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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“Market Bloodbath”: Too many new remote renewables projects means high losses

As Australia push-pumps “renewables” into remote locations some of their incomes are suddenly being cut because the losses (as they transmit across long lines) are higher than they expected. On March 8th the AEMO rerated many generators and this year it’s being called a bloodbath for wind and solar. Some of them,  like AGL’s Silverton wind farm face losses of 20%.

It all revolves around something called Marginal Loss Factors, a value that is set by the AEMO each year for each generator. The rating is reduced by transmission losses over distance and also by “congestion” from other renewables which are popping up in the same remote locations far from the cities and industries that need the electricity they make. This sudden loss of expected income threatens new wind and solar projects (as it should — hello market signal!) Sometimes the loss factors are hard to predict years in advance which makes it difficult to also predict whether a project will return a profit (even despite the guaranteed subsidies).

Another renewable inefficiency strikes — “marginal loss factors”

Generators are paid according to the electricity that arrives rather than what they produce at the plant. (Seems fair). This is called the Marginal [...]

The cost of one days electricity on the Australian grid is three times (or 50 times) more than it was in 2012

There were no headlines but $300 million dollars was burned at the stake of renewables

Just another day on the exciting Australian NEM.

Friday week ago we had another price spike hitting the $14,500 mandated price cap. On that day South Australians and Victorians paid a blistering $61 million and $210 million respectively. That’s the cost of a single day’s electricity on what was a hot day (but not a record) for Melbourne (38C) and Adelaide (42C). These are temperatures that those cities often reach in summer. It was about 28C in the other three capital cities. Don’t be fooled — high temperatures are not the reason for the price spikes — as it happens, NSW used 22% more electricity than Victoria that day yet paid 90% less.

Thanks to David Bidstrup for calculating these numbers (MSWord file).

But even NSW and Queensland are pay millions too much

You might think NSW and Queensland have reasonable prices for electricity, but lest we forget, what they pay today is still three times more expensive than they would have been if they were paying 2012 prices. Long ago in the renewable dark ages the average price of wholesale electricity was [...]

Solar subsidy death spiral: $2 billion in Australia, rising 50% pa as electricity prices rocket

A few Australians are just beginning to realize that they are paying for their neighbour’s solar panel. As news spreads, the shine of good-citizen-solar is going to tarnish fast, but it is going to take a concerted campaign to spread the word.

In one corner are 2 million households which have solar PV and thought they paid for it themselves. In the other corner are 7.5 million households which have exorbitant electricity bills. And in every corner and all across the spectrum is mass confusion thanks to the mass media. The fog of advertisements disguised as “news” means if you ask a dumb-enough-question 70% of Australians will say they want the government to set a high RET target to make electricity cheaper. It’s almost like 2 out of 3 people think we need the government to force us to buy cheap stuff, because everyone would buy the “expensive” planet killing volts if we only had the choice. Doh.

That’s $200 per household (and the rest!) added to the electricity bill in 2019

This is just the direct SRES (Small Renewable Energy Scheme) cost. It doesn’t cover the burden of stabilizing the grid, of covering the cost of baseload power [...]

Australians: destroying their grid faster than any country on Earth

Australians are the Renewable crash Test Dummies

As I said for free and two months before the ANU,  with a 50% annual growth in renewables, Australia is ramping up unreliable power faster than anywhere.

Now comes a paper: Australia: the renewable energy superstar showing that, per capita, Australia is installing unreliable generators in a blitzkrieg pace, more than twice as fast as Germany is, and 4-5 times faster per capita than the EU, USA, Japan and China. No other dummies are even in the race. The largest coal exporter in the world is working harder than anyone to destroy its largest export earner — which would be noble if only there was more to it than being a magical spell to ward off storms.

This is a legendary paper and very helpful. Save the link, copy the reference, send it to your MP, your friends, your newspaper! Why not head to the launch at ANU at 5:30pm, 14th Feb?

Never again can anyone get away with national flagellation for “not doing enough”. Henceforth Green and Labor M.P.’s will stop calling us a national joke, a pariah, and a disgrace. (Though, actually, all those things are true, for the opposite [...]

Melbourne, 200,000 houses blacked out, 10 companies curtailed, as 1-in-3-year hot day hits

***UPDATED: Melbourne has been 42C or more around 50 times since 1855. That’s one in three years. Thanks to Bob Fernley-Jones for the correction.

 They were only 250 million watts short:

Loy Yang, powering Victoria, and soon probably “taking the blame” too.

Rachel Baxendale, The Australian

h/t Des Moore

More than 200,000 Victorian households had their power cut off yesterday in a bid to protect the state’s energy system from shutting down, as the Andrews government was forced to admit there was not enough power to keep up with soaring demand in sweltering summer heat.

Homes were blacked out, traffic lights across Melbourne were switched off and businesses were forced to close for up to two hours after the Australian Energy Market Operator enforced rolling power outages to make up a 250 megawatt shortfall in supply.

The State Energy Minister (Lily D’Ambrosio) said there would “absolutely” be no blackouts this morning and the rolling blackouts started 90 minutes later. Welcome to the USSAustralia where we hope to make your 150th Birthday Party 0.001 degrees cooler but we can’t predict our electricity grid for the next hour and a half.

Dark ages [...]

Warning: Money on fire in Vic and SA electricity prices at $14,000 per MWh

Prices are “off the chart” in Vic and SA right now and likely for the next few hours. Factories will be closing. Diesel generators will be running, but only in South Australia and Victoria. At these kinds of prices tens of millions of dollars could be going up in smoke every hour. By the end of today the bill could come to more than a hundred million dollars.

In QLD and NSW where there are old or evil coal fired plants the wholesale electricity costs are only $105/MWh.

Victoria

South Australia

The national electricity market (or at least the Eastern half and 90% of the population).

 

Today when we need it, wind power on the NEM is running at about 20% of total capacity. Four out of five windfarms are not working.

 

 

 UPDATE: LOR3 (highest level warning) issued in Victoria but resolved at 8pm. In SA the diesel jet engines have been switched on for the first time as emergency reserve. We didn’t used to need to buy expensive machinery so it could sit around for 18 months before it was needed.

 

h/t Ian B, LightningCamel, George, David [...]

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 [...]