Energy Management

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Energy Management spans a wide spectrum of industry components:

  • Source of energy – water (thermal, dam generation, wave), fossil fuels (oil, coal, gas), sun (solar), wind (turbine), uranium, etc.
  • Supply of energy generation – thermal, hydro, wind turbine, solar panel, nuclear, battery etc.
  • Distribution of energy – poles, lines, sub-stations, mains, etc.
  • Availability of energy – meter boxes, power-points, etc.

In Energy Management ordinary people are beginning a revolution, driven by necessity, sustainability and technology.  People are purchasing solar panels, smart meters, energy efficient lighting, heating and cooling devices and shopping around for better deals to reduce their electricity bills.  The balance of power is shifting to ordinary people.  Ordinary people are being empowered to shape the way Energy Management is to take place, both now and in the future. Much is driven by the concerns ordinary people have for the cost of their energy supply, the associated impact upon our environment and the sustainability of our fossil fuel supplies.  Electricity consumers are destined to play an increasingly active role in where and how their energy is produced, supplied and consumed.   For example, back in 2007 around 3,000 ordinary Australians had solar panels.   Today this number is in excess of 1 million.  Solar panels continue to sell at the rate of 200,000 new systems a year, despite government subsidies for solar now being turned off.   In some suburbs the penetration rate of solar energy is approaching 50% (eg. Adelaide & Brisbane).  South Australia and Queensland are near saturation point with their take up of solar panels, with 14% of their energy consumption being sourced from solar panels.  

Coal’s share of the global electricity mix has grown rapidly over the last 25 years to 41% as a global source for energy.   Currently coal provides 47.7% of Australia’s energy source.    With Australia being one of the top two suppliers of coal to world markets, the recent shift in mix to increased renewable energy sources has been driven by the needs of ordinary people to reduce air pollution, slow global warming and improve electricity cost efficiencies.   As a result, coal’ s latest global share prediction has now shrunk back to 30%.   In contrast non-hydro renewables have increased their share by a similar amount.  

Over the summer period Dec’17 – Feb’18 a significant milestone was reached – renewable energy sources (solar, wind and hydro) produced more electricity than brown coal for the first time ever.   Power produced from renewables totally 9880 gigawatt hours (a gigawatt hours is 1,000 megawatt hours) 8% greater than the output from brown coal power stations and 40% greater than gas generation.   Solar is kicking in right when we need it over the peak summer periods as air conditioners are turned on and up.  And then as it tails off , hydro power comes in in the late afternoon peak between 4pm and 7pm.    Renewable generation still lags power from black coal (less pollution and carbon emission than brown coal) but its take over from brown coal energy production is an encouraging pragmatic step forward.  Wind and solar still need to be firmed up by gas peaking plants or battery and hydro storage but this pattern is still unlikely to be repeated in the winter, when solar output is less reliable in coping with peaks generated by heaters being turned on and up.  The case for upgrading our high voltage connectors between states, especially for SA and Tasmania, as we await the Snowy Hydro’s $4 billion 2000MW 2.0 expansion project.     

Australia has been fortunate in leading the world in hydroelectric generated power.  Hydro is the cleanest, most effective form of renewable power. Between 1949-1974 the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electricity establishment enabled a significant proportion Australia’s electrical power to be produced through the storage of fresh water in large dams.  Fresh water that can not only be used to irrigate crops but can also use its inherent mass & gravity (associated with the stored height of the water) to drive turbines in the generation of hydroelectric power.  Its this double benefit that makes hydro the best renewable source of energy; being clean, reliable, storable and highly efficient.   It takes just 90 seconds for hydro-electric power to generate power for sale into the grid.

Back in the late 1970s Prime Minister Paul Keating pioneered the notion of opening energy markets up to competition and selling off government utilities to the private sector.  The deregulation and privatisation of energy markets has enabled private networks to deliver the same electricity service at a lower cost than that of their state-run counterparts.  Previously governments had used their utilities’ exclusive supply of electricity as tax collectors for increasing their revenue and for unions to extract generous terms for workers and regulators by rewarding “gold plated infrastructure” (poles and wires) to guarantee supply.  These days electricity demand has peaked and falling due to improvements in energy efficiency and the rise in distribution generation technologies (especially solar).  The end result is an oversupply of available energy.

Since 2009 the amount of renewable energy (generated by wind, solar, eco, battery, hydro etc.) entering the market has grown considerably, fanned mainly by climate change issue; all at a time when there is now an oversupply of energy.  Consequently energy businesses are now exploring ways and means of increasing their customer relationships at a time when more and more new energy entrances are entering the market.   By virtue of a better informed consumer market, ordinary people are already shaping the market through their buying power and reaping the benefits.

Australian Experience with Renewables

Australia has had a long standing relationship with renewable energy sources, especially hydro and solar, which extends back decades.  As far back as the late 1940s after World War II, the Australian Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme was a world first in combining our need for water irrigation with the production of hydro power stations.  In more recent times, with the growing world-wide commitment to a RET (Renewable Energy Target), the states of South Australia (SA) and Queensland (Qsld) have significantly increased their use of intermittent renewables (namely solar and wind).  Since the Paris Accord in 2015, the world has set a RET for preventing global temperatures rising more than 2 degrees.   In the process many countries (including Australia) has begun to closed down many non-renewable power plants, such as coal and gas generators to reduce carbon emissions.  Since 1998 a NEM system (National Electricity Market) of eastern states has been able to deliver power reliably, at a low cost and with reasonably stable wholesale pricing; all at a time when consumption demand was arising.  In 1998 SA dropped a high voltage link (Riverlink) to NSW in an attempt to slash the sale proceeds for SA’s non-renewable power stations.  This decision has come back to bite SA in more recent times.   Unfortunately between 2010 and 2015, power consumption on the NEM grid began to drop mainly because of high network prices associated with the maintenance of the gold-plated infrastructure (wires & poles) demanded by the regulators to support peak-time demands.  With a higher exchange rate and the associated depression in Australian manufacturing (large users of electric power, like BHP Billiton & Arrium), the RET driven expansion of renewables into the market (mainly SA & Qsld) caused the demand for electricity to fall dramatically.  The drop-off in consumer demand had made the NEM grid unsustainable!  This position was exacerbated further by the intermittent nature of the wind and solar energy production.

SA began its increased dependency on intermittency energy resources (solar and wind) when the coal-fired generators in Port Augusta were closed down. Increased gas prices used to fill peak demand intermittency periods and capacity restrictions on a connector cable to Victoria has triggered spikes in SA’s wholesale electricity prices.  Longer-term prices have also risen due to SA’s difficulties in managing volatile supply.  To now help solve these problems, SA has approved a combined solar and wind power project for Port Augusta.  Opting for a location where stronger winds with a time of day advantage occur (mainly summer evenings), SA installed 59 wind turbines at the head of the Spencers Gulf  where winds are driven more by variances in land and sea temperatures than weathers systems.   In addition a 50-60 megawatt of solar PV (photovoltaic) establishment is scheduled to come on-line later in 2017.  They are also looking at the introduction of an electrical storage capacity.    The hope is that by adding increased intermittency resources, this will alleviate SA’s initial attempt at replacing non-renewable sources (mainly coal) with intermittent renewables (wind and solar resources).  SA’s main problem has been poor planning! 

SA began to grow its dependence upon Victoria’s wholesale energy (gas) during periods when its wind didn’t blow and the sun didn’t shine, resulting in their wholesale energy costs rising sharply.   The price of energy in SA was twice that of the other states.  Qsld’s gas generators in Qsld were run purely to meet SA peak demand at a time when gas exports from Qsld were exceptionally high, thereby trebling prices in SA.  In July’16 power prices in SA soared to $14,000 a megawatt hour – 100 times normal levels, as high gas prices and low wind power output coincided with their Heywood power station being out of service for an upgrade to 600 megawatts.  Pressure was put on a mothballed gas power station being re-opened.  This crisis could have been averted had their Riverlink backup not been dropped.  

The NEM problem was blamed on inadequate planning and the intermittent nature of the growing proportion of wind and solar in the grid.   Britain and Germany had faced similar problems because of their growing dependencies on wind and solar energy.  Australia remains committed to producing reliable, affordable and low-emission energy.   However, greater attention to forward strategic planning, is necessary for the provision of reliable and effective electrical energy storage.  This is especially important during periods of peak demand  when excess electricity supplies could be stored as backup for use during such peak demand periods.  Attention is such issues are required especially if more significant moves away from the big emission producers (like coal) are to be effected.          

One interesting twist to the surge in the popularity of intermittent renewable energies (such as solar and wind) is their need for “backup” sources to sustain power during these intermittent periods (where no wind is blowing and no sun is shining) ie. when their electricity generation supply stops. Such intermittencies make the production of their energy less efficient and costly.  The main reason this inefficiency arises is because during these period of non-electricity product, it is necessary to fallback to expensive backup energy sources to sustain electricity production capacity (ie. using coal, gas, hydro or nuclear baseload capacity) or potentially from energy stored in special batteries.  The cost to call upon these backup services adds significantly to the overall cost efficiency levels of intermittencies.   As touched upon earlier, in South Australia, (the Australian state with the highest level of renewable energy usage of any state) any intermittent event likely to cause blackouts were only averted by way of backup supplies obtain from traditional grid supplies (ie. coal, gas and hydro-electric generators).  Electricity prices in South Australia are a third higher than in Victoria (2007 – 2015).  This increase is blamed on the state’s periodic need to utilise gas from Queensland as the main source of energy to fill the gap.  The high price of gas is one of the main reasons for the state’s higher cost in electricity.   We are only now beginning to see the real cost of solar and wind renewable energy being reflected in NEM prices (National Electricity Market). The other fear is that further growth in the use of solar panels will need the retro-fitting of modern PV (photovoltaic) technology panels because past technologies are now outdated and inefficient. The backup use of renewable batteries, while improving significantly through recent technology innovations, are not yet sufficiently advanced to support a large enough scale of supply when intermittent supplies dry up.  

In Oct’16 a serious weather event (high winds) occurred in SA causing several transmission towers to fall and output from 6 large wind farms to turn-off.  The resultant loss of power to the grid caused a surge of power from the Heywood inter-connector from Victoria required to make-up for the lost power. The surge was at 50% above the rated capacity of the grid, which caused a switch to be tripped which in turn caused the entire state of SA to be blacked out (zero electricity).   One small experimental trial involving 70 households were the only ones able to survive the blackout.   Their configuration had a 6.3 kilowatt-hour (kwh) Tesla battery system supporting their 6.2 kwhr solar system on their roof.  The Tesla battery was able to maintain their electrical supply for the 5 hours of the blackout, with another 20 hours still in reserve.   This experiment provided some evidence to support the claim that the future of intermittent non-renewable energy may lie in the availability of cheap battery support.  The cost of the Tesla battery support was $10,000 per household – hardly cheap.

The most promising of renewable energy sources is unquestionably solar.  Australia was originally the world’s most advanced developer of solar technology.   Today is probably China that products the cheapest high quality of solar panels.  Solar’s main strength is its ability to obtain its energy from a source outside of earth.  Its second most compelling capability is its scalability – from a chip sized solar panel used by the poor inside an Indian humpy, standalone home use to massive Solar Farms uses for large scale generation certificates (LGC) into the wholesale market.   Not only is solar becoming competitive for wholesale LGC, its become competitive with wind power.  Some of the latest solar panel farms developed in Queensland projects have seriously reduced construction costs and unit solar panel costs due to competition.   Without subsidy and LGC solar energy production is approaching the break-even point of $69 per mega watt hour.   To illustrate just how far this production cost can be reduced to, in Chile and Dubai its down to $38.75 nearly half the break-even point.

One interesting Australian technology advancement in solar energy (called “Solar Flair”) is being developed by the CSIRO’s Energy Centre on the outskirts of Newcastle in NSW.  Towers 40 metre high sit in the centre of a huge fan of heliostat mirrors which track the movement of the sun.  The mirrors reflect heat from the sun as concentrated solar power (CSP), rather than light, upwards onto a receiver at the top of each tower.  At the focal point are placed a coil of pipes to capture and accumulate all the intense heat reflected by the mirrors.  As the pipes become very hot, the CO2 running through these pipes (rather than water) reaches temperatures of 720 degrees which is used to drive a fridge-sized turbine to produce its electrical power. This approach is far more efficient than heating water (to 560 degrees) and traditional salt storage technology.    In the CSIRO solution, the accumulated excess heat is stored in special ceramic balls which can be called upon whenever there is no sun or insufficient sun.  Currently this approach is viable for powering small remote communities, rather than driving a large national grid.    

The main interest in Energy Management remains the empowerment of the poor, especially the unemployed, in reducing people’s electricity bills as a proportion of their take home money.  By being a part of an aggregated electricity payment scheme, significant reductions are possible when taken over an extensive period, which sometimes suits the poor.  But the scalability of solar and their necessary battery backup and their associated unit costs have almost reduced to a break-even point with traditional grid power.  The major advantage of solar power and its batteries are their distribution capabilities.  Unlike grid power solar energy can scale down and be distributed to individual tents, to the home, to a community and scale to a small country town or even support cities through a series of interconnected distributed LGCs that match traditional centralised grid networks. This website platform seeks to be an enabler for both power usage reduction and for savings in the unit cost of power to the home – through better informed consumer empowerment.  Emerging countries like India have a growing middle class of 240 million people yet to enjoy any of the benefits of electricity.   Economics more than anything else is causing India to opt for cheaper energy fuels like coal as they triple their demand for electricity in order to support their rapid growth in their middle class demand for power; bring more and of their people out of poverty, just as China has done.

Global Experience with Renewables

The rise in renewables is exciting as it is desirable and expensive.  This does not mean the end of coal generation is neigh. The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects that coal generation will continue to grow through until 2021 and beyond.   Why, because the size of the Energy Management pie is growing:-

  • with our population growth
  • as more of our population are lifted out of poverty
  • as individual demands for utility power grows to attain improvements in lifestyle and productivity
  • as economies seek industrial growth to meet these social challenges, etc. 

According to IEA the world added 153 gigawatts (gw) of additional renewable capacity in 2015.  Bringing the total of our renewable capacity to 1,985gw.   In comparison there is presently 1,951gw of installed coal capacity.   Coal-fired power stations generated 39% of the world’s electricity from its 30% share of installed capacity.   Whereas renewables generated 23% of the world’s electricity from its 31% share of the global power estate.  The bulk of renewables continues to be built on new solar and wind power generation.  Both are interruptible. 

Hydro remains the more reliable source of renewable energy, accounting for 71% of the global renewable pie in 2015, with wind making up 15%, bio-energy 8% and solar a modest 4%.  Informed predictions forecast solar and wind will account for more than 60% of the renewable spend over the next 6 years.  China is claimed to install a wind generator every 2 minutes.  By 2021 the IEA expects solar to have better than doubled its contribution to account for 9% of the world’s power (growing from its current 4% to 9%). So hydro’s share is expected to slip to 59% of this growing renewable pie (slipping from 71% to 59% is just 6 years).

Does all this growth in renewables mean that coal is dead?   No!   Coal continues to be the cheapest means for delivering energy.  In India and its ASEAN neighbours, renewable energy will represent less than 30% of the new power capacity.  For China this number is less than 50% of its new energy capacity coming from renewables.  While over the next 6 years renewable generation will account for 60% of the global increase in power output – demand for traditional fossil fuels is going to increase, especially for coal.

Given this trend and the now generally accepted connection between carbon dioxide emissions and climate change, will this shift be sufficient to stop the predicted 2-degree increase in global temperature?  One big hope could be in carbon capture and storage technologies designed to mitigate carbon emissions from coal-fired power stations.  This infers that users of oil, gas and coal first capture the carbon emitted when they burn their fossil fuels and then deposit the waste in a carbon dump.   The favoured technique is call CSG (carbon saline grab?).  CCS science is being applied in a $US1 billion PetroNova project near Houston Texas where carbon is being injected back into saline waters trapped deep beneath the earth’s impermeable sub-strata.  This approach is claimed to capture 90% of carbon emissions (about 1.4 million tonnes a year) from an existing coal-generation plant at an installed cost of about $US70 a tonne, which is competitive with any renewable equivalent.  The aim is to eventually reduce this cost by 30% ($US50 a tonne).  No surprise, environmentalists dismiss this approach as being unsound and impermanent!      

Battery support for Renewable Energy sources

One of the common limitations to the wider take-up of key renewable energy sources (such solar, wind & wave) is the gap in electricity supply arising when the sun isn’t shining, the wind isn’t blowing and the water is calm.   If only there was a way to store excess energy produced during ideal conditions of peak supply and off peak demand by storing this excess energy for use during peak demand periods.  Well there is.  Excess electricity production can be stored and subsequently made available to the grid, especially during periods when energy demands cannot be met from intermittency energy sources (like solar, wind and wave).   The most favoured technology for such electrical energy storage is “battery storage”.

Having a network of interconnected battery store facilities provided with the renewable energy generation equipment (such as solar & wind), has been shown to be the most favoured solution to the intermittency problem.   Battery technology has come a long way, especially since the its growth and popularity associated with electric cars (thanks to Tesla).   The challenge is the future ownership of the large battery energy plants linked together into a “virtual power plant”.  A large network grid along these lines could provide for peak power demands and periods of low/zero generation.   Batteries supplementing solar panels at home are available (from AGL) “to shave the peak” during high demand periods but currently their high cost is limiting their uptake.  So far the uptake has been small.    Research has shown that if the payback period for interconnected battery store facilities could fall to within 3 years, battery storage would “take off like a rocket”.  However, electricity tariffs would need to be changed as well in order to avoid non-renewable energy users being slugged with the high cost of the expansion of modern PV (photovoltaic) solar upgrades and battery technologies.   

Lithium-ion batteries are the most popular form of energy storage used in both electric vehicles and early energy-storage systems.  Lithium is produced from either brine-based (salt) deposits or from hard-rock deposits.  Australia has a healthy concentrate of lithium brine-based deposits (Pilbara Minerals, Galaxy Resources and Neometals in WA), which have inherently lower costs and greater economies of scale.   Over the past 12 months global lithium demand has surged with Chinese conversion plants searching for lithium feedstocks of the brine-based variety found in Australia.

Australia lacks any grid-scale batteries, primarily because our regulation rules tend to dissuade (network) companies from investing in such innovative technology infrastructure, thereby making it nonviable.  Most believe that our Australian regulatory system for utility-scale electricity storage is to blame for our lagging performance in the national deployment of batteries into our national grid.  Countries like US, Canada, Europe and developing nations such as Japan and South Korea are all making use of grid-scale batteries in their electricity networks to help with frequency control and to smooth out spikes in renewable energy sources (solar and wind).  For example, the US has 44 grid-scale batteries of 10-megawatt capacity or greater within its national grid.  Had SA had such battery backup infrastructure existed, our October 2016 SA state blackout might well have been averted.  

Another novel yet innovative approach to energy storage is taking place at Kidston, 400 kilometres west of Townsville Queensland.  GenexPower has converted a disused underground gold mine into a hydro storage or “giant battery”.  The hydro storage is designed to provide 6 hours of continuous power generation using two 125-megawatt fixed-speed turbines.  The turbines pump water into an upper storage reservoir in the mine shaft during the day or overnight when electrical power prices are low and then releases it into a lower reservoir to generate power during high demand periods. This is a proven approach, very similar to that used in the Snowy Hydroelectric Scheme.  The mine shaft holds 1,500 megawatt hours of storage which is designed to operate in conjunction with 300 megawatts of large scale solar power in 2017.  Unlike the intermittent capacity of wind or solar, the Kidston pumped storage battery was expected to be able to ramp up to full generation capacity in about 30 seconds.  It is also expected to connect to the existing Powerlink transmission lines in North Queensland.  The more intermittent renewable power sources added to the grid, the more commercially viable the approach would become attractive to investors.   

Vanadium batteries are another great option for solar panel energy backup with originated in Australia.   Vanadium is a base metal (V, atomic #23) mainly used in the creation of alloys and steel.  Because of its superconductor qualities, in 1985 the University of NSW invented the first “all-vanadium redox flow cell”.   An innovation which has been recently refined for energy storage associated with solar power.  An Austrian supplier (Gildermeister) has developed vanadium batteries which have demonstrable advantages over traditional lithium-ion batteries:-

  • Life span of 20 years (3 times that of lithium-ion)
  • Being liquid, ability to be run and cycled more frequently without damaging the battery cell – something lithium-ion is unable to do
  • Durability at end-of-life, battery re-usability by topping up its vanadium fluid – something lithium-ion is unable to do
  • Vanadium electrolyte makes up 30% of its overseas cost (mainly transportation from Austria) making it expensive, but over the long term cheaper than lithium-ion

Australia has the 4th largest deposits of vanadium in the world and a substantial stock pile, mostly from Australian Vanadium Ltd (AVL) deposits in Gabanintha in WA south of Meekatharra.  Working with the University of WA research, AVL is hoping to be able to also develop all-vanadium redox flow cell batteries in Australia and thereby bring down its unit price for grid scale solar energy storage.

The vanadium storage system is stored in tanks.   Energy stored in the vanadium electrolyte liquid delivers increased capacity when more liquid is added to the storage tank.   All the infrastructure for the vanadium batteries are able to be re-used through the progressive replacement/top-up of the vanadium fluid without any damage to the battery cell over a long time.  The VRB (vanadium redox battery) consists of 2 large tanks of different solutions of vanadium dissolved in sulphuric acid, which are separated by a membrane.  The ensuing process follows this indicative sequence:-

  • The battery produces an electric current as the fluids are pumped past electrodes on either side (+ve and –ve tanks)
  • In one tank the vanadium releases electrons (turning from yellow to blue)
  • In the other tank, the vanadium receives electrons (turning from green to violet)
  • The electrons pass around a circuit, generating a current, while at the same time a matching number of electrons (hydrogen ions) pass across the membrane between the two solutions

Australia should seriously consider establishing a grid planning agency to drive such investment in grid-scale batteries (be they mega sized or medium sized like the above Kidston hydro-battery or vanadium batteries), thereby shifting such decisions away from traditional network companies towards reducing the cost of providing them.   

To summarise, energy-wise Australia is well placed internally and globally as a supplier of a wide array of energy sources (renewables, non-renewables and storage).  The market (Energy Management) needs to solve the intermittency and gas availability issues associated with solar and wind.  It is wrong to blame solar and wind renewables for the increased cost of energy in SA.  Certain marketing reforms are needed in shifting NEM away from an energy only market to a capacity market where energy generators “are paid to keep plants on standby to be ready to generate power when needed”. The electricity grid needs to be maintained at 50hertz to provide reliable and quality supply.  The current mix of non-renewables and renewables is dividing grid participants into separate jurisdictions requiring differing backup support (intermittency and peak demand).    

Nuclear Energy

Nuclear Energy is the “elephant in the room”  – another controversial and potentially clean energy source.  However, many countries such as Australia have failed to take-up this option mainly because of the social and environmental disasters that have occurred in places like Chenoble and Fukushinia, in Japan (picture below).   Interestingly, the preferred clean energy mix around the globe is trending towards renewables and nuclear as sustainable electricity systems – all systems that minimise the human impact on the environment and climate change.  At the heart of nuclear energy is uranium.  Uranium is a limited resource used to create the fuel rod that drive the stream turbines of nuclear power stations in the production of electric power; operating similarly to that of a hydroelectric power station.

The current cost of uranium is $US25 or $A38 per pound (yellow cake). Like the low price of iron ore, this current low cost of uranium is causing uranium production to slow, as stockpiles grow.   Australia is the third largest exporter of uranium globally and holds the largest reserves in the world.  Yet Australia has not one nuclear power plant that produces electricity.  To better appreciate the implications of this low demand price, we need to consider the four main elements to the nuclear energy business:-

  1. Processing and importing nuclear waste – an Australian industry worth potentially $5bill per year. Australia is considering contracts to this business, especially where the nuclear waste is derived from Australian raw uranium exports   
  2. Raw uranium export to developing countries like China and India. Most of Australia’s uranium reserves (80%) are in SA, with 10% in NT and 6% in WA.  Five (5) new WA uranium mines are in the approval process for the export of the raw product
  3. Uranium processing of fuel rods for use in nuclear power stations 
  4. Building nuclear power stations to produce electricity that use uranium fuels rods

Currently there are 437 nuclear reactors globally with a further 70 under construction and 487 proposed (mostly in India and China).  France produces ¾ of its electricity from nuclear power, Sweden and Finland 40% and the US has over 100 nuclear power stations in operation.  The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts that the nuclear energy business will increase by 86% between 2013 and 2046 and account for 12% of global electricity supply.  The argument goes that with modern advances in technology, the use of nuclear energy will become much safer and thereby a cleaner energy source, which in itself will increase its popularity. 

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Environment Rehabilitation

In a society that has traditionally placed little monetary value on our environment, but taken it for granted, another issue is beginning  to emerge as we seek to reduce our use of non-renewable resources.   As open cut coal mines and other non-renewable resource mines (gold, uranium, etc.) are closed, they regularly leave behind an environmental nightmare.   The environmental damage done through the likes of open cut mines becomes an issue for the tax-payer (through our various state governments) in cleaning up the environmental damage done.   As the lack of demand for non-renewable energy grows so too will the likelihood that more and more coal mines, oil fields and saw mills will be closed down.  

In recent times, some of our state governments have included in mining contracts provisions for environmental rehabilitation in the event of a mine closure. What has become obvious from some recent coal mine close downs in Queensland is that there is a significant shortfall in the contract provisions for environmental rehabilitations.   In the case of Queensland this shortfall has been estimated to be around $3.5 bill.     So who is likely to pick-up this shortfall in environmental rehabilitation?   The tax payer, ordinary people like yourself of course.  Those who cares most about the state of our environment; not the offending companies who caused all the environmental damage.   Watch this space.

Peer-to-Peer Electricity-trading

Recently Power Ledger and Ledger Assets (Australia’s largest Blockchain company) have teamed up in Perth to develop a new business model for peer-to-peer Energy-trading.  In much the same way Blockchain has supported Bitcoin trading and targeted the automating much of accountants’ and lawyers’ repetitive tasks, Blockchain technology has also been trialled attacking retail Energy Management.   Through better management of the demand and supply of electricity supplies, the trial aim to illustrate how ordinary people in households would be able to engage in peer-to-peer Electricity-trading to:-

  • Sell surplus power from their solar panels on their roof tops to other householders at a more reasonable price
  • Store excess power, in batteries held behind their smart-metre, back into the grid, especially during peak periods when renewable energy sources (solar and wind) are not able to deliver energy
  • Cut out retail energy retailers, reduce their electricity costs by enabling ordinary people to get more out of their roof top solar panels and storage batteries
  • Enable ordinary householders, without solar panels, to purchase solar power more cheaply from their neighbours
  • Smooth out the troublesome surges and troughs in renewable generation (as experienced in South Australia)

This P2P Electricity-trading concept is being trialled in Busselton (south of Perth) with 20 households in a National Lifestyle Village retirement facility, some with solar panels and some without.   The Blockchain-based system will verify, record and settle transactions virtually, in concert with their Energy Retailer.   Householders would still pay a fee to their retailer for using the network to transfer power, but the retailer wouldn’t make such as large profit on the electricity itself.  This would be a small but seismic step towards a new future in Energy Management systems.  Such an IT system could add further to the greater empowerment of ordinary people in reducing their power costs and also facilitate the greater use of renewable energy sources.

Your Awakening?    

In taking the next “Awakening” step, you begin to consider your unique Energy Management situation in regard whether or not you are struggling with your power bills, your concerns about carbon emissions, your view on renewable energy source, state-ownership of our energy assets, etc.  As seen above Energy Management is an evolving and complex problem, totally controllable by mankind.  You will initially be invited to answer some common questions on the problems and issues raised here regarding your Energy Management and be encouraged to identify with your specific situation(s), your specific priorities and your preferred choice from all the viable options available now.   Finally the questioning turns to the more important question of Yourself as a social creature living in a fuzzy world of relationships with others, inextricably linked with others, our family, our community, our society and even to our spiritual connections, love of nature and its overall impact upon our environment.  Energy Management in Australia remains one of our foremost most controversial issues, especially with the warming of our plant, depletion of our non-renewable energy sources, air and water-pollution, the bleaching of our Barrier Reef, availability and cost effectiveness of renewable energy sources, sale of state assets, etc.  Yet many poor Australians are struggling to pay their energy bills and need help.    

Simply “click” on the Energy Management “Awakening” button to take your next step in your self-transformation journey on Energy Management empowerment.  Even if you already know that you do not have any energy management problems per se, then you may will be a much sought after candidate as a possible volunteer for helping and supporting others that do face related energy management problems, like significantly reducing their power bills.   Better still, if you are an expert in this field you may be interested in updating or even owning the above layman and non-professional version of this Energy Management “Awareness” material and all that follows in the preceding steps as well.   

  Energy Management Awakening

 

 

 

 

 

 

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