OpinionEnergy chief wrong on renewables’ reliability claim

Kerry SchottKerry Schott as chair of the Energy Security Board has a very important job. Her board advises the federal government about ’s future energy security and the most appropriate and economical way to generate electricity.
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cannot exist without 24/7 supply of electricity.

Recently, Fairfax Media reported that Dr Schott had expressed the view that coal fired power stations could not compete with renewable energy (wind and solar) because renewable energy was cheaper to operate.

Dr Schott claims can rely on renewables as a major source of our electricity.

Unfortunately the facts do not support this claim.

In 1990 there was no renewable power in Europe and it has taken almost 30 years of constant construction of wind and solar farms for 10 per cent of Europe’s electricity to be generated from renewables.

About 70 per cent of Europe’s generation comes from a combination of coal, gas and nuclear.

wasslower to start building wind and solar farms and, after 20 years of construction, 7 per cent of our electricity comes from wind and solar farms.

Per capita, Spain claims to have the most wind and solar generation in the world, but theygenerate only 20 per cent of Spain’s electricity.

For the foreseeable future cannot rely on renewables as a major source of electricity. Bill Shorten has said that Labor’s goal is to have 30 per cent of our electricity come from renewables by 2030.It is an ambitious goal. But, even so, where will the other 70 per cent of our electricity come from?

Most of ’s existing coal fired power stations are 30 to 40 years old and need to be replaced. Dr Schott believes that it is uneconomical to build coal plants. I believe we can’t afford not to build coal plants. must have reliable 24/7 power or we will face a massive economic disaster. Europe gets 70 per cent of its electricity from non-renewable sources, so why does Dr Schott think that can survive without non-renewable electricity?

By the end of this year Dr Schott’s Energy Security Board will report to the federal government with recommendations for the future security of our electricity generation.

I hope Dr Schott’s board will consider the overall economic benefit of still needing 24/7 non-renewable electricity as well as some ‘cheaper to build’ but intermittent renewable electricity.

Robert Monteath is a registered surveyor andcertified practising planner