CHANGE COMING: Locality Planning Energy chief operating officer and director Ben Chester.
CHANGE COMING: Locality Planning Energy chief operating officer and director Ben Chester. Contributed

Nuclear could be in the mix in search for stable power

A REGIONAL energy retailer with eyes on becoming a large corporation expects nuclear power may end up in the mix, in the search for stable power supply in future.

Locality Planning Energy director and chief operating officer Ben Chester said the energy space was being disrupted as much as one would envisage, but there was still a long way to go before current technology could support the quality and amount of electricity required.

"Thirty years is a long lens to look through," Mr Chester said.

"Along with a utility-scale storage solution, to make use of the renewable supply proposed to be deployed will require a broader mindset change."

He thought "as of today" nuclear would have to be in the mix, as it was the only current technology available to displace coal and gas with "the required stable supply chain and base load capacity".

Mr Chester said LPE had strong roots on the Coast and he was driven to growing the company by employing locals.

He said they were the only full-market electricity retailer based regionally in Australia, and they intended to become a "large corporation".

As for energy in the future, Mr Chester said current technologies were "mostly mature", with solar more than 60 years old, wind more than 40 and hydro around for more than 300 years.

"All forms of energy production technologies are being integrated at ever-increasing scales all over the world," Mr Chester said.

"The problem we have with all renewable technology is not its capacity to produce energy, it is the 'gaps' due to intermittency. This problem is not exclusive to renewables.

"Coal and gas have the same problems, they've just, through necessity of demand, found ways to 'fill-in' the gaps."

He said there would be no "single solution" to future energy supply, but rather a mix of technologies needed.

Mr Chester said human habits in relation to energy consumption hadn't changed since the early 1950s, and most households now had 10 power outlets per person.

"The time and purpose of the consumption has not changed, the amplitude has," he said.

"We are seeing a shift in energy consciousness, where people are actively considering energy savings.

"Newer technology does reduce the comparative consumption volume, yet the minimum required energy to function is a bit over tripe that of a 1950s home."

He said batteries could be seen to contribute to energy volume reduction at home, but at the moment, batteries significantly increased the cost due to costs of the system, life cycle of the batter and dealing with the afterlife waste, compared to the cost of 'grid' energy.

Mr Chester said Queensland currently had years to run on its system, and despite reported issued with the network, southeast Queensland "has a genuine, first-class distribution network, which in isolation has normal shortcomings but it has well scheduled capacity planning".

He said it was unfortunate that the sector, once driven by innovation and technological advancements through engineering and commercial consideration was now guided "more by ideology".

"Once we get understanding that most technology has merit, and a collaborative approach to the combination of these, it will support a 30-year plan," Mr Chester said.