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Power Australia

South Australia Hits 33% Renewal Energy Target 6 Years Early 169

ferrisoxide.com writes: South Australia has hit its target of 33% renewable energy by 2020, 6 years earlier than expected, delivering clean power to the state through investment in wind, solar and geothermal energy — mothballing one coal-fired power station in the process. Not content to rest on their laurels, the SA government has now announced a new "stretch" target of 50% by 2025. South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill declared that despite initial upfront costs to renewable energy generators such as wind farms, the 50 per cent target will not add one extra dollar to energy prices.
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South Australia Hits 33% Renewal Energy Target 6 Years Early

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 24, 2014 @03:25AM (#47981257)

    The nice thing about wind plus solar in southern Australia is that peak electricity usage is on hot days in the summer. These are often windy as well as sunny.

    That said, this 33% is for South Australia (pop ~ 1.3 mil) which has a much smaller demand than Victoria (pop ~ 6 mil) with well connected grids. So excess power from SA can be readily exported to Victoria.

    As renewable engery use in Victoria increases it will likely be harder to shift excess production. The Victoria/SA market may well face the problem Germany has when wholesale electricty prices drop down to zero. We really need large scale grid storage to get a global SA/Vic production up about 30% from renewables.

    • Thanks, South Aussies!

      I'd hate that this importation would be an excuse for Napthine (or whoever's runing the place post November) to sit on their hands and do nothing. The Coalition government in Victoria slashed climate action in response to Gillard's carbon tax at the federal level.

      I would hope both sides launch policies during the state election campaign as a response to Abbott and Palmer repealing the legislation, since Direct Action is dead.

      • by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2014 @07:17AM (#47982033)
        Lets not even talk about that fact that SA has seen overall demand drop significantly due to the failure of several large industries, with no indication they will return. So, from that perspective, the goals got a lot easier to attain. Of course political speak, by its nature, always sounds good. "will not add a dollar to energy prices", but of course, we also won't talk about the actual costs and how they are paid.

        Overall, they have been able to use primarily wind to achieve what they have. While they've spent a lot on solar as well, its still a small and somewhat irrelevant piece of the pie. It appears the Aussies have figured out that emphasis on wind makes much more sense.
        • We don't raise energy prices here. We raise delivery costs. The suppliers now have to compete with other energy suppliers, but still own transmission lines, so they always supply electricity at the same low price while increasing transmission fees.
    • by durrr ( 1316311 )

      Large scale grid storage doesn't exist in a cheap and efficient manner. That's one of the core problems with wind and solar. It's great for shaving off peak demand but after a certain point it will be investments into useless overcapacity(it's also a great way to make renewables competitive with grid prices though as grid inefficiency costs are offloaded to end users)

      • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2014 @05:11AM (#47981651) Journal

        Large scale grid storage doesn't exist in a cheap and efficient manner.

        That's what hydro dams are for. They already use them as "batteries" for coal plants because the demand curve of a city is not flat like the output curve of a coal plant. The buffer provided by the dam doesn't stop working just because you swap out the coal plant for a solar/wind farm.

        • You can't just go and build hydro dams, there are very few places left where you could get a permit to do so. The ones that exist are being used to their fullest extent because hydro is the lowest cost form of generation, so they are not serving as backup to other renewables. Natural gas is the primary backbone to offset renewable reliability issues. And, coincidentally, very low natural gas generation costs have also been the biggest offset for higher renewable costs.
      • Don't Aussies have a lot of disused mines to pump air into? [pnnl.gov]
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

        If there is one thing Australia is not short of it's space. What they need is an inland sea for pumped storage.

      • If you had a hydroelectric reservoir, you could use a pump to raise water from the low basin to the high basin.
      • by afidel ( 530433 )

        Stored solar thermal exists, it might not be as cheap as coal without coals externalities included in the retail price, but it's doable and switching over baseloads to it would cost at most a few tenths of a percent of GDP for developed nations.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        That's one of the core problems with wind and solar. It's great for shaving off peak demand but after a certain point it will be investments into useless overcapacity(it's also a great way to make renewables competitive with grid prices though as grid inefficiency costs are offloaded to end users)

        Wind, on land is generally powered by the sun - winds pick up during the day and die at night (generally). Solar is the same.

        And you know what? Peak power consumption is during the day as well, right when the renew

        • Wind, on land is generally powered by the sun - winds pick up during the day and die at night (generally). Solar is the same.

          That is nonsense. Or does the earth stop rotating at night?

          And please of you want to discuss about power an renewables get your "wording" straight. ... right when most power is consumed by the grid.
          The grid does not "consume" power, it transports power ... but yes, we get what you mean.
          Nevertheless half of your post is wrong or misleading.

          All those air conditioners have to run during

    • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2014 @04:55AM (#47981597) Journal

      Well, they could use the excess to desalinate and pump more water inland.. Just a thought..

      • The Oconee Nuclear station built a pumped storage facility nearby so that the nuke could be leveled, with excess power generation used to pump and peak load met by the hydro station.

        The Bad Creek Hydroelectric Station is a 1,065-megawatt pumped-storage facility located in Oconee County, eight miles north of Salem, S.C. The four-unit station began generating electricity in 1991, and is the largest hydroelectric station on the Duke Energy system. It is named for the two streams, Bad Creek and West Bad Creek,

    • The nice thing about wind plus solar in southern Australia is that peak electricity usage is on hot days in the summer.

      Right, but that's true for basically everyone but China, and it's not true for them because it hasn't been so long that you were actually legally able to obtain air conditioning. They'd like to have the same pattern, because they'd like to modernize their society to look just like everyone else's. And they seem to be doing that, in fact.

      • Everyone has the same pattern for solar, besides not having air conditioning.
        I know no private home in Germany (yes, they exist) where the inhabitants have air conditioning.
        Hint: the daily activity of humans is bound to, well ... how to call it? Daylight! So regardless "how" or "what" is consuming power, solar power production always matches daily consumption.
        E.g. coffee machines rarely run at night, fridges use less power as they are not opened and the environment is "cooler", washing machines and dishwash

        • So regardless "how" or "what" is consuming power, solar power production always matches daily consumption.

          Not in the winter, when electric heat is used. And that's quite common in cities, where most people live, because gas is considered unsafe there.

          • Might be in your place of the world. In germany using electricity for heating is very uncommon.

            On the other hand, heat pumps use electricity to produce 'heat', pretty efficient btw.

            I was half wrong, the shape of the curve of solar power production matches the curve of demand ... obviously it does not match the exact need (certainly not as long as only a small percentage of power is produced by solar plants)

    • I was under the impression that SA does a huge amount of mining and makes it one of the most electricity hungry states in Australia, but I've just found this: http://www.bree.gov.au/publica... [bree.gov.au] and a quick glance at the breakdown per-state shows total energy consumption not the highest, but if you weight it in proportion by population, WA (also lots of mining) and SA are the highest.
  • costs (Score:5, Informative)

    by sr180 ( 700526 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2014 @03:29AM (#47981281) Journal

    Thanks to our privatized system we generally pay up to 30 cents per kwh. 50 per cent of that goes to network charges and a significant amount towards wholesale and retail profits.
    Wind has been bringing down the wholesale price significantly - to the point that the coal industry has seriously kicked their political machines into gear to get renewables stomped on.

    • Re:costs (Score:4, Informative)

      by volmtech ( 769154 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2014 @03:48AM (#47981359)
      If Florida adapts Australian standards my power bill triples to $600, one third of my income. I guess I could cancel my internet service, TV cable, cell phones, and insurance on my cars. Or just quit eating.
      • Yeah, I live in Hawaii - we pay about $0.33/KWh...it sucks and definitely has an impact on lifestyle.
        • Re:costs (Score:5, Interesting)

          by TyFoN ( 12980 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2014 @05:02AM (#47981613)
          I live in Norway, we pay around $.12 including taxes and "line rent".
          The price fluctuates with rain and season, but $.12 is about as high as it gets. I've seen as low as $.05

          Most of the electricity comes from hydro plants (98.5% [wikipedia.org]) and I think other renewables will have similar cost structure. High investment, very low marginal cost pr kwh.
          In Hawaii for instance I'd guess you could build some geothermal plants like in Iceland [wikipedia.org]

          • Hydro and geothermal are cheap compared to other renewables in terms of cost per kWh. The cost for wind and solar is coming down a little as technology improves, but it is still very high compared to gas or coal fired plants. Hydro and geothermal also have some other important advantages over other renewables: output can be adjusted to demand, and continues day and night: you can often use these as baseload generators without having to store energy (with hydro, the lake behind the dam is the energy store)
            • by TyFoN ( 12980 )

              That's true, in the night we often turn off the hydro plants and import coal power from Germany or whatever since they cannot just turn off the plants overnight. And then we sell hydro power back in the day so the export is slightly higher than the imports.

              We often laugh about the fact that while we have a lot of electric cars, they are all coal powered.

            • The cost for wind and solar is coming down a little as technology improves, but it is still very high compared to gas or coal fired plants.

              Although it gets even cheaper by comparison when you add in the future cleanup costs that gas and coal leave for our descendants to pay - not to mention things like the fact that we're literally destroying mountains to keep up with the demand.

            • > Hydro and geothermal are cheap compared to other renewables in terms of cost per kWh.

              Hydro yes, geo is generally not competitive, which is why it remains relatively rare.

              > The cost for wind and solar is coming down a little as technology improves, but it is still very
              > high compared to gas or coal fired plants

              This is simply not true. Wind generation in the US currently goes in for about 5 to 6 cents/kWh, which is *very* competitive with coal even without carbon capture pricing. PV is more expensi

          • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

            The price fluctuates with rain and season, but $.12 is about as high as it gets. I've seen as low as $.05

            You got me curious, so I checked. Here in Oklahoma, my rates(PDF) are $0.0564, although it can go as high as $0.097 under extreme circumstances. This is also a private company too, which means they are profiting at this rate.

            One thing to note is that Oklahoma is an energy-rich state. We have coal, oil, natural gas, rivers, lots of sun, lots of wind, pretty much every energy resource you can imagine short of Uranium. Surprisingly (at least to me), we have some of the cleanest power in USA too though. My no

            • by geekoid ( 135745 )

              "This is also a private company too, which means they are profiting at this rate."
              maybe, maybe not. Utilities are an odd beast.

          • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

            The problem with Geothermal in Hawaii is that all of the good sources are on the big island "Hawaii" while the island of Oahu has roughly 5 times the population.

          • I live in Norway, we pay around $.12 including taxes and "line rent".
            The price fluctuates with rain and season, but $.12 is about as high as it gets. I've seen as low as $.05

            Most of the electricity comes from hydro plants (98.5%) and I think other renewables will have similar cost structure. High investment, very low marginal cost pr kwh.

            Unfortunately, hydro is the only renewable with a levelized (i.e. including construction) generation cost low enough to compete with coal. Here's the historical US D [wikipedia.org]

      • by Yoda222 ( 943886 )
        Insurance on your cars will not reduce your electricity bill. But reviking internet services, TV cable and cell phones will definitively reduce that cost, so yes, go for it.
        • He said he'd have to cancel the insurance to *pay* for the energy. I do believe you misunderstood him.

          • It's not even that ridiculous of a proposition. Florida was just a swamp before air conditioning - in 1900 the entire population of the state was only 500K. Likewise phoenix was just a desert (state population, 122K). By nature, these places are hardly habitable.
            • As uninhabitable as Bangladesh, Afrika, Mongolia, Australia ... sorry, to lazy to count all the dozens of countries that are inhabited since millennia ...

              I guess Florida had millions of indian inhabitants before they got wiped out by plagues ...

    • And one of the reports I read is that the rise in costs have convinced many to adopt solar PV stations at home. It's quite interesting seeing the increased generation requirements offset by people not sucking from the grid. That makes it far easier to put in peaking systems and renewables rather than continuous base load.

  • by beaverdownunder ( 1822050 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2014 @03:33AM (#47981303)

    I live here, it's awesome =)

    Seriously though, South Australia, while having a reputation for being a "backward" state, is actually one of (if not the) most liberal, progressive states in Australia. Adelaide has a cool startup culture too!

    • Yeah. Anyone who thinks SA is backward should go and live in Queensland for a couple of years - then they'll know what "backward" means. You know what they say: when you cross the border from New South Wales into Queensland, you have to put your clock back an hour and thirty years.

      • I grew up in SA.

        A trip back to Adelaide now is like a trip back in time. Comparing to queensland is like saying "Florida isn't that bad, at least we aren't in Alabama fucking our sisters".

        Let me know when I can go to a supermarket after 8pm somewhere in the Adelaide suburbs.

  • by GroeFaZ ( 850443 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2014 @03:35AM (#47981307)
    Wow, 6 years ahead of expectations? Sounds a lot like how publicly traded companies set lower goals so they can over-achieve them. Germany already has over 50% renewable electric power on sunny days, while having about the same insolation as Alaska. 50% by 2025 doesn't seem awfully ambitious to me, especially in Australia. They have the sunshine hours and they have the large, unused areas. What the hell is stopping them? I can only guess: lack of political will.
    • The current federal government panders to polluting industries and skeptics, particularly to luddite senior citizens. A 20% renewable target nationwide is ahead of schedule, which prompted lobbyists to commision a report favouring a roll-back because it would hurt big business.

      We have a bypartisan 5% emissions reduction by 2020. Yes, 5%, which is a joke of a target if they were actually serious.

    • Most of Germany's renewable energy comes from biomass and hydro, sources that Australia can't tap. The same is true of most countries with high renewable usage: they're profiting from advantageous geology or ecology. If you're going to peg your renewable hopes on solar or wind, you're going to have a bad time.

      • Most of Germany's renewable energy comes from biomass and hydro, sources that Australia can't tap

        Agreed on the hydro, but what about eucalyptus trees? Why can't they just cut more of those things down and burn them in a controlled manner? Mind you we have the same problem in California. I figure we can't do it here because "OMG you're burning trees!" but because we don't thin the forest, I've spent the last couple months breathing trees.

        • Agreed on the hydro, but what about eucalyptus trees? Why can't they just cut more of those things down and burn them in a controlled manner?

          Are you suggesting a switch from coal energy to koala energy?

      • by nadaou ( 535365 )

        > If you're going to peg your renewable hopes on solar or wind,
        > you're going to have a bad time.

        Er, so you're saying Australia suffers from lack of sunshine and bushfire-loving winds?

        • I'm saying that they're newer and don't scale up as conveniently as biomass, geothermal, and hydro, which are the three big success stores. That's not to say that they're uncompetitive - and they're getting more and more competitive all the time - but the nations which have huge renewable penetration right now have a big head start. You have to read South Australia's seemingly-small achievement in that context.

      • by Sique ( 173459 )
        Actually, 33% of renewable energy in Germany comes from wind, about 25% from biomass, 20% from photovoltaic and 15% from hydro. So biomass and hydro. while still large, don't have the biggest share.
      • Most of Germany's renewable energy comes from biomass and hydro, sources that Australia can't tap
        That is wrong. Most comes from wind, solar is second, biomass is not even third I believe and Hydro is not counted as renewables as 95% of our hydro plants are pumped storage plants. Only a few "flow river" plants, below 5% of total power production are "renewable" hydro plants.

    • OP here. Yes, the lack of political will is the main issue. We have a Federal Treasurer who openly declares wind farms an eye-sore (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-02/joe-hockey-wind-turbines-utterly-offensive/5425804) - maybe because open-cut mines are so much more pleasing to look at - and many State and Federal bodies heavily engaged with the coal industry.

      As a society we've kind of backed ourselves into a corner, with global coal prices slumping and China now pushing for high-quality and cleaner c
      • Well wind farms are an eyesore, and tend to be more distributed than coal mines. Same with solar, I recall a posting of a group of German houses all with panels. From the comment I gathered it was meant to show how pretty it was, but to me it looked horrible. Sure, panels are shiny when new, but after ten years, when the novelty of the technology has worn off, they will be seen as industrial looking - they won't age rustically like shingles or tiles.

        Of course in Australia it would be much better to do ma

    • by aralin ( 107264 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2014 @04:45AM (#47981565)

      Solar thermal power plants covering 2/3rd of Mojave Desert could supply the current electricity needs of the entire USA. That is area 125 miles wide and long. That's it. 10,000 times more public land in USA is devoted to fossil fuel exploration than to solar plants. Same ratio for power plant building, subsidies. If this was reversed, USA could be 100% renewable by 2025. So yes, this might seem like an easy goal to set for them, but given the political climate and the inertia forces of current energy policy and investments, it is actually quite commendable speed.

      Although, if someone actually took global warming seriously even in 2000, when the science was pretty clear, we could have been 100% renewable everywhere by now.

      • If the environmental movement took things seriously we would have more nuclear facilities right now. That would be even more efficient. That massive an installation of solar facilities in that location would require the building of the infrastructure to get that energy to Vermont, Alaska, California and Florida as well as massive maintenance. It's not a put it up and it's done thing. Not to mention eliminating 2/3 of the Mojave Desert. Run that one by the enviros.
        • by geekoid ( 135745 )

          I like nuclear, but it does have issues, even 4th Gen plants. Why go to Nuclear when we an use solar? Seems like an unneeded step.
          Sadly America is fighting 3 things right now:
          A hard to change entrenched infrastructure. First developed tech issue.
          A wider and increasing base if ignorant people.
          The idea that somehow money should be all the determines anything. This is a lot worse the it was 30-40 years ago.

      • Perfectly right.
        The same would be true if you have a 100miles long stripe with wind plants at the coast of Florida _and_ similar at the coast of California (or Oregon for that matter).
        The reason why this is not happening is clear: the coal plant owners and the nuclear plant owners would ran bankrupt. Or they had to invest themselves into such power production technologies (and write off the existing plants)
        The reason why this is not happening is purely political ... or call it nation wide corruption and br

  • The political accolades are deserved as well, but lets face it, southern Australia has a great deal of land and resources relative to the population and demand. I would expect higher standards from those who can meet them. I'm sure Australia will aim high in spite of their clear leadership, and their advantageous location.
  • See http://www.windpower.org/da/ak... [windpower.org] (2013), or https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] (28% 2011).

    Now that is renewable. Of course the rest is made of coal power to fill the energy holes both in Denmark and in Sweden that is using hydro and nuclear only, and therefore can't supply peak energy on it own.

  • Sounds like there are significantly fewer hire-purchase politicians and bureaucrats (from whatever combination of energy companies and unions) in SA than in the USofA. Shows what can be done by government initiative.

  • by cirby ( 2599 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2014 @05:29AM (#47981725)

    You mean "they predict they will hit the target in six years." They hit 31.5%, and might have hit the 33% - if you believe a government spokesman.

    This is only "locally-generated" power, by the way: they don't count the power imported from other states, and fail to mention that overall power generation in South Australia is expected to decline due to cheaper power imported from places like Victoria.

    They also won't add "one additional dollar to energy prices" by adding the many additional dollars to taxes levied by the federal government.

  • I have it straight from the US government that we have the greatest nation on Earth. The foolish idea that nations such as Germany or Australia have done better at alternate energy projects is simply not possible as the US has not done it first. And the three students from Cork, Ireland developing a better method of agriculture must be a lie as we all know that the Irish are all drunks and that schools in Europe simply do not compare with the US. Suggesting that the US does not have the leading Pa

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