NEGative on NEG

I’ve just joined 22 other Australian energy researchers in calling for the release of the modelling used to justify the Abbott-Turnbull government’s National Energy Guarantee. Until this is out in the open, state and federal Labor should have nothing to do with the NEG. I am confident that, once the modelling is released, it will quickly be shown to be so weak as to provide no support for this camel of a policy, designed to placate both the Abbott denialists and the business lobby who want a soft policy but can see that they can’t win with denialism. The letter is at

10 thoughts on “NEGative on NEG

  1. Fully justified. “Secret” means “worthless”.
    One not so minor niggle: “the trilemma of reduced emissions, high reliability, and low energy costs”. This is pretentious and wrong. A dilemma (and by extension an n-emma) is between exclusive choices. These can be good (the Dom Perignon or the Krug?) or bad (surgery or drugs?) but you can’t have both. In energy policy, one of the big issues is whether in fact the three goals are exclusive. Reduced emissions and low costs are certainly compatible – the debate is over reliability as well. Tesla’s grid battery and SolarReserve’s CSP plant suggest it can be had too, very affordably.

  2. I think this site is very interesting. Of course, if you look at it at different times of the day and night (and in different seasons) you will see very different flows.

    On this page you should see “Live data – King Island Advanced Hybrid Power Station” which is a good animation of the live data. Very interesting are the potential feeds of energy from Wind, Solar, Battery, Diesel and Flywheel. The users of energy (at least sometimes and variously) are Consumers, Battery, Flywheel, Resistor. The stores of energy at times are Battery and Flywheel. The Resistor appears to be an outright energy sink used occasionally, I assume, to stabilize the grid and Hz cycles.

    The percentages on the energy sources are capacity percentages not contribution percentages (unfortunately I think). So if solar is running at 50% it is producing 50% of its possible maximum operating production. It is not producing 50% of power generation. I would like to see the power generation percentage contributions myself. That would be more interesting. The flywheel is an interesting addition as the flywheels helps stabilize the whole system. Flywheels can respond most rapidly, and almost automatically as it were, to input and consumption fluctuations or discrepancies.

    It seem to me this system would be superb for research in such integrated systems. I guess that is one reason why they have built it. It is a practical, small town sized, experiment. I haven’t read up more on it yet so I don’t know what research is going on. My bias would be to see more wind, solar and storage for this system to reduce diesel consumption but perhaps it is already well balanced as per cost and technical parameters (like stability and dispatchability). The plain fact is eventually we have to run society-wide renewable systems with nearly zero fossil fuels. How do we get there? Also are EROEI data being generated for the wind and solar components and for the system as a whole. And are these data being generated via a valid boundary definition methodology?

    I don’t know the answers. I will try to find out more but I not a physicist, nor an energy expert nor an economist. Anybody who knows more about this system or such systems than I do (which wouldn’t be hard) please comment.

  3. Renewable EROEI does (or will) matter globally and nationally in the long run. It doesn’t essentially matter for a limited site like King Island. Globally, we can probably run a renewable energy system with about a 3:1 to 5:1 energy profit. This means we would have to finish the renewables build-out and maintain that system, and indeed all of civilization, with that level of energy profit.

    A pure electrical economy requires a much less positive EROEI than does a FF economy. Electric motors (as the basic proxy) are about four times more efficient than ICE motors. What counts finally is the proportion of energy converted to useful work. Thus, if a FF economy with an average EROEI of 20:1 can run an industrial civilization which is very wasteful, then a Renewables electrical economy with an EROEI of 5:1 and much less waste can run an industrial civilization, though there will be plenty of devil in the detail.

    Long term, I think hybrid systems, like that on King Island but much larger as grids, will be the go-to solution. The issue will be to determine the right mix. The right mix will be determined by build costs at about the time of tendering, plus by the particular renewable energy profile of the generation site(s), plus by the (malleable but not infinitely malleable) characteristics of consumer demand including industrial demand.

    Cost of power, delivery of adequate power to a use-profile and reliability of the power is a dynamic function, presumably only solvable by equations integrating generation and storage costs along with dispatch reliability requirement parameters.

    Taking the King Island system as a model, we need to reduce the FF input component to zero. This involves not only removing the diesel, natural gas and coal generators from the power system but removing all FF ICE motive power from all mining, manufacture, transport and supply chains. That is the big issue. How do we do that? I am not sure yet. Lots of electric engines, lots of cables, lots of batteries and other energy storages would seem to be the answer. Again, there is a lot devil in this detail and a lot of other raw material and resource supply chain issues.

    Can we solve all that above and slowly move our coastal cities and infrastructure inland (sea level rise) while battling increased weather extremes, and topsoil and water shortages? For that is assuredly what we will have to do. It will be an era requiring continuous, emergency, statist actions. Only Socialist Democracies or Socialist Party Dictatorships will be able to face this challenge. Nations choosing oligarchic and plutocratic rule will fail this challenge utterly as the USA is in the process of doing right now.

    PS, I hope we in Australia choose a Socialist Democracy.

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