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Existing Electricity Infrastructure in NSW

Large conventional coal fired power stations represent 65% of NSW electricity generation capacity; hydro electricity 22%; gas 11%; (including natural gas, coal-seam gas and landfill and sewerage methane).  Other sources, including wind and solar, presently represent less than 2% of installed capacity, although some quite large wind installations are planned/ proposed, the largest being a proposed 1,000MW wind farm near Silverton to cost $2.5 billion.

The actual electricity generated (and delivered) by a given installed capacity differs significantly from one technology to the next. For example conventional coal has a high ‘base load’ capacity utilisation and provides about three quarters of the electricity produced. Intermittent solar and wind capacities need to be divided by as much as 5 to be comparable with other technologies that are continuously available.

A number of the new projects (blue shaded below) are still highly speculative and/or face challenges to financial backing; engineering and grid connection hurdles; and/or local environment/planning/land ownership issues.

There are already around a hundred and sixty feed-in generators in operation in NSW (as set out below) and more than a hundred new generators planned or announced (prior to the recently announced chances to the feed in tariff):

Technology

Locations

Capacity (MW)

%

Planned

Capacity (MW)

Large conventional coal (over 20MW)

8

  12,600

64.7%

6

  6,400

Hydro

17

  4,300

22.1%

27

53.7

Natural Gas

10

  2,033

10.4%

18

  5,649

Coal-seam gas

4

110

0.6%

Landfill and sewerage methane

12

  71

0.4%

Wind

10

149

0.8%

33

  2,891

Biomass (agricultural waste)

38

130

0.7%

13

  173

Distillate

1

  50

0.3%

2

  240

Solar

55

  29

0.1%

11

  120

Geothermal

 

 

 

1

  20

Except for hydro, solar and wind, all of these directly produce CO2.  But those burning methane are disposing of an even more greenhouse active gas and have a positive impact on climate change reduction.  They generally qualify as ‘green technologies’.

Solar and wind are presently exceedingly capital intensive per GWh produced due to their intermittent nature and low utilisation. There is potential for new photo-voltaic technologies (eg on glass or plastic) to lower these costs but such technologies are not yet commercial.  As this capital equipment is very substantially imported, the CO2 produced as a result of manufacturing is released overseas.  But wind, in particular, is responsible for quite significant local CO2 release due to very high transport and installation costs (including the construction of extensive concrete foundations) and ongoing maintenance.

Simply to keep up with growth (and without replacing antiquated plant) NSW needs to add around an additional 500MW of generation per year.  Several of the existing alternatives to coal (hydro, landfill etc) are based on limited resources. It can be seen from the above table that the principal technologies expected to make a significant and immediate contribution, in the quantum required to accommodate growth, are conventional coal fired power and gas (from various sources).

 

 Life cycle CO2 emissions for electricity

 

In practical terms, and notwithstanding climate change or the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, the short and medium prospect is for a significant increase in CO2 production in NSW due to electricity generation.

 

 


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Travel

Italy

 

 

 

 

A decade ago, in 2005, I was in Venice for my sixtieth birthday.  It was a very pleasant evening involving an excellent restaurant and an operatic recital to follow.  This trip we'd be in Italy a bit earlier as I'd intended to spend my next significant birthday in Berlin.

The trip started out as planned.  A week in London then a flight to Sicily for a few days followed by the overnight boat to Napoli (Naples).  I particularly wanted to visit Pompeii because way back in 1975 my original attempt to see it was thwarted by a series of mishaps, that to avoid distracting from the present tale I won't go into.

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Fiction, Recollections & News

My Art and Artists

 

 

One recreation that I find very absorbing is drawing and painting. 

Having once been married to an exceptionally talented artist (now Brenda Chat) I do not pretend great skill or insight.

I always drew and painted but living with Brenda was like someone who has just mastered ‘chopsticks’ on the piano being confronted by Mozart. 

Our daughter Emily has inherited or acquired some of her mother’s skill and talent.  

Emily and I once attended life classes together and I am awed by her talent too.  One of her drawings hangs behind me as I write.  It is a wonderful pencil study of a life class nude. 

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Opinions and Philosophy

The Hydrogen Economy

 

 

 

 

Since I first published an article on this subject I've been taken to task by a young family member for being too negative about the prospects of a Hydrogen Economy, mainly because I failed to mention 'clean green hydrogen' generated from surplus electricity, employing electrolysis.

Back in 1874 Jules Verne had a similar vision but failed to identify the source of the energy, 'doubtless electricity', required to disassociate the hydrogen and oxygen. 

Coal; oil and gas; peat; wood; bagasse; wind; waves; solar radiation; uranium; and so on; are sources of energy.  But electricity is not. 

Electricity (and hydrogen derived from it) is simply a means of transporting and utilising energy - see How does electricity work? on this website.

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