Newsflash: Power Costs More With Intermittent Wind & Solar – A Whole Lot More

Australia’s renewable energy policy is doomed: and it was rocketing power prices that killed it.

No State went harder or faster than South Australia, when it came to the rollout of solar panels and giant windmills.

Notorious for mass load shedding events and a statewide blackout, that left parts of the economic backwater without power for more than a week, South Australians suffer the highest retail power prices in the world. Which – after years of being told that SA is the world’s renewable energy capital – makes it pretty hard to ignore the connection between spiralling power prices and its ludicrous attempt to run on nature’s wonder fuels.

And it’s that shining example that makes a nonsense of claims that Josh Frydenberg’s National Energy Guarantee will suddenly reduce retail power prices – notwithstanding that it would double wind and solar capacity in Australia, to a figure exceeding 42% of electricity demand (close to what South Australians are supposed to ‘enjoy’ from their wind and solar capacity).

The NEG is a dead duck and, worse still for RE zealots, the guns have been trained on the Federal government’s Large-Scale RET, as well (as we reported in our last post).

The politics of power is always and everywhere about what lobs in power consumer’s letterboxes.

With retail power prices increasing at double-digit rates, year-on-year, over the last four years, the mood is positively toxic.

Indeed, trying to sell a policy that’s guaranteed to increase power prices is like dishing up a bowl full of dead rats, as Terry McCrann makes plain enough.

Turnbull ‘sell’ the NEG? You have to be kidding
The Australian
Terry McCrann
18 August 2018

The most astonishing feature of Malcolm Turnbull’s NEG victory in the party room that has gone inadequately remarked upon is the way his colleagues have trusted their political futures and even more importantly their access to the white cars completely to the most inept retail politician we have seen at federal leadership level in this country for some decades.

And it just got worse, ’orribly, horribly, worse, with the PM dumping the 26 per cent renewable figure from the NEG legislation, but not from the NEG reality — while still refusing to walk away from Paris and the underlying, overriding insanity.

At core, they had put their entire trust — quivering hopes might be more accurate — in the NEG delivering victory in the next election, in the ability of the Prime Minister to sell the NEG to a somewhat less trusting — one might even say, sullen — electorate as the certain deliverer of lower electricity prices.

Have any of those who even tremblingly raised their hands in support contemplated the horror that awaits, as they trudge through at least four weeks of Turnbull selling the NEG day after day, night after night across TV screens?

Could they seriously think that prospect just got better with a stuttering PM now embarking on also explaining how the 26 per cent mandatory renewables commitment, which would deliver the lower prices, wasn’t actually mandatory so as to also deliver lower prices?

For those old enough to remember, John Hewson explaining the impact of his proposed GST on the price of cakes would seem like the very model of powerful political eloquence, succinctness and ultimate success, in contrast.

And no, I hasten to add, there’s not a thought: to bring Hewson out of well-deserved irrelevance (except to the ABC) to explain how “renewables are now cheaper than coal” and will deliver Australia into broad sunlit uplands, albeit covered in wind turbines and solar panels as Churchill could never have imagined, of ever cheaper electricity prices.

To stress, it’s not just that the lemmings, otherwise known as front and backbenchers, have turned their backs on the two retail policies that could win the next election — cutting immigration and power prices — and put their faith in the utterly incomprehensible, anything-but-retail, NEG; but that worse, the anything-but-retail policy is handcuffed to the retail-inept politician.

Could any of those point to a single political decision or act by the PM over the past three years which has been otherwise than inept?

The first big one: to call an early election off a budget that was not only anything but a conventional election budget but directly attacked key sections of the Liberal and National party bases?

And then to not only launch disastrously into a long, long eight-week campaign (didn’t anyone mention Bob Hawke’s similarly almost disastrous too-long 1984 exercise? And Hawke was a master retail politician). But also for the PM to then essentially go to sleep for the eight weeks?

Then this year, to repeat it all, with Super Saturday: the long campaign for the five by-elections; a PM with essentially nothing to say and saying it repeatedly and incoherently; the ultimate ceding of two possible victories in Braddon and Longman?

I can’t say you really don’t know whether to laugh or cry because you really have to do both.

Now poor old Josh — Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg — might have managed to talk himself into believing that the tooth fairy otherwise known as the NEG will deliver $150 in lower power prices; but I doubt that even he could have talked himself into believing that Turnbull could convince voters of such an outcome. An outcome that is in any event literally unbelievable.

Let’s take some broad numbers, using the National Energy Market, of the five eastern states as proxy for the nation.

For renewables to deliver 26 per cent of electricity in a year (using present day numbers), there will have to be something like 18GW to 20GW of installed (hydro, solar and wind) capacity to deliver, on average through the year, around 6GW. Because as you know, when the wind don’t blow … etc.

Now the wonderful news is that at times — when the wind does … etc etc — that could provide 100 per cent of demand across all the five states. If it coincided with the period of minimum demand from business and consumers, which currently runs around 18GW.

Now the somewhat less than wonderful news is that we will still need at least 35GW of real — coal and gas — generation, because peak demand in these states can top 33GW.

And if the wind ain’t blowing when it does …

Now, the various idiots otherwise known as energy experts and advisers propose to massage these realities by building lots and lots of Tesla-like batteries and shutting down businesses and leaving pensioners in either the unheated cold or the un-airconditioned hot, otherwise known as demand management.

But seriously Josh, if you still have a semi-functioning brain: do you really expect that building a power generation network of something like 50GW of total (real and nonsensical) generating capacity and how many Tesla and Snowy 2.0 big batteries — to meet demand that gets to only around 33GW maximum and can be as little as 18GW — can then deliver cheaper electricity?

But then, even more urgently, that Turnbull can convince voters of that wonderful future? When wannabe-PM Hewson couldn’t get a somewhat simpler cake mix right?

Has anyone in Canberra noticed that the world is changing very rapidly around Australia and all this pathetic nonsense? We are no longer just living through the Trump-quake, but the aftershocks are already developing.

These take the form, both of shorter-term cyclical dynamics as different as what’s happening in the US economy and on Wall St to the Turkey turmoil and its likely impact on the European polity, economy and financial markets and system — to the longer-term shifts in global geopolitics and geo-economics.

The thought of a PM Shorten leading Australia into that turbulence is just a little scary.
The Australian

That adding intermittent wind and solar to a power grid leads to spiralling power prices, is a night-follows-day kind of thing and the examples are plentiful. What’s set out in the graphic above (courtesy of Dr Michael Crawford) provides pictorial proof of what happened to power prices across Australia’s Eastern Grid, since subsidised wind and solar started making their mark in around 2009.

The Australian’s Judith Sloan picks up the theme and adds a number of other pertinent examples from around the globe.

It’s a universal truth: renewables mean higher costs
The Australian
Judith Sloan
11 August 2018

Tell me anywhere in the world where a higher penetration of ­renewable energy has been associated with lower electricity prices.

It certainly isn’t Denmark, which went crazy about wind power and has some of the highest electricity prices in the world.

It also isn’t Germany, which fell in love with wind and solar power — yes, solar power in Germany — and has some of the highest electricity prices in the world. Did I also mention, notwithstanding the substantial taxpayer and customer subsidisation of renewable energy, Germany will fail to meet the 2020 emissions reduction target it set ­itself and may well fail to meet its 2030 target? Germany also has finished constructing a new brown coal-fired power station recently.

In Spain, electricity prices were below the European average in 2009. They are now significantly above that average in the context of a massive expansion of subsidised renewable energy. This link finally was accepted by the government and the subsidies have been dramatically curtailed.

It also isn’t the Canadian province of Ontario, where retail electricity prices have doubled since 2005, notwithstanding assurances by the progressive government, which recently has been convincingly voted out of ­office, that this would not happen. The Ontario government forced the premature closure of its coal-fired power stations and piled on the subsidies for renewable energy.

When the head of Environmental Defence Canada was asked whether he was concerned that the Ontario government’s plan, as enacted through the Green Energy and Green Economy Act 2009, would lead to ­higher electricity prices for consumers in the province, he simply replied: “No, not at all.”

It’s a different story today and the newly elected premier, conservative Doug Ford, recently has cancelled a government auction for more renewable energy. He also has vowed to take on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is planning to impose an escalating carbon tax on all provinces deemed to be failing to reduce emissions to the required degree.

Not that things are going swimmingly for Trudeau, who is having to tweak his carbon tax plans ­because of the potential blow to the competitiveness of Canada’s energy-intensive, trade-exposed industries.

With the incipient trade war with the US in the background, the Canadian government is seeking to lower the burden on EITE firms lest they sustain falling profits and possibly close. Trudeau is finding that it’s not easy being green.

And let’s consider some states in the US whose governments have decided the promotion of ­renewable energy is the way to go.

One of the hidden costs of ­renewable energy is the extra cost of transmission lines that are used only infrequently. Solar and wind farms are typically spread out, which increases the costs.

As ­Michael Shellenberger, energy contributor to Forbes, notes: “It would take 18 solar farms to produce the same amount of electricity that comes from the one nuclear power plant (in Diablo Can­yon, California). Where just one set of transmission lines is required to bring power from Diablo Canyon, 18 sep­arate transmission lines would be required to bring power from solar farms. These transmission lines are in most cases longer because solar farms are far away in the desert where it is sunny and land is cheap.”

So let’s look at the data. For the US as a whole, electricity prices rose 7 per cent between 2009 and 2017. (Oh, that we were so lucky.)

In North Dakota, electricity prices rose 40 per cent while the penetration of renewables (wind and solar) went from 9 per cent to 27 per cent.

In South Dakota, it was a similar story: electricity prices rose 34 per cent while renewables went from 5 per cent to 30 per cent.

In California, an epicentre of green politics and party to a carbon cap-and-trade scheme, electricity prices rose 22 per cent while the share of ­renewables rose from 3 per cent to 27 per cent.

Are there exceptions to this rule — a higher penetration of ­renewables leading to lower electricity prices? In Texas, renewables have gone from 5 per cent to 15 per cent — note the latter is still quite low — and electricity prices fell by 14 per cent across the period. But this was mainly the result of falling gas prices, with Texas the hub of gas fracking. ­Environ­men­tal groups in Australia, of course, are fiercely opposed to fracking.

As Shellenberger concludes: “Integrating solar on to the grid is much easier to do when you can easily turn natural gas plants up and down to accommodate their intermittency. And it’s much ­easier to do when it is 12 per cent of your electricity instead of 20 per cent.”

The real issue with renewable energy is its non-synchronous and intermittent nature. In short, it cannot produce electricity when and where it is needed. And at times it produces too much electricity in relation to demand. Peak solar production, for instance, ­occurs at 1pm; peak demand is much later in the day.

This has led to the extraordinary situation in California and Germany where neighbouring states/countries are actually paid to take the excess electricity. Mind you, Poland has become jack of ­accepting Germany’s excess renew­able energy output, fearing for the commercial future of its coal-fired power stations.

Malcolm Turnbull is wont to tell us electricity is all about economics and engineering. The Prime Minister may be right, but he fails to understand the core features of the economics and engineering — the physics, ­really — that mean the higher penetration of renewable energy will almost always lead to higher electricity prices, including in Australia. And note that we are not blessed with ample supplies of cheap gas, as is the case in the US. So in arguing the case for his beloved national energy guarantee, he must explain how the promotion of more renewable energy, via the imposition of a reviewable emissions reduction target, could possibly lead to lower electricity prices when this has not been the case around the world.

We know that the modelling undertaken by the Energy Security Board is completely shonky ­because it assumes a competitive market in which the cost of capital and system costs miraculously fall as result of the NEG. At the very least, the ESB should have insisted the modellers undertake sensitivity analysis on their findings and subject them to an independent expert committee.

The public is right to be sceptical about the modelling prediction of lower prices under the NEG. It’s just a pity no one called out the modellers when the renewable ­energy target was being reviewed.

It is probably the case that ­renewable energy can be made to work in Australia — it is relatively sunny and windy in parts. But the costs, many hidden ­including transmission, storage and the provision of inertia services, are likely to be substantial and ongoing.

The last thing the renewable energy players really want is lower electricity prices. After all, what will sustain their supernormal profits after the large-scale renewable energy certificates peter out in the early 2020s?

But think of it this way. Most of our large energy-intensive plants will have closed by then and so ­demand will have fallen away. We can all be happy watching the turbines turn and the solar panels heat up and be satisfied that we are doing our bit to reduce global warming — or not.
The Australian

About stopthesethings

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


  1. Peter Pronczak says:

    Cranes of Ibycus

    If I may suggest to STT and subscribers a 25min video presentation that succinctly explains the historical beginnings of the 30-40 year operation of deliberate policy that most people have no idea about.

    It covers the international to Australian context of what is now being fought back against by Jeremy Corbyn, countries like Italy, the German admitted failed renewables experiment, Brexit, the campaign against Trump and the revolt against Turnbull being reactions to that same policy.

    It explains what has been done to bring us to the present geopolitical/deindustrialisation back to the future feudalism of sunshine and breezes of the present climate of financial gambling and looting of nations (whew).

    Perhaps then, we may all be on the same page. If anyone has a dissenting opinion, they can take it up with the presenter’s organisation. They must know something, look to the date, he has survived for the moment but Turnbull was mentioned…

  2. Peter Pronczak says:

    How often does the word ‘insanity’ and La-La land have to be used in the media and by so many others before a psychiatrist is called to diagnose the reality of a mental disorder being inflicted on society?

    Oh that’s right the party’s use that branch of medicine to manipulate voters.
    Woe is me, is their no end to this insanity when straight-jackets have become a fashion statement!

  3. Reblogged this on UPPER SONACHAN WIND FARM.

  4. Michael Crawford says:

    Our country is run by clueless ratbags busily polishing their own virtue displays while lining their pockets with taxpayer funds and running the country into the ground.

    In the US, Trump is actively pursuing his America First policy (by which he means the interests of the general US public, not the globalists) while our virtuous donkeys like Turnbull, Frydenberg and the carpetbaggers on their tailcoats are ignorant about the implications for us given their ruinous policies and the ruinous policies of Rudd and Gillard.

    Trump is intent on rapidly rebuilding US manufacturing. He has added 400,000 new manufacturing jobs in 18 months whereas his predecessor was running down manufacturing. The US has a huge trade deficit with China ($400B pa), with the EU and some other exporters like South Korea and Japan.

    Trump is using the ability to block those exports into the US to force reciprocity in trade. He has a very big whip. South Korea and Japan have accepted the inevitable, are renegotiating and moving factories to the US (as is Mexico, which is a transhipper for China and EU – Justine in Canada is still virtue signalling and hoping Canada can continue transhipping for China, with a cliff ahead). The EU has caved to Trump and is starting active trade renegotiations. China has just realised Trump is deadly serious and will do what he says, which is a shock to the Chinese leaders. They can’t buy him whereas they have bought US politicians for decades to allow their one-sided trade war.

    That means China’s huge trade surplus with the US will be slashed to almost nothing. The corollary is that either Chinese exports to the US will be dramatically cut or China will have to import a lot more manufactures from the US, which become a substitute for its own manufactured product. One way or another, China’s manufacturing is about to run into a brick wall — which has big ramifications for Australia in terms of our exports of coal, iron ore and other raw materials (and may also cause a shock to inbound tourism if China’s economy slows dramatically).

    US steel and aluminium is now growing thanks to Trump’s policies (and China is left with massive surplus capacity). The US can mine its own raw materials and so won’t take up lost Australian exports to China (or Japan and South Korea).

    In the context of a massive restructuring of global trade, all driven by President Trump, there will be winners and losers — and Australia looks set to be in the latter category because not only did our politicians destroy much of our manufacturing, we are continuing to do so with Turnbull/Shorten’s insanity.

    Australia needs a politician with an unabashed “Australia First” approach. Our current leaders are “Globalists First” with no regard for the general public. The Turnbull/Frydenberg parasite power fantasy will come an even bigger cropper in this near future and Australians will suffer for it.

    • Terry Conn says:

      So true, Michael Crawford, ultimately all Australians will be ‘victims’ of the current insanity – apparently that is what they want to be because in the modern Australian’s pysche that is the most politically correct place to be which then gets sympathy and free handouts – the only problem being, in the long run, the rest of the world will not give a damn – all we will be left with will be the chaos rendered by our beloved virtue signalling ‘diversity’. The current electricity crises brought about by pointless, costly tokenistic and totally useless ‘renewables’ is the most nation destroying manifestation of our nation’s failing democracy and its institutions – that people like yourself, Terry McCrann and Judith Sloan are still allowed to speak is a good thing, but that you are never listened to is the problem – not once, not ever, have I seen a response to your’s and their compelling arguments from any government, any statutory body, any planning approval body or any academic institution all of whom just sail along taking taxpayers money and ignoring the whole lot of us. That the system in the USA has delivered its people President Trump who is calling this ‘renewables’ scam to account is great for the ‘good ‘ol USA’ – here, we have a lot of catching up to do.

    • You are correct. Think about the ramifications of a Chinese meltdown–what’s biggest single factor in the last 20 years in terms of economic growth? China.

      How have the Chinese affected Australia? What happens if the Chinese suddenly disappeared? If they do go “Poof!”, it will be because of Donald Trump.

      Funny how an ignorant buffoon can affect a nation on the other side of the globe.

      • Charles wardrop says:

        Sounds from “Stop these things” as if the “ignorant (politician) buffons” in power in Oz outmatch most other anglosphere ones, even those in the UK!

  5. Charles wardrop says:

    Why do people in power or those with scientific/commmercial knowledge but no financial or political interest still support and press for wind/sun powered renewables?

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