Ghost of the past – Ross Garnaut returns to haunt us

I have a piece in the excellent Spectator-on-line reporting on the return of the Rudd guru,  Ross Garnaut, who says with the upcoming technological changes, Australia in a “post carbon world could become the locus of energy-intensive processing of minerals”.  Aside from the inherent high cost and low reliability of wind and solar, Australia is not even particularly well-endowed in them , except in the more remote parts of the continent. The following are some quotes from the article

Exploring the perimeter of credulity, Garnaut also saw renewable energy as bringing a burgeoning hydrogen export industry for Japan and Korea.  And he saw Australia as an exporter of its wind and solar as electricity via high voltage direct current transmission.

It was Garnaut’s eponymous 2008 report that armed the Rudd government’s agenda for overturning the conventional energy market.

This claimed that China will cooperate in emission reductions by reducing its production of steel and aluminium. In 2007, China accounted for 36% and 23% respectively of global steel and aluminium output. Today it produces over 51% of both! China’s emissions have increased 80 per cent since 2005.

Back in 2008, Garnaut thought the EU, US and Japan would strong-arm others to do so. This looks less possible now – and impossible unless the US, which has taken formal steps to abrogate the Paris Climate Change Accord, limits the Trump Administration to one term.

In his confidence about the coming triumph of renewables, Garnaut is joined by others including the climate activist and wind farmer, Simon Holmes a Court who sees a light at the end of a tunnel from which Australia will once again emerge as an energy superpower.  Lamenting a likely demise of the aluminium smelters, Holmes a Court writes, “a decade from now … a portfolio of wind and solar storage coupled with flexible load will deliver power significantly cheaper than our current grid. Australia will once again be competitive.”

Holmes a Court and others like Mr Cannon-Brookes put their own money on the line to promote these outcomes.  But they did so as political, rather than commercial, entrepreneurs, by funding politicians who will regulate to force ordinary Australians to fund the expenses

In the long run nations willing to impose costs upon themselves will not be able to prevail upon others to do likewise and will either abandon their policies or slip into poverty. But these policies have already done untold damage in undermining the cheap, reliable power nations like Australia once had and, sadly, will continue to do so for some time yet.

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30 Responses to Ghost of the past – Ross Garnaut returns to haunt us

  1. Roger

    Holmes a Court and others like Mr Cannon-Brookes put their own money on the line to promote these outcomes. But they did so as political, rather than commercial, entrepreneurs, by funding politicians who will regulate to force ordinary Australians to fund the expenses

    When the electricity cuts out there’ll still be a use for lamp posts.

  2. MatrixTransform

    They’re of their rockers

    Even if you could find a material to store it in bulk, why earth would you export hydrogen?

  3. egg_

    Ghost of the past – Ross Garnaut returns to haunt us

    Guano sticks.

  4. Art Vandelay

    In his confidence about the coming triumph of renewables, Garnaut is joined by others including the climate activist and wind farmer, Simon Holmes a Court who sees a light at the end of a tunnel from which Australia will once again emerge as an energy superpower. Lamenting a likely demise of the aluminium smelters, Holmes a Court writes, “a decade from now … a portfolio of wind and solar storage coupled with flexible load will deliver power significantly cheaper than our current grid. Australia will once again be competitive.”

    Holmes a Court and others like Mr Cannon-Brookes put their own money on the line to promote these outcomes. But they did so as political, rather than commercial, entrepreneurs, by funding politicians who will regulate to force ordinary Australians to fund the expenses

    Wind is cheaper? Holmes a Court’s own Hepburn Wind can’t make a buck without enormous taxpayer-funded subsidies.

    The poor mugs who invested with him haven’t seen a penny.

  5. Suburban Boy

    Does anyone here know if Ross is any relation to Colonel “Bat” Guano from Dr Strangelove?

  6. Tel

    Simon Holmes a Court who sees a light at the end of a tunnel from which Australia will once again emerge as an energy superpower. Lamenting a likely demise of the aluminium smelters, Holmes a Court writes, “a decade from now … a portfolio of wind and solar storage coupled with flexible load will deliver power significantly cheaper than our current grid. Australia will once again be competitive.”

    Is Simon taking bets on that?

    I bet that we will not see “significantly cheaper than our current grid” either at the wholesale or retail level, in Jan 2030. Indeed, I bet it will not be cheaper at all. Let us even allow for official ABS measured CPI and it still will not be cheaper.

    The only way Australia’s energy can get cheaper from here would be substantial construction of coal and/or nuclear and 10 years won’t be enough to get our act together building those … especially when we haven’t even started yet and there’s so much political pressure slowing us down.

  7. duncanm

    ‘flexible load’

    IE: the proles in darkness randomly

  8. Squirrel

    It’s so obvious that this high-tech snake oil is going to be hyped to the max as part of the federal ALP’s policy makeover.

    The spin will be that we can destroy our currently profitable mining and agriculture sectors (thus pleasing the protestors and the latte set) and still go on having our cake and eating it too, because wind, solar and hydrogen etc. etc. will keep the billions rolling in to prop-up government budgets and pay for all of our imports (thus placating the punterariat).

  9. Sydney Boy

    I’m sick of all the Fairfax / ABC tongue-bathing of Mike Cannon-Brookes. The Australian government would have an extra $2B per year to spend if his companies were based and paid tax in Australia. What a pathetic hypocrite – classic example of wanting to spend other people’s money.

  10. RobK

    a portfolio of wind and solar storage coupled with flexible load will deliver power significantly cheaper than our current grid.
    At a certain proportion of RE, the short lived nature of the capex means we will need to replace plant without subsidies because coal will be eliminated. It won’t be cheap. Even quitting the subsidies now will mean carrying current contracts out to 2030.

  11. Entropy

    I don’t understand this exporting hydrogen caper. Wouldn’t it be easier to crack water to make hydrogen a lot closer to the point if consumption?
    Eg a nuke cracking water into its constituent parts on shore in japan.
    This idea we will use solar panels in tenant creek to crack methane, then ship the hydrogen to the coast, stick it on a boat, ship it to japan, offload it, ship it to wherever it is you want to burn it, just doesn’t make rational sense.

  12. Sydney Boy

    The whole “Australia can be a hydrogen export powerhouse from renewable energy” premise is ridiculous. Places like China have just as much potential for renewable energy to make hydrogen gas as Australia, but with lower wages and without those pesky WHS and environmental laws. How can Australia possibly compete?

  13. Entropy

    If we wanted to be an energy powerhouse we would continue to sell coal to whoever wants it, coal seam gas to whoever wants it, uranium to however wants it (maybe leasing and local enrichment and storage might be more profitable) and do some serious petroleum exploration.

    This playing around with bulk energy that could be generated anywhere else with any other power source, and no doubt closer to the point of consumption with much less regulatory oversight, is another stupid fantasy like that other favourite canard, “green jobs” that gets swallowed as fact by our unbelievably credulous media.

  14. duncanm

    the best way for us to export energy is in ingots of aluminium.

  15. Snoopy

    This idea we will use solar panels in tenant creek to crack methane, then ship the hydrogen to the coast, stick it on a boat, ship it to japan, offload it, ship it to wherever it is you want to burn it, just doesn’t make rational sense.

    I’m sure it would make sense if we use the same boats to bring Japan’s CO2 back here so it can be pumped underground near Tennant Creek.

  16. Tim Neilson

    the best way for us to export energy is in ingots of aluminium.

    Fact check: 100% true.

  17. Dr Fred Lenin

    We can close the meat and vegetable industries there is plenty of good in the supermarkets ,we dont heed those environment destroying industries ,Coles ans Woolies will supply us . If 10,000 windmills wont supply power on calm days ,the solution is of course build 100,000 windmills .
    The incomparable krudd had faith in mister Gumnut, who are we to doubt .
    Where exactly are the hydrogen mines to bet placed ?

  18. yarpos

    ““a decade from now … a portfolio of wind and solar storage coupled with flexible load will deliver power significantly cheaper than our current grid”

    Can anybody provide a translation on what this actually means? I have a technical background and to me this sounds like a buzzword generator or someone who has NFI what they are talking about. I am however always ready to further my education.

  19. Bruce

    “a portfolio of wind and solar storage”

    Storing “wind” and “sunshine”?Wow! These folk are really pushing the boundaries….of reality.Hydrogen?

    As others have asked IF we have so much that it can be exported in huge tankers to our “economic competitors”, why export it?

    However, Hydrogen is tricky stuff. It can only be contained in its liquid form if stored in immensely strong (heavy) vessels. Even then, leakage is a problem. As a gas, the hydrogen molecule is so tiny, it just drifts straight through “flexible” seals. Hydrogen is pretty hopeless as an “automotive” fuel, because it’s flame front is a lot slower than high-octane conventional fuels. In the event of a decent leak, the other hazard is that the stuff burns with a colourless (invisible ) flame. Yes, in the right fuel air mix, it also ignites with quite a POP. However, one minor saving grace is that hydrogen is extremely light and tends to disappear upwards quite rapidly.

    The flames and smoke seen in the famous “Hindenberg” footage are from the rapidly burning SKIN and inner rubberized silk gas bags of the airship burning merrily. The outer fabric skin burnt so well because it was painted with an undercoat of a varnish comprising red iron oxide in an oil-based medium and then, the top-coat was aluminium powder in a hydrocarbon-rich varnish. They had effectively painted the “Hindenberg” with Thermite; not so smart.

    When she hit the ground, the remaining fuel for the propulsion motors was added to the bonfire.

  20. Entropy

    yarpos
    #3203379, posted on November 6, 2019 at 9:03 pm
    ““a decade from now … a portfolio of wind and solar storage coupled with flexible load will deliver power significantly cheaper than our current grid”

    Can anybody provide a translation on what this actually means? I have a technical background and to me this sounds like a buzzword generator or someone who has NFI what they are talking about. I am however always ready to further my education

    It is predicated on the existence of a global carbon tax and a credible global carbon trading scheme. In other words, fantastical bollocks.

  21. There’s our solution! Export these wind bags!

  22. areff

    The Australian government would have an extra $2B per year to spend

    The Australian government would have an extra $2B per year to give back to the people from whom it was stolen

    Fixed.

  23. Herodotus

    We now have CEOs joining the “burn the denier witches” movement, now less expert in sales and more in Salem; indeed we “live in interesting times”.
    The economy is going down the gurgler as the mass hysteria leads to wholesale slaughter of export earners.

  24. Herodotus

    People have grown up with way too much air-con. They now expect Mother Nature (thanks for that Garrison cartoon, Tom) to deliver similar stasis, which is not her game at all.

  25. Mark M

    The rich-listers (green-grifters) funding politicians who back climate action

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-10-29/clean-green-rich-wealthy-donors-climate-200-politicians/11647162

    “In the lead up to the 2019 federal election, Climate 200 raised a tidy sum: nearly half a million dollars.”

    >> Yes, it was the climate election, and it was lost.

    A waste of money.

    “It’s an initiative by Simon Holmes a Court, son of Australia’s first billionaire …”

    .>> Just as well Simon has his dad’s money to throw around.

  26. Mother Lode

    “It’s an initiative by Simon Holmes a Court, son of Australia’s first billionaire …”

    Like James Packer, is he planning on becoming a millionaire in the next 10 years.

  27. Ben

    You’ll find Garnaut on the following podcasts this week:
    – 7am by Schwarz
    – RenewEconomy

    In both podcasts the false claims and patronising tone are difficult to listen to.

  28. Wilrex

    Not since Thomas Edison has anyone proposed long distance transmission of direct current electricity.
    Simon HolmesaCourt wants to do it because his wind turbines generate DC.
    And his batteries need DC.
    His subsidies need DC.
    You need very thick copper lines to transmit it.
    DC needs to be converted to AC for transmission in the grid, the loss rate being very high, and difficult to syncronise.
    Could someone please let him know his solution will not work?

  29. Up The Workers!

    As though we’re not already up to our ears in Leftard horse-shit, Leftard cow-shit and Leftard bullshit, now we have Krudd’s Old Ross Guano back to enervate the blue-bottle blow flies once again.

    Just what we need.

  30. This is the guy when Chairman of Lihir Gold Ltd managed to make a series of poor investments that took this most profitable of companies to the abyss later to be taken over by Newcrest. Good one Garnaut

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