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Solar power station for Canberra?

Mr Evil 18 March 2008 44

The Australian is reporting that Comrade Stanhope are looking at the feasibility of constructing a solar power station in the ACT.

Story online here

Wouldn’t it be cheaper to get the inmates of the new gaol to act like hamsters and run around in a huge wheel all day long?

At least this news might keep Foskey happy?

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44 Responses to Solar power station for Canberra?
hax hax 12:59 am 21 Mar 08

bugmenot, dont get me wrong – great idea.
Maybe the gov could drop the price of new blocks of land some 10k-20k for the sake of the environemnt over profit?
It’s not like it cost them anything in the first place, so surely no need to HAVE to sell it at market value.

Mælinar Mælinar 9:23 am 20 Mar 08

@Toriness I’m in JGB

bugmenot bugmenot 8:51 am 20 Mar 08

hax said :

(bugmenot: “I think it (solar panels) should be mandatory for every new dwelling built (including knock-down rebuilds in existing suburbs”)

hax: People cant afford houses as it is, lets make it even harder for JUST that portion of the population. What a thinker.

I’m not talking about a complete system to power an entire house (ie. off-grid). I’m talking about a small array (lets say 2-3 panels) on EVERY new home and have it grid-connected.

The array will pay for itself over several years and at the rate of new houses going up around Canberra, you’ll have a solar farm 10x the size of anything they can propose in a single array.

I’m not talking about spending the likes of $14K per home. I agree that a system of that magnitude would push the price of houses up an out of the affordable range.

Solar is a very viable alternative to alleviate our desire to burn coal. The government doesn’t like to push anything that they can’t have a piece in taxing per unit of consumed energy (hence why they would prefer a centralised array/farm over a distributed system). Same goes for Actew, they want to charge per unit and they don’t like the thought of people making their own power, so there’s no incentive for them to push it.

How about all the new office buildings in the city, why is every one of them not sporting a solar farm on their rooftop? It won’t provide 100% of their energy needs, but it’ll certainly lower the draw on the grid (particularly during daytime/business hours when it’s needed most).

hax hax 12:52 am 20 Mar 08

(bugmenot: “I think it (solar panels) should be mandatory for every new dwelling built (including knock-down rebuilds in existing suburbs”)

People cant afford houses as it is, lets make it even harder for JUST that portion of the population. What a thinker.
You could exclude first home buyers and the like, but then, thats not really an actual (long term) solution is it.

Whatever it is should be an Ausralia-wide / everybody pays solution. Im sure the ACT will want to push forward and try to be an ‘island’ unto its own, but whats the use of a small % of wealthy population being clean while others are too poor to do good by the environment? — they need to pull out some Grand-Scale infastructure i think.

I hope some more thought is put into this before a disasterous amount of money is spent on the WRONG solution (whatever that could be ..)

toriness toriness 10:28 pm 19 Mar 08

maelinar – i wonder if you and i work in the same area!!!

imhotep imhotep 8:12 pm 19 Mar 08

I certainly don’t carry a torch for the current ACT Government, and this is about the only ‘initiative’ they have had that I support. If we are going to be serious about addressing climate change, we are going to have to begin to spend serious money on alternative power sources.

To those who say “solar isn’t viable”; I say that solar is not the complete solution, but it is probably PART of the solution.

To the Climate Change naysayers; I say look at the evidence objectively. Unless you are an expert yourself, it is wise to trust those who are, and the experts say that the sh*t is about to hit the fan. (They could be wrong of course, but I wouldn’t want to bet our future on that).


smokey4 smokey4 7:57 pm 19 Mar 08

I hope we are not expected to fund this like a lot of other government infrastructure only to have it sold off at a later date to some business friend of the government.

spoonbill spoonbill 5:45 pm 19 Mar 08

I cannot understand why Comrade Stanhopeless and ACTEWAGL don’t use the money to subsidise solar panels for all Canberrans, rather than a power station for 2000 houses.

Mælinar Mælinar 4:41 pm 19 Mar 08

Imagine trying to convince pilots to fly straight at a 1km + field of mirrors (at least thats what the view from the air will be like).

Mr Evil Mr Evil 4:36 pm 19 Mar 08

Finding a location could be an issue though, as they apparently need 100 of those dishes like at the ANU to power 10 000 households. I couldn’t help laughing at the ACTEWAGL guy on the news the other night who when asked where this solar farm could be located said that under a flightpath would be an excellent location! A dig at Tralee, maybe??? 😉

Perhaps the ACT Govt/ACTEWAGL should be speaking to the QCC to see if they’d be interested in joining in as well?

Absent Diane Absent Diane 4:29 pm 19 Mar 08

the answer to all our energy problems is easy. we just don’t know what it is yet.

aidan aidan 4:18 pm 19 Mar 08

Nuclear is not viable in the ACT. A 1000MW nuclear power plant would consume 20GL of water a year. This is approximately 50% of Canberra’s annual usage. See:

RuffnReady RuffnReady 2:49 pm 19 Mar 08

Thumper, economically, gradually integrating solar and wind into the existing grid will cost very little more to each customer if the burden is spread to all customers.

I have never understood why schemes such as “greenchoice” are voluntary because that means a few people with a conscience (less than 2% of the market) are paying significantly more for their power while everyone who doesn’t is a free-rider on the environmental benefits.

By contrast, spread the extra cost over the entire market and everyone would pay 1/50th of the extra cost more for their power.

As for people “not being willing to pay double the price for power”, this country has had some of the cheapest electricity in the world for decades and we should get used to the fact that prices will increase significantly when carbon trading is implemented. The REAL cost of coal-fired power, including environmental externalities, is closer to $60-80/MWh, and a carbon price will make that a reality. We’ve been living a lie.

As I mentioned before, currently your electricity costs about 4c/kWh to produce, yet you buy it for 12c/kWh. Isn’t a 200% markup a little high? Let’s say it costs 4c/kWh to maintain the grid and staff ACTEWAGL, that’s still a 100% markup. Cut that in half and you could buy wind power at 6c/kWh, maintain the company and grid for 4c/kWh (which I’d say is an over-estimate of costs), and still retain 2c/kWh for shareholder profit whilst not increasing the price to the consumer. How are these markups on an essential service justifiable???

Thumper Thumper 1:59 pm 19 Mar 08

Excellent Mr P1, you obviously speak for the whole of Canberra. A bit like the anti roo cull guy who stated ‘shoot me instead of the roos’, knowing full well that it was never going to happen and therefore would not affect him in any way.

So, who is going to pay for this brave new world?

Rudd won’t because it costs money and it’s not popular enough and we already know that Howard previously wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole.

So, do we, the inhabitants of this tinpot territory in the middle of NSW pay for it?

Come to think of it, NSW should can the stupid desalination plant and concentrate on something like solar.

Mælinar Mælinar 1:50 pm 19 Mar 08

Its deemed suitable to place a $$$ surcharge on our rates to fund everything else.

To say it cannot be done is naysaying with a huge dose of emu-head-in-the-sand.

Mr Waffle Mr Waffle 1:45 pm 19 Mar 08

Regarding wind, every time various governments/councils/businesses try to set it up, the nimbys chuck a huge sad about the noise, the eyesore on the horizon, the chopped up birds… I swear I hear the same news story about it every 6 months on the news, from various parts of NSW.

p1 p1 1:25 pm 19 Mar 08

It may be in the future, but the cost is extremely prohibitive and at this stage cannot be justified given the returns.

I can justify it, because my justification has nothing to do with dollar cost.

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 1:07 pm 19 Mar 08

Thumper said :

What happened to myths two, three, four and five?

Is it a myth that they even exist 😉

Thumper: they were mythed, if you’ll excuse my lythp…

Ruffnready: the feed-in tariff is still in draft.

It was interesting to see this story yesterday – I figured the Chief Minister must have read our submission to the Feed-in Tariff Bill where we proposed the idea of a Gungahlin Carbon Neutral Cooperative to allow people to pool smaller investments into a solar farm somewhere highly visible like near the Federal Highway, and figuring it was a good idea decided to do it himself…

It was even more interesting that he conceded there would be some increased cost resulting, given that this is the key problem he’s been raising as he’s been reported to be going cold on the Feed-in Tariff Bill, about which we expressed concern a couple of weeks ago.

bugmenot bugmenot 1:00 pm 19 Mar 08

Solar pwoer, along with wind an biomass are all viable technologies and should be used immediately.

It is worse for everybody to sit around and argue that solar can’t sustain an entire city. How about building the installation and using it to reduce the base load. It’s all supplementary power (then add wind and biomass to the mix, all supplementary).

Cut the dependency on coal to shreds. It’s not about replacing the existing powerplants today. It’s about NOT needing to build another one!

I think it should be mandatory for every new dwelling built (including knock-down rebuilds in existing suburbs) to have a grid connected solar array. Along with grey water treatment and storage. When you start to require these things, the economy of scale kicks in and prices fall. It also becomes only a very small fraction of the price of building a home (not to mention cheaper due to not retro-fitting them).

Dave_K Dave_K 12:34 pm 19 Mar 08

Solar IS viable, and it is being proven to be in many parts of the world. For example, California and the south-west of the USA where there are large ‘utility-scale’ projects already underway. California’s biggest power utility has signed a contract with a company using solar thermal technology developed in Sydney to build a 177mw solar plant. They propose to deliver power to the grid at competitive pricing to other sources. Frankly, the whole ‘solar isn’t viable without massive government subsidies’ is a convenient do-nothing approach that only furthers the interests of the coal industry. Australia should be leading the world in solar power – much of the technology and expertise has been developed here. Australia went to sleep on this during the Howard years.

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