Blackout: How is energy-rich Australia running out of electricity?
Affirm Press, $30 pb, 304 pp, 9781925870176
Australia’s energy transition has been hotly debated for a decade, and it doesn’t look set to cool anytime soon. Blackout: How is energy-rich Australia running out of electricity? offers readers the chance to be an informed participant in the debate. For more than a century, decisions about our electricity system have been left to the experts – the electrical engineers and policy wonks who knew the grid best. Today the electricity system is a matter of public debate. If decisions about the grid are going to be made by a popularity contest, then energy experts need to engage with the public and help inform the debate. Matthew Warren steps up to this challenge with Blackout.
Warren explains why electricity prices have been rising, why heatwaves increase the risk of blackouts, how places like King Island are leading the way in renewables integration, and why rooftop solar requires a rethink of the grid. Part history, part science, and part economics, Blackout explores the early experiments that enabled electricity to be harnessed and the events that shaped the development of Australia’s electricity ‘archipelago’.
‘The real coming of age for Australian electricity was in 1879, when half-a-dozen arc lamps were used to light the Melbourne Cricket Ground for two night games of Australian Rules football,’ Warren writes. Australians immediately saw the potential, and Melbourne, flush with cash from the gold rush, became one of the first cities in the world to build an electricity grid.