Letter to John Williams, Former Executive Manager of Pacific Power
Dear John Williams, former Executive General Manager of Pacific Power,
Just thought I'd write a letter to you to let you know that you missed a couple of points in the letter you wrote that I found lying on a seat in Sydney Airport. The first and probably most important thing is that the vast majority of solar power in Australia is point of use. That is, it saves the people with solar panels the retail cost of electricity rather than the wholesale cost, and the retail cost is often five or more times the wholesale cost. This is why solar panels with lower installation costs are now around grid parity in Australia. And since you don't mention this in your letter I'll just point out that solar panels have minimal maintenance costs and zero fuel costs. A lot of people regard these two points as major features of solar power.
I'm kind of surprised you didn't know about the point of use stuff already, what with working in the power industry so long, but I guess executing might have kept you too busy to keep up with everything. Anyway, I'm just glad to be able to fill you in on this.
But then you start to get weird, John.
You state the efficiency of the best coal and gas plants at converting heat into electricity and then you compare this to the efficiency of a solar panel at converting light into electricity. You declare that solar panels have to be more efficient at turning sunlight into electricity than an advanced coal plant is at turning heat into electricity in order to be competitive.
Are you pooping me? Are you seriously ignorant enough to believe this, or are you just pooping everyone? Did you delegate your thinking to an idiot? Are you really comparing the efficiency of converting sunlight into electricity to the efficiency of converting the heat of burning fossil fuels into electricity and saying that comparison determines competitiveness? If I developed a method for turning sewage into petrol at no cost would you say it wasn't competitive if it was only 15% efficient? You state that gas can be more efficient than coal, so how come we generate most of our electricity from coal if efficiency determines competitiveness? Or could it be that something other than raw efficiency measures determine where we get our electricity from? I'm sure you must have known this at some point. If you cast your mind back to when you were Executive General Manager of Pacific Power you might remember.
Anyway, I hope you found this helpful. And don't feel too bad. Age gets to us all. Why just the other day I could not for the life of me remember the name of the green Teletubby. Took me hours before I remembered its name was Dipsy. But I swear I'll never forget the name of that bastard Laa-Laa.