JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Welcome to the Unreliables: Town sues over $4m Geothermal Failure that never delivered a single Watt

Australia has no shortage of hot rocks, but it turns out to be harder to capture than people expected:

Click to enlarge | ABC

Seven years ago everyone was excited in Winton Queensland. The new Geothermal project would only cost $3.5 million but it would save “$15 million” in electricity bills over the next twenty years and “should be operational by the end of 2016”.

Now in 2022:

Council launches legal action over $4m geothermal plant that’s never delivered power

The renewable energy project was set to be the only operating geothermal power plant in the country and was touted as the start of a geothermal windfall in the region. But more than two years since construction finished, it has never delivered power and is not operational.

“It’s bloody disappointing, to put it mildly, for such a great potential for the water that comes into town,” Winton Shire Council Mayor Gavin Baskett said.

What went wrong? “Technical issues”. The ABC doesn’t get to the bottom of this, but the water was just not close enough to boiling.

Martin Pujol, principal hydrogeologist at Rockwater, said at 86C, the Winton project would […]

Would you like to throw billions at solar?

Have you wondered just exactly how much money you could pay for the feel-good factor of knowing that your electrons came from fashionable sources?

Thanks to the Victorian government we can get the hard numbers in the Victorian Auditor General’s Report.

In a nutshell, most alternatives are 2-3 times as expensive, except for solar which is 5 times the price.

(Luckily at the moment, renewables only produce 3 – 4 % of all energy in Victoria. Be grateful. You Victorians could be a lot poorer.) As it is, it cost Victorians $415,000 to tell you this, but it may be the most effective money spent on renewable energy in the last ten years. (Though oddly they didn’t produce this helpful comparative graph below. I did that for free.)

The Full PDF

In 2002 the State government of Victoria decided to aim for 10% renewable energy by 2010. You can see how well that worked out for them:

The light blue line (at 10%) was what they were aiming for.

The report is 48 pages. Basically it found that nobody thought too hard about how these aims would be done. Nobody assessed how useful it was to […]