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Analysis of tidal project

Your correspondent, Carolyn Simmonds, has made considerable effort to express the views of various interest groups regarding the Derby Tidal Power project (Business News, September 7-13).

However, in quoting figures and some quotes, she fails to provide adequate analysis.

In her first paragraph, she refers to the capital cost of the Tidal Project at $335 million, then goes on to advise your readers that Western Power “is now negotiating a $320 million, 18-year electricity supply contract” with the gas consortium.

WA electricity consumers will therefore get to pay the same amount in just 18 years of burning up a carbon emitting fuel called natural gas as for a 120-year tidal project. Whereas the tidal project, paid for up front, will go on producing clean, virtually free electricity for another 100 years.

That is because in tidal, all the cost is in up front capital, but in gas, the cost is in the fuel. Both appear to cost the same over 20 years.

This is clearly where Colin Barnett and his advisers demonstrate they are mathematically challenged or worse.

Barnett criticises up front transparent subsidies of the type proposed by the Federal Government, but will continue to require Western Power’s city consumers to cross subsidise the provision of remote electricity.

The ability of his Government’s Health and Education departments to provide improved services from their budgets is reduced by requiring them to pay full cost presently in the order of 35c per unit.

Then there are the words of Dr Graham-Taylor. Why continue to publish her criticism that the project can only reduce gas emissions to the extent of local demand for electricity, when the whole purpose of the tidal exercise is to prove up the technology so that potentially the 70 per cent of fossil fuel electric power now consumed by very heavy, principally metal smelting, industries plus the generation of the next OPEC free, emission-free fuel of mobility, hydrogen, can be produced by clean tidal power?

What is Dr Graham-Taylor’s alter-native renewable energy resource to provide the 500 megawatts continuous to fuel a single aluminium smelter, or to provide the millions of tonnes of clean hydrogen to fuel the vehicles and homes of the future – pedal power? Only fossil fuels, nuclear or tides have the grunt to meet such demands in Australia today and notwithstanding progress both wind and solar lack the reliability to work in this arena.

Dr Graham-Taylor’s reference to “rock” versus sedimentary “found-ations” as the structural base for the tidal barrages certainly did not warrant inclusion. It is engineering claptrap, particularly when she knows the engineers of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation have given the project approval.

The Conservation Council does of course have a genuine objection. Its very existence is based on environmental problems, not environ-mental solutions. Your reporter reiterates a myth regarding the importance of the State Government’s Ministerial Advisory Council, which has been publicly and universally condemned in peer review, both for fact and methodology.

A publication that calls itself Western Australian Business News, should offer its readers analysis as well as comment and some of the quotes in your tidal argument, including those of Minister Barnett, whose record on tender process on other power projects and in spending Government money on infrastructure stands in stark contrast to his tidal power rhetoric.

Wilson Tuckey MP

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