Energy policy disaster continues; more intervention, less market

There is a host of material addressing energy policy today.

The Commonwealth keeps pressing policy issues that, on the one hand, dilute the spending egregiously allocated to renewables but then divert it to the failed carbon capture and storage (CSS) adventure and to the highly speculative unleashing of cheap energy from hydrogen.  It released a report of an activist-stacked and serviced committee chaired by Grant King that promoted this, as well as inching the nation closer to a cap-and-trade emission reduction program.  I wrote this piece for The Spectator yesterday.

In a new initiative, the government has again appointed another committee of people who are wedded to the green energy revolution to advise on new gee-wizz tech issues.  It will get the answers it expects to get and embark on another spending spree.

The government has also provided yet another “road map” compiled by the environment department for a grateful minister. This favours gas (which it says is cheaper than coal – an absurd statement regarding Australia) and the colossally expensive pumped storage option.  Like all previous reports it predicts the dawn of an era when renewables will be the cheapest form of energy but does say they need to be “firmed” by attendant supplies of controllable energy (hence gas and pumped storage). CSS and hydrogen get a guernsey and there is the promise of an annual report on progress.

Meanwhile the hospitalised aluminium smelting industry continues to dangle a real Sword of Damocles over the government. The industry, once the kernel of Australian globally competitive manufacturing, needs a return of cheap coal-based energy if it is to survive.

The Australian has an editorial lauding the many advantages that Australia has (fallaciously including renewables, where our advantage is only in the uninhabited centre) and calling for reform but failing to identify the renewable energy subsidies as the cause of our demise as an energy superpower.  The AFR also calls for deregulation, which it sees as leading to a gas/renewables outcome for electricity, but then coyly approves the King report’s emission trading measures that it thinks might accelerate this outcome!  Its editorial team, like that of the Australian, dare not point to the true cause of the malaise: the twenty-year progression of subsidy-stimulated poor quality, high cost renewables.

Former WA Premier Colin Barnett calls for interventions to support domestic gas reservation policy but grudgingly acknowledges that this is a second best policy and one actuated by the east coast bans on gas exploration and development.   He has also called for a trans-continental pipeline to bring WA gas east but that seems to rely on continued regulatory suppression of gas in the east and a subsidy for the pipeline itself.

Does Australia have no senior politicians able to understand the economy like President Trump who, rather than offering road maps compiled by hacks and public service activists, issues an executive order “instructing federal agencies to use any and all authority to waive, suspend, and eliminate unnecessary regulations that impede economic recovery.” ?

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15 Responses to Energy policy disaster continues; more intervention, less market

  1. Colonel Bunty Golightly

    Make no mistake our senior politicians do fully understand the economy. What they also understand are the results of focus groups and community consultations skewed to imply that they won’t be re-elected unless they show a commitment to the environment and renewable energy! Self interest will always win. They care not what is best for Australia one iota. However they do care what is best for them! Scratch the surface of any moral principal and you will ALWAYS find a vested interest!

  2. Rex Mango

    The rot pretty much started with the National Energy Market. It is a world class example of crony capitalism.

  3. It’s all about the benjamins.
    Any scheme such as cap n trade is designed to make fortunes for those involved.
    Any purchases of indulgences from shit-hole countries are designed to enrich corruptocrats of those 3rd World shit-holes with UN corruptocrats getting their cut.
    It’s always about the benjamins.

  4. Our energy infrastructure is not a given. It is a work in progress. It has always evolved and changed in the past and it will continue to evolve and change. But these changes will come with innovations and fair competetion in the marketplace. The market and not activists for any given innovation will be the judge. The market has been and will continue to be the judge that determines winners and losers. That’s economic democracy. If you have a good idea, bring it to the market and become a billionaire. But if your innovation is not a good one it will be rejected by the market. It is only then that the desperate and the criminal will resort to activism and threats of destroying the planet itself if the criminal does not get his way. That the climate science of our time needs this kind of activism to sell their energy innovation is itself the proof of its failure. Competitive market economics and capitalism and not energy religion will determine how our energy infrastructure evolves.

    ,https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/05/20/praise-the-climate-science-and-save-the-planet/

  5. candy

    I thought hydrogen was very volatile and expensive to extract and transport.
    Dangerous even. Basically for rockets.
    The government seems a bit mesmerised with new technology energy. So complicated, so expensive.

  6. liliana

    chaamjamal
    #3459501, posted on May 21, 2020 at 9:55 am

    Good comment and so true.

  7. exsteelworker

    The LNP are right now in the perfect position to announce a complete 180’ on power generation and water security. Dam every river. Build Hele power stations, 1 in each state. Build ore processing plants, cokeing ovens and blast furnaces near all the mines Australia wide. Sell the pure processed minerals to the world at premium prices,Coked coal pig iron, aluminium copper ingots rare earth…ect. Set up an underground bunker in the middle of nowhere to store the world’s nuclear waste and charge like a wounded bull for eternity. If we do all that we would become the richest country in the world. If the alp/green don’t agree lnp would own the mining states forever.But what’s the chances

  8. NuThink

    @Candy

    First Hydrogen Fueled Aircraft Flight Martin B-57 Canberra (1955)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6rsMyyQnBA

    The Russians also tested hydrogen airplanes.

    The Russian manufacturer Tupolev built a prototype hydrogen-powered version of the Tu-154 airliner, named the Tu-155, which made its first flight in 1989. This was the first experimental aircraft in the world operating on liquid hydrogen.

    Boeing Research & Technology Europe (BR&TE) made a civilian aircraft from a 2-seat Diamond Aircraft Industries DA20 running on a fuel cell (called Theator Airplane). Lange Aviation GmbHan…

    Then submarines – cheaper than diesel and quieter.
    https://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/why-germanys-new-super-stealth-submarines-could-take-any-21021

    The German Navy was a pioneer in large-scale submarine warfare, its U-boats able to contest the United Kingdom’s superior navy in ways that German surface warships could not. While modern-day Germany no longer has the ocean-spanning naval ambitions of its predecessors, it has become a global leader in designing small, stealthy submarines that can effectively patrol littoral waters at a fraction of the cost of nuclear-powered submarines. The secret sauce in the new generation of German submarines is the use of hydrogen fuel cells for power, which allows submarines to operate nearly silently for weeks at a time without using expensive nuclear reactors.

    Type 212 submarine – Wikipediaen.wikipedia.org › wiki › Type_212_submarine

    The German Type 212 class, also Italian Todaro class, is a highly advanced design of … Although hydrogen–oxygen propulsion had been considered for submarines as early as World War I, the concept was not very successful until recently …
    Test depth‎: ‎: 250 metres (820 ft); crush depth o… Speed‎: ‎: 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) surfaced; …
    Endurance‎: ‎3 weeks without snorkeling, 12 we… Range‎: ‎8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km; 9,200 ..

  9. Roger

    Competitive market economics and capitalism and not energy religion will determine how our energy infrastructure evolves.

    With federal and state politicians sticking their spanners in the works at every opportunity along the way.

  10. pbw

    [The AFR] editorial team, like that of the Australian, dare not point to the true cause of the malaise…

    Leaving the AFR aside, what traps the Oz in this RE psychosis? Is it true religion, or fear of alienating the readership, or the influence of beneficiaries, or a concern not to rock the boat for the useless Coalition?

    The Oz reporting team suffers from the “degree in journalism” malaise that has crippled news media, and this particular rot inevitably makes its way to the top. Equally inevitably, some will be red-pilled on the way, but there don’t seem to be too many.

  11. Ivan Denisovich

    With federal and state politicians sticking their spanners in the works at every opportunity along the way.

    Chris McCormack (Sept 2018):

    In the world according to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, the way to fix the problem of renewable energy pushing up electricity prices is for all Victorian taxpayers, especially the poor, to subsidise more renewables……….

    Three months later, the coal-fired 1,600 megawatt Hazelwood power station, which provided up to 25 per cent of Victoria’s base-load power, closed. Twelve months later wholesale power prices had risen 85 per cent and Victoria had become a net importer of energy for the first time in almost a decade, now relying on other states to supply it reliable electricity. Under Daniel Andrews’ watch, the push for renewables has led to the wholesale power price tripling in Victoria since 2015.

    Instead of spending $1.24 billion on green righteousness, the ALP government could build a new high-efficiency, low-emissions 1000 megawatt coal-fired power station for $2.2 billion, according to power and energy sector specialists GHD and Solstice Development Services. In place of feeling all warm and fuzzy, this would actually alleviate the energy shortfall from the closure of Hazelwood.

    This exponential rise in power prices has been the result of governments using taxpayers’ money to heavily subsidise renewable energy at the expense of cheap, coal-fired power, with expensive gas-fired power needed to fill demand when weather conditions render renewables powerless. If ever there was a lesson to be learnt from renewables causing power prices to rise, it is the case of South Australia. It has the largest share of renewable energy in any large electricity grid system in the world and which, ALP governments would have us believe, by sheer coincidence happens to have the highest power prices in the world.

    Or, if we follow Daniel Andrew’s logic, the reason why Victoria and S.A.’s power prices are so high is because we don’t have enough renewables………..

    http://www.newsweekly.com.au/nwmobile/article.php?id=58232

  12. Rayvic

    “Does Australia have no senior politicians able to understand the economy like President Trump who, rather than offering road maps compiled by hacks and public service activists, issues an executive order “instructing federal agencies to use any and all authority to waive, suspend, and eliminate unnecessary regulations that impede economic recovery.”

    Unfortunately, the few that we may have are not in the ministry.

  13. Mark M

    They want a carbon (sic) tax.

    Why call it a carbon (sic) tax when it is two oxygen – one carbon?

  14. chaamjamal
    #3459501, posted on May 21, 2020 at 9:55 am

    Our energy infrastructure is not a given. It is a work in progress. It has always evolved and changed in the past and it will continue to evolve and change.

    Your comment as a whole was excellent chaamjamal. Not to be too picky but when you consider how we generate electricity, it hasn’t evolved anywhere near as much as other technologies, not even close.
    In one way or another, it’s all about turning a turbine to generate electricity.
    Fossil fuel and nuclear generate steam to turn the turbines while hydro uses the force of a waterfall to turn them.
    Even windmills are small turbines.
    Not much has changed since advent.

    The biggest change is solar PV. No turbines involved, but as we’ve seen, it’s terribly inefficient and raw numbers show it will never ever be as efficient as turbines.

  15. “Roger
    #3459574, posted on May 21, 2020 at 11:12 am
    Competitive market economics and capitalism and not energy religion will determine how our energy infrastructure evolves.

    With federal and state politicians sticking their spanners in the works at every opportunity along the way.

    Yes sir. Most countries that profess to have a market economy have imperfect market economies. Good point. Thanks.

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