Renewable Energy Wars: MP’s Push For Reliable Coal-Fired Power Means D-Day for Wind & Solar

Doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results is insanity. And, so it is, with a gaggle of Australian MPs still wedded to the delusion that you can run an economy on sunshine and breezes.

South Australia set the benchmark: with a grid on the brink of collapse and the world’s highest power prices, you’d be hard pressed to ignore the consequences that played out in that little economic backwater as a result of its wind and solar obsession. But, plenty still do.

The madness of herds; collective insanity, call it what you will. Unless somebody gets a grip, very soon the disaster that struck South Australia will spread like the kind of contagious disease that wipes out whole African nations. Except the symptoms will exhibit as a continuation of escalating power prices, already punishing pensioners and pressing businesses to the brink of insolvency.

Slowly, but surely, a sensible few are starting to grapple with the scale and depth of Australia’s self-inflicted power pricing and supply calamity.

A number of National MPs are demanding the immediate construction of coal-fired power plants. And former PM, Tony Abbott is right alongside them, calling the insanity for what it is.

Turnbull repeating mistakes on energy, says Abbott
The Australian
Simon Benson
3 July 2018

Tony Abbott has accused Malcolm Turnbull of trying to repeat his failed 2009 attempt to secure a deal with Labor on an emissions trading scheme, and warned that the government is suffering an “ideological fixation” with reducing carbon emissions.

Delivering his most strident attack to date on his government’s own energy policy, the former prime minister has warned Liberal colleagues they risk a ­repeat of a split that almost ­destroyed the party a decade ago.

Less than four weeks before five critical by-elections, Mr ­Abbott has sought to escalate the internal campaign against the ­national energy guarantee ahead of a pivotal August meeting of COAG in which the government will seek support from Labor states.

“Does the Liberal Party nine years on realise the wheel has turned full circle and we are back to where we were in late 2009, with Malcolm Turnbull trying to do a deal with the Labor Party on emissions reduction,” Mr Abbott told The Australian, ahead of a speech tonight to the climate sceptic-think tank, the Australian Environment Foundation.

“It’s not a circle you can square with the Labor Party … it is a fight that has to be won. There can be no consensus on climate change … you either win or lose … and at the moment we are losing.”

Mr Abbott, who lost the leadership to Mr Turnbull in September 2015, yesterday refused to rule out a second stint as leader, claiming that while it was unlikely he would ever be prime minister again, it was not beyond possibility. In his first set-piece address on energy, to be delivered tonight in Melbourne, Mr Abbott will prosecute a case against the NEG, describing it as the definition of “insanity” and an impenetrable document that would commit an act of “self-harm” on the country’s economy.

“Now, I can understand why the government would like to crack the so-called trilemma of keeping the lights on, getting power prices down and reducing emissions in line with our Paris targets; it’s just that there’s no plausible evidence all three can be done at the same time,” Mr ­Abbott says in his written speech.

“If you read the national ­energy guarantee documentation, there’s a few lines about lower prices, a few pages about maintaining supply, and page after impenetrable page about reducing emissions. The government is kidding us when it says that it’s all about reducing price when there’s an emissions reduction target and a reliability target but not a price ­target.”

Mr Abbott risks being accused of a naked attempt to destabilise the Prime Minister by invoking the events of 2009, when Mr ­Abbott rolled Mr Turnbull for the Liberal leadership, a move triggered by Mr Turnbull’s support for Labor’s ETS.

Last week Mr Abbott’s call for a special partyroom meeting to discuss the NEG was shut down by Mr Turnbull and failed to get support from colleagues. The majority of Liberal MPs support the policy.

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has signalled to conservative MPs beyond Mr Abbott and a ginger group that he was looking at an “add-on” policy to the NEG that would guarantee to put more gas and coal into the energy system.

The political stakes are high for the government with a recent Newspoll conducted for The Australian revealing that Labor was now more trusted to deliver cheaper and more reliable power than the Coalition. Last week the Nationals issued a set of demands to Mr Turnbull including the establishment of a $4 billion-$5bn fund for coal-fired power. A majority of Coalition MPs believe the best course of action would be to deliver the NEG and move on from the energy debate, which could become an electoral liability for the government.

Mr Frydenberg has consistently argued that the NEG is the best solution to a decade-long problem by providing certainty for investment through a technology-neutral policy that allowed for the continuation of coal-fired power, which still provides up to 80 per cent of the national grid’s baseload power in high-demand periods.

Mr Abbott and colleagues including outspoken NSW federal Liberal MP Craig Kelly argue that the NEG is an energy-intensity scheme by another name and will lead to the death of coal-fired power in Australia and what Mr Abbott claims will be “the de-industrialisation” of the country.

“Sure, we can substantially reduce emissions, but if we do we can’t expect power prices not to rise and we can’t expect energy-­intensive industries not to close,” Mr Abbott says in his speech.

“But this is our future — under the national energy guarantee — because the emissions-reduction requirement means more wind and less coal; and the reliability requirement means more gas and more ‘demand management’.

“This is the predicament we’re in because successive governments have tried to save the planet by subsidising renewable energy and by imposing emissions reduction targets. So now we want even more ­renewable energy — up from 23 per cent to perhaps 36; as well as even higher emissions reduction targets.

“Isn’t one of the definitions of insanity doing the same thing and expecting a different result?

“If the country with the world’s largest readily available reserves of coal, gas and uranium continues to inflict on itself some of the world’s highest power prices, future generations will surely shake their heads in perplexity at such deliberate self-harm.”

Mr Abbott admits he signed up for the Paris climate change agreement as prime minister, having also brought in the Renewable Energy Target, but claims he had only ever envisaged aspirational goals.

“I certainly didn’t anticipate … how the aspirational targets we agreed to at Paris would, in different hands, become binding commitments,” he says in his written speech. “A government that can build Snowy 2.0, to provide high-cost firming capacity, but can’t or won’t build Hazelwood 2.0 to provide low-cost baseload power for the next half century — and keep the market honest — is suffering from an ideological fixation.”

Mr Abbott says that, given Mr Turnbull and ministers spent months “quite rightly” attacking Labor for plunging South Australia into darkness with a 50 per cent renewable energy target, “it’s remarkable that the government now wants an energy policy that’s acceptable to … Labor premiers; and is so keen for a deal that the partyroom will have to endorse whatever emerges from COAG”.
The Australian

Sigh…

Simon Benson reckons that:

“Mr Abbott admits he signed up for the Paris climate change agreement as prime minister, having also brought in the Renewable Energy Target, but claims he had only ever envisaged aspirational goals.”

On the first score, Benson might like to pin the blame on Tony Abbott. However, Abbott only signed on; it was Malcolm Turnbull who ratified the agreement in April 2016, after Donald Trump pulled out of Paris, much to the benefit of the USA.

And Turnbull made concrete what was otherwise a rubbery commitment just a few months after his son Alex bought millions of shares in embattled wind power outfit, Infigen. After Turnbull signed the Paris deal, Infigen’s shares went from $0.20 to $1.20, almost overnight: Born Lucky: Stars Align Perfectly for PM’s Son with Mammoth Bet on Wind Power Outfit Infigen

On the second score, Benson needs to do his homework.

We doubt Tony Abbott ‘admitted’ to bringing in the Renewable Energy Target. Unless he was drugged or beaten?

In fact, it was John Howard’s Liberal government which did so in 2001. At that point the RET represented a trivial 2% of Australia’s electricity demand.

The Genesis of the RET and who was and is responsible for it appears in this detailed article by Ray Evans and Tom Quirk. Back in 2009 Tom and Ray predicted with chilling accuracy the escalation of power prices due to increasing wind power generation.

It was Kevin Rudd’s Labor government that jacked it up to 45,000 GWh (41,000 under the Large-Scale RET and 4,000 under the SRES, the subsidy scheme for domestic rooftop solar) in 2010.

After his landslide victory in 2013, Tony Abbott was keen to totally annihilate the LRET but was stymied by his Energy Minister, Greg Hunt – who was deep in the pockets of renewable energy rent seekers, like Danish turbine maker, Vestas and the Clean Energy Council.

The wind and solar lobby fought like fury to prevent a cut (the figure of 26,000 GWh was being pushed by some in the Liberal party) and a compromise was struck with Labor that set the ultimate annual target for the LRET at 33,000 GWh, which is where it remains.

For the time being, anyway. Although, with a group of National MPs on the war path, we’re not so sure of the LRET’s longevity.

As we have said repeatedly, when a policy is unsustainable it will inevitably collapse; either under its own ponderous weight, or ignominiously at the hands of those who created it.

The LRET is just such a policy.

So eager are Queensland Nationals for a return to reliable and affordable power, they have press-ganged the witless Josh Frydenberg into visiting a coal-fired power plant. Frydenberg seems to have entered a world of firsts: the first time he’s ever set foot inside a reliable baseload power generation plant; and the first time that he’s appeared to listen to common sense.

Josh Frydenberg coal tour to appease Nationals
The Australian
Joe Kelly & Jared Owens
5 July 2018

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg will meet pro-coal Nationals MPs and visit a coal-fired power station in a tour of marginal Queensland seats as he comes under pressure from the minor Coalition partner to underwrite three new baseload power plants.

Mr Frydenberg will meet ­Nationals MPs Michelle Landry and Ken O’Dowd — two of the most marginal seat holders in the nation — who yesterday questioned the value of Australia ­remaining in the Paris climate treaty and lobbied for a new coal-fired power plant.

The timing of Mr Frydenberg’s trip, in the coming weeks, raises the prospect of the government offering a concession to the ­Nationals, who have raised concerns over the government’s ­national energy guarantee, before the crucial Longman by-election in Queensland on July 28.

As revealed by The Australian yesterday, the Nationals are ­pushing for the creation of a $5 billion fund to allow the government to take out equity in at least three new baseload power stations as the price of their support for the ­NEG.

Operating under a “government-owned company model”, the fund — which is available only to new coal, gas and traditional hydro proposals — would keep any new power stations off ­the budget books by treating them as an investment, replicating the approach taken with the western Sydney airport and inland rail projects.

Deputy Prime Minister ­Michael McCormack has initiated discussions with Malcolm Turnbull about the list of ­demands drawn up by the Nationals, but emphasised the energy guarantee was “supported by the Liberal and Nationals government”. “We continue to have normal policy discussions on an energy plan which can deliver reliable ­energy supply while lowering costs and reducing emissions to meet set targets,” Mr McCormack told The Australian. “Energy costs need to be addressed for households and businesses; ­especially in regional areas.”

However, the Nationals Leader also expressed frustration with colleagues after the two-page document containing the Nationals’ list of demands — and agreed to by the partyroom last week — was leaked to The Australian.

“I’m disappointed that a document that was drawn up in the ­Nationals partyroom and should stay in the partyroom has been leaked and is being reported in the media,” he said. “It’s not helpful, when you’re trying to bring about a resolution on an important policy which has benefits for all Australians by lowering power prices, that some are playing politics.”

The Liberal National Party state convention in Queensland this weekend is preparing to ­debate motions calling on the Turnbull government to support new coal power stations while also maintaining a “commitment to the free market”.

Another motion, from Nat­ional MP George Christensen’s ­seat of Dawson, urges the state LNP opposition to reaffirm its election pledge to see a north Queensland coal-fired power plant constructed. It follows new LNP leader Deb Frecklington distancing herself from the policy, instead announcing she would direct investment in state-owned renewables.

Ms Landry — who holds the seat of Capricornia on a margin of 0.7 per cent — yesterday appeared reluctant to support the energy guarantee unless it contained ­incentives for coal-fired power.

“I think we need negotiation on it,” she said. “I would like to see at least one (coal-fired station), and I would like to see it in Queensland … And part of the discussion was that perhaps we could have a fund that would extend the life of those power stations.”

Ms Landry said Mr Frydenberg would make his visit “in a couple of weeks” and she would “take him through a coal-fired power station and take him out to a coalmine”. Mr O’Dowd — who holds the seat of Flynn on a margin of 1.1 per cent — said he wanted to “stop the demonisation of coal” because it supported “thousands of jobs in my region”.

“It’s the only thing I can see that will bring power prices down and be an affordable and reliable ­energy source,” he said.

Mr O’Dowd also sounded a warning, saying he did not think he would support the NEG unless it could “give me an answer on how it is going to bring prices down and to what level”.

“We just cannot see the NEG bringing prices down unless there’s coal or gas or new power stations involved,” he said.

Bill Shorten called the Nationals’ demands “more unicorn rubbish” and accused them of “spinning fairytales”. The Opposition Leader signalled Labor could oppose the NEG if it was amended to allow government subsidies for new coal-fired power stations.
The Australian

Note to Bill: HELE’s spin reliable and affordable power, not fairy-tales.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Ian Miller says:

    So, If the Climate Change + CO2 reduction propaganda according to the UN is an admitted Scare Tool to destroy Capitalism, we need to crack on, purge the insanity, end the fraudulent New Socialist World Order’s Climate Change lying propaganda, immediately throw out the rent-seekers, decommission their expensive unreliable windmills which require fossil fuel backup anyway, and while CO2 needs no longer to be driven under ground, we can look forward to sensible Gas and Nuclear technologies hereafter.
    World living standards would be free to rise unimpeded, avoiding the New World Order’s inspired grinding poverty planned for the Developed Nation’s masses.

  2. Sarcastic Cynic says:

    The run-up to the next election is entertaining if nothing else. Abbott’s ministerial aspirations are probably over, but it’s good to see him take a position opposing the NEG.
    The NEG just seems to me like an electioneering position designed to neutralise criticism and minimise the political harm from electricity pricing and supply ahead of the next Federal election. A document that allows Turnbull and Frydenburg to claim they are serious about affecting supply and pricing issues, but the results won’t be apparent until well after the election has been decided.
    My gut (and it seems StopTheseThings, Abbott and many others have the same opinion) is that in its proposed form, it will only add to costs, and electricity supply issues will be exacerbated.
    Currently, it’s a political race between Turnbull and Shorten. A pro-renewable zealot and a pro-renewable zealot on steroids. I hope the Nationals who currently want to make deals with the NEG are confident that they can backtrack on its commitments at a future date. I’m not so sure.
    If Trump gets another four years in office in the USA, the competitive advantages that the USA is just now seeing hints of; that are scoffed at by Turnbull and other countries’ leaders, will start to be realised. Business leaders won’t care. Money can shift almost instantaneously. Either Turnbull or Shorten…it won’t matter. The energy intensive industries might be the first to leave Australia’s shores. Others won’t be far behind. At this stage, I like the Shorten option…get this economic malaise over and done with.

  3. wal1957 says:

    So…the solution to our energy supply problem is for the government, (we the taxpayer), to put aside $5Billion to fund building coal powered generators?
    Or in other words, we the government have created this problem by introducing stupid policies that have crippled the fossil fuel generators, and you the taxpayers of Australia, will bail out we the government.
    Don’t politicians and their imbecilic advisors understand anything at all?
    The solution is easy. Kill off all subsidies to the ‘cheap’ renewable energy parasites. Make them guarantee delivery of power 24/7! hahahaha

    This whole sorry saga would be laughable if it were not so serious!

  4. Ian Miller says:

    The Paris Agreement according to Cristiana Figueres its previous president, is nothing to do with the Climate, but is to do with the Destruction of the Capitalist system.
    It is a Left Wing Power-Grab whose every intention is to condemn the West to grinding poverty through a sophisticated fraudulent and fear based media driven education system.
    The truth regarding the benefits of CO2 in the atmosphere are of course cleverly shielded from view from the both gullible and compliant public.

    • David Walker says:

      Here you go:

      At a news conference last week in Brussels, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, admitted that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from ecological calamity but to destroy capitalism.

      “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” she said.

      Referring to a new international treaty environmentalists hope will be adopted at the Paris climate change conference later this year, she added: “This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history.”

      http://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/climate-change-scare-tool-to-destroy-capitalism/

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