the economics of new nuclear power doesn’t stack up. And we’ve got much more important things to do (like exposing the well-funded lies of some in the fossil fuel industry and planning for a much different and smaller grid), than arguing with well-intentioned but intellectually conceited proponents of nuclear energy
Nuclear And Nonsense: An Insider’s Guide On Making Renewables Work, New Matilda
By Terry Leach January 4, 2016 Renewable energy advocate Terry Leach takes up the fight for an inexhaustible power supply.
Geoff Russell’s recent New Matilda article ‘Batteries and Bulldust’ makes the argument that renewable energy can’t displace fossil fuels due to the problems of the intermittency of renewable energy and the difficulty of storing electrical energy.
Russell compares the stupidity of Germany’s renewable push to France’s wisdom in generating most of their power from nuclear. Obviously, the superior governance, cheaper electricity and lack of inefficient subsidies results in France consistently outperforming Germany economically. Sadly for the French this isn’t true. Germany is the economic powerhouse of Europe.
Maybe, just maybe, the Germans aren’t ‘puddle shallow thinkers’. Problems of intermittency and storage of renewable energy are solvable, and the Germans are doing just that.
Despite our current government’s opposition, technological development and entrepreneurship means that Australia is well placed to solve those problems here.
Firstly, intermittency. Our electricity network is well equipped to cope with intermittency, as it has been built to cope with intermittency of demand.
Demand fluctuates on daily, weekly and seasonal bases. We usually have a large proportion of our production capacity sitting idle, waiting for the high demand and price events that justify their economic existence.
Like Europe, we have a continental grid, stretching from North Queensland to the West Coast of South Australia. Excess low cost capacity can be sent interstate, which means that demand, and therefore price, is smoothed.
Currently we have cheap coal providing our base load capacity. Coal (like nuclear) can’t be ramped up and down quickly and has always needed to be supplemented by ‘dispatchable’ generation. This has historically been provided by gas and hydro.
Solar energy and lithium batteries
Unlike Germany, Australia is a very good place to generate solar electricity. And unlike Germany, production of solar electricity is fairly closely matched with demand, both on a daily and seasonal basis. So most solar production won’t need to be stored.
Russell argues that storage isn’t feasible because lithium batteries are too expensive, we don’t have the factories and we don’t have enough lithium.
I’d pose three questions to Russell in response: Ten years ago, how expensive were solar PV panels? How many factories were producing them? What was the global production of silicon crystals?
While lithium is currently mined from salt lakes, there is an inexhaustible supply in our sea water. The cost of extracting it via that source will put a ceiling on the price of lithium. But there are very large reserves in salt lakes around the world……….
Our energy systems are changing rapidly, and the future direction of that change isn’t completely clear. But the high cost of the grid and the plummeting costs of solar power and storage will mean that distributed energy demand will be met by distributed energy supply. And we’re not about to get micro nuclear power plants…..
…..the economics of new nuclear power doesn’t stack up. And we’ve got much more important things to do (like exposing the well-funded lies of some in the fossil fuel industry and planning for a much different and smaller grid), than arguing with well-intentioned but intellectually conceited proponents of nuclear energy…….https://newmatilda.com/2016/01/04/nuclear-and-nonsense-a-simple-explanation-on-how-to-make-renewables-work/
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