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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Welcome to renewables world: Australia plans for blackouts, throws billions of dollars, but ABC says it will get “cheaper”

The fear is palpable

How much fun can you have living in a global experiment?  In Australia, peak summer is about to hit in a post-Hazelwood-electricity-grid.  There’s a suite of committee reports as summer ramps up. Everyday there’s another Grid story in the press, and a major effort going on to avoid a meltdown.  Minister Josh Frydenberg announced today that “we’ve done everything possible to prevent mass blackouts”. Or as he calls it, a repeat of the South Australian Horror Show.   Politicians are so afraid of another SA-style-system-black that they are throwing money: The “Snowy Hydro Battery” will be another $2 billion. Whatever. It’s other people’s money.

This is what they are afraid of:

The red bars mean “Reserve Shortfall”. The dark blue matter is “Generation”. The graph covers two years (sorry about the quality) so the two red bursts are summer 2018 and summer 2019.

SA Medium Term Forecast, Outlook, AEMO, Nov 16th 2017, South Australia.

Oddly we are headed for a critical time, but this’s the most recent graph I can find  — thanks to Wattclarity –  from November 16th, 2017. (Here’s an earlier version from March 2017. and from Dec 2016). Perhaps there is a newer [...]

Victoria plans to reduce electricity prices by copying state with most expensive supply in the world

In a genius move, Victoria, which has “soaring” electricity prices, now announces plan to copy South Australia where people pay more for electricity than anywhere:

The Andrews government this morning unveiled a new renewable energy target with a commitment to power up to 25 per cent of the state from renewables by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025.

The government has backed the construction of two large scale solar farms in regional Victoria which will provide another 140MW to the state’s supply, and has set up a reverse energy auction system to bring forward an additional 650MW to the state’s supply.

Meanwhile the trams will run on sunshine.

Legislation creates savings, how?

Victorian households will allegedly each save around $30 annually on power bills under the new plan, while medium sized businesses have been projected to save up to $2400 a year under the legislation which will be introduced to parliament today.

It’s almost like Victoria plans to make electricity from legislation (hey, it’s renewable, and will never run out). By making electricity shockingly expensive, Government ministers can talk of “savings”, even though prices will be far higher than the average price [...]

Australia, Denmark, Germany vie to win Highest Global Electricity Cost! (It’s the Nobel Price Prize?)

It’s not even close: If South Australia seceded it would have the highest electricity price of any nation on Earth.

 Australian Households pay highest power prices in the World, AFR.

South Australian households are paying the highest prices in the world at 47.13¢ per kilowatt hour, more than Germany, Denmark and Italy which heavily tax energy, after the huge increases on July 1, Carbon + Energy Markets’ MarkIntell data service says.

When the eastern states’ National Electricity Market was formed in the late 1990s, Australia had the lowest retail prices in the world along with the United States and Canada, CME director Bruce Mountain said.

 The Markintell report graph:

Hmm — odd coincidence of Price with Wind Energy Penetration:

Wind energy is “free” but countries with the most wind power are also the most likely to get to the top of the Prize Pool for exorbitant electricity. Wind energy penetration is highest in  Denmark (1st), Portugul (8th), Ireland (6th), Spain (11th), Germany (3rd). Conversely, renewable energy penetration is low in places at the tail end of the price curve like Luxemburg 6%, Estonia 15%, Hungary 7%, Lithuania 15.5%. In the low mid price range [...]

Hazelwood — the shutdown begins — lowest cost electricity forced out by government design

TonyFromOz reports that the first generator at Hazelwood Power Station has stopped after 53 years of operation.

If only the Victorian government saw value in keeping an old cheap power generator going. Marvel that even though this plant can sell wholesale electricity at 3 or 4 cents per KWhr it is unable to make a profit.  There is no free market in electricity in Australia, only the illusion of it. Hands up who thinks a million households would buy direct from Hazelwood and keep it going, if there was no government intervention to stop them?    — Jo

Hazelwood Power Station, closes, March 2017. Photo David Maddison.

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Hazelwood Update – The shutdown has started

At 1.51AM Monday 27th March, Unit 8 was the first Unit at Hazelwood to shut down. It reduced power at around 3.45PM on Sunday afternoon from around 170MW to between 128MW and 134MW, trying vainly to stay operational for as long as possible. At 11.05PM Sunday night, power started falling even more, leading me to believe it was starting the shutdown process, which took almost three hours. Power fell off over the next almost three hours and finally, it stopped [...]

Hazelwood Countdown: 53 years old and making more electricity than Australia’s entire wind industry

Three days to go: The Hazelwood shut down begins

The situation in Australia right now:

The total fossil fuel output compared to total wind power generation, NEM, Australian electricity market, 21 March 2017

One old coal plant makes more electricity than all the wind farms

Guest Post by TonyfromOZ and Jo Nova

I’ve been watching the output of all eight generators at Hazelwood closely all month and comparing it to the total wind farm generation across the National Electricity Market (NEM). The old warhorse is a remarkable engineering and economic success.

I’ve kept a total of the power output each day from midnight to midnight and a running cumulative total. So far, the running total output from Hazelwood has always stayed ahead of the total from wind farms.  So this 53 year old coal fired plant that is being shut down next week has produced more energy than the 43 wind plants on the National Energy Market. Even if we could store the energy from the wind farms, it still doesn’t add up to the same as one very ancient coal plant. The shut down starts in three days time on Friday March 24th.

Over [...]

Victoria paying big to drive at breakneck speed to repeat South Australia’s blackout

Victoria is driving down Blackout Drive. They have reports from South Australia up ahead, they know where the road goes, but the state is paying for the first class ticket on a trip to RiskyGrid.

Victoria has 5.7 million people, over three times bigger than South Australia. Right now SA relies on the Victorian grid stability to keep running, and gets up to 800MW of reliable electrons from the state-next-door. But Victoria wants to add more wind power — theoretically the equivalent of a big coal fired plant (like Hazelwood).

Tom Quirk and Paul Miskelly looked closely at the numbers and patterns and see the writing on the wall. To help expensive, unreliable, intermittent green energy survive the government subsidizes it by around 9c per KWhr (bear in mind the wholesale rate for coal fired power is 3 – 4c per kWhr.) The government also demands retailers have a 12.5% mix of renewables, and that they accept most electrons from wind power whenever and wherever it is available. This strange anti-free market rule is called “nondispatchable” power, meaning the system can’t just throw it away if there is any demand at all. Whereas coal [...]

No Yackandandah, wind farms will not stop bush fires

In less than 24 hours The Guardian can turn personal disasters into political advertising:

Climate change and the Victorian bushfires: this is not a coincidence

Cambell Klose

Klose tells us climate change is too complicated for stupid people:

“The issue of bushfires can’t be divorced from climate change. For too many people climate change remains an esoteric concept – something that may happen to someone else in the hazy, far-off future.”

Luckily gifted people, like Cambell Klose (political adviser) can “feel” the causes of climate change.

“Clearly this isn’t the case. The effects of climate change are being felt right now and it is having real impacts on Australians and people all across the world.”

Who needs computer models? (Or for that matter, thermometers?)

What not to do when faced with infernos:

“Yackandandah is trying to do something about this. The community has committed to powering themselves entirely by renewable energy by 2022.”

Some people reduce fuel-loads, others fight off the flames with a solar panel.

Wind farms may reduce bush fires if we have to chop down large tracts of forest to install them. Otherwise they make expensive fire-breaks.

What warming?

The [...]

Melbourne heat — BoM makes mystery corrections, but misses new skyscrapers. Incompetence?

More errors in ACORN – The Bureau of Met wonder-database corrects for mysterious “statisticals” but not for 15 story buildings built next to the thermometers. They correct a step change that doesn’t occur in minima, but don’t correct for one that does in maxima. Big site changes are marked in some datasets but not in others. And where is the correction for obvious urban heat island effects? Bear in mind, the size of the artificial steps and corrections is on a par with the warming supposedly due to carbon dioxide. Hmmm.

The BoM database needs to be independently and publicly replicated, all the way from their raw data to the final output down to several decimal places. Then we will all know what is going on. Let’s shine a light in. If it ain’t replicated, it ain’t science.

Melbourne has one of the longest temperature records in the Southern Hemisphere. Looking at the original records it appears Melbourne maximums have not changed much from 1855 – 1995. Then they suddenly jumped or stepped up.

Tom Quirk did some sleuthing, and figured out why that happened. But what he can’t figure out is why the Bureau missed this adjustment, yet makes [...]

The Rutherglen Stoush on homogenisation — Bill Johnston bravely ventured onto “the Conversation”

Rutherglen is one of the seemingly best stations in Australia, apart from a break from 1955-1965. Bill Johnston looks closely at the raw data, finding that there is probably no trend — flat temperatures — rather than either cooling or warming. And that it’s difficult to fill in data from surrounding stations. He speculates that something fishy goes on in 1924. He also finds that rainfall probably drives a fifth of the temperature swings. He discusses his disappointment at the intellectual level of debate on The Conversation.

Because he knows the area, he also talks about the effect of wet years and dry years, and how that affects winter and summer temperatures. He has a dry wit, and lovely casual style.

I think that if we have to rely on statistical analysis to “know” whether data was shifted or moved when there is no documentation suggesting it was, all certainty is shot, and any definitive statement about temperature trends in Australia is a joke.  — Jo

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The Rutherglen stoush

Guest post by Bill Johnston

The raw trend is very different from the HQ adjustments which are very different from the ACORN [...]

Has North Victoria cooled, and is that the ghost of a solar cycle signal we see?

UPDATED AGAIN #4 — Now with Vukcevics Hale cycle graph of Echuca.  and #3  David Archibalds suggestion of the Hale Cycle at work. #2 with Willis Eschenbach’s graph and my thoughts, (see below)

Ian Bryce sent me a striking graph (or two). Looking at the original raw data from Echuca Victoria shows a dramatic cooling trend of nearly half a degree since 1900, and rather than being a siting anomaly, it’s repeated in two towns about 100km away.

Curiously he also finds peaks in the maximums at Echuca that look for all the world like they match the solar cycle. Is it a fluke, or could it be real?  If it’s real, what conditions make the solar sun-spot cycle so apparent in Echuca — where its maximum temperatures seemingly peak with each second solar cycle. Can anyone find this signal in other places? — Jo

 

The area is inland Northern Victoria

Has there been Global Warming or Global Cooling in Echuca

Guest post: Ian Bryce

I have spent about 37 years working with processing tomatoes in the Goulburn Valley in Australia, and the last 25 years or so, with research into growing and processing canning tomatoes. Since 1984, our [...]