Renewables baseload ready says energy boss

Professor Andrew Makers, director, ARC Centre for Solar Energy Systems Australian, National University argued that "Contrary to the assertions of Peter Lang (Letters, July 31, August 27), a renewable energy future was eminently feasible and no more costly than other low-emission technologies", in a letter to The Canberra Times (30/80/07, p. 24).

Management of renewable energy: The intermittency of some (but not all) forms of renewable energy could already be managed at modest cost by:

• demand management (shifting loads from night to day);

• wide geographic dispersal (to minimise the effect of local cloud);

• technology diversity (photovoltaics, solar thermal, wind and wave);

• dispatchability (biomass. hydro and geothermal can generate at any time);

• storage (hot water, hot rocks, pumped hydroelectric storage etc); and

• the judicious use of natural gas.

It would be several decades before renewables dominate energy markets, allowing time to develop additional solutions.

Renewables competitive: The solar and wind energy industries were doubling in size every two years and costs were falling. Wind, hydro, solar heaters and biomass from waste were already fully competitive with both nuclear energy and the predicted future cost of zero-emission fossil fuel. The cost of photovoltaics on building roofs would soon fall below the retail price of electricity in many countries.

Solar 100 times cleaner than fossil fuel or nuclear: The mass of mined material and waste per unit of energy produced was 100 times smaller for solar than for fossil and nuclear energy systems. Widely dispersed renewable energy generation was of low utility to terrorists. There were minimal impacts from accidents, no energy resource wars and no risks of nuclear weapons proliferation. Renewable energy was a good solution" he argued.

The Canberra Times, 30/8/2007, p. 24

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