To Electrify Road Transport Australia Will Need 46% More Generation

Electrification of road transport in Australia

Australia has more than 20 million vehicles, including 2 million heavy trucks. To electrify them all would require an increase in on-grid electricity generation of approximately 46%. 

This size of this increase raises the question:  Is it possible for Australia to generate enough electricity to enable a rapid transition to electric road transport?

The short answer is:  “Yes”.

The long answer is also “Yes” plus the 2,900 words I’ve written below.

When it comes to EVs, Australia is behind every other country that can afford underpants — but they’re finally taking off.  Last year we purchased 20,095 electric cars and 2,706 electric motorcycles; an increase from 2020 of 59% and 103% respectively.  At the moment, electric vehicles are only a little over 2% of total car sales, but if annual sales growth averages half what it was last year they’ll be around 100% of total current sales of new vehicles in 15 years.

Electricity supply will need to rise to keep them running, but this won’t be a problem for several reasons:

  • It will take considerable time to completely electrify road transport.
  • In the recent past Australia increased generation at a far faster rate than the EV transition requires.
  • The task is made easier because improving energy efficiency is currently lowering per capita electricity consumption.
  • EVs are the easiest type of electricity demand to meet and adding EVs enhances grid reliability.
  • Thanks to solar power, new generating capacity is the cheapest it has ever been.

I’ll provide details on these points below, but first I’ll explain how I worked out that switching the entire road fleet to electric vehicles will require generation to increase by around 46%.

Australian annual electricity consumption

Important Note: Just because someone makes a graph doesn’t mean it’ll come true. This shows what may happen with electricity consumption if Australia’s population and non-EV electricity use rises by 1% per year, EV sales growth is 30% per year until it hits 100% of new vehicles sold in 2037 and road transport is fully electrified by 2057.  Electrical energy used for road transport is shown in orange.  Additional energy used by battery electric agricultural and mining vehicles is not shown.  I think the transition will occur faster than this graph indicates, but others think it will take decades longer.

EV Electricity Use

I estimated the required increase in generation in two ways:

  1. Kilometres driven by passenger cars and light commercial vehicles.
  2. The amount of petrol and diesel heavy vehicles currently consume1.

Passenger Cars & Light Commercials

Australia has 18.1 million passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, and in a non-pandemic year they’re driven an average of 13,800 km each. This comes to 250 billion km per year. 

Australia’s most popular EV, the Tesla Model 3, gets around 6.8 km in fair weather for every kilowatt-hour of grid electricity it’s charged with.  Americans call it a medium sized car, so it’s pretty big. 

If the energy consumption of the average future EV is assumed to be same, then 18.1 million of them will require 37,000 gigawatt-hours per year.  Because Australia’s annual on-grid consumption is currently 224,000 gigawatt-hours, this means we’ll have to increase generation by approximately 17% to run the current number of passenger vehicles and light commercials with electricity. 

There are a number of factors that can move this estimate up or down:

  • The 6.8 km per kilowatt-hour figure is for fair weather driving without climate control.  In real life, energy will be spent keeping people comfortable and preventing the battery pack from getting too hot or cold.  This may increase electricity consumption by close to 10%. 
  • The figure is for combined highway and city driving, but most of the kilometres will be done in town where electric vehicles have better range thanks to motors’ regenerative braking and motors that don’t waste energy idling.  This may reduce energy needs by roughly 20%. 
  • Light commercial vehicles are frequently heavier than the average passenger car and often full of cargo or tools.  This should bump up the energy required. 
  • Because using electricity is far cheaper per km than petrol or diesel, there may be less demand for small cars in the future.  A larger average vehicle size will increase energy consumption.  Lower running costs may also mean people will drive more km, but — after the initial thrill of buying an EV wears off — this effect will be small in Australia because time is money.
  • Electric vehicles may become more energy efficient.  If the average EV is as efficient as the Lightyear One rather than a Tesla Model 3, energy consumption will be cut by over one-third.  If EVs come with built in solar cells, energy requirements could be further lowered by over a quarter.

Because I’m just after a simple, back of the envelope estimate, I’ll assume these effects more or less cancel out and stick with a required increase in generation of around 17%.

Electric mini

A Mini Electric in front of a field of solar panels, driven by an American. (You can tell they’re American because they’re sitting on the wrong side.  They’re probably going to complain someone has stolen the steering wheel.)

Heavy Trucks

Determining electrical consumption from converting 2 million heavy trucks to EVs is more difficult, as there’s no existing electric truck I can point to and be confident its energy consumption will be around average.  Instead, I’ll look at the amount of fuel currently consumed moving road freight and estimate how much electrical energy will be required to replace its chemical energy.

More energy is consumed by heavy trucks than the rest of Australia’s road transport combined.  Other countries use a lot more rail or — where possible — rivers, canals, and oceans2. In 2020 Australian road freight consumed:

  • Petrol: 1.592 billion litres  
  • Diesel:  12.479 billion litres  

When these quantities of petrol and diesel are burned they’ll release 149 gigawatt-hours of thermal energy.  Electric trucks won’t need nearly as much because batteries plus electric motors are far more energy efficient than running engines off controlled fuel-air explosions.  A Tesla Model 3 only consumes around 16% as much energy per km as the average for Australian passenger cars and light commercials, but the energy savings from switching heavy trucks to electric vehicles won’t be nearly as great for the following reasons:

  • Most heavy trucks have diesel engines and these are more energy-efficient than petrol ones.  By volume, petrol is only 11% of heavy truck consumption.
  • Heavy trucks spend more time on the highway where EV’s minimal energy consumption while idling and regenerative braking provide less benefit. 
  • Moving freight is a business, so more care is taken to minimize fuel use than with private vehicles.

On the plus side, once road transport goes electric, there will be no need to haul road fuel around:

  • Over 0.5% of Australia’s road diesel consumption is used to transport petrol and diesel to service stations3.

It’s common knowledge that diesel engines are around one-third more efficient than petrol, but that isn’t correct because diesel contains 12% more chemical energy than petrol; which is uncommon knowledge.  Estimates of heavy truck efficiency vary, but I’ll assume, all up, that Australia’s fleet averages 35% efficiency.  I suspect this estimate is on the high side.  I think electric heavy trucks will be at least 80% efficient as electric motors can average over 90% efficiency, and because businesses have an incentive to keep costs down, charging losses should be under 10%4.

Using a figure of 35% efficiency for current heavy trucks and 80% for future electric ones means electric heavy trucks will only use 44% as much energy as conventional ones per km on average.  This means if the existing heavy truck fleet was replaced with EVs they would consume 65,000 gigawatt-hours of electrical energy annually, which is 29% of current generation.

Truck EV conversion - Janus Electric

This prime mover was converted into an EV by Janus Electric. Its battery packs are swappable so there’s no waiting to recharge. There’s no need for hydrogen or other fuels because heavy trucks are ready to go electric.

Electric Vehicles Require ~46% More Generation

When the 17% increase in electricity generation required to transition private cars and light commercial vehicles to EVs is added to the 29% increase for heavy vehicles, the total increase in electricity generation required to electrify transport comes to 46%.  Maybe Canada will come out ahead, but I suspect Australia will need to increase electricity generation by a larger portion than any other developed country to transition to EVs.

Note this is only for road transport.  If on-grid farms and mines switch to battery electric vehicles, the required increase in generation may be 70% or more. 

A Worldwide Energy Saving

The 46% increase in electricity generation required to electrify road transport is huge, but will result in a much greater reduction in energy use from oil.  How much less will depend on how the electricity is generated.  I think nearly all the energy used to charge EVs will be renewable, but others — who are wrong — think coal and natural gas will be major generation sources for decades to come. 

Electrifying road transport won’t only reduce energy use in Australia, it will also decrease it overseas.  This is because most of the energy used to extract, transport, and refine the oil we use occurs outside the country.  For every 8 litres we reduce our oil product use, there’s roughly a 1 litre reduction overseas.

EV Transition Will Take Time

We won’t have a problem supplying electric vehicles with energy because the transition will take time.  The average age of Australia’s passenger and light commercial vehicles is 10.8 years.  This means their life expectancy — roughly how long you can expect a car to last — is around 22 years5. This means if every new car bought from today forward was electric and there was no change in the rate old vehicles are written off, in 20 years there would still be a considerable number of internal combustion engine vehicles. 

Given there’s currently a 30-year-old Ford Falcon parked across the road from me, it would actually take more than three decades to get rid of all our oil burning clunkers, assuming cars are kept for as long as they are now.  (Seeing a 30 year old Ford Falcon always scares me.  This is because I assume the only way one can still be running is if it’s evil like Christine.)

The average life of heavy trucks is a little shorter at under 10 years.  However, semis that haul double trailers long distances using multiple drivers have average lives of under 5.5 years.

Internal Combustion Vehicles Won’t Be Worth Keeping

Personally, I don’t think we’ll keep petrol and diesel vehicles in use as long as we currently do after electric vehicles take off.  Once enough EVs enter the second-hand market, paying extra to fuel, maintain, and repair old petrol and diesel vehicles won’t make sense.  Any old oil burner with a mechanical problem that can’t be ignored is likely to end up recycled rather than repaired.  This will accelerate the transition to almost 100% electric vehicles. 

We’ve Expanded Generation Faster 

If all else is kept equal and our current vehicle fleet is changed to electric vehicles over 25 years, we will only need to increase generation by 1.5% per year to keep them charged.  Given we were increasing generation by close to 3% a year at the start of this century, it won’t be a difficult task.  If EV numbers grew so fast they became equal in number and capacity to our current vehicle fleet within 15 years, we’d only need to expand generation at the same rate as 20 years ago. 

But growth in electricity generation in the early 2000s was pretty slow by 20th century standards.  Back in the 80s average growth was over 5.5% per year.  At that rate, we’d have enough new generation to electrify our current road fleet in 6 years.  It’s obvious from recent history we will have no problem meeting EV energy demand — unless we stupidly create one.

Time Until ~100% EV Sales

To fully transition to electric transport, new car sales must be 100% electric — or so close it makes little difference.  I think we’ll reach this point before 2035, but others are less optimistic.  Two weeks ago I was shown a graph made by a bunch of analysts6 that had sales of new EV passenger cars only reaching 70% in Australia by 2040.  Not only was the prediction pessimistic, it was weird because it showed sales growth declining after 2035 and that’s not the way it’s going to go.   

Once the price premium for electric vehicles starts disappearing in the lower end of the market, it will be game over for new oil burners.  No one will want a new conventional car if an EV is around the same cost upfront and has…

  • Better performance
  • Lower fuel costs
  • Lower maintenance costs
  • Environmental benefits including less noise7

Once producing lower-cost EVs become profitable,  the manufacture of internal combustion engine vehicles will soon come to an end.  Even if there’s an EV shortage at this point, Australia is a rich country and we’ll bid supply away from other nations.  This may not seem fair, but it is how markets work. 


Something that could result in an even faster transition is if self-driving cars become available.  If a large number of people start using electric robo-taxis rather than owning their own car, it would make it much easier for road transport to rapidly go all electric, as it would reduce the number of EVs required. 

Per Capita Electricity Consumption Is Declining

One thing that will make the EV transition easier is Australia’s falling electricity consumption per capita.  Here’s a graph of electricity consumption since 1999:

Australian per capita electricity consumption

This graph is from OpenNEM and don’t worry Western Australia, your consumption is included.

I highlighted two years — 2008 and 2021.  In those years on-grid electricity consumption was:

  • 2008:  222,347 gigawatt-hours
  • 2021:  224,053 gigwatt-hours

So in 2021, 13 years after 2008, electricity consumption was only 0.77% higher. 

To show how this lack of change is surprising, here’s a graph of Australia’s population over the same period:

Australian population growth graph

In the years under consideration, the population was:

  • 2008:  21.32 million
  • 2021:  25.75 million

This means, over a 13 year period, Australia’s population grew by 21%.  A rate of 1.45% per year.  Over the same time electricity consumption rose by just 0.77%.  Over that time, Australia’s per capita electricity consumption has been declining by around 1.4% per year.  Some has been due to changes in industry, but most is the result of improved efficiency.  This includes better insulated buildings and more efficient appliances and industrial machinery.  We’ll have to wait and see if efficiency improvements will be maintained, but a lot is baked in as old devices wear out and are replaced with efficient modern ones.

Even if Australia’s population growth slows to under 1% a year, efficiency driven decreases in electricity consumption won’t free up enough generation to allow a rapid transition to EVs.  This is the case even if electric vehicles improve significantly in efficiency.  But it will make it easier and could be sufficient to meet extra demand in other areas.  We will need extra electrical energy to shift away from gas hot water, and home heating and efficiency improvements may be enough to cover this need. 

EV Energy Demand Is Easy To Meet

Australia won’t have trouble charging EVs because batteries on wheels are the easiest type of electricity demand to meet.  People can charge them — and stop charging them — whenever they like.  Because it’s cheaper to charge when it’s easy for the grid to provide power, that’s when most people will do it.  The more electric vehicles there are the more battery storage will be available to soak up surplus wind and solar energy generation.

There will always be some people who will try to charge their cars at the worst possible moment, such as in the early evening during a heatwave.  But, as long as they are willing to pay extra at these times, it’s not a problem because electricity can be supplied from other EVs to meet demand when required.  Electric vehicles providing power to homes and grids is still, very much, in its infancy in Australia.  But it has huge potential to help eliminate fossil fuel use while providing grid stability.

New Generation Has Never Been Cheaper

Solar power has fallen so far in cost that it’s now the cheapest form of generation in history.  When even Scott Morrison admits it can get down to 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, you can be dead sure it’s doing well.  That figure is for electricity from a solar farm, but you’re better off putting solar on your roof.  That way, during the day, you’ll save the retail cost of electricity and if you get a battery in the future, whether in your home or on wheels, you may also be able to save that much at night. 

Whether you charge your EV very cheaply during the day with your own solar energy, or still cheaply with the help of wind power late at night, driving will be extremely cheap per kilometre in the future.  This will be the case even if we have to rapidly expand generating capacity as new car buyers create an EV stampede.


  1. There are also vehicles using LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas or “autogas”) as well as CNG (Compressed Natural Gas), but they now represent only around 1% of road transport energy consumption.  They started to go out of style when people looking to cut fuel costs could get hybrids and these days they can go all electric.  Buses are the most common CNG vehicles but are gradually being replaced with full electrics.
  2. Japan ships a considerable amount of domestic cargo by ship.  One reason is probably because they invested in baby’s first railway gauge to help trains wind their way up mountains.
  3. Average distance 250km according to this report.  It’s fairly short because most Australians live near the coast.
  4. I suspect battery swapping will be used for long-distance freight hauling, but if Elon Musk or anyone else proves me wrong, that’s fine.  Just so long as it gets done.
  5. This is only an estimate.  If you want an accurate figure, you’ll have to talk to a car actuary.
  6. I won’t say who, but their name rhymes with “Boomberg”.  It rhymes really, really well.
  7. EVs are great for listening to music as you drive.
About Ronald Brakels

Joining SolarQuotes in 2015, Ronald has a knack for reading those tediously long documents put out by solar manufacturers and translating their contents into something consumers might find interesting. Master of heavily researched deep-dive blog posts, his relentless consumer advocacy has ruffled more than a few manufacturer's feathers over the years. Read Ronald's full bio.


  1. Philip Venton says

    This, together with the renewable demand for the aspirational demand for power to generate hydrogen, send electricity to Singapore, replace gas heating with electricity and so on, assumes that the Greens and the general population remain ignorant of the land area required to support the renewable installations, the associated land clearing needed to provide the area, loss of land to agriculture, as well as the extensive transmission and storage network.
    There needs to be an holistic understanding.. and the conclusion is likely to be that this country must incorporate nuclear generation into our planning.
    Suggest you revise the article to address the land area required to achieve the aspirations for renewable energy.
    The generation from my solar installation in 2022 has been woeful because of significant cloud shading.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      This article from last year has images showing the difference in land use between coal, wind, utility scale solar, and rooftop solar:

      • Philip Venton says

        The SunCable project (to Singapore) has 12,000 Ha of solar panels, and will deliver 3.2GW (3200 MW) of electricity. (or the NT web site says “The $30+ billion project, which has received Major Project Status with the Northern Territory and Australian Governments and incorporated on Infrastructure Australia’s Priority Listing, will integrate a 17-20 GW solar farm, a 36-42 Gwh battery with over 5,000 km of over-head and subsea transmission lines”).

        Forrest’s 450GW is 140 times greater than SunCable, suggesting 1.7 million Ha of panels (reduced somewhat by the output from wind turbines).

        The multiplication may be wrong – Perhaps he wants 450GW of generation, not 450GW of power, in which case the multiplier would be around 15, not 140., Nevertheless the numbers are considerable – and this is without generating anything for the nation its other hydrogen aspirants and its EV’s.

    • Joe Blake says

      “… and the conclusion is likely to be that this country must incorporate nuclear generation into our planning.”

      And what will we do in the 10-12 years it takes to (plan then) build our first nuclear power plant? I’ve been using solar and batteries since 2004, and in that time my system has generated over 40 MWh of power, equivalent to not emitting 40 tonnes of CO2 from burning fossil fuel. And my average importation from the grid is about 5 KWh/ day – at a cost of $1.92*. This includes running three electric vehicles.

      When amortised over the past 13 years the total cost of everything, batteries, panels, inverters, is just over $8 per day.

      Nuclear power, if it ever arrives here, will be so expensive, relative to renewables, (even by today’s standard) that it will become a “stranded asset” which, in all likelihood, the taxpayer will have to pay to decommission.

      *Thanks to idiotic thinking by politicians trying to buy votes, I’ve been given over $1,000 in credit on my power bill, which I would much rather have seen go to some person who NEEDS rooftop solar, or roof space insulation. Because it’s a CREDIT, I can’t put it into my bank account and give to somebody else.

      • Randy WESTER says

        Contrary to what Ronald said:
        “Maybe Canada will come out ahead, but I suspect Australia will need to increase electricity generation by a larger portion than any other developed country to transition to EVs.”

        No, Canada won’t come out ahead. EVs need their batteries at about 25 C for good efficiency, but the annual average air temperature in Edmonton is 2.6 C. EVs run their battery heaters here a LOT.

        Canada is planning to expand nuclear power, as well as adding generation from wind, solar, and more hydro dams. We’ll need more than twice the current supply of electricity to heat homes without fossil fuels, and EVs burn a LOT of electricity in winter to keep warm.

        Our rooftop solar produces 12,000 KW-h a year, but last December that was just 112 KWh for the month, while we would have needed 7,000 KW-h to heat the house and charge an EV.

        Tracking solar farms with bifacial panels do better, but there’s about a sevenfold difference summer to winter. The cost of meeting winter ele tricity demand from solar is so high that we’ll easily justify the cost of replacing coal with nuclear.

        Converting Canada’s ground transport to electricity will take nuclear power.

        • Ronald Brakels says

          Canada produces a lot more electricity per capita than Australia — some for export to the US — so the proportionate increase to transition to electric road transport will be less. Another odd thing I just looked up is there’s a weirdly low number of prime movers in Canada. Apparently only 700,000. I guess, like most other countries, more freight is shifted by trains and boats than here. Mind you, the most common substances we truck interstate are gravel, sand, and dirt. If Canadians find their local gravel, sand, and dirt satisfactory it could explain a lot of the difference.

          • Randy WESTER says

            “…so the proportionate increase to transition to electric road transport will be less.”

            True, but the total number of additional terawatt-hours needed to electrify will be far more for Canada than Australia, and the distances and physics are the same so the total cost of wind turbine hardware is higher. Because of lower insolation each KW-h of rooftop solar takes 50% to 100% more panels that cost more per installed KW here.

            To give you an idea, I get 12 MW-h a year from 10.24 KWp, in a couple latitude degrees from the best area for solar in Canada, but very little of that is in midwinter (just 112 kwh for all of last December, but 68.5 KWh on May 23) so there’s a lot of wind power development.

            We’re also heating buildings in what can be up to a 60 degree temperature gradient inside to outside when it’s minus 40 C. Cooling a building in Australia would never need such a steep gradient unless it’s storing frozen food at minus 20, in 40 degree heat. It takes a lot of energy.

            Of the estimatedv700,000 large trucks, only about 200,000 are ‘class 8’ articulated highway tractors. Yes, a *lot* of transport is by rail, and by ship through locks into the Great Lakes.

  2. George Kaplan says

    That 46% more generation is actual power rather than nameplate capacity right?

    Assuming that power is purely solar, and that there’s no change with current coal etc generation, what nameplate capacity would be required?

    Last week I averaged a mere 40% of May’s estimated average daily energy output, and on 4 of the 7 days I generated less than I used – this is without any EV to charge. I have a large system so usually export 80% or more of the power generated each day, and some months have generated something like 25% above the month’s estimated daily average – between La Nina and monthly data regularly being corrupted I can’t say what the real average is.

    Yes last week was an exceptional one, and no it’s not like I could have driven anywhere with all the roads and bridges being flooded, eroded, covered in debris, and\or hit with landslides, but power demands are power demands.

    If EVs will require 46% more generation, does that mean 115% more solar nameplate capacity or …?

    • Geoff Miell says

      George Kaplan,
      That 46% more generation is actual power rather than nameplate capacity right?

      Energy (as TWh), NOT power. The first graph in Ronald’s piece above is the clue.

      Assuming that power is purely solar…

      Why assume that, George? Australia has excellent wind resources too. I’d suggest it would be stupid not to utilise at least some of them. And when the sun isn’t shining there’s usually some energy from wind available somewhere.

      Assuming that … there’s no change with current coal etc generation…

      Why, George? Coal-fired generators are going broke. Higher coal prices are driving coal units towards being even less competitive with renewables, possibly leading to even earlier retirements.

      At $550/t and 0.34t per MWh you need an electricity price of $187/MWh just to cover the fuel cost.

      And it seems last week in the NEM 11 coal-fired generator units were out of action, representing about 30% of black coal & 12% of brown.

      Evidence/data indicates coal is certainly not cheap, or reliable.

      • Randy WESTER says

        “And when the sun isn’t shining there’s usually some energy from wind available somewhere.”

        The Sun shines constantly while the Earth rotates, so there’s always some energy available from solar somewhere on Earth, too.

        But like with secondary energy like wind, or even some tertiary energy like hydro, it can be an impractical distance from where you need it. Having wind power only randomly available and at only 10% of the theoretical maximum density of solar makes connecting it over vast distances too expensive.

        The cost per unit of energy transmission goes up as utilization goes down, so “wind available somewhere” isn’t of as much use as more predictable storage for solar.

        Why include coal and gas? Because if vast numbers of EVs become available in the quantities needed to completely replace petroleum vehicles, the increased need for electricity will extend the need for coal. Or more likely Ronald wanted to show the case for EVs + the renewable energy to power them, in isolation.

        • Ronald Brakels says

          EVs won’t help coal. Let’s say Australia lost a bet with Norway and had to immediately ship in and auction off one million EVs. That’s equal to 5% of our current vehicle stock. The increased demand would raise electricity prices and coal and gas generators would be happy at first, but more generating capacity would be built and it would all be renewable because it’s cheaper than coal. Once electricity prices fall again coal will be worse off because it will be in a grid with more renewable generation that will happily supply power to the grid when the price is below coal’s marginal cost and our coal power stations do not enjoy shutting down to avoid periods of low prices:

          • Randy WESTER says

            I didn’t mean to put words in your mouth, just suggesting that vehicles are generally used more in daytime and charged more often at night than from solar.

            Yes, coal generation does less well with variable loads, than gas. The utility was commonly running one of two 400 MW units at the plant near here at just 1/3 output capacity. They’re now gas fired steam and seem to ramp up and down more, while the last coal.generating plant in Alberta seems to run at max capacity 24×7.

            Yes, wind power is cheaper but I’ve seen 2000 MW and 12 MW total output on the same day. And I’ve seen minus 35 for a week with less than 30 MW of wind from 2269 MW of turbines, for a week.

            It’ll be interesting to see what happens, the PM is talking nuclear as “on the table” but doesn’t want to be photographed at a plant.

            EV and PHEV owners can use more solar if there are chargers at work and at destinations. The typical one or two km from the shopping mall at the nearest car dealer is not helping.

        • Geoff Miell says

          Randy WESTER,
          Why include coal and gas? Because if vast numbers of EVs become available in the quantities needed to completely replace petroleum vehicles, the increased need for electricity will extend the need for coal.

          IMO, you are ignoring inconvenient evidence/data for your narrative:

          * Coal-fired generators are going broke. Higher coal prices are driving coal units towards being even less competitive with renewables;
          * New coal-fired generators, coal mines and associated infrastructure take longer to build than renewables;
          * Gas-fired generators are going broke. Higher fossil (methane) gas prices are driving gas units to become increasingly uncompetitive with renewables + battery energy storage systems;
          * The era of cheap and abundant oil and petroleum fuels has ended forever. Extraction and transportation of coal and gas needed to fuel the coal & gas generator units will only get more expensive.
          * Humanity needs to stop burning carbon and safely drawdown atmospheric carbon to below 350 ppm CO₂ equivalent (per NOAA, the Earth System was at 504 ppm CO₂-eq in 2020 and it’s even higher than that now) ASAP, or on current GHG emissions trajectory, the Earth System will experience global mean temperatures +3 to +4 °C above pre-industrial epoch before the end of this century and consequently humanity won’t have a functioning civilisation and billions of people will suffer and die.

          And data I see indicates new nuclear fission plants are too slow to deploy (10+ years for experienced countries to plan, procure, build and commission, and 15-20 years for inexperienced countries like Australia), so they won’t help either.

          I’d suggest humanity has run out of time to avoid major disruptions. Brace for impact!

      • George Kaplan says

        That’s a field specific\technical difference rather than a general public terminology difference.

        SQ tends to focus on solar rather than wind. yes the wind usually is blowing somewhere. Whether it’s practical for generation purposes is another matter.

        The assuming no change as regards coal is simply because converting from coal to solar isn’t a 1:1 change. Coal provides regular or reliable power, or energy if you prefer. By contrast solar is restricted to daylight hours, affected by time of day – dawn\dusk v noon, and highly affected by weather. If the sun don’t shine etc. Focusing exclusively on the gap portion created by EVs allows for a more useful estimate of the solar required rather than trying to figure how much solar is required to replace coal etc as well.

        11 generators out of action last week? Frankly it wasn’t noticeable. What was apparent was that coal was having to carry the load and that solar wasn’t managing its share.

        The NEM 12 month average for solar was 5% and coal was 66%. For the past 48 hours solar has been 3.5% and coal 63.5%.

        I think you said you’re NSW? The 12 month average for that is 7% solar, 76% coal, the 48 hour average 4% for solar, 76% for coal.

        For QLD the 12 month average is 6% solar, 78.5% coal, 6% solar and 79% coal.

        Sadly the data doesn’t include weekly figures as a selectable option – if you mouseover the 12 month graph it appears to show weekly figures, but not for last week. The 3 month option gives a daily breakdown.

        Last week NEM figures show solar generation ranged from 1-4%, NSW figures show 1-5%, and QLD figures 1-6%. If not for coal how many wouldn’t have had power? As I pointed out my own solar figures last week were 60% or more below what they should be, and some days were close to 90% below the estimated monthly average I was given – which is itself low most months.

  3. Tony Tucker says

    Interesting. I suspect there may be some areas where fossil fuels will remain, or at least be more resistant to change. Emergency vehicles & military I think will be slow adopters, as will some of the regional/remote areas of Australia.

    On the other hand there are advantages in abandoning existing military fuels for vehicles, ships, etc. (I’ve excluded boats because we’re now getting nuclear submarines that will not need refuelling over their entire lifetime).

    For example it would be terrible for Ukraine if Russia electrified its military. At the moment Ukrainian soldiers have found that they can disable a whole column of tanks with half a dozen cheap drones targeting fuel trucks.

    But then I guess Russia could install chargers in countries they intend to invade as part of an aid program ?.

  4. Although good for environment but NOT GOOD TO SOLAR PANEL HOLDERS.
    Retailers in NSW paying between $0.10 to $0.05 for every kilowatt sent to grid. This Tariff is also declining. By 2030 it will reduce to $0.02 per kilowatt. Retailers will sell the same energy for $0.30 to $0.40per kilowatt to electric car consumers and Business. Electric car owners will get benefit from having electric cars in low regos and stamp duty.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      It makes good sense to charge your electric car directly from your own rooftop solar. With more people working from home, this is easier than it was.

      • George Kaplan says

        How do those living in highrise apartments or units get solar to ‘freely’ charge their EVs? Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite happy if governments encourage an exodus out of nuke targets in favour of the development of the regions and the interior, but short term expediency seems to be the sole driver.

        As Ronnal notes, the fall of FiTs is continuing, and the rise of electricity prices is practically guaranteed – absolutely guaranteed once government opts to start taxing it like they do in countries like Germany.

        Given current FiTs it is only possible to avoid having to pay for electricity if you can export roughly 5x the amount of power you import. Electricity retailers need to make a profit, but they’re selling solar power for roughly 5x what they pay for it. The ultimate losers are those who can’t afford, or lack the legal right, to install a large solar system. Should FiTs fall even further, well offgrid options will once again start to look very good.

        Anyone able to recommend a decent diesel or petrol based generator for a battery system? 🙂

        • Ronald Brakels says

          You’ve answered your own question without realizing it. If solar feed-in tariffs fall it means electricity must be cheap during the day. This means people who can’t install solar of their own should be able to get an electricity plan that offers cheap rates during the day. When they charge their EVs during these cheap times, they’ll increase electricity demand and help prevent feed-in tariff falling further.

          • George Kaplan says

            Ronald, but that’s the thing, power prices aren’t really falling, it’s only the FiTs.

            My FiT has fallen roughly 65%, my supply charge has risen roughly 2%, and my usage charges have dropped roughly 5%. In real terms a third to a quarter of the roughly 1.3c per kWh I save on usage charges is consumed by the increase in supply charges – I’m a high level exporter, low level importer. What’s painful is the loss of over $3 a day in revenue. Sure it’s only half the cost of a coffee, but over the entirety of the year it’s a free return trip to Tokyo.

            … Okay looking at the cheapest plan available – a solar one oddly enough, you can save 32c per day off connection charges, and save 5c per kWh in usage charges, but the FiT is 40% of the one above. If you’re looking to save money and don’t have solar that’s not an issue I guess? Does it count as cheap?

          • At George Kaplan…..

            Have a look at this link to an image about breakdown of electricity retail prices


            FiT is only affected by one part – wholesale prices. Everything else is not FiT related because they are not involved with generation of electricity. This is the price that retailers focus on for what they offer FiT for, it’s substituting what they would have had to pay a big FF generator for one’s excess solar export. There is no difference between an electron from a rooftop solar PV and a big FF generator, they are treated the same by the retailer. Why would a retailer pay more for solar exports than what they have locked in PPAs with big generators. If they are forced to pay more, then the retailer will simply not support solar customers for their exports and some do, they offer 0c. Clearly, they are not interested in having solar customers and are free to do so.

            If FiT went down by 65%, it means your retail price will only drop about 16% (65% x 30%) because 30% is about component of what wholesale prices makes up of the retail price.

            You say usage charge has dropped by 5% instead, the missing “11%” would be taken up by changes in the transmission/distributor’s component and environmental policies (the LRET, SRES, CCFs, Energy efficiency programs, etc).

            Changes to wholesale prices does not and never correlates linearly to changes in retail prices because of the 7-8 different components in the retail price. Those components can move in any direction. So what might come down in one area might be swallowed up by increases in other areas and vice versa.

            Distributors can only change their prices once a year and it’s regulated by the AER due to the monopoly they have. Retailers can change their prices anytime and must give notice to customer with 10 business days of changes. Most retailers will change their plans on 1st July onwards (except for Victoria which is done January) to reflect changes by the approved distributors price proposal that is accepted by the AER. But retailers can change their tariffs any time without AER’s involvement. Retail is a deregulated market. So, new customers will see different plans than existing customers because the retailer may have renegotiated their PPAs with generators and operating costs but the retailers have no control over the over components. Most retailers are lucky to get 5c/kWh margin on usage tariffs. If you want to see what margin your retailer makes, just substitute the numbers in that picture for your particular postcode.

            Have a look at Amber Electric and Powerclub (which I call “faux wholesalers”) There’s only one component they don’t add on – retail markup. But they pass thru all the costs of the electricity supply. However AE/PC charge a monthly fee which is not the daily supply fee. You’ll find that there’s really not a lot of difference these “faux wholesalers” and retailers until wholesale price goes either really low or really high outside the “normal” range. And this is where they sometimes shine or fail. The consumer is exposed to wide swings in pricing every 30mins, as opposed to a retailer that usually set their price for 12 months provided the consumer stays on the same network tariff.

            So, where do retailers make their money? Daily supply charges. Most are 2-3x on top of the distributor’s daily supply charge.

            For my distributor, their daily supply charge is 45c/day. My retailer’s daily supply charge is $1.10. That’s 65c/day extra margin.

            We will never ever get 1:1 Solar FiT. The best we can get, is self consumption which is basically 1:1. But Solar FiT will always follow wholesale price movements.

            Anyway, we shouldn’t be so focused on FiT because what’s the real reason why we have renewable energy? It’s to reduce CO2 emissions and therefore address climate change issues. The secondary goal is to reduce one’s electricity bills via as much self consumption as possible. The third goal is to get paid for excess solar exports. But this export will be treated like wholesale generators and therefore matched to wholesale price of electricity generation, not retail prices.

          • At George K….

            You need to review your strategy for maximising the $ value from the solar system.

            You say you are a high exporter/low imported. Which is my case too.

            But I switch retailers at least twice a year.

            8 months of the year I will be on a high solar FiT with high import tariff. That’s OK, my imports are 10x lower than my exports during this time. So I make my money on the high solar FiT plan more than I pay for imports.

            Then 4 months of the year (the winter months), my solar export is about 1/10th of my import. So, I go onto a very low import plan which also has a low Solar Fit. But that’s OK too. I only lose about $18 for 4 months for solar FiT being on its lowest rate (about 5c/kWh). Which is way better than losing $320 being stuck on a high import plan during winter.

            By switching retailers twice a year, I come out in front by $600 pa on average instead staying with one retailer all year round. I found that there is about $800 difference between the cheapest and dearest retailers….. it’s quite significant and pays to switch regularly. I have a spreadsheet tracking my usage against 18 retailers to see who has the lowest bill and when to switch. (typically for me it’s May and August when switching takes place).

            Good thing with smartmeters to have the ability to switch almost instantly. In some cases, 2 days (but within the mandatory 10 day cooling off period where if one didn’t like the new retailer that they can switch back straightaway). The retailers I’ve done it with don’t even bother trying to fight my switching, pointless and waste of time really, if they do and I just get up their nose if they rant on about it. All I say then, is review their tariffs which they don’t and they shut up.

          • George Kaplan says

            Graham, I’m not sure your state or the size of your system, but here most of the options are capped, unknown retailers, and\or companies with bad names. As far as I can see 8c per kWh is the highest uncapped option, but that’s by unknown suppliers with no details given about limits caps etc. Looking at the site of one, it seems their plans are limited to one state I don’t live in, and the other is a …bare bones look at the government data redirect and they state for existing customers only. What do new customers get offered? They’re 3.6 stars out of 5 from 327 reviews on ProductReview which is almost as good as my current retailer, albeit far less reviews. They do offer a higher base FiT so that’d be better in high generation months so I guess your churn and burn option might be possible? I’m old fashioned though – prefer to sign up and forget about it! :-\ More research for tomorrow I guess.

        • Geoff Miell says

          George Kaplan,
          Anyone able to recommend a decent diesel or petrol based generator for a battery system?

          If you are already connected to the grid and it’s a reliable supply, why bother with a genset? How would that be cost-effective? Have you seen the prices of diesel and petrol fuels lately, George?

          Retail fuel prices for NSW (May 16):
          * E10 average is $1.84/litre (range $1.51 to $1.93) –
          * PULP-95 average is $2.00/litre (range $1.69 to $2.13) –
          * diesel average is $2.09/litre (range $1.76 to $2.19) –

          It seems the savings from the fuel excise cut of $0.221 per litre instigated in the 2022 Federal Budget on Mar 29 has almost completely been eroded – see an ABC News (Australia) report posted May 10, titled Fuel excise cut erased as average petrol prices rise | ABC News

          • George Kaplan says

            If the grid is reliable is the first issue. Then there’s the question of cost. Depending on plan type you’re looking at the cost of half to a whole litre of fuel per day just for the privilege of a connection. Doesn’t seem much, but adds up over a year.

            The maths may not currently make a generator a viable option for most, but the maths doesn’t support solar batteries either.

            Interestingly enough, after all the recent bad weather, an electrical company posted to a community page recommending generators be connected to switchboards and offering quotes. I suspect a few will take up the offer.

    • Sorry Ronnal, barking up the wrong tree there.

      It’s an argument that keeps going round and round that most people don’t seem to get off. Retailers do not make their money from retail prices over their Solar FiT offerings. It’s an argument most people fail to grasp and to continue to do so until they understand what fully makes up the retail price.

      Solar Fit is largely influenced by wholesale prices which only makes up about 25-30% of the retail price. For this reason, Solar FiT can never be 1:1. As the retail price has components that have to be paid for non-generation charges like the distribution/transmission tariffs. The other components of retail price includes GST, CCF, carbon/energy green schemes, all of which add up to 7010c/kWh of the retail price, which have no bearing on Solar FiT.

      In reality, retailers are lucky to make 5c/kWh if that at all.

      Any anger at price gouges should be squarely blamed on the FF generators, they definitely manipulate the system which the retailers can’t avoid. Very few retailers can because they are gentailers (like AGL/Origin) where they have generation assets as well as retail customers.

      So, where do retailers make their money? the daily supply charge, most are about 2-3x more what the distributors charge (which are subject to annual price approvals by the AER). What the retailers mark up are not subject to AER rules, so they have more leeway to markup as much as they like on daily supply charge. But they are usually in check if they are too high, customers will simply shift to another retailer.

      But Solar FiT IS and WILL never be 1:1 with retail prices.

      Even if someone goes with a “faux wholesaler” like Amber Electric or Powerclub….. they still pass on all the charges they can’t avoid. It’s usually only about a few cents cheaper anyway and clearly demonstrates what the retail markup is for kWh rates.

      At the moment for my area, Amber averages 23c/kWh for import and 6.6c/kWh solar FiT. This is a “retailer” without retail markup, just passing through all the cost. You can read it in full on their website and the relevant postcodes as it changes depending on state/distributor. Even Amber/Powerclub can’t offer 1:1 solar FiT.

      However, you can get high solar FiT when wholesale prices go up but so do then their “wholesale” price because they still have to pay the other fees/charges to distributors, generators, GST and other levies. But one is also exposed to negative prices, meaning you pay to export and get paid to import. Which some people take advantage of.

      But it’s too simplistic to say “oh we pay more than what we get”. Doesn’t work that way.

      BTW, I don’t work in the electricity industry, so no fear or favour towards reatilers.

      • Ronnal Sharma says

        I don’t agree that retailers don’t make money. What about the shareholders getting dividend from investing with Retailer Company. That being said AGL wants to combined their Solar and Coal Projects and this is currently seen on Media being opposed by the 11% shareholder – Mike Cannon-Brookes buys up AGL shares in bid to block energy giant’s demerger”

        As you suggested there is a daily grid connection fee. Can you explain why then Grids are not improved to accommodate the supply to grid by roof panel etc. There is a simple bandage – construct major battery storage. This does not resolve the problem.

        The retailers are making money by stealing power from roof panel holders and in return charging extra on per kw supplied to consumers and back to roof panel holders.

  5. Per capita electrical energy might be declining but we are yet to strongly transition space heating and hot water energy demand of millions of homes in southern Australia off gas and onto electricity.

    That’s going to mean a significant increase in Winter electrical energy consumption.

    AEMO also published this report on the uptake of EVs:

    and in AEMO’s latest Inputs & Assumption report how that translates to demand based on various projections, refer Section 3.3.5 pp 44-50, and also figure 9, page 45:

  6. Hi,
    I am following the progress of EV’s fairly closely but I don’t see much mention of urban delivery vehicles. Range and charging should not be a problem in this domain. Xan you enlighten me.

  7. Lawrence Coomber says


    Understands some topics quite well.

    The science of NUMBERS as they apply to the future [and the future is now] “Global Generation Imperative”: is however, not one of those topics.

    Global is the key word around generation. Not Australian.

    Lawrence Coomber

  8. Ian Thompson says

    Hi Ronald

    Hopefully the 46% increase in generation will be all from GHG-free sources, as well.

    And will also REPLACE the dark brown, black, and light-brown/tan areas of the graph you present for Energy Consumption graph – which I guess represent brown coal, black coal, and natural gas plus + some liquids added in. Which appear to be an even greater challenge to me.

    Quite a task – as ALL of this is going to need ‘firming’ real soon.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      It’s basically impossible for someone my age to feel concerned over whether or not Australia will be able to replace its aging coal capacity. From 1971 to 1981 we doubled Australia’s electricity generation. We could knock down every coal power station in the country over the next 10 years and replace them with something better over the next 10 years for a smaller portion of GDP than was spent doubling generation in the 70s. There’s not question of if we can do it. It’s simply a matter of deciding to do it.

  9. Lawrence Coomber says

    Hi Ronald.

    Don’t play the age card mate.

    I am older than you – but since when does age alone define the power and relevance of thoughtfulness and insight.

    Ronald optimism for a better future for all of those who will follow us, is what drives global technological thinking; action; and innovation.

    So the next decade is the right time to firm up, innovate and act on the Global Energy Imperative model for the future.

    New Age – “fit for enduring purposes” energy technology innovation is the major focus globally right now, but you are completely off track in your analysis of what the dominating global mainstream generating technology must be; to move all people forward whilst simultaneously eliminating fossil fuel emissions to insignificant proportions – forever.

    You have passion for technology topics Ronald and that is admirable, but I recommend you broaden your horizons and adopt a global focus about energy technologies of the future. After all we are discussing critical global issues in an energy starved world Ronald, and one where disadvantage and dis-enfranchisement of over half of the worlds population from attaining a basic but modern standard of living due to a lack of access to massive industrialisation and infrastructure developing energy; cannot be overlooked or tolerated.

    It is a scientific no brainer, especially for the worlds best and brightest scientists; physicists; engineers; academics and researchers; and plenty of other average Jill’s and Joe’s everywhere like me.

    Global technological inequality is what is supporting worsening GHG emissions everywhere. Global equalising generation technologies provide the platform for genuine new era reform. And this is predicated on an entirely different technological focus to the one that you promote Ronald.

    Global “fit for purpose” anything [especially technology] is all about understanding and responding to “the numbers” Ron.

    Lawrence Coomber

  10. Dominic Wild says

    Ronald may not like to read the word “nuclear” for the base load, but it may be necessary for EVs, more desalination plants and aluminium production. Aluminium is “frozen electricity” and you cannot run smelters via batteries.

    Nuclear in our energy mix will reduce CO2 emissions and that way lessen the international criticism and possible economic hurdles from the EU.

    Ice cores have shown rain periods of about ten years average, but drought periods being eight or nine times longer – may need even more desalination plants and where is the electricity coming from?

    Nuclear is more expensive, but if I look at the subsidy of my 6.6kW system, it nearly halved the cost.

    • Geoff Miell says

      Dominic Wild,
      Evidence/data I see indicates new nuclear technologies won’t save us.

      See my earlier comments (that you probably missed) at:

      Also scroll down the thread of my comments beginning from:

    • 1. “Base load” is dead. Last summer, “base load” demand in SA crossed over into negative territory (for a little while). Large generators can no longer rely on a stable level of demand to keep them humming along. This is proved by the fact that (until recently) midday wholesale prices were usually negative. Renewable generators are not going to pay to supply power to the grid, but a coal plant that cannot switch off/on in time will, then they try to make up that loss by ramping up to full power for the evening peak. The fundamental problem is the ramp-rate, it takes too much time to throttle up or down. (Even gas peaking plants take 5 mins to reach full power; batteries do it in milliseconds.)

      2. Nuclear power will never happen in Oz. Ignoring any safety concerns, the economics just aren’t there:
      a) more expensive to build than coal (even in countries that know how).
      b) you have to pay for your nuclear fuel up front.
      c) even if you don’t use it, that fuel is still going to decay, so if you are running at half capacity the unit cost of your fuel just doubled.
      d) nuclear plants have a ramp-rate not much better than coal, so even if we had a nuclear plant now, it would be going broke too.
      e) nobody is going to build it with their own money, and banks wont lent to it for fear of loan default (and shareholder backlash). The only way it would get funded is if politicians thought it would buy votes (& I don’t think that is likely either). But I still think nuclear is viable for subs & carriers – if the military were constrained by economics we wouldn’t have wars.

      3. You can run a smelter (for a while) if your battery is big enough, but yes, it would make more sense to shut down & wait for cheap power again.

      4. Grid scale solar farms don’t qualify for your subsidy and are still cheaper than coal. Be thankful you got such a good deal. 🙂 The subsidies were useful in getting solar kick-started but aren’t really needed any longer, but removing them now would be unpopular. I seriously doubt they will be extended beyond 2030.

      It’s nice that you want to reduce CO2 emissions, but nuclear isn’t the answer. It will take a few years (8+) but renewables will get us there. It took over 50 years to build our current coal fleet; don’t expect to replace it in 50 weeks.

      • Ian Thompson says

        Hi Greg

        “2c) even if you don’t use it, that fuel is still going to decay, so if you are running at half capacity the unit cost of your fuel just doubled.”

        Ah – the half-life (decay rate) of U235 is 700 million years.
        I really don’t think this is going to significantly impact fuel costs…!
        And, fuel costs are small for nuclear to start with, anyway.

        I don’t think that you can start and stop smelters like you suggest – it would probably ‘bugger’ them. Same goes for desalination plants.

        I personally don’t consider we have yet seen anywhere near the true cost of variable renewable systems needed to secure reliable power, once we no longer have coal and gas. One site shows nuclear is ethically mandated, if we are to decarbonise the World – as it is cheaper option if mixed with renewables. They are professionals, and declare no conflict of interest. If you have solar at home (not everyone has, nor is everyone able to), try going ‘off grid’ over winter, without a genset. I have a friend who has done this – and it is considerably more expensive (he did this, because getting grid power connected to his set-back house over rocky ground was even more expensive). But then, what is industry to do?

        It is easy for solar to displace some of the power of coal plants (allowing coal to cover night times, bad weather, winter, etc.) – which is as much as we have seen so far – making it appear cheap. But much, much harder to REPLACE coal – which becomes much more expensive.

  11. Graham Revill says

    Surely Nuclear is just politically impossible in Australia. If a liberal govt put it in a liberal electorate it would be a labour electorate at the next election and vice versa. We would spend a fortune on compensating every tom dick or harry who tried to install it but then the next government had to break the contract. Perhaps we could make one contract stick but then would delivery be any better than, for example, the F35 fighters from our great and powerful friend who couldnt give a damn. (They are just a few decades late) Even in America there are power stations running 10 years late and huge over budget.
    The answer is always the same The latest generation is delivered on time on budget and is 100% safe.
    Lets just wait for fusion power. After all the latest estimate I heard was that its only about 15 years from maturity. Same as it was in about 1980 I think.

    Like it or not the object of this is not to produce the worlds cheapest electricity but to save our only planet and to avoid stuffing everything up for my dear grandchildren.

    • Ian Thompson says

      So let me get this right Graham Revill:

      You are now going to personally buy 10,000 or so rooftop-equivalent solar systems out of your own pocket (without the benefit of the rebate), then at your own cost go and install them in Africa, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, China, and parts of South America? Just check out the ratio of populations, our solar uptake rate, and the amount of coal and NG we are presently still burning that will need to be replaced – I suspect my figure above could be well understated.

      If you don’t do this (as well as all the other ‘paranoid dreamers’, Geoffrey Miell included), just how on earth do you then see us saving this planet, if we only deal with neutralising Australias small backwater contribution?

      Please ‘get real’ – the World is a big, big, BIG place – and a South-Asian consortium alone is presently planning to build 600 brand-new COAL stations. If you fail to provide them with energy, one way or another, you may well risk getting ‘your head lopped off’ (a la ‘Let them eat cake’). Then where would your future lay? Or do you forsee mass genocide, or effectively the same thing if we do none of the ‘heavy lifting’ in the days ahead?

      I suspect the Worlds leading Scientists, Engineers, Academics, and many others have already long forseen the problem – and are (Australia excluded) attempting at the highest level to procure limitless energy to all.

      • Ronald Brakels says

        India has been working on nuclear power for a long time. Their first commercial reactor came online in 1972. They haven’t been working on solar for nearly as long, with their first solar farm only commissioned towards the end of 2009. Because it hasn’t had much time to catch up, solar now only provides twice as much energy in India as nuclear.

        • Ian Thompson says

          So, what picks up Indias demand at night time?
          Or during cloudy monsoon season?

          Coal, perhaps – like here in Australia?

          With respect, I feel the green mantras are far too one-dimensional.

          Without storage, solar does not represent a viable SYSTEM – only the cheaper part of a complete system. Coal is going broke, because it IS presently needed at night, because solar is cheaper when the sun is shining, and because the steam plant is being forced to run heavily off-design as a consequence.

          As others have said, coal plant cannot ramp up (nor ramp down) quickly enough – I have seen wind being curtailed because demand has dropped, but coal hasn’t had time to ramp down yet. I have seen wind curtailed because coal MUST start ramping up in time to ‘get there’ before morning peak demand. I think Renew had an article on this very issue.
          Must seriously damage the business case for new wind farms.

          Another point, is that black coal plant can only ‘throttle down’ to about 35-40% of rating as I recall – to maintain plant stability – brown coal is even worse than this. It may not be practical to shut a plant down, if startup times would prevent that plant being ready to pick up load in time to match anticipated future demand.

          So – until Solar and Wind are integrated into a competent SYSTEM, we will continue to need coal and/or NG to prop the grid up. Geoffrey Miell states that NG is much, much worse than coal (but links a site that does not demonstrate this – only a bit of ‘fluff’ lacking scientific evidence instead). But, if he is correct that SA is doing a very bad thing – burning heaps of NG often to support demand, then coal (with its coal-seam fugitive methane emissions, carcinogenic radon emissions, Hg emissions, etc.) will remain necessary for quite some tiem. Personally, I do not think he understands the dynamics of the situation – NG may be worse, but if you only burn it for brief periods it could still come out well ahead of coal, if coal spends a lot of time at 40% load that it is unable to shed at any time in order to cover high demand periods when it is needed.

          I appreciate we are trying to ‘save Australia from the planet’, but do we real need the spread of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) propaganda?
          The situation is what it is – and I never feel fake statements help at all.
          Like the ads ‘energy free from the Sun’, ‘ zero emissions EVs’, ‘$0 electricity bills’, or ‘don’t sell you excess energy, buy our battery and save, save, save’. The later is an ad screening in WA at the moment.

      • Geoff Miell says

        Ian Thompson,
        …just how on earth do you then see us saving this planet, if we only deal with neutralising Australias small backwater contribution?

        Australia as the world’s fourth largest coal producer and seventh largest gas producer is not a “small backwater contribution.”

        What’s your plan for “saving this planet”, Ian?

        …a South-Asian consortium alone is presently planning to build 600 brand-new COAL stations.

        Nope. Per Global Energy Monitor, as at Jan 2022, globally:
        * Announced + Pre-Permit + Permitted: 606 UNITS (NOT stations);
        * Under construction: 344 UNITS;
        * Shelved: 242 UNITS;
        * Operating: 6,613 UNITS;
        * Mothballed: 95 UNITS;
        * Cancelled (2010-2021): 2,870 UNITS
        * Retired (2010-2021): 2,642 UNITS

        It doesn’t mean the 606 UNITS will all get built.

        I suspect … attempting at the highest level to procure limitless energy to all.

        Limitless? Who’s dreaming/fantasizing now, Ian?

    • Dominic Wild says

      Judging by the many negative comments about nuclear, I am just wondering how Belgium, Sweden and many other countries are doing OK with nuclear except Germany, where the Greens are forcing a shutdown, but with the present energy crisis in Europe even Austria may restart its 40-year old mothballed reactor, where a popular vote stopped its start.

      • Ronald Brakels says

        If a nuclear reactor exists and can be operated with safety, then it makes sense to operate it, given the high health and environmental costs of using fossil fuels. What doesn’t make sense is building new nuclear reactors because of their high cost. It’s a lot cheaper to build renewable generation and improve transmission.

      • Ian Thompson says

        Excellent point Dominic (and excellent link, Philip).

        Steven Pinker in his book ‘Rationality’ gives an example of what is known as ‘Availability Bias’ (introducing one of a large number of logic/rationality errors).

        Greenies fret about the Worlds highly publicised but vastly worst-case Chernobyl disaster that killed about 4,000 people many years ago – largely caused by incompetent government policy.

        Consequently (due to logic error) they would prefer we continue burning coal while we wait for renewables to catch up, which is responsible for about the same number of deaths PER DAY, over these intervening years.

        • Ronald Brakels says

          Aren’t people who support nuclear power for environmental reasons “greenies”?

          • Ian Thompson says

            Ha – my error – I should have said ‘irrational greenies’, or ‘greenie conspiracy theorists’, or ‘technically ignorant greenies’, or something along those lines.

            I happen to agree with you (and Hansen), that rationally we need to keep existing reactors running rather than shutting them down unnecessarily – and even extending their lifetime (as has been done to numerous reactors in the U.S. and Europe), if that can be done with safety and at reasonable comparative cost.

            Once again, Geoffrey Miell has got the wrong end of the stick – my statements have been wholly consistent – we MUST shut down coal ASAP – going to EVs does not help that. I don’t believe he has provided evidence that NG is worse than coal – his reference link was rabid, quoting all the bad things about NG, but none of the comparatively good things – and no data showing the comparisons. Also – his numbers appear WAY out of whack.

            A further note – Australia imports a major percentage of its oil from overseas sources – if we replace IC vehicles with BEV, this will have a negative impact on our indigenous GHG emissions – our vendor countries are responsible for these, just as we are responsible for exported coal emissions (as we are exhorted to believe).
            Therefore – is we switch to BEVs, we extend our burning of coal – introducing emissions from that source – but barely save anything (in Australia, using Geoffrey’s logic), from eliminating IC vehicles.

            Once again – we need to be thinking in a Global sense – anything else is just delusional.

            Just saying…

          • Geoff Miell says

            Ian Thompson (at May 27, 2022 at 6:57 pm),
            … we MUST shut down coal ASAP…

            Replaced with what energy source(s) and importantly when, Ian? What’s your plan to save the world, Ian?

            I don’t believe he has provided evidence that NG is worse than coal – his reference link was rabid, quoting all the bad things about NG, but none of the comparatively good things – and no data showing the comparisons.

            Where’s your data to support your “beliefs”, Ian? IMO, you fail to deliver what you are criticizing me for.

            Accumulating evidence from methane sensing satellites and field study measurements are indicating petroleum oil & gas extraction is at least as bad as coal and possibly worse, due to ‘fugitive emissions’; for example:

            One 2020 study modeling satellite observations of methane releases across North America found that operators in the prolific Permian Basin released 3.7% of the gas they extracted in 2018 and 2019. Based on Meijer’s calculations, the life cycle of that natural gas — from the well to the power plant stack — would have roughly the same climate impact as coal would from mine to plant.

            Another six-year study found that older production wells in the Uintah Basin in northeastern Utah emitted 6% to 8% of the gas they extracted, twice the break-even threshold in Meijer’s estimate. Research from other areas has estimated a leak rate closer to 2.3%.

            The persistent problem of methane plumes from oil and gas production fields in the Permian Basin has also been documented by the Environmental Defense Fund, a group advocating for stricter pollution controls. Its latest aerial survey released Dec. 13 showed that 40% of 900-some production sites are continuously leaking methane into the atmosphere.


            The ‘fugitive emissions’ problem has been known about for many years, but the scale and magnitude has only been recently examined on a global scale and substantially quantified.

            It seems to me you are wilfully ignoring the accumulating evidence; I’d suggest because it’s inconvenient for your “beliefs”. ?

          • Ian Thompson says

            Ah, Geoffrey Miell – where to start.

            Firstly, I don’t work with “beliefs”, but rather with science, evidence, and calculations – the fact that you cannot understand that says a lot more about you, than me.
            Your short-term memory must be challenged – I have posted previously that I am ‘for’ PV, and ‘for’ wind – and recognise that we must go this way in at least the short-term. Unlike you, it appears, I also recognise that wind and PV alone cannot replace FF – and accept we will be required to increase and (figuratively, in case you don’t ‘get it’) “gold-plate” our grids at great cost, and add vastly greater levels of battery storage throughout – at even greater cost – plus demand-response, and a whole litany of other convenience-defeating features – IF we are to achieve reasonable reliability in a future FF-free grid. You should be aware that the original King Island renewable system became a spectacular failure due to the extremely short life of their flow battery system – and these batteries were replaced with, guess what, LEAD-ACID batteries. All at ENORMOUS cost. Who’s to say we will not have similar issues to deal with in the future?

            You first challenge my comment that “… we MUST shut down coal ASAP…”. Don’t be so puerile, Geoffrey – I did state ASAP – do you not understand this is an acronym for ‘as soon as possible’? Of course if it is to be ASAP, in Australia we will need to use wind and PV, because we have nothing else (assuming of course, that existing Hydro is already ‘maxed out’ due to fuel [water] limitations). So in many ways, we are on the same page – even if I have far greater technical understanding of the features of wind and PV and technology in general, than you.

            Where we have differences, these mostly revolve around you:
            – wishing to ‘push’ EV’s – which can only delay the retirement of coal, without much in the way of GHG-reductions, initially if at all.
            – dismissing NG as being worse than coal – due to a lack of technical acumen
            – displaying a ‘religious fervor’, against the future of nuclear, in ANY form.

            You forget (or simply do not understand) that coal also contributes coal-seam fugitive methane, has a FAR greater fatality rate per Terrawatt-hr of electricity generated than ANY other technology, emits a whole range of human-toxic material (radon, Hg), cannot ramp up and down rapidly, and our old decrepit coal stations are unreliable and not very efficient. On the other hand, NG powered CCGT plant is considerable more efficient to start with (i.e. less thermal energy needed, for the same electricity generated), and can ramp quickly (the GT part, at least). This lends itself to allowing more wind and PV on the grid, without the present and future curtailments that are (and will) reducing venture investments in wind, and 3x cheaper Utility PV.

            It would be exceedingly shallow to compare coal and NG only on the basis of GHG-impact per Terrawatt-hr of energy produced – in reality, NG will only be required to produce some fraction of the energy generation needed to replace coal. Your view-point smacks of desperation (or ignorance, or lack of integrity).

            Geoffrey – from your previous posts it appears our objective should be to replace ALL FF-generation of electricity by 2030. That is only 7.5 years away. Judging by our present (and even an accelerated) rate of progess, I just cannot see that happening – far too much needs to be done, and there are so many unknowns. This is not that I don’t HOPE things can be done – but rather an expression of reality. I, too, do not wish to see civilisation perish. I also retain doubts about the reliabilty and cost of batteries – these have been in use way, way before wind and PV, and despite continual development still fall well short IMHO. c.f. Recent recalls of home batteries, and high costs.

            From my point of view, we MUST make contigency plans. New nuclear could encompass one of those plans. As Nicholas Geary put it ‘it would be better we have a technology but not need it, than not have it if we then find we really do need it’. Your arguments against nuclear are specious – ANY technology can fail in a regime of incompetence. Yes, the consequences are high for nuclear, but then the worst-case example of Chernobyl was a 1-off – this was a plant that had known design weaknesses, was operated by a defunct regime for the primary purpose of making weapons-grade material, and had really old safety systems and a lack of adequate operator training. Contrasts with the 98 reactors in the USA, which yes have had ‘incidents’ over ~ 30+ years of operation, but no (0) catastrophic outcomes. Fukushima had one (1) death from radiation, and a 90-year-old man died of a heart-attack while refusing to evacuate. Do you really ‘believe’ the World has learned nothing since. The fatality rate per Terrawatt-hour of electricity generated by nuclear, lies somewhere between PV, and Wind – was previously well less than either, but I guess manufacturing and installation systems for wind and PVnhave since improved.
            Yes, countries that already have nuclear plant should continue to use them to reduce GHG-emissions, and should consider life extensions if feasible.
            First-world countries ARE continuing with new nuclear developments – you can be sure they understand that decarbonising only their own local neighbourhood doesn’t get us to where we need to go. Do you?

            Have you not read Ralph Nader’s book ‘Unsafe at any Speed’? You probably drive a car, and cars have become massively safer since 1965, but you are STILL at far, far more at risk of death from that cause alone.
            Yet we continue to burn coal, at death rates per DAY about the same total as Chernobyl all up. Where is your rationality?

          • Geoff Miell says

            Ian Thompson (at May 29, 2022 at 6:17 pm),

            I still don’t see any specific plan for replacement energy technologies or indicative schedule (just a vague ASAP) from you, Ian.

            – dismissing NG as being worse than coal – due to a lack of technical acumen

            I think you are the one dismissing accumulating hard evidence/data.

            We/humanity need to stop emitting all forms of GHGs NOW, as well as begin large-scale atmospheric carbon drawdown to reduce atmospheric GHG concentrations well below 350 ppm CO₂-equivalent to maintain a safe Earth System for us. More gas and petroleum extraction & use that you appear to be advocating in your many comments is evidently going in the wrong direction.

            And data indicates fossil methane gas and petroleum fuels are getting more expensive.

            Energy sector expert Scott Armstrong tweeted on May 29:

            Brisbane forecast exAnte gas price $100/GJ or $1,200/MWh gas turbine fuel cost (120c/kWh) …. backing a LNP carbon based gas led inflation policy, the economic slow burn is speeding up.


            See also the YouTube video titled Petrol prices return to $2 mark — federal budget’s excise cut all but erased | ABC News, dated May 24, below.

            – displaying a ‘religious fervor’, against the future of nuclear, in ANY form.

            I’m following the evidence/data. It seems to me you are the one with the “religious fervor”, dismissing evidence/data that’s inconvenient for your ‘nuclear will save us’ narrative.

            First-world countries ARE continuing with new nuclear developments…

            Of the 51 reactor units currently under construction (plus another 5 units now suspended construction) roughly one-third are Russian VVER designs.

            As economist John Quiggin suggests, sanctions on the supply of all kinds of electronics to Russia mean that few of these Russian design units will now be completed on time. Apart from the EPR ‘money-pit’, the only remaining large reactor design still in the market is China’s Hualong One. Outside China, prospective buyers may well be cautious about this option.

            That leaves so-called ‘factory-built’ SMRs, that don’t yet physically exist, and I’d suggest are unlikely to be until at least the 2030s (if ever). The very few small reactors that do exist are not modular and are not ‘factory-built’.

            IMO, rising energy and material costs are now making the economic viability for large-scale projects (like nuclear projects) that require many years to bring to completion highly risky.

        • Geoff Miell says

          Ian Thompson,
          …vastly worst-case Chernobyl disaster that killed about 4,000 people many years ago – largely caused by incompetent government policy.

          And I’d add: grossly incompetent people. IMO, it goes to show how incompetence, whether in policy settings, design, construction, and/or operations of reactor units can lead to catastrophic consequences that can end regimes (in the case of the USSR) and bring disruption, misery and suffering to many millions of people (for both the Chernobyl and Fukushima incidents).

          Consequently (due to logic error) they would prefer we continue burning coal while we wait for renewables to catch up, which is responsible for about the same number of deaths PER DAY, over these intervening years.

          I’d suggest if we follow your logic, Ian, you would prefer we continue burning more coal, methane gas and petroleum oil while we wait decades (plural) for new nuclear generator units to adequately catch up, and we/humanity are then consequently ‘locked-in’ for a +4 °C (or higher) global mean warming trajectory, and thus at high risk of civilisation collapse and the suffering/deaths of billions of people before the end of this century. ??‍♂️

  12. Good writeup, Ronald. Glad I stuck with getting your articles.

    Now, you need to tell me where get that cost effective battery to suplement my unused daytime solar (the rebates I get from selling it to my energy provider now is next to useless)?

  13. Graham Revill says

    You dont seem to gave allowed for any contribution for hydrogen for long haul trucks. It seems that hydrogen will be produced in remote areas where sunshine is plentiful and land is cheap so it is not really an addition to the grid requirement. It seems that hydrogen is becoming a boom industry in Europe and other countries. Do you predict that it has no role in road vehicles? Does it have a role in rail or ships or perhaps aircraft?
    Or are we seeing a huge bubble like tulips and nickel mining.
    Batteries seem to be reaching a very usable capacity with very high levels of research still being directed towards improving cost, volume and weight.
    Do you predict a battle between batteries and hydrogen or do they have separate areas of operation big enough so both can thrive?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      On-grid electric trucks will be cheaper to run. Off-grid, such as across the Nullarbor, it will be cheaper to layout solar panels and charge batteries than to ship it in or make it on site. Electric trucking should just be cheaper. But this doesn’t mean hydrogen won’t have other applications. But I’m sure road transport isn’t one of them.

  14. Lawrence Coomber says


    The New Era Global Energy Imperative must and will ultimately be determined by:-

    (1) THE GLOBAL DEMAND (KWH): of an increasing global population CALCULATED for all purposes and for a foreseeable long future period [towards posterity]; and

    (2) THE PRIME ENERGY SOURCE TECHNOLOGY: Will be that which is massive, energy dense, clean, safe, very low cost for all consumers use, easily deployed everywhere, able to be reticulated widely, and scalable through modularity, and by extension must be a technology that sits at the peak of the energy science pyramid, whilst simultaneously reduce GHG emissions to insignificant proportions.

    And that’s it. Any lesser technology propositions, manifestations or manipulations are an illusion moving forward, and will simply not cut it.


    Let us talk ONLY about the future of EV’s (in all forms) globally, replacing ICE vehicles (in all forms) based on the [THE NUMBERS] rather than some shoot from the hip or fantasy bubbles that get in the way of rational thought on the subject.

    140 MILLION

    The UN estimates that around 385,000 babies are born each day around the world (140 million a year). This number will remain relatively stable in the 50 years from 2020 to 2070. From 2070 to 2100, the number will decline to around 356,000 (130 million a year).

    1. The story begins: In 2023 [between Jan 1 and Dec 31] 140 million new global citizens will be born.

    2. Fast forward to 2041: The 140 million born in 2023 will all turn 18, but probably 10% of them “for one reason or another” will not make it to this milestone year, with the resultant number who do, now totalling only 126 million.

    3. Probably: Most of them as young modern people will want to acquire their first vehicle [EV-Car, EMB-Motor Bike, (PET-Personal Electric Transporter) at this age. That is a fair call, but let’s assume that only 75% have an interest in vehicle ownership, with the resultant number now revised down to only 94.50 million, who are set up and able to purchase their first budget entry level EV, EMB or PET, sometime during the year 2041.

    Let’s now extrapolate [THE NUMBERS]

    4. Global EV/EMB/PET Production [the overall requirement specifically to accommodate ONLY those people born in 2023] would be 94.50 million [EV/EMB/PET] through sales during the year 2041 [a 365 day sales and delivery period] which equates to an average of: 94.50 million / 365 = 258,904 SALES AND DELIVERIES PER DAY.

    Note: EVERY DAY another HIGH KWH DEMAND comes on-line.

    5. And this represents both the global manufacturing capacity and sales/delivery processes necessary to accommodate the babies born globally IN 2023 ONLY.

    6. It raises the important question: What about the worlds current population at December 31, 2022 who are ICE vehicle owners, but have been led to believe that they should now all be contemplating transitioning out of their existing ICE vehicles, by purchasing an EV/EMB/PET, lets say over the next 15 years [up to 2037].

    [THE NUMBERS] tell us:

    7. Global Population at December 31, 2022 = 7,973,852,296 [let’s say 8.00 billion people]. Let’s assume a conservative 50% of them [8.00 billion x 0.50 = 4.00 billion people] constitute the entire Global ICE vehicle owning population who are transitioning to EV/EMB/PET ownership over the next 15 years [15 x 365 = 5475 days].

    8. Global EV/EMB/PET Production [the overall requirement to accommodate people transitioning globally from ICE to EV/EMB/PET [between January 1, 2023 to December 31, 2037] equates to an average of: 4.00 billion / (15 x 365) = 730,593 SALES PER DAY AND EVERY DAY NON-STOP FOR 15 YEARS.

    Note: EVERY DAY another HIGH KWH DEMAND comes on-line.

    And none of the above relates to the global fleet of ICE: trucks, boats, ships, planes, tractors, trains, etc.

    [THE NUMBERS] need to be the total focus in determining our next [fit for enduring performance] prime generation technology.

    Lawrence Coomber

    • Ronald Brakels says

      People are going to use solar during the day because it’s low cost and low emission. Nuclear won’t be used to meet evening demand because it would be very expensive to have nuclear reactors operating below their full capacity most of the time so they’ll be ready to meet the evening demand. Something cheaper will be used to meet evening demand instead. That’s what looking at the money numbers tells me.

      • Lawrence Coomber says

        Thanks Ron and I concur about the critical importance of the “real cost of any technology” taken up by users being clearly identified and not buried in bumf. It is everything in fact in moving forward.

        I have been a manufacturer of high tech products for use by Australian Water Utilities and Councils since 1985, and have always subscribed to the theory that give engineers and research companies enough taxpayer funding with no strings attached, they will be able to theoretically present a solution for just about any subject, but it will end up useless and a waste of time and money, unless it can be genuinely and independently assessed as being commercially viable; able to stand alone and free of ongoing subsidies, sustainable rather than obsolescent, and not surrounded by opaque sleight of hand creative accounting, and obscuration.

        And just on this point Ron; has Solar PV and Wind ever been able to be critically assessed as being commercially viable and possessing attributes such as self sustainability and viability without overly generous and ongoing ad-infinitum subsides? I believe not.

        So the nuclear technology costs that you refer to are not where we should rest on for sure. But this is where being a student of the past when it comes to technological innovation over time and costs, come into focus Ron. Economy of scale is another term.

        Lawrence Coomber

      • Randy WESTER says

        Take a look at Ontario, Canada’s Independant Electricity System Operator ( IESO ) website.

        They reduced their peak summer load through efficiency improvements, and through adding rooftop solar.

        The large majority of their electricity still comes from nuclear power, but they also have access to enormous hydro power resources.

        The argument that nuclear power plants will be running below capacity ‘the majority of the time’ diesn’t hold any water. They simply don’t, because there’s an almost endless demand for electricity if it’s cheap enough.

        Electricity to treat and pump water, to heat water, to chill water, to make more aluminium, chlorine, hydrogen, to can or freeze vegetables, to make paper, to move freight…

        Yet… they’ve still been unable to completely eliminate gas generation because there’s not quite enough felexible demand and storage, because there’s *never* enough storage.

        • Ronald Brakels says

          In Canada nuclear is being used to meet baseload demand, which is how it’s normally used throughout the world. No one tries to use nuclear to meet all of evening or peak demand as that would involve using it well below its full capacity and be really expensive. Here, coal power is suffering thanks to increasing solar and wind generation and nuclear capacity would have the same problem.

          • Randy WESTER says

            I think you’d find that coal generation would suffer more, once the coal price is high enough, because there’s no savings to dialing back the power if a reactor unit they usually just don’t.

            They dump the heat to curtail generation or offer blocks of power at slightly negative prices just so they don’t have to fiddle with the knobs.

            There’s still loads of coal being burned in Australia on sunny, windy days. It would be a different story if there was a large, reliable surplus that could be exported to other regions, stored, or used to add value to exports by doing more processing.

            But Australia will never have the winter heating problem that Ontario faces, so probably you will instead use large storage systems plus solar to replace and surpass coal.

          • Ronald Brakels says

            Storage – both stationary and on wheels, overbuild of renewable generation, plus existing hydroelectric capacity will (is) eliminating coal here.

    • Geoff Miell says

      Lawrence Coomber,
      The UN estimates that around 385,000 babies are born each day around the world (140 million a year). This number will remain relatively stable in the 50 years from 2020 to 2070. From 2070 to 2100, the number will decline to around 356,000 (130 million a year).

      Where are the adequate food supplies coming from to feed them all, Lawrence? Put “[THE NUMBERS]” to that!

      See IPCC AR6 WG2 Summary Report for Policymakers SPM.B.4.3.

      Risks of simultaneous crop failure do increase disproportionately between 1.5 and 2 ºC, so surpassing the 1.5 ºC threshold will represent a threat to global food security.

      • Lawrence Coomber says


        I am pleased to see finally, that you have taken your blinkers off, and now starting to “connect the dots” on the critical global challenges that are all immutably connected with one another:

        1. dangerous and excessive GHG emissions due to excessive fossil fuels use;

        2. inability of natural systems [agricultural etc] to practically and economically feed the worlds population;

        3. failure of global legislators to agree to adopt a common way forward, and establish a “New Age Global Energy Imperative” as a coherent collective to mobilise and task, the worlds best and brightest physicists, academics, scientists and researchers to bring massive; clean; safe, very low cost to customers; modular; scalable; easily deployed; widely reticulated electrical power, to all people; families communities and nations to power new age energy intensive industries [including food production technologies that replace now obsolescent natural plant and animal food systems] which were never “designed” to keep pace with modern human demands anyway.

        So there is your answer Geoff on how an increasing population must and will, commencing by 2060 without any doubt in my mind, be well nourished, and all that easily managed at the: family and local community technology production level as well.

        I am not talking about aquaponics; hydroponics etc etc here either Geoff. I am referring to food synthesised by molecular deposition science techniques rather than genetic growth. A key point is that future food production technology is also modular; scalable and easily deployed everywhere, but is also energy intensive, hence our need for massive very low cost power everywhere, is the centrepiece of the whole show moving everything forward.

        I am genuinely looking forward to you showing us all, how expansive and creative you can become Geoff, on the critical Global Energy Imperative challenges that we will overcome this next 30+ years.

        Lawrence Coomber

        • Geoff Miell says

          Lawrence Coomber,
          I am genuinely looking forward to you showing us all, how expansive and creative you can become Geoff, on the critical Global Energy Imperative challenges that we will overcome this next 30+ years.

          It seems to me you are dreaming/fantasizing about what may (but probably may not) happen three or more decades away into the future, while the real threats to our civilisation are already manifesting that we/humanity must deal with immediately.

          The three existential threats I see manifesting and disrupting are:
          1) The Climate Crisis;
          2) The Energy Crisis (especially declining global diesel fuel supplies);
          3) COVID-19.

          The Climate Crisis is already here and it will get worse. The World Meteorological Organisation is warning that the world faces a 50:50 chance of exceeding 1.5°C of warming within the next five years, albeit temporarily, and has pleaded for rapid cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

          Climate scientist Andy Pitman said in a RenewEconomy podcast that net zero needs to be reached by 2035 to have any chance of capping global warming at 2 °C.

          Climate tipping points in the Antarctica, the Arctic and the Amazon are at risk of being reached before or at the current level of global warming of 1.2 °C, requiring a “major rethink” of global climate goals and the action necessary to achieve them.

          Global diesel fuel supplies have been declining since 2018, BEFORE the COVID-19 pandemic and BEFORE the Russian invasion. The COVID-19 pandemic masked the effects of the increasing fuel scarcity; the Russian invasion has exacerbated them.

          Increasing diesel scarcity and rising fuel prices increases the prices of nearly everything, including for coal & gas extraction/transportation and particularly for food.

          Deaths due to COVID-19 in Australia so far this year (up to May 19) are at 5,687, meaning the average death rate is tracking at 40.91 deaths/day. That’s worse than a Port Arthur massacre every day, from now until we find a cure, or an even worse variant comes along.

          COVID-19 is already a major killer in Australia, so far this year second only to the largest single killer: ischaemic heart diseases.

          And it seems everyone has a 5% chance of getting ‘long-COVID’ each year. That’s potentially 1.3+ million Australians with ‘long-COVID’ EACH YEAR!!!

          Lawrence, these threats are ALREADY disrupting our civilisation and need to be countered NOW, not 30+ years from now.

          • Philip Venton says


            Suggest this discussion is terminated – it’s a long way from Ronald’s original story of future electricity demand for transport, and how to generate it.

            The matter for debate is whether the solution is 100% renewable, or a mix of renewable, storage, hydrogen, and (probably) nuclear.

            It’s not a religion – its a solution based on a balance of technical economic, environmental and social impacts.

            Terminating Australia tomorrow will make negligible impact on the world’s climate – but moving down the wrong solution mix will impact on the lives of our future.

          • Geoff Miell says

            Philip Venton,
            Suggest this discussion is terminated – it’s a long way from Ronald’s original story of future electricity demand for transport, and how to generate it.

            I disagree. I’d suggest the issues I’ve discussed highlight some critical disruptors to, and the urgent need for a rapid transition away from petroleum dependency to low/zero GHG emissions solutions, that provide a more secure energy future, whether it’s for the transport sector or elsewhere. Ignoring these threats to civilisation I’ve highlighted (because they are uncomfortable/inconvenient) won’t make them go away.

            … and (probably) nuclear.

            I don’t see any compelling evidence/data from you as to why you see new nuclear technologies would/could provide any timely, affordable, low risk solutions for Australia’s energy needs. See my earlier comments:

            It’s not a religion…

            I think people who invoke the word “religion” into a discussion about science and facts betray their ill-informed, ideologically-driven misunderstandings of evidence and reality. ?

            Terminating Australia tomorrow will make negligible impact on the world’s climate…

            Who said anything about “terminating Australia”, Philip? IMO, that’s a strawman argument. Australia, as the world’s fourth largest coal producer and seventh largest gas producer, does NOT have a “negligible impact on the world’s climate.” ?

            … moving down the wrong solution mix will impact on the lives of our future.

            Yep. IMO, not acting effectively and fast enough will be disastrous for our future, but it’s now too late to avoid disruptions.

      • George Kaplan says

        Geoff, this is just off the top of my head, but if ever natural farming were insufficiently productive e.g. mass cloud cover and significantly below standard solar yield as has been the case this month, what about moving to vertical farms? They’d be high cost and energy intensive certainly, but a self enclosed ‘ecosystem’ would continue on regardless of whether the outside was turning into a new ice age or equatorial jungle\desert.

        Cost and energy supply would be the two barriers, but if folk can’t afford food then they can’t afford kids. Energy supply would be more complicated but that’d depend on the environment. Are the skies clear and sunny? Then consider solar. Is it a frozen wasteland outside? Then maybe rely on nuclear, or if you’re in the right area, geothermal or even wave power.

        Human ingenuity can solve a lot.

        • Ian Thompson says

          Hi George

          Interesting you should state ‘but if folk can’t afford food then they can’t afford kids.’.

          It is my understanding that the exact opposite is a more accurate statement of the facts. My demographic is invariably well employed – so well able to put food on the table. Yet, almost without exception these families have mostly only 0, or 1 child, and at the very most 2 children on occasion. This gybes with Australia’s general reproduction rate being ~ 1.

          Yet, very poor countries – with extremely poor food security – generally have a far greater birthrate. I recall this being taught back in my schooling days. C.f. India, China (not including the later mandate 1 child/family), Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Africa, etc.

        • Geoff Miell says

          George Kaplan,
          …if ever natural farming were insufficiently productive e.g. mass cloud cover and significantly below standard solar yield as has been the case this month, what about moving to vertical farms?

          I’d suggest you’ve already answered your own question with: “Cost and energy supply would be the two barriers…”

          I’d also suggest that it’s supreme hubris to assume that humanity doesn’t need the Earth System environment for our own survival.

          As E.O. Wilson has said, animals (and other species) do not need us to survive, but we [sure do] need them.

          …if folk can’t afford food then they can’t afford kids.

          If folk can’t afford food then they starve, progressively get weak and sick, and if their starvation is severe and prolonged enough, then they ultimately die.

  15. We would be much better off transitioning to rail for both freight and people.
    This would significantly reduce the need for electricity. All we have to do is det over our obsession with having a private vehicle at our beck and call for the 4% of the time that we actually use them.

  16. Randy WESTER says

    There’s a lot of things that we use about 4% or less of the time, like flush toilets, running water, electric stoves, tabpe saws, telephones, movie theatres, horses, bicycles, buses, trains, aircraft..

    It’s strange to get hung up on that 4%, because we could easily double it by simply halving all speed limits or making cars much less powerful. And we could improve electric oven, cooktop, and toaster utilization by cutting the wattage in half, too. But do you think it would make our civilization more energy-efficient, or would it have the opposite effect?

    We’ve all got a limited lifespan, so we tend to all want to spend the least time possible on survival, including waiting for a bus, or working to pay for a car that costs a year’s take-home pay so that we can pay two years’ less take-home pay on a home further from downtown and nearer a school.

    • I think you are distracted by the 4%. The post concerned the availability of supply of electricity for EVs. My point was about efficiency and opportunity cost. Electricity may become more scarce due to our choice to direct it towards private EVs. A more efficient use of electricity would be to use more of It for public transport. There are costs and benefits in both areas, but we usually don’t consider them. That Is part of the reason we have got ourselves into the situation that is before us (re GHGs).

      Regarding speed limits, to drive an EV or ICE car at about 85-90kph is, AFAIK, more efficient in terms of energy consumption.

      Not to mention opportunity costs in relation to safety, health and so on.
      And vested interests.

      • Randy WESTER says

        No, just saying the 4 percent is unimportant, if the thing in question is durable and long lived enough. If the car’s going to last 25 years but only, ever, go 250,000 km before the expwnsive battery goes bad, then 10,000 km a year low utilization gets all the use out.

        Utilization is a bigger deal If the car is going to rust out in 10 years and the battery is going to fail in 10 years regardless of distance driven. Even then, if the car’s going to get used 4% of the time the first 4 years, then do ride-sharing for another 6, or vice versa there’s no lost, unused potential.

        I agree with you, to the extent that the supply of electric vehicle components is limited, and additional low carbon electricity is available, the limited supply of batteries should primarily be used in public transportation, if it’ll be using strictly non-fossil electricity.

        As to the low carbon electricity supply, the supply of solar or wind power is neither driven nor limited by the demand for electric vehicles, and solar is still in single digit percentages.

        I don’t buy into the ‘it’ll get cleaner as the grid decarbonizes’ idea, because that tells me that the bus should go to Quebec, Iceland, or Norway instead, and maybe we should catch the next one.

  17. Randy WESTER says

    Gapminder has compiled some compelling statistics, laid out in Hans Rosling’s posthumous book ‘Factfulness’ in 2018, that seem to prove that culture is far less of a factor in ‘number of babies per woman’ than access to health care, immunization, nutrition, education, birth control, etc.

    Everywhere that infant mortality has gone down, birthrate also drops. Across cultures and religions, from the mountains to the coast, from the equator to the poles, from the richest to the poorest countries, many women seemingly want at least one child, but few want a half dozen.

  18. Philip Venton says

    How very well put Ian.
    I adopted rooftop solar when the Howard government provided subsidies in 2007, and firmly believe that we should continue to adopt as much solar and wind as practicable and with an appropriate understanding of the social and environmental impact of the massive land use to satisfy the scale needed.

    I recommend people view the part of this presentation prepared by Dr Robert Barr. It discusses the result of modelling the 2042 East Coast NEM demand forecast. The presentation highlights the overbuild in generation, transmission and storage needed for 100% renewable, and illustrates the impact if nuclear is used to provide baseload.

    Ignore the pro-nuclear introduction and concentrate on the energy system analysis. Understanding the workings of the demand-generation-transmission-storage interaction needed for continuous power, together with the land use (vegetation destruction) needed for large scale solar will help to understand why some people are now considering nuclear, particular the improved safety of modern BWR’s, and the new generation of reactors that use atmospheric pressure heat transfer.

    I could go on…..

  19. Lawrence Coomber says

    Not surprisingly:

    Most of we ordinary people, can only visualise and conceptualise the future through what we [in general terms] understand, and can relate to about things we know of, and can see around us today.

    We can all cut and paste ideas and simple concepts a bit, which has the net effect of remodelling or tricking up existing concepts in general terms, but what happens when quantum leaps are proposed, or strutted out and put before us to ponder?

    Well we all know the answer: quantum leaps tend to leave most of us in the wilderness as ordinary players, and a select few start to dominate the elite level only discussions, which we can never aspire to be a constructive contributor to.

    But this is precisely the nub of the issue, that defines the challenges we must now work on as a global science focussed community, and yes many will be left out of the conversation moving forward because we simply will be unable to contribute meaningfully.

    We do need quantum change at the technological level in all important things that will determine the quality of human existence going forward.

    What does this mean in simple terms for we ordinary people to understand?

    Foremost is that quantum technological change stems from providing to everyone the quantum change inspiring resources, that provides real pathways for the worlds best and brightest researchers; physicists; scientists; academics; engineers and others, to create new age technologies. From there the rest will unfold.

    For exampe: (1) New Food Technology Science (largely replacing inefficient natural food systems] that will be enduring and provide nutrition for all people at a miniscule cost. (2) New Materials Science Technology that will provide for new infra-structure development for global communities at a miniscule cost. (3) New People Transport and Mobilisation technologies that will provide mobility for all people at a miniscule cost.

    That is just for starters.

    The foundation for all these quantum leap technologies is, and can only be: clean, safe, massive, deployable everywhere at low cost, and massive power. Of course it must (and will) simultaneously reduce GHG emissions to insignificant levels.

    The link between massive low cost power everywhere in perpetuity, is immutable. That’s what the global brains trust is focussed on at the moment and working towards.

    The small cheese power technology hysteria and bickering happening everywhere this last 20 years, is just a necessary and predictable distraction that will, as history has shown us; fizzle out as the big players start to roll out their new age inspired technologies and systems.

    I badge this: the Global Energy Technology Imperative.

    But by all means, lets still all continue with the small talk around the subject as we move forward because that is what we do, and of course need to do. Its all part of the evolution of ideas process.

    Lawrence Coomber

    • Randy WESTER says

      “The link between massive low cost power everywhere in perpetuity, is immutable. That’s what the global brains trust is focussed on at the moment and working towards.”

      The link between… what? You didn’t actually make a link because you only had one object in the sentence.

      The global ‘brains trust’? Usually, it’s referred to as a ‘brain trust.

      That self-referent speech you posted sounds as if it was being written for some mythical world federation of scientists who controlled all global energy production, bemoaning the constant questions from the peasantry. Or a league of super-villains. But it hadn’t passed final editing.

      Sprinkling the word ‘quantum’ all over it didn’t help it make sense.

  20. Grahame Lingwood says

    This whole conversation is hilarious, reality check folks, the NBN is now complaining that Elon Musk and Starlink is ruining their business, Starlink was designed for rural and remote access in first world countries, so why are Canberrans signing up to it?
    Answer is anything that the government has anything to do with will fail, if they can’t supply a fibre network how on earth are they going to supply 240v’s,
    My feed in limit due to insufficient infrastructure isn’t likely to change, not anytime soon, EVER!
    My daughter lives in Sydney, parks her car on the side of the road somewhere along her street (not directly outside her townhouse very often) and parks in a multi storey carpark at work, just how exactly is she supposed to charge an EV?
    It’s very easy for the privileged few in their solar equipped 2 car garage houses to extoll the virtues of EV’s but for the rest of Australia (Penrith has just announced 32.000 new “dwellings” ffs) how are they supposed to charge these things, on peak, off peak, makes no difference if there isn’t a power point.
    All this “high brow” points scoring is completely missing the fundamental issue.
    Remember the original NBN was going to revolutionise comm’s in Aus, and bring us up to speed with Asia, well how did that work out?
    My next car will be an EV, But with my 3 car garage and an Enphase system to charge it during the day as I’m retired, what percentage of the Australian population do you think I represent?

    • Randy WESTER says

      I think the only credible EV charging solution for working people in daytime is to have access to charging at the parking lot they use for work.

      The match with solar production is excellent, and the employer has somewhere between a moral obligation and enlightened self-interest in making it less expensive and easier to get to work.

      • Ian Thompson says

        Hi Randy

        I agree – and I suspect you too can see the cost & convenience issues.

        Firstly, once everyone has an EV, is it necessary to have a charger for each car bay (e.g. in high rise car parks)? Or at least a high percentage, when it may become a case of ‘first in, best dressed’. Or perhaps 1 charger could service say 3 car bays – with all 3 cars plugged in but on a sequencing timer (much more than this, and there may not be the needed charge time per car). Then have an inconvenient roster or priority system, maybe?
        All this, with the relatively low duty-cycle of each charger (often not in service) increasing costs. Not everyone is able to ‘stagger’ their start times, to assist this process.

        Secondly, it will prove necessary for a rather significant upgrade of transmission infrastructure, to deal with the worse case demand requirements to transfer power from remote solar farms to each site.

        Thirdly, to deal with stormy days in mid-winter, it would prove necessary to provide massive over-build of the solar farm, coupled with very substantial grid-level batteries able to charge all connected cars over a day or two (or three) should lack of generation dictate. We don’t get many ‘free lunches’.

        Yes, I guess rostering systems could be devised – but what about an example of my experierience – common to many people – of rocking up to work early (before solar generation begins), then not long after driving off to various client’s properties for meetings, etc., on many but not all days? Then getting home in the dark!
        Should I have access to chargers both at my business, but also at each client site? Especially if travel is extensive, and charge-at-home over the weekend isn’t an option either (e.g Grahame’s 32,000 Penrith ‘dwellings’).

        To me, an expensive option to start with, and extremely inconvenient for many. Electric buses and trains may better suit some, but even then, many may be required to ‘park-and-ride’. Chargers at the parking stations?
        Higher utilisation of mass transit systems may become mandatory.

        But – I do not provide a representative demographic (c.f. Grahame) either.
        Travelling salemen, for example, may need to charge at home overnight, then again during several site visits during the day.

        I’d say we are in for massive costs, and huge societal changes.

        What with the $4M failure of Winton’s geothermal project (plus several other similar Qld developments put on hold), the demonstration $650M Aurora termination (or possible restructuring and re-purposing), and any number of failed wave power demonstrations (at considerable cost), I’m not at all confident that wind and solar represent other than an expensive interim short-term partial solution, either. Too many unknowns. As Nicholas Geary has stated, we would not like to get to 2050, only to find wind & solar & batteries haven’t ‘made it’.

        We simply MUST have contingency plans.

        • Randy WESTER says

          Once everyone has an EV.. they won’t. There’ll be steady increases in biofuel and synthetic fuel, and it might never reach 100%.

          Charging connections for every parking stall? Yes, eventually but not all on the first day. And even when most cars are EVs, even if they’re all capable of 10 kw, they won’t need to deliver that, all day long.

          Should all your clients have an EV charger available for you? Yes, probably, if they have electricity and a washroom and the ability to make a hot beverage, but w?hopefully inductive transfer instead of having to use a plug.

          Will the rural infrastructure required to feed all this energy back to the cities be a problem? Oh, heck yes. But it’s less of a challenge if we start with solar on rooftops in cities.

          Many already do park and ride here. Downtown parking in Calgary is $30 a day. But despite declaring a ‘climate emergency’ the jokers can’t be bothered to put in an amount of EV charging equipment that would make it look like they believed there was a problem.

          California had 596,000 megawatt-hours of solar curtailment in April. That’s a mighty large amount of potential EV charging, 600 KW-h for each EV in the state.

          When Australia starts to reach those levels of curtailment I’d hope that more access to work, school, hospital, shopping, etc. charging connections will help use it up. There’s getting to be a lot of food waste at the free lunch.

      • Ian Thompson says

        Hi Randy

        Ok – although I was thinking more of the ‘end game’ rather than transition – it seems better to know where we are going and plan suitable strategies, before we actually get there! We’ve had any number of renewable technology failures here in Australia (wave power, concentrated solar, geothermal).

        Yes, many people here in Western Australia use electric trains as well – although these are driven mostly by coal and NG at present (especially in the mornings and evenings) – however many still need to get from home to the train station carpark, and not all can use (predominantly diesel) buses.

        One site stated California had 425,300 EVs in use in February 2022. Doesn’t that imply nearer 1,200 kWh available per EV, in theory? Of course, for various reasons not all of the solar curtailment could be absorbed by these EVs – as some days solar may generate very little, and others far more than the EV’s can use. April in California would be mid-Autumn – and mid-Winter may involve a totally different scenario altogether. Perhaps 300 kWh/EV/month in winter. At about 6km/kWh consumption, this is 1,800km/month, 60km/day – which should be more than enough for most users? But, California has 23,472,111 registered passenger cars (sub-4,500kg) – so if all replaced with EVs the need would be about 55 times as much excess electricity production – in winter. Of course I realise that car ownership may change, and more solar will be installed.
        I’d think Solar panels on high-rise buildings in cities wouldn’t even provide enough energy to run their own HVAC systems, elevators, lights, photocopiers, computers – the list goes on. Similar for hospitals, police stations, etc., that also operate at night. So having little impact on EV charging infrastructure requirements?

        You concept of biofuel and synthetic fuel? Some websites state biofuel production would require substantial electricity consumption, and would likely have other detrimental environmental impacts – e.g. massive deforestation, land erosion, changing water table levels, habitat damage, etc. Australia is a very dry Continent. Synthetic fuel requires large quantities of electrical energy to make, and still emits about 15% of the CO2 of conventional FFs.

        We live in a Market-driven environment. In another life, I was tasked with undertaking Technical Assessments of applications for Venture Capital – you’d be AMAZED at the variety of requests – ALL aiming to make a buck out of their multitudinous concepts. But, the good ones got up – because their risk profile met the requirements for lending.
        If Solar & Wind are truly so cheap, cheap, cheap (with free steak knives thrown in!), I am at a loss to understand why these technologies cannot stand on their own two feet – you’d think that Venture Capitalists would be falling over themselves to put in MASSIVE amounts of wind and solar farms – as FFs would fail to compete. I’m not at all confident many protagonists have even STARTED to understand the complexity of complete systems, Worlwide, that involve a large degree of uncertainty, and huge costs. We cannot keep working with only marginal costs.
        To me, California’s curtailment figures are just representative of the massive amount of over-build needed to secure adequate energy under the worst-case (seasonal) conditions. And perhaps the lack of any competent and reasonable-cost long-term energy storage solutions (seasonal). From the curtailment figures, you can see why businesses might be reticent to invest in solar in California – which is possibly also why your so-called ‘jokers’ are not providing charging infrastructure. Too many unknowns.

  21. Lawrence Coomber says


    Haha. One for the “oldies” bravo zulu. [Navy lingo meaning very well said].

    Your insights are refreshing on the current topic, and tell me that you are experienced in not only “connecting the dots”, but you are also a “global numbers thinker”.

    An uncommon quinella for sure.

    I am probably a bit older electrical engineer than you, and still fully engaged both here and overseas as a designer/manufacturer and solutions installer of Off Grid/Micro Grid Power Technology Solutions and Water Technology Systems.

    But you should come out of retirement Grahame – and shake things up a bit in my opinion.

    Bravo Zulu again.

    Lawrence Coomber

  22. Lawrence Coomber says


    Nuclear, solar, hydro, wind and coal [in varying proportions] are the key global primary energy sources for utility scale electric power reticulation.

    Which ones will become obsolete this century and which one will rise to global mainstream prominence above all others?

    Oil is used for mechanical power for transportation via gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. The only competition overlap is natural gas, and currently natural gas is extremely abundant and moderately priced. Both oil and gas are vital for plastics and chemicals and even if they are artificially prohibited for energy, they are very valuable as a material.

    Oil may be economically recoverable for 100 years as there are large areas of both conventional and shale undiscovered worldwide.

    Natural gas worldwide has about 200 years to go also and this geological opportunity should be fully understood from the materials perspective.

    Both solar and wind have physical limitations and ongoing challenges most advocates ignore, the materials required to manufacture the huge number of complex parts to completely replace all the mechanical power for transportation alone with electrical power is incomprehensible.

    Even worse are the rare earth materials, often located in geo-political hot spots worldwide, required to make everything; from new solar cells to power electronics, and in particular very expensive traction motor magnets.

    Manufacturing trillions of solar cells and batteries will require a lot of hazardous chemical processing for both the initial devices themselves, and at end of life, recycling them.

    Wind turbines have a limited life as the mechanical parts wear out, and turbine and generator are essentially one unit that must be disassembled and replaced. The fiberglass blades cannot be recycled and must be buried in landfills.

    Definitely not a broad range of utopian solutions advocates claim.

    Making any meaningful power tech transition over the next 20 years, let alone 10 years is not going to be as feasible or practical as commentators think, no matter how many trillions are spent.

    The real problem is the limits and constraints of physics and chemistry not technology.

    So what are we left with that represents the final stage in the orderly and cost effective evolution of global in-perpetuity power generation technology?

    Answer: The power plant technology solution sitting at the top of the energy pyramid, which has already proven itself in service for many years now, but more particularly the SMR nuclear technology developed and refined by and for use of the US Navy since 1955, with not a single incident recorded, in both use in ships, submarines and land based utility generation plants.

    And this nuclear technology transition described is already well underway and being adopted and deployed just about everywhere, which simultaneously reduces GHG to insignificant levels permanently.

    The global scientific community is fully engaged with and supportive of the advance of nuclear generation technologies, despite the distraction of supporters of the boutique only and miniscule attributes of renewable energy technologies compared with nuclear.

    Lawrence Coomber

    • Geoff Miell says

      Lawrence Coomber,
      Oh dear – more fantasy.

      Oil may be economically recoverable for 100 years as there are large areas of both conventional and shale undiscovered worldwide.

      At what rates of oil and gas production, Lawrence? Current rates or a ‘trickle’?

      US energy analyst and advisor to various US Presidents, Dr. Robert L. Hirsch, said on 7 Nov 2012 in the YouTube video titled Dr. Hirsch, “The Nexus of Energy and Risk in the 21st Century”, from time interval 0:11:40 (bold text my emphasis):

      You’ve got to find it before you can produce it. That’s obviously sophomoric, but ah… some people don’t tend to think that way. You need to recognise the obvious. Pictures are here of Lower 48 States, the United States and the North Sea. That shows the discovery history over time and then production built up afterwards. It’s logical, of course, and then went into decline in both of those cases. Something like 30 years of difference between the peak of discoveries and the peak in production.

      Rystad said that 2021 global oil and gas discoveries were projected to sink to lowest level in 75 years.

      BPSRoWE-2021 indicates global crude oil Reserves-to-Production (R/P) of 53.5 years & global gas R/P at 48.8 years.

      Most of these oil and gas reserves need to stay in the ground if we wish to rapidly reduce human-induced GHG emissions that’s consequently leading to a much more hostile Earth System and civilisation collapse within this century.

      …but more particularly the SMR nuclear technology developed and refined by and for use of the US Navy since 1955, with not a single incident recorded, in both use in ships, submarines and land based utility generation plants.

      Not a single incident, eh Lawrence? A reminder of some US nuke sub losses/incidents with a few minutes search:

      * USS Thresher, sank April 10, 1963 during deep-diving trials after flooding, loss of propulsion.

      * USS Scorpion, a Skipjack-class submarine, sank May 22, 1968, evidently due to implosion upon reaching crush depth.

      * USS Guitarro (SSN-665): sank May 15, 1969 while pier-side in shipyard due to improper ballasting.

      * USS Guardfish suffered a primary coolant leak in 1973.

      There are none so blind as those who will not see.

      • Randy WESTER says

        Oil in the ground is often depicted as a giant poil with a straw in it, but it’s more of a greasy rock with oil in pores.

        Oil companies are constantly figuring out how to get more of that oil out. They used to think that getting 15% was excellent, now it’s more like 45%. This is why the existing oil producers are willing to fund anti-fracking documentaries, they don’t want competition.

        The accidents with nuclear submarines were caused by things other than the nuclear reactor. It’s unlikely that a reactor pinned to the bedrock in New Brunswick is going to suddenly descend to crush depth and kill the operations crew if there’s an electrical failure.

        It’s extremely important that these systems be as safe as possible, but we shouldn’t blindly blunder ahead with alternatives like dodgy hydro projects on shaky ground at a $16 billion cost because of an unreasoning fear.

  23. grahame lingwood says

    Thank you for the kind words Lawrence, but the days of banging my head against the brick wall of zealotic blindness are behind me.
    Apparently it IS! rocket science.
    It’s going to be a cluster of goats, with snafu followed by the depressingly predictable excuses, finger pointing, and abject failure of whatever solution “they” come up with.
    I hope I never have to converse with an unknown drip under pressure (X-spurt) ever again, or an Australian minister for that matter, I’m sure there’s a decent one somewhere, I just never came across it.
    People that find “yes minister” and “utopia” amusing/funny might not be so amused if they knew just how close to real life those shows are.
    Private enterprise? Whilst it’s expected to a certain degree that exploitation will take place, gouging is almost an Australian national sport, rat tests for $60 each? really! In the middle of a pandemic.
    What on earth is your “privately owned” charging point going to cost you when all you have is an EV, talk about monopolised distribution.
    Oh well, “it is was it is” and if it waddles and quacks it’s not a chicken, despite what various people would have you believe.

    Cheers Grahame.Lingwood

  24. Geoff Miell says

    To fully transition to electric transport, new car sales must be 100% electric — or so close it makes little difference. I think we’ll reach this point before 2035, but others are less optimistic.

    Hannah Ritchie, Head of Research at OurWorldInData, tweeted a thread on Jun 4, beginning with:

    Globally, nearly one-in-ten (9%) new cars sold in 2021 were electric.

    In 2020, this was 4%.

    In 2019, it was 2%.

    The IEA published a Global EV Data Explorer on May 23, including a graph of projections for world BEV and PHEV stock to 2030:

    2020: _3,372,728 (PHEV); __6,871,650 (BEV)
    2021: _5,224,038 (PHEV); _11,274,712 (BEV)
    2025: 19,052,422 (PHEV); _44,489,676 (BEV)
    2030: 45,116,820 (PHEV); 129,786,784 (BEV)

    IMO, the EIA has a propensity to get their projections wrong about the global energy transition, but is it any wonder why oil and gas companies are nervous and are pulling back on their long-term investments?

    Capital spending at the 100 largest energy companies in the S&P 500 topped out at $228 bn in 2014 and had already fallen by a third to $155 bn in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic drove capital spending budgets lower by another 40% in a single year to $91 bn in 2020. With oil prices nearing $100 per barrel, energy capital spending is only expected to reach $98 bn in 2022 and $110 bn in 2023 – half the levels in 2014 the last time oil was above $90 per barrel. Companies talk about how they are listening to their investors and not investing capital in their upstream business. Clearly the market is not acting as though there is an acute oil shortage.

    A head-in-the-sand approach helps no one.
    Governments need to plan the energy transition carefully.

    • Ian Thompson says

      Hi Geoffrey

      I read your gorozen link with some interest – particularly the following 3 quotes:

      “Today’s situation is the result of years of vehement rhetoric against the energy industry. Pundits have declared how oil stocks are the new tobacco stocks without the slightest understanding of complex global energy markets. Unfortunately, no one bothered to provide an equivalent Surgeon General’s report this time around.”

      “Neither GDP nor population grew until commercial coal deposits were developed in the seventeenth century.”

      “Last year, analysts believed energy companies must forgo any further upstream spending lest they risk stranding their assets and impairing their capital. Larry Fink and others admit that perhaps a dearth of capital spending may have negatively impacted global oil supply… Even OPEC+ spare capacity, long seen as the bearish Sword of Damocles hanging over oil markets, is now being called into question — something we have argued for a long time. In fact, the only bright spot in 2021 oil supply was again the US shales.”

      But all this is only a good thing in your mind, huh? Congratulations, your agenda acheived!

      Their final comment is illuminating:

      “We have argued for years that negative rhetoric and anaemic spending would bring about an energy crisis, and we think that is now upon us.”

      So – we are facing an energy crisis, that could well send the World backwards toward the dark ages? And, you want Government to manage transition (I read – provide huge subsidies)! Wish you luck with that.

      • Geoff Miell says

        Ian Thompson,
        So – we are facing an energy crisis, that could well send the World backwards toward the dark ages?

        Yep, plus an escalating climate crisis, plus an ongoing pandemic – IMO, all potentially existential for human civilisation (but not necessarily existential for the human species).
        See my earlier comments at:

        The Goehring & Rozencwajg post refers to:

        Neither GDP nor population grew until commercial coal deposits were developed in the seventeenth century.

        I’d suggest that’s not strictly correct, but I agree that GDP/population growth began accelerating with the beginning of the industrial use of coal. A much faster acceleration occurred with the beginning of the utilization of petroleum, particularly from the beginning of the 20th century, as shown below:

        10k BCE: ~ 4 million global human population
        0 BCE: ~ 190 million
        1700: _ ~ 600 million
        1800: _ ~ 990 million
        1900: _ ~ 1.65 billion
        1928: _ ~ 2 billion
        1975: _ ~ 4 billion
        1999: _ ~ 6 billion
        2022: _ ~ 7.9 billion
        See the graph titled The size of the world population over the last 12,000 years:

        But that has come at a steep price for current and future generations with increasing atmospheric GHG concentrations that are driving the Earth System to become more hostile for humanity and its civilisation.
        See Climate Dominoes at:

        I’d suggest petroleum, and more particularly diesel fuel, is currently the premier energy resource for our civilisation (for road, rail and marine transport, for mining and agricultural machines, etc.), yet global gasoil/diesel fuel production has been in decline since 2018.

        Fatih Birol, then chief economist at the International Energy Agency, wrote in Mar 2008: “We should not cling to crude down to the last drop we should leave oil before it leaves us. That means new approaches must be found soon.

        And, you want Government to manage transition (I read – provide huge subsidies)! Wish you luck with that.

        Do you have children/grandchildren, Ian? What’s your plan for the generations that follow after you, Ian?

  25. Lawrence Coomber says


    The critically essential global new age nuclear energy technology development and implementation strategy, never had a chance of being established throughout the last 15 years, which has been dominated by fanciful; hysterical at times; and vehement rhetoric through the global commentariat by: we ordinary people at large; polarising pop-up groups and movements; political parties; and global corporations.

    That’s why – there was never ever a chance – simply to much noise.

    The subject itself during this period was simply to big for the world of nations to establish a meaningful consensus on how to set up a sole select international commission as a single entity, for defining a global nuclear technological imperative and implementation strategy standard – for the benefit of all nations.

    This was and still is a necessary precursor to moving the subject forward.

    So we all became content with setting the bar very low around this topic, and instead the world encouraged and embraced the “many noisy voices – but no responsibility” miniscule renewable energy technologies model, which of course we are now enjoying the reverse benefits of, but a rapidly growing global view is now expressing, that much of what has been touted about renewable energy technologies as the ad-infinitum solution for global energy generation science which should be adopted by all and in all circumstances: is an utter and inescapable fantasy.

    Suggestion: we need to hear the voices of the worlds best and brightest “numbers scientists” which will of course predicate the global nuclear technological pathways forward.

    We have effectively lost a bit of time; but not motivation or need, in moving the global subject forward to its proper global technological outcomes; however the last 15 years discussions still had to be traversed first before we could wholeheartedly and enthusiastically move forward and come back on track.

    Lawrence Coomber

  26. Ian Thompson says

    Hi Lawrence, Ronald, Randy, Geoffrey Miell

    I agree with your comments 100% Lawrence – although feel your 15-year hiatus figure is a significant understatement. We had nuclear skills in Australia many, many years ago, but this has now been largely lost – mostly through the actions of the ‘noisy scrub birds’, as you have said. We are now well overdue to have a sensible discussion, based on science and reality rather than myth and folklore. Cheap political point scoring notwithstanding – Energy Minister Chris Bowen please note.

    My lecturer Gordon Lutz completed his engineering degree at UWA, then later returned to UWA to undertake roles as Senior Lecturer, Head of Department, and Dean of Engineering. He took his 1957 sabbatical at the Harwell Atomic Energy Research Establishment (UK), when the UK Atomic Energy Authority had just commissioned a pair of enriched uranium nuclear reactors. In 1965 he became Visiting Professor in Nuclear Engineering at San Jose State College in California – then returned to UWA. As well as thermodynamics, he lectured a unit of Nuclear Engineering that I was fortunate enough to attend around the mid-1970s. So, perhaps we have lost closer to 50 years?

    World renown Evolutionary Psychologist Steven Pinker provided the following link that examines the philosophy and ethics of utilising nuclear energy to assist and ensure decarbonisation (of the World, not just our little niche of it) – I feel you may all be interested in what they have to say:

    In Steven’s book, Rationality, he explains why many fail to logically understand that while ~ 4,000 people died because of the Chernobyl disaster, in comparison we have had ~ 4,000 people dying PER DAY, since mid-1986, due to our continued use of coal! 36 years! ~ 50 million dead! Get real!
    The link discusses ‘value deflation’ associated with variable renewable energy sources (VRE), something I have always understood, and the fact that EXCESSIVE regulation and deliberate malicious interference regarding nuclear build safety (increasing their costs, and slowing their commissioning), has effectively REDUCED past, present, and future public health and safety.
    They state that without nuclear, we may be setting ourselves up for a decarbonisation failure. They discuss FACILITATE in the sense, that leading nations need to be assisting poorer nations to decarbonise – also pointing out that the ‘elephant in the room’ risk, nuclear proliferation, will almost certainly be vastly reduced by the FACILITATE strategy (and ongoing developments).

    Geoffrey – IMO your continued use of the emotionally-charged statement “Do you have children/grandchildren, (person)? What’s your plan for the generations that follow after you, (person)?” is both ignorant, arrogant, totally lacking in compassion – and a great big red herring – you imply that people only care about own children, and don’t give a stuff about anybody else. How stupidly wrong can you be – it is a given that NO-ONE wishes to leave future generations in tatters – your comment makes you appear egocentric, and selfish in the extreme. A red herring because you choose to ignore science. May I suggest you read distinguished physicist Brain Greene’s book ‘Until the End of Time’ – within which he discusses how evolution has given the human species an adapted predisposition to form cooperative groups (to assist survival), and how mortality has augmented the desire for most to achieve, and to leave a (beneficial) mark for the future. Scientifically quite the exact opposite to what you are espousing. You may learn something, and at the very least (if you are able to grasp the concepts), gain a little perspective.

    I to wish our civilisation to endure – but fear your unwarranted and baseless restrictions and rhetoric will risk our future. I remain ‘for VRE’ up to a point, rooftop PV included, but also for nuclear – it may well ‘save us’.

    • Philip Venton says

      Ian Thompson, June 12.
      Well said.
      No matter what firming generation will always be required, whether it be coal, nuclear or storage. Large scale storage (Snowy 2) is impractical because there simply are not sufficient suitable sites, while batteries are for the foreseeable future, short duration.
      A solution with a significant proportion of nuclear operating at high load factor, with VRE / storage contributing the balance.
      The environmental fights against massive PV installations and many more transmission lines are only just commencing.

      • Randy WESTER says

        Still, there’s not much reason to protest against rooftop solar, and some load shifting and battery storage is possible. It can’t run everything, but it can run anything.

        Canada has nuclear power because much of the year it’s freaking cold, and relatively dark. It works well for southern Ontario, but that doesn’t meann it’s right for South Australia.

        We also have rooftop solar because it works pretty well for 6 months a year, especially on the dozen warm humid days of midsummer when we test our airconditioners, and kind-of works 3 other months. And that saves a lot of fuel.

        Solar can’t even *almost* heat our homes in Canada, but it seems a good match for a warm climate.

        If you stuck an almighty large pin into Hobart and rotated the continent 180 degrees around it, you’d approximate the Canadian solar potential. Still, it’s gotten so cheap that even here it can easily compete with grain farming, so there’s not much protest except from the usual wingnuts.

    • Geoff Miell says

      Ian Thompson,
      …you imply that people only care about own children, and don’t give a stuff about anybody else.

      I’d suggest many people do care about not just themselves and their own genetic offspring, but also others beyond their kin and kith. But there are some that evidently don’t care about others – I’d suggest there have been many tyrants throughout history, and in more recent times, like Putin, Pol Pot, Stalin, Hitler… and many less prominent psychopathic/sociopathic people. So I strongly disagree with your evidently ignorant statement: “…it is a given that NO-ONE wishes to leave future generations in tatters…

      My phrase “the generations that follow after you” was intended to refer to all generations of people (alive now or as yet unborn) that follow after the generation that you (and others) are part of, and I was not specifically referring only to your own existing or potential genetic offspring.

      A red herring because you choose to ignore science.

      What science are you referring to, Ian? It seems to me, apparently unlike you, I follow the extensive body of scientific evidence/data. I think it is you that ignores evidence/data that is inconvenient for your ill-informed ideological narrative.

      …evolution has given the human species an adapted predisposition to form cooperative groups (to assist survival), and how mortality has augmented the desire for most to achieve, and to leave a (beneficial) mark for the future.

      And yet evidently we as a species continue unabated to emit more GHGs into the atmosphere that’s driving the Earth System to become more hostile for humanity and its civilisation.

      How is the continued trashing by us/humanity, of our home planet leaving a beneficial mark for the future, Ian?

      I to wish our civilisation to endure…

      And yet, despite my prodding on several occasions at this blog, you still won’t reveal any plan that may assist in that wish. It seems to me perhaps you don’t have any plan, but are quite content denigrating others that don’t include nuclear (and gas).

      Wishing alone won’t necessarily make it happen, Ian.

      …but fear your unwarranted and baseless restrictions and rhetoric will risk our future.

      I interpret your “emotionally-charged” statement to mean that you fear me for risking “our future”. ? WOW!!! As if I have that reach/degree of influence! ???

      Ian, IMO, it’s you that’s “ignorant, arrogant”, and living in fantasyland. Get a grip on reality, Ian! ?

  27. Lawrence Coomber says

    Well its more than 50 years Ian:

    From my perspective and experience, I date it as [60 years and 7 months] time lost, for Australian scientific innovation to be awakened to the absolute necessity to develop nuclear power generation technology.

    That date was 25th Nov 1961, the date the USS Enterprise [Aircraft Carrier] the first nuclear powered warship [not submarine] was commissioned.

    I was only 12 then but it didn’t take me long to get connected with the Enterprise and learn firsthand about the importance of nuclear power generation. 1970 was my first encounter with the Enterprise as a young electrical power and missile systems engineer in the Royal Australian Navy serving in a destroyer escort and exercising with the Enterprise in Asian waters.

    First thing I learned was, it didn’t burn oil or have a smoky funnel like my ship, secondly it didn’t need repetitious oil fuelling at sea like my ship. The Enterprise carried its expected service lifespan of uranium fuel, inside a very small space, the day it first set sail in November 1961.

    I got very familiar of course during my Navy career working with nuclear naval ships and submarines and particularly when stationed in Pearl Harbour in the early 70’s being invited onto them.

    It was the US Navy modular applications for nuclear power generation for ships and submarines, that soon paved the way for shore based nuclear power generation, and the industry as we know it today was born.

    In some small talk situations I found myself in during the 70’s and early 80’s I had the opportunity to recount my US navy nuclear experiences with two outstanding world famous nuclear physicists and leaders in their field: Sir Mark Oliphant and Sir Ernest Titterton (Manhattan Project). They left me with deep impressions.

    Both Sir Mark and Sir Ernest headed up the ANU Science Faculty during the tail end of their careers, and I enjoyed several brief but illuminating discussions in the 80’s with Sir Earnest Titterton.

    How Australia as a nation, failed to capitalise on the presence in our scientific institutions of the day, of these two brilliant physicist, escapes me.

    Titterton in particular was a strong public advocate of nuclear power in Australia, arguing relentlessly and forcibly at every opportunity during the 1970’s that: – “nuclear power was the cheapest, cleanest and safest method of power production yet devised by man”.

    Doesn’t this sound just like the generation attributes that we are all calling for to mitigate climate change and its 2022. The 1970’s were 40 years ago?

    You could be forgiven for thinking that a comment as precise and compelling as that, coming from someone so qualified and renowned globally in this subject; might have mobilised some interest by the political elite at the time: but it didn’t.

    And here is a must read letter by Sir Ernest dated Jan 1979, and you need not go any further than page 1 to understand (1) why nuclear energy generation is a must have, and (2) the irrational global behaviour standing in the way of its adoption: –

    Sound familiar. Seems like history is repeating itself. As it does.

    Lawrence Coomber

    • Ian Thompson says

      Ha – I was only 11 at that time…

      Liked your link – a great read – what is old is new again…!

      Appreciated the blunt comment: ‘…it is a division between those who know what they are talking about, and those who don’t’, and

      ‘(reducing energy use)…would certainly lower living standards for most of the Western World. There would, therefore, be great opposition and, on the time-scale facing us, such demands for self-sacrifice, foresight and altruism make this option a non-starter.’

      i.e. a failure to decarbonise (World-wide).

      Philip Venton points out further aspects of the ‘value deflation’ of VRE – beyond the simple economics of massive over-build, massively enhanced transmission infrastructure, and costly storage solutions needed (once you start to ‘build out’ a viable complete SYSTEM). As he states, there is growing opposition to clearing land for massive solar farms, and for massively more transmission lines – already. I know of similar opposition to wind turbines. Visual pollution included.

      Some years ago I travelled through Italy – our (Italian) guide pointed out some solar installations in farm land – noting that many farmers were finding that feeding in energy from these was making them more money than the crops they would otherwise plant (they had a much greater FiT than here). But further, that Government had been forced to restrict this practice, for reasons of food security – they were losing far to much arable land to be able to feed their nation. Probably true for many countries.

      Whilst not so much of a problem for Australia – we will still need massive amounts of transmission line right-of-way cleared into our more dense population centres. I most certainly would not wish to live underneath or anywhere near a transmission line – quite apart from the visual impacts.

      At UWA, I recall a government-funded remote-area power supply investigation research project was underway (RAPSI) – the issue being that transmission line extensions to remote farmland are enormously expensive, whilst only generating a very small income. Hence the rise of ‘niche’ solar PV + battery solutions that we now see. Very expensive, but still cheaper than the transmission line option. Telstra used this solution in the past, to unload the burden of transporting diesel, oil, and service mechanics to remote diesel-powered microwave links, etc.
      So whilst PV costs have reduced by an order of magnitude since then, some advocate we now revert to the expensive (and only partially utilised) extra transmission lines + batteries again – to our city centres.

      As my previous link showed – it’s easy to make VRE power appear cheap at lower levels of penetration – much harder once you need to provide system reliability without FF. Then, more expensive than nuclear. So, to me a mix (wind, PV, hydro, nuclear) makes much more sense, reduces overall costs, and significantly decreases our risk of failing to decarbonise.

  28. Randy WESTER says

    Dr. David Mackay once stated that the UK could most easily satisfy its electricity needs with nuclear power. No need for wind turbines or solar farms or biofuel at all. Once you had enough nuclear power, you couldn’t add any value by adding solar generation. But that was the UK, not Australia.

    The great usefulness of solar power is that humans tend to be more active and using energy during the day. And rooftop solar is the cream of the solar market, because almost all electricity is used in and around buildings.

    Australia doesn’t have the seasonality of solar that affects northern Europe and Northern North America, so it’s quite plausible that Australia will see ever greater solar utilization with home battery storage.

    But please don’t expect that you can implement a Canadian-style $170 per tonne CO2 carbon tax, tell people that solar is now officially ‘cheaper’, and see everyone immediately happy with double the utility bills.

  29. Ian Thompson says

    Ah, Geoffrey

    I have, in fact, previously elucidated my thoughts on a Plan to deal with transition. Including Wind & PV & battery requirements, and a timeframe. But I hadn’t included the massive investments in transmission infrastructure & upgrades required, at that time.

    Can you recall I presented estimates for future electricity demand, and calculations to determine the quantity of PV & Wind & batteries to achieve these requirements, based on known PV & Wind performances?
    The need to commission at least 1 x Hornsby-sized wind farm (or Solar-farm equivalent) per week to achieve our requirements? Going to 2 x Hornsby-sized plants per week after the initial plants reach an age of about 14 years old (allowing for inverter and panel or turbine degradation)? This all JUST FOR AUSTRALIA. Plus, about twice that rate of Big Battery commissioning.

    Yet, you CONTINUE to assert that I have not done so?

    I am not confident that we understand the risk ramifications of your agenda, either – nor am I confident at all that our present rates of development, even accelerated, will achieve what we need done within the required timeframes. I agree strongly with Nicholas Geary here.

    Rooftop PV aside – these have a place in the long-term interim, as it involves no land cost, and has financial benefits to the householder (at least, for the moment – Synergy may change this for us in WA down the track).

    BTW Geoffrey – your comments essentially proved the point I was making…! And what about all the 3rd World countries, Geoffrey? If they fail to decarbonise, our we will have failed our mission.

    But where is your Plan, Geoffrey? I’ve never seen ANYTHING from you.

    • Geoff Miell says

      Ian Thompson,
      I have, in fact, previously elucidated my thoughts on a Plan to deal with transition.

      Then you should be able to link to them, Ian?

      But I hadn’t included the massive investments in transmission infrastructure & upgrades required, at that time.

      So it’s not a comprehensive plan then, Ian? Just bits and pieces (thought bubbles?) that don’t effectively contribute to drastically reducing human-induced GHG emissions ASAP? How do you expect to convey the energy when you haven’t included the necessary transmission infrastructure to make it work, Ian? Oh, dear! ?‍♂️

      Yet, you CONTINUE to assert that I have not done so?

      Yep, you’ve confirmed it. ?

      I am not confident that we understand the risk ramifications of your agenda…

      My agenda has been quite clear. I’ve been warning about the consequences that if humanity cannot rapidly reduce human-induced GHG emissions ASAP then human civilisation is likely to collapse before the end of this century. Breaching the +3 °C global mean warming threshold means the northern third of Australia likely becomes unlivable. Many parts of Australia will become progressively uninsurable. Too slow to deploy & horrendously expensive nuclear (and more fossil gas) won’t save us. Have you not been paying attention, Ian?

      I agree strongly with Nicholas Geary here.

      What does that prove, Ian? IMO, one nuclear fantasist agreeing with another. ?

      And what about all the 3rd World countries, Geoffrey?

      Ah, whataboutery! Third world countries aren’t the big GHG emitters, Ian. Australia is one of the big GHG contributors – reiterating a previous comment: Australia, as the world’s fourth largest coal producer and seventh largest gas producer, is not a “small backwater contribution.”

      If they fail to decarbonise, our we will have failed our mission.

      Yep, but Australia and the the other big GHG contributors need to pull their weights substantially much more, and fast.

      But where is your Plan, Geoffrey? I’ve never seen ANYTHING from you.

      There are none so blind as those who will not see. I thought it was quite obvious that I defer to and reference those that have already done the comprehensive work. ?

      • Randy WESTER says

        Mining coal doesn’t cause more coal to be burned, unless there’s a desperate shortage of the stuff, and it’s between that and freezing to death. And in that case it’d be inhumane to withhold it.

        But in any case, gluttony is not the fault of the farmer.

        • Ian Thompson says

          I agree Randy

          Although yesterday evening N.S.W. was generating 7.25 GW from black coal, none from PV, maybe up to 0.08 GW from batteries, and the whole of Australia about 2.6 GW from wind (negligible in N.S.W.). I wasn’t even aware that N.S.W. had that level of coal-sourced generating capacity. So, we are presently using more coal than normal – but it is winter here.

          So, Australia’s indigenous generation using FF contributes ~ 1.3% to global GHG emissions. Yet Geoffrey ascribes ~ 5%, as we export coal and NG – in his mind suggesting we are a very significant global contributor. I agree with you – it is up to our customers to reduce FF-dependence – but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

          Yet – he doesn’t appear to use the same logic for gasoline – which we mostly import – pushing EVs as a means of reducing our GHG emissions. Using his argument, an EV will not reduce GHG emissions for gasoline in Australia very much, as this is ‘owned’ by our gasoline vendor. Instead, we will be forced to use coal or NG to charge these vehicles – thereby significantly INCREASING our contributions.

          Using the ‘finite reservoir theory’, I don’t ‘buy’ the ‘bended charging’ argument – if we add demand while we are still using FF, then unless this can ALL be made up by taking up otherwise curtailed VRE generation, this will be functionally equivalent to coal-sourced EV charging. And, because our coal power stations are so inefficient, by calculation the EV will effectively emit more GHG than a modern gasoline vehicle will.

          Despite the stupid arguments, I feel we must strive to reduce GHGs as much and as quickly as we can – Worldwide – especially from coal – but how can we ethically deprive coal from those who have no other option, and desperately need it?

          • Geoff Miell says

            Ian Thompson,
            Yet – he doesn’t appear to use the same logic for gasoline – which we mostly import – pushing EVs as a means of reducing our GHG emissions.

            Transitioning to EVs will reduce Australia’s GHG emissions. I’d suggest more importantly, in a post- ‘peak oil’ supply world, it reduces Australia’s petroleum dependency (that I think is another aspect you appear to be wilfully blind to), that will improve Australia’s longer-term transport energy security.

            In March 2022 Australia’s petroleum product imports had reached almost AU$4 billion per month, an increase of 70% compared to December 2019. In other words, Australia’s balance of trade is worsening by continuing to remain petroleum dependent.

            At what price will petroleum fuels get too much to bear for Australian consumers? $3/litre? $5? $10? And when?

            Ian, perhaps you may be well-off financially & you may be more resilient to rising petroleum fuel prices in the short- to medium-term, but I’d suggest there will be many Australians that won’t be so fortunate, particularly those that need to travel longer distances frequently.

            Instead, we will be forced to use coal or NG to charge these vehicles – thereby significantly INCREASING our contributions.

            Coal may exit Australia’s grid a lot quicker than most people think. The latest ISP step change scenario assumes all brown coal gone by 2032, all NSW coal generators by 2038/39, and the last Queensland generators by 2041/42.
            See the latest ISP “Step-change” scenario for NSW, Victorian & Queensland coal-fired power:

            The bigger problem I see is the time it may take to retire Australia’s ICEV fleet while building up its EV fleet. See the recent (Jun 28) twitter thread by Tom Quinn at:

            …but how can we ethically deprive coal from those who have no other option, and desperately need it?

            On, pleez, Ian, stop regurgitating fossil fuel propaganda. There are options that it seems to me you wilfully won’t/don’t see.

            The world is experiencing unprecedented fuel price increases, energy blackmail between countries, up to 7 million air pollution deaths per year worldwide and one climate-related disaster after another. Critics contend that a switch to renewable energy to solve these problems will create unstable electricity grids and drive prices up further. However, a new study from my research group at Stanford University concludes that these problems can be solved in each of the 145 countries we examined — without blackouts and at low cost using almost all existing technologies.


  30. Lawrence Coomber says

    The key global innovative new energy technology players: –

    BTW – [Australia is not yet one of them though]: who hold the technological wherewithal in the new energy generation technology sector, are well aware that greenhouse gasses can only be permanently reversed to insignificance by massively eliminating dependency on fossil fuel power generation and combustion [in all of its forms], globally.

    So in a single sentence – that is the sum of the technical challenge ahead.

    The key players all know that, and they are already well advanced technically, and politically, moving this imperative forward incrementally. Of course there is more work ahead – and that state of play is termed “an adoption and implementation timeline”.

    The corporate and scientific business models and commercial opportunities are well defined and recognised, and of course they will not stand by and allow this issue to go on forever and a day, unanswered. As modern day people we are simply not wired like that!

    Future historians will look back at this period and reflect that the global collective, probably mobilised and responded quite effectively and appropriately, to the greenhouse gasses challenge: and at about the right time in history (+ or – about 10 – 20 years) I estimate. Yes agreed; the timeline could have been improved – but considering we have had a fractious period of history this last 50 odd years, the results will be scored nevertheless highly by those that follow.

    If trends account for anything (and regarding technology, they account for just about everything) I can predict with certainty that there is a lot of innovative new concept technologies unfolding in labs globally, which are close to fruition and commercialisation over the next 10 – 20 years. They are much needed, and like many others, I am even tinkering in this space as well.

    So let’s move on and embolden the BIGGER conversation about “new age” energy intensive technologies and industries that the world must have to move us all forward. I refer to them as “global equalising technologies”.
    New Food Production Technologies; New Mobilisation and Transport Technologies; New Sea Water Science Technologies; Infrastructure and Material Science Technologies; Stage 4 Robotics Science Technologies. On and on the list goes and grows.

    Of course they will only be possible because of the adoption and deployment of the new age “global energy imperative” having been met everywhere which provides for of course: a single standard energy paradigm which demands for: Massive, Clean, Safe, Very Low Cost, Reticulated, Modular, Scalable, Low Footprint, and Easily Deployed, power: for the use of all people, communities, states and nations globally, to advance global prosperity, standards of living for all people, harmony and equality.

    That’s it – and nothing less cuts it. Setting low bars is not an option that should ever [and will not] be tolerated, in this emerging new age era.

    Remaining persistent and patient with this single focussed goal, is the way to ensure it is achieved: in perpetuity.

    Lawrence Coomber

  31. Grahame Lingwood says

    Gentlemen why does this conversation even exist?
    You need to accept that humans are tribal.
    You are not going to convert a died in the wool leftist to a rightist or vice versa. We as humans form an opinion and then continue as if it was universal law.
    F knows why, maybe some academic somewhere can give me a clue.
    There’s a reason why no and sorry are apparently the two hardest words to say in almost any language on the planet, the first is reserved for the majority that don’t want to upset anyone, the second is because basically you are admitting that you are/were wrong, when was the last time you heard a leader (politician) use either of these words, Putin included.
    The world as we know it is doomed (my belief) too little too late, and as my old dad used to say “when all is said and done son, there’ll be far more said than done”
    I lived in third world (PNG) for a long time and always thought if there was ever a nuclear war that screwed us these guys wouldn’t even notice, I’m now getting comments “hey boss weather him gone buggarup” wet season crops failing due to insufficient water, and dry season crops rotting due to excess rain.
    This has been getting a lot worse in the last 5 or 6 yrs, and yet the the usual idiots are spruiking 2030/2050 zero emissions, it’s a moot point.
    15%(ish) of global population is considered 1st world, USA is included in this although anyone that has been there would question the stat’s.
    IF? we could magically create nuclear power stations, where would the waste go?
    IF? we could magically create a billion solar panels on available land where would the waste go (end of life)
    Where is Elons “big battery” going to go when it’s dead?
    Remember that we currently have “recycled glass” filling warehouses because “new is cheaper”
    Wind/tidal same issues, cost of manufacture then maintenance, disposal.etc
    It all comes back to Tribal.
    Why does a multi billionaire seek more money/power/influence, at the expense of the climate, end of day it doesn’t matter, it’s the human condition, not everyone for sure, but enough that IMHO were going back to a time where like the rest of our planets life forms we will adapt to the environment rather than adapt the environment to us.
    Final thought, the chicken you just ate used to be a reptilian dinosaur (alleged) that ate mammals, funny how things turn around given enough time.
    Cheers G

    • Ian Thompson says

      Hi Grahame

      Re- your ‘F knows why…’ comment.

      If you’re at all interested, I’d suggest a read of Steven Pinker’s book ‘Rationality’ might provide some clues (he’s a World-renown Evolutionary Psychologist). He postulates that survival adaptation of humans over evolution, will (may?) have pre-disposed us to form like-minded groups (tribes?). A warning, though – I found the book quite cerebral…!

      As an aside – I have read many commentators (and heard from engineer friends) – saying that power systems analyses and designs (and project planning) for decarbonisation would be best served by taking then away from politics and the politicians, and handing the job over to engineers and scientists.

      I try to use simple calculations from actual data, and engineering knowledge and methods – and don’t have any agenda (or even political preferences – they seem all as bad as one-another) – but these get ‘howled down’ by the noisy scrub turkeys – in spite of the engineering relevence of any conclusions demonstrated. They’d rather use flawed and biased logic.

      Ideology and ignorance reins supreme!

  32. Ian Thompson says

    Ah – Geoffrey

    You and I are guilty of Ad Hominem – although difficult not to get caught up this way, I’m going to attempt to avoid this tendency for all future posts. I feel though, that continual repetition of the consequences of global GHGs do not add much value towards determining what needs to be done, and the best means to achieve this, to address these GHG issues.

    But I do need to respond to your most recent statements – as I consider many are accurate. I had assumed (my error), that providing adequate network capacity to support connecting more remote (or even local) variable renewable energy sources (VRE) into the grid, was a given. Who would think otherwise? Not ‘thought bubbles’ Geoffrey – I am a professional engineer. It is a technical FACT that transmission lines must be designed to safely carry a design-maximum load but are mostly heavily under-utilised when connected only to VRE. Poor duty-cycle, so large unit-costs. Of course, batteries near the source could help here – but again at large cost, and high maintenance & replacement costs.

    Hence my statements about ‘gold-plated’ transmission lines and battery requirements.

    You state that Nicholas Geary, Lawrence Coomber, me, and many others, are Nuclear Fantasists – do you consider then, by extension, that ALL scientists and engineers presently working on or successfully utilising nuclear to reduce GHGs are also Fantasists (what great Hubris that would be)?

    I say ‘what about 3rd World countries’ – not because they are not big GHG emitters presently Geoffrey – but because I feel we have some compassion and responsibilities to ensure they are able to improve their lot in life, like we have done. So, soon they WILL become larger GHG emitters – unless we provide a means to address this. We need to be starting NOW.

    I find it STUNNING that you totally reject the possible application of a well-known, safe, and steady low-GHG source of energy – even though it is well known that VRE does need extensive ‘firming’ to allow its incorporation into the network. Witness the ‘near misses’ of rolling blackouts and State-blacks recently experienced on the Eastern seaboard. Coal has been what bailed you out – once rectified I saw (on the Widget one evening, no PV) the fossil fuelled contribution was around 82% of demand – I was not even aware previously that NSW had the huge level of Coal generation capacity. Of the 18% from renewables, wind was only contributing about 7%, the remainder non-VRE hydro.

    Geoffrey, you have stated you don’t have a Plan, but rely on others (like me?) to deal with this. With respect, it does not appear that you have any concept of the magnitude of the costs and work required to replace our FF generation with largely VRE sources. I have, as I have previously calculated and posted a future demand estimate (using regression on a dual logarithm, from ~ 100 years of actual data), the number of Hornsdale-equivalent wind (and/or PV) farms, with batteries, that will be required, what rate of commissioning we will require to get there, and some idea of the costs. Gold-plated transmission lines, MASSIVE commitments to batteries, synchronous condensers – the list goes on.

    I tire of the ongoing rhetoric ‘solar is cheap, the cheapest source of energy, it is really cheap, believe me as I know (FIGJAM)’, as I feel the logic behind these statements is seriously misleading, and seriously flawed. PV and wind will NOT be cheap, if all the firming (batteries and condensers), over-build needed, and under-utilised transmission line capacity costs are added in. Geoffrey, you do really need to familiarise yourself with the energy system analysis that Philip Venton spoke of – he provided a link to professionals who have modelled the Eastern seaboard They concluded that nuclear, with a component of wind and PV added, provides the lowest cost option. Another that we have an ethical obligation towards nuclear.

    I agree Nuclear can not meet the agenda of YOUR timeframe – but I very seriously doubt that has a snowflake’s chance in hell of being achieved, anyway. With respect, I find it difficult to understand why, without adequate knowledge of any of the above, you are willing to risk permanent decarbonisation failure by NOT including nuclear into the future mix – even if it IS a little late.

    • Randy WESTER says

      Interesting points. I would like to add that Canada’s largest nuclear power plant has been producing twice as much electricity annually for each of thr last 35 years, as Australia produced from solar in 2021.

      Some of the units in the oldest plant have run 3 years at full power nonstop.

      The commissioning dates for the individual reactor units are about 2 years apart, because while the first units took 4 or 5 years from startbof construction to powering up, multiple units can be built simultaneously.

      Because we Canadians need electricity for heat more than anything, nuclear power is a good fit here. So’s hydro, if you have the largest lakes in the world and a 500 foot high waterfall.

      • Ian Thompson says

        Thanks Randy – you also make very interesting points and observations:

        Clearly, electricity produced by nuclear is inherently more valuable than VRE – as it is available when it is needed (e.g. at night, mid-winter), and does not suffer the round-trip efficiency losses associated with battery chargers, batteries, and inverters – nor the poor round-trip efficiencies of pumped hydro.

        Your comment about starting several nuclear builds staggered by only 2 years (I guess it could be even less) is an important point – and could very well save us from a decarbonisation failure for the long term.

        Whilst I agree that Australia has greater potential for VRE, we still have to get through winter – as recent events have shown. Very recently, our Western Australian Premier committed to adding another desalination plant – to be located near the coast within an outer suburb to the north of Perth. Our Water utility has a waste treatment plant there. It has been proposed that it ‘might’ be powered by new wind turbines – located somewhere in our wheat-belt. So, heavy (under-utilised) transmission line costs, and intermittent generation. Now, I happen to know desalination plants don’t take well to variable supplies – they need to run at design power, and stopping them can cause damage to the RO menbranes – so EXTREMELY large and expensive battery facilities as well. Our other 2 plants run flat-out, with ~ annual stops for membrane maintenance/replacement.

        Nuclear would be an EXCELLENT fit.

        I’m not sure that even electrolysers would respond well to a highly variable power supply – but if they are tolerant, they would appear a good fit for VRE. So long as a seasonally and daily reduced production of hydrogen isn’t a problem as well.

    • Geoff Miell says

      Ian Thompson,
      I agree Nuclear can not meet the agenda of YOUR timeframe…

      It’s not my timeframe. It’s the timeframe dictated by humanity’s historical, current and ongoing GHG emissions and the response by the Earth System to it, defined by the Laws of Physics.

      “…but I very seriously doubt that has a snowflake’s chance in hell of being achieved, anyway.”

      With that attitude, it becomes self-fulfilling. IMO, you’ve written-off your family’s (and humanity’s) futures.

      ICYMI, Professor Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Centre at Manchester University, in the YouTube video titled Kevin Anderson methane is a transition fuel to 4°C, published Jun 5, IMO was telling it bluntly, including (bold text my emphasis):

      0:09:32:So, there’s lots of money around the world being spent on gas, erm, and the rhetorical language around it is that it’s a transition fuel – it’s, it’s probably accurate – it’s a transition fuel to four degrees Centigrade of warming. It’s not a transition to one-point-five to two degrees Centigrade of warming.

      0:19:08:To do it in the timeframe to stay within 1.5, I disagree with virtually all the economists on this that it’s going to be – enthusiastic economists for this transition – I don’t think it will be cheap. I think it will be very, very, very, very costly, but much less cost than not doing it. I think we’ve underplayed the cost of making these transitions. There’s not just the economic cost, but the social disruption that is required, particularly in the wealthy parts of the world, as we rapidly make this transition. Now if we’d made it earlier, we could have made it in a, in a much more sort of measured, careful, you know, staged fashion. When you’re faced with an emergency, the emergency measures typically are challenging, and we are in a climate emergency. As I say, every month we’re using just under one per cent of the remaining carbon budget.

      0:37:40:If we carry on as we are today, then the prospects don’t look promising; look at them and they look really dire. But we don’t have to carry on as we are today. And then what some people say, and this is what the really deep doomsters’ sort of view of this is that we are already past all the tipping points. But what I like about the uncertainty in the science, and I don’t mean the uncertainty about, you know: is climate change caused by reducing, by er, by emitting carbon dioxide – all of that we know – but we don’t know exactly what the response to the climate is going to be, so we don’t know whether we’ve passed the tipping points, or not. And because we don’t know that, then it’s worth trying everything we can to avoid passing them. The lower the temperature that we can hold to, the less chance that you pass tipping points. And so, you know, it’s, it’s almost an, an excuse or a defence for inaction, to say we are too late. But we don’t know we’re too late.

      • Phil Venton says

        This conversation had got to the stage of being excessively boring.
        Ian reflects good engineering knowledge, Geoff reflects the idealists with little understanding of the practicality, the engineering or the economics of moving to renewable energy.
        And this all started from a paper on the new generation needed to support the demand of EV’s.
        There is clearly no middle road.
        How about we terminate this discussion and look to a future article by Ronald Which we can use to start a meaningful discussion.

  33. Lawrence Coomber says

    It is always best to end a discussion point on a more positive note:

    BRUSSELS, July 6, 2022 (Reuters)

    The European Parliament has today officially backed the European Commission’s decision to label investments in nuclear and gas as ‘green.’

    The European Parliament on Wednesday backed EU rules labelling investments in gas and nuclear power plants as climate-friendly.

    Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association Tom Greatrex said: “Nuclear’s inclusion in the EU taxonomy is a huge victory for science.

    Nuclear is green, with the lowest lifecycle carbon, lowest land use, and lowest metal use of all electricity generation technologies. The UK should now give nuclear the green label it deserves in our own taxonomy, to make it cheaper and easier to finance nuclear projects and to establish the UK as a green finance leader.”

    The new rules will add gas and nuclear power plants to the EU “taxonomy” rulebook from 2023, enabling investors to label and market investments in them as green.

    Lawrence Coomber

    • Geoff Miell says

      Lawrence Coomber,
      The new rules will add gas and nuclear power plants to the EU “taxonomy” rulebook from 2023…

      IMO, it’s like the State of Florida reportedly banning the terms “climate change” and “global warming” – the same degree of stupidity in effectively ignoring/denying the reality of the non-negotiable Laws of Physics.

      “…gas, erm, and the rhetorical language around it is that it’s a transition fuel – it’s, it’s probably accurate – it’s a transition fuel to four degrees Centigrade of warming.” – Professor Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Centre at Manchester University

      As for the reported comments by Tom Greatrex, I’d suggest tell him he’s dreaming! ??

    • Ian Thompson says

      Hi Lawrence

      Perhaps not surprisingly, I fail to see any relevance of Geoffrey’s comparison between Florida’s banning of the term “climate change”, and that of Europe making it easier for developers to provide a technology to near-eliminate GHG emissions when generating energy. Nuclear, too, operates under the “non-negotiable Laws of Physics”.

      Clearly – Europe has an energy crisis – and must provide a means of keeping people warm enough to survive during savage winters – of a type that we simply do not have here in Australia (even though, we STILL generate electricity using around 80% or so fossil fuelled sources – I’ve seen 84%, at night on a fairly regular basis at the present time – Winter). Clearly, Europe has been forced to make pragmatic decisions to support their populations. NG obviously for a transitional even if a short term role.

      I found this link rather interesting – makes me think we are being railroaded by the ideologues into becoming a 3rd World country:

      Lot of technologies, numerous research sites, but NOTHING in Australia.
      HUGE opportunities…

      • Hi Ian, Can you comment on that ?
        I am a Frenchman living in Australia and really interested by those discussions.
        Unfortunately my English is not good enough to have the level of articulate input you guys have on this forum. I am just a passive reader here.
        I am electrician in Qld too by the way.

        • Ian Thompson says

          Hi Thierry

          Hm-mm – not good. But I guess any thermal plant (e.g. coal, NG thermal) would have the same problems. I have travelled on the Rhone, Danube, and the Rhine – but the issues then were high water levels limiting bridge clearances.

          France has long been a World Leader in Nuclear – perhaps the real problem is that not enough countries have taken their lead – if they had, probably we wouldn’t be in this present global warming fiasco. But, point taken – with global warming, we have higher temperatures to deal with. Perhaps future nuclear plants should be located closer to the ocean (but, not like Fukishima, with inadequate sea walls).

          However, countries like Canada have high heating requirements during their harsh winters, which have only short days, many of which are overcast (far less capacity to generate solar PV energy). So perhaps it is a matter of ‘horses-for-courses’.

          I also travelled across much of Europe, when there was a 3-year drought occurring – we travelled past large numbers of wind farms, and seldom saw ANY wind turbines running (yet, observed several nuclear plants that were generating PRODIGIOUS amounts of power). It was during this period, that Germany had to take several of their large retired coal stations out of mothballs. On the way home, we visited Macau (off Hong Kong) – where I observed a cliff-top wind farm across the ocean, with not 1 turbine turning – yet a large coal station at the bottom of the cliff (ocean-side) was POURING out power (and smoke).

          So – I accept France had some problems to deal with over a heatwave, but can not accept this suggests we should abandon nuclear, by any means. In my view, we need nuclear, PV, AND wind at the present time.

          • Geoff Miell says

            Ian Thompson,
            I accept France had some problems to deal with over a heatwave…

            …that will get worse with the Earth System continuing to warm further. See my slides 2 through 17 in the pdf file (10.4 MB) at:

            …but can not accept this suggests we should abandon nuclear, by any means.

            …despite your statement earlier: “I agree Nuclear can not meet the … timeframe

            Most of the NEM’s fleet of coal-fired generator units will likely close in the 2020s & 30s. See my slides 24 through 26. Economics may close them even sooner.

            Experienced European nuclear countries are demonstrating very slow nuclear plant project completions, so why would Australia be any better? For example:

            * UK’s Hinkley Point C-1 & -2 (2x 1,630 MWₑ net), so far 14 years and 2 months after approval;

            * France’s Flamanville-3 (1x 1,630 MWₑ net), so far more than 15 years after construction began;

            * Finland’s Olkiluoto-3 (1x 1,600 MWₑ net), operational circa 18 years 3 months after order given.

            Or perhaps rely on Russian (VVER) or Chinese (Hualong One) nuclear technologies? Yeah, nah!?‍♂️

            So-called ‘factory-built’ SMRs do not yet exist in physical form ANYWHERE, so any claims being made about SMR costs & benefits are entirely unsubstantiated.

            Ian, what nuclear power technologies can YOU identify that can meaningfully & affordably contribute operationally to Australia’s energy mix in the 2020s & 30s?

            IMO, nuclear energy in Australia makes no sense & wasting time/energy debating it is a distraction from a worsening energy & climate crisis, resulting from many poor decisions by a succession of previous governments.

          • Ian Thompson says

            Geoffrey, I expect you are correct – things will get worse, before they get better. I put this squarely on you and your cohorts’ lack of foresight.

            You have chosen to misrepresent me – I’ve clearly stated I don’t think we have a snowflake’s chance in hell of even fully decarbonising Australia’s electricity generation by 2030, with or without nuclear, never mind the rest of the World (in which case Austraiia’s efforts would be in vain, ALL GHGs impact ALL).

            Last night the NEM widget showed:
            1. All batteries had gone flat
            2. PV generation = zero
            3. Total wind = 1.5 GW, incl. WA
            4. NSW alone coal generation 7.7 GW…!
            5. FF generation 84% of demand
            6. We are more than half way through 2022
            7. We’ve barely 7 years left

            Regardless of your deadline, we need nuclear to save us – this is simply a risk mitigation strategy – it is not as though batteries have been yet perfected either – despite decades of R&D.

            Yes, it is strange that nuclear is taking so much longer to commission, than in the past – despite further advances in safety systems, design capabilities, knolledge, and design attributes. Mischevious behaviours of your cohort?
            But, as the Finland President stated ‘it’s been worth the wait’. Canada appears to perform better – perhaps because they have clear needs.

            China’s demonstration SMR’s (HTR-PM) parts WERE manufactured in a factory – the containment vessel and head were trucked to site. Being a FOAK, it is not surprising assembly occurred on site. Both reactors have achieved criticality, and one was grid-connected (Dec 21st 2021) to scope out the power range and dynamics.
            Yes, they may be having developmental problems in this FOAK, or are keeping ‘mum’ about progress, as I had thought the 2nd unit would have been reported online by now.
            I do hope they are commercially successful with this GenIV SMR, as the World needs this.

            In my view, you are delaying nuclear to ensure we will experience a global catastrophe – for your chidren and grandchidren.

          • Geoff Miell says

            Ian Thompson,
            I expect you are correct – things will get worse, before they get better. I put this squarely on you and your cohorts’ lack of foresight.

            Ah yes, it’s all my fault – as if! ??‍♂️ I think you need professional help in distinguishing fact/reality from fiction/fantasy.

            Ian, you have continued to ignore the fundamental question. How do nuclear technologies (existing or new) help with providing reliable, affordable, rapidly deployable replacement generation for the NEM when Liddell (basically only 1,260 MW remaining ‘reliably’ available at best), Eraring (nominally 2,880 MW), Yallourn W (1,440 MW), Callide B (700 MW), and Vales Point B (1,320 MW) will likely all close in the 2020s?

            Then there’s the question of whether NuScale’s SMR claims (or maybe those for the two BWRX-300 units planned for Darlington, Canada) can be demonstrably met within this decade, and how long before commercial (NOT test) units can be operational at large-scale. Meanwhile, more generators in the NEM will likely close while Australia waits, like Bayswater (2,640 MW), Gladstone (1,680 MW), Tarong (1,400 MW), Mt Piper (1,460 MW), and perhaps all the other coal-fired units due to economic realities.

            So it seems to me your proposed nuclear strategy rests on physically non-existent technologies (or as yet unproven Chinese tech, that may be unobtainable with likely deteriorating geopolitical attitudes) that won’t be available anytime soon (if ever) while many (if not all) of Australia’s coal-fired generators very likely close one-by-one in relatively quick succession in the 2020s & 30s. I’d suggest this is a recipe for Australia’s lights to go out, and the chaos and suffering of Australian people and businesses that will ensue from that.

            IMO, you are effectively advocating for Australia’s economic & societal collapse.

          • Ian Thompson says

            Geoffrey Miell,
            In the interests of HONESTY, INTEGRITY, and REALITY, you urgently need to cease and desist your continuing use of red herrings, cherry-picking out of context, and misrepresentation of my comments to promote your tired old rhetoric. It makes you appear small-minded.
            Yes, I do blame your ideologies and those of your predecessors for the jam you have gotten us into – we could have had the GHG-eliminating features of nuclear 30-40 years ago and would not now have the ‘open cheque book’ scenario we presently face.
            A problem of comprehension? Your ‘fundamental question’ is a red herring – when have I ever suggested we use nuclear in place of intermittent renewable sources? Or wait until it becomes available? No question to answer – nuclear will become available when it becomes available – but deliberate delays in the face of a GHG-induced crisis are unbelievably irresponsible.
            I propose a backup plan, should your agenda go ‘belly up’ – either for technical, manufacturing, or exponentially prohibitive cost reasons. Nuclear, with wind/PV ‘top-up’ models as the lowest cost configuration for Australia. If GHG-emissions are so critical, why wouldn’t we want backup plans?
            Geoffrey – let me pose a ‘fundamental question’ to you. Without grandstanding quotes like ‘the Sun does not send bills’ how do you propose we cover the loss of coal generating capacity you mention – quantifying wind and PV overbuild, transmission line upgrades, massive battery requirements? Costed? Do we throw money around?
            Based on my observations so far, the wind/PV option appears fast approaching ‘dead duck’ status. Let us just hope I am wrong. So far, coal is saving us from blackouts – we often get to 84% FF-generation.
            If it all does fall over, how long are you going to wait before allowing implementation of a well-known low-GHG technology, to address the ever-increasing critical issue of climate change? Forever? 20 years too late?

          • Geoff Miell says

            Ian Thompson,
            …nuclear will become available when it becomes available…

            Humanity needs to find an effective way fast (within this decade) to rapidly reduce GHG emissions, or civilisation will end in the coming decades – it’s that simple.

            In the YouTube video titled SR Australia – Social and Earth System Tipping Points | Prof. Will Steffen + Dr. Nick Abel, published 3 Apr 2022, executive director of the Australian National University (ANU) Climate Change Institute, Professor Will Steffen said from time interval 0:19:12:

            So, if you look at the projected temperature rise from the IPCC, by 2050 – middle of the century – thirty years out – even under the most, ah… drastic emission reduction scenario they assess, we’ll still hit 1.6 [°C]. This is dangerous territory. As I said before, we’re on track to reach somewhere around 2.7 to 3 [°C], by the end of the century. But these other scenarios will reach 2, or have reached 2 [°C], ah… at mid… even by 2050. So, um… the… Even the IPCC is saying we’re entering dangerous territory, unless we do something really drastic. So, it’s virtually certain that we will breach 1.5 [°C] before the… ah, before the middle of this century. Some people think even by 2035, we can reach 1.5 [°C].”

            Civilisation collapse means no new nuclear! ?‍♂️

            If GHG-emissions are so critical, why wouldn’t we want backup plans?

            A backup plan that’s TOO LATE is NOT a backup plan!

            Based on my observations so far, the wind/PV option appears fast approaching ‘dead duck’ status. Let us just hope I am wrong.

            Yep, you’re wrong! ?

          • Ian Thompson says

            “Yep, you’re wrong! ?”

            Oh dear Geoffrey Miell – so your plan for addressing decarbonisation is based on Twitter posts, and doodling on the back of an old envelope by an Excel hobbyist with little rigor! 20MW and 120MWh of battery storage suffices? I find your assertions grossly misleading.
            Your podcast cobber said, I paraphrase ‘ this gets us nearly there’, ‘there remain shortfalls in Autumn and Winter’ – say what?

            Geoffrey – social media is a very unreliable data source.
            Let me cover a few realities:
            1. POWER
            This PLAN you reference fails at first blush – a few days after you posted, the following day, and last night after the existing batteries went dead (no PV), it was only because the wind was strong that 24GW of battery generation could replace the FF generators (28 or 29GW of total demand). If the wind generation had dropped to around 1 or 2 GW, there would have been a 1-2GW shortfall – I saw 0.7GW Australia-wide recently (on the Widget) – even your pal says this will happen. So, rolling blackouts?
            2. TIME
            The PLAN is based on historical data – that is, it might have worked last summer – but what about in 2030, when we have (theoretically) electrified gas ovens, heaters, HWS, and added night-recharged EVs? I also have some doubts about the methodology utilised – it MUST use instantaneous demands – not weekly averages – otherwise we will have continual blackouts.
            3. TIMING
            Australia’s first Big Battery was installed in 2017. We expect to get 1.1GW of battery capability by the end of this year – this has taken 5 years. At the same rate, to get the balance of 24GW will take us 104 years, and we will need far more than that, maybe twice as much We have 7 years left until 2030 – so we need to source, manufacture, install, wire up, commission 15-30 times as fast. This just for batteries.
            4. CONTINGENCIES

            A PLAN that is not working, needs a backup that will.
            Or, to coin Brian Burke – you are living in cloud-cuckoo land.

          • Ian Thompson,
            …a few days after you posted, the following day, and last night after the existing batteries went dead (no PV)…

            Whataboutary! More energy generation + storage is clearly needed to be rapidly deployed and operational. It’s clear to me you (wifully?) fail to understand what David Osmond was presenting, including:

            With that in mind, exactly one year ago I started running a simple simulation of Australia’s main electricity grid to show that it can get very close to 100% renewable electricity with approximately five hours of storage (24GW/120GWh).

            It’s clear to me additional longer-term (multi-day) energy storage (or generation overbuild) referred as “Other” is required to support the last few percent of unmet demand, as well as the extra demand from electrification of transport, lower temperature heating, etc. Osmond clearly highlights this.

            We have 7 years left until 2030 – so we need to source, manufacture, install, wire up, commission 15-30 times as fast. This just for batteries.

            Yep, highlighting the scale and timing of the problem.

            In 1976 physicist Albert A. Bartlett published a piece in The Physics Teacher, urging physicists to use their knowledge to inform fellow citizens and decision makers. He stated: “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is man’s inability to understand the exponential function.” Bartlett also said: “If you take something and double it a few times, be prepared for astronomical numbers.

            A PLAN that is not working, needs a backup that will.

            How will new nuclear provide a backup, Ian? Answer: It can’t/won’t. Proceeding with new nuclear is a FAR TOO LATE, HUGELY EXPENSIVE & thus for all intents & purposes an entirely USELESS backup plan.

            Ian, I get the distinct notion you want renewables to fail: “‘dead duck’ status” and thus effectively human civilisation to ultimately collapse.

          • Ian Thompson says

            Nope, Geoffrey, I do not want VRE to fail.

            Yet, IMHO they are showing all the characteristics of impending failure – if constrained by your proposed timeframe (i.e., the timeframe you espouse).

            We will ‘blow through’ 2030 still supporting our electrical grids by burning substantial quantities of NG.
            ESPECIALLY as we add EV charging demand, and use coal/NG to generate electrical demand for space heating and providing heat for cooking ovens – at about 30% of the efficiency of using NG-derived heat directly at the point of demand (I’m stating here, the use of bar radiators – as many cannot afford reverse-cycle air-conditioning – and heat pumps aren’t available for high-temperature process heat).

            To my mind, you are simply dreaming – and simply unable to visualise reality.

          • Ian Thompson,
            …I do not want VRE to fail.

            It sure looks like defeatism to me, with statements like: “We will ‘blow through’ 2030 still supporting our electrical grids by burning substantial quantities of NG.

            …if constrained by your proposed timeframe (i.e., the timeframe you espouse).

            I repeat: It’s not my timeframe.

            Even the IPCC is saying we’re entering dangerous territory, unless we do something really drastic.

            In the YouTube video titled ‘Biggest Scandal in Climate Policy’ – David Spratt on Tipping Points, IPCC, IAMs and Risks, published on 1 Jul 2022, duration 0:59:51, David Spratt discusses with the group Operaatio Arktis (Operation Arctic) on a wide range of reasons why the public, policy makers and even many activists have a way too optimistic image of the state of our climate system. David Spratt says (from indicated time intervals):

            0:07:55: “Warming is now 1.2, and it’s clear that many systems have passed their tipping points, so… which nobody wants to say, because it is politically convenient to talk about 1.5 to 2, but clearly 1.5 is, is really unsafe, because those systems will be cascading. 1.2 now is unsafe. We talk to coral reef scientists, and we said what will be safe for coral reefs? What would stop them having these ocean heatwaves, and they said, for coral reefs to be healthy, warming would have to be less than 0.5 degrees.

            0:20:00: “So the IPCC reports in summary, end up understating the risks.

            IMO, you’ve effectively written-off your family’s (and humanity’s) futures.

            Ian, it’s clear to me you (among most other people) have little (if any) idea of the magnitude/scale and timing of the dire predicament humanity is facing.

  34. Lawrence Coomber says


    This circular discussion so far has [as it must] lead us back to the original key point. It is a well-worn point but nevertheless we need to keep revisiting it; because global energy tech corporates focus on it – and it underpins their current R&D pathways and initiatives. Let’s get back to basics and revisit the pathway that global energy tech corporate players are rapidly heading towards and why:

    1. Key Point – Climate Change: Global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced to insignificant levels permanently, whilst simultaneously the modern era [fossil fuel replacement generation technology] necessary to achieve that, must be able to deliver a massive increase (factor of > 40 times current global capacity) in generation capacity to industrialise (from a very low base) those communities, cities, countries and continents that are home to over 70% of the world’s energy starved [people and industries]; for them to establish any future relevance and chance of moving in the direction of a sustainable modern era lifestyle in all ways and means.

    This requires massive global infrastructure development [and importantly, redevelopment of virtually everything that exists globally currently] over the next 100 years. This will only be possible through energy intensive new technologies and industries being able to come online globally via massive reticulated distributed energy being readily available for use by all, and dirt cheap to boot.

    The amazing history of human development over the last 150 years has been predicated entirely on human ingenuity and the availability of energy.

    Please be mindful of the exciting new age energy intensive science/industries and technologies that are poised to come online over the next 20-40 years. They need power: and lots of it. Artificial protein production replacing outdated; inefficient and costly natural systems food production processes worldwide being just one example technology. These new industries and technologies need power: and lots of it.

    Importantly, let’s not lose sight that the global population of 7.5 billion today is inexorably heading towards 10.0 billion by the 2050’s

    2. This is where the “new age global energy generation imperative “gives us a roadmap to work towards. It enforces the key imperative attributes (not optional) that we must embody in our energy generation technology and distribution policy making going forward:-

    – abundant (meaning massive energy density science; low footprint per MW; scalable modular pop up plug and play construction; an enduring energy science that may last forever; not labour intensive to deploy anywhere);

    – Clean and safe (explains itself);

    – low cost (meaning LOW COST) – global advancement is based on us all using more power, much more power [new global subsistence energy intensive technologies] rather than some recent discussions and thoughts about the exact opposite. And it needs to be LOW COST POWER for all, [through technology scale and omnipresence] and definitely not simply “cost effective power” which of course is a commercial euphemism for anything but low cost!.

    So that sums up precisely why we are seeing a continuation and surge by global energy tech corporates urgently expanding and deploying nuclear energy science R&D solutions.

    Lawrence Coomber

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