The Australian Government Vision for Our Renewable Future

Essay by Eric Worrall

The government has provided a risible $224 million budget for batteries to stabilise a 33GW grid which is expected to be 82% renewable by 2030.

Record boost to clean energy spend as global crunch looms

By Mike Foley
October 25, 2022 — 7.30pm

The ambitious clean energy agenda, announced in Tuesday night’s budget, also includes a plan to have renewable energy provide 82 per cent of the electricity network by 2030, which the government promised during the election campaign would also cut power bills by $275 by 2025.

The renewables push could create political risk because any cost blow outs on tens of billions of dollars of clean energy projects would need to be recouped through taxes or power bills. The budget also forecast energy prices to rise 30 per cent.

Minister for Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen said the budget was “Australia’s road map to delivering cleaner, more affordable energy to households and businesses”.

“The cheapest form of energy is firmed renewables, even more so as global coal, oil and gas
prices spike,” he said.

Up to 400 batteries will be installed under the $224-million community batteries program to help provide small, remote communities with renewable energy. There is also $102 million to fund solar panels for 25,000 apartment residents and low-income households.

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The budget also includes strengthened provisions for allowing the government to expropriate gas companies, if the domestic market runs short of gas. There is no plan to compensate companies for failing to meet international contracts – they are simply expected to provide gas to the domestic market on demand.

Gas companies in Australia are already struggling with regulatory hostility, such as severe restrictions on exploration and exploitation of new fields, like the state of Victoria’s permanent ban on fracking, which was enshrined in the state constitution in 2021. We can only speculate what difficulties these new expropriation powers will cause for future Australian domestic gas availability.

There is a worse problem.

Earlier this year Australia experienced weather conditions which all but wiped out night time wind generation, across the entire continent (see the weather diagram at the top of the page). Being a blocking southern hemisphere winter high pressure system, it was also very cold in many parts of the country on that night. Such weather conditions are unusual, but not impossibly unlikely.

What would Australia do on such a night post 2030, when most of our dispatchable power generation capacity will have been retired?

Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen keeps making speeches in which he flings magic terms like “firmed renewables”, like they are a real thing. But the budget his government has provided for batteries, $224 million, is utterly inadequate for stabilising a grid whose daily demand peaks at just under 33GW. $224 million dollars would buy enough battery capacity to service the grid at peak demand for less than a second, not the hours or days of backup capacity which would be required to make renewable energy halfway reliable.

And we haven’t even considered the additional grid capacity required to service all those EVs everyone is supposed to buy, and the energy required to power the green manufacturing renaissance which is supposed to happen in the coming age of expensive, unreliable energy.

Unless the Australian government reconsiders their renewable energy insanity, “cost blowouts” and economic devastation will be our new normal.

via Watts Up With That?

October 26, 2022 at 12:47AM

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