SA Mines and Energy Journal : April-May 2010
APRIL/MAY 2010 SA MINES & ENERGY JOURNAL 14 FEATURE "Among our membership and other relationships, we have extraordinary expertise on energy, including the natural resources, generation, transmission, distribution and heavy energy users. " Dr Long said SACOME and its members were well-placed to design an energy framework to meet the needs of rising industry demand and to benefit the state overall. The question of the best way to develop SA's energy industry has occupied expert minds for years and has prompted numerous studies. Some say nuclear is a vital part of the mix, while others eschew it, saying we need look no further than the wind, waves and sun, not to mention the burgeoning geothermal industry in SA's mid- north. All camps have a constant focus on the national electricity grid, to which SA is connected, and how it should be upgraded to best serve the nation. Regardless of whether nuclear power is included in the energy mix, massive amounts of public and private monies need to be spent building energy infrastructure and systems that can manage a diversified mix of power generation and a variety of demand profiles. This requires planning. Government greenhouse gas emission targets must be considered in the context of infrastructure. By 2020, the Federal Government has committed to reducing Australia's carbon emissions by 5 per cent from 1990 levels, and the State Government aims to derive more than 33 per cent of its electricity needs from renewable sources. Potential carbon taxes further muddy the water. Unlike many Australian states, which are heavily reliant on coal- fired power stations, only about a third of SA's energy comes from two coal-fired power stations at Port Augusta. Most of this state's energy is derived from gas-fired stations in Adelaide and across SA. Gas-fired power stations produce about half the carbon emissions of coal-fired stations. Electricity demand in SA is expected to rise, in line with such factors as population growth, bigger houses and growing GDP. It will escalate further when the desalination plant and Olympic Dam mining expansion come online. South Australia is part of the National Electricity Market and is connected to the grid with Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania. It has two interconnectors -- the 460-megawatt Heywood in the south-east, near Penola, and the 200-megawatt Murraylink, near Berri. In SA, electricity demand almost doubles in summer, from a daily average of 1500 megawatts to more than 3000 megawatts. The state has a range of local generators that are suited to different roles to support this varying demand, from those that operate continuously to those that operate when supply is short; the rest is balanced out across the interconnectors . As part of the quest to find the most cost-effective way to meet our electricity needs, a feasibility study is being carried out by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), established last year, and Electranet, the state's transmission network operator. The study, which involves input from New South Wales and Victoria, considers information covering new and existing generation technologies, and transmission network development options. It is designed to examine a range of potential future generation and transmission development scenarios within SA and to the Renewable energy is diffuse, expensive and mostly intermittent Electranet CEO Ian Stirling: Confident about the future. Wind is the most mature of the renewable technologies.