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.

Greens Logic


A report by the National Electricity Operator (AEMO) found that NSW suffered a big shortfall in electricity production last week due to problems with some of the traditional generators. A couple of smaller generators were off-line due to mechanical or gas supply issues.

So this morning’s ABC Radio News featured the obvious response from the Greens: “Fossil fuel generators are not reliable and need to be replaced with renewable energy sources.”

So Greens logic is that you can depend on wind and solar which only operate when the weather is right, but not on coal or gas generators which run night and day regardless of the weather. Yes traditional generators do break down and do need to be taken down for maintenance some times. But so do wind generators and solar systems.

Brilliant logic from the Greens, as usual.


Jo Nova: SA Blackout: Three towers, six windfarms and 12 seconds to disaster


(Generic photo, not necessarily indicative of anything in SA)

I heard SA Premier, Jay Weatherall (there’s an ironic name for you). the man must be the biggest dill in politics in Australia. When the AM presenter asked him about the AEMO report indicating that the sudden shut-down of the wind farms was a big factor in the state-wide blackout he flat out denied it. Then he blustered for a few minutes and said that there was a glitch that shut down these wind generators on that day. And the cause of the shut down? At this point I couldn’t take any more and went for a shower.

Jo Nova details the steps that led to the catastrophic shut down of a state.

SA Blackout: Three towers, six windfarms and 12 seconds to disaster

Finally, the gritty info we’ve been waiting for: The Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) preliminary report. The message here is of how a combination of both transmission towers failing and probably the auto-shut-off of wind farms combined in 12 seconds to crash the South Australian system. It’s looking awfully bad for the wind industry. The AEMO pins the crash on the sudden reduction from the wind generators, but stops short of declaring why they dropped power so suddenly. Was it the auto-shut-offs, lightning strikes, a software glitch,  turbine failure, or was it a key transmission line that broke?  Reneweconomy is about the last-man-standing trying to defend the wind industry in Australia. Giles Parkinson argues it was the third transmission line that took out some wind generation.

Even if the third transmission tower took out two “farms”, the fragility of wind-dominated grids is on display. And above and beyond this, South Australian electricity is a management debacle. The only question is, which mistake was the worst: Is this is epic indulgence of running the wind farms flat out in a storm only to trigger a blackout with their auto shut offs? There’s a compelling case, but there are tenths or less of a second between events in these graphs, and no confirmation.

If it was transmission towers that ultimately broke the system, things don’t look better for wind power which needs so many long transmission lines to capture energy from sites spread far and wide, rather than connecting a few centralized spots like coal stations — and that’s expensive (thanks to Tom Quirk for pointing out that).

We’re still left wondering why were these towers so weak, was it freak tornados — where is that documentation?  Then there is the unknowable — could it have been prevented if the Port Augusta  coal station was still running, or if the wind farms had turned off earlier in an orderly fashion, or if the transmission towers had been solid?

The bottom line is that wind energy comes at a very high cost and makes the system either very expensive or horribly fragile or both. Given that wind farms aren’t providing cheap electricity — when the infrastructure and the costs of having back up “spinning reserve”  and baseload is taken into account — what’s the point of adding all this risk to the system? To change the weather?

How many engineers saw this epic fail coming?

Read the full article here