I have an article on The Spectator flat white that addresses the calamitous energy situation we have created in Australia. The piece was triggered by an article in the AFR by Audrey Zibelman, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), defending a recent report compiled by her agency that showed the massive transmission spending which would be necessary to accommodate the expansion of renewable energy that she says is inevitable.
ZIbelman’s article was in response to one in the AFR by Matthew Warren, who as the former head of the green energy lobby group was the architect of the massive infusion of subsidised renewable energy that has created the high costs and unreliability that we face. Warren now advocates a return to market driven electricity supply system. Zibelman, as a socialist warhorse, has never supported such an approach and manages to misquote Abraham Lincoln in an attempt to justify her preferred central planning approach.
A backdrop to this is the disaster unfolding in California, which is about five years ahead of us in the Lemming-like march to net zero carbon emissions. California, in the midst of a heat wave is facing rolling blackouts as a result of the green policies its government has pursued.
As Frank Wolak points out, 33 per cent of the state’s electricity supplies are required by law to come from renewables. By relying increasingly on variable supplies, California has put itself “in a position where regular intentional blackouts are inevitable”. Christopher Horner notes that increasing blackouts were predicted by the main supplier, PG&E, following those in October 2019. And prices in California thanks to renewables are 60 per cent above the US average.
Virginia too is plumping for zero net emissions in a policy that will cost households over $500 a year in higher energy bills as well as reducing reliability.
As in Australia, an unholy alliance of naïve environmentalists and renewable energy subsidy seekers has driven energy policy in several US states and forced the replacement of low cost dispatchable nuclear and fossil generation plant by solar and wind, the variable supply of which is dependent on weather.
We are hurtling towards a policy-induced disaster and there are only a handful of politicians, led by Craig Kelly and Matt Canavan (and maybe now joined by the ALP’s Joel Fitzgibbon). Many of the rest – especially NSW Liberals like state energy minister Matt Keen – are renewable energy financed green advocates in the camp of Michael Photios and his lobbyist wife.
To restore its low cost, reliable electricity supply system, Australia must cease regulatory favours to renewable energy supplies and budgetary support for all forms of energy. Such reforms include no longer subsidising transmission links and other grid measures that compensate for the inherent deficiencies of weather-dependent renewables. But there is no sign of this yet.