Time to let the RET Review Panel Know What You Think

writing_a_letter

Time to put pen to paper.

As STT’s loyal followers know, Australia is all set to decouple itself from the international economic suicide pact entered when gullible and unwitting governments all over the world signed up to ludicrously expensive and utterly pointless renewables policies.

The Coalition are itching to scrap the Renewable Energy Target – and the RET Review Panel appear more than ready to give them the ammunition to do so.

The Panel formerly called for submissions on 5 April 2014 (see this document) – setting out the terms of reference and the criteria that submissions should meet (see our post here).

The closing date for submissions is 16 May 2014 and STT hears that it’s about to be inundated by submissions from Australia’s top energy market economists and Australia’s leading power retailers all slamming the lunacy of the mandatory RET. However, the opportunity to make submissions is open to one and all – so don’t just leave it to the boffins – why not make a submission yourself?

STT contains a welter of facts, evidence and information detailing the greatest economic and environmental fraud of all time – piecing that together in a cogent argument as to why the RET simply must go is something that anyone with a computer and time on their hands can do. Remember though, submissions have to address the terms of reference set out in the document linked above – and that, with less than 10 days to go, you’ll need to get cracking.

Set out below is one very solid example put together by STT Champion, Dr Alan Watts. STT recommends it as a basis and template for anyone making their own submissions to the Panel. Although, we have a few comments of our own aimed at strengthening Alan’s arguments – matters of emphasis, really – and which should assist in preparing your own submissions (see below).

Review of the Renewable Energy Target
Expert Panel
RETReview@pmc.gov.au

Re: ‘Renewable Energy Target Review Expert Panel Call for Submissions, Commonwealth of Australia 2014’.

SUBMISSION

This submission deals primarily with the RET as it relates to wind power energy production, LRECs and the effects of these on electricity pricing and production efficiency.

The Call for Submissions summarises the objects of the REE Act as being:

a) to encourage the additional generation of electricity from renewable sources;

b) to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the electricity sector; and

c) to ensure that renewable energy sources are ecologically sustainable.

The RET has succeeded in its first object to promote the roll out of renewable energy, particularly translated to the construction of an increasing number of industrial wind turbine (IWT) installations.

The RET has totally failed in its other two objects, i.e. it has failed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the electricity sector and the renewable energy sources have not been shown to be ecologically sustainable.

The RET has as a consequence of renewable energy promotion created a great deal of damaging social and economic effects and has caused in the case of IWTs enormous damage to the Australian nation and way of life by the reckless promotion of:-

1. A system of unpredictable, inefficient and intermittent electricity generation which by every measure is not fit for purpose and therefore is totally without merit;

2. An industry which has a degree of government protection like no other;

3. A system when idle, due to lack of or excessive wind, requires electricity for maintenance and for restart;

4. A system incapable of base load power generation;

5. A system which does not in any meaningful way lessen greenhouse gas emissions;

6. A system which has not and cannot reduce our foreseeable coal dependency;

7. A system which requires constant coal or gas fired back up running at almost full capacity (stated 90%) due to the very variable and unreliable nature of wind. This represents the most wasteful, inefficient and expensive use of coal and gas;

8. Electrical generation costing at least three times that of coal;

9. A system which has contributed to a lowering of Australia’s standard of living and comfort, especially for those Australians of lower socioeconomic means, due to increased electricity bills;

10. A system which has destroyed Australia’s once comparative manufacturing advantage due to cheap electricity and with it our ability to compete internationally;

11. A system of visual blight due to industrialisation of the rural landscape;

12. A system that causes untold harm and destruction of wild life and unique remnant bushland (important because much of the original vegetation has disappeared from the Tablelands areas and locations favourable to the wind industry);

13. An industrial development resulting in significant reduction in rural land valuation and agricultural land usage especially cropping, fertilizer application, weed control, fencing and farm based disease containment;

14. A system with inherent industrial problems of hazardous fire (and the inherent difficulties of fighting both turbine fire and bushfires), blade throw, flicker and glint as well as dangers to all forms of flight;

15. A development which has serious legal consequences for land owners because of access, disease spread, sale and subdivision rights. And also by “gag” clauses incorporated into IWT contracts effectively removing any host’s freedom of speech;

16. An industrial structure which requires one tonne of a rare earth, Neodymium, to increase the magnetic strength and which is sourced primarily from China (Inner Mongolia which has 95% of the world’s resource). Its extraction process involves boiling sulphuric acid which is highly toxic to both the environment and the operators;

17. An industrial complex with commonly disputed ownership at the time of decommissioning which is typically 120,000 hours or 15-25 years, although international research now estimates the functional life of an industrial wind turbine may be closer to 12-15 years;

18. IWT decommissioning and disassembly that does not remove the huge concrete foundations and which will remain forever present;

19. An electrical system which legally requires the farmer host to decommission and remove the wind towers at the end of their functional life if a legal entity cannot be located with provable ownership. There are international examples of derelict “wind farms” with disputed ownership being left to rot, in excess of 14,500 in California alone;

20. A system where payment of a decommissioning bond by the proponents has been strenuously fought by them, again indicating the fragile economic nature and in some cases the insolvency of this transient industry;

21. A system of electrical generation with such fragile economics that frequent change of ownership is common. This adds to the legal confusion as to who has most direct responsibly for decommissioning and removal of these structures;

22. A system which has produced social disharmony, family destruction and economic hardship in rural communities rivalling only that of coal mining and coal seam gas extraction, and war;

23. A system which has polarised debate to such an extent and level that truth and fairness are now completely compromised;

24. A system based on myth, greed, ignorance, subsidy and institutional deceit that has generated such wealth that there now exists no honourable or honest return from these entrenched self-interested opinions;

25. An industry so inefficient that it is entirely dependent on taxpayer subsidy to exist and without it, it would cease to exist;

26. A system which has captured all irrational thought, concentrated greed, distorted science, befriended the gullible and has ransomed genuine research with the assistance of the politically naïve;

27. A system which has deflected energies and funding away from what can only be described as the most sensible renewable source of energy on earth, namely geothermal. Geothermal is infinite, clean, truly green and possible, as in Iceland. The largest natural nuclear power source on earth is beneath the Earth’s crust as molten magma, an unimaginable source of heat. Geothermal energy is the only renewable energy on earth capable of providing base load power and as such cannot in any way be compared to any other renewable energy source.

28. A system of production which is totally unique to the Australian political landscape and which enjoys political and legislative protection like no other.

Initially conceived by the Coalition Government, the Australian Green-Labor alliance allowed this industry in Australia to flourish and in so doing created a scam that was:

a. Totally and completely devoid of any merit, green, environmentally or climatically;

b. Subsidised to ensure survival;

c. Ineffectual and inefficient;

d. Providing an end product that energy suppliers were required to compulsory purchase, with legislated penalties for noncompliance;

e. Ensuring its future with increasing and possibly endless targets;

f. Artificially supported with industry forward payments and prepayments;

g. Supported with undeclared tax concessions;

h. Overseeing contracts that currently have no Australian companies involved in turbine manufacture of any consequence;

i. Currently operating beyond their legal guidelines;

j. Currently operating beyond conditions of consent with no financial penalty for illegal operation;

k. Placing the Australian Government in a position of implicit state sponsored fraud;

l. Causing adverse health effects (AHE) to Australian families which are disgracefully ignored;

m. Devoid of significant Australian content, ensuring expatriation of Australian funds off shore via foreign companies.

It is now the responsibility of the current Coalition Federal Government to reverse this despicable fraud, remove the RET and withdraw the Recs.

Further, I have been requesting, along with other concerned Australians:

1. A moratorium on further installation of these structures until their safety has been established by;

2. Independently conducted research which justly requires that the industrial wind proponents fund since they alone profit from the establishment of Industrial Wind Turbines; and

3. That all 7 recommendations proposed by the June 2011 Federal Senate Community Affairs References Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of Rural Wind farms, which have not been introduced by any Federal, State or Local Government anywhere in Australia, be implemented immediately.

The previous Labor Federal Government’s 20/20 renewable energy target (RET) and generous taxpayer subsidies are driving an enormous amount of foreign company investment in industrial wind turbines of very dubious effectiveness and efficiency.

While the environmental and social impacts of non-renewable energy production (eg. coal and gas mining, and the production of energy from these sources) are not dismissed lightly, it is counter-intuitive to attempt to replace them with renewable sources of energy which research has shown SAVE VERY LITTLE IF ANY CO2 (see paper by Le Pair et al – attached file). We leave aside the question of whether increasing CO2 poses any sort of threat and whether it is economically viable or necessary to expend large sums of money nationally and internationally for nil or little result.

Your “Call for Submissions” sets out very well the current position with respect to the RET and some of the problems related to it. Worth emphasising however is the fact that the RET scheme including the feed-in tariffs for roof-top solar already adds 7 per cent to the cost of electricity to households, a cost that will more than double on present policies. By 2020 the scheme, if unchanged, will add over 40 per cent to the wholesale cost of electricity and largely negate the benefits from the demise of the carbon tax (should that occur).

The impact on households will increase. Energy poverty is defined as requiring to pay more than 10% of household income on energy and a recent finding states that already 20 per cent of Australian households are now energy poor (Chester, 2013 – see attached file). As the cost of energy inevitably rises – caused in no small way by the contribution of unaffordable renewable energy subsidies (both direct and indirect) – this figure of 20% must increase in tandem.

Concomitantly is the situation where major energy intensive industries are departing Australia in large part because our electricity prices have risen to be among the highest in the world; this from the enviable position of being one of the lowest less than a decade ago.

Whatever else the Review of the RET does it must address the problems of electricity affordability both for Australian households, and for the manufacturing and industrial sectors which implacably hold the key to national prosperity. With prosperity comes the prospect of being better able to address National social and environmental problems.

A fresh approach is undoubtedly required. Firstly there must be a recognition that, to paraphrase the title of the by Le Pair et al, “Wind turbines are as yet unsuitable as electricity providers”. The paper sets out many of the problems attached to the production of energy by IWT and reinforces the insanity of pouring money into an industry which is not and, at the moment, cannot produce energy in an economic, reliable, efficient, non- health adverse, environmentally and socially acceptable manner. Where is the sense?

Good governance demands the overdue withdrawal of RECs from this industry. If the wind industry is correct when it says it is a mature industry and that it is viable, then let it pay its own way and let it stand alone without the buttress of the RET.

If government (i.e. tax payers’) money is to be spent it would be better directed towards:

a. Ensuring that research and development of “true” renewables is the focus and that forthcoming and future sources of energy are tested and matured before being foisted on a hapless public;

b. Ensuring that mining and electricity production from non-renewable sources (which is often forgotten will still be responsible for 80% of our electricity production) are conducted with improving levels of environmental impacts, health consequences, and minimisation of community disruption. Air and water pollution problems in particular require dedicated monitoring and reduction.

The deployment of industrial wind turbines is often met with support because they are considered “clean and green” and will “save the planet” through the claimed reduction of CO2 emissions. But what if they don’t? One is reminded of the fairy story of the Emperor with no clothes! Expensive clothes at that.

Le Pair’s conclusion therefore bears repeating:

“Quantifying the decrease in efficiency of the electric power system and the extra fuel consumption induced by wind developments is by no means a simple matter. To our knowledge there are presently not sufficient data in the public domain to substantiate a definite answer to the question how much fuel and CO2 emission is saved. It depends on the actors, the equipment, the kind of fuel, the amount of wind penetration, the behaviour of the regional wind, the amount of storage, the interconnection of regional grids etc.

“Decisions to install large-scale wind-powered electricity generation are based more on the expectation to save significant amounts of fossil fuel and CO2 emission than on any evidence that this is indeed the case. 

“Wind technology is not suited for large-scale application without a good buffer and storage system. We propose to stop spending public money on large-scale use of wind. This money should be spent on R&D of future power systems. We expect that wind will not play an important role in these future systems.”

Yours faithfully,

Dr. Alan C. Watts OAM

Here are links to the papers referred to in Alan’s submission:

Le Pair et al -Wind turbines as yet unsuitable as electricity providers

Chester – Impacts_Consequences_Low_Income_Households_Rising_Energy-Bills_Oct2013

Alan’s submission is characteristically passionate, but still conveys the scale and scope of the economic and environmental fraud that is wind power.

In our view, submissions should seek to emphasise the following matters:

The panel must refute any claims by the wind industry that it has reduced (or is capable of reducing) CO2 emissions in the electricity sector in the absence of actual data which has been independently peer reviewed. Any such data must include CO2 emissions from all power generation sources in order to capture the increased emissions caused by base-load coal and gas thermal plants holding increased “spinning reserve” – and the increased use of highly inefficient Open Cycle Gas Turbines – which are both needed in order to compensate for the intermittency of wind power.

The panel must refute claims by the wind industry that wind power has reduced power prices for consumers, as claimed by the Clean Energy Council. The Panel must call for the production of Power Purchase Agreements between wind power generators and retailers in order that the prices fixed under those agreements are known to the Panel and its consultants, ACIL Allen. The wind industry and its advocates refuse to make these agreements public and refer only to wholesale prices, which do not determine the price retailers pay for wind power; whereas, the terms of Power Purchase Agreements do. The impact of the prices set by PPAs with wind power generators is a critical part of any analysis of the impact of the RET on retail power prices.

The panel must consider the impact that the intermittent delivery of wind power and its inherent unreliability has on retail power prices. The cost of maintaining spinning reserve – and building capacity in fast start-up generation sources, principally OCGTs – is ignored by the wind industry. So too is the impact on retail power prices from using high cost OCGTs as backup for a substantial proportion of installed wind power capacity. The panel must, therefore, consider the cost of delivering power using fast start-up generation sources, including OCGTs, which are critical to maintaining grid integrity and power supply when wind power output falls to insignificant levels every day – and on hundreds of occasions each year. There have been numerous occasions when wind power output has collapsed across the entire Eastern Grid and, as a result, dispatch prices have soared from the normal average of $30-40 per MWh to reach the regulated cap of $12,500 per MWh (and many occasions when the dispatch price has reached 8-10 times the average – ie $280-300 per MWh, which is the price range needed for OCGT operators to break even and at which they commence supplying power to the grid). These costs are directly attributable to wind power generation – costs ultimately borne by power consumers – and which must, therefore, be included in any consideration of the cost impacts of the RET on retail power prices.

The Panel must call on wind power generators and retailers to detail the value of the Renewable Energy Certificates received from inception of the mandatory RET to date. Renewable Energy Certificates are, in substance and effect, a Federal Tax on Australian power consumers and represent a direct subsidy to wind power generators. While information on the number of Certificates issued by the Clean Energy Regulator is available, the total value of those Certificates on surrender is not readily available. Accordingly, the total cost to power consumers (and the value of the subsidy to wind power generators) of the Certificates issued to date cannot be readily determined. Best estimates suggest the cost/value of the REC Tax/Subsidy to wind power generators is somewhere between $5-8 billion since 2001 to the present time. These estimates are based on the (known) number of Certificates issued and the reported trading prices for Certificates over time, which have ranged from $23 up to $60 each. However, the precise total value of the subsidy cannot be determined on that information alone. Despite repeated questioning before the Senate on this issue, the Clean Energy Regulator has failed or refused to provide that information, claiming it is unable to provide a figure for the total cost of the subsidy (which begs the question, “why not”?). This complete lack of transparency and accountability from the Regulator which issues millions of Certificates annually – and otherwise purports to administer the Renewable Energy legislation – is totally unsatisfactory. For the Panel to determine the cost of the mandatory RET to date it is essential that wind power generators and retailers provide it with the total surrender value of all Certificates since commencement of the mandatory RET in 2001 to the present time.

More generally, STT finds it hard to fault anything appearing in Alan’s well structured and detailed argument. However, we disagree with his point 27 when he says that geothermal is the only base-load renewable alternative. Geothermal has tremendous prospects and has, under the current RET policy, clearly been starved of the investment needed to develop it (see our post here). However, with respect, Alan overlooks hydro power.

STT is a huge fan of hydro power – as we have made plain on a number of occasions (see our posts here and here).

Hydro is not only the original renewable, it also satisfies the principal objective of the mandatory RET – as it does not produce CO2 emissions when generating power – and, because it is reliable and always available on-demand, it does not require backup from fossil fuel generation sources. Accordingly, hydro does in fact reduce CO2 emissions in the electricity sector by actually displacing fossil fuel generation sources and/or properly supplementing those sources – which is as simple as turning on the sluice gate.

Hydro can be used to deliver “base-load” power, but in the Australian energy market is largely used these days as “intermediate power” – balancing the grid during periods of peak demand. The critical point is that hydro is available on demand – whereas wind power will never be.

The Snowy Hydro scheme is – and remains – the greatest and most beneficial renewable energy system in Australia.

Moreover, without it, long-term water management in the Murrumbidgee and Murray River systems (the life-blood for NSW, Victoria and SA) would be impossible: Adelaide would have died of thirst during periods of drought at least a dozen times without the Snowy scheme.

There is huge potential for further investment in hydro power in Australia – all up and down the Great Divide – bringing with it the ability to harvest huge volumes of water in times of flood – and to beneficially manage that water during periods of drought. However, the perverse nature of the mandatory RET provides every advantage to unreliable and costly wind power at the expense of hydro power: the former takes a matter of months to construct and begin earning revenue; whereas the latter takes years and sometimes decades to complete and for investors to start earning a return. Investors looking for a quick return on their cash have simply plumped for the soft option and piled in to wind power, with disastrous results on every level.

The Snowy Hydro scheme was Nation building stuff and took a generation. It should be repeated and policies put in place to ensure that it is, which means the current RET legislation must be amended or repealed.

But, all that is to quibble, Alan’s submission is a great starting point – so use it to best advantage – get cracking and let the RET Review Panel know precisely what you think of the greatest fraud of all time.

subsidies

Time for the wind industry to stand on its own 2 feet.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Michael Oakes says:

    Seems the pro wind lobby is trying to recruit people to put in submissions on their behalf. One example I have seen today: My attention was drawn to it by a “sponsored post” (ie paid for one by Hepburn Wind on Facebook. Anyone on it should be able to type this in search on home page and check. Draws attention to form letter submission they have on http://www.hepburnwind.com.au. website of a supposed community co-op with two turbines. Basically a lot of claims that are readily debunked with info on STT. Maybe others are interested enough to check websites of other turbine owners and comment on them here.

  2. Jackie Rovenksy says:

    Thank you for this and to Dr Watts for allowing STT to share his work. It will be a great help to formulate my own submission. Keeping focused on the committee’s requirements can be difficult when dealing with such an emotionally charged topic as Industrial Wind Turbine Energy projects, especially when realising we will be going up against the powerful IWT companies and their lobbyists.

  3. What about the much larger amount of steel, concrete and other materials turbines use per MW output, compared to baseload forms of generation?
    Figures in this paper for turbines:
    http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2011/5036/sir2011-5036.pdf

  4. The RET is anti-competitive, encourages economically ineffective development of renewables in place of effective solutions.

    It needs to be replaced by a proper business plan which guarrantees the effective reduction of carbon emissions without destroying the economy.

    I hope the RET review kisses the scheme bye bye…

Trackbacks

  1. […] There is huge potential for further investment in hydro power in Australia – all up and down the Great Divide – bringing with it the ability to harvest huge volumes of water in times of flood – and to beneficially manage that water during periods of drought. However, the perverse nature of the mandatory RET provides every advantage to unreliable and costly wind power at the expense of hydro power: the former takes a matter of months to construct and begin earning revenue (ie RECs); whereas the latter takes years and sometimes decades to complete and for investors to start earning a return (see this video). Investors looking for a quick return on their cash have simply plumped for the soft option and piled in to wind power, with disastrous results on every level (see our post here). […]

  2. […] not let the Panel know what you think (see our post here). Submissions close on 16 […]

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