Frydenberg’s Renewable Energy Fantasyland: Australian Households & Businesses Despair as Energy Minister Remains Off with the Fairies

Energy Minister off with the fairies during Australia’s energy crisis.

 

Australia’s self-inflicted renewable energy disaster sometimes reads more like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – and on others like the work of a drug-addled Lewis Carrol, as he took us all down the rabbit hole with Alice & Co.

Characters abound, bereft of worldy wit, prone to waffling nonsense and repeating the same hackneyed phrases (think ‘inevitable transition’, ‘wind’s cheaper than coal’, and lately, the most ridiculous line of all, ‘that wind power is more reliable than coal-fired power’. Yep, night turns to day in the wind and sun cult’s bizarro world of wishes, myth and fantasy.

A stand out in the enduring saga that is Australia’s energy crisis is the flat-footed and tin-eared Federal Energy Minister, Joshua Frydenberg. Josh is one character who will never be accused of harming the interests of renewables rent-seekers. Indeed, of late, he’s been on the front foot delivering lines that only someone with their trotters planted firmly in the RET subsidy trough could have penned.

While the Energy Minister has plenty of fantastic ‘ideas’ on how to solve Australia’s power pricing and supply calamity, he’s truly clueless when it comes to digging the Country out of its hole. Here’s a hint Josh: stop digging.

Save from protecting the greatest financial rort of all time, there’s no consistent theme in Frydenberg’s utterances and doodlings. A point seized on by The Australian’s Economics-Editor-in-Chief, Judith Sloan.

Snowy scheme’s a dud and National Electricity Guarantee is vague
The Australian
Judith Sloan
16 January 2018

You may have missed the news that Germany has decided to ditch its preordained 2020 carbon dioxide emissions reduction target. The plan had been that emissions would be 40 per cent below their 2005 level by 2020.

But reality caught up with the German politicians who are still trying to form a government after months of negotiation. There is no way that the target of 40 per cent will be met even though the percentage of electricity generated in Germany by intermittent, renewable energy sources is approaching one-third. And did I mention the cost of maintaining the stability of the German electricity grid in the face of this high penetration of intermittent generation? Last year, one German electricity company spent more than €1 billion ($1.5bn) simply to ensure a stable grid in its area.

I make these observations as our government ploughs on with an uncertain energy policy that is bound by its own unrealistic emissions reduction target. At this stage, Malcolm Turnbull and his team remain committed to a cut of 26 to 28 per cent by 2030 from 2005 levels.

This is notwithstanding that our emissions have increased in each of the past three years, partly on the back of high population growth. This rise is also in the face of very rapid expansion of renewable energy, with more to come.

There is every indication that the renewable energy target of 33,000 gigawatts hours will be met by 2020.

As in the case of Germany, having more renewable power in the electricity grid is no sure-fire way of achieving an emissions reduction target.

For all the carry-on about the government’s new policy being technology-agnostic, the binding constraint driving the still unknown details of the National Electricity Guarantee is this emissions reduction target.

It is simply not the case that all technologies can make the grade; only low-emission versions will be bankable. But here’s the rub: without government intervention, it is unimaginable that there will be a new coal-fired power plant, even a high-efficiency, low-emissions model. Sensing that the government’s new policy is failing to gain widespread support — it is better than the crazy clean energy target proposed in the Finkel Report, but so what? — Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has been out and about filling up the opinion pages of various newspapers spruiking the benefits of the National Electricity Guarantee as well as Snowy 2.0.

His latest salvo has been to sing the praises of electric vehicles, having previously dismissed the idea of changing the emissions standards of conventional vehicles. While extolling the subsidies that his government is providing for electric vehicles, he essentially implores state governments to provide additional concessions by way of registration, stamp duty and the like. Who said rent-seeking died with the election of the Turnbull government?

Mind you, according to figures he cites, the shift to electric vehicles will save a mere 15 million tonnes of CO2 by 2030, which is peanuts given our annual emissions of about 550 million tonnes.

So where are we up to with the National Electricity Guarantee? The latest is that more details of the arrangement will be known in April for the COAG meeting. We still don’t know the mechanics of how the reliability obligation will be met by the retailers. There is a very real possibility that the guarantee will play into the hands of the three big generator-retailers — AGL, Origin and Energy Australia — leading to even less competition in the market.

It’s already clear that the optimistic predictions of the Australian Energy Market Commission made last year that wholesale and retail electricity prices would begin to fall from the middle of this year are unlikely come to pass. Its forecast that retail prices would fall by 12 per cent on average over the next two years is completely inconsistent with the forward wholesale price curves.

This is bad news for the government given the price pain felt by households and businesses over the past decade and the last two years, in particular.

I’ve said it before but it’s worth saying again — the normal forces of supply and demand do not operate in the electricity market when a rising proportion of new net supply is intermittent rather than dispatchable.

Coupled with the rule that the marginal supplier sets the price, it is entirely possible, even likely, that more renewable energy will lead to higher prices as low-cost sources of supply — coal-fired plants — are driven out of business. And then there is the additional investment in the transmission system needed to support the ongoing growth of distributed renewable energy — we are talking billions more dollars — and the stage is set for even higher prices to cover these costs.

The debate about future energy policy has been complicated by the recent comments of Labor’s spokesman for climate change and energy, Mark Butler. He suspended his holidays to make his own opinion page contribution — pouring cold water on the National Electricity Guarantee. He claims the guarantee would lead to a freeze of investment in large-scale renewable energy, which is a bad thing in his book. He also points to the danger of increased market concentration.

He also continues to trot out the virtue of introducing an explicit carbon price through an emissions intensity scheme. In the context of the opposition’s emissions targets, look forward to even higher power rates under Labor.

Butler offers some support for Snowy 2.0 while also backing more batteries.

But Snowy 2.0 is too expensive and will arrive too late. A proliferation of battery installations in the meantime — which have to be paid for — will fatally undercut the commercial case for this potential white elephant. Just think NBN when considering the likely fate of Snowy 2.0.

The bottom line is that energy policy remains as much a mess as ever. The only likely future is higher electricity prices, with reliability propped up by expensive means and the bizarre bribe of demand management. We should expect the exit of more large-scale, energy-intensive operations, including fertiliser plants.

Australia has gone from having close to the cheapest electricity in the world to among the most expensive. The real question that all politicians should be able to answer is: what has been achieved as a result of this?
The Australian

In ‘Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds’ (Charles MacKay 1841) it’s observed that:

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.

STT likes to think that slowly, but surely and one by one, sensible men and women are breaking away from the herd.

Reading the several hundred comments to 2 articles in The Australian (one in which Frydenberg recently tried to calm the herd with soothing words about the NEG and Snowy 2.0 etc, the other on SA’s battery and diesel generators from November last year) we gained the impression that many people have already recognised the danger of remaining locked in with the herd. There’s a sense of desperation out there, with plenty resigned to the fact that the Liberal/National Coalition will simply continue to deliver the kind of economic destruction (under the guise of ‘saving the planet’ from carbon dioxide gas) that was once the exclusive preserve of the lunatics that people the Green/Labor Alliance.

Australia hasn’t had the best its Summer can dish out yet. When we finally get to enjoy a long and truly hot spell the system (or large parts of it) will fail and/or the colossal cost of preventing or mitigating that failure will end up on retail power bills and/or come out of taxpayer’s pockets – as with Jay Weatherill’s power ‘solution’ for wind powered South Australia: a $150m battery that would power SA for 4 minutes and 276MW of diesel-fuelled jet engines. The cost to SA taxpayers of the latter will exceed $400m – whereas it could have kept its 520MW coal-fired plant at Pt Augusta online for years at a trifling $8m a year. Instead, the Labor lunatics in charge of SA decided to blow it up, cheering like kids at the Christmas Pageant as the charges levelled the faithful old plant.

And despite the nonsense being peddled by Frydenberg, and those feeding him his lines, Australian retail power prices will continue to rise.

What Frydenberg always conveniently overlooks when he talks about the NEG being an end to renewable subsidies is that his Large-Scale RET runs to 2031 and that each and every year between now and then, the REC subsidy to wind and solar outfits will add $3 billion to retail power bills, and a total of $60 billion over the entire life of the scam.

Josh also demonstrates his struggle with reality by continuing to pretend that adding the LRET’s annually mandated 33,000 GWh of chaotically and only occasionally delivered wind and solar power into a grid designed around controllable generation sources and narrow defined tolerances as to voltage and frequency will have no serious impact on grid stability, reliability or the costs of keeping the grid from collapsing.

Josh still talks about mega-batteries as if you can pick them up for peanuts at hardware discount giant, Bunnings; and as if his Elon Musk marvels and Snowy 2.0 will add generating capacity to a system on the brink of collapse.

A 10-year-old knows that batteries store rather than generate power. And it doesn’t take an engineer to explain that pumping power into a Tesla battery, or uphill in the Snowy Mountains, uses more power than can ever be returned to the grid from either (the Snowy 2.0 pipe-dream will take 3MWh of power to pump enough water uphill to return 2MWh to the grid – a 33% loss). Accounting doesn’t appear to be one of Josh’s strong points, either.

Frydenberg’s efforts to convince the public that’s he’s ‘got this’, that all’s in hand and with a few tweaks he’ll have the thing fixed in a jiffy are starting to sound like Humpty Dumpty – the clever egg who could make words mean whatever he chose them to mean.

The ‘optic problem’ for Josh is the repeated warnings about blackouts when temperatures rise and wind power output collapses; the ever-present threat of Stalinist ‘demand management’, with big energy users unceremoniously chopped from the grid when the wind stops blowing; and, not to forget, retail power prices which are the highest in the world and 3 times the average cost of power in Trump’s USA (see above).

Sooner or later we all sit down to a banquet of consequences. In Australia the dinner bell has rung and what’s on offer are penury and unemployment.

As their suffering becomes more immediate and direct, the general populace will all eventually get it.

And when they do, they’ll be looking for the political scalps of those who shamelessly served it up. Josh Frydenberg and Malcolm Turnbull among them.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Crispin Trist: if we complain to the WFC and are dissatisfied with his performance, to whom do we complain? That is so simple! We give all the info to the Wind Turbine owners, as that is what he asked us to do. Supply all our info and complaints and send them to the Waterloo Wind Farm, and from them you get a letter to send your complains to your local Council. From them you get a letter that is out of their hands. They tell you to turn your complains to the E.P.A, from them you will get a letter that the wind farm is complying with the Wind Turbine owner hand book, and if you’re not happy you can turn to your Wind Farm Commissioner.

    Is this telling us something?? (by the way I hate that they use the word Farm, they are Industrial Turbines and factories, not farms.)

    • Crispin Trist says:

      The WFC gives the impression that he is listening to you and then later attempts a resolution that bears no resemblance whatsoever to what it was you actually asked of him.

      This comes across as both patronising and dismissive.

      POEPLE ARE LEAVING THEIR HOMES!!!

      How much more serious does it have to get before someone in government actually pays attention to this.

      I would suggest that the WFC is ‘not’ the man for the job.

      Case reopened!

      Over to you Josh…

      • Crispin Trist says:

        ……..and to labour the point regarding poor concentration living near wind turbines, excuse the misspelling of ‘PEOPLE ARE LEAVING THEIR HOMES’.

  2. Jackie Rovensky says:

    The best way to sum up what is happening with respect to energy provision is:

    ‘We trained hard-but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganised. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganising; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.’
    PETRONIOUS ARBITER, 210BC’

    The sooner Frydenberg, Turnbull, Weatherill. Koutsantonis and all the other dreamers accept they have been leading us while asleep, ensuring we are living the nightmares they create, the sooner we will see this country and State progress back to the future – a future of prosperity, peace and Government for the People’s benefit not for a few ideologically challenged, or inadequate susceptible Politicians who are easily ‘managed’ by manipulating industry stalwarts and their sidekicks.

  3. The points made above by Weasel2go and Crispin are important. Wind farms are proceeding and neighbours are being further isolated from justice. We have valid, proven issues of turbine noise and vibration which has destroyed our previous good quality of life. These unwanted acoustic events continue and will continue until proper measures are initiated to prevent and repair the damages. Money from the wind farm operators in the form of community grants or good neighbour agreements don’t resolve the faults of this industry. Where do our complaints actually get reviewed and protective measures get initiated? They don’t and when the Commissioners role becomes redundant because all the problems and cases are supposedly according to his report, resolved and closed, what then?

    http://www.standard.net.au/story/5158831/neighbour-says-cape-bridgewater-wind-farm-not-good/

  4. The money they are paying the Wind Commissioner should be used to help the people get out of theit homes and relocate them somewhere safe. All I found the commissioner to be good for is to make a lot of WIND.

  5. Australians have bought into the “green” message hook, line and sinker. It’s a message that can be stated succinctly and forcibly in a 30 second (or less) sound bite. That can’t be done with the alternative argument which is automatically perceived as being “dirty” and based on “greed” even before the first word is uttered. Until there are popular figureheads willing to work to enact realistic legislation, then it’s going to be much more of the same. Organizations like the ABC give voice to the eco-warriors and any diversion from the political yellow brick road can be quickly quashed with media influence. Increasingly, I am of the opinion there is only one outcome on the horizon and it won’t be pretty. Maybe the increasing and irregular blackouts will be an opportunity for Australian innovation?

  6. About a hundred years ago he would have had a hole drilled into his head to let out the “demons” ! Perhaps this procedure could be brought back for idiots such as him !

  7. Reblogged this on UPPER SONACHAN WIND FARM and commented:
    Waking up from ‘herd’ mentality after being force fed wind energy’s blatantly non-existent advantages (e.g. the still unproven claims made for CO2 emission savings & benefits) is accelerating as reports of harm from physical, environmental and economic adverse effects increase. STT helps this process in no small measure.

  8. Terry Conn says:

    Despite the high falutin claims by every neo-Marxist on the planet that Donald Trump is mad/insane and has serious mental health issues I have never doubted that he is quite sane – but it seems that Josh Frydenberg has actually lost grip on reality altogether – as one grows up it is normal to come to understand that the ‘tooth fairy’ is not real, Josh, however, is in reverse gear having understood that wind farms as electricity providers were unrealistic and not fit for purpose he now sees them as a great idea and apparently now thinks running up and down a mountain on a windless day trying to fly a kite is not either stupid or insane just as thinking you can power a grid with wind turbines on a windless day is not stupid or insane – Josh, you’ve lost it and gone over to the dark side.

  9. Weasels 2 Go says:

    Jo Fryup is being squeezed between the renewables (read wind) industry and those who are converts to the new and false religion. He does not have the wit or courage to do his job. It will take 2 years and the demise of Turnbuck for him to get it right.

    Meantime we have a Wind Commissioner who has never admitted that there are serious problems with the wind industry. He has no inclination to suggest and argue for solutions.

    It could be time for STT to review the Commissioner’s work.

    • Crispin Trist says:

      In my experience, the wind farm commissioner (WFC) is simply there to restore the wind developer’s social licence to operate and to smooth the path for new wind projects.

      My question is, if we complain to the WFC and are dissatisfied with his performance, to whom do we complain?

      Who is now responsible for appointing the WFC?

      From a very dissatisfied customer.

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