Renewable idiocy continues to prevail

Bob Brown is no longer among those appreciating the beauty of wind turbines and we’ve all had fun pointing out his apostasy. The half-million birds in the US and 200,000+ bats in Germany which turbines are estimated to mince every year might agree, although those gluing themselves to Brisbane’s roads and elsewhere will probably take longer to absorb the truth about these taxpayer-supported environmental destroyers.

Subsidies to otherwise uncompetitive renewables have caused commercial coal generators to collapse, doubling the cost electricity and savaging its reliability.

Idiocy continues to prevail.

  • Shell has advocated getting rid of coal using measures that include a $250 carbon tax (Gillard’s was only $20), that increases the price of electricity fivefold plus several new Greenbanks to subsidise the batteries that wind and solar need to back-up their intrinsically unreliable output. Shell CEO, Ben van Beurden stepped out of his firm’s greenhouse gas intensive corporate jet to advocate the emissions plan.
  • And Ursula von Der Leyen – not a modern Boadicea leading a Panzar Army but the new EU President – got elected by backing a plan to get a fifty per cent renewables share in the EU by 2030, something Boris Johnson has also supported.

For Australia wind/solar will be 16 per cent of supply this year.  Not only is this driven by subsidies and regulations but it is requiring ever more of them in order to shore up the commercial market they are poisoning.

Hence, we have more subsidies for the pumped storage facilities like Snowy 2 and the proposal to duplicate the Tasmania-mainland transmission line at a cost of $3 billion to allow a continued expansion of renewables. We also have the head of AEMO calling for new transmission to allow an expansion of Victorian windfarms, something that, encouragingly, Angus Taylor is opposing.

Now we have a “negawatts” proposal to set a baseline level of demand for firms and allow them to sell excess needs back to the grid when the price is high.  This will be subject to considerable gaming as firms exaggerate how much they might have used in order to increase their payments.  One ludicrous forecast was that it would reduce prices by 25 per cent.

A variation has long been in the armoury of the market manager under provisions known as the Reserve Trader.  In the first 15 years of the national market, before subsidies started to destroy it, Reserve Trading never actually occurred.  It has now become common as wind has created massive market price volatility and dangers of black-outs.

Another non-solution is carbon capture and storage to eliminate emissions from coal generators, championed by David Byers, the CO2CRC Chief Executive.  Australian taxpayers under Kevin Rudd bankrolled a $700 million Global Initiative for this.  Ten years on there is no commercial plant operating anywhere in the world and, even if the technology proved feasible, it would double the cost of electricity.

To get back to commercial normality, abolition of subsidies is necessary.  But this may not be sufficient, since the market is poisoned by zero marginal cost renewables preventing coal operating as it should to provide the bedrock of a low- cost, reliable electricity supply system.

An expanded version of this appears in Quadrant.

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24 Responses to Renewable idiocy continues to prevail

  1. RobK

    Thanks Alan,
    ….., “abolition of subsidies is necessary. But this may not be sufficient……”
    It would be the best start to normality as the unwinding of contracts will take years, much of it impinging on super funds. The sooner the brakes are applied the better. The upside is renewables are short lived.

  2. Entropy

    There is a massive puff piece in the Australian Magazine today on renewable investments. Took till about page 3 to indicate there just might be a government role in all this big business free for all. It mentioned the Clean Energy Corporation as one of the biggest investors. Didn’t get into the detail much though, because it is all blue skies and mega dollars and corporate success.

  3. Tel

    Shell has advocated getting rid of coal using measures that include a $250 carbon tax …

    Let me explain this in extremely simple terms: Shell do not make coal, they sell oil and gas which are competitors to coal. A company that can get government to help them eliminate competitors is guaranteed to make bigger profits. It’s not “idiocy” it’s incentives.

    Governments are not supposed to be the stooges of any particular industry. Voters should pay attention … admittedly that’s a big ask, but I’m here to help.

  4. Muddy

    The sums of taxpayer money involved, and outcomes (or lack thereof), are still too abstract for most people to understand. What is required is a new unit of measurement. A flannery, for example, is a measurement of rain equivalent to 50 gigalitres (though I think that needs revising downwards). When we can talk about having invested 36,525 [insert new measurement name] in return for 0.003% of a Krudd, then we can start getting more attention. As much as we like to think that ‘science is sexy, it sells itself,’ it doesn’t, and that has been obvious for decades now. It’s time to reposition.

  5. Where is all the backlash against ‘Big Oil’?

  6. Nob

    Shell has practically pulled out of the North Sea and any meaningful E&P presence in Europe.

    They use old platforms to gain offshore wind subsidies.

    Their big UK fields are now owned and operated by companies you’ve probably never heard of such as TAQA, Chrysaor, Petrogas.

    E.g https://www.energyvoice.com/oilandgas/north-sea/199274/chrysaor-posts-800million-profit-in-first-year-after-shell-mega-deal/

    Shells big investments in O&G are in Nigeria, Malaysia, Brunei, Eastern Russia, NW Australia, Oman, Canada, Gulf of Mexico.

    Sold their NZ fields to OMV of Austria.

    When they were buying up all these gas fields it was supposedly to make hydrogen for their fuel cell investments. Haven’t heard much about that lately but I think it’s still bubbling away.

    Big corporations are almost as bad as governments at picking winners, so who knows?

  7. cohenite

    Nothing’s going to change until the punters go with out power for a month or 2. Then after a few pollies get lynched and a few bureaucrats and ponzi rats espousing ruinables get burnt at the stake things may change. But by then the new ice age will have begun and we’ll all be frozen.

    Alarmism, renewables and socialism are pointers to the idiocy and foolishness of human beings.

    Thanks for trying anyway Alan. But this is not an argument that will be won by facts and evidence. As the fall (and re-emergence) of communism showed things don’t change without massive rancour and suffering as a motivation. Alarmism and ruinables have not yet caused that level of suffering.

  8. gowest

    You got to be insane to believe that higher power prices in Australia will save the planet! … most ABC journo’s must be insane.

  9. RobK

    It shouldn’t be overlooked that RE requires more and heavier conductors to sell its services yet it still cannot reliably have sufficient supply at peak times. Not very efficient use of capital.

  10. Eyrie

    CO2 sequestration is oxygen sequestration. Why would you do this?

  11. egg_

    those gluing themselves to Brisbane’s roads

    Speed humps.
    Win/win.

  12. Nob

    Tel
    #3111266, posted on July 19, 2019 at 6:42 pm
    Shell has advocated getting rid of coal using measures that include a $250 carbon tax …

    Let me explain this in extremely simple terms: Shell do not make coal, they sell oil and gas which are competitors to coal.

    Ignored by , or unknown to, idiots talking about “The Fossil Fuel Industry” as if it’s a monolith.

  13. yarpos

    Shell used to do coal up and down the east coast, Yellow Rock, Drayton, Callide and more. Sold out a long while ago, so yeah gas is clearly the way forward.

  14. Ben

    Remote areas have low loads, can make do with cheap old skinny conductors.
    New transmission for local wind / solar generation needs to be rated at to full power rating of the source, even if it only reaches that high power level sporadically. High power means expensive new fat conductors.

    Coal power stations need to make money.
    Gas power stations …
    Hydro …
    Wind …
    Solar …
    Transmission companies need to make money.

    Two power systems cost more than one system.

  15. Rossini

    Not so lucky Country run by idiots.

  16. stackja

    Talking Point: A view to powering Tasmania with wind

    The harvest of the world’s best wind resource will benefit everyone, say JOHN, KEITH and CHAUNCEY HAMMOND
    JOHN, KEITH and CHAUNCEY HAMMOND, Mercury
    Subscriber only

    July 19, 2019 11:30am

    UPC Renewables Australia and the Hammond family are seeking to develop a renewable energy park on Robbins Island (10,184ha) to take advantage of some of the best proven wind resources in the world.

    Our plans have attracted criticism from former Tasmanian senator and former Greens leader Dr Bob Brown (Talking Point, July 8).

    We think it is very important that the facts are provided.

    At the outset we want to applaud the Nietta Action Group Inc for bringing its concerns to UPC Australia’s attention. UPC has taken these on board and has stated (a month ago) it will avoid this sensitive area (the Leven Canyon) and is looking for alternative routes.

    The economic, social, cultural and environmental elements will be covered in great detail when the Development Proposal and Environmental Management Plan is lodged.

    We would have preferred that Dr Brown wait and see what is included in that comprehensive document instead of assuming that nothing has been considered. UPC held 14 “drop-in” sessions over 18 months and delivered multiple presentations to schools, councils, industry bodies and interest groups. The project has been open and transparent.

    John, Keith and Chauncey Hammond own Robbins Island, site of the wind farm proposed by UPC Renewables.

  17. Roger

    No, Bob Brown doesn’t “get it”.

    He’s just a NIMBY.

  18. Howard Hill

    The price will only go to the point it’s cheaper to generate your own. If they outlaw own generation, then that’s when the shit will hit the fan. Get your genies now before prices explode.
    There’s no stopping this madness, they’re all too invested. Once it stops the joint will spontaneously crash and burn like a Tesla on autopilot parked in your garage.

    We all know how this will end, better to be prepared now. And, cohenite is right. These cretins don’t care about facts, this is about destruction of our way of life.

  19. JC

    There’s no stopping this madness, they’re all too invested. Once it stops the joint will spontaneously crash and burn like a Tesla on autopilot parked in your garage.

    More than a few times I’ve read the suggestion the reason Spain fell into a hole during the GFC was because of its renewballs policy sending energy prices sky.

    Apparently, a large part of their debt was funding expensive renewball energy. We could be heading that way.

  20. Nob

    The economic, social, cultural and environmental elements will be covered in great detail when the Development Proposal and Environmental Management Plan is lodged.

    We would have preferred that Dr Brown wait and see what is included in that comprehensive document instead of assuming that nothing has been considered.

    Like the wind-loving eco-loons don’t do whenever a new oil or gas project is announced?
    Suck it up, sunshine.

  21. Dr Fred Lenin

    In Victoria,Metro trams had to build new subtations because their new trams used more power ,around the time rentseekers a.g.l. Was closing Hazelwood ,no subsidies in coal power , only government penalties .
    Still ,not to worry ,some rentseekers have built a massive solar panel power farm in Numurkah to keep the trams running on sunny days ,there will of course be no trams on cloudy days or at night ,unless they build back up generation which incurs double cost , just to give taxpayers money to the foreign carpetbaggers . May I make a suggestion , nationalise Hazelwood , with no compensation ,and lease it out to a company that is interested in supplying power ,at a fair cost . Problem Solved !

  22. Genghis

    I visited CO2CRV in SW Victoria, The study showed that geosequestration costs were in the order of $100/tonne CO2. So David Byers opinion piece in the Australian was just BS. I acknowledge that carbon capture has come down but this far is beyond belief. The figure given to me was $100/tonne CO2. So if 100 tonnes of gas at 1% CO2 then the price would be $1 per tonne CH4 higher, not so bad, but the basal CO2 in gas fields in Australia is 4%. However if you have a gas field like Yolla feeding gas into Victoria at say 16% CO2 (it is higher) then each tonne of CH4 (methane) would need a cost increase of $6 per tonne CH4. This is patently uneconomic. But who cares, the consumer will pay..

  23. Genghis

    Dr, Fred Lenin
    Also Nationalise the AGL plant in NSW. Horror Horror but it keeps the lights on and Industry functioning.
    The Government would have the overwleming support of the Australian people, even if it was nationalisation.
    Regards

  24. ghengis,
    what is the study you are referring to?

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