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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Guest post by Rafe Champion. Trouble in RE paradise

I have been expecting a shakeout in the RE industry for some time because in Australia more and more providers are feeding into a static market. In recent years the demand in the grid has possibly even declined due to the flight of power-intensive industries although the demand for power is projected to increase a great deal in future due to population growth and the anticipated explosion of numbers of electric vehicles (not to be confused with the explosion of the EVs themselves.)

I think the inflated projections of the rise of EVs are rubbish but that is another story.

RE developers in Australia are frustrated by delays in connection due to inadequate infrastructure (poles and wires) and they want the taxpayers to kick in $20 billion of capital expenditure to get them out of trouble. According to our planners in AEMO and associated lobby groups this will pay for itself many times over in a decade or two. In their dreams. Long before that the industry will implode when the impossibility of the transition becomes impossible to conceal when Liddell and Eraring go off line.

The big news about the travails of the wind industry overseas is the increase in construction costs which could be as much as 30% over the last year. At first, it was a supply chain problem due to the pandemic, now the supply chain issues are aggravated by the war and worse is to come as the inflation rate in the economy at large flows into the wind industry. Worse again is the pinch on lithium and other rare earths that will also get a great deal worse.

Even before the latest round of inflation the offshore wind industry in Britain was in trouble. Inspection of the books of the leading wind providers found that the costs of deep-water construction and maintenance were much larger than expected.

All in all it is a fascinating time to watch the end game of the RE fantasy playing out although it has some way to run due to the amount of capital that the woke finance industry and people like Twiggy Forrest are prepared to commit – with some help from the taxpayers of course.

All of this is playing out against the background of the brutal realities of the geopolitics of energy and mineral resources. Mark Mills at the Manhattan Institute has been sending warning signals for years that the push for intermittent energy in the west could have drastic geopolitical consequences. Here he explains how the conflict in the Ukraine has brought the drastic consequences upon us ahead of schedule.

Naivete about energy realities robbed the U.S. and its allies of important “soft power” options and helped finance Russia’s aggression. In the near term, our choices are limited, but continuing down the same energy path is a formula for yet more problems in the future.

He notes that the EU and the US over the past two decades spent more than $5 trillion and made countless mandates to replace oil, natural gas and coal. This brought the hydrocarbon share of all energy use down by two percentage points to 84 percent while burning wood still supplies more energy than all the world’s solar panels and oil still fuels nearly 97 percent of all the world’s transportation.

While the west spent a great deal of money to phase out coal and gas, without going nuclear, Russia and China pressed on to develop their coal and gas resources and nuclear power as well.

Europe gets 25 percent and 40 percent, respectively, of all its oil and gas from Russia. For Germany, the shares are 35 percent and 70 percent, as well as 50 percent of its coal needs.

The pivot from Russia will be painful and retrieving the situation will take a long time – it is like turning around the Titanic.

Read the whole story, it is very important and it is too densely packed to summarize.

10 out of 10 based on 59 ratings

29 comments to Guest post by Rafe Champion. Trouble in RE paradise

  • #
    Jojodogfacedboy

    The tree population in Canada to person is probably a trillion tree to a single person and they grow back.
    But we’re not allowed to cut any without many government loop holes and regulations and not to mention insurances and massive safety regulations enforced by fines.
    Truly disheartening seeing all these trees that we could use just waiting for the next forest fire.
    Our country is so massive that we’ve yet to actually explore our own backyards.

    260

  • #
    nb

    ‘watch the end game of the RE fantasy’
    Perhaps. Another possibility is the continued abduction of our society – an abduction that has become overt since 2016 – by a group of people who have no regard for freedom or prosperity, except for their own few selves. Those selves want to own everything while, they tell us, everyone else ‘will own nothing, and be happy’. Canada is at the forefront of the decline in property rights and rise of extreme censorship.

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  • #

    Jo
    As I have posted on numerous occasions. As an engineer I continue to be astounded that unworkable RE is being thrown at the grid and the mainstays of coal and gas, that we absolutely need, are being removed.

    Any basic engineering analysis shows the utter folly and idiocy here. IT DOES NOT WORK.

    But these days all are in thrall to the Leftist visions of a net zero grid. Visions – but in reality utter nightmares.

    Get the politicians and activists out of the decision making process or insist on an impartial engineering review with power of veto. Were this in place we would long ago have had HELE plants built together, Gippsland gas already flowing and more highly efficient gas plants in place. And probably a few nuclear plants. With bugger all wind and solar farms.

    But no, we will crash the grid and have serious problems before our idiot “leaders” will realise that the laws of physics are immutable….and cannot be commanded by reckless politicians.

    360

    • #

      Agree Profit. Also, as an engineer I know that AGW or so-called “climate change” is a scam. Those alarmists who claim to be scientists have no idea of the engineering subjects of Heat Transfer and Thermodynamics or electrical engineering topics such as frequency (Hz). CO2 is a clean gas which is necessary for plant growth and every animal (including humans) breathes it out.

      100

  • #
    • #
      b.nice

      Paul Homewood not Holmwood !!

      30

    • #
      Pauly

      You do have to have a chuckle when an industry, constantly proclaiming that their technology has the lowest cost energy, is now complaining that the low cost of electricity they produce is forcing them to lose money!

      The supply chain problems talked about by Rafe probably have nothing to do with those issues:
      – 85% of the wind industry’s components come from China
      – 95% of the metallic shafts for wind turbines come from China

      “Over the past eight years, cost was the only driver for developments, with low levelised costs of energy and low turbine prices driving the whole business”. And “If you look at Europe and Germany, we are constantly losing jobs in industry by relocating to other places.”

      Not other places. Just one place – China! A decade of effort creating what appears to be a supply monopoly. And then what happens?

      Of course, any industry that depends on government subsidies actually has no clue about its financial viability. So is this result unexpected?

      150

  • #

    When it comes to electrical power generation, I hate data and statistics with an absolute passion, mainly because people have zero comprehension of what the data actually means.

    However, when it comes to renewable power, I want you all to let this sink in.

    The total Nameplate for the renewables of choice is now 49,000MW. Yep, FORTY NINE THOUSAND MEGAWATTS.

    It’s broken down like this:
    Wind Power – (a little less than, but not by much really) 9000MW
    Solar Power Plants – (again, just a tad lower than) 6000MW
    Hydro Power Plants – (also, marginally lower than) 8000MW
    Batteries – Well that’s just 1000mW ….. (Oh, and here. note that’s a small m, so it’s milliWatts, but is so inconsequential as to not really matter at 0.06% of all generated power)
    Rooftop Solar Power – (and hey, who really does know better than a wild guess) 26,000MW (they say)

    So that’s 49,000MW.

    The total Nameplate for all coal fired power in Australia is 23,000MW, and hey, that’s just from 49 Units. FORTY NINE UNITS. (And hey, let that sink in too)

    Okay, all along, all along, I’ve been saying that it’s not Nameplate that should be used, but actual generated power, delivered to the grid for consumption by all sectors of that grid.

    In the 365 days of 2021, (52 weeks, 12 Months, One calendar year, to 31 December 2021) Coal fired power generated and delivered 128,000GigaWattHours of power to the grid. (62.7% of ALL the generated power from every source)

    In those same 365 days those four renewables delivered 63750GWH of power to the grid. (31.3% of all the generated power from every source)

    So, the four renewables have MORE THAN DOUBLE the Nameplate of coal fired power, and yet coal fired power generates and delivers DOUBLE the power.

    As I have said all along, renewable power ….. It just does not work.

    They have built more of them, you know the adage, just build more of them. Well, THEY HAVE, humungous overkill in fact, and still they can’t even get close to HALF the power generated by ….. FORTY NINE Units.

    Data! Huh! Why let facts get in the way, eh!

    Tony.

    340

    • #
      RobB

      Tony are you sure about the batteries? 1000mW = 1W. I have a few batteries lying around my house that can supply more than that!

      40

      • #

        Tony are you sure about the batteries? 1000mW = 1W.

        Hmm! I suppose that the satirical nature of some of the things I mention is as hard to understand as the data also is.

        Tony.

        50

        • #
          RobB

          No, the satirical nature of some of the things you mention is much harder to understand than the data!

          00

      • #
        Rick C

        Batteries used in grid storage produce no power. They store power produced elsewhere and return some of it to the grid and waste the rest.

        80

    • #
      Honk R Smith

      “Data! Huh! Why let facts get in the way, eh!”

      Why?
      Exactly.
      The 64 gazillion megawatt question.
      Is there another reality we refuse to face?
      Seems like the outcome is no longer avoidable and it’s time to prepare for the aftermath.
      I’m practicing fire starting by rubbing two sticks together.
      Plus spear and sling.

      Appreciate the synopsis BTW.

      120

      • #
        Ted1

        I waste time watching TV with lots of ads for various types of exercise equipment. On which people can get healthy by wasting energy.

        I don’t recall ever seeing an ad for such equipment which is set up to charge a battery to save some of that energy.

        You would think there would be a big market for such a device. It could power a few LED lights, and charge a mobile phone. At very little cost.

        Everybody will want one when the lights go out.

        100

        • #
          tonyb

          Ted

          There was a programme on that sort of topic in the Uk some years ago. a family consumed energy at their home using normal appliances. a vast team of cyclists elsewhere had to deliver that power. the Family were unaware of this. Completely and utterly impractical as you realise

          20

          • #
            Graeme No.3

            I don’t know about it being completely useless Tony, if you were to insist that politicians and public servants had to ‘man’ those cycles. It might teach them about how hard it is to generate constant electricity and besides would have the benefit of keeping them occupied and not thinking up halfbaked ideas.

            00

    • #

      Tony,
      Which battery is that which is GENERATING power ?
      Most batteries just consume power (10-20% of their capacity)…whilst simply sroring energy.

      100

      • #

        See my reply in Comment 5.1.1 above.

        That’s also why I added in brackets after the following …..

        but is so inconsequential as to not really matter at 0.06% of all generated power)

        inconsequential being the active word here.

        Tony.

        40

    • #
      IainC

      The Golden Plains wind farm was recently announced. Here are the major issues I deduced. The key stats for the project were listed as follows.
      The Golden Plains Wind Farm has secured TagEnergy as an equity investor in the $3 billion project, while Vestas has been awarded the main engineering and construction contract. The massive project has been approved for 215 turbines At full capacity, it is estimated it would provide enough energy for more than 750,000 homes. “With an installed capacity of more than 1,300MW, the Golden Plains Wind Farm’s 215 turbines will be capable of producing more than 4,500 GWh of energy annually, approximately 8 per cent of Victoria’s energy demand.”
      All-righty, then.
      1. The turbines are predicted to be 40% efficient on average over a year (8760h a year, stated 4500GWh output, max output 1.3GW). That’s high, normally it’s 30-35%.
      2. Power retailers can only bank on 500MW on average, not 1.3GW, so that’s only 3% of Victoria’s needs.
      3. The output is randomly variable. The wind farm can only guarantee somewhere between 0 and 1.3GW of output next week or next month.
      4. The 8% of Victoria’s power needs therefore needs to be backed up by anywhere from 0-8% at any time.
      5. This means doubling up on the infrastructure needed to supply the power, with a backup supply that delivers around 800MW (the difference between average capacity and full capacity) on average throughout the year, at random times for random lengths of time.
      6. In the end, this means that coal and gas backup of equal output (1.3GW in this case) are needed to match any installed wind capacity.
      7. 3bn for 500MW average output is around 5-10x more expensive than a coal or gas plant that is continuous, dispatchable and predictable for energy retailers. Who says RE is cheap?

      50

  • #

    I think it’s a case of:

    (1) Engineers who say it works get the tax money
    (2) Engineers who are honest don’t get the tax money and are CANCELLED
    (3) Virologists who say the vaccine works get the tax money
    (4) Virologists who are honest don’t get the tax money and are CANCELLED
    (5) Atmospheric Physicists who say man made carbon dioxide causes the climate to change get the tax money
    (6) Atmospheric Physicists who are honest don’t get the tax money and are CANCELLED
    (7) The CANCELLED have to retire on a pension

    420

    • #
      YallaYPoora Kid

      Engineers who . . .

      Please remember engineers are employed to do a job and not make policy or make public statements about their chosen employers. Yes they can choose to leave the company if they don’t agree with the politics although salary and steady job are heavy persuasion to stay.
      The company I worked for produced wind turbines although I detest the effect of them in our grid and the politics surrounding their implementation. I worked in a different division and had my own opinion about the wind industry which I could only voice personally rather than openly.
      Engineers implement technology to the best of their abilities and with the best means economically available but they do not create policy – a little of the Nuremberg defence but that is the way it is.

      30

      • #

        As an engineer I have many times pointed out the folly of proposed projects, even if they came from the MDs office.

        As luck would have it when I graduated I was in the commissioning team for the companies latest “state of the art” plant. I found out that the new technology would not work and advocated much of the plant be decommissioned and the old tech return, as it actually worked. Nobody really wanted to know about this and there were proclaimed improvements which were hastily approved. Just money down the drain. A year later they quietly implemented nearly all of my recommendations.

        I say luck in that I had an immediate early lesson that company management were not infallible, in fact often make disasterous decisions. They also make good ones but the bad ones are far too common, and over the last 30 years of my career I have seen many bad decision, ones which I opposed but due to political force were rammed through. But the problems I and others highlighted inevitably arose… This is mirrored in our govt only more so as politics are overwhelming these days and hence large nos of projects are poisoned and fail to deliver on their objective.

        In all cases engineering was cast aside and feel good vibes or politics dictated the proposed direction. No matter what engineering won in the end.

        40

        • #
          b.nice

          “No matter what engineering won in the end.”

          Yep, you can’t do what can’t be done. Some things work… but fantasies generally fail miserably.

          Engineering helps us figure out which is which…. its a very rational and practical process, that those of the left just do not, and can not, ever understand.

          Unfortunate, bureaucrats and politicians are often far from being either rational or practical, particularly nowadays, with leftism infecting the decision making structure far more than is desirable for modern society to remain functional.

          Its very hard to figure out if its just plane ignorance, or some sort of deeply mendaciously evil intent.

          Who in their right mind wants society to cease to function in a rational and moral way ??

          40

          • #

            b.nice it’s an old book but Atlas Shrugged is a great example of feel good over engineering exellence and innovation.A fantasy novel of its time though proving prophetic!

            00

  • #
    Climate Heretic

    “I think the inflated projections of the rise of EVs are rubbish but that is another story.”

     
    I Know the inflated projections of the rise of EVs are rubbish but that is another story.

     
    Fixed that for you and that is my thought exactly.

     
    Regards
    Climate Heretic

    90

  • #
    Robber

    To illustrate the wasted investment in windmills, consider buying a 5 MW generator and installing it 100 metres up on top of a pole in a remote area (because of the noise, no one wants it anywhere near where people actually use electricity). Now let’s build 19 more, all spaced at least 500 metres apart. That gives a total nameplate capacity of 100 MW. But as TonyfromOz has demonstrated, on average those generators will only operate at 30% of maximum capacity, with a variable output of zero to say 80% of nameplate capacity.
    So we have installed 100 MW of generators, but they will only deliver 30 MW on average.
    But now we need to have connections from this remote location to the grid. And those cables will have to be able to carry 100 MW just in case maximum output is achieved even for just a few minutes, yet on average only 30 MW will be supplied. And that’s not a guaranteed 30 MW, so somewhere else, to keep the lights on, there must be a reliable generator on standby, so even further investment is required. What wacky wreckonomics.

    100

  • #
    UK-Weather Lass

    Those of us in the UK who had a mind to care about electricity generation policy have been telling it as it is for a long time but, as our media mainstream is ‘squeaky green’, we have not had even the tiny percentage of exposure such heathen angles deserve until, it would seem, the words ‘nuclear and gas’ penetrated through when a Kent based connector suffered a fire last autumn. That was when the margins being filled by crossed fingers became a worrying issue. The end of COVID-19 restrictions and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine simply increased the need for politicians to come to terms with their long lived complacency, and neglect (madness is probably more accurate).

    I am hopeful that, for the first time in three decades, the UK may have something resembling an energy policy up and working before the year is out. And the squeaky greens won’t like it one bit, although, secretly, they may breathe a sigh of relief when energy bills start to fall back to something more realistic.

    40

    • #
      another ian

      W L

      ” when energy bills start to fall back to something more realistic.”

      Wouldn’t that be more like

      ” when their energy bills start to fall back to something more realistic.”?

      00