Canberra – City of Powerstations?

johnboy 11 December 2008 28

Over on the story about the Auditor-General slapping around the Macarthur power station debacle we’ve had a comment by Digga so interesting it deserves front page time of its own:

    Here is the Federal Government’s register of fossil-fuel based power stations that are proposed:

    Follow the link for Proposed Power Stations (yes: Power Stations) and you’ll find our little beauty in the list along with others (total of 3 listed for ACT). You won’t see the tip’s generators, the airport’s generators or others.

    Included in this list is the large peaking power station of around 600MW planned for Williamsdale, about 20km south of Canberra. In addition, the airport just turned on the first of 4 gas-fired tri-generation units. Co-gen/tri-gen aside; these are all polluting natural-gas burning turbines – and they’re static sources; not mobile and therefore dispersing as much as cars, aircraft etc.

    Added on top of the tip’s stationary methane-burning converted diesel engine units, additional aircraft, cars, gas-fired units in industry, homes and an overall ongoing increase and you have a composite level escalating without control or co-ordination.

    In case you missed it, here’s the airport’s first of four new gas-fired units:

    Could you please tell me, who’s co-ordinating all of this and who is pro-actively decommissioning worse polluting sources in an offset (vs. additive) way? What do we tell our kids in 17 years when we blow 2025’s reduced emissions targets.

While not necessarily averse to becoming a city of major power generation I’m curious as to when the public agreed this was where we wanted to go?

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28 Responses to Canberra – City of Powerstations?
Digga Digga 11:12 pm 25 Dec 08

CPR has the new DA for Hume (block 20, section 23) on its website:

Digga Digga 11:20 pm 18 Dec 08

sepi: Very interesting, and how interesting then to note that ACTPLA currently have 2 sneaky power submissions with deadlines of 5th January; relating to the substation at Williamsdale for Transgrid and associated 132KV transmission lines, towers, etc.

Of the most interest in the first of the 2 below submissions is that Andrew Barr, Minister for Planning, exempts them from an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement), even though this is impact track stuff due to the new Planning and Development Act 2007. He did this on 18 November 2008, just before this was advertised. So looks like every power station/sub-station going on round here currently doesn’t need to adhere to EIS controls put in place to protect the communities:

“Subdivide block 1653 into two blocks; vary the purpose clause of the smaller block to permit major utility installation only. Proposed construction of new sub-station with site works including…”

“Proposed installation of a new 132KV subtransmission line between the proposed Transgrid substation at Williamsdale to an existing ActewAgl substation at Theodore.”

sepi sepi 10:52 am 18 Dec 08

Very good point.
Xmas is a perfect time for govt to sneak something thru with ’10 days notice to the public’ if they dont’ want anyone to notice. Surely they wouldn’t want to do that with power station type stuff tho, after all the bad publicity they’ve already had due to shonky processes.

Still – there was an article yesterday about a development that will overshadow telopea park school, and those affected have been given til January 05 to comment, due to the Xmas period, so they do make some ceoncessions to the holiday season.

Digga Digga 10:23 am 18 Dec 08

miz: Good point and to all those fellow citizens who cried NIMBY or chose to sat idly while the debate raged over the past 8 months; I worry for the apathy I witnessed in this city. Good luck to us all with a Government that’s pro-development beyond reasonable discussion with the community.

miz miz 7:02 pm 16 Dec 08

Residents in Belco should now beware about the future of the West Macgregor site. Bear with me while I explain:

The other day, the Greens and Libs got a clause removed from the ‘fast-track’ enabling power station legislation. This clause, had it remained, would have meant that they could waltz into any broadacre land and install a power station. It was removed. However, this does not mean the Govt cannot fast track a re-zoning of the West Macgregor site to Industrial to expedite the proponents’ NEXT power station.

I suggest keeping a weather eye on the ACTPLA website over the Christmas hols and beyond . . . and good luck!

Digga Digga 9:59 am 15 Dec 08

Interesting thread – a related letter appeared in the Canberra Times today from Dr Bradford Sherman, Duffy.

His key point: why are we, ACT taxpayers, to subsidise the move of the CTC site to the tune of $10m? More so, why can’t this kind of spend be used to change their power generation technology plan from natural gas turbines to something renewable i.e. thermal solar (as suggested by Dr Chris Klootwjik, Macarthur also published in today’s Canberra Times). Especially as we are to be forced to have our monies used to subsidise power generating technology which, although cleaner than coal, will still make global warming worse by emitting more greenhouse gases.

The damage from the gas exhaust isn’t just carbon emissions, it’s massive amounts of heat (and further heat expunged from the massive computer data halls) and also the nasty particulates including Nitrous and Sulfur oxides. This isn’t good for anyone but Chris specifically points to the issue that this will cause acid concentrations air-borne that will impact on the National Library’s Repository’s collections at Hume (let alone their staff).

Just can’t win, with dirty pollution from fossil-fuel power sources impacting everyone.

RuffnReady RuffnReady 7:13 pm 13 Dec 08

Nice posts guys, thanks for the responses. 🙂

Yup, passive solar design works a treat, and yet it is not even on most people’s radar. Ho hum.

Oh, and thanks for that link, Aidan – what a great idea! Well done to those guys.

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy 4:14 am 13 Dec 08

When we built our house a few years ago, we tried to take advantage of solar orientation and insulation, and the difference between our house and our previous rental in terms or energy efficiency is, frankly, stunning. Just by having the right sized eaves with big windows facing north, and plenty of insulation, we seem to maintain temperature really easily. I have also planted a tree outside our main north facing window (deciduous -spelling?) which is growing quite well, the idea being to provide extra shade in the warmer months while letting the sun in during the cooler months.

We have a wall mounted aircon unit, that gets used on the hottest days in January, and for brief (ie an hour or two) on hot days throughout late spring and early summer. Our heating is ducted gas (with a high efficiency head unit), and comes on periodically when on).

I didn’t realise just how much even basic efficiency principles would work in a home until we built our house. I am amazed at the number of new homes I look at that don’t realy take advantage of the seasons.

grasshopper grasshopper 1:15 am 13 Dec 08

Jessica’s looking lovely, isn’t she!

nothing a few billion ‘years’ couldn’t fix. 🙂

ant ant 10:43 am 12 Dec 08

RuffnReady is right. This explosion in air con is crazy. In the Californian brown-outs, people switchign on their air-cons was the main culprit.

I grew up without air con. It does make sense at work (especially the way commercial buildings are built, no bloody air flow whatsoever), but at home, really?

My house is moderately solar passive/big insulation etc (no thermal mass object though), and has no air con, and no heating system either. If it had the thermal mass, it wouldn’t need heating in winter at all. As it is, I have a seldom-used wood slow-combustion.

S4anta S4anta 9:50 am 12 Dec 08

Mr Evil said :

Jessica’s looking lovely, isn’t she!

nothing a few billion beers couldn’t fix.

pug206gti pug206gti 9:37 am 12 Dec 08

Jessica’s looking lovely, isn’t she!

Looks like she positively hung over!

aidan aidan 9:14 am 12 Dec 08

I agree with RuffnReady. BUT. We installed evap A/C a few years back because my wife was (still is) at home with small children. The hot weather is unbearable at home all day with small kids who have to sleep during the day etc. We would get the house as cool as we could at night and then shut up as soon as it got hot. But by 2pm it would be in the high 20s inside, but really really humid and nasty. She would have to open windows even though it was hotter outside as the humidity was a killer.

We bough a BreezeAir ducted evap cooler system and it is brilliant. They have a very efficient motor design that uses relatively low amounts of power when he fan is not running full bore. Basically we didn’t notice the difference on our electricity bill. The other really nice feature is you can readily utilise the natural cooling of an easterly change by just venting in the cool air. Works a treat.

Obviously it would be better if we had a properly designed solar passive house (my in-laws do and it is brilliant, particularly in winter, but still a little too hot in summer). But we bought a 30 year old Jennings home and there is not much more we can do to make it perform better. We have blow in wall insulation, and roof insulation, but I haven’t retrofitted a reflective foil layer in the roof, yet.

We need a local mob to offer a complete solar hot water/absorption chiller unit like this:

Absolute game-changer. Most solar hot water installations make way more hot water than they need in the summer so as to be able to get close to the demand during winter. By using, essentially, waste summer heat to run an absorption chiller it would be a win win situation. The chilled water circuit could be retrofitted to existing evap cooler units relatively easily to dramatically increase their effectiveness. Might even be too cold …

RuffnReady RuffnReady 11:21 pm 11 Dec 08

New Yeah said :

tortfeaser said :

The public agreed this was where we wanted to go as we decided we all needed air conditioning.

You’re being to generous – the public never agreed! There was never a vote on this. Rather, individuals have decided to stay cool by using a/c. This is an attractive lifestyle choice that has been made possible by a/c manufacturers and gas companies. While these companies do their best to improve the efficiency of their products (particularly by ensuring installation by trained fridgies), the way things are at the mo'(especially through poorly designed buildings), a/c is going to continue sucking up plenty of power.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that

I agree. It gets bloody hot in summer but we just need to be smarter about how we deal with it.

Surely three extra power stations is overkill. Wouldn’t one larger station do the trick?

1) IMHO, a/c is SOFT. Yes, in the workplace it makes sense, but otherwise it is a soft option. Many of us grew up without it and were just as happy to sweat for a few days in summer. We as a society have become extremely soft, and it is the environment that pays since we don’t pay for the cost of the pollution. We now consider many ‘wants’ to be ‘needs’, and that is to the detriment of the greater environment and future generations.

2) A/c manufacturers DO NOT do their best to improve efficiency. They do the minimum required by things like Mandatory Energy Performance Standards. MEPS are a start, but manufacturers can do far more. And worse, the stated (on the label) energy performance of many imported appliances has been shown to be far lower than the actual performance. This can easily be checked with a Powermate, but there are limited resources to enforce these standards.

3) Totally agree on housing design. By incorporating seven basic principles you can build a house that needs very little heating/cooling, uses a fraction of the energy, but we rarely apply them. Proper orientation and building form, appropriate thermal mass, glazing, shading, ventilation and landscaping. Building a house? Get it right from the start and it will be more comfortable with half the energy bill.

4) Want to buy personal a/c, you should have to buy the solar cells to power it at the same time – you use your a/c when the sun is shining! Since PV cells are so expensive, and a/cs suck so much power (typically 2.5kW+), that would be a huge incentive for manufacturers to make more efficient units, and within 5 years we’d have reasonably priced solar-powered a/cs on the market, you can guarantee it…

However, governments are benign and lobby-controlled, people want what they want while conveniently ignoring the consequences, and the status quo remains… c’est la vie.

RuffnReady RuffnReady 11:02 pm 11 Dec 08

heinous said :

Nice to see RiotACT has an unbiased greenhouse alarmist at the helm.

Please, let’s debate the science. I will own you, because I have read it. It is as robust as science gets.

Try reading from real scientific journals and not fossil-fuel sponsored garbage sites like

RuffnReady RuffnReady 11:00 pm 11 Dec 08

I could write 15 pages on this, but I’ll just make a few quick points.

1) that map is annoying – the points should link to details of the individual developments. I want to know how big they are, and this should be easily accessible public information. I’ll look elsewhere.
2) gas is still a fossil fuel, and still polluting, but it is far better than coal for 2 reasons: a) it is significantly less polluting than coal, and thus a reasonable transition technology, and, b) it can be switched on and off very quickly and thus it could be part of a move away from the wasteful 24-hour-a-day baseload paradigm we currently operate under due to the primacy of inflexible coal-fired generation which makes up 82% of the 47.4GW national grid capacity.
3) I’m far more concerned about all those new coal plants being built – it reinforces a wasteful and highly polluting paradigm. Why isn’t the Federal Government mandating no more coal-fired plants, and a focus on electricity market reform (flat pricing is a joke) and demand reduction strategies? Because they aren’t really serious about action, owned by the lobbies is why.

I am going to it there before I get angry about all the double speak and inaction.

Message to those in power – GET THE MRET STRAIGHT AND DO IT NOW. We have been losing world-leading renewable technology offshore for a decade now – when will it stop???

Deano Deano 10:45 pm 11 Dec 08

heinous said :

Nice to see RiotACT has an unbiased greenhouse alarmist at the helm.

Yep, just another cave person.

The airport system reduces energy consumption by 55% and is the same as systems being installed on mass in cities like London as major greenhouse gas reduction projects.

Methane is 20 times worse a greenhouse gas than CO2. The methane run units at the tip are actually doing something beneficial.

Wake up people, this is the climate change solution in action.

ant ant 9:45 pm 11 Dec 08

Well, the airport could build all kinds of things, who do they ask permission from again?

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 7:03 pm 11 Dec 08

heinous said :

caf, you are entirely correct, my mistake I apologises to you JB.

The man likes full pints, not empty words. 😛

heinous heinous 7:00 pm 11 Dec 08

caf, you are entirely correct, my mistake I apologises to you JB.

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