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Renewables advocates say coal closure marks significant shift

By John Thistleton - 5 November 2016 19

Wind Alliance spokesman Andrew Bray.

Renewable energy operators in Canberra see the closure of Hazelwood coal-fired power station as a positive step for wind and solar, and in the longer term, for the ACT.

The ageing Victorian power station will close in March next year. Australian Wind Alliance national coordinator Andrew Bray said Hazelwood’s closure was a direct result of international energy giant, Engie, walking away from fossil-fuel electricity generation and shifting focus to renewable generation.

“This is a global market shift that Australia needs to be ready for,” Mr Bray said.

“We should be actively planning to ensure a swift and orderly transition away from coal that promotes security of renewable energy supply and provides new employment options for affected communities.”

Mr Bray said it was not widely recognised that Canberra was already powered to a significant degree by wind power.

“With over 500 megawatts of wind power within 100km of Canberra, a stiff breeze on the local hills sees Canberra’s entire demand supplied by wind,’’ he said.

“In the short term, it’s likely that the demand supplied by Hazelwood will be taken up by increased generation from NSW’s hydro and black coal generators.

“However, new wind projects in the capital region will eventually pick up some of this shortfall and increase the region’s status as an exporter of clean energy,’’ he said.

Mr Bray said the plan to obtain 100 per cent of the ACT’s electricity from renewable sources had been instrumental in driving wind energy construction in south eastern Australia over the last 12 months.

From Victoria and familiar with Hazelwood’s history, Mr Bray now lives in Bungendore, which he says is a great place to live if you like wind farms.

“There are plenty of businesses in town who know the benefits that local wind farms deliver for jobs and economic activity. And it sure knows how to blow a gale,’’ he said.

Meanwhile the managing director of a solar farm which opened in Canberra in October says the Hazelwood closure is a step forward for his industry.

Angus Gemmell of Solar Choice, a co-developer with Solar Fields of the 2.3 megawatt Mount Majura solar project, said large-scale generators of power in Victoria, as well as investors in wind and solar farms awaiting construction, would applaud Hazelwood’s closure.

This would restore balance to the supply and demand of energy across the state.

“ A large swathe of surplus power, from the developed world’s heaviest polluting generator, will be removed,” Mr Gemmell said.

“A wider but more gentle ripple effect may be similarly felt for generators across the wider National Electricity Market.

“However revenue streams for ACT’s wind and solar farm reverse-auction winners will be immune due to any fluctuations to their long-term fixed price contracts.”

Pictured is Andrew Bray, who says wind energy has a bright future in the ACT region. Photo: John Lawler 

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19 Responses to
Renewables advocates say coal closure marks significant shift
JC 1:18 pm 08 Nov 16

John Moulis said :

The problem with renewable energy is that it cannot provide continuous synchronous baseload power for industry and households. The supply is instead erratic and variable.

In order to provide a reliable power supply the frequency must be in constant synchronicity, in Australia 50hz, in the US 60hz. If this cannot be maintained the supply breaks down. Gas and coal fired power meets this criterion, renewable energy does not. In order to provide a proper and reliable power supply, renewable energy must be combined with gas and coal-fired energy to provide the harmonious power supply.

This is the undisputed physiological fact about electricity supply the advocates of renewable energy don’t want you to hear.

There is no such thing as baseload power. This is the undisputed physiological fact about electricity supply the opponents of renewable energy don’t want you to hear.

Fact is the network, combining all sources of power needs to match demand at any given time. Failure to do so may result in brown outs if the demand is not met, this is where the voltage drops too low (east coast of Aus below 216V is considered brown) or over voltage, due to insufficient demand (voltage above 253V).

Matching demand can be done by bringing generators online to increase supply or taking them off to decrease. They can also switch on off loads to generate demand when demand increases elsewhere etc. Off peak is a perfect example, but many businesses also have special deals to use power at given times to manage the load. And they can even use excess power to pump water up in hydro power plants too. It is not hard, and the type of power source makes no difference what so ever to the ability to bring it on or off.

You are right about the need for generators to have to matched frequency before being brought online, though you are wrong in implying it is either something that is difficult or something unique to renewable energy sources. The same is quite true of coal and gas power power stations too and in actual fact in any power station that uses heat to generate steam it is actually harder than say solar or wind due to the need to regulate steam to regulate the generator. Shut down a generator then it needs to be re synced to bring it back online.

JC 1:04 pm 08 Nov 16

dungfungus said :

So, why isn’t Victoria replacing all the brown coal power stations with one new technology one as you described?

Australia has the purest quality black thermal coal available.

Which isn’t the coal that is found in Victoria. There is a good reason they use brown coal down that way, and why SA has a tendency towards natural gas powered power stations.

dungfungus 11:38 am 08 Nov 16

pink little birdie said :

dungfungus said :

Maya123 said :

dungfungus said :

…long term contracts were signed to export our gas

I’m aware of this and that’s the problem.

We also have long term contracts to export coal.

Contrary to what the renewable lobby suggest, new coal fired power stations are still being built in countries that actually manufacture things with cheap, efficient electricity generated from coal.

What people forget to mention about the new coal plants is that they are often replacing 2-5 older coal plants, are more efficient producing 10x the amount of energy off the same amount of coal, use a higher quality of coal and produce less emissions.
Also in countries that are getting the new coal plants are also investing in renewable energy at a greater rate than they are in coal

So, why isn’t Victoria replacing all the brown coal power stations with one new technology one as you described?

Australia has the purest quality black thermal coal available.

pink little birdie 10:09 am 08 Nov 16

dungfungus said :

Maya123 said :

dungfungus said :

…long term contracts were signed to export our gas

I’m aware of this and that’s the problem.

We also have long term contracts to export coal.

Contrary to what the renewable lobby suggest, new coal fired power stations are still being built in countries that actually manufacture things with cheap, efficient electricity generated from coal.

What people forget to mention about the new coal plants is that they are often replacing 2-5 older coal plants, are more efficient producing 10x the amount of energy off the same amount of coal, use a higher quality of coal and produce less emissions.
Also in countries that are getting the new coal plants are also investing in renewable energy at a greater rate than they are in coal

dungfungus 10:48 pm 07 Nov 16

Maya123 said :

dungfungus said :

…long term contracts were signed to export our gas

I’m aware of this and that’s the problem.

We also have long term contracts to export coal.

Contrary to what the renewable lobby suggest, new coal fired power stations are still being built in countries that actually manufacture things with cheap, efficient electricity generated from coal.
Australia used to have this advantage too.

Unfortunately, we can’t harvest and export wind and solar power so our balance of payments is going to get hammered if we close our coal industry and the consequences are too horrible to contemplate.

Maya123 2:07 pm 07 Nov 16

dungfungus said :

…long term contracts were signed to export our gas

I’m aware of this and that’s the problem.

dungfungus 12:33 pm 07 Nov 16

Maya123 said :

I think we should stop selling our gas overseas; use wind and solar are much as we can and use the gas only for backup, plus the limited hydro we have. Then we could close the coal powered plants and have continuous power. It is my understanding that hydro and gas can come on line quickly when needed in a way that coal powered generators can’t.

There is not enough gas to do this as long term contracts were signed to export our gas and as fracking is being banned there won’t be much more available for domestic use.

What’s the point in building gas peakers when there is no gas to power them?

Maya123 10:35 am 07 Nov 16

I think we should stop selling our gas overseas; use wind and solar are much as we can and use the gas only for backup, plus the limited hydro we have. Then we could close the coal powered plants and have continuous power. It is my understanding that hydro and gas can come on line quickly when needed in a way that coal powered generators can’t.

wildturkeycanoe 7:37 pm 06 Nov 16

John Moulis said :

In order to provide a reliable power supply the frequency must be in constant synchronicity, in Australia 50hz, in the US 60hz. If this cannot be maintained the supply breaks down. Gas and coal fired power meets this criterion, renewable energy does not. In order to provide a proper and reliable power supply, renewable energy must be combined with gas and coal-fired energy to provide the harmonious power supply.

This is the undisputed physiological fact about electricity supply the advocates of renewable energy don’t want you to hear.[/quote>

For green energy to be king, we need to able to store the output efficiently. That is not so easily or cheaply done and is the biggest hurdle to 100% green power.

Masquara 6:55 pm 06 Nov 16

dungfungus said :

Masquara said :

dungfungus said :

“With over 500 megawatts of wind power within 100km of Canberra, a stiff breeze on the local hills sees Canberra’s entire demand supplied by wind,’’ he said.

The first part of this claim may be correct but to stretch “within 100km” to mean “local” is using more spin than the turbines go at just before they shut down in high wind conditions.

Not to mention that wind generators actually have to close down in a high wind.

At which stage they still draw power from the grid to keep their systems functioning.

Which means in turn, of course, that the coal-fired grid has to be kept maintained. So the ACT will either be sponging off NSW, or paying a massive premium – or having a complete blackout – when there’s a “hiccup” in the renewables supply …. 100% renewables is pie in the sky unless we go nuclear …

John Moulis 11:05 am 06 Nov 16

The problem with renewable energy is that it cannot provide continuous synchronous baseload power for industry and households. The supply is instead erratic and variable.

In order to provide a reliable power supply the frequency must be in constant synchronicity, in Australia 50hz, in the US 60hz. If this cannot be maintained the supply breaks down. Gas and coal fired power meets this criterion, renewable energy does not. In order to provide a proper and reliable power supply, renewable energy must be combined with gas and coal-fired energy to provide the harmonious power supply.

This is the undisputed physiological fact about electricity supply the advocates of renewable energy don’t want you to hear.

dungfungus 7:55 am 06 Nov 16

Masquara said :

dungfungus said :

“With over 500 megawatts of wind power within 100km of Canberra, a stiff breeze on the local hills sees Canberra’s entire demand supplied by wind,’’ he said.

The first part of this claim may be correct but to stretch “within 100km” to mean “local” is using more spin than the turbines go at just before they shut down in high wind conditions.

Not to mention that wind generators actually have to close down in a high wind.

At which stage they still draw power from the grid to keep their systems functioning.

wildturkeycanoe 7:29 am 06 Nov 16

dungfungus said :

“With over 500 megawatts of wind power within 100km of Canberra, a stiff breeze on the local hills sees Canberra’s entire demand supplied by wind,’’ he said.

The first part of this claim may be correct but to stretch “within 100km” to mean “local” is using more spin than the turbines go at just before they shut down in high wind conditions.

You beat me to it. Canberra does not generate or export wind power locally any more than it locally produces…..well, just about anything for that matter. We are a consumer of just about everything except Canturf and politicians.

As for the Capital Wind farm at Bungendore supplying us with power – “With over 500 megawatts of wind power within 100km of Canberra, a stiff breeze on the local hills sees Canberra’s entire demand supplied by wind,’’ – that is total rubbish. It was built to run the Kurnell desalination plant and when operational, the plant uses 100% of the wind power produced. During off-peak times only half the wind power is exported to the grid and available for Canberra homes to be used. Research Capital Wind Farm for the proof.
The A.C.T government keeps pulling the wool over our eyes, encouraging us to believe that they are making us green with flawed statements like the dribble in this article. Then they will increase our “clean” power prices, justified by the lies we are fed so that we don’t complain about it. Our own rooftop solar is sold to them for almost nothing and then they sell it back to us at green market rates. That is yet another rip-off, diminishing the incentive to put solar on our rooftops.

Masquara 6:16 pm 05 Nov 16

dungfungus said :

“With over 500 megawatts of wind power within 100km of Canberra, a stiff breeze on the local hills sees Canberra’s entire demand supplied by wind,’’ he said.

The first part of this claim may be correct but to stretch “within 100km” to mean “local” is using more spin than the turbines go at just before they shut down in high wind conditions.

Not to mention that wind generators actually have to close down in a high wind.

dungfungus 10:11 am 05 Nov 16

“With over 500 megawatts of wind power within 100km of Canberra, a stiff breeze on the local hills sees Canberra’s entire demand supplied by wind,’’ he said.

The first part of this claim may be correct but to stretch “within 100km” to mean “local” is using more spin than the turbines go at just before they shut down in high wind conditions.

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