Battery of the Nation goes flat

By Jo Nova

A second big Australian “Pumped Hydro” scheme is crashing on economic rocks…

The Marinus Link cable was meant to spark a glorious renewables boom and make Tasmania “The Battery of the Nation”, instead it will cost more than a new advanced coal fired plant, provide no energy at all, and currently even the thought of it is causing chaos. New projects are on hold, factories can’t expand and Tasmania is held hostage to visions of an electricity grid designed to stop storms instead of generate energy.

The Marinus Link is a 255km cable that was supposed to be the second interconnector from Tasmania to the mainland. In theory it would cost $3 billion and carry 1.5GW of electricity. But the costs have blown out to $5.5 billion and the State Premier is balking at the new bill.

However, most of the new wind power projects in the state are awaiting the magic cable before they commit — without it, they can’t reach the real market, which is mainland Australia. But without them, the local grid doesn’t have enough surplus capacity to cover the lean times (or rather, without the cable, they can’t get access to more reliable […]

“80% renewables by 2030 is Bullshit” says former Snowy Hydro CEO — transition will take 80 years, not 8

Supplied by Snowy Hydro

By Jo Nova

Australia’s star “Renewables BackUp” the Snowy Hydro 2.0 scheme has been delayed another two years. The pumped storage mammoth looks more like a ghost elephant every day. When last we heard, Florence the hapless tunnel boring machine started on a 15 kilometer tunnel and carved through 150 meters of rock only to get stuck in some sand, where it is still stuck months later. Now the completion date has blown out to late 2029.

When it started in 2017 it was supposed to cost $2 billion, and be finished in four years. Now, if we include transmission lines, the cost is about $20 billion, and the four years has become twelve. Even the Greens leader Adam Bandt thinks it should be ditched. It’s that bad.

Paul Broad was the CEO of Snowy Hydro for ten years until August last year. So he managed one of Australia’s largest single generators for a decade. Now that he’s free to speak, he’s scathing about the renewables transition. On Thursday he spoke to Ben Fordham of 2GB radio making it clear what a fantasy project NetZero is:

“The notion that you’re going to […]

Snowy 2.0 could win Prize for Most Globally Stupid Green Engineering Project

By Jo Nova

Tantangara Resevoir: A whole ecosystem to fill with invasive feral fish and a necrosis virus too.

The Snowy 2.0 Pumped hydro scheme will cost families big money, spread pests, endanger fish, and kill trees but it will allow some renewables investors to make a profit, and that’s all that matters right?

Overseas readers are invited to submit more stupid schemes, with points for delays, cost, incompetence, environmental damage and sheer lack of any public benefit.

Ted Woodley does the best synopsis of the Snowy 2.0 debacle I’ve seen, pointing out how it sets all the worst kinds of records, being delayed 300% with costs up 1000%. It was supposed to be built in four years and cost $2 billion, but will end up taking 12 years (at least) and probably cost $20 billion by the time the cost of the extra transmission lines is added in. As readers here know, the boring machines are the slowest on Earth, one having made it only 200m and being paused for months under a pile of sand.

It was supposed to pay for itself, and make electricity cheaper, but is already chewing through a $1.4 billion taxpayer “injection”, […]

Australia’s Biggest Renewable Energy Project, Snowy 2.0, grinds to a halt, with a stuck bore

The new hole in the ground in the Snowy 2.0 scheme.

By Jo Nova

Complexity has a price, and a renewables grid is a bit like a 240 volt moving Rubiks cube. Here we see an unnecessary project hit by a random factor that in turn will affect all the others, blowing out other costs and schedules.

Australia’s breakneck energy transition, driven like a crash test dummy by government subsidies, depends on finishing the massive pumped hydro scheme called Snowy 2.0. However it has hit another delay no one apparently saw coming.

“Australia’s biggest renewable energy project” is the $6 – 10 billion plan to pump water uphill so it can run back down again to generate electricity every time the windmills and solar panels suffer a catastrophic failure, which is nearly every day. The entire project is superfluous in a grid with coal power — as we know from the last fifty years when we didn’t need it.

Unfortunately a 2,400 ton Tunnel Boring Machine called Florence is quite stuck under a cave-in. According to the ABC she started ten months ago, and is supposed to be digging her way through 15 kilometres (10 miles) of mountain. […]

More bad luck! Snowy Hydro can’t run much because it has *too much water*

Would you like blackouts or floods with your Green Burger?

Tumut Generation Station No. 3 Snowy scheme | Joe “velojo” A

Here in Weather-Dependent Renewable World the chief crash test dummy is struggling because of yet another bit of terrible luck. We desperately need the only reliable renewable energy we have to generate while reliable but-badly-maintained-coal is breaking — and our national grid sits on the edge of blackouts. But Lordy No! Oh the schadenfreude — the dams are all full. Seems we have too much water thanks to the La Nina we didn’t predict, and the excess rainfall that wasn’t supposed to happen, and the dams that weren’t supposed to fill. Now if Snowy Hydro releases too much water to make electricity they may flood lower areas.

You can’t make this stuff up. Hydroelectric dams serve two purposes and sometimes they conflict. If we are lucky, we might avoid both blackouts and floods, but we won’t avoid the bonfire of electricity bills that are coming.

Ponder the impossible quandry of the Green religion. Like the Escher puzzle of Energy — It’s always the weather’s fault. If only we could use enough renewables to get perfect weather we […]

Snowy 2.0, twice the cost, half the value, wastes a quarter of the energy, and wrecks the environment

The Snowy 2.0 Scheme is a $10 billion bandaid to make up for Wind and Solar’s unreliability. Hydro storage is an anti-generator that destroys 20-30% of the electricity fed into it. It turns out it also destroys three quarters of the money fed into it, and some of the environment as well. What’s not to like?

by Steve Hunter. h/t StopTheseThings

Today a Who’s Who of Australian engineering are scathing about Snowy 2.0 in The Australian

The mammoth pumped Hydro scheme is a $10 billion dollar disaster that will never pay for itself, is already being superceded by battery technology, and will scar the land, infect pristine alpine lakes, risk critically endangered species, damage fishing grounds, and breach the Biosecurity Act in a National park. (Where are the environmentalists, Tim Flannery? Does anyone care?)

Pumped Hydro doesn’t even work on a small scale. Projects like it are being junked around the country before they get built and there has been only one other pumped hydro project “committed” in the last 20 years.

On the revenue side, the output of Snowy 2.0 from 2025 to 2042 is now forecast to be less than half the business case estimate, […]

Quick! Tell the PM: Pumped Hydro is not a “generator”. It’s a $2 – $4b energy chewing “renewables” bandaid.

No more excuses for sloppy, inaccurate language. How can you run a country with falsehoods?

Hydropower is a generator. Pumped Hydro is giant appliance that sucks electricity and gives you back some later. In a system with reliable baseload generators it is superfluous, redundant, and entirely unnecessary. It is an expense we don’t have to have, didn’t need, and don’t want to pay for. It can only make things more expensive than the system we used to have. Not only do we have to pay for the giant infrastructure, every day it operates we also throw away 20 – 30% of the electrons (so to speak) that go through it.

Scott Morrison says it’s only $1.4 b from the taxpayer, but the total cost may be $4 billion, and as Judith Sloan says, someone’s got to pay — if not through taxes, it will be added to electricity prices. The Snowy Corp may “self fund” it (a deceptively nice way to put it), but they won’t be donating the money.

And the Snowy Corp couldn’t “self-fund” it from electricity bills if they weren’t already so ridiculously high. If we had enough coal power to keep electricity as inexpensive as it […]

Post Hazelwood: Snowy Hydro dam now three quarters empty

They’re running our largest Hydro Lake down

The large Hazelwood Coal Units closed a year ago, so the Snowy Mountain Hydro Scheme has been working hard to fill the holes in the unreliable generation that replaced it. And they’ve been collecting tidy profits from earning RET certificates too.

What could possibly go wrong?

This — levels of Lake Eucumbene have fallen to 24%. This is the lowest since 2010. It’s not the lowest ever (so that’s alright then).

The rain will just fill it right up, unless there is an El Nino. Don’t look now… Odds are “above average”.

Who I say, who could have predicted this?!

Graham Lloyd, The Australian

Snowy Hydro’s biggest storage dam has fallen to less than 25 per cent capacity due to poor rains and high electricity generation following the closure of the ­Hazelwood coal power station in Victoria.

Lake Eucumbene is now at its lowest level since 2010 and on its way to a repeat of 2007 when electricity generation had to be stopped in favour of a heavily ­polluting fossil-fuel generator in Victoria.

The Hydro chief said they had been generating more to “take advantage of tight […]

Hydro storage is an anti-generator that destroys 20-30% of the electricity fed into it

We’re planning to spend $5,000 million on something to smooth out the bumps from unreliable generators. It is entirely unnecessary in a system where coal supplies the baseload and we have not created artificial rules forcing people to use green electrons in preference over stable and predictable ones. Most estimates of costs from wind and solar ignore the hidden costs — the destructive effect on the whole grid.

Wikipedia on Pumped Storage Hydroelectricity:

“the round-trip energy efficiency of PSH varies between 70%–80%,[4][5][6][7] with some sources claiming up to 87%.[8]

h/t Peter Rees, Michael Crawford, Ian Waters.

Even after Snowy Hydro 2.0, power will cost $90/MWh

Joe Kelly, The Australian last week:

Energy project financier David Carland — the executive director of Australian Resources Development Limited — argues that once the Snowy Hydro project is operating it will provide only partial back-up energy at a high cost.

Using Snowy Hydro’s modelling assumptions, Dr Carland’s calculations show the “levelised cost of energy” — or unit-cost of electricity over the lifetime of an asset — will deliver power significantly in excess of $90/MWh, after allowing for the cost of storage, cycle losses and the initial cost of […]

Snowy Hydro goes activist, lobbies for renewables to boost profits, beat enemy “Coal”

Spot the vested interest

The biggest competitor for hydro in Australia is cheap old coal power. Surprise me, Snowy Hydro jumped into the national energy debate a few days ago on behalf of taxpayers themselves.

With Turnbull offering five-billion-dollar gravy to build an unnecessary hydro storage battery, it is no surprise to hear Snowy Hydro pretending that Australia needs more intermittent unreliables. The more solar and wind rock the system, the more Big-Hydro is needed to stabilize the boat. The big question is why hardly any journalists or politicians seem able to spot the obvious vested interest:

Ben Packham, The Australian:

Snowy 2.0 declares wind and solar power ‘clearly cheaper’ than coal

The government-owned company building Malcolm Turnbull’s Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro project has added fuel to the energy wars by declaring wind and solar are clearly cheaper options than coal.

And if you owned Hydro stocks, you’d say that too. Coal is every generators enemy for a reason. It’s cheaper than they are.

See the tiny numbers above the columns in this graph? Those are actual settlement prices — tiny wholesale bargain sales of coal fired electrons at 1c per kilowatt hour.

May 24th, 2018 | Tags: | Category: Cost, Global Warming, Renewable | Print This Post Print This Post | |

Surprise: Australia closed a cheap coal generator and electricity got 85% more expensive

Last year one of our largest coal power plants suddenly closed, with only five months warning, catching the market by surprise and taking out 5% of our cheapest generation. (This kind of improbable anti-free-market feat shows just how screwed our national market is). The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has looked at the effect the closure of Hazelwood had on electricity prices and concluded that closing cheap brown-coal plants and replacing them with black coal and gas will make electricity prices rise. This will come as no surprise to anyone who can count to 100.

Dan Harrison at the ABC reports:

A year on from the closure of the 1600 megawatt-sized plant in the Latrobe Valley, the report from the Australian Energy Regulator found wholesale prices in Victoria were up 85 per cent on 2016.

Because electricity retailers use hedging for wholesale prices, the rise in retail prices is still feeding through. In the wash, the wholesale increase is expected to add 16% to retail prices this financial year compared to last year. After that, through some miracle, the AEMC expects prices to come back down from Exorbitant to Slightly Lower Than Exorbitant in the next two years thanks […]

Climate control gone wrong: Tasmanian Hydro seeded clouds before disastrous floods

Greedy Green Hubris gone wrong? It took months of bad choices to achieve this Gold-Star Moment in Bad Management:

Tasmania’s state-owned Hydro-electric power generator could face legal action for damages after admitting it cloud-seeded in or near water catchments the day ­before disastrous flooding, although heavy rain was forecast.

Tasmania shut their only fossil fuel power plant in August last year, and relied on renewable energy and one sole Basslink electricity cable to mainland Australia. The cable was supposed to be a back up supply but was bringing in 40% of Tasmania’s electricity, and it broke in December. But a green and greedy approach in Tasmania meant that the state had already run its dams down to 26% levels by selling too much electricity to the mainland at high “renewable” subsidized prices. That was a low level at the start of summer, normally a drier season in Tasmania. After the Basslink cable broke, the dam levels fell to a precipitous 13%, so fast that the green state had to bring in diesel generators just to keep the lights on. They also switched back on the Tamar Gas plant in late January. So much for being the “100% […]

Renewable energy is a $250 billion dollar industry that makes about 3% of our electricity

In June this year the UNEP report announced that Global Renewable Energy investment reached $257 Billion in 2011. It’s so large it rivals the $302 billion invested in fossil fuel power. But how much electricity do we get for all that money? When the details are pulled from the fog, a quarter of a trillion dollars appears to produce only about 3% of all our global electricity, and even less of our global energy. All that money, so few gigawatts.

The 2012 UNEP report “Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment” compares the

“…despite an increasingly tough competitive landscape for manufacturers, total investment in renewable power and fuels last year increased by 17% to a record $257 billion, a six-fold increase on the 2004 figure and 94% higher than the total in 2007, the year before the world financial crisis.”

Renewables growth has slowed somewhat:

“Although last year’s 17% increase was significantly smaller than the 37% growth recorded in 2010, it was achieved at a time of rapidly falling prices for renewable energy equipment and severe pressure on fiscal budgets in the developed world.”

The last couple of quarters have not been good for […]