Renewable energy
Wind mills are seen at the Tazigou wind power station in Fuxin, Liaoning province November 22, 2009. Reuters/Stringer

A secure and inexpensive Australian power grid running on 100 percent renewable energy can be constructed by pumped hydro storage, a new study from the Australian National University (ANU) reveals. The power grid, producing zero emissions, will require wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) technology to run, along with pumped hydro storage, according to lead researcher Professor Andrew Blakers.

With this technology, Australia’s need for coal and gas-fired power will be substantially reduced. “With Australia wrestling with how to secure its energy supply, we’ve found we can make the switch to affordable and reliable clean power,” Blakers, who works as professor at ANU’s Research School of Engineering, said.

Wind and solar PV electricity accounts for almost all of the new generation capacity in the country, Blakers added. Additionally, it is also responsible for almost 50 percent of the global new generation capacity each year. Two-thirds of Australia’s electricity is derived from coal-fired power stations. Renewable energy, in comparison, accounts for 15 percent of the country’s power generation.

“Pumped hydro energy storage is 97 percent of all storage worldwide, and can be used to support high levels of solar PV and wind,” said Blakers. He further emphasised that the price of 100 percent stable grid running on renewable energy, estimated to be $75/MWh, will be less expensive than coal and gas-fuelled power.

The university is also conducting a study to identify potential short-term off-river pumped hydro energy storage (STORES) sites. These locations will be able to support a larger share of renewable energy. Dr Matthew Stocks, from the ANU Research School of Engineering, said the sites will require less water as compared to power derived from fossil fuels. Additionally, as the water is recycled between reservoirs, their effects on the environment will be less dire.

The prospect of hydro storage comes as South Australian lawyer Peter Humphries, who announced that he is looking to represent SA Best in the state election scheduled for March 17 next year, criticised the “reckless” renewable energy targets that would not only make minimalist effect on the environment but also adversely affect businesses. Humphries has been associated with Senator Nick Xenophon.

Humphries slammed the state’s 50 percent renewable energy target by 2025, backed by federal NXT MP Rebekha Sharkie and Xenophon. “This is really vanity politics, in my opinion, and the state pays the price,” Humphries said. “The state has been devastated by the approach of this government to energy.”

Source: YouTube/Tom Scott