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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Victoria plans to reduce electricity prices by copying state with most expensive supply in the world

In a genius move, Victoria, which has “soaring” electricity prices, now announces plan to copy South Australia where people pay more for electricity than anywhere:

The Andrews government this morning unveiled a new renewable energy target with a commitment to power up to 25 per cent of the state from renewables by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025.

The government has backed the construction of two large scale solar farms in regional Victoria which will provide another 140MW to the state’s supply, and has set up a reverse energy auction system to bring forward an additional 650MW to the state’s supply.

Meanwhile the trams will run on sunshine.

Legislation creates savings, how?

Victorian households will allegedly each save around $30 annually on power bills under the new plan, while medium sized businesses have been projected to save up to $2400 a year under the legislation which will be introduced to parliament today.

It’s almost like Victoria plans to make electricity from legislation (hey, it’s renewable, and will never run out). By making electricity shockingly expensive, Government ministers can talk of “savings”, even though prices will be far higher than the average price [...]

Australia, Denmark, Germany vie to win Highest Global Electricity Cost! (It’s the Nobel Price Prize?)

It’s not even close: If South Australia seceded it would have the highest electricity price of any nation on Earth.

 Australian Households pay highest power prices in the World, AFR.

South Australian households are paying the highest prices in the world at 47.13¢ per kilowatt hour, more than Germany, Denmark and Italy which heavily tax energy, after the huge increases on July 1, Carbon + Energy Markets’ MarkIntell data service says.

When the eastern states’ National Electricity Market was formed in the late 1990s, Australia had the lowest retail prices in the world along with the United States and Canada, CME director Bruce Mountain said.

 The Markintell report graph:

Hmm — odd coincidence of Price with Wind Energy Penetration:

Wind energy is “free” but countries with the most wind power are also the most likely to get to the top of the Prize Pool for exorbitant electricity. Wind energy penetration is highest in  Denmark (1st), Portugul (8th), Ireland (6th), Spain (11th), Germany (3rd). Conversely, renewable energy penetration is low in places at the tail end of the price curve like Luxemburg 6%, Estonia 15%, Hungary 7%, Lithuania 15.5%. In the low mid price range [...]

SA Solar Thermal plant is a copy of US plant that was out of action for one third of its life so far

Crescent Dunes, Solar Thermal Plant, USA.   | Wikimedia  Author, Amble.

A company called SolarReserve is planning to build the new Aurora 150MW solar thermal plant at Port Augusta, which is apparently a copy of their Crescent Dunes plant in the US. But that project has been offline for most of the time since last October. The whole SA government is meant to be running 24/7 off “solar power”, which allegedly only has about 8 hours of energy stored up (as heat in the molten salt block). So an 8 month break will be a bit of problem for the SA government (except of course, we all know that the real baseload backup here at 4 or 5am everyday, and most of the day in winter, is ultimately the very fossilized gas and coal.) Since the project only began working in Sept 2015 it managed to operate for all of one year and one month before it went offline for 8 months due to a leak. The SA State Energy Minister is not concerned saying it was a construction issue and SolarReserve “have learnt from that”.

The 150MW myth: most of the time it will be less, a lot [...]

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 [...]

Wind disappears in South Australia, costing wind-industry millions, BOM blames climate change even though models predicted faster winds

The wind fizzled out over the South East slab of Australia during June. Predictably, that meant the wind industry lost millions, and wholesale electricity prices went up. When the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) was asked where the wind had gone, Darren Ray, expert climatologist, said it was due to a high pressure system over the bight, which, he explained, was linked to “climate change”. Thus, as the world warms, wind farms will be progressively more useless in South Australia. Perhaps the BOM should have mentioned that before SA became dependent on wind farms? I don’t think he had thought this one through.

Perhaps the BOM is hoping that the masochistic sacrifice of South Australia will stop global warming before global warming stops the wind farms?

You might think that if the global climate models could see this coming they would have suggested that wind farms weren’t a good idea. Or maybe, since climate models predict every equal and opposite outcome in unison, the models are always right post hoc, but not so useful in projections?

Climate models predict climate change causes faster and slower winds over Australia

In 2017, Darren Ray, BOM expert, said the decrease in winds was due [...]

SA govt to spend $100m on diesel generators (but could have spent $8m keeping coal plant instead)

I’d like to thank South Australia for so selflessly showing the world how well renewables work. (And thank we West Australians for paying for it).

To get ready for the shortfalls next summer, the SA government is said to be ordering in 220MW of diesel generation at an expected cost of $114m.

The government has contracted privately owned South Aust­ralian electricity distribut­ion company SA Power Networks to obtain and install 200 megawatts of back-up generation across the state before summer. But despite promising a “detailed costing” would be provided in last week’s state budget, Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis did not offer any such details.

The opposition said the budget had allocated $114m for operational costs in 2017-18 from the $550m energy plan, “indicating the diesel generators are going to be very expensive”.

This $106m sacrifice is expected to reduce global temperature by 0.000C, but will save the premier from being called a climate denier at dinner parties:

“Eighteen months ago the Tasmanian government spent $64m in leasing, site establishment and operational costs for 220MW of diesel generation for three months when a combination of drought and repairs to the Basslink left it short of electricity,” [...]

SA will take top prize for Most Expensive Electricity from Denmark on July 1

South Australia has the largest uranium deposit in the world, which it digs up to sell to other countries to make electricity. It also has lots of sun and wind and empty space. If any state can make solar and wind power work, surely it’s there.

And renewables are working for SA, working to put it in top place for Global Electricity Bills.

South Australia power prices to rise to highest in the world on Saturday, energy expert warns

South Australia will overtake Denmark as having the world’s most expensive electricity when the country’s major energy retailers jack up their prices this Saturday.

AGL, EnergyAustralia and Origin Energy will all increase their electricity prices from July 1, adding hundreds of dollars to annual household bills. Residential customers will see an average rise of 18 per cent under AGL, 19.9 per cent from EnergyAustralia, 16.1 per cent with Origin Energy. Bruce Mountain, the head of a private energy consultancy firm, said the increases would see South Australia take the lead on world power prices — but for all the wrong reasons.

“After taxes, the [typical] household in South Australia will be paying slightly more than the [...]

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 [...]

Another glorious solar scheme fails ignominiously, “fast clouds”, “rusty pipes”, dumb decisions

Another award winning solar project collapses: it was a $105 million dollar scheme. One company, Areva, lost about $50m and so did the taxpayer. Everything went wrong, management, planning, cheap poor quality steel from China, industrial dispute that left 80% of the pipes rusting on a dock. Three thousand solar reflectors are sitting unused in what was a potato paddock in Dalby. Nobody wants to buy them. They’re obviously worthless. CS Energy is state owned power utility, and it spent $50m but pulled to pin to save wasting another $50m.

In 2011 Julia Gillard raved about how it was going to save 35,000 tons of carbon.

“Ms Gillard says the project could be one of many under the new carbon tax scheme.

“With the clean-energy future I want for our nation, I want it to be a norm,” she said.”

Fans of renewables will cite the management problems as the reason for the failure, not some inherent problem with solar. But the “Clean Energy Culture” is the problem  — the same pathetic, uninformed and corrupt decision-making that subsidizes solar so unnecessarily also creates the same dud decisions in management, legal, and industrial relations. The environment [...]

AEMO Report blames renewables: SA Blackout due to lack of “synchronous inertia”

The Final AEMO Report on the big-SA Blackout deals up some hard truths, and contradicts its earlier claim that the “energy mix” didn’t matter. The key theme here is about the system inertia. The Blackout on Sept 28 last year was an accident waiting to happen, and it wasn’t storm damage to lines that caused it.  The blackout would not have happened if wind power had not been so dominant.

The transition to a 35% wind powered system left the SA grid very vulnerable. On Sept 28 last year, the safety settings on wind turbines were overly sensitive and when voltages “bumped” the turbines shut off suddenly, but those shutoffs hit the system too fast, and that caused the interconnector to shut off too, sacrificing SA to protect the rest of the national grid. The settings themselves are not the main issue — because they can be changed to prevent a repeat. It is a fixable problem — what is harder to fix, is the lack of inertia, and the sheer complexity. These are the biggest challenges of any renewables grid. We can fix even those problems, but at what cost in order to change the weather 100 years [...]