Interesting times in the energy debate

Seisimic changes may be advanced to deal with the so-called transition to RE while we get rid of the “ageing coal stations” that generate noxious fumes of CO2. See the Post 2025 Markt Design Consultation Paper produced by the Energy Security Board under the imprint of the COAG Energy Council.

Changing the rules 2020

Kerry Schott is the Chair of the ESB and her partners in the lead with this project are David Swift of the ESB, Claire Savage (Chair of the Australian Energy Regulator), Merryn York of the Australian Energy Market Commission and Audrey Zibelman (CEO and  Managing Director of the Australian Energy Market Operator).

Merry Kerry Schott has provided a convenient introduction to the issues.  Merry was a typo at first but it can stand because I have the impression the she is a jolly soul. The most striking feature of this dramatic presentation, from the point of view of dedicated wind-watchers, is the neglect of the principal agent, like a production of Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark.

The basic premise of the exercise is that wind power can replace most of the 35GW of current installed “fossil power”, or at least the 20GW of black and brown coal power.

And looking ahead Australia will replace most of its current generation stock by 2040. Transforming from a system dominated by centralised, synchronous generators to a system which is showing every sign of becoming one of the most decentralised power systems in the world – with consequential impacts on the security and reliability we tend to take for granted.

Given the well documented facts on the frequent and prolonged wind droughts, the need for continuous input to the grid (the choke point factor), our island status and the lack of grid-scale storage that ambition is not realistic in the near or even medium term. The chief scientist warned us to wait for two or three decades for bigger batteries (hopefully). The “Hamlet” who appears to be missing from the play is a serious engagement with those four factors that can be described as “icebergs” that will sink the RE Titanic.

Many of the issues are highly technical and the good news is that a  number of very competent people have turned up in the course of recruiting letter-writers for the wind power project. These are men (so far no women) with experience and expertise in the power industry.  They will write most of the briefing papers on the list that will follow the first two that have circulated. This is the list of work to be done.


So we have the resources to make an informed contribution to the debate. Among the people involved there are veteran wind-watchers, people with insights into the mysteries of grid instability and people who can engage with the misleading cost estimates circulated by RE enthusiasts who neglect most of the costs of RE.

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26 Responses to Interesting times in the energy debate

  1. Mark M

    Yeah, but Audrey … the climate.

    How much change will it stop?

  2. RobK

    Regarding the cost of domestic PVs; many installations are being upgraded at around 10 years (when many lucrative FiTs expired) even though the RECs were paid out upfront for an estimated life of fifteen years.
    The average size of domestic installations has increased from around 1.5kW to 6.6kW in 10 years.

  3. Rex Mango

    You get the distinct impression that the renewable energy spruikers exemplify modern management. In that these clowns feel that with enough meetings, managers, high level consultation and facilitation etc, they will be able to manage any problems away so everything can run off the sun and wind.

  4. RobK

    Additionally, the 6.6kW size is the panel size matched to a 5kW inverter. In WA at least, this is the maximum inverter size that still has FiTs from the state. The grid owner, Western Power, also only allows an extra 1/3 panels for a particular inverter size. The Clean Energy Council also has this 1/3 extra limit for paying out its subsidies. This makes some sense on the face of it; however, it prevents installation of a larger array on a particular inverter which would greatly stabilise inverter out put, all be it at the expense of total annual yeild.
    Inverter manufacturer’s generally allow for a panel size upto at least double the inverter size.
    So many trade-offs. So many rubbery figures. So many rules and guidelines that need adjustment on a regular basis. So many boffins pushing so many barrows.

  5. Mark M

    ‘oogle the viva energy Geelong hub and prepare for everyday to be a Sunday picnic day, where unicorns frolic and pixies spread dust over tables full of food like a Victorian virus spreader in Maccas …

  6. mem

    Mark M

    ‘oogle the viva energy Geelong hub and prepare for everyday to be a Sunday picnic day, where unicorns frolic and pixies spread dust over tables full of food like a Victorian virus spreader in Maccas

    I took your advice and looked it up. What I saw was a gas refinery increasing its capacity with some “potential” exciting RE projects that are really there in the planning stage to keep the greenies placated. Having a hydrogen plant next to a gas refinery could be fraught with difficulties and from my reading will never happen on any scale in foreseeable future.. The solar plant with battery would seem to be so they can say we use RE when in fact it will be a minor factor in energy mix.

  7. RobK

    A sensible energy policy:

    “We will push forward with the upgrading of coal-fired power plants, actively yet prudently develop hydropower, safely develop advanced nuclear power facilities, and maintain optimal development of wind and photovoltaic power,” the report said.
    Michal Meidan, director of the China Energy Programme at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, wrote in a commentary published on the institute’s website in June that energy security was clearly becoming a greater concern for China’s policymakers.

    We will be out competed at every turn on our current trajectory.

  8. Australia consumes (now) 204TWH of power each year, and that figure is slowly rising, not falling. So that’s 204,000,000MWH of power, (a year) and that breaks down to an average of 23300MW of generation needed every hour.
    Currently coal fired power delivers an average of 16300MW of that hourly average total power requirement, and that’s from a Nameplate of 23000MW from the 48 Units at the 15 power plants. (two in Vic, five in NSW and eight in Qld)
    Wind power currently delivers 2200MW from a Nameplate of 7728MW.
    I hope you can see the point here, Nameplate versus generated power, Coal fired at 71%, and wind at 28.5%.
    So for wind to replace coal fired power you need to overbuild by THREE TIMES the Nameplate.
    However, even that is patently untrue, because wind power is intermittent. You cannot ever call upon what is needed for when it is needed.
    It’s so complex that the average person has no comprehension of what is required, so all they can do is rely on what they are being told.
    ENGINEERS understand what is required and they know. However, the people in charge of running it all are in the main economists, who understand economics only, and not the intricate engineering details.
    And THAT ….. IS what the problem is right now.
    Until we are told the truth in a manner that we can understand, then what is currently happening now is what we are stuck with, and NO AMOUNT of anything we say will be taken into account.
    We just have to put up with it until it crashes and burns, and then say ….. “Why wasn’t I told?”

  9. Rex Mango

    TonyFO, totally agree. Was arguing with a girl I know on weekend about this and all she could say was renewables were cheaper, because she’s been told. Lawyers/bankers aka carpet baggers are selling us a turkey.

  10. What they propose but won’t tell you is Mr Forrest’s Singapore solar extension cord can go both ways, we will be forced to buy ‘clean’ power from the Chinese Communist Party’s ‘Renewable’ (trust us) power projects.

  11. Terry

    ‘It’s so complex that the average person has no comprehension of what is required’

    I would consider myself “average” on my understanding of the technical intricacies of the electricity grid and yet have no trouble whatsoever comprehending that it is complex and that using averages for measuring the contributions (positive or negative) of Wind Turbines and Solar Panels is next to useless.

    The power of propaganda and indoctrination notwithstanding, it cannot be that complex that a person of reasonable intelligence and goodwill cannot “get this” after a succinct briefing on the critical issues.

    The people assembled at these gabfests certainly have no excuse.

  12. jupes

    Rafe you are a Champion.

    Great work.

  13. jupes

    Why has energy regulation become such an emasculated industry?

  14. mundi

    The good news is that there is a limit on how far they can go to ruin the grid.

    Once average power costs (including impacts from outages) pass 66c/kwhour, it is cheaper to install a generator and run off diesel/fuel – for homes and factories a like.

  15. RobK

    Except many of the costs are borne collectively, sort of like funding of the abc.
    What are the productivity losses?

  16. PB

    Awful lot of strong womynz involved there. Never a good sign.

  17. Rafe Champion

    Terry perhaps the place to start is the need for the grid to have continuous input, like our lungs. That was the rationale of the “choke point”. The cost is a genuinely complicated issue although when you look at the comparative prices around the world and every other credible analysis it is no contest.
    Still it takes time to explain that and your friend will just refer to some authority rather than learn more about it.
    As to the need for continuous input, if she doesn’t understand that you might as well give up.
    With that point established you can move on to wind droughts and the island problem.

    Jo Nova told me that she has referred to the island problem on her site but for some strange reason it is not a constant talking point right now with the Califorian blackouts, you can point out that they will not go completely black because they can get power from other places nearby but we cannot. Same applies to every other place that has gone big on RE apart from some like Norway and NZ that were almost custom-built for hydro. Most other places have access to nuclear power as well, at home or over the border.

  18. Professor Fred Lenin

    The renewable scam will vanish when the government has to go to the bankruptcy court as a result of the Chinese Biowar Attack ,mass unemployment ,closed businesses ,falling exports , social unrest , angry cultimulturists deprived of riches ,prolifis repossesions of homes and mortgage sales , soaring rents to make up for virus losses , collapsing education system ,police brutality killings ,indigenius rioting ,BLM ,antifafascists on the streets political correctness gone mad ,poofter and lezzo activism , untidy nayshuns and chinese interference ,endless crap . The carpetbaggers will be swamped by the insanity .
    All brought to you by your fifth rate political careerists ,at massive cost .

  19. RobertS

    The WWF-Australia has a half-page ad. in The Australian today proposing “a $2 billion renewable-led government stimulus plan that would expand our industrial capabilities and future-proof our economy.”
    Full report at
    Produced by Ernst and Young.
    Power from unicorn farts and rainbows.

  20. Terry

    ‘“a $2 billion renewable-led government stimulus plan that would expand our industrial capabilities and future-proof our economy.”‘
    Has the ACCC become involved?
    Or like protests, are false and misleading claims okay for Leftards?

  21. yarpos

    The utter cluelessness of senior people in control of energy supply , apart from spouting buzzwords and memes, is really quite stark. They seem to have no fundamental understanding of what they are dealing with.

  22. Nighthawk the Elder

    This is what you get when Arts does Engineering.

  23. Rafe in your article you mention 4 females who in fact know very little about energy. The knowledge of energy, the production of energy and the use of energy is all (professional) engineering. Engineering requires a good understanding of mathematics beside all the engineering technical knowledge which some ignorant persons and their followers call physical science. (from the first smelting of metal and the development of the plough and wheel, it has been engineering all the way). Females as a general rule are not good at maths and more inclined to emotion. The engineering profession has less than 15% females mainly because they can not grasp maths and say the profession is too boring. With universities and governments pushing for more so-called equality two things happen 1/ the standards of engineering are lowered and 2/ good engineering projects are being scrapped in favour of feel good projects.

  24. Rafe Champion

    That tendency has been aggravated by the clear evidence of affirmative action in the public sector and huge pressure for the same thing in the corporate world. No good will come of it.

  25. Herodotus

    As has been alluded to elsewhere – in Steve’s excellent COVID piece above – and amplified by Tom, the climate scam and power debacle would have been stopped ages ago if the MSM was in any way either intelligent enough or curious enough to examine the topic in depth rather than get onboard with the emotional claptrap of saving the planet.
    There are some standout sceptics with prominent columns or news and current affairs shows, but they remain in the minority.

  26. Lawrence Ayres

    I am amazed at the number of authorities involved in providing not one kilowatt of power. Apart from generating a lot of hot air and consuming vast amounts of taxpayer funds what do these people actually achieve that could not be achieved with an open market? Not an engineer or even an electrician in sight these pompous, ignorant people are ruining our once prosperous economy. And as Mark M asks at comment #1 what effect will all this BS have on the climate? Not one jot is the technical answer.

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