The Centre should be a major player in the power game


Sir – The fuss and squabble about electric power is symptomatic of the small minded thinking and political grandstanding common here over recent times.
Alice vs Darwin over administration is not relevant to the long term future of power supplies here, or the involved workers. Long term policy has been so short sighted and out of touch with what is happening elsewhere.
Bushlight was on track until it was closed down in 2012 but in other places there are mini grids springing up all over the country.
In 2012 CSIRO suggested that a third of the country would be off grid by 2050. Mooroolabank, near Melbourne for example, has a 16 house trial under way off grid and Newstead nearby is not far behind.
Tyralgon in NSW has an entire town off grid. All of these are combinations of private and government money, but the gem is Alkinos north of Perth where Lend Lease and The State Land Corporation have 1.1 Mwh of solar electricity stored on two shipping container sized battery banks for their subdivision with an $11 per month storage fee plus usage, and with buy back by the battery bank for any surplus.
That could have happened here.
These are flow batteries based on lithium. And if we think we are at the front of the game, northern Africa has a single solar / thermal facility that can supply thousands of houses, and we get more solar energy than they do.
The Australian National University in Canberra is right on the mark but why have they not been approached to set up their development here?
Battery technology is improving daily with solar technology with reported efficiency now approaching 40%, and based on lithium and soon to be replaced by vanadium of which we have a substantial deposit 230 km north of here.
But again while we were not looking around, India is developing a massive thorium (contained in monazite, pictured) / nuclear waste / molten salt facility capable of powering the whole of Australia from a single source.
And you are standing and living in the country which has the largest thorium resource in the world with much of it just behind the Aileron roadhouse!
And to cap it off we are spending $75m upgrading obsolete technology!
Trevor Shiell
Alice Springs


  1. I can’t find Tyralgon in NSW on Google. Can you provide more information please?

  2. Interesting letter Trevor, one would assume that governments and/or the powers that be in the electrical supply business would know all this information.
    If not why not and if they know about these developments what are they doing or planning with this information?
    My guess is that the pollies have short circuited the issue!

  3. There is a lot written about thorium. It was discovered a long time ago. There are those who feel it’s the silver bullet of power generation but there are many polical reasons as to why we haven’t pursued it with vigor. There are also many who will protest against nuclear reactors.
    “Thorium, when being irradiated for use in reactors, will make uranium-232, which is very dangerous due to the gamma rays it emits. This irradiation process may be altered slightly by removing protactinium-233. The irradiation would then make uranium-233 in lieu of uranium-232, which can be used in nuclear weapons to make thorium into a dual purpose fuel.”
    I am of the belief that he who controls the fuel, controls the world and this is an unfortunate situation. I would prefer to see the proliferation of solar BUT without the politics behind the whole energy thing.


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