Forgotten People: New Wind & Solar Slush Fund Shows PM’s Contempt for Quiet Australians

Alas poor voter, it wasn’t a marriage – it wasn’t even an affair.

 

The great unwashed in Australia’s suburbs and regions worked out long ago that heavily subsidised and chaotically intermittent wind and solar represent a problem, rather than a solution. Watching their power prices go through the roof, with much worse to come, the ambitious working classes were clearly none too keen on suffering more of the same when they soundly rejected the Green/Labor Alliance at the Federal election in May.

Bill Shorten’ 45% CO2 emissions reduction target and his 50% Renewable Energy Target was meant to deliver a Labor landslide. It didn’t.

Shorten and his acolytes believed that Australian voters would flock to his grand – ‘save the planet’ – plans for sunshine and breezes. Their propaganda wing, GetUp! made it seem like the only thing Australians are worried about is the weather, windmills and solar panels.

The Coalition’s victory suggests otherwise.

In the aftermath of Labor’s ‘unloseable’ election, slowly, but surely, MPs across the board (with the obvious exception of the Greens) began talking publicly, and in earnest, about the need for meaningful baseload power generation. Which in Australia means coal-fired plants, until such time as politicians have the nerve and maturity to do away with Federal legislation which bans nuclear power plants in this Country; and to get on and build them.

Among the Liberals and Nationals, the lessons of the last election were pretty clear: the mob want reliable and affordable power – and the industries, jobs, wealth and prosperity that follow.

So it was with more than just a little dismay that the rank-and-file in the Liberal/National Coalition now find themselves having to explain to their constituents that their leader, PM, Scott Morrison has morphed into his wind and solar obsessed predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull.

Morrison, the man who once gleefully produced a lump of coal inside Parliament, now sounds altogether like Turnbull (the man whose party made him walk the plank over his effort to double the Renewable Energy Target under the guise of his National Energy Guarantee).

To the horror of plenty within his own party – and to the fury of those who defied the pundits and voted for the Liberals or Nationals – Morrison has now announced an enormous expansion in funding for the Federal government’s wind and solar slush fund, better known as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

Here’s a wrap up on Morrison’s politically tone-deaf announcement.

Scott Morrison’s $1bn clean energy bet
The Australian
Geoff Chambers
30 October 2019

An extra $1bn will be pumped into the Clean Energy Finance ­Corporation to turbocharge development of next-generation electricity production and upgrade the transmission network to future-proof the grid and drive down prices.

The first new capital provided to the CEFC since it was established in 2012 will seek to unlock private sector investment by backing pumped hydro, battery and gas projects, and upgrades of storage and transmission infrastructure.

The Australian understands the funding boost, which cannot be used for new or upgraded coal-fired projects, was approved after the government identified a lack of investment in dispatchable generation and the need to combat ­future energy pressures.

Scott Morrison said he had an “eye to the future” in backing new energy infrastructure through the Grid Reliability Fund, which will not divert from the CEFC’s existing $10bn allocation for clean ­energy projects. The CEFC will administer the fund with an ­expectation that investments made under it will make a return.

“This is yet another initiative by our government taking more action to bring power prices down and keep the lights on,” the Prime Minister said.

“We’re delivering immediate relief through our new price safety net and banning sneaky late payment fees but we’ve also got our eye to the future with the projects this new fund will back. Our work to date and this new initiative will help deliver an energy system that isn’t a roadblock to businesses growing and employing more people and that isn’t stinging ­family hip-pockets”.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor said “sufficient reliable generation capacity” was critical in responding to high-demand periods, which are expected to put pressure on the Victorian and NSW grids as coal-fired power stations are phased out. “The Grid Reliability Fund builds on our strong action to stabilise the grid and get the ­energy generation balance right, to deliver affordable, 24/7 reliable power,” Mr Taylor said.

“It is no secret that the national electricity market is under ­pressure. This fund is designed to tackle that and is part of a suite of initiatives that the government is delivering to ensure when people flick the switch, the lights come on and stay on.”

Eligible investments include energy storage projects, incorporating pumped hydro and batteries, transmission and distribution infrastructure, grid-stabilising technologies and projects short-listed under the government’s Underwriting New Generation Investments program.

Of the 12 proposals, all but one are renewable pumped hydro and gas projects in Victoria, NSW, South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland. The sole coal project is an upgrade of Delta’s operations in Lake Macquarie, NSW.

CEFC chairman Steven Skala backed the government’s “significant initiative” to create the Grid Reliability Fund. Since the CEFC was established and began investing in 2013, its total commitments total $7.2bn across more than 140 projects.

“Investment in new generation, storage, transmission and infrastructure is critical to support the security and reliability of the grid,” Mr Skala said.

“Meeting these engineering and economic challenges is ­essential in managing Australia’s orderly transition to a clean ­energy future.”

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the government, which has a $70/MWh price target through its “A Fair Deal on Energy” policy, would update the CEFC enabling legislation to ensure the fund could “support suitable projects”.

The fund, which provides a concessional finance facility, will prioritise investments in states and territories where governments work with the commonwealth towards an agreed reliability goal and aim to relieve pressure on the national electricity market.

The Coalition’s $1bn funding boost comes as Anthony Albanese declares “Labor wants to lead a clean energy revolution”.

“In the century that’s before us, the nations that will transform into manufacturing powerhouses are those that can harness the cheapest renewable energy resources,” the Opposition Leader said on Tuesday. “Australia can be the land of cheap and endless ­energy, energy that could power generations of metal manufacturing and other energy-intensive manufacturing industries.”

On Monday, the government announced it would underwrite an upgrade of the Queensland-NSW interconnector in a joint $102m commitment with the Berejiklian government. The underwriting of the project, assisting TransGrid in fast-tracking early works ahead of final approval by the Australian Energy Regulator, is aimed at increasing competition between generators and driving down wholesale energy prices.

In August, the Australian Energy Market Operator released its Electricity Statement of Opportunities report highlighting reliability challenges facing the national market. It said Victoria was not expected to meet the market’s reliability standard over summer, putting households and business at risk of blackouts.

Mr Taylor said the report showed that without the procurement of up to 560MW of emergency reserves, 1.3 million Victorian households might be without power for up to four hours.

The AEMO report noted there was an issue with new variable renewable energy projects not generating at full capacity during peak demand times, or being positioned in congested parts of the network.

It also warned of a risk to consumers following the 2023 closure of the Liddell coal-fired power ­station in the Hunter Valley.

Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Council of Australia Tania Constable welcomed the move, telling The Australian she supported lower emissions power for business and households.

“Minerals such as iron ore, cobalt, copper, lithium, aluminium and rare earths are at the forefront of low emissions energy and Australians can look forward to strong growth in these industries for a power hungry world,” she said. “The government should advance all forms of power generation that reduce emissions.”
The Australian

Political dementia: Taylor and PM forget what their mandate was.

 

The thrust of what’s outlined above, is almost word for word what has been proposed by renewables obsessed Audrey Zibelman, head of the AEMO, over the last few years; namely, squandering hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer’s money on interconnectors, pumped hydro and batteries, in the vain belief that that insanely costly combination might overcome the grid chaos delivered daily, by uncontrollable surges and collapses in wind and solar output.

None of what’s proposed is going to deal with the real and substantial issue: a lack of meaningful, dispatchable generation capacity. A fact which will be made glaringly obvious with mass load shedding and blackouts, this coming summer.

After the election, Morrison and Angus Taylor made plenty of noises about shoring up Australia’s baseload generation capacity [note to Ed: lip service to the mandate their constituents gave them, perhaps?].

As Ashley Dodd, CEO of Shine Energy points out below, a very good place to start would be with High Efficiency Low Emissions coal-fired power plants, of the kind that his indigenous corporation is itching to build, in order to power up Queensland’s regional economy.

PM’s $1bn energy bet should include ‘clean coal’, says Shine Energy CEO
The Australian
Olivia Caisley and Joe Kelly
30 October 2019

Ashley Dodd, the chief executive of Shine Energy — an indigenous owned company proposing a new 1000 megawatt “clean” coal plant in Collinsville in central Queensland — says the government’s $1bn injection into the Clean Energy Finance Corporation fund should have its mandate broadened to include High Efficiency Low Emissions coal fired plants.

The Morrison government’s funding boost, revealed by The Australian on Wednesday, will be used to turbocharge the development of next-generation electricity production and upgrade the transmission network to future-proof the energy grid and drive down prices.

Mr Dodd told The Australian on Wednesday the government’s biggest priority should be securing the reliability of the national energy grid and urged it to expand the fund to replace older thermal coal generators with HELE fired power plants.

“The investment mandate should be broadened and have a specific focus on securing the reliability of the network to replace the older thermal coal generators with the new high efficiency low emissions coal fired power plants, thus ensuring the integrity of the national network and also the market,” Mr Dodd said.

“That should be the priority of any incumbent government, otherwise we lose our heavy industry and they will shift offshore.”

The Australian revealed on Wednesday the funding boost, which cannot be used for new or upgraded coal-fired projects, was approved after the government identified a lack of investment in dispatchable generation and the need to combat ­future energy pressures.

Eligible investments include energy storage projects, incorporating pumped hydro and batteries, transmission and distribution infrastructure, grid-stabilising technologies and 12 projects short-listed under the government’s Underwriting New Generation Investments program.

It comes after a robust discussion between Resources Minister Matt Canavan and Scott Morrison last week over the rollout of the Collinsville generator, which was promised a $10 million feasibility study in the lead up to the May election.

But Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack denied the government had been dragging its feet over the study.

“It’s only been five months since we’ve been re-elected,” he told Sky News on Wednesday.

“I would say it would be probably early in the new year. It’s already nearly November, so that’s only a couple of months away,” he said. “That’s a fairly good timeline.”

Nationals MP Keith Pitt on Wednesday echoed Mr Dodd’s concerns surrounding the scope of the CEFC, saying he would raise expanding the fund’s mandate to consider other energy sources, including HELE and nuclear, at the next Nationals’ party room.

“I welcome the investment the Federal government has taken because of the ridiculous actions taken by previous Labor state governments,” Mr Pitt told The Australian. “But the mandate should be technologically agnostic and employ all technologies to secure the energy network, including HELE, coal, carbon capture and storage, and if it looks viable, potentially nuclear.”

“It will be discussed in the Nats’ party room and we will take an opportunity to get their [my colleague’s] views.”

PM’s $1bn energy bet wins Turnbull’s praise

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull seized on the cash injection to lash his predecessor, Tony Abbott, for initially scrapping the fund. Tweeting on Wednesday, Mr Turnbull praised the Prime Minister’s new fund as a “good move.”

“Good call by Scott Morrison Govt (government) to put an extra $1 billion into the Clean Energy Corporation fund — worth recalling that it was the Abbott Govt’s policy to abolish it and that one of my first decisions in 2015 was to retain it. Good progress,” he wrote.
The Australian

Malcolm and Alex ‘Lucky’ Turnbull.

 

A ringing endorsement from none other than Malcolm Turnbull ought to have been a pretty fair signal to Scott Morrison and Angus Taylor that throwing another lazy $billion at a $10 billion wind and solar slush fund was never going to wash with the great unwashed.

Malcolm and his boy, Alex ‘Lucky’ Turnbull are both heavily invested in Australia’s most notorious wind power outfit, Infigen. So, no surprises that Daddy would signal his delight at the opportunity to profit handsomely at taxpayer’s expense. You can catch up on Alex’s ‘lucky’ Infigen investment break here: Born Lucky: Stars Align Perfectly for PM’s Son with Mammoth Bet on Wind Power Outfit Infigen

Now, let’s tap into the mood amongst those great unwashed, the very people that put Morrison in power, in the first place; and the same class of voter who couldn’t wait to see the back of the patrician and aloof Turnbull.

Last Post
The Australian
Letters
1 November 2019

What is Scott Morrison thinking, adding a billion dollars to the wasteful subsidies to renewables that have already skewed the energy market and screwed the economy? How to lose the quiet Australian vote, writ large.
Robin Southey, Port Fairy, Vic

I quietly applauded Scott Morrison’s victory and quietly anticipated great progress in the coal industry, drought relief and the economy. I am now quietly disappointed.
J. G. Kellaway, Urangan, Qld

Instead of giving another $1bn to further subsidise so-called clean energy, the government should ensure that wind and solar electricity producers are appropriately penalised for part-time generation. The remaining 24/7 fossil fuel-based plants have to operate on/off to match the random clean energy availability, going bankrupt in the process. And electricity prices continue ever upward.
Peter Crammond, Kadina, SA

I thought I was voting for a Prime Minister who would do something big such as making sure new low-emission coal mines would be built, subsidies would be removed from renewables or Australia would be drought proofed. What did we get? A convert to the climate emergency.
Elizabeth Johnson, Auchenflower, Qld
The Australian

Replacing fossil fuels with renewables is an impossible task
The Australian
Letters
1 November 2019

Scott Morrison’s recent gift of $1 billion to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation for hydro, battery, gas and grid investments shows that he is on the same path as the Greens and Anthony Albanese who support the demise of coal. Fossil fuel usage is stable or increasing around the world, and nothing can match oil, coal, gas and nuclear to provide the reliable baseload energy needs of a modern prosperous industrial economy.

To replace fossil fuel energy with renewables requires impossible scenarios — in the US, for example, it would require the construction of 14 million wind turbines each 150m tall covering an area 10 times the state of Texas.

Renewable energy is a pipedream inspired by the slavish adherence to a failed climate alarmist narrative, and Morrison’s actions are an insult to his electoral base that voted overwhelmingly to build reliable, baseload coal-fired power stations, and not to engage in wasteful green politics and continuing high energy prices.
G. M. Derrick, Sherwood, Qld

If Scott Morrison is receiving praise from Malcolm Turnbull and Anthony Albanese on gifting $1bn for clean energy that excludes nuclear and clean coal sources, then he is upsetting supporters who were prominent in helping him into government.
Brian Whybrow, Wanniassa, ACT

Most Australians know that renewable energy is the slippery slope to higher power prices and blackouts. By listening to the noisy minority, Scott Morrison is wasting another billion dollars of our money on making the renewable-industry titans rich on the public purse as they have done for over a decade now.

We need new coal-fired power stations if we want to maintain our standard of living. Renewable energy is a lovely dream but only a dream. Perhaps over the next 50 years solutions as yet unknown will make renewables viable, but we’re not there yet. Morrison should listen to those who put him in the Lodge. If he does not deliver, he will pay a heavy price at the next election. He could be a 10-year prime minister if he could read the will of the electorate.
Ross Dillon, Maleny, Qld
The Australian

Throwing money at renewables is not a viable policy
The Australian
Letters
2 November 2019

Scott Morrison has allocated $1bn to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation which was established by Labor and which Tony Abbott sought to abandon. The praise from Malcolm Turnbull is scarcely one to be welcomed and now we find your editorial is on the same wavelength (“Investing in keeping lights on”, 1/11). You agree that “putting all the eggs in the renewable and storage basket would be an extraordinary and expensive leap of faith”.

Yet Morrison has failed to implement an examination of the higher costs of such baskets by scientific experts, as meteorologist William Kininmonth points out. Australia could reduce its liabilities under the Paris accord, as have other countries. The US is reported as commencing its withdrawal this month and China is benefiting from never entering the absurd emissions reduction scheme.
Des Moore, South Yarra, Vic

Perry Williams shows the quality of the brains trust who run the power system (“$30m dividend from a $1m plant”, 31/10). Demolish two coal-fired power stations and sell another one for $1m. The one sold returns $71m over two years and is now valued at $435m. Prices soar, reliability plummets and the brains trust decides to throw another lazy billion of taxpayers’ money at more useless renewables. No wonder we are in trouble.
David Bidstrup, Plympton Park, SA

Nothing better demonstrates the hit-and-myth energy policies of government than this latest folly (“PM’s $1bn clean energy bet”, 30/10). Flogging a dead horse is a poor betting strategy. Taxpayers are taking another hit to perpetrate the myth that climate can be legislated into submission.

Clean coal is another myth. We know coal is dirty, but this abundant energy source is unsurpassed in its service to humans. Energy efficiency is a goal in any competitive society despite government interference. Once it took 8 tonnes of coal to make a tonne of iron — 0.5 tonnes of coal now does the same job.

The trace gas, carbon dioxide, has undeservedly been demonised by the myth-makers, and under its generic name, carbon, is relentlessly pursued to “capture and store”. For what? Carbon dioxide is innocent of all charges and should be set free to nourish trees, grasslands and crops.

If ever there was a place and time to bust myths it is here and now. With the gumption of Donald Trump, we could break free of the Paris accord and disband the army of bureaucrats living off costly illusions.
John McRobert, Indooroopilly, Qld

Those of us who cannot hear the siren song can only look on with amazement as we see another PM heading for the rocks.

There is a death wish in announcing another billion dollars for the fantasy of renewable energy while we are in the grip of drought. An astute PM would have announced dams to droughtproof Australia, not more windmills and solar panels.
Frank Pulsford, Aspley, Qld

Factual, clear letters from Geoff Derrick and others (1/11) on the impossibility of powering the country with renewables and the problems created by trying to do so prompt the question: why do so many politicians have a blind spot in this area?

If we were solving a big problem and helping the world, I could understand it — but we are doing neither.

When facts and reason no longer work, what next for Australia? Do we have to suffer decades of social and economic hurt before reason is restored? I hope not, but in the meantime I suspect some serious blackouts this summer might waken more of the political caste from their trance.
Doug Hurst, Chapman, ACT

The $1bn gift to the renewable energy sector reminds us that renewables are not financially viable without government support. Moreover, for as long as we continue down this bottomless pit of handouts, we are diverting funds away from more worthy and urgent needs — aged care, for example. But the more the government adheres to climate alarmism, the less funding will be available for such critically important areas.

There is plenty of private interest and capital ready to be invested in energy production from all technologies if only the government allowed it to happen by freeing up the market.
Ron Hobba, Camberwell, Vic
The Australian

New PM shows contempt for the voters who gave him a chance.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. I’d rather be dealing with ScoMo than Bill Shorten!

    Better the devil you know.

    But someone needs to have a quiet word with the PM. Otherwise, he is headed for defeat.

    Victory, or defeat?

    Your choice Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

  2. Jeff Walther says:

    Follow the money. Does Scott Morrison suddenly have a sweet land deal going somewhere, or a new contributor, or perhaps you’ll have to wait until he leaves office and watch for cushy book or speaking engagements or a high paying executive position like Gerhard Schroeder landed with Gazprom.

  3. Sarcastic Cynic says:

    Woohoo! Go ScoMo! You made promises to win the Queensland vote too and they’ve come to naught. There’ll be people at the next election only too happy to vote you out. What promises do you have in your basket for the next election?

  4. Reblogged this on Climate- Science.press.

  5. Morrison should be dumped as PM.

  6. We helped angus Taylor door knock for the election and l can tell you he and his wife would be as happy as any of us if not another spinning crucifix was ever built, , so this decision came from above him…

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