Fake news and fair dinkum power

Chances are if you have tuned in to any TV or radio channel in the past week you will have seen or heard Atlassian billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes present the case for renewable energy. He’s a man on a mission who has grabbed the prime minster’s misplaced use of ‘fair dinkum power’ and given it a makeover, saying energy can be reliable, renewable & cheap, fair to Aussies, to our wallets AND to the planet. 

For those who missed it, the PM declared that renewables are great but need to be backed up by ‘fair dinkum power’ – euphemism for “extending the life of existing coal power stations and possibly building new coal plants for more baseload” – when the wind isn't blowing and the sun isn't shining. (Goodness, if ever a phrase was done to death it’s that.)

Mike Cannon-Brookes is proving whip smart in his now regular media appearances. Batting off suggestions he is motivated by money, he eloquently outlines why renewables are the only ‘fair dinkum’ power option.

A round up of tweets @mcannonbrooke illustrates his standpoint: "Fair Dinkum Aussie power is green, it's leafy, it's bright there's wind, there's sun", "Fair Dinkum is good for the environment _and_ the wallet. We're literally plugging in nature to power our devices" and "Turn it on, turn it off. Fair Dinkum Aussie power is reliable. It's there when you need it - but it also comes from natural, renewable sources. Believe it".

The logo above which was whipped up in record time from a field of candidates in an online competition symbolises, says Mike Cannon-Brookes, the rallying cry for Australians who believe in renewables and a brand for Australia’s energy future.

It doesn't end there: Australia could become a renewable energy superpower, exporting as much power as it consumes itself, and this represents “one of our largest economic opportunities for the country,” Mike Cannon-Brookes says.

"It's a bit of a life mission for me and I'm determined to see us get there … I do think [exporting renewable energy is] the biggest economic opportunity for our generation, and it's amazing that we do not talk more about it, " Cannon-Brookes told media.

This is not the young billionaire’s first foray into the power industry, last year Cannon-Brookes placed a bet with Elon Musk that resulted in the installation of the 100 MW battery at Hornsdale wind farm in SA just six months later, and which has since excelled itself and proven a reliable, stabilising power source.

Fair dinkum renewable ‘baseload’

Picking up on the fair dinkum theme, Smart Energy Council President Steve Blume makes the point that wind power and non- or semi-scheduled power like solar PV, and increasingly battery storage systems, have a stabilising effect on the system and increase reliability.

The Australian Electricity Market Operator consistently reports this scenario.

“The issue of intermittency, really variability, of renewables is often demonised, but although there are periods with no or low wind or solar output this is an eminently solvable engineering and network design problem and far from insurmountable.

“The grid remains highly reliable and we need to reject assertions that increasing renewables penetration is destabilising the grid or placing our expected reliability at risk,” Steve Blume says.

“The ageing coal-fired plants are the most risky points of failure and threatening imminent and future unreliability. These large ‘baseload’ coal plants that are being controlled by the market are also having a destabilising impact on the system.”

Writing in summer Solar & Storage magazine, Steve Blume points out there is no such thing as ‘baseload demand’ - there is simply ‘demand’.