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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Ontario’s government cancels 758 Solar and Wind contracts

 Someone finally found a way to reduce electricity bills with solar and wind contracts

TORONTO — Ontario’s new Progressive Conservative government is cancelling 758 renewable energy contracts, in what it says is an effort to reduce electricity bills in the province.

Energy Minister Greg Rickford said the move will save provincial ratepayers $790 million — a figure industry officials dispute, saying it will just mean job losses for small business.

In a statement Friday, Rickford said the government plans to introduce legislation during its summer sitting that would protect hydro consumers from any costs incurred from the cancellation.

“For 15 years, Ontario families and businesses have been forced to pay inflated hydro prices so the government could spend on unnecessary and expensive energy schemes,” Rickford said. “Those days are over.”

Opponents complained that this would cost jobs. Obviously they forget the Green job multiplier: for every Green job lost 3 – 5 real jobs will be created.

Renewables fans said this will lead to big lawsuits and called it a war on science. What they did not say was how this was an opportunity missed because all these projects would be profitable selling [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

Turnbull to consider new Coal power in Australia (ten years too late)

Last week only fringe loonies who were clinging to a dead technology were calling for a coal revival (mock mock mock). But now that the ACCC has spent months investigating and 400 pages reporting, they discovered that Tony Abbott and Craig Kelly and the Monash group were, hey, all right all along.

This is Turnbulls get-out-of-jail card, if he used it as an excuse to be sensible. He has in the past taken those cards and set fire to them. In a best case, he might, with arm twisted in a one-spare-seat-government, “build new coal” sometime in the far distant future, but whatever he does he won’t do anything other than minor hand waving about the Crony Green-Theft runaway train profits.

Turnbull weighs coal fix for energy wars

Simon Benson and Ben Packham, The Australian

A proposal for the federal government to financially guarantee the construction and operation of new dispatchable power generation, which could include clean coal-fired plants, is expected to be taken to cabinet with the backing of the Prime Minister.

Malcolm Turnbull yesterday confirmed he would seriously consider the key recommendation of a report by the competition watchdog to underwrite and [...]

Post Hazelwood: Snowy Hydro dam now three quarters empty

They’re running our largest Hydro Lake down

The large Hazelwood Coal Units closed a year ago,  so the Snowy Mountain Hydro Scheme has been working hard to fill the holes in the unreliable generation that replaced it. And they’ve been collecting tidy profits from earning RET certificates too.

What could possibly go wrong?

This — levels of Lake Eucumbene have fallen to 24%. This is the lowest since 2010. It’s not the lowest ever (so that’s alright then).

The rain will just fill it right up, unless there is an El Nino. Don’t look now… Odds are “above average”.

Who I say, who could have predicted this?!

Graham Lloyd, The Australian

Snowy Hydro’s biggest storage dam has fallen to less than 25 per cent capacity due to poor rains and high electricity generation following the closure of the ­Hazelwood coal power station in Victoria.

Lake Eucumbene is now at its lowest level since 2010 and on its way to a repeat of 2007 when electricity generation had to be stopped in favour of a heavily ­polluting fossil-fuel generator in Victoria.

The Hydro chief said they had been generating more to “take advantage of tight [...]

Ten years late the ACCC says rooftop solar deals must stop

The ACCC is a powerful body created to protect consumers in Australia. Now, after ten years of poor people being forced to pay for middle and upper class solar panels in a kind of semi-secret subsidy-tax, NOW, it says maybe it is time to stop?


Competition watchdog calls for solar subsidies to be axed

Ben Packham, Sam Buckingham-Jones, The Australian

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s electricity affordability report reveals the huge cost of environmental schemes across the National Energy Market, including the large-scale renewable energy target, the small-scale renewable energy scheme and solar feed-in tariffs.

The schemes add a combined $170 to household energy bills in South Australia, $155 in Tasmania, $109 in NSW, $93 in Victoria and $76 in Queensland.

 The ACCC waffles some reasons:

The ACCC said the costs associated with the LRET were expected to fall significantly after 2020, and did not recommend any action to wind up the scheme before its 2030 end date. But it said the SRES, which cost $130 million in 2016-17, should be wound down and abolished by 2021, almost a decade ahead of schedule, to reduce costs for consumers.

When [...]

Midweek Unthreaded

This isn’t Soft Brexit; it is Remain by another name

“Truly heading for the status of colony”

Britain is suddenly very interesting (for the eight hundredth time in the History of Western Civilization). It’s a defining moment. Fans of the establishment didn’t want Brexit,  so they tried a scare campaign, which failed. They tried on a second vote and legal means, and namecalling “xenophobic isolationist” — all the usual. Anything but a polite list of good reasons to stay in (something to counter the brilliant Daniel Hannan’s points, not to mention the happy existence of Switzerland and Norway). Now they wear the cloak and try the Remain By Stealth option (like our Carbon Tax by Stealth). Call it Brexit but make the reality the same. It is an absolute scandal for the working class and poor in the UK. Hence the string of resignations…

The peasants don’t want people in Brussels deciding what kind of hair dryer and vacuum cleaner they may buy.

James Delingpole is in fine form as a spokesperson for the downtrodden:

Brexit, it is now becoming clear, was our Peasants’ Revolt in more ways than one.

It was our Peasants’ Revolt in the sense that it was an uprising [...]

Hydro storage is an anti-generator that destroys 20-30% of the electricity fed into it

We’re planning to spend $5,000 million on something to smooth out the bumps from unreliable generators. It is entirely unnecessary in a system where coal supplies the baseload and we have not created artificial rules forcing people to use green electrons in preference over stable and predictable ones. Most estimates of costs from wind and solar ignore the hidden costs — the destructive effect on the whole grid.

Wikipedia on Pumped Storage Hydroelectricity:

“the round-trip energy efficiency of PSH varies between 70%–80%,[4][5][6][7] with some sources claiming up to 87%.[8]

h/t Peter Rees, Michael Crawford, Ian Waters.

Even after Snowy Hydro 2.0, power will cost $90/MWh

Joe Kelly, The Australian last week:

Energy project financier David Carland — the executive director of Australian Resources Development Limited — argues that once the Snowy Hydro project is operating it will provide only partial back-up energy at a high cost.

Using Snowy Hydro’s modelling assumptions, Dr Carland’s calculations show the “levelised cost of energy” — or unit-cost of electricity over the lifetime of an asset — will deliver power significantly in excess of $90/MWh, after allowing for the cost of storage, cycle losses and the initial cost of buying energy at off-peak [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

My crystal ball model says Noctilucent clouds, which we have almost no data on, must be man-made!

Scientists wondered whether climate change was affecting super high clouds that people rarely see and there is virtually no data on. So they used models which fail on clouds and water vapor only ten kilometers above the Earth and tried to predict what happened to both way up at 80 kilometers up and 150 years ago. They “found” (their phrase, not mine) the increase was man made. So once again, your car exhaust and dinner steak are to blame for changing these night-shining clouds.

How could it be any other way?

This is pure crystal ball science that starts with errors and ends with extrapolations. Researchers are fooling themselves using words like “results”, “indicator” and “significant” as if this was an actual experiment.


Climate change is making night-shining clouds more visible


WASHINGTON — Increased water vapor in Earth’s atmosphere due to human activities is making shimmering high-altitude clouds more visible, a new study finds. The results suggest these strange but increasingly common clouds seen only on summer nights are an indicator of human-caused climate change, according to the study’s authors.

Noctilucent, or night-shining, clouds are the [...]