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 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 [...]

Australia “invented airconditioning” but can’t keep them running

James Harrison (click to enlarge)

Peter Hartcher points out that the country that invented refrigeration and thus airconditioning can no longer guarantee to keep them working.

In 1854 [James Harrison of Geelong] invented a commercial ice-making machine. He expanded it into a vapour compression refrigeration system, the basis for modern refrigeration.

“That’s right – an Aussie invented the fridge and it’s first real use was making beer,” remarked the US technology website Gizmodo. “You have to love this country.”

And one more big coal generator shuts down soon in Victoria:

In the next few weeks 4 per cent of Australia’s power supply will vanish when Victoria’s big Hazelwood power station shuts down, clapped out after 50 years of turning coal into electricity. It’ll be the ninth coal-fired power station to close in the past five years. New solar and wind plants are being built, but they are intermittent, and that means they are unreliable.

“Taking out Hazelwood is taking out a big buffer,” says Tony Wood, energy program director at the Grattan Institute policy research centre in Melbourne. And, as we’ve just witnessed, Australia’s power system lacks buffers. “Managing intermittency is [...]

Rolling blackouts ordered in SA in 40C heat

South Australia, with 40% renewables, is lucky this has been a mild summer.*

Welcome to your load-shedding future:

Rolling blackouts ordered in Adelaide as city swelters

Widespread power blackouts were imposed across Adelaide and parts of South Australia with heatwave conditions forcing authorities to impose load shedding.

About 40,000 properties were without electricity supplies for about 30 minutes because of what SA Power Networks said was a direction by the Australian Energy Market Regulator.  — The Australian

Premier Jay Weatherill blamed the AEMO for not ordering a gas power station to come online.

Electricity prices spiked to $13,440 MWh. Total demand was about 3,000MW. Things are expected to be the same tomorrow.

At 6pm tonight wind power was producing less than 100MW (about 7% of its rated capacity):

Look at the price spike and the forecast for tomorrow:

AEMO, Electricity Prices, Feb 8, 2016

Perhaps with better planning and more money they can reduce the need for planned blackouts — but why bother?I guess they’ll have those gas powered stations running tomorrow.

It has been smack on average at Adelaide Airport at 28.1C for January 2017.

*The Wind power graph was supplied in WA time, so [...]

Wind turbine manufacturer admits liability for noise damage. If word gets out…

These are Enercon wind turbines in Germany, Lower Saxony. Image: Philip May

This could be a watershed — if word gets out that turbine manufacturers will not even contest claims of noise damage, there could be many more claims around the world. There are rumors these cases are often settled out of court with confidentiality agreements, but who would know?

In an update to the Irish court case we discussed last month, the latest news confirms that the wind turbine manufacturer has admitted liability without contesting it. The court will be deciding damages in April. As I deduced at the time, the wind industry was using desperate wordsmithing to minimize attention on the story. The news item related to it even disappeared from the Irish Examiner.  The turbine industry must be hoping no one notices this story.

Stop These Things has an update:

Wind company admits nuisance damage to neighbours Irish Farmers Journal Paul Mooney 5 January 2017

High Court to determine compensation for seven families in April hearing.

[...]

Wind power sucks money and electricity in South Australia

On a good day South Australia has more than 40% renewable energy. On a bad day, it’s -2 or something. Wind towers suck in so many ways.  They can even draw more power out than they bring in and best of all — their peak electron sucking power comes just when the state needs electricity the most.

Business blows up as turbines suck more power than they generate

The sapping of power by the turbines during calm weather on July 7 at the height of the ­crisis, which has caused a price surge, shows just how unreliable and ­intermittent wind power is for a state with a renewable ­energy mix of more than 40 per cent.

South Australia has more “renewable” wind power than anywhere else in Australia. They also have the highest electricity bills, the highest unemployment, the largest number of “failures to pay” and disconnections. Coincidence?

The emergency measures are needed to ease punishing costs for South Australian industry as National Electricity Market (NEM) prices in the state have frequently surged above $1000 a megawatt hour this month and at one point on Tuesday hit the $14,000MWh maximum price.

Complaints from business about the extreme prices – in normal times they are [...]

Cut carbon emissions by 50%? — Greens nightmare — Coal gasification may be the answer

A new MIT report suggests a better way to use coal in power-stations and potentially cut CO2 emissions by 50%. The process involves gasifying coal and producing electricity in one process at the same site. The coal only has to be heated once,  and the electricity comes from a fuel cell, not a fire — it’s a chemical reaction across a membrane.  The output is potentially much more efficient, and makes no ash. The researchers argue we could get twice as much electricity for each ton of coal burned. Currently coal fired power pulls out 30% of the chemical energy in coal, but coupling these two processes might increase it to 55-60%.

This report is based on simulations, but the separate processes are already well developed and running. The next step would be a fully functioning pilot plant to put the two together and test the idea. If there was the political will it could be done in a few years. There probably won’t be.

The Greens of course will hate the idea because the Evil-Factor of coal is near 100%.

In the eco-collectivist-world, cutting “carbon” is important, but apparently not as important as propping up a dependent lobby group [...]

Green Electricity in Denmark, Germany, costs three times as much as US

It’s a bit costly trying to control the weather:

“Germany has been paying over $26 billion per year for electricity that has a wholesale market value of just $5 billion (see here).”

That’s $21 billion that could have been spent on health or education that was used instead to feed the Green Machine.

A few handy facts to memorize. The cost of electricity per kilowatt-hour: 

Denmark, 42c; Germany 40c, and the USA, 12.5c. ( — Forbes)

Wind and solar power supplies 28% of electricity in Germany (is it really that high?) This is what Australia is aiming for?

 

Graph from Forbes (link below)

Europe is a “green energy” basket case. Washington Post

“Germany’s Energy Poverty: How Electricity Became a Luxury Good.” — Der Spiegel

Europe’s Energy and Electricity Policies are a Bad Model, Jude Clement, Forbes

[...]

Carbon capture, clean coal plant goes bankrupt, only $4.4b over budget

TonyfromOz explained how fatal the numbers on “carbon capture” are. (It’s like the GFC of engineering). The new coal plants cost 60% more to build and waste something like 40% of the entire energy they generate to “catch” a beneficial fertilizer and and stuff it in a small hot hole underground.

It’s hard being first, but hey, the plant is only 2 years behind and $4.4 billion over budget. Part of the costs are due to delays because of wet weather. (Apparently the climate models did not see that coming…)

Obama has set aside $6 billion since 2009 for lab research and “commercial deployment” of clean coal. In response to the abject failure he’s doing what most people do when spending other people’s money — “Despite these troubles, the White House says it will continue to support clean coal.”

News last week:

America’s First Clean Coal Plant Put Mississippi Power ‘on the Brink of Bankruptcy’

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Stephen Lacey

Last week, state regulators approved an emergency rate increase for Mississippi Power in order to keep the company afloat as it completes the increasingly-expensive Kemper plant. Mississippi Power customers will [...]

Wind farms only 80% effective at CO2 reduction (0% effective at temp reduction). UK to allow homes to stop turbines!

In the latest news about wind-generators, The Australian reports that a new Australian study estimates we wasted $70m on RET* certificates last year because of losses the wind turbines put on the rest of the grid. About a fifth of the CO2 supposedly cut by wind-farms was emitted by the rest of the grid as it ramped up and down trying to cope with the erratic supply from the on-and-off whirly-gigs.

If we double our wind-farms the losses are proportionally even greater (every extra wind farm is even more useless than the one before). With twice as many, all of the wind towers would only be 70% effective. But this is all a wild fantasy overestimate, since the point of wind towers is not to reduce CO2, but to reduce global temperatures, stop storms, and hold back the tides. The 3.5% reduction in total Australian electricity emissions changed global temperatures by 0.00C, hence RET on wind is 100.00% useless, accurate to two decimal places. The Clean Energy Council said they had no answer at all, and wouldn’t talk about it, except to say that Australians like “renewables”.

In other news in from the UK, the new majority conservative government says [...]

The German electricity crisis – twice the price, but everyone’s going broke

When the Germans mess something up, they do it properly

Germany — is aiming for a 40% cut in carbon by 2020, and have “led the way” with solar and wind power. Electricity bills are now twice the price of those in North America, and some 800,000 poor people had their power cut off because they can’t pay their bills.  Despite the high prices, gas power has become uneconomic, even though it is one the best methods for dealing with the erratic energy delivered from wind and solar. Nuclear can’t save them, they will have none after 2022 when the last reactor turns off.

The pain is pointless. For all the money spent, they aren’t saving much CO2, and aren’t changing the weather.  They end up importing many of the goods which need energy, so the emissions occur in other countries without emissions controls. The German manufacturing sector can’t compete and struggles by on subsidies. Consumers pay more for goods or pay more through tax for the subsidies. Meanwhile, in the EU politicians seem to have realized that biofuels won’t work, but they don’t have the courage to kill them off and face the backlash — instead they fund it just [...]