Essay by Eric Worrall
Aussie PM Anthony Albanese testing to destruction the fallacy that renewable energy can reduce power bills.
Electricity prices rose to their highest on record – and the nightmare is set to continue
‘Australians haven’t seen a fraction of what’s coming.’
Millions of Australian households are being warned their power bills will continue to rise after the country’s energy market operator reported record-high costs.
In a report on Friday, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) said wholesale power costs soared in the three months to June.
Average prices for the quarter were $264 per megawatt hour.
That’s more than triple the $85 per megawatt hour reported during the same period in 2021.
The AEMO said a combination of factors contributed to the “extraordinary” rise.
“The impacts in local fuel markets of extremely high international prices for traded gas and thermal coal.
“Reduced availability of coal-fired generation, due to scheduled maintenance as well as long- and short duration forced outages, driving high levels of gas-fired generation, which both raised electricity prices and put pressure on local gas markets.
“Physical fuel supply and hydrological constraints at a number of thermal and hydro generators, which further limited their operational flexibility.”
Bruce Mountain, the inaugural Director of the Victoria Energy Policy Centre at Victoria University, says Australians should expect to see their power bills double over the coming year.
“Australians haven’t seen a fraction of what’s coming,” he told 7NEWS.com.au.
It would take “spectacular” circumstances for prices to come back down, he said.
“We honestly don’t know how long it will be until prices begin to normalise,” Mountain said.
“I’ve seen some speculation it could be years, but we just don’t know.”
Our Prime Minister’s response to this crisis is to stand by his modelling that renewables will bring down power prices. But even if renewables were capable of bringing down power prices, which they aren’t, by staying the course our PM is condemning ordinary Australians to years of excruciating electricity bills.
Remembers those coal plants various Aussie governments celebrated shutting down? Any of them could have taken the edge off today’s spiralling energy prices.
Remember those nuclear plants Australia refused to consider building? Nuclear plants are immune from short term price fluctuations, they only have to be refuelled every two years, and the next batch of fuel can be prepared ahead of time, ready for use. Australia has vast reserves of Uranium.
The one thing which won’t save us is renewables. If a nation of engineers like Germany can’t make renewables work, if Germany can’t sever their dependency on Russian gas through all the billions they have invested into renewables, nobody can.
There is plenty Australia could do to increase gas availability – just getting out of the way, lifting fracking bans, and letting entrepreneurs cash in by building desperately needed gas wells would be enough.
But I don’t expect a sensible response to our energy price crisis from our current crop of politicians. The Aussie Government’s response so far has been to pin their hopes on renewables saving the day, while demonising gas companies, and threatening to expropriate their gas, under emergency powers.
Expropriating gas might alleviate immediate shortages, and provide short term relief. But expropriation could cause a collapse in remaining gas field investment. Nobody likes having their stuff taken away by force, and investors are already wary of Australian regulatory hostility. Expropriation could make Australia uninvestable.
via Watts Up With That?
August 1, 2022 at 04:55PM