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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Mystery: Australian electricity costs rise six times faster than wages – up another 12%

More bad luck for the renewables industry. Despite providing free energy from the sun and wind, electricity prices keep rising relentlessly, shockingly fast. Even doubling in wholesale costs in South Australia and Victoria.

It was supposed to be cheap to collect low-level-energy across hundreds of thousands of square kilometers. Who knew that subsidized, unreliable energy would induce volatile pricing, allow the players to game the system, create obscene spikes, drive out the cheapest providers, require expensive battery storage, more frequency control, more maintenance, just as much back up supply, $400 million dollars worth of extra diesel generators (and the rest) and extra long transmission lines? Who knew? — Probably thousands of engineers.

Spot the pattern? Every other nation with lots of renewables has expensive electricity and our forward market says there’s more price rises coming.

Australian electricity prices rising six times faster than wages are growing

Sydney Morning Herald

Electricity prices have jumped by six times the rate of the average pay rise, new figures reveal, as family wallets are increasingly squeezed by essential services such as education, utilities and fuel.

The most significant price rises were electricity, up 12.4 per cent, fuel up 10.4 [...]

Midweek Unthreaded

Ideas that don’t belong…

Eucalyptus trees cope fine with extreme heatwaves, defy climate models, survive 50C temps

What happens to a poor tree when you withhold rain for a whole month, then hit it with four days in a row of 43C temperatures? It was so hot, some of the leaves on these trees got close to 49-50 °C.

In at least one gum species in Australia, the answer is “not much”. They suck up lots of water from their deep roots and sweat it out til the heatwave passes. The trees become evaporative coolers “siphoning up” water. They cope so well, that not only did the trees not die, but their trunk and height growth were unaffected. Indeed, only about 1% of the leaf area even exhibited browning.

Whole tree chambers in Richmond, New South Wales, Australia. Twelve 9-m-tall chambers in a field setting (a) enclose the canopies of individual Eucalyptus parramattensis trees rooted in soil (b). Two heatwave chambers can be seen on the left of the infrared image, along with several control chambers (c; temperature in °C).

But with global warming running at a heady 0.13C per decade, you might wonder how many years will it take for the trees to adapt?

From the paper — “one day”:

The gums rapidly [...]

Political Vandals: Victoria, the diesel state, bans, hides, cheap cleaner gas, blames fuses, air conditioners

How much do we hate Lignite Gas?

Victoria is suffering the largest rises in wholesale electricity prices in the country, as it sits on large gas fields that it won’t touch. Why — geniuses hope to reduce global droughts and floods and sea level in 2100.

Robert Gottleibsen savages the state governments that conducted the renewables experiment without mentioning the real costs or the cheap alternatives.

If Victoria allowed its gas to be developed the energy scene in Australia would be transformed, as would the outlook for the nation.

But that’s not much consolation for those in vast areas of rural NSW and Victoria plus suburban Melbourne and small areas of South Australia who suffered blackouts or reduced power on Sunday night. It’s true part of the outages were caused by fuses, but the outages were too widespread. It’s another smokescreen.

If similar conditions are repeated on weekdays and/or extend over several days the blackouts will be devastating as a result of the political vandalism. Government spin doctors and others are desperately trying to conceal the truth about the damage governments headed by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (plus her predecessors [...]

Melbourne: 42,000 homes in dark, no fans left at Kmart. Power outages due to “secret” air conditioners?

Melbourne Skyline at night…Image: Alfred Glickman

The temperature reached 38C in Melbourne (100F) on Sunday — something it has probably done most summers since 10,000BC.

CitiPower, Powercor and the United Energy spokeswoman Emma Tyner said that as of 9.25pm, about 41,190 homes were without power across those three networks. – Sydney Morning Herald

Now why would that be? Ms Tyner puts a lack of supply in the nicest possible way:

“The extreme heat has significantly increased electricity use and this has resulted in localised power outages,” Ms Tyner said.

It’s not that governments didn’t plan energy policy — it’s the users who wanted too much (i.e your fault.) Though Victorians used to use more power than this.  On Sunday, peak electricity demand was 9,124MW, about 13% less than the all time peak of 10,496MW in 2009. (In case you are wondering, Hazelwood (now closed) produced 1600MW or about 25% of Victorian baseload power.)

Mr Armstrong from Ausnet Services (another power company) blamed unreported air conditioners:

“There are a lot fuses blowing in the hot weather and a significant power pull with people having put in air-conditioners they didn’t tell us about,” Mr Armstrong said. — The [...]

Trump landmark Davos speech “unleashes hell” on vampire squid, crony, self serving globalists

Trump — speaking Truth to power. Creating 2.4million jobs. The networking parasites will hate it.

The full text of his speech at Davos.

UPDATE: Worth watching. He is quite the statesman. He could have used the economic success to laud himself, to scorn those who mocked him, but instead he is saying — This is what we’re doing. It’s working brilliantly. You can do it too. He’s talking about how tax cuts and lower regulation have created a flood of investment to the US.  In the audience are a group of people who may well mock him, but they are quietly thinking, “how do we catch up”. Trump has created a race, and all the investment that flows into the US is coming from all the nations sitting in the audience.

h/t Martin Clarke

James Delingpole marks the Trump appearance as historic, inspirational:

Apocalypse Trump Is Unleashed on Davos We knew something apocalyptic was coming in Davos today. Those tactically released photographs of President Trump arriving by helicopter with his entourage were the giveaway: the silhouetted choppers strung out in extended line in the orange-yellow light above the mountains.

Why, if you’d listened carefully, you might almost have [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

Sorry, busy today.

South Australia blows up cheap electricity, jobs, wealth, in ideological anti-coal quest

Today the South Australian government destroyed the smoke stack of the Playford B Plant, one more part of what’s left of the cheapest base-load electricity generators in the state.

For about $8 million a year over three years, they could have kept some coal power going and wouldn’t have needed to spend $400 million on emergency diesel generators they don’t want to use, and over $100 million on a battery that can supply 4% of the state for one hour. They also would’ve paid less than $120 million for two days of electricity last week.

On the upside, they can feel good and pretend to be “world leaders”. Virtue signalling is expensive, eh?

….

The plant employed 185 people, the coal mine 200. Other businesses in the town, who knows? People are leaving.

SA, a star in the race away from being a competitive, powerhouse rich state. Creating wealth and jobs in China.

Last South Australian coal-fired power station demolition nears completion

The Australian, Luke Griffiths:

The concrete and brick structure at the 240MW Playford B power station, named after long-serving South Australian premier Sir Thomas Playford and mothballed in 2012, leaves only [...]

Lewandowsky’s genius solution to Fake News — Ban it and do cheap smears!

Our old friend Stephan Lewandowsky has had a brain wave:  h/t to Geoff Chambers and Barry Woods.

 This Bristol academic thinks he has the solution to fake news

A Bristol professor has told MPs they have the power to put a stop to fake news appearing on Facebook and other social media platforms.

It is possible for a regulation or law to be passed that tells those IT giants how to behave,” said the cognitive scientist,…

Knock me over. Who would have thought of that – apart from every dictator and tyrant for the last 5,000 years?

His big new idea has been done before:

…libraries in the Soviet Union were repeatedly purged of all books deemed “harmful”. … between 1930 and 1932, libraries lost sixty percent more of their stock that was already purged at least three times.

So Lewandowsky has turned up to the UK Parliament to tell politicians what politicians have known since 3,000BC.

But his new job title is oh-so-apt:

Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, an expert in “misinformation” at Bristol University, said MPs could bring in laws to prevent anything that amounted to “hate speech” – a move already [...]

Midweek Unthreaded

Got a stray thought?

Who would have thought? Nations with more renewables have more expensive electricity

The Mystery: The most resource rich nation on Earth has the highest electricity prices?!

Ask anyone and get confused: It’s poles and wires, gaming of the system by capitalist pigs, excessive taxes, privatization, and record gas prices. The CleanEnergy Council  tells us that Australia has one of the longest electricity networks in the world — we need lots of poles! And so we do. But once upon a time Australia had the cheapest electricity in the world and we still had lots of poles. Not only were miles of poles and wires, there were also capitalist pigs, excessive taxes, and privatized generators. There were wild gas price spikes too, (during which we probably just burned more coal).

Evidently, something else has changed. Something seismic that wiped out all the bids below $50/MWh. 

Perhaps it has something to do with the 2,106 turbines in 79 wind farms that on random windy days might make 4,325MW that didn’t exist in Australia in 1999 when electricity was cheap and our total national wind power was 2.3 megawatts?

Another clue might be the 1.8 million new solar PV installations, which theoretically generate 7 gigawatts of electricity at noon on cloudless days if all [...]

Madness and misinformation in renewables-land: South Australia brags they didn’t have to “load shed”

Hope foreign readers are enjoying the spectacle of a first world nation destroying its competitive advantage with renewables. Hope that helps you avoid the same fate.

Praise the lord, states without coal don’t have to load-shed-industry (because they don’t have much left):

The South Australian Treasurer is bragging that SA didn’t have to shed any industry load on Friday, but the coal state of Victoria did. Pull the other one:

“In terms of supply we should be okay,” he [the SA Treasurer] said.

“Victoria I understand is about to load shed industry. So they’re not coping with the power supply.

“They are a coal-dependent state and they are having to take industry offline to support their households. In South Australia we’re not having to do that today.” — h/t A H

The Treasurer didn’t mention that SA shed the load already over the last two years by driving heavy manufacturers out of business, and out of the state. Let’s name some:

Gone from the SA power load: Mitsubishi, GMH, Plastics Granulating Services (Recyclers), Caroma (76 jobs) after 79 years in business, Penrice, Arnotts biscuits (120 jobs), Aldinga Turkeys (79), ACI Glass (60 [...]

Bonfire Electricity Bills! Two day heat wave burns nearly $400m: $45 per head in Vic, $70 each in SA.

While geniuses are bragging that the Australian grid survived two normal hot summer days without falling over, they don’t mention the flaming spectacle of the cost.

Tom Quirk and Paul Miskelly, after a couple of suggestions from me, have calculated the full staggering electricity bill at $119m for SA and $267m for Victoria, making it nearly a $400 million dollar bonfire — for two days that were neither the hottest ever, or records for peak electricity use.  See their work and details below.

To put this in perspective, a whole new gas plant could have been built for around $230 million. Instead of vaporising this money, Australians could have constructed one whole new gas generation plant, paid it off, and had money left over to give away free electricity.

Every household of four in Victoria just lost something like $170 of productivity for two days of electricity, and in South Australia, $280. Respectively, $45 per Victorian and $70 per South Australian. While businesses also share this burden, ultimately companies are made of people, and this is productivity lost to both states. The losers are shareholders, customers, and employees. Some will be interstate, but the pain flows back. The price is [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

….

Peak heat: Electricity prices lifting off; industry shutting off in Australia. Hospitals switching off lights, “Code Yellow Alert”.

UPDATE: MELBOURNE hospitals are enacting emergency procedures to prepare for the potential loss of power. Hospitals are switching off non-essential electrical equipment, including some lights, to minimize energy use. This is a “Code Yellow” alert asking hospitals to check their back up generators are ready.  The Victorian Minister insists this is not about the “threat” of blackouts, but because hospitals need to be “good corporate citizens”. Pull the other one. At the very least, this is about reducing electricity bills.   h/t Chris in Hervey Bay.

See further UPDATES on “The art of blaming coal” at the bottom.

How much fun can you have? The AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator) projects that as temperatures hit 42C in Victoria, prices are forecast to rise over 100 fold. The AEMO is furiously busy issuing market notices.

The ABC tells us it is 42C, that Portland Alumina has reduced production, but for an ‘undisclosed price’ (why can’t taxpayers know what they are paying this group, not to produce aluminium today?) Meanwhile the AEMO has put the RERT plan into action: “Under the RERT scheme, AEMO has contracted 884 megawatts of “demand side response” across Victoria, NSW and South Australia.” [...]