Solar  is good theory but not in practice

I WRITE in reply to Mark Hetherington, who in your edition of November 7, challenged me to substantiate figures relating to the cost benefits of the solar thermal output at Liddell Power Station. 

Over the past five years, Liddell has on average used five million tonnes of coal per year. For each tonne of coal approximately 1.8 tonnes of Co2 is produced. The Liddell solar project, which has cost $16 million so far, is expected to save just 3,000 tonnes of coal per year. My maths again confirms this is saving one-sixteenth of 1per cent of the plant’s coal usage as I stated in my original letter. 

In terms of emissions saved, replacing coal-fired generators with the solar thermal plant would mean instead of the annual Co2 emissions from Liddell being 9,000,000 tonnes, it would reduce to 8,994,600 tonnes! A massive saving of 5,400 tonnes at a cost of $16 million, or $2,962 a tonne! 

Mr. Hetherington says the cost of fuel for the solar plant is zero. But he doesn’t mention the ongoing maintenance costs, such as the constant cleaning of the mirrors and repairs for damage (hail). Even with the Labor-Greens and independents carbon tax, Australia’s emissions will rise from the current 

578 million tonnes to 637 million tonnes by 2020 at a cost to business of $10 billion a year and growing. 

My point remains that solar thermal may be very good in theory, but horrendously expensive in practice and a long way from being cost-effective.

SENATOR JOHN WILLIAMS

THE NATIONALS SENATOR 

FOR NSW

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