The failure to advance nuclear power in this country to replace coal-fired plants being driven out of business by massive subsidies to wind and solar beggars’ belief. Everyone with half a brain is alive to the fact that chaotically intermittent and heavily subsidised wind and solar are responsible for Australia’s power pricing and supply calamity
Australian households and businesses are already feeling the pinch; retail power prices have rocketed, with much worse to come; energy hungry businesses are simply cut from the grid when the sun sets and special calm weather sets in.
And yet, Labor’s gormless Energy Minister, Chris Bowen pretends that the panacea to the renewables-driven disaster is more of the same. George Orwell would struggle to keep a straight face laying out the kind of political narrative being run by Bowen and his fellow travellers.
Nick Cater spells out a little of what Australians can look forward to under the Green-Labor Alliance.
Net-zero target an unaffordable risk
11 August 2022
Chris Bowen’s guarantee of a $275 reduction in the average family’s annual power bill in his first term looked dubious when he announced it before Christmas. Yet the incurious press pack appeared content with his assurance that the figure was backed by the most extensive modelling conducted by an opposition.
Seven months later the modelling has come unstuck. The Climate Change and Energy Minister and Anthony Albanese declined multiple invitations from the opposition to repeat the $275 figure since the election. Nonetheless, Labor persisted in locking its 43 per cent 2030 emissions reduction target into legislation even though it relied on the same modelling.
Bowen’s pugnacious manner and conceited answers in question time have failed to dispel the impression that he is out of his depth and the Prime Minister has bitten off more than he can chew. Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine offered Labor cover to soften its policy before the election. Instead, Bowen and Albanese doubled down even as other developed nations began to crab walk away from their Paris commitments.
For those who understand the economic and engineering challenges of weather-dependent energy there is an impending sense of disaster as the Albanese government steams ahead on a rigid course. Locking in a target come hell or high water will accelerate the closure of coal-fired plants for which there is no viable alternative, particularly in the current market where gas supply is tight.
Many of the missing details in Bowen’s quick-and-dirty pre-election modelling have been supplied by the Australian Energy Market Operator. Its latest Integrated System Plan says storage capacity must increase from 2 gigawatts to 15GW to meet the 2030 commitment. More than half of current coal generation must be withdrawn. Grid-scale wind and solar must rise from 16GW to 44GW. Rooftop solar must increase from 15GW to 35GW and the capacity of the grid must be substantially increased, all within less than eight years. This is only the start. Hitting the magic net-zero emissions goal in 2050 will require 30 times more storage capacity and five times as much rooftop solar. Grid capacity must expand by 80 per cent and we will need a ninefold increase in grid-scale wind and solar.
[Note to Nick: You miss the point by talking about notional capacity for batteries, solar panels and wind turbines. Talking about ‘GW’ in the abstract, without some reference point as to how much of that capacity will actually be delivered, and over what period, is meaningless; it’s a trick that’s been run by the promoters of the unreliables for years. EG, the nonsensical claims about how the new ‘Mount Miracle wind farm will power 30,000 homes’, ignoring the fact that it can only do so on a chaotic and sporadic basis, about 30% of the time, where its operators have no idea precisely when they might be able to deliver any power to the grid, if at all.
It’s a little definitional thing, but an important one. So here it is.
Energy = kWh: the commercial or practical unit of energy is the kilowatt-hour (kWh)
Power = kW: the rate at which the work is being done in an electrical circuit is called an electric power. In other words, the electric power is defined as the rate of the transfer of energy.
So, next time we suggest that you start talking about ‘energy’, i.e., GWh, rather than GW, as the latter tells us nothing at all about how much electricity is going to be delivered to households and businesses over time.]
The social and environmental costs of broadacre renewable farming have barely been considered. They will transform the landscape around towns such as Bendigo, Dubbo, Inverell, Gladstone and Rockhampton in designated renewable energy zones. Untold swathes of farmland will be covered in solar panels with an estimated lifespan of 25 years.
[Note to Nick: anyone claiming that a solar panel has an economic lifespan of 25 years is dreaming. From the moment they start generating electricity, their efficiency declines. After 10 years their output falls to around half of their original capacity, by the 12–15-year mark, they become uneconomic, destined to be crushed and delivered to landfill. Their short economic lifespan is one reason why solar is the most expensive electricity generation source, of all.]
What happens next, nobody quite knows. The stiff landscape rehabilitation commitments imposed on miners are seldom part of the green energy conversation, let alone the challenge of injecting millions of tonnes of photovoltaic panels into the waste stream.
The blackening of the landscape will not be confined to the REZs. Hobby farmers and tree-changers south of Goulburn are fighting plans to build a 400-megawatt peak solar facility covering 6sq km of Gundary Plains. It is not just the eyesore they fear but the erosion of biodiversity in an area where echidnas, wombats, roos and vulnerable bird species now thrive.
The stampede by renewable energy corporations such as Lightsource BP, which is behind the Gundary project, is in danger of killing social licence for renewables just as the Queensland government’s heavy-handed policy towards coal-seam gas development created a nationwide backlash against gas.
Negative environmental costs have been almost entirely discounted. Yet the extra 28GW of grid-scale renewable energy AEMO says we will need by 2030 requires commandeering hundreds of square kilometres of land. To reach the net-zero 2050 target with 50 per cent solar would require an area the size of Canberra.
The claim that energy will be cheaper once we reach the 2030 target of 82 per cent renewables insults our intelligence. It requires ignoring the huge capital costs, transmission and backup energy sources required. Yet Bowen repeats the banality at every opportunity. “We know the sun doesn’t send a bill, and the wind doesn’t send an invoice,” he said last week in question time, “something that the honourable members opposite haven’t worked out.” It was almost as trite as his defence of renewables at the National Press Club in June: “You can say the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. The rain doesn’t always fall either, but we can store the water and we can store renewable energy if we have the investment.”
There may be a path out of the mire into which Labor is leading us, one that could meet the net-zero 2050 target without risking jobs and unduly burdening the economy. It relies on the reasonable expectation that new technologies will mature in time to deliver reliable dispatchable power with zero emissions by the middle of the next decade.
The Coalition has been cautious about talking up nuclear since 2007 when a scare campaign led by Albanese became a factor in an election loss. A decade and a half later, however, the politics have changed, and the technology has advanced. The use of small modular reactors is still at an early stage. They will be cheaper than earlier types of nuclear generation, require less water, produce less waste and will be quicker to construct. If Peter Dutton’s review into the place of nuclear in the energy mix does nothing else, it will at least furnish us with facts, a scarce commodity in the debate.
via STOP THESE THINGS
August 14, 2022, by stopthesethings
You must be logged in to post a comment.