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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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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

Finkel report destroys baseload coal power economics

Demand enough renewables and you might as well ban coal

There’s a lesson Australia needs to learn from South Australia. When intermittent renewables reach a certain percentage of daily average supply they make baseload power unfeasible. The situation develops into an impossible dead end that can only be solved with container-ships of cash.

The intermittent supply of wind and solar is the immoveable problem. It eats into the daily chart of the cheapest stable electricity supply — which is coal fired. Coal can’t be ramped in and out in minutes. It is a creature that runs best non-stop, efficiently, smoothly, at a high capacity factor (meaning it works best when it is producing around 90% of it’s design limit continuously).

Tom Quirk points out that sometime after these intermittent renewables hit 30% of the average daily supply, as they have in South Australia — locally sourced coal power becomes uneconomic. There are times during the daily cycle when renewables are providing almost all the demand. There is little demand left for the massive coal turbines to supply, so they spin on pointlessly, but costs remain, and profits are zero.

In [...]

Surely not: Climate revolt and another Australian PM?

It’s hard to believe Turnbull could fall for this one twice.

Dennis Shannahan warns us:

There is a revolt in the Coalition ranks and there are those prepared to say that Finkel is dead or worse.

More than 20 Coalition MPs spoke against the Finkel report last night, including Tony Abbott, all concerned that the priority is for cutting emissions and not electricity prices.

History repeats?

David Crowe on what he’s heard about the same liberal party room meeting:

Former prime minister Tony Abbott was a sharp critic of the clean energy target and made interjections throughout the ­discussions.

“He was the most sceptical about it — he said it wasn’t going to cut prices or provide certainty for consumers,” one Liberal said.

“He was probably the strongest critic throughout the whole ­meeting.”

One of the senior Liberal figures who took notes on the meeting said last night that about 32 people spoke and about one-third of them were not in favour of the Finkel proposal, while one-third supported the clean energy target and another third asked questions or had suggestions for changes. Victorian Liberal MP Russell Broadbent, [...]

Finkel: Turn the whole country into South Australia by 2030 — 42% “renewable”

In one of the most massaged spin-doctor sales messages in Australian history, the Finkel Report is here to “take the politics out” and solve our energy instability and out-of-control prices. But it’s actually an aggressive green-left weather-control program where cost and stability are secondary to the unspoken but main aim which is to slow storms in 2100. If Finkel were really aiming for stability and price control he’d let the free market run, get the government out of our electricity grid and look at the evidence that shows that solar-panels and wind farms don’t, won’t and can’t work as global air-conditioners for us or our grandchildren.

Australians, read this line and weep:

“Modelling for the Review estimates that by 2030, 42 per cent of electricity demand will be met by renewable generation.”

This is where South Australia is currently at, but it has a lifeline to coal power in Victoria whenever it needs it. What happens when the whole National Grid needs a lifeline? Pull out your wallet…

How much does an undersea cable to New Zealand cost? It’s only 2,000km.

For the same price we might be able to afford a new ultra-supercritical coal plant and catch [...]

Japan building 45 HELE coal plants, Australia 1 (maybe)

Japan will use Australian coal to build 45 modern coal fired plants:

Japan is the largest overseas market for Australian coal producers, taking more than a third of all exports.

Why coal? It’s cheaper than gas:

Tom O’Sullivan, a Tokyo based energy consultant with Mathyos Global Advisory, said in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, Japan started importing more liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Australia.

But he said the move to more coal fired power was because coal was cheaper than LNG, and the energy security was priority for the government.

The new ultra super critical coal plants burn hotter and are more efficient (hence, high energy, low emissions = HELE).

Finally, after blackouts and scandalously high electricity bills, Malcolm Turnbull is just starting to float the idea of building, maybe, one. China has them, even Indonesia will get one before us.

Japan needs to import 95% of its energy. Australia is the largest exporter of coal in the world, and has the largest known uranium resources in the world, but we voluntarily wear a hair shirt to appease GAIA. We sacrifice our cheap energy advantage for fear that loud ill-mannered [...]