What does the ‘inevitable’ wind and solar transition look like? Try power-starved Britain, where power prices are out of control, with much, much worse to come.
Last October, the average annual energy bill was £1,400 ($2,400). Energy industry analyst Cornwall Insight forecasts that the British price cap will skyrocket and the average annual bill will reach £3,582 ($6,177) in October this year. By January, it predicts it will be £5,000 (almost $10,000) a year.
By February, in the depth of a no doubt bitter winter, the average household will be spending £150 a week trying to keep the lights on and, perhaps, warming up a single room in their dimly lit homes. Householders will have the make the cruel choice between heating and eating. So far, so Third World.
None of this comes as a surprise to STT; we’ve been spelling it out on these pages for nearly a decade.
The idea that first world economies can ditch coal-fired and/or nuclear power and run on sunshine and breezes was always going to end in tears.
Sound engineering gave way to fanciful wishful thinking. The results were inevitable, but not in the sense that ideologues have been pretending.
That apparently intelligent political leaders went along with it might have been forgiven on grounds of starry-eyed naïveté, in the beginning.
With power pricing and supply calamities biting in every wind and solar obsessed country across Europe, talking up the notion of an inevitable renewable energy ‘transition’ sounds more like the rantings of the criminally insane.
There are plenty among Australia’s politicos and the MSM that treat the renewable energy disaster that is Europe as a “nothing to see here” consequence of Vlad Putin’s Ukrainian invasion.
As STT has pointed out, the rot had already set in long before Russian tanks rolled into Kyiv. Europe’s wind-powered future collided with reality when the Big Calm struck in September 2021 and lasted for months.
The Australian’s Chris Kenny has been following the unfolding debacle closely, for some time now. Here he is spelling it out for the uninitiated.
Want to see Australia’s energy future? Just look at Britain’s mess
27 August 2022
Thousands of elderly and poor people will die in Europe this winter because of energy policies driven by a climate action agenda. The virtue-signalling actions of the so-called elites have forced energy costs so high that many on fixed incomes will scrimp on heating so they can afford food.
Instead of starving, they will die from hypothermia. Reputable studies show this problem leads to between 3000 and 10,000 extra deaths in Britain every year but it is likely to be much worse this coming winter because of the severe energy crisis.
Bloomberg reports average annual household energy costs will almost double in Britain to about £3500, or more than $6000. British media reports people preparing to spend winter in a single room to reduce heating; and estimates say governments could spend £100bn shielding consumers from additional costs.
Most media and politicians, invested as they are in climate action and net-zero ambitions, ignore the real reasons for Europe’s energy vulnerability and blame it all on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukraine invasion. In reality, the renewables obsession has destroyed energy resilience, leaving most European nations exposed.
If you want to see Australia’s energy future, look to Europe now. We are a few steps behind on the same path, but Anthony Albanese and Energy Minister Chris Bowen (and for that matter NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean and leader of the opposition in the Senate Simon Birmingham) are determined to catch up quickly – like climate kamikaze pilots, they can think of nothing worse than missing their UN targets.
This is a global obscenity, dressed up as saving the planet. While the poor suffer and die, celebrities and politicians take private jets to climate conferences, staying in thermostat-controlled hotels and preaching climate alarmism.
There is no doubt policies advocated by climate alarmists have caused dislocation and unemployment, and cost lives, and they will deliver more pain in the future. But while the politicians, activists and media promise a fanciful future immunity from natural disasters – a climate nirvana – we cannot say their actions will deliver any benefit.
We do not know whether global emissions will trend down – that has not happened yet, and we cannot control what China, Russia, India or the many countries of Africa and other parts of the world may choose to do. Like we did, they might want to lift their people out of poverty by supplying affordable and reliable power.
Besides, scientists cannot be sure what benefits reduced emissions will deliver because they are not certain about the interaction between natural climate oscillations and anthropogenic impacts. We are being urged by all and sundry to inflict certain and ongoing pain for the possibility of ill-defined gains. Little wonder the information flow and political debate is so shallow and deceptive. If they trusted the public with the truth, all hell would break loose.
Even as reality unfolds in Europe, their instinct is to hide it. Last weekend ABC television news reported on draconian electricity rationing in Spain as a cutesy human-interest story about Spaniards taking an energy hit to help other Europeans reliant on Russian gas.
There was not even a passing mention of Spain’s dramatic renewables push and the closure and demolition of most of its coal-fired power generation. We were told Spain’s energy crisis was caused by Putin, even though the country does not use Russian gas.
It made no sense. Yet ignorance could not be their excuse – the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent filed from Spain only last year, lauding it as the socialist model of transitioning from coal to renewables. They knew. But they dared not tell.
It is the same with coverage of Germany and Britain, which have mothballed coal-fired power, pushed renewables and even tried to slide away from nuclear. This is what has made them less self-reliant, and more exposed to the vagaries of demand and supply, and Russia.
Germany has now extended the use of coal and is attempting to prolong the life of nuclear plants previously slated to close. Japan, too, is rebooting nuclear plants.
Britain is playing catch-up on expanding nuclear after the Conservatives under David Cameron went cold on it as the “last resort” almost two decades ago. Two nuclear plants are under construction after years of delays and they will replace about half of what has already been retired, with nuclear to supply about 25 per cent of British power within five years.
Back in 2006, Labour prime minister Tony Blair mocked Cameron for saying he wanted to “give every opportunity for green energy sources” to come through. “If they don’t,” Cameron added, “and we have to keep the lights on, then nuclear might come into the picture.” Blair mocked this farce, playing out a future cabinet discussion where Cameron might be told: “I’m afraid the renewables haven’t generated as much as we want, I’m afraid we’re not going to keep the lights on.”
Taunting Cameron, Blair asked parliament, “What’s he going to say? Rustle me up a nuclear power station?!” The House of Commons erupted in laughter and jeers. It is not so funny now.
“We need to put nuclear power back on the agenda,” Blair told parliament that day, 16 years ago. “Without it we will not be able to meet either our objectives on climate change or our objectives on energy security.” It was that obvious back then. Only political cowardice prevented practical outcomes that could have saved the day in 2022.
The extent to which public debate and political process is divorced from reality is truly astonishing. After what we have seen during the pandemic, I guess nobody should be surprised how governments, academics, bureaucrats and media can shape a narrative to suit their selective version of “the science”.
Eventually, reality cuts through. Just as the inescapable transmissibility of coronavirus has seen the lockdown, mask and mandate fetishists fall by the wayside as we learn to live with the disease, so will ongoing energy crises force governments to provide reliable electricity.
There is just so much needless pain to be endured in the meantime. None of the salient facts are a secret. The International Energy Agency has long declared that net zero is not achievable with current technology, and certainly not without an expanded role for nuclear power. Yet policymakers and advocates pretend day and night, as Cameron did, that renewables will “come through”.
Never mind that no country has delivered on this or that all those who have tried have ended up in pricing and reliability strife. Pretend away – because those who make the decisions are seldom the type who need to choose between paying a gas or electricity bill and buying groceries.
This week the Net Zero Australia project, conducted by Melbourne, Queensland and Princeton universities, enthusiastically and optimistically tried to put some facts and numbers around this country’s path to carbon neutrality. The numbers are staggering and the optimism implausible. They envisage vast solar installations the size of Tasmania, sufficient renewable generation to replicate our current national electricity grid 40 times over, a vast array of transmission lines, including overseas, with an ongoing energy spend almost double what we spend now. It is stupendous.
We should look at Britain, consider its decade or so of delay on new nuclear plants, and get started. We need reliable power at a predictable cost – we can shun emissions goals and return to coal, or we can embrace nuclear.
In the derangement of the digital age we get constant climate hysteria from the doomsayers, intoxicating the political class with a sense of urgency about all the wrong things. What Europeans need most in winter is energy to heat, cook and work, but what their leaders give them is vanity projects to save the planet.
It is the same in Australia. I almost choked on my Weeties this week, listening to yet another Radio National instalment of climate fear porn.
The ABC host and reporter overtly attributed weather events to global warming, and expressed astonishment at the rather prosaic fact that when rivers and lakes run low during drought we see things that were previously submerged. A lowbrow look at low lake levels.
But the best was yet to come. “The drought that’s taking place in the western United States right now is really turning into something that’s more than a drought,” said Ann Willis, a senior researcher from the University of California, Davis. “What we’re learning is that the entire landscape around us is changing before our very eyes, so where we might think of a drought as something that is temporary, what we’re really learning is that we’re moving into a period of permanent dryness.”
There was not a challenging question, not a hint of scepticism, and not even a historical reference to the 1930s and The Grapes of Wrath. Just climate sadomasochism. Worst of all, there was no self-awareness about how this same public broadcaster prominently promoted former climate commissioner Tim Flannery’s claims of “permanent drought” in Australia. Remember that? It was back when it had not rained on the east coast for some time, if anyone has a memory that good.
via STOP THESE THINGS
August 28, 2022 at 02:32AM