Sign up for wind and solar and receive power supply chaos as just one of the added extras, along with rocketing power prices and a wave of social and environmental havoc.
Australia has been on the path since 2001 when Federal Liberal PM, John Howard introduced his Renewable Energy Target. The Target was greatly expanded by Labor in 2009, with the subsidies to wind and solar pumped up to cost Australian power consumers more than $4 billion a year.
But tonight’s post is about something that, barely a decade ago, was almost inconceivable in a country blessed with coal, gas and (completely ignored) uranium. That is, routine power supply disruptions in the form of widespread load shedding (when the grid manager is in control) and mass blackouts (when things get completely out of control).
At the heart of the debacle sits sunshine-dependent solar and weather-dependent wind.
Here’s Chris Kenny’s interview with National MP, Barnaby Joyce, despairing on just how desperate things have become.
We cannot make our nation as ‘powerful as possible’ by relying on renewables
Chris Kenny and Barnaby Joyce
26 May 2021
We cannot make our nation as “powerful as possible” by allowing our grid to be supplied by renewables, according to Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce. “We have to make this nation as powerful as possible as quickly as possible and we can’t do it taking our grid back to something which would resemble something from antiquated mid-Africa,” he told Sky News host Chris Kenny.
Chris Kenny: Let’s go to Canberra and talk to the former Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce. Good to talk to you, Barnaby.
Barnaby Joyce: Good to talk to you too, Chris.
Chris Kenny: Yeah look, I wanted to start off on energy. We had all those problems in Queensland in the last 24 hours. Look, there’s no renewable energy involved. No weather involved. It’s just an accident at a power generator. Yet a lot of people arguing it still underscores the lack of supply, lack of generation, on the east coast.
Barnaby Joyce: Well, what we saw after that, we saw prices spike at $15,000 a megawatt in Queensland. I think it went up to $13,300 a megawatt in New South Wales for a briefer period of time, for a product that usually sells for about $45 a megawatt. What it shows is that how reliant we are on coal and how unreliable renewables are to fix a problem in a crisis like that. We had one lady stuck on floor 53 on a 78 in a lift stopping in the Gold Coast at Q1, one of the largest residential towers in Australia. We saw similar circumstances to what happened in Texas when their grid shut down. Because the inability of renewables to deal with a crisis such as the massive cold snap they had. But there’s always a windfall gain for somebody. Somebody makes an absolute bucket of money. And of course, those who have the capacity to get power onto the grid at $15,000 a megawatt, are the ones who make the money.
And if there’s trades involved like the windfall game the Bank of America made in Texas, they also make a bucket of money. But the people who lose, Chris, are your viewers, they pay. And that’s why we’ve got to try and get some sense into this.
Chris Kenny: We hear a lot of advocates trying to tell us all the time that supply’s not such a big issue in Australia at the moment. That even this 600-megawatt gas-fired generator in the Hunter is not really needed. Yet in Senate estimates today an official from the Department of Industry and Science gave some pretty alarming assessment of where we’re at with supply and demand in electricity this winter. Have a listen.
Sean Sullivan: The evidence we’ve given already today around events in New South Wales and South Australia over the last week, there’s been huge volatility in prices. There’s been doubts around supply. There’s been lack of reserve forecasts, which are normally managed more generally over the summer months. And the fact that we’re having to manage those and AEMO’s having to manage those, it may suggest that the NEM is more susceptible to, and doesn’t have as much redundancy built into it as it has done in the past.
Chris Kenny: It’s such a worry, isn’t it, Barnaby? That the time when we’ve usually and we’re supposed to have a lot of supply that the demand is not that high, we’ve got these problems?
Barnaby Joyce: Yeah, it is. And it also shows to you that common logic and just basic understanding and a helicopter view of exactly what’s going on seems to be more reliable than some of the most apparently proficient advisors who would… When I was in my former times in the job, I remember an email coming in with, “No we’re going to close Hazelwood.” Which is about 22% of Victorian supply. We said this is going to cause major problems. They went, “Oh no, you don’t understand this.” Latent power here and this power goes there, and this goes like that, and that goes like that. And everything’s fine. Of course, Hazelwood closed down and wholesale power prices went through the roof. And what we’re seeing now is we’re seeing other power stations who have just had enough of this, the lack of reliability and consistency, the fact that we have green policies that are basically completely squandering what was once a reliable grid.
And they’re saying, “Look, we’ve had enough.” If renewables were so good, you wouldn’t have had the crisis you had the other day. There are no batteries that are backing things up and switching the show back on. There is no pump hydro ready to be switched on. And if you put in the cost of pump hydro with the cost of the wind farms, and of course it’s a mess. See, really you should be comparing apples with apples. You should be comparing the capacity to deliver 24/7 reliable power against 24/7 reliable power from coal. But what you get when they compare renewables is they say, this car goes incredibly well down hills. In fact, it doesn’t even need an engine. It’s brilliant. It’s just that it’s got to go up the other side and doesn’t work so well. Now we have to make this nation as powerful as possible, as quickly as possible. And we can’t do it with this sort of taking our grid back to something that resembles something from a sort of antiquated mid-Africa.
Chris Kenny: It is absolute economic self-harm, we’re a long way from fixing it. But good to talk to you about it, Barnaby. We want to talk to an expert about it tomorrow, about the possibility of nuclear energy actually filling that gap.
Barnaby Joyce: I’m all for that. Good stuff. Let’s do it.
Chris Kenny: Good stuff. Thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.
via STOP THESE THINGS
June 6, 2021