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Eminently possible to deploy existing natural gas and renewable generation options, combined with demand side measures, to meet demand for electrical energy services at tenth to half greenhouse-intensity of a coal-fired power station using super-critical technology

Posted by gmarkets on 3 October, 2007

In a submission to the Owen Inquiry into Electricity Supply in NSW, energy and environment consultant George Wilkenfeld said the rapid enhancement of demand side programs, the introduction of carbon pricing and strengthening the support for renewables and small-scale generation, along with
increasing net imports from Victorian and Queensland, should delay the need for new baseload generation.

Put off need, then go for CO2 dumps: The options available if and when such generation is required may well depend on how long the need can be deferred. It appeared likely that nuclear generation would continue to be excluded indefinitely, either through legislation or through community opposition. If the need for baseload plant can be deferred for, say, 10 to 15 years it is possible that a coal-fired power station with carbon capture and sequestration may be an option.

Gas only prudent option: For the time being, however, the only technically feasible options are conventional coal and conventional gas (natural or coal seam). Of these, the only prudent option, given the now accepted need to contain greenhouse gas emissions, is gas. NSW was part of a mature gas grid connected to natural gas fields in or off SA, the NT, Queensland and Victoria, as well as to coal seam gas reserves in Queensland and the Sydney basin.

New institutional arrangements needed: While the availability of the resource and pipeline capacities appear to be adequate, it may be necessary to set up new institutional arrangements to optimise day to day management of the gas grid in co-ordination with the electricity grid. It would be preferable from a greenhouse viewpoint that the power station should be combined cycle, such as Origin Energy’s 630 MW power station being built in Queensland, which will be capable of intermediate to full base-load operation. However, other configurations may be prove more cost-effective after detailed analysis.

Low-emissions energy fund plan: If the $ value of the emissions advantage were not sufficient on its own to swing any baseload generation decision from coal to gas, electricity users could be given the opportunity to make up the difference by contributing voluntarily to a ‘low-emissions energy fund’ – similar to the Green Power program but more cost-effective, in that the cost per tonne of CO2 avoided would be far lower than for renewables.

A question of Govt policy: The options for lower-greenhouse ways of meeting the demand for electrical energy services have been covered under the previous points. They are not so much questions of technology as of policy. It is eminently possible to deploy existing natural gas and renewable generation options, combined with demand side measures, to meet a demand for electrical energy services at a tenth to a half the greenhouse-intensity of a coal-fired power station using super-critical technology.

Reference: George Wilkenfeld and Associates, Pty. Ltd. A.B.N. 78 003 846 848 E-mail: geosanna@ozemail.com.au, Policy and Planning Consultants Energy and Environment, 132 Chelmsford St, Newtown NSW 2042 Australia PO Box 934 Newtown 2042 Sydney (02) 9565 2041

Erisk Net, 6/7/2007

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