Reader Phil asks: how is Julia Gillard going to replace the power station she wants to close?
The chief of Macquarie Generation, Russel Skelton, said in Tuesday’s Australian that it would take 3,500 turbines to replace the generator at Bayswater, NSW.
I had a look at the consequences of replacing Hazelwood, in the Latrobe Valley, with wind power, a measure being contemplated by the Government as part of its direct action plan for CO2 emissions reductions.
The figures are mind boggling. First is the cost of the buyout of Hazelwood. Probably about $3b.
Second is the cost of the replacement turbines. Hazelwood is 1470mw. ( say 1500mw for simple sums ). A standard 3mw turbine costs about $7m. ( windustry.org ) That would be 500 towers for nominal capacity of 1500mw. But, given that the average output of these devices is only 1/4 of the nameplate capacity, (or less ), a total of at least 2000 towers would be needed to replace Hazelwood.
Bayswater is bigger than Hazelwood, so Skelton’s figure for Bayswater is probably right.
And 2000 turbines at $7m each works out to $14b! This is 40 windfarms with 50 turbines each, scattered around Victoria.
Thirdly, since the wind farms will spend half their time supplying less than their average output ( by definition), the system will need open cycle gas turbine backup. And backup for even 1/3 of the windfarms capacity will require at least a 500mw of gas turbine generation. This will cost maybe $1.3b, or more. Origin just built one at Mortlake.
Then comes the cost of the gas supply infrastructure, and connection costs to the electricity grid. In total, close to $2b.
Finally comes the cost of the grid connection for the 40 dispersed windfarms. At least another $1b.
So the final cost to replace Hazelwood with wind and gas is 3+14+ 2+1= $20 billion! This is more than the whole Latrobe Valley generating system is worth! Where on earth is this sort of money going to come from? And what will be the price of power with such a monumental amount of capital to service?
And here’s the kicker. The cost of abatement. Assuming that the 16mtpa of current emissions from Hazelwood are foregone, (and not counting the gas that will be used in the scheme anyway), the cost of abatement is $1,350/tonne! This is all madness.
Two green scares collide – into each other and into a basic reality:
The plan has come under stiff criticism, but the Ministry of Economics and Technology defended the idea. A spokeswoman said it was necessary as the government switches from nuclear to other renewable energy sources and added that the money would promote the most efficient plants possible.
(Via Watts Up With That.)
Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and hosts Channel 10’s The Bolt Report each Sunday at 10am. He is also heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of radio station MTR 1377, and his book Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.