What a difference a day or two makes. Having just written of the wasteful heating of water directly by electricity, what news follows.
Tasmania’s oldest storage is at 15% of its capacity and we have been dependent on gas to generate our power supplies, less greenhouse negative then the previous oil fuel but nevertheless adding to the climate crisis each time. Surely a tocsin for change.
Rainfall is predicted to continue lessening in Australia as the globe heats up, and whilst the occasional ‘good’ year of higher than average rainfall or snow may divert attention from the trend, impoundments with a decreasing recharge need a respite from continuing demands on their storage capacity.
Converting Tasmania’s electric water heaters to alternative systems such as solar is a clearly achievable means of providing such a respite and so increasing generating capacity.
We have spent $1.4 million a week on gas sine February, the cost of 4,000 to 5,000 installations so far, storage now standing at 29.6% of capacity. It seems the hand of old Nick has reached out across the boundaries of that oxymoron, the government business enterprise.
In Victoria we find that the supply of brown coal to one of the privatized power stations has only 9 years before exhaustion and another supply has to be delivered from a greater distance, thus using more energy and generating more greenhouse gases, driving that falling rainfall trend.
This station could be retired from production through converting Victoria from heating water directly from electricity to alternatives, thus reducing greenhouse gas production.
This could be that companies converting investment. Moving from old technology to new on the last gasps of their coal supply.
Humble beginnings in the rustbelt states
After all the consumers want hot water, not the electicity to heat it. The concern about climate change and the goodwill people have toward being involved in practical action to save their butt will find them many wanting to join in a conversion scheme.
Able to rapidly change to adopt the best available technology because of the large number of individual units to be installed thus using the latest technology as soon as it becomes available, a program involving millions of units across Australia could grow from humble beginnings in the rustbelt states.
It need not entail economic cost, being paid for by the user at their existing annual cost of heating water directly by electricity. It also frees generating capacity for on-sale or retirement. It could have becomes carbon credits returning to that company had Howard signed the Kyoto treaty.
Hydro Tasmania has spent $1.4 million a week on gas sine February, all a cost to be recovered from electricity consumers through the retail arm Aurora. Water, the fuel used so profligately, without a thought about its continuance of supply, has been seen as a ‘free’ good.
Here is a role for government
The typical cost of installing a solar water heater is under $4,000 and with a life of 20 years the quarterly cost is under $50. This does not allow for any cost for electric boosting for large volume consumers or for quinnenial maintenance.
There may of course be more complexities as the retail cost of electricity is not just that of production plus profit, the price is one set in competition between different energy suppliers.
Here is a role for government, either setting the hot water tariff of the electricity price at a level to create an incentive; legislating that where feasible there will be a conversion within a fixed period and/or to provide a greater subsidy than the current payment under the Mandatory Renewable Energy Targets program to encourage consumers to convert.
Besides the predictions, or if you like forecasts, for growth in electricity consumption ensure a market for the energy production no longer required to heat water. The lower cost of the hot water tariff must have an historical genesis. Perhaps originally priced for base load, the changes in consumption patterns such as with refrigeration, computers and standby indicators must negate the need for this reason for baseload consumers.
How sad that this opportunity will most likely be deferred until the climate crisis deepens and actions are at a greater economic cost and more desperate as the climate crisis calls the provisional government away from the parliamentary bar and the permanent from the tea urn, their super put at threat by their own somnolence.