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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Japan: The precautionary principle killed more people than the Fukushima nuclear disaster

The panicked closure of nuclear power in Japan pushed electricity prices up. The UN agrees that no people died from radiation in the Fukushima event, but the frenzied over-evacuation killed up to 2,000 people. After that, higher electricity prices led to at least 1280 extra deaths in the 21 largest cities. That translates into 4,500 deaths if the mortality rate was similar across the rest of the country.

Japan nuclear shutdown did ‘more harm than good’, study finds

World Nuclear News

Be Cautious with the Precautionary Principle: Evidence from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident, by Matthew Neidell, Shinsuke Uchida and Marcella Veronesi. A discussion paper by the Germany-based IZA Institute of Labor Economics.

“Our estimated increase in mortality from higher electricity prices significantly outweighs the mortality from the accident itself, suggesting the decision to cease nuclear production caused more harm than good.”

The authors calculated that these higher electricity prices resulted in at least an additional 1280 deaths during 2011-2014. This is higher than a previously documented estimate of 1232 deaths which occurred as a result of the evacuation after the accident, they say.

“Since our data [on mortality related to higher [...]

Basslink cable out again, costing Victorians more as prices rise

The Basslink cable has gone down again, and is expected to be out of action til mid-October. Luckily for Tasmania, the dams are at 45% full. However in Victoria, which sits on one of the largest brown coal reserves in the world, currently prices are hitting $300/MWh every morning and every evening at peak time.  This graph below shows 5 minute prices for the last two days in Victoria. Every dollar Victoria saves at lunchtime from solar generation is lost a few hours later, and then some. Though it’s wrong to use the word “saves” at any time of day. The wholesale price of brown coal power for years was $30/MWh, and this below is a wholesale price graph. Even the lunchtime “low prices” are twice as expensive as brown coal which can supply all day, every day and for hundreds of years to come and doesn’t cause voltage surges, frequency instability, or house fires, and doesn’t need backup batteries, demand management schemes, free movie tickets, or dark hospitals.

The AEMO must be counting their lucky stars that this happened at probably the “best” time of year when demand is lower.

….

 

The effect of the Basslink outage [...]

Bluescope spends a billion in US because “cheap energy”

Add another billion to the cost of the Renewable Energy Target?

In the last few days Bluescope Steel (formerly BHP) has confirmed it will spend US$700m (AU$1b) to expand it’s North Star steel mill in Ohio. So there are multiple headlines. But back in February CEO Mark Vassella explained exactly why they were thinking of it, and his first reason was “energy prices”. Last week, high energy prices were even “a tragedy” for Australian manufacturing. This week however, he’s clarified his position by muddying it up. Now there other reasons and the solution is to fix our gas prices. He’s backpedaling and tossing quotes that happen to help the renewables industry.

Perhaps he’s been heavied by his PR and strategy team? Now he’s saying that energy costs matter, but labor costs do too and “we weren’t ever going to put another steel mill in Australia”. He’s even saying energy costs “did not play a role” — the complete opposite. These will become the quotes the renewable energy fans rely on. Apparently, now what he really wants is cheaper gas — which requires a socialist government-driven solution to fix gas prices, and it’s safe for anyone to mention anything that requires [...]

The planned electricity shortages begin and duped Australians say “thanks”

Once upon a time Australians were rich enough to afford electricity on demand

Now obedient Australian’s are impressed with getting tiny refund for having voluntary mini-kinda-blackout.

Presumably, people are either desperate or already so trained in paying unnecessarily exorbitant electricity bills that they are grateful just to get a tiny fraction of their electricity payments back as an incentive for switching off when it suits those managing our inadequate infrastructure.

Demand response is a sales term for a voluntarily “doing without”. The ABC describes it as a wonderful new market force held back by selfish corporate greed (wouldn’t you know it?). The ABC doesn’t mention that electricity used to cost much less before we artificially forced renewables onto the grid and drove out the cheap reliable baseload generators or make the remaining ones less efficient and more expensive. But who remembers 1995?  Were ABC researchers even born then?

It’s like 50 years of history doesn’t exist:

Another graph the ABC won’t show on TV

Behind-the-scenes battle over future of Australia’s energy market

It’s called demand response – it allows customers to save thousands of dollars by switching their appliances to lower electricity use at peak times.

[...]

18 years of Renewable Energy Target means an expensive and unstable grid, and still 75% coal

A big new study by electricity grid nerds (and I mean that in the nicest possible way) shows that after all the money and pain of 20 years of forced transition Australia’s electricity has shifted from 85% coal powered to 75% coal powered, which cost billions and as a bonus, made electricity more expensive and unstable. We drove out some brown coal, but swapped it for black coal. Instead of ousting coal power, the extra solar and wind power replaced some gas and hydro.

The authors are genuine independent experts, and the report is incredibly detailed — so this is rare — but still suffers from serious drawbacks:

The team doesn’t question the need for an artificial expensive transition. Almost all the problems they describe are caused by government policies that task our grid with changing the climate as well as producing cheap and reliable electricity. In a grid being ruined by inept policy, the implied solutions almost all involve more regulation and government policy. If our gas prices are too high we could ban sales overseas, but then we lose the export income. The left hand steals from the right. The free market solution is to use another fuel, [...]

More renewables, more record prices

Once again, bad luck for renewables. The AEMO put out their report for the first quarter of 2019. Despite a massive growth in renewables, power prices are still not falling as predicted.

The report highlights that record high spot wholesale electricity prices were set in Victoria and South Australia, and nearly in everywhere else as well:

• Victoria and South Australia’s quarterly average spot wholesale electricity prices of $166/MWh and $163/MWh were their highest on record.

• Victoria and New South Wales recorded their highest underlying energy price on record, while Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania recorded their seconded highest energy prices on record.

These record highs were not just billion dollar price spikes, but the actual underlying energy prices as well.

Looks like a trend here:

Wholesale electricity prices, NEM, Australia, Q1, 2019 | Click to enlarge.

The news gets reported but somehow coal and heat get the blame?

Record power bills in NSW, Vic

Perry Williams, The Australian

Power prices in NSW and Victoria soared to their highest level on record in the first quarter of 2019, with the jump blamed on high coal and gas tariffs and searing summer [...]

Another socialist boom and bust in solar in Victoria

Behold, the Victorian Govt are proving yet again that Soviet-style electricity management can crush lives, hopes and wallets. The free market is never as cruel and destructive as one run on “good intentions” or the desire to win virtue-signaling fashion parades.

The invisible hand of the market was replaced with Daniel Andrews whimsy. This might work if he was smarter than the collective brains of 5 million people. Apparently Andrews assumes serfs people don’t understand the true value of solar panels and the benefits of creating jobs in China, so he has mandated glorious subsidies in the hope of getting nice weather one day, and the desperate punters took them up in droves. The industry boomed. But now they’ve temporarily halted the free gifts, orders have disappeared as the free market returns to accurately valuing solar installations. So the workers are being sacked. The rebates will come back again in July, so business-owners somehow need to get a different income stream for two months, survive the turmoil, and then the golden gravy will run again.

As per usual ABC policy, no free market voices were harmed, interviewed or asked to provide comment:

Victorian solar company reeling after popular rebate [...]

Invisible costs of renewables: “Staggeringly high” $125b for US electricity consumers

A major new “nail in coffin” study shows the more renewables we force onto the market the more expensive electricity gets.

Everyday someone tells us renewables are cheap, but these estimates come from flawed “LCOE” method (at best) supposedly the lifetime cost, but without many indirect costs. Granted, it’s hard to figure out what the bill for renewable energy is. But what really matters to every man and his dog, is the cost effect on the whole system, not a cherry-slice comparison of a few sunny-windy hours a day which doesn’t take into account the effect that renewable energy has on the rest of the 24/7 electricity grid.

Greenstone, McDowell and Nath have analysed all 29 states in the US where there are laws demanding a certain percentage of energy be renewable. On average a 4% increase in renewables led to a price rise of 17% and the impost was wildly high compared to any remotely sensible cost-benefit analysis. Renewables are the car insurance bill that costs 3 times as much as your car. Any serious environmentalist would hate renewables.

Michael Shellenberger, Forbes

The cost to consumers has been staggeringly high: ”All in all, seven years after passage, [...]

Solar Power at $70 is still twice the price of brown coal

More fake news: Miners are only switching to solar because they can’t get access to cheap coal fired power.

“Miners switch on to renewables”

A better headline would be: Renewable targets make electricity so expensive miners are forced to switch to renewables.

The money quote:

Emily Alford is a principal consultant at Oakley Greenwood …  [she] told The Weekend Australian that solar generation cost about $200 a megawatt hour five years ago, and had dropped to about $70-$80 now.

Compare that to 53 year old Hazelwood coal power which was selling electricity for $30/MWh in it’s last month of operation. When brown coal stations set the price in Victoria they were winning bids at prices like $13/MWh.The cheapest electricity in the world comes from 30 year old brown coal plants.

The $70-$80 estimate is artificially low. Unreliable power makes the other baseload generators more expensive, adding $30/MWh to gas generators for example. Because the back up generators have to be there, not earning money while solar feeds in, they have to charge more to recoup those costs in a shorter working period. Doh. So add that cost to solar, not the gas.

Compare the real costs and weep:

I’ll repost [...]

Electric cars are perfect for socialists: Labor plan boosts Big-Gov, but worse for CO2, pollution, coal use, and grid

Labor’s electric car plan means higher emissions, more pollution, more coal use, and threatens the grid but it’s great for socialists.

Fantasy-land: Labor wants half of all new cars sales to be EV’s by 2030. That’s a radical change in a big country that loves its cars and drives great distances. Last year only 0.2% of new car purchases were EV’s. Our grid is already struggling, and extra charging cars would push it over the edge and may add something like $20b a year in extra network and generation costs.

This makes no sense on so many levels: in Australia EV’s are 80% fossil fuel powered and over their lifetime they cause more pollution than internal combustion engines.

Electric Vehicles produce more carbon emissions if the grid that charges them is powered by fossil fuels.

The results reveal that the energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of a battery electric vehicle production range from 92.4 to 94.3 GJ and 15.0 to 15.2 t CO2eq, which are about 50% higher than those of an internal combustion engine vehicle, 63.5 GJ and 10.0 t CO2eq. This substantial change can be mainly attributed to the production of traction batteries, the essential components [...]

“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 [...]

States with low cost solar and wind paying 1300% more at the moment

Any more free electricity and SA and Victoria will go broke.

In other news a few days ago, the retail price of electricity rose 16% in Victoria and the number of disconnections rose 21%.

In a highly critical report to be released on Tuesday, the Essential Services Commission accused energy retailers of running ineffectual hardship programs that saw customers cut off anyway in most cases.  The commission reported power prices leapt 16 per cent last financial year, feeding a 21 per cent jump in the number of disconnections as 60,732 customers had their power cut off. The ESC said the number of disconnections in the last quarter of the financial year was one of the highest on record. – Sydney Morning Herald

Enjoy all the fun of watching our Australian Electricity Market in operation live as tens of millions of dollars get converted into income for AGL, Energy Australia, ENGIE, Origin and Snowy Hydro. No wonder they love renewables.

States with the most cheap wind and solar pay the most for electricity. Graph. AEMO.

Why do we allow a few companies to own so many different and competing generators across the entire market?

AEMO: State of [...]

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 [...]