JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Unthreaded Weekend

Shots from Geographe Bay, SW WA. I won’t be winning an award for these, but it was kinda cool.

Whale jumping.

They were having fun.

Whale, splash, photo.

….

Showing off:

Whale leaping.

….

Judging by their very long flippers, dorsal fins, and the time of year, these were humpback whales which grow to 30 – 50 tonnes, and 15-18m long  (medium sized for a whale). They are heading south for the summer to feed around Antarctica. They are apparently pretty friendly and curious, popping up to check out boats and allegedly even flirting, playing around and occasionally rescuing other species of whale and dolphin.

We were on the beach, the zoom was 64mm – 155mm (yes it did not look this close). Holiday house generously supplied. (You know who you are, thank you! :- ) ).

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Turnbull’s “game changer” — $2 a week savings next decade that most Australian don’t believe

Turnbull threw away the Lib’s best election strategy in the last election and almost lost. He couldn’t run a carbon tax scare like Abbott had (or Trump did even moreso). Now he can’t run a cheap electricity campaign in a nation where wallets are bleeding from power bills. It would be a gift campaign to mock the idea that wind and solar make prices cheaper — that’s a bubble desperate to be popped. But Malcolm’s campaign (if he survives that long) is a Santa tricky plan to have it all — lower emissions, lower prices, and more stability. And if you’ll believe that…

He’s leaving his entire right flank open, unguarded.

A few dismal facts that won’t go away:

  • Malcolm’s NEG plan to reduce electricity prices aims pathetically low ($2 a week) and will fail anyway. The country already knows that.
  • The world still awaits the glorious discovery of a single nation powered by lots of wind and solar that has cheap electricity.
  • Australia’s 1.5% of global carbon emissions are irrelevant. Australia may be the only nation on Earth that is even trying to meet the Paris accord.
  • More than half of Australians don’t buy the blame for the climate. Who speaks for them?

Today’s Sydney Morning Herald Readers Panel quiz asks if people believe the main promise behind the “Game Changer”:

Do you feel confident that the Prime Minister’s energy policy will cut electricity bills?”.

  • The responses: Yes: 9%
  • Don’t know: 16%
  • No: 75%

So people who believe in the magical power of windmills and solar panels don’t believe his plan will work. Those who understand reality also know his plan won’t work. That leaves Turnbull reaching the 20 people in between these two groups who all appear to be columnists in the media: Paul Kelly, Paul Maley, Dennis Shanahan.  Not fooled, McCrann, Bolt, Blair, and most of Australia.

Terry McCrann:

Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg have made a deliberate decision to lose the next election and to lose it badly. The government woke up to the reality that a 43 per cent clean energy target would be all-but indistinguishable to Labor’s (insane) 50 per cent renewable energy target. But it then opted for something even more opaque. And, $2 a week off your power bill, in 10 years, maybe, doesn’t really seal the deal.

Andrew Bolt:

The Liberals instead backed Turnbull as he smashed their last hope with a plan that is boring, incomprehensible, backed by no credible modelling and – even on its own terms – will not cut power prices for a decade, and even then by just $2 a week on the average bill.

That plan will be even deader once Labor realises its best attack on this dud is simply to describe it as it actually is – just another plan to cut emissions – and then to argue it’s not as good as their own plan to do exactly the same. Already Labor is moving to this better attack.

 In WA, the unskeptical pandering conservatives were crushed at the last election.

Delcons still matter — a million defiant non-left voters were “most influential group” in 2016 Australian election.

h/t David B.

Keep reading  →

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Our BoM electronic thermometers are “purpose designed”. We’re not sure what purpose.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology collects one-second records and can turn them into newspaper headlines. In contrast, the UK averages its readings over one minute, and the US over five. Obviously longer averaging could slow the latter down in the PR stakes (if that was their aim).

Hypothetically old glass thermometers just wouldn’t be as good at generating headlines. They take a lot longer to respond to bursts of hot air, sometimes missing short heatwaves completely (the kind that last less than a minute). It’s potentially quite an unfair race to run the two different thermometers in the same competition. It all depends on the handicap applied to the faster electronic ones.

In 2015 Bill Johnston warned that the introduction of electronic sensors in the late 1990s was artificially warming the records and asked the Bureau for data from the two different kinds of instruments side by side. The Bureau said they throw that data away (as you would). Lately, Jen Marohasy asked the Bureau for the manufacturing specifications and the Bureau said it’s all fine, the electronic thermometers were ‘purpose-designed’ to the Bureau’s specifications. We just don’t know what those specifications are exactly. No documentation. No data. (Send in your best guess.)

When it comes to publishing handicapping procedures, horse Racing Victoria lays it out: 

“All racing participants, as well as the general public, have every right to gain an understanding into the way in which their horse is handicapped. … In all instances, Handicappers must be able to provide logical and reasoned explanation for their decisions made. “

We can only hope our BoM should aim that high.

Don’t miss a great Spectator piece this week from Jennifer Marohasy on her quest to find out whether our BoM meets international standards, and whether our new thermometers are fit for purpose (and comparable to our old thermometers):

More hot days — or “purpose-designed” temperature sensors at play?

For about five weeks now the Bureau have been obfuscating on this point. There is ‘more than one way’ of achieving compliance with WMO guidelines they write in a ‘Fast Facts’ published online on September 11 – after I wrote a blog post detailing how their latest ‘internal review’ confirmed they were in contravention of international standards.

The Bureau has been insisting for some time that they don’t need to average because they have sensors with a long response time, which actually represent an average value, that is the same as the time constant for a mercury thermometer.

How this is achieved in practice was detailed for the first time in a letter from the new head of the Bureau Andrew Johnson, last Friday.

The letter explains that all the sensors the Bureau uses have been ‘purpose-designed’. I had been requesting manufacture’s specifications, but instead, I received this advice that it’s to Bureau specifications and, by inference, there is no documentation. To be clear, there are also no reports detailing the laboratory and field tests that explain how the custom-built devices have been designed to ‘closely mirrors’ the behaviour of mercury thermometers including the time constants – to quote from Dr Johnson’s letter of last Friday.

 I am not blaming the sensors for being so responsive, just the Bureau for pretending one-second spot-readings from their purpose-designed sensor are comparable with instantaneous readings from mercury thermometers – while providing no proper documentation.

Read it all at The Spectator.

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Politicians “shocked” at the power crisis waiting in the Australian electricity grid

Did some politicans just wake up? The news today is that our Energy Minister may realize Australia is conducting a wild experiment with our electricity grid, and may have managed to convince other Australian federal politicians of the risk.

Coalition MPs shocked by energy threat

The Australian: Robert Gottleibsen (even Gottleibsen gets it).

When Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg walked into the Coalition party room with his energy policy earlier this week he faced a sea of hostile faces. But they left the room shocked. At last, the government politicians understood that Australia faces a long term blackout power crisis the like of which has never been seen in modern times.

It’s one thing to read commentaries warning of what is ahead but another to see a minister use confidential information from independent power authorities and regulators to show the desperate state of affairs that is looming for the nation. And then Frydenberg went to the ALP and showed them the same material.

Frydenberg was, if anything, even more alarming than me …  [says Gottleibsen who wrote about how the "Energy crisis risk is criminal. March 2017"].

Between 2012 and 2017 Australia has built 1,850MW of weather-linked “intermittent capacity” and only 150 MW of “dispatchable capacity”.

At the same time “dispatchable capacity” has been reduced with the closure of coal and gas fired power plants and the failure to maintain existing coal fired plants.

According to the Australian Energy Market Operator back in 2012-13 we had 20 per cent “reserve capacity”— power generation capacity above maximum demand. Currently that’s down to 12 per cent and if the Liddell power station is shut there will be a big shortfall. We therefore face the clear certainty of frequent and long blackouts in all our cities if we do not invest in “dispatchable capacity”.

This graph shows what a fantasy-land most Australian state governments exist in — look at the targets set in Queensland and Victoria. Look at how far gone South Australia is:

Renewables Generation, Australia, states, wind solar power, graph, 2017

State based penetration of solar and wind generation 2017

 

Gottleibsen doesn’t show this graph but here’s the SA Medium term outlook for the next two summers according to the AEMO:

Medium Term Outlook, SA, 2017, 2018, AEMO, electricity generation, supply demand, graph.

Predicted outlook for demand and supply of electricity in South Australia from Nov 2017 – November 2019.

The red bars are the reserve shortfalls predicted to occur in summer next year and the year after. In itself, that doesn’t mean there will be blackouts but it means that SA is likely to be completely dependent on the interconnector to the coal plants in Victoria and the risk of blackouts is higher. SA is not self-sufficient.

The renewables fans must be hoping for a minor La Nina here over summer, so the temperatures are not so high and the air conditioners in Adelaide won’t be pumping, and so the hydro dams may fill.

h/t Dennis.

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Australia’s new NEG National Energy Plan hides a carbon tax, international carbon credits

Carbon markets, carbon trading, climate money, burning carbon credit image. Jo Nova.Graham Lloyd points out we are back where started — a national plan involving international carbon credits:

RepuTex analyst Hugh Grossman says the NEG, in effect, ­will establish a de facto price on greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector.

The government already has indicated that the electricity companies may be able to purchase international or domestic carbon credits to cover any overruns. This remains dangerous political territory for the federal government, which was forced to rule out unequivocally a carbon tax or market-based trading scheme when the ­review was first announced. A crucial decision will be how to manage the safeguards mechanism under which big emitter companies will be curtailed in growing their emissions.

This was the point that played a part in destroying two Prime Ministers here, and one opposition leader –  Turnbull got tossed out in 2009 for Abbott over his support for the emissions trading scheme. Abbott pandered in too many respects to the carbonistas, but he always said emphatically “no” to international carbon credits. If we funnel money offshore for atmospheric nullities over China, we truly get nothing at all in return, and worse, we feed the crony crooks, the financial sharks, the deep UN state. Let’s have more of those!

No job gets created here, no soil gets improved, and no weather gets changed.

Part of this bomb was already in the works Australia already has an ETS – a carbon tax – which started on July 1, 2016. The “safeguard” mechanism isn’t doing a lot because it is set so low, but it is legislated, “ticking”, and can be turned on, ramped up, at any time.

The triple-cleverness of Abbott’s reverse-auction plan

Credit where it is due — the reverse auction idea that Lloyd writes about was an Abbott creation — and it succeeded in three ways.

  1. Was a truly cheap effective and free market way to reduce CO2 emissions.
  2. As a byproduct it improves Australian soils.
  3. It calls the greenie’s bluff — achieving what they said they wanted, which they didn’t like at all: thus showing that they are renewables-industry lobbyists in disguise and don’t care less about the environment. How many greens/conservationists/climate activists spoke up to say they liked the Abbott plan?

Reverse Auctions work: they achieved a carbon price of around $12 a ton. It’s pointless, but much cheaper and more effective than any of the other “Carbon taxes”:

The Emissions Reduction Fund provides incentives for emissions reduction activities across the Australian economy. The government buys credits through a ­reverse auction system. The first four auctions have contracted 178 million tonnes of emissions ­reductions at an average price of $11.83 a tonne.

To date, the environmental lobby largely has failed to embrace the Emissions Reduction Fund scheme, preferring to concentrate on blocking fossil fuel development and lobbying in support of renewable energy.

The reason the enviromental lobby never liked Abbott’s plan is because it reduces CO2 emissions cheaply without intermittent renewables. It cuts support for wind and solar industries because they can’t compete in this auction — they are far too expensive at reducing CO2. Some estimates of the cost of abating carbon with wind were about $60 AUD per ton, and the cost of solar was $700 AUD per ton. (Marcantonini, 2013). The price of carbon reduction at South Australian windfarms was something like $1500 per ton. Perhaps wind and solar have improved a bit since then, but no one can pretend that they are cheaper than the solutions that win the reverse auction. Gillard’s carbon tax was $24/ton and rising, but because it was economy wide, it had all kinds of bad side effects. It was the price of emitting “carbon”, but because it applied to many industries which were already efficient, and couldn’t improve a lot, it took $15 billion from Australians and only abated 2.9 million tons of emissions. So Labor’s carbon price ended up being $5310 per ton.

The plan was an Abbott-the-skeptic compromise: greener than the greens but at the same time, used an actual free market solution, and had some useful outcomes beyond the irrelevant reduction  of CO2.

It was more environmentally friendly than all the Green and Labor proposals because it achieved what they said they wanted to achieve in a more cost effective manner. In theory we could improve the environment more with every dollar spent. The auction is largely a waste of money — because CO2 is beneficial, not pollution and doesn’t control the climate except in minor ways — but as Abbott saw, and Lloyd’s article focusses on, getting carbon into the soil is a Net Good Thing. So the byproduct of the auction claws back some of the money wasted. Australia needs more carbon in our soils.

REFERENCES

Marcantonini and Ellerman (2013)  The cost of abating CO2 emissions by renewable energy incentives in Germany. MIT Centre for Energy and Environmental Policy Research, CEEPR WP 2013-005

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German wind industry “threatening to implode” as subsidies end wiping out half or more of new plants

In Germany as 20 years of wind subsidies comes to an end in 2020, half to three quarters of the industry may disappear.

So many parallels with Australia. The Germans have had wind subsidies for 20 years, but even after two decades of support, the industry is still not profitable on a stand-alone basis. In 2016, some 4600MW of new wind plants were installed, but that may drop to one quarter as much by 2019 as subsidies shrink. According to Pierre Gosselin (August 31st, 2017) there are more wind protests, electricity prices are “skyrocketing” and “the grid has become riddled with inefficiencies and has become increasingly prone to grid collapses from unstable power feed in.”

Pierre Gosslin writes that “Germany is more in the green energy retreat mode”.

German flagship business daily “Handelsblatt” reported … how Germany’s wind energy market is now threatening to implode and as a result thousands of jobs are at risk. José Luis Blanco, CEO of German wind energy giant Nordex, blames the market chaos on “policymakers changing the rules“. Subsidies have been getting cut back substantially. The problem, Blanco says, is that worldwide green energy subsidies are being capped and wind parks as a result are no longer looking profitable to investors. The Handelsblatt writes that “things have never been this bad“.

German wind poewr subsidies, 20 year graph.

Development of Germany’s 20-year guaranteed support rates for onshore wind power. Source: CLEW.

CleanEnergyWire reports that the end of subsidies threatens the profitability of nearly all wind plants due to maintenance costs:

Keep reading  →

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All the major nations are failing to meet their Paris targets says Nature paper

The Magnificent Paris deal was rubbery-theatre, make-of-it-what-you-will, and with rare diligence here is Nature publishing a paper where a team bothered to check progress. (If only Nature held scientific research as accountable as political deals. MBH98 anyone — where Mann’s hockeystick was accepted by Nature, but not the corrections?)

Lo, Nature does a bit of conspiracy thinking:

“It is easy for politicians to make promises to impatient voters and opposition parties. But it is hard to impose high costs on powerful, well-organized groups. No system for international governance can erase these basic political facts. Yet the Paris agreement has unwittingly fanned the flames by letting governments set such vague and unaccountable pledges.”

Suddenly skeptics are powerful and well-organised groups? Somehow the authors, editors, and reviewers all missed that it costs trillions to change the energy system our civilizations were built on, and millions of voters don’t want to pay. The opposition to this is only organised in the sense that we still hold elections.

In 2015, The Guardian said Paris was where “decades of failure were reversed, and a historic agreement reached.”

Skeptics called the Paris Agreement  a “worthless piece of paper”.

In 2017, Nature said: “All major industrialized countries are failing to meet the pledges they made to cut greenhouse-gas emissions”.

Let’s just revel in the Guardian prophetic success:

Since the pledges were overdone, and few nations will meet them, the obvious question for any nation is Why be the Sacrificial Lamb?

Thanks to ClimateDepot, see their choice cuts.

There’s some pretty strong language from Nature:

Nature, Paris targets, all nations failing, graphic. 2017.

Nature, Paris targets, all nations failing, graphic. 2017.

No major advanced industrialized country is on track to meet its pledges to control the greenhouse-gas emissions that cause climate change. Wishful thinking and bravado are eclipsing reality.

No kidding.

Countries in the European Union are struggling to increase energy efficiency and renewable power to the levels that they claimed they would. Japan promised cuts in emissions to match those of its peers, but meeting the goals will cost more than the country is willing to pay. Even without Trump’s attempts to roll back federal climate policy, the United States is shifting its economy to clean energy too slowly.

The Paris deal had voluntary agreements and no enforcement — I can’t think why this didn’t work:

The Paris agreement offered, in theory, to reboot climate diplomacy by giving countries the flexibility to set their own commitments. As of July 2017, 153 countries have ratified the agreement — 147 of which have submitted pledges to reduce emissions, also known as nationally determined contributions. The idea is that as each country implements its own pledge, others can learn what is feasible, and that collaborative global climate protection will emerge. That logic, however, threatens to unravel because national governments are making promises that they are unable to honour.

The only real power to enforce (thankfully) comes from dedicated namecalling. It works on susceptible individuals, but perhaps not so well on whole nations. If only the fear of being called a global pariah could be measured in kilowatt-hours?

The US is cutting emissions faster than pretty much every other nation, but they still aren’t doing enough:

… in 2015, the administration of former president Barack Obama pledged to cut emissions in the United States to 26–28% below 2005 levels by the year 2025. Yet the country was probably only ever on track to cut its emissions by 15–19%.

The US promised big, but that’s an impressive “gap” on the graph (right) between hope and change.

Japan pledged to cut 26% (like the magic number of the Paris convention –  “26″):

But …  the Japanese government is unlikely to meet its aim to supply 20–22% of electricity from carbon-free nuclear power by 2030; our analysis suggests that 15% is more likely. Today, just 5 of the country’s 42 nuclear reactors are producing electricity.

Still infinitely more nuclear power than Australia.

European plans are “extremely ambitious” — did the authors say that before the agreement was made?

 European plans to shrink energy use by 27–30% by the year 2030 compared with the business-as-usual scenario are extremely ambitious. Progress is dogged by the weak building regulations of member countries, poor enforcement of minimum standards and double counting of energy savings from overlapping policies.

Even when taxes are levied, emissions don’t change much — see Korea and Mexico:

Mexico and South Korea have introduced schemes that levy charges on those who use energy and emit carbon dioxide, and other policies aimed at increasing energy efficiency and the adoption of cleaner energy. But emissions are not changing much in either country, calling their pledges into question. If South Korea mothballs many of its nuclear power plants, as the current government has suggested, the gap will only grow.

The authors keep mentioning nukes.

There’s a clue here about complexity and transparency:

Most pledges are almost silent on the range of policies being used, making it difficult to discern which are actually effective. The EU, for example, submitted little information about the complex pledge-implementation process that is already under way. The gap between promise and action is especially large for the strategies that governments are using to boost energy efficiency, for which the real costs are often opaque.

 

h/t ClimateDepot

REFERENCES

David G. Victor, Keigo Akimoto, Yoichi Kaya, Mitsutsune Yamaguchi, Danny Cullenward & Cameron Hepburn (2017) Prove Paris was more than paper promises, Nature 548,    25–27()doi:10.1038/548025a

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Santa’s arrived! Australia drops new Renewables Targets, will meet “Paris”, stop blackouts, reduce costs

This is good news but Turnbull still wants to have the Paris cake and power the fridge with the crumbs

Faced with national bill shock, dismal Newspolls, and even leadership rumors, Turnbull is, at last, dropping the deadweight Finkel Clean Energy Target. The biggest poisoned-band-aid will not be plastered on, though mini bandaids will be.

Too much regulation is never enough and the energy market is still being micromanaged.

Cabinet dumps Clean Energy Target for new ‘affordable, reliable’ power plan

[ABC news] A Clean Energy Target recommended by Australia’s chief scientist will not be adopted, with the Federal Government instead proposing a new plan to bring down electricity prices.

The details have not officially been released, but the ABC understands Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will argue his policy will lower electricity bills more than a Clean Energy Target (CET), while meeting Australia’s Paris climate change commitments.

And they wonder why no one wants to build a coal station here, despite finding 1,600 other places to build them in 62 other countries:

Cabinet is also keen to adopt a generator reliability obligation, which requires three years’ notice of closing a power station, in order to prevent a repeat of the sudden closure of Hazelwood power station in Victoria in March.

The answer to pointless overdone, intrusive and clumsy regulation is apparently to do even more of it:

Power Guarantee to Fix Crisis

[The Australian] Energy retailers will be forced to buy a minimum amount of baseload power from coal, gas or hydro for every megawatt of renewable energy under a drastic intervention into the energy market by the Turnbull government to drive energy bills down by $115 a year.

We forced people to buy renewables, and now we force people to buy the antidote too.

The only subsidies we are ending are the ones that haven’t started yet:

Malcolm Turnbull and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg will today announce a “national ­energy guarantee” as the centrepiece of an energy plan that will end new taxpayer subsidies for ­renewable energy from 2020 and ­impose a 0.2 per cent reliability regulation on retailers to inoculate the system from blackouts and give a lifeline to coal power.

The savings (if they happen) are small compared to the increases:

A senior government source confirmed that the policy signed off by cabinet last night and to be taken to the Coalition partyroom today, is estimated to cut ­retail ­energy bills of between $100 and $115 a year.

We are just aiming to wind back a tiny part of the pain.

John Stone — Abbott simply speaks the truth now that he is free to do so:

[The Australian] …It is those untruths Abbott has called out.

And the response from his critics? Personal abuse, distortion…  the Prime Minister snidely refers to “it being Mental Health Day”; a minister (Josh Frydenberg) who resorts to the self-demeaning criticism that, as prime minister, Abbott defended the renewable energy target and signed up to the Paris Agreement, both of which he now criticises.

Of course he did, because, despite his long-held view that this new paganism was “absolute crap”, a Turnbull-led majority of his cabinet, to their eternal discredit, had gone along with it and tied his hands. Being at last free to speak the truth, should he be mocked for doing so?

The fact is, as Terry McCrann said (The Daily Telegraph, October 12), Abbott’s speech was “a seminal event”.

The global bullies are trying to tar Abbott by reminding everyone of what he said as a PM and contrasting it with what he says now. But it’s unlikely to do much harm.  Millions voted for him when he made a “blood oath” to remove the carbon tax. He didn’t win more over when he spoke with the wooden tones, constrained as PM. Indeed, the critics just give Abbott a chance to talk about why our national conversations are so constrained by the politically correct box…

 To pursue the renewable grail,
With Australia’s great coal wealth for sale,
To be burned up abroad,
Is a policy flawed,
And reduce power prices, would fail.

–Ruairi

h/t David B, Scott of the Pacific, Pat.

PS: Headline edited. Was “Christmas already.” (or something like that). Now it’s “Santa’s arrived”.

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In Australia, even some people with jobs are struggling to pay bills and put food on the table

The Foodbank press release: Financial stress pushing millions of Australians into food insecurity

One in six or, 15% of the Australian population, apparently has experienced “uncertainty” around food in the last 12 months. For some, that’s only one episode in a year but still, in a first world country which is a major food exporter, it’s not a sign of wealth and good times. If the survey is to be believed, fully 9% of Australians are experiencing a food shortage every month or even more often. Surprisingly, half of those experiencing food uncertainty have jobs –  working serfs. Foodbank blames it on living costs — like rent and power bills.

A nation in decline: A ten percent increase in people seeking food relief across the nation

One thing is sure “bill shock” is hurting people, and it’s getting worse:

Foodbank provides food for over 652,000 people a month, however, the front-line charities report that demand for food relief has increased by 10% in the last year and they are forced to turn away 65,000 people every month due to lack of food.

How much does renewable energy contribute? Hard to say — all the factors are confounded and feedbacks flow like spaghetti. Adding unreliable energy adds hidden costs in managing wild  swings in supply, and lack of spinning inertia. We have to have back up storage that we didn’t need before, so add batteries, battery subsidies, hydro storage, and also the inefficiencies for coal generators — which are cheapest and most efficient at constant supply. Then, add the cost of electricity into the cost of all products, so supermarket bills go up. The intermittent generators make us more dependent on gas, and that extra demand pushes up the price of gas too. Higher costs of living mean higher wage claims. Then the extra prices of everything (electricity, food, salaries) force companies out of business or offshore. Because it’s energy we are messing with, the flow-on implications touch everything.

The 10% increase in people seeking food relief applied across all Australian states. But South Australia started from a higher baseline. The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) data shows that the proportion of residential electricity and gas customers on hardship programs in South Australia is twice as high as other states.

But I spoke to a well connected, influential South Australian last week and he tells me people there love renewables — they think they are cheap. We need to tally up the hidden costs.

This graph shows the total electricity generation capacity in each state and it’s breakdown by generation type. Remember, those grey bars are the capacity of “wind power” but the generation from wind sources is only one third or thereabouts of the total “capacity”.

All the states below are connected to the one NEM electrical grid. SA has more renewables than the other states, but this is electricity-sans-borders to some extent. Pain and problems in one state can flow into the grid. Though according to foodbank, the number seeking help has also gone up by the same amount in WA which is not connected to the NEM. A messy problem. The only thing we know for sure is that when we had hardly any renewables, we had cheaper electricity.

Electricity by generation source, Australian states, AER, 2017. Graph.

Electricity by generation source, Australian states, AER, 2017. Graph. (I don’t think rooftop solar gets counted at all here). Solar probably means only large solar projects, which make almost nothing — See the dark blue bar in NSW.

For completeness: those unemployment statistics:

Unemployment, States of Australia, November 2016.

The end of the mining boom in WA increased the unemployment rate and may also explain the increase in hardship cases and unpaid bills.

In South Australia the Advertiser picked up the issue. Read more from Eric Worrall at WattsUp and Scott of the Pacific.

MORE than 102,000 South Australians seek help from food charity Foodbank every month, as parents skip meals for days on end so children can eat and utility bills can be paid, astonishing figures show.

Foodbank SA chief executive Greg Pattinson said the high number of those needing assistance was staggering, but not surprising, because more and more SA families were being forced to make the heartbreaking decision to either “heat or eat”.

“We’ve heard it from so many people; the power bills come in and they have to decide: ‘Do we feed the kids today or do we not?’” he said.

– Adelaide Now. (Paywalled)

The Foodbank 2017 report (PDF)

As as aside — one Foodbank recipient, Steve in Melbourne, wondering why the media is talking about Trump instead of about hungry Australians:

I’ve worked voluntarily for the Uniting Church and The Salvos so I’ve got a lot of food parcels from them and obviously I want to put back in as well. There’s more on our news about Donald Trump and what he’s doing in America than there is about hungry people in Australia. How is that even in the hemisphere of right? That just doesn’t make sense.”

 The media are part of the problem. The deplorables are the ones going hungry.

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Weekend Unthreaded

Castle Rock, SW WA

Rainbow over Castle Rock, Oct 2017.

We had a few days away last week in Geographe Bay, SW WA thanks to the kindness of a supporter. Miles of quiet beaches for those who don’t like crowds. :-)

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