AEMO this week released its latest forecast of energy needs, highlighting a pressing concern for continuity of electricity supply in NSW and other parts of the East Coast network in the decade ahead.
As we have noted, commentators have highlighted that natural gas is one of the key energy elements needed to help stabilise electricity networks and deliver certainty of supply, at sustainable and affordable cost and as a more flexible despatchable power complement to intermittent renewable energy.
Just don’t expect the head-in-the-sand enviro-activists at the Climate Council to get even close to acknowledging this fact.
It is an interesting piece of historical background that until about five years ago, environmentalists widely acknowledged natural gas as the ideal ‘bridging fuel’ between coal-fired electricity and renewable energy because of its reliability, low-cost availability and 50-60% lower carbon emissions.
That changed when major US fund management businesses started heavily influencing the tenor of debate in favour of their investments in renewable energy.
A lot has happened in the intervening period, but it is still apparent that renewable energy is not yet able to provide consistent baseload capacity for an entire electricity grid.
But back at the Climate Council (CC), everything is renewable rosy and there is no need to worry about supply shortages, industrial disruption, job losses and cold showers.
According to the CC, Australia is already 100% capable of generating 100% renewable energy 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If only it were so.
The truth is wind and solar get a fail mark on each of the three criteria mentioned as necessary for a secure energy supply in the CC meme below. The three strikes are:
- Wind and solar undermine grid stability because of their intermittent nature and variable frequency output;
- They are incapable of balancing demand and supply because they cannot be controlled and are entirely dependent on nature; and
- They are vulnerable to extreme weather (in fact wind farms can only operate when the wind is just right – they have to shut down when the wind is blowing too hard).
All three of these weaknesses were clearly evident in the unprecedented whole-of-State blackout in South Australia last winter.
And they are why the SA Government and electricity market operators have repeatedly reverted to gas-fired power in order to restore grid stability and security of supply, as we explained here and here.
Keep this in mind when you are looking at more misleading CC info-graphics like the one below…