Gippsland with 200% Renewables

Lakes Swimming Pool

Last year a guest blogger outlined, in four blogs, a proposal for pumped hydro energy storage in Gippsland that would provide medium and long-term energy storage for the state and region. Advantages included making use of current infrastructure, assisting in a ‘just transition’ from coal to renewables and huge water savings. Critics suggested that the removal of about 180 ha of native forest and its close proximity to the Baw Baw National Park meant the project was unacceptable to them.

One alternative to pumped hydro involves massive overproduction of energy by renewables combined with lithium-ion batteries. A US think tank Rethink X estimates that, depending on location, about five times today’s energy production is needed to have a reliable system based on wind, solar and lithium ion batteries. They have a 10 minute video here which is worth watching.

To reach even 200% renewables in Gippsland will probably require in addition to all the extra wind, solar and batteries, some combination of the following: upgraded transmission lines including the Marinus link (which of course will be using hydro and pumped hydro from Tassie) and micro grids and stand-alone systems at remote locations such as Dargo, Benambra and Mallacoota.

Almost all roof space, commercial and residential, will be covered with photovoltaic panels, including those facing east and west, and these installations will generally be oversized. Some car parks will have overhead panels providing shade, there will be floating solar plants on Hazelwood pondage, Glenmaggie and other suitable dams, and possibly even some roads will be generating power. This will be additional to the various solar farms, renewable energy parks and wind farms projected or already in the pipeline. Solar panels will be everywhere.

The installation of large lithium ion batteries in Victoria has already commenced (see here and here) and some locations in the Latrobe Valley are obvious targets for near future installation. To this can be added household, farm and factory batteries, as well as using electric vehicle batteries to supply the home and the grid.

By the time Gippsland has reached 200% renewables our coal-fired generators will have closed down. Almost certainly, this will occur far faster than most people think – possibly by 2030 but definitely by 2040. Power will generally be far cheaper as the cost of renewables, once built, is near zero. In addition, there will be the huge bonus that for most of the year there will be abundant, surplus, energy suitable to power factories to build robots, panels, batteries, and even electric vehicles.