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).
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!