Melbourne Energy Institute Library

Reports and working papers (21 Nov 2016)

Victorian Geothermal Assessment Report 2016

The use of geothermal energy is increasing around the world in order to achieve CO2 emissions reduction, reduce energy costs, and improve energy security and energy efficiency. Victoria’s unique geological and economic conditions require a unique consideration of how geothermal energy might cost-effectively address these drivers.

Graeme Beardsmore, Irina Dumitrescu, Ben Harrison, Mike Sandiford, Rachel Webster

Research Areas: Geothermal; Geological resources

Reports and working papers (26 Oct 2016)

A Review of Current and Future Methane Emissions

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide when its atmospheric warming impacts are considered over a 20-year time period, and 34 times more powerful over a 100-year time period. Reducing methane emissions is therefore an important part of any strategy to avoid dangerous climate change, as agreed by world leaders at the December 2015 Paris conference.

Dimitri Lafleur, Tim Forcey, Hugh Saddler, Mike Sandiford

Research Areas: Gas

Reports and working papers (11 Aug 2016)

Winds of change: An analysis of recent changes in the South Australian electricity market

Over the past decade, the South Australian electricity market has undergone a dramatic change in supply mix. Prior to 2005, energy generation needs were predominantly sourced from gas and brown coal power stations. Since then, over 1500 MW of wind capacity and 680 MW of rooftop solar has been installed. At the same time, 770 MW of brown coal capacity has exited the market.

Dylan McConnell, Mike Sandiford

Research Areas: Solar; Wind; Energy storage; Geological resources; Energy policy

Media (27 Jul 2016)

Australia Needs Climate Action – What’s the Hold Up?

Attention to national issues in the federal election campaign was momentarily diverted overseas this week, as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull became embroiled in the Brexit debate, pending the UK’s vote on continued European Union membership next Thursday. The EU question is particularly concerning to Australians living and working in the EU and to businesses reliant upon the EU as the nation’s second largest trading partner and largest single source of foreign investment at $958.97 billion.

Sara Bice

Research Areas: Geological resources; Energy policy; Social equity

Media (11 Jul 2016)

How energy is hidden in colours

And how could playing with colour give us wearable solar panels? This last question is at the core of research being undertaken by Dr Wallace Wong, of the University of Melbourne’s Bio21 Institute and School of Chemistry. As well as working on fascinating science that combines chemistry, physics, engineering and even some agriculture, the carbon-solar researchers of Dr Wong’s lab are inspired by a renewable energy future.

Errol Hunt

Research Areas: Solar; Energy storage; Geological resources

Media (1 Jul 2016)

Engie’s Hazelwood "super profit" highlights our tangled web of energy policy

Has there ever been better times for our electricity utilities? Sunday is typically pretty subdued in terms of electricity demand. Consequently Sunday market prices are at the low-end of the weekly range, even with the extra demands of a chilly winter day. Since the beginning of 2008, the Sunday market price in Victoria averages about $23 per megawatt hour, factoring out the carbon tax component. That is about half the average weekday price of $43.

Mike Sandiford

Research Areas: Carbon capture and storage; Energy storage; Energy systems; Energy policy

Media (23 Jun 2016)

How much does wind energy cost? Debunking the myths

Are renewables pushing up the cost of electricity? That’s the claim made by Alan Moran in an opinion piece for the Australian Financial Review this week. Moran, executive director of Regulation Economics and a former director at the Institute of Public Affairs, argues that increasing investment in renewables and particularly wind energy will cost consumers billions of dollars. The high operating costs and requirements for backup when the wind isn’t blowing are the problem, he argues.

Dylan McConnell

Research Areas: Wind; Gas; Geological resources

Media (23 Jun 2016)

Electricity prices, the election agenda and the case for bipartisanship

In case you had forgotten, electricity prices were a really big deal in the last federal election campaign in 2013, albeit often disguised under the rubric of axe the tax.Then  Coalition spokesmen quite deliberately and repeatedly conflated the term carbon tax withelectricity tax.Clearly this  was deemed acceptable in the court of public opinion. The justification was that Labor’s carbon pricing mechanism specifically targeted the electricity sector rather than other key emission intensive secto

Mike Sandiford

Research Areas: Gas; Energy policy

Media (20 Jun 2016)

A new normal, as Basslink finally resumes

With little by way of fanfare,  Basslink resumed operation this week after almost 6 months.Basslink is Tasmania’s proverbial umbilical cord - a 500 megawatt submarine HVDC cable that connects to the mainland  providing both electrical power and data exchange. Along with unusually dry conditions last Spring, Basslink’s failure back in December last year contributed to an unprecedented energy crisis in the Apple Isle.

Mike Sandiford

Research Areas: Energy storage; Energy systems; Energy policy

Media (16 Jun 2016)

22 ways to cut your energy bills

With Australia’s historically cheap energy, old housing stock in many areas, mild climate and frequent emphasis on low building costs, many homes are little more than “glorified tents” when it comes to thermal performance. Besides wanting smaller bills, many residents also want to improve comfort, lessen their environmental impact and boost their home’s value.

Tim Forcey

Research Areas: Gas; Energy storage; Geological resources; Energy systems

Media (9 Jun 2016)

The will of government is key to energy access...

In what must surely be a first for the Conversation, I am writing this post from the village of Sakteng in remote eastern Bhutan.The Bropkas meet the gridIn what must surely be a first for the Conversation, I am writing this post from the village of Sakteng in remote eastern Bhutan. That I can do so is a remarkable testimony to the will of the Bhutanese government in the electrification of what has to be one of the most difficult countries in the World to electrify.

Mike Sandiford

Research Areas: Energy storage; Geological resources

Media (16 May 2016)

Wind and solar become new 'base load' power for South Australia

It has only been a week since the closure of South Australia’s last coal-fired generator, but already a new pattern is emerging that points the way to a new energy system, away from “baseload” built around coal, gas or nuclear, to a new system built around wind and solar and other renewables. It has only been a week since the closure of South Australia’s last coal-fired generator, but already a new pattern is emerging that points the way to a new energy system, away from “baseload” built around

Giles Parkinson

Research Areas: Solar; Wind; Energy systems; Energy policy

Media (13 May 2016)

South Australia is now coal-free and batteries could fill the energy gap

South Australia’s last coal-fired power station closed on Monday this week, leaving the state with only gas and wind power generators. The Northern Power Station, in Port Augusta on the northern end of the Spencer Gulf, has joined Playford B – the state’s other coal-fired power station which has already been retired. The coal mine at Leigh Creek that supplied brown coal to the power stations also closed earlier this year, so there is no easy option for re-opening the power stations.

Roger Dargaville

Research Areas: Energy storage; Energy systems

Media (13 May 2016)

Carbon taxes, emissions trading and electricity prices: making sense of the scare campaigns

Yet again, electricity prices are set to be a key point of contention in an Australian federal election. The Coalition responded quickly to Labor’s election commitment to an emissions trading scheme (ETS), with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull warning of “much higher electricity prices” and a “very big burden” on Australians.

Dylan McConnell

Research Areas: Gas; Energy policy

Media (12 May 2016)

Goodbye Northern lights, hello sunlight?

At 9.40 am local time on Monday May 9th the turbines at Alinta’s 520 megawatt Northern Power Station at Port Augusta disconnected from the grid for the last time. And with it ended more than 50 years of coal-fired power generation in South Australia. But Northern’s shutdown does not mean that South Australian power supply is coal-free, and it is unlikely to mean that its power consumption is less carbon-intensive, at least in the short term.

Mike Sandiford

Research Areas: Solar; Energy storage; Geological resources; Distributed energy

Reports and working papers (28 Apr 2016)

National contributions for decarbonizing the world economy in line with the G7 agreement

In June 2015, the G7 agreed to two global mitigation goals: ‘a decarbonization of the global economy over the course of this century’ and ‘the upper end of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommendation of 40%–70% reductions by 2050 compared to 2010’. These IPCC recommendations aim to preserve a likely (>66%) chance of limiting global warming to 2 °C but are not necessarily consistent with the stronger ambition of the subsequent Paris Agreement of ‘holding the increas

Yann Robiou du Pont, M Louise Jeffery, Johannes Gütschow, Peter Christoff and Malte Meinshausen

Research Areas: Carbon capture and storage; Geological resources; Energy systems

Media (26 Apr 2016)

Raising Tibet

It’s more than a little disconcerting to wake every hour or so, gasping for air, suffocating. It happened to me during a field season in southern Tibet camped at about 5400 metres above sea level. With my normal sleep breathing patterns, I just couldn’t get enough oxygen. In terms of my metabolism, Tibet is clearly unreasonably high, and the question why it is so high is something I’ve been working on, on and off, for over 20 years.

Mike Sandiford

Research Areas: Geological resources

Media (25 Apr 2016)

On windmills and warships

On all sides of an argument, advocates push ridiculous extremes. Take the conservative push against windmills, which hopefully reached some kind of zenith last year when Alan Jones, appearing on on ABC’s Q&A, pulled a “swifty” on the cost of wind. After he was picked up by Melbourne PhD student Dylan McConnell in this factcheck on the Conversation, Alan acknowledged he exaggerated wind costs by a mere 1000%.

Mike Sandiford

Research Areas: Wind; Energy storage; Energy policy

Reports and working papers (8 Apr 2016)

Proposal for an economic study into producing hydrogen and ammonia for domestic use and export

The University of Melbourne Energy Institute (MEI) seeks funding for a economic study into producing hydrogen and ammonia, for domestic use and export, from renewable energy in the Spencer Gulf region of South Australia. This document describes the aims of this study, its scope, technology pathways, the organisations involved, other potential stakeholders, study timing, and funding requirements.

Tim Forcey

Research Areas: Energy storage; Geological resources; Transport

Reports and working papers (21 Mar 2016)

Australian pumped hydro - a perfect match for water managers and renewable energy

As evidenced at the December 2015 COP 21 climate change conference in Paris, the world - and Australia - will increasingly be using renewable energy. Some jurisdictions, ranging from Costa Rica to South Australia, will settle for no less than 100 per cent elimination of fossil-fuelled electricity generation. One reason that the declared Paris goals exceeded some expectations is the rapidly falling cost of electricity generated by wine and solar photovoltaic (PV)

Tim Forcey

Research Areas: Geological resources

Reports and working papers (23 Feb 2016)

Essential Services Commission Inquiry into the true value of distributed generation: Proposed Approach Paper

The Melbourne Energy Institutes submission to the Essential Services Commission Inquiry into the true value of distributed generation Proposed Approach Paper can be found below. The submission addresses four main areas raised for consultation in the proposed approach paper.ApproachWe agree that the true value of...

Dylan McConnell

Research Areas: Geothermal; Geological resources

Media (25 Jan 2016)

Hot summer nights, and cold winter evenings: how to be comfortable and save money all year long

Every summer, the number of Australian homes equipped with air conditioners goes up and up. Recent statistics show that 74% of Australian homes – 6.6 million so far – have some form of air conditioning. This stands to reason because our summers are becoming hotter and hotter while we increasingly demand constant comfort.At the same time, air conditioners drive up electricity demand, straining the electricity network. So what are you to do if you want to enjoy a guilt-free, full night’s sleep?

Tim Forcey

Research Areas: Gas; Geological resources; Energy systems

Media (25 Jan 2016)

Hot summer nights, and cold winter evenings: how to be comfortable and save money all year long

Every summer, the number of Australian homes equipped with air conditioners goes up and up. Recent statistics show that 74% of Australian homes – 6.6 million so far – have some form of air conditioning. This stands to reason because our summers are becoming hotter and hotter while we increasingly demand constant comfort.

Tim Forcey

Research Areas: Energy storage; Energy systems; Distributed energy

Media (19 Jan 2016)

Australia’s Chief Scientist on getting our research priorities right

In 2012 the Australian Council of Learned Academies commissioned a survey of some 1,200 researchers, at all stages from graduate to retired, about their thoughts on the career they had chosen. For three out of four, the best thing about the job was the chance to work on interesting and important issues. The passion for changing the world brought people in, kept them going and made them reflect with satisfaction on their life’s achievements.

Ian Chubb

Research Areas: Geological resources; Energy systems

Reports and working papers (1 Dec 2015)

Estimating the value of electricity storage in an energy-only wholesale market

Price volatility and increasing renewable energy generation have raised interest in the potential opportunities for storage technologies in energy-only electricity markets. In this paper we explore the value of a price-taking storage device in such a market, the National Electricity Market (NEM) in Australia. Our analysis suggests that under optimal operation, there is little value in having more than six hours of storage in this market.

Mike Sandiford, Dylan Mconnell and Tim Forcey

Research Areas: Gas; Energy storage

Media (25 Nov 2015)

Winds of - not so much - change

Did you notice how windy it was here in Melbourne on the first weekend of October, when the city stopped for the annual festival of the boot - a.k.a. the AFL Grand Final. Whether or not it influenced the result of the match, who knows. But the wind did do things to the electricity market, giving an insight into the emerging opportunities and challenges Victoria faces in dealing with what is one of the most egregious emissions profiles of any advanced economy.

Mike Sandiford

Research Areas: Wind; Energy storage; Distributed energy

Media (6 Nov 2015)

Praying for Rain

On the back of four years of dry and the shadow of El Niño looming large, recent rains across parts of inland Queensland must come as great relief. While plenty of follow up will be needed to restore surface water stores and recharge aquifers, we should be thankful for such mercies. As I sat down on Thursday morning (November 5) to start this piece, it began raining proverbial “cats and dogs” in Melbourne, bringing relief to parts of Victoria, including my garden (the 2-3 cm of rain that fell

Mike Sandiford

Research Areas: Energy storage; Geological resources; Pumped hydroelectric

Media (7 Sep 2015)

The cheapest way to heat your home with renewable energy - just flick a switch

A few years ago, similar to views about future electricity demand, forecasters thought gas demand in Australia would keep rising. As it turns out, gas demand peaked in 2012 and may halve by 2025 - as we showed in our recently published University of Melbourne Energy Institute (MEI) report, and earlier on The Conversation. Step by step, householders are making economic decisions that will eventually lead to many completely disconnecting from the gas grid, as they find gas to be an increasingly c

Tim Forcey

Research Areas: Gas; Energy storage; Energy systems

Media (7 Sep 2015)

The cheapest way to heat your home with renewable energy - just flick a switch

A few years ago, similar to views about future electricity demand, forecasters thought gas demand in Australia would keep rising. As it turns out, gas demand peaked in 2012 and may halve by 2025 - as we showed in our recently published University of Melbourne Energy Institute (MEI) report, and earlier on The Conversation. Step by step, householders are making economic decisions that will eventually lead to many completely disconnecting from the gas grid, as they find gas to be an increasingly c

Tim Forcey

Research Areas: Gas; Geological resources; Energy systems

Reports and working papers (1 Aug 2015)

Five Years of Declining Annual Consumption of Grid-Supplied Electricity

For decades, consumption of grid-supplied electricity increased in line with a growing economy. In the five years since 2009, however, annual consumption in eastern Australia declined by 7 percent, even while the Australian economy grew by 13 percent. Declining consumption was not forecast by the planning authority nor by market participants. The authors review reasons for declining consumption, the failure of planning authorities to forecast this structural change, and ongoing consequences. Fue

Mike Sanford, Tim Forcey, Alan Pears, Dylan McConnell

Research Areas: Gas; Energy storage; Geological resources; Energy systems; Energy market design; Distributed energy; Pumped hydroelectric

Journal articles (23 Jul 2015)

FactCheck: does coal-fired power cost $79/kWh and wind power $1502/kWh?

80% of Australian energy comes from coal, coal-fired power, and it’s about $79 a kilowatt hour. Wind power is about $1502 a kilowatt hour. That is unaffordable. If you take that power and feed it into the grid, then every person watching this program has electricity bills going through the roof. – Broadcaster Alan Jones, panel discussion on Q&A, ABC TV, July 20, 2015 Alan Jones has told The Conversation by email he acknowledges this comment was made in error and is not correct, saying:

Dylan McConnell

Research Areas: Wind; Gas

Media (20 Jul 2015)

It’s cold in my house and the price of gas is going up – what can I do?

Cold weather has arrived in eastern Australia, to the glee of those who enjoy skiing. But you don’t have to venture onto the slopes for cold to be a danger. With gas prices rising, many in the community are shivering while contemplating how big their next gas bill will be. Eastern Australia’s gas market is rapidly changing, driven by the first exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Queensland. And this is affecting the whole supply chain, from gas producers, to the way we use gas in our ho

Tim Forcey

Research Areas: Gas

Media (22 Jun 2015)

Vic parliamentary committee to consider viability of onshore gas exploration

Victoria is the only state in Australia to ban onshore gase exploration, but that could soon change with the State Government awaiting the report of a parliamentary committee investigating the industry. However, Victorian farmers have funded tens of thousands of dollars for research - not into the effects of gas exploration, but rather into the industry's economics. The study, to be presented to the committee, suggests there would be little demand for gasfields in Victoria - something that the r

Tim Forcey

Research Areas: Gas; Geological resources

Media (4 Jun 2015)

Meeting the future needs of Australia’s energy customers with renewable energy chemicals

Recently, when presenting the concept of a new export industry for Australia, I was asked to pause and take this question: "You mentioned an investment figure of hundreds of 'billions' of dollars.Did you mean to say hundreds of 'millions' of dollars?" Well no, what I said was right. Australia has before it the opportunity to provide its traditional energy customers – such as Japan and South Korea – with renewable energy in quantities similar to the fossil energy Australia has provided these trad

Tim Forcey

Research Areas: Solar; Wind; Geothermal; Energy storage; Geological resources; Distributed energy

Media (17 May 2015)

Let’s turn Latrobe Valley coal pits into hydro storage for renewables

Recently the electric car maker Tesla rocked the electricity world by launching with their low-cost Powerwall battery into the electricity distribution grid, business, and home electricity market sectors. The announced price tag of $US 3,000 for Tesla's seven kilowatt-hour system (or ~ $US 400 / kilowatt-hour, which does not include installation and inverter costs) illustrates how electrical battery costs continue to fall. No doubt storing electricity right in your garage will be useful and may

Roger Dargaville

Research Areas: Carbon capture and storage; Energy storage; Geological resources; Demand side management

Reports and working papers (1 Jan 2015)

The dash from gas. Could demand in New South Wales fall to half?

Gas transmission and distribution costs often make up the largest part of a consumer’s gas supply bill [1]. Investments in gas supply infrastructure are based on estimates of future demand. If demand is overestimated, unnecessary infrastructure is built. Such poor investment decisions drive up the costs that small and large gas consumers must pay. Recent unprecedented electricity price increases in New South Wales (NSW) were partly due to overinvestment in network infrastructure that, in turn, w

Tim Forcey, Mike Sandiford

Research Areas: Geothermal; Gas; Energy storage; Geological resources; Distributed energy

Media (8 Oct 2014)

Pumped hydro energy storage – making better use of wind

n late September, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) released a report investigating how wind can better be integrated into the power grid. AEMO reports that as more wind turbines are deployed over the next seven years, constraints on the way our electricity grid works – including bottlenecks in the system – mean there may be limits on how much wind-generated electricity we can use.

Tim Forcey

Research Areas: Wind; Energy storage; Geological resources; Energy systems; Pumped hydroelectric

Media (29 Mar 2014)

Pumped hydro energy storage on Beyond Zero Radio

Energy Advisor at the Melbourne Energy Institute, Tim Forcey, appeared on Beyond Zero Radio to discuss pumped hydro energy storage. This technology exists in Australia at three locations built several decades ago, however other countries are leading a renaissance of pumped hydro energy storage. The deployment of pumped hydro exceeds that of any other energy storage in use today by a ratio of at least twenty to one. This is because pumped hydro remains the cheapest form of large scale energy stor

Tim Forcey

Research Areas: Solar; Energy storage; Geological resources; Pumped hydroelectric

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