JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


Handbooks

The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper


Advertising

micropace


GoldNerds

The nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX



Archives

Books

Victoria plans to reduce electricity prices by copying state with most expensive supply in the world

In a genius move, Victoria, which has “soaring” electricity prices, now announces plan to copy South Australia where people pay more for electricity than anywhere:

The Andrews government this morning unveiled a new renewable energy target with a commitment to power up to 25 per cent of the state from renewables by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025.

The government has backed the construction of two large scale solar farms in regional Victoria which will provide another 140MW to the state’s supply, and has set up a reverse energy auction system to bring forward an additional 650MW to the state’s supply.

Meanwhile the trams will run on sunshine.

Legislation creates savings, how?

Victorian households will allegedly each save around $30 annually on power bills under the new plan, while medium sized businesses have been projected to save up to $2400 a year under the legislation which will be introduced to parliament today.

It’s almost like Victoria plans to make electricity from legislation (hey, it’s renewable, and will never run out). By making electricity shockingly expensive, Government ministers can talk of “savings”, even though prices will be far higher than the average price [...]

Australia, Denmark, Germany vie to win Highest Global Electricity Cost! (It’s the Nobel Price Prize?)

It’s not even close: If South Australia seceded it would have the highest electricity price of any nation on Earth.

 Australian Households pay highest power prices in the World, AFR.

South Australian households are paying the highest prices in the world at 47.13¢ per kilowatt hour, more than Germany, Denmark and Italy which heavily tax energy, after the huge increases on July 1, Carbon + Energy Markets’ MarkIntell data service says.

When the eastern states’ National Electricity Market was formed in the late 1990s, Australia had the lowest retail prices in the world along with the United States and Canada, CME director Bruce Mountain said.

 The Markintell report graph:

Hmm — odd coincidence of Price with Wind Energy Penetration:

Wind energy is “free” but countries with the most wind power are also the most likely to get to the top of the Prize Pool for exorbitant electricity. Wind energy penetration is highest in  Denmark (1st), Portugul (8th), Ireland (6th), Spain (11th), Germany (3rd). Conversely, renewable energy penetration is low in places at the tail end of the price curve like Luxemburg 6%, Estonia 15%, Hungary 7%, Lithuania 15.5%. In the low mid price range [...]

SA Solar Thermal plant is a copy of US plant that was out of action for one third of its life so far

Crescent Dunes, Solar Thermal Plant, USA.   | Wikimedia  Author, Amble.

A company called SolarReserve is planning to build the new Aurora 150MW solar thermal plant at Port Augusta, which is apparently a copy of their Crescent Dunes plant in the US. But that project has been offline for most of the time since last October. The whole SA government is meant to be running 24/7 off “solar power”, which allegedly only has about 8 hours of energy stored up (as heat in the molten salt block). So an 8 month break will be a bit of problem for the SA government (except of course, we all know that the real baseload backup here at 4 or 5am everyday, and most of the day in winter, is ultimately the very fossilized gas and coal.) Since the project only began working in Sept 2015 it managed to operate for all of one year and one month before it went offline for 8 months due to a leak. The SA State Energy Minister is not concerned saying it was a construction issue and SolarReserve “have learnt from that”.

The 150MW myth: most of the time it will be less, a lot [...]

SA reduces blackouts by closing Holden Factory

It’s a creative South Australian solution to an unstable, expensive grid: close large factories and have less blackouts. If they can close enough, it’s guaranteed to succeed:

Holden closure will help Energy Market Operator manage SA’s blackout risk, report finds

Part of the soon-to-be vacated Holden factory in Adelaide is about to be transformed into a temporary power station to help stave off load-shedding blackouts this summer.

But the car industry’s closure will help the authorities manage the risk of blackouts in another way.

The exit of a once powerful manufacturing sector will see the state using less electricity, particularly during the all-important summer peak.

The information is contained in the latest Electricity Forecasting Insights published by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

 From a story last year:

The closure of Holden’s Elizabeth plant is expected to result in 13,000 job losses across the company and its supply chain.

Energy use in SA is set to fall from 3,116MW to 3,035MW in summer peaks. Even so, they’ll still need more temporary generators (time to cut more jobs?):

Nevertheless, AEMO is forecasting widespread shortfalls of reserve power over the next two summers, prompting [...]

Electricity cost train-wreck arrives in Australia

Something very “seismic” has happened to our electricity prices.

Paul McArdle of WattClarity goes through each state looking at quarterly trends and prices, and remarks that things are going “off the chart”. We had some electricity crises in Australia in the last 12 months, and 2016 was a significantly more expensive than all previous years bar the major drought year of 2007. But ominously, prices haven’t come down in what should be a “normal” quarter. In Tasmania there was a crisis last year when dams ran dry, and the undersea Bass cable broke. But this quarter, prices are only $3.20/MWh lower than the crisis levels of Q2 2016 despite water in dams and a working cable to Victoria. Something has gone seriously wrong with our electrical grid and market. In both Victoria and South Australia prices are higher on average than any previous April-June quarter in the 19 year history of the National Electricity Market. In Queensland and New South Wales, prices are at the “second highest”.

McArdle goes to some length to explain that this is not “one factor”, which seems obvious and fair — Its the combination of the closure of Hazelwood and Port Augusta coal generators; the [...]

Wind disappears in South Australia, costing wind-industry millions, BOM blames climate change even though models predicted faster winds

The wind fizzled out over the South East slab of Australia during June. Predictably, that meant the wind industry lost millions, and wholesale electricity prices went up. When the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) was asked where the wind had gone, Darren Ray, expert climatologist, said it was due to a high pressure system over the bight, which, he explained, was linked to “climate change”. Thus, as the world warms, wind farms will be progressively more useless in South Australia. Perhaps the BOM should have mentioned that before SA became dependent on wind farms? I don’t think he had thought this one through.

Perhaps the BOM is hoping that the masochistic sacrifice of South Australia will stop global warming before global warming stops the wind farms?

You might think that if the global climate models could see this coming they would have suggested that wind farms weren’t a good idea. Or maybe, since climate models predict every equal and opposite outcome in unison, the models are always right post hoc, but not so useful in projections?

Climate models predict climate change causes faster and slower winds over Australia

In 2017, Darren Ray, BOM expert, said the decrease in winds was due [...]

Coal Boom: 1600 new plants in 62 countries around the world – increasing 43%

“End-Coal” Global Coal Tracker  does a magnificent job of showing how essential coal is around the world, and which countries are pathetically backwards in developing new coal plants. It’s probably not what the “CoalSwarm” team was hoping to achieve, but this map is a real asset to those of us who want to show how tiny Australia’s coal fired assets are compared to the rest of the world. The site itself is a fancy-pants high gloss major database and website that also shows how much money is in the “anti-coal” movement. Oh, that skeptics should have even 2% of these funds. Heffa Schücking, the director of Urgewald, which created the maps, calls it a “cycle of coal dependency”. Normal people call it “freedom and wealth”.

Chinese companies build coal plants — NY Times

These Chinese corporations are building or planning to build more than 700 new coal plants at home and around the world, some in countries that today burn little or no coal, according to tallies compiled by Urgewald, an environmental group based in Berlin. Many of the plants are in China, but by capacity, roughly a fifth of these new coal power stations are [...]

SA govt to spend $100m on diesel generators (but could have spent $8m keeping coal plant instead)

I’d like to thank South Australia for so selflessly showing the world how well renewables work. (And thank we West Australians for paying for it).

To get ready for the shortfalls next summer, the SA government is said to be ordering in 220MW of diesel generation at an expected cost of $114m.

The government has contracted privately owned South Aust­ralian electricity distribut­ion company SA Power Networks to obtain and install 200 megawatts of back-up generation across the state before summer. But despite promising a “detailed costing” would be provided in last week’s state budget, Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis did not offer any such details.

The opposition said the budget had allocated $114m for operational costs in 2017-18 from the $550m energy plan, “indicating the diesel generators are going to be very expensive”.

This $106m sacrifice is expected to reduce global temperature by 0.000C, but will save the premier from being called a climate denier at dinner parties:

“Eighteen months ago the Tasmanian government spent $64m in leasing, site establishment and operational costs for 220MW of diesel generation for three months when a combination of drought and repairs to the Basslink left it short of electricity,” [...]

SA will take top prize for Most Expensive Electricity from Denmark on July 1

South Australia has the largest uranium deposit in the world, which it digs up to sell to other countries to make electricity. It also has lots of sun and wind and empty space. If any state can make solar and wind power work, surely it’s there.

And renewables are working for SA, working to put it in top place for Global Electricity Bills.

South Australia power prices to rise to highest in the world on Saturday, energy expert warns

South Australia will overtake Denmark as having the world’s most expensive electricity when the country’s major energy retailers jack up their prices this Saturday.

AGL, EnergyAustralia and Origin Energy will all increase their electricity prices from July 1, adding hundreds of dollars to annual household bills. Residential customers will see an average rise of 18 per cent under AGL, 19.9 per cent from EnergyAustralia, 16.1 per cent with Origin Energy. Bruce Mountain, the head of a private energy consultancy firm, said the increases would see South Australia take the lead on world power prices — but for all the wrong reasons.

“After taxes, the [typical] household in South Australia will be paying slightly more than the [...]

Shocking electricity price rises coming in Australia: Not a failure of energy policy but a complete “success”

The numbers are breathtaking. On the east coast of Australia (which means most households in the nation) they are looking at 15 – 20% increases next month on electricity bills which are already at bleeding point.

Get a grip on these numbers:

Charis Chang, News.com –

POWER prices are set to rocket after three major retailers announced increases of up to 20 per cent and $600 a year for the average customer in some states.

Origin, EnergyAustralia and AGL have all announced price increases for electricity and gas starting from July 1.

Small businesses may be the hardest hit, especially Origin customers in South Australia, which will see prices rise by a whopping $1453 a year when increases to gas and electricity bills are combined.

The biggest increase for residential customers will be for AGL customers in ACT, who will pay an extra $579 a year for a combined electricity and gas rise.

In NSW, residential EnergyAustralia customers will see electricity prices increase by up to 19.6 per cent. Origin Energy customers will get a 16.1 per cent rise.

The price hikes will take effect [...]