Mulligans in pro golf tournaments? Sounds farcical, right? That’s because it is. Yet this sums up the South Australian (SA) energy plan to a tee. The supposed “biggest battery park” in Australia totalling some 1,500 car batteries suggested by Elon Musk would keep the lights on in SA for 3.5 minutes. $150mn buys 3.5 minutes only? Naturally The Greens have lobbed the blame on the federal government for letting South Australia get into this parlous state of its own making. Instead of admitting the abject failure its renewable policy has shown in the real world, South Australia wants to take a $550mn Mulligan and tell its resident taxpayers that this is the shot it would have played. Sadly Jay Weatherill Is stuck in this ‘bunker’ mentality.
One person involved in And advisor to the renewable industry noted:
“I’m an electronics technician, been one for over 50 years, have worked on some of the most amazing bits of gear over the years, have worked in the renewable energy field and have worked with and been an advisor to government and industry on stand alone and grid connected systems and live completely off grid myself. And I can tell you for a fact that no battery ever ever ever will have the energy density storage of any type of fossil fuel, and fossil fuel energy density pales in comparison to nuclear fuel. Anyone that thinks you can run battery back up sufficient to power even a small town is delusional. The size of the battery would be ten times bigger than the town and then you have to have massive inverters to convert it back into 50 Hz mains power as well.”
The two biggest problems with this Mulligan are two fold.
First, the decision on the battery back up system seems in exceptional haste. Where is the sign to taxpayers that the $150mn investment here will be properly allocated and priced? Where is the detail outlining the paltry 3.5 minute safety valve, assuming they can be ready to go at 100% juice if the wind farms stop spinning? Does Premier Jay Weatherill actually get that this is the best he can hope for? Have they relied on the same experts that told them to lever up wind to 40% of power generation for advice? We understand that they are in a real bind but rushing a solution with the bicycle inner tube repair kit virtually guarantees they’ll be running back with $100 millions more in tax payer dollars to swing at the problem again.
Second, setting up the gas-fired back up generator isn’t an overnight affair. While the building construction might take 18 months from laying the cornerstone, has SA Premier Weatherill considered the location, local government approvals and whether enough engineers who can build such a plant are available? Will they run a tender or draw a name out of a hat? Sounds like a 3-4 year project at a minimum. Also has he managed to cover where the gas will come from? Has that supply been locked down?
You have to wonder at the incompetence in the first place to chase risky renewable targets without getting a grasp of the now too obvious side effects before setting off. To gloat about their virtue by publicly blowing up the evil Port Augusta coal-fired power station last year is one thing. To cover up the folly of that poor decision by gloating again that another $550mn of South Australian tax payers’ money is not an oversight tells you how clueless they are. Virtue signaling is a wonderful thing. Now they’ll have the state of Victoria as real competition to see who can run out of power fastest. The only problem Victorian Daniel Andrews will have is posting the problem to Facebook during the blackout.
Politicians seem allowed to take countless mulligans. Sadly South Australian residents will have to wait twelve months for the opportunity to take another swing.