Renewables and the damage done: cross post from the Spectator

Here is a concluding extract from a piece of mine published yesterday in the Spectator

However, the demonisation of coal and threats by a future government to destroy the value of any new coal power station means a return to an autonomous market-based new investment regime is impossible.  It may be that the Commonwealth is preparing to commission new non-intermittent power stations –- inevitably coal based — to shore up reliability.  While providing a patch-up, this would complete the dismantling of a national electricity market and place us on the path to the high-cost electricity regime that prevailed prior to the market reforms under Hawke, Kennett and Howard.   

A preferable outcome would be for the Canberra to guarantee that a future federal government would not adopt policies that expropriate any new investment (as governments already do with roads, ports and other long-lived infrastructure) and: 

  • Abolish the commonwealth’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) and the subsidies, presently about $75 per MWh, it creates for wind and large-scale solar;  
  • Eliminate the Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) under which electricity users in general are forced to provide a subsidy of $40 per MWh to roof-top photovoltaic installations.  
  • Cease all government subsidies through the budget including guarantees to bodies like the Clean Energy Regulator and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).  

In addition, state government should remove subsidies like the Queensland Solar Bonus scheme and preferential feed-in-tariffs for PV generated electricity.  

With such policies, Australia would once again benefit from the cheap electricity that government market interventions have caused.   

The whole piece is here

The issue also got an airing on the Bolt Report last night.  Here is a clip.

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43 Responses to Renewables and the damage done: cross post from the Spectator

  1. Baldrick

    Great work as usual Alan exposing the Ruinable Energy fraud.

    Then you have Shorten on Q&A last night saying the way to drive down electricity prices is more investment in Ruinables. Crazy stuff.

  2. Barry

    So where in the Constitution does it say that the Federal Government can run a National Electricity Generating infrastructure?
    The best solution is always more competition whether it be inter-state or intra-state (preferable since I don’t want to move to another state)

  3. Bruce of Newcastle

    Global warming is still not happening. The temperature spike from the recent el Nino has mostly dissipated, and global temperature is back to where it was in 2002 just after the strong 2000 la Nina.

    You’d think that politicians might actually look to see whether there was any justification for trashing Australia before doing so. They don’t seem to be interested in that.

  4. H B Bear

    No investor or bank would trust future Australian governments without a life of plant power purchase agreement – further distorting the NEM. Politicians have now raised sovereign risk to third world levels and power prices will soon send the economy there too.

  5. MACK

    Business is warning that Greens’ policies cost jobs – but who’s listening in Canberra?
    “Six months ago, at our half-year results presentation, I warned of an imminent energy supply catastrophe. This catastrophe is now happening,” BlueScope chief executive Paul O’Malley said on Monday.

  6. DJR96

    You all do realise that these subsidies are small fry compared to what the fossil fuel industries receive don’t you?
    So sure, can these subsidies – so long as you can all of them, including the ones on fossil fuels too. In fact, that would be a good way to accelerate renewables. So please bring it on!
    Meanwhile, stop being so incredibly hypocritical on calling for a halt to subsidies for renewables whilst supporting fossil fuel subsidies. It’s a really poor look.

  7. EvilElvis

    DJR96, you’re a fucking moron.

  8. Entropy

    Happy to end all so biddies DJR96. Don’t delude yourself that that would change the fossil fuel real cost advantage though.

  9. RobK

    So biddies= subsidies

    So biddies works too

  10. RobK

    How are State royalties subsidies?

  11. Turnip

    You all do realise that these subsidies are small fry compared to what the fossil fuel industries receive don’t you?

    Perhaps you can be kind enough to list and enumerate these subsidies so we can compare them to the green subsidies and make an informed judgement?

  12. Entropy

    The clown will probably try to claim the diesel fuel rebate is a subsidy.

  13. incoherent rambler

    Abolish the commonwealth’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) and the subsidies …

    I repeat –

    Abolish all energy taxes and subsidies.


  14. H B Bear

    DJR96, you’re a fucking moron.

    Please, let’s show some respect for fvcking morons. Who are smarter than this bozo.

  15. The clown will probably try to claim the diesel fuel rebate is a subsidy.

    I suspect DJR’s “logic” extends far beyond mere fuel rebates, Entropy. The thinking goes like this: Every time someone fires up the Victa and mows the lawn, the petrol burned releases filthy, disgusting, toxic, poisonous CO2 into the atmosphere, causing billions of dollars damage to the environment. According to DJR this pollution “cost” should be factored into the cost of the petrol. The fact that it isn’t makes it a “subsidy”.

    It is truly frightening that there are people out there like DJR who actually believe this BS. Even more frightening is that it was probably taught to him as “scientific fact”, at high school or uni.

  16. RobK

    I suspect DJR’s “logic” extends far beyond mere fuel rebates, Entropy.
    Another furphy added to so called subsidies on carbon is the cost of military protection in international shipping lanes against piracy!

  17. BoyfromTottenham

    H B Bear (and others) – No, DJR96 and their ilk are definitely NOT morons, they are people (or bots) with an Agenda – to keep repeating the Big Lie that underpins their strategy of damaging the West, everywhere and all the time until it sticks in weak minds, just like Goebbels and the KGB did to push their pernicious agendas. Please do not make the mistake of thinking that we are up against a few disorganised boofheads. They are on every sceptical website, every non-leftist blog and media outlet. they are far better organised than us.

  18. Louis Hissink


    Care to explain how an aluminium smelter can function on renewables? Ditto for electric steel blast furnaces?

    They can’t.

    Without these industries supplying base loads, you won’t have much electricity, apart from no tech. gadgets that aluminium facilitates. And then living as tribal nomads smart phones become redundant.

  19. John H of Pelican Waters

    I understand (from another excellent piece by Judith Sloan in today’s Oz) that the 2000 MW Liddell plant is due to close in 2022. So, to borrow the apocalyptic language of the alarmists, I would say that we have got five years to stop this RET farce (and the rest of it) or we’ll all be rooned (my spell-checker wants to change that to rooted, and that works too). Sorry if your industry super fund has sunk a lot of your hard-earned into unreliable energy, but you should have monitored their activities more closely, and chosen more carefully.

  20. incoherent rambler

    SA&nbsp 47.13c per kwh
    NSW 39.10c per kwh
    VIC 34.66c per kwh
    US  15.75c per kwh

    Let the numbers speak.

  21. Motelier

    Thanks Alan.

    However our industrious leaders of the are actively competeing with each other in a race to the bottom.

    Qld to get a monster windfarm at the Bunya Mountains.


  22. Kneel

    DJR96, perhaps you could advise what these subsidies are, how much they amount to etc. Then subtract the amount of tax paid by fossil energy companies – don’t forget to include EVERYTHING here as well. You will find that fossil fuel companies are net contributors to Govt revenue, while the renewable energy companies are net CONSUMERS of Govt funds. Make sure that you include grid stability when comparing generation types as well – “rotating inertia”, which is supplied free of charge by thermal plants, is missing from wind and solar PV installations.
    Don’t forget either that access to cheap reliable energy has other benefits, including (but not limited to):
    the construction of near ubiquitous high speed communications (which we are using to communicate and which results in LESS energy expenditure than previous physical forms of communications, such as post);
    the provision of high-tech medical equipment, saving countless lives;
    the ability to get sick and injured people medical care sooner, saving even more lives;
    the ability for us to trade over long distances, including trade in education and other services.
    All of these are on the back of cheap, reliable fossil-based energy. Surely such benefits are of some worth? Surely the govt, should it be distorting a market at all, should be doing so in a way that encourages such benefits for the community?
    If the above is true and accurate – and I believe it is – then clearly any subsidies to fossil fuel companies have paid themselves back many times over, while those to renewables have undone, at least to some extent, some of the above benefits, while being a bottomless pit of govt waste, targeted to the benefit cronny-capitalist “winners” and paid for by societies loss.
    Guess which subsidies I support?

  23. RobK

    Sorry if your industry super fund has sunk a lot of your hard-earned into unreliable energy,
    This is one of the sad consequences, especially those funds loaded with union hacks and academics. Even so, the sooner the scam is aborted, the sooner the harm is minimised. The longer it’s left unchanged the deeper the harm and cost of some kind of recovery. Left unchanged chaos will develop.

  24. herodotus

    It’s difficult to remain optimistic given the level of idiocy and/or malevolence these days, spread around so many aspects of our lives, governance, industry, media.
    The destruction of our power system (along with all the other flow-ons from AGW scam) is a crime against humanity.

  25. EvilElvis

    Please, let’s show some respect for fvcking morons. Who are smarter than this bozo.

    Sorry HB, had time for a quick comment only, didn’t have time to put on the ‘pithy’ or ‘wit’ hats…

    Suffice to say, my comment still stands and if people like old mate don’t get ‘it’ after reading one of Alan’s essays on the subject, they never will.

  26. BoyfromTottenham

    Kneel, don’t expect DJR96 to respond to your rational questions – that isn’t how they work. They attack, never answer critics except to a different but unasked question, misdirect and confuse, change the goal posts, etc. Rational debate is impossible with these folk, because that is not part of their game plan. Look up Propaganda: (, and Disinformation ( to gain insight into these tactics. The best response is No response – ignore them, starve them of oxygen. Proof: count the number of people here who have posted in response to DJR96’s post (currently 13 I think), and thereby were distracted from discussing the main point of Alan Moran’s article. Get it?

  27. OldOzzie

    If only Australia had a Real Leader like Donald Trump rather than Maladroit and Shirt Pants Shorten!

    President Trump disbands federal advisory panel on climate change

    Brace yourselves for the howls from environmental justice warriors

    This week, the federal advisory panel on climate change is getting iced out:

    The Trump administration has decided to disband the federal advisory panel for the National Climate Assessment, a group aimed at helping policymakers and private-sector officials incorporate the government’s climate analysis into long-term planning.

    The charter for the 15-person Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment – which includes academics as well as local officials and corporate representatives – expires Sunday. On Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s acting administrator, Ben Friedman, informed the committee’s chair that the agency would not renew the panel.

    The National Climate Assessment is supposed to be issued every four years but has come out only three times since passage of the 1990 law calling for such analysis.

    Those who follow the climate change antics will pay attention to the charge that past of the reason for this decision may be that assessment, which asserts that global temperatures are increasing, is due out shortly and reports are that the President is not happy with the conclusions.

    The group worked on the National Climate Assessment, the mandated quadrennial report that was leaked last month as a draft. The report is due to be released in 2018, but The New York Times reported that scientists working on it worried the Trump administration would try to bury some or all of its conclusions and may have leaked it for that reason.

    The report concludes that Americans are already feeling the effects of climate change and says it is “extremely likely” that the majority of global temperature increases in the past 60 years are partially due to human influence.

    The White House is in the process of reviewing a final version of the assessment.

    However, it is known that a number of global temperature data sets have been manipulated. Cap-and-trade programs are failures, and carbon credit scams have been reported and prosecuted. Predictions such as “no more snow” have fallen short (e.g., late-season snow in the Rockies and Sierras).

    President Trump has a good understanding of science and a robust understanding of business. Here is what a defender of the panel had to say:

    Richard Wright, the past chair of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Committee on Adaptation to a Changing Climate, has been working with the federal advisory panel to convey the importance of detailed climate projections in next year’s assessment. The society establishes guidelines that form the basis of building codes across the country, and these are based on a historical record that may no longer be an accurate predictor of future weather extremes.

    “We need to work on updating our standards with good estimates on what future weather and climate extremes will be,” Wright said Saturday. “I think it’s going to be a serious handicap for us that the advisory committee is not functional.”

    Implementing those codes and standards-based on politicized science who have cost Americans billions of dollars needlessly. Trump has probably determined it’s a “bad deal”, and it makes sense the panel would meet the same face as the “Paris Accord”.

    Brace yourselves for the howls from environmental justice warriors!

  28. Tator

    What that moron DJR96 is claiming, is that the so called billions in subsidies for coal mining as listed by the Ponds Institute and the ACF, all flow in total into the coal fired electricity generators. Which obviously they don’t as 90% of coal mined in Australia is exported.
    In actual fact, coal fired electricity receives 86 CENTS a megawatt hour whilst wind power gets around $70 to $85 a megawatt hour, or 100 times the quanta per megawatt hour. Gas gets bugger all in subsidies too.
    I agree with Alan’s post, it is the governments of the day which are causing the issue with sovereign risk to power infrastructure if the ALP is voted back in and that the government should just remove all subsidies and let all energy sources play on a level playing field in a true free market with as little regulation as possible.

  29. val majkus

    thanks Alan for continuing to write about what should be the issue de jour while everybody else seems to be commenting on fripperies. There’s an article in Quadrant Online today which amongst other things lists the benefits of Bernadi’s energy policy which is

    Key Points:

    Australians deserve the most reliable and affordable energy in the world.
    With electricity generation, we are technology-agnostic but subsidy-averse.
    We support nuclear power and a nuclear fuel cycle industry.
    We support all forms of electricity generation and will provide them with legislative certainty and legal protection.
    We do not support any renewable energy targets.
    We will remove all taxpayer and cross subsidies to electricity generation.
    We will require all electricity supplied to the grid to be useable – that is, predictable and consistent in output (kWhrs) and synchronous (at the required 50 Hz range).
    We will allow market forces to provide the most efficient power generation available.
    We will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.

    which all sounds nice and sensible but as one commentator says

    Unfortunately this kind of policy position is meaningless. We need cheap coal power in Australia and the only way to get that in the current environment is for the government to offer iron-clad long-term contracts to coal power companies. Being just neutral won’t do it. It is pie in the sky – which is one reason I haven’t joined Bernardi’s mob.

    while another says

    In order to reassure long term investment in electricity both the fed and state governments will need to issue guarantees of unhindered market access for a period

    It’s difficult to undo the damage done to mineral and coal plant investment in Australia inflicted during the nightmare green years, even if one govt gives guarantees, the next govt could withdraw them

  30. cynical1

    Qld to get a monster windfarm at the Bunya Mountains.

    Read the comments.

    Notice the greenies.

    No worries about greater spotted newts or ground parrots when the wind farms are mentioned.

    Funny that.

  31. In actual fact, coal fired electricity receives 86 CENTS a megawatt hour


  32. manalive

    “… renewable energy is a disruptive force in the energy market in the same way as the iPhone was to landlines and cameras …”.

    What’s happened to Josh Frydenberg, has he lost his reason, has he drunk the cool-aid, has his department snowed him, or has his ambition got the better of him and he is just another Turnbull lackey?
    On his website he says: “… I spoke about how ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation are accelerating the shift towards a more affordable and reliable renewable energy future …”.
    He must know on all the available evidence that sentence doesn’t make sense.

    “… why is there such demonisation of wind and solar technologies? At RenewEconomy, we can’t remember mainstream media defending fixed landlines and film cameras with quite the same vigour …”.

    That’s from an article by Giles Parkinson (founder) for RenewEconomy on 4 December 2015.

  33. Tim Neilson

    is for the government to offer iron-clad long-term contracts to coal power companies

    Enforceable right up until Dan the CFMEU sock puppet gets into power.

    We’re rooned.

  34. John Constantine

    Once australia is deindustrialised and toppled as a racist outpost of the deplorable colonial Anglosphere, the only task of the proles will be to queue for their rations of algae sludge and to vote by show of hands for the will of Stalin.

    Show of hands voting is to be done in daylight, queueing can be done by starlight and moonlight.

    Electricity is simply non-essential for the basic tasks required of the proles by their elites.

    Disarmed and barefoot in mudhuts can be a simple and contented existance [although cold and dark], especially when no hint of a better life for anybody is possible, except for the inbred elite class.

  35. Tel

    Solar PV, Green expects, will fall in price in some areas in the world to around $US20/MWh this year, but by the mid-2020s costs of just $US10/MWh will be obtained, and prices in the $US20/MWh range will be routine across the world.

    Sorry but WTF?!?

    He is claiming 2c per kWh… no wucking fay!

  36. Dave Wane

    Of course Alan is correct.
    But one cannot say such things in socialist, sheep-like Australia. You cannot speak the bleeding obvious truth here.
    Still, thankfully, some of us do.
    Just imagine an Australia with:
    An entirely free and open electricity market with all electricity producers able to use the fuel and method of their choice?No RET, no subsidies of any kind, no Paris accord nonsense. Nothing! Just businesses making and selling electricity and distributing it to consumers; by way of existing grids or on a smaller scale . Who cares? But all with only the very minimum of government involvement.
    But again: not in Socialist, sheep-like Australia.
    Not in Socialist, sheep-like Australia, where the once simple enterprise of producing cheap coal-fired electricity, has become ( as Alan says, and as many of us know and say ) so “demonised” that the word “coal” is treated as some kind of blasphemy against the now state religion of “climate-change”.
    This is Australia in 2017. A sad and sorry place.
    A place in serious decline. A place where cheap electricity could give us at least a bit more than a snowflake’s chance in hell of a prosperous future.
    But what do we concern ourselves with?
    Gay marriage and the theory of man-caused-climate-change.
    I would love to be around in 100 years to hear the many theories of why Australia failed, as I am sure it will under the current political direction, and the socialist, sheep-like mentality of the electorate.
    Gough Whitlam’s work seems to have reached its intended goal.
    I hope I am wrong.

  37. RobK

    From your link:
    “Any loss in thermal coal sales due to strong solar PV uptake will be offset likely 5 times over by increased demand for more valuable resources – coking coal, iron ore, alumina and copper.” This does not include demand for other resources where demand will increase – silver, lithium, cobalt, nickel, for example.”
    Perhaps he’s confused, 1 or 2c/kWh is perhaps what they’ll get. If it is what it costs, why the subsidies?

  38. egg_

    Lovelock has since renounced this view.

    Too late to stop the gravy train now, tard.

  39. Rob

    It’s absolutely vital that the serious conversation about nuclear power gets underway.

  40. John Constantine

    Pull down the statues to Nazi Coal now, comrades, dynamite the cooling towers of Nazi Coal, because wind power makes you free.

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