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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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 [...]

Worlds biggest solar thermal plant axed in state that is God’s gift to solar

Despite the obstacles, the free market just saved South Australian’s $110 million dollars

The Aurora plant was to be a bigger copy of Crescent Dunes, Solar Thermal Plant, California.

The Aurora Solar Thermal plant was going to be the biggest one in the world, but they couldn’t find enough private investors so it’s just been scrapped. That is despite the SA government being willing to give $110 million dollars, and the state being one of the sunniest, richest places in the world and with people already paying obscenely high prices for electricity. If Big-Solar could make it anywhere, surely there is no easier place on Planet Earth than in coal-less South Australia where competition from cheap reliable power has been completely extinguished?

A $650 million solar thermal power plant planned for Port Augusta will not go ahead after the company behind it failed to secure commercial finance for the project.

Despite all those fixed, unfair advantages, the market didn’t want to pay up for a 150MW bird frying power plant that would cost $650 million and probably only produce 30MW effectively. (The company’s prototype was Crescent Dunes which had a capacity factor of only 16%). Possibly investors [...]

“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 [...]

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 [...]

Report on Aug 25 blackouts shows how fragile our grid is (and the real cost of cheap solar panels).

 When cheap solar is expensive Badly installed solar PV makes Australia’s grid fragile

On August 25 last year there was nearly a system blackout when, improbably, three states of Australia were islanded by one lightning strike. Within seconds, trips were switching, two smelters were load shed to save the grid from collapse, and across the Eastern Seaboard of Australia frequency and voltages surged or fell everywhere. In Sydney 45,000 homes lost power for a couple of hours. Shops had to close. Trains were stopped. Passengers were stranded. Traffic signals were not working on major roads. There was chaos. Industrial users shut down in a mass of 725MW of load shedding.

The AEMO final report on that day has just come out and shows us just how fragile our grid is. This was not so much a freak accident, as an accident waiting to happen.

It turns out that another cost of cheap rushed solar panels is that many drop out with voltage spikes, suddenly going offline and leaving another hole to fill. The numbers are amazing — of panels installed in the last 2 years as many as one-third in South Australia dropped out when we needed them and about 1 [...]

White elephant solar panels: “force-feeding” high voltage, raising costs, breaking things, shutting themselves down

Some days I wonder if I should spread stories that make us sound like a recidivist third-world backwater struggling to maintain our voltage. But the ABC is already smashing away.

Just when you think there couldn’t possibly be another drawback to solar panels, lo! Solar Panels are pushing up the voltage at midday often as high as 253 Volts when it supposed to be more like 230 to 240V. This means appliances are using more electricity, that makes bills even higher. It may also be breaking appliances (making other bills go higher too). We’re not really sure about that, but when that study is done, it’ll already be 1.8 million panels too late.

Non-solar users are paying for this surge (and the appliances) — for every 1% increase in voltage, the costs go up 0.7%. Then, to ice that gravy-cake, the inverters on solar panels are also shutting off at 253V, meaning that poor home owners who paid thousands are not generating power for the grid. All up, solar is bad for you, bad for them, bad for our light-globes.

The warning comes from groups running the electricity networks in Australia.

Spot the key word missing from the ABC headline [...]

Turn off all wind and solar at 6pm peak time — makes no difference

All those billions we spent and yet at 6pm, many days coal, gas and hydro provide 98% of the power Australia needs. Wind and solar are our spare bikes, the third ski, the Banana-Slicers of the National Grid (read those reviews). Just what would we do if wind and solar were all we had? — Jo

At peak time intermittent renewables often make less than 2% of total Australian electricity

Guest Post by Anton Lang (TonyFromOz)

h/t to Rafe Campion at Catalaxy

When power is required the most, wind and solar are missing almost entirely. This isn’t cherry picking of one time — peak time is the most important time on the grid, when the most power is required.  The almost non-existent contribution from renewables is so common it has occurred now for seven days out of the last 14 days.

I’ve been doing a series on the Australian generation and demand curves on a daily basis for seven weeks, the totals are settling down, so that now the percentage changes are only in tenths of a percent, and consider that when it comes to total power and coal fired power, a tenth of one percent is 600MegaWattHours, so at [...]

One million useless solar panels

Only five years ago Australia had a mere 20,000 solar systems installed on homes across the country. Now thanks to a Gonzo-Big-Daddy-Government we have over one million solar systems, almost all of them producing electricity that could have been made for something like a fifth of the price with coal.

The Clean Energy Regulator spins it as though wasting money on inefficient equipment in the hope of reducing world temperatures is a good thing for Australia.

“…the Clean Energy Regulator, which estimates that those solar energy systems provide power for around 2.5 million Australians. With a population of around 23 million, that means over ten percent of the country benefits from solar power.”

So 10% of Australians benefit from solar, and 90% pay for it?

“The regulator also says the installations have saved Australians about half a billion dollars on electricity bills!”

The regulator doesn’t say how much Australians had to pay to “save” a half a billion dollars.

In Dec 2011 The Productivity Commission estimated $777m in one year alone:

At the prevailing REC prices, this effectively provided an up-front capital subsidy of $777 million to solar PV systems in 2010.

[...]