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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Solar road is $6m epic disaster — 4% capacity, broken and so noisy speed-limits were cut

Solar Road, Normandy, France   |  Credit: KumKum

Would you like to drive slower, add to noise pollution and waste money? Then solar roads are for you:

The world’s first solar road has turned out to be a colossal failure…

Ruqayyah Moynihan and Lidia Montes, Business Insider

Two years after the world’s first solar road — the Normandy road in France — was set up, it’s turned out to be a colossal failure, according to a report by Le Monde. The road has deteriorated to a terrible state, it isn’t producing anywhere near the amount of energy it had previously pledged to, and the traffic it has brought with it is causing noise problems.

The original aim was to produce 790 kWh each day, a quantity that could illuminate a population of between 3,000 and 5,000 inhabitants. But the rate produced stands at only about 50% of the original predicted estimates.

Even rotting leaves and thunderstorms appear to pose a risk in terms of damage to the surface of the road. What’s more, the road is very noisy, which is why the traffic limit had to be lowered to 70 kmh.

Despite costing up to roughly [...]

Solar Power at $70 is still twice the price of brown coal

More fake news: Miners are only switching to solar because they can’t get access to cheap coal fired power.

“Miners switch on to renewables”

A better headline would be: Renewable targets make electricity so expensive miners are forced to switch to renewables.

The money quote:

Emily Alford is a principal consultant at Oakley Greenwood …  [she] told The Weekend Australian that solar generation cost about $200 a megawatt hour five years ago, and had dropped to about $70-$80 now.

Compare that to 53 year old Hazelwood coal power which was selling electricity for $30/MWh in it’s last month of operation. When brown coal stations set the price in Victoria they were winning bids at prices like $13/MWh.The cheapest electricity in the world comes from 30 year old brown coal plants.

The $70-$80 estimate is artificially low. Unreliable power makes the other baseload generators more expensive, adding $30/MWh to gas generators for example. Because the back up generators have to be there, not earning money while solar feeds in, they have to charge more to recoup those costs in a shorter working period. Doh. So add that cost to solar, not the gas.

Compare the real costs and weep:

I’ll repost [...]

Solar Power hits the death spiral vertical rise in Australia

Solar installations are rapidly accelerating in Australia, surging in the last quarter by an extraordinary 482MW. This is partly due to rapidly rising electricity costs, but in the last quarter, especially amplified by an extra $2250 subsidy in Victoria which adds to current subsidies like the SRES (RET) which already cover around half the cost of installation.

This is obviously a market destroying practice but will be hailed as evidence that solar power is “surging” due to “falling prices” and “increasing demand”. More fake news.

In the land of the Renewable-Crash-Test-Dummy we’re hitting the death spiral. Every installation costs non-solar owners more (with the tally at $200pa and rising fast) and there are fewer non-solar owners left to pay. Obviously, the whole market has to be changed to ensure that solar owners pay a fair share of networking and backup costs.

If solar power was cheap, useful or competitive, it wouldn’t need the subsidies. Instead, the nation keeps adding more useless infrastructure and wondering why the price of electricity is rising.

Solar panel installations, Australia, Graph.

Data: Australian PV Institute

The tally of solar stupidity

Solar is inefficient, wilderness destroying, money-hungry, useless, grid wrecking equipment

Without subsidies the German [...]

Worlds biggest solar thermal plant axed in state that is God’s gift to solar

Despite the obstacles, the free market just saved South Australian’s $110 million dollars

The Aurora plant was to be a bigger copy of Crescent Dunes, Solar Thermal Plant, California.

The Aurora Solar Thermal plant was going to be the biggest one in the world, but they couldn’t find enough private investors so it’s just been scrapped. That is despite the SA government being willing to give $110 million dollars, and the state being one of the sunniest, richest places in the world and with people already paying obscenely high prices for electricity. If Big-Solar could make it anywhere, surely there is no easier place on Planet Earth than in coal-less South Australia where competition from cheap reliable power has been completely extinguished?

A $650 million solar thermal power plant planned for Port Augusta will not go ahead after the company behind it failed to secure commercial finance for the project.

Despite all those fixed, unfair advantages, the market didn’t want to pay up for a 150MW bird frying power plant that would cost $650 million and probably only produce 30MW effectively. (The company’s prototype was Crescent Dunes which had a capacity factor of only 16%). Possibly investors [...]

“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 [...]

States with low cost solar and wind paying 1300% more at the moment

Any more free electricity and SA and Victoria will go broke.

In other news a few days ago, the retail price of electricity rose 16% in Victoria and the number of disconnections rose 21%.

In a highly critical report to be released on Tuesday, the Essential Services Commission accused energy retailers of running ineffectual hardship programs that saw customers cut off anyway in most cases.  The commission reported power prices leapt 16 per cent last financial year, feeding a 21 per cent jump in the number of disconnections as 60,732 customers had their power cut off. The ESC said the number of disconnections in the last quarter of the financial year was one of the highest on record. – Sydney Morning Herald

Enjoy all the fun of watching our Australian Electricity Market in operation live as tens of millions of dollars get converted into income for AGL, Energy Australia, ENGIE, Origin and Snowy Hydro. No wonder they love renewables.

States with the most cheap wind and solar pay the most for electricity. Graph. AEMO.

Why do we allow a few companies to own so many different and competing generators across the entire market?

AEMO: State of [...]

Solar subsidy death spiral: $2 billion in Australia, rising 50% pa as electricity prices rocket

A few Australians are just beginning to realize that they are paying for their neighbour’s solar panel. As news spreads, the shine of good-citizen-solar is going to tarnish fast, but it is going to take a concerted campaign to spread the word.

In one corner are 2 million households which have solar PV and thought they paid for it themselves. In the other corner are 7.5 million households which have exorbitant electricity bills. And in every corner and all across the spectrum is mass confusion thanks to the mass media. The fog of advertisements disguised as “news” means if you ask a dumb-enough-question 70% of Australians will say they want the government to set a high RET target to make electricity cheaper. It’s almost like 2 out of 3 people think we need the government to force us to buy cheap stuff, because everyone would buy the “expensive” planet killing volts if we only had the choice. Doh.

That’s $200 per household (and the rest!) added to the electricity bill in 2019

This is just the direct SRES (Small Renewable Energy Scheme) cost. It doesn’t cover the burden of stabilizing the grid, of covering the cost of baseload power [...]

Report on Aug 25 blackouts shows how fragile our grid is (and the real cost of cheap solar panels).

 When cheap solar is expensive Badly installed solar PV makes Australia’s grid fragile

On August 25 last year there was nearly a system blackout when, improbably, three states of Australia were islanded by one lightning strike. Within seconds, trips were switching, two smelters were load shed to save the grid from collapse, and across the Eastern Seaboard of Australia frequency and voltages surged or fell everywhere. In Sydney 45,000 homes lost power for a couple of hours. Shops had to close. Trains were stopped. Passengers were stranded. Traffic signals were not working on major roads. There was chaos. Industrial users shut down in a mass of 725MW of load shedding.

The AEMO final report on that day has just come out and shows us just how fragile our grid is. This was not so much a freak accident, as an accident waiting to happen.

It turns out that another cost of cheap rushed solar panels is that many drop out with voltage spikes, suddenly going offline and leaving another hole to fill. The numbers are amazing — of panels installed in the last 2 years as many as one-third in South Australia dropped out when we needed them and about 1 [...]

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 [...]

Sydney Hail Storm: Just how hailproof are those solar panels?

Here’s a problem coal fired plants don’t need to worry about.

Sydney’s ‘catastrophic’ hailstorm happened on Thursday, the damage bill said  to top $125 million. How much of that damage is to rooftop Solar PV? The last massive hail storm in Sydney was in 1999 — but there were hardly any solar panels then.

From SBS News

There are wild scenes and images everywhere.

Worst Sydney hailstorm in 20 years declared catastrophic

Jessica Cortis and Sascha O’Sullivan, The Australian

 At least 50,000 homes remain without power in northern Sydney and more than 1000 calls for help are waiting to be responded to by State Emergency Services after Sydney and the NSW central coast were yesterday rocked by the worst hailstorms in almost 20 years.

Before anyone yells “Climate Change”, Reader, Pat, found stories about hail the size of Eggs in Sydney in November 1929. Hail the size of Tennis Balls fell on Reids Creek near Brisbane in 1934 and hail the size of Tea Cups fell on Brookville in 1902. Paddington had “ice inches deep” on Nov 1, 1931. There are scores more Hail-the-size-of… Maybe building 2 million solar panels on a continent with hail [...]

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 [...]

White elephant solar panels: “force-feeding” high voltage, raising costs, breaking things, shutting themselves down

Some days I wonder if I should spread stories that make us sound like a recidivist third-world backwater struggling to maintain our voltage. But the ABC is already smashing away.

Just when you think there couldn’t possibly be another drawback to solar panels, lo! Solar Panels are pushing up the voltage at midday often as high as 253 Volts when it supposed to be more like 230 to 240V. This means appliances are using more electricity, that makes bills even higher. It may also be breaking appliances (making other bills go higher too). We’re not really sure about that, but when that study is done, it’ll already be 1.8 million panels too late.

Non-solar users are paying for this surge (and the appliances) — for every 1% increase in voltage, the costs go up 0.7%. Then, to ice that gravy-cake, the inverters on solar panels are also shutting off at 253V, meaning that poor home owners who paid thousands are not generating power for the grid. All up, solar is bad for you, bad for them, bad for our light-globes.

The warning comes from groups running the electricity networks in Australia.

Spot the key word missing from the ABC headline [...]

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 [...]

Turn off all wind and solar at 6pm peak time — makes no difference

All those billions we spent and yet at 6pm, many days coal, gas and hydro provide 98% of the power Australia needs. Wind and solar are our spare bikes, the third ski, the Banana-Slicers of the National Grid (read those reviews). Just what would we do if wind and solar were all we had? — Jo

At peak time intermittent renewables often make less than 2% of total Australian electricity

Guest Post by Anton Lang (TonyFromOz)

h/t to Rafe Campion at Catalaxy

When power is required the most, wind and solar are missing almost entirely. This isn’t cherry picking of one time — peak time is the most important time on the grid, when the most power is required.  The almost non-existent contribution from renewables is so common it has occurred now for seven days out of the last 14 days.

I’ve been doing a series on the Australian generation and demand curves on a daily basis for seven weeks, the totals are settling down, so that now the percentage changes are only in tenths of a percent, and consider that when it comes to total power and coal fired power, a tenth of one percent is 600MegaWattHours, so at [...]