Monday, November 22, 2010

Climate encounter at Northcote Plaza

Just a short post about a climate encounter while out leafleting at Northcote Plaza yesterday. A fellow took my flyer, went in to do his shopping, then spoke to me when he came out. Turns out he works on the coal-fired power stations in the Latrobe Valley!

We talked about closing Hazelwood, Australia's dirtiest brown-coal-fired power station, and he agreed it had to close but there needed to be a plan to replace the generating capacity. Enter the Zero Carbon Australia 2020 Stationary Energy Plan! The plan uses 40 per cent wind power to complement 60 per cent concentrated solar thermal (CST) power generation.

He hadn't heard of the plan, didn't like wind power because of its intermittency, but also hadn't heard of CST power generation, which allows baseload power to be produced by using solar energy to generate heat that is stored in molten salts. That heat can then be released when needed to drive a turbine when the sun isn't shining - voila, baseload power supply.

This fellow thought it was a promising idea. He said he thought Morwell was actually dirtier than Hazelwood, though I know Morwell is quite a bit smaller (165MW and 5 turbines, versus 1600MW and 8). Maybe in emissions per MW generated it is, I'm not sure. The big thing for me was who you can bump into outside a suburban supermarket, and how they can add to your understanding. Amazing!

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