Energy Policy Institute of Australia: no “ifs”, no “buts” – the RET must go NOW


Energy Policy Institute – all set to take an axe to the RET.

With the RET review about to kick off shortly, anyone that’s anyone is lining up to make sure the most ridiculous energy policy ever cooked up and endorsed by an Australian Coalition government gets the axe.

The Energy Policy Institute of Australia has just joined the queue – and for very good reason.  We’ll let The Australian start off by telling the story in words – then we’ll fill in the gaps with some pictures.

Energy sources ‘need a level playing field’
The Australian
Annabel Hepworth
5 February 2014

Energy mix

AN “excessive politicisation” of energy policy has forced industry to “compete for subsidies” and contributed to high electricity and gas prices for consumers, a policy body has declared.

In a submission to the government’s energy white paper, obtained by The Australian, the Energy Policy Institute of Australia also calls for the dumping of “discriminatory and market-distorting” measures including “arbitrary” renewable targets, bans on fracking in oil and gas production and on nuclear power production.

The submission comes as the Australian Energy Market Operator yesterday released reports into recent heatwaves in Victoria and South Australia.

The reports showed that during the mid-January heatwave, Victoria relied heavily on brown coal and to a lesser extent gas, while subsidised solar PV rooftops and wind contributed very small percentages of power at the time when demand peaked.

On January 28, when the mercury soared to 42C in the Melbourne CBD, power sources other than brown coal generation were not dispatched until energy demand exceeded about 6000 megawatts (it peaked that day at 10,313MW).

That day in South Australia, wind was providing about 15 per cent of generation when operational demand was at its strongest.

The submission from the Energy Policy Institute, whose board includes senior executives of energy producers and professional services firms, says renewables have community support, but energy sources should be able to compete on a level playing field.

But instead, governments are picking winners and losers and there is an uneven playing field with unpredictable rules.

“The politicisation of climate change and environmental issues spilt over to the energy industry, causing an excessive and unnecessary politicisation of energy issues . . . it has induced the energy industry to fracture into rival interests, forcing them to compete for subsidies or for favourable policy treatment,” the submission says.

It says that investors face a “high level” of political risk, which some of their financiers will not accept and when they do, the “tend to write it into their financing arrangements”.

While energy politicisation is not confined to Australia, the nation is heavily reliant on energy for its prosperity.

The COAG energy reform process has been “slow from the beginning”, lagging in recent years, and the processes have been “excessively political”.

On concerns about a gas supply crisis, the institute says insufficient resources are being brought to market quickly enough to avoid price hikes.

“Action is required to remove blockages — not further inquiries,” the group says.
The Australian

The Energy Policy Institute of Australia’s call to scrap the RET as a “discriminatory and market-distorting measure” couldn’t be clearer – or made on more solid ground.

The mandatory Renewable Energy Target – designed to favour wind power over all else – has led to the debacle that is the Australian power market today.

Thanks to the RET, wind power managed to horn its way to the head of the renewable queue at the expense of truly clean base-load generation sources like hydro and geothermal (see our post here).

The consequences of Australia’s subsidy-fuelled wind-rush have been a disaster for power punters and a nightmare for grid managers, alike.

The AEMO mentioned 28 January as a day when wind power output “disappointed”.  STT followers have already had a wrap up of wind power’s extended holiday during the – warmish and, therefore, high demand (lots of grannys trying to run their ACs to beat the heat) – second week of January (13/1, 14/1 and 15/1) (see our posts here and here and here).

The AEMO might have picked a few more revealing dates than the 28th – which was poor in terms of wind power output, sure – but not completely risible.

As The Australian notes, SA managed to put 15% of its 1,203 MW capacity into the grid on 28 January – but based on past performances, that’s a sterling effort by SA’s huge fleet of fans – there are plenty of occasions when they struggle to muscle up with even 5% (see our posts here and here).

The likes of the Climate Speculator, ruin-economy and yes2ruining-us keep harping on about having wonderful “free” wind power available around the clock because Australia has fans spread all over the Country (see our post here).

So let’s have a look at few recent days on the wind power scoreboard for SA and the entire Eastern Grid – courtesy of the boys over at The data is all collected from the AEMO, so it’s as kosher as a New York bagel.

Let’s start with the so-called wind power capital of Australia – South Australia on 26 January.  Oh, and if the graphs look less than crisp, click on them, they’ll look crisper than fresh picked lettuce.

SA 26 Jan 14

The obvious description of SA’s wind power output in the graph above is “monumental collapse.” By 12 Noon  – instead of its 1,203 MW of wind power capacity, SA’s fans struggled to produce 140 MW (or 11.6% of capacity); for most of that 8 hour stretch wind power output was less than 50 MW and for nearly 4 hours – during peak demand – produced a laughable 20 MW (or 1.7%) of total capacity.

Now, the greentard – in his next exasperated breath – screams, but Australia’s fans are spread out across half-a-continent, the wind is always blowing somewhere and wind power is always available. Right on the first score:

Eastern grid3

On the Eastern Grid Australia’s wind farms are spread from: Jamestown in the Mid-North, west to Cathedral Rocks on lower Eyre Peninsula and south to Millicent in South Australia; down to Cape Portland (Musselroe) and Woolnorth (Cape Grim) in Tasmania; all over Victoria; and right up to Cullerin on the New South Wales Tablelands.  Those hundreds of fans are spread out over a geographical expanse of 632,755 km².That’s an area which is 2.75 times the combined area of England (130,395 km²) Scotland (78,387 km²) and Wales (20,761 km²) of 229,543 km².

Let’s have a look to see how the rest of the greentard’s well-worn argument about the wind always blowing some place where giant fans are located across this wide-brown land of ours.

National 26 Jan 14

Hmmm. Not so well on that score. For around 8 hours from Noon every single turbine connected to the Eastern Grid (2,660 MW of capacity) struggled to generate more than 300 MW (or 11% of capacity); for most of that time they battled to produce more than 160 MW (or 6% of capacity). At the time when demand peaked – and SA’s fans were producing 20 MW – the balance of the Eastern Grid’s wind farms in Tasmania, NSW and Victoria (total capacity of 1,457 MW) managed to add around 140 MW – being 9% of their total capacity.

Surely things picked up the following day? Let’s check out Australia’s “wind power capital”, SA.

SA 27 Jan 14

As demand picks up around 4pm SA’s wind farms struggle to muster 100 MW until 9pm (or 8% of capacity); for most of that period output is half that and – as demand peaks – SA’s fans manage to trickle a measly 25 MW into the grid (or 2% of capacity). Cracking stuff. Of course, while SA’s fans are having a holiday, the shortfall is being made up by spinning reserve called in from gas or coal thermal plants; highly inefficient and insanely expensive OCGTs and diesel generators. No wonder SA has the highest power prices in the world.

So far, so ridiculous – but let’s not forget to see if the greentard furphy about the “wind’s always blowing somewhere” has got any legs.

National 27 Jan 14

Bugger – here’s the picture for the entire Eastern Grid. After a brief output spurt for an hour or two (still producing less than 40% of capacity) output takes a huge dive and – as demand picks up  – falls to around 300 MW from 1pm. By the time demand peaks, the entire collection of wind farms on the Eastern Grid is generating around 170 MW (or 6% of total capacity). The fans spread out over Tasmania, Victoria and NSW adding a paltry 145 MW to SA’s piddling 25 MW (or 9% of their total 1,457 MW capacity).

What we’ve just said in relation to SA – about the insane costs of having duplicate capacity ready, willing and able to take up the slack when wind-watts disappear and the cost of running banks of OCGTs – applies with equal force in the other states connected to the Eastern Grid – and is the reason why dispatch prices rocket from the usual average of around $40 per MW/h to the regulated cap of $12,500 and – thanks to scenes like those depicted above – do so on an alarmingly increasing number of occasions.

STT loves to make a point – so let’s have another look at the Eastern Grid wind power output scoreboard for 1 February 2014, starting with SA on its lonesome.

SA 1 Feb 14

At 10am – as demand starts to really kick off for the day – wind power output collapses (there’s no other way to slice it) from 280 MW (23% of capacity) to a risible 35 MW (or 2.9% of capacity). In The Australian piece a graphic was used to show the “energy generation mix”. On 26/1, 27/1 and 1/2 SA’s wind power generators could hardly claim to be a meaningful part of it. Simply because it is so unreliable, unpredictable and erratic, wind power is rightly regarded as nothing more than nuisance value by the grid managers we’ve spoken to.

On occasions like 1 February – when SA’s fans were producing 35 MW – less than 3% of its capacity – and around 1.4% of SA’s demand – wind power is nothing more than a headache and it’s contribution to output and demand is practically imperceptible.

Putting aside the ludicrous cost of peaking power back-up – there’s also the cost of setting up and maintaining a grid and network for those few (brief) occasions when wind power output registers more than a trickle.

What about the entire Eastern Grid, surely the greentard gets to register at least one “victory”?

National 1 Feb 14

No such luck. With output inversely related to demand (yet again) no-one in their right mind would ever claim that wind power constitutes a reliable alternative to, well, anything – let alone base-load generation sources like coal, gas or hydro. The entire Eastern Grid fleet plops down to rest at 300 MW (or 11% of capacity) as demand hits its straps it starts to slowly pick up, but never tops more than 900 MW (or 33% of capacity). Awesome stuff.

At the risk of being accused of flogging a dead horse, lets do one more lap – this time, let’s look at 7 February – SA first.

SA 7 Feb 14

Ouch! For the first 12 hours of the day, SA’s fans couldn’t top 100 MW (or 8% of capacity) – for most of that period the output was half that and less – and battled to consistently pitch much more than 200 MW into the grid until after 10pm (just when the good girls and boys trying to get some shut-eye at Waterloo were being driven nuts by fan generated low-frequency noise and infrasound).

At 9am output is an almost imperceptible 20MW – if that (or 1.7%) – no doubt OCGTs were running full pelt to keep the grid up and running as SA’s fans slept in. But surely, surely this time the other states’ wind farms are generating an avalanche of wonderful “free” “green” energy?

National 7 Feb 14

Oh dear. From 3am to 1pm wind power’s entire output to the Eastern Grid battled to deliver 325 MW (or 12% of capacity) and for half that period battled to top 260 MW (or 9% of capacity). The collective effort from Tasmania, Victoria and NSW added a mere 240 MW to the colossal 20 MW produced in SA.

If Australia’s conventional generators were routinely producing between 3% and 12% of their installed capacity we would already be living in the stone age, there would be rioting in the streets and a Royal Commission.

But – wind power is somehow “different” – being treated more like the disabled members of a “sheltered workshop”: wind power proponents are always looking for a little more special treatment – and never seriously expect to be pressed to perform like grown-ups in the real world.

Sure, wind industry parasites talk big with waffle about being competitive with coal, gas and hydro – right up to the point when there’s any mention of chopping the RET or scrapping the entitlement to RECs. It is – of course – complete and utter nonsense.

Wind power is premised on a technology that was redundant before the first modern turbines were slung up over 20 years ago. It can only ever be delivered at crazy, random intervals – no matter how many fans are slung up (another 197 on SA’s Yorke Peninsula – threatened by SA Labor’s bizarre decision to approve the Ceres project – would have made no difference to the output figures above) and no matter how far flung they are spread. The pictures above tell the story – and they’re not unlucky flukes. Australia’s dozens of wind farms fail to deliver any meaningful power to the Eastern Grid hundreds of times each year (see our post here). And that’s a FACT!

In recent times – faced with mounting evidence that wind power is nothing more than an insanely expensive, infantile lark – simply because it is inherently intermittent and unreliable – the greentard occasionally peeps that storage technology is improving.

No it’s not. There is no system developed or even in its infancy that can store mass volumes of electricity for any period – the few suggested techniques work fine with small volumes for short periods – but there is nothing to handle 2,000 MW of wind power that might be produced over-night in Australia – when there’s no market for it – that could then release that electricity into the grid the next day, when there is.

To achieve the “level playing field” called for by the Energy Policy Institute of Australia requires nothing less than scrapping the insanely expensive and utterly ineffective Renewable Energy Target.

STT hears that young Gregory Hunt is starting to pick up on the critical difference between intermittent and unreliable renewable sources – like wind power – and on-demand sources, like hydro. The new rules – that will form part of the Coalition’s Direct Action policy – are currently being re-written to favour the latter, at the expense of the former. And about time, too.

snowy hydro

Psst – want cheap, clean, reliable sparks on demand? Just add water.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.


  1. As STT points out the wind weasels continue with the transparent nonsense about the “wind is always blowing somewhere”. This is patently untrue of course, as STT has ably demonstrated with recent expositions of real Australian eastern grid generation performance data.
    But if for arguments sake we accept for a moment that “the wind is always blowing somewhere” hypothesis could work, then in order to take advantage of this the power grid would need to be capable of securely transmitting very large blocks of power from “anywhere to anywhere”. Australia’s eastern power transmission grid does not have anything remotely near the capacity needed to accomplish this, even if one ignores the critical grid security issues that would arise with such lop-sided load flows.
    If we look at an example of one of the few scenarios in which large bocks of surplus wind power are available for use at distant load centres, such as surplus SA wind power available for use outside SA (which happens sometimes in the dead of night) we find that even when it is desired to send that power to nearby Victoria, (let alone transmit the power to say northern NSW where there is no wind either) grid limitations severely restrict how much power can be transmitted. The cost of power transmission lines to service diversely located wind sites is very high, it is a cost that is often not born by the wind weasels the very ones who alone stand to profit from the infrastructure.
    As a direct result of exactly this situation the Australian Energy Regulator has made an astounding ruling that it’s OK for electricity consumers to be slugged with the bill for building a new grid interconnector between SA and Victoria simply to allow the SA wind weasels to collect more subsidised LGCs from their unwanted midnight wind power.

  2. Jackie Rovenksy says:

    And we still have people like Milne praising and spouting how wonderful Renewable Energy is, and for the Green’s Renewable Energy refers only to Wind Energy. Perhaps the Greens and others who support this form of energy production need to suffer ‘component liberation’? After all they are hanging on for dear life to an industry which is failing dismally.

  3. I have a suggestion for the wind weasel and greentard goons, put push bike seats and pedals around all the fans so they can keep the fans going while there is no wind – good exercise. While they are pedalling they might get rid of all the sh$t out of their tiny brains, and think like real people, hey Simon?

  4. Terry Conn says:

    Brilliant work STT. Keep sending the figures directly to Mr Hunt. Maybe one day he’ll begin to comprehend – after all he does have a 1st class honours degree – but a crying shame he can’t add up!


  1. […] As STT readers are acutely aware – despite the number of fans and the huge geographical spread – wind power fails to contribute any meaningful output into the grid almost every day of the year and – on plenty of occasions – for days on end (for a few examples see our post here). […]

  2. […] Tania gets 10 out of 10 for her knowledge of energy market fundamentals.  And scores bonus points for recognising that adding a further 600 MW of capacity to SA’s existing 1,203 MW would make absolutely no difference to wind power output when the wind stops blowing and wind power output collapses every day of the year and – on plenty of occasions – for days on end (see our post here). […]

  3. […] at crazy, random intervals –  has to have 100% of its capacity backed up 100% of the time – Sunday’s post making that FACT crystal […]

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