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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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 [...]

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. [...]

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 [...]

The Crash Test Dummy speeds up: our Renewable Target is 16% and rising, so are our electricity prices

The Renewables Lobby subsidy and handouts are still growing. In 2018, Australia must get 16% of all our electricity from “renewables”, up from 14.2% last year.

That’s 28,000 Gigawatt hours of magical green electrons from generators that give us nice weather as opposed to generators that cause droughts, floods, cyclones and spread crocodiles, dengue fever, cause wars and change butterflies.

Welcome to modern Australia where our grid is designed by witchcraft, run by superstition, and panders to every whim of the Giant Renewables Industry Lobby.

The noose tightens in Australia.

Renewables must supply 16% of our electricity in 2018, and even more in 2019.

Source: 2001-2030 Annual Targets and renewable power percentages, Clean Energy Regulator.

Prices are rising too: Could there be a connection here?

Even the ABC now says “Something has gone terribly wrong with our electricity prices”. Prices went off the ranch from 2007, rising much faster than the CPI. This is also the point Australia started ramping up the intermittent renewables. Before that the Snowy Hydro Scheme –the only reliable and cost effective form of renewable power — had been operating for decades. Correlation is [...]

UK: smart meters are expected to save a whopping £11 annually

No one needed a smart meter when we had smart baseload.  Beware Australians, despite the promises and threats, smart meters may or may not make UK customers a paltry saving. When all is said and done it’s not even clear the benefits outweigh the costs.

 People who have smart meters installed are expected to save an average of £11 annually on their energy bills, much less than originally hoped. A report from a parliamentary group now predicts a dual fuel saving of £26.

Customer pays, but energy firms save more:

Customers have financed the smart meter programme by paying a levy on their energy bills, while suppliers have frequently blamed the levy for rising costs. However, the report claimed most of the eventual savings would be made by energy firms, rather than consumers.

It is an £11 billion programme. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it appears the country would be richer if the government just gave back £170 to each person instead.

Smart meter looks like a dumb elephant:

The report also said that:

More than half of smart meters “go dumb” after switching, meaning they stop communicating with the supplier [...]

Hydro storage is an anti-generator that destroys 20-30% of the electricity fed into it

We’re planning to spend $5,000 million on something to smooth out the bumps from unreliable generators. It is entirely unnecessary in a system where coal supplies the baseload and we have not created artificial rules forcing people to use green electrons in preference over stable and predictable ones. Most estimates of costs from wind and solar ignore the hidden costs — the destructive effect on the whole grid.

Wikipedia on Pumped Storage Hydroelectricity:

“the round-trip energy efficiency of PSH varies between 70%–80%,[4][5][6][7] with some sources claiming up to 87%.[8]

h/t Peter Rees, Michael Crawford, Ian Waters.

Even after Snowy Hydro 2.0, power will cost $90/MWh

Joe Kelly, The Australian last week:

Energy project financier David Carland — the executive director of Australian Resources Development Limited — argues that once the Snowy Hydro project is operating it will provide only partial back-up energy at a high cost.

Using Snowy Hydro’s modelling assumptions, Dr Carland’s calculations show the “levelised cost of energy” — or unit-cost of electricity over the lifetime of an asset — will deliver power significantly in excess of $90/MWh, after allowing for the cost of storage, cycle losses and the initial cost of buying energy at off-peak [...]

Spent $1.5 billion on an interconnector to get a tiny cut in obscenely inflated electricity bills!

What costs $1,500m, makes no electricity, but “saves money”?

South Australia has used federal subsidies to build more wind power than it can use. They’ve spent half a billion already on diesel powered jet engines and a  battery that can power the state for “minutes”. For 139 hours last year the state produced so much wind power it supplied 100% of the states electricity needs and then some, and the problem of excess electricity is only getting worse as wind generation keeps increasing and solar PV uptake is rampant.

When government rules and regs have created an inefficient, expensive problem, what do we do? More of it. A new report suggests that South Australia needs a direct transmission line to NSW which will cost $1.5b. We could spend that on a reliable generator instead, or get the government out of the way and let the private sector do it for us, but instead we need to pay for another transmission line to connect up different zones-of-subsidy-rent seekers and hope we get $30 off the bill? It’s a savings in the statistic margin of error…

South Australia didn’t even have an interconnector til 1990. Now with decentralized and renewable power they [...]

Energy Crisis: NSW can’t keep coal plants, or aluminium smelters running, prices hit $14,000MW/hr

It’s not even summer.

NSW has been hit by clouds and a lack of reliable coal power. Prices are soaring.  In NSW the Tomago Aluminium Smelter consumes about 10% of the state’s electricity. It has been forced to switch off three times in the last week because there was not enough reserve power on the grid.

The boss of Tomago, Mr Howell, said Australia is “at a crisis point with our energy system”. 

“This is not summer with extreme demand. This is the likely future of our energy grid as once reliable baseload generators exit the [NEM] and are mostly replaced with intermittent wind and solar projects with no practical storage to speak of,” Mr Howell said. “Our energy debate should not advocate either renewables or conventional thermal,” he said.

– SMH, Peter Hannam,

Aluminum pot lines can only sit idle for a few hours before they cool too far and the damage becomes permanent and wildly expensive as the aluminum becomes solid.

Renewables-fans blame the emergency on the unreliability of coal

See @TheAustraliaInstitute. Suddenly Australia is the only western nation on Earth with coal resources that can’t [...]

Snowy Hydro goes activist, lobbies for renewables to boost profits, beat enemy “Coal”

Spot the vested interest

The biggest competitor for hydro in Australia is cheap old coal power. Surprise me, Snowy Hydro jumped into the national energy debate a few days ago on behalf of taxpayers themselves.

With Turnbull offering five-billion-dollar gravy to build an unnecessary hydro storage battery, it is no surprise to hear Snowy Hydro pretending that Australia needs more intermittent unreliables.  The more solar and wind rock the system, the more Big-Hydro is needed to stabilize the boat. The big question is why hardly any journalists or politicians seem able to spot the obvious vested interest:

Ben Packham, The Australian:

Snowy 2.0 declares wind and solar power ‘clearly cheaper’ than coal

The government-owned company building Malcolm Turnbull’s Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro project has added fuel to the energy wars by declaring wind and solar are clearly cheaper options than coal.

And if you owned Hydro stocks, you’d say that too. Coal is every generators enemy for a reason. It’s cheaper than they are.

See the tiny numbers above the columns in this graph? Those are actual settlement prices — tiny wholesale bargain sales of coal fired electrons at 1c per kilowatt hour.

Love those 30 year old coal and nuclear plants — nothing gives cheaper electricity

The gold-plated stars of our national grid are the old coal plants we’ve built and paid off.

A US report (thanks Lance) shows how fantastically cheap and bountiful old coal and nuclear plants are. The LCOE or the Levelized Cost of Electricity includes the costs of the concrete, turbines, car parks and coal, plus the maintenance and salaries. It reveals that thirty year old, and even fifty year old coal plants, are the gift from past generations — enormous infrastructure, built and paid for, and ready to churn out bargain electrons. Or in crazy-land, ready to be blown up.

Look how long it takes to pay off the capital cost of building them (the red sector in the graph), and look how wonderfully cheap that electricity is from a 30 year old plant. Watch the pea. All those “investigative news stories” that compare the cost of building new coal to the cost of solar or wind are hiding the most brilliant and essential assets on our grid. Reopen Hazelwood now. (!)

Both sides of politics are choosing to destroy the family jewels in the hope of controlling global weather.

….

From the report by Stacy and Taylor, of the [...]

Australians paying $600 per household to subsidize wind and solar

Australia is a wonderful living experiment for nations worldwide of how a people with more energy resources per capita than anywhere else in the world can sabotage a perfectly good electricity grid in the hope of appeasing the Weather Gods.

At the request of Senator Malcolm Roberts, Alan Moran slices up our “Chief Scientists” report (known as the Finkel Review) and gives us some home truths. Electricity costs have doubled in Australia, Finkel’s plan would take what isn’t working, and do more of it –  in the process pretty much destroying one fifth of our manufacturing base, costing us thousands of jobs, and adding almost $588-$768 per household annually to energy bills. Let’s ask Australian voters if they want cheap coal power or if they’d rather spend  $600 a year to make the weather unmeasureably nicer in 2100? Why don’t we have a plebescite on that?

In other basic truths Moran points out that while Finkel seems to think new coal fired plants are uneconomic, everyone else is building them around the world. Old plants don’t have to be blown up on their 50th Birthday either. They can be maintained instead, like lots of other perfectly good 50 year old [...]

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 [...]