Australian energy crisis will be worse than expected, with costly blackouts coming

Australian energy crisis will be worse than expected, with costly blackouts coming, by Robert Gottliebsen.

I have moved around the country to find out exactly how bad is the Australian energy crisis. …

The looming crisis is much worse than I expected. Three state governments, Victoria NSW and South Australia, have vandalised our total energy system. The Premiers of each state clearly had no idea what they were doing and did not sit down with top engineers outside the government advisers to work out the best way to achieve their objectives — whether that be an increase in renewables or gas restrictions. …

Without urgent action residents of NSW, Victoria and South Australia have a 75 per cent chance of blackouts next summer if the Hazelwood power station shuts on April 2. Those blackouts will cost the nation tens and tens of billions of dollars in the food, medicine and processing industries. …

All industries and consumers will experience much larger energy costs from the network — but to be safe must also consider spending vast sums to be prepared for the power and gas shortages. This is third world. …

To lock in the likelihood of blackouts for next summer the Victorian government is encouraging and allowing the closure of Australian’s largest generator: Hazelwood. Without Hazelwood, if it is simultaneously hot in Sydney and Melbourne blackouts are certain unless there is also a lot of wind in the right places and the network can get the power to the capitals. …

The problem with back-up gas (or any other sort) is that if you are producing large amounts of electricity from wind and solar then these back-up plants are only required for, say, 10 or 20 days a year. It makes them very high cost and totally uneconomic. That’s why Engie’s Point Pelican gas plant in South Australia was shut during the crisis. The cost of erecting and running uneconomic back up plants to wind and solar must be costed into the renewables projects. It has not been.

At present the system is an inefficient mess. The state decisions to install solar and wind power should have been accompanied by a very detailed plan to change the distribution system. This is the job for skilled engineers rather than by public servants and ministerial advisers seeking Green votes.