Green Fairy Gods of Economic Management
Another unintended consequence of policies to control the climate. Who would have guessed? Laws aimed to disrupt the energy market, disrupted the energy market. Just like Germany, parts of Australia are now dumping expensive gas, resurrecting old coal burners, and voila: The Fairy Gods of Economics tinker — and get the opposite of what they intended.
Here’s the chain of events as best as I can figure. The greener-governments raised the cost of all electricity, but tried to slap an advantage on some forms at the expense of others. The catch is that there is just not enough alternate energy to go around.
More projects used gas, partly due to other state based green schemes like the Gas Electricity Scheme of Queensland. So gas demand rose and gas became more expensive. At the same time, those who owned gas found that export markets will pay more for gas for other uses. So it didn’t make sense to keep the gas for the power-stations here when they could sell it for a greater profit elsewhere. Meanwhile, other forces were also at play. The Green drive created a glut in fickle solar and wind power. [...]
Oh the dilemma. German Greens have been so “successful” that coal use is rising fast. They helped get rid of the nukes in 2011, punished coal, and subsidized “renewables”. But woe…. energy has to come from somewhere, so the paradoxical crunch comes. Green policies mean that everyone is poorer, but the cheapest energy comes from coal …
The coal industry must be praying for more Green activism:
“IT’S been a black Christmas for green thinkers as Germany, the world leader in rooftop solar and pride of the renewable energy revolution has confirmed its rapid return to coal.
After scrapping nuclear power, Germany’s carbon dioxide emissions are back on the rise as the country clamours to reopen some of the dirtiest brown coalmines that have been closed since the reunification of east and west. The Australian
Though some say the problem is “carbon credits” are too cheap. (We need to be poorer?)
“…new figures show that coal power output in 2013 reached its highest level in more than 20 years. Researchers blame cheap CO2 emissions permits, and demand urgent reforms.
The stats: Germany is using almost as much coal as it did in 1990:
In 1990, Germany’s brown coal-fired [...]
It’s one rule for you, and another for their friends. If a coal plant was wiping out thousands of birds and bats you can be sure Greenpeace would be launching a campaign. But when an industrial turbine with blade-tips travelling at 180mph does the killing, who cares?
The law for normals makes it expensive to kill birds and bats:
“Following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, BP was fined $100 million for the damage it caused to bird populations in the area, both migratory and resident. — AlaskaDispatch
“Exxon Mobil has agreed to pay $600,000 in penalties after approximately 85 migratory birds died of exposure to hydrocarbons at some of its natural gas facilities across the Midwest. — NY Times
And it was going to get expensive for windfarms:
“Nov 22 2013 Duke Energy has agreed to pay a $1 million fine for killing 14 eagles and 149 other birds at two Wyoming wind farms. – audublog
That was the first time a windfarm got pinged. And it works out to be about $6000 a bird. Could get expensive, eh?
“The Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that 440,000 birds are killed [...]
More money leaves the room. Last week David Cameron said the UK needed to get rid of all that green crap (or double-speak words to that effect). The message, confounded as it is, may be getting through.
(Reuters) – German utility RWE has scrapped plans to build one of the world’s largest offshore wind parks in Britain, as soaring gas and electricity prices fuel uncertainty over the UK government’s commitment to renewable energy subsidies.
[Bloomberg] RWE’s renewable-energy unit has decided to drop a 4.5 billion-pound ($7.3 billion) offshore wind project in the U.K. because engineering challenges made it too expensive.
RWE says that it’s because of engineering challenges, but we could assume they didn’t suddenly discover how deep the water was this week.
[Bloomberg] “At the current time, it is not viable for RWE to continue” the Atlantic Array farm because of deep waters and adverse seabed conditions, RWE Innogy said in a statement on its website. The 278-turbine project in the Bristol Channel can’t be justified under “current market conditions,” it said.
Engineering challenges can usually be fixed with money. But translate “current market conditions” and we see that it was really a money [...]
Bill McKibben wants to stop a mine in Australia because it might affect the weather. He says wind power is as affordable as coal.
The Australian, Friday Oct 25: “… we’ve reached the point where alternatives have become realistic.Wind power is now as affordable as coal-fired power in Australia, not to mention the limitless energy potential of the powerful sun that shines on your continent.”
To which I say, fantastic. If wind power is as cheap as coal, we don’t need a carbon tax, emissions trading schemes, renewable targets, or other subsidies … people will use wind simply because it is cheaper. Alternatively, Bill is talking out of his hat.
Kill the schemes, cut the subsidies. Bring it on. I say!
We can see how many people rely on Windpower in Australia
That’s the yellow part. Coal is the black or brown part.
All the assertions of “cheap wind power” are only true if we assume our CO2 emissions cause warming, amplified by water vapor and cloud changes, which causes dangerous and expensive outcomes. Furthermore we must assume that it is cheaper to mitigate rather than adapt (which it isn’t), and then assume that taxes, [...]
Is this a 2013 Streisand-Effect finalist?
The UK has decided to build its first new nuclear power plant in 20 years. The UK Department of Energy & Climate Change posted this graphic below in a News Story probably to help justify why it really did make sense to go nuclear rather than renewable. The Renewable Energy Association called it “unhelpful”, and lo, it disappeared from gov.uk.
Credit goes to Emily Gosden’s Tweet, and Will Heaven‘s Blog. Hat tip to Colin.
(Click to enlarge to see the fine print)
The fine print (edited out in the small copy here) says that Hickley Point C “is estimated to be equal to around 7% of UK electricity consumption in 2025 and enough to power nearly 6 million homes.” About onshore wind, the fine print reads: “The footprint will depend on the location and turbine technology deployed. DECC estimates the footprint could be between 160,000 and 490,000 acres“. That’s quite some error margin.
How many National Parks does one nuclear plant save then?
It’s a good representation of just how much of the Earths surface we have to give up if we want to live off renewables at the moment. So who [...]
The real cost of moral-vanity, of name-calling, poor reasoning, selecting one’s evidence, and the triumph of doing things because they “feel-good” rather than because of the cold hard numbers, is measured in the trillions. This disaster was entirely foreseeable, totally predictable, and completely unnecessary.
Thanks to Benny Peiser and The Australian, the utter folly is laid bare.
AS country after country abandons, curtails or reneges on once-generous support for renewable energy, Europe is beginning to realise that its green energy strategy is dying on the vine. Green dreams are giving way to hard economic realities.
Slowly but gradually, Europe is awakening to a green energy crisis, an economic and political debacle that is entirely self-inflicted.
The media is finally starting to do what it should have done ten years ago:
A study by British public relations consultancy CCGroup analysed 138 articles about renewables published during July last year in the five most widely circulated British national newspapers: The Sun, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Daily Mirror, which enjoy a combined daily circulation of about 6.5 million.
“The analysis revealed a number of trends in the reporting of [...]
Peter Lang adds up the numbers from the Treasury and leading economic commentators, and finds that decisions the Australian Labor Government has made will cost the equivalent of about $17,000 for every man, woman and child if paid in a lump sum now, or $58,000 if paid bit by bit over the next 37 years to 2050. And that’s just for the ETS, not for the RET and other measures.
By 2019 Alan Moran estimates each year citizens would have to fork out billions for Green Schemes; Labor policies tally to $22b, Coalition policies to $7b, Greens policies to $27b.
If men-in-black-suits turned up at Australian houses forcing citizens to sign cheques for $17,000 per person in order to change the weather on Earth 100 years from now, there would be a revolt in the streets. That’s $68k per household of four. (Is this how you would spend $68 grand?) But if the government disguises those charges in electricity bills, and hidden increases in the cost of every item that has to be moved, heated or cooled, then some 30-40% of the nation sees no reason not to vote for this. [...]
It’s not rocket science. If energy costs more, that means we have to make do with less of it, or make do with less of something else. Thus if the government forces everyone to pay more for electricity, companies have less spare cash to employ people. Their margins are tighter, they can’t make and sell as many products. So when we are told the clean energy revolution is creating jobs, is it virtually self-evident that’s a mythical fairy claim.
I say “virtually”, because it is theoretical possible it could work, but only if this green power provided some productivity or efficiency gain — that is, if it helped us build more widgets, bake more cakes or warm more toes. In the case of windturbines, the big hope is that they reduce emissions, lower CO2 globally, and in turn stop storms, tornados, floods and what-not and gave us perfect weather again (like the kind we never had).
Might as well bury bottles of money I say. More jobs. Less cost. No infrasound, and no dead bats.
Each green job in Britain costs £100,000 (and 3.7 other jobs):
The Telegraph points out how expensive it is to support a wind-industry job. My plan [...]
ALMOST 150 suspected rorts of the Gillard government’s Renewable Energy Target scheme were reported to the regulator last year, with NSW and federal authorities assisting with the execution of two search warrants as a part of the probe.
The Clean Energy Regulator yesterday released its annual report to government on the administration of the RET — a scheme that provides certificates for both large and small-scale renewable energy generation as part of the bipartisan target of ensuring 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity comes from renewables by 2020.
The regulator’s audit report revealed that during 2012 it received 147 allegations of rorts, the majority of which related to the creation of dodgy certificates for rooftop solar panels.
So far three “monitoring warrants” have been executed by NSW and Australian Federal police. One matter is before the Federal Court as a civil prosecution. One criminal matter was heard last year.
…businessman John Testoni of Sydney Solar Eco Solutions pleading guilty to improperly creating $170,000 in RET certificates for 24 non-existent solar system installations in the Sydney area.
Fake markets just ask to be scammed. Who can forget the Spanish winter of late 2009 when 4,500Mw hours of “solar” [...]
What the government giveth, the government can take away. So it came to pass that the glory of green investments fell over its peak and started to slide — a slide we hope will continue forthwith with speed until such day that Renewables Actually Work.
Weakest quarter for clean energy investment since 2009 [Bloomberg] 15 April 2013
Investment worldwide in the first quarter of 2013 was $40.6bn, down 22% on a year earlier, due to a downturn in large wind and solar project financings London and New York, 15 April 2013 – Global investment in clean energy in the first three months of 2013 was lower than in any quarter for the past four years, according to the latest figures from research company Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
2013 Q1 is not marked here (except with a dodgy red star thingy). It s somewhere around 22% below Q1 2012. [Graph: Bloomberg]
Remember in the land of warmer-investments, this is just a global pause. It’s the fourth highest first-quarter investment. Ever. (!)
The US leads the way. Europe is following. Australia is too irrelevant to mention.
“Among the key details of the first quarter 2013 data were a 54% year-on-year fall in [...]
Not a good news week for wind power.
First windpower probably doesn’t produce as much electricity as people though it could. If the new estimates are right, humanity would need to cover 3 million square kilometers of the Earth to get just 10% of our electricity from wind. (And how many storms will that prevent do you think?) Could the “cure” be worse than the condition?
Second, it appears that wind turbines in the ocean might snap like matchsticks in particular conditions — conditions that are different for each turbine and at the moment, impossible to predict. The authors explain that it doesn’t have to be big waves or big storms — medium sized waves were the worst.
Windpower’s theoretical maximum isn’t what we thought it might have been
When we account for the wind shadows that large installations produce, at best, wind power may only give us 1 Watt per square meter (or 1 MW per square kilometer). According to this team our global energy needs are in the order of 30 terawatts, and one terawatt is one trillion (1012) watts. If that is the case, to to supply 10% of our global energy needs we’d have to cover… [...]
Our award-winning treasurer is forcing the nation to spend $8.9 billion on wind-turbines, to generate electricity which will be3- 4 times more expensive than coal powered electricity, probably won’t reduce CO2 at all, and which definitely won’t change the weather. Victoria’s windfarms have saved virtually no coal from being burnt. South Australian windfarms have saved 4% of their rated capacity in fossil fuels at a cost of $1,484 per ton.
MORE than $8.9 billion will be spent importing wind turbines because of the blowout in the Gillard government’s renewable energy target, providing few if any benefits to local industry, one of the nation’s biggest electricity generators warns.
The Australian can also reveal that a new Frontier Economics analysis commissioned by Macquarie Generation has found that the renewable energy target could slash the value of coal-fired power stations by between $11.3bn and $17.3bn – potentially having a greater impact than the carbon tax, which includes industry compensation.
In a new submission to the Climate Change Authority, Macquarie Generation said that 2500 wind turbines – costing $12.7bn – will be needed to comply with a scheme that is set to blow out the amount of renewable energy in the system to [...]
When activists protest about “fossil fuel” subsidies, it is a case of extreme-wordsmithing. Like chinese-whispers, the truth gets turned 180 degrees. It takes a string of half truths stacked in a series to come up with something which is so completely counter to reality it is meaningless.
The reality is that governments around the world are paying billions each year to prop up an industry that is inefficient, uncompetitive and unproductive. It’s money that is desperately needed in health or in real medical and scientific research.
“More than US$70 billion of support is provided by governments to renewable energy production and consumption worldwide.”
[IEA (The International Energy Agency, which promotes "green energy" in it's header)]
That’s an annual figure. And the plan seems to be even more subsidies. (I thought the plan was to make renewables competitive?)
Source: IEA Key Graphs…
Source: IEA Key Graphs
Could it be $200 billion?
This UN group has an even higher number. I don’t know exactly how they define “green stimulus” spending, perhaps it was a one-off:
“Green government procurement will also be essential in the early stages of a transition to a green economy. In 2009, global green stimulus [...]
Thanks to Steve Hunter
Victoria’s windfarms have saved virtually no coal from being burnt.
South Australian windfarms have saved 4% of their rated capacity in fossil fuels at a cost of $1,484 per ton.
That’s only $1,474 above the current price of carbon credits per ton in the EU. They are 96% useless, and cost 150 times more than necessary for what they do (except for the times they are more useless and more expensive).
The point of a windfarm is not so much to produce electricity but to reduce greenhouse emissions.
If we built windfarms for the electricity they generate, we’d be better off paying for reliable electrons from cheap brown coal, and using the savings to research a cure for cancer. The point in putting up expensive, infrasonic thumping towers of steel and concrete that kill eagles and explode bat lungs is because it reduces our carbon dioxide emissions, except that it doesn’t really.
Mechanical engineer Hamish Cumming has written a whopper of a report (though I can’t find an online copy of it*). Because Victoria doesn’t have much of a gas powered grid, it can’t take advantage of the odd intermittent peaks of wind power. Like [...]
In June this year the UNEP report announced that Global Renewable Energy investment reached $257 Billion in 2011. It’s so large it rivals the $302 billion invested in fossil fuel power. But how much electricity do we get for all that money? When the details are pulled from the fog, a quarter of a trillion dollars appears to produce only about 3% of all our global electricity, and even less of our global energy. All that money, so few gigawatts.
The 2012 UNEP report “Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment” compares the
“…despite an increasingly tough competitive landscape for manufacturers, total investment in renewable power and fuels last year increased by 17% to a record $257 billion, a six-fold increase on the 2004 figure and 94% higher than the total in 2007, the year before the world financial crisis.”
Renewables growth has slowed somewhat:
“Although last year’s 17% increase was significantly smaller than the 37% growth recorded in 2010, it was achieved at a time of rapidly falling prices for renewable energy equipment and severe pressure on fiscal budgets in the developed world.”
The last couple of quarters have not been good for [...]
Simple numbers are hard to get, so when Anton Lang pointed me at the EIA site (U.S. Energy Information Administration), I wanted to give everyone the straight answer to the question: just how much electricity do renewables make on a global scale? The EIA has the only database in the world with a this much accuracy.
The answer is that 80% of our electricity comes from the fossil fuels and nuclear that the Greens despise. Hydroelectricity, with all its pluses and minuses, produces a serious 16% of the total. But all the vanity renewables bundled together make about 3.5% of the total.
Wind power is a major global industry but it’s only making in the order of 1.4% of total electricity. And solar is so pathetically low that it needs to be bundled with “tidal and wave” power to even rate 0.1% (after rounding up).
For all the fuss and money, if the world’s solar powered units all broke tonight, it would not dent global electricity production a jot.
No one connected to a grid would notice.
These are the total global numbers from the US Energy Information Agency (The EIA) for 2009.
I’m away, so this is a good time for Guest posts. Here Tony explains that we need lots of electricity even while we sleep. I didn’t realize our electricity needs were so high at night. The lowest power use each day is still as much as 60% of the peak. That’s the base load at 3am, and solar panels and wind farms just can’t provide it. We can burn the odd $500 billion building hundreds of solar plants, but even then, we would have to go “medieval” for about 8 hours each night. Candles anyone? — Jo
Guest post by Anton Lang
AUSTRALIAN POWER CONSUMPTION LOAD CURVES
There’s a message in these two diagrams that underlies every decision about national energy.
Summer power curve – Time of Day versus power consumption (MW)
These two diagrams are the most misunderstood images in the whole debate — the Load Curves for actual power consumption. These two shown here are for the whole of eastern Australia (including Tasmania and South Australia).
The top diagram shows typical consumption for a day in mid summer (Monday 30th January 2012) and the second is for a typical mid winter day (Friday 22nd July [...]
A joint writing project: Jo Nova & Tony Cox,
based on an idea and research by Anton Lang (who writes as TonyfromOz at PAPundits)
It’s the paradox that will torture the Greens. What if the best way to achieve their environmental aims as well as providing jobs and power was to build more coal fired power stations? Imagine if we could reduce CO2 emissions by more than 5%, supply 24 hour baseload electricity, create jobs, and save thousands of square kilometres of Australian bush from industrial domination. Imagine if “New Coal” turned out to be the lowest cost alternative as well? Anton Lang has researched it, and Tony Cox has confirmed that the big numbers make sense with an Australian electricity company (who shall not be named). Selling the Carbon Tax in Neverland is already a public debate that’s pretzel tied in impossible contradictions, so what’s one more unlikely twist? Possibly, just enough to get us out of a knot, or at least enough to expose the real aims of the carbon reduction plan. Old existing large scale coal fired power plants in Australia are all twenty to forty years [...]
One windfarm: bad; ten windfarms: useless.
If we replace 5% of the power grid with windpower we could reduce our CO2 emissions by 4% or so. (If only there was some point to doing that.)
But here’s the non-linearity trap for the fans of green energy. If we replace 20% of the power grid with wind power, we don’t get a 16% reduction in CO2 emissions: we get about 2% reduction (give or take a lot). Indeed if we use enough windpower we might even increase CO2 emissions. Yes Coal + Wind = more CO2. Oh the irony. Quick, can someone email Julia Gillard?
A review of wind power’s success in reducing emissions of CO2 shows the folly of pretending that successful small wind and solar power units can be upscaled to replace a large part of our electricity grid. The major difference between a coal-burning future and a “clean technology” one turns out to have nothing to do with CO2 — instead, in a coal burning future it’s impossible to waste this much money.
The Gillard Carbon Tax plan very much pretends that Australia can “convert” to wind and solar, but a new review by Herbert Inhaber shows [...]
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