There has been a lot of debate of late about the state of our climate and whether or not it is changing. Regardless of if you believe that the climate is irreversibly changing, or if you believe that we are in a hot period of a long term cycle, I don’t think anyone disputes that there is merit in moving towards a more sustainable use of energy.
According to the Global Coal Plant Tracker published by Global Energy Monitor, there are 6,678 coal fired generators globally. Australia has 60 based on their data. There are a further 458 currently under construction outside Australia. Why is this important? Because the unfortunate reality is that if we decommission all coal generators in Australia today, we remove 0.9% of the coal fired generators from the world and make no real impact of emissions. Being a global leader won’t ease the pain of the massive increases in electricity costs.
The Australia Energy Regulator reports that in 2008-09 the National Energy Market Demand was 210.5 TerraWatts, in 2018-19 this had reduced to 195.7 TerraWatts, a reduction of 7%. So, in 10 years, demand reduced by 7%. Those 14.8Tw, they are negawatts, TerraWatts of power consumption reduced. Why, largely through energy efficiency improvements and embracing co-generation with the popularity of Solar PV. Oh, and there was 1 Coal Generator retired during that time, it caused electricity pricing to more than double and the market still has not recovered 3 years later.
The reality is, Coal Generation is cheaper than renewable energy generation, and there is little or no tolerance from consumers for the types of increases that occur when electricity pricing sky-rockets with removal of coal-generation. The Australian Power Index (East) currently has standard generation from Coal/gas around $63/Mwh, Large Renewable Energy Generation gets a subsidy in the form of tradable certificates around $46.50 Mwh added so the effective cost of Renewable Energy is $109.50 Mwh. Anyone up for a 73% increase in electricity rates that are double what they were 10 years ago? Yes, the cost of the Renewable Energy Certificates are already paid by all consumers based on a target of 19.67% of electricity coming from Large Renewable Generators, there is no magic bucket of cash.
Why so expensive? The technology for renewable electricity generation is inherently more expensive, this will change over time, but also, electricity generation has for a long time been a commercial enterprise. We lost the real opportunity to embrace a renewable energy future when electricity became commercialised and ceased to be a Public Service.
By all means, we should embrace Renewable Energy and pay a reasonable premium for it, but the real target should be to improve efficiency and use less power regardless of the generation source.
#energysavings #renewableenergy #negawattenergy