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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Wind farm blades damaged after just a few years at sea — hundreds need repair

Image of offshore wind farms.  Baltic Sea  Wikimedia | Mariusz Paździora

We are trying to collect dilute erratic energy, spread over hundreds of square kilometers in windy, salty, and wet conditions with machines that spin at 330km/hour. What could possibly go wrong?

From: “Offshore wind fiasco” at GWPF      –  The original story in Danish.

Ørsted must repair up to 2,000 wind turbine blades because the leading edge of the blades have become worn down after just a few years at sea.

The wind turbine owner will not disclose the bill, but says that the financial significance is “small”.

The cost of repair is so small they need to keep it a secret.

But it can’t be cheap. For the most repairs, the blades need to be brought down, shipped and fixed on land.  Repairing them at sea is a rare feat.

This must be the infamous leading edge erosion.

The Offwhore Wind Industry website discussed this type of damage in 2015:

Large rotors lead to large yields, but also to lots of annoyance – at least as far as the coating is concerned. After only a few years, the protective layer that [...]

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, [...]

EIA estimates for USA in 2050: The Future is Fossil Fuels and Cheap Electricity

What energy transformation?

The EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2018 is out. The hard heads at the US Dept of Energy crunched the numbers, assumed technology will improve, and modeled the outcomes. According  to their best estimates (and even their “worst” estimates) thirty years from now, the main energy source for the US is natural gas and fossil fuels. Renewables grows from 5% to 14%, but coal, nukes, hydro stays about the same. When the Australian Greens say “we don’t want to be left behind”, the answer is “Exactly! So explore for gas! Use Nukes!”

The World’s largest economy will still be nearly 80% fossil fueled in 2050.

On the road, most people are still using gasoline cars, and here’s the kicker — electricity prices are still at about 11 cents per kilowatt hour. Weep all ye Australians, Brits, Germans and other who would be grateful if electricity only rose 10% a year, not 10% over 30 years.

How much does an interconnector cost from Townsville to Texas? 

h/t Paul Homewood who has quoted Mark Perry from AEI:

Despite all of the hype, hope, cheerleading, fuel standards, portfolio standards, and taxpayer subsidies for renewable energies like wind and [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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.” [...]

Summer heat — electricity prices hit cap of $14 per KWhr in SA, almost there in Victoria

Watching the AEMO dashboard as a hot summer day hits

Is this the summer crunch-time that the the National Grid managers have been fearing?

Today things are not running smoothly in the green states of Victoria and SA where prices this minute have hit $14,000 per MW hour, or $14 per KWh. These are wholesale prices. Right now heads of major industries are watching the dashboard, turning off everything they can turn off, or switching on the diesel generators, or counting hundreds of thousands or even millions being added to their bills if production cannot stop.

Demand Management schemes (a form of load shedding) will be running to reduce demand — air conditioners will be remotely switched down.

How much of the productive brain power of Vic and SA is distracted from more useful tasks today?

The AEMO has put out an Actual Lack of Reserve Notice (LOR1) saying that Victoria is 300 MW short: “The contingency capacity reserve required is 1100 MW. The minimum reserve available is 815 MW”. Another notice of a “non-credible contingency event” (a code for “something broke”) reports that a busbar, transformer, and line have tripped or opened in Victoria, unplanned.