Tony Abbott vs. Elon Musk

Who do you think has it right – Tony or Elon?

Posted by SolarQuotes on Thursday, June 11, 2015

 

 

Tony Abbott is convinced that solar and wind cannot power an industrial economy. Elon Musk believes it is very feasible to power the entire world with batteries and renewables.

Watch the video above and let us know who you agree with:
[yop_poll id=”1″]

About Finn Peacock

I'm a Chartered Electrical Engineer, Solar and Energy Efficiency nut, dad, and the founder and CEO of SolarQuotes.com.au. I started SolarQuotes in 2009 and the SolarQuotes blog in 2013 with the belief that it’s more important to be truthful and objective than popular. My last "real job" was working for the CSIRO in their renewable energy division. Since 2009, I’ve helped over 700,000 Aussies get quotes for solar from installers I trust. Read my full bio.

Comments

  1. It’s sad that some people probably believe what Tony Abbott says because they assume the Prime Minister of Australia has access to all the best information and the intelligence to understand it

  2. Colin Spencer says
    • David Brien says

      It would appear Germany’s problem is storage and load balancing. Once they work that out then Renewables are a winner. Amongst suggestions IO have seen for Australia is to use renewables to pump water back up into the hydro dams for use as base load generation. Germany might well work towards something like that.
      I think the article is setting up a straw man.

    • Jason Rogers says

      Colin, I read the article from the telegraph that you linked to. I’ve worked in the electricity industry on and off for 20 years. Worked in generation, transmission, distribution and retail. Every aspect of the industry. I can assure you that the story is almost exactly opposite to reality. Far from making it harder to balance the network, wind turbines make it *easier* to balance. They’re a source of power that can be switched on and off in seconds. While an individual turbine does vary in output, hundreds or thousands of turbines spread over a large area do *not* vary quickly. They stand in sharp contrast to large coal fired plants that can and do simply drop off the grid in seconds with no warning. Much more “spinning reserve” must be kept on line to manage a few large coal plants than is needed for thousands of small turbines. They also say that even mentioning rated capacity of wind is some sort of trick, and imply that coal plants are delivering their rated capacity 100% of the time. Saying “In Britain it averages around 25 per cent” That’s simply a lie. Liddell power station (one of Australia’s largest) was only available 56% of the time in the last reporting period and only actually delivered less than 36% of its rated capacity. Not all that different from wind except that the failures came without warning instead of being forecast a week in advance. I’m not saying that wind alone is the solution to all our needs, but the thrust of this article, that wind will ruin the network, is a simple and obvious fabrication.

      • Peter Wise says

        Jason, I do not fully agree with some of your conclusions in particular

        “They’re a source of power that can be switched on and off in seconds.”
        Well only if the wind is blowing. But the main issue is wind generation is very expensive. To give it a leg up under the participation rules it gets the first option of dispatch. Further under the RET they have a guaranteed market for their product.(I won’t go into the ins and outs but basically wind generation is hugely subsidised). What you are suggesting is that we back them off to be available to support the grid. Contractually this would be a minefield, as they would then be entitled to be paid for what their full output was, but with the vaiability of the wind who would know what this is. But in any event it would only make wind generation even more expensive and more subsidised.

        “While an individual turbine does vary in output, hundreds or thousands of turbines spread over a large area do *not* vary quickly.”
        It depends on how big are area you consider. For South Australia and Victoria once a big high pressure cell parks its bum over us then there is effectively zero generation in both Vic and SA. In fact last year there was at least one day when there was zero wind gereration for SA, Vic and SA. Sure we could consider a wider area again, but the problem is our grids were developed on a state basis with only very ‘long thin’ interconnectors between the states. On a state basis we have quite strong and robus grids, on a national basis it is the opposite. Sure we could consider the SE winds that blow off the Nth Qld coast to compensate for these high presure events, but the losses would be huge and the capacity is not there in any event to transport the volumes required.

        To be continued

      • Peter Wise says

        Jason – a couple more of your conclusions I would like to comment on

        “Liddell power station (one of Australia’s largest) was only available 56% of the time in the last reporting period and only actually delivered less than 36% of its rated capacity”

        You are refering above to two totally different metrics. Available Capacity Factor (ACF) is a measure of reliability. For Black Coal Plants in NSW and Qld it is above 90%. Ref ” Impact of the VEET Scheme April 2015′. For Brown Coal in Vic it is about 85% due to increased boiler cleans from the coal. ACF is reduced for things such as loss of plant auxilliaries (ie loss of one of the boiler draft groups could decrease ACF down to 50%). Likewise it would also be reduced if there was a shortage of fuel from a conveyor failure. The delivered power is called Capacity Factor (CF) and is a function of how much power the participant chooses to deliver. Ie – it is controlled by the market mechanisms. For black coal it can be anything from 0% for a mothballed plant right to the ACF of the plant – greater than 90%. But in any event CF can never be higher than ACF. (although if unit is run at a higher load than nameplate it is technically possible)

        For wind typical CF’s are about 35% on a long term basis Ref “www.aemo.com.au/…/South_Australian_Wind_Study_Report_2013_2.a”.
        They will not be able to go higher than this as they have no fuel (wind). In fact their ACF will also be 35% due to fuel shortage.

        “Not all that different from wind”.
        I think 35% as opposed to 90% is a huge difference.

  3. Jan Shaw says

    I’m with Solar Power. However, as a residential user and having spent $8,000.00 on panels. I haven’t had much benefit from them except my provider paid me .20c instead of .06c which ended the bill before last. I feel I shouldn’t have gone along with all the hype and installed them. I’m in favor of the panels and if it’s true what Elon Musk says I’m with him. I don’t know if my comment mean anything to your cause but here they are.

    • Finn Admin says

      Jan – I don’t know how many kW you got – but I have a $33 bill with my 6kW system and 8c Feed In Tariff:

      http://www.solarquotes.com.au/blog/got-33-power-bill-solar-even-crappy-8c-buy-back-rate/

      • As an early and staunch advocate of solar power, Finn, I’m curious why you’re only on the 8c tariff……

        • Finn Peacock says

          Because I was renting until September 2013, so it was the only FiT available to me when I moved in to my own house.

    • Greg Hudson says

      Hi Jan. I have a 2Kw solar system in Melbourne (average 4 hours sun / day).
      My total power bill for 2014 was just $340 (I’m a heavy user, and need to get this down even lower). My biggest advantage is I’m on the PFIT at $0.68c / kWh export).

      • Where there’s a will there’s a way, Greg. Plenty of options available at cheap prices these days.
        I have a similar-sized grid-connect system (and a few ‘extras’) and make a point of NOT being a ‘heavy user’. My power account for 2014 was a CREDIT of about $1600. (on a 66c FiT)

        But that’s changing rapidly, due NOT to the rapidly-rising cost of electricity from the grid, but the exponentially-increasing cost of the service-charge, which has recently been bunked up by 18.7% over three months ~ which extrapolates to about 75%p.a. ~ or $1.50 per day, inc.GST. (or, put another way, the first 2,27 kwh I export to the grid each day.
        That may not sound like much, but I consistently USE about 2.5 kwh/d. on a year-round average. (not counting the ‘extras’.)
        At a rough estimate the aforementioned $1600 looks to be reduced to about $800 this year.
        As soon as that reaches $zero I will disconnect; the bolt-cutters are on standby.

        ps. But a point to keep in mind:- After much air-raiding I learn that SPAusnet charges Origin 27 cents per day per customer for ‘distribution’, including meter-readings (I’ve refused the ‘smart-meter’.)

        Origin bungs on a margin of about 460% ~ and adds NO value. (In comparison I’m told dodo charges a ‘service-charge’ of 94 (?) cents per day.)
        Even if only as a matter of principle that needs to be challenged. I wonder how Origin would react to losing half their customers.

  4. Far too easy for us to mock Abbott – I do my share of that but the fact is that is recently won a vote and he is there with public support for 5 years.

    However stupid we think he is and whatever stunts he pulls ( onions – remember? ) whatever will be achieved will be done locally on a small scale and with little to no government support and um, hate to say this – he may well get elected again.

    Australians are gonna need their optimistic and sunny outlooks to keep them going!

  5. Abbott’s a raving moron who belongs back in the 1950’s. sooner he is booted out the better. he is a an environmental imbecile,

    • Yeahbut. The problem with dumping Abbott is that all the lovely little voters and taxpayers out there will elect another rrrsole and pay taxes to support them.

    • Stuart Brown says

      Would that be the same 1950’s, where Menzies destroyed the Australian electronics industry. These guys have got form, they love giving trillion dollar industries away. I saw the 4 corners story, on the impossibility of making money, from new coal mining 3 times. Once the bulls stampede for the exits and pile into solar, liquid salt and hydrogen storage, this could be very fast. As horses and gas lights, disappeared from the cities 1915-25, so in the 3rd IR, coal soot and car smog could disappear 2015-25.

      Just as an example of fast change, the Chinese are rolling out high speed, transcontinental railways, all over the world. They have 1.6 million people, working in solar panel production, soon that could be 16 million.

  6. Greg Bell says

    Apples and oranges and pears comparisons.

    Does anybody know enough about steel manufacturing to know how many use electric arcs to attain the high heat required, vs. fossil fuels?

    Whether he knows it or not, Abbot’s talking about generation (quantity and flow), whereas Musk is talking about storage.

  7. My (conservative) opinion is that neither of the on-offer options are viable in the longer term.
    China showed us the effect of fossil-fuel to power growing industry ~ an effect which will grow at a geometric rate if the whole world adopts. It’ll end up killing all of us ~ and a good few other species as well.

    Storage batteries on a massive scale ~ along with all the other paraphernalia necessary and to become necessary ~ will result in a similar scenario.

    But there are alternatives. One is to use Australia’s water resources.
    Apart from Tasmania hydro we have the realities unexploited of the Murray-Darling system falling over 6000 ft from source to the sea, and the THOUSAND CUBIC KILOMETRES sloshing in and out of Port Phillip Bay several times a day. (And there are a multitude of other coastal locations around our 80,000 km ~ at the high-water mark ~ coastline.

    Or if solar and wind are to be the ‘go’, then better, less-wasteful, ways of storing the power need to be considered. There are a few ways of doing that; my favourite options would be either pumping water uphill to a dam for later use through turbines and/or producing hydrogen to fuel all sorts of mechinary, including modified gas-generators.
    The gross lack of fuel-efficiency of either system is not a major issue given the massive overabundance of power available.

  8. My (conservative) opinion is that neither of the on-offer options are viable in the longer term.
    China showed us the effect of fossil-fuel to power growing industry ~ an effect which will grow at a geometric rate if the whole world adopts. It’ll end up killing all of us ~ and a good few other species as well.

    (disposable) Storage batteries on a massive scale ~ along with all the other paraphernalia necessary and to become necessary ~ will result in a similar scenario.

    But there are alternatives. One is to use Australia’s water resources.
    Apart from Tasmania hydro we have the realities unexploited of the Murray-Darling system falling over 6000 ft from source to the sea, and the thousand CUBIC KILOMETRES of water powered by the Southern Ocean sloshing in and out of Port Phillip Bay several times a day. (And there are a multitude of other coastal locations around our 80,000 km ~ at the high-water mark ~ coastline that could easily be utilised.

    Or if solar and wind are to be the ‘go’, then better, less-wasteful, ways of storing the power need to be considered. There are a few ways of doing that; my favourite options would be either pumping water uphill to a dam for later use through turbines and/or producing hydrogen to fuel all sorts of machinery, including modified gas-generators. (a couple of local lads have covered more than a MILLION km in an old Ford powered by hydrogen ~ and reckon they can convert any non-computerised engine for about $4000.)
    The gross lack of fuel-efficiency of either system is not a major issue given the massive overabundance of power available.

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