Dr. Diesendorf (BusinessDay, 13/4) is mistaken in his belief that renewable energy has “neither technological nor economic barriers”.
By definition, any generator that can only produce 30 to
40 per cent of its potential, for example, wind, and then not on command but at the whim of the wind, is not baseload plant.
Geographically diverse positioning of wind farms does not transform wind generators to “baseload plant”. For example, in 2003 for one week in winter and during a week-long heat wave, a German retailer with 5500 MW of wind generators produced less than 10 per cent of rated energy output, requiring up to 98 per cent back-up – hardly “a small amount” of back-up, as Dr Diesendorf asserts.
Given Victoria has a generating capability of 10,000 MW, and assuming half of this were to be replaced with wind, some 7500 wind turbines would be required (2 MW size) at a cost of almost $30 billion. In addition, based on the German experience, almost 5000 MW of back-up power would be required, that is, a total installed capacity of 25,000 MW.
Eventually we may very well move towards a high percentage of renewable energy but this will occur only when the price of power is increased sufficiently to support the higher capital investment.
John Bell, Ashwood
24 April 2007
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