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Energy - Renewable and Green Energy | Energy in Australia - Peak Oil, Solar Power, and Asia’s Economic Growth

Energy in Australia

Peak Oil, Solar Power, and Asia’s Economic Growth

Palmer, Graham

2014, XIII, 91 p. 26 illus., 24 illus. in color.

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  • Represents the first comprehensive net energy analysis of rooftop solar within a modern electricity grid
  • Provides an in-depth analysis of grid integration and the use of storage
  • Extends  life-cycle boundaries to provide a comprehensive estimate of EROI for solar power in Australia
  • Has broad implications for the potential of renewable energy sources to seamlessly substitute for fossil fuels
  • Written by an experienced engineer with expertise in power systems and renewable energy

With rapidly declining costs and seemingly unlimited sunshine, the choice of solar in Australia seems obvious. Yet despite its many advantages, homes with solar remain completely dependent on the electricity grid for reliable supply, which in Australia implies mostly coal-fired generation. Indeed, even countries that have invested heavily in solar, such as Spain and Germany, have been unable to deflect the trajectory of fossil fuel dependence.

The reasons for this apparent paradox are varied, and this book provides a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the practical applications of photovoltaics (PV) in modern electricity systems. While the conventional life-cycle assessment (LCA) boundaries as prescribed by the IEA-PVPS provide a consistent methodology for comparing evolving PV technologies, the narrow boundaries exclude many critical downstream energy costs. Similarly, simple cost comparisons of PV versus conventional power sources overlook the significant economic and energy costs of intermittency and grid integration. Yet distributed storage, which could provide potentially valuable network support, is frequently given a low priority by advocates of solar.

Treating PV as an extension of, rather than as a substitute for, the fossil fuel enterprise enables a more productive discussion of PV’s potential role in electricity generation. The sunburnt country of Australia, which has a modern electricity system, is an ideal case study for exploring the potential of solar PV. With a focus on rooftop solar, energy storage, grid integration, and electricity system issues, Energy in Australia offers valuable insights into the practical challenges of solar power. Although many national economies are already confronting a downward trend in energy return on investment (EROI) of oil and gas from both conventional and unconventional sources, the large-scale deployment of low-emission energy sources that lie below a critical minimum EROI threshold may ultimately prove counter-productive.

Content Level » Research

Keywords » Australia EROI - Australia coal and minerals - Australia coal and solar energy - Australia energy history - Australia oil and Asia - Australia peak oil - Australia solar energy grid - Downstream energy costs - Energy Australia - Energy policy solar - Energy return on investment - Fossil fuel dependence - Global energy policy - IEA-PVPS - LCA - PV Australia - PV EROI - PV LCA - PV economic costs - PV energy costs - PV in modern electricity systems - PV life-cycle assessments - PV technologies comparison - Solar and renewables - Solar and renewables Australia - Solar distributed storage - Solar power Australia - Solar power Australia EROI - Solar power, practical challenges

Related subjects » Applied & Technical Physics - Energy Technology - Environmental / Development / Agricultural Economics - Policy, Economics, Management & Transport - Renewable and Green Energy - Sustainable Development

Table of contents 

Preface

Chapter 1: Introduction - One million solar systems
Chapter 2: Quarry Australia – building Australia on coal
Chapter 3: Towards optimized complexity – integrating intermittency
Chapter 4: Electricity networks - managing peak demand
Chapter 5: EROI of Solar PV
Chapter 6: Driving down emissions: the role of carbon pricing

Conclusion
References
Index

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