Two green-dream fantasies are heading for a massive and costly collision. Firstly they dream of generating all grid power from wind/solar propped up by battery storage (such as lots of giant Tesla batteries and pumped hydro). Secondly they dream of replacing all petrol/diesel/gas cars, trucks and buses with electric vehicles, powered by more batteries. But wind farms do well if they can average about 35% of their rated capacity with low predictability, while solar panels average just 25% of their capacity, produced intermittently. To generate zero emissions energy for Australia, we would need hills covered with turbines, flats covered with solar panels, the countryside spider-webbed with access roads and transmission lines, and much more hydro. To stabilise a green energy system without using hydrocarbons will require an eye-watering quantity of batteries, costing as much as 200 times the cost of any wind/solar facility needing backup. Every home will need a battery in the basement (and sensible ones will also have a diesel in the shed). Add to this battery bonanza millions of batteries will be needed to electrify and replace our fleet of petrol/diesel vehicles.
No wonder cynical mining companies like BHP are going green – they smell a jackpot from the coming green boom in demand for steel, aluminium, lithium, copper, nickel, graphite, cobalt, rare earths and nuclear fuels. And no wonder Tesla supports green energy – the total annual output of the world’s biggest battery factory in Nevada would store less than five minutes of annual US electricity demand. And they also see booming demand for electric vehicle batteries. No wonder Tesla shares have gone ballistic (the boom before the crash?). The carbon dioxide emitted by all the extra mining, transport, manufacture and disposal of green energy generators and batteries would far exceed the CO2 allegedly saved by the threatened green upheaval. All Australians rely on trucks to deliver their daily food to towns and cities - in road trains, semi-trailers, refrigerated trucks and electric trains, almost all powered by diesel, coal or gas. If they were all-electric and powered by batteries, where will the electricity come from to recharge all of these batteries? In tomorrow’s Australia it must come from an unreliable wind/solar grid, hydro power or diesel generators. Take a look in the link below at a road train taking cattle to market in the Kimberley region in outback Australia. One truck on its own would bog in the soft sand or in creek crossings, but with a 4WD tractor, four diesel semis and eight trailers linked in a road train, at least one set of driving wheels is likely to be on solid ground. In the electric vehicle fantasy-world, what weight of batteries would drive this road train and where would they recharge their batteries?