Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

After Australian Energy Market Operator’s initiatives, South Australia defers energy security target

S.A. puts energy security target on back-burner after AEMO steps in http://reneweconomy.com.au/s-a-puts-energy-security-target-on-back-burner-after-aemo-steps-in-86049/ By Giles Parkinson on 11 September 2017 South Australia has abandoned plans to have its state-based energy security target in place this summer after conceding is could have little impact given the new initiatives by the Australian Energy Market Operator and the lack of competition in the local grid.

Officially, South Australia has decided to “defer” the start date of the EST until 2020, having already deferred it from a July 1 start to a January 1, 2018 start. But given the state poll in 2018, and the new initiatives taking place in the broader market, it seems unlikely to ever see the light of day.

The EST was a key component of the $550 million Energy Security Plan the S.A, government unveiled earlier this year following its dismay at the forced load shedding in February and other incidents.

But it seems likely that the only two components to have a lasting impact will be the Tesla big battery, which is due to come into service on December 1, and the 150MW solar tower and molten salt storage facility in Port Augusta, which will contract to supply the government’s own electricity needs.

 The government has also committed to an emergency gas plant, and will install emergency generators this summer and next, but has kept its options open about the future. These may not be needed if demand management initiatives and other schemes take effect.

The EST was to be one of the centerpieces of the plan, aiming to ensure that 50 per cent of demand was met by S.A.-based “dispatchable” generation by 2025.

The original structure of the EST was harshly criticised because it was thought it would favour gas plants over battery storage, would not reduce prices and could end up as a $3.5 billion subsidy to the gas industry.

But it appears to have been made redundant by AEMO’s decision – explained here – to require that at least three gas generators operate at all times, and more if the wind output from the state’s wind farms is more than 1200MW.

That guarantees the presence of gas-fired generation, but it also means that because three gas units are generating at the same time, and therefore sets the price, the chances of a reduction in wholesale prices are effectively removed.

The impact of the curtailment was made evident last week, when the wind output ran at a steady 1200MW for three days, with no significant fall in prices – apart from when the link to Victoria was constrained – because gas generators had to continue generating.

The S.A. government says that modelling from Frontier Economics, one of the architects of the EST, indicates that if the scheme was to lower power prices it requires the operation of a more competitive energy market.

It suggests that may not occur till 2020, when the solar tower and storage facility, and new facilities supported by the $150 million Renewable Technology Fund are built.

“Since we announced the EST a number of changes in the National Electricity Market have delivered system security outcomes similar to those the EST would seek to achieve,” energy minister Tom Koutsantonis said, noting also AGL’s decision to invest in a new gas generator and the implementation of 49 out of 50 Finkel recommendations.

Dan Spencer, from Repower Port Augusta, says the delay is good news for consumers and prevents what would have been a subsidy to SA’s existing gas generators being paid by consumers over the next few years.
“The Energy Security Target should now be dropped all together and replaced by planned reverse auctions for renewable energy with storage,” Spencer said,
“Reverse auctions have already delivered South Australia’s world leading solar thermal plant with storage & the world’s biggest battery. Expanding a program of reverse auctions for renewables with storage will secure a cleaner, cheaper and more reliable energy system for SA than the now delayed Energy Security Target ever could.”
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September 13, 2017 Posted by | energy, South Australia | Leave a comment

What the Australian Energy Market Operator actually did advise the government

AEMO: Our advice was pretty straight forward, we need dispatchability http://reneweconomy.com.au/aemo-advice-pretty-straight-forward-need-dispatchability-13353/

“We need flexible capacity that can be switched on and off, and we need to transition to a new generation of Australia’s principal energy market institutions, and the newly-formed Energy Security Board.

“Our advice was fairly pragmatic,” Zibelman said. “We are concerned that on a 45°C day if we lose a generator (which AEMO has said is quite likely) we want reserves in the system to be able to respond.

“In our report we identified the fact that with amount of variability (from solar and wind energy and electricity usage) is changing rapidly, we need resources that can change rapidly.

“That may be different to traditional baseload resources, which do not move a lot.  It doesn’t mean baseload is bad, it’s just that we need a different portfolio. (Baseload) may not be able respond in the time period we need it to respond.”

Sound like Liddell? Not really. The plant owner AGL Energy has made it clear that Liddell is old, increasingly unreliable, expensive to maintain, prone to unexpected outages and can’t be relied upon at times of peak demand, particularly as temperatures rise.

Zibelman’s comments, like the two AEMO reports it released last week, contrast starkly with the Coalition government’s contention that AEMO had insisted  that rapid action was needed, and that that rapid action must mean that Liddell’s life span must be extended.

Zibelman made it absolutely clear that her preference was for fast, flexible technologies, both in supply and demand, and bother in front and behind the meter. Importantly, it had to be technology that the market operator could rely upon.

“The system is changing,” Zibelman said. “That’s not a bad thing. What we need to do is to start saying we have to think about next the generation of technologies, the next generation of markets and how to take advantage of it.”

Earlier, she noted: “The power system works best when we can operate it in accordance with the law of physics. (That means) we need to make sure we have sufficient tools to respond in  a real time system.”

She noted that a focus was needed on system services such as inertia, voltage and frequency, which came as “ancillary services” to thermal generators, but now had to be sought elsewhere. This was not a reason not to evolve, just a reason to focus on how to set a market to encourage these technologies and capacities.

“Our advice was pretty straight forward,” she said: “As system has a higher level of (renewable) penetration, issues like frequency, violate and inertia needs to be addressed – not because it a bad thing, but because it was bundled previously with the big generators ….

“It’s not just having enough of these resources, it’s about having enough of these resources at the time and the place you need them. At all times AEMO needs the ability to turn something on and something off to maintain system balance,” Zibelman said.

She spoke of demand management, one of her favourite topics and preferred mechanisms in the US, but said it had been communicated badly and misunderstood – particularly the idea that the market operator would turn off the lights or the air-conditioning.

“What we are talking bout is being able to use rotating mass, use battery storage, electric vehicles, and create a more integrated system.”

She said it was clear that the Australian market was heading towards 30-40 per cent “distributed generation”, which means mostly solar and storage behind the meter. These technologies can and needed to be harnessed to ensure that they contribute to grid security.

Asked specifically about Liddell, Zibelman said choosing that as a preference would require an analysis  to determine its level of dispatchability and its flexibility, and its ability to deal with reliability concerns.

“What do we want to do is to make sure we are riding the technology innovation curve in the right way…. it all has to fit. We’re thinking about what do we need, what do we have, and then what are the right mechanisms to get the best outcomes that are economically sound.”

She said it was clear that the Australian market was heading towards 30-40 per cent “distributed generation”, which means mostly solar and storage behind the meter. These technologies can and needed to be harnessed to ensure that they contribute to grid security.

Asked specifically about Liddell, Zibelman said choosing that as a preference would require an analysis  to determine its level of dispatchability and its flexibility, and its ability to deal with reliability concerns.

“What do we want to do is to make sure we are riding the technology innovation curve in the right way…. it all has to fit. We’re thinking about what do we need, what do we have, and then what are the right mechanisms to get the best outcomes that are economically sound.”

September 13, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Plutonium and reprocessing – a dud technology

the separation and use of plutonium as a fuel is not economically competitive with simply storing the spent fuel until its radioactive heat generation has declined and a deep underground repository has been constructed for its final disposal. In this “once-through” fuel cycle, the plutonium remains mixed with the radioactive fission products in the intact spent fuel and therefore is relatively inaccessible for use in weapons.
the volume of an underground repository for highly radioactive waste is determined not by the volume of the waste but by its heat output; the waste has to be spread out to limit the temperature increase of the surrounding buffer clay and rock . Reprocessing waste would contain all the heat-generating fission products in the original spent fuel, and the heat generated by the plutonium in one ton of spent MOX fuel would be about the same as the heat generated by the plutonium in the approximately seven tons of spent low-enriched uranium fuel from which the plutonium used to manufacture the fresh MOX fuel had been recovered.
Forty years later, Japan’s breeder program, the original justification for its reprocessing program, is virtually dead.
Forty years of impasse: The United States, Japan, and the plutonium problem http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00963402.2017.1364007  Masafumi Takubo &Frank von Hippel23 Aug 2017, [extensive references on original]  Recently, records have been published from the internal discussions in the Carter administration (1977–80) on the feasibility of convincing Japan to halt its plutonium-separation program as the United States was in the process of doing domestically. Japan was deeply committed to its program, however, and President Carter was not willing to escalate to a point where the alliance relationship could be threatened.
Forty years later, the economic, environmental, and nonproliferation arguments against Japan’s program have only been strengthened while Japan’s concern about being dependent on imports of uranium appears vastly overblown. Nevertheless, Japan’s example, as the only non-weapon state that still separates plutonium, continues to legitimize the launch of similar programs in other countries, some of which may be interested in obtaining a nuclear weapon option. Continue reading

September 13, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

World Nuclear Industry Status Report shows drop in new build projects

Nuclear newbuild projects at decade low – report http://www.euronews.com/2017/09/12/nuclear-newbuild-projects-at-decade-low-report, By REUTERS, PARIS  – The number of nuclear newbuild projects worldwide has dropped to a decade low in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster and due to the rising cost of atomic energy, an industry report showed.

From a high of 15 in 2010, the number of construction starts of nuclear reactors worldwide dropped to 10 in 2013, eight in 2015, three in 2016, and just one in the first half of 2017, according to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report (WNISR).

China, the most active builder of nuclear plants in the past decade, saw its newbuild activity slow from 10 in 2010 to six in 2015 and just two last year. “This may be the end of the Chinese exception,” lead author Mycle Schneider told reporters in Paris.

The 2010 construction peak marked the end of a brief nuclear renaissance when several countries started building reactors again after a nearly 20-year hiatus following the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Schneider said he would not be surprised to see more nuclear projects under construction being dropped, following the abandonment of a high-profile one in the United States.

After the bankruptcy of reactor builder Westinghouse early this year, two South Carolina utilities in July abandoned the V.C. Summer project for two new Westinghouse reactors, which were 40 percent complete after more than $9 billion had been spent on construction. WNISR data shows that worldwide between 1977 and mid-2017, at least 91 – one in eight – of all nuclear reactor construction sites had been abandoned or suspended in various stages of advancement.

“The nuclear species is going extinct,” Schneider said. The nuclear industry – which has its annual meeting in London this week – says nuclear will keep playing a major role in low-carbon electricity generation and points at major newbuild programmes in China, India, Britain and South Africa. The share of nuclear energy in global electricity production has fallen from a high of 17.5 percent in 1996 to 10.5 percent last year, when nuclear output increased 1.4 percent, WNISR data showed. The United Arab Emirates is expected to start up the first of four South Korea-built reactors next year. Vietnam decided in late 2016 to abandon plans to build its first reactors, citing construction costs and safety concerns. In the first half of 2017, India was the only country to start building a reactor.

September 13, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

13 September More REneweconomy news

RenewEconomy
  • Networks ‘push back’ on more small-scale solar. But why?
    Culture wars: It may explain the continued efforts of some network operators to push back against the installation of more rooftop solar.
  • An end to blackouts? Demand management success depends on collaboration
    As national debate over energy supply reaches fever pitch, more attention is now being paid to the role of demand management, a weapon of last resort in Australia.
  • Know your NEM: Corporate PPAs only movement in flat market
    In a week where energy politics took centre state over market news, the most interesting development was the signing by retailer Flow Energy of a 10-year 50MW PPA with Ararat wind farm in Victoria.

September 13, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Pope Francis urges climate change sceptics to consult scientists

Pope Francis On Climate Change Denial: ‘Man Is Stupid’ Huff Post, WASHINGTON, 12 Sept 17 — Climate change denials amid catastrophic hurricanes are a reminder that humans are not a particularly smart species, Pope Francis said Sunday while flying over areas in the Caribbean decimated by Hurricane Irma.

 “Man is stupid,” he said, referencing a passage in the Old Testament, according to the The New York Times and The Associated Press. “When you don’t want to see, you don’t see.”

A correspondent for Crux Now had a slightly different translation of the pontiff’s comments: “Man is a stupid and hard-headed being who doesn’t see.”

The pope — who has sparred with President Donald Trump on several issues, including climate change — also urged the climate skeptics of the world to consult with a scientist.

 “Those who deny climate change need to go to scientists and ask them,” Francis said, according to Crux. He said the scientific community has been “clear and precise” in linking human activities to the ongoing crisis and that “each [person] has a moral responsibility, bigger or smaller.” Climate change is a “serious matter over which we cannot make jokes,” he said.
Pope Francis’ comments came during a flight from Colombia to Rome, which passed over areas of the Caribbean left devastated by Hurricane Irma. According to Crux, journalists asked the pope about the moral responsibility world political leaders have to fight against climate change.

Francis warned that “history will judge those decisions,” and that if humans fail to curb climate change we “will go down,” according to reports.

When Trump met with Francis in May, the pope gave the president a copy of his 2015 encyclical on climate change and the environment, “Laudato Si.” In the 184-page document, Francis argues that climate change is inherently a moral and spiritual issue and criticizes local and national governments that refuse to address it. ……http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/09/11/pope-francis-on-climate-change-denial-man-is-stupid_a_23205254/

September 13, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

13 September REneweconomy news

    RenewEconomy
AGL calls Coalition bluff on Liddell, focuses on solar, wind and storage
  • Five companies in running to build huge solar farm in Qld coal centre
    Five companies short-listed to tender for job developing up to 450MW renewable energy hub in Qld coal centre of Gladstone.
  • Coalition has known about bidding practices for years, but it has taken AGL’s refusal to play ball on Liddell to prompt it into action.

September 13, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment