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Repeal The Coal Baseload

October 19, 2011

By 2050 we’re reducing our emissions by 80%. This means a gradual reduction in power generated by burning coal, taking away the base load status of this type of supply. So where will the base load come from?

Some could be nuclear. Nuclear power could be used in Australia, but since we have no reliable inland water supply, all of them would be adjacent to the sea. And since land by the sea is priced at a premium and is environmentally sensitive, there simply are very little suitable sites that are within reasonable transmission line distance to any power user. So if we had a maximum of 10 nuclear power plants, this wouldn’t even come close to earning base load status.

Some could be gas. This is the most likely scenario. Small gas plants will operate in many locations, close to the power user, located to suit the transmission lines and places where renewable energy plants are impractical. However, since it is only a maximum of 20% of emissions of the year 2000, we can hardly define this as base load.

So base load is coming from something else. That something is renewable energy. It won’t all be wind. Wind is cost effective now, but will likely become superseded by solar related sources with thermal storage. The base load status will likely go to renew-ables in general, rather than one particular type. The alarmist views of Australia being covered by one particular type of source are quite silly. Why would only once source of energy be used. Wouldn’t it make sense to use geothermal, wind and wave power at night and solar during the day?

So the winner is renewables. They get the baseload status, and coal gets the boutique status.

Please leave a comment or tweet to @james00000001. Also see my articles on photography and general technology or politics.

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