Oct 2, 2016

Why have wind turbines been blamed for Australian blackouts?

Admin
2 min
Power is gradually coming back on in South Australian homes and businesses after a series of ‘supercell’ thunderstorms hammered the state...

Power is gradually coming back on in South Australian homes and businesses after a series of ‘supercell’ thunderstorms hammered the state in the middle of the week. On Wednesday night, the onslaught saw gusts exceed 120km/h and left South Australia almost wholly without power more 12 hours or more.

How did the government respond?

By engaging in a battle over whether or not the state’s renewable assets were to blame for the blackout.

Longstanding tension over turbines
The State of South Australia is aiming toward generating half of its energy using renewables by 2025. However, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is pressing a national target of 26 to 28 percent renewable energy by 2030, which would involve curbing growth in states with more ambitious targets, like Queensland, Victoria and SA. As it stands, roughly 40 percent of South Australia’s electricity is generated by wind.

What really happened this week?
Business groups and senior coalition figures, including Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, were quick to blame wind energy for the loss of power in SA. However, the true source of the issue more than 20 downed transmission towers, which required a full power shutdown in order to protect the integrity of the national power system.

While some politicians might be calling for the introduction of gas-power stations to create more “baseload” power, there is evidence that fossil-fuelled energy wouldn’t have kept SA from going dark. The recently-closed Port Augusta power station, located in the northern part of the state, would also have been cut off by the downed transmission lines. And this could have worsened the outage by creating a larger, more abrupt change to the power network.

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May 13, 2021

All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency

schools
energyefficiency
Renewables
Dominic Ellis
2 min
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only UK regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil

Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.

Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.

According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.

Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.

“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."

He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."

North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).

The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.

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