Renewables May Meet 100% of Aussie Demand at Sure Occasions by 2025 – Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t Griff; My question, what are we supposed to do for the rest of the day?

Renewables could meet 100% demand in Australia at certain times of day by 2025, report says

Energy market operator notes penetration of renewable generation reached record high of 57% twice in 2021

Katharine Murphy Political editor @murpharoo
Tue 31 Aug 2021 03.30 AEST

Renewables will meet 100% of consumer demand for electricity at certain times of the day by 2025 if large-scale wind and solar development continues at current rates, the Australian Energy Market Operator has said.

Aemo’s annual grid reliability snapshot, to be released on Tuesday, notes the penetration of renewable generation in Australia reached a record high of 57% twice in 2021 – in April and again in August.

If Australia’s power system is engineered appropriately, based on current trends “there could be up to 100% instantaneous penetration of renewables at certain times of the day throughout the year by 2025”, it says.

As a consequence, Aemo predicts, all mainland states will experience minimum operational demand during the next five years, which is the lowest level of demand from the grid during daytime. Declining minimum demand can create engineering challenges in the grid.

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Why would anyone think this is a good thing?

Electricity consumers will be paying for:

  1. Fuel consumed by fossil fuel generators
  2. Capital & maintenance costs of fossil fuel generators – enough to provide 100% backup, for windless nights.
  3. Subsidies to keep fossil fuel generators open, to compensate for reduced profitability and “engineering challenges”.
  4. Large capital & maintenance costs of renewable systems.
  5. Capital costs of big batteries, to try to keep the grid stable for the five minutes or so it takes to spin up fossil fuel systems.
  6. Inefficiencies running the fossil fuel systems on idle, then ramping them up and down unpredictably all day, as clouds cover the solar panel or the wind unexpectedly changes.
  7. Outages when the needlessly complex power grid malfunctions and fails.

Does anyone think there is any chance this will be cheaper than simply running the fossil fuel system all day? How can anyone believe this is any more than pathetic virtue signalling?

The renewables might not even reduce CO2 emissions. All the renewable systems carry an enormous burden of fossil fuel which was consumed during fabrication and installation. Renewables need much more extensive grids, which have to be maintained by trucks. Light aircraft are frequently hired to fly power line engineers slowly along the power lines, so they can be inspected through binoculars. And as noted above, keeping power plants idling, then spinning them up and down at random, is a very inefficient way to run a fossil fuel power system.

By the time you add up all this, its possible total emissions will actually rise, above what they would be if we simply kept the coal plants.

It could have all been so different. Australia has world class deposits of Uranium, vast empty spaces, and is geologically stable. We could have stuck with fossil fuel, or built enough nuclear power to go zero carbon without the pain of paying for less than useless renewables.


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