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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Cold snaps and blistering electricity prices downunder — where one state burnt $2.4b in electricity in May

And the bonfire continues

As cold fronts sweep across the south east of Australia electricity prices are setting records nobody wants to set. The wholesale prices for electricity –across a whole month — soared past $300 a megawatt hour in three states of Australia. In NSW the cumulative cost of wholesale electricity for May alone worked out at $2.4 billion dollars. It’s enough to build a power plant. Back in 2015, before Hazelwood old brown coal plant closed and Australia installed more renewable energy per capita than anywhere else on the planet, the average price in NSW was $35/MWh. Back then it cost $260 million for the whole month. (And Hazelwood wasn’t even in NSW. ) The point is not about one coal plant, but about how recently the system still worked and how fast it fell apart. Hazelwood coal plant in 2017 was 53 years old and still selling electricity at $30 per megawatt hour when it was shut down. Since then the whole grid has so much more capacity yet so much less ability. There’s no resilience left. A few speed bumps wiped out the whole road train.

 

Wholesale electricity prices are higher across the […]

Energy Crisis picks up speed Downunder: Now a major Gas retailer goes under

Last week small electricity retailers were bleeding so badly they doubled their prices and asked their customers to leave.

This week it’s a big gas retailer, as Australia belatedly faces the same pain that hit and wiped out UK energy retailers:

Gas retailer Weston Energy’s collapse stirs call for Labor intervention

Perry Williams, The Australian

Weston Energy, which provides gas to more than 400 companies and government agencies, ceased trading with immediate effect on Monday, creating uncertainty for major manufacturers with 7 per cent of the east coast’s commercial and industrial market forced to find a new supplier.

The company said it could no longer finance cash flow requirements of its trading portfolio “on a timely basis” with prices rising over 180 per cent since April, and almost three times higher than at the start of the year.

These are blistering rises in costs:

With spot gas prices up to four times higher than normal levels and wholesale electricity prices in NSW on track to finish the June quarter twice as high as the previous record, Mr Willox called on the Albanese government to respond.

It’s a cult.

[…]

Scorching electricity price spikes in NSW and Queensland

Brisbane on May 3rd was a glorious 15 to 25C (or 60F – 77F) and yet the price of electricity was shocking.

The scale of the graph is so distorted that all the normal price gyrations fall to nothing, and there is only the spike — a full hour of $14,000 burning for every megawatt, and the state needing 7,000 megawatts. The demand level, or load is not unusual, but it’s about $100 million in electricity.

And this is the nice time of year for electricity managers, or it used to be. With weather that’s ideal for human habitation most air-conditioners and heaters are off. But the sun is setting earlier, and solar power is shrinking just as everyone gets home from work to turn on the oven.

AEMO

Some may blame the “lack of coal power”, but notice what’s happening to wind and solar power at critical time from 5:20pm to about 6:30pm.

All the wind and solar power in Queensland on May 3, 2022 |

Though there are other factors at work too and some are a bit mysterious according to Paul McArdle. Queensland at one point had only a 7% instantaneous reserve plant […]

Australian wholesale electricity prices have doubled in the last year (and it’s because we don’t have enough coal power)

Luckily for Energy Oligarchs, Australian electricity prices have bounced right back to pre-pandemic insanity. Wholesale rates are romping around $170 dollars a megawatt hour in April across the whole national grid…

The media mouthpieces are blaming it on outages of coal turbines — even though wind power fails every week, and solar fails every day. If unreliable generators cause high prices, then Wind is King Fickle. They’re also blaming high coal prices, but coal itself, is a small part of the cost of a two billion dollar plant. Naturally, neither political team has a clue how to fix this. But it’s all so banal — the prices are set at auction, and some fuels are cheap. Add more of the cheap type, and we’d get cheaper electricity.

Right now, if there were more black coal plants setting the price more of the time, electricity would be half the cost. If enough brown coal plants like Hazelwood were still running, the prices would be a fifth. It’s all there in the data that ABC journalists never find. Consider the winning bids by fuel type in Australia for the last quarter of 2021. For Brown Coal, the average winning bid was $11 […]

The Green Agenda meets The Energy Crisis (just in time for COP 26)

Some great Green plans are starting to come undone and it’s not even winter yet

But it is just in time for a reality check on COP26.

Europe’s energy crunch is continuing, as gas storage volumes have shrunk to 10-year lows. In the UK 12 energy companies have collapsed this year leaving 2.2 million customers stranded without an electricity provider. Things are so bad the Dutch government is thinking of reopening the Groningen gas field, Europe’s largest onshore gas field. This is a big backward step for the transition to magical energy. “Until recently, the plan was that Groningen would be closed completely by 2023, ending the large-scale gas production and export by the Netherlands with a bang.”

There are even thoughts of switching back to coal. Drax is suddenly talking about keeping some coal plants running a bit longer, something that would have been blasphemy a few months ago.

Across Europe and Asia — the energy crisis runs amok

No one can blame Brexit for food shortages in Brussels:

https://twitter.com/hermannkelly/status/1442901773958582274

But people can blame Green policies for energy pain

Kate Andrews: Britain’s weak energy security puts net zero in doubt The Daily Telegraph, 29 […]

Bluescope spends a billion in US because “cheap energy”

Add another billion to the cost of the Renewable Energy Target?

In the last few days Bluescope Steel (formerly BHP) has confirmed it will spend US$700m (AU$1b) to expand it’s North Star steel mill in Ohio. So there are multiple headlines. But back in February CEO Mark Vassella explained exactly why they were thinking of it, and his first reason was “energy prices”. Last week, high energy prices were even “a tragedy” for Australian manufacturing. This week however, he’s clarified his position by muddying it up. Now there other reasons and the solution is to fix our gas prices. He’s backpedaling and tossing quotes that happen to help the renewables industry.

Perhaps he’s been heavied by his PR and strategy team? Now he’s saying that energy costs matter, but labor costs do too and “we weren’t ever going to put another steel mill in Australia”. He’s even saying energy costs “did not play a role” — the complete opposite. These will become the quotes the renewable energy fans rely on. Apparently, now what he really wants is cheaper gas — which requires a socialist government-driven solution to fix gas prices, and it’s safe for anyone to mention anything that requires […]

Just change one rule — so the world can see what Wind and Solar really cost

Random power generators. Photo JoNova

Wind and solar power are the intermittent freeloaders on the electricity grid. They are treated as if they’re generators, adding power to the grid, but instead they provide something the grid doesn’t need — power that can’t be guaranteed.

Random gigawatts has the illusion of looking useful, but it’s the gift of a spare holiday house you don’t know if you can use til the day before. It’s the spare fridge in the garage that overheats in hot weather, the extra turkey for thanksgiving that might not arrive til the day after. The bills, the storage, the clutter, the chaos.

As I keep saying in RenewablesWorld fuel bills go down, but the land-maintenance-staff-insurance-FCAS-storage-and-capital costs all go up.

RenewablesWorld is a place where a lot more people and machines sit around and watch cat videos on youtube.

Here’s a great plan by Terry McCrann.

The one rule that would expose wind power’s true cost

Terry McCrann, The Australian, Business Review

If you wish to sell power into the grid, the NEM or National Energy Market, you will have to guarantee a minimum level of supply and guarantee that minimum level of […]

18 years of Renewable Energy Target means an expensive and unstable grid, and still 75% coal

A big new study by electricity grid nerds (and I mean that in the nicest possible way) shows that after all the money and pain of 20 years of forced transition Australia’s electricity has shifted from 85% coal powered to 75% coal powered, which cost billions and as a bonus, made electricity more expensive and unstable. We drove out some brown coal, but swapped it for black coal. Instead of ousting coal power, the extra solar and wind power replaced some gas and hydro.

The authors are genuine independent experts, and the report is incredibly detailed — so this is rare — but still suffers from serious drawbacks:

The team doesn’t question the need for an artificial expensive transition. Almost all the problems they describe are caused by government policies that task our grid with changing the climate as well as producing cheap and reliable electricity. In a grid being ruined by inept policy, the implied solutions almost all involve more regulation and government policy. If our gas prices are too high we could ban sales overseas, but then we lose the export income. The left hand steals from the right. The free market solution is to use another fuel, […]

More renewables, more record prices

Once again, bad luck for renewables. The AEMO put out their report for the first quarter of 2019. Despite a massive growth in renewables, power prices are still not falling as predicted.

The report highlights that record high spot wholesale electricity prices were set in Victoria and South Australia, and nearly in everywhere else as well:

• Victoria and South Australia’s quarterly average spot wholesale electricity prices of $166/MWh and $163/MWh were their highest on record.

• Victoria and New South Wales recorded their highest underlying energy price on record, while Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania recorded their seconded highest energy prices on record.

These record highs were not just billion dollar price spikes, but the actual underlying energy prices as well.

Looks like a trend here:

Wholesale electricity prices, NEM, Australia, Q1, 2019 | Click to enlarge.

The news gets reported but somehow coal and heat get the blame?

Record power bills in NSW, Vic

Perry Williams, The Australian

Power prices in NSW and Victoria soared to their highest level on record in the first quarter of 2019, with the jump blamed on high coal and gas tariffs and searing […]

Invisible costs of renewables: “Staggeringly high” $125b for US electricity consumers

A major new “nail in coffin” study shows the more renewables we force onto the market the more expensive electricity gets.

Everyday someone tells us renewables are cheap, but these estimates come from flawed “LCOE” method (at best) supposedly the lifetime cost, but without many indirect costs. Granted, it’s hard to figure out what the bill for renewable energy is. But what really matters to every man and his dog, is the cost effect on the whole system, not a cherry-slice comparison of a few sunny-windy hours a day which doesn’t take into account the effect that renewable energy has on the rest of the 24/7 electricity grid.

Greenstone, McDowell and Nath have analysed all 29 states in the US where there are laws demanding a certain percentage of energy be renewable. On average a 4% increase in renewables led to a price rise of 17% and the impost was wildly high compared to any remotely sensible cost-benefit analysis. Renewables are the car insurance bill that costs 3 times as much as your car. Any serious environmentalist would hate renewables.

Michael Shellenberger, Forbes

The cost to consumers has been staggeringly high: “All in all, seven […]