Gippsland as Renewable Energy Superpower

Sea Electric Garbage truck (City of Casey)

I have written at length on the many opportunities that the region of Gippsland has of becoming a renewable energy superpower. An ideal opportunity exists to rapidly transform Gippsland* away from the old fossil fuel industries of oil and gas and take full advantage of the renewables revolution – especially in areas of power generation and manufacturing.

Rather than repeat myself readers are referred by link to the more detailed posts on each of these proposals. First are the large wind farm projects of Delburn near Morwell and the offshore Star of the South. Both these projects are large and will employ a large workforce during erection as well as permanent employment on care and maintenance afterwards. Both of these projects link in to the valley infrastructure and between them could easily replace the next coal fired generator to be retired – probably Yallourn. As well there are other smaller wind projects at various stages of development.

Also there are a number of solar projects planned – all much smaller than wind – but combined with the uptake of rooftop solar by homes and businesses, beginning to make a significant contribution to energy supply. See here and here. But the large scale floating solar projects outlined by retired engineer Chris Barfoot are by far the most interesting.

On energy storage the pumped hydro proposal of Paul Treasure was posed as an alternative to Snowy 2 and sited to take advantage of local infrastructure including the Thompson Dam. There are a number of other smaller pumped hydro projects including one proposed by Barfoot using the Yallourn open cut. The widespread adoption of lithium ion batteries both domestic and on a commercial scale is yet to come. Perhaps there is a manufacturing opportunity here too.

With regards manufacturing heat pumps are currently being produced by the small Earthworker Co-op in Morwell and the much larger electric vehicle manufacturer Sea Electric is to set up next year in the same town. The floating solar project of Chris Barfoot (above) was designed to make use of local manufactured components and turning the fly ash waste to cement was proposed by think tank Beyond Zero Emissions. Both have so far failed to attract interest though each would benefit the Latrobe Valley and the environment. I believe there is also some exploration for lithium minerals adjacent to old tin workings in the district.

On the downside missing will be the coal to hydrogen project which is unlikely to proceed beyond the next few years and is another example of governments backing the wrong horse. Likewise it is unlikely that the proposals to burn rubbish to generate power will proceed except perhaps on a small decentralised scale burning carbon based rubbish in pyrolysis agrichar generators.

This is merely a brief outline of possible, and in many cases necessary, action to be carried out in the climate emergency. What is missing – money, co-ordination and urgency – can be provided by well-informed governments and based on the necessity to move to carbon neutrality as quickly as possible.

*For information on Australia as a Renewable Energy Superpower go here.