It is with pleasure that I introduce my first peer reviewed publication, Beyond wind: furthering development of clean energy in South Australia, co-authored by Professor Corey Bradshaw (University of Adelaide) and Professor Barry Brook (University of Tasmania).

Beyond wind: furthering clean energy developments in South Australia

Long-time readers will see that this analytic essay brings together many of the threads I have explored here at Decarbonise SA over the last several years. It was wonderful to be able to do this under such expert supervision and in the stricture of the peer-review process. I am also appreciative that the editors showed real enthusiasm for what was a fairly lengthy manuscript. It’s an excellent fit as part of a Climate Change Special Edition of this South Australian journal.

I believe the paper provides an excellent resource for understanding how variable energy supplies from one region interact with much larger grids. I hope this paper will further important discussions regarding the likely economic limit of variable renewable supplies, to enable us to get on with the essential thinking and planning beyond wind (and PV), the two variable renewable electricity technologies that have achieved acceptance, notable penetration and declining costs.

We explored the fortunes of non-variable (or, at least, less variable and partly dispatchable) supply from carbon capture and storage, solar thermal with storage and geothermal energy. No amount of sugar coating can hide the truth here. These technologies have not delivered on cost and scale and the prospects are poor. All renewables are not created equal and this paper provides a valuable review of the status of these technologies.

We turned to nuclear technologies as an established and mature technology and explored the global experience, good and bad. Despite the relative global success story, political and economic barriers remain to deployment in South Australia, particularly in light of a weakening climate change policy environment. So we posit a model of self-funded development of integral fast reactors, paired with multinational spent fuel storage, as a political and economic circuit breaker that might propel South Australia to leadership and prosperity, while completing the task of electricity decarbonisation. This concept is gaining some currency including through the vocal advocacy of Senator Sean Edwards, so I am pleased to have the academic origins established in this paper.

Thanks as ever for the ongoing support I receive through this blog and other channels. Enjoy the paper!

5 comments

  1. I wonder if there would be more impact if the key issues had their own separate papers. For example one on what SA would gain by adding more wind power. Answer probably not much. I’d also call a spade a spade and say the line about reducing wholesale power prices is a furphy when the LGC subsidy in the retail price exceeds $50 a Mwh in June 2015.

    The paper also reads like an advertisement for the PRISM. I have have to hand it to Ben in convincing me of the merits of the CANDU… ready to start building asap, can fission thorium and DU, can load follow reasonably well. More pointedly why is the UK with 100+ tonnes of plutonium dragging its feed on the PRISM but SA with 0 tonnes is enthusiastic?

    I’ll re-read the paper later with fresh eyes.

  2. SA will soon be running on pixie dust unless something happens
    http://www.businessspectator.com.au/news/2015/6/11/energy-markets/alinta-close-760w-port-augusta-power-stations
    That’s on top of retiring 400 MW of steam cycle only generation at Torrens Island A gas fired baseload station. Victorian brown coal power imports seems to average about 250 MW continuous equivalent. When the gas price doubles the combined cycle plants (Dry Creek, Hallet, Pelican Pt etc) won’t be reducing power bills.

    If the politically well connected get a solar thermal built at Pt Augusta it will need to be large to replace 760 MW dispatchable capacity. The nearby solar desalination based Sundrop Farms use gas in winter and still get green accolades so I guess solar thermal can as well.

  3. Wind and solar have killed SA coal say the commentators
    http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2015/6/11/energy-markets/sa-coal-killed-wind-and-solar-origin-ceo-says-agl-should-worry
    Couple of questions. Isn’t it a bid odd that the LGC subsidy for wind power is now $52 a Mwh (on top of generation costs) whereas the alternative busbar price of Victorian brown coal fired electricity is $32 a Mwh? Guaranteed market share evidently helps. Second question: what will be the point of all the subsidised wind and solar when the major industries and workers have left SA due to high power prices?

    The chart on the link clearly shows both the decline in SA electrical demand and the dominance of gas fired generation. You’d have to think increased electricity imports (‘interconnectors’ on the chart) will take over from Pt Augusta coal and more expensive gas generation.

  4. So I’ve seen a lot of posts now stating that nuclear power is the clear winner. But, does anyone capable of building and operating one actually want to build one? Has any organisation ever prepared a proposal? What is required for an actual generator to be built?

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