Aussie Liberal Press Notices the Importance of Reliable Electricity

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

How important is reliable power? Australia seems to be suffering more blackouts recently, as coal plants are decommissioned and shiny renewable installations fail to deliver. Trendy urbanites are starting to notice.

When the power goes out, so does civil society

You don’t need to be one of those wild-eyed doomsday preppers who bury steel containers in their backyards and fill them with canned food to recognise we’re a stalled power plant away from chaos.

Tony Wright

The power went out at our house and across our suburb around dinner time on Wednesday.

Outside, neighbours returning home sat in their cars in a street as dark as a tomb, their garage doors refusing to answer their electronic clickers.

We searched for candles with the light of mobile phones, discovering only that we’d burned them to nothing at dinner parties.

We weren’t prepared for this return to an unfamiliar era at all.

No serious investor or bank, mindful of the world’s concerns about climate change, is going to provide funding to save ageing coal-fired power plants forever. One by one, they’re going to wind down.

Wind and solar haven’t had the national support to build a big enough network to take up the slack yet, and despite Elon Musk’s promise to establish the world’s biggest battery in South Australia – which will hold off a blackout for all of an hour in the worst case – it isn’t enough.

Enterprises trying to exploit potentially endless geothermal and tidal power haven’t received anywhere enough government support to make their efforts worthwhile. Malcolm Turnbull’s promises to boost the Snowy Hydro will still take years to be met.

Gas remains the would-be saviour, at least for the present. But in the mad rush to flog off Australia’s national resources, we’ve contracted to sell vastly too much Australian gas, too cheaply, to other nations.

You don’t need to be one of those wild-eyed doomsday preppers who bury steel containers in their backyards and fill them with canned food to recognise we’re a stalled power plant away from chaos.

A few years ago when Cyclone Yasi laid waste to a fair stretch of the north Queensland coast I was holed up in Townsville.

It was a wild night, but the next days were worse. And it was because the power supply went off.

Tempers frayed as air-conditioning sputtered out in the tropical heat, food went rank in refrigerators, parents became desperate as baby’s milk heated and soured, vehicles were stranded because fuel stations couldn’t pump petrol, and a lot of people couldn’t buy anything because ATMs weren’t operating. Pockets of looting were reported and signs went up that business operators were prepared to shoot. When an ice factory kicked in with auxiliary power, several fights broke out between large men elbowing their way to get blocks of the stuff that might otherwise have cooled tempers.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/when-the-power-goes-out-so-does-civil-society-20170803-gxoi3i.html

Tony Wright works for the Sydney Morning Herald, and regularly champions green perspectives.

But there is nothing like a small dose of reality to wake people up to the impending Aussie energy supply disaster. The government AEMO warned back in March that Australia faces looming energy supply problems.

The problems are self inflicted. It is ridiculous that Australia is facing an energy supply crisis – we have some of the most abundant energy resources for our size of population in the world. But as JoNova pointed out a few weeks ago, in just a few short years, Australia went from having some of the cheapest energy in the world to the most expensive.

Shutting down cheap coal plants and directing investment towards expensive, unreliable renewables likely had something to do with this unpleasant, economically damaging price inversion.

This energy price and reliability disaster could easily have been America’s story. But thanks to President Trump, the USA is turning away from economically catastrophic renewables, and re-embracing reliable energy and economic growth.

When the Aussie and European energy reliability crisis really start to bite, the US example of how to get it right will help save the rest of us. In the meantime, lets just say my household backup generator just got a major upgrade.

Ref.: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/08/06/aussie-liberal-press-notices-the-importance-of-reliable-electricity/

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