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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What Green Future? Spain adds solar tax, punishes the wind industry, loses “65,000 renewable jobs”

Remember, all developed countries are going Green, and Clean Energy is everywhere. It’s only (insert your country) that is falling behind. 

When you hear this, think of Spain. It is so green it’s just passed a tax on solar panel generation, so solar users finally pay for grid backup. This Spanish government has been building a renewable future with so much enthusiasm that their wind industry is described as “striken” and it’s estimated that the current government there has cost “65,000 green jobs”.*

That solar tax:

“The tax will be introduced in the next six months, according to a statement from the Ministry of Industry, Energy, and Tourism. It will apply to solar power systems with a capacity of over 10 kilowatts.

The Ministry said the tax is intended to ensure that solar panel users contribute to the cost of maintaining the country’s electrical grid, as they use it as a backup supply. “

They’ve been trying to get this tax through for a long time. It’s described as unpopular by the usual suspects and, improbably, as a tax on the “Sun” (but will the sun pay, I wonder?). Supposedly, I imagine, the indignation at solar [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

New small study: Wind farms show health effects – why wasn’t this done before?

This is the tiniest of most preliminary studies on the health effects of wind turbines, but it made it to the front page of a major newspaper.  It is really just laying the groundwork for setting up a proper study.  But at the end of 2012, according to the Global Wind Energy Council, there were 225,000 wind turbines operating around the world. So the real question is why has it taken so long to do an eight week study on six people in three houses looking at the effects of very low frequency ultrasound?

The Greens and Labor Party are supposed to be concerned about the effect of industry on people and cuddly animals, so where was their angst? If wind turbines ran on uranium, or the turbines were erected in inner-city areas, would the Greens have been so quiet?

Pacific Hydro deserves credit for funding and cooperating with the study which took place at Cape Bridgewater in Victoria.

Turbines may well blow ill wind

Graham Lloyd, The Australian

PEOPLE living near wind farms face a greater risk of suffering health complaints caused by the low-frequency noise generated by turbines, a groundbreaking study has found.

Finally, a way to get energy from Wind Turbines. Burn them, make cement!

Blades being chopped for transport. | Global Cement Magazine

It’s the new alternative fuel — decommissioned turbines. There are 21,000 wind turbines in Germany alone at the moment. With 15,000 tons a year of old blades expected to be dumped by 2019, it’s a real problem to get rid of them. The EU says they can’t be dumped in landfill. Here’s the perfect solution. Chop them, shred them, then deliver the fibreglass reinforced plastic to the local cement plant. The resins hold 15MJ per kilo. “One tonne of resin saves 600 kg of coal at the cement plant!”

It’s a win-win all round. Residents get rid of the bird chopping towers, the cement plant gets energy, and the windmills may, possibly for the first time, save some CO2 for the Greens. What’s not to like?

Indeed this is recycling you can like. The raw materials in old blades can even be used in the cement too.

Wind Turbines make good alternative fuels for cement production.

Global Cement Magazine Sept 2014 page 10


The crazy world of Renewable Energy Targets

Nothing makes sense about Renewable Energy Targets, except at a “Bumper-Sticker” level. Today the AFR front page suggests* the federal government is shifting to remove the scheme (by closing it to new entrants) rather than just scaling it back. It can’t come a day too soon. Right now, the Greens who care about CO2 emissions should be cheering too. The scheme was designed to promote an  industry, not to cut CO2.

UPDATE: Mathias Cormann later says “that the government’s position was to “keep the renewable energy target in place” SMH.  Mixed messages indeed.

We’ve been sold the idea that if we subsidize “renewable” energy (which produces less CO2) we’d get a world with lower CO2 emissions. But it ain’t so. The fake “free” market in renewables does not remotely achieve what it was advertised to do — the perverse incentives make the RET good for increasing “renewables” but bad for reducing CO2, and, worse, the more wind power you have, the less CO2 you save. Coal fired electricity is so cheap that doing anything other than making it more efficient is a wildly expensive and inefficient way to reduce CO2. But the Greens hate [...]

ABC bias against coal hurts the poor and the workers: Sell the ABC

A new report shows ABC journalists are fond of renewables and overlook their dismal economic value, while putting out bad news on coal, and ignoring the benefits of vast cheap profitable energy. Who could have seen that coming: a large public funded institution attracts employees who like large public funding?

The IPA arranged for a media analysis firm to compare the ABC reporting on coal and renewables.

ABC gives the green light to renewables, and the red light to Australia’s largest export industry and provider of 75% of our electricity.

ABC accused of bias against coalmining

Andrew Fraser, The Australian

The analysis of 2359 reports broadcast on the ABC over six months before March 15 this year found 15.9 per cent of stories on coalmining and 12.1 per cent of those about coal-seam gas mining were favourable, while 53 per cent of those on renewable energy were favourable.

It also found 31.6 per cent of stories on coal mining and 43.6 per cent of stories on coal-seam gas were unfavourable, while only 10.8 per cent of stories on renewable energy were ­unfavourable.

The ABC has become its own best case for privatizing the ABC. How much could we get? The [...]