With the recent closure of one of Victoria’s longest standing coal-fired power stations, many Australian’s are left wondering what method of generation is to pick up the slack. It is yet to be determined what effect the closure of Hazelwood will have on the hip-pocket, but by all accounts, people are nervously anticipating the financial burden of reducing the state’s ability to generate baseload energy. So, are we staring down the barrel of an unavoidable power problem, or is there a solution patiently waiting on the sidelines to come in and score the matching winning point in overtime?
Is Telsa answer?
There’s no denying the world is pretty excited about Tesla; from absolutely slashing your power bill to saving a bucket load on petrol, Tesla does portray itself as the knight in shining armour when it comes to solving any energy/power related quarrels. Just recently, the startup-turn-worldbeating company announced a plan to single handily eradicate South Australia’s power worries – although it is still to be seen if Telsa is up to the challenge. Led by the fearless leader and innovator Elon Musk, Telsa has slingshotted itself into the everyday conversation by tackling the issue most Australian’s are often left stumped on – the sustainability of power generation.
Probably the most exciting thing about a Telsa powered future is its willingness to grow and innovate. The paradigm of energy has been completely flipped by Musk, who is providing the public with the tools to generate the power themselves, rather than be a generator that then sells power off.
What about wind power?
Wind power; you either love it or you hate it. Contributing 33.7 percent of the country’s clean energy and supplying 4.9 percent of Australia’s overall electricity in 2015, wind power has yet to really come to the forefront of the energy debate. It’s hard to find any real downers for wind power – its clean (almost zero emissions), compatible with grazing and possesses very little threat to local flora and fauna. The only real argument against wind power in recent times is, well, a shallow one. A report by ABC revealed one former PM’s less than favourable views: “Up close, they’re ugly, they’re noisy and they may have all sorts of other impacts,” Mr Abbott said in 2015. “It’s right and proper that we’re having an inquiry into the health impacts of these things”.
We decide to dig a bit deeper into emerging energy by enlisting Powershop to give us a rundown of what can be expected in the energy industry moving forward:
What are your thoughts on Tesla becoming a major player in the Australian energy market in the next 10 years?
Clearly, the Australian market (as is the whole world) is moving to a more distributed energy solution. Batteries with their ability to smooth out the peaks and troughs of intermittent renewable sources could have a key role to play in this transition.
Tesla as a leader in the utilisiation of battery technology has every potential to be a significant player.
Do you think Australian’s could ever be fully self-sufficient when it comes to household power?
It is always difficult to predict the scale and rate of change in technologies, however, it is now easier and cheaper for Australian’s to generate their own onsite energy. Whether the future will involve full self-sufficiency, neighbourhood level sharing or the maintenance of a more substantial grid to enable wider levels of sharing will depend on balancing economic, social, regulatory and environmental drivers.
Does Australia need to follow the lead of other countries (especially European nations) in investing in offshore wind farms and progressing its wind turbine priorities?
Australia has been both a leader and a fast follower in adopting new energy technologies. Offshore wind is an important opportunity for Europe due to its densely populated areas and limited access to high-quality onshore wind resources. Australia conversely has large sparsely populated areas with good wind resources, which may obviate the need to invest in offshore wind.
Do you think wind power could become a major contributor to the power needs of Melbourne, or will it always play second fiddle to another source?
Wind already plays a major role in providing energy to all Victorians and there is every expectation that this will continue to grow. However due to its intermittent nature wind will always work best in cooperation with other sources including solar and storage.
Do you think Australia will see any changes in its willingness to utilise nuclear power in the next 10 years?
It’s unlikely that Australian’s will see the need to invest in Nuclear generation as long as we have access to efficient and economic renewable generation sources, such as wind and solar, supplemented by storage.
What factor do you think would entice more Australian’s to opt for nuclear power? What could sway people to become more accepting of it?
It’s hard to imagine the circumstances that could substantially change perceptions of nuclear energy. Even if issues such as waste storage, perceived safety, high cost and emotional associations with Nuclear weapons could be overcome, nuclear energy plants which are large and centralized, require significant transmission investment and only produce baseload power, would be inconsistent with the newer style market developing which is small, distributed and local and has high needs for flexible power supply options.
What about community energy?
At Powershop we have always been great supporters of initiatives that contribute to, and promote the growth of the renewable energy mix in Australia
We believe that community energy is going to play a big role in our transition to a clean energy future. That’s why late last year we launched Your Community Energy an initiative that utilizes our digital platform to ‘crowd fund’ small – scale community energy projects. Our customers have already contributed over $150K to support community energy projects across Australia.
There’s plenty of energy tech talking happening right now for Melbourne Knowledge Week – get yourself booked into a session and wise up!