Thursday, July 25, 2013

South Australia on verge of being 30% powered by renewables

In the race to transition to renewable energy in Australia, one state is way ahead of the pack. While Australia as a whole has a renewable energy target of 20% by 2020, South Australia is now close to getting 30% of it's power from renewable electricity in 2013. You can read more about this achievement here in the Climate Spectator.

Mostly SA has done this using wind power, 10 years ago wind barely rated a mention in it's electricity generation, but now it is well over 20%. Solar PV is starting to have an impact as well, generating about 3.5% of the state's power. SA households are very keen on solar PV, but as you can see large scale wind is producing a lot more power than distributed small scale solar (at least currently). Where the solar does help though is in reducing peak demand.

The big loser in SA, as the Climate Spectator articles shows, has been coal fired generation. Since the running costs of renewable energy plants are close to zero, they can out-compete the least efficient/ most expensive generators, and in SA that has seen a number of old coal plants shut down or wound back.

The other important lesson from SA is that the power grids with a large percentage of renewable electricity can be reliable. Plenty of people have said over the years that the intermittent nature of (some) renewables would limit them to a small percentage of electricity production before we'd be in rolling blackouts etc, SA is showing this isn't true.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Is the carbon price reducing emissions?

Good article at The Conversation looking at the carbon price one year on. We know that in the last year electricity demand and emissions have fallen, but how much of this is due to the carbon price, the renewable energy target (RET) or other one off events?

As I have mentioned here a few times here and is explained in the article, the main impact of carbon pricing is to change long term investments decisions. Once built power plants are around for a long time, so once a coal plant is built you essentially lock in it's emissions for the next 30-50 years. Carbon pricing (along with the RET) are changing investment decisions and so planned new power plants in Australia are now dominated by gas and wind not coal. That this is already occurring as can be seen by the list of electricity projects underway or planned as of late last year. (Since then, it is worth noting, one of the two coal projects underway has been scrapped). This data also shows how over the last few years a much greater percentage of power plants being built are renewables.

So while it is hard to say exactly how much of the emissions reductions in the electricity sector in the past year are due to the carbon price, it already seems clear that over the long term it is driving us towards a low carbon future.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

TTKD July 13 Meeting: Edible Yards with Sarah Wesche

Thursday July 18
 7.15pm for a 7.30pm start 
 Kenmore Library Meeting Room
As usual the meeting will be followed by supper and conversation. Please feel free to bring along a plate to share (preferably locally produced or homemade!). No need to RSVP.