[Update: Some figures in the original post have been corrected. Sinc]
The Climate Change Authority and the Greens want more renewables because apparently, human emissions of CO2 drive global warming. I am a patient chap, was fabulously good looking in the long ago and have a dog that’s never bitten me but please, dear readers, can someone show me from basic science and mathematics that the human emissions (3% total) of plant food (CO2) drive climate change yet the 97% of natural emissions of CO2 do not. This has never been done and I’m still waiting for the proof. It’s easy to show that human emissions of CO2 don’t drive climate change and there are many scientific arguments to show that the total atmospheric CO2 does not drive climate change.
Our dear leader of the Opposition wants 50% of electricity from renewables. How’s he going to do it? What is the current contribution of renewables? Where is the cash going to come from for the immense capital costs or are we to face yet more crippling Labor debt? Numbers give the story about the effective use of renewables and the most populous state in Australia is the best place to start.
In NSW in 2014, there was a mix of electricity generation with coal, natural gas, hydro, wind, diesel and coal seam gas. The table below shows what we already know. If heavy-duty base load power is needed, then coal (10,760 MW; 59.3%) and hydro (4,510 MW; 24.9%) do the heavy lifting 24/7. Gas (2,144 MW; 11.8%) and hydro can be used to increase electricity generation in peak load times. Of the 18,138 MW capacity, wind capacity is 550 MW (3.0%) but, because the wind does not blow all the time, the input into the grid is at best about 110 MW (0.6%). The sugar cane waste (bagasse) only has a 68 MW (0.4%) capacity and electricity generation is seasonal. Diesel (106 MW; 0.6%) is used when required in a remote part of NSW.
More than 71% of electricity in NSW is generated from fossil fuels. In Australia, 65% of Australia’s total electricity needs are produced from 48% of capacity reflecting the predominance of base load demand and the fact that coal provides the main base load demand in Australia. And so it should, it’s the cheapest.
Let’s face renewable reality. In 2015, NSW had no solar power generation capacity whatsoever and, although there are 5 wind farms, the wind total power input into the grid was 0.6%. This renewable electricity was subsidised with taxpayer’s money and raised the cost of electricity. And at what was the total economic cost? Enough to run a small Pacific island nation. What was the environmental cost? Monstrous. I’m sure that the sliced and diced birds and bats are comforted that their deaths in the name of the environment were for nothing. And what about the people disturbed by sub-sonic infrasound? Where is the precautionary principle when it is needed? If a coal-fired power station input into the grid was 3.0%, a single bird was killed or people suffered health problems, then we’d never hear the end of it from the Greens.
We saw a screaming headline telling us “Wind power generates 140% of Denmark’s electricity demand.” However, this 140% was for only a brief moment on a windy night at 3 am, which is the time when demand is the lowest. Call up the Danish Electricity Authority site and look at the map of inputs and outputs of electricity from Denmark. There is far more electricity imported to Denmark from conventional sources than is exported from wind. Denmark is not self-sufficient in electricity, wind does not provide enough for consumers and employment-generating industries. Wind-power is inefficient costly ideology. It’s not hard to see that misguided energy policies have exacerbated the economic decline of Europe. If wind power was efficient and reliable, green left media such as the ABC and The Guardian would not have to be misleading and deceptive.
No green left environmental activist in NSW could possibly survive on wind or solar power from the grid. They need fossil fuels to transport food from rural areas or abroad to the cities. Without fossil fuels and dams for domestic and industrial electricity in NSW, there would be no cooling, heating, cooking, refrigeration, transport, employment or communications. If that’s the world that the green left environmental activists want us to live in, then let’s see them lead by example and shout their ideology from the caves on a cold, wet and windy night.
NSW is taking a great step (and economically backwards) in building a solar power plant at Broken Hill in far western NSW. The solar plant has a rated capacity of a glorious 0.29% of NSW’s electricity and will produce up to 0.03% of electricity for NSW. That’s the progress of those who call themselves progressive. The 53 MW capacity plant is privately owned and the capital cost is $166.7 million. Taxpayers via the NSW government and Federal government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency are providing $64.9 million of the capital cost. Furthermore consumers will be forced to pay extra for this “renewable” energy. In reality, the well-known inefficiencies of solar plants is such that about 5-6 MW will be available from this new solar plant. I often go underground in the zinc-lead-silver mines at Broken Hill. Do I rely on solar-generated electricity when underground at night to keep the safety systems and pumps operating? Will the processing plants be able to operate 24/7 on solar energy? Solar power is not enough to keep the mines operating at Broken Hill. And if there are no mines, then there are no jobs.
Solar power has a low capacity factor. In Germany, it is about 10%. Hence 10,000 MW of solar power capacity is needed to generate the same amount of electricity as a 1,000 MW thermal coal or nuclear power station. Furthermore, when the 10,000 MW solar power generator is producing its maximum of 10,000 MW, the grid system cannot cope with surging and hence huge yet-to-be-invented energy storage systems are needed or the solar power stations need to be shut down. Now that’s efficiency.
Sunny Spain was touted as the perfect place for solar power generation. Spain spent a King’s ransom on constructing solar and wind power generators with generous subsidies. Spain became so clever at generating solar electricity that it even managed to do it at night. Generating solar electricity at night? No, it is not the new physics. It is because subsidies were so incredibly high that solar power companies could make money by illuminating solar panels with floodlights at night. The floodlights were powered by CO2-emitting diesel generators. No wonder Spain is broke.
Whatever the green left environmental activists may desire, the reality is that NSW will continue to have a reliable coal-hydro-gas mix for peak- and base-load electricity. Why? Because it works. Furthermore it’s cheap, clean, provides employment and reliable.
In 2007, Australia had one of lowest electricity costs in the world. Between 2007 and 2013, Australia had a Labor Federal government that brought in a carbon tax and various Federally-funded renewable energy schemes. In 2011, the electricity prices in Western Australia, Victoria, NSW and South Australia were so high that they ranked just behind Denmark and Germany (the most expensive jurisdictions in the world). And what does Bill Shorten want to do with wind and solar? Make our employment-generating electricity more unreliable and more expensive for his workers that he so lovingly pretends to protect. If Shorten actually wanted to build many more dams, most of which have been on the drawing board for decades, then I could warm to his idea.
However, even if I shared a funeral pyre with the Greens, I couldn’t warm to them.
|Power Station||Location||Technology||Capacity (MW)|
|Broadwater||North Coast||Sugar cane waste||38|
|Broken Hill||Broken Hill||Diesel||50|
|Condong||North Coast||Sugar cane waste||30|
|Mt Piper||Central West||Coal||1,400|
|Vales Point||Central Coast||Coal||1,360|
a = coal seam methane; b = open cycle gas turbine; c = combined cycle gas turbine
(This article is shamelessly plagiarised from parts of my forthcoming book Heaven and Hell: The Pope condemns the poor to eternal poverty, Connor Court, September 2015)