# Renewable Energy

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I just had a conversation with my partner about our energy sources here in Australia

There is a particular person in politics here at the moment who is pushing that we should move back to coal power. I was explaining why investing money into coal is a very bad idea,

1. they have to build the coal power for considerably more than solar and wind farms of the same output of the same value

2 the solar and wind options are cheaper implementation and upkeep costs over the long run

3.technologies are already available for storage. and if not there are areas in the northern territory where geothermal power is an option.

Basically my partner said he supports the implementation of new coal fired power. Then when i tried to further explain why the running costs are much higher than solar on the count of the cost of fuelling said plants then proceeded to give the facts i got shut down and told "i don't want to hear it"

I honestly hate it when people do that but i then later asked "are you Conservative aligned i got the response of "i am Common sense aligned" implying my fact based position is nonsense.

how do you deal with this sort of ignorance?

fyi the cost of power here is due to the partial privatisation of the power grid

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Tell your partner that natural gas is better than coal.  It is cheaper and cleaner.

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Solar doesn't have the extraction costs coal and natural gas do. Maintenance of the equipment is less costly as well, due to fewer moving parts.

The main problem with solar now is that the electricity that can be generated from mass-produced panels is too cheap to attract private investors who can get much higher returns elsewhere. A supplemental solar grid should be funded publicly by every country on Earth, to make electricity super cheap and avoid burning fossil fuels as much as we can. There are tons of new manufacturing opportunities awaiting cheap electricity. Products that are too expensive to run today could become much more commonplace. If we had inexpensive public solar power, we could transform our highways into powered tracks that don't pollute at all.

FYI, privatizing a nation's power grid is probably the STUPIDEST thing ever dreamt up. It ranks right up there with spear-gun tag and whitewater apple-bobbing.

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Phi for All - Australia previously had government owned electricity - selling it off to private enterprise has not resulted in better reliability, lower costs or improved investment practices. It's been something of a disaster for consumers and long term energy policy implementation - and because those selloffs and the consequent raised electricity costs overlapped in time with rising concerns about climate and support for renewable energy, it was popular and effective amongst climate science deniers to conflate the two and blame the largest part of rising costs on renewable energy subsidies (when the largest component was overbuilding within rules that made that possible and financially rewarding). In part things went worse with private ownership in this is because there isn't a market large enough to support genuine, efficiency inducing competition and in part because the conditions under which they were sold included government backed guarantees ie was not and never was actually a free market - although the rhetoric of "free enterprise will do it better and cheaper" was the selling point.

Whilst nationalising them now would be problematic I disagree that government ownership of what is unlikely ever to be a free and open competitive market is intrinsically problematic, at least in Australia's case.

Bazzy - Underpinning distrust and rejection of RE is usually distrust and rejection of climate science - as is continuing support for coal fired power. Politically in Australia arguing that coal is better than renewable energy tends to be a proxy for climate science denial - the main culprits preferring not to argue about the science directly, thus avoiding arguments that they can't win and that tend to make them look foolish. I don't know that it's possible to win arguments about the merits of low emissions energy with people who reject climate change science - who reject that there is any responsibility for climate change; their opinions are not based on good information and rational arguments. Depending on who they get their news and commentary and energy politics from - the current LNP govenment and large elements of News media for example - the idea that RE will be costly and unreliable will be something they hear all the time.

They may be won over by cost savings alone - and solar for homes and businesses is winning them over at the local level - but this takes at least some pro-active research. In this, we are at a turning point, and we are seeing things shifting, with major energy companies choosing RE investments over coal (on the basis of ended RE subsidies and with an enduring amnesty for fossil fuels for their externalised costs) and facing criticisms by the pro-markets government for disagreeing with their "coal is good" mantra.

I think the continuing growth of solar and wind, and increasingly, storage, will accelerate and attempts to shape opinion against them will fail. Even more than the (still mostly limited) emissions reductions, the near term impacts of the solar and wind success story is changing minds by showing as false the fears of economic disaster that opponents of strong climate action have pushed hard and made into their most powerful tool of persuasion. The political implications of that will be more fundamentally important for building support for a transition to low emissions than the emissions reductions themselves - emissions that won't come down significantly until the levels of RE mean everything we make or use will have a big RE component.

Edited by Ken Fabian

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it surprises me that there is so many people who are against Solar

The financial benefits  alone are enough to warrant it, let alone environmental side.

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20 minutes ago, Phi for All said:

I noticed this in tandem with LED lighting.

Solar panels generate low-voltage DC. Trying to convert it to high-voltage AC (230 V/110 V) (which is used by typical incandescent lightbulbs), then going back to DC which typical devices need (computers, laptops, LCD/LED TV, kitchen devices), is introducing yet another way to waste energy on two required transformers DC-AC and AC-DC.. But it requires completely different system of delivery of power to entire building (e.g. have direct 5 V, 12 V DC electricity sockets), which must be designed at early stage of building project.

ps. Extension of idea: have special paint which after painting the all apartments walls will absorb energy from photons.. and take energy directly from the all walls to buildings power supply..

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On 15.06.2018 at 5:48 AM, bazzy said:

how do you deal with this sort of ignorance?

You could explain that coal ores will be the all exhausted, sooner or later, and then what.. ? In the case of Solar energy, photons are produced by the Sun all the time, and will be for couple billions years more.. There will be exactly reverse problem- there will be more photons produced by the Sun, than Earth can handle it in the future..

The future generations of living organisms on the Earth will have to fight with too large radiation from the Sun, than now, to protect surface of the Earth, from entire vaporization..

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My impression - problem with solar power.  The sun is not out all the time.  Therefore you need long lasting battery storage  (or some other storage) or an always available power source, such as gas generated.

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2 hours ago, mathematic said:

My impression - problem with solar power.  The sun is not out all the time.  Therefore you need long lasting battery storage  (or some other storage) or an always available power source, such as gas generated.

We've come a long way in all aspects of renewable energy and we make a lot of good use of intermittent solar and wind. You can add a lot of solar to existing electricity networks without problems. More importantly adding wind and solar now sets things up for the next stages, which will include adding some on-demand backup or equivalent. It is a progression in stages, not an all at once change.

At small scale - my PV fitted home for example - a relatively small amount of battery storage is enough to go from drawing power from the grid every night to (my estimate to date) about one night out of 50. And overall, we send four times the total power we use ourselves back into the grid. This will happen at larger scale - apparent already in the usefulness of the (still relatively small) Big Battery in South Australia (aka Hornsdale Power Reserve); it has exceeded expectations for it's role in system fast voltage regulation and fast, short term backup - and helping keep wholesale power prices constrained when gas or other "reliable" supply fails, and they do, surprisingly often if you look.

We don't know how the last stages of transition to low emission will play out - fast start gas, batteries, pumped hydro, demand shifting - likely a combination of these will be used. Nuclear will struggle to find opportunity for profit outside the periods when solar owns the daytimes and wind, the windy times. Investment in serious storage will be resisted until the proportions of wind and solar grow to where they become needed (eg South Australia approaching this threshold), then viable proposals start coming. At this point in this transition adding as much wind and solar as the market demands (and it is now demand driven) makes good sense.

Edited by Ken Fabian

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