David Bidstrup: Delusional disorder: The politics of electricity in Victoria.

Two stories in todays “The Australian”, (12 September 2018), caught my eye. They reported on an “additional” 928 MW of renewable generation that would further impoverish taxpayers and enrich the renewable energy industry.

There are 3 wind farms and 3 solar farms proposed and each of them will be guaranteed a minimum price of $56 per MWh by the Victorian taxpayers. They will also harvest the RET subsidy of $80 per MWh giving a total guaranteed revenue stream that is risk free.

The table below lists the salient points. It is well known that wind operates at around 30% of rated capacity and solar at about 17%. This is due to the intermittency of the wind and the sun.

First thing to notice is the 928 MW rated capacity becomes 245 MW when intermittency is considered. The next is the Victorian taxpayers guaranteed “floor price” of $56 per MWh which equates to an annual risk free revenue of $120 million/year and the consumers contribution via the RET of $172 million/year.

This allows the operators to bid low to secure the front row at the electricity trough because they already have $136/MWh in the pocket regardless of “the market” prices.  Under this bizarre scheme they have “no responsibility for providing a continuous supply” so when nature does not oblige with wind and sunlight some other dispatchable, read coal or gas, power station has to be ready to pick up the load at any time, day or night.

Next let’s look at the comparison with the now defunct Hazelwood power station. It had a “rated capacity” of 1,600 MW at a capacity factor of around 95% and could turn out 13,315,200 MWh annually and it was continuous except for the occasional maintenance outage, ( Hazelwood had 8 units so outages never took the whole station off line). The “new renewables” can provide 16% of the Hazelwood production, but not continuously. Victoria consumes around 45,000,000 MWh annually, depending on what data is used – it’s a bit difficult to pin it down. This means the “new renewables” can produce 4.8% of the annual demand, but not continuously. To get 45,000,000 MWh per year from schemes like this would require scaling them up by a factor of 21 with an “installed capacity” of 19,500 MW and even them the supply would be intermittent.

Apart from the obvious stupidity of schemes like this in terms of “lowering prices” or providing security of supply the effects on grid management are horrendous as are the additional costs of transmission lines to connect up the far flung sites that range from Mildura to Warrnambool, Echuca and Benalla. This has nothing to do with electricity prices or security and everything to do with politics. It is a lousy deal for Victorian taxpayers and electricity consumers in general whose interests are sacrificed for some delusional belief that CO2 is bad and that mankind can bend nature to his will. The following indications of delusional behaviour are from Wikipedia and would be familiar to all of us who observe the bizarre machinations of the green zealots who seem bent on returning us to serfdom.

  • The patient expresses an idea or belief with unusual persistence or force, even when evidence suggests the contradictory.
  • That idea appears to have an undue influence on the patient’s life, and the way of life is often altered to an inexplicable extent.
  • Despite his/her profound conviction, there is often a quality of secretiveness or suspicion when the patient is questioned about it.
  • The individual tends to be humourless and oversensitive, especially about the belief.
  • There is a quality of centrality: no matter how unlikely it is that these strange things are happening to him/her, the patient accepts them relatively unquestioningly.
  • An attempt to contradict the belief is likely to arouse an inappropriately strong emotional reaction, often with irritability and hostility. They will not accept any other opinions.
  • The belief is, at the least, unlikely, and out of keeping with social norms.
  • The patient is emotionally over-invested in the idea and it overwhelms other elements of their psyche.

Does any of this sound familiar?

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22 Responses to David Bidstrup: Delusional disorder: The politics of electricity in Victoria.

  1. Rafe Champion

    We know all this backwards, forwards and sideways.
    This has to be explained so the median voter gets it, think the average bus driver and checkout operator.
    We need materials of different kinds and we need delivery systems.
    Radio 2GB is great and it has a big reach, some of the papers could do it like the Tele in Sydney and the Herald Sun in Melbourne.
    More ideas required, and more effective action.

  2. This has to be explained so the median voter gets it…

    Agreed!

    Two decades ago, I came to the conclusion that scientific/engineering arguments were of limited utility when it came to the ‘climate’ subject.

    Politics, cash and dogma rules over science/engineering.

    With the (current) 2 major parties and the pictorial media pushing the scam along, the voices trying to expose the climate scam and the roonabauble disaster are rarely heard.

  3. Charles

    It also needs to be explained that electricity consumers in SA. QLD and NSW will be contributing to this mess via the RET, which means that a significant proportion of the $172 million will be socialised out to the other states.

    That way lots of others get to pay for the madness of Red Dan

  4. Rob

    The only way our ill-informed and ignorant nation can properly come to understand the incredibly parlous state of its electricity supply is to have Labor in control of all Australian governments.
    Whether the better informed will masochistically join in the seemingly universal swing to Green and Labor Party determination of our future, is a moot point. However, if experience is to ultimately be the best teacher, then that is what the nation now needs.
    Turnbull, Bishop, and a gaggle of supposedly “bullied” Liberal women seem determined to help Labor into office.
    The collapse of our electricity system looms.

  5. Judith Sloan

    I understand the LGCs vest with theVictorian govt not the provider. The value of these certificates will be close to zero by 2022 all other things equal.

  6. Roger

    This has to be explained so the median voter gets it…

    I suggest the median voter won’t get it until they can’t afford to pay their power bill.

  7. v_maet

    Great work David.

    Also interesting to note is the double islanding event that took place last month which saw QLD and SA separated from the rest of the NEM as outlined here: http://www.wattclarity.com.au/articles/2018/09/further-analysis-of-the-very-rare-double-islanding-events-of-saturday-25th-august-2018/

    SA spot prices skyrocketed because they couldn’t access the fossil fuel power reserves from other states and the much lauded Tesla battery didn’t have enough charge to supply power and bring down prices.

    QLD spot prices remained stable and even decreased due to oversupply of fossil fuel generation.

  8. jupes

    This has to be explained so the median voter gets it,

    The problem is the “median voter” has been brainwashed to believe that the environment is the most important issue on earth. Electricity generation has been sold as an environmental issue.

    Brilliant propaganda by the greenies.

  9. An interesting column could be added to this table – square metres of land used…

  10. RobK

    Judith,
    I think you are right, unless the RET is increased, which would really ramp-up the mess to new levels. By 2022 a lot of damage will have been done. The Vic scheme would push the troughing out to 15 yrs. A new RET would under-pin the Vic gov commitment so interstate coal can pay for the virtue of Victoria.
    The real tragedy is that so called “firming” required is capex that will be under utilized all due to the wobbly nature of renewables. Its more than just the reduced capacity factor of RE.
    The CF of coal at around 95% is mostly scheduled, where a portion of output is reduced with minimal impact. RE is all over the place, on all time scales from seconds to years and consequently requires support in buffering, power conditioning, storage for load shifting and longer term backup. It will be expensive, complex and not particularly stable, nor efficient.
    I think the Vic Gov move is mearly to butress the move to a new RET of sorts, or to save what they can of the present one.
    The gov interference is forcing technology which is not ready nor fit for purpose in its present form. The subsidies are meeting only a portion of the costs yet to come.

  11. Leo G

    This has to be explained so the median voter gets it, think the average bus driver and checkout operator.

    How do you index voters, bus drivers and checkout operators?
    What is the measure of political acumen?

  12. Not only wind and not only in Australia. Here is some data from Brooks Solar Farm in Alberta.
    > Here is the May summary and YTD for Brooks Solar.
    >
    > Brooks Solar May output summary
    > 11,160 MWh total capacity
    > 3039 MWh actual output
    > 27.20% of capacity in May
    >
    > 744 hour total in May
    > 506 hours with power
    > 238 hours with zero power 32% with zero power
    > 386 hours at 52% hours at
    >
    > Brooks Solar January 1 to May 31 output summary
    > JANUARY THRU MAY
    > 120 days 2880 HOURS TOTAL TIME
    > 54,360 MWh potential
    > 9607 MWh produced
    > 17.7% of capacity YTD
    > 1864 Hours with power
    > 1760 hours with zero power 48.6% of hours with zero power
    >
    > 2425 Hours at less than 10% of capacity
    > 67% Hours at less than 10% of capacity
    >
    > May output was higher then my January estimate, but below my updated estimate done in April.
    > My updated estimate for the year is 19.7% output.

  13. DD

    And perhaps productivity? MWper employee.

  14. H B Bear

    This has to be explained so the median voter gets it…
    I suggest the median voter won’t get it until they can’t afford to pay their power bill.

    A few summer brown-outs when the aircon is cranked up will get the message across. The Pony Club can only prop up the NEM for another year or so and then the fun begins.

    Gas is the only way to add sufficient dispatchable generating capacity and you can’t contract firm volumes or pipeline capacity if you don’t know when or if you might need it based on whether the wind is blowing. This is madness.

  15. RobK

    V_maet,
    The event you link to is a prime example of some of the difficulties the new grid has to put up with. It is under stress much of the time due to surges, rates of change in energy, never before encountered. Much beefing up of the system required. Expensive. Many of these design issues will be stumbled across and patched up as we look for more funds to do the proper required redesign not yet budgeted for.

  16. v_maet

    RobK.

    Sadly the upgrades required will cost billions and will be passed on to consumers driving prices even higher.

  17. v_maet

    Marcus, a good example for you:

    ——————-

    Ivanpah Solar Facility

    392 MW capacity under ideal conditions.

    Requires almost FOUR SQUARE MILES of wild lands.

    https://goo.gl/maps/9xoU2n5f35r

    According to the EPA’s own emissions map, it put out 68,731 tons of co2 in 2015

    ——————————

    LADWP Harbor Generating Station (Natural Gas)

    466 MW capacity

    Takes up one city block.

    https://goo.gl/maps/6r1CHMZp1tk

    According to the EPA’s own emissions map, it put out 55,757 tons co2 in 2015

  18. pbw

    If a majority of the Liberal caucus can’t be persuaded, the prospects look grim. Admittedly, there are untapped reserves of cynicism within the Libs and Labor, but does that explain it all? If you’re more interested in holding onto your preselection, and you see that as being in the hands of branch-stackers and power brokers, you might become very docile. Nonetheless, a lot of these people seem to have “got religion.”

    Out in the suburbs, there is a conviction that Labor is more likely to lower power prices than the Coalition. The sun and the wind are free, right? It may take a term or two of Labor to finally shake this conviction.

    There is nothing that has been detailed to the Cats about electricity prices that is beyond the average voter, but the average voter doesn’t get to hear it. The media personalities they pay attention to maintain the renewables myths as the steady background assumptions of all they do. It’s their tone of voice, their mannerisms, their demeanour in conversations with “guests,” as much as anything else, that reinforces the assumptions of their audiences. It’s a confidence trick.

    It cuts both ways. If the confidence ever falters, the audience switches off. If any doubt or self-questioning intrudes, the personality ceases to be a personality. He is trapped in the expectations of his audience. Any quick changes of world-view, against those expectations, will also see the audience desert. I think this is one of the main factors that is entrenching a deeper and deeper divide in the body politic all over the West, and it’s an artefact of the influence of the media, and the way news and opinion are now presented.

    That’s why rapid turn-over in internet opinion worm-holes is so important, and why the threat to close them down is so dangerous.

  19. Bushkid

    We know all this backwards, forwards and sideways.
    This has to be explained so the median voter gets it, think the average bus driver and checkout operator.

    Unfortunately Rafe, there are plenty of others who you might describe as occupying a higher tier of intellect, yet are utterly convinced the world is going to burn within a few years if we don’t shut down coal-fired electricity generation and replace it with solar and wind.
    Another I know, a pleasant and otherwise intelligent person, is convinced the East coast of Queensland is shortly going (literally!) to fall into the ocean – due to seismic activity, and…….. climate change! Their rationale, apart from believing “climate change” can cause all manner of amazing things, is that there have been a few mild earthquakes (barely more than tremors) off the CQ coast in recent years. The fact that there have been earth tremors and small quakes registered forever apparently has nothing to do with it. It’s utterly baffling how anyone can so ardently believe this.

  20. Bushkid

    Out in the suburbs, there is a conviction that Labor is more likely to lower power prices than the Coalition. The sun and the wind are free, right? It may take a term or two of Labor to finally shake this conviction.

    That’s the level of idiocy we’re having to deal with. When the vote herd believes that sort of utter rubbish, there’s really no hope of turning this around.

    It’s only when the lights go out, the food in the freezer spoils, the aircon can’t be run in a Western Sydney basin summer, when the suburban vote herd no longer has a job to go to because their employer factory/business/industry has been priced out of energy use – then and only then will the ignorant finally understand.

    If there’s any sort of poetic justice, the smart arses who bask in the glory in their EV ownership will notice the cost or lack of available recharge electricity first.

  21. Bruce of Newcastle

    Victoria rhymes with Venezuela forwards and backwards.

    Caracas plunges into massive blackout (10 Sep)

    Socialism used to be able to supply electricity to the people. These days…not so much.

  22. Michael O’Brien

    Judith, I don’t understand why the value of the certificates will fall to zero. I can see that would happen if the level of renewable generation exceeded the RET but that would not be in the interests of the renewable generators.

    Surely if a generator can sell certificates for most of the power they generate (plus get the going market rate) they would not generate surplus power above the RET. For the surplus power they will only get the going market rate and drive down the RET prices for the rest of their capacity. That would not seem to be rational at all.

    Isn’t it likely the renewable generators will simply ensure that they always generate less than the RET simply to keep the certificate prices high. Even if the Victorian Government does own the certificates from these new generators, the Government is not likely to simply junk them or sell them into the market at less than the going rate. As for retailers who have contracted power including the certificates won’t they simply go to the regulator and use the market price of the certificates as justification for their regulated tariffs.

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