Summer Blackouts Beckon: Australia’s Renewable Energy Debacle Won’t Be Fixed with Batteries

Almost as soon as Joe Public worked out that wind and solar can never work, RE rent seekers started babbling about giant batteries saving the day.

STT will keep smashing the line about giant batteries overcoming the chaotic delivery of wind and solar, while RE zealots keep pushing it.

The pitch from RE zealots is that the solution to the chaos delivered by wind and solar is giant lithium-ion batteries, of the kind peddled by Elon Musk.

The reefer-smoking, Californian carpetbagger managed to offload one unit in wind power obsessed, South Australia, collecting $150 million for a battery that would power SA for all of 4 minutes.

Bill Gates has called the idea complete and utter nonsense: Bill Gates Slams Unreliable Wind & Solar: ‘Let’s Quit Jerking Around With Renewables & Batteries’

Apply a little maths, physics and economics and it’s pretty clear that the mega-battery myth is just that.

Rent-seeker hype around Musk’s mega-battery have been recharged, with the witless South Australian (Liberal) government putting taxpayers on the hook for tens of $millions more, to add 50% to its existing capacity – which translates as the ability power the economic backwater for another 2 minutes, whenever wind power output collapses.

Alan Moran tackles the topic in this interview with Chris Kenny on Sky News.

Australia has had ‘atrocious energy policy’ for 15 years
Sky News
Chris Kenny and Alan Moran
20 November 2019

Economist Alan Moran says Australia has had “an atrocious energy policy” for 15 years which has seen energy prices rise “two-fold”. “We’ve subsidised wind and solar which has forced coal – which is more efficient, lower-cost and more reliable – out of the market,” he said. Mr Moran said South Australia’s installation of the Tesla lithium-ion battery is “in some ways, a success” but it is “built upon government-created colossal failures”.



Chris Kenny:  Speaking of South Australia, I want to go to this big battery. As I said at the outset, there’s all sorts of triumphalism around today about the expansion of the big battery. It proves that South Australia’s renewable energy experiment has worked. Well, clearly it failed. We saw the state go black, three years ago. As I’ve explained, close to $2 billion spent and in the pipeline to try and buttress that state’s energy supplies.

Let’s go to an expert now, an energy economist, Alan Moran joins me live from Melbourne. First up, let’s start with the good news here, Alan. The battery has worked. It’s helped kick in and stabilise the grid in South Australia, and the way it’s been able to do that so efficiently, has it actually saved tax payers money or saved consumers money?

Alan Moran: Well, not really. I think the issue is as you suggested. We’ve had an atrocious policy, energy policy, for 15 years now, all governments. And we’re continuing along that same track, which has seen the price of energy, the whole sale price of energy rise by two-and-a-half-fold. It’s lifted us from being one of the cheapest energy producers, electricity producers in the world, to almost the dearest. Now, and that’s basically because we’ve subsidised wind and solar, which has caused coal, which is far more efficient, it’s far lower cost and more reliable. It’s forced coal out of the market and created the problems that you’ve already addressed.

Chris Kenny: Yeah. Well, I want to go back to that supply issue in a moment. But given they were where they were, and you do have a lot of intermittent wind energy kicking in and out, the battery became… That sort of a device becomes a necessity, doesn’t it? To even out the system, to stabilise the grid.

Alan Moran: Yeah. It doesn’t add anything to capacity. As you say, it stabilises the grid, which is made unstable by the inherent instability of wind and solar, which ebbs and flows when the wind blows and as the son shines. You basically need something to offset that.

But what we’ve seen as a result of these batteries and various forms of… They’re called ancillary power. As a result of that, we’ve seen the costs in the market rise from about $50 million a year to $400 million a year. That has stabilised the market, and the batteries do work. There is no question about it, and Snowy 2 would work, which is a sort of a battery as well. But the costs of doing all this are colossal, and they are on top of the cost of actually substituting wind and solar for coal.

They’re on top of those costs because not only is substitution more expensive, but it’s more unreliable. So you need something like batteries to actually iron out the ups and downs of the generation from wind and solar. So it’s kind of a success in that sense, but it’s a success built upon what is a government-created failure.

Chris Kenny: Yeah, absolutely. It’s a success to remediate a situation that should have never been created in the first place. And there’s a couple of aspects I want to talk about on that, get your advice on.

Firstly, let’s stick with South Australia though, what has been done to rescue the situation in South Australia? Far more important than this battery to stabilise the grid has been the additional supply, $1 billion spent on additional gas generation and up to a billion or more planned for another interconnector into New South Wales.

Alan Moran: Exactly and the interconnector, basically into New South Wales, A. Does buttress the reliability of South Australia, which is highly unreliable at the moment. But also, it gives another venue for South Australian wind power to be sold in a market other than South Australia.

You see, that the wind power gets a $50 or so subsidy, whenever it goes on. In other words, it not only gets to what is the market price, but it gets this subsidy. Quite often in South Australia especially, the prices are negative. Well, that sounds pretty good, negative prices. But you and I know negative prices can’t exist for long, and the only reason why they are negative is because the consumer is forced to give a subsidy to the wind. We can then bid in a negative and still make some money, so that’s creating those negative prices in South Australia.

Don’t get me wrong. South Australia isn’t cheapest. It’s still the dearest on average, state in Australia, and it will remain so. But it does have these periods of negative prices and they think, “Okay. If we can get another billion-dollar interconnector with New South Wales, then we can actually flush out some of that negative pricing and make some more money on it.”

Chris Kenny: Great.

Alan Moran: But the people that are paying it are the taxpayers, rate payers.

Chris Kenny: Yeah, and they destabilise another state’s system.

Alan Moran: Exactly.

Chris Kenny: But anyway, they’ve got all that extra gas generation in there. Close to a billion dollars has been spent on that government and private investment, so that means South Australia should not get blacked out again.

But the other question with this battery investment is as we see more and more wind and other intermittent generation go into Victoria and New South Wales, presumably you’re going to need those batteries or something similar built into the grids in New South Wales and Victoria to help stabilise the systems there, right?

Alan Moran: Exactly so, and indeed, that’s one of the rationales behind Snowy 2, which could cost $10 billion. It’s up in the air, how much it’s going to cost. But basically, the justification for turning Snowy and Snowy Hydroelectric into a pump storage facility is that we’re going to see much more volatility in prices than we’ve seen in the past as a result of wind and solar increasing their shares. And therefore, it will make money.

So it will be a success, but it’s a success only because we’ve created such a colossal failure that we need something to offset it and so it’s a success only in those relative terms, as is the case with the batteries in South Australia.

Chris Kenny: Yeah. Spot on there, Alan. Thanks so much for that analysis.

Alan Moran: You’re welcome.

Chris Kenny: Alan Moran there, who is an energy economist, explaining exactly as I was saying at the top of the programme. Yeah, the battery works. It helps iron out the flat spots, but it’s there to try and fix a completely disrupted grid and it doesn’t solve the supply problems that’s come from all the additional investment, emergency of investment in gas generation.
Sky News

SA taxpayers whacked again for unnecessary boondoggle.

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. David O'Neill says:

    Does anyone disagree with the following points?
    1. Large scale, high performance Lithium Ion batteries contain a salt of Lithium Lithium hexafluorophosphate.
    2. According to Wikipedia, the common solvents are a mixture of cyclic carbonate esters, such as ethylene carbonate and propylene carbonate, and linear carbonate esters, such as di-methyl carbonate and diethyl carbonate.
    3. The polymer separators can degrade without abuse.
    4. A state of “Thermal Runaway” can be reached without abuse (the industry prefers “Cascading Failure”).
    5. When this happens combustible gases are generated.
    6. The resulting explosion generates a cloud containing Hydrogen Fluoride and Phosphoryl Fluoride, as well as other toxic and corrosive chemicals.
    7. These chemicals can travel for long distances before landing.
    8. No group has investigated such incidents independently and without industry involvement, sound familiar?
    9. It is concerning that there has been no mention in the media of the long term recovery of two of the fire officers at the Arizona incident and a further 12 fire officers linked to an incident relating to a Norwegian Ferry on 10 October 2019, hospitalised ‘due to exposure to hazardous gases associated with the batteries’.
    10. Large battery energy storage systems may also be abused.
    11. A severe accident (or loss of control) of a 10 MW-Hour system could lead to the generation of between 0.35 and 2.22 metric tonnes of these most toxic and corrosive chemicals. For a 50 MW-Hour system it would be 1.75 to 11.1 metric tonnes. For a 100 MW-Hour system it could be 3.5 to 22.2 tonnes and so on.
    12. There are no safe and effective means for responding emergency services personnel to such incidents that would allow them to approach and save neighbouring casualties. This was demonstrated at Drogenbos, Belgium, when it was too late for evacuation and neighbours were advised to close windows and switch off ventilation.
    13. The incidents at Drogenbos, Surprise, and the Norwegian Ferry involved relatively small systems (2 MW- Hours or less). During the firefighting, all of them had re-ignition issues.

    Please tell me I’m wrong.

    • Jacqueline Rovensky says:

      Don’t worry in SA, this monster battery is installed well away from the city of Adelaide, so the only people who may be affected by any disaster will be rural and regional residents.
      We don’t need the food they would have been able to grow if the land wasn’t poisoned as we can always import our needs!
      Just let the Government keep on doing what it does best – smile while ignoring the dangers.
      And did I read that the previous SA Labor Premier Weatherill is happy to see how the present Liberal Government is following in his footsteps and running headlong into destroying SA future.

  3. Jacqueline Rovensky says:

    The cost to the people of SA and the rest of Australia for the production of energy will never fall.
    As long as these companies are receiving a subsidy WE will still be paying twice for our energy needs.
    The companies are on a role and know if subsidies were removed and Government funding for new problem solving supply initiatives was stopped they the companies will still be the winners.
    That is unless Governments create a situation where the companies cannot pass on the true cost of providing the service they were before the ending of subsidies.
    Then of course all this talk of an inter-connector to NSW from SA is bluff and puff.
    NSW already has problems creating sufficient energy for its own needs, even with coal production outstripping Renewable’s much of the time.
    Will intermittent renewable’s from SA stave off blackouts once the coal plants are shut down?
    Especially if NSW backup stock on energy from QLD reduces when their coal is scuttled.
    Yes SA may have sufficient excess at times to sell to them but what if SA doesn’t have a surplus and NSW is unable to provide them with any – even more probable doesn’t have backup supplies from QLD.
    The Eastern Grid was created at a time when States were able to produce extra to help each other out when needed. That situation is quickly becoming an unreliable dream. It’s being replaced with a nightmare, as once reliable energy production across the grid is stymied it will be every State looking to its own needs first and foremost.
    So much money has been thrown at the ‘renewable’s’ farce we will never be free of the dilemma of price increases, Government money wastage and trying to keep the lights on industry/commerce operating and the bread baking to feed the hungry hordes and keep them warm/cool.
    Is it too late to turn things around – maybe but maybe not IF Governments took hold of the reigns from the ‘renewable’s’ crowd and built an energy system that works for every-ones future needs. But it needs to happen now before we fall over the cliff edge.

  4. Graeme No.3 says:

    And how much of that surplus wind electricity would get through to those in NSW who use it? Have these inner-city Green believers ever driven from Adelaide to Sydney? The proposed transmission link starts north of Adelaide and runs basically to Mildura, but to find big users of electricity you have to go hundreds of kilometres further on, or do they ‘think’ that the vast industrial sites in Balranald will take that electricity? Quite a lot is going to be lost in transit.
    I would also point out that getting rid of those very low prices would raise the average cost of electricity in S.A.
    Anyway, if this link is so wonderful why don’t the wind farmers pay for it themselves?

    • C’mon, Graeme. They’ve MODELLED it all with the copper plate grid (as well as the homogenised state wind farm outputs) and it all works.

  5. Reblogged this on Tallbloke's Talkshop and commented:
    The greenblob will have to conjure up some other magic solution to their chronic power intermittency problems, if they hope to keep their ‘zero carbon’ myth going for a bit longer.

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