McCrann vs Kohler in The Weekend Australian 3-4 August

Terry McCrann referred to a suggestion from Kohler 2 years ago to look to the RE future with special reference to a “little company named ReNu Energy” that was putting solar panels on the rooves of shopping centres. At the time the shares were worth 14c, currently they are around 6c, it has sold out its interest in rooftop panels and is concentrating on ”bioenergy.”

There was no hint about what bioenergy might deliver. McCrann commented on the disappearance of geotheremal from the scene and he might have mentioned that wave power seems to have gone the same way.

He noted the 24,000 derelict windmills in the US, no doubt a number that is growing rapidly. That is not far short of the total number in the German wind fleet that is also starting to lose the first wave of bird munchers.

His main point was that the intermittent dribble of power from the ReNu roof panels made no contribution to the real power requirements of the shopping centre in the same way that the RE from windmills and solar farms cannot provide the continuous baseload that is required to keep the lights of an industrial city burning. With all the scramble to install fields of solar panels and windmills the essential adjunct is gas to fire up quickly during slack times when coal and water power are ramped up as far as they can go and there is still a shortfall that calls for “demand management” aka rotating blackouts.

When Liddell is shuttered and any coal station goes down the situation will be critical and it will only get worse as the coal-fired plants are allowed to run down and fade away because are losing money.

The problem is worldwide. A coal tracking site reports that worldwide the volume of coal-fired power may be approaching a plateau despite the large number of plants that are under construction because many old plants are closing and a great many are running less of the time. Australia is just one of the many places where unreliable energy has first access to the grid and coal plants run less and less as the volume of RE grows. Of course the situation is unsustainable in the medium to long term in the absence of mass storage but the interests driving RE have so far trumped efforts to rationalise the system.

Alan Kohler is on the side of the interests driving RE and he is really excited about the amount of RE coming on line. Maybe more than the grid can handle! Fancy that, what a great problem to have, he might think. Amusing to see his column sharing page 38 with Terry McCrann, although Alan got a spot on the first page of the business section for the first paras of his piece.

He notes that we have about 50GW of capacity at present with demand peaking around 30GW at this time of year and higher in summer. That looks like a fair margin but of course for the RE component the contribution can be well below 5% of plated capacity at night with low wind. There is really no spare capacity at all.

The headline reads We’re power-poor but renewables-rich as the electricity grid struggles to cope. He reports that last year we added 3GW of big solar and wind, plus 1.4GW on rooves. He neglected to mention the amount under construction, someone can remind us, I have a figure of 8GW in my head with the figures somewhere in the pile of papers near the desk.

And the real news for Alan is 18GW of new RE at the feasibility stage and 78GW at pre-feasibility for a total of 96GW seeking AEMO approval. That looks absurd, he attributes the number to Giles Parkinson reporting for the website reneweconomy.com.au.
OK, all things are possible in that universe. Including flying pigs😊 There is a major issue with new poles and wires to get to the grid and the AEMO has warned that some of the assets under construction may be stranded if more infrastructure is not provided.

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36 Responses to McCrann vs Kohler in The Weekend Australian 3-4 August

  1. W Hogg

    YTFF would a country that consumes 33Gw peak and already HAS 50GW be even talking about 96GW of completely worthless “investment”? Why isn’t anyone saying such an obviously stupid thing laughed at?

    We are doomed.

  2. Dave in Marybrook

    I hadn’t read past my own column on the letters page…

  3. C.L.

    The headline reads We’re power-poor but renewables-rich

    Ahahahahahaha.
    Sounds like a eunuch in a strip club.

  4. Leo G

    Why isn’t anyone saying such an obviously stupid thing laughed at?

    Possibly because a strategy to reduce the energy intensity of an economy, while failing to recognise the long-term effect on GNP of increasing the cost of the lowest-cost energy source, is not a laughing matter.

  5. min

    An electrical engineer with contracts to do transm ission including Snowy 2 ,playng golf with my son, told him transmission of renewables a huge problem and will be downfall of renewables..

  6. Tim Neilson

    transmission of renewables a huge problem and will be downfall of renewables..

    Unless it’s beaten to the punch by renewables’ utter uselessness at producing reliable useable power.

  7. MatrixTransform

    We are doomed.

    best hedge is chucking some panels on the roof.

    about a dollar a watt installed

    who cares what happens to prices while Energy Regulator tries to feather the nests of investors?
    When they all crash and burn and what happens to prices then heh?

    Its all up, up up and away.

  8. 132andBush

    The non existent solution to a non existent problem.

  9. John Constantine

    RNE, the old geodynamics has burnt a fortune, several fortunes.

    Hot dry rocks/ kuth pacific islands volcanic hot water/ chicom solar panels

    Only pig manure left.

    Closed at just over two and a half cents today.

    No clear path to any future besides continually needing to raise capital and no clear idea who will tip it in.

  10. Ben

    The renewable juxtapositions are interesting, perhaps psychiatrists will research the whole renewables era one day.

    – climate change makes weather more unpredictable, so build dependency on weather dependent power sources

    – use for electricity has evolved to be on demand, so build intermittent power sources

    – electricity can only be stored at great expense, so build power sources that require storage

    – transmission is the largest component of power bills and creates the most outages, so build power sources that depend on larger more complex networks

    – rooftop PV reduces reliance on the grid and attracts subsidies, wind and solar farms require a larger more expensive grid and attracts subsidies, so build lots more of both and subsidise opposing policies

    – power bills are 30% generation and 50% networks, so build power sources that push the both components higher

    – synchronous generators inherently provide auxiliary services such as inertia, reactive power, fault level and bulk power, so build a more complex fragile power system where each of these auxiliary services are provided by a separate piece of the system

    – small networks with over capacity are inherently stable and minimise wholesale price volatility, so build a power system so interconnected that an hour of low wind in SA creates a price spike across the entire network in the east coast of the country

    – states are supposed to deliver power to the people, so devolve all planning and regulation to centrally controlled quangos

    We are far from hitting the bottom – there is massive transmission planning going on right now to ensure the next wave of grid scale intermittent sources get connected. Quangos regulating quangos into spending more taxpayer money. The initialisms and an acronym are in control – the elected representatives get a say in a small section but most of them are in a race to the bottom.

    SA liberal wants net zero
    VIC labor wants net zero, 50% by 2030
    NSW liberal wants to be the easiest place in the OECD to connect new renewables
    QLD labor wants 50% by 2030

    And they wonder why Angus Taylor hasn’t called a COAG energy meeting this year – they are all foaming to whip him with solar panels and he’s just peaked out the curtains hiding nuclear.

    The renewables lobby is going to fight back and it has the states in its pocket.

  11. the not very bright Marcus

    There are a lot of smart people on here …I propose we device a solar/wind powered phone charger and that those renewables fans can ONLY charge their phones with this …. let’s see them change their minds on these dark ,still nights

  12. Win

    Stark staring lunatics. If transmission is the problem it’s obvious the city people want it they use the most they have the wind mill and solar panels on their roofs and in their back yards and parks. Windmills on the beaches and fore shores of Sydney Harbour and, the spectacular sight of a wind farm up with the sewerage works on North Head dispelling fumes with the on shore winds will make the new member for Wahringa swell with pride .

  13. Rockdoctor

    Someone I know invested $10K in Geodynamics. He was after my opinion, I didn’t know much about it but was dubious. Asked a colleague at the time who had a Phd in my field, he said the theory was ok but the practical side unknown as it hadn’t been tried in Australia & relied of radioactive decay in the rocks. Depended on whether the host rock could heat the water enough, how long it would take etc..

    Later a driller who had a friend working on some of their bores told me about the issues they had keeping the well open and the expensive special alloy casing that was meant to last years only lasting less than one as no engineer had envisaged some of the conditions under the temperatures, depths, pressures all affecting the chemistry of the fluids.

    Hence my dislike of renwables, it is one giant experiment with our money…

  14. woolfe

    And WA is reducing power reliable supply.

    Muja Power Station in Collie to be scaled back from 2022

    ​Staged retirement of Muja Power Station’s two C units from October 1, 2022

    Hello darkness my new friend.

  15. Nob

    RockDoc, I was just on the verge of selling the drilling people a big technical solution, liderally in their office in Milton.

    They were sitting there looking gloomy and told me about the casing splitting due to hydrogen embrittlement.

    As I left, pondering what this might mean (end of the project as it turned out) , a taxi pulled up and this big yank jumps out, cowboy boots, hat and briefcase. From Wild Well Control or one of those heirs to Red Adair, “Whar’s geodynamics?”

    I pointed thataway and he scuttled off.

    So we never made a penny out of it.

    You can use less brittle casing but it won’t be tough enough for the wear and corrosion on the big directional wells they had to drill. And there’s also a limit on technology due to the high temperatures at bottom. So in the end they just pulled the plug.

  16. Nob

    Also the steam blowout sent a heavy well head cover flying and it landed right near the road. Luckily deserted at the time.

  17. Nob

    The only investors I knew who made money were the ones who bought in just before the government $90 million, which was an open secret that it was coming, and sold immediately on the upward bounce after the announcement.

    It was going down again pretty soon after.

  18. With only 28 days of fuel left in Australia and reliable energy going down the toilet, we seem to be heading for the perfect storm when renewable energy bites the dust and there’s no fuel for generators to run.

    Watch the proverbial hit the fan.

  19. John Bayley

    No clear path to any future besides continually needing to raise capital and no clear idea who will tip it in.

    Do not underestimate the numbers of ‘green-washed’ suckers out there.
    All one needs to do is look at how many so-called ‘ethical’ funds have been launched in the past 2-3 years, with windmills and solar panels on the shiny covers of their sale brochures.
    Never mind that there’s nothing ‘ethical’ about destroying jobs and forcing poorer people to freeze in the dark.
    Black Is White. Freedom Is Slavery.
    Comrades.

  20. Nob

    Oh goody.

    The Drillsafe forum presentation on the incident that was the beginning of the end for Geodynamics Innamincka project is still available, download the pdf here.

    It’s not a big file

  21. Amadeus

    The headline alone says it all “We’re power-poor but renewables-rich as the electricity grid struggles to cope”.
    And they expect the taxpayer to also provide the power poles and transformers gratis so their little energy experiments aren’t stranded.
    The anti-Adani idiots are at it again here in Brisbane today…yes, complete morons do walk amongst us.
    Will the local cops do their usual passive watching on the sidelines while these socialist galahs take over our streets engaging in brainless civil disobedience?
    Where are some mining trucks and mine-sized front-end loaders to remove the garbage from our city streets?

  22. John Constantine

    The success of geodynamics/RNE is that even after twenty solid years of continual massive losses, of a shareprice that has gone from two dollars to two cents, it continues to flow cash towards the right class of people.

    Any model that is a one way valve that flows cash from the taxpayer to the end user, and does it for twenty years, is an outstanding financial success.

    Australia does these legal one way valves better than anywhere that is simply cash bribery, hand to hand.

    Whatever business the one way valve poses as doesn’t matter, property ponxi/ training/safety/windmills/solar/hot rocks/hot water/pig effluent.

    The success of the model is rated upon the size and speed of the cashflow, not any other outcome, and we will all be happier when we are drugged into compliance with this system.

    Comrades.

  23. Nob

    Yeah well, you’re too right there.

    Товарищ.

  24. John Constantine

    Thanks for the drillsafe file, Nob, it took me right back.

    I must have had steadier nerves in the old days to have been trading things like GDY.

  25. MatrixTransform

    Any model that is a one way valve that flows cash from the taxpayer to the end user, and does it for twenty years, is an outstanding financial success.

    Too bloody right.

    what I don’t understand is the brainwashed hoard that will gleefully march and chant and report and vote to enable the thieves.

    Ausnet are the winners …

    AusNet Services (previously SP AusNet) is an Australian energy company, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) and the Singapore Exchange (SGX). AusNet Services is currently owned 31.1% by Singapore Power, 19.9% by State Grid Corporation of China and the other 49% is publicly owned.[1][2] Singapore Power is wholly owned by Singapore investment fund Temasek which in turn is wholly owned by the Singapore government.[1] State Grid is the state-owned electric utility monopoly of China and the largest utility company in the world

  26. I’ve long wondered about Alan Kohler’s judgement. For an experienced business and economics journalist, former editor of the AFR etc, he is strangely prone to latching on to loopy ideas. Renewables, for example. But also check out his witterings in today’s Oz about his favourable view of monetary policy being rejigged so as to have different interest rates – lower for borrowers, higher for savers rather than being market determined and two sides of the same coin. Not for one moment does he give any indication that perhaps less interference and central-bank jiggery pokery could be the answer, not more madness.

  27. struth

    All points well covered except UN global socialists roll in this, their support for China, (so it’s not quite world wide, is it) and the train loads of our coal they consume daily because the Paris wealth redistribution to communism treaty benefits them.

    I also wonder just how much being the most urban (read insulated) nation on earth has to do with Australia in particular, being so fucking stupid.

  28. Nob

    I’d say a lot, struth.

    As I commented on the election result, the least centralised areas , Queensland in particular were least likely to vote Labor.

    The socialist comrades of the inner urban areas are ironically the most remote from “the means of production”and are horrified by heavy industry and agriculture.

  29. Engineer

    If you want to see where we are headed have a look at the story behind the Jakarta power outage.
    Australia has no management plan because we have no policy. The end result is not just an imbalance of supply but a system design that dies not fit the market.
    The longer this goes on the worse the problem. In short ideologues make poor engineers.

  30. Tim Neilson

    his favourable view of monetary policy being rejigged so as to have different interest rates – lower for borrowers, higher for savers

    Am I the only one who thinks that you’d need a magic pudding to make that work?

  31. mem

    Tim Neilson
    #3124682, posted on August 6, 2019 at 9:52 am
    his favourable view of monetary policy being rejigged so as to have different interest rates – lower for borrowers, higher for savers
    “Am I the only one who thinks that you’d need a magic pudding to make that work?”
    + 1
    Probably believes in the Spaghetti tree as well.

  32. cohenite

    kohler and other similar fuckwits spruiking ruinables should be publicly horse whipped. This is beyond stupid.

  33. sabena

    “I have wondered about Alan Kohler’s judgement”
    I rather doubt that Kohler puts any of his cash in the renewable energy market,except in the very short term.His investment advice ideas are not very stellar.

  34. Eyrie

    David, “I’ve long wondered about Alan Kohler’s judgement. For an experienced business and economics journalist, former editor of the AFR etc, he is strangely prone to latching on to loopy ideas.”

    You need to realise Kohler isn’t a finance or economics commenter. He’s a stand up comedian specialising in satire. Then it all makes sense. He’s very good.

  35. amortiser

    Tim Neilson
    #3124682, posted on August 6, 2019 at 9:52 am
    his favourable view of monetary policy being rejigged so as to have different interest rates – lower for borrowers, higher for savers
    “Am I the only one who thinks that you’d need a magic pudding to make that work?”
    + 1
    Probably believes in the Spaghetti tree as well.

    All this has been done before. The Soviets fixed the price of bread cheaper than wheat. The result was that farmers fed bread to the pigs!!

  36. struth

    The socialist comrades of the inner urban areas are ironically the most remote from “the means of production”and are horrified by heavy industry and agriculture.

    Great sentence.

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