Power grid descends into chaos as gas cartel laughs

Via the AFR today:

The chair of the Energy Security Board Dr Kerry Schott says the rapid take-up of household rooftop solar panels in Australian cities is causing energy security problems for energy distribution companies.

…”The so-called duck curve is really causing security issues for the distribution networks,” she said.Dr Schott said Australia’s power grid was simply not structured right to cope with the rapid change in technology and shifting markets.

“We’ve got a grid at the moment that’s not fit for purpose,” she said.

Part of the problem was that large renewable energy projects such as solar farms and wind turbines were in rural areas and there was a ”long, skinny string” to connect those into the cities where the large populations were.

…Dr Schott also said that ageing coal-fired power stations like the Liddell plant in New South Wales weren’t flexible enough to be part of the long-term future landscape.

“They are dinosaurs in that sense,” she said.”What we actually need in the market is energy that is both firm and flexible”.

In short, you need gas-fired generation, both combined cycle and peakers. They’re the only ones that are “firm and flexible” enough as energy storage catches down in price in the long term.

But the Government just can’t face it, also at the AFR:

In his keynote address to The Australian Financial Review National Energy Summit in Sydney on Wednesday, Mr Taylor will highlight the need to strengthen the process for retaining coal generators.

He will declare that “some vague hope” of renewables, transmission upgrades and demand response filling the supply gap being left by the closure of AGL Energy’s Liddell power station in NSW early next decade, isn’t good enough.

Mr Taylor will also emphasise the need for strong market signals for new investment in gas and hydro power, both through the Morrison government’s underwriting program, its retailer reliability mechanism and a redesign of the National Electricity Market to include day-ahead commitments to supply power.

This is all bollocks. All we need is gas reservation to reliably drop the price of that fuel. Then all problems are solved at once.

It was always the plan to use gas as the “transitional fuel” in the decarbonisation process. Using it to substitute inflexible and polluting coal while we waited for power storage to catch down in price.

The only thing that went wrong with it was a gas cartel emerged and stole all of the gas for export to Asia, crashing the price there while pricing it out of the local power mix.

We need to keep 15% of current east coast gas exports at home on a fixed price so that the cancelled plans to build combined cycle and gas peakers can be restored.

This is all that the US did, without anywhere near the level of renewables or policy incentives, and it has advanced decarbonisation with total reliability.

All of Australia’s energy problems are fixed with the stroke of the gas reservation pen.

David Llewellyn-Smith
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  1. Ronin8317MEMBER

    Without gas reservation, I forsee the only other viable option as rolling blackouts for those 2-3 days a year when energy use is peaked. That will eventually go to 2-3 weeks, then 2-3 months. By then it doesn’t matter because everyone would be off grid.

  2. The real problem is not with “Our Plan to use Gas as a Transitional fuel” it’s with the rest of the Worlds plan to use our gas as a transitional fuel.
    So we have a situation where everyone has the same plan at the same time and that spells price hikes and shortages.
    Sure it would be nice to have a little of our gas available to help smooth the transition but absent that resource we need to move ahead with even greater haste and bridge the looming energy gap with even more advanced technology.
    IMHO the best and quickest way to get revenge on the Energy sector for their bad faith is to make them obsolete and irrelevant. Solar + Batteries at a residential level go a long long way towards achieving this goal.

    • Wow. What a garbage post.

      Aussies should buy expensive batteries because the bandits steal Aussie gas and pay no tax.

      How about, putting an export tax on every tonne of LNG and ordering every “skilled” immigrant to give 10 Tesla Powerwalls to the ATO.

  3. Finally a minister in the current government fulfilling his portfolio brief. As Minister for coal interests, the Honorable Angus Taylor MP would be just reflecting the will of his electors.

  4. using gas to generate electricity to be used for cooking, space and water heating is just plain stupid
    what we need is to make residential gas significantly cheaper so people stop using electricity for thermal applications

    • Silly duffer. We just make electricity a lot more expensive. And gas more expensive too, but a little less so than electricity.

      Create the right incentives, through a larger price differential. And much more profit!

  5. bolstroodMEMBER

    Burning coal is becoming a very hazardous enterprise.
    Up here in the Northern Rivers fires are raging, and have been since winter.
    Todate over 80 homes have been destroyed, hundreds of farm animals and countless native birds, reptiles and animls burned alive.
    Yesterday the settlement of Rappville ceased to exist.30 homes destroyed.
    This is beyond anyting in our history … given the season…
    I dread the Summer.
    This is a Climate Emergency.
    Please sign this E petition

  6. haimona12MEMBER

    The gas as a transitional fuel idea made sense 30 years ago but it no longer does. Even with lower gas prices, new gas generation capacity can’t get financed because it still has very high emissions and hence can’t be financed over the next 20-40 years. Existing CCGTs aren’t viable in California despite cheap gas. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ge-power/general-electric-to-scrap-california-power-plant-20-years-early-idUSKCN1TM2MV A diversified portfolio of renewables plus storage and lots of new transmission is more economic than gas, but requires private sector investment and the Federal government is choking this.