SA Power Outages

What happened in SA?

As you are probably aware the whole state of South Australia recently lost power due to failures in the grid. This was partly because of an increase in demand by 25% for electricity. This was caused by a sharp rise in temperature with many people wanting to use air conditioning.

SA also has the highest supply of renewable energy with the use of wind farms and solar panels. It has been questioned if renewables are good to use compared with coal. These supplementary products are in the middle of a debate of what is better to produce power from. Coal is arguably more reliable and you can produce coal whenever a power station can run unlike renewables which can only work in certain times of the day.

The Governments Position

The Coalition  Federal Government has made it clear that their stance to energy production will always heavy rely on coal. Which is very different to the State South Australian government who have the highest green energy targets in Australia.

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“Coal is a big part of the future under a Coalition Government and clearly that’s not the case under the alternative,” Mr Morrison told the ABC.

The Federal Government has not ruled out redirecting funds from a clean energy fund to create more coal stations, Whilst it is cheap now its good to remind ourselves that the government have spent 590 million dollars on ‘clean coal’ technology.

Movement towards green energy

With the federal government warning that NSW could also follow this ‘blackout’ trend Australia needs to find a solution to produce more power and create more back up supply. One solution is to encourage innovation in clean energy; this allows consumers of energy  to produce their own energy and not have to rely on the grid to keep them supplied. Green energy would eventually help people reduce their power bill  which also in the long term lowers their cost of living allowing them to have more disposable income. The downside into Green energy is the upfront cost compared to already running coal power stations.

Where to go from here?

Australia relies on energy and sustainable energy must be apart of that future but how we go about changing the sources will be difficult. A reallocation of resources is critical when changing the source of our energy. This requires the public and private sectors to come together and work out a plan. A starting place would be to reconsider a more concentrated carbon tax to make green energy more competitive or potentially  stop governments  supporting this type of production, like reducing or eliminating subsidies. This shift away from coal though also wipes out an entire industry which leads to loss of jobs but is a trade off Australia has to make for the future of stable power.

Further Reading

About Clean Energy Subsidies

Governemnts on the future of coal

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12 Comments

    1. I agree, Its interesting how even in australia we have power shortages. It is important to move to a renewable energy but currently the technology we have is just not able to support our high demand for electricity. Its important that in the future our government allocates our limited resources on the right enegry sources.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Yes removing the coal industry is very worrying as the unemployment rate will rise significantly especially in SA however this industry also produces a lot of negative externalities such as air pollution and long term damage to eco system. With renewable energy, these externalities would not occur or it would minimise.
    Great Job!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The industry does produce many external externalities, but wouldn’t it be difficult to remove the coal industry? There’s probably people who have only ever worked in the coal industry, so it would be difficult for them to learn new skills. I understand it is for the sake of the whole state and stable power but what about the individuals who can no longer find jobs?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. New technology will always cause a short-term loss of jobs, my father has worked in telecommunications for many years and has had to receive additional training in new technologies multiple times. Doubtless there will be people who can’t adapt, but many of the skills will be transferable.

        Loss of jobs will be the cost of new technologies, but in the process new jobs will be created.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. One of the issues with the move towards renewable energy on a private-sector funded state by state basis is that there’s very little forward planning or network continuity. This is highly evident in the closure of the SA Black coal fired power plants. While they have mostly been closed due to increased renewables, some of their load has been transferred to the Brown Coal fired plants here in victoria. This means that the SA network is now reliant on our infrastructure for their supplies (a contributing factor to SA’s blackouts), and that cheaper, more polluting brown coal has been retained in favour of more expensive but less polluting Black Coal. While this is an excellent example of market forces and economic efficiencies, I believe it’s also an excellent example of where government regulation such a price on carbon is ideal, where the government can tax companies based on their carbon emissions. The government increases its revenue, companies have a huge incentive to close carbon polluting plants, and the governments get to say it aggressively supports renewables, a highly popular initiative. Everyone wins. This is also a good example of why essential industries such as electricity generation should be government owned and operated, but that’s probably an argument for another comment.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s a shame our politicians and the general public have become so narrow-minded that social stigmas have held our country back from tapping into the clean and plentiful nuclear energy. Instead, we’re more concerned about burning some lumps of coal to keep our air-conditioners running only to boost the global warming rate for another hotter summer. It’s a cycle of irony, but at least we are looking at alternative sources of energy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely. Given our geological stability, advanced technology, low population density and plentiful Uranium reserves, the fact that we have no nuclear generation is ridiculous. Only a few large plants would be required given our relatively low total energy consumption, and they could provide largely clean, safe and secure base load generation for the next 50 years.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Renewable energies rely heavily on favourable weather conditions to operate, whether it is a sunny or windy day, some form of renewable energy generation can happen. Coal has the advantage of being able to be used in all weather conditions, at the cost of being non renewable and damaging to the environment.
    The future cannot be solely coal, as reserves are running out and can’t hold out forever, the future must be able to be both renewable and reliable for use in all weather conditions. A combination of solar/wind powered and nuclear energy would be a good alternative to coal as nuclear can be used in all weather conditions, but also use more renewable energy when the conditions are right.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Although employment rates would take a hit from the shift from coal to renewable energy, jobs in the renewable energy sector would increase and have potential to pick up some of what was lost. If the government could also put a focus on retraining/reallocating workers that previously worked in the coal industry to working in renewable energy, the decline of employment rates and also the opportunity cost of the shift could be minimized.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ‘Clean coal’ seems to be a bit of an oxymoron. What exactly does it encompass? Is it just a way for the government to paint coal as an environmentally friendly fuel?

    Liked by 1 person

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