Australians Duped by Constant Green Washing: Renewables Ain’t Cheap & Ain’t Reliable

Australians Duped by Constant Green Washing: Renewables Ain’t Cheap & Ain’t Reliable

The one thing we have to hand it to the wind and solar industry is how they’ve been able to convince so many, for so long about the ‘wonders’ of their massively subsidised, skittish wares.

As Mark Twain put it: “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

Getting the message to the mob that the wind and sun might be free, but that wind and solar power come with massive hidden costs has been STT’s mission for years now.

In this post we’ve enlisted the help of Jo Nova to unravel the myth about renewables being cheap and The Australian’s Robert Gottliebsen to finger the real culprits behind South Australia’s now infamous load shedding and blackouts.

Australians duped into thinking that renewable energy is cheap
Jo Nova Blog
Jo Nova
12 April 2017

Crazy World Quiz #2349:
Let’s close the cheapest generators of electricity.
Will electricity bills:

  1. go down
  2. go up
  3. be paid by The Tooth Fairy?

A quarter of Australians don’t know. A half think the answer is “b” or “c”. It’s that bad.

A new survey came out this week which fans of renewables are using to argue we need more renewables, but hidden in the data is the big misinformation that underlies this attitude.

Coalition supporters back quicker shift to renewable energy
[Sydney Morning Herald]

Adam Morton says:

The wisdom of a campaign by the Turnbull government emphasising the risks of moving too rapidly to renewable energy has been thrown into question by polling that suggests a majority of its supporters don’t agree.

Not at all. The real issue, that Adam Morton misses, is that so much of the country is horribly misinformed. All the key questions in the survey depend on what would happen to electricity prices, and nearly half the country lives under the delusion that “renewables” make our electricity prices cheaper.

All Malcolm Turnbull has to do to turn these figures around is to tell the fact that coal fired electricity is generated for 3 – 4 cents a kilowatt hour. Then run this survey again, and see support for a renewables target crash.

Most Australians have no idea that coal fired power is the cheapest power by far. The Tooth Fairy subsidies mean that some people with solar panels on their roof think they are getting “cheap electricity” when really someone else is paying part of their bill.

Just find us one nation running on wind and solar that has cheap electricity. They don’t exist. The only cost effective renewable energy comes from hydro. Wind and solar theoretically provide cheap electrons sometimes, but we need electricity all day every day, and the net effect the intermittent sources have on the whole grid makes for expensive electricity. The intermittent generators stop us from getting cheap electricity. The subsidies to pander to them (like the RET) force the cheap generators out of the market.

If the Australia Institute really wanted to understand what Australians think, they would have told Australians the price of coal fired electricity, told them the cost of the subsidy (RET = 8c/KWhr) and asked people how many dollars extra they are willing to pay for the RET, instead of quizzing them with loaded questions about situations that don’t exist anywhere in the world.

These push-polling type surveys that miss the key facts in the debate are measuring the success of PR campaigns, or the ignorance of respondents.
Jo Nova

***

It may be that the gullible masses are all for wind and solar power but – when the question is asked how much they’re actually prepared to pay for it, the answer is not very much: Renewables Revolt: Australians Refuse to Pay One Cent More for Wind & Solar

There is obviously a limit to what people are prepared to budget on vanity signalling and moral posturing. Then there’s the price of having no power at all.

The place that renewables advocates often find themselves in – right alongside those who fail to share their delusional zeal – is freezing or boiling in the dark

Blackouts a certainty amid rising gas shortage
The Australian
Robert Gottliebsen
21 April 2017

Melbourne and Sydney normally have 10 to 15 very hot days when the wind does not blow.

If we have a “normal” summer in 2017-18 in our two largest cities it is absolutely certain we will have blackouts covering 10 to 15 days. Under present circumstances there will not be enough power to cover the peak summer demand.

And that assumes the ageing generators and power distributing networks operate without breakdowns. Because we start with an overall power shortage, the impact of any major equipment/transmission breakdowns will be severe. Then we go to gas.

The looming gas shortage in the 2017 winter can be overcome with relatively minor actions. In the following years much more drastic action is required. The government has made a start on tackling the gas disaster.

But households and industry face a doubling of power and substantial rises in gas prices in the next 12 to 18 months. The biggest force in higher power prices is the increased price of gas. The Bass Strait and Cooper Basin producers are now selling their gas to the Gladstone LNG exporters who contracted to sell overseas more gas than they can produce. The Santos consortium is the key gas “shorter”.

Those power and gas price increases will transform the economics of vast numbers of businesses and households. Prices of goods and services will have to rise and households with large mortgages will direct more of their discretionary funds towards energy bills.

That’s the grim picture facing the nation. The power industry consists of a large number of commercial bodies. Top engineers have co-operated to make the above calculations. A number of politicians have been told the grim truth.

The NSW and Victorian state politicians who deny we face this situation are either lying or have not been told. Because the ALP government politicians in Victoria and South Australia and the Coalition in NSW caused this crisis they know that voters in their next elections will be severe if there are widespread blackouts. But it’s always possible that NSW and Victoria may be saved from blackouts if we have a mild, windy summer.

And the politicians who know the truth also hope that if we have a “normal” summer which creates blackouts there will also be equipment failures. That way they can blame equipment failures for the blackouts.

Today I set out the problem and tomorrow I will disclose what we can do about it, but I warn there is no magic bullet and I doubt whether we have governments of sufficient calibre or power in our states and Canberra.

We may need blackouts to force the politicians to take the required action. But at least they will knew what has to be done. At this stage I don’t think the parliaments or public servants have any idea what to do. The problem is typified by what is happening in Victoria, where the government announced it was erecting some 5500MW of renewable power generation (mostly wind) to at least in part offset the closure of Hazelwood. Green groups gave them great praise and the overall community also felt good.

I believe they have been since been told the horrible truth that to make that generation effective about $1 billion must be spent on the transmission network because the network is structured around transmitting power from the Latrobe Valley and not from the wind farm locations. The politicians are still erecting the wind farms, but not the transmission capability, and they have limited back-up generation plans for when wind does not blow.

Victoria is blundering into the same mistake that South Australia made by erecting large amounts of wind power without reliable back-up and with a network that is not equipped for it. The back-up and transmission investments alter the economics of wind and solar. The SA blackouts were made much worse by equipment failures. Victoria has not learned from SA and NSW is already well down the same track. Queensland has also announced it is planning major investments in renewable energy.

I must emphasise there is a strong community desire to invest in renewables, but when you undertake such a program you must also invest the large amounts required in the transmission network and in back-up facilities.

To the credit of South Australians, they have learned their lesson, albeit the hard way, and will erect major diesel power generators and batteries and hope that is sufficient for the 2017-18 summer. They are also planning a new gas-fired station.

Neither Victoria nor NSW has done that because they realise that such decisions will require even greater increases in power prices to pay for extra facilities. Power prices will probably have to be increased by the same amount again — an effective trebling.

The commonwealth must get credit for starting to tackle the gas problem and for announcing the Snowy pumped hydro scheme. And Opposition Leader Bill Shorten should be given credit for his work in emphasising that action is required on gas.

But it is not easy for ALP or Coalition politicians. Victoria and NSW have both blocked fracking and non-fracking gas developments which would have gone a long way to solving the gas supply problems.

The state Coalition and ALP politicians seek green votes by erecting wind farms and stopping gas. But the gas is required to back-up the renewables when the wind does not blow and when there are gaps in solar generation. If there are blackouts they will lose the votes of all the community.

Avoiding blackouts requires massive expenditure, which must be recouped by charging even more for power. Again electoral suicide.

Our politicians have never faced such a situation. That’s why at state level at best they tell half-truths and sometimes just tell lies.
The Australian

Robert Gottliebsen has a long way to go before he can say he’s come to grips with Australia’s self-inflicted energy crisis. Robert thinks South Australia’s power crisis is all but over:

To the credit of South Australians, they have learned their lesson, albeit the hard way, and will erect major diesel power generators and batteries and hope that is sufficient for the 2017-18 summer. They are also planning a new gas-fired station.

The cost of running a diesel generator, compared to an efficient coal-fired power plant on $/MWh basis is staggering. Modern diesel plant will at its near-optimal 65-70% loading, generate 3 KWh per litre.

With diesel at $1.30 per litre that means a MWh of diesel generation (in terms of fuel cost alone) will cost South Australians $433 (333  litres being needed for 1 MWh @ $1.30 per litre), compared with coal-fired power, which costs less than $50 per MWh to deliver, day in, day out. On those numbers, Weatherill’s power plan brings with it a staggering cost going way beyond the $550 million needed just to set it up.

And Weatherill’s ‘plan’ is to set up 200-250MW of diesel generation capacity along with a $150m 100MWh battery that would power SA for all of 4 minutes.

The Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro scheme Robert mentions is years away, uncosted and was deemed uneconomic back in the 1980s when it was first being pumped.

But, apart from completely misunderstanding the causes of the disaster (Robert, it’s the Federal government’s Large-Scale RET) and the solutions to it (starting with scrapping the LRET on the ‘when you’re in a hole stop digging’ principle), Robert gets one thing right: thanks to the chaos caused by wind power, the entire Eastern Grid is going to suffer more blackouts, more often; the cost of plugging the gaps left by daily wind power output collapses (see above) will be colossal; as a result, power consumers (read ‘voters’) will be furious; and that sticking with the current policy will inevitably lead to ‘electoral suicide’.

Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg can bank it on it

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