How To Reverse Prosperity In A Decade

From Jo Nova- the truth about “free power from nature”

Electricity prices fell for forty years in Australia, then renewables came…

Electricity prices declined for forty years. Obviously that had to stop.

Here’s is the last 65 years of Australian electricity prices — indexed and adjusted for inflation. During the coal boom, Australian electricity prices declined decade after decade.  As renewables and national energy bureaucracies grew, so did the price of electricity. Must be a coincidence…

Today all the hard-won masterful efficiency gains of the fifties, sixties and seventies have effectively been reversed in full.

Indexed Real Consumer Electricity Prices, 1955-2017. Graph.

Indexed Real Consumer Electricity Prices, Australia, 1955-2017.

For most of the 20th Century the Australian grid was hotch potch of separate state grids and mini grids. (South Australia was only connected in 1990). In 1998 the NEM (National Energy Market) began, a feat that finally made bad management possible on a large scale. Though after decades of efficiency gains, Australians would have to wait years to see new higher “world leading” prices. For the first years of the NEM prices stayed around $30/MWh.

But sooner or later  a national system is a sitting duck for one small mind to come along and truly muck things up.

Please spread this graph far and wide.

Thanks to a Dr Michael Crawford who did the original, excellent graph.


Jo Nova: “Free Energy” Costs Too Much

Jo Nova writes:

The Mystery: The most resource rich nation on Earth has the highest electricity prices?!

Ask anyone and get confused: It’s poles and wires, gaming of the system by capitalist pigs, excessive taxes, privatization, and record gas prices. The CleanEnergy Council  tells us that Australia has one of the longest electricity networks in the world — we need lots of poles! And so we do. But once upon a time Australia had the cheapest electricity in the world and we still had lots of poles. Not only were miles of poles and wires, there were also capitalist pigs, excessive taxes, and privatized generators. There were wild gas price spikes too, (during which we probably just burned more coal).

Evidently, something else has changed. Something seismic that wiped out all the bids below $50/MWh. 

Perhaps it has something to do with the 2,106 turbines in 79 wind farms that on random windy days might make 4,325MW that didn’t exist in Australia in 1999 when electricity was cheap and our total national wind power was 2.3 megawatts?

Another clue might be the 1.8 million new solar PV installations, which theoretically generate 7 gigawatts of electricity at noon on cloudless days if all the panels have been cleaned. Back in 2007, we had 14MW.

But of course, cause and effect are devilishly difficult. The one thing we know for sure is that even though sunlight and moving air is free, there is no country on Earth with lots of solar and wind power and cheap electricity.

Any day now, renewables are going to make electricity cheap, but when that happens, it’ll be a world first.

See the graph: the more renewables we have the more we pay…

Cost of electricity, countries, graph, renewables capacity.


Source: Paul Homewood at NotalotofpeopleKnowthat inspired graphs by Johnathon Drake, and Willis Eschenbach, and Dave Rutledge, similar to this one. This particular graph came via Judith Sloan in The Australian, though I can’t seem to find the exact link.

 We’re high achievers price-wise

Australia is far above the trend-line.  Our electricity is even more expensive than it should be for the amount of renewables we have. At a guess this might be because other nations have more “hydro” in their renewable mix and less wind and solar.  Or they have access to nuclear power (like all the EU countries). It may be made worse by the way our energy markets are managed, the profusion of bureaucracies, the subsidies and rebates, the renewable energy target, or the overlapping state and federal green aims. It also may be that in our smaller market we have a few big players gaming a volatile, complicated market. Stability may cost more here, due to the fragility of our network.

Don’t blame wind and solar… oh, wait

To isolate the effect, this graph from Euan Mearns takes out the “hydropower” and biomass aspect and just looks at wind and solar. Spot the trend:

(Note that “Aust” means Austria, not Australia)

Europe, renewables, countries, cost of electricity, graph.

Figure 1 The Y-axis shows residential electricity prices for the second half of 2014 from Eurostat. The X-axis installed wind + solar capacity for 2014 as reported in the 2015 BP statistical review normalised to W per capita using population data for 2014 as reported by the UN.

As Euarn Mearns says, there’s more than one variable at work here, but the inescapable conclusion is the countries with the highest levels of renewables pay the highest prices.    h/t Don B.

Is that another 10 cent price rise coming?

According to wikipedia our wind power capacity is set rise 250% or something crazy (I’m skeptical):

From wiki wind power in Australia–  As of May 2017 a further 12328 MW of capacity was proposed or committed.[2] “AEMO Planning and Forecasting – General Information Page”. Retrieved 7 June 2017.

For a population of 24 million that means we would add another 500 watts/capita. Eyeballing the trendline in the graph,  prices would rise by another 10c/KWhr. (Don’t try to unpack the x and y units exactly and calculate it. That’s another story.)

Say it again: there is no country on Earth with lots of solar and wind power and cheap electricity.


Moran, Alan (2017) The Finkel Report’s Recommendations on the Future Security of the National Electricity Market:
Impacts on the Australian Economy and Australian Consumers, Regulation Economics.

Solar Power in Germany- Awesome

Jo Nova writes about the awesome results of solar power in Germany- 10 hours of sunshine for the whole month, and even that at a very low angle above the horizon. They have 40 GW of installed solar PV (in theory, half their total power requirements) but when the sun don’t shine you get no power.

German solar: 10 hours of sun in December makes 40 Gigawatts of nothing

From Pierre Gosselin at No Tricks Zone:

Germany needs 80GW of electricity. It has 40GW of installed solar PV.

See the graph: The red line is what the country used, and the orange bumps are the solar contribution.

Clearly, solar power will take over the world.

Solar Energy, Germany, December 2017

In December, Germany got ten hours of sunlight. That’s not a daily figure, that’s the whole month. So in summer on a sunny day, solar PV can make half the electricity the nation needs for lunch. In winter, almost nothing. From fifty percent, to five percent.

Imagine what kind of havoc this kind of energy flux can do. Not one piece of baseload capital equipment can be retired, despite the fact that half of it is randomly unprofitable depending on cloud cover. Solar PV eats away the low cost competitive advantage. Capital sits there unused, spinning on standby, while wages, interest, and other costs keep accruing. So hapless baseload suppliers charge more for the hours that they do run, making electricity more expensive.

They just need batteries with three months supply. It will be fine once Germany turns the state of Thuringia into a redox unit.

Read about it:  Dark Days For German Solar Power, Country Saw Only 10 Hours Of Sun In All Of December!

It’s rare for Germans to botch up an engineering task on quite this scale.

You Can’t Do Heavy Industry On Renewables

Maybe the Green-Left Collective is starting to wake up to the fact that even in a post-truth age, you can’t just pretend that wind and solar can replace thermal power without affecting the whole economy.


Jo Nova writes:

Matt Howell, the CEO of Tomago Aluminium Smelter, told a few home truths on ABC radio Monday.

To paraphrase in my own words:

1. Aluminium Smelters gobble electrons for breakfast. His smelter uses 10% of  the entire electricity supply of the most populous state in Australia (NSW).

2. If power goes out without warning for more than three hours, the smelter pot lines freeze, permanently. The company goes to the wall.

3. The largest battery in the world would keep their smelter going for all of 8 minutes. There is a good reason there are no solar or wind powered aluminium smelters anywhere in the world.

4. The government can ‘t let the market solve anything whilst it is simultaneously destroying the free market by propping up the market failures at the same time.

5. Electricity pricing has suddenly gotveryugly. Their electricity bill may now be subject to price spikes where it could cost them $4 million just to keep one pot line running during that spike. It is as if suddenly gas stations only sold $400 per Litre petrol. (Which would be$1800/per gallon).  What he doesn’t say, but which logically follows from that, is thatheavy industry in most of Australia can no longer get reliable electricity at an affordable price, even with forward contracts. Cry, scream, run with your factory.

6. In Australia, if we achieve “zero coal” we will also achieve “zero heavy manufacturing”.

7. If we want heavy industry, we need a HELE Coal plant. There are hundreds being built around the world, and we are selling our coal to them. How crazy are we?

Howell makes some great points. It’s good to see an ABC presenter willing to let the evil capitalists speak. Well done Matt Wordsworth. I found something worth listening to on the ABC this year.


Read the rest of the article, including the link to the interview here

Electricity Price Shock


The brave new world of energy poverty is about to hit one of the most prosperous and energy-rich nations in the world. With electricity prices jumping by about 20% next month we are in for a tough time economically and financially. And of course the burden will as always fall hardest on the poor.

As Jo Nova points out this is how the climate change scare mongering policy is working out:

Many are blaming a “failure of energy policy”, but miss the point entirely — this is not failure but success. The aim of those energy policies was to close down coal fired stations and it worked. The Renewable Energy Target, the carbon tax, and other anti “carbon” policies did what they were supposed to do and forced the closure of both the Port Augusta power stations and Hazelwood (which supplied as much as 5% of Australia’s electricity). That left us dependent on gas instead of having the flexibility to ignore the current gas price outlandish cost.

With politicians and Chief Scientist Finkel colluding to drive up the price of electricity by forcing more renewables on us, there is no way that electricity prices are going to stabilise or fall.

At the moment, Government policy requires that retailers must take all wind and solar available at whatever price is set. Coal generators then get the left overs, but here is the rub- they cannot quickly slow down their systems (or speed them up for that matter) and coal generators run most efficiently at close to maximum power. Ironically all those wind turbines and solar cells do little to reduce the CO2 production at these plants.

So the operators of coal generators have to basically burn more coal than they optimally need to, take the price set by the Energy Market Operator and provide the “left overs” that wind and solar cannot supply on any day. Despite all the hidden subsidies in the electrical supply market, wind costs about $80 per Megawatt hour, solar $100 MWh and the wholesale price for coal is about $20 MWh.

The system is set up to destroy our cheapest form of energy generation in the long term. There will be no  more coal powered generators constructed because the current policy makes them unviable The only reason the we have any coal powered generators left in Australia is that the costs of constructing them were paid off decades ago.

Throw into that horrible mix the requirement of the Finkel review that all renewable systems must include batteries, that must surely double the cost of power generated that way- great for energy security but lousy for affordability. And then require all operators to give three years notice before exiting the industry- you have to maintain a loss-making business for three years- what planet are these people living on?

Meanwhile all of that heavy industry that used to be the life blood of Australia’s economy will go to places where electricity is cheaper- India and China most likely. Ironically the cheaper electricity in those two countries is partially fuelled by Australian coal. And of course under the Paris agreement those two countries get a free pass until 2030 from any reductions in their carbon emissions.

Australia is either being run by lunatics or traitors. I’m not sure which.


Matt Ridley: Wind power makes 0% of world energy

From Jo Nova:

Matt Ridley: Wind power makes 0% of world energy

It’s all in how you spin it. Supra-zoogle-watts of new wind power capacity was added last year. Wind and solar grew faster than fossil fuels. There are now 341,000 wind turbines around the world! Thus do Meaningless Big-Numbers flow.

Instead  Matt Ridley gets down to the small numbers that tell us what is going on: Wind Turbines are neither clean nor green.

The Spectator:  Here’s a quiz; no conferring. To the nearest whole number, what percentage of the world’s energy consumption was supplied by wind power in 2014, the last year for which there are reliable figures? Was it 20 per cent, 10 per cent or 5 per cent? None of the above: it was 0 per cent. That is to say, to the nearest whole number, there is still no wind power on Earth.

IEA world Energy Production, Graph, 2016.

Key Renewable Trends IEA 2016

The only renewables superstars are those you never hear about — wood and hydro:

Their trick is to hide behind the statement that close to 14 per cent of the world’s energy is renewable, with the implication that this is wind and solar. In fact the vast majority — three quarters — is biomass (mainly wood), and a very large part of that is ‘traditional biomass’; sticks and logs and dung burned by the poor in their homes to cook with. Those people need that energy, but they pay a big price in health problems caused by smoke inhalation.

…world energy demand has been growing at about 2 per cent a year for nearly 40 years.

If wind turbines were to supply all of that growth but no more, how many would need to be built each year? The answer is nearly 350,000, since a two-megawatt turbine can produce about 0.005 terawatt-hours per annum.

So we’d have to build 350,000 wind turbines every year just to keep up with the growth in electricity demand each year.

To be fair, apparently wind power generates nearly 5% of Australia’s total energy, which is at the same time, pretty remarkable, and also maybe why manufacturing here is dying.

Here’s a meanginless small number:

Portugal ran for four days straight once on renewable energy alone. Four whole days!

Read the whole article Wind Turbines are neither clean nor green.