JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


Handbooks


Advertising


Australian Speakers Agency



GoldNerds

The nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX



The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper



Archives

Books

Surprise: Australia closed a cheap coal generator and electricity got 85% more expensive

Last year one of our largest coal power plants suddenly closed, with only five months warning, catching the market by surprise and taking out 5% of our cheapest generation. (This kind of improbable anti-free-market feat shows just how screwed our national market is). The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has looked at the effect the closure of Hazelwood had on electricity prices and concluded that closing cheap brown-coal plants and replacing them with black coal and gas will make electricity prices rise. This will come as no surprise to anyone who can count to 100.

Dan Harrison at the ABC reports:

A year on from the closure of the 1600 megawatt-sized plant in the Latrobe Valley, the report from the Australian Energy Regulator found wholesale prices in Victoria were up 85 per cent on 2016.

Because electricity retailers use hedging for wholesale prices, the rise in retail prices is still feeding through. In the wash, the wholesale increase is expected to add 16% to retail prices this financial year compared to last year. After that, through some miracle, the AEMC expects prices to come back down from Exorbitant to Slightly Lower Than Exorbitant in the next two years thanks to an [...]

South Australia blows up cheap electricity, jobs, wealth, in ideological anti-coal quest

Today the South Australian government destroyed the smoke stack of the Playford B Plant, one more part of what’s left of the cheapest base-load electricity generators in the state.

For about $8 million a year over three years, they could have kept some coal power going and wouldn’t have needed to spend $400 million on emergency diesel generators they don’t want to use, and over $100 million on a battery that can supply 4% of the state for one hour. They also would’ve paid less than $120 million for two days of electricity last week.

On the upside, they can feel good and pretend to be “world leaders”. Virtue signalling is expensive, eh?

….

The plant employed 185 people, the coal mine 200. Other businesses in the town, who knows? People are leaving.

SA, a star in the race away from being a competitive, powerhouse rich state. Creating wealth and jobs in China.

Last South Australian coal-fired power station demolition nears completion

The Australian, Luke Griffiths:

The concrete and brick structure at the 240MW Playford B power station, named after long-serving South Australian premier Sir Thomas Playford and mothballed in 2012, leaves only [...]

Peak heat: Electricity prices lifting off; industry shutting off in Australia. Hospitals switching off lights, “Code Yellow Alert”.

UPDATE: MELBOURNE hospitals are enacting emergency procedures to prepare for the potential loss of power. Hospitals are switching off non-essential electrical equipment, including some lights, to minimize energy use. This is a “Code Yellow” alert asking hospitals to check their back up generators are ready.  The Victorian Minister insists this is not about the “threat” of blackouts, but because hospitals need to be “good corporate citizens”. Pull the other one. At the very least, this is about reducing electricity bills.   h/t Chris in Hervey Bay.

See further UPDATES on “The art of blaming coal” at the bottom.

How much fun can you have? The AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator) projects that as temperatures hit 42C in Victoria, prices are forecast to rise over 100 fold. The AEMO is furiously busy issuing market notices.

The ABC tells us it is 42C, that Portland Alumina has reduced production, but for an ‘undisclosed price’ (why can’t taxpayers know what they are paying this group, not to produce aluminium today?) Meanwhile the AEMO has put the RERT plan into action: “Under the RERT scheme, AEMO has contracted 884 megawatts of “demand side response” across Victoria, NSW and South Australia.” [...]

Here is what’s holding back China’s plans for world domination

Australia may be the worlds largest exporter of coal, sending out 388 million tons in 2015, but China’s production of coal the same year was 3,747 million tons — nearly ten times as much, and nearly half of global coal production. But the Chinese coal boom is turning. David Archibald describes the geopolitical ramifications. For me, the next question is what stops China doing nukes?    — Jo

PS: There is a rumor that Australia has only 4-5 days of fuel stocks today, and is especially low on aviation fuel. Anyone with info, please comment or email joanne AT this site.

________________________________________________________

Here is what’s holding back China’s plans for world domination

Guest post By David Archibald

One of the reasons that China produces the world’s cheapest solar panels, for example, is because it has some of the world’s cheapest coal-fired power

There is no doubt that China wants to subjugate Asia, echoing Japan’s role during World War II.  For those who think China’s economy might overtake the United States economy, and thus make China a more formidable adversary, this article aims to provide detail on China’s main constraint in that ambition: that its domestic coal production is near its peak and will then [...]

Everyone cutting coal use except for most of the world and most of the banks

The situation with our most hated energy asset

Australia’s big four banks are fighting over themselves to turn down the chance to profit from coal loans and tell the world. Months ago, Westpac went on a low-coal diet, declaring like a kind of vegan-keto-banker that they won’t consider a loan unless the coal mined has at least 6,300 kilocalories per kilogram. Presumably they will lose weight, or at least lighten up by a few shareholders. Last week our National Australia Bank announced they are waiting for the carbon capture fairy to conquer some laws of chemistry and economics before they finance coal mines again. (Though they limit themselves to spurning only new customers and “thermal coal” in a kind of have-cake-eat-half-the-cake policy.)

But while the small-fish Australian banks advertise their doogooder star status, financial institutions in Canada are putting $2.9 billion towards building new coal plants overseas. And in the last three years, Chinese banks have casually smashed $630 billion dollars into coal. (Notably, even the Chinese don’t want to put money into Adani coal in Australia, the political environment here is that bad.)

The rest of the world is definitely not watching the Australian Banks. Global coal consumption has [...]

Not Powering Past Coal: 20 countries that didn’t use much coal, agree to not use much coal

Get excited everyone — the South Pacific Island of Nuie, with a population of 1,625 people has vowed not to build a coal plant. The nation is so small it is not even a member of the UN. This champion of the move away from coal is 98% powered by diesel. Everybody Cheer!

Powering Past Coal Alliance: 20 countries sign up to phase out coal power by 2030

Twenty countries including Britain, Canada and New Zealand have joined an international alliance to phase out coal from power generation before 2030.

The list includes none of the top 15 coal producers in the world. It’s non-binding. Nearly all the countries that have signed up to “Power Past Coal” are already powered by hydro, gas, nuclear or some combination of renewables (with interconnector back up). The Marshall Islands are powered by almost 100% diesel, with a hint of coconut oil. Luxembourg barely even generates electricity — importing 98% from other countries. And 68% of the people in Angola don’t even have access to electricity. It shouldn’t be too hard to get to fifty countries to sign this if they offer a free conference dinner to half the South Pacific, Central [...]

Aussies eating junk to get better weather, old coal plant increases 73,000% in value in two years

Funny things happening today in Australia:

Australians are cutting back on Fruit and Veges to pay electricity bills:

Since eating raw fruit and vege is associated with lower mortality, efforts to stop people dying of climate change in 2100 may be killing people today:

Australians are cutting back on basic things like fresh fruit and vegies in order to keep the lights on with the National Debt Helpline taking 14,000 calls in September — a record for the month, and up 14 per cent on the same time last year.

Dying stranded coal plant increases in value by 73,000% in 2 years:

The NSW government sold Vale Point power for $1m two years ago. It’s now valued at $730m:

In November 2015, the NSW Government offloaded Vales Point Power Station — an old, polluting coal-fired plant on the shores of Lake Macquarie — for $1 million.

Last week,… Sunset Power quietly released its latest financial reports — revaluing the Vales Point Power Plant at a cool $730 million.

Over the past year, Vale Points’ owners gained $380 million from electricity sales from the power station, compared to $270 million for energy generated [...]

Australians forced to pay $60b for expensive “green” electricity

The cost of Going Green, The Australian, Cover,  September 1, 2017.

The Australian calculates the total bill will be in the order of $60b for green electricity.

It’s not like we could have done something better with that.

Read it all (if you can), then write to your MP and Senator. Ask why — if they are serious about helping reduce CO2 — we don’t have a USC coal plant like so many other countries, and why we don’t have nuclear power. Then ask why, if they are concerned about the poor, about health, about education, we are wasting $60b dollars to try to change the weather in 2100 that we could be spending on these critical areas right now?

Taxpayers hit with a $60bn power bill

The Australian,  Adam Creighton

Taxpayers will have paid more than $60 billion through federal renewable energy subsidies by 2030, about twice what the crumbling car industry received over 15 years and enough to build about 10 large nuclear reactors.

The government’s large and small-scale renewable energy ­targets, which will compel energy retailers to buy 33 terawatt hours of wind, solar and hydro energy by 2030, will [...]

Coal Boom: 1600 new plants in 62 countries around the world – increasing 43%

“End-Coal” Global Coal Tracker  does a magnificent job of showing how essential coal is around the world, and which countries are pathetically backwards in developing new coal plants. It’s probably not what the “CoalSwarm” team was hoping to achieve, but this map is a real asset to those of us who want to show how tiny Australia’s coal fired assets are compared to the rest of the world. The site itself is a fancy-pants high gloss major database and website that also shows how much money is in the “anti-coal” movement. Oh, that skeptics should have even 2% of these funds. Heffa Schücking, the director of Urgewald, which created the maps, calls it a “cycle of coal dependency”. Normal people call it “freedom and wealth”.

Chinese companies build coal plants — NY Times

These Chinese corporations are building or planning to build more than 700 new coal plants at home and around the world, some in countries that today burn little or no coal, according to tallies compiled by Urgewald, an environmental group based in Berlin. Many of the plants are in China, but by capacity, roughly a fifth of these new coal power stations are [...]

Hazelwood — the shutdown begins — lowest cost electricity forced out by government design

TonyFromOz reports that the first generator at Hazelwood Power Station has stopped after 53 years of operation.

If only the Victorian government saw value in keeping an old cheap power generator going. Marvel that even though this plant can sell wholesale electricity at 3 or 4 cents per KWhr it is unable to make a profit.  There is no free market in electricity in Australia, only the illusion of it. Hands up who thinks a million households would buy direct from Hazelwood and keep it going, if there was no government intervention to stop them?    — Jo

Hazelwood Power Station, closes, March 2017. Photo David Maddison.

 _____________________

Hazelwood Update – The shutdown has started

At 1.51AM Monday 27th March, Unit 8 was the first Unit at Hazelwood to shut down. It reduced power at around 3.45PM on Sunday afternoon from around 170MW to between 128MW and 134MW, trying vainly to stay operational for as long as possible. At 11.05PM Sunday night, power started falling even more, leading me to believe it was starting the shutdown process, which took almost three hours. Power fell off over the next almost three hours and finally, it stopped [...]

Gottleibsen: Australian Energy Crisis “criminal” with 75% chance of blackout

Last days before Hazelwood shuts down.

Robert Gottleibsen in The Australian a couple of days ago has investigated our energy crisis, and discovered our old centralized grid design is quite likely to fall over next summer in an incredibly expensive way. It’s nice that he did some research and even talked to engineers:

The looming crisis is much worse than I expected. Three state governments, Victoria NSW and South Australia, have vandalised our total energy system. The Premiers of each state clearly had no idea what they were doing and did not sit down with top engineers outside the government advisers to work out the best way to achieve their objectives — whether that be an increase in renewables or gas restrictions.

He warns that it is potentially criminal:

I have been alerted that in the 1995 Federal Criminal Code under Section 137.1 in Chapter 7 there is a section entitled ‘Good administration of government’.

Me? I remain a cynic (not that I’m a lawyer). The legislation has been there since 1995, threatens 12 months in prison for “misleading information”. It can’t be this simple.

Still it would be good if politicians were scared into doing [...]

Hazelwood Countdown: 53 years old and making more electricity than Australia’s entire wind industry

Three days to go: The Hazelwood shut down begins

The situation in Australia right now:

The total fossil fuel output compared to total wind power generation, NEM, Australian electricity market, 21 March 2017

One old coal plant makes more electricity than all the wind farms

Guest Post by TonyfromOZ and Jo Nova

I’ve been watching the output of all eight generators at Hazelwood closely all month and comparing it to the total wind farm generation across the National Electricity Market (NEM). The old warhorse is a remarkable engineering and economic success.

I’ve kept a total of the power output each day from midnight to midnight and a running cumulative total. So far, the running total output from Hazelwood has always stayed ahead of the total from wind farms.  So this 53 year old coal fired plant that is being shut down next week has produced more energy than the 43 wind plants on the National Energy Market. Even if we could store the energy from the wind farms, it still doesn’t add up to the same as one very ancient coal plant. The shut down starts in three days time on Friday March 24th.

Over [...]

Japan building 45 HELE coal plants, Australia 1 (maybe)

Japan will use Australian coal to build 45 modern coal fired plants:

Japan is the largest overseas market for Australian coal producers, taking more than a third of all exports.

Why coal? It’s cheaper than gas:

Tom O’Sullivan, a Tokyo based energy consultant with Mathyos Global Advisory, said in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, Japan started importing more liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Australia.

But he said the move to more coal fired power was because coal was cheaper than LNG, and the energy security was priority for the government.

The new ultra super critical coal plants burn hotter and are more efficient (hence, high energy, low emissions = HELE).

Finally, after blackouts and scandalously high electricity bills, Malcolm Turnbull is just starting to float the idea of building, maybe, one. China has them, even Indonesia will get one before us.

Japan needs to import 95% of its energy. Australia is the largest exporter of coal in the world, and has the largest known uranium resources in the world, but we voluntarily wear a hair shirt to appease GAIA. We sacrifice our cheap energy advantage for fear that loud ill-mannered [...]

Big win: Turnbull wasted billions, but now backs super critical coal, copies skeptics 5 years later

Back in 2011 Anton Lang, Tony Cox, and I wrote here about why Australia would be better off with super critical hot coal generators (which China already uses, and which even Indonesia will get before us). Not only do we get cheap reliable power, but it would be a better way to reduce our emissions (if we want to pretend to change the weather).

Now, finally, in 2017 Malcolm Turnbull is saying the same thing as the skeptics he mocked years ago. This is how the “climate meme” dies, one unacknowledged step at a time. Gradually all the skeptical positions get picked up, years later and after burning billions at the altar of “climate control”. This is a big win for skeptics, but don’t expect Turnbull or the ABC to be honest enough to say so. This marks a major turning point in the discussion about coal in Australia which has mostly never got past the “coal is dying” and the “stranded assets” inanity which implied that coal has no future and our massive coal reserves were useless instead of being our major export industry.

Last week Tony Abbott, former PM, called for stop to subsidies for wind power – [...]

Indonesia’s coal consumption doubled since 2010. Will soon have more advanced coal power than Australia

Indonesia might be bigger than you thought. | Image credit:  Overlaymaps

Time to pay attention to the fourth largest population in the world.

You might have reused some shopping bags to save the planet but two hundred million people quietly doubled their coal use:

Indonesia’s coal consumption remains high: BP

The BP Statistical Review 2016 revealed on Wednesday that Indonesia’s coal consumption had doubled since 2010. Last year, coal became the country’s dominant source of fuel, accounting for 41 percent of total energy consumption.

Studies show coal consumption remains popular in Indonesia despite its damaging environmental impacts. The government has committed to an ambitious 35,000 megawatt electricity program, in which coal-fueled power plants will still make up the majority of electricity generation, at around 50 percent.

As coal got cheap, Indonesia exported less and used more of it domestically.

They don’t seem to following the IPCC’s plan.

Indonesia will soon have more advanced coal fired power stations than Australia:

Japan’s major conglomerate Itochu Corporation and one of world’s major electricity company, Electric Power Development Co. Ltd (J. Power), have promised to fully support the construction of the coal-fired Batang power plant [...]