Australian news, and some related international items

General Electric in support of State-based renewable energy targets

map solar south-australiaUS energy giant GE backs states going own way on renewables, The Age, Peter Hannam  11 Dec 16   Renewable energy can add resiliency to electricity grids and there’s no reason why individual states can’t set their own goals higher than a national target, says a US industry veteran.

Nick Miller, senior technology director of General Electric’s energy consultancy, said US states such as Texas now supplied as much as half their electricity from renewable sources.

“If Australia wants to try its own state by state [approach] that is not intrinsically a bad thing,” the 36-year GE veteran engineer told Fairfax Media during a visit.

“If some states want to move forward faster, they will reap the economic benefits first, and the states that stay behind — sort of embracing the past — are probably going to get left behind.”

Mr Miller’s comments will bolster the case made by governments in states such as Queensland, Victoria and South Australia, and the federal Opposition, all of which have set renewable energy targets beyond 2020 unlike the federal government.

They will also stoke debate over the best way to meet Australia’s climate goals. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week drew widespread criticism for ruling out a price on carbon even before his government begins a year-long review from early 2017.

Mr Miller said both Republicans and Democrats had managed to find common ground on clean energy in the US.

“It’s not ideologically driven, it’s business driven,” he said. “There are huge amounts of wind going into Oklahoma and Kansas, and that’s as red [Republican] as you get.”

GE is a supplier to both the thermal and renewable energy sectors. It’s found that, contrary to may public views, wind power  actually advances rather than undermines the resilience of the grid.

With modern electronic controls added, a wind plant is now “more tolerant of grid disturbances than the equivalent size synchronous [thermal] plant”, he said. “It is extremely agile, and finely and quickly controlled.”

While recent blackouts in South Australia show that state’s power sector to “very highly stressed”, the response should be to increase flexibility in the system by altering market rules and investment incentives…….

December 11, 2016 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy


  1. The Editor
    The Advertiser

    Bright spark Rex Jory has oh-so-cleverly concluded that SA has an electricity supply problem (The Advertiser, 12/12/16). But, like his fellow journalists at sister newspapers The Australian and Sunday Mail, Jory has put 2 and 2 together and got – zilch? Funny about that.

    Did the closure of Port Augusta cause the problem? Sorry, in every 2016 electricity crisis there was plenty of surplus generation capacity.

    Did wind farms cause the problem? Sorry, it was electricity transmission that caused both the SA blackout and the sudden loss of supply from Victoria.

    Was it reliance on supply from Victoria? Maybe, but then the National Electricity Market (NEM) and inter-connectors between states were set up to smooth out supply-demand problems not exacerbate them.

    Fix electricity transmission, idle power station, and NEM problems and bingo! Jory and his fellow travelers will have to find some other excuse for pushing their outdated agenda.

    Dennis Matthews


    Comment by Dennis Matthews | December 11, 2016 | Reply

  2. The Editor
    The Advertiser

    It seems to me that the widespread use of electric vehicles is imminent and, like rooftop solar, once it starts is likely to happen very rapidly. Those who have rooftop solar will be keen to use it to replace petrol and diesel fuel.

    Like wind turbines, rooftop solar produces direct current (DC) rather than the problematic alternating current (AC) produced by fossil fuel power stations.

    SA has two interconnectors with Victoria, an AC connector and a DC connector. Only the DC connector was unaffected when the rest of SA was blacked-out. The area of SA serviced by the DC connector would seem to be an ideal place to trial the use of DC rather than AC for a variety of purposes including battery storage and electric vehicles.

    An additional advantage would be to make the remaining AC network more reliable and resilient.

    Dennis Matthews


    Comment by Dennis Matthews | December 13, 2016 | Reply

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