Letter to the Editor: Renewables don’t add up

DEAR News Of The Area,

I READ with interest the offshore wind and community engagement article in the 7 March edition.

Comments were from a UNSW Academic and an industry representative from a foreign renewable consultancy company, who were described as representatives of Australia’s energy sector, which is misleading at best.

Both were clearly on the side of climate concern requiring community engagement so we can be educated (inferred to be saved).

However, and as a point of difference, the Hunter Valley has been a powerhouse of mining, energy generation and wholesale distribution of energy for decades.

Many climate zealots get caught out by the depth of the energy system and engineering knowledge that other jurisdictions more than likely don’t demonstrate.

In my case it’s 45 years of power plant and wholesale transmission engineering and there are many like me now retired in this area we’ve always called home.

The factual issue of physics and therefore the technical challenge, is that the energy density of renewables is very low compared to coal, gas or nuclear.

Put simply this means you need way, way more renewables to meet the system demand every millisecond, 24 hours of every day and these assets are physically distributed across vast areas of land and along vast coastal marine areas, in the case of offshore wind.

They must then be joined together which adds to the expense, an expense that some of the CSIRO data chooses to exclude.

Whilst it was mentioned in the article, it’s worth repeating, and that is renewables have very low capacity factors of around 30 percent to 40 percent.

What this means is that they don’t generate any power whatsoever for most of the time.

So, renewables need to be firmed up by something else when renewables can’t generate power, power which is needed all the time.

Again, this adds to the overall expense of moving to solar and wind as the predominant sources of energy.

The decarbonisation path of using solar and wind is currently costed at $1 trillion.

That’s an eye watering amount of money to spend for almost no effect on global CO2 emissions given Australia’s miniscule contribution relative to other countries.

Tea Gardens.

Leave a Reply