The South Australian Green Energy Lesson

As experts, politicians, and the community huddle over the failure of green energy during last week’s storms in South Australia , I’d say everyone needs to take a chill pill and listen up.

There is a lesson or two to be learnt for Governments and clean energy providers from the South Australian experience last week,

And the lesson is NOT that green energy fails to deliver.

It’s about decentralization of a clean energy system.

That’s the result of my investigations undertaken over the last week or so.

The South Australian reliance on a centralised distribution network and an over reliance on the two ‘trendy’ but least reliable sources of green energy is what let the state down.

Let us be clear this was a natural disaster!

sa-storm-pylon-collapseIt would not matter if SA had no Wind or Solar energy – It would not have made any difference to the existing electrical distribution network.

The Power failures was a systemic failure and it took the state out because SA is over reliant on the Interconnector with Victoria, one could say way over reliant!

One took a storm battering and the backup interconnector overloaded.

Once this connection was damaged the whole network was shut down to protect the assets and more importantly the population.

Two things need to happen to ensure such occurrences cannot and frankly should not happen.

Firstly, decentralize the network, and look to a mix of green energy alternatives-Don’t leave an entire State dependent just on wind and solar for a clean energy solution.

We need to work to build combined systems that are more reliable and more cost effective.

Secondly, if you anchor your whole green energy system with Solar and Wind, which will, from time to time fail, you need to support it with constant fuel sources of green energy to cover the down periods.

renewable-energy-mixFor SA to achieve its goal of 40% renewable energy, that is reliable, it needs to be made up of a suite of technologies; wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and ocean currents.

Then that energy needs to be distributed via decentralized systems thus ensuring a constant and robust system, not dependent on one or simply two at storm risk distribution networks.

Smaller localized distribution networks that can feed locally and well as interconnect.

Only then will you have a system that you can safely say will run full-time and is as resistant to damage as can be.

The ‘trendy reliance ‘on solar and wind has occurred at the cost of other more resilient green energy technologies.

No one is saying Solar and Wind are not pathways forward. But as we have just seen when you have these two systems in isolation with a single source distribution mechanism…Well, welcome to South Australia.

It’s our over enthusiasm for Solar and Wind that is causing the entire green energy focus to look towards failure.

Common sense tells you solar and wind cannot provide 24/7 power.

tidal-energySo we need to mix the constant fuel sources, such as biomass, geothermal and ocean current with them to ensure continuity of delivery to consumers.

Not Hard, really, just common sense.

The next step in our vital decarbonisation journey needs to be a focus to support those additional clean energy industries and drive them towards main stream along with solar and wind.

It is that suite of technologies and a move away from single systems of distribution that will ensure energy security. Whether this is a 20% clean energy, as promoted by the Federal Government or the 40% as promoted by the SA Government.

It is time for the Solar and Puff and Wind trendies to understand that the renewable energy targets most important objective has to be reliability and cost effectiveness.

And time they grew up and realized only a mix of green technologies can deliver both.