Glass Half Full - Newcastle Herald

  • by admin - January 13, 2021 - 1:30pm
The Herald takes a "Woke" view of climate alarmism and seldom publishes views that dissent from theirs.

I enjoy the Herald’s “glass half-full” view of plans to stabilise the grid using battery storage facilities in Mayfield, Liddell and now Eraring. It wasn’t that long ago the grid was stable and provided Hunter Valley residents with the cheapest priced electricity in the world. More importantly, it enabled Australian industries to compete globally and manufacture some of the best engineering products on the world stage. It also created thousands of highly paid jobs and encouraged investment in advanced manufacturing skills that placed Newcastle in the top echelons of engineering prowess.

The Herald’s editorial (Jan 13) blithely states there is nothing residents should be concerned about in solving the alleged climate emergency by turning off our reliable coal energy. Sadly, battery-based electricity storage will not solve Australia’s energy woes. It can’t. Our electricity supply chain must be designed to support always-on refrigeration and commerce. The Hunter Valley/Central Coast Superstorm in 2017 (remember that power outage?) taught us that without baseload electricity our economy stops. No traffic lights, petrol, shops or internet access. What we are now witnessing in the name of saving the planet is the wanton wrecking of the one reliable constant in our electricity supply: base-load coal generation.

Australia desperately needs to build greater resilience into every aspect of our electricity supply chain. That means investing in the latest coal generation technology and ensuring we can deliver interruption-free electricity until we are in a position to replace like-for-like generation capacity with a competitive alternative. Intermittent solar and wind just don’t cut it.

The other concern that should be aired is implementing life-cycle plans for the batteries themselves. To date, no cost-effective method of recycling batteries has been developed. Promising development is coming out of two Nevada, USA, based battery recycling start-ups. These companies’ contract with Tesla and their manufacturing partner, Panasonic, to process cells that have failed during the battery manufacturing phase. They don’t make it into Tesla cars or PowerWall’s but fail quality control. The recycling process involves high-energy furnaces and corrosive acids to breakdown the cells prior to separating the heavy-metal components and lithium.

Climate optimists will opine that we can develop this technology and construct these plants here, in the Hunter Valley, using taxpayer funded financial assistance and subsidies. Sceptical observers may remind the green enthusiasts that the single reason Australia stopped transporting ships full of containerised garbage was because China and the Philippines placed embargoes on these shameful exports.

Unless we have fully costed battery recycling plans ready to implement, the only alternative for disposing of batteries is landfill, the current destination for 90% of Australia’s garbage. Still jaded? Try to locate a facility that recycles phone batteries in our nation after three decades of consumer use. Good luck!