An interesting situation has emerged in Great Britain, which should attract the attention of all those focused on the “energy transition.” This speaks of the unreliability of the underlying renewable energy and, in particular, the current state of green technology. We can learn from Britain’s current struggles that unless or until we drastically scale up alternative energy and electricity storage technologies, we will not be able to engage in a transition of meaning.
On November 3rdrd, The National Grid, which operates the electrical system in Great Britain, rumored an “electricity margin notice”, for the afternoon of November 4. What this basically means is that the electricity operator is concerned that the supply of electricity will be limited, especially during peak hours. The blackout didn’t happen immediately, but the risks were there.
National Grid first forecasting shortage of 740 MW (1.5%) in additional power generation capacity which must be available at all times to meet demand or shortage if the power plant breaks down. It is important to note that this happens in early November, not in the summer when the air conditioner can overload the network or a very long chill in the winter. No, this is not caused by overloading the grid but by over-reliance on unreliable alternative energy.
The reason for this warning is that a mass of cold and calm air is moving over England. The cold fuels the use of electricity while a lack of wind cuts off the availability of electricity generation from onshore and offshore wind farms. UK wind farms are meant to produce, on average, 16.9 GW of energy but are expected to only produce only 2.5 GW of energy on Wednesday. From that 2.5 GW, “system constraints” prevent the use of 1.2 GW.
At the same time, several natural gas and nuclear power plants in the UK are undergoing maintenance. As a result, they are offline. Things got particularly dire this week, an old, coal-fired power plant that normally can’t be used to provide support.
This incident shows that relying on renewable energy (especially wind and solar, although hydroelectric power can experience similar problems during periods) drought) with our current technology increases the risk of power outages. To rely on alternative energy, we need at least a much better battery technology to store the excess renewable energy while we produce it. Otherwise, we will be short of resources when we produce less power from our alternative sources. Or we have to decide that we cannot rely on alternative energy as the main basic producer.
It also exposes the risk of avoiding natural gas power in favor of renewable energy. A power plant that uses natural gas emits far less pollution than coal and oil fired power plants. However, there is momentum behind the goal of ending the use of fossil fuels. This has led to activism against natural gas, in the mistaken belief that it can be replaced by alternative energy. Instead, we come across instances like this where we have to really depend on coal again, which is more polluting than natural gas.
The best energy strategy is to use a mix of sources that produce the most reliable and cleanest combustion energy. That means turning to natural gas as a basis (or perhaps nuclear) and ensuring an adequate supply and supply chain for that gas. It also means using safe, cutting-edge nuclear power generation and a mix of renewable energies. Until we have developed the type of battery technology that reliably stores renewable power on a large scale, we must maintain and grow the energy supply from hydro, nuclear, and natural gas in addition to less reliable solar and wind generation.
The Australian Government has granted “major project status” to the proposed Asian Renewable Energy Hub (AREH), a major green power-to-hydrogen project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. If built, the 2,500 square mile, 26 gigawatt, $ 36 billion wind and solar power plant will become the world’s largest power plant.
Its main purpose is not to generate electricity for the grid: its output will be used to make green hydrogen via electrolysis instead. The hydrogen will combine with atmospheric nitrogen to make ammonia, which will be exported for use as a fertilizer and (according to the developer) as a marine fuel.
“The Asia Renewable Energy Center has the potential to transform the East Pilbara and the region surrounding Broome and contribute to a huge new export industry for Australia,” Australian Industry Minister Karen Andrews said in a statement on Friday. “The factory can not only export on a large scale, but can also supply industry in the region while creating new job opportunities and economic growth.”
About 10 percent of the facility’s power will be used to meet the needs of large industrial users in Pilbara, including mining interests. The remainder will be used for large-scale production of green hydrogen and ammonia for export.
The project has been in development since 2014, led by a consortium including investment firm Macquarie, wind turbine maker Vestas, developer Intercontinental Energy and energy trading firm CWP Energy Asia. It lies on the shores of Western Australia’s vast Great Desert, about 150 miles east of Port Hedland’s iron ore export center.
Last week, AREH received environmental approval from the state of Western Australia for its first phase, along with a “major project” designation from the national government. This means AREH is now gaining recognition as a development of “strategic significance”, together with support from the Main Project Facilitation Board; a single entry point for national level permit approvals; and government-facilitated coordination with state and territory approvals.
“This sends a strong signal to everyone involved, including potential customers and investors, that our project is at the forefront of the growing green hydrogen industry for Australia, and is opening up a huge new export market to fast-growing Asian economies for we’re north, ”said AREH Project Director Brendan Hammond.
The final investment decision is expected in 2025 with construction starting the following year. The first product exports will start in 2027-28.
Iberdrola started doing business in Australia with the construction of its first renewable energy project following the friendly acquisition of Infigen Energy, one of the country’s leading developers of renewable energy projects. Located in South Australia, Port Augusta is by far the world’s first solar-wind power plant, with an investment of AUS $ 500 million.
The renewable facility will combine 210 MW of wind with 107 MW of photovoltaic technology and will once operate will produce enough clean energy to power the equivalent of 180,000 Australian homes per year.
In total, around 200 jobs will be supported during construction until the project is commissioned in 2021. As such, Iberdrola also contributes to driving post-COVID green economic recovery and job creation in Australia.
The project, which involves global suppliers, Australia and Spain, has contributed to the revitalization of the industry. In recent months, Iberdrola has signed a major contract for the Port Augusta project with Vestas for the supply and installation of 50 wind turbines with a capacity of 4.2 MW and Longi for nearly 250,000 solar PV panels. Elecnor will build storage areas and road access, as well as deliver export transmission lines, substations and a Balance of Plant wind power plant. Sterling & Wilson will build a solar power plant.
New markets are driving a green recovery
The groundbreaking ceremony in Port Augusta was attended by Country Manager of Iberdrola, Fernando Santamaría, Prime Minister of South Australia Steven Marshall and Dan van Holst Pelletika, Minister of Energy and Mines.
In his speech, Santamaria highlighted “the company’s commitment to the Australian market while continuing to bet on clean energy as a way out of the current crisis caused by the pandemic”.
With its entry into Australia, Iberdrola has progressed further in its diversification process and positioned itself in a market with great renewable energy potential.
After the acquisition of Infigen Energy, Australia has become one of the main growth platforms for Iberdrola. The group has been one of the leaders in the Australian market, where they now operate over 800 MW of owned and contracted solar, wind and battery storage capacity, with 453 MW under construction (including Port Augusta) and a pipeline project of over 1000 MW. in different stages of development.
Renewable energy in Australia continues to increase its market share and is expected to accelerate growth over the next ten years. According to the 2019 Australian Energy Report, 21% of electricity generation comes from renewable sources, with solar production growing by 46% and wind by 19%.
By 2030, emissions from the electricity sector are expected to fall by 23% and the share of renewable energy in the power mix will reach 48%.
For more news and technical articles from the global renewable industry, read the latest issue of Energy Global magazine.
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Read the article online at: https://www.energyglobal.com/other-renewables/12102020/construction-underway-on-australias-first-large-scale-hybrid-power-plant/