Guest Post: Peter Lang – Wind turbines are less effective and CO2 abatement cost is higher than commonly assumed

Wind turbines are significantly less effective at reducing CO2 emissions than commonly assumed.  This means the CO2 abatement cost (i.e. the cost per tonne CO2 avoided by wind turbines) is higher than commonly recognised.  It is likely that the CO2 abatement cost estimates in the 2014 RET Review are under-estimates.

Effectiveness here means % reduction in CO2 emissions divided by % electricity supplied by wind turbines.  Wind turbines supplied 2.9% of Australia’s electricity in 2012-13 (latest figures available).  It is likely wind energy was around 80% effective at avoiding CO2 emissions.  That is, each unit of electricity generated by wind turbines avoided about 80% of the emission that would have been emitted generating a unit of electricity in the absence of wind.

The actual CO2 abatement cost is higher than commonly estimated.  In fact, the abatement cost is inversely proportional to the proportion of electricity supplied by wind power.  At 80% effective the actual abatement cost would be 25% higher than the analysts’ estimates if their estimates did not take effectiveness into account.  At 50% effective the actual abatement cost would be twice the estimates.

Economic analyses conducted for the 2014 Renewable Energy Target (RET) Review projected that wind power will supply about 15% of Australia’s electricity by 2020 if the RET legislation remains unchanged.  At 15% of electricity generated by wind, international studies of other electricity grids suggests effectiveness could be nearly as low as 50%.  At that rate the CO2 abatement cost would be double the estimates (if those estimates did not take effectiveness into account).

The cost of abating CO2 emissions with wind power in Australia in 2020 could be 2 to 5 times the carbon tax, which was rejected by the voters at 2013 Federal Election; 6 to14 times the current EU carbon price; and more than 100 times the price of the international carbon futures out to 2020.

The Senate ‘Select Committee on Wind Turbines’ has been established to inquire into impacts of wind turbines in Australia.  My submission (No. 259) focuses on the effectiveness of wind turbines at reducing CO2 emissions from electricity generation in Australia and the impact of the effectiveness on estimates of abatement cost ($/tonne CO2) by wind energy.

I would appreciate constructive critiques of my submission so I may have an opportunity to submit an addendum, with any needed clarifications and corrections, before the 4 May deadline.

Below is an edited version of the Executive Summary.

 -~-

“The Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 states:

“The objects of this Act are:

(a)      to encourage the additional generation of electricity from renewable sources; and

(b)      to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the electricity sector; and

(c)      to ensure that renewable energy sources are ecologically sustainable.”

Object (b) is, arguably, the principal objective because if it is not justifiable, on the basis of objective evidence, (a) and (c) are not justifiable either.  This submission presents evidence that wind turbines are less effective at meeting objective (b) than is commonly assumed.  Therefore, the CO2 abatement cost estimated from economic analyses is frequently understated (CO2 means ‘carbon dioxide equivalent’ in this submission).

It is often assumed that effectiveness of wind energy is 100%, i.e., a MWh of wind energy displaces the emissions from a MWh of the conventional energy displaced.  But it is usually much less, and values as low as 53% have been reported (Wheatley, 2013).  Effectiveness means % reduction in CO2 emissions divided by % electricity supplied by wind.

Empirical analyses of the emissions avoided in electricity grids in the U.S. and Europe indicate that (1) wind turbines are significantly less effective at avoiding emissions than is commonly assumed and (2) effectiveness decreases as the proportion of electricity generated by wind turbines increases.

Unfortunately, neither the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) nor the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) collect the CO2 emissions information needed for an accurate empirical estimate of effectiveness.  Without good data for the emissions from power stations at time intervals of 30 minutes or less, estimates of emissions avoided by wind are biased high (i.e. overestimated) and have large uncertainty, i.e., we don’t know what emissions reductions are actually being achieved by wind generation.

Under the Renewable Energy Target (RET), the proportion of wind generation is increasing so it is projected to supply about 15% of electricity by 2020 (interpreted from the 2014 RET Review Report, Figures 11 and 13).  In this case, effectiveness might approach as low as 53% by 2020.

When effectiveness is properly factored into calculations, wind energy has a high abatement cost; I provide a simple analysis using Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCOE) which estimates abatement cost of wind power at $168/t CO2 by 2020.

In comparison, the RET Review summarised economic analyses of the abatement cost of the Large Scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) at $32-$70/t CO2.  These analyses, however, are likely underestimated as they do not appear to take effectiveness into account, or at least not fully.  If the economic analyses do not take effectiveness into account, and if effectiveness decreases to 53% by 2020, the estimates of abatement cost would nearly double to $60-$136/t CO2 with effectiveness included.

To put these abatement costs in context, the ‘carbon’ tax was $24.15/t CO2 when it was rejected by the voters at the 2013 Federal election.  The current price of EU ETS carbon credits and the international carbon credit futures are:

  • European Union Allowance (EUA) market price (10/3/2015) = €6.83/tCO2 (A$9.50)
  • Certified Emissions Reduction (CER) futures to 2020 (9/3/2015) = €0.40/tCO2 (A$0.56)

Therefore, the LRET in 2020 could be 2 to 5 times the carbon tax, which was rejected by the voters in 2013; 6 to14 times the current price of the EUA; and more than 100 times the price of CER futures out to 2020.

Clearly, the RET is a very high cost way to avoid greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  The rational policy decision is to close the RET to future investments.  Or, as an interim measure, wind the target back to a real 20% of electricity generation.

I urge the Select Committee to consider: has the RET passed its use-by date?  Why not allow Direct Action to do what it is designed to do, to achieve emissions reductions at the lowest cost?

Recommendations:

In consideration of the issues outlined in this submission, I recommend that:

  1. The Government task an appropriately qualified agency, such as the Productivity Commission and/or Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE) with estimating the full economic cost of wind energy ($/MWh) as well as the CO2 abatement cost ($/t CO2 avoided).
  2. To get an early indication of the abatement cost of wind energy, contract an appropriately qualified consultant to:
    1. assemble the best estimates it can of the ‘high quality’ data required for a sophisticated analysis (this may include seeking information from generators with appropriate ‘commercial in confidence’ agreements), and
    2. estimate the CO2 abatement cost with wind power (including all the hidden costs and the effects of higher electricity costs on the Australian economy).
  3. Either, repeal the RET legislation which will:
    1. avoid what will become an escalating compliance cost of emissions monitoring if it remains in place, and
    2. allow Direct Action to operate without the RET being a major market distortion.
  4. Or, if repeal of RET is not politically acceptable, close the RET to new entrants and incorporate the existing and committed RET installations into Direct Action.
  5. Change the name of Direct Action to ‘CO2e Emissions Reduction Scheme’ (CO2e ERS).  This should be technologically neutral with the primary selection criteria being objectively justifiable CO2e avoidance cost (i.e. $/t CO2e avoided).

Constructive critiques welcome.  The full submission is No. 259 here.

 About the Author:

Peter Lang is a retired geologist and engineer with 40 years’ experience on a wide range of energy projects throughout the world, including managing energy RD&D programs and providing policy advice to Government. Energy projects included: hydro-electric, geothermal, nuclear, coal, oil and gas and a wide range of energy end-use management projects.

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45 Responses to Guest Post: Peter Lang – Wind turbines are less effective and CO2 abatement cost is higher than commonly assumed

  1. JC

    Great to see you back here, Peter. Keep giving them hell. You’re the best. The turbinators including their parliamentary promoters (the Greensscum) should be up on charges of massive fraud. The fraud is bigger than Bernie Madoff.

  2. incoherent rambler

    FMD.

    Analogy –

    Let’s build a fence to contain the fairies at the bottom of the garden.

    This post is discussing construction of the fence.

    I repeat, man made CO2 is not a problem. Therefore …

  3. Ian Plimer

    The amount of CO2 emitted in manufacture of the steel, concrete, copper, rare earth elements, zinc etc, the amount of CO2 emitted during the maintenance of wind turbines and the fact that a CO2-emitting coal-fired generator still needs to operate as backup for wind need to be considered. Furthermore, the energy used to build a wind farm is more than the farm will create in its working life. These calculations are in my 2014 book “Not for greens” (Connor Court). The end result is that wind farms add to human emissions of CO2, do not displace coal-fired power stations and are devastating for the environment (especially birds and bats). This is green ideology at its best: killing wildlife, creating subsidised inefficient energy and emitting more CO2 than conventional systems. Wind farms are with us because of subsidies, not because of the wind.

  4. egg_

    The turbinators

    That’s a good ‘un – along with their associated vital fast start gas turbine power stations, so they don’t stuff up teh Grid.

  5. Something else worth considering is reduction of waste (or emissions, if that’s an issue for you) by modernising Australia’s coal power gen. 20% greater efficiency is not too ambitious. Combine that with sane bushfire/burn off policies, add some nukes, junk the desals which gobble power even as they rust unused, and that’s a lot less CO2 (if, as I said, that matters to you).

    Cultural bonus for those who’ve seen the Spanish mess: we won’t have to bulldoze the ridges or look at those pestilential wind turbines. My god they suck.

  6. struth

    Ian Pilmer has got it.

    The vast amounts of energy to create one wind farm can never be truly calculated because it is all a matter of when you cut off the calculations.
    The breakfasts of the parents of the workers building the wind farm had to get their food from the farmer who got his tractor from……….
    It is an impossible calculation, but the amount of energy and heavy industry required to build a wind farm in the first place will never be recouped by said farm.
    Especially when there is already existing power generation infrastructure.
    This can only be considered by people who do not know how the world works
    The types who think that anything can be carbon nuetral.
    And those looking to get taxpayers money.

  7. JohnA

    Change the name of Direct Action to ‘CO2e Emissions Reduction Scheme’ (CO2e ERS)

    Is that abbrev. to “COERS” by any chance?

    That could apply also the the RET – they are both coercive, right?

  8. Memoryvault

    That is, each unit of electricity generated by wind turbines avoided about 80 zero% of the emission that would have been emitted generating a unit of electricity in the absence of wind.

    FIFY

    As I’ve explained before, a coal-fired, baseload power station does not have an accelerator pedal. The amount of coal burned and the amount of steam generated remains pretty-much constant. All that changes is how much steam goes through the turbine, and how much bypasses it and goes directly to the condenser, to start around the circuit again.

  9. Bruce of Newcastle

    It is likely wind energy was around 80% effective at avoiding CO2 emissions.

    Not correct. The problem is that a lot of wind turbines are in South Australia, where they contribute something over 20% of the grid energy. Smoothing this over the whole of Australia is a fallacy since the local CO2e emissions have to be added up.

    Nearly all their back up power is open cycle gas turbines (or equivalent), which operate at about half the efficiency of a closed gas cycle turbine. So all that inefficiency is applied to the wind turbines, as is any inefficiency imposed on SA’s one big closed cycle gas turbine station and their remaining coal power plants – which is considerable.

    The overall result in SA is that the actual CO2e saving of the wind turbines is about 4%. And as pointed out if you add in all the extra life cycle assessment (LCA) items its pretty likely the CO2e saving is negative.

    This issue seems to occur when wind and solar rise above about 10% of the mix. The intermittency imparts such tail-chasing for the grid operators that they have to burn the fuel to keep the steam up anyway, and above about 20% of the mix you’d be better off just turning the wretched things all off and run your coal and gas plants at maximum steady efficiency.

    The poor birds and bats would thank you for that too.

  10. Memoryvault

    you’d be better off just turning the wretched things all off
    and run your coal and gas plants at maximum steady efficiency.

    Which is precisely what happens the moment there is any instability in the system –
    eg during thunderstorms.

  11. egg_

    Let’s build a fence to contain the fairies at the bottom of the garden.

    This post is discussing construction of the fence.

    Science – ‘fairies at the bottom of the garden’.
    Engineering – ‘construction of the fence’.

  12. Rasputin

    Apart from the giveaway which says that no one would build a wind farm without subsidy from efficient tax paying enterprises using god forbid hydrocarbon fuels, if the percentage supplied reaches those utopian heights, you will have to factor in storage systems which will not be produced by wind power.
    In the meantime efficiency gains will be such that the cost of traditional production will decrease and the cost decrement increase. You only have to look at what happened to hybrid cars. Lower fuel costs and huge increases in efficiency in internal combustion systems have seen buyers stay away from hybrids in droves.
    This whole debate is like a plot from a jacques Tati movie! Good luck!

  13. Peter Lang

    Bruce of Newcastle,

    Not correct. The problem is that a lot of wind turbines are in South Australia, where they contribute something over 20% of the grid energy. Smoothing this over the whole of Australia is a fallacy since the local CO2e emissions have to be added up.

    Wind generations effectiveness in 2014 in the NEM was roughly 80%. That figure is approximately correct. Read the Wheatley study of EirGrid and the Kaffine et al. study of ERCOT to understand how these studies are done.

    My full submission is No 259 here: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Wind_Turbines/Wind_Turbines/Submissions

  14. johanna

    Hi Peter, good to see you back here.

    While I can understand where you are going with your argument (and good on you for taking the time to do the work), I must agree with others that the whole issue is null and void from first principles. Even if wind turbines could be magicked into being, and had zero whole of life costs, the need for 100% backup 24/7 from other sources makes their existence utterly pointless. Indeed, given the potential for destabilising the grid, it’s even worse than that.

    Still, your case is worth making, if only to debunk some of the phony arguments that are routinely put up in favour of them.

  15. Peter Lang

    What is important is the consequences of the effectiveness being less than 100% (which is what is assumed in most analyses of the emissions avoided by wind generation). Furthermore, as wind penetration increases, the effectiveness normally decreases. There are significant consequences for the CO2 abatement cost.

  16. Bruce of Newcastle

    Wind generations effectiveness in 2014 in the NEM was roughly 80%.

    Peter – That is national, and as you say the total wind capacity is only about 2.9% averaged out. That means it can be lost in the background noise of grid balancing in most states.

    Not so in SA, as you will have seen in Mr Cumming’s analysis. Which also shows as increased wind capacity is built the overall CO2e efficiency goes down rapidly.

    Arbitration of the claims really requires annual fuel consumption figures for the fossil plants to compare against total energy generation. But that data is not easy to come by…which is not surprising really.

    There is a second aspect which is also important. The initial wind farms were built on the best sites, since that gives the best ROI. As more capacity is built less attractive sites get built, then even worse sites and so on. That means as increased wind capacity is built the efficiency of the wind turbines overall becomes less because of the later build on the less windy sites.

    As an example whereas the typical efficiency is 25-28% of capacity the actual efficiency of wind turbines in the German Black Forest is only 11.8% because of this reason. You can get around it building off shore – at triple the capex and half the lifetime.

  17. Peter Lang

    Johanna,

    Thank you for your comment. As you know (in fact, better than I do), there are many advocacy groups with different agendas and beliefs, not just in Australia but around the world. The discussions about the costs and benefits of wind power have been going on for >25 years in Australia, USA, Canada, UK, EU, Brazil, etc. Just because one group has a belief that mandating and subsidising renewables is irrational, is not going to change the policy of Australia or any other country. We need to continually present the case and, over time, persuade people that the renewables are less effective and more costly than widely believed. The ‘Senate Select Committee on wind turbines’ offers us an opportunity to make a constructive contribution to the debate and to help to educate the policy makers.

    I hope I can urge people to read my submission and focus on pointing out any serious errors in the analysis. Bird damage, health issues, sighting, visual effects and many other issues are raised in other submissions, but mine is not dealing with those other issues. I am just focused on the CO2 abatement effectiveness and the consequences for the abatement cost. If my analysis is correct it means that the economic analyses submitted to the RET review may have understated the CO2 abatement cost with wind generation.

  18. Peter Lang

    Bruce of Newcastle,

    I am fully aware of Hamish Cumming’s work, including his testimony to the Select Committee inquiry. The relevant information is included in the analyses that underpin my analysis. There is much more I can say about this, but not yet. I’d urge you to read Wheatley, 2013 for as start. It really is a prerequisite to understanding the analyses that underpin what I’ve done. Until readers have read and digested Wheatley, the discussion will be superficial and not dealing with the main points

  19. incoherent rambler

    Wind energy contributions to base load = 0%

  20. Peter Lang

    Bruce of Newastle,

    Arbitration of the claims really requires annual fuel consumption figures for the fossil plants to compare against total energy generation. But that data is not easy to come by…which is not surprising really.

    CER collects the annual fuel consumed by each power station and the 95% confidence limits on that data. The methods an requirements are explained here: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2012C00472/Html/Text#_Toc330214226

    That’s not the issue. The main issues are these:

    1. the 1/2 energy sent out by each unit is used for settlement of commercial transactions and for estimating Australia’s annual total emission for reporting to UNFCCC. But that the 1/2 h electricity generation data is not available to the public.

    2. The fuel consumption per 1/2 hour is not available

    3. We can estimate emissions from publicly available power ‘as-generated’ (at each unit before auxiliaries losses) at 5 minute intervals, the thermal efficiency curves for each generating unit and the average emissions factor of the fuel. However, we are missing important data which creates biases and increases uncertainty. Missing data are: zero-load fuel consumption, the specification of the thermal efficiency curves (we only have a linear relationship), 95% confidence on these and the fuel emissions factors.

    There’s more, but that should be sufficient for readers to understand that there is much more beneath these analyses than may be apparent from reading the post.

  21. Keep fighting these horrors, Peter. I drove north to the midcoast a couple of days ago and really enjoyed the sight of Alum Mountain and the hilly country between Gloucester and Taree. Likewise the heavily timbered ridges around Cairns as I watched the Rugby League this evening.

    Most of Australia’s landscape is still free of wind turbines and their ubiquitous cabling. We have to keep it that way, and ultimately dismantle and junk as many existing towers as possible, though the cost of removing bases and wiring may be prohibitive.

    No more Spains.

  22. Bruce of Newcastle

    the specification of the thermal efficiency curves (we only have a linear relationship)

    Peter – Thanks, you hit the core aspects of the question, the mass-energy balance of the spinning reserve requirement. You are probably aware of Le Pair’s work, but since you mentioned thermal efficiency I’ll link you to his site on the matter of the coal efficiency curve. He’s ex-Shell.

    How you treat gas turbine efficiency is a hard question. The known practical efficiency is 60.75% compared to about 30% for open cycle (IIRC). The open cycle turbines have the fast response required to match the fluctuation of wind and solar. Therefore in theory the difference should be debited against the wind turbines. But on a like with like comparison do you use what is there, or what theoretically could be there? I don’t know. I’ve done many such comparisons in my field. My instinct is like yours: the assumptions the wind people use are heroic. Couple that with the massive harm to wildlife and you wonder why government and the enviros like this horrible technology.

    I hope to get to your submission, but it won’t be until tomorrow sorry.

  23. Memoryvault

    FFS do you guys ever listen to yourselves?
    There’s a simple reason we moved from wind power to steam over two hundred years ago.
    The only change since then is that steam got even more efficient. Wind not so much.

    Long-winded, complex, “scientific” explanations of why steam (or gas) turbines “might” be more efficient than windmills is akin to long-winded, complex, “scientific” explanations of why a prime-mover and semi-trailer “might” be more efficient than than a wooden cart and an ox.

  24. .

    Yes well MV.

    So why don’t we use a lot more nuclear power?

  25. Jansen

    @Mosomoso,

    The ridges were the best thing about the game. I’m not a happy bunny.

  26. Peter Lang

    Bruce of Newcastle,

    Did you see the thermal efficiency curves for US coal black and brown subcritical power stations in Appendix 2 of the Submission?

  27. Bruce of Newcastle

    MV – Yeah yeah. I have a value for ECS of 0.7 C/doubling, which (a) hasn’t been remotely challenged by anyone in 5 years, and (b) which process CO2 is completely harmless.

    The problem is the climateers will not uncoil from their treasure pile enough to notice these things. So you have to poke them in their soft spots: ie where their cherished assumptions are. That is what Peter is doing, and me too. I’m better at skewering them on their hypocrisy of massacring millions of birds and bats while maintaining their “environmental credentials”.

    The more people we can split off the festering hulk the easier the final mortal thrust will be.

  28. Bruce of Newcastle

    Did you see the thermal efficiency curves for US coal black and brown subcritical power stations in Appendix 2 of the Submission?

    Peter – Sorry, as I said I haven’t gotten to your submission yet – hoping to tomorrow. Sunday night tonight.

    Btw, coal and gas combustion engineering isn’t my area since I’m a process chemist. I am good at industrial mass-energy balances, but I’d need better data than I’ve seen to get a full handle on the real CO2e efficiencies of wind turbines. Also as I said I mainly hate the things for the carnage they do. The Cats know well my liking for feathery critters.

  29. Memoryvault

    MV – Yeah yeah. I have a value for ECS of 0.7 C/doubling, which (a) hasn’t been remotely challenged by anyone in 5 years, and (b) which process CO2 is completely harmless.

    Bruce, do you think the average swampie has the remotest idea of what your talking about?
    Or cares?
    The Defence rests.

  30. Memoryvault

    Yes well MV.
    So why don’t we use a lot more nuclear power?

    Oh I dunno, Dot. Maybe ‘cos we are world experts on coal-fired power generation, have about 3,000 years supply of the stuff, and have fuck-all expertise in nuclear power generation.

  31. As a member of the Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines, and the one who drafted the terms of reference and moved the motion to establish the inquiry, I have a keen interest in this thread.

    I encourage those with expertise or special knowledge in this area to make a submission to the inquiry. We are especially keen to receive submissions incorporating economic and environmental assessments of the kind mentioned in the post.

    The terms of reference are here: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Wind_Turbines/Wind_Turbines/Terms_of_Reference

  32. Memoryvault

    We are especially keen to receive submissions incorporating economic and environmental assessments of the kind mentioned in the post.

    Of course you are. The more complexicated the better.
    What better way to cloud the real issues?
    Let’s face it – that’s how you people justify your existence on the public teat.
    Alternatively, you could simply go back and read Johanna’s link from this afternoon.

    All you need to know.

  33. john constantine

    The rat-cunning way that the financial engineers set out to strip upfront taxpayer money, then walk away from the long term operate, maintain and decommissioning liabilities is a rort that not only needs ending but if there is any way to launch a class action to track down and recoup the rorted money to put towards decommisioning costs, that will be needed all too soon, as the landholders that leased the paddocks the windrort factories were built on find out that the last man standing is liable for the end of project costs.

    There is a good reason that the land the things are built on is leased.

    It is advertised as good high lease money compared to paddocks without windfarms, but in reality the lease payments are a few percent lease and the rest is the landholder selling the windrorter an uncovered put option , in effect selling the rortfactory financial engineer the right to simply walk away and leave the decommissioning costs hanging around the landholder’s neck.

  34. Bruce of Newcastle

    Peter – I’ve attempted to get your submission but the Senate committee website isn’t working correctly for me, even with JavaScript enabled. I can only get the first 20 submissions and none of the buttons for other pages, or for increasing listings from 20 per page up to 500 per page, work on either of my systems.

    Having said that I’ve found Wheatley 2013 in the open here. He also has the raw data available here, although the CSV files don’t have separators so I can’t easily get them up in useable fashion in Excel. However there is a pretty good wiki of Irish power stations to cross check against.

    While Dr Wheatley’s analysis is excellent, I see two things which lead to an underestimate of the loss of CO2 efficiency especially in the South Australian case.

    1. If you look at his Table 2 you will see a significant difference in the CO2 savings in the case of the open cycle vs closed cycle gas turbines. He in his discussion quantifies what happens if closed cycle GT’s are displaced, which is where the 53% number comes from, but doesn’t discuss the OCGTs.

    If you look at the beta values in Table 2 for the OCGT’s you will see most of them are actually positive.

    What that means is the OCGT’s are operating when the wind blows. The gas that was being used in the CCGTs is now going to OCGTs to balance the grid in face of the fluctuations from the wind energy intermittency problems.

    That in his model contributes to the 53%, but when you now consider the SA generation capacity they have a much higher proportion of low efficiency gas turbines and a higher proportion of wind capacity (27% vs 17%), so the efficiency is going to be less compared to the Irish experience (note that Torrens Island is a thermal gas plant so efficiency will be similar to an OCGT – but with the spinning reserve issue of having to waste steam as the coping mechanism for fluctuations).

    2. Dr Wheatley doesn’t analyse the logical question: if you replaced the OCGTs with closed cycle gas turbines, what would the saving on CO2 emissions be? As I said the OCGTs are mainly there for balancing intermittency from wind and solar. That is the case in the SA generation mix too. If you didn’t have the wind turbines then you could spend that capital on upgrading your OCGTs to the much more efficient CCGTs. Therefore the difference should be accrued to the wind turbines.

    ***

    From what I see of Dr Wheatley’s data I am further inclined to Hamish Cumming’s analytical finding that the SA windfarms are basically doing squat except converting seagulls into dead protein. SA should switch off their wind farms and use the subsidies saved to upgrade their open cycle and thermal gas plants to twice as efficient combined cycle plants.

  35. .

    Oh I dunno, Dot. Maybe ‘cos we are world experts on coal-fired power generation, have about 3,000 years supply of the stuff, and have fuck-all expertise in nuclear power generation.

    We are shutting down coal and have much more supply of nuclear fuel if IFBRs are considered.

  36. Peter Lang

    Bruce of Newcastle,

    While Dr Wheatley’s analysis is excellent, I see two things which lead to an underestimate of the loss of CO2 efficiency especially in the South Australian case.

    All this is addressed. You’ll just have to wait for the details of the analyses of the NEM. In the meantime, get to understand the methodology and then, if you find a serious error in my analysis, please let me know.

  37. Bruce of Newcastle

    Peter – I can’t get your submission, the aph.gov.au website doesn’t let me get at it.

    At least it didn’t say Beware the Leopard, but it may’ve as well done so.

  38. Peter Lang

    Bruce of Newcastle,

    I should add that wind power in SA is mainly displacing gas in SA, Vic ans NSW and black coal in NSW. brown coal is hardly effected. Wind in Tasmania defers hydro and has virtually not effect displacing fossil fuel generation on the mainland. All that is included in the underpinning analyses, but they are not what my submission is about. I can’t say any more about the details of the analyses of the NEM data; you’ll have to wait until they are published. I was really hoping for a critique of what I feel is important – i.e. that I believe effectiveness is not being taken into account, or at least not fully, in estimating the CO2 abatement cost of wind generation. So the estimates of CO2 abatement cost of wind generation such as in the RET Review, may be significantly underestimated, especially as penetration increases as required to under the LRET.

  39. Bruce of Newcastle

    Peter – I agree except more so. On a pure apples with apples comparison I think the effective efficiency of wind farm CO2 abatement ranges from your 80% at low proportion of the mix to approaching 0% at SA style proportions. In practice what is really needed is a fair analysis done by someone other than us soloists (Wheatley being likewise).

    It is arguing about angels on pinheads though, since the empirical data shows CO2 is harmless. But opportunities like this are good for keeping the pressure on the religious windies.

    ***

    Btw, if you get called to give evidence you might like to add the economic impact of imputed fines.

    Oil companies when they kill birds tend to get fined about $5,000 a bird, give or take (there seems to be a discount for large quantities).

    If you were to apply that fine to each wind turbine, which on average kills about 200 birds and 400 bats each year, you’d immediately render them all uneconomic.

  40. Peter Lang

    Bruce of Newcastle,

    Can I urge you to make a submission with the points you feel are important for the Select Committee to take into account.

  41. Bruce of Newcastle

    Peter – I’ll think about it. Normally I don’t for personal reasons (recall what happened to Bob Carter, Murry Salby and quite a few others – I suspect I may have had some fallout myself too in certain quarters). However the committee membership is better than usual with only one ALP lady and no Greens. Its still a risk though.

    I just tried the committee page again and its working now (thanks, DL, if that was you!), so I’ve downloaded your submission. I’ll have a look and comment later.

  42. Peter Lang

    Bruce of Newcastle,

    To give you some encouragement look at the submission by Pat Swords. At least two other interesting submissions I recall seeing were submitted near the beginning; one from USA and one from Canada.

  43. Bruce of Newcastle

    Peter – I’ve gone through your submission now – I wish I’d been able to access it earlier before I went through Wheatley’s paper as your Figure 1 cuts to the core of what I was saying. So essentially we furiously agree (though I defer to your expertise, since my field only is tangential with energy generation).

    It would have been even more powerful if the SA experience was included – I understand why that would be hard to do with rigour. But simply extrapolating a line from the 100,0 upper left axis point through Wheatley’s value and out to 27% corresponding with the SA wind proportion and that would imply SA’s windfarm CO2 abatement efficiency today is only 25%.

    Inhaber’s curve would be relatively consistent with Cumming’s value of 4%.

    I suspect the real curve would go below the line not least due to grid instability issues, which are hitting Germany quite hard. German wind+solar is now around 23% if I recall correctly, and there have been international issues with forcible energy export to countries such as Austria.

    An extrapolation beyond the narrow restrictions of RET is worthwhile because of the ambitions of a large part of the polity to go further…a good example being the 90% renewables by 2020 legislation passed in the ACT. Seeing a simple picture of what that means would focus the minds of those who don’t normally consider the real impacts of that sort of proposal. (Eg your submission of effectively an $83/t abatement cost would be seen by many people as being not too bad – in line with the Treasury report – but the real impact is going to be much larger when considering the Treasury report was aiming at 80% reduction by 2050).

    If you are feeling energetic you might consider a second submission using South Australia as a case study in reference to Wheatley 2013, and add a discussion of grid stability and blackout/brownout risk with wind/solar penetration.

  44. Peter Lang

    Bruce of Newcastle,

    It would have been even more powerful if the SA experience was included – I understand why that would be hard to do with rigour.

    Patience!. You’ll get that. And not just for SA, but for every state. But you cannot look at individual states You have to look at what is happening in the interstate transfers and what power stations are being displaced by wind in SA and Victoria.

    Patience! There’s no point speculating about what the actual effectiveness might be until we have the data. In the meantime, lets focus simply on what is the impact of the CO2 abatement effectiveness on the estimates of CO2 abatement cost. Once we have most people on the same wavelength on that, and recognising its significance, then we can adjust the estimates of the abatement cost can be corrected once we know the effectiveness.

    So, can we please focus on the issue at hand first.

  45. fredjim

    Why all this fuss about GHG emissions? Australia only emits 1.4% of the world total (ref Switkowski OZ 11/3/15) so 5% of that is 0.07%. Reminds of the saying “a bit of relief in a dark suit can be comforting but nobody else notices.

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