Matthew Wright in his recent article paints a very seductive picture of an all-renewable future for Australia’s electricity generation. His Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan released in 2010 would seem very attractive to an inexperienced reader with it’s promise of a cost effective solar, wind and biomass solution by 2020.
A close analysis if that report showed the likely cost of such a solution was five times higher than the report’s estimate and the wholesale cost of electricity would be nearly 10 times the current cost.
Matthew rightly questions the viability of clean coal and gas using CCS but misleads when he suggests that second generation nuclear is ‘off limits in any OECD country’ (nearly all the second generation plants in OECD countries are still operating successfully).
He also misleads when he suggests that third generation nuclear plants have ‘so far proved impossible to get built’. Such plants are currently being constructed in China and the US.
I am a supporter of his domestic solar PV with battery banks (still very expensive today) – I have one myself – and I believe they can make a valuable contribution to household electricity supply. But they cannot replace coal plants which service heavy industry and commercial properties today. Only nuclear plants can do that cleanly.
Martin Nicholson, The Pocket
Author of Energy in a Changing Climate and The Power Makers’ Challenge