cobran20

Wind and solar are crushing fossil fuels

54 posts in this topic

Solar and wind power simply don’t work — not here, not anywhere

 

 

One policy which seems to have escaped scrutiny during this election campaign is Labor’s commitment to increase the Renewable Energy Target to 50 per cent by 2030. I am surprised because it is a proposal that has enormous ramifications for economic growth and living standards, and disproportionate impacts on traditional Labor constituencies.

The problem we have in Australia is when we talk renewable energy we are talking wind and solar only — low value, expensive, unreliable, high capital cost, land hungry, intermittent energy.

According to the Department of Industry and Science wind currently generates 4.1 per cent and solar 2 per cent of Australia’s electricity. But even this is highly misleading because it is such low value power. You could close it down tomorrow (which it regularly does by itself) and it would make no difference to supply.

If we talk about total energy, as opposed to just electricity, wind and solar represent 1 per cent of Australia’s energy consumption. This despite billions of dollars of investment, subsidies, creative tariffs, mandates, and so on.

Solar and wind simply don’t work, not here, not anywhere.

The energy supply is not dense enough. The capital cost of consolidating it makes it cost prohibitive. But they are not only much more expensive because of this terminal disadvantage, they are low value intermittent power sources — every kilowatt has to be backed up by conventional power, dreaded fossil fuels. So we have two capital spends for the same output — one for the renewable and one for the conventional back-up. Are you surprised it is so much more expensive, and inefficient, and always will be? So wind and solar, from a large scale electricity point of view, are duds. Now I know that will send the urgers into paroxysms of outrage. But have you ever seen an industry that so believed its own propaganda. Note, when they eulogise the future of renewables they point to targets, or to costly investments, never to the real contribution to supply.

Let’s look overseas where many countries have been destroying their budgets and their economies on this illusion for longer and more comprehensively than we in Australia. The Germans are ruing the day they decided to save the world by converting to solar and wind. Germany has spent $US100bn on solar technology and it represents less than 1 per cent of their electricity supply.

Energy policy has been a disaster. Subsidies are colossal, the energy market is now chaotic, industry is decamping to other jurisdictions, and more than a million homes have had their power cut off.

It is reported electricity prices in Germany, Spain and the UK increased by 78 per cent, 111 per cent and 133 per cent between 2005 and 2014 as they forced additional renewable capacity into their electricity markets. Sunny Spain used to be the poster boy for renewables in Europe — photovoltaic cells and wind turbines stretching on forever. Now they are broke, winding back subsidies, even the feed-in tariffs which were guaranteed for 20 years. But wait, what about the green energy jobs that everybody gushes about? Spain has an unemployment rate of 21 per cent with a youth rate of 45.5 per cent.

Britain is little better. Subsidies are being wound back, and a Department of Energy report points out that in 2013, the number of households in fuel poverty in England was estimated at 2.35 million representing around 10.4 per cent of all households.

It is no better in the US either. States with renewable energy mandates are backtracking faster than Sally Pearson can clear hurdles. Ohio has halved its mandate level (it was 25 per cent by 2025) because of high costs. West Virginia has repealed its mandate because of high costs, and New Mexico has frozen its mandates. Kansas was repealing its mandate which reportedly would save ratepayers $171m, representing $4367 for each household, and so the dismal story goes on. The US Department of Energy has found electricity prices have risen in states with mandates twice as fast as those with no mandate. As of 2013 California was the only state to adopt a feed-in tariff for solar power. It was immediately dubbed a failure by the renewable energy community because it offered only 31 cents per kWh, only five times the rate for conventional base load power.

Ah, but Asian countries are jumping on the bandwagon. Maybe. China built one new coalfired power plant every week in 2014, and India’s coal-powered investment in that same year equalled the total electricity capacity of NSW and Queensland. To summarise — with all of the trillions spent worldwide on wind and solar, wind currently represents 1.2 per cent of global consumption of energy, and solar 0.2 per cent.

The good news, it is possible to reduce fossil fuel use in electricity generation — through hydro-electricity and nuclear fuel. Plenty of countries have done it — Canada 60 per cent hydro and 15 per cent nuclear; Sweden 45 per cent hydro and 48 per cent nuclear; Switzerland 54 per cent hydro and 41 per cent nuclear; France 11 per cent hydro and 79 per cent nuclear.

But Australia has zero tolerance of these two workable alternatives to fossil fuels. At least we are consistently inconsistent.

So where does that leave us? On the basis of evidence everywhere we could easily double the price of electricity and get nowhere near the 50 per cent target. What would that mean?

First, it means rapidly disappearing blue collar jobs in high energy industries like manufact­uring, car and ship building, smelting and refining, steel making and food processing. There may be still some construction jobs, but they will largely be assembly only, as all of the components will come from those countries more interested in growing the economy and eliminating poverty than stoking the warm inner glow. Make no bones about it, a clean green economy has no place for high-vis shirts.

Second, rapidly rising electricity prices and the subsequent increase in the cost of living, disproportionately affects those at the bottom of the income scale.

Policies like this are OK for the Greens. They can keep their virtue intact because they never have to deliver. As Gough Whitlam once said, only the impotent are pure.  :lol:

 Mainstream parties don’t have that luxury. They need to look at the true costs, and benefits, of all policy proposals.

Keith DeLacy is a former Labor treasurer of Queensland.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The author may have even had some valid points however if they want to do that it's imperative that they get the basic facts right. 

 

The claim that Germany only produces 1% of it's total energy from solar is provably incorrect with a google search. It's about 6%. Did Spain go broke because of their renewable energy policy? I could go on but life is too short.

 

A google search would also reveal that the author wasn't just the treasurer of Queensland but CEO of Peabody coal and is current CEO of Galilee Water that stands to make a whole bunch of dough from the Galilee basin coal development. This may or may not have influenced his opinion but it should have been disclosed.

 

Turnbull's/Morrison's claims that the most benefit from NG policy doesn't go to the well off are checkable using tax office records. It doesn't stop the claims being repeated. They (and I believe the author in this case) rely on more people not checking facts than do and subsequently repeating the propaganda. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The claim that Germany only produces 1% of it's total energy from solar is provably incorrect with a google search. It's about 6%. Did Spain go broke because of their renewable energy policy? I could go on but life is too short.

 

 

Spain taxed people who went solar to reduce its uptake. Spain's economy is also not the greatest, though that is more related to creating accounting like the rest of Club Med. Irrespective of that, what is being suggested on a worldwide basis will be much more detrimental to the global economies. Serious replacement of fossil fuels, when there are no economically viable & reliable alternatives will introduce massive disruptions until technology of alternatives improves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Spain taxed people who went solar to reduce its uptake. Spain's economy is also not the greatest, though that is more related to creating accounting like the rest of Club Med. Irrespective of that, what is being suggested on a worldwide basis will be much more detrimental to the global economies. Serious replacement of fossil fuels, when there are no economically viable & reliable alternatives will introduce massive disruptions until technology of alternatives improves.

 

My point is that if Delacy has actual data on the impact of Spain's renewable policy on the demise of their economy I'd be keen to see it. He may have a point but I can't see one from his article. 

 

It's just a chewbacca defense...

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Good article. It contradicts Keith Delacy's claim that "Solar and wind simply don’t work, not here, not anywhere."

 

Leaving that aside I would be happy to see big solar replace home systems as wide scale home systems push up the grid cost for everyone else. The marginal cost of power with a decreasing base of users and static running costs ensure it.

 

It is my understanding that subsidies for home systems were originally introduced to achieve cost reductions through economy of scale. At some point the industry has to get off the teat and stand up on it's own two feet.

 

Additionally, the subsidies for home systems in general go to the more well off that can afford the upfront costs of installation. This isn't particularly equitable. The gradual reduction in subsidies would hopefully encourage the development of more efficient home systems. 

 

In regard to MRET's, if the economic drivers achieve the targets regardless of their presence I don't see any need to remove them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Spain taxed people who went solar to reduce its uptake. Spain's economy is also not the greatest, though that is more related to creating accounting like the rest of Club Med. Irrespective of that, what is being suggested on a worldwide basis will be much more detrimental to the global economies. Serious replacement of fossil fuels, when there are no economically viable & reliable alternatives will introduce massive disruptions until technology of alternatives improves.

 

Just remember that the poorest in society feel it the most. Energy is also a major component of costs to industries, impacting their ability to remain competitive.

 

Surging electricity prices spark calls for national inquiry into renewable energy

 

 

Surging electricity prices in South Australia have sparked calls for a national inquiry into renewable energy and whether the electricity market is coping with the influx of wind and solar.

 
Over the past month South Australia has had surges in wholesale electricity prices. Normally sitting below $100 per megawatt hour, they have fluctuated dramatically in recent weeks, hitting as much as $14,000 per megawatt hour and regularly jumping above $10,000.
 
The prices have spooked energy-intensive heavy industry in the state, including the embattled Arrium steelworks, and led the premier, Jay Weatherill, to call on a recently mothballed gas power plant to fire up.
South Australia leads the Australian states and territories when it comes to reliance on renewable energy sources besides large-scale hydro. About 40% of its electricity comes from variable renewable sources such as wind and it has a 50% renewable energy target for 2025.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Newscorp seems to have a thing about renewables. The blame for the surge isn't due to the renewable policy.

 

South Australia's 'absurd' electricity prices: renewables are not to blame

 

While the Australian Financial Review editorial said,

The South Australian Labor government’s rush into renewable energy, particularly wind power … has helped generate a surge in South Australian electricity prices.

Politicians are now responding, with Liberal Senator Chris Back calling for a ban on new wind farms until after a review by the Productivity Commission. Meanwhile Senator Nick Xenophon’s party are backing a Senate inquiry.

Yet everyone has missed the main cause of a doubling in SA power price rises – a doubling in gas prices. 

What makes it all especially worrying is the blame attributed to renewable energy appears to have originated from a public relations campaign initiated by the lobby group for the big power generators. 

Like all good PR spin it is built on a few grains of truth that can exploit people’s existing preconceived beliefs that renewable energy is expensive.

 

  Scotland's wind turbines cover all its electricity needs for a day

 

High winds on Sunday were strong enough to power the equivalent of all of Scotland’s electricity needs for the day, according to environmentalists. 

The Met Office issued a yellow “be aware” weather warning covering much of the country as wind speeds reached 115mph on the top of the Cairngorms and gusts of more than 60mph hit towns in the north. 

The weather brought travel disruption, with some bridges closed, ferries cancelled and trains affected but helped boost the country’s renewable energy production. 

Environmental group WWF Scotland said an analysis of data by WeatherEnergy shows wind turbines in Scotland generated power equivalent to more than cover the entire country’s electricity needs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Terrific when the wind blows. But not much good for consistent base load. Similar for solar. Good for complementing, but the technology is not there to permanently replace fossil fuels.

Every third house in my street has solar. Driven by government subsidies. Why weren't the govt subsidising wind? Are a couple of wind mills on the roof no good at producing power?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Every third house in my street has solar. Driven by government subsidies. Why weren't the govt subsidising wind? Are a couple of wind mills on the roof no good at producing power?

 

For starters, wind turbines are not compact (even something like this one). So they would be unsuitable for high density dwellings that you get in cities. Then there is noise and the impact on bird life.

I don't know about the costs, but I suspect that they require much more maintenance as they have moving parts. I also would expect for the upfront costs to be higher than solar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For starters, wind turbines are not compact (even something like this one). So they would be unsuitable for high density dwellings that you get in cities. Then there is noise and the impact on bird life.

I don't know about the costs, but I suspect that they require much more maintenance as they have moving parts. I also would expect for the upfront costs to be higher than solar.

Well that explains things. I was imagining a couple of whirly bird type things on every roof. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love the claimed fuel efficiency of vehicles.

 

It's a great big steaming pile of crap. You'd think that car manufacturers at least keep their lies somewhat believable and consistent. 4.2L/100k for a Jag. I can't get that sort of fuel efficiency out of my reliant robin, let alone a two-tonne car. 

 

Gotta go, theirs a unicorn at the door. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Newscorp seems to have a thing about renewables. The blame for the surge isn't due to the renewable policy.

 

South Australia's 'absurd' electricity prices: renewables are not to blame

 

  Scotland's wind turbines cover all its electricity needs for a day

 

 

It has nothing to do with Newscorp

 

SMH: Josh Frydenberg's 'delicate balance': keeping energy cheap while cutting carbon

 

One of the issues is that, renewables are just unreliable

 

Debate has raged over the trigger for the leap in wholesale energy prices in SA, which was prompted by a combination of a cold snap, untimely maintenance on a power link to Victoria, intermittent renewable supplies and a shortage of gas.

 

Competition and this might help to reduce the need for fossil fuels for base load supplies and more stable prices:

 

..Also on the agenda will be the introduction of new storage options such as batteries and pumped hydro to speed the introduction of more renewable energy sources and smooth out energy prices...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It has nothing to do with Newscorp

 

SMH: Josh Frydenberg's 'delicate balance': keeping energy cheap while cutting carbon

 

One of the issues is that, renewables are just unreliable

 

Competition and this might help to reduce the need for fossil fuels for base load supplies and more stable prices:

Well you're right about an increase in competition. Yes renewables are intermittent but this is not a reason to abandon them. Cartel behaviour is behind the pricing for recent events.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/19/if-energy-ministers-bow-to-gas-industry-theyll-be-deciding-in-the-dark

But for Robertson, the main issue was breaking up what he said was basically a cartel with both the gas producers and the pipeline operators.

Ross Garnaut says Australia facing looming economic 'time bombs'

He said given that the gas producers such as BHP have claimed they have plenty of gas, the only thing driving up prices can be an exploitation of market power. Again, that was something identified by the ACCC inquiry, which concluded: “There are currently very few constraints on monopoly pricing by pipeline operators.”

Simms said in April: “The difference between a competitive market and an uncompetitive market in south-eastern Australia could be as much as $4 a gigajoule for wholesale gas.”

Robertson points out that if the price rises are a result of a lack of competition, then increasing the supply of gas won’t help – it would still be owned by the same operators and transported through the same pipelines.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes renewables are intermittent but this is not a reason to abandon them. 

 

 

Abandoning - no. But enforcing them at any cost over the reliable fossil fuels is a different matter. They have to become a viable alternative in order to abandon coal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just got my latest power bill from AGL. (I shat myself at the $650 tab - every bill there is a price increase!) Anyway...

 

In the bill there was a flyer for AGL batteries (and solar if you don't have it already). So batteries are starting to become mainstream. Just starting. 

 

Edit: The biggest barrier I see for batteries is the stupid system set up in most states where you get paid more than twice the rate for power fed into the grid than you buy back at night. Why would I spend a schilling on batteries to store my power?

Edited by zaph

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Abandoning - no. But enforcing them at any cost over the reliable fossil fuels is a different matter. They have to become a viable alternative in order to abandon coal.

 

It looks like the Germans are struggling with the cost of wind power. Probably the same problem South Australia is having.

 

 

 

... Electricity from new wind power is nearly four times as expensive as electricity from existing nuclear power plants, according to analysis from the Institute for Energy Research. The rising cost of subsidies is passed onto ordinary rate-payers, which has triggered complaints that poor households are subsidizing the affluent....

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

It looks like the Germans are struggling with the cost of wind power. Probably the same problem South Australia is having.

 

 

 

 

 

I saw Xenophon on the ABC tonight talking about the current blackout in SA. He was questioning the wisdom of 40% wind during weather events where turbines can't function due to winds being too strong. He claims to support the transition to renewables. Gas apparently being a better transitional power source. I have no issue with gas as a transitional fuel source. It's 50% lower CO2 producing than coal. 

 

I am looking forward to the post-mortem on the cause of the outage. The high winds caused high tension lines to fail. Not sure whether the source of supply impacts this sort of event but it will be interesting to see.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now