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back to article Wind now cheaper than coal in Oz: Bloomberg

Bloomberg has sparked a brand-new debate about clean energy in Australia, releasing a report that suggests finance for new coal-fired power is going to be scarce because wind energy is now cheaper than constructing new fossil-fuel plants – even without subsidy. The analysis, announced here, says Australia's major banks “are …

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Here we go again

Sigh. Here we go again, comparing taxed oranges with untaxed lemons. And how much does wind power cost when the wind isn't blowing?

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Re: Here we go again

On average, 50% of a full-time gas-fired turbine plant of the same capacity.

You asked...

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Re: Here we go again

The wind not blowing is always a local issue. Australia is a big continent, mostly connected by grid. You may want to find out a little bit about how weather works in relation to the transfer of energy from tropical to polar regions, and when you do, you'll find there's no shortage of energy in this driver to be harvested, at least somewhere if your grid connected collection region is large enough. Besides which, anywhere with water dams generating power can adjust the hydro output to match regional temporary dips in wind availability.

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Re: Here we go again

that assumes free interconnections (perhaps superconducting to eliminate losses -- designed for peak loads which exist ...what... 10%- 20% of the time?) and free extra turbines; how rich do you feel?

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Anonymous Coward

Time is overdue for a separate green grid. All wind and solar pv is connected to it along with all the green consumers. The dirty grid carries fossil, nuclear and hydro generation. The consumer is then given a choice of which grid to use. No subsidies, no cross connection. If the wind doesn't blow, or the sun doesn't shine your lights go out. I'd give the greens a week before they came bleating to be connected to a reliable power source. Fortunately they would be tied into a very very long term contract for green energy :)

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I think you'll find that nuclear should be on that green grid too, as should hydro. Both are clean; nuclear has waste issues which need addressing and hydro can have environmental issues, but other than that they are pretty much clean and green from the "carbon price" (remember, it's not a tax!) perspective.

The obvious thing for Australia to do is go nuclear and solar, use hydro where feasible, and tidal if it becomes viable (most major urban areas are fairly close to the coast). We're actually pretty well suited to going "green" for our energy needs, we just need to bite the bullet and build some nuclear plants.

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Devil

While I agree with the thrust of your comment, it must be pointed out that greens in general believe

1) Nuclear power is much too dangerous and the waste problem will kill us all. Therefore it has no place on a green grid

2) Hydro requires dams which will (a) flood wilderness areas inhabited by endangered species and (b) regulate the downstream flow, removing the 'natural' flooding and drought, again endangering the ecology.

So, while it makes sense to use nuclear and hydro, all the while the Australian government is in the pocket of the Watermelon party (green on the outside, red in the middle) it will never happen.

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Watermelons

@Alan Newbury: " all the while the Australian government is in the pocket of the Watermelon party"

And all the time you are in thrall to Delingpole, there's no point in trying to debate your straw men.

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Everyone should go nuclear unless there are plenty of hydro resources or maybe, just maybe solar.

Nuclear to energy industry is what air travel in the transport industry. Safest yet people are have unjustified fears...

One day intelligence will win... I hope...

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@Invidious Aardvark

"The obvious thing for Australia to do is go nuclear ... we just need to bite the bullet and build some nuclear plants."

Would it be correct to say Oz is also best placed to deal with nuclear waste disposal issues which would make it an even more attractive solution? - lots of mines a long way from populated areas (many of which the uranium was hauled out of in the first place).

With enough cheap energy around desalination becomes less of a drag too.

Until someone works out an economic way of burning cane toads and poisonous spiders, nuclear looks like a good fit down under.

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There is no "nuclear waste problem" it was solved in the 70's!!!!!!!

there is no nuclear waste issue, providig we finally start building new plants....A lot of the new design RUN on waste (eg. the GE PRISM, the Myrrha reactor being built in belgium).....people lobbying AGAINST new plants being built are actually lobbying to be stuck with nuclear waste forever (like greenpeace and other scummy orgs)

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Policy based on beliefs is shit (sharia etc)...how about we look at it scientifically.....when looking at the reality of the situation there is no denying nuclear is the SAFEST form of energy, and the waste problem got solved decades ago, yet the anti-nuke jihadi still propagate the lie that it hasn't...

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people will never get it....coal costs 100000+ lives each year, and most of the very very vocal but very poorly informed public still thinks that it's nuclear that kills......doing an honest evaluation (deaths per produced quantity of power eg. per TWH) nuclear is the safest form of electricity BY FAR, this is perfectly illustrated in many countries eg. belgium where 4 decades of nuclear has not made a single victim, while coal/oil/biomass kills several each year, and the placing of PV has already cost 3 lives in the past 5 years...

if you are ideologically blind like most so called environmental organisations/parties then dead people only count if their death is caused by something you object too.....this completely disrespect for the fact that EACH human life counts by greenpeace and other scum is scandalous....

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Re: @Invidious Aardvark

there are no nuclear waste dispocal issues as nuclear waste from GEN I and II plants is fuel for GEN III/IV, the stuff that comes out of GEN IV needs to be stored for appr. a century before it's safe......the toxins from eg. making PV cells however do stay toxic forever....

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WTF?

Crikey, if only someone could find a way of storing energy. Maybe via a hydro-electric solution or maybe even something future scientists might invent called "batteries".

Just think, you could even make computers or telephones portable if it were feasible to store energy and use it even when not connected to a generation source.

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you think you sound smart, but you miserably fail to consider the scale of using storage for mass energy production.....unless you have no issue running depopulation programs to create room for storage...

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Childcatcher

Quand en Belique/Wanneer in België

...[B]elgium where 4 decades of nuclear has not made a single victim...

dwieske, if memory (and a quick internet search) serve, the 1958 Worlds Fair Expo was powered by BR3, Belgium's third nuclear reactor. Add a few more years to your tally.

Every form of power production has risks. Every one has associated costs and benefits. Yes, there are some very direct measures that can be applied, but the validity of these are often disputed by people who have differing agendas, opinions, fears, and perceptions. These can all have real world consequences.

For example, if a nuclear power plant goes in near me and property values drop due to entire neighborhoods leaving because the general population has an irrational fear of nuclear power, and crime rates soar in the area because of the change in population, it is not the "hard facts" about the technology that matter to me. Rather, it is the perception that has produced a very real result.

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Re: Watermelons

It's a much older joke than that.

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Anonymous Coward

100000+ ? Citation, please. And one that doesn't come from activists is preferable.

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http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html

Data from the W.H.O. was used

but how about you stop being lazy and start doing your own research? any time you voice you uniformed oppinion, or criticise some else's informed oppinion could be used to increase your knowledge...

Anyone with a high school education understands why coal is deadly and is smart enough to realise amount of victims is huge, as coal is widely deployed...

One of the issues that pisses me off most is the fact that people who don't even have an elementary school level of scientific knowledge never let this stop them from voicing their "oppinion" which is usually just a regurgitation of some moronic group like greenpeace

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hydro and "clean"

While I''m a fan of hydro, it has a number of downsides.

1: forcing populations to move/innundation

2: It's a substantial methane generator

there are a bunch of others but I think the upsides outweigh 'em.

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No need for a separate physical grid

This could be achieved with smart meters etc . The green gridders get monitored and when they draw more power than the green generators are pumping out, they start to brown out.

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Happy

"The consumer is then given a choice of which grid to use. No subsidies, no cross connection."

A good idea.

Currently 18 Reg readers have downvoted your post and think giving consumers a choice that reflects true cost and reliability is a BAD THING.

I wonder why?

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Bloomberg "new energy financing" Press Release

A press release full of lies, but perhaps the largest is comparing the cost of on - demand power with intermittent, low quality, power, as if the two had some what equal values in the market place.

The market value for wind power is about 1/4 that of on demand power, experience has shown.

Wind power scales as wind speed to the power 2.5, which means that its either at full blast or almost nothing. Then when it gets really windy, the backup power has to be hot and ready, incase the wind turbines switch off into self protection mode.

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Re: Bloomberg "new energy financing" Press Release

Oooo, another sane comment with a downvote. Appears the windtards are out in force today.

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Meh

Re: Bloomberg "new energy financing" Press Release

Yes, I agree that this press release would be more credible without the big, fat "New Energy Financing" banner it appears under.

May be true, may be a bunch of hooey. It would be great if wind power was reliable except for occasional maintenance or breakdown outages, but it isn't.

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Well...

I live in a tiny rural town on the tip of the Fleurieu peninsula in South Australia, and wind turbines have been a constant companion for us. Since their installation, power outages in Cape Jervis have halved in frequency and duration.

The problem for the turbines here is never lack of wind, it's that there's occasionally too much, as the turbines are locked down when the wind approaches gale force.

Everyone bitches and moans about wind power, but which would you RATHER have? An ancient soot-belching coal plant, or an elegant looking wind farm? Sure, much of the grid's power is still from non-renewable power, but supplementing that with renewable sources can only help.

Personally I'd rather see Australia using nuclear power, we're sitting on a good amount of fissionable uranium after all....

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Re: Well...

You're joking, surely? Use our uranium ourselves? When we could dig it up and sell it overseas? We have never done the sensible thing with any of our natural resources (ie, refine and use them ourselves, and maybe sell on the value-added products) when we could just dig them up and sell the raw ores for a pittance to overseas buyers.

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WTF?

ELEGANT looking wind farm?!?

Huge, noisy, towering, monstrous eyesores, stretching to the horizon, that blight the landscape for miles around, is your idea of elegant? Mate, I want some of whatever you're smoking! Anything that makes those vile things look good has got to be some awesome weed...

I'd prefer solar farms myself. Round here (Adelaide guy BTW, so right next door to you in terms of Reg demographics ;) ) the sun shines a lot more than the wind blows, plus a solar farm doesn't tower into the sky, visible from miles away, the way a wind farm does. And a solar farm doesn't need to be shut down if the sun shines too brightly either. Nor would it take up as much space to produce the same amount of power, and consider that wind power is basically converted solar energy in the first place.

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@ Troy Shanahan

You may be conflating two issues when discussing the installation of your local wind turbines.

You may be getting less power outages in your area because they have strengthened the regional/local power grid to accomodate the new wind power generators. This probably has the side benefit of improving the stability of the domestic supply in your area.

I can make no comment about the reliability of wind power in South Australia but in the UK a wildlife organisation did some research showing it wasn't that useful when you actually needed it.

http://www.jmt.org/news.asp?s=2&nid=JMT-N10561

I'm all for nuclear though it has many of the attributes we require in our opower generation and could easily help the transition away from fossil fuels as their availability dwindles in the future.

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Re: Well...

I would prefer a pollution free gen IV plant like a GE prism, running on nuclear waste or retired warheads...wind power does not solve the issue of medical isotopes or the problem of our current stockpile of waste and warheads....GEN IV's do, and they are FAR less lethal and far more environmentally friendly than wind (than anything actually)

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Re: @ Troy Shanahan

Nuclear is a lot more useful when you do something with the 2/3 heat that isn't converted into electricity other than venting it.

Greenhouses, steel plants, etc etc. A lot of places can do with high and low grade heat (including driving cooling systems, look up solarfrost.com )

Gotta get away from the old magnavox boiling water systems though. They were designed for submarines, not for long-term 5-9's reliability on an industrial scale.

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Anonymous Coward

Give me modern fossil or nuclear generation at 10% of the true cost of wind leaving the rest of the country with clear and uninterrupted vistas.

Wind energy and its proponents are one of the biggest threats to life in a western democracy. I'd. rank it level with terrorism.

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As far as threats to life go in Australia, I would also rank wind power level with terrorism: extremely low risk.

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Are you sure you've factored in the cost of storing nuclear waste safely so that we don't kill people as far away in the future as we are to the people in the bible? I think that makes wind cheaper than nuclear.

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why even post this kind of nonsense

why store nuclear waste when you can use it to generate power from it in new plants... oppinions based on ignorance are pretty useless...how about you catch up on stuff....like the fact that the nuclear waste issue was solved decades ago....

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Boffin

Nuclear has other problems...

One the things often overlooked in the "what is the best power source for Australia?" debate is the matter of distance.

Whilst our major cities are the principal sinks for power generation, we also have a large number of high-drain regional sites, many of them beyond the reach of conventional transmission techniques. This has spawned a large number of regional power generation plants. The combined output of these smaller and less efficient plants at least equal the combined output of the major cities, due to the presence of high-drain industries in many of these regional centres.

It would not be economically feasible to build nuclear plants for each of these sites (conventional ones, anyway - get back to me when the replaceable single-core units start working), so what to do?

To give the example of Esperance, they have a four gas turbine plant, supplemented by unsubsidised wind-farms capable of providing up to 50% of the output of the gas-fired plant. This means that at any one time, there are two turbines running, one of hot standby (heated and spun by exhaust gasses from the other two), and a third in cold standby.

This has cut power costs in the town by over 50%, through a combination of reduced fuel costs and reduced maintenance costs. And reduced their fossil fuel use, not only for the power for for the shipping of the fuel to the town to make the power.

Similar stories exist throughout that region, and continue north of Perth up into the mining regions.

But.

It is not for everyone. W.A. has abundant and relatively predictable winds. But when considering Australia as a whole, the correct solution is a diversified power generation plan. Should nuclear be a part of that? Maybe, if we can build the right sort of plant. But don't forget that nuclear plants have a lifetime, just like wind-farms and coal plants, and they can (if built wrong) fail catastrophically.

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Re: Nuclear has other problems...

It seems none of the UK developers think its worth investing in - even at these fantastically low interest rates we have at the moment. I'm not sure why foreign investors seem to think its a goodish bet - perhaps there’s some off-shore finance shenanigans or the hope that the government here will pay through the nose in the end for there promise of cheap power.

Nuclear is always the cheap option until you ask those who are to profit to pay for it, then they walk away muttering.

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Re: Nuclear has other problems...

They aren't actually interested because they are currently being subsidised to build wind farms.

Even if it isn't cost effective its free capacity for them and great advertising.

Wind farms may be a wise addition to the power mix but currently I suspect they are more about subsidies.

I expect that in a few years when the government matches subsidies to sensible generation targets the construction of expensive coal stations will commence.

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Bloomberg predicts widespread PV?

Why? Australia is a great place for solar-based power generation, certainly, but why relatively inefficient photovoltaics? We already have a couple of experimental solar thermal plants which are working extremely well, we should be building commercial scale versions of those. They will output more power per watt of insolation, and are cheaper in the first place.

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I have a proof of concept solution

Let the Wind Power people build a small wind-farm at tax-payer cost, then cut them loose to run their own iron and aluminium etc smelters to build more windmills to prove their viability.

We can buy their spare power to finance then and when they can cover Australia's power needs we'll change over.

That should keep them quiet for a century or two.

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Re: I have a proof of concept solution

"That should keep them quiet for a century or two."

Wow - is it really getting to you that wind might actually be a viable part of the solution to some people in certain circumstances ? If it works for them, that's good isn't it ? It doesn't have to be a universal answer to power generation of all types to have benefits - neither should it be hyped as such by it's more vocal, and often blinkered, proponents... but that doesn't make it any less useful where appropriate to use.

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amazing

Someone should get a bunch of screen scrapes of El Reg climate article forum posts so they can post them in a decade or two and laugh at one side or the other. I have a feeling the fossil fuel nut huggers might come off looking like George Wallace does today on race relations looking back. Don't get me wrong of course a lot of the green energy is not cost effective if you look solely at generation costs but the costs of fossil fuel are going to start hitting hard very soon and if your head is buried in the sand that only means you will drown in the floods or storm surge sooner. I am well aware we need to be very careful cost wise because its poor people that get screwed by expensive energy but it seems like half the people on here want us to burn the dirtiest coal possible just to show the greenies.

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Re: amazing

Actually I take that back. Only one side would be able to laugh. If the other side is right nobody is going to be laughing except in very pyrrhic sort of way.

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Anonymous Coward

A known fact.

It is known that Aussies are full of wind, so it must be cheaper !

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Other impacts !?

Wind power can never address base load supply as the wind doesn't blow everywhere and all the time. Wind power also has a dark side in the generation of low frequency sound waves. These have caused the degradation of arable land due to worm populations in the soil diminishing/migrating and has had siginifcant health impacts on farmers, not to mention bird strike issues. If alternate sources of power are to be used then nuclear (including both Uranium and Thorium generation) coal seam gas and geothermal sources need to be prioritised above and beyond this fashionable infatuation with windmills.

I seem to recall a study that pointed out a wind turbine power source will never create enough green energy to offset the carbon emissions required for its production. Geothermal would win on that count.

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Re: Other impacts !?

OK, now I'm angry.

The ELF sound issue was proven false. The health impacts on farmers were proven to be psychosomantic. The birdstrike issue was likewise proven so limited as to be negligible compared to city buildings. The carbon payback finding applied to micro-generators on suburban roofs.

The only thing you've got at all right is base load issue, and you will see (above) that there are already ways to deal with it.

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Re: Other impacts !?

You are also right. There are other ways to deal with the base load issue. Every single one of which involves having enough conventional plant to ciover the entire load when the wind isn't blowing. Thus rendering wind power a massively expensive vanity project.

I personally agree with the other commenters. If wind is really a solution then put it on the market and let the market decide. Dont bloody subsidise it with a levy on my energy bill. Ive go nothing against wind turbines, I think they look pretty and often enhance a landscape or least add interest. But thats all theyre good for. Fucking expensive sculptures, which apparently arent to everyones taste.

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Re: Other impacts !?

Nick Galloway, you say "Wind power also has a dark side in the generation of low frequency sound waves. These have caused the degradation of arable land due to worm populations in the soil diminishing/migrating" and "I seem to recall a study that pointed out a wind turbine power source will never create enough green energy to offset the carbon emissions required for its production.".

Where's your proof? Put up, or shut up!

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Re: Other impacts !?

"Fucking expensive sculptures, which apparently aren’t to everyone's taste." That would be why all nuclear is as far away from where the power is needed so the line loss is a large as possible I guess - fashion sense.

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