” concept, which the authors say is an economic construct rather than a technical one.

The release of the report comes at the same time as the effective launch of an election campaign that features relatively modest policies from the mainstream parties, and highlights the yawning and growing gap between what is possible (and cost effective) and what the major parties propose.

Labor is aiming for 50 per cent renewable energy in electricity by 2030, while the Coalition has no policy beyond its 33,00GWh (effectively 23 per cent) renewables target for 2020. Ironically, it was prime minister Malcolm Turnbull who helped launch an earlier 100 per cent renewables scenario by Beyond Zero Emissions, back in 2010.

Get UP’s Miriam Lyons said investing in the shift to renewables would mean lower wholesale electricity prices as early as 2025.

“Australia’s shambolic electricity system is not clean, cheap, modern, competitive or fair,” Lyons said.

“The only people it suits are a handful of big coal-burning power companies along with network companies who spent $75 billion building far more energy infrastructure than we need.

“That’s a racket, and the Homegrown Power Plan shows how we can fix it. It also shows how clean energy auctions can help deliver low prices on the way to 100% renewable power.”

A 100 per cent renewable energy system has already been acknowledged as technically feasible by the likes of the Australian Energy Market Operator, despite the constant skepticism from the coal and nuclear lobbies, based around the idea that the system needs “base load”.

The advanced renewables scenario suggests all coal-fired plants should be shut down by 2030, and to be combined by a doubling in energy productivity by the same date (rather than the current government target of 40 per cent increase).

It also envisages renewable energy supplying 97 per cent of total electricity demand – including electrified transport – by 2035, and firm capacity remaining at today’s level of approximately 75 per cent throughout the entire scenario period.

It suggests that the supply of energy is 41 per cent renewable by 2035, 64 per cent by 2040 and 100 per cent by 2050, enabling Australia to become independent from oil imports within one generation.

The industry sector will be 50 per cent renewable by 2035 and 100 per cent by 2050. (Interestingly Alcoa is trialling solar technology that it says could reduce fossil fuel use by 50 per cent in various refining processes.)

All of this leads to higher investment costs of $800 billion out to 2050, compared to $150 billion in the reference scenario, much of it spent switching transport and heating sectors over to electricity, and gearing it towards the use of synthetic fuels.

But because renewable technologies have no ongoing fuel costs, there will be fuel savings in the power sector of $340 billion and in the transport sector of $400 billion. This will more than compensate for the higher investment costs.

“The combined power and transport fuel cost savings would cover around 110 per cent of the capital investment cost,” the report says. “New renewable power generation needed for a 100 per cent renewable energy system can therefore be financed by fuel cost savings before 2050.”


Click to see larger image

The report, does, however, envisage some ambitious installation rates – at well above current installation rates.

It says that the average annual installations for solar PV between 2015 and 2030 – to meet its 2030 target of 72GW – are at around 4,500 MW, “only four times” more than the PV market size of 2011, 2012 and 2015 but equivalent to the entire market installed to date.

It says the wind turbine installations will need to “remain” at 2,600 MW a year for the coming 15 years – when in fact it has been far lower than that in recent years.

But it says this is equal to the development in the German wind power market between 1999 and 2014, a country smaller in area than New South Wales. “There are neither space nor wind resource constraints to building the wind and solar capacities projected in the Advanced Renewables case until 2050 or exceeding this market size.”

As the renewable energy capacity is built up in “moderate annual steps” – based on the experiences of other OECD countries of the past 15 years – existing coal power plants will be retired step by step, at a rate of approximately 750MW per year, equal to one or two average coal power plant blocks.

Reprinted with permission.


About the Author

is the founding editor of RenewEconomy.com.au, an Australian-based website that provides news and analysis on cleantech, carbon, and climate issues. Giles is based in Sydney and is watching the (slow, but quickening) transformation of Australia’s energy grid with great interest.

  • eveee

    http://ars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S2211467X14000601-gr1.jpgThe article you cited doesn’t say nuclear is cheaper. When you give a citation, you are supposed to quote from it, to back up your assertion. Shows you read it. Here is what it says.

  • eveee

    Here’s a snapshot of Barry brooks your go to guy on nuclear.

    “Barry Brook is basically an incompetent ideologue. His initial response when Fukushima exploded was “The [Fukushima] plant is safe now and will stay safe.” When it became undeniable that this was nonsense, he edited the claim out of his blog post – but it remains quoted in the comments and all over the internet.

    Similarly, the Breakthrough Institute is just a bunch of ‘free’ market ideologues. An example of their incompetence: Mark Lynas pens error-riddled, cost-less nuke op-ed after relying on wingnut Breakthrough Institute for data.



    Nuclear is in decine. Get over it.

  • eveee

    Billy, your mind is controlled. You have no credibility when you parrot bs from AI. you did not analyze the rumors/ lies you read. I know where that comment about transmission lines comes from and who made it. You have nothing to back it up.

    Having correct numbers matters. The universe example is apt. You live in a fantasy world. There is nothing wrong with jacobsons transmission numbers. They are not his. He cited from a well known expert in the field. But then you indicted and smeared both Jacobson and his citation source. You gave no specifics on the transmission costs.

    Scientists don’t spread FUD like that and expect to be taken seriously.

  • eveee

    I knew before you even posted that you would drag out that swill. You don’t write peer review on economics, bud. You go to peer review for feasibility. Brooks doesn’t disprove feasibility. He’s so naive he believes nuclear growth can continue like the old days even tho it stopped and he has no explanation why it stopped. Talk about denial. You go to to Lazards and Citigroup for economics. Guess what. You missed the boat. GTM already featured it.
    The age of renewables is here. And nuclear is way too expensive. Since then solar and wind got even cheaper. And NREL already showed high penetration renewables is feasible based on 2010 tech. At BAU costs.

    But what do you expect when you never read anything but nuke drivel, I mean propaganda.

    Too late. You’re done. Go talk to your echo chamber bros at AI, Billy.

  • ROBwithaB

    To be clear: Nobody is preventing you from building a nuclear reactor in your backyard, if that’s what you desire. (As long as you’re really really far away from your closest neighbours.) Well, nobody HERE is stopping you. There are probably a number of government agencies that might have a problem with it.
    I admit that I don’t know everything about such a complex subject, but it sounds like you do. So, by all means go ahead and do it! Raise some money, get all the permitting done, and go for it! Good luck! If you dream it, you can believe it. And if you believe it, you can achieve it! Go Billy!
    In the meantime, I think I’ll just go ahead and put some solar panels on my roof. Which, according to my calculations, will be fully paid off and pumping out free (nuclear?) energy before your nuclear power station is even finished being built. Or even starts being built.
    And I won’t be getting weird looks from my neighbours, nor needing to
    find a place to dump barrels full of nasty glop at regular intervals.
    And it won’t increase my insurance premiums (or those of my neighbours)
    nor require a big ugly electric fence around it. It’ll all just sit there on
    my roof, adding value to my house.
    Maybe there’s some sort of conspiracy going on, and I don’t know how that works, but apparently I’m allowed to go online and compare prices openly. And I can just walk into a shop and buy all the bits I need! And my mate the local electrician can put it all together in a few hours. Maybe the Chinese are trying to poison us with these things, but gosh darnit I’m going to take the chance…

    But best of luck with your new business. I hope you can find some investors for your project. Maybe you can even find some customers who would be prepared to pay a premium for your space age electricity.
    Go get em, Tiger!

  • eveee

    This is the problem. You obviously have not read and understood any paper about renewable energy powering the grid.

    If you had read even one of them, you would know that few if any support the notion of 60% solar. Or wind. Or hydro. Or wave. Whatever.

    But if you are going to discuss what they say, for pete sake, reference them and stop with the gibberish ramble.

    Some even say 80% renewables. The rest are others, including, …. guess what… nuclear.

    See the world doesn’t look around and see your Universe 1, Universe 2. They can seven see 3, 4, 5 or maybe none of that bs at all. Like ROB said, you need a life.

  • eveee

    BIlly, get real. There are peer reviewed scientific papers that show Australia can provide 100% of its energy from renewables. The way it is supposed to be done scientifically, is a question is raised about the research, and the issue is discussed, references are checked, and if necessary future studies are done.

    There are ways to determine if energy sources can provide power to the grid year round. Thats how real engineers and scientists do it.

    If you could read and understand them, you might have some credibility. As it is, you have thrown the whole lot of peer reviewed papers proving that Australia can be powered 100% by renewables away, in a fit of pique.
    Not exactly rational, scientific, and unbiased.

    “Australia has a very high potential for renewable energy.[8] Therefore, the transition a to renewable energy system is gaining momentum in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. Among them several studies have examined the feasibility of a transition to a 100% renewable electricity systems, which was found both practicable as well as economically and environmentally beneficial to combat global warming.[9][10][11]”


    What you are doing is turning science into a poll. The 97% figure is relevant to a response to GW deniers who like to say there is controversy on the subject of GW. There isn’t.

    Nobody ever stated that there is a 97% of scientists standard for provability of fact.

    Thats false. And dumb. Its not how science works. No paper I know of tries to make its case for something like “birds evolved from dinosaurs” by polling scientists.

    Thats BS.

    Just do this. Show all the peer reviewed papers that show renewables cannot provide 100% of Australias energy needs. The reason you have fallen on this opinion poll method is because you can’t find many peer reviewed papers that support your position.

    Respond to the studies and quit your whining.

  • ROBwithaB

    Dude! Enough. You’re looking for answers in the wrong places.
    If you want to know how the grid works, why are you asking conservation biologists? Ask some electrical engineers.

    (Hint; there are quite a few on this forum.)
    If you want to know how the market works, ask some econo… actually, you should probably try to avoid the opinion of professional economists. But you should certainly familiarise yourself with economic theory. If you want to know how the market works, just study the market itself.
    If you want to know what a grid looks like with 60% renewables, why are you trying to “model” it?? Why not just go and look at a grid that actually HAS 60% renewables? (I’m not suggesting that 60% solar would be a sensible way to go right now. Nobody is. I think that what you’re doing there is known as a “strawman argument”.)

    You keep mentioning h-indexes. It’s an irrelevant metric. Let’s just talk about the $-metric. That’s what’s going to drive this transition. Obviously it isn’t going to happen overnight. This is not a binary problem. We do not require that the entire grid switch to renewable generation tomorrow. It’s gong to happen incrementally, driven by market prices.

    You’re starting to remind me of one of those sad guys at the bar, who can cite numerous studies showing that short bald men make for more reliable mates (or similar earnest research coming out of “Gender Studies” academic departments). You might even be right. But it is completely irrelevant. Chicks dig tall dudes. And despite all the “science” you can present, that angry little bald guy is going home alone. Again. (Unless he’s really funny. I suspect Danny de Vito got a lot of tail.)
    Get over it. Move on. Adapt to reality.

    I’m still confused as to why you’re so stubbornly determined to convince everyone that nuclear is the solution. What is your stake in this? Why is this so important to you?

    • eveee

      At least the bitter short bald guys are going home alone. The ones with more winning personalities attract mates and are quite popular. 🙂

      • ROBwithaB

        There you go!
        Moral of the story:
        Nobody loves a whiner.

  • ROBwithaB

    I’m not sure why you need to convince yourself with peer-reviewed papers on this particular matter. The tech has already jumped out of the academic realm straight into the real world.
    People with lots of money are investing heavily in renewable energy. (See: Warren Buffett). They’re not waiting to be convinced by scientific research. They set the bar a lot higher. They’re convinced by something called “return on equity”.
    If the number make sense in the real world, with real customers, why wait a decade for a bunch of isolated academics using modelling software to “prove” that it makes sense??

    The science is substantially done. PV works just fine. The physics of wind is now well understood. Modernisation of the grid is happening. Life sciences? Biologists? Why? Most of the modelling that needs to happen now is economic. And it’s not going to be done on university computers. It’s going to be done in the big world, with real money. With winners and losers.

    Good luck with getting your 97% consensus. In the meantime, I’ll be investing heavily in renewables. I don’t need your approval or permission, and I certainly don’t don’t require any kind of “consensus”. In fact, the way the markets work is that, by the time “consensus” is achieved, you’ve already missed the boat. The research I will be doing is not of the “IS IT? or ISN’T IT?” kind. Because, as far as I’m concerned, that’s already obvious. The interesting questions now are “WHICH?” technologies or companies are likely to come out ahead, and “WHY?”.
    SPWR, SUNE, or SCTY?
    (In case you’re interested, there is no more SUNE, only SUNEQ. And it is possible to make money trading in the “shares” of a bankrupt company. But it is not for the risk-averse. Good luck getting your 97% consensus on THAT one…)

    I’m curious: What exactly is the purpose of your research? Who are you hoping to convince? And why? I’m not sure I understand why you would require such certitiude on this particular matter. What is your investment or involvement in this field? What decision are you needing to take that requires such absolute certainty? One normally only requires such incotrovertible proof if the risks of being wrong are fatal? What is your personal risk here? Why would you even bother coming on here to argue with people?
    I’m confused…

  • Bob_Wallace

    97% of climate scientists agree that humans are driving observed climate warming.

    47 Australian biologists are not experts in the energy field. They are biologists.

    Even one of our leading climate scientists, James Hansen, is woefully under-informed when it comes to energy. When one claims that renewable energy cannot supply the world’s energy needs it’s clear that he is talking outside his knowledge base.

    You linked a letter/paper from a few biologists (?) who claimed that we needed nuclear because nuclear is a dense energy source. This is a very clear example of people with high standing in one field not knowing enough in another field.

    Nuclear fuel is density rich. Wind and sunshine are much less so. No argument there. But that does not mean that we should use nuclear (or coal) rather than wind and sunshine. There are two more important considerations.

    First, there is the cost of electricity generated. Nuclear is dense but turning that dense energy source into electricity costs about 15c/kWh in the western world. Wind and solar are under or dropping under 4c/kWh.

    Second, there are external costs. Nuclear creates a lot of radioactive waste. We don’t have a solution for that. Nor can we be absolutely sure there will be no more Chernobyls or Fukushimas. Coal costs the US between $140 billion and $242 billion and Europe over $60 billion per year in health costs.

    • JonathanMaddox

      You may be putting words in Hansen’s mouth there. He’s vehement about nuclear energy because the majority of claims against it are largely erroneous — qualifying as “woo” every bit as badly as do Pauling’s vitamin theories.

      • Bob_Wallace

        This is supposedly a direct quote from Jim Hansen….

        ” The tragedy is that many environmentalists line up on the side of the fossil fuel industry, advocating renewables as if they, plus energy efficiency, would solve the global climate change matter.

        Can renewable energies provide all of society’s energy needs in the foreseeable future? It is conceivable in a few places, such as New Zealand and Norway. But suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.”

        “Because they realize that renewable energies are grossly inadequate for our energy needs now and in the foreseeable future and they have no real plan. They pay homage to the Easter Bunny fantasy, because it is the easy thing to do in politics.”


        That, my friend, earns Jim Hansen the title of Energy Idiot. The Linus Pauling of climate science.

        Good old Jim got outside his field and has made stupid claims. All he had to do was to spend an afternoon reading the research like any scientist knows they should.

        • JonathanMaddox


          • eveee

            I think that’s how Hansen really feels about it. He believes nuclear power is the only way possible.
            IMO, it’s a mistake. The lesson: be kind to others. They make mistakes just like you. Always check yourself, never surrender your mind to others, but find those that are kind to you and point out your mistakes.
            Things are not right or wrong because of the person that says them. Truth will have a more enduring quality. Get ready to be both wrong and right. This won’t change.

  • Bob_Wallace

    First, if you aren’t familiar with one of the world’s leading scientists, Linus Pauling, please read this article. I’ll copy out the most important parts –

    “Linus Pauling, Ph.D. (1901-1994), was the only person ever to win two unshared Nobel prizes. He received these awards for chemistry in 1954 and for peace in 1962. He contributed greatly to the development of chemical theories. ”

    “Pauling is largely responsible for the widespread misbelief that high doses of vitamin C are effective against colds and other illnesses. In 1968, he postulated that people’s needs for vitamins and other nutrients vary markedly and that to maintain good health, many people need amounts of nutrients much greater than the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs). And he speculated that megadoses of certain vitamins and minerals might well be the treatment of choice for some forms of mental illness. He termed this approach “orthomolecular,” meaning “right molecule.” After that, he steadily expanded the list of illnesses he believed could be influenced by “orthomolecular” therapy and the number of nutrients suitable for such use. No responsible medical or nutrition scientists share these views.”


    The takeaway here is that while someone might be an expert in their field that does not make them an expert in other fields. In fact, as Pauling proved, they could be absolute idiots in another discipline.

    Using “eminent scientists” who are making statements outside their discipline and which disagrees with experts within that discipline is worthless.

    You’ve devised/found some sort of rating system of how well certain individuals function within their discipline. And then you try to take their opinion about a topic outside their discipline in order to support your opinion. As we say up here – that dog don’t hunt.

    • Bob_Wallace

      ” If I try and construct a grid with 10% solar it’ll work well and the value of the electricity produced will achieve a premium price. On the other hand, if I try to construct a grid with 60% solar, there are massive other costs associated with overproduction and storage.”

      Yes, what you say is true. A grid with 60% solar input would need a lot of storage and/or overproduction/curtailment.

      However the same will hold true with a grid that was 60% nuclear. Demand varies as much as 1:3 from off peak to peak over the year. Demand is not constant. In order to fit output from nuclear reactors to changing demand it is necessary to use storage and/or overproduction/curtailment.

      The difference is in the cost of the energy used. Utility solar in the US is now about 6 cents/kWh (unsubsidized) and dropping. Subsidized new nuclear runs from 13c/kWh to 19c/kWh.

      Now let’s take it a bit further. No one except nuclear and fossil fuel advocates who are putting their thumb on the scale talks about a all/mostly solar (or wind) grid. Renewable grids use a variety of renewable inputs.

      That said, let’s play with numbers. I’ll use US numbers because that’s what I have. Unsubsidized solar is about 6c/kWh. Unsubsidized wind is under 4c/kWh. We can store electricity for 10c/kWh in pump-up hydro. (Battery storage is becoming cheaper.)

      So, we can probably get 40% of our electricity from wind direct (the wind blows a lot of the hours of the year). Probably 30% direct from solar (solar produces when demand is highest). And we can store wind/solar for the other 30%.

      I’m leaving hydro, geothermal, biofuel and tidal out of the discussion for simplification.

      40% wind @ 4c + 30% solar @ 6c + 30% stored @ 15c = 7.9c/kWh.

      Subsidized nuclear runs 13c to 19c/kWh in the US. Wind and solar beat out nuclear even for the “baseload” portion of grid supply 7.9 < 13.

      The cost of nuclear is higher once nuclear supplies more than the annual minimum demand. And the 13c/kWh low does not include backup costs for when the reactor will be offline for necessary refueling/maintenance.

  • ROBwithaB

    All these authoritative studies that include include the magic fairy dust of ocean energy can be taken with a pinch of salt.
    Unless someone comes along with a full scale prototype that can withstand the marine environment whilst delivering electricity to shore at competitive rates, it’s all just dreamers and schemers. I don’t hold out much hope.
    Maybe there will be advances in solid-state piezoelectric sheets or something of that ilk….

    • nakedChimp

      Didn’t that Carnegie thing work and make progress?

      • ROBwithaB

        Still haven’t seen any real cost numbers. I become concerned when a company’s website is trying harder to sell me equity in the company rather than any physical product. Imagine if the Tesla website didn’t have any kind of order page for the cars, and every click led you to the IR page. It’s a bit of a red flag for me, especially after a decade (?) of cash burn. Wave energy is a wet, expensive, painful way to lose a lot of money. (About a billion $ in the last 30 years, according to Bloomberg). But the dream is very enticing, and people can still be convinced to sponsor that dream. I think Carnegie got a lot of their research funding from their country’s navy, which is a smart way of tackling the problem.
        The Carnegie CETO system is one of the better ideas out there, probably. Not too many moving parts, which is a good place to start, if you’re designing a WEC. The choice of hydraulic power transfer to shore is robust, albeit lossy. And the bouys themselves seem to have withstood the worst that the Southern Ocean could throw at them. So far, so good….

        I don’t pretend to be an expert in wave energy, but I did spend a few months researching the problem, and corresponded extensively (and even met with) some of the leading lights in the field. Nothing that I learned led me to believe that wave energy can make any significant contribution to global energy supply.
        The problems are large, numerous and substantially intractable (at least with current technology). Without going into a long list of the challenges, let me summarise by saying that the physics tends to bump against the economics.

        I believe that there is probably a niche market for wave energy. It is well suited to providing some semi-baseload generation in small, isolated island microgrids.
        And this is where Carnegie seems to be focussing their attentions at the moment. The market, even though a tiny niche, is still significant, and relies mostly on dirty diesel at the moment. So I hope they succeed.
        But don’t expect to see bobbing duckies in the water off your local beach anytime soon.

  • Billy Bangle

    Giles Parkinson is not exactly the most objective commentator. He never puts links in his articles because he’s almost always cherry-picked them to the point of absurdity. And this isn’t even a scientific report subject to peer-review.

    There are 2 possible universes we could live in, or the truth could be somewhere in between.

    In Universe 1, renewable energy is a robust and certain alternative to fossil fuels. Not only does the anti-nuclear movement support 100% renewable energy, but almost all energy-agnostic scientists support the 100% renewable energy option. There are no high profile defectors from the anti-nuclear camp. In this universe, a quick search of Google Scholar will identify 20 Australian scientists with an h-index >30 who support 100% renewable energy & none that believe that nuclear energy will be required in addition.

    In Universe 2, renewable energy is a highly uncertain solution to fossil fuels. This does not stop anti-nuclear ideologues (including Giles Parkinson) from trying to convince themselves and others that 100% renewable energy really will work. But in Universe 2, almost all energy-agnostic scientists believe that nuclear energy will be required in addition. There are quite a few high-profile defectors from the anti-nuclear ranks in this universe. A quick search of Google Scholar will identify no Australian scientists with an h-index >30 who support 100% renewable energy & 20 that believe that nuclear energy will be required in addition.

    So folks, do we live in Universe 1 or Universe 2, or somewhere in between? It appears to me we live in Universe 2, or Universe 1.95.

    • Jenny Sommer

      Are you trying to say that you would need nuclear power in Australia? Who should pay for that and why?

      • Ronald Brakels

        The average cost of wholesale electricity in Australia is 4 cents (3.1 US). Cost of new wind power in Australia is now 7.7 cents. Rooftop solar beats all utility scale generation on cost. The cost of biomass or biogas varies a lot, but let’s go moderately high and say 12 cents a kilowatt-hour for new capacity.

        The last coal power station is closing in South Australia because it is no longer profitable when receiving an average of around 5 cents a kilowatt-hour.

        The cost of new nuclear in UK at brownfield site with existing nuclear power industry is about 20 cents a kilowatt-hour. New nuclear in the US is roughly the same.

        So the answer to who will pay for it is no one, since it makes no economic sense.

        This comment was brought to you by the Association for The Bleeding Obvious. (Although you are not the one who needs assistance with the bleeding obvious, Jenny.)

    • Bob_Wallace

      “He never puts links in his articles ”

      I had to open only one of Giles’ articles to discover you made a dishonest claim.


      FUD is not appreciated on this site.

      The fact that you posted such an obvious lie makes me suspicious of everything else you claim.

      • nakedChimp

        Looking at his comment history he seems a nuke boy.
        Can’t see that he’s a paid troll, just makes the impression of someone who still want’s that Jetsons car from the 60’s.

        • Bob_Wallace

          After reacting with him a bit it seems that he doesn’t know much about renewable energy and is lacking in a full understanding of nuclear. He’s heavy on opinion but light on facts.

        • eveee

          A very naive person emotionally attached to his beliefs, unable to analyze impartially. It’s ok to have emotions, but don’t let them blind you.

    • ROBwithaB

      Okay, so I just went and looked at your Disqus profile. Other than a single comment speculating on the eligibility of various candidates to run for president, EVERY SINGLE ONE of your online comments, across a multitude of different websites, is in support of nuclear power. Every one. One sites ranging from the Telegraph to Vice News to YES! Magazine. The whole internet is your canvas, apparently, even gossip sites, but all you ever talk about is nuclear energy. Not a single comment on any hobby, or interest, or human connection. No opinions on anything other than nuclear energy. How did you even find that article in YES! magazine. Are you a regular reader of gossip magazines? Or do you trawl the internet for articles on renewable energy, wherever you can find them? Or do you perhaps have a default alert notification set up?
      The sort of obfuscatory nonsense that you keep posting, along with the tone of your rhetoric, is consistent with those who are paid to spread misinformation. that sort of thing might work on political websites, where the general public can be whipped into an emotional frenzy with emotional arguments, or baffled by bullshit. But it is unlikely to work here. For a start, there are many who post here who have real-life experience of the electrical grid, and the academic qualifications to back it up. There is a broad base of community knowledge across many disciplines, in diverse fields including physics, economics, political policy, and meteorology. And then there’s Bob, who despite his occasional grumpy outbursts, will moderate with a combination of firm conviction and unassailable facts.
      You’re wasting your time here, “Billy”.
      You keep re-hashing the same arguments, many of which have been repeatedly debunked. You keep citing the same “sources” in multiple different comment threads, even though those sources have been repeatedly shown to be either irrelevant or scientifically dubious.

      I’m calling your bluff.
      How many different online profiles do you have, “Billy”? Who is paying you to spew this stuff? How many hours a day are you devoting to this particular crusade?

      You are not a real person, methinks. You are an online persona, with a very strong, very specific vested interest.
      Please declare such vested interest now.
      Or else bugger off.

      • eveee

        I wish I said that.

    • eveee

      Billy – Here is what you said:

      “Giles Parkinson is not exactly the most objective commentator.”

      Objectivity is a bit hard to prove or describe.


      ” He never puts links in his articles”..

      Now I know you are fibbing. Read this one. Plenty of links.


      “because he’s almost always cherry-picked them to the point of absurdity.”

      Wait. Are you saying he does put links now? Oh. But they are cherry picked. Like this one.

      “GCL Poly, which has become the biggest player in the supply of poly-silicon and wafers to the solar PV market, and which is also a major developer of solar farms, will launch its new product at the Energy Storage Conference in early May.”

      Doesn’t sound like propaganda to me.

      Well this is more engaged like advocacy here:

      “Actually, the opposite is true, as this graph below illustrates, grid reliability in Germany is higher than most other countries and that reliability has, in fact, increased with the rise in renewables.”


      But its well supported with documentation and links.

      Now about this article. It doesn’t have any links, and that would have been nice, but from the article info, it wasn’t very hard to track down the source of the information. Giles is a journalist, I might venture to say, experienced, and clearly knows that a journalist can use quotes as a form of reference. I see no failure to do that in his writing. Thats acceptable.


      Here you can read the original without having to download it.

      This paper is new, and is not peer reviewed. That does not mean its foundations are not strong or that it is incorrect, however. Its findings do not vary from those of other papers which are peer reviewed.

      “Australia has a very high potential for renewable energy.[8] Therefore, the transition a to renewable energy system is gaining momentum in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. Among them several studies have examined the feasibility of a transition to a 100% renewable electricity systems, which was found both practicable as well as economically and environmentally beneficial to combat global warming.[9][10][11]”


      So that criticism falls flat.

      So now you go on with Energy Universes, and pit pro vs anti nuclear whatever in a duel, and try to convince us that there are no pro nuclear, pro renewable people. Well I don’t think so.

      “The other thing I hate about nuclear energy is that most of pro-nuclear advocates are against renewable energy. That is not compatible with my point of view, making this a very efficient wedge issue for the anti-nuclear forces to exploit.

      Since most of the pro-nuclear advocates insist on bashing renewable energy, that point puts me out of the pro-nuclear advocacy business. For example, I regard the “Atomic Insights” blog by Rod Adams as hostile territory right now, and I am done writing any comments there for the time being.”


      You have opened up a nasty can of worms spouting personal prejudices and bias. An opinion poll about biases is hardly a way to determine that renewables can supply 100% of Australias energy needs.

      Strange that you should accuse others of bias. Strangely, you also don’t show any references or links, either, despite criticizing others for not having done so. Please clean up your act and practice what you preach.

      Your opinion has been registered.

      One thing IMO, is true. Nuke cheerleaders that bash renewables turns people off.

      So if your universe argument is trying to say renewables can’t provide the energy needs of Australia, its a vapid, facile, and scientifically unsupported argument.

  • JamesWimberley

    It will make a difference to the renewables if the transport system runs on hydrogen or synfuel or, as seems far more likely, essentially on electric batteries. The former is not time-constrained, but it’s far less efficient. The latter is efficient but time-constrained diurnally. The default ev charging is overnight, which suits wind fine, but not pv. So either you build a daytime charging infrastructure, or grid storage for time-shifting. Australia doesn’t have the hydro option. Or does it?

    • Bob_Wallace

      You mean time-constrained in terms of when the filling/charging takes place?

      Hydrogen and synfuel are more time-constrained in terms of when we could start driving with them, the infrastructure for generating and distributing does not exist. In the US 80% of the generating and distribution system for EV charging is in place. Over 50% of the needed outlets are hot.

      The default for EV charging should be mid-day and late nights. In the middle of sunny days we should be able to charge people who plug in at work and school as well as some people who are at home during the day. Others will charge late at night when demand for other uses is low.

      Of course someone could charge at any time. They might just have to pay a higher rate during peak demand hours.

    • Ronald Brakels

      The majority of Australian privately owned vehicles are parked at home during the day. So charging them from solar electricity is not a big deal. And most of us don’t work. We’re lazy buggers. My grandmother hasn’t done a lick of paid work since she turned 90. As for children, we’re not even allowed to put 4 year olds down coal mines. They’re only allowed to work in strip mines.

      Anyway, for the cars that are parked at work or in train station car parks during the day, a normal Australian power point can charge an electric car with over 17 kilowatt-hours in 8 hours. That’s enough for over 100 kilometers of driving which is a heck of a lot more than the average Australian daily commute.

      As for the hydro option, Australia generates a higher portion of its electricity from hydro than the US or Europe. A massive 7%. It was 8% but then it stopped raining in Tasmania and it caught on fire. Which was the one thing we had that didn’t regularly catch on fire. So hydro currently gives us a fair bit of flexibility. We are using solar power to cut hydro use in the daytime and save it for the evening. So solar keeps down prices during the day and night in Australia. That’s why the coal companies put ‘climate change is crap’ Tony Abbott in charge. It wasn’t because of his sunny disposition.

      We have the option of building more pumped hydro storage, but we won’t because it doesn’t pay for itself at the moment and home and business energy storage and vehicle2grid are likely blow the currently not worthwhile economics of that out of the water.

      • CU

        “As for children, we’re not even allowed to put 4 year olds down coal mines. They’re only allowed to work in strip mines.”
        AFAIK Australia ha only strip coal mines so your 4 year olds are only banned from your gem mines……

        • Ronald Brakels

          We have underground coal mining in Australia, but the damn robots put our children out of work there! Also, we strip mine for gems in Australia. There’s nothing we won’t strip mine for in Australia. Gold, gems, meat, vegemite, you name it. We owe it to future generations to remove the earth’s ugly outer layer.

      • JamesWimberley

        Elizabeth Windsor is still working at 90. Nice job and perks, but still an example to lazy colonials.

      • ROBwithaB

        Sooo tempted to make a “Your Gran” joke right now….

      • ROBwithaB

        Most places that historically relied heavily on coal were obliged to install a lot of pumped hydro to offset the day/night delta. (I seem to recall the Snowy Mountains having some big installations.)

        South Africa, being almost completely reliant on coal, has some huge dams on either side of the escarpment. The storage doesn’t need to be built, it’s already there, thanks to the legacy of “baseload” coal. I’d be curious to see a study on how close we could get to 100% renewable, relying only on existing storage capacity.
        Is there an interconnect to mainland for the Tasmanian hydro? (I seem to recall some Snafu… off to google…)

        • Ronald Brakels

          Australia has one big pumped storage scheme in the Snowy Mountains, as you mentioned, one medium sized one in Queensland, and one so small I can’t remember where it is.

          That may not seem like much, but what Australia does do is run its unpumped hydro dams at under 25% capacity. That is, they can put out a lot of power for short periods of time. Or at least short periods if they want to maintain their water levels. Australia’s existing dams give a lot of flexibility even though they only produce about 7% of the nation’s electricity. And if we wanted to, we could always double the number of down pipes and generators and use them, wind, and existing pumped storage to power the evening peak, as expanded solar capacity would eliminate the need to use hydropower in the day.

          And yeah, the interconnector with Tasmania broke. And this is bad because it stopped raining there and their dams were already low since they were run down to make money before our carbon price was Abbotted. So hydro is limited and they can’t import power from the mainland. They ended up importing diesel generator sets from overseas. Of course, no incentives to rush to build more rooftop solar or wind capacity. I suppose that would set a bad example. Everyone knows the correct response to a climate change caused disaster is to burn more fossil fuels.

        • eveee

          Coal can do some load following, but it gets more expensive if it does. The daily load curves in most places show at least a 1.5:1 range, often as high as 2:1. Over the season, 3:1 is commonplace. Since base load coal has to operate all year, base load is seldom more than 33% of capacity. The rest is handled by “reserves”. Thats a combination of slow and fast acting generation. Some are various FF plants not operating. Others are fired up, but idle, so called spinning reserve, etc.
          Most of the curve is handled by NG turbines.

    • Greg Hudson

      Australia does have a hydro option. Search for Red Energy.

    • ROBwithaB

      Why not simply find a way to charge cars during the day?
      Like at work? Or at shopping malls?
      Places that people (and their cars) happen to be when the sun is shining. Why do the panels need to be owned by the same person that owns the car?
      I already have the solar system installed here at work, just waiting for the the arrival of my Mod 3. (Or perhaps a leaf in the meantime, depending on how long it takes Tesla to get to South Africa…)

      Would I put in a couple of spare plugs for other people to charge up? Maybe. Seems like a good way to soak up excess production.

    • Carl Raymond S

      When Australians talk about big infrastructure projects, the two most commonly cited are The Sydney Harbour Bridge, and The Snowy (The Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Project).

      Most people think The Snowy exists to turn the little bit of melt water we get into electric power, but it’s basically a big battery – dams at different levels.

      My understanding is that it’s already maxed, but it’s hard to see why – surely we could pump more water with solar during the day, and use more at night to charge our cars. I’m sure Ronald Brakels would know more. You there Ron?


      • JonathanMaddox

        Almost the entirety of the Snowy is used to meet peak demand loads, but there’s only one existing pump-up station (Tumut 3). The storage in the other dams is filled, as you say, by rainfall and melt-water, not using electric power.

        It would be technically possible to add pump-up capabilities between some of the other pairs of dams, maybe even making the entire Tumut River cascade into a storage facility, but the engineering work would be extensive. One or two of the drops are higher than Francis Turbines are known to be able to pump, so some additional intermediate staging would also be required to go full monty.

  • Ross

    Didn’t they get the memo on Hydrogen not making any sense?

  • John Norris

    >> …companies who spent $75 billion building far more energy infrastructure than we need. <<

    Hopefully shareholders will cover that cost and not customers?

    • Ronald Brakels

      No. All costs passed on to customers. Epic fail. This is why the marginal cost of electricity on my electricity bill is 23 US cents per kilowatt-hour and including supply charges, all up my latest bill is 33 US cents a kilowatt-hour.

      • neroden

        At those prices, solar plus batteries for going fully off-grid is cheaper. Right now. (Well, if you’ve got the cash — I think if you add interest costs it may not be.)

        • Ronald Brakels

          It’s not cheaper yet. If Tesla hadn’t lied about the Powerwall it would be cheaper, but it doesn’t quite pay for itself at the moment. However, we are getting very close. Things will get interesting over the next few years.

          • JonathanMaddox

            “Lied” is a stretch.

          • eveee

            Jonathan – can you check my math? PowerWall plus inverter 9350 Aus.

            One fuzzy source.

            15k Aus solar plus storage and inverter.



            January 15, the prices are as below (with $1000 discount) for a Powerwall + solar and inverter, installed.

            The 4kWp Three Phase $13,990
            The 4kWp Single Phase $15,390

            I can’t get a good handle on prices. Things are mashed together in systems. I get this:

            Case 1


            About 4000 for a 1.5kw solar panel minus installation. About 3000 after GCT, whatever that is.

            Sounds like a 4kw unit is more expensive. After installation, more yet. If a 4kw solar costs about 7k, the 9350 number for storage plus inverter installed is correct. If not, refigure.

            Case 2
            Natural solar costs are 13990 for a 4kw solar system plus storage, a lot less than Origin at 16.5k.

            All in all, if solar panels with installation costs about 4 to 5k, that puts the cost of PowerWall plus inverter at the right point to travel back to a 3k us price and add installation. That might be a reasonable number if panel only costs are about 1aus dollar/watt. Seems reasonable.


            If 9350 Aus is right for PW plus inverter, here’s the math.

            7109 US conversion.
            3000 US depending on cheaper inverter.
            4109 PowerWall installed. The install cost split between PW and inverter, about 3600 PW with installation.

            So it depends on which provider you buy from.

            Also, the notion that only a PW is added to existing systems is probably wrong. I will look to see if Tesla suggested that. Don’t think so. Recall they suggested compatible inverter required.

            I guess I agree. Tesla didn’t lie. For one, installations costs are from third parties, not Tesla. For another, if you crunch the math, it depends on your provider price and they vary. Then the numbers will show a reasonable cost of about US 4000 installed. Clearly, Tesla doesn’t control third party providers, and SC neither. if they did, prices would be the same.

            As an aside, this is a fantastic resource for Australian solar users:

            Here is what SolarCity actually said according to a representative, Mr Bass,

            “Thanks to Solar City spokesman, Jonathan Bass, we now know the installed price of the Tesla Powerwall.

            Bass says that Solar City is already taking order for the Powerwall and notes that it offers two payment options. The 10 kWh Powerwall unit, which Tesla lists for $3,500 minus installation and without an inverter, starts at $5,000 (lease) installed by Solar City with an inverter and other extras.

            “For a 10 kilowatt-hour system, customers can prepay $5,000 for a nine-year lease, which includes installation, a maintenance agreement, the electrical inverter and control systems. Customers can also buy the same system outright for $7,140, Bass said.”
            Solar City says that the 7 kWh “daily” pack doesn’t integrate well with rooftop solar needs right now, more specifically that it doesn’t make financial sense due to US regulations on selling extra electricity back to the utilities. To that end, Solar City is not currently offering Tesla’s 7 kWh pack.

            Tesla Energy “Powerwall” Specs
            Tesla Energy “Powerwall” Specs
            Source: Bloomberg

            See specs same page.

            Let chips fall where they may.

            For now, it sounds like a bit too much crying and gnashing of teeth.

    • Greg Hudson

      I beg to differ… No company I know of has spent anything like 75b on building anything… It was the Govt that built it all, then sold it to these suckers (oops I mean privateers)

      • Ronald Brakels

        $45 billion Australian has been spent on increasing transmission capacity since 2010. Australian electricity consumption has fallen since then. The companies building it had no incentive to stop since they were receiving a guaranteed 10% return on the money they spent. In other words the same return as the share market with zero risk. All costs were passed onto consumers.

        Rampant profiteering has gone on in other areas also. In the states of New South Wales and Queensland network profits were $180 per connection in 2008. In 2015 they were $500 per household or business connected.

        There has been a failure on the part of the government to ensure good stewardship of the nations resources. And there has been a failure of Australian business culture in general. We do expect major corporations to have at least a small particle of ethics.

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