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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In a fluke moment SA and Vic have got cheap electricity (but only thanks to Black coal, and a screwed market)

Yesterdays free advertisement for the Renewables Industry comes from Peter Martin, ANU, and was swallowed whole by The Conversation, and then repeated by The ABC. (If only the ABC had three million dollars a day to spend on checking things before it published them, they might have warned the economist that he doesn’t understand much about the grid or even the energy market.) This kind of anti-coal PsyOps might work on teenagers: Electricity has become a jigsaw. Coal is unable to provide the missing pieces

March 16, 2021 1.46pm AEDT

Yallourn, in the Latrobe Valley, provides up to 20 per cent of Victoria’s power. It has been operating for 47 years. Since late 2017 at least one of its four units has broken down 50 times. Its workforce doubles for three to four months most years to deal with the breakdowns. It pumps out 3 per cent of Australia’s carbon emissions.

And here’s Macarthur Wind Power plant, Victoria’s largest at 420-never-attained-MW. It breaks down nearly every single day:

Fig 1: Macarthur Wind output

Martin goes on in a non-stop infomercial for wind and solar He must be aiming for 12 year old voters, or perhaps […]

There’s no such thing as clean energy

All good environmentalists detest renewables and are appalled at the money wasted on the industrial renewables corporations.

All the rest are unwitting marketing agents who provide free advertising for banks and multinational conglomerate profits. In the process they hurt the poor and scorch the Earth.

In short: The world spent $3.6 trillion dollars over eight years, mostly trying to change the weather. Only a pitiful 5% of this was spent trying to adapt to the inevitable bad weather which is coming one way or another. Both solar and wind power are perversely useless at reducing CO2, which is their only reason for existing in large otherwise efficient grids. Wind farms raise the temperature of the local area around them which causes more CO2 to be released from the soil. Solar and wind farms waste 100 times the wilderness land area compared to fossil fuels, and need ten times as many minerals mined from the earth. Biomass razes forests, but protects underground coal deposits.

The role of large wind and solar power in national grids is to produce redundant surges of electricity at random or low-need times. They are surplus infrastructure designed in a religious quest to generate nicer weather. […]

Even with a $6000 gift, people don’t want batteries with their solar: SA scheme fails

Battery back-up is so expensive and uneconomic that South Australian householders are ignoring the SA governments offer of a $6000 gift to entice them to buy them.

One man installed the batteries and still spent $18,000. Obviously batteries are a “tempting” offer for renters and the poor (if they win lotto).

Home battery scheme off to sluggish start in SA, despite $6,000 subsidy

Richard Davies, ABC

For the past 12 months, the SA Government has offered households $6,000 towards a battery, as well as access to low-cost loans to install solar panels. But so far only about 3,700 have applied, with only 2,000 batteries installed — significantly less than the target of connecting 40,000 households over four years.

Energy analyst Tristan Edis said …

“At best, you’d be getting a payback at around eight years…” and “another reason was that feed-in tariffs to export solar energy back to the grid were still relatively generous — about 15 cents per kilowatt hour.

South Australia is the economic space where one distorted market signal meets another.

The opposition could have pointed out how this hurts the poor, but instead complain that the conservative govt […]

Walmart asks Telsa to remove solar panels from 240 stores and pay damages after 7 fires

New rooftop BBQ known as TeslaKebab

Photo from the legal paper. Also known as a “money printer” according to Elon.

Walmart installed Tesla solar panels on 240 stores across the US. There have been 7 incidences of fire which Walmart claim has cost them $8.2m and were caused by negligence on Tesla’s behalf. After a spate of fires in 2018 Walmart de-energized all the panels. Then one more caught fire. Now it not only wants damages paid, it wants Tesla to remove all of the panels.

It’s not that there is something wrong with solar power, just that it’s complex, unnecessary, unaffordable and the companies that install panels can’t afford to train staff or pay guys who know what they are doing:

Tesla is getting sued by Walmart

Elecktrek @FredericLambert

One of them in 2012, one in 2016, another in 2017, and then three of the fires happened in the first half of 2018 and it eventually led Tesla to de-energize all 240 solar power systems at Walmart stores:

“Fearing for the safety of its customers, its employees, and the general public, and wishing to avoid further damages and store closures, Walmart demanded on May […]

Another socialist boom and bust in solar in Victoria

Behold, the Victorian Govt are proving yet again that Soviet-style electricity management can crush lives, hopes and wallets. The free market is never as cruel and destructive as one run on “good intentions” or the desire to win virtue-signaling fashion parades.

The invisible hand of the market was replaced with Daniel Andrews whimsy. This might work if he was smarter than the collective brains of 5 million people. Apparently Andrews assumes serfs people don’t understand the true value of solar panels and the benefits of creating jobs in China, so he has mandated glorious subsidies in the hope of getting nice weather one day, and the desperate punters took them up in droves. The industry boomed. But now they’ve temporarily halted the free gifts, orders have disappeared as the free market returns to accurately valuing solar installations. So the workers are being sacked. The rebates will come back again in July, so business-owners somehow need to get a different income stream for two months, survive the turmoil, and then the golden gravy will run again.

As per usual ABC policy, no free market voices were harmed, interviewed or asked to provide comment:

Victorian solar company reeling after popular rebate […]

Worlds biggest solar thermal plant axed in state that is God’s gift to solar

Despite the obstacles, the free market just saved South Australian’s $110 million dollars

The Aurora plant was to be a bigger copy of Crescent Dunes, Solar Thermal Plant, California.

The Aurora Solar Thermal plant was going to be the biggest one in the world, but they couldn’t find enough private investors so it’s just been scrapped. That is despite the SA government being willing to give $110 million dollars, and the state being one of the sunniest, richest places in the world and with people already paying obscenely high prices for electricity. If Big-Solar could make it anywhere, surely there is no easier place on Planet Earth than in coal-less South Australia where competition from cheap reliable power has been completely extinguished?

A $650 million solar thermal power plant planned for Port Augusta will not go ahead after the company behind it failed to secure commercial finance for the project.

Despite all those fixed, unfair advantages, the market didn’t want to pay up for a 150MW bird frying power plant that would cost $650 million and probably only produce 30MW effectively. (The company’s prototype was Crescent Dunes which had a capacity factor of only 16%). Possibly investors […]

“Market Bloodbath”: Too many new remote renewables projects means high losses

As Australia push-pumps “renewables” into remote locations some of their incomes are suddenly being cut because the losses (as they transmit across long lines) are higher than they expected. On March 8th the AEMO rerated many generators and this year it’s being called a bloodbath for wind and solar. Some of them, like AGL’s Silverton wind farm face losses of 20%.

It all revolves around something called Marginal Loss Factors, a value that is set by the AEMO each year for each generator. The rating is reduced by transmission losses over distance and also by “congestion” from other renewables which are popping up in the same remote locations far from the cities and industries that need the electricity they make. This sudden loss of expected income threatens new wind and solar projects (as it should — hello market signal!) Sometimes the loss factors are hard to predict years in advance which makes it difficult to also predict whether a project will return a profit (even despite the guaranteed subsidies).

Another renewable inefficiency strikes — “marginal loss factors”

Generators are paid according to the electricity that arrives rather than what they produce at the plant. (Seems fair). This is called the […]

Solar subsidy death spiral: $2 billion in Australia, rising 50% pa as electricity prices rocket

A few Australians are just beginning to realize that they are paying for their neighbour’s solar panel. As news spreads, the shine of good-citizen-solar is going to tarnish fast, but it is going to take a concerted campaign to spread the word.

In one corner are 2 million households which have solar PV and thought they paid for it themselves. In the other corner are 7.5 million households which have exorbitant electricity bills. And in every corner and all across the spectrum is mass confusion thanks to the mass media. The fog of advertisements disguised as “news” means if you ask a dumb-enough-question 70% of Australians will say they want the government to set a high RET target to make electricity cheaper. It’s almost like 2 out of 3 people think we need the government to force us to buy cheap stuff, because everyone would buy the “expensive” planet killing volts if we only had the choice. Doh.

That’s $200 per household (and the rest!) added to the electricity bill in 2019

This is just the direct SRES (Small Renewable Energy Scheme) cost. It doesn’t cover the burden of stabilizing the grid, of covering the cost of baseload power […]

Report on Aug 25 blackouts shows how fragile our grid is (and the real cost of cheap solar panels).

When cheap solar is expensive Badly installed solar PV makes Australia’s grid fragile

On August 25 last year there was nearly a system blackout when, improbably, three states of Australia were islanded by one lightning strike. Within seconds, trips were switching, two smelters were load shed to save the grid from collapse, and across the Eastern Seaboard of Australia frequency and voltages surged or fell everywhere. In Sydney 45,000 homes lost power for a couple of hours. Shops had to close. Trains were stopped. Passengers were stranded. Traffic signals were not working on major roads. There was chaos. Industrial users shut down in a mass of 725MW of load shedding.

The AEMO final report on that day has just come out and shows us just how fragile our grid is. This was not so much a freak accident, as an accident waiting to happen.

It turns out that another cost of cheap rushed solar panels is that many drop out with voltage spikes, suddenly going offline and leaving another hole to fill. The numbers are amazing — of panels installed in the last 2 years as many as one-third in South Australia dropped out when we needed them and […]

Sydney Hail Storm: Just how hailproof are those solar panels?

Here’s a problem coal fired plants don’t need to worry about.

Sydney’s ‘catastrophic’ hailstorm happened on Thursday, the damage bill said to top $125 million. How much of that damage is to rooftop Solar PV? The last massive hail storm in Sydney was in 1999 — but there were hardly any solar panels then.

From SBS News

There are wild scenes and images everywhere.

Worst Sydney hailstorm in 20 years declared catastrophic

Jessica Cortis and Sascha O’Sullivan, The Australian

At least 50,000 homes remain without power in northern Sydney and more than 1000 calls for help are waiting to be responded to by State Emergency Services after Sydney and the NSW central coast were yesterday rocked by the worst hailstorms in almost 20 years.

Before anyone yells “Climate Change”, Reader, Pat, found stories about hail the size of Eggs in Sydney in November 1929. Hail the size of Tennis Balls fell on Reids Creek near Brisbane in 1934 and hail the size of Tea Cups fell on Brookville in 1902. Paddington had “ice inches deep” on Nov 1, 1931. There are scores more Hail-the-size-of… Maybe building 2 million solar panels on a continent with […]