Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

A new political low: Politicians use S.A. blackout to attack renewable eneregy

politicianIs this a new low: politicians using a natural disaster to push a fact-free agenda?, Guardian, Matt Grudnoff, 29 Sept 16 

Unburdened by evidence, anti-wind campaigners used the South Australian blackout to kick off a debate about renewables while others waited for facts Normally natural disasters are off limits to politicking, at least in the period straight after the event. So it was pretty awful watching politicians and commentators pushing their anti-renewables message on the back of aonce in 50 year storm that hit South Australia and knocked out the electricity grid.

These baseless claims led bulletins despite energy industry experts, upon actual analysis of the situation, reporting that there was no evidence that renewables are in any way linked to the power outage.

The outage is more likely to have something to do with the 80,000 lightning strikes and the winds that knocked over 22 transmission poles. Who knew violent storms could knock the power out?

It’s hard to imagine how coal fired power would have remained on without a grid for the electricity to flow through.

Just before the grid shut down, renewables were not offline. Wind energy was busy producing almost 1,000 Megawatts of electricity. The problem was not a lack of renewable power but a storm-ravaged grid that couldn’t get it to the consumers…….

Resilient renewables

The real irony is that an electricity system that has decentralised renewable energy with battery storage would be more resilient to these kinds of storms. Houses and businesses with their own batteries could have kept the lights on even when the grid went down.

In the past, renewables were more expensive – but those days are over.Renewable energy has fallen in price and battery storage is close behind. Change in how we produce electricity is coming and an anti-renewables campaign will only slow it and make the transition more difficult.

Rather than attack renewables, the government should be putting in place policies that help with the transition. The economics of renewable energy and the reality of climate change mean that it is inevitable that we will leave fossil fuel electricity generation behind. The question is how can we move to the new energy future in the smoothest way possible?

Renewable energy targets, system changes that make it easier to install battery storage, and a moratorium on new coal mines will all help.

Attacking renewables in the wake of a massive storm might help some people’s political agenda but it will do nothing to help South Australians build a reliable and resilient energy system.

Matt Grudnoff is the Senior Economist for The Australia Institute. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/29/is-this-a-new-low-politicians-using-a-natural-disaster-to-push-a-fact-free-agenda?CMP=soc_568

September 30, 2016 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics, South Australia, wind

1 Comment »

  1. The Editor
    The Advertiser

    At the time of the SA blackout, because of the gale force winds most wind turbines in SA were turned off. Less than 5% of power was being generated by wind turbines (The Advertiser 30/9/16); this amounts to a couple of turbines in use. Clearly, wind turbines were not involved in the state-wide blackout.

    The big question is why was Pelican Point allowed to be off-grid at the time. According to The Advertiser, it was because cheaper wind power was dominating the market. But wind power is normally turned off in extreme wind conditions. This was the case two weeks ago and appears to have been the case this week. It is no secret that this is normal practice. It is something that the operators of Pelican Point would have, or should have, known.

    If Pelican Point had been publically owned would it have been battle ready or would it have claimed that it was uneconomic? No prizes for getting the right answer.

    Dennis Matthews

    Like

    Comment by Dennis Matthews | September 30, 2016 | Reply


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