Solar could have stopped beer getting warm at golf club

p2309solaruterne450COMMENT by RICHARD BENTLEY


Alice Springs should invest in more renewables and gain grid stability with battery storage.


As if the Germans were thinking of us last week the story “Restoring the Grid After a Blackout Using Batteries” was published on February 2 on the Cleantechnica web site. This should speak loudly to those making decisions regarding power generation in Central Australia.


“In a German premiere, a grid-scale battery storage system is to provide ‘black start capability’ – the ability to restore a regional distribution grid in the case of major disruption to the network – a service provided until now only by conventional power plants,” Rob Compton wrote.


I first saw the article on the day of publication but in writing this article for Alice Springs News Online I found I had to sift through five or more pages of more recent articles, many of them with relevance to our situation in Central Australia: For example the news that the US Department of Energy is funding research on load management.


One of several projects funded was The Electric Power Research Institute, $3.1m, to design and make a functional system for end-to-end grid integration of energy storage and load management with PV generation, for five utilities, reported Jake Richardson.


Closer to home Charles Darwin University’s Dr Edward Halawa (Center for Renewable Energy) claims: “Our main RE source here in the NT – apart from Geothermal – is solar, but we are far behind in terms of utilising this our abundant energy resource.”


Dr Halawa pointed to the views of Australia’s new Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel who believes we need to substantially increase our solar and wind use if we are to reduce our carbon emissions as an indication of what is possible.


Back to Alice Springs, and the recent announcement that $75m is to be spent on gas fired generation at Owen Springs. With all the knowledge that came from Alice Solar City, with rapid world-wide innovation in renewable energy technology, grid management and energy efficiency, this is the best we can do?


To learn from an Alice Springs News Online report that less than 10% of generation comes from renewable sources was sobering. How many commercial, domestic and service organizations buildings still remain to be converted to solar generation? As the cost of solar installations continues to fall how many stand alone private generators could step in to the space?


This is all potential private investment in coming years that the government plans to crowd out with $75m of public investment. The CLP government is meant to be the champion of private investment but not it would seem when the beer gets warm at the golf club.


Sorry Chief Minister. Another fail.


PHOTO: The Uterne power station in Alice Springs.



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2 Comments (starting with the most recent)

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  1. Cogs
    Posted February 21, 2016 at 9:46 pm

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  2. Posted February 8, 2016 at 9:28 am

    Interesting article. The search for sustainable power generation is as compelling as the one which resulted in the wheel.
    We hear much of the word “infrastructure”, couched in terms of modern development.
    While the need to keep the beer cold is not in dispute, Richard asks: “Is this the best we can do?” He’s probably right.

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