A guest post by Bill Stinson, one of my colleagues in The Energy Realists of Australia and author of an important survey of damage inflicted on the planet through the life-cycle of wind and solar projects. The Dark Side of Renewable Energy.
“As ye sow, so shall ye reap” – Galatians 6:7.
Australia is without leadership. Australian politicians live in a fantasy world, believing that Australia is somehow immune from the energy crisis currently affecting Europe and the United Kingdom. For at least the past twenty years, Europe and the United Kingdom have, lemming-like, invested hundreds of billions of Euros building wind farms and PV solar farms, which depend upon the vagaries of the weather to generate electricity. This reliance has left them so vulnerable, that they are now rushing to bring mothballed coal-fired power stations and nuclear reactors back online, in an attempt, to save their citizens from what is predicted to be a harsh winter.
Australian politicians continue to legislate and enter into United Nations agreements, which will deliver the same disastrous energy outcome for Australian citizens and businesses, that has now befallen Europe and the United Kingdom.
If you were told that by paying subsidies on your energy bill you would be subsidising an increase in the cost of your energy, would you continue to accept that this was a sensible thing to do. This is what Australian citizens and Australian businesses are doing right now.
Every energy bill collects environmental subsidies which support the development of wind farms and PV solar farms which hastens the closing down of reliable, affordable and dispatchable energy from coal fired power stations. When these coal fired power stations are taken out of service, unlike the European and United Kingdom governments who mothball them, Australian governments condone the destruction of our coal-fired power stations, so they can’t be repurposed, using small modular reactors for energy production.
Australian governments continue to pursue policies supporting the rollout of environmentally destructive, technologically inefficient and toxic wind farms, PV solar farms and batteries. Images of coal-fired power stations being blown up is a metaphor for the disastrous energy policies of governments of all political persuasions, both State and Federal.
We are fundamentally changing our energy generation capability from reliable coal-fired generation (which can easily be upgraded to nuclear
generation) to environmentally destructive, technologically inefficient, toxic, unreliable PV solar and wind generation from a tenuous forced labour supply chain.
Energy security is national security, so the focus needs to be on energy independence.
Fail to plan, plan to fail.
Short-term solution – remove the subsidies being provided to renewable energy generators and redirect them to coal-fired power stations. This will give security to the owners of the generators, enable them to provide proper maintenance to the generators and improve reliability and increase longevity. Similarly, payments to companies for loadshedding could be redirected to the reliable generation companies.
Long term solution – Small Modular Reactors (SMRS) can be used to repower existing coal-fired power stations. SMR Technology, an Australian company, has published a report entitled “A Just Transition to Low-Emissions Technology. Repowering Coal Fired Power Stations in Australia with SMRS”.
For those who don’t believe SMRs are sufficiently developed, the UTAH Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) in the USA have contracted with Nuscale (SMR developer and manufacturer), to build a six-module (462Mwe) SMR plant programmed to be operational in 2029. A Nuscale press release in February 2021 reported that their scalable SMR plants will be operational by the end of the decade. Nuscale SMRs have received design approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Meg O’Neill, Woodside’s CEO, hit the nail on the head (“Energy Security ‘More Vital than Low Carbon,’” The Australian Financial Review, 26 May 2022):
“The customer wants energy that is reliable, affordable and lower carbon. But if it’s not reliable and affordable, lower carbon goes out the window.”
The implications are obvious: once the public recognises that “climate action” is a bigger threat to their well-being than climate change, renewables’ popularity will tumble. The “sustainable energy” lobby is a powerful vested interest, but politicians ignore the public – and particularly its hip pocket – at their peril. Accordingly, as renewables’ popularity tanks, politicians will obfuscate, weaken and eventually abandon their pious promises of “climate action.”
Australia is the only G20 country that has a ban on nuclear energy. The Federal-legislated prohibition on nuclear energy must be lifted. The extract below is from the report “Feasibility of Small Modular Reactor. Development and Deployment in Canada”
SMRs are the next generation of nuclear energy innovation, with the potential to help address challenges and opportunities related to climate change and economic growth. The 2018 Canadian SMR Roadmap1 concluded that SMRs provide a source of safe, clean, affordable energy, with the ability to contribute towards a resilient, low-carbon future. SMRs can promote key benefits for Canada and Canadians, such as:
• meeting Canada’s climate change commitments.
• unlocking opportunities for job creation and economic growth; and
• sustaining and expanding Canada’s leadership in research and innovation.
The abundance of the world’s highest-quality coal and uranium in Australia would enable us to deliver the reality of energy independence at an affordable price. We must continue to advocate for the construction of high energy low emissions coal-fired power stations, using the latest technology from Japan. We must also continue to advocate for the repurposing of our existing coal-fired power stations, by replacing end-of-life coal-fired boilers with small modular reactors to drive the generators.
Our allies in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom are well down the SMR development and delivery path. Australia would be able to choose the SMRs most suitable to our needs and manufacture them under licence in Australia. The path to energy independence must be communicated to Australia’s citizens and businesses. This will be done by continuing to provide information about environmentally destructive, technologically inefficient and toxic wind turbines, PV solar panels and batteries, to community groups, online forums, conferences, emails and word of mouth.
Time is of the essence.