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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Megawatts that come and go — Wind energy, shaking up the National Grid in Australia

This postmodern art is what wind power looks like on our national electricity grid. (Like a kindergärtner on steroids). There are 35 wind farms on this spaghetti graph, spread across 6 of our 8 states and territories. They cover thousands of square kilometers and are connected in allegedly the largest electricity grid in the world. This frenetic action covers the last two weeks, and is pretty normal.

You might think the wind “averages out” across the nation.  Noooo. Some days, Australia is windy…

Graph from ANEROID ENERGY for 1 – 16 August, 2015

The total megawatts output varies as per the black line, from zero megawatts right up to 3000.

This below is a typical days national grid demand in winter. Even in the dead of night, the minimum baseload demand is 18,000MW. The nation is talking of going 26% renewable (unless it goes 50%). What could possibly go wrong!

According to AEMO Australia has the largest interconnected electricity grid in the world covering the east coast from Port Lincoln in South Australia to Cairns in Queensland (See the green and red squiggles on the right hand side of the map below) . That’s most of the [...]

Myths about Myths of the climate change debate (as made by the Sydney Morning Herald)

Looking for some mythical myths?

Sydney Morning Herald/Age serves their subscribers up a few. Apart from “Myth 1″ below, Adam Morton avoids answering the most important points skeptics are making, but offers up some secondary bit and pieces. He supplies vague wordy answers announcing definitive conclusions based on irrelevant, motherhood type reasoning, non-sequiteurs, and little research: it’s just what we’ve come to expect from a Fairfax “investigation”.

“Myth 1″: The new climate target will be difficult to meet

Adam’s has four arguments (3 irrelevant, 1 wrong) to convince us it will be easy. I’ve paraphrased the wordy stuff. His arguments are so weak, the marvel here is that our national conversation is so irrational. “Not even trying” as they say.

Lo, behold, it will be “easy” to cut our carbon emissions by 26%, because:

1. The last small target we set for 2020 of a “5%” cut was less than other countries are achieving.

Jo says: There’s a reason our target was smaller.  Australia’s population is growing faster (proportionally), our distances are larger, population density smaller, our largest export earner is “coal”, and some of our other exports have “energy” built in (so the carbon emissions occur in [...]

Labor wants to waste $100b to make Australian energy 50% renewable, more expensive, by 2030

The Coalition in Australia must be thrilled that Bill Shorten wants to make the next election about “climate change”. What a gift from Labor.

Just before the last election Labor had a plan to spend $60,000 dollars per person to try to change the weather by 2050. Labor lost nearly a quarter of their seats. Bill Shorten’s new election vision is to repeat the same mistakes. Like the G7 leaders, he wants symbolic and unachievable promises — only, unlike them, he’s making pie-in-the-sky, uncosted plans for 2030, not 2100. Five of the seven G7 nations are increasing their coal use. Get with the game Bill, other countries are winding schemes back and putting off the promises til long after most people alive today will be gone.

Shorten is pushing a dead dog. The sweet end of the wind and solar power deals have already been done and the numbers get uglier from here. As more and more of the grid is taken over by a massive erratic and unreliable supply, the marginal returns shrink, prices go up. The carbon “savings” falls. Full baseload back up must be maintained regardless, whirring away inefficiently on standby. The Labor Party are making [...]

UK Government cuts green subsidies, investment falls, calls for “more subsidies” rise

That didn’t take long. The recent UK election means the conservative government has the power to get rid of some subsidies for “low carbon”, “green” electricity, and make it easier for oil and gas. Renewable energy companies are feeling the pain, and complaining bitterly. Of course, if they were competitive, they wouldn’t need the subsidies and the stock market would throw money at them. Such is the fear, that there is an emergency summit happening within the green energy sector. “Scottish Renewables has warned the move could put up to £3bn of investment in Scotland at risk.” So $3 billion dollars was placed on a bet that the subsidies would continue, that the voters would not get sick of paying too much, and their bets have failed. I have no sympathy. Anyone playing the subsidy market should have done their homework. With the science shot with holes, the subsidies were always built on vapor. GWPF has all the stories.

The green tax target is going

Tim Ross, The Telegraph: Green energy subsidies spiral out of control

George Osborne to abolish coalition’s green tax target as customers face paying £1.5billion more through their bills to subsidise wind farms, [...]

Forget momentum for renewables. Five of the G7 nations increased their coal use

Spot the contradictions. Oxfam want us to believe we can be “coal free” in France, the UK and Italy by 2023. Then they tell us that most of these richest of rich nations are already trying and failing to do that. They are using more coal.

Then there is a nifty graph below, which seems to suggest that in these same nations solar is cheaper than coal. If solar is so cheap then, we don’t need any schemes, markets or subsidies. Right?

Welcome to reality — even the richest greenest nations need more coal:

Five of the world’s seven richest countries have increased their coal use in the last five years despite demanding that poor countries slash their carbon emissions to avoid catastrophic climate change, new research shows.

Britain, Germany, Italy, Japan and France together burned 16% more coal in 2013 than 2009 and are planning to further increase construction of coal-fired power stations. Only the US and Canada of the G7 countries meeting on Monday in Berlin have reduced coal consumption since the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009.

The US has reduced its coal consumption by 8% largely because of fracking for shale [...]

Nobel Chutzpah Prize 2015: UN, World Bank need “$89 Trillion” to fix climate

The ambit claims know no bounds. Who else would ask for $89,000,000,000,000? If the evil “more developed” nations pay for their carbon sins, the bill for those 1.3 billion people works out at $70,000 per person by 2030 (babies included).*  When the target is 89,000 billion dollars, anything the Global Saviours get, can be painted as “not enough”. (It’s never enough). A trillion in funds is a “tiny”, “insufficient” amount that is “barely adequate”. Compliant journalists will print those headlines. The crowd will pay the money and feel guilty they are not paying more.

Speaking of the loot, the world’s GDP is currently $70 trillion, so asking for $89 trillion is a claim on 8% of all the money turned over in the world economy for a decade and a half. Handsome!

There is a grand array of climate junkets for Global Worriers this year. A gala of red-carpet events culminating in Paris, from November 30 to December 11. The wheeling and dealing is on right now, months ahead — and though they talk about the importance of Paris, I expect that Paris is mostly the cabaret show (like UNFCCC event in Bali that I went to), and it’s the [...]

Wind farms only 80% effective at CO2 reduction (0% effective at temp reduction). UK to allow homes to stop turbines!

In the latest news about wind-generators, The Australian reports that a new Australian study estimates we wasted $70m on RET* certificates last year because of losses the wind turbines put on the rest of the grid. About a fifth of the CO2 supposedly cut by wind-farms was emitted by the rest of the grid as it ramped up and down trying to cope with the erratic supply from the on-and-off whirly-gigs.

If we double our wind-farms the losses are proportionally even greater (every extra wind farm is even more useless than the one before). With twice as many, all of the wind towers would only be 70% effective. But this is all a wild fantasy overestimate, since the point of wind towers is not to reduce CO2, but to reduce global temperatures, stop storms, and hold back the tides. The 3.5% reduction in total Australian electricity emissions changed global temperatures by 0.00C, hence RET on wind is 100.00% useless, accurate to two decimal places. The Clean Energy Council said they had no answer at all, and wouldn’t talk about it, except to say that Australians like “renewables”.

In other news in from the UK, the new majority conservative government says [...]

Wind Turbines useless for carbon reduction — From $50 – $120 ton. Greens should hate them!

Wind Turbines around 7 times more expensive than Direct Action

You would have to be bonkers to use wind turbines to reduce CO2. The Australian RET Review estimates that the cost of reducing CO2 via wind power is $32 – $72 per ton of CO2 avoided, which means it’s far more expensive than the Direct Action plan, which costs $14 per ton. Peter Lang is concerned the real story is even more costly than that, because it appears the RET Review does not account for the way wind turbines become less effective as they supply a larger portion of our electricity grid. The gas and coal generators get less efficient and they ramp up and down and burn fuel on standby, trying to cope with the fickle supply from the wind. The study of the Irish grid shows that nearly half the CO2 savings of wind turbines disappear as rest of the generators on the grid burn more fuel per unit of electricity. From my reading of Peter’s submission the real cost is more like $80 - $100/ton.

The Australian Parliament is seeking submissions to the ‘Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines’. It closes Monday. Peter Lang has submitted a 36 page report which [...]

The German electricity crisis – twice the price, but everyone’s going broke

When the Germans mess something up, they do it properly

Germany — is aiming for a 40% cut in carbon by 2020, and have “led the way” with solar and wind power. Electricity bills are now twice the price of those in North America, and some 800,000 poor people had their power cut off because they can’t pay their bills.  Despite the high prices, gas power has become uneconomic, even though it is one the best methods for dealing with the erratic energy delivered from wind and solar. Nuclear can’t save them, they will have none after 2022 when the last reactor turns off.

The pain is pointless. For all the money spent, they aren’t saving much CO2, and aren’t changing the weather.  They end up importing many of the goods which need energy, so the emissions occur in other countries without emissions controls. The German manufacturing sector can’t compete and struggles by on subsidies. Consumers pay more for goods or pay more through tax for the subsidies. Meanwhile, in the EU politicians seem to have realized that biofuels won’t work, but they don’t have the courage to kill them off and face the backlash — instead they fund it just [...]

Coal is like “torture” rage Guardian, Friends of the Earth

Oops. Who hates “the environment”? Green lobbyists keep revealing  how little they care. Friends of the Earth want to categorically rule out one of the most cost effective ways to reduce our carbon emissions.  New supercritical hot burning coal plants can reduce emissions by an amazing 15%. But Friends of the Earth and The Guardian hate coal more than they care about CO2.

The green climate fund (GCF) refused an explicit ban on fossil fuel projects at the contentious meeting in Songdo, South Korea, last week.

“It’s like a torture convention that doesn’t forbid torture,” said Karen Orenstein, a campaigner for Friends of the Earth US who was at the meeting. “Honestly it should be a no-brainer at this point.” — The Guardian

Poor old solar and wind power are so useless that the debate is about whether they achieve any reductions at all.  Their intermittent power means some kind of back-up base load power source has to run on standby to pick up the pieces when they collapse. The more wind power you have, the less CO2 you save. Solar Power provides “cheaper” electricity to the rich at the expense of everyone else, and potentially [...]