Grid Renationalisation

That’s the title of a discussion paper I’ve just released for the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute, headed by my friend and co-author John Spoehr. As the title suggests, the central argument is that we need to abandon the failed electricity reforms of the 1990s. What is needed is a unified, publicly owned, National Grid encompassing the ownership of physical transmission networks in each state and interconnectors between states, and responsibility for maintaining security of supply and planning the transition to a sustainable, zero emissions electricity supply industry.

The report is here

56 thoughts on “Grid Renationalisation

  1. “Board member Goran Roos told the committee in the absence of progress on energy policy at a national level, South Australia should consider going it alone.”

  2. Smith :The future is everyone has solar panels and batteries and is off-grid. Why would you spend tens of billions on a grid that quite soon will be worthless?

    Not necessarily. HVDC transmission is looking better as time rolls on. A national grid would make it a real possibility. An international one even better.

    Is there even enough Lithium in the crust to make enough batteries until a better chemistry reveals itself.

  3. Crocodile :
    HVDC transmission is looking better as time rolls on. A national grid would make it a real possibility. An international one even better.

    For Australia a national east-west HVDC link would actually solve a lot of problems, the time difference means that their afternoon PV peak would match the evening peak demand on the east coast. By the time the SW “forest” PV farms were losing power even Adelaide would be past their peak I think.

    Is there even enough Lithium in the crust to make enough batteries until a better chemistry reveals itself.

    Definitely, it’s a very common metal. The question of how much readily available lithium there is, is a more complex question. Batteries are a complex economic/technological question rather than a “can we do that” physical one.

  4. Yep, you can respond to almost any question of the form “is there enough [insert metal here] in the crust for [likely future purpose]?” by asking “At what price?”.

    That’s why, for example, uranium sanctions will never slow nuclear proliferation. You can get uranium from seawater at only a small multiple of current yellowcake prices. You can get lithium that way too if you have to.

    In the case of lithium though there’s pretty much enough readily available at CURRENT prices.

  5. Thats a great discussion paper because it highlights the significant issues that until now no-one has wanted to identify. Australia has gone from a position where power was very reliable and cheap – making it attractive for energy intensive industries like minerals processing, steel making, and industry in general to locate in OZ. It is critical to upset the apple-cart all those bureaucrats have made for themselves and get some sanity into the equation. Tough job but great start. We must reindustrialise the nation if the country is to survive.

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