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The future of energy generation and storage

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Value Collector, May 2, 2015.

  1. Smurf1976

    Smurf1976

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    A big problem is that in all states you will fine some sort of "office of energy" buried within another government department.

    Now go to said "office" and find out who's there and what they do. Purely admin people aside you'll find people worried about compliance, theoretical economic stuff, CO2 and maybe various subsidy or concession schemes.

    What you won't find is anyone focused on the actual physical supply of energy, something that used to be the focus of the monopoly utilities but which has been abandoned since their demise.

    It's a bit like having a ministry of agriculture that focuses on pretty much anything other than farming. Or a media office which deals with everything except newspapers, TV, radio and the internet. Hmm....

    A big part of the problem is that governments in particular didn't and to a large extent still don't perceive it as a problem. They see it as a question of regulation or economics, the idea that supply is at risk just isn't something they grasp.

    As such it's like the overweight heavy smoker who refuses to acknowledge the risks or the inexperienced driver who refuses to accept their own vulnerability. We all know how things like that usually end.....

    My guess is that ultimately this ends with a major failure. The timing and details are anyone's guess but so long as the technical side is considered secondary to everything else it's pretty much inevitable it will happen at some point.

    Until that time we'll just see the slow but inevitable erosion of safety margins, technical standards and so on. :2twocents
     
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  2. sptrawler

    sptrawler

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    I certainly hope it isn't that bad , over East.
    In W.A the Government is still the biggest supplier of power, so a lot of the old style departments are still active, they still have Muja C and D, Collie North and the CCGT at Kwinana.
     
  3. sptrawler

    sptrawler

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  4. Smurf1976

    Smurf1976

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    I don't know the details of what they're planning to do.

    What I do know however is what they've got now:

    4 boilers and cooling towers all the same.

    3 turbines and generators were originally ordered specifically for Loy Yang A and were originally rated at 500 MW each, later upgraded to 560 MW each. These are units 1, 3 and 4 commissioned 1985, 86 and 88 respectively.

    The other turbine and generator (Unit 2) was originally ordered as the second unit for Newport D power station (Melbourne metro area) which was only ever half built with one generating unit installed. The other one ended up as Unit 2 at Loy Yang A, commissioned 1984 at 500 MW and later upgraded to 530 MW.

    Literally right next door, and burning coal 100% of which is mined by AGL, is Loy Yang B owned by Alinta with 2 x nominally 500 MW units which run to 535 MW each in practice and in service since 1993 and 96. Alinta is planning to upgrade each by another 40 MW or so with work to commence soon. Loy Yang B is technically similar but not identical to Loy Yang A.

    Exactly how AGL plan to get another 15 MW I'm not sure. It's a marginal change though given existing capacity at Loy Yang A is 2210 MW. :2twocents
     
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  5. sptrawler

    sptrawler

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  6. SirRumpole

    SirRumpole

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  7. Smurf1976

    Smurf1976

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    As a concept it’s a good one.

    Just need to be careful that it doesn’t get out of hand and lead to forests being cut for no purpose other than to fuel a power station. There are certainly some politicians around who would steer it that way if given the slightest chance.

    So in my view it’s a good thing subject to being kept to sensible applications.
     
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  8. sptrawler

    sptrawler

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    Well Rumpy, how long ago did we say, that solar installations on houses will become mandatory?
    They just make it part of the building requirement, then eventually the cost is absorbed by the purchaser.
    Well it sounds as though the penny has started to drop, make it mandatory with a subsidy sweetener, then make the subsidy disappear. Walah as if by magic.
    It isn't in yet, but the wheels are in motion.

    https://www.smh.com.au/environment/...teries-for-all-new-homes-20190211-p50x2h.html
     
  9. SirRumpole

    SirRumpole

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    It's only the NSW Greens sp, who listens to them ? :D
     
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  10. SirRumpole

    SirRumpole

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  11. rederob

    rederob

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    Yes, but the article did go on to say that "The AEMO is calling for immediate investment to the tune of $370 million to upgrade the network...." And that an "expression of interest for developers wanting to build, own or operate the new infrastructure closes on Monday."
    One of the great side effects of renewables is the decentralisation of employment creation and net additional jobs to more and more country locations.
     
  12. SirRumpole

    SirRumpole

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    I'm not knocking renewables rederob. I just think there is a need for better strategic thinking when applying technology , rather than a piecemeal approach of putting in new generation, waiting for something to fall over then having to fix it.
     
  13. rederob

    rederob

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    That is not a reasoned comment.
    Wind and solar are not going to be built where old power stations existed.
    So whenever and wherever additional renewable capacity is built, we cannot expect that grid infrastructure will magically appear, or be adequate.
    Furthermore, it's not happening on a piecemeal basis. The planning process is well known and as your linked article showed, arrangements for the necessary infrastructure went out to market.
    That is very different to saying "waiting for something to fall over then having to fix it."
     
  14. SirRumpole

    SirRumpole

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    Expressions of interest went out, how many will be taken up ?

    In my view supply of essential services are a government responsibility and governments should be the prime investors in this infrastructure.
     
  15. rederob

    rederob

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    I cannot imagine nobody bidding, so whatever is on offer will be awarded.
    As for what you think should be a government responsibility, it does not square with the real world.
     
  16. SirRumpole

    SirRumpole

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    Someone is sure to bid for a monopoly, but to the detriment of consumers.

    As for "the real world", the real world of commercial competition in the electricity sector has resulted in massive price increases and "load shedding", so if that's the real world I would rather have the service back as it was in fantasy land.
     
  17. rederob

    rederob

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    Except that it has not been a monopoly for a long time.

    No argument from me on the matter of prices.
    However, the present federal government is assuring us that their policies are driving down prices.
    Did we all miss something:rolleyes:.
     
  18. Smurf1976

    Smurf1976

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    Planning:

    To the extent there's a failure it's a comprehensive one not simply about any particular transmission line or wind farm.

    One issue there is that from an operational perspective one thing you really, really wouldn't want to do is put lots of wind farms in a small area which will all experience the same weather patterns. That firstly cuts the price received for the output of those wind farms (a point that will come as a rude shock to some of these companies) and second it creates a constant "boom / bust" cycle in wind energy generation into the grid with that full occurring as often as daily.

    Transmission but that's the easiest to fix. Just build it.

    How to manage the existing generation fleet is the other gaping hole in planning. In the Victorian context the minimum turndown of existing coal-fired plant and how to deal with "must run" hydro generation are the two key issues there. Both problems are amplified by having lots of wind farms in the one location.

    In layman's terms if you need coal plant online because the wind's going to fall in a heap when the sun sets and demand goes up at that time, then what do you do with its output during the middle of the afternoon? We're going to end up with some serious inefficiencies there - coal burnt to generate no power or alternatively wind farms constrained off. Either way it's the same outcome in an overall sense. There are workarounds to that which could be built but you won't find anyone who expects them to actually be built by the time they're needed - that's 1 or 2 years at most since the wind farms are being built now.

    Stand by for a few screams when reality becomes undeniable.

    Government ownership:

    The notion that government's shouldn't own power infrastructure is in practice primarily a NSW, Vic and SA thing.

    The Commonwealth owns Snowy Hydro and for those not aware that's not just the Snowy scheme itself but also gas-fired generation in NSW and Vic plus diesel generation in SA.

    The Queensland government is the producer of a considerable amount of all electricity used in NSW.

    Hydro Tasmania, 100% owned by the Tas state government, operates as a "private" business outside the state under various names (Hydro Tasmania, Entura, Lofty Ranges Power, Momentum Energy and others) and has won contracts in every Australian state in recent times as well as overseas. That includes involvement with some of the Victorian wind farms by the way.

    I'm not sure about the others but Hydro Tas gains no advantage by virtue of government ownership. Yes it pays taxes and so on, the only difference being with some of the wording used in the accounts but the end result is the same financially so there's no advantage gained over competitors by virtue of ownership. Not sure about the others.

    Also there's plenty of involvement of the governments of China, Singapore and to a lesser extent France. There are also foreign owned non-government participants in the industry too.

    Outside of the National Electricity Market the WA and NT governments also own power generation in their respective state / territory. WA in particular competes directly with privately owned operators in that state.

    So the notion that government shouldn't be involved is a NSW, Vic and SA thing really. There's plenty of government involvement in the industry in those states - it's just not their own state government that's involved.
     
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  19. SirRumpole

    SirRumpole

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    So can you explain something please.

    Company A owns power lines, and you could have say 5 generators sending power through those lines at once each perhaps charging a different amount for the power they generate?

    So how does Company A make it's money ? Does it say we will only let the cheapest power through so we can add a greater markup and therefore maintain our profits ? Can it isolate power to one particular generator or does it just average out the prices each generator charges then add it's markup on top of that ?

    Or is it more complicated ?
     
  20. Smurf1976

    Smurf1976

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    There's complexity but leaving that aside and sticking to the concepts:

    *Generators (power stations, wind farms etc) offer supply at whatever price they choose to offer it at.

    *AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator) dispatches generation starting with the cheapest until sufficient power is generated to match demand.

    *The capacity of transmission lines will limit flow under certain circumstances as will an assortment of "what if?" technical constraints which aim to maintain system stability in the event that something fails. This precludes, for example, ever having a situation where no gas or diesel fired plant is running in SA even though wind generation + supply from Vic could meet the entire load. It could, but not if there's a sudden fault hence the constraint and there are many like that.

    *The practical effect of constraints is to push some generation onto higher cost (what price the owners are offering it at, not necessarily what it actually costs to operate) plant.

    *The vast majority of transmission and distribution is subject to price regulation and is funded by electricity consumers. The owners of these assets have no reason to be concerned about where the supply is coming from or going to - they're being paid a regulated return regardless.

    *Main exception is Basslink, that is Tas - Vic transmission, which ultimately operates as a commercial for-profit operation.

    *Where it all gets complex is that there's nothing to stop any power station pricing different volumes of output at very different prices if they want to. Some do, some just set one price and that's it.

    *Prices can be negative. If there's oversupply then those with high costs to shutdown and restart will send prices below zero in an effort to avoid being the ones who are shut down by AEMO. Anyone buying electricity from the spot market would literally be paid to take it under those circumstances.

    *Every company has their own strategies and the most substantial operators all have "trading rooms" where it's all done from.

    *It's no secret that some companies use a strategy of reverse engineering the market. They're aiming for certain volumes and just set whatever price results in that volume being dispatched by AEMO over whatever period they're focused on (right now, today, this week, etc). If volume is higher than they want then they'll just raise prices and vice versa. Hydro operators needing to manage limited volumes of water are the main ones using this approach but anyone who's running low on coal etc will tend to do it also.

    *There are also some who will just run flat out and take whatever price the market gives them. The now closed Hazelwood power station were particularly well known for doing that.

    *The spot market is the means of determining physical dispatch but none of this precludes other financial arrangements between generators and retailers or other customers. Such arrangements generally have the effect of stabilising price and revenue for both parties.

    *There's no law against contracts between rival generators and numerous such arrangements exist. There are some companies who refuse to deal with others but there's a lot of such arrangements overall.

    *Also some instances of generation fully under contract to someone else. Eg Energy Australia doesn't own Newport D power station (Vic) but they have the rights to 100% of its output, they decide the pricing strategy and they supply the gas. The actual owners are rent collectors basically. That's just one example it's not the only one. One of the more complex would be Pelican Point in SA - Engie owns and operates it, Origin has half of it under contract for supply of gas and the electricity generated but the other half is Engie's as such.

    *There are also a few instances of legislated operating limits on particular power stations in addition to physical limitations. Valley Power (Vic) is a 300 MW gas-fired plant owned by Snowy Hydro and subject to an operating hours limit of 876 hours per year imposed by the Victorian EPA. Another one is the 40 MW Eraring gas turbine (NSW) owned by Origin and subject to an annual 200 hour operating limit from the NSW EPA.
     
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