Lunatics Paradise: Australia’s Renewables Fiasco Like Living in a Madhouse

Australia’s impoverished power consumers looking to their political leaders for solutions and/or respite can expect no relief. A collective form of insanity – let’s call it the madness of herds – has overcome both sides of politics in Australia.

The Liberal/National Coalition is headed by a pair of wind worshipping lunatics, Malcolm Turnbull and his hapless sidekick, Josh Frydenberg. Between them, their policy utterances are indistinguishable from the Green/Labor Alliance that’s itching to replace them at the next swing of the electoral cycle. No wonder Australian businesses and households are sounding more desperate by the day.

In the manic rush to run on sunshine and breezes, common sense, logic and reason were early fatalities; sacrificed to an obsessive and self-destructive ideology. As David Bidstrup details in this pointed little essay. David attacks the lunacy from the South Australian perspective, but it’s to be remembered that the subsidies and soft loans that made SA Australia’s wind and solar power capital are all the product of Federal government laws and policies.

David Bidstrup: Living in the madhouse
Catallaxy Files
David Bidstrup
15 January 2018

On 10 January “The Advertiser” reported that the solar-thermal plant to replace the now demolished coal plant at Port Augusta has been given development approval. The proponents still need to organise finance and get their hands on the federal government $100 million “concessional equity loan” otherwise known as free money from us. I thought I would do some numbers to see whether the project is worth the hype, even though it is probably inevitable.

The promotional blurb for the “Aurora” project states a generating capacity of 150 MW and output of 500 GWh per year. If “Aurora” was a conventional generator its theoretical annual output would be 1,314 GWh so the capacity factor for the project is 38%. This is not much better than wind farms which average capacity factors of 30-35%. As a comparison, the now demolished Port Augusta power station had a capacity of 520MW and a capacity factor of around 90% so could produce about 4,100 GWh annually. This is around 8 times more than the solar-thermal project will provide.

The solar-thermal plant is quoted at $650 million, with $100 million coming directly from our pockets. The construction time is 2 ½ years from whenever they get the money finalised.

Over a proposed life span of 40 years it will produce 20,000 GWh – about 5 years’ worth of Port Augusta output – and will have a capital cost per MWh produced of $32.50 plus financing and operating costs.

There is much hype about the “storage” capacity and how this will make the plant “dispatchable”, (a term the famous “pet shop parrot” now uses whenever electricity is being discussed). Looking at data from plants already in existence in Nevada, the solar-thermal plants suffer the same issue as ordinary solar PV in that their output drops off in winter months. Plots show capacity factors dropping to 10% so output is around one quarter of summer output. There might not be sufficient “excess” power to store in winter months.

The coal fired station provided employment for 500 or so people in the Leigh Creek mine and Port Augusta power station and many others who made their livings supporting the power station or providing services for the families of these people. Leigh Creek is now a ghost town and Port Augusta has businesses closed and people out of work. They are also facing pollution from the overenthusiastic explosive demolition of the power station and the dust from the drying flyash lagoon.

The solar-thermal project is touted as employing 650 people over 2 ½ years for construction – most of whom will come from places other than Port Augusta – and an ongoing workforce of 50 people to operate it. Not much of a deal for those who now see no future.

Towards the end of the article Mr Kevin Smith, CEO of “Solar Reserve” is quoted as saying it is “a remarkable story of the transition of Port Augusta from coal to renewable energy – which won a competitive tender against fossil fuel”. I would imagine Alinta, owners of the Port Augusta power station, were not asked to “tender”, (if there ever was a tender process), because it used “dirty coal”. How can you “win” a tender against something that is excluded from the tender for “ideological” reasons?

Alinta were going broke because they had to get off the grid every time the wind blew but be ready to pick up the slack when it did not. This meant they continued to burn coal and employ people but their revenue base was severely reduced. They offered a deal to keep the plant going for $8 million per year but this was turned down by a government that has a fanatical fixation about “climate change” and “emissions reductions”. As a consequence the plant was blown up and sent to China as scrap metal.

4,100,000 MWh for $8 million is $1.95 per MWh, slightly less than a capital cost of $32.50 plus $80 for the RET subsidy, (it is “renewable” after all), and probably $20 for operations and maintenance giving $132.50 per MWh, without financing costs. This is 68 times the incremental cost for keeping Port Augusta open and produces 5 years’ worth of “equivalent” power over a 40 year life span.

I find it very hard to get excited by deals such as this and I suspect if others had access to the numbers they might get out on the streets with pitchforks and chase the perpetrators of this fiasco down the street.

It gets worse. When the penny finally dropped that our power system was imperilled the same government did deals for a battery, which has limited use and which we do not know the price of and some diesel fired gas turbines that use 80,000 litres of fuel per hour. The total cost, excluding the solar thermal plant is said to be $550 million of the SA taxpayers’ dollars. It will be added to the state credit card which we are ultimately responsible for.

Not only do the federal government think it is a good idea, Mr Xenophon, who is on a quest to “save” us, thinks so too and “struck a deal” when he was a senator in order to get the “concessional equity loan”. This does not bode well for us in regard to sane energy policy going forwards but the same can be said for the Liberals who seem clueless.

Meanwhile the good people of Port Augusta and Leigh Creek comb through the garbage cans trying to survive, wondering why their lives have been destroyed for absolutely no reason by a government that is supposed to do the right thing by its citizens. The rest of us deal with eye-watering power bills and the ever present threat of blackouts. Businesses shed staff or close up shop because their power bills increase past the affordable limit.

The pity of it is that all Australian politicians have become captive to the fantasy of the “greenhouse effect” even though it is just a theory, has not been proved and has been refuted by many scientists we never hear about. There is strong motivation for vested interests in “renewables” to hype their product while dining off subsidies that all consumers pay for in their power bills and no one dares stick their head up above the trenches point out that it is all pain and no gain.

It is insane. We are living in the madhouse.
Catallaxy Files

Turnbull & Frydenberg to star in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest 2.

About stopthesethings

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


  1. Reblogged this on Climate-

  2. Paul Thoms says:

    In government action that equates to resolving the inability of a square peg to fit in a round hole by smashing it with a hammer; in more news today, the SA government is to “offer” solar panels and batteries to 50,000 homes at no charge.
    The SA government is getting desperate to show the world that 100% renewable energy is attainable. The state is well past the stage of justifying costs. It’s trying to justify policy and damn the cost.

    • I’ve never been to SA–does it only have 50,000 homes? Does the sun shine everyday of the year? Does the sun ever go down? Is there no night, you know, does it ever get dark? How many batteries is each house going to get? Do they have enough juice to run my arc-welder, I like to do DIY projects.

      What are the homes and businesses that aren’t getting these magical solar panels and batteries supposed to do when the grid goes down? Are the voters in SA really that dumb and easily duped? From the way it sounds, the voters of SA have absolutely no power. All it takes is a minister or two to plunge SA into chaos and poverty–the people have no power.

  3. Paul Thoms says:

    So much fun. The debacle in California with solar power plants is being ignored. The renewable proponents are convinced the world can go 100% wind/solar/battery and implement a tax on energy use. Let’s just encourage South Australia. Unfortunately, each pro-renewable government entity from Australia, Europe and the USA is implementing the same pig-headed strategy despite the failed examples of South Australia, California and Germany of which the last two can’t quite bring themselves to go all in. C’mon South Australia…don’t hold back. Let go the hand brake and put the renewable foot to the floor.

    • Paul Thoms says:

      In government action that equates to resolving the inability of a square peg to fit in a round hole by smashing it with a hammer; in more news today, the SA government is to “offer” solar panels and batteries to 50,000 homes at no charge.
      The SA government is getting desperate to show the world that 100% renewable energy is attainable. The state is well past the stage of justifying costs. It’s trying to justify policy and damn the cost.

  4. C. Paul Barreira says:

    South Australia, a failed state. And all self-imposed. It has no hope for no one offers any alternative. The less-than-useless Liberal Party depends on an interconnector, promising less expensive electricity for the public. An Interconnector to where? Who has the surplus supply? For all practical intents and purposes the answer is: no one. And all that, in terms of an election due in a few weeks, to be decided (to the extent that it has not already been decided) in the course of the Fringe festival, Clipsal and other circuses (bread’s off).

  5. It’s obvious that even IF there was such a thing as “Global Warming”, the solution being inflicted on developed nations all over the world is FAR WORSE than all of the imagined horrors of global warming. The lives of ordinary people are being destroyed and entire countries are being driven to economic ruin by literally burning money to fight a demon that doesn’t exist.

    What in the world are people thinking in Australia? Here in America after 8 years of Obamanation, the people threw out the liberal democrats and this will continue in the coming 2018 mid-term elections. Trump is dismantling Obama’s climate change legacy one Executive Order at a time.

    Why don’t the Germans or Australians get their acts together? Thousands of households in Germany have had their power disconnected because they can’t afford electricity.

    And the snobs around the world cry that Donald Trump is the insane one!

    • Klaus Ebeling says:

      Absolutely right, here in Germany the Government recommends that Citizen stockpile Emergency stocks for the coming Blackouts.
      Best regards from the German madhouse

      • Stockpile emergency supplies?! That’s the answer from the German Government? How do you “stockpile” a day of work, productivity or services? If you’re a doctor are you supposed to keep future patients sealed up in bottles or freezers so they can be treated sometime in the future?

        What is the Volkswagen plant supposed to do? How do you stockpile ice cream, frozen veggies or fresh chicken and fish?

        Germany is turning into a JOKE of a country. It is run by a bunch of stupid spoiled green and liberal snobs who think that they are so smart but their country can’t even keep the lights on!! This is worse than a joke–you couldn’t have even written a bad movie script that foretold a future filled with horrors that is as pathetic as what is occurring today in Germany today.

        This is like self-mutilation disorder–people who have everything in the world without any worries, but they’re literally slashing themselves to death. What they all need is to spend a year living on the streets in India eating garbage, drinking filthy water and picking through trash piles looking for things to sell to the recyclers. Living on 10 cents a day may cure their self-mutilation disorder. Or not…

        It is literally insanity. And these same sophisticated and erudite Germans and Euro-weanies call Donald Trump stupid and a dummy who is going to destroy the world. The only hope the world has today IS Donald Trump! He brings actual practical SOLUTIONS to problems. How? Because he’s a builder and a developer–you know, the kind of person that actually builds things and runs businesses. Not a professional politician or parasite class organism (e.g., college professors and government employees).

        I’m glad I don’t live in Australia or Germany.

    • Please add Ontario to the list of governments that can’t find their way out of this failed experiment. We all need to expose the lobbyists who are still using alarmist climate change, fear- based pressure tactics to con politicians. Who exactly are these lobbyists? It’s time to investigate and expose them. Who exactly are these politicians who are choosing not to listen to the advice of engineers, experts and even the Auditor General?

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