Renewables and energy efficiency are a big part of the news cycle. Here are some “big picture” issues getting prominent media coverage.
KI “better off without the cable”: A study of the feasibility of renewable energy for Kangaroo Island has found the figures add up.
Chris Dunstan, Research Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney, says his team has found the most cost-effective alternative to a new power cable from the mainland is local supply of wind, solar photovoltaics and diesel generation, complemented by battery storage and “demand management”.
He says this hybrid solution could supply the island with 86 per cent renewable energy for only $10 million more than a new cable.
This option would also meet SA Power Network’s tight deadline of being able to meet the island’s entire electricity demand by December, 2018. Earlier this year SAPN called for “alternative proposals” to match the $45m to $50m replacement cost of the existing cable.
Ramping up the options, Mr Dunstan’s study found that for an extra $13 million, 100 per cent renewable power could be provided by replacing the diesel with biomass generation technology fuelled by local, presently unharvested plantation wood. This system could be established within five years.
The study found both the hybrid and 100 per cent renewable options could actually cost Kangaroo Islanders less than the new cable over 25-years, by including indirect impacts such as savings in local network charges.
Meanwhile, the Outback town of Coober Pedy is ditching its costly diesel generator for a combination of wind and solar with the support of battery storage. Work will start in the next few weeks.
In another development, American company SolarReserve sees its proposal for a large-scale solar thermal project at Port Augusta as just the first of several over the next 10 years.
SolarReserve chief executive Kevin Smith visited Adelaide recently and nominated Leigh Creek, Woomera, Whyalla, and Roxby Downs as possible sites for the other projects, which he said could be larger than the Port Augusta facility.
SolarReserve’s plan are reliant on it securing long-term supply contracts and taxpayer funding but the State Government recently reconfirmed its support in principle for alternative energy technology options.
ERS says South Australia is on the brink of a major change in attitude to how we power our grid. Strong, well-informed Government decisions need to be made quickly.
Battery insurance against gas failures: A catastrophic rupture at a Californian natural gas facility has resulted in the announcement of the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery storage project.
In a fast-track process, by the end of the year Tesla will build and have operating a battery storage facility on the outskirts of Los Angeles containing enough energy to power 2500 homes for a day before needing recharging.
Industry observers say this landmark project could usher in a new age of storage on the electricity grid.
It follows an emergency order issued by Californian Governor Jerry Brown in May tasking the California Public Utilities Commission to ensure the reliability of the grid in the wake of the Aliso Canyon disaster.
Experts estimate the carbon footprint of the gas leak last year at this underground storage facility was worse than the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The Aliso Canyon facility was subsequently closed, severely affecting the Los Angeles power supply.
Earlier this month California’s lawmakers passed four bills designed to ramp up the state’s use of energy storage. This new technology is expected to play an important role in meeting the state’s 50 per cent renewable energy target and cutting greenhouse gas emissions 40 per cent from 1990 levels by 2030.
California is a world leader in renewable energy, based largely on solar, wind and storage technology.
ERS says the central California climate is the same as South Australia and we face similar grid supply issues.
Three extremes: A Gold Coast resident has spent around $80,000 to ensure he never pays another power bill. Clayton Lyndon has installed six Tesla Powerwall batteries to his 24kW rooftop solar system to create one of the world’s largest domestic systems.
Down in Melbourne, an all-new16ha mini-suburb called YarraBend has offered the first 60 of its planned 2500 homes for pre-order. All will come standard with solar panels, Tesla Powerwalls and electric car recharging stations.
Finally, Clenergy Team Arrow, the highest-ranked Australian finisher in last year’s Darwin-Adelaide World Solar Challenge, is moving to become the world’s first manufacturer of road-registered solar cars. It has Queensland Government support to build a sporty single-seater that uses “less power than a toaster”.
ERS says the wheels are turning ever faster in the world of renewable-energy.