On August 22 Transition Town Guildford and Hills Sustainability Group hosted an eastern suburbs forum on the Greens “Energy 2029” plan. The forum was an outstanding success, with standing room only at the Old Midland Courthouse. Over 60 interested and concerned people attended what was alternately an interesting, thought provoking and alarming evening. We apologise to the many people who tried but could not get tickets to this event. We will book a larger venue next time!
MC’d by our own Barb Frey, the first speaker was Greens Senator Scott Ludlam. Senator Ludlam briefly outlined the well-known issues around climate change and our energy greedy society before moving on to solutions to the problem. In 2012 the Greens commissioned SEN (Sustainable Energy Now) to carry out a detailed technical analysis of the electricity grid in Western Australia’s southwest with the objective of determining if it could be run entirely using renewable energy.
The answer is YES…..and it can be done by 2029.
Senator Ludlam was followed by Steve Gates from SEN with a technical but accessible explanation of how this could be achieved. The major problem with renewables in the past has been that they have difficulties supplying electricity continuously such as at night or when the wind doesn’t blow. These problems have been overcome by using a mix of technologies across the grid that essentially store energy during periods of excess allowing it to be used during periods of shortage. These are:
- Concentrating Solar Thermal (CST). Those towers surrounded by mirrors that can also store heat for days as molten salt.
- Solar Photovoltaic (PV). The friendly solar panels adorning so many of our homes.
- Wind energy. Wind turbines.
- Wave energy. Power generated from the movement of waves.
- Geothermal energy. AKA “Hot Rocks”.
- Bioenergy. Farmers earn extra income by planting native oil mallee trees that are used to generate power.
- Pumped hydro. During sunny/windy days excess electricity from PV’s and wind turbines is used to pump water to elevated dams which are used to generate hydro-electricity when needed.
All of these technologies are currently in use around the world and are rapidly decreasing in cost. They now challenge our current “dirty” fossil fuel generation systems in terms of capital cost even before health and environmental costs are considered.
I took two significant positive things away from the forum:
1. It can be done. The technology is available NOW and it is affordable.
2. The high turnout for this forum indicates a strong public interest in renewable energy and represents a demand for politicians to take immediate action to develop this type of plan.
Further details of the Energy 2029 plan are available here
Sustainable Energy Now (SEN) – http://www.sen.asn.au/
Hills Sustainability Group – http://www.hsg.org.au/