South Australia’s Mega-Battery a Costly Exercise in ‘Green’ Vanity Signalling

South Australians wake every day to an unfolding economic nightmare: they pay the highest retail power prices in the world, while suffering routine load shedding (scheduled power cuts) and mass blackouts (unscheduled), whenever wind power output collapses on a total and totally unpredictable basis. Businesses are being wiped out and whole industries are under threat.

A bit like one of Baldrick’s ‘cunning plans’, SA’s vapid Premier, Jay Weatherill signed up with Californian carpetbagger, Elon Musk to squander $150 million of taxpayers’ money on a battery which could notionally power SA for four minutes when the wind stops blowing.

Weatherill, who drifts from delusion to delusion, perpetuates the myth that the mega-battery, coupled with his diesel fuelled jet engines, will turn his beleaguered State into an economic superpower. Economics was never his strongest point.

Jobs require viable businesses, and viable businesses require reliable and affordable electricity supplies. Windmills and ludicrously expensive batteries don’t cut it.

The consequence of turning Australia from a country in which business was about ‘using’ electricity, into one in which the main game is about ‘generating’ electricity (albeit, only occasionally for wind and solar), is the destruction of the manufacturing industry, the imminent destruction of the mineral processing industry and a permanent and mortal threat to every other business that hitherto has generated profits for its shareholders and provided meaningful employment to Australians.

The catch-all euphemistic term is “de-industrialisation”.

South Australia’s Premier is obviously wedded to wind and bonded to batteries, meaning his State’s on an inevitable path to de-industrialisation. As power costs rocket and firms shut their doors, tens of thousands of jobless South Australians will be looking for someone to hoist upon the Gallows. Here’s Alan Moran explaining why.

Musk magic and the Tesla torment
Catallaxy Files
Alan Moran
2 December 2017

Bad luck for the much hyped Tesla battery when the grand opening in South Australia yesterday coincided with storms that brought power outages in its immediate vicinity.

Designated as reliability-proofing a state that has seen the future of electricity generation more clearly than Lincoln Steffens saw how effectively the infant USSR would work , it was launched with the usual puffery of how it could power 30,000 homes for an hour in the event of a blackout. This leaves 737,267 South Australian homes without even that amount of comfort.

In December’s Climate News issued yesterday, I had this to say

The giant Elon Musk battery designed to future proof South Australia was completed on time on 1 December. The battery charges up when prices are low and feeds into the grid when they are high. The battery is also contracted by the government to provide fast-response stability services. It will allow 100 MW of power to be produced for about one hour – enough to supply five per cent of South Australia’s demand.

Euan Means estimates that to enable a grid size storage adequate to serve a renewable energy dominated UK would require 1.8 TWh at a notional cost of £48 billion with pumped storage, if such a scheme were feasible. To do it with Musk-style South Australian batteries would require 14,000 of these 129 MWh facilities at a cost of £405 billion

The ANU (Blakers et al) estimated the cost for 100% renewable electricity system is $93 and $75 per MWh respectively using current and projected future wind and PV prices. It put the capital cost of this at $184 billion (current pv/wind prices) and $152 billion (estimated future prices). The team from the ANU estimated that South Australia could be fully renewable with back-up of 400-500 GWh of storage but another study estimates this at 6,800 GWh.  And, in a refrain constantly regurgitated over the past 30 years, the ANU team claims no cost to eliminating CO2 from energy use since “the cost of electricity from new-build wind and solar power generators was below the cost of electricity from new-build fossil fuel generators”.

With renewables subsidised and regulated into prominence in the electricity supply system, there is likely to be an increasing role for batteries as a means of counteracting wind/solar’s irregular supply and difficult to control features.  This means additional associated costs involved that further reduce the economics of renewables other than hydro (which works because water, having 100 times the density of air, (800 thanks Faustus and Gavin) can push turbines more effectively).  But we have a potent brew with politicians backed by wide-eyed green enthusiasts determined to undermine the market and reforge it to conform to their own preferences, and gimlet-eyed businesses keen to exploit any subsidy on offer.

Batteries are therefore assured of a major new role in further adding to the costs of electricity at least until our politicians are forced to awaken, Trump-style, to the realities of renewables’ costs and the invalidity of the climate scare.  Hopefully the damage to the economy in the interim will not prove irreparable.
Catallaxy Files

Weatherill wanders lost in an economic wilderness.

About stopthesethings

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


  1. According to AEMO boss Zibelman we just have to suck it up…likens the ‘great experiment’ with Australia’s future and intermittents…. to the internet…unstoppable…no turning back…similar to Bloomberg instructions to us as they lick their lips at the thought of subsidies to Big Biz behemoths…. from the pockets of the Australian poor and middle-income-earners.

    The internet analogy doesn’t apply of course because the internet’s not backed by…and the dysfunctional suicidal offspring of… a Global Socialist hoax designed to rejig the world in order to destroy the democracies…a massive con that must not be questioned.

    Of course these internationalists …including Turnbull…will just up and leave after they turn Australia into a 3rd world poverty-stricken backwater.

    I’m not sure how much skin Zibelman’s got in the game now…but she’s sure had plenty in the recent past…was subject of great controversy re her cavalier attitude in her New York State job…failing to declare multiple vested interests that impinged on decisions she was making involving potentially billions in taxpayers’ money…and she’d left a previous job under heavy criticism for heavy-handed micromanaging and trying to muzzle the internal watchdog…demanding a critical report be deleted.

    Makes you wonder about the fact that the final report on the SA ‘system black’ event …delivered shortly after Zibelman’s arrival at AEMO…took a complete about-turn from the earlier ones…blaming what’s left of the beleaguered coal and gas plants for not being available to compensate for the massive windpower failure…..and minimizing the wind farms’ shutdown.

    Zibelman says her husband Phil Harris…is just holding the fort at their ranch in Colorado and will join her in Australia soon….but he can’t be doing much ranching…when you see what his involvements are…
    …including this..
    ‘Mr. Harris serves as an Advisor to the North China power grid.’

    Sort of fits doesn’t it …with the Chinese Communist Government owning a large part of Australia’s energy system at every level…generating…retailing…distribution…transmission plus gas too…and according to AGL’s stats [Googled]… parent companies of AGL are the Chinese Communist Govt’s State Grid Corporation of China & Singapore Govt Future Fund.

    • In her previous role as chair of the New York Public Service Commission, Zibelman also exhibited a similar level of zealotry. She showed callous indifference to the plight of the electricity users of New York after having arbitrarily dumped an additional $8 billion in costs onto their electricity bills:

      The New York Public Service Commission (whose board Cuomo appointed in its entirety) voted earlier this year to impose a new Clean Energy Standard (CES) for the entire state.  The new CES requires that 50% of New York’s energy must come from carbon-neutral sources by the year 2030……."

      "As just one prominent example, the environmental organization New York Public Interest Research Group rightly notes that New York ratepayers who weren’t consulted about the scheme will be hit with higher utility fees.  As the group’s executive director Blair Horner stated, “These charges are essentially a tax to keep aging nuclear plants online.”
      Conspicuously, Cuomo Administration officials remain unable to defend the plan against burgeoning public opposition.  In a recent local television appearance, Cuomo’s Public Service Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman couldn’t justify the decision to provide billions of dollars in subsidies to upstate plants while simultaneously closing downstate plants, and she stubbornly refused to acknowledge the plan’s high costs.
      Nuclear power remains a reliable domestic energy source that the United States can cleanly and safely utilize to a far greater extent.
      Governor Cuomo’s crony capitalist CES scheme isn’t the way to go about it.  The growing bipartisan opposition movement is an encouraging sign, one that should confirm for New Yorkers of all political leanings that the plan should be rejected.

  2. Are people in Australia stupid, for this is insane. I feel no pity for them since they are allowing this to happen.

    • Where are you from, Peter? It doesn’t matter, because the wind industry will have massive subsidies in its favour and is itching to do precisely what it has done in South Australia.

      • Gary Spencer Salt says:

        Peter is right – if he was not this page would be swamped.

        Australians love affair [aka apathy] about this was driven home in a conversation with a green, who when I stated that Glencore copper smelter, that used 20% of the grid was under threat commented – “If they went there would be no electricity issue as we would have a issue” – now thats load shedding Australian style – gave up logic as does not play a part in this thinking.

        De-industrialize – NO – SA has all the subs, patrol boats and frigates to be build at a 30% premium – Hell, Pyne is the first 200 billion dollar man – could be a TV series there – eh?

        No folks I am resigned to living long enough for Australia to becoming the Greece of the Pacific – Bill Shorten is the PM they want and they all need.

        Stand-By is going to be a valley of tears


    • Jackie Rovensky says:

      This industry will not stop until Governments around the world stop funding it with money they should be spending in other ways such as Hospitals, Schools, roads and supporting industries which truly provide employment.
      Yes SA has gone down the road of destitution faster than others in Australia, but everyone will follow because they are blind to the truth.
      Our Premier is so full of hot air its a wonder he can stay on his feet without weights to hold him down – but then when ever he is with a consummate salesman like Musk our Leader floats off his feet in shear delight at being in their presence.
      This State has had to suffer Government lies for years, the last election they didn’t even get the majority of people voting for them, our mess of voting procedures with ‘preferences ‘ and dodgy electoral boundaries saw them continue their rule.
      The façade is slowly beginning to disintegrate as people see the mess they have created in every field of the State from Energy provision, Child Care, Education including TAFE, hospitals, roads and the list goes on, but here we are concerned with energy supply.
      The continued support by this government for so called renewable energy, while they purchase in efficient battery’s to store it after we have been told for years Renewables and in particular Wind did not need ‘backup’, then to try and ensure security they first hire then purchase diesel generators, which in a couple of years will be converted to gas generators and we see AEMO having to tell our current gas generators they must maintain a secure level of production, you have to wonder what this mishmash of an energy supply is all about, you also have to ask the cost and if this State can continue to pay that cost as individuals through energy bills and the added cost of increased State taxes, levy’s, fines and Government charges then add to this the subsidies these things secure from Federal and State coffers which requires us the people to pay increased associated costs.
      Some of the measures to produce electricity MAY reduce emissions while producing it but NOT in the manufacture of the machinery, such as towers, steel, magnets, concrete etc.
      The whole thing has been a lie a farce and the SA Government is still choking on the lies.
      The cost is far greater than they are willing to let us know about, they won’t even disclose the full true cost of the battery or the generators – why – because it will let us know just how bad our debts are and just how long it will take the next generation and maybe even the one after that to pay it off.
      No one wants a State wide blackout – but it will happen and when it does all hell will break out – that is until the Government starts is blame game again. There actually was no ‘tornado’ that took down pylons last year – what other evidence do we have, was there damage to trees, homes, sheds in the track of this ‘tornado’? Or was it just the pylons which were unfit for the load they carried that were blown down after all it would have only took one to fall to bring down the others in a domino effect.
      To answer the question posed in the first response to this story – No Australians are not that stupid – only some of them. Much like people everywhere there are those who fall for the ‘happy clappy’ stories poured out by media and self serving industries and individuals.

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