Friday, July 9, 2021

Include a Global Power Grid in the Australian Energy Transition Research Plan

Greetings from the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) Australian Energy Transition Research Plan webinar. Professor Ken Baldwin of the ANU,  used the often repeated phrase that solar power is only available "when the sun shines". It occurred to me that perhaps we should be bolder in our ambitions. The sun actually shines all the time, it is just the rotation of the earth shades part of the planet, plus local clouds. A cable around the world could distribute power from where the sun is shining to were it is not. This would be similar to Arthur C. Clarke's promotion of geostationary satellites for communications. Before this it was assumed satellites would have limited use for communications,  as they would only be over a point on the earth for a short time. It took considerable time, and investment, for the geostationary satellite to be a reality, but the concept helped legitimize satellite communications. A bold concept of a world-circling power grid might have a similar effect.

Professor Sue Richardson expressed concern about the capacity to train enough people for the renewable energy industry. However, we have the capacity to do such training online, which has been boosted by COVID-19 forcing both vocational and university education online. One of my ANU students was in a hurry and completed my 12 week green computing course in 4 weeks. ;-)

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