The renewable scam: a never ending story

In an article in The Australian today the head of Origin Energy, Grant King, suggests the industry would be hard pressed to build the amount of capacity our callow political leaders have determined we should accept as part of the “compromise” deal to build 33,000 GWh by 2020. Grant King suggests that it would be difficult to have this, a more than quadrupling of capacity, constructed in the period.  Predictably, Tristan Edis, Business Spectator’s resident shill for the wind farmers does not think 33,000 is enough and vilifies the Senators involved in the current Inquiry into wind farms as religious nutters supported by the ‘fossil fuel funded Australian Environment Foundation’ (the gigantic annual income of which would not pay a week of his own funding).

Grant King may be right about the capability of the industry to supply the capacity with its subsidy at twice its market value, though when the question was put to me at the Senate committee wind farm hearing on Tuesday, I answered that with a sufficient financial incentive in subsidies and with sufficient certainty that a future government would not welch on out year payments, it should be possible.  This is based on the fact that the turbines are bought off the shelf and erecting them is straightforward.  I added that the main reason they might not be built on time is the (in this case welcome) morass of planning hurdles that the builders face.

Unfortunately, these barriers have been reduced by the airheaded government in Victoria which only wants to see the immediate jobs and money spent on the negative value-added facilities.  As Alvarez and his colleagues demonstrated for Spain  for every four jobs wind farms create, nine are lost because of the higher cost they impose (in the context of relatively inflexible wages – if wages were flexible no jobs would be lost and the subsidies would simply leave us poorer).  Spain, with policies like this bringing unemployment at 26 per cent has seen the light and terminated them, in some cases retrospectively withdrawing the subsidies.

In response to the Australian article “Terrence” commented:

The rorting of energy users accelerates with the new RE target of 33,000 GWh by 2020. From what I’ve read one wonders if anyone has actually reviewed the feasibility of this half-baked plan given it’s huge costs and few (if any) benefits.

In 2014 the RE industry generated a miniscule 9% of Australia’s power – a total of 19,500 GWh with two thirds coming from hydro and one third, less than 7,000 GWh from wind/solar. To reach the new RE target (hydro is not allowed and solar is insignificant) wind will have to add 13,500 GWh to existing 19,500 GWh to reach the target of 33,000 GWh by 2020.

In other words Australia’s wind generated capacity will have to TREBLE in five years, even though it’s taken 15 years to get this far.

According to the RE industry’s Chris Judd this expansion will require an additional 4,800 MW of wind turbines.

These wind turbines (+/- 2,000) will probably cost in the order +/- $4 million a MW = a staggering $19.2 billion capital cost for these bird killing monstrosities that only work seven hours a day and with a life of 15 years max. $20 billion could buy our new subs, or 40 major hospitals.

Canberra needs to go back to basics and produce a realistic energy plan for Australia’s future and discard this Green driven Alice in Wonderland version that, in the real world would be thrown out and the perpetrators put in care for their own protection.

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27 Responses to The renewable scam: a never ending story

  1. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    Grant King, suggests the industry would be hard pressed to build the amount of capacity our callow political leaders have determined we should accept as part of the “compromise” deal to build 33,000 GWh by 2020.

    Ah, so the ALP progressive group which wants 50% renewable energy by 2030, just 15 years away, might be slightly out of touch with reality?

    Bill Shorten faces grassroots Labor push to get serious on climate targets

    The group, Labor Environment Action Network, known as LEAN, has signed up 150 branches across the country to support its “50/50? campaign calling for 50 per cent of electricity production from renewable sources by 2030.

    LEAN predicts it will have 200 branches, roughly a fifth of the 1000-odd branches nationwide, signed up within weeks and claims to have the backing of some active former ministers, including retired senator John Faulkner.

    I can’t wait for Bowen to announce this policy. It will be so much fun.

  2. amortiser says:

    With sufficient subsidies and ongoing certainty farmers could grow sugar cane in Victoria. It makes as much sense as the RE target.

  3. Token says:

    One day soon someone will point out the emperor has no clothes.

    At that time the same people will be competing to tell us they were first to call this out for being a scam.

    The problem is we do not know how close we are to the tipping point.

  4. Andrew says:

    So only $19bn on something we don’t need, and a PV of more than $19bn from the govt to make it economic for the tax-eaters to do it.

  5. Token says:

    One day soon someone will point out the emperor has no clothes and finally the majority will speak up and agree.

  6. Ant says:

    All this crap should be front and centre in the media every single day.

    If it were, and it became common knowledge, there is no way in hell that politicians would be suicidal enough to do something so stupid and so corrupt that they would deliberately force up the price of energy and pretend that in doing that they are going to “heal the planet and refreeze the icecaps”.

    But this goes to SK’s point in the item below.

    The media is the problem.

  7. Baldrick says:

    Subsidised sustainable renewable energy is an oxymoron.

  8. Fred Lenin says:

    Specify that ALL windmills ,and solar thingies MUST produce 90 per cent of rated capacity 24/7 to be eligible for Taxpayer Subsidy . Another proviso should be monthly reductions in subsidies untill green is the same price as the cheapest non green power,excluding hydro . Green companies profits from subsidy should be taxed at 70 per cent ,plus administration costs fir the scheme of at least 29 oer cent .
    Gaiaphobia Rules ! Unite comrades to rip the millionaire socialists off !

  9. mosomoso says:

    How renewable are wind turbines when the time comes to fix or replace them? These things are all over Spain, and their cabling is even more intrusive than the towers. That’s a lot of hardware and real estate.

    Will Germany, for example, now that it’s discreetly turning back to (brown) coal in a reverse energiewende, think it’s worth the euros to fund someone else’s continued green fetish? Will the Spaniards themselves pass round the sombrero? Will the various international bodies want to party like it’s 2007?

    It’s true you don’t have to renew the wind. But slender structures with many moving parts exposed to weather and diffused across an entire country (while paying out huge rent for the space) just might not be renewable. We’ll find out soon.

  10. jupes says:

    All this crap should be front and centre in the media every single day.

    Yes. However at the moment we only have the odd voice like Rowan Dean and Big Al Jones calling bullshit.

    Far more common is to have four or five political pundits discussing this shit as if it is perfectly logical i.e. spending billions on technology that doesn’t work, that even if it did couldn’t mitigate a threat that doesn’t exist.

    Insane doesn’t even begin to describe it.

  11. incoherent rambler says:

    Insane doesn’t even begin to describe it.

    Dair is lotsa youf that think renooabulls are a good thingy.

    The media/political refusal to call out the scamsters mean that there is probably another decade of waste ahead of us.

  12. Robert O says:

    The only means of producing cheap industrial power are with steam or hydro turbines which will provide 24/7 power. Nuclear is also an option which has been running France (and its neighbours) since the late 1960’s, but we seem to want to sell yellowcake to others and not use it ourselves.

    As to the renewables wind and solar they are an extremely costly means of production and of little significance because of their low and intermittent output; wind less than the 30% quoted and solar about 15% of the time. There are a few practical operational problems in managing their current production isas much one has to keep the steam turbines spinning to protect the grid when they stop producing which is 70+% of the time. Very little saving in coal as well since the coal stations use about the same whether thay are just spinning or producing.

    It really is a demonstration of folly, a non- solution to a non-problem by our political class and the lobbyists.

  13. Fred Lenin says:

    All this Gaiaphobia must be stopped by penal laws ,fines and jail . To preserve Free Speech of course .
    If you are agin renewaballs you are Gaiaphobic Gerbil Worming Rules !

  14. duncanm says:

    Grant King

    How apt.

  15. JMH says:

    I sincerely hope Origin maintains a reluctance to sign power purchase agreements with wind industry scammers who now have a very green light to continue ruining Australian rural communities, destroying wildlife and devaluing properties because of the new and improved RET.

    I am more than disgusted with the Libs pushing this whole glowball worming/renewable energy crap. Abolition of the RET as an election policy (among other things) may tempt me to vote for them because I understand what would befall this country if the unionists ever gain power again.

  16. . says:

    Grant King

    Too good go be true, like Dick Face.

  17. Big_Nambas says:

    The reason that this scam goes on is the Multinational Corporations are making squillions of profit from our subsidies, no one wants to live without electricity, so price gouging to feed rent seekers will work until the masses revolt. As revolutions are rare in comfortable well off societies, don’t hold your breath, it could be 50 years before the silent majority wake up.

  18. Big_Nambas says:

    Or Mike Hunt.

  19. Johno says:

    Each of these new windmills will stand as a reminder of Abbott and Hunt’s spineless capitulation to the Greens.

    Why vote Green, when you can vote Liberal and get the same outcome.

  20. Sorry Alan, as much as I respect your views you are wrong about your last statement. No one in Canberra needs to consider an energy plan. The politicians in Canberra and the public servants need to butt out of energy policies. Firstly, energy, mining and minerals (including royalties) are listed in the constitution as state responsibilities. Secondly, government policy and control always in the long term results in poor outcomes. The market should be the decider. There should be no energy targets, no RET, no subsidies. Let energy supply companies and large users built their own power stations for their own use and let them supply any surplus into a central authority which already exists (National Electricity Market- NEM). The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) needs to be overhauled to reduce the influence of the states and politics. It needs to concentrate on economical outcomes and have more input from industry which are suppliers and users. Governments should be considering plans to remove regulations which discourage growth. Get rid of much of the documentation used by environmentalists which hinter new infrastructure and expansion of existing facilities.
    I am surprised that the IPA mentions anything about government regulation which reduces competition, employment, and industry growth. The failure of socialism is obvious in many countries such as USSR, Cuba, Zimbabwe, -the slow down of growth in Europe and USA is the fault of government regulation. We do not want that here.

  21. hzhousewife says:

    Nuclear is also an option which has been running France (and its neighbours) since the late 1960?s, but we seem to want to sell yellowcake to others and not use it ourselves.

    Something that stuck in my brain from reading here over the years was a comment that Nuclear generation requires access to lots of fresh water, and the nuclear plant needs to be near the users. This limits nuclear energy generation in Australia. We would better serve the world by selling uranium, and providing a safe place for nuclear waste.

  22. tom harley says:

    At least WA Premier Colin Barnett seems averse to wasting money on this idiocy. Good luck in the East!

  23. Alan Moran says:

    The last statement to which you refer was not one of mine and not really one that I support. It was a quote from a very good analysis of the RET by someone called “Terrence”. And for the record I do not speak for IPA as I am no longer with them (probably never did).

  24. Tezza says:

    Several readers bemoan that the stupidities of renewable subsidies and windmills aren’t kept front and centre in the media.

    I’ve tried, believe me I’ve tried, with a fully documented complaint about the errors in a particularly nasty 4Corners renewables program on 7 July last year, “Power to the People”. After the predictable dismissal of my complaints by the ABC’s tame insiders at Audience and Consumer Affairs, I furthered the complaint with ACMA, which also rejected the complaints, while repeating or extending the ABC’s original errors. See ACMA Investigation Report 3266 on their website for the whole sorry history.

    I suspect the average journalist/lawyer just does not understand how the RET causes economic inefficiency and destroys productivity, and the Warburton review did not do a very good job of explaining it. For most people, the RET is getting solar panels at half their cost, and saving on your electricity bill. What’s not to like about that? We need more hard-hitting pieces like Alan’s submission to Warburton.

  25. John of Mel says:

    bird killing monstrosities that only work seven hours a day and with a life of 15 years max.

    Then, there is this little discussed issue of windmills’ gearboxes problem.

    Many gearboxes need a rebuild within 5 -7 years instead of lasting 25 years as designed. Many suffer catastrophic failure within the 5-7 period or even earlier. Depending on the age of the turbine, a gear box failure may effectively write it off. Even when repaired, these gearbox failures are highly expensive and often take out the turbine for months.

    Replacing the gearbox adds massively to the overall cost of the IWT. Manufacturers increase the cost to cover warranty repairs in the first 5 years. When out of warranty, the cost of a maintenance contract sky-rockets, eventually to a point where the operation of the IWT becomes untenable.

  26. Bazz says:

    Hmmm, it all comes down to Energy Return on Energy Invested.
    The best figures I have been able to scrape up show wind turbines at 7 to 10 and solar at 4 to 6.
    Those figures are rubbery depending on what factors are included in the calculation.
    There are arguments of such as inclusion of council rates etc.
    If backup is provided of whatever type the ERoEI is much worse more like 5 & 2 respectively.
    7 is the level at which the system is considered to becomes useless.

    The upshot is that wind and solar cannot do the job we would like to achieve.
    A system not requiring backup with an ERoEI of 10 or higher is what we need to maintain an economy
    with some resemblance to what we have now.
    Wind and solar cannot even build themselves, that is the final condemnation of them.

  27. Patricia Weaver says:

    Why is all the discussion of renewable energy focused on wind power?

    How about some awareness of forefront technology in renewable energy?

    In WA we now have a global first in wavepower generation. Also so many people have installed roof top PV that it looks as if it will be a long time before we can get rid of our coal fired power supply as the demand for mains supplied power is not growing at a rate that will support the planned future strategies. However all I seem to hear in this discussion is the wind power story which we have at Albany and various locations around WA. Not the way of the future for renewables as I and many others here see it.

    Think Wave power first.

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