Before the wind and sun cult took charge, the power grid was designed and run by engineers – using coal, a little gas, hydro and nuclear (everywhere else in the world except Australia, that is). It ran like clockwork; power was cheap as chips and delivered on demand. Electrical storms were the only thing that stood between households and having power on tap. But that’s to reflect on a galaxy, far, far, away.
In the here and now, Europeans are licking their wounds after betting the house on intermittent wind and solar backed up, of course, using Russian gas, which is now in increasingly short supply.
Australia’s energy ‘policy’ is no more sensible, with a group of deluded lunatics in charge and hellbent on destroying what’s left of the system that’s served this country perfectly for the best part of a century.
The Australian’s Peta Credlin outlines this country’s acceleration towards an inevitable wind and solar train wreck.
Speeding ever faster to renewables wreck
2 November 2022
No one in authority has yet had the courage and the intellectual honesty to explain the magnitude of the power transition this country is now forced by law to embark on and the dire consequences of its likely failure.
Engineers and system bosses must know but would rather not disturb the political consensus that urgent decarbonisation is needed to save the planet. And some politicians must guess but would rather not have to explain to the public that we can keep the lights on or reduce emissions at express speed but not both.
So far the only one who has come close is Alinta head Jeff Dimery, who ruffled feathers three weeks back at an energy conference by warning that power prices would rise by 35 per cent next year and explaining it would cost $8bn to replace with firmed renewables $1bn worth of his company’s fossil-fuelled power-generating capacity.
But despite the budget’s similar forecast last week of a 56 per cent price hike within two years, the Albanese government has doubled down on its insistence that the best way to get power prices down is to put even more renewable power, even more quickly, into the system.
This is despite the fact the universal experience of moving en masse from fossil fuels to renewable power has been much higher prices due to wind and solar’s inability to generate the 24/7 power a modern society needs.
In Germany, real average power prices have risen by almost 50 per cent across the past decade as renewables have risen from under 20 per cent to more than 40 per cent of total domestic power generation.
Consider the scale of the transition that’s required here. To meet the government’s legislated 43 per cent emissions reduction target (let alone the higher targets of most states), coal will have to drop from supplying 60 per cent-plus of our power needs to under 10 per cent within eight years. And renewables will have to rise from supplying about 30 per cent now to more than 80 per cent. Plus 28,000km of grid will have to be constructed to cope with this new decentralised power generation, to be used, on average, only 30 per cent of the time.
In practical terms that’s 28,000km of poles and wires with the trained trades to erect it, and necessary access to farming land and property across the country.
In a moment of candour, Energy Minister Chris Bowen recently said achieving the government’s goal would require the installation of 40 large wind turbines every month and 22,000 standard solar panels every day for the next eight years. We will need, Bowen said, “to mine, move and manufacture immense volumes of material, energy and equipment … and to train and mobilise hundreds of thousands of skilled … workers” in a “collective endeavour that is almost of unprecedented scale”.
Because lowering emissions is now a religion, there’s just this blind assumption that somehow, as with the loaves and the fishes, or water into wine at Cana, it will all just happen. Only – what if it doesn’t? In Victoria, new wind farms can take up to 51 months to be approved. The cost of the 360km HumeLink power line to connect Snowy 2.0 to the NSW grid had reportedly blown out by mid-last year from the original estimate of $1.35bn to $3.32bn. The project, first put forward in 2018, is still nowhere near final approval, let alone starting construction. As well, at roughly $10m a kilometre for HumeLink, given the higher costs now for steel, construction and environmental offsets, Labor’s estimate of $80bn for the extra 28,000km of transmission lines needed looks out by a factor of nearly four.
Then there’s how to keep the power on when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining which, as Europe has found, can happen for weeks at a time.
Australia’s average daily power needs peak at about 28,000 megawatts (but that’s before all the electric cars that are supposed to be surging into use by 2030). At peak storage and without replenishment, Snowy 2.0 could keep just 2000MW of power going for just over a week. Victoria’s proposed $160m big battery, on the government’s estimates, could keep about a third of Victoria’s nearly three million households going for 30 minutes.
Then there’s the security implications of energy supply. As even Bowen admits, about 90 per cent of the world’s solar panels (and not much short of that in wind turbines) are sourced from China. They require replacing every 20 years or so. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that if China wants to cause us maximum distribution, it just needs to interrupt renewable supply chains and we grind to a halt.
Around the country, alarmed governments are talking about extreme interventions such as forcing companies to break export contracts and mandatory fixed prices to prevent bill shock and keep the lights on, even though these measures inevitably would cause investment to dry up, thus making a bad situation worse.
The more fundamental problem is climate-induced paranoia about opening new gas fields such as Gippsland in Victoria and Narrabri in NSW. Meanwhile, despite being Australia’s most anti-fossil fuel government, Victoria secretly is paying EnergyAustralia to keep open the Yallourn coal-fired power station, presumably to stop its aluminium smelters from closing. Everyone, Liberal almost as much as Labor, wants to pretend it’s possible to have cheaper power and lower emissions and more jobs because even if the technology doesn’t exist now (other than via nuclear) there is hope it will emerge in time.
This has become easier than facing up to the lie. Especially now that Labor has legislated a concrete eight-year deadline rather than the elastic three decades of the former Coalition government. And while the public is happy to demand greater action on climate, only a fraction is willing to pay a personal cost to make it happen. A recent YouGov poll showed only 4 per cent of Australians would be prepared to pay $1200 a year (or the likely hike in power bills) to limit climate change.
Of course, it’s hard for Labor MPs to admit that maybe reducing emissions isn’t quite the urgent necessity they’ve been insisting on since Kevin Rudd called climate change the greatest moral challenge of our time. Or for Liberal MPs to confess it’s political cowardice that has stopped them speaking out against the consequences of the emissions obsession. But soon the moral zealotry and intellectual timidity on both sides will crash against facts. And eventually hard facts will always trump mere opinion.
If we keep heading for the same destination at the same speed, a train wreck is inevitable. Only instead of saying slow down or change course, almost our entire political class is saying to push on even faster. Who will call this madness out?
via STOP THESE THINGS
November 13, 2022 at 12:32AM