Solutions > Low Energy Australia > Electricity

Plan: All electricity from renewables

Within a decade, Australia could be generating all its electricity from renewables, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Crescent Dunes Solar Thermal Power Station: Nevada USA
Crescent Dunes Solar Thermal Power Station: Nevada USA


The Zero Carbon Australia: Stationary Energy Plan (2010)  involves:

  • Technology proven and commercially available in 2010
  • Building “Concentrating Solar Thermal Power Plants with Molten Salt Heat Storage” (CST) to supply about 58% of Australian electricity. These generators use sunlight to heat molten salt. The molten salt is stored and can boil water to drive steam turbines and generate electricity day or night. This technology is used in the Gemasolar plant in Spain and the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project  in Nevada USA
  • Building wind turbines to supply about 39% of the electricity.
  • Using hydroelectricity and the burning of crop waste to supply the remaining 2% of electricity
  • Upgrading the national electricity grid, joining several now separate grids
  • Construction over ten years
  • Initial cost estimate: $37 billion in each year.  This is 3% of Gross Domestic Product each year, about the same as our spending on defence
  • Later cost estimate: 10% lower.  This is due to a reduced  expected demand for electricity,  and greater expected electricity production from solar panels.

These solar generators with heat storage would enable Australia to generate electricity 24 hours a day.  Australia would not need coal, gas or nuclear power.

This would be a strategic investment to move towards zero emissions, and to avoid the cost of: (1) all future coal and gas for electricity generation, (2) petrol for transport as electric transport increases, and (3) any price levied on carbon dioxide emissions.

Zero Carbon Australia: Stationary Energy Plan
Read the “executive summary” or the “entire detailed plan”.

Plants using concentrating solar with storage
*** Gemasolar Plant

The first commercial scale plant was Gemasolar in Spain.  It started in May 2011.  It supplies 110,000 Mega-watt hours a year — enough for 27,500 homes.
Gemasolar Plant: Torresol Energy
Gemasolar Plant: Wikipedia

In 2013 Gemasolar had a record-breaking run, producing electricity 24 hours a day for 36 consecutive days.
Solar storage plant sets record: Renew Economy

Note: 1 MWh = 1 Mega-watt hour  = 1 million watt hour

*** Crescent Dunes Plant
Crescent Dunes Solar Thermal Power Station: Nevada USA
Crescent Dunes Solar Thermal Power Station: Nevada USA

The 110 MW plant is the first commercial grade solar power plant in the US that is fully integrated with energy storage. The estimated cost of the project is $1 billion. The project entered commissioning phase in February 2014, following completion of construction.  It is expected to generate about 500,000 MWh per year of emission-free electricity, enough to meet the needs of about 75,000 households. It will cut 290,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually.
Power Technology: Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project: Nevada

*** Hazelwood Coal Fired Plant, Australia

For comparison, the Hazelwood coal-fired power station in Victoria produces 12,100,000 MWh per year.
The case for Shutting Hazelwood Power Station: Renew Economy

*** Other similar plants

The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory, part of the US Department of Energy, describes about 100 concentrating solar power plants, of various types, around the world.


Plan: Electric Transport: Road

As more of our electricity comes from renewables, Australia could begin to run its cars on this electricity.

Electric cars like the Tesla have the responsiveness and agility expected from the world’s best sports cars. The Tesla can accelerate from 0 to 100 km per hour in 44 seconds.  It provides the ride quality of a sedan and covers 500 km on one charge.

The Beyond Zero Emissions Electric Vehicle Report

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