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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More wind and solar than SA can use — we threw away 10% of the generation

South Australians have so much wind power, too much, that in Quarter 3 last year the AEMO had to intervene to cut off excess wind and solar generation. Ever since the Great Blackout of 2016 new rules mean that there must be enough back up power running to cope with the fickle vagaries of intermittent energy.  (Obviously, this wasting of sacred green electrons wouldn’t need to happen if people weren’t so persnickety about blackouts!)

This graph is from the Quarter 3 AEMO report for 2018. It is technically about both wind and solar, but it appears to be mostly wind. Solar is not a star player in Q3 because it’s winter.

Would we put up with any other industrial output that had such a dismal performance. Imagine this was your car….

AEMO Quarter 3 report page 7

Synchronous generation is the kind that comes from machines that spin at 50 Hz (like coal, gas, hydro, nukes). These keep the system stable. Happy happy hertz.

But ten percent of all the wind and solar power had to be thrown away in SA because there wasn’t enough reliable back up power to guarantee the stability of the system.

During [...]

New Report: Renewables indirectly make electricity MORE expensive, so ABC tells Australia the opposite

One big government agency quietly admits renewables make electricity more expensive, and another big gov media agency hides it.

The new AMEC report tells us renewables will make electricity prices go down a tiny 2% in the short run but make electricity more expensive in the long run due to forcing out cheap baseload players. What matters most to Australians — that we can expect our electricity costs to be 2% less than “obscene” for the next couple of years, or that the artificial transition we are forcing on the grid will indirectly make electricity more expensive?

Which message does the ABC headline? Say hello to Trivia!

Renewables set to drive down power prices, new AEMC analysis shows The ABC is essentially a taxpayer funded advertising machine for the renewables industry.

A flood of new renewable energy projects is likely to drive down household electricity bills, according to new analysis by government policy adviser the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC).

On a national basis, household bills are set to fall by 2.1 per cent — but price falls in the eastern states and South Australia are offset by increases in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and [...]

Santa says renewables “push down prices”. Sydney Morning Herald believes him.

It’s Santa’s happy hour in electricity land

Finally, No really, renewables are so cheap we can switch to them and change the global climate for free.

This is a new study by the kind of “independent” group that is totally dependent on Big Gov handouts. It compares Australian prices to other obscenely expensive countries and finds that “renewables push down prices”. Compared to what? Not compared to nations with cheap electricity. And not compared to most of the last thirty years in Australia before we added all the unreliable gear.

The tricky graphs clearly baffled Peter Hannam. If only he were a journalist, he could have asked some hard hitting questions and shown this study to be the concocted vaporous PR exercise that it was.

‘No trilemma’: Study finds increased renewables push down power prices

Peter Hannam, Sydney Morning Herald

Renewable energy drives down wholesale power prices well in excess of subsidy costs and a further expansion of wind and solar would likely push them lower still, a study of Australian and European markets shows.

If renewables actually reduced average prices, this would be a first. Around the world, the more intermittent generators you have, the [...]

Rampant solar, wind growth: Australia increases unreliable energy by 50% in 2018. Wow.

The Crash Test Dummy accelerates. Australia is steaming ahead in the forced transition to unreliable energy

A lot of the reason for the growth in renewables is the Renewable Energy Target (the RET). Renewables must supply 16% of our electricity in 2018, and even more in 2019.

Strap yourself in. Buried in the AEMO summer readiness plan was the news that our intermittent renewables capacity is forecast to increase by fully 50% this year. All the renewables we had accrued in the two decade “transition” til December last year, we’ve added half again. We are already pushing the bounds of stability and setting price records, but you ain’t seen nothing yet. We are escalating the rate of change.

In toto, we have 56GW of generation of all sorts in the national grid on the east coast. The wind and solar component increased from 4GW at the end of 2017 to over 6GW by the end of 2018. But it doesn’t take much intermittent power to change the way the whole grid works.

Things are so fragile that a few weeks ago, when 240MW of reliable supply was suddenly not available for this summer, the AEMO had to issue a [...]

SA and Vic at high risk of blackouts this summer

Even the AEMO is warning of blackouts coming, because the BoM is forecasting hot, dry conditions. El Nino on the way, and I hear rumours our Snowy Hydro Dam levels are not great.

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There’ll be blackouts this summer if nothing is done, AEMO report warns

Stephanie Dalzell, ABC News

Victoria and South Australia are at a high risk of forced blackouts this summer if no action is taken, according to the latest report by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

Not enough supply? Put another million bucks on the BBQ:

To stop that from occurring, the AEMO has sourced emergency energy reserves, which are typically not available to the market and are only accessed when supply is not keeping up with demand.

Those emergency reserves — otherwise known as Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader (RERT) resources — do not come cheap.

It’s only money:

The report stated that last summer emergency energy cost taxpayers in Victoria and South Australia almost $52 million.

That equated to an average of an extra $6 per household bill.

That’s nothing. The two day heatwave last January burnt up $400 m [...]

Both AGL, Origin warn renewables threaten grid, create chaos, drive off baseload, cause higher cost

Another Hazelwood-size batch of renewables coming on line in Australia by 2020.

That’s 1600MW of random subsidized energy dropping into a market that is artificially priced to value weather-changing potential over reliability. Now, even the bosses of two gentailers which both benefit from renewables subsidies are warning things are chaotic, going to get turbulent and more expensive. Why do they admit this? Probably because they want the government to add another layer of policy interference to reward “firm capacity” which they both also own.

Instead, lets get the government and the RET octopus off our grid. Surely we can set up a market that allows players who want electricity at 9am tomorrow to pay more for generators which can actually guarantee to be there. All the market players who don’t care when or if electricity arrives can buy the unreliable energy. Which businesses, industries or homes can use electricity that arrives at midday and random other times, remembering that wind power drops to 5% of capacity for days sometimes:

Renewables threaten volatile power supply, says AGL, Origin bosses

Perry Williams, Matt Chambers, The Australian

Power giants AGL Energy and Origin Energy have raised concerns over a surge [...]

40 year old coal plant sold for $1m makes $100m profit and will run another 30 years

Old coal plants don’t have to die, they just need to be fixed

Vales Point, Power Station, NSW, Australia

The Vales Point Coal plant (Part B) was built in 1978. It was sold for $1 million in 2015 by the NSW government. It’s now making a bumper profit. If it gets a $750 million renovation it could keep running til 2049 when it will be 70 years old. Vales has a nameplate capacity of 1,320 MW.

On the other hand, we could follow South Australia and spend $650m and get a 150MW solar plant that only works half the time.*

When is an old coal plant on death’s door a better bet than the worlds largest solar plant? — Every hour of every day. Plus you get free fertilizer.

Profits to keep Vales Point coal-fired power station going for another 20 years

John Stensholt and Perry Williams, The Australian

The Vales Point power station near Lake Macquarie, which supplies about 4 per cent of power for the national grid, could receive a $750m injection to ensure it runs until 2049, making it the nation’s last standing coal station, with the country’s other facilities due to [...]

Engineers warn 55% renewables will add $1400 to electricity bills in Australia

Green genius: Pay $1400 a year to not stop any storms

Finally some veteran engineers checked the Labor Party 50% renewable plan and the AEMO “65% scenarios”. Unlike others, their study that did not involve magical assumptions that the cost of renewables would dramatically fall. Instead they used “actual costs” and found the price of electricity will rise “84%” and cheap coal power will be forced out of business (just like what we also found here). The engineers include Barry Murphy, former managing director and chairman of Caltex. Robert Barr, an electrical engineer and academic at University of Wollongong. If only Kevin Rudd had asked them in 2007.

Engineers warn of bill shock under green energy surge

Adam Creighton, Economics Editor, The Australian

Electricity bills will soar and gas and coal-fired power stations will close if the share of wind and solar generation increases dramat­ically, engineers have warned after analysing the nation’s ­energy supply.

It found bills were likely to soar 84 per cent, or about $1400 a year, for the typical household, if wind and solar power supplied 55 per cent of the national electricity market.

A quarter of Australian rooftops have solar, and [...]

Renewables hit record “high” of 3.6% of total global energy production

The world still runs on coal and oil

After 20 years of subsidies, intermittent renewables account for just 3.6% of total energy generation. That’s the tiny purple sliver in the graph. Global power means not just electricity, but also fuel used in transport. And this is where wind and solar power are respectively old and slow, or modern but useless.

Someday solar powered planes might make their first round world trip in 48 hours but at the moment they need 16 months. There’s a a bit of hitch in the global energy transition.

Hello fossil wonder fuels:

Global Primary Energy, Graph, 1965-2018

Intermittent renewables are pretty useless everywhere:

Global Primary Energy, Graph, 1965-2018

 

Solar energy might have “made waves” and increased by an astounding 100GW last year, but it’s still irrelevant:

Oil remains the world’s dominant fuel, making up just over a third of all energy consumed. In 2017 oil’s market share declined slightly, following two years of growth. Coal’s market share fell to 27.6%, the lowest level since 2004. Natural gas accounted for a record 23.4% of global primary energy consumption, while renewable power hit a new high of 3.6%.

– Spencer [...]

Modern Victoria — where 5,000 volunteer knitters help the poor stay warm

Once upon a time we could afford heating.

Volunteer knitters in high demand as soaring power prices leave people cold

A national army of knitters is in desperate need of more volunteers to help them meet the growing demand for winter woollies.

Victoria returns to the Victorian era

Knitters can not keep up with demand

“Some people say it has been a colder winter — I actually don’t think so,” Ms Rogers said. I think it’s been milder than what we’ve had, it’s just the need that’s so much greater unfortunately.

“Even if people have got heating, they can’t afford to run it, so they need the warm clothes or the blankets.”

Can you knit to keep a poor Victorian warm?

UPDATE from Beowulf:

I hear Audrey Zibelman, boss of AEMO, is a dab hand with a set of needles. Here’s her favourite pattern ladies: plain one, pearl one, skip 10, repeat.

It makes a jumper full of holes that must be plugged with other materials, but it saves heaps on the cost of wool and we don’t need to breed any more sheep to make our jumpers. [...]

At 40C Victoria has a one in three chance of blackouts in summer

In Victoria, 40C used to be known as “A Hot Day”, but  now thanks to climate change it’s called an “extreme condition”  (wasn’t it meant to become a common event?) Nevermind.

The AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator) has pretty much warned us the Victorian electrical grid can no longer cope with “a hot day”.

[The AEMO] predicts a one-in-three chance of load shedding under extreme conditions this summer unless additional action is taken.

“Specifically, temperatures of 40C or more in Victoria could be the catalyst for extreme, one-in-10-year electricity demand conditions.

“Particularly when these temperatures are experienced towards the end of the day when business demand is still relatively high, residential demand is increasing, and rooftop PV’s contribution is declining.”

So since solar PV is useless in this situation, the Victorian government is spending one billion dollars installing Solar PV. One billion dollars of generation that is guaranteed not to work when we need it.

Will the new PM, Scott Morrison, be able to solve this problem? Thousands of engineers can.

Once upon a time even the brainless inanimate free market did.

h/t Dave B, Pat

PS: Still travelling.

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 [...]

Dear Australia, would you rather have $8,500 or a 0.0001C cooler climate for your 130th Birthday?

Why Australia must exit the Paris Climate Agreement, The IPA report.

IPA estimates Paris Agreement to stop storms and hold back the tide may cost $8500 per Australian family

What a deal. You could have free electricity for the next four years or an imperceptible difference in the air outside the nursing home for your children’s 94th birthday.

The Americans went for the money. So did nearly everyone else.

Damian Wild at the IPA calculates that the Paris Agreement will cost patsy Australians $52 billion dollars in the next 12 years.

Paris deal spells ‘irreparable damage’: IPA report

Rachel Baxendale, The Australian

A study by the Institute of Public ­Affairs, “Why Australia must exit the Paris Climate Agreement”, estimates our Paris target of reducing emissions to 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 will impose a $52 billion economic cost between now and 2030, equating to $8566 a family.

Paris Agreement To Cost Australia $52 Billion

“The immutable law of energy policy is this: lower emissions mean higher prices.”

“Each family in Australia will be at least $8,566 worse off under the Paris Climate Agreement, on average. This is at [...]

Let’s close coal plants so AGL can triple its profits

Last year AGL made $539 million net profit. This year, $1,600 million. What’s not to like about closing Hazelwood?

Profit statements confirm what we’ve said — closing cheap coal boosts profits for generators. No wonder AGL won’t sell Liddell for a hundred million dollars. It also shows us that the big “bubble” in electricity prices is from the doubling of wholesale electricity costs. These corporates are reaping it in far above costs. The way to cut wholesale prices is to get rid of the RET, and fix our old coal.

[ABC] Its underlying profit, which excludes one-off items and changes in value in investments and hedging positions, rose 28 per cent to $1.02 billion, at the upper end of the company’s guidance.

Even Andy Vesey admits the coal closures helped AGL:

“This increase in prices in the broader electricity market has mostly been a result of the abrupt closure of non-AGL power stations such as Hazelwood in 2017 and Northern in 2016 and higher input costs from coal and gas,” AGL chief executive Andy Vesey said.

But watch the pea. Who is trying to blame high profits on higher input costs?

Then he tosses [...]

“No bias here” says Aust Energy Market chief while planning 100% for unnecessary, pointless renewables transition

Pull the other one.

No Bias — Audrey Zibelman,

Audrey Zibelman, the improbable green-lawyer manager of our National Energy Market claims her advice is not biased towards renewables. This is the same Zibelman who tells us that “resisting the energy transition is like trying to resist the internet.” As if governments had to legislate “An Internet Target” and mandate we do 16% of our shopping online. The same Zibelman believes  “we’re the last generation on earth who can really do something about climate change.” She thinks she’s changing global weather with our power grid. By 2100 historians will have people rolling in the aisles with that one. What were they thinking?*

Her bias is so all encompassing she can’t imagine a world twenty years hence which still runs on coal and gas and views the temporary experiment with unreliables as a disastrous, predictable mistake, a historic dead-end. Renewables are the B-size-batteries, the hydrogen-filled-air-ships and the X-rays for shoe shops that didn’t take over the world. She assumes that the forced “transition” to renewables is inevitable, natural and necessary. What if it’s an artificial, uneconomic, unnecessary accident of profit hungry industry rent-seekers and  fatuous virtue signaling fools?

Hands up who [...]