Wind farms can provide society a surplus of reliable clean energy

Originally posted at Science Daily. View the original post here

The worldwide demand for solar and wind power continues to skyrocket. Since 2009, global solar photovoltaic installations have increased about 40 percent a year on average, and the installed capacity of wind turbines has doubled.

The dramatic growth of the wind and solar industries has led utilities to begin testing large-scale technologies capable of storing surplus clean electricity and delivering it on demand when sunlight and wind are in short supply.

Now a team of Stanford researchers has looked at the “energetic cost” of manufacturing batteries and other storage technologies for the electrical grid. At issue is whether renewable energy supplies, such as wind power and solar photovoltaics, produce enough energy to fuel both their own growth and the growth of the necessary energy storage industry. Continue reading “Wind farms can provide society a surplus of reliable clean energy”

Australia’s 5 million “solar heroes”

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The original article was published by Reneweconomy on 10th March 2014 and written by .

The 5 million people with Solar PV and/or Solar hot water systems are helping lower the cost of electricity, and create jobs, according to this graphic released by Australian Solar Council. Continue reading “Australia’s 5 million “solar heroes””

RET Watch: Qld sugar producer “nervous” about renewables target cut

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 11.06.19 AMA Queensland sugar producer selling clean energy to the grid has expressed concern about a possible cut the the Renewable Energy Target.

According to the Central Telegraph, Mackay Sugar have made a “solid investment” in cogeneration from crop waste and “want to make sure their future is stable.”

In 2012 Mackay Sugar opened a $120 million, 38MW cogeneration plant that generates enough electricity for one third of Mackay–cutting around 200,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

“Our biggest concern was with the unwinding of the RET,” Mackay Sugar chairman Andrew Cappello told the Central Telegraph. “I mean this is where we attract a lot of value for this cogeneration plant.” 

“This was a huge investment for us,” added Capello. “Given the size of our business, we have taken a pretty big risk. Until the main outcome (from) the review, we will remain a little nervous.”

Mr Capello’s concern is well-founded. The RET Review panel chaired by climate change denier Dick Warburton and stacked in favour of fossil fuel interests.
art-tony-abbott-620x349The Abbott government has done nothing to allay those fears. Continue reading “RET Watch: Qld sugar producer “nervous” about renewables target cut”

Biggest grid in US could reach 30% renewables by 2026

By Silvio Marcacci on 10 March 2014

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A new study reveals America’s largest grid operator could exponentially increase the amount of solar and wind electricity on its system, while lowering consumer costs and emissions, without negative effects on reliability. Continue reading “Biggest grid in US could reach 30% renewables by 2026”

RET Watch: Cut to target puts $10b investment, jobs at risk

LU280largeNew research by a reputable energy market analyst finds scrapping the Renewable Energy Target would kill off $10 billion of investment in the energy sector. 

Intelligent Energy Systems Advisory revealed that changes to the national renewables target would result in more coal and gas generation, rendering it impossible to meet carbon reduction targets.

Continue reading “RET Watch: Cut to target puts $10b investment, jobs at risk”

IEA blows away Abbott myths about solar and wind energy

Originally posted at RenewEconomy. View original post here

One of the most depressing discussions I have ever had as editor of RenewEconomy was with a policy advisor for a state Coalition government. He started off by giving me a lecture about how his minister only acted on “evidence based information”, and then proceeded to quote some of the more outrageous nonsense published in the Murdoch media and some extremely marginal web-sites.

Perhaps, then, this person and all the other advisors who direct (or distort) energy policy at state and federal level with the conservative administrations should sit down and absorb the latest report by the International Energy Agency on the integration of wind and solar energy. It might reduce the ignorance and misinformation that is having a profound impact on renewable policy in Australia. Continue reading “IEA blows away Abbott myths about solar and wind energy”

Wind energy cut electricity prices by 40% in heatwaves

The Renewable Energy Target has driven a wind energy boom in Australia. And all that additional renewable energy has resulted in increased competition in the wholesale electricity market. What does that mean for the average Australian? In theory, more competition among generators means lower prices. New modelling by Sinclair Knight Merz puts a figure to the benefit. Case study analysis of the January heatwave shows that renewable energy (primarily from wind farms) cut electricity prices by 40 per cent.

Here’s RenewEconomy‘s Giles Parkinson with a deeper look at the SMK study. View the original article.

ret-graph3-624x312Attempts by the fossil fuel lobby to downplay the impact of wind generation during the recent heatwaves in southern Australia has been contradicted by a new study, and by recognition from one of the biggest gas producers that low prices in the recent heat wave had caused it to write down the value of some of its assets.

There was a large campaign after the recent heatwaves in Victoria and South Australia condemning the role of renewables in meeting demand. Several studies, here and here, show that solar had a big impact on reducing the level of demand, and prices, and a new study by Sinclair Knight Merz suggests that wind energy did the same. Continue reading “Wind energy cut electricity prices by 40% in heatwaves”

Viewpoint: Regional policies can decide wind’s future

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Originally post at Wind Power Monthly. View original post here

Installed capacity currently stands at more than 3GW, up from just 200MW a decade ago. Behind this success are a world-class wind resource and a well developed supply chain. Investment in wind will account for the lion’s share of the A$18.7 billion (US$16.3 billion) expected to be generated by the RET.

But despite strong historical performance, political wrangling over the federally-legislated RET has made investors wary and the future of wind energy in Australia is uncertain.

Some comfort has been provided by the federally-funded Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena), although the respite may be shortlived. Arena is facing cuts to its funding and the CEFC is at risk of being dismantled under the new conservative coalition government that took power in September.

Continue reading “Viewpoint: Regional policies can decide wind’s future”

RET Watch: Why Abbott wants to scrap the RET

Published by Green Left Weekly. View the original article.

The Abbott government has established its own panel to review the popular Renewable Energy Target mechanism. Appointing known climate change denier and fossil fuel interests, the Abbott government looks like it has made up its mind–putting ideology ahead of good policy. But why is the RET on the chopping block? According to Ben Courtice, it’s because Australia’s big, fossil-fuel-based energy generators are having their profits squeezed by renewable energy. 

renewable-energy-istockThe federal Coalition government is conducting a review of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET), which aims to have 20% of Australia’s energy produced from renewables by 2020.

The recent appointments of prominent climate change deniers and fossil fuel industry heavies make the review panel look more like a lynch mob for renewable energy. Dick Warburton, who will head the review, is on the public record denying climate science.

However, underlying such scandalous appointments is something simpler and less absurd than flat-earth climate change denial. The big energy generators — private and state entities, who run the big power stations — are finding their profits squeezed by the growth in renewable energy.

Last August, the head of giant generator and retailer AGL, Michael Fraser, said there was about 9000 megawatts of oversupply in the national electricity generation sector. That is more than the entire generation capacity of Victoria, almost a third of the national baseload generation capacity.

Fraser made the comments in relation to building a solar power station in western NSW. RenewEconomy reportedthat to agree to proceed, “AGL Energy sought extra funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to make up for equivalent estimated falls in wholesale electricity prices.”

Adding extra capacity when there is already overcapacity drags down the wholesale price. The RET mandates that by 2020, 41,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity must be generated by renewable energy. To meet this target, extra renewable energy generators have to be built.

That’s why big generators and business associations have been calling for the RET to be lowered, delayed, or both. It’s making their existing investments less profitable. Continue reading “RET Watch: Why Abbott wants to scrap the RET”

Dispatch from SA: Ceres wind farm approval and other matters

South Australian Yes 2 Renewables contributor Dave Clarke has been tracking his state’s progress on renewable energy for years. Clarke has visited the Snowtown II wind farm which is now under construction and has pointed out milestones in renewable energy.

Here’s Dave with another quick dispatch; this time looking at the approval of the Ceres wind farm. The green light for the project underscores the effectiveness of the national Renewable Energy Target (the Abbott government announced its review panel stacked against renewable energy). It also shows the opportunity cost to Victoria from Ted Baillieu’s anti-wind farm laws:

495783-wind-turbineIn the last few days we have heard that the 197-turbine Ceres Project wind farm on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula has been approved by the State Government.

It has been vociferously opposed by a group calling themselves the Heartland Farmers who have made many (literally) incredible claims:

  1. They have claimed the wind farm will cause land prices to fall by up to 100% (They moderated this to 30%+ after I pointed out how ridiculous it was; wind farms hardly have any effect on land prices);
  2. “It is known that wind turbines shift (agricultural) spray drift from one paddock to another” (bizarre);
  3. They say that it will cause shadow flicker problems for drivers on Yorke Peninsula roads (YP roadsides have lots of native vegetation; whenever the sun gets low in the sky there is shadow flicker for drivers all over the place because of the trees);
  4. They claim that wind power is incompatible with agriculture (the US state of Iowa, sometimes called the Food Capital of the World, is two-thirds the size of Victoria and has twice the wind power of the whole of Australia; the three US states having the highest agricultural production also have the most wind power);
  5. They claim big impacts on areal agriculture and areal fire-fighting (the Country Fire Service and local areal agriculture contractor have contradicted their claims);

Another opponent (a doctor of economics forsooth!) ‘calculated’ that it would take more than 3000 years for any wind turbine to ‘pay back’ the carbon dioxide released from the manufacture of the cement in its foundation. (He confused cement with concrete and energy with power. I showed that he was in error by a factor of around 20 000!)

I could go on. Continue reading “Dispatch from SA: Ceres wind farm approval and other matters”