Blackouts could throw things into utter chaos

THE recent blackout in Argentina should issue a very serious warning to our own governments and power companies. When the power goes off it is not just the lights that go out but the banking system, all eftpos and atms, communications, electric trains, petrol stations, traffic lights… In short, the nation and Toowoomba would be thrown into chaos for an indeterminate time.

The vulnerability arises from centralised power stations carrying electricity by large, high voltage interconnectors. Some redundancy has been built into the system since the serious blackouts in Queensland in 2004 to increase reliability. However, this led to higher network or connection charges which too many people, including those who should know better in government, solely blamed on solar subsidies.

The old centralised model of a coal-fired generator built near a coal mine, sending power hundreds of kilometres on power lines, which can be vulnerable to storm, sabotage or simply breakdowns, to the centres of population is over. The answer lies with renewables, batteries and a local distribution network.

Distributed energy sources means multiple smaller power generators connected within a local area which avoids the vulnerability of these lengthy power lines.

The roofs of Toowoomba with solar panels and batteries could become a virtual power station feeding electricity into the local grid when needed. It's happening in South Australia and soon in New South Wales and there is no reason it could not happen in Toowoomba. This is certainly a better alternative to all activity in the city coming to a halt.

MARK TRANTER, Hodgson Vale

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