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The future of energy generation and storage

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

  1. sptrawler

    sptrawler

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    What, are the Queensland Government buying back previously sold Power Stations? That's a good sign.
     
  2. sptrawler

    sptrawler

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    The other thing that may happen soon, just a guess on my part, but S.A will announce some sort of recommissioning of a large fossil fuel generator and or the building of one.
    Time will tell, but relying on the goodwill of other States to supply your electrical reliability, isn't going to cut it .IMO
    Maybe that is what Hawke was alluding to, when he said the States needed to be abolished, we may be at a point where an hollistic approach is needed.
     
  3. Tisme

    Tisme Apathetic at Best

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    I don't think I said that, but the 65% of the state's generation is state owned corporations that were readied for sale.
     
  4. Smurf1976

    Smurf1976

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    Smithfield (NSW, 171 MW) closes in the middle of this year and Liddell (NSW, 2000 MW) is publicly announced for closure in 2022 so things aren't getting any better.

    Australia had a huge economic advantage with cheap energy but we've managed to completely blow it. Amazing. Truly amazing.

    Last year's crisis was probably a blessing in disguise since it has mostly got the political interference out of the way.

    As for reserves, well the weather is always an unknown but certainly the plan doesn't involve seeing what's on the bottom of the lakes again any time soon that's for sure.

    The way it's heading, every single supplier into Vic & SA is going to have the market cornered at times. Either take their power or the lights really will go out. No prizes for guessing that market prices won't be low during these times and those with a constrained fuel supply, that is hydro and a few gas plants, would sensibly be ensuring they've got plenty on hand for when these spectacularly profitable situations arise.

    So right now we've got enough water in the system in Tas to be supplying 100% of load quite comfortably. No issues there. But the dams aren't full and with the looming situation in Victoria prices are almost certainly going up. Hence 45% of all supply into Tas is coming from Vic right now, that being the technical limit. At just 2.5 cents / kWh it's almost certainly an outright bargain compared to what it can be sold back to Vic for in the not too distant future (assuming we don't need it ourselves). And if we do need it, well it's still a bargain buying now rather than paying far more at a later time.

    So Tas is pursuing a "buy low, sell high" strategy assuming the weather is reasonably normal. If a major drought hits then it's still a winner as a "buy low" strategy.

    There aren't too many times in any market where a jump in price is in effect announced by those causing it before they do so. A rare opportunity for those able to take advantage of it but obviously not good for those at the consuming end of the deal.
     
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  5. SirRumpole

    SirRumpole

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  6. Tisme

    Tisme Apathetic at Best

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    The LNP scrapped the energy efficiency and disclosure legislation of the previous Labor regime because it was too onerous on developers, the Premier at that time being one himself. You couldn't get more poorly designed than having an all brick and tile home in the hottest parts of the country, but that is what you get in WA, even though the earliest housing was light weight, low capacitance structure with novel things called verandahs, tin roofs and eaves.
     
  7. SirRumpole

    SirRumpole

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    I was recently in a Chinesified area of Melbourne where the new residents build gigantic horrendously ugly cement rendered mausoleums with huge air conditioners on the roofs. And frequently there are only one or two people living there.

    Building codes ? I don't think so.
     
  8. Smurf1976

    Smurf1976

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    The most significant point in this article isn't what it says but that it appears in the print edition of a News Ltd newspaper.

    http://www.themercury.com.au/news/o...r/news-story/1ec3dd2d8fd26c327c10e44dab34b501

    So it seems the wheel is starting to turn as it becomes increasingly clear that trying to apply market principles to natural monopolies just isn't working as the economic theorists thought it would.

    Someone at the ACCC is probably still recovering after learning that we ended competition in generation in Tasmania in order to cut prices. And prices did indeed drop, the very same day Hydro acquired it's only significant competitor. Engineers, tradies and even the cleaner understand exactly why that's the case but those with their theories are probably still scratching their heads as to why.

    The reason, of course, is that the technical inefficiency which comes from operating a single engineering system as discreet parts vastly exceeds any gain you'll ever make by means of labour productivity and so on. And our state owned utilities were the third lowest cost in the developed world to start with so there never was much to be gained.

    With prices to consumers now higher in real terms right across the country than they were before this process began and the looming price jumps and supply problems in Vic and SA it's time for a proper evaluation of how to get back to something that's affordable and reliable.

    Personally I don't have an ideological view on public versus private ownership, I just want it to be reasonably efficient in operation. Either private with some regulation or public, but the idea that you have numerous players all doing their own thing independently, when we're talking about one underlying technical system, just isn't working.

    Latest one - proposed $350 million to build a high operating cost power station in SA generating about 250 MW. It's even sillier when you realise that 2 x 270 MW units are sitting idle at Northern (Port Augusta) and there's 239 MW sitting idle at Pelican Point (Adelaide). There's nothing wrong with any of those, it's just that their owners decided to cease operating.

    But sure, spend another $350 million to build what we've already got sitting there unused three times over. No amount of "competition" and giving consumers a choice over what name appears on the bill is going to recover anywhere near that amount of wasted capital.
     
  9. SirRumpole

    SirRumpole

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    +1. Even people not in the industry like me can see it's a dog's breakfast.

    I think there has been a lot of stupid thinking that we should be more like the USA and let the market compete without realising that we have a much different dynamics to the US, much smaller market therefore less investment available , spread over the same geographical area as the US.

    FFS, we have a population less that of California. We need a national body of engineers to determine our most efficient network based on reliability, price and emissions in that order. The energy market is just one reason to get rid of the States,there are lots of others as well.
     
  10. sptrawler

    sptrawler

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    Smurph,I must appologies for my earlier post, regarding S.A requiring new or recommissioned fossil fuel generation, after googling it, I see it has been aired.
    Unfortunately I was away from mid Nov to Mid December, however I can recommend the "Ovation of the Seas", as a great family holiday idea.
     
  11. noco

    noco

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    The USA also has some 100 nuclear power stations and we should have our own here with the abundance of uranium in South Australia.

    Good news for Townsville ATM ...lots of new coal mines are opening up in NQ...The Greenies are probably arranging a rent a crowd to protest up this way any time soon.

    http://www.townsvillebulletin.com.a...t/news-story/ff7ef67c5ca0edfba1dae075286214e2

    NORTH Queensland is on the cusp of a coal boom set to create thousands of jobs and inject millions into Townsville’s economy.

    Glencore’s Collinsville Coal Mine is recruiting workers as it restarts operations.

    Adani wants to start construction works this year on its Carmichael coal and rail project and has already announced its regional headquarters will be in Townsville.

    Stanmore Coal has also started mining at Isaac Plain near Mackay.

    Dozens of mining jobs are being advertised, searching for workers living in Townsville for either fly-in or drive-in positions.

    Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan said the price of thermal coal had doubled and coking coal prices had tripled, creating strong market conditions for mines to expand or reopen.

    “This is going to be one of the best years for the coal industry,” he said.

    “We are one of the best places ... to provide India with coal; we also export a lot of coal to China and we are cost competitive as well.
     
  12. Smurf1976

    Smurf1976

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    http://www.thebull.com.au/articles/a/64788-manufacturers-struggle-with-gas-shortage.html

    We're now staring down the barrel of the situation myself and others in the know have been worried about for years. We've got a major base load power station (Hazelwood, Vic) about to shut down and we're in trouble with gas too.

    That's why not one other country, not even the USA with it's love of free enterprise, actually "leaves it to the market" when it comes to energy security. There's only one place on earth doing that - Australia. Everyone else either has it in public hands or regulates private enterprise.

    And before anyone thinks there's an easy way out, well I hear on the news today about an imminent jump in oil product prices in Australia too. So forget that as a means of escape.

    On a positive note, those running hydro generation seem almost certain to find themselves with rather a lot of cash rolling in as all this unfolds. :)
     
  13. SirRumpole

    SirRumpole

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    Effing Greg effing Hunt shouldn't be warning anyone, he and his effing useless mates should be DOING something about it.

    For a start they could sequester enough gas for local consumption before any goes overseas, and or put an export tax on what does go elsewhere.

    OUR resources, OUR benefit.

    I'll vote for whatever Party takes energy security seriously, even if it's Pauline Hanson.

    Pity Bob Katter is not in my State, and pity Tony Windsor didn't get elected.

    Damn bogan voters in Armidale. :mad:
     
  14. noco

    noco

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    Rumpy don't get angry.

    Confuscius says, "WHEN ANGRY RISES, THINK OF THE CONSEQUENCES".
     
  15. Smurf1976

    Smurf1976

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    The problem with all this is that it involves real, physical stuff (and big stuff at that) versus politicians living in a largely theoretical and paper-based (or it's electronic equivalent) world where things can be changed on a whim.

    To pick some examples from history:

    We started building the Snowy in 1949. Didn't get a single kilowatt out of it until 1955 and it wasn't complete until 1974. So that's 25 years of construction to build the whole scheme. Equally relevant is that 68 years after construction started it is still a key part of power supply in NSW and Vic today.

    54 years ago SA decided to build the first power station at Torrens Island ("A" station). It along with the neighbouring B station are still the second largest and largest power stations respectively in SA today and between them comprise just under 50% of the state's firm (non-intermittent) generating capacity.

    And a brief history of the Mowell mine in Victoria:

    1947 - Decision made to develop the mine and associated gas works, power generation and briquette manufacture.

    1954 - First town gas produced.

    1957 - Decision to develop a large power station to be known as Hazelwood.

    1958 - First power generated at Morwell fuel and power complex (aka Morwell power station and later known as Energy Brix after privatisation).

    1959 - First briquettes produced at Morwell.

    1962 - Morwell power station complete with 5th generator installed.

    1964 - First unit online at Hazelwood.

    1965 - Second unit at Hazelwood.

    1966 - Third unit at Halzelwood. Discovery of natural gas in Bass Strait makes Morwell gas works imminently obsolete as a gas supply for Melbourne. Decision to enlarge Hazelwood from 6 to 8 generating units.

    1967 - Fourth unit at Hazelwood which has now overtaken Yallourn to be the largest power station in Vic.

    1968 - Fifth unit at Hazelwood.

    1969 - Sixth unit at Hazelwood. Closure of gas works due to replacement with natural gas.

    1970 - Seventh unit at Hazelwood which is now the equal largest power station in Australia.

    1971 - Eighth unit at Hazelwood.

    First half of 1980's - Pilot plant producing liquid petroleum fuels from Morwell coal in operation. Technology was successful but abandoned once the oil price crashed in late 1985.

    1993 - Major incident severely damages Hazelwood unit 7. Deemed uneconomic to repair at the time due to soft economy and electricity demand.

    1998 - Hazelwood unit 7 returned to service.

    2014 - Closure of Morwell power station and briquette works.

    2017 - Closure of Hazelwood power station and the Morwell mine.

    So the whole thing spans literally 70 years from the decision to build to the end of production. That'll be probably 80 years by the time everything is dismantled etc.

    Now, can anyone find me a politician or business leader thinking 70 years into the future?

    There's the problem.
     
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  16. SirRumpole

    SirRumpole

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    Well really, the only thinking politicians have to do is to appoint someone with the necessary qualifications to decide what are the best power generation options. I don't pretend that it's an easy decision. It will be like the NBN where people say "let's wait a few years and see where the technology goes". Of course you can do that forever and never get anywhere but sometime someone has to make a decision.

    We have an Infrastructure Australia body who are supposed to be the experts. Surely someone in that organisation in consultation with CSIRO could come up with the best plan based on current and anticipated future technology then it's a matter of the politicians accepting that they have the best advice that they can get and acting on it.

    The power options may get built and the next day a better option is discovered, but that's a risk we have to take. As you said the Snowy scheme is still operating after 70 years. I'd like to think solar thermal and PV will figure largely in the mix, but so may nuclear.

    Probably the hardest thing is to find someone who doesn't have a close association with a particular sub industry like coal, solar , hydro or nuclear who can make an open minded decision.
     
  17. SirRumpole

    SirRumpole

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  18. Tisme

    Tisme Apathetic at Best

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  19. Smurf1976

    Smurf1976

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    The generating unit being referred to is a 208 MW gas-fired combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) located at Tamar Valley Power Station.

    That is the only CCGT plant in the Tasmanian system. Also at the site are 4 open cycle gas turbines (OCGT's) - 1 x 58 MW and 3 x 35 - 40 MW (exact output depends on conditions). Tamar Valley, also known as Bell Bay, is the only significant non-hydro power station in Tas.

    All 4 OCGT's fire gas primarily with diesel as backup. The CCGT fires gas only since backing up with diesel is problematic technically. Gas is the normally used fuel for all units.

    The CCGT itself comprises a 140 MW gas turbine, heat recovery steam generator (HRSG) and a separate 68 MW steam turbine. Exhaust heat from the gas turbine is recovered to produce steam to run the steam turbine. In contrast, with an OCGT plant the exhaust heat simply goes to waste (discharged as a lot of hot air).

    There are other CCGT plants in Australia, every state except Vic has at least one, but Tamar Valley CCGT is the most technically efficient fuel-burning power power station in the National Electricity Market (NEM).

    The decision to put the CCGT into base load (24/7) production is purely a commercial one under present circumstances. Likewise the intermittent running of the 58 MW OCGT this year to date is for the same reason. Cost of gas is less than the value of electricity produced and there's a physical means to absorb that power production within the system in an efficient manner.

    So where does the power go? That really depends on circumstances and market prices in Victoria but the answer is a combination of:

    1. Increased export to Vic
    2. Avoid or reduce imports from Vic
    3. Reduce hydro production and keep the water for use some other time

    Price will determine what happens at any particular time noting that Hydro is very conscious of the likely jump in Vic (and other states) prices once Hazelwood power station closes at the end of March this year. Hydro is also all too aware that gas prices are going up too. Both of those influence the value of water retained in long term storage and thus it being financially sensible to run the CCGT at this time (and also to run the OCGT's when the gas price makes it profitable).

    So there's no technical need to have the CCGT (or the OCGT's) running at present since there's more water in storage than is actually needed. It's just that running the CCGT is expected to be a better outcome financially compared to not running it.

    When not running the CCGT is stored in a dry state so there's a bit of lead time to bring it back into operation. Production commenced at 11:45am this morning with a slow ramp up to 60% of capacity at present. It will be further ramped up to 100% soon. It's capable of a faster ramp up but doing so results in greater thermal stresses and wear so it's done very slowly under normal circumstances.

    The OCGT's are ramped up a lot faster, a matter of minutes, however since they don't have the complexity of heat recovery and there's no steam involved. Hence running the 58MW OCGT recently on an intermittent basis is no problem whereas the CCGT is planned to be started, run and then stopped once only this season.

    Present water storage is at 43.5% so that's a lot better than the low of 12.5% reached during the crisis in 2016. The "official" target is a low of 30% later in 2017 but in practice somewhere around 35% is more likely based on the weather outlook and market situation.

    The big unknown which every power generation business in the NEM is anticipating is, of course, exactly what's going to happen once Hazelwood shuts. Who's going to end up generating that power and at what price is the question there. It's possible that the Tamar Valley CCGT will end up with a few % of that in annual energy terms although it's uncertain at this stage.
     
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