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‘No proof that 100% renewables could work’

Too much sun and wind risky – pro-nuclear researcher.

In planning its future energy path towards lower carbon emissions, South Africa should be wary of unproven claims that total reliance on variable renewable energy sources is feasible, says South Australian energy researcher and director of environmental lobby group Bright New World Ben Heard.

Heard, who proposes nuclear as a low-carbon alternative to coal-fired electricity generation, is currently visiting South Africa as a guest of the Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa (NIASA).

He says that while many modelled scenarios have been published claiming to show that a 100% renewable electricity system is achievable, there is virtually no historical evidence that demonstrates that such systems are indeed viable. “The only developed nation today with electricity from 100% renewable sources is Iceland, thanks to a unique endowment of shallow geothermal aquifers, abundant hydropower, and a population of only 0.3 million people,” says Heard.

“Of the studies published to date, 24 have forecast regional, national or global energy requirements at sufficient detail to be considered potentially credible.”

He reviewed all 24 as well as the subsequent study by the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and found them wanting.

Heard explains that certain renewable sources are reliable. These include geothermal, which comes at a prohibitive cost and hydro, which relies on sustained water sources that South Africa doesn’t have.

Wind and solar PV that South Africa has abundant sources of, is however variable. It is only available when the sun shines and the wind blows. In fact, the early data from projects connected to the Eskom grid shows an average availability of around only 30%.

A high portion of variable generation would increase the reliance on peaking power, which increases cost, as Eskom’s experience with increased use of diesel generators has illustrated.

This would increase the overall cost to the system.

These variable wind and solar technologies are also asynchronous. This refers to the need to maintain the frequency of the system close to the prescribed standard.

Heard explains that supply needs to meet demand on an electricity system within one tenth of a second. He says changes in frequency arise from the small, instantaneous and ongoing variation in load that occurs due to consumer behaviour (e.g. turning lights on and off), to larger changes in demand occurring in the normal course of a day.

“Instantaneous frequency control is typically provided by the inertia of ‘synchronous’ generators, where electricity is generated through turbines spinning in unison at close to the regulated standard. However, increased wind and solar penetration, with asynchronous generation of electricity, displaces traditional synchronous generators (coal and nuclear for example) from the market.”

The result is that a high portion of wind and solar energy increases grid instability. This is fine up to a point, he says, but nobody knows what percentage of renewables would exceed the tolerance of the system.

He says South Australia relies on 40% of its electricity supply to be generated by variable renewables and as a result is experiencing “real problems” with grid instability.

While he says it is difficult to generalise about the optimimum level of penetration of variable renewables, the number is most probably between 15% and 30%.

The CSIR in December last year presented the results of its study regarding the country’s future energy mix. It proposed that more than 70% use of renewables could save the country R90 billion per year.

Heard is however critical of the results. He says the CSIR assumed electricity demand to grow by 15% by 2030, which he considers to be too low.

The CSIR further took advantage of the geographical spread of renewables for balancing – if the sun doesn’t shine on the solar plants in the Northern Cape, it would be shining on other plants situated in other provinces for example.

That, Heard says, is dependent on a strong transmission system, but only the generation was costed, not the transmission.

He says the CSIR did not model energy flow.

Nevertheless, there is room for renewables and with demand set to rise, the industry could grow considerably.

South Africa however has to invest in base load power, Heard says. That will provide the consistent, reliable supply needed to grow industry in the country’s effort to eradicate poverty and unemployment. “It is almost impossible to underinvest in base load.”

From an environmental perspective, nuclear is the answer to replace coal to ensure a reduction in carbon emissions, he says.

Heard is convinced that nuclear can be affordable, provided the procurement is done through an open and competitive bidding process.

With regard to the South African process to acquire 9 600MW of nuclear generation capacity, Heard says it is “so far so good”. The process has started with different levels of expression of interest and one will see how it further develops, he says.

“Constructing nuclear is initially more expensive than wind generation, but the quality and the asset life is quite different,” Heard says. Wind generation plants generally have a lifetime of no more than 25 years, while nuclear plants can run for at least 60 years. If the initial cost is paid, generation becomes really cheap. Fuel costs are low, which means that nuclear cost is very stable over the lifetime of the plant.

“I think if South Africa runs an open and competitive process, it will get a good deal,” he says citing the example of the United Arab Emirates that procured 5 600 MW at $4 000/kW installed capacity.

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It come down to the open and competitive process, which we know always been a problem in South Africa. And we also know that the current nuclear proses already under scrutiny before it even started.

Yes, but the same “… open and competitive process …” also required for renewables, so it on its own is no reason for not doing nuclear, don’t you think?

or is it a matter of nuclear being more open to abuse?

Well done to researcher for driving the truth. There is too much feel good sentiment about solar and wind. We should invest in alternative energy, but it is too soon to pick them as winners. Nuclear has proven itself at large scale- unfortunately, many people see it as kryptonite. Motor cars are far more dangerous than nuclear energy.

I suspect most people are not against Nuclear per say but they are concerned about the procurement process and the agenda behind Eskom pushing for nuclear. Eskom does not create energy policy for the country but as pushing for nuclear, given the recent press around the people running Eskom, it is not hard to see the corruption link.

The problem is (yes) there is too much disinformation out there especially about renewable energy. Renewables have been sold as the universal panacea for all mankind’s ailments. Cheap, boundless energy just yours for the taking from the sun or wind. Of course, this is nonsense. Where they have been implemented they have resulted in expensive unreliable electricity as South Australia is finding out (most unreliable expensive electricity in Oz). Effectively these charlatans have sold the gullible public something they cannot deliver as technology to do so does not exist.

The next major source of disinformation is climate change. The climate has always changed and CO2 will do little to affect the climate. CO2 has never driven temperature in geological history (the reverse is true). The models that predicted catastrophic greenhouse warming are wrong as the feedback parameters are wrong (observation disagrees with theory). Observation wins every time.

The next source of disinformation is that nuclear power is safe. I am not against nuclear power but there are large exclusion zones around Fukishima and Chernobyl from two level seven accidents. It is not about the waste or a nuclear explosion (impossible) but about the fact that one cannot switch off the process of decay of the fission products into more stable isotopes. You can switch off nuclear fission but not the activity of the fission products which account for about 10% of the heat produced. Inventing a viable nuclear power plant that cannot melt down would be the challenge.

Seems you mention South Australia in any energy related article. What about Germany, Portugal, America and China as a handful of countries who have built GWs of renewable energy. Key word here is energy mix, each tech has its pros and cons and a optimized system would likely result in optimal results correct? Or should we just build coal as you advocate?

I thought disputing climate change ended in the 90s but I guess we still have some coal proponents trying to dismiss the effects we are seeing unfold in front of us.

Climates do change over time yes but not at the pace that we have seen in the past 100 years, the scientific community seems pretty united on this front and so for you to call it disinformation then I would hope you have some pretty incriminating scientific evidence to back this. The following is from the NY Times:

“A report in 2013 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of about 2,000 international scientists that reviews and summarizes climate science, found it to be “extremely likely” that more than half the global warming that occurred from 1951 to 2010 was a consequence of human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.”

Don’t be ridiculous. South Australia is just a case in point where renewable energy has failed to deliver on politicians’ promises and people suffer because the chose the wrong people to lead them. Many countries have GW of renewable energy. It is not the magnitude (GWs) that results in grid instability but the fraction of the energy generated. Germany imports a huge amount of nuclear power from France when needed and the amount of coal generated power has increased a lot over the last few years. Solar and Wind contribute about 3% of China’s energy mix (185TWh of a total of 5679TWh).

Q: where will South Africa import energy when the renewables fail? Lesotho? Zambia?

Q: when did I advocate building coal (sic)? I have always advocated a balanced debate in this regard.

The problem with discussing science with non scientists (you are clearly of the latter persuasion) is that there is something called the scientific method. Science has a “way foward”, if you like. Evidently you have no clue. This is not to say that one cannot discuss science with a non-scientist but you have to follow the basic rules of philosophical discourse when discussing science. Science is about EVIDENCE and testable hypotheses. If you use logical fallacies it’s as good as losing the debate every time.

Q: on what basis is the AGW theory falsifiable? A basic tenet for a scientific hypothesis which separates science from beliefs.

You say that the scientific community is united on climate science. This is simply not true. Far from it. It is also completely irrelevant either way. The term scientific consensus is nonsensical. Science is not about consensus. That would be the business of politics. The fallacy you are using is “argumentum ad populum”.

Your next logical fallacy is argumentum ad ignorantiam. Actually those making the extraordinary claims must supply the evidence. The burden of proof lies on you not me. It’s like saying “prove there are no dinosaurs living today”.

There is no evidence that that the climate change over the last 100 years is unprecedented. In fact at the end of the Pleistocene and the start and end of Younger Dryas shortly thereafter, climate change was a lot more rapid. There is a lot of evidence for that. Your statement is provable nonsense.

Your next logical fallacy is an appeal to authority and a poor one: the IPPC is a political not scientific body. Your logical fallacy is called “Argumetum ad verecundiam”. The ‘extremely likely’ figure is not a scientific finding but was decided by voting! A joke in scientific circles, btw. You (unwittingly) chose an extremely egregious example. You don’t vote on science. The same IPCC said that there is absolutely no evidence of any human influence on the climate before 1993.

Building coal (sic) is an example of a red herring- another logical fallacy. You are welcome to address my points but this is a diversion.

The fact is the poor need cheap energy to gain a better way of life. Bad science and disinformation are not the solution.

Nope, the reasons why South Australia are having problems is because they had a weather event which took out their grid connection to their import source which is Victoria. They do not have enough supply in the energy market to meet demand with that source cut off. Renewables may be causing additional issues with some grid instability but they could have the same capacity with coal and be having the same issues. Blackouts have happened prior to the introduction of renewables.

I do not have a scientific research background but rather a commercial background, hence why I am commenting on a Moneyweb article.

Stepping away from scientific testing methodology for a moment, in the real world one can not simply label something as proven or unproven before acting. If that was the case then Capitalism would not be doing very well because no one would ever invest in anything until returns were proven.

You are suggesting that climate change does not exist but i am assuming that if the scientific community is split then there is some support for the theory.

Despite that you are saying let’s continue to burn fossil fuels at any rate because there is not enough data to prove in absolute terms that climate change is being impacted by CO2 emissions.

In your original post, you bash renewables and then nuclear, that does not leave a lot of options in South Africa other than coal. We do not have any known large geothermal or hydro resources, whether there is a sustainable gas supply is debatable and therefore if you are not suggesting coal then I am not sure what you are trying to prove here?

Now I am assuming you consider yourself to be a part time economist, whereas clearly you are not. Renewable energy tariffs have come in at 60c/kWh region (with no subsidies of any sort) in the most recent REIPPP auction windows (and lower in other parts of the globe), that is significantly cheaper than coal and nuclear which are both north of R1/kWh depending on the underlying fuel source contract and the post construction capital bill.

If you read my comment correctly, then you would see that I am advocating the optimal energy mix whereby the maximum % is allocated to the lowest cost energy contributor. If that is renewables then so be it and if we can reduce emissions with the cheapest technology then I would suggest we go that route. I would also suggest making decisions based on power requirements now is a poor choice because of the build time of base load power being 5 – 10 years. I am not against nuclear but I am against a suspect procurement process because of the quantum involved, there is also the matter of affordability.

We all want the poor to be uplifted but you (unwittingly) decided to use cost as the base for your argument, and it is a weak one given the recent market data points.

Lastly, renewable investment is outstripping fossil fuel related investement and this is despite depressed coal and oil markets. I guess none of those investors have reached out to you as yet?

Actually do a bit of digging and you will find that South Australia has been experiencing load shedding for a long time e.g. 29 Sep 2016, 9 Feb 2017, 1 Dec 2016 to list the most recent cases.

You are not a fast leaner, teamed209 (no offence meant). I told you don’t argue to authority but you simply cannot resist it. My [post graduate] qualifications in economics have nothing to do with the discussion. You are likewise, welcome to argue science matters but just obey the rules. Again there may be support for the AGW hypothesis but support carries no weight in science. Its about testable hypotheses and EVIDENCE.

Most scientists will agree that doubling CO2 concentrations will increase average global temperature by 1 to 1.2°C (this is really basic physics and a favourite straw man argument). There is evidence for that. Where the disagreement lies is the feedback mechanisms, particularly water vapour. The CAGW models predict a low latitude tropospheric “hot spot” which has never been found by thousands of weather balloons which would indicate that the models are wrong and vastly overestimate the climate sensitivity to CO2. This is the only question that really matters. Note that about 35% of the CO2 emitted by manking was let loose since Y2K but the global temperature (satellites) was static for 16 years. Go figure.

I never suggested that climate change did not exist. This is an outrageous assertion. Baloney! My earlier example using the Pleistocene and the Younger Dryas is proof that I know (not believe) that climate change does exist. To this we can add the Roman warm period, the Millennium Warm period and the Maunder Minimum. Science is about evidence and there is a lot of evidence for climate change over geological time.

I have never bashed renewables or nuclear. All I am doing is balancing the debate by pointing out that certain proponents of certain technologies are being parsimonious with the truth (e.g. nuclear is 100% safe). I have a big ass solar system (not the Sun Earth Jupiter variety) on the roof of one of my houses. It would not be there if it didn’t make financial sense i.e. have a positive NPV. That is for sure.

I have always argued the financial case for renewables including the cost of the backup instead of the taxpayer/consumer lining the pockets of shareholders in ventures that make no financial sense. I have always argued the need to break up the power generation, distribution and retail functions of electricity so there are no sacred cows and companies do business on a commercial basis without state coercion. Let the market settle it (the energy mix, that is). This contrasts to your statement of the maximum % allocated to the lowest cost energy contributor. This means nothing. If a certain electricity source is the lowest cost then do they get 51%, 60%, 80% of the sales?? Who decides?

Last paragraph is a red herring. So what?

Well we do agree that any ANC procurement process is likely to be fraught with criminality and inefficiency be it nuclear, renewable or coal.

It never ceases to amaze to hear the aggressive, condescending tone from somebody self-styling themselves as “Richard the Great” (narcissist much?) wrt Global Warming.

Are you seriously telling us that the rapid and exponential growth of the Human Race on Planet Earth, and the deleterious effect this ONE species and the polluting technology it has introduced, and the now accompanying mass destruction of the natural habitat and increasing mass extinctions of the other species (both flora and fauna), must be discounted as a mere temporary aberration of only passing consequence?

And NOT the existential threat to mankind the VAST MAJORITY of real scientists have now come to believe??

Your remark disparaging the IPPC “because they changed their mind after 1993″(I paraphrase) is simply incredible.

What exactly do you mean to imply by this insult?

Are you suggesting that when a body of scientists cannot agree on the CURRENT evidence, that it is “unscientific” (and therefore of NO value to scientific progress) to simply agree on a consensus of “the current probability or thesis” for the immediate way forward? And that as further – even contradicting – evidence comes in, it is completely out of order for such opinion to possibly change, and then eventually coalesce once the “facts” are finally grounded (and accepted as such)?

I think not.

It was a famous economist who, after he massively changed his then well-known opinion, famously remarked that “when the facts change, so does my opinion”.

That remark – even though made by a mere economist – has equal traction even – and especially so in fact – in the scientific community.

Every (humble) scientist should know that!


“The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores a person’s actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position. ”

You can google more on the topic at your own leisure…

Don’t be ridiculous. Leave the ad hominum argument behind, please.

Q: do you normally win debates by calling people names? Most people lose this tactic after primary school.

Narcissist. Absolutely not. I know a few myself. Blunt, no nonsense, rational, empathetic, engaging, directed, goal orientated, never condescending, never a narcissist.

Again use of the term “vast majority of scientists” is provable nonsense and of course, completely irrelevant. Science is not a popularity contest (argumentum ad populum).

If I ruffled your feathers with the IPCC then try this:

These people are filthy parasites who jet around the world (carbon footprint anyone?) consuming vast quantities of wealth created by the blood sweat and tears of other people who have had it expropriated by force or threat of force. They are not a scientific body but a political lobbying body whose sole goal is to promote and prolong the CAGW scare to ultimately wrest sovereignty from all nations in favour of a global world government. If you don’t believe me read the Copenhagen draft treaty (assuming you can still find a copy).

Your rant about pollution/ saving the earth/ extinction events is simply not relevant to the discussion on hand.

Scientists don’t generally disagree about evidence unless it is fake, fudged or cherry picked in which case good scientist reject it. Evidence is the basis of science. The disagreements lie in the climate models that reside inside computers, particularly the feedback mechanisms. The real question is not if the earth is warming (it is), not if CO2 causes warming (most agree it does, some) but what is the climate sensitivity to CO2.

There is no Straw Man fallacy here.

RtG is an unabashed denialist, and this is the logical outcome of his position. Of course, it would be best if RtG himself could provide his own rebuttal to my comments (and I will genuinely welcome that), but he seems curiously silent.

Climate Change is not a “cause” by itself.

It is merely a SYMPTOM (and just one of several) of the underlying ROOT CAUSE. Which is the out-of-control human population explosion which now threatens the future existence of the complete biosphere.

There is now a firm consensus amongst the VAST majority of scientists that Climate Change is indeed due DIRECTLY to humans.

To claim, as RtG does, that the scientific community is now (in 2017) “FAR from united” in this view is a bald-faced lie. “United” does not mean “unanimous”.

Only in 1993 would RtG’s statement “far from united” have merit.

But no surprise, it is now 2017, and more evidence has come in, and the consensus is now becoming much clearer and far more compelling.

So much so that the OVERWHELMING scientific opinion NOW is getting behind pointing the finger DIRECTLY at human involvement as being THE root cause.

RtG is entitled to his contrary opinion, but not to belittle others because he alone considers himself to be the one and true “scientist”, and others who disagree with him, not.

It is ironic that the “Climate Denialists” of today seem to have become the equivalent of the “Flat Earthers” of Galileo’s time (and behave with similar Inquisitional pomposity).

Folks this is a classic lesson on deplorable left wing tactics whether you agree with me or not. Name calling and bullying. Unable to offer any semblance of a cogent response, the opposition is demonised as narcissist , flat earthers and denialists (sic). Of course, using the latter expression only underscores one’s appalling command of the English Language. I won’t bother commenting on the numerous logical fallacies.

Ben Shapiro wrote a very good book called “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans”. I agree with Ben on most things, but not everything. It is, nonetheless, a worthwhile read.

To quote the review:

“Play the race card, the class card, the sexism card. Use any and every means at your disposal to demonize your opposition—to shut them up. Then pretend that such bullying is justified, because, after all, conservatives are the true bullies, and need to be taught a lesson for their intolerance. Hidden beneath the left’s supposed hatred of bullying lies a passionate love of its vulgar tactics. Dubbed by Glenn Beck “a warrior for conservatism, against those who use fear and intimidation to stifle honest debate­­,” Shapiro takes on the leftist bullies—the most despicable people in America. By exposing their hypocrisy, he offers conservatives a reality check in the face of what has become the gravest threat to American liberty: the left’s single-minded focus on ending political debate through bully tactics”.

One should resist the temptation to cast pearl before swine.


RtG, you should be ashamed of posting such venal ad hominem nonsense!

YOU are the person claiming to be the authentic professional scientist, and delivering bombastic, posturing, lectures about “how science is conducted” to commentators you condescendingly sneer down at for not being “fast learners” and not up to “your” vaulted standard.

It is hugely ironic (and very amusing to us in the primary school) that you complain about “name-calling”, and then resort – EXCLUSIVELY, nogal – to that very tactic yourself.

You must – by your own clearly stated definition – then also still be in primary school? What grade would that be? Kindergarten??

You seem to have got very angry – simply because a peasant had the temerity to call you out on your very questionable statements.

A REAL scientist would not have a problem providing a rational and factual rebuttal in this situation. An ego-driven Narcissist in primary school on the other hand …

My position is very simple:

1) Climate Change is merely a SYMPTOM, and NOT the main “cause celebre” that many think it to be. The root cause of the problem is the excessive human population – which is happening at the expense of the rest of the biome.

Do you accept this position? Yes or No?

2) The vast majority of scientific opinion has now (2017) coalesced around this position.

Yes or No? Please provide your evidence if “No”.

3) According to YOU, “science is not a popularity contest”, and so therefore a majority of scientists uniting behind an opinion as to which hypothesis seems the best at the current point with the currently available evidence, amounts to “bad science”.

I disagree.

Resorting to a “majority opinion” is NOT some sneaky, dishonest, or “bad-science” subterfuge for “fudging the facts” or “cherry-picking the evidence”.

It is merely an acknowledgement that while the problem may be clearly defined (and it is – Planet Earth is heading towards an EXISTENTIAL crisis), the currently available evidence to support a corrective plan is – at this point in time – still insufficient to confidently act on.

And so we resort to a “working hypothesis” to use as a temporary crutch until the facts pan out.

Of course, in this early state of a confusing situation, there may well be several competing “working hypotheses” (and indeed there are), each of which will be ardently argued by their proponents as being “THE ONE” that will finally FULLY explain the problem.

I believe that in this apparent chaos, it is quite in order – and in apparent contradiction to yourself – scientifically useful – to establish a PRELIMINARY “consensus of opinion” even though one still has not yet got all the evidence. And it may even be that one will NEVER have “all the evidence” before one has to act.

This methodology is hardly restricted to only “scientists”. It is the same working approach for EVERY accident investigator / crime investigator / health professional – or ANYBODY faced with having to solve a complex problem. Even (gasp!) lowly economists!

Is that so hard for a professional scientist to accept, RtG?

So that makes it really quite simple for you, RtG.

My statements are supposedly – in your own words – “proveable nonsense”.

As an “evidence-driven scientist” (your particular claim to fame), please provide this “evidence” that you speak of, and knock my position out of the park. Should be easy peasy for a professional of your stature.

In short, put up – or shut up!

Irrespective of the argument for or against nuclear energy, the difficulty lies in the final sentence.

“I think if South Africa runs an open and competitive process, it will get a good deal,” he says.

Will it be completely transparent and properly competitive. Citizens are scared that due to lack of transparency (or incompetence) and downright thievery by politicians as well as supply companies, a major nuclear deal could bankrupt this nation, our children and their children. When grand theft takes place it may not be possible to keep paying social support grants, while education, medical and all other services will have to cope with less funds. Even worse, because we destroy the economy, the number of people needing grants and other services will increase.

Look at the arms deal. Nobody in the country fingered for corruption by the Sereti commission but BAE admitting guilt to accounting corruption (a compromise to get off the more serious charge of paying bribes) and SAAB admitting to paying bribes. You cannot have people admitting to paying bribes at one end, when nobody took the bribe at the other end.

Forget the debate of nuclear vs. “renewable” vs. carbon vs. any other source of energy. That is just a side show. The real issue is how our politicians intend to skim illegitimate gains from these deals.

Benjamin Heard is anything but an environmental lobbyist. He is a paid consultant with strong ties to Uranium mining. Heard has provided commercial services to uranium mining company Heathgate Resources, has presented at the Paydirt Uranium conference and has co-authored a series of articles promoting the nuclear industry for the South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy (SACOME). I’m wondering if Antoinette Slabbert even bothered to check his ThinkClimateConsulting ‘website’, There’s nothing there! His NGO website,, reads like an ad for Nuclear Now. Really people, at least make SOME effort to fact check! Start with FOE’s rebuttal to Heard’s nuclear nonsense: .

CSP solar power can deliver dispatchable power (24 hours/day power on demand) more efficiently, and at much lower cost than nuclear.

Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) with thermal energy storage uses mirrors to concentrate solar radiation, heat a eutectic (low-melting point) molten salt mixture to store that energy as heat, and can generate steam and electric power on demand, acting as a peaking electric power station. Thus the smallish Bokpoort CSP plant with 9 hours of storage capacity at its rated power provided 24 our/day uninterrupted power for the first several weeks of its operation.

A newer 450 MW CSP plant in Chile will have 13 hours of storage capacity at its nominal rating. Remarkably, it will deliver power at $63/MWh = $0.063/kWh. At a current exchange rate of R13/$, this is 81.9c/kWh in SA currency — with 13 hours of storage included. About half the cost of new nuclear power.

And nuclear power cannot economically follow varying load, and needs energy storage for economical operation. Thus Dinorwig pumped storage was specially built for the UK nuclear power build plan .

It’s still early days, but CSP is increasingly looking to be the most viable alternative to sink further investment in for a solar-rich country like SA.

It’s quick to implement, the environmental risks are small and more easily understood (contrast to nuclear, and even wind – although to a much lesser extent).

And CSP actually seems to cater quite well to the practical realities of managing the distribution grid.

I’m getting lukewarm about wind in comparison to CSP.

Seems that the overstated hype by the windmill protagonists could have finally met its match, and be running out of steam – in sun-blessed countries anyway? 😉

Dispatchable solar CSP power very well COMPLEMENTS solar PV and wind power. It can fill in where those (and nuclear) are unable to supply.

But PV and wind are at present still faster and easier to implement, and their power cost less.

Standard PV utilizes indirect as well as direct (beam) solar radiation, and is effective in hazy and overcast weather where CSP is not.

Neither wind nor PV has the inherent storage ability that these new variants of CSP have.

Adding a storage ability to CSP is the game changer, and reverses the choice equation so that it is PV and wind that now become the complement.

As you will undoubtedly know, SA is building the 100MW REDSTONE plant in the Northern Cape. This is directly based on the very successful CRESCENT DUNES plant in the USA – which had a 100% uptime during 2016, and produced 105% of contracted capacity at 2% better than the projected efficiency.

That’s quite the technical achievement for a first-of-its-type plant.

By slightly reducing the output, these plants are even able to extend the nominal storage time of about 12 hours (Redstone), and generate on a 24 hour cycle (impossible for wind or PV). Crescent Dunes successfully did this for 5 days non-stop during 2016 as a proof-of-concept.

Redstone is due online in early 2018.

If it is anywhere near as successful as the Crescent Dunes plant in the USA (always a big if with complex projects), then there will be a very bright future (sorry!) for this technology in SA.

I agree CSP without storage, or not placed in an optimally favourable location, is … er … not so hot (sorry!).

The lifetimes claimed for wind and nuclear plants is totally absurd!

The oldest operational nuclear power reactor is Beznau 1, which started commercial operation in Sept 1969.

Power reactor lifetimes have varied from 0 to 48 years, with an avergae around 30 years before operation becomes uneconomical. Many reactors were cancelled during the construction phase, after spending billions. Thus a single utility WPPS (Washington Public Power System) built 5 which were terminated before completion.

The Kalckar breeder reactor cost 14 times its planned budget — yet was never used. SuperpHenix was an even more colossal failure. Its availability factor over its 12 year lifetime was a mere 7.8% according to the IAEA PRIS database.

and se

If nuclear power were as attractive as stated above, then why did it take more than 4 decades to complete the most recent addition (Watts Bar 2) to the US nuclear power fleet? Construction started in 1973, and it was commissioned in 2016.

If nuclear power were as attractive as claimed above, then why does China — the country installing more nuclear power than the rest of the world combined — aim at 58 GW of nuclear power for 2020 — and 200 GW of wind and 100 GW of solar ? Why is its nuclear build program behinhd schedule, and its solar & wind ahead?

Why did the French Parliament vote in 2014 to reduce France’s nuclear from 76% (in 2014) to 50% in 2025 –in favour of renewables?

WHy did nuclear powered France on the coldest winter nights of the last several years import (at very high cost) power from its renewable powered northern neighbour Germany?

Tesla’s Elon Musk offers to solve power crisis in South Australia – Tesla Inc boss Elon Musk on Friday offered to save Australia’s most renewable-energy dependent state from blackouts by installing 100 megawatt hours worth of battery storage within 100 days of signing a contract.

Musk by tweeting: “Tesla will get the system installed and working 100 days from contract signature or it is free. That serious enough for you?” reply to Mike Cannon-Brookes

Musk quoted a price of $250 per kilowatt hour for 100 megawatt hour systems, which would imply a price of $25 million for the battery packs. (Reuters March 10, 2017)

Maybe Eskom must just give Musk a “tweed”.

You gotta look at that in perspective. You need about 270GWh of batteries to make South Australia 100% “renewable” which would cost about 60 to 90 billion AUD. The South Australia state revenue is about 16 Billion AUD. Go figure.

ok,so nuclear is better why?Because it’s cheap,safe,quickly built,no long term enviro problems?Fake news!

Well, ladies and gentlemen, we all seem to agree that the root problem is the burgeoning expansion of the human population. Or at least there are no comments asserting the opposite. It will be distasteful, but a solution has to be found. Clearly a carrot approach will win more favour than the stick, but it has to be one or the other or a bit of both. 🙂

More incentives and initiatives should be made to residential homes to be “off the grid”, Invest more in the personal alternative power supply as the scale of this infrastructure could be easier develop and refine.

Swansea Bay in south Wales.This is the vision for the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon. A horseshoe-shaped 9-and-a-half kilometre causeway, creating a huge lagoon. Halfway round, up to 26 bi-directional turbines — generating power whichever way the water flows. Plans to build a vast hydro-electicity plant a 320 megawatt project is expected to cost about 1.3 billion pounds, with a four-year construction, but will have a 120 year lifespan. (Reuters)

there’s alternatives available, it’s the innovation that’s lacking.

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