Australia’s Labor Party getting Sensible in not Closing Down Coal-Fired Power Plants?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 8th, 2012

Week in Review

Australia is moving towards a green energy future.  They’ve implemented a carbon tax.  And they’re moving ahead with closing coal-fired power plants and replacing them with renewable energy power plants.  Such as the International solar power company Fotowatio Renewable Ventures’ new 20 megawatt solar power facility.  Soon to be Australia’s largest solar power plant.  Which, at a capacity factor of 18%, will put up to 3.6 megawatts of useful electric power onto the electric grid.  Something that will only add $13 annually to all householder power bills.  And with new solar power plants coming on line like this they can afford to pay to shut down those dirty coal-fired power plants (see Govt breached faith on power stns: Greens by AAP posted 9/5/2012 on the Herald Sun).

Energy Minister Martin Ferguson on Wednesday announced Labor had abandoned plans to pay some coal-fired power generators to shut down, under its so-called contract for closure program…

“The whole point of addressing global warming through an emissions trading scheme is to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuel and to renewable energy,” Senator Milne said.

“Shutting down some of the dirtiest coal-fired power stations was at the heart of what we are trying to do.

Politics aside Australians are lucky Labor abandoned their plans.  Let’s look at just one of those dirty coal-fired power plants.  Say, the Liddell Power Station.  With four (4) 500 MW units that can produce 2,000 megawatts of electric power.  With a capacity factor of about 90% (for a coal-fired power plant) that comes to 1,800 megawatts of useful, reliable power.  So, to shut down the Liddell Power Station you would need 500 of the Fotowatio Renewable Ventures’ new 20 megawatt solar power facilities.  Which is a lot.  And about 499 more than they are planning to build.  Do you see a potential problem with this plan of closing coal-fired power plants?  To help clarify let’s do the math.  If one of these plants adds $13 annually to all householder power bills 500 plants will add $6,500 annually to all householder power bills.

The problem with green energy is that it can’t produce as much power as coal can.  They may feel good about doing their part to save the planet but in the process they may cause recurring power blackouts as they starve their nation of electric power.  To the point that people may start dying as the diminished electric capacity can’t run the waste water treatment plants.  Their hospitals.  Or their food processing industry.  Not to mention people suffering these rolling blackouts in their homes.  Spoiling the food in their refrigerators.  Their sewers backing up raw sewage because there is no electricity to run their sump pumps.  And people unable to run their home medical devices.

Saying you want to save the planet may make you feel good.  It may even impress your friends.  But advanced countries need electric power for the necessities of life.  Beyond relaxing in your air conditioning.  Watching television.  Or charging your battery for your smartphone.  Saying you want to replace coal with renewable energies is one thing.  But doing it is another.  Because we consume a lot of electric power.  Which is why we turned to coal in the first place.  Because coal is a high-density energy source.  A little of it goes a long why.  Which is why one coal-fired power plant can produce 1800 megawatts of electric power while a nation’s largest solar power plant can only produce 3.6 megawatts of useful electric power.  Coal can and will take care of us.  Something solar power simply can’t do.

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