All of this is motivated by the carbon dioxide/global warming scare. This is a planned distraction and that story is wearing thin. But the green energy mess is undeniable - the Snowy 2.0 proposal is proof that some politicians can at last see the increasing dangers of grid instability.
Australia is a land of droughts, and large areas can be affected by seasonal or longer droughts in water, wind or solar energy. We may get regular rain, steady winds and bright sunshine for long periods over large areas, but that is not the best way to place our bets.
There is no longer a cost-free, risk-free energy option for Australia but the risks and costs will rise for each day's delay. About 40% of Australia's coal and gas plants are likely to close by 2030, but that will not make the sun shine at night or keep the wind blowing steadily or keep the dams full.
We need to withdraw from all Paris/Kyoto Treaty obligations, abolish NEG, RET and all subsidies, mandates and tax breaks given to wind and solar power. No new wind or solar farms should be connected directly to the grid until they have established sufficient battery storage to produce a guaranteed supply. Finally all political obstacles to reliable power such as coal, gas or nuclear must be removed.
And if we have spare mega-billions to speculate on Snowy Green Elephants we should first investigate whether there are better plans for water, wind and electricity, such as:
- Find sites on either side of the Great Dividing Range that can catch and hold lots of runoff water.
- Use the water first for electricity generation, then for irrigation.
- Find a way to send that water to the western side of the Great Dividing Range. That could be done using gravity via tunnels or pipes or using electric pumps, wind pumps or syphon-assisted electric pumping (which avoids needing expensive tunnels).
- Use the water for irrigation and agriculture in the dry inland. Failing that, use it for towns and irrigation on the more populated eastern side.
Romans, Incas and others could build aqueducts 400-700 km long without jack hammers, diesel engines, boring machines, dozers, draglines and concrete. We can build big dams and long traffic tunnels. Surely we can capture water along our well-watered and often-flooded east-coast, get it over or through the mountains, and then generate electricity as that water is released to drought-proof land west of the divide.
Our grandparents' generation built an electricity system that was the envy of the world – black coal in Qld and NSW, brown coal in Victoria and SA, plus hydro in Tasmania and the Snowy. It was efficient, resilient and decentralised, and it gave industry and consumers reliable low-cost power.
This generation breeds Green Elephants.
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