Aynsley Kellow on the ALP plan for energy poverty

From Quadrant on Line.

Labor has promised to ensure that 50 per cent of Australia’s generation will come from renewables by 2030. This is nonsense on stilts—and very expensive nonsense at that.

A recent analysis by Brian Fisher, former head of the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, showed just how costly this policy would be: a cumulative cost of $472 billion to 2030, compared with $69 billion for the Coalition’s 26-to-28 per cent reduction target.

Fisher’s analysis also resonates with the best international research, informed by experience such as that in Germany, where its Energiewende program since 2000 has led to greatly increased costs for no recent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Energiewende has cost billions of euros in subsidies and, having dug an enormous hole, German policy-makers have chosen to dig deeper rather than admit they are not going to strike climate policy paydirt.

He responds to the ludicrous claims that are made about cheap renewable energy.

Numbers like $50/MWh are frequently tossed around by spruikers of renewables, but this price is acceptable to investors only because they stand to double this income from the sale of renewable energy certificates. Fortunately, we have available some estimates of non-subsidised costs of wind and solar systems in Australia that are regularly updated by the company Lazard. Their most recent estimate (November 2018) is $US43 to 131/MWh for solar, or $A61.92 to 188.64/MWh converted at the most recent estimate for Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) of $A1.44 to $US1. The estimate for wind is $US34 to 73/MWh, or $A48.96 to 105.12. The spruikers of renewables are always promising us that costs will continue to come down, but Lazard’s Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) Analysis report warns that “over the past several years the rate of such LCOE declines have started to flatten”.

But, as noted above, income from generation plus sale of renewable energy certificates is only half the story, because this ignores the costs of integration into a reliable electricity system.

Analyses such as those from Blakers and his colleagues rely upon estimates of the LCOE from renewables, but such estimates ignore system costs that can double the cost of renewables.

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21 Responses to Aynsley Kellow on the ALP plan for energy poverty

  1. stackja

    Are enough voters gullible?
    The answer on Saturday night.

  2. duncanm

    Lazard’s 2018 reports can be found here

  3. Dr Fred Lenin

    Criminal charges should be laid on the carpetbagger scammers,it should be a capital offence to cmmit treason of this sort , hang a few of h bastards to shut the others up ,climate problem solved . You

  4. Chloe

    The nuance of words used to ease the minds of the gullible. The warcry of the activists is always “renewables” in Australia, be it 30%, 50%, or now 100% from Greens. In Europe, their supposed model, the talk is “zero carbon”, as they continue with nuclear for base load, and burning biomass (zero carbon).
    We are entering crazy times.

  5. Mark M

    UChicago study shows wind/solar mandates cost a lot … but accomplish nothing …

    Conducted by University of Chicago economists, the study of 29 state renewable energy mandates reports that:

    . Renewable energy mandates reduce CO2 emissions at the astounding price of between $130 to $460 per ton. This is like adding between $54.60 to $193.20 to the price of a barrel of oil.

    . The cost of reducing CO2 emissions via renewable mandates is much more expensive than the so-called “social cost of carbon.” Enviro groups claim that social cost of carbon is about $40 per ton.

    . Renewable energy mandates in the 29 states have reduced CO2 emissions by a mere 95 – 175 MILLION metric tons of CO2 after seven years.
    Annual manmade emissions of CO2 are about 53.5 BILLION tons per year


  6. Mark M

    The Reason Renewables Can’t Power Modern Civilization Is Because They Were Never Meant To

    It will cost Germany $3-$4 *trillion* to increase renewables as share of electricity from today’s 35% to 100% between 2025-2050

    That’s 5x – 7x more than the $580B it will have already spent on renewables between 2000-2025

    So much for cheap solar/wind


  7. Crossie

    A recent analysis by Brian Fisher, former head of the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, showed just how costly this policy would be: a cumulative cost of $472 billion to 2030, compared with $69 billion for the Coalition’s 26-to-28 per cent reduction target.

    Labor’s plan costing $472 billion is catastrophic while the Coalition’s $69 billion is still astronomical. $5 billion is too much, even $1 billion is excessive. Actually $1 is unacceptable to throw away on this fraud.

    Spending all these billions is advocated by people who expect to benefit which is never ever acknowledged by the green clergy or their faithful. The Turnbulls are a perfect example of green carpetbaggers.

    I’m looking forward to heretics like me winning in the end.

  8. Crossie

    Signing on to the costly renewables as a nation and expecting to prosper is like tying a millstone around your neck, jumping into deep water and expecting to survive.

    This course of action is economically suicidal.

  9. Percy Popinjay

    This course of action is economically suicidal.

    It is also so blatantly contrary to the national interest that I’m at a complete loss as to why people didn’t start stringing up the quisling pieces of shit years ago.

    Mass immigration of useless third world imbeciles
    Massive debt and hideously wasteful out of control public spending
    Extortionate taxes
    Sclerotic labour market policies
    Horrendous levels of regulation
    Attempted normalisation of indescribable sexual perversions – blatantly foisted on kiddies
    Destruction of the electrickery grid

    Is there any “policy” these evil self aggrandising tax hoovering idiots ever inflict on us that is actually in this country and its citizens’ interests?

    Yet they expect the vast majority of the electorate to turn up sheep like this Saturday and vote for them – what’s even more inexplicable is that the vast bulk of them will.


  10. Percy Popinjay

    this fraud

    For thirty years I have been forced to put up with noxious pig ignorant hysterical hypocritical anti-scientific fact and evidence free fuckwits bleating about this preposterous baseless bullshit.

    There is a reckoning coming you morons, mark my words.

  11. nb

    3rd and 4th generation nuclear power is safe.
    At least two parties have a pro-nuclear policy – UAP and LDP.
    Will greens support nuclear? No.
    Maybe they want to destroy your standard of living.

  12. Howard Hill

    this fraud

    Yep! and I’m sick of reading all the excuses and whinging about it. It’s time the bastards spent time at her majesties pleasure or hang from a damn rope!

  13. RobK

    Thank you Aynsley. A well written article in the Spectator on a difficult topic. The cost of RE is site specific not just from the potential to harvest low energy density weather, but the given hosting capacity of the grid. RE will always surge about the grid due to its sporadic nature. This requires extra transmission costs; conditioners such as rotary condensers, storage, heavier conductors and more complex design for fault-current response. Ultimately some long transmission lines may be better done in DC, again these are major capital items which entail up-ending a lot of current investment. Putting a dollar figure on much of this is difficult and my opinion is that it is best to proceed much more slowly than is presently the case. I think a sensible approach is to take on one more cycle of baseload power generation (of 50yrs or so), for now.

  14. Rafe Champion

    Yes Rob, the 50 year timeframe is appropriate. That was my suggestion years ago in the climate debate, nothing that Australia does makes a difference so we should hold off any kind of action apart from research for a few decades until we had a better grip on the science of climate change. Did anyone listen?

    They should have listened when I told them what to do about the representation of Aborigines at university. That was in 1966 when the conference of student Education Officers was contemplating the situation where there was alleged to be only one indigenous graduate (Charles Perkins). At the time only 2% of people went to uni anyway and I suggested that we should get primary and secondary education sorted and attendance at uni would look after itself without any affirmative action.

  15. Bruce

    So, these eco-nazi clowns claim their toy systems can supply baseload?

    A visit to the “switchboard” in any halfway serious city building is enlightening.

    Most serious structures have their own sub-stations to step down 11Kv three-phase to more familiar 230 V single phase 400V Three phase. Three-Phase buss-bars rated at 100 Amps per phase are “entry-level” installations. Your basic house has a single-phase supply fitted with an 80 Amp breaker. Unlikely that most folk are ever likely to be pulling nearly 18.5 Kilowatts, even with every light and gizmo in the house turned on. However, if you multiply that by the number of commercial, residential and “entertainment” structures in the CBD alone, it gets interesting.

    Add all of the cities and towns on the grid together and then check the numbers.

    Then add light and heavy industry, including the eco-loons personal Moloch, MINING.

    Finally, calculate how many thousands of square kilometres of solar panels and thousands of tons of transmission cables would be required to supply all of this.

    Then remind yourself that the totalitarian sociopaths have NO intention of doing anything but destroying the entire existing system.

  16. Rob MW

    Labor has promised to ensure that 50 per cent of Australia’s generation will come from renewables by 2030.

    Rafe – when we read the cost structures etc of RE is there any consideration/analysis inclusion given to the cost of compounding the short shelf-life of the wind turbines and solar panels compared to that of maintenance/replacement of traditional power generation ?

    2. I have heard that for the most part solar panels are chock full of Mercury; is this correct ?

  17. Leo G

    So, these eco-nazi clowns claim their toy systems can supply baseload?

    Don’t forget the overlooked energy losses at the windfarm end of RE generators, in particular the energy used in the production of lithium-ion storage.
    The individual cells have an energy-equivalent cost of production of about 1750 kWh per kWh of battery capacity, or the equivalent of the energy transferred in 1750 full cycles of the battery (2014 data).
    Lithium-ion cell life can be as much as 10 years. Typically though, cells lose about 15% of capacity after 250 cycles, and the minimum-size replaceable unit is a battery of 9 cells with a MTBF of about 750 cycles.
    The implication is that battery storage can contribute equivalent losses in a windfarm system of as much as 2.3 times the energy cycled through the batteries.

  18. Aynsley Kellow

    Thank you all for your comments, especially those presenting new factual material.

    I will add a couple of comments, drawing largely on my earlier article last year. This contains full references:
    Kellow, Aynsley. (2018) ‘Why the Future is not Solar.’ Quadrant. (5 July) https://quadrant.org.au/magazine/2018/07/future-solar/

    Leo G’s comments on energy contained in batteries is useful, although they are nowhere near cheap enough at grid scale for anything other than frequency and voltage stabilisation in a system with too many renewables to have much inertial stability. They lose about 10% of their capacity annually and are only about 85% efficient. Then there is the waste problem: they cannot be recycled at present.

    The energy contained in renewables is also important – 200 tonnes of coking coal in the steel in a typical wind tower, not to mention huge amounts of cement in the foundations.

    Ferroni, Guekos and Hopkirk (2017: 498) conclude: ‘Any attempt to adopt an Energy Transition strategy by substitution of intermittent for base load power generation in countries like Switzerland or further north will result in unavoidable net energy loss.’

    There is then the life expectancy. 25 years is being assumed for both solar and wind. The US government gives 20-25 years for wind, but leading edge blade erosion has required enormous expense in Danish wind farms after half that, and solar loses about 2% efficiency after a years and about 1% pa thereafter.

    That assumes a cyclone doesn’t knock out a solar farm or a wind generator doesn’t burn or topple. (Google ‘wind turbine fail’).

    The there is decommissioning. Germany is discovering the costs now that the subsidies have dried up.

    There have been many rorts, of course. My favourite was the solar system in Spain where the operators were found to have been using diesel generated electricity at night to produce solar and collect the generous subsidies. (Google ‘Spanish nighttime solar energy fraud ‘unlikely in UK’.’ in The Ecologist)

    But the Energy Return on Investment (EROI) is only part of the issue with solar and wind and climate forcing. As I wrote last year, solar panel manufacturing uses
    ‘solvents that have Global Warming Potential numbers around 20,000 times that of carbon dioxide. Nitrogen trifluoride was not covered by the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, but is 16,000 times more powerful a greenhouse gas (GHG) than carbon dioxide, and sulphur hexafluoride is 23,900 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. This means that—on a life-cycle basis in Germany—Ferroni (2014) has suggested that PV solar is worse for climate forcing than gas or coal. Ferroni has calculated that lifetime (twenty-five years) emissions from solar energy in Germany (panels made in China, shipped to Germany, including transport and peripherals) is 978g carbon dioxide equivalent per kWh. For state-of-the-art coal the figure is 846g and for gas (CCGT) 400g.’

    Solar generation output would be higher in Australia, but the question remains. Helpfully, manufacture occurs mostly in China, so is not charged to the greenhouse inventories of the countries that install them (and China has promised only to stabilise GHG emissions per unit of GDP by 2030).

  19. gowest

    Just call it what it is – A climate GST.

    Calculate the % increase and publicize it widely.

    Renewable carpetbaggers expect to get a climate tax return … Calculate the % return and publicize it widely. Give them something to deny – wont that be fun!

    Get them on the back foot … You are ripping off helpless non-taxpayers etc etc…

    Last remind the voters that govt’s doesn’t pay this tax – we pay it for them….. They are win win, more GST revenue, more revenue from energy company profits for them. Its no wonder they stay silent when their national broadcaster runs endless brainwashing sessions.

  20. David Brewer

    The environmental costs are also being ignored and underestimated.

    Aynsley mentions the emissions involved in manufacture and installation (including 1000 of concrete in the bases of wind turbines). But there is also the issue of the amount of land being taken out of production – and thus deprived of its ability to absorb CO2 – by turbines, as well as access roads to them, and by solar “farms”, some which need to burn a lot of natural gas in the mornings to get them up to speed – see references here.

    Another factor is deaths and injuries to people and animals. Sure, coal mining kills a lot of people too, but it supplies one or two orders of magnitude more power, and takes far less land out of action. For data on wind farm deaths and injuries to humans, see here. Bird, bat, and insect deaths are also substantial, and will get much worse if renewables are scaled up to anything like the degree envisaged. This is something that is kept pretty quiet, but see here and here.

    There is also a fire risk from household solar voltaic installations, see the references in my comment here. Solar thermal is particularly prone to breakdowns, see here.

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