17. Mar, 2017

The ENERGY debate

Originally state governments owned the generation, supply, infrastructure and maintenance, delivery and billing of electricity. Wayne Goss coined the phrase the states will tend to favour exploitation even at the expense of good husbandry. That was given their dependency on the federal Government for funding. Thus began or had already begun the selloff of both state and federal assets.

People need to understand how energy/electricity works now. Power is generated by companies, sold to suppliers, on sold to re-sellers who sell it to you. That is 2 extra operators in the chain, usually large companies and in Australia’s case now with a number foreign owned. They need to generate a profit to be in business. However they contribute little to infrastructure and the network or grid and literally nothing to power generation.

The grid is what we know most about, power poles wires, in some cases underground supply especially in new areas. There are sub stations for distribution and large transformers for turning up and turning down the power. Large station control delivery at certain times of peak usage and lesser usage to areas and regions. Electricity is constant in the grid.  We also see those great big towers running across the landscape. Like telephony many of these assets are more than 50 years old and poorly maintained now.

How power is generated… Power stations…coal burning behemoths, gas turbine power stations, solar, wind and in our case a wonderful infrastructure project called the snowy mountains. I used to live in Canberra as a lad and went there often and studied it. This was surely one of the greatest infrastructure projects undertaken in our country but that was a different time and Australia was a different place. There is also an Australian development known as wave power and also a system of converting water by hydrolysis and tapping the hydrogen. … And of course Nuclear.

The way power is sold must be understood as well… no longer do you get your energy from the state government…you get it re seller who also buy it…however they buy it in blocks not kilowatt hours. The blocks are valued by time…remember electricity in the grid is constant. Power can be sold across borders from Victoria to South Australia for example. However you need to understand that power for business consumers and power for residential consumers is also different… business demands power…consumers just need or want it.

In South Australia recently the problem was that storm damaged the infrastructure and renewable supply wasn’t sufficient. For the infrastructure to fail says a lot…poor design, poor engineering and cost saving! Renewables not being good enough speak more about Government failure. We had the advantage in the 1990 with eminent scientists who lead the world. I know one of them personally who trained the 2 owners of the largest solar providers in the world now…we literally gave away the technology. Apparently we have also lost wave generation to Northern European countries however I may stand corrected.

Solar (most renewables) are puzzling for many people as they think it can power anything… at this point and for the foreseeable future no… 12V Dc doesn’t supply well to business and has storage problems. These can be overcome at the residential consumer level but at this point the cost is generally too high for average consumers to be palatable.

So what is a possible solution…it’s almost impossible now without digging very deep. 1. Give power generation and infrastructure back to government who can joint venture it with new technologies. 2. Use 5th generation coal for up to 50 years but it must have a 95% plus emissions control. Keep our coal and use it here as a means of value adding for our economy and jobs…we also need it for steel manufacturing. 3. Adopt a policy of renewables across all states that is achievable and educate consumers on the how when where and why of electricity. 4. For #1 you need a large infrastructure fund… build it and they will come… including new technologies. Those new technologies such as magnetic OH mono rails require less energy and run on solar power… the message is build better infrastructure that includes the network. 5. Develop and keep the new technologies. Plan a mix of technology use over a 50 year period…that’s a plan. A plan needs to be implemented to work properly and in this case needs to be long term. But let’s not forget to adopt and adapt and not settle for second (remember the NBN) best. Not bouncing along from ne policy to another from election to election. 6 Get better politicians and government.