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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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, [...]

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, [...]

Australian electricity market wrecked by big-gov: corporates gouge $3b from electricity customers

Thanks to Big-Gov’s Renewable Energy Target, big corporate greed was unleashed:

ABC — Australian energy giant AGL ‘gouged’ customers after Hazelwood closure, new research shows

Some of the nation’s biggest energy companies have allegedly used the closure of Australia’s dirtiest coal-fired power station to price gouge customers and make an extra $3 billion in wholesale profits, according to a new report.

We already knew that renewables are so poisonous they make other generators more expensive. But this is something “extra”. Either big corporate’s suddenly turned into greedy machines or the government destroyed the free market that worked fine for years:

When the closure of Hazelwood was announced just a few months earlier, AGL increased the price of much of the coal-fired power on offer from the Bayswater and Liddell plants in NSW.

The study found a significant part of the output from the Liddell plant was repriced from $40 to $60 per megawatt hour, to greater than $5,000 per megawatt hour — so expensive it effectively restricted supply.

At the same time, much of the power offered by the Bayswater plant almost doubled in price, from about $40 [...]

“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 [...]

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 [...]

Nearly a billion dollars for electricity for just one day — $500 per family

The Electro-pyre conflagration escalates.

The cost of electricity on Thursday in two states of Australia reached a tally of $932 million dollars for a single day of electricity. Thanks to David Bidstrup on Catallaxy for calculating it.

As Bruce of Newcastle says “ “Three days and you could buy a HELE plant with the money wasted.” That’s a power plant that could last 70 years, and provide electricity at under $50/MW. (Forget all the high charges for 30 years to pay of the capital (in red below), we could just buy the damn thing outright, paid off in full from day one.)

Cost of old coal plants in the USA. From the report by Stacy and Taylor, of the Institute for Energy Research (IER)

Burned at the stake: $500 per family

In Victoria, per capita, that means it cost $110 for one day’s electricity. For South Australians, Thursday’s electricity bill was $140 per person. (So each household of four just effectively lost $565.) In both these states those charges will presumably be paid in future price rises, shared unevenly between subsidized solar users and suffering non-solar hostages. The costs will be buried such that duped householders will not be aware [...]

Warning: Money on fire in Vic and SA electricity prices at $14,000 per MWh

Prices are “off the chart” in Vic and SA right now and likely for the next few hours. Factories will be closing. Diesel generators will be running, but only in South Australia and Victoria. At these kinds of prices tens of millions of dollars could be going up in smoke every hour. By the end of today the bill could come to more than a hundred million dollars.

In QLD and NSW where there are old or evil coal fired plants the wholesale electricity costs are only $105/MWh.

Victoria

South Australia

The national electricity market (or at least the Eastern half and 90% of the population).

 

Today when we need it, wind power on the NEM is running at about 20% of total capacity. Four out of five windfarms are not working.

 

 

 UPDATE: LOR3 (highest level warning) issued in Victoria but resolved at 8pm. In SA the diesel jet engines have been switched on for the first time as emergency reserve. We didn’t used to need to buy expensive machinery so it could sit around for 18 months before it was needed.

 

h/t Ian B, LightningCamel, George, David [...]

The hottest thing in SA and Victoria tomorrow may be electricity prices

Millions of dollars will be burning on electricity tomorrow

With normal hot summer days expected tomorrow price spikes are forecast.

It’s not that hot

These are hot, but not unusual days for the capitals — Adelaide is forecast to be 41C, the other capitals are tame: Melbourne 33, Canberra 39 and Sydney 30.  Though small inland cities are baking – like Albury at 44C.

South Australia could burn $36 million an hour

For South Australia tomorrow the AEMO is forecasting the state will need 2,800MW for 2.5 hours at $12,000/MWh. That could be $35m per hour.  Note that forecasts in electricity often vary quite a lot from actuals. Looking at the truckload of cash being offered (from a generators point of view) will presumably bring in some extra supply and lower that price.

Forecast prices for Jan 15th 2019 | AEMO

 

For Victoria, things are even worse

The AEMO is forecasting 9,000MW will be needed at $14,500/MWh for 3 hours. That’s $130 million per hour.   Hypothetically, it would be an obscene $390 million dollars just to power the state just from 3 – 6pm. Enough to buy an entire gas fired power plant and have it sitting around [...]

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 [...]

Windpower set to destroy Victorian baseload power just as it did in South Australia

Crash Test Dummy Update: Data analysis thanks to Tom Quirk

In the South Australian experiment total wind power capacity is now far above the average state demand most hours of the day. This effectively destroys any economic case for cheap baseload power (I hear that was the aim). This fleet of unreliable generators is being supported by forced subsidies through power bills from all around Australia. Sadly, despite this rain of money falling in SA, those funds end up with renewable investors, not South Australian consumers who pay some of the highest rates in the world.

These legislated subsidies have fed so much wind power that sometimes the state produces more power than it can use. That excess power will be exported, but may or may not be actually useful at whatever time it happens. Unless it happens at peak-time, it will be eating into the efficiency of baseload providers in other states.  Like an infection, inefficiency and underutilization of infrastructure spreads…

This volatility appears to make freak wholesale price spikes more likely. Quirk calculates that one hot January day last year was so wildly expensive in South Australia it added $2/MWh to the entire years average wholesale cost. Can’t [...]