NT should be the sun, wind powerhouse

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

The Northern Territory can create more than $2bn in new annual revenue and over 8,000 new jobs by pursuing a target of 10 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2030, new research by Beyond Zero Emissions has found.

 

Its report shows that backing renewables can turbocharge the NT economy, cut transportation costs by 80%, reduce electricity bills by 30% and it finds that the mining sector would be one of the big winners from an excess of cheap, clean power.

 

For the first time energy-intensive minerals processing would become viable, opening up employment prospects distributed around the NT, tapping into the NT’s nearly unlimited potential to generate renewable energy.

 

Switching to solar can provide immediate relief to Territorians in cities as well as remote communities, who pay some of the highest electricity prices in Australia.

 

The report “Building the 10 Gigawatt Vision” says this is 10 times the Territory’s current electricity generation capacity, and more than 20 times the renewable capacity foreseen by the NT’s current renewable energy target.

 

“Installing 10 gigawatts of renewables is not a particularly challenging undertaking – at least in terms of scale, cost or land required.

 

“More than 3.7 gigawatts solar was installed in Australia in 2018 alone and more than four gigawatts is expected in 2019.

 

“In Australia, there are now several renewable energy project proposals at the gigawatt scale including the Asian Renewable Energy Hub in the Pilbara (15 GW), the Kennedy Energy Park in north Queensland (1.2 GW) and the Walcha Energy Hub in NSW (4 GW).

 

Ten gigawatts of large-scale solar would cost around $20bn in 2019 prices and possibly much less in 10 years’ time.

 

“This is a far smaller sum than Australia’s recent gas projects such as the $54bn Ichthys LNG project,” says the report.

 

“Solar power can also be constructed more quickly than most types of generation, with even large-scale projects often taking only a year.

 

“Currently renewables in the NT cost 30% to 50% more than elsewhere in Australia, but this premium is likely to disappear as the industry scales its development.

 

“Until now, the Northern Territory has missed out on the renewables boom taking place elsewhere in Australia.

 

“But the region has effectively unlimited potential to generate solar power. The NT Government calculated that 450 MW of solar PV requires an area equivalent to just 0.08% of the Victoria River Downs cattle station.

 

“This means 10 GW would require just 1.8% of the same cattle station – or 157 square kilometers – a minute fraction of the Territory’s surface area,” says the report.

 

“Even solar power equating to Australia’s entire generation capacity would take up just 0.06% of the Territory (837 sqkm).

 

“Just like the Ichthys project, and renewables projects around Australia such as the 15 GW Asian Renewable Energy Hub, the 10 GW vision will be paid for with private investment.

 

“The government’s role is to create the environment to stimulate this investment. Increasingly renewable energy projects are getting off  the ground once they have signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with a major customer such as a manufacturer.

 

“This means policies to support the 10 GW vision and policies to encourage energy intensive projects will be mutually reinforcing,” says the report.

 

“There are huge solar and wind renewable energy resources in the Territory. Solar PV potential in the Territory is among the best of anywhere in the world.

 

“Both Bureau of Meteorology and Windlab modelling shows there are good wind resources in the southern parts of the Territory.”

 

Beyond Zero Emissions describes itself as an internationally recognised climate solutions think tank, with a large national network of scientists, engineers, economists and expert advisors.

 

Its research has produced a complete blueprint for Australia to become a thriving zero emissions economy. It provides detailed costings for a 10 year transition in each sector of Australia’s economy.

 

IMAGES: Typical daily generation from Yuendumu renewable hydrogen microgrid • Power lines showing connections the NT could have with Australia’s eastern grid and Indonesia.

 

UPDATE June 22:

By adopting the 10 Gigawatt Vision the NT Government could prevent over 20 billion tonnes of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere and accelerating global warming, says Nicole Pietsch of the Arid Lands Environment Centre.

 

 

 

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5 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. James Barlow
    Posted June 27, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    Some points to consider: In terms of a “pollutant emissions output / energy cost input” over the life of an energy generating system, so-called renewables remain hideously expensive and inefficient, and create more waste than traditional generators.
    Two points about wind turbines, over and above the terrible impact they have on local communities, and wildlife: A wind turbine has in effect to be linked to a gas turbine for when the wind doesn’t blow, and the manufacturing process for building turbines creates around a cubic tonne of highly toxic waste.
    Beyond Zero Emissions are in many ways just another organised, taxpayer-soaking cult seeking to direct how we live our lives contrary to science, and the basic tenets of modern standards of living.
    Carbon is a building block of life. CO2 content in the earth’s atmosphere is around .04%. Australia’s CO2 output is about 3% of the .04% total – that is so small as to be unmeasurable. All sides of this “debate” have at least previously noted. Nothing Australia does in this space will have a global impact.
    A research area within CDU has previously flagged an idea to pump water from the Ord uphill during the day using solar-powered pumps.
    At night the water would then run downhill driving power generators.
    The power would be cabled undersea to Indonesia.
    There are a few issues with this “plan”: No mention was made of where the water would be stored once pumped uphill, and when questioned the CDU team could not provide an answer.
    And the cost of cabling power to Indonesia would be very, very high.
    The idea to export the power was an assumption and not done on the basis of actually consulting with the Indonesians. Why our neighbours would choose to buy more expensive “renewable” power might be worth asking.
    And in the week this idea was flagged the Indonesian Government announced plans to build three additional nuclear power generators. As is always the case, the researchers felt “if we could just get some more funding” they would be able to finish their work.
    The nation-level investment in renewables in countries like Germany and Spain has had a range of negative impacts.
    Economic costs: Building Spain’s solar and wind infrastructure came close to bankrupting the country.
    There are much higher energy costs for consumers, and the resultant energy poverty for those to whom the cost is largely shifted.
    In the UK there have been policy announcements over the past year about a shift to 100% renewables.
    The engineering consequence of this would be a required increase in battery storage capacity of close to 1000%.
    The energy production costs of this would make worthless any reduction in pollutant emissions. There have been some substantial renewable project failures in Australia, involving large multi-nationals. Worth looking into.
    As always the end point is, why not nuclear?
    I don’t have anything against renewables apart from that they are inefficient, expensive and have a far more negative environmental impact than is willingly discussed.
    Nuclear on the other hand is about as clean as you can get.
    And before I hear the words Three Mile or Chernobyl let’s remember modern nuclear reactors are safe and stable, and technically in a different era.
    BZE are just grabbing for more government cash.
    And like the sheep we are we’re once again looking to the cargo cult of Government to deliver us some goodies.

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  2. Trevor Shiell
    Posted June 25, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    China now has a ship laying out solar panels on an abandoned and flooded coal mine in Anhui province in Eastern China. It will be producing power for 35,000 homes as apart of supplying up to 11% of today’s energy requirements.
    Yakindndra in Victoria is completely off grid and brought their own servo from the proceeds, while the Alkinos sub division in WA is completely independent of the grid.
    It should have happened at Kilgariff, and the big green shed on the North Road is generating over half of its energy requirements every day.
    No one seems to notice the row of inverters and batteries on the exit, nor do they seem to care. Where were we when all this was happening? Finke or the footy?
    And what of our gas? The same company that has spent so much money in Darwin (Inplex) on their gas facility is now planning to build a much larger one in Indonesia!
    Have we been taken advantage of yet again? And to rub further salt into the wound, Tesla claims a 2.1 year payback period on its newest electric truck and a 21% to 54% per km savings over diesel. What are we going to do when that arrives here? (Renew.org.Au)
    And Denmark runs its entire train system on wind power from the North Atlantic. What another huge win for Tennant Creek (potentially). What have we been doing?

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  3. Posted June 24, 2019 at 7:40 am

    If Alice can do 10GW it can do 100. And it should, asap.
    There’s a climate crisis happening now.

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  4. Psuedo Guru
    Posted June 21, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    NT has it all. It just needs China, or government to create a major modern infrastructure project.

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  5. Trevor Shiell
    Posted June 21, 2019 at 9:56 am

    So obvious, yet once more ignored.
    The old Chrysler factory on South Road in Adelaide is now a potential producer of hydrogen claiming that their comparative advantage is the quality of the sunlight for electrolysis of water, while Toyota is marketing hydrogen powered cars.
    In the mid 1980s the Frauhoffer Institute in Germany was looking to re locate their solar research facilities, but no one thought to invite them here.
    Where were we when this happened?
    Under a previous Labor administration here there was a document issued called Towards 2030.
    In it I put a proposition that the north south rail be electrified using solar and wind and used as a conduit to export electricity interstate and provide a unique tourist experience of travelling across the continent on a solar powered train.
    It got two lines of attention in the back of the document while the rest was social platitudes. There is an Australian company retrofitting shopping complexes with solar power right across Australia but was never invited here.
    As nice as this place is to live we are still 20 years behind, and feel good social philosophies do not fill bellies or pay power bills.

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