*Pic: So ... what caused the Basslink failure ... the damaged section of the cable ...
It is not exactly a surprise that our Premier has announced formally the State Government’s desire for a second cable.
It is not long ago our wealthy neighbour to our north paid premium prices for peak-load power to feed their air conditioners - at a cost to our future energy security.
Even SA drew peak power off the southern grid - which Basslink feeds into - for an astronomic $14 a kW hr wholesale not long before the blackout; we pay about $0.28 a kW hr retail domestic.
Such is the appetite for that glass-office-block citadel called Melbourne for green energy, with a premier attached to designer politics with a “green” label. The SA premier seems to fall into this category too, even though he presides over a mendicant state as does the Tasmanian Premier.
It would be silly to say that Tasmania cannot produce more green energy, possibly considerably more. Basslink was primarily put in for energy security? Well, in view of past events, perhaps that was on the engineers’ minds. However, I think our politicians saw the dollar signs for peak energy exports on an emerging free market south-eastern electricity grid - and to hang with energy security.
It seems with recent past events they have not learnt their lesson, perhaps they are hydro-blood-money drug addicts and this spell in rehab has failed.
Our current generating capacity and water storage well managed, is, as far as I can tell, quite adequate for making one cable profitable and giving that little extra energy security … which is its primary purpose.
Two cables on the current infrastructure – and with our current politicians - does not bear thinking about.
I predict in the not too distant future Bell Bay aluminium will close. I believe that the Norske Skog paper mill at New Norfolk will change to wood pellets, reducing its load on the grid. If the Zinc smelter goes, then, over the next five years we should have increasing energy to spare.
Our Hydro is capable of generating more capacity with infrastructure upgrades and supporting considerable more wind power, with prudent security.
Energy is best used nearest where it is generated and our priority should be to attract and develop industries to employ and use this energy for Tasmania.
WA Premier Colin Barnett, at the COAG meeting last week, looked totally disgusted and commented that the eastern seaboard had become preoccupied with energy trading schemes. The West’s approach is to choose appropriate energy technology to match the workload.
He also commented on the folly of the Eastern States to export all its gas, making gas a very expensive commodity; a policy that has cost SA dearly. As we know serious major energy outages are expensive.
Energy is primarily produced whether it be gas, electricity or oil etc. to enable a highly-productive economic outcome in goods and services. In other words it multiplies our bio energy to perform work.
The original use of power generation interconnectors was to maximise the efficiency of the power generators. However, in the Eastern States, Tasmania included, energy itself, electricity particularly, has become a serious currency, a crypto currency if you like but actually based on a unit of energy, rather than a means of increasing production. It is traded under the green banner in a similar manner to the stock exchange.
This energy is absorbed by a now largely unproductive domestic and commercial population in two large metropolis that suck in large amounts of royalty money from the mining states to sustain this circus.
My reading from Federal publications is that the Federal Government was never very supportive of the idea of the current Basslink. It is clear from the COAG meeting that Eastern States’ political “green engineering” have brought about an extremely serious energy security dilemma (perhaps the Federal Government let it happen?).
What is not yet said is how this dilemma is to be solved and clearly wind turbines are not an appropriate technology; they do not have the performance envelope required.
Don’t be surprised if the Federal Government gives the go-ahead for nuclear power - both for baseload and peak load on the mainland. It is the only carbon free option available.
Whilst large uranium reactors would replace stations like those in the Latrobe Valley. Smaller, but very safe fast-acting thorium reactors could be used to replace gas turbines for the very large peak loads that Sydney and Melbourne experience.
These thorium peak-load stations would have the potential to eliminate the need for energy exports over Basslink in a time frame of about three to five years.
Not only can we attract tourists on a clean green slogan; we can also export products manufactured under the clean green energy label; not cool city office blocks over the water; just remember Melbourne and Sydney have the Snowy Mountain Hydro too.
I think, first things first, let’s get the generation infrastructure updates under way. I think some are quietly being done in this over-secretive state!
This will increase our own energy security along with any load-shedding by exiting industries (the world does move on); enabling the current Basslink cable to export continuously with energy security.
With sensible forethought we can manage lead time for a future cable if - in the light of future mainland developments - it is needed.
Putting in a second cable now with the present government mentality would be like putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank.
Needless to say it would much more advantageous to use our clean energy for our own productive enterprises of which we have so few.
In effect doing what what the Federal Government and many State Governments are telling us to do and giving us the energy opportunity to do so with the cheapest electricity in the Country.
*Bio of Kelvin Jones: Technically trained and qualified in the UK by a major electrical engineering manufacturing company in Power Engineering and industrial electronics, moving in to defence systems, commissioning RADAR and development of underwater weapons. TV transmission, field work and commissioning industrial electronics and HVAC carrier protection. Research in cellular and fibre optics communications. Field work on scientific, bio, and medical instrumentation with extensive experience on Medical Imaging particularly CT scanners and Nuclear imaging. Mature age university studies in computer science and Technology with emphasis on the viability of renewable energy technology on legacy power grids. Green by practical evolution.
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