We must transition to renewables now

Graham Mantle
Graham Mantle

Renewables - what about when the wind don't blow and the sun don't shine?

What a clever little catch phrase that was. Everybody could relate to it.

A little more difficult to personalise is the fact that it is always blowing and, or, shining somewhere in this wide brown land.

But how do you switch and change, picking up the wind and locating the places where the sun is shining?

You do it with the world's largest, most successful and profitable battery coupled with very clever computer programs that can find the energy source, tap into it, regulate the amount needed and make the adjustment, all in a split second.

It can also direct energy to where it is needed, even to rescuing interstate systems. But we still have a problem.

The distribution network (the grid) was designed for a limited number of coal burning power stations sending electricity to their customers, rather like the branches of a tree, the wires getting smaller as they reached their destination.

Now, many of those destinations, including rooftop solar panels, are generating power and sending it into the grid and the smaller wires and other equipment are not able to handle the load.

It is a problem that the private sector seems unwilling to take on and which the state governments are tackling piecemeal.

The Commonwealth government remains focussed on the enormously expensive and time distant (10 to 15 years) Snowy 2.0 project, when it is not propping up coal mines and redundant coal fired power stations.

Tasmania offers far more potential pumped hydro storage capacity if we have the will to duplicate the undersea cable.

And, of course, when we all transition to electric vehicles, every one of them will offer additional storage capacity.

From an environmental point of view, the transition to renewables is a matter of urgency.