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The Australian magical NEG target which turns black coal to white elephants

Australia is figuring out how to change the global climate and power up the nation. It’s the old “have cake: eat cake: sell cake and build a sea-wall with cake” dilemma. The PM, Malcolm Turnbull, has come up with a plan called the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), which will manage to hurt the environment, jobs and industry at the same time.

Who benefits? Gas companies, Renewables Co. Who loses? Everyone else.

One of the key ideas is that we should have an average emissions target of 0.4 magical tons of CO2 per MWh, because “storms”. Tom Quirk has laid out our current situation below and how (theoretically) we might meet that target. (Especially if clouds start raining money, thinks Jo, preferably in USD and filling Lake Eyre.)

The “good news” is that South Australia can stop already, it’s there. The bad news is that the rest of Australia will need to catch up with South Australia, including the size of the electricity bills (and then some).

In 12 years Australia needs to shut nearly every single coal plant thus turning black coal into white elephants. The one last black coal plant or two will operate barely at break-even point, sitting on a utilization rate of 68% (thereby doing nothing 32% of the time, and being a part time white-elephant).

By 2030 we “need” to build four times as many wind farms as we already have. And four times as many gas plants. Somehow we need to get six times as much gas as we already use and do that without fracking or even exploring for gas in some states where both are banned. Since the Northern Territory has just permitted fracking perhaps we can get it all from there.  Especially if the NT drillers can  get the horizontal frack pipes to extend 2,000 miles underground.

Thanks to Tom for all the data and calculations, and to all the people who helped him.

– Jo

____________________________________

Guest Post by Tom Quirk

NEG – The white elephant in the room

When the King of Siam wished to rid himself of a troublesome courtier, he would send a white elephant as a first sign of oncoming ruin.  Our federal government has served up a troublesome elephant of a plan, the NEG that might ruin our country.

The information used in this analysis is sourced from the Department of the Environment and Energy, Australian Energy Statistics, and gives the sources of electricity generation for the calendar year 2017.  The generation plant data comes from the AEMO.

This note will explore what could happen were one of the key conditions of the NEG was actually met – the condition that CO2 emissions from electricity generation should move to average 0.4 tonnes of CO2 per megawatt hour of electrical energy.

South Australia has already achieved this NEG goal but at great cost to consumers whether domestic or business.

The table below lays out the mix of generators. Coal fired generation has ceased, wind farm energy takes priority in the market and the inter-connectors to the Victorian power system keeps South Australia from having too many blackouts by supplying some 15% of demand.

Renewables meet 37% of demand while Victoria supplies 15% and the NEG target is achieved with an average of 0.38 tonnes CO2 per MWh.

 

NEG, South Australia, generation, Table.

So turning to the other states, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and Victoria that are in the National Energy Market, the table below is for the same period as the South Australian analysis above.

In these states renewables generate 15% of supply with half coming from hydro plants. Coal and gas provide 85% of supply and the CO2 emissions average of 0.89 0.78 tonnes CO2 per MWh is well above the NEG target of 0.4 tonnes CO2 per MWh.

 

NEG, Table, NSW, Tas, Qld, Vic, Generation.

….

So what might happen if this same energy were to be generated under the NEG target of 0.4 tonnes CO2 per MWh?

The final table shows what changes to generator plant might be made up to 2030 to reach the NEG emission target while generating the same energy as in 2017.

 

NEG, Table, Generation, renewables, 2030, NSW, Vic, Tas, Qld.

NEG, Table, Generation, renewables, 2030, NSW, Vic, Tas, Qld.

A comparison of the present and the desired outcome points to the following:

  •  15,000 MW of black coal burning power stations have been closed. This leaves 3,000 MW of plant that operate with 71% utilisation (in AEMO speak – Capacity Factor). For low cost base load power, these plants need 70% or more utilisation, ideally 87% (IEA figure).
  •  1,000 MW of brown coal burning power station (Loy Yang B) remains in Victoria. As a base load power station it will only supply 25% of the steady 4,000 MW demand during the early morning hours in Victoria.
  •  Natural gas usage has increased six-fold with a four-fold increase in plant, much of it OCGT (Open Cycle Gas Turbine). Generators are no longer simply meeting demand changes in periods of high demand but are having to meet sudden changes from intermittent supply sources. How the extra gas will be sought is a mystery with governments stopping the search for new gas sources. Perhaps LNG will be shipped from Queensland or Western Australia.
  •  Wind farms have increased from 2,600 to 10,000 MW. The Victorian government wants to add 4,000 MW of wind farm. This is sufficient to destroy the high utilisation necessary for baseload generation. Other states may be just as ambitious. The southern states of New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria all share common weather patterns so there will be periods where correlated wind farm generation will fall towards zero. This has already been seen. No allowance for backup supply has been considered in this analysis but new inter-connections will not be much help balancing coherent wind power variations.
  •  Hydro has been increased assuming “Snow you too” is built. This scheme, like batteries in South Australia, depends on buying low and selling high where you must buy 20% more energy than you sell. If there is little baseload pricing in the wholesale market this may be an NBN-like venture as the operating surplus will have to meet financing costs.
  •  Small scale solar photo voltaic systems are a completely uncontrollable source of demand variation. Encouraged by direct state grants this has been a religious indulgence for the better-off.

No attempt has been made to estimate the costs for these changes or the prices consumers would pay. But if South Australia is setting an example then the prices will be amongst the highest in the world. The consequence will be smelters closing and other energy intensive processes moving elsewhere in the world.

The conclusion from this analysis is that the political and policy-making class have taken us and the white elephant into a labyrinth of regulations that will further disrupt electricity supply. Whether we meet the Minotaur or the elephant, like Theseus has a piece of string to help us escape remains to be seen.

*Edited 6pm with more accurate numbers, highlighted in tables.

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57 comments to The Australian magical NEG target which turns black coal to white elephants

  • #
    Lionell Griffith

    The day after tomorrow comes the modern version of the stone age: you can use rocks for whatever you want but you can’t use fire, eat plants, or kill animals.

    210

    • #
      James Murphy

      I don’t think this will be seen as making enough effort. Moving rocks around may adversely affect a hitherto unknown, but pre-emptively endangered species.

      Also, banging rocks together may cause others too much stress, and result in the need for yet more safe spaces…

      140

      • #
        Lionell Griffith

        You might be right. I was being much too benevolent toward our self elected green elite. They are expecting humans to become endangered and eventually extinct.

        70

        • #
          • #
            OriginalSteve

            Correct. There needs to be an artificial “crisis” to solve.

            War and bio “things” are favoured population reduction mechanisms….but then there is always starvation too. Stalin used that well against the Ukraine to those who opposed him in the 1930s.

            Now ponder why when this really starts to bite, why we have schools functioning as holding centres with 2m high spiked fences around them? In the USA FEMA builds these places, in Australian there would be outcry if we did it, so they cook up some “vandalism” story and then quietly re-purpose schools to process those who would object to having their country deliberately ruined.

            Also ponder this – if we start seeing UN “peacekeeping” troops turn up in Australia due to unrest ( likely American, as is I believe the plan to be ), and foreigner troops will shoot the locals, but local troops wont. Stalin also learned this. Don’t forget too the Brits pioneered concentration camps against the Boers, so the global Establishment memory is quite extensive.

            30

  • #
    RicDre

    “…we might meet that target. (Especially if clouds start raining money, thinks Jo, preferably in USD and filling Lake Eyre.)”

    Since were are talking about using USD, we might want to fill Lake Erie instead, though that lake is pretty shallow. Perhaps Lake Superior would be a better choice.

    70

    • #
      Another Ian

      While the subject is on lakes:-

      The other day I saw this definition:-

      “A boat is a hole in the water through which you pour money”

      30

    • #

      RicDre – let’s be pragmatic. It’s true Lake Eyre is only 9,500km2, smaller than Lake Erie, but it has two big advantages: 1/ It’s usually dry and 2/ It’s in Australia – I don’t think New Yorkers will leave a lake full of money laying around for us to collect.

      40

  • #
    Yonniestone

    What has to be conveyed to the public is the entire sordid tale, the folly of emissions (CO2) reduction, the expensive use/idea of “renewables”, the toxic renewables mess to be left for generations, the driving out of private industry, the increased strain on remaining non-renewable fuel generators, the impacts of large national grid failures.

    Negligence, sabotage, idiocy, grab the thesaurus and select any option.

    240

    • #
      William

      On the subject of renewables, the graph should include the amount of CO2 emitted by those renewables – all of which require huge amounts of coal for their manufacture and construction, and for their maintenance and future decommissioning.

      180

      • #
        ivan

        William, what future decommissioning? They are just going to be left where they are to rust away some time in the future. As with all things ‘green’ the problems created are going to be left for the great grandchildren to clean up.

        20

    • #
      OriginalSteve

      Correct.

      Think of this way –

      ( PROBLEM ) The powers that be that “just happen to” let the grid run down while stuffing it full of stupid renewables.
      ( REACTION ) Power instability suddenly realized – oh the horror ( feign mock horror, back of hand to brow…exit stage left… )
      ( SOLUTION ) Create the NEG which guarantees a strait jacket around our economy. Planned solution.

      Problem-Reaction-Solution methodology.

      Weve been had…..

      120

  • #
    Mark M

    How many renewables must Australia build before Australia prevents it’s first record cold caused by Global Warming …

    ABC weatherman assures freezing viewers that record-low temperatures still mean global warming -

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUUzVPW5YF8&feature=youtu.be

    120

  • #
    Just Thinkin'

    Is the third graph correct?

    60

  • #
    John F. Hultquist

    The final table shows – - -

    The same as the table before it.
    Or maybe I need new glasses.

    90

  • #
    RobK

    Thanks Tom and Jo.
    Questions: Does the 0.4 kgCO2/MWh for gas fired electricty generation include fugitive CO2 released to bring the raw gas upto spec? Is that figure for open or closed circuit gas fired electricity?
    Seperately, as I understand it Snowy 2.0 will in effect increase storable water but only utilize existing installed turbine capacity, is this correct?

    30

    • #
      Ve2

      Every Kw of stored water requires 1.2kw of energy to pump the water uphill.

      60

    • #

      Bringing gas into service should include CO2 emissions during the gas extraction phase, which in the case of the WA’s Gorgen Field is about 50%. Yep 50% of all Gorgen gas is CO2 which vented to directly to atmosphere in the first gas processing amine facility. Of course this venting to atmosphere should be reflected in Australia’s CO2 inventory but is not.
      Just another example of post modern fAKE facts

      20

  • #
    Jonesy

    This time, the jellyback isnt opposition leader and will deliver on what he supported in 2009. Will this happen again?

    We can only hope and pray.

    70

  • #
    Roy Hogue

    What has Malcolm been drinking? This sounds more like pink elephants.

    70

    • #
      OriginalSteve

      Malcolm is a Rhodes Scholar. Cecil Rhodes championed world govt. To be Rhodes scholar you had to “sign up” to the whole deal….

      You have your answer.

      50

  • #
    Graeme No.3

    I notice that the usual green lie about biomass not emiting CO2 when burnt is included in the tables. Enough surely to depose SA from the list of “green successes”.

    130

  • #
    Robber

    Will wait to see the correct Table 3 before commenting. But see my comment #2 on Midweek Unthreaded on wacky wind “weckenomics”.

    30

  • #
    angry

    THis is ANOTHER CARBON (dioxide) TAX !

    More greenie BS!!

    60

  • #
    Robber

    The correct Table 3 is here

    10

    • #
      Robber

      I’m not sure a 2030 scenario with 120,000 GWhr (13,700 MW) generation of gas is feasible without rapid exploration and fracking.
      What would an alternative scenario look like with more renewables and more storage as clearly that’s where our leftists/greenies want to take us?

      50

    • #
      manalive

      Thanks Robber.
      Looking at WUWT tables:
      According to table 1 the total generation for SA incl. interconnector is 16,404 GWh.
      According to table 2 the total generation for NSW, Qld, Tas and Vic is 202,672 GWh.
      According to table 3 the total generation forNSW, Qld, Tas and Vic 2030 with NEG target is 202,672 GWh.
      There appears to be no allowance for population or economic growth.
      I think it may be ‘worse than we thought’.

      60

      • #
        Terry

        “There appears to be no allowance for population or economic growth.”

        Ummm, rapidly increasing population to be offset by rapidly declining economic growth for a “neutral” effect on carbon emissions.

        Similar to the rapidly increasing moral euphoria to be offset by the rapidly declining living standards equation.

        In this equation, THEIR moral euphoria increases at the expense of YOUR declining living standards.

        A really tough job being “moral” you know.

        40

  • #
    John in Oz

    Tables 2 and 3 are still the same

    Please amend so that we can get really upset.

    Fixed. Apologies. – Jo

    30

    • #
      John in Oz

      For my own edification, what is the time zone these comments are stamped with?

      My comment above was posted at 08:04AM (SA time) but shows 09:24AM. We are only 1/2hr (+ 10 years) behind the Eastern states so where does the other hour come from?

      [John, the timestamp on the comments corresponds to a random point in the coral sea that is slowly moving eastwards at about 10 minutes a year. Due to a wordpress bug, it is now Brisbane time plus 50 mins. Sigh! - Jo

      60

      • #
        Robber

        I just posted at 8.54 am Eastern, but it shows as 9.44am. See my #13 for where you can find correct Table 3 at WUWT.

        30

  • #
    Kinky Keith

    One of the glaring omissions shows up in the table where renewables, by definition more than anything else, are given a Zero for CO2/KWh.

    This is the way the world is pushed to see the situation but this is looking at only the middle stage of three involved.
    To produce electricity you must construct the plant, then run it and lastly demolish it and make the environment safe.

    Voters have been conned into accepting the media portrayal of a small Wind farm and or solar field as the innocuous intruder in comparison with the gigantic coal fired power station.

    Problem is that reality is that for renewables to produce as much reliable power as constant coal, you need to have thousands of these “innocuous” renewables plants.

    I have no doubt that the mass of concrete, metal and toxic materials involved in producing one kWh of electricity is far greater than similar produced by coal plants.

    The renewables are not, in fact, environmentally friendly.

    An illustration of this is the field of dead Wind Turbines in the USA, where 14,000 of these money eating monsters have sat now for years, a blight on the landscape and the environment.

    The only true assessment of CO2 per kWh is a full assessment of the cradle to grave lifecycle of electricity generators.

    One little acknowledged point is the amount of ore that has to be processed to extract a handful of the rare Earth elements used in the turbines and solar panels. The CO2 debt, in just that initial process is enormous and then the many concrete bases required.
    The most environmentally friendly power generation is Coal Fired equipment.
    Cradle to grave.

    A telling concept, that underscores the deceit involved in pushing Renewables forward as cheap and environmentally friendly.

    Anything but.

    KK

    130

  • #
    PeterS

    There is already more than enough evidence to show the obvious outcome of the energy policies of the two major parties, intentional or not, is a crash and burn of the Australian economy. It’s not even enough for another party to come forward and explain the real crisis we would experience in the years ahead if we continue with such energy polices, and not fake crisis due to some a mythical catastrophic global warming event some decades away that now has been debunked in some scientific quarters. Such a party already exists but lacks public support and will take far too long for the message to trickle down to the gullible public. So now all hope is on this NEG that’s still under development. Let’s wait and see if it makes sense or not and meets with Abbott’s approval or not. If not there is only one solution remaining – replace Turnbull with another leader that would turn things around before the next election. It’s time for common sense and reality.

    50

    • #

      Yes and yes. It is difficult not to descend
      into bitterness at the perfidity of green blob
      cupidity ‘n sheeple stupidity. We are all
      South Australians now… will the last one l
      eaving the building please switch off the light
      …oh wait!

      50

  • #
    Kinky Keith

    Yonnie @3

    Has got it ALL.

    Now, how to get the message out, that’s the big one.

    KK

    20

    • #
      OriginalSteve

      Talk to mates in the pub, friends at the kids footy game, at dinner parties…..the world will get out.

      It needs to be 30 seconds or less ( which is about the average smartphone-trained attention span these days ) and leave them feeling uneasy…..

      50

  • #
    Lance

    What the Public needs to be informed of is this:

    If AU proceeds with their 2030 goal, the economy will crash on/near 2025.
    Who will pay all of the unemployment benefits and social costs?

    Going down this road is a fools errand. Life and economics are harsh teachers.

    Reality laughs last.

    80

  • #
    Ve2

    How has South Australia achieved this fantasy outcome when they are sucking black and brown coal fired electricity from Queensland, NSW and Victoria.
    Don’t say battery because it charges up at night using cheap brown coal and flogs it off during the day at premium rates.

    70

  • #
    PeterPetrum

    Excellent article – thank you Jo and Tom. This is one to keep and to give to one’s “groupthink” acquaintances – probably won’t convince them though.

    60

  • #
    Terry

    Can anyone explain why “Clean Energy” (“renewables”) are given “zero” CO2/MWh as if their production, transport, installation, maintenance, retirement and disposal somehow occur by “magic”?

    80

  • #
    RickWill

    The term “renewable” is a misnomer in relation to electricity generation. It should never be used to describe energy collected from ambient sources.

    The only means we have to build generators that make use of ambient energy is by using fossil or nuclear fuels.

    There is no reason for continuing this deception by giving the word “renewable” more air.

    30

  • #
    george

    Is commenting on electricity price and availability “racist”? <:o)

    10