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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Solar boom to bust in China: worlds largest solar PV projects drop 43% as subsidies cut

The advantage of communist autocrats is that they can create government havoc so much more efficiently.

The Chinese solar boom was so big it became the world’s largest solar market. It was so big it pushed up global “clean energy” investment to a record high. China became the veritable show pony of the solar spruikers: “leading the world in clean energy investment”. Mashable tells us it was so big “the solar boom could be seen from space“.

But the star advertisement for renewable glory was all based on subsidies:

The Chinese solar boom was “pretty significant”

A couple of months ago the Chinese government admitted they were cutting the subsidies to make electricity cheaper again for consumers. That hit the stock market. Now projects are being cancelled and orders are drying up for the hapless manufacturers.

The free market might be telling us something China’s solar industry is at a crossroads

“Without subsidies there’s no return on investment for over a decade, so investors and property owners aren’t interested in distributed solar. With subsidies it only takes seven years to recoup the investment,” he adds.

China’s solar manufacturers are unhappy with recent government policy changes [...]

Gamechanger: Chinese Crypto Miners can get 8c cheap electricity in Australia using our coal power

Wow. Wait til word gets out. This is dynamite.

Chinese Bitcoin miners are reopening the Hunter Valley coal power station called Redbank in NSW. They have a deal that gets around our gargantuan, mismanaged grid by buying coal power direct for 8c/kWh, while Australians in the same place pay 28c/kWh.

This is exactly the nightmare the head of the Australian Energy Management Organisation (AEMO) spoke of just last week — that “big players could abandon the grid”. That’s a degenerate spiral leaving a shrinking pool of suckers to pay for the inefficient, bird-killing, blackout prone, witchdoctor grid.

Bitcoin mining’s growing demand for cheap energy revived a shuttered coal mine

Ashat Rathi, Quartz

Consumers there pay, on average, $A0.28 ($0.22) per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for electricity. But Hunter Energy, which owns Redbank, are offering the crypto miners electricity at a fraction of the cost. The “first-of-its-kind” deal, as the Age puts it, will see the crypto miners pay only A$0.08 per kWh in the day and A$0.05 per kWh at night. Hunter Energy told the Age that the price is feasible because the electricity produced at the coal power plant would go straight to the crypto miners, bypassing—and thus, presumably, [...]

Electricity prices fell for forty years in Australia, then renewables came…

Electricity prices declined for forty years. Obviously that had to stop.

Here’s is the last 65 years of Australian electricity prices — indexed and adjusted for inflation. During the coal boom, Australian electricity prices declined decade after decade.  As renewables and national energy bureaucracies grew, so did the price of electricity. Must be a coincidence…

Today all the hard-won masterful efficiency gains of the fifties, sixties and seventies have effectively been reversed in full.

Indexed Real Consumer Electricity Prices, Australia, 1955-2017.

For most of the 20th Century the Australian grid was hotch potch of separate state grids and mini grids. (South Australia was only connected in 1990). In 1998 the NEM (National Energy Market) began, a feat that finally made bad management possible on a large scale. Though after decades of efficiency gains, Australians would have to wait years to see new higher “world leading” prices. For the first years of the NEM prices stayed around $30/MWh.

But sooner or later  a national system is a sitting duck for one small mind to come along and truly muck things up.

Please spread this graph far and wide.

Thanks to a Dr Michael Crawford who did the original, [...]

Canberra man uses subsidies, “invests” $20,000, still pays $700pa in electricity. Hopes to break even in 14 years.

A fairly crappy investment in every sense — even as a “subsidy farmer”:

…renewable energy proponents say individual consumers like Mr Pulford could play an increasingly important role as citizen investors.

“I say it is a little bit gold plated,” Mr Pulford says of his $20,000 investment.

‘The new system was installed last month and he is already generating enough power to run all his home energy needs, charge his son’s hybrid SUV and sell excess back to the grid. “It ranges between $2 to about $1.90 a day for energy and that can be with the clothes dryers and bar heaters on.”

Mr Pulford said he expects to pay off the investment within 14 years.

He’s excited that his electricity bill is only $700 a year, after laying out twenty grand. After 14 years his “investment” will start to pay off, assuming the batteries are still running, the solar panels are clean, and the inverter didn’t need replacing. Those battery warranties, at best, are ten years. He might get lucky. Without subsidies, his “pay-back time” would be something like 30% longer.

In the ACT, 250 homes with Reposit technology [...]

Rooftop solar destroying baseload profitability and proud of it

What other heavily subsidized industry brags about its ability to provide a product for one quarter of the time it’s needed? Vale sunny-day-solar!

Pick a day, an hour, and what are the chances solar will be there for you? A lot less than one in four, because last Monday’s peak in South Australia was an all time record. Every day in the last year was worse.

And so much for cheap… the price when solar power peaked was still close to $50/MWh. Compare that to most of the years of the national electricity market operating when average prices were $30/Mwh.

The price dip at 6am (the black-line bottomless gully), has nothing to do with solar, but was caused by wind power. Far from being useful, essential, or productive, solar and wind power are playing havoc with a normal market, destroying the chance for cheap, reliable energy to find a place. As long as we force the market to accept this non-dispatchable  supply, we are actively punishing reliable power. What investor in reliable energy would look at this and head to South Australia?”

 

Giles Parkinson was excited at Reneweconomy: Rooftop solar provides 48% of South Australia power, pushing grid [...]

The backlash against offshore wind, and the big-money, tax dodging backers of Wind.

It’s a very well written article: Bonackers vs. Big Wind by Robert Bryce. h/t Andrew. The good news is that opponents of wind power are having a lot of success onshore. The bad news is that the renewables industry is pushing offshore instead, but fishermen don’t want them either, and families that have been fishing the same areas for 300 years are up in arms.

“The South Fork fishermen are fighting to preserve their access to some of the most productive fisheries in the world.”

Some eye-opening numbers:

Obama set a target of 10GW of offshore wind power by 2020. But right now there is only 30 MW. It’s 9,970MW short. The offshore push is on. To replace a single nuclear generator will take 45 offshore wind plants. Offshore generation costs as much as three times what gas power costs per KWh.

They face big money renewables proponents — not just rich beachfront homeowners, but large corporations who want tax credits worth millions, and groups like Norwegian oil giant Statoil ASA, plus the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Governor Andrew Cuomo has a goal of “producing 50 percent of the state’s electricity from renewables by [...]

Who needs solar? Traders burnt during the eclipse: No sun, but lots of cheap electricity

Remember the Electrical Eclipse-Fear? For months, people were coached to use less electricity during the eclipse for fear that the grid might fall over as marvelous new-revolution-solar stopped working. The media were selling the message that we might not cope without solar. I figured this would be as big a threat as a cloudy day (but easier to prepare for.).

So after all the spin, what happened? Electricity was massively oversupplied, and spot prices went negative.

Apparently people went outside to watch the sky. (At least that’s Southwest Power’s excuse.)

Most of the groups that hyped the fear don’t seem to have mentioned the failure so much:

 Why Energy Traders Got the Eclipse So Wrong — Bloomberg

Grid operators and traders thought they were totally prepped for the historic U.S. solar eclipse. There was just this one thing they didn’t completely factor in: “irregular human-behavior patterns.”

That’s the technical definition, from the folks who manage the electricity network at the Southwest Power Pool, for the conduct of millions of Americans who were outdoors ogling the moon shadowing the sun instead of cranking up the A/C in homes and offices.

This was a bummer for traders who’d [...]

Japan: Fifty solar PV companies already gone in 2017 as subsidies end. Coal soaring.

What’s the word for competitive-but-needs-a-subsidy?  Broke…

One hundred solar PV companies are forecast to collapse in Japan this year alone.

Up to 100 solar PV firms in Japan could face bankruptcy this year, with more than double the number of firms going bust in the first half of this year than the same period in 2016.

According to corporate credit research company Teikoku Databank, which surveys companies across various industries and has produced its third report on solar PV company bankruptcies, 50 companies in Japan’s solar sector have already gone out of business in the first six months of 2017.

While the market overall has rapidly expanded from the launch of the feed-in tariff (FiT) in July 2012, Teikoku Databank acknowledged that there has been a slowdown in deployment in the past couple of years as the government successively made cuts of 10% or more on an annual basis to the premium prices paid for solar energy fed into the grid.

Bankruptcies have doubled in the industry since last year.

Meanwhile Japan plans to build at least 45 HELE Coal Plants.

Check out the map of “coal in versus coal out” in Japan. For [...]

Solar Homes use more grid electricity than non-solar homes

There are probably more solar panels in QLD than anywhere else in the world. Back in February last year, the boss of the Queensland state power company announced the awkward result that households with solar panels were using more electricity than those without. Apparently people without solar were turning off the air conditioner because electricity cost too much, but the solar users didn’t have to worry about the cost so much.

Queensland solar homes are using more grid electricity than non-solar, says Energex boss

Feb 2016:  Solar-powered homes in south-east Queensland, which boasts the world’s highest concentration of rooftop panels, have begun consuming on average more electricity from the grid than those without solar, the network operator has found.

Terry Effeney, the chief executive of state-owned power distributor Energex, said the trend – which belied the “green agenda” presumed to drive those customers – was among the challenges facing a region that nevertheless stood the best chance globally of making solar the cornerstone of its electricity network.

From October 2014 in Queensland, the average grid electricity use of solar homes started to exceed the average use of people without solar power and stayed higher for the at least the [...]

The TPP monster has 5,544 pages. A real free trade agreement would have 1

Lately the Five Star Free Market label is just a fake seal of approval for something Unfree

Just as carbon trading has nothing to do with a free market, so it is with monster free trade deals like the TPP. The free market meme won the intellectual debate of the 20th Century, but now its good name gets used and abused to sell the idea it defeated –  bigger-government.

A real free market deal has only one page and a bunch of signatures. But it takes a lot of pages to list all the unfree parts and to spell it out in sub-sub-clauses that hurt or help thousands of businesses around the world. Who gets the sweetest deal out of the complexity — the card carrying networkers — those who schmooze up to the right minister or bureaucrat. The people who compete on price or quality alone would win in a real free market, and so would we as customers. Instead the document rewards the gatekeepers, the rulemakers, the industry with the best lobbyists and the monied set who can donate enough to the right causes to get a better deal.

Tipping the scales at 5,544 pages — [...]

Would you give up the internet for a million dollars? Killer video on economic growth.

This is what economic growth means, and what some regressives fear so much.

How much would money would you have to be offered to give up the Internet for the rest of your days?

We are all rich beyond  the wildest dreams of yesterdays Kings.

Thanks to The Fund for American Studies.

Central banks drive booms and busts, and force everyone to be a high risk speculator

It doesn’t have to be this way. The most important price in our economy is set by a bunch of bureaucrats. They are unelected and unaccountable. But your day to day life is affected by their decisions, as well as your ability to buy a house or for your retirement savings to maintain their value. Some people are wiped out by a mere phrase in a memo. There is a deep Soviet style management program at the centre of all Western economies. It’s time we talked about that ogre.

Maurice Newman, former chair of the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), writes in The Australian about the defining invisible issue which is rarely discussed — our currencies, our central banks:

Vladimir Lenin advocated: “The best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch the currency.” True or not, we seem hellbent on finding out.

Dark times are coming:

The BIS has rung the alarms. We are warned that the world’s most reckless monetary experiment, which has taken interest rates to the lowest in recorded history, is failing. Central bankers remain silent, not knowing how or when to end what they began, while the political class simply looks [...]

Climate change is potentially a $7 Trillion dollar money making venture (for bankers)

The tide of money, the vested interests flows

H/t to Eric Worrall at WattsUp.

The current “green” industry is already around $1.5 Trillion a year. Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England said he expects this to grow to $5-7 trillion.

Financial Post: Climate change a $7 trillion funding opportunity

He said that given the enormous funding needs for clean infrastructure — he estimates at somewhere between $5 trillion and $7 trillion a year — investment opportunities will rebound.

 If clean green energy was efficient, cheap and reliable there would be no “funding need” as the market would leap to exploit that opportunity. Instead most leading investors act like they are skeptics. The fact that central bankers are selling it so aggressively says a lot. Perhaps central bankers want to help the poor and save the world, or could it be that the entire financial industry will profit from a fake, forced market and another fiat currency? What are the brokerage fees on a $7T market…

Again we get this “free market” myth:

[Carbon pricing is the cleanest way for markets to judge the tangible exposure to climate change," said Carney

Something serious happening to the Chinese economy?

Something suddenly changed in December last year in the world’s second largest economy (some say it’s the first). For the last few years private investors in China have been running away at a faster and faster pace. Apparently, no one wants to invest in the Chinese economy except the government, and six months ago, the State launched a rocket.

The massive growth of China is partly thanks to rampant money-printing. Say hello to Malinvestment. The Chinese economy is sick. It’s distraction time. Anyone want to stoke a war?

 

I saw the graph on the ABC news last night thanks to Phillip Lasker. The original graph came from Bloomberg under this unlikely headline:

 China Proves Doubters Wrong For Now as Credit Boom Stokes Growth

“Stoking Growth” is not always desirable — to go biological — cancer “stokes growth” and so does Ebola.

“The amount of cash Beijing is shoveling into the economy is stunning,” said Andrew Collier, an independent analyst in Hong Kong and former president of Bank of China International USA. “Given high fixed-asset investment among state-owned enterprises, it’s likely most of it is being consumed by the inefficient state sector. This is [...]

What Brexit market disaster?

For five days headlines have told us the markets are being “Pounded”, with “Turmoil”, like a “Wild Ride” with “bloodletting“. I thought I’d graph the horror of the last week on the FTSE100, DAX, the CAC40 and the Euronext.  Naturally big-government fans in the media have no interest in overselling the disaster that is Brexit.

Spot the crisis?

The last five years of the FTSE 100. See the carnage of the last week:

5 Year FTSE graph   TradingEconomics.com

More shocking routs on the continent. Here’s the last twelve months of the EURONEXT:

[...]