Continued from Nuclear power…
The nuclear lobby’s biggest argument over renewables relates to their supposed inability to provide base load power. Up to and only up to a point is this true.
Every home reliant on solar power knows shortages when it is cloudy etc. However, new and varied technologies are appearing (and often being exported to more financial and ethically supportive environments) that are changing this.
Currently on the drawing board in Australia are several large solar energy power plants. One, which is having trouble attracting the same level of subsidies as conventional power, is a 200mw power plant which would cost around $1 billion, or $5 billion for five (which would mean a 1000mw plant, equivalent to a standard nuclear power plant), which is around half what a nuclear power station of similar size would cost to build. A big advantage, of course, is that the fuel for this station is free, with no greenhouse gas emissions at all once in operation. This was planned for north of Mildura, and would supply electricity to the entire Murray River valley, some 300,000 homes.
This particular plant also generates power at night.
Recent technological advances have trebled the efficiency of the photo voltaic cell which will bring the possibility of independent electricity generation to most homes at affordable prices.
The CSIRO has developed the technology to store solar power as a gas called solar gas. This has 30–40 per cent greater energy potential than natural gas, with no emissions.
Wind power has a huge role to play within Australia, particularly as rural communities supplement their incomes and as an ongoing energy source. (See for some wind power sites>)
According to Helen Caldicott in Nuclear Power is Not the Answer to Global Warming or Anything Else:
• Every dollar spent on wind versus nuclear power produces five times the jobs and 2.3 times the electricity.
• Every US$100 spent on nuclear power versus renewables adds one tonne of CO2 to the atmosphere.
Published in Kindred, Issue 21, March 07