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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Fireman warns solar powered batteries may cause ferocious fires

Channel Seven News.

Unintended consequences: When your insurance to stop the planet burning burns down your house instead.

Storing all that energy in a small box at home. What could possibly go wrong?

Fire crews are warning that solar powered batteries may cause fires that move fast and burn with “ferocity”.

Solar home battery warning after Brisbane house fire

Brisbane Times, Toby Crockford

The homeowner told reporters they had solar panels connected to lithium-ion batteries and suspected the fire started nearby, a view shared by firefighter Malcolm Muscat.

“[There were] approximately three battery banks so lithium-ion, lead-acid batteries, they burn with a ferocity that moves through the house quickly,” Mr Muscat said.

Remember: When the future of the planet is at stake, there’s no such thing as too much insurance.

We just hope the owners had plenty.

Friends and family can be consoled that the house has been sacrificed for a good fashionable cause.

Note this is the “suspected” cause in this fire, but solar panels have been linked to many other house fires.

Does your home need a “fire bunker”? ‘Years to understand’ fire risk of solar power systems

From July 12th, [...]

New Report: Renewables indirectly make electricity MORE expensive, so ABC tells Australia the opposite

One big government agency quietly admits renewables make electricity more expensive, and another big gov media agency hides it.

The new AMEC report tells us renewables will make electricity prices go down a tiny 2% in the short run but make electricity more expensive in the long run due to forcing out cheap baseload players. What matters most to Australians — that we can expect our electricity costs to be 2% less than “obscene” for the next couple of years, or that the artificial transition we are forcing on the grid will indirectly make electricity more expensive?

Which message does the ABC headline? Say hello to Trivia!

Renewables set to drive down power prices, new AEMC analysis shows The ABC is essentially a taxpayer funded advertising machine for the renewables industry.

A flood of new renewable energy projects is likely to drive down household electricity bills, according to new analysis by government policy adviser the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC).

On a national basis, household bills are set to fall by 2.1 per cent — but price falls in the eastern states and South Australia are offset by increases in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and [...]

Deadly: a quarter of all solar panels pose high or severe risk

Got Solar PV? Don’t let the kids play on the roof

Would you like a 240Volt shock with that?

In Australia, shonky fly-by-night installers are botching the wiring and not screwing the panels on properly. As many as a quarter of solar panels pose a high or severe “electrical safety” risk. Since there are two million households with solar panels, that’s half a million homes sitting under a live problem.

By mismanagement and delusional climate-changing schemes the government has entirely and artificially created the solar bubble. Hopefully people won’t die like they did in the Pink Batts Bubble. Back then, to stop droughts and storms and save the nation from the Global Financial Crisis, the government decided to rush out home insulation. The artificial bubble brought in poorly trained workers and four people died. Kevin Rudd (former PM) now says he wouldn’t have done it if he’d known the risks. But heck, way back in 2010 no one could have realized that artificial government industry bubbles wouldn’t mix well with 240 Volts.  Sure.

Australia’s big advance seems to be to stop unnecessary deaths under roofs, and start doing them on top.

Warning of deaths over solar panel installations Simon [...]

Solar boom to bust in China: worlds largest solar PV projects drop 43% as subsidies cut

The advantage of communist autocrats is that they can create government havoc so much more efficiently.

The Chinese solar boom was so big it became the world’s largest solar market. It was so big it pushed up global “clean energy” investment to a record high. China became the veritable show pony of the solar spruikers: “leading the world in clean energy investment”. Mashable tells us it was so big “the solar boom could be seen from space“.

But the star advertisement for renewable glory was all based on subsidies:

The Chinese solar boom was “pretty significant”

A couple of months ago the Chinese government admitted they were cutting the subsidies to make electricity cheaper again for consumers. That hit the stock market. Now projects are being cancelled and orders are drying up for the hapless manufacturers.

The free market might be telling us something China’s solar industry is at a crossroads

“Without subsidies there’s no return on investment for over a decade, so investors and property owners aren’t interested in distributed solar. With subsidies it only takes seven years to recoup the investment,” he adds.

China’s solar manufacturers are unhappy with recent government policy changes [...]

Ten years late the ACCC says rooftop solar deals must stop

The ACCC is a powerful body created to protect consumers in Australia. Now, after ten years of poor people being forced to pay for middle and upper class solar panels in a kind of semi-secret subsidy-tax, NOW, it says maybe it is time to stop?

Go ACCC.

Competition watchdog calls for solar subsidies to be axed

Ben Packham, Sam Buckingham-Jones, The Australian

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s electricity affordability report reveals the huge cost of environmental schemes across the National Energy Market, including the large-scale renewable energy target, the small-scale renewable energy scheme and solar feed-in tariffs.

The schemes add a combined $170 to household energy bills in South Australia, $155 in Tasmania, $109 in NSW, $93 in Victoria and $76 in Queensland.

 The ACCC waffles some reasons:

The ACCC said the costs associated with the LRET were expected to fall significantly after 2020, and did not recommend any action to wind up the scheme before its 2030 end date. But it said the SRES, which cost $130 million in 2016-17, should be wound down and abolished by 2021, almost a decade ahead of schedule, to reduce costs for consumers.

When [...]

Junk generators: 2 million expensive solar panels cut Australian total CO2 emissions by 1%

Solar panels across Australia reduce our emissions by almost nothing.

The ABC is whipping Gorgon for not getting carbon sequestration to work, claiming that this is a crisis that will wipe out the entire “gain” from installing two million solar panels across Australia. What the ABC don’t say is that the entire infrastructure of solar panels (on 20% of Australian homes) is only reducing our CO2 emissions by one pointless percent. So the Gorgon delay in achieving the impossible is likewise irrelevant. Australian emissions are rising at 1.5% pa now anyhow.

In terms of our national emissions, the real question is if we shut every solar panel in the nation would anyone notice?

Despite the $1.1b budget, the ABC could have got this bigger and more useful perspective for free from any number of skeptics, none of whom it tried to interview.

With minimal training in arithmetic ABC staff could even have figured it out for themselves. Instead, as per usual, the ABC provides free advertorials for green-industry hacks, with no hard questions and little research.

Can someone please explain to ABC investigative journalists the difference between a megaton and a ton? All they had to do was graph [...]

Energy Crisis: NSW can’t keep coal plants, or aluminium smelters running, prices hit $14,000MW/hr

It’s not even summer.

NSW has been hit by clouds and a lack of reliable coal power. Prices are soaring.  In NSW the Tomago Aluminium Smelter consumes about 10% of the state’s electricity. It has been forced to switch off three times in the last week because there was not enough reserve power on the grid.

The boss of Tomago, Mr Howell, said Australia is “at a crisis point with our energy system”. 

“This is not summer with extreme demand. This is the likely future of our energy grid as once reliable baseload generators exit the [NEM] and are mostly replaced with intermittent wind and solar projects with no practical storage to speak of,” Mr Howell said. “Our energy debate should not advocate either renewables or conventional thermal,” he said.

– SMH, Peter Hannam,

Aluminum pot lines can only sit idle for a few hours before they cool too far and the damage becomes permanent and wildly expensive as the aluminum becomes solid.

Renewables-fans blame the emergency on the unreliability of coal

See @TheAustraliaInstitute. Suddenly Australia is the only western nation on Earth with coal resources that can’t [...]

Solar overload — “Costs a fortune” as the super Duck Curve flood of electricity hits Australia

Ladies and Gentlemen, Australia is now romping in as Star-Crash-Test-Dummy in the renewables stake.

Proportionally, we have more uncontrolled solar roof top generators than any other nation. We’re in uncharted territory: about 20% of houses in Hawaii and California have Solar PV, but in Western Australia, it’s 25%. In Queensland it’s 30% and throughout Australia we are adding 100MW a month and it’s like a whole new coal fired station every year (except it doesn’t work most of the time).

Strap yourself in! This is more useless infrastructure than anywhere else on planet Earth. The only time solar PV panels provide something we might need is at afternoon tea time in summer when airconditioners are on. So for three quarters of the year they provide electricity when we don’t need it, and for three quarters of every day they don’t even work. The rest of the time they burn capital, increase the blackout and fire risk and sit there collecting dust and hail stones.

Electricity at the wrong time is not just wasted, it’s a burden

Too much electricity bumps up the grid frequency and voltage, potentially damaging equipment and risking blackouts. Obviously we have to “manage” this flood of [...]

Even in sunniest Queensland, solar can’t run without big subsidies — so big they have to be kept secret

Solar is so competitive that the Queensland government has to pour in money to keep solar developers from running away.

How much money? Who knows. Whatever it is, it’s so big, the government has to keep it a secret.

Queensland taxpayers kept in dark as they prop up solar firms

MARK SCHLIEBS, The Australian

The Queensland government is concealing its financial support for large-scale renewable energy projects, guaranteeing subsidies to solar companies that do not ­appear on balance sheets.

With an expert panel previously finding the government would need to spend between $500 million and $900m in subsidies to meet its 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030, there are now calls for spending to be made public.

The government has struck four deals with major solar-farm developers, under “contracts for difference”, with floor prices nominated for the sale of their ­energy in order to attract finance. When the market price falls below that threshold, the government has to make up the difference.

Luckily for Queensland taxpayers — who don’t know how to spot a good investment or the energy source of the future — the Government can spend their money for [...]

Extraordinary powers triggered: Blackout threat from rooftop solar panels in Western Australia

Panels are going in everywhere in Perth.

In Western Australia the uptake of solar panels has rocketed as electricity prices leaped — there’s a slow motion solar train-wreck underway. Solar PV panels are now on more than one in four houses and growing at a phenomenal rate.

The South West Grid is small, with around one million customers and a daily peak of around 2 – 3,000 MW. But the solar generation now totals as much as 1,000MW, and is growing at blistering 180MW a year. Already, there are times solar can be the largest “single” source on this grid, and the AEMO has no control over it, which is why emergency notices are being issued more and more. The AEMO suggests the answer is more batteries, but we are still subsiding the installation of these unnecessary panels making the problem worse, and electricity prices are forecast to rise another 7% this year. As readers TomOMason and TonyfromOz say, so much for cheap solar — watch out: “Batteries Not Included”. The hidden costs get you every time, and the cost of the impact on the rest of the grid is only becoming known as we do this live experiment.

[...]

Even AEMO head admits solar panels are a big “disrupter” in Australia – fears big players may abandon grid

The land of the sunburnt country finds that the rapid uptake of solar is a headache, disrupting the grid, adding variability, making management more complicated. Read right through. The head of the AEMO gives an upbeat talk, but the ominous message is that solar panels are flooding in, there are lots of problems, and not only are baseload generators leaving the market, but there may come a day when things are so ludicrously expensive that big energy customers leave to generate their own too. Is that what the death of a grid looks like?

 

Audrey Zibelman is the head of the AEMO – Australian Energy Market Operator – which has the responsibility of managing the electricity and gas market and grid stability for all Australians. To hear her, you’d think the future is renewable, the transition is not being artificially forced on the market, and there is no alternative to alternative energy.

Zibelman tosses out pat free-market lines with a straight face, saying at 17:20 that we never really want governments to “pick a technology”, ignoring that this whole transition, all of it, is only happening because governments “picked a technology”.

Listen at 21:30 to get an [...]

Bill shock debacle: Solar rooftop subsidies in Australia doubling, will cost $1.3 billion this year, $160 per household

And we wonder why electricity bills are rising?

Many Australians don’t realize that those without solar panels pay are forced to pay for those who do through their electricity bills.  That pain point is about to launch itself above the horizon and into public view. For those readers with solar panels (there are a lot) this is not about you, this is about the system. Our badly managed grid is now so obscenely inefficient and expensive, droves of people are installing solar panels because they feel they have no choice.

Tony Abbott says “Australians are paying too much for our emissions obsession”.

NSW MP Craig Kelly: “It’s effectively a reverse Robin Hood scheme where we are ­increasing the electricity prices on the poor to reduce electricity ­prices for the rich.”

As Jo says: We could have put that billion into a new hospital. Instead we put magic squares on our houses, hoping to get nicer weather.

Solar Subsidies must end Solar Panels on Australian rooftops cost electricity customers $500m last year, and are projected to cost a staggering $1.3 billion this year:

The Clean Energy Regulator has released figures showing that more than 1057 megawatts of ­capacity [...]

German solar: 10 hours of sun in December makes 40 Gigawatts of nothing

From Pierre Gosselin at No Tricks Zone:

Germany needs 80GW of electricity. It has 40GW of installed solar PV.

See the graph: The red line is what the country used, and the orange bumps are the solar contribution.

Clearly, solar power will take over the world.

In December, Germany got ten hours of sunlight. That’s not a daily figure, that’s the whole month. So in summer on a sunny day, solar PV can make half the electricity the nation needs for lunch. In winter, almost nothing. From fifty percent, to five percent.

Imagine what kind of havoc this kind of energy flux can do. Not one piece of baseload capital equipment can be retired, despite the fact that half of it is randomly unprofitable depending on cloud cover. Solar PV eats away the low cost competitive advantage. Capital sits there unused, spinning on standby, while wages, interest, and other costs keep accruing. So hapless baseload suppliers charge more for the hours that they do run, making electricity more expensive.

They just need batteries with three months supply. It will be fine once Germany turns the state of Thuringia into a redox unit.

Read about it:  Dark Days [...]

Forget Megawatts, ABC invents new unit of power — “size of Tasmania”

Outback couple build solar farm to prove fringe-of-grid power generation needs

Building a $14 million solar farm is an expensive way to send a message about electricity prices, but Doug and Lyn Scouller said they were left with few options.

In Normanton, 500 kilometres north of Mount Isa in north-west Queensland, the Scoullers built a solar farm big enough to power an area almost twice the size of Tasmania, in a move to prove to stakeholders the benefit of positioning power generation sites at the end of the grid.

In old fashioned terms, the “farm” produces five-megawatts. But yesterday, Tasmania didn’t use 5MW it used 1,072 MegaWatts. So this solar farm would have supplied 0.2% of the houses and businesses on an area “twice the size of Tasmania”. The only Tasmania-sized-areas that would be functioning on 5MW are in the empty desert or the Great Southern Ocean.

And we wonder why some Australians think solar power is a no brainer. If this little farm can supply 120,000 km2, we just need another 60 like it, and we could do the whole continent!

ABC journalists are not good with numbers. If only they had a billion dollars a year [...]

Some days one thousand MW of solar vanishes in Australia

The Australian national grid stretches from the tropics to the cold temperate zone from 16S to 43S. You might think that along those 40,000 kilometers of transmission lines there is always somewhere somewhere sunny at midday, but some days you’d be wrong.

James Luffman at WattClarity,  noticed this extensive cloud arrangement affecting solar on Friday May 19th. On that day, a one thousand MW generator wasn’t there when it was expected to be.

Cloud patterns on Friday 19th May 2017 – leading to a day of low Solar PV output, NEM-wide

By James Luffman | Published Fri, 25 August 201

Cloud cover over Australia, map, preventing solar PV generation.

How often does this happen? Hard to say, since data on rooftop PV has only just started to be released. It may not be as often as wind turbines, which simultaneously flounder across the whole Australian grid every 10 days or so.

This kind of comma-shaped band of cloud is relatively common over eastern Australia, when you have moisture from the Coral Sea area feeding into a trough with a low-pressure system near SA or VIC.

In this particular case of 19th May, the band of [...]