Is it just me, or could some of the stimulus package been spent on this?

Andy

There were some initiatives about 10 years ago and this is one of them.
http://www.wentworth.nsw.gov.au/solartower/

John Howard could have used his surpluses to build one of these in every state during his term but decided to hand the money back to the people in the form of tax cuts instead.

Kevin Rudd also had the money to do it and he could have made history but he wasted the money on other things instead. He'll still make history for spending bucket loads of cash and accomplishing so little...:eek:
 
Thanks for the replies, I was aware that some money had been "promised", but still, nothing has happened on the renewable solar energy front.
 
John Howard could have used his surpluses to build one of these in every state during his term but decided to hand the money back to the people in the form of tax cuts instead.

the thing with taxes are, they were never the governemnts to 'give back'. they are just taking less. by taking less from each transaction they hopefully stimulate the economy and get a higher take overall. 30% of $200k is better than 40% of $100k.
 
I'm all for renewable energy, and I reckon there's a lot of free sunshine (KRudd hasn't announced the sunshine tax yet, has he?) that hits this land of ours that could be utilised to generate clean power.

But 8 hectares for 5MW seems like a lot of land usage. That's .625 MW/hec. And it only works when it's sunny.

Loy Yang Power Station in the Latrobe Valley covers approximately 600 hectares (including the open cut coal mine) and has a capacity of 3250MW. That's 5.42 MW/hec. And will operate at night. :)

OK, there is the argument about "value of land" which could come into it. 600 hec in the middle of the desert is almost certainly "worth" a lot less than 600 hec of potential grazing land.

And I am completely ignorant to the amount of infrastructure and cost of materials to compare the 2 sources.

Does anyone else have (real) science to add to my hastily constructed comparison?
 

Why support that particular technology? There are around ten or so competing manufacturers of different technologies in the solar thermal industry after all. I doubt we have the funds to support all of them. If you have a genuine interest on the topic I suggest looking up the following names:
Abengoa Solar
Acciona Solar
Siemens Solar, formerly known as Solel
MAN Solar Millenium
AREVA Solar, formerly known as Ausra, formerly known as Solar Heat and Power
Brightsource
Transfield Novatec (Biosol)
Silex Systems, formerly Solar Systems
Skyfuel
Enviromission (dunno who they are these days)

There's power tower, parabolic trough, Linear Fresnel and hybrid technologies - which one to pick?

And the list is even longer on the PV front - why choose solar thermal over PV?

And it looks like Mildura might be on again. http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/newsroom/9776.html

It's always difficult picking winners but on that one it's pretty safe to say it'll never happen... that technology is very complex by comparison to others and offers very little in terms of efficiency gains.

And it didn't get a guernsey in the latest competitive round of Fed govt funding, which is where all the money is.

Andy

There were some initiatives about 10 years ago and this is one of them.
http://www.wentworth.nsw.gov.au/solartower/

John Howard could have used his surpluses to build one of these in every state during his term but decided to hand the money back to the people in the form of tax cuts instead.

Glad he did - if he tried that it would be quite likely we would have a number of defunct structures in the outback warming the air a little bit. But don't tell Enviromission shareholders! :eek:

Thanks for the replies, I was aware that some money had been "promised", but still, nothing has happened on the renewable solar energy front.

Oh I dunno. I wouldn't call $1.5bn for the Solar Flagships program described here "nothing". For progress on the program, this is a guide.

And I am completely ignorant to the amount of infrastructure and cost of materials to compare the 2 sources.

Does anyone else have (real) science to add to my hastily constructed comparison?

Heaps but you have to be more specific. I can confirm land costs represent less than 0.1% of the total installed cost for both technologies. So comparing them on land cost is like comparing them on their colour. It's also safe to say that coal is a lot cheaper than solar or wind or any other renewable energy source. If it wasn't it wouldn't be there - the market has already decided on that front. Should solar be valued higher than coal on some other measure? If so on what measure? Energy security? Carbon emissions? And if on one or more of these measures - how much more?

That is the only question of relevance actually - how much more is it worth to you? Once you have established that then you can compare that price with the renewable energy (green power) tariff from your electricity retailer and make a decision on whether you want to actually support renewable energy - or not.
 
dont know but i AM LOOKING FORWARD to australias next two quarters of GDP, might not be what everyone was thinking??????
(and i'm not talking positive here).
If i'm right i win, if im wrong will still win because of cash flow, just not as much as if im right
 
*snip*
Heaps but you have to be more specific. I can confirm land costs represent less than 0.1% of the total installed cost for both technologies. So comparing them on land cost is like comparing them on their colour.
Can I get it in magenta? :D
It's also safe to say that coal is a lot cheaper than solar or wind or any other renewable energy source. If it wasn't it wouldn't be there - the market has already decided on that front. Should solar be valued higher than coal on some other measure? If so on what measure? Energy security? Carbon emissions? And if on one or more of these measures - how much more?

That is the only question of relevance actually - how much more is it worth to you? Once you have established that then you can compare that price with the renewable energy (green power) tariff from your electricity retailer and make a decision on whether you want to actually support renewable energy - or not.

I went to uni in the Latrobe Valley so we studied a bit about the science of brown coal and energy creation, but I've forgotten most of it.

Can you provide estimates on how much it would cost to build the equivalent of Loy Yang A/B (or 3200 MW) compared with the cost of the 5 MW sun tower?

To my simple mind, once a sun tower (or equivalent solar energy source) is built it seems like it would require less ongoing investment. There are no dredgers, conveyors, etc. Is this a fair assumption?
 
It's also safe to say that coal is a lot cheaper than solar or wind or any other renewable energy source. If it wasn't it wouldn't be there - the market has already decided on that front.

Actually not so true anymore.

Daewoo is currently constructing a 254MW Tidal power plant for the equivalent of 35 million AUD. Can't build a coal plant for that amount, yet alone a CCS power plant.

Source:
http://www.newsworld.co.kr/cont/article2009/0909-52.htm

There are plenty of possibilities for transitioning now to a carbon-free generation network. It just requires political will.
 
Can you provide estimates on how much it would cost to build the equivalent of Loy Yang A/B (or 3200 MW) compared with the cost of the 5 MW sun tower?

Capital cost of new coal power stations is around $2-3m/MW
Capital cost of new solar thermal power stations is around $5-7m/MW

You have to pay for the incredibly cheap coal in the former but can run it 24 hours per day and get a lot more energy from that capital investment as a result. In the latter fuel is free but you only generate for 8 hours of every day. Two thirds of the time the asset is sitting there idle.

If you combine the capital and operating cost differential is around the difference I posted previously - circa 5-6c/kWh for new coal and 25-35c/kWh for solar.

To my simple mind, once a sun tower (or equivalent solar energy source) is built it seems like it would require less ongoing investment. There are no dredgers, conveyors, etc. Is this a fair assumption?

Absolutely but you still have to pay a return on the capital it took to build the plant in the first place - just like buying a house. That massive impost is the problem.

Daewoo is currently constructing a 254MW Tidal power plant for the equivalent of 35 million AUD. Can't build a coal plant for that amount, yet alone a CCS power plant.

Source:
http://www.newsworld.co.kr/cont/article2009/0909-52.htm

There are plenty of possibilities for transitioning now to a carbon-free generation network. It just requires political will.

Hmmm, my calculator has you out by an order of magnitude at a $300m AUD capital cost, which is still very cheap BTW. And this is only the second large scale tidal power station built in the world - the last one was built in 1969. The combination of having a good tidal resource sitting next to an electrical load of any consequence is very hard to come by. No such opportunities exist in Australia unless Perth moved to Derby. :rolleyes:

In terms of political will I'm guessing you actually mean government (taxpayer) cash? Because someone has to pay for the difference between the renewable option and the cheapest option. That cost difference certainly still exists in spades and no amount of "political will" will make it go away. Everyone is looking for the technology that will make renewables competitive without some form or subsidy (or financial recognition of the environmental impact of conventional generation) and they haven't come up with much of any consequence.

Government / taxpayer / electricity customer cash on the other hand can work wonders...

:p
 
Talk about a failing of vast proportions. I found it odd that the conversions didn't match comments from parliament. :p Yes 350m AUD sorry.

Actually Australia does have opportunities for such projects, this project was brought up in the House of Rep's by Tuckey around two weeks ago, there was suggestions to implementing a project around the Southern Bite iirc.

In regards to tax payer vs. privitised investment into renewables, I've always been a fan of government built infrastructure. Better outcomes and costing for the consumer in the end than monopolies which don't expand past highest profit margin infrastructure, whilst restricting competition as much as possible. Which fails for the Australia people. So bring on the renewable gen's, lease them back out at cost giving a return on investment and reduction in emissions, meaning spendathon's aren't necessary to reduce emissions, nor subsidies.
 
Actually Australia does have opportunities for such projects, this project was brought up in the House of Rep's by Tuckey around two weeks ago, there was suggestions to implementing a project around the Southern Bite iirc.

Wilson Tuckey has been pushing tidal for the last decade, against all the facts. Looks like he has moved on from Derby Tidal at least. I have spent too much time with people he has confused setting them straight on the feasibility of tidal power in Australia. Suffice it to say that if it was financially viable for a public or private utility it would have been built over a decade ago. The cost of civil works swamps everything and is just too high. And in Derby there is just no demand for a 300MW power station. The beer in the pub stays cold already.

In regards to tax payer vs. privitised investment into renewables, I've always been a fan of government built infrastructure. Better outcomes and costing for the consumer in the end than monopolies which don't expand past highest profit margin infrastructure, whilst restricting competition as much as possible. Which fails for the Australia people. So bring on the renewable gen's, lease them back out at cost giving a return on investment and reduction in emissions, meaning spendathon's aren't necessary to reduce emissions, nor subsidies.

Public vs private ownership is a separate discussion. The problem with govt ownership is you are left beholden to the availability of capital in govt, which is often artificially limited to support the Budget / credit rating. Tapping into the wider capital availability of the private sector for capital intensive industries like renewables is pretty much mandatory in the absence of major tax hikes if you actually want to make something mainstream in a reasonable time frame.

Public and private owners face the same decisions on financial viability though. All govt owned utilities in Australia at the moment are charged with making fully commercial decisions - govts don't like to make a loss as much as companies. In Australia today the only viable new renewable energy developments are those supported by a subsidy in some form such as the Renewable Energy Target for example through which a lot of wind farms are now getting built.

Without some form of subsidy (recognition of the external costs of the status quo) there would be no renewable energy industry in Australia past existing hydro and landfill gas. The fundamentals behind that requirement for support haven't changed in the last decade or two at least. But that is only because coal is just so damn cheap...
 
Don't think I'm a tidal cheerleader or anything, I just think making use of unique situations which are efficient as a good thing. Unlike Derby ;). NT does offer a good site for tidal power aswell:

http://www.ntnews.com.au/article/2010/01/29/119431_ntnews.html Can theoretically power all homes in NT through one project.

The issue I have the RET subsidies is exactly what you mentioned, the vast installations of wind turbines which hardly help the baseload of energy required, meaning their is no reduction of emissions. Coal stations still have to burn the same amount of emissions to maintain levels in case the wind dies out, which is completely ineffective in dealing with climate change. You can argue that they are trying limit this through new turbines for wind power, but they will never be able to deliver baseload predictions in the range of hours.

If Geothermal tech gets up and running successfully on the other hand..
 
Daewoo is currently constructing a 254MW Tidal power plant for the equivalent of 35 million AUD. Can't build a coal plant for that amount, yet alone a CCS power plant.

I can't get past the "No free lunch!" principle. When I hear of harvesting solar power I think of the large areas laid waste. I don't think of it's dollar value but the ecological cost of it's destruction. It will still rain on your solar farm so how do you prevent erosion considering vegetation cant grow if all the sunlight is harvested?

With this in mind I found this passage from the Daewoo link odd: It will also cleanse the lake, in addition to generating new recycled energy, as the seawater will be continuously circulated. How does restricting tidal flow "cleanse" a lake? There are many ways to degrade our habitat, not only with CO2.
 
The Daewoo plant will assist in 'cleansing' the lake as there was an artificial wall build in the early 90's which cut it off from the sea, however industrial waste has been dumped in there since then and as such it was rather polluted. They are taking the wall down and as such a tide will be produced by being connected to the sea and the tidal generator is aiding in the dispersion of pollutants.

In regards to the environmental impact of solar farms etc. These developments are usually focused on arid lands which have little to no vegetation. You can see this through the Sierra installation, look at the growth visible outside of the project, arid land.
 
The Daewoo plant will assist in 'cleansing' the lake as there was an artificial wall build in the early 90's which cut it off from the sea, however industrial waste has been dumped in there since then and as such it was rather polluted. They are taking the wall down and as such a tide will be produced by being connected to the sea and the tidal generator is aiding in the dispersion of pollutants.
Surely you can just knock the wall down and allow the polluted water to spread thinly across the whole ocean? Or are there plans to have a special "cleansing" process over and above the power generation process?
In regards to the environmental impact of solar farms etc. These developments are usually focused on arid lands which have little to no vegetation. You can see this through the Sierra installation, look at the growth visible outside of the project, arid land.

So a solar project out in the desert is useful but a tidal one in Broome isn't? Why are there are always inconsistencies with alternatives?

Here's another: The ethanol industry said they were almost competitive with $40 oil so only need a small subsidy. Why do they still need one to compete with $100 oil? Easy to answer: Because the ethanol industry burns as much energy as oil as an input that it gets as an output of energy, except it has been downgraded to alcohol. Like using caviar to make mock crab.
 
The issue I have the RET subsidies is exactly what you mentioned, the vast installations of wind turbines which hardly help the baseload of energy required, meaning their is no reduction of emissions. Coal stations still have to burn the same amount of emissions to maintain levels in case the wind dies out, which is completely ineffective in dealing with climate change. You can argue that they are trying limit this through new turbines for wind power, but they will never be able to deliver baseload predictions in the range of hours.

What is it with "baseload" power? Australia is swimming with "must run" "baseload" power stations - we don't need baseload power! John Howard and his cronies have a lot to answer for that bum steer.

It's really very simple. When wind farms are operating the coal and gas power stations use less fuel. That is the whole point isn't it? People say that they operate less efficiently at 50% load but that doesn't stop the fact they are using much less fuel than at 100%. Keeping a gas turbine running at zero load waiting for the wind to die uses very little fuel. You just need a technology that can swing against the wind and doesn't try to reserve "baseload" for itself.

A power system running just wind turbines and gas turbines can get over 50% of its energy from the wind by swinging one against the other. Wind/diesel power systems around WA today get over 50% of their energy from the wind. And not a baseload generator in sight. And the lights stay on - who'd have thunk it?

If Geothermal tech gets up and running successfully on the other hand..

You can't compare a technology where the costs and feasibility are known with one that doesn't exist yet. And if it ever did exist only a very long way from any electrical loads of consequence. We would be back into the tidal question then. BTW Tidal has been bandied around for Darwin for years. If power gets expensive enough there it might have a chance although that would depend on whether a certain gas project gets up.

As to solar thermal energy sterilising land, it's a worthwhile point but the amounts of land involved are truly miniscule and there is plenty of desert out there... The reality is that every form of power generation has an environmental impact so by far our greatest effort should be going into reducing demand for electricity in the first place. A price signal would certainly help there as well although there is an awful lot of gains that are already in the money that are yet to be taken up on that front - particularly in industry.

But everyone continues to focus on the supply side unfortunately thinking that no-one has ever thought about this stuff before... :(

And BTW the reason why so much wind is getting built under the RET is because it's far cheaper than any other large scale renewable energy technology.
 
The problems with your view is that theres an assumption that all baseload generators can start generating at the flick of a switch when the wind dies down. In reality most forms of generation, such as coal, require hours to make enough steam to start generating enough power. This makes the usage of wind power useless in reducing our current stock of CO2 emitting Baseloaders.

Yes gas generators help solve this problem but the cost of replacing all the baseload generators in Australia to gas would be so tremendous, that you may as well just put the money into reliable renewable baseloaders.

In regards to Geothermal plants, seeing as there are already hundreds in the world using the traditional methods along the tectonic plates, the technological issues are relying on exploration and drill/steam cycle implimentation. It isn't relying on undiscovered cure-all wonder technology, just funding, testing and time.
 
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