posted on Nov, 15 2012 @ 09:55 AM
Australia current gets an enourmous amount of electricity from coal, about 40% of our electricity is black coal and 25% is brown coal. Of course, in
Victoria the figure is about 80% brown coal. Brown coal power stations are rather inefficient which is why some of the most inefficient power stations
are in Australia. At least, the coal is relatively free of impurities (heavy metals, sulphur), it's dirt cheap (fuel and maintenance of Loy Yang B is
something like 2.5 c/kwh), and is located fairly close to population centres.
Of course, we have a carbon tax coming up so I highly doubt much new coal will be built. About 15% of our electricity generation is natural gas.
Scaleable renewables (knowing hydro cannot scale in Australia) are intermittent and unreliable so they are not a complete solution, unless demand
management, large scale storage, or an overbuild of generation resources (i.e. build enough so that "the wind is always blowing somewhere"). Hence,
they usually need some form of "backup" to firm them. Natural Gas does this well, so in reality more renewables and a coal phaseout will likely
increase natural gas usage or at the very, very, least, require natural gas as a "bridge fuel" until renewables get good enough to stand on their own
(if they ever can).
The best we can hope for is an approximate stagnation of electricity demand, which would require that per capita electricity consumption would
decrease, but population is rising...
Obviously these findings need more research, but at the moment I think natural gas in the absence of the obvious alternative, a necessary evil.
But, a little thought exercise - if we can't use fracking to get the natural gas (or at least, scale it up significantly), we cannot use coal since
carbon tax, renewables are not complete solution, and we cannot reduce demand. What does that leave? What do we do? I honestly think the answer is
edit on 15/11/12 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)