Barking Mad: Australia’s Ludicrous Plan To Send Subsidised Solar Power 3,350KM From Darwin to Singapore

Australia’s energy policy is a joke, but a plan to send subsidised solar power to Singapore proves lunatics really have taken over the asylum.

The Morrison Federal government has given major project status to a 10GW undersea cable to run from Darwin to Singapore over a distance of at least 3,350 km.

The cost of the cable alone will be staggering. Then, considering the fact that solar panels deliver power around 25% of the time (on average), the cost of any electricity that occasionally makes landfall in Singapore will be positively astronomical.

STT nearly choked on our porridge when we learnt that the notionally conservative Liberal/National Coalition was backing yet another massively subsidised renewable energy white elephant. Michael Darby must have suffered the same near-death experience. Here he is, suitably outraged about an outrageous waste of taxpayers’ money.

Flogging Unreliable Energy By Extension Cord To Singapore Looks Like An Outrageous Fraud
Watts Up With That?
Michael Darby
2 August 2020

Australia has granted major project status to AU$22bn solar, storage and transmission project which intends to sell unreliable energy to Singapore by undersea cable from Darwin. Here is the LINK to that story.

Ways to profit from a gigantic scam include milking subsidies & tax benefits and ramping shares. No government should bestow Major Project Status on a doomed “project” where no profit will ever be made from selling a product to a willing buyer. Australians call on the Prime Minister to guarantee that not one cent of public money will be committed to any fraudulent plan aimed at subsidies and lurks.

Any government which endorses a scam deserves to be brought down. Who will receive the greatest reward from the CCP for billions of dollars worth of materials and/or components for useless solar panels? Any fund manager who goes anywhere near a scam will be exposed. Any individual who encourages any private investor to contribute to a scam will be committing an unconscionable crime.

Every rational commercial project begins with a perceived demand. Spruikers for the Australian ASEAN Power Link (AAPL)[1], which is better described as the extension cord project have provided no indication of demand or need in mostly gas-fuelled Singapore for any quantity of electrical energy emanating from Australia. Nor is there any evidence of research into the Singapore electricity price structure.

Singapore’s industries[2] include 20% of the world’s ship repair, petroleum refining, major biotechnology research operations, heavily commercialised medical tourism, and frontline entities in information and communications technology. All of these entities, plus every arm of the Singapore Government, will demand unequivocal guarantees that all imported energy be wholly uninterrupted and continuous.

Do not imagine that the putative purveyors of pusillanimous power can fall back on asking Singaporeans to invest in more back-up gas turbines or any other artifice. From the beginning, supply must be totally secure and dependable, 24 hours a day.

The Basslink[3] HVDC interconnector between Victoria and Tasmania has the capacity to carry 500KW, one twentieth of the intended capacity of the extension cord. Basslink is 370km long, and cost A$800 million (in 2005 dollars) to build. We can predict that building and installing a 500KW undersea cable for 3,350 km (the theoretical minimum distance) will cost A$7.24bn in 2005 dollars. I invite any electrical engineer to confirm or correct my expectation that the cost of the cable will increase in proportion to the square root of the increase in carrying capacity. The square root of 20 is 4.472 so we calculate a cost for the undersea cable at $32bn (2005 dollars). According to the Bureau of Census and Statistics[4], $32bn in 2005 equates to $44bn in 2020, twice the $22bn falsely promoted as the total capital investment.

AAPL’s website asserts[5] that a storage facility with the capacity of 30GWh will “enable 24/7 dispatch of power”. The Highview liquid air battery[6] with a capacity of 250MWh (compared with the 150MWh capacity of the Tesla battery in South Australia) is being built near Manchester UK at a cost of A$148.25m, or A$0.593m per MWh. At the same cost per MWh, a 30GWh storage device will cost A$17.789bn.

A$17.789bn – for the claimed storage requirement alone – is more than 80% of the A$22bn figure touted as the total capital cost of the project.

The Electrical Engineering Portal[7] suggests that the capital cost of 750km of 2GW HVDC is around US$450m or A$626.4m. To adjust the cost from 2GW HVDC to 10GW HDVC we multiply by the square root of 5 which is 2.236, giving an estimate of $1.4bn. The total cost of storage and power transmission onshore and undersea is now $63.5bn, nearly three times the falsely claimed total budget.

The per MW capital cost of a solar farm in 2020 is estimated by Solar Mango[8] at £720,000 or A$1.3m. That equates to $1.304bn per GW or $13bn capital expenditure for nameplate 10GW of solar-generated electricity.

Here is how the CAPEX looks so far:

Solar Farm 10GW nameplate capacity $13.0 bn

Storage 30 GWh as proposed $17.8 bn

Transmission 750km to Darwin $1.4 bn

Undersea Cable $44.3 bn

Total $76.5 bn

The revelation that a conservative estimate of the cost is nearly three and half times the whole advertised budget should be enough to condemn this scam immediately. But it gets worse, much, much worse.

30GWH provides three hours of backup for 10GW of generation capacity. Others may make a better-informed assessment, but I estimate that guaranteeing genuine round-the-clock 10GW power will require sixty hours of backup, that is 600GWh. The cost of 600GWh of backup is $355.8bn. Even sixty hours may not be enough. Northern Territory residents report that the wet season commonly brings six or seven consecutive days when rain and cloud allow maximum ten percent functionality for solar panels.

We have not yet costed the process of obtaining permissions; from the Federal Government, from the Northern Territory Government and from all affected Aboriginal Communities. We have not costed bonds for decommissioning. We have not costed the insurance premiums required to protect the project from claims from customers when the extension cord is severed by an undersea volcano. We have not costed the PR campaign to persuade the Singaporeans that they need to import electricity and to convince them that electricity generated from intermittent sunlight can be reliably delivered. We have not yet costed the risk to worldwide economies from the possible plague of hysterical laughter when the world reads this in WUWT.

At the very best, 10GW of nameplate solar power will provide 10GW for only 40% of the time. Let’s accept that we are dealing with 100 units of time, and for 60 units of that time we need stored power. But because stored power is subject to losses, we need to generate enough stored power to cater for 75 units of time, knowing that 20% will be lost. So 10GW nameplate solar power, supported by whatever (hang the expense) backup is required, can be expected to provide (40 divided by 115 multiplied by ten) 3.478GW of continuous power. 10GW divided by 3.478GW is 2.875.

If you want to produce 10GW of reliable power, you need nameplate capacity 2.875 times 10GW, which is 28.75GW.

Readers might imagine that the total destruction of this appalling scam is complete. No, there is more to come. HVDC losses reportedly[9] approach 3% per 1,000km. 4,100 km total transmission distance means budgeting for 12% in losses off the top of potential revenue. Each GW delivered requires generation of 1.136667GW. So the nameplate capacity requirement is increased from 28.75GW to 32.679GW. Reliable continuous delivery of 10GW of solar-generated electricity to Singapore will require a capital investment of $42.62 billion in a solar farm with nameplate capacity of 32.679GW.

The capital investment required for 60 hours backup for 11.3667GW reliable output is the frightening sum of A$1,163bn, one and one-sixth trillion dollars.

The Pavakarda Solar Park[10] in the South West-Indian State Karnataka (formerly Mysore) uses 53 square kilometres for a nameplate capacity of 2.05GW. So for 10GW of nameplate capacity expect to use 259 square kilometres. If the aim is 10GW of reliably delivered power, then we multiply 259 sq km by 3.2679 to require 845 square kilometres containing $44.37bn worth of solar panels, with components built in China at a shocking environmental cost[11]. Component construction may involve slave labour[12] using materials mined in Africa very likely with slave labour.

What is a rational capital cost for supplying 3.5GW of reliable energy, which exceeds the average energy expectation of 3.478GW available from 10GW of solar panels? As reported on 5 April 2020, Poland is planning[13] to invest in nuclear reactors at US$4,500 per Kw or at today’s rate A$6,264 per Kw. That puts the capital cost of nuclear electricity generation at A$6.264m per MW or A$6.264bn per GW. For 3.5GW of safe reliable continuous nuclear energy, the capital cost is A$21.924bn, coincidentally slightly less than the A$22bn falsely claimed as capital cost by the backers of the extension cord project.

According to Schissel[14], the capital cost of a coal fired power station is around US$3,500 per Kw or A$4,872 per Kw. That puts the capital cost of coal fired electricity generation at A$4.872m per MW or A$6.264bn per GW. For 3.5GW of safe reliable continuous coal powered electricity, the capital cost is A$17.052bn, significantly less than A$22bn.

The electricity needs of Singapore or any other potential market for electricity can be well and cost-effectively served by nuclear or coal-fired power generation without any of the enormous environmental harm inherent in the extension cord project.

A coal fired power station will operate safely and reliably for more than fifty years, delivering at least seven times the energy used in all aspects of construction and decommissioning. Modern nuclear power stations may last a century and give a much higher energy return. In the unlikely event that it is ever completed, the proposed Northern Territory solar farm will function for a maximum of 30 years, by which time its output may have degraded by 8%. Nobody knows whether fifteen years might be very optimistic for the life of the gargantuan battery pack. During that 30 years of solar farm life, the extension cord project may have delivered less energy than was used in solar panel and battery construction and decommissioning. The world’s available energy may have been reduced by the project. And the profiteers will have been enriched even if not one KWh reaches Singapore.

Like Snowy Hydro, like all subsidies to unreliable energy, like the submarine contract, this unspeakably irresponsible plan must be stopped. And the PM should apologise.

This figures and logic displayed above are more than a damning indictment of one gargantuan scam. This memorandum is a warning that every proposal, anywhere, to link unreliable energy to any grid is automatically suspect. The default position is that nameplate capacity will be misrepresented as production capacity. Every estimate of cost will be recklessly understated and every estimate of performance will be deceptively exaggerated.

Despite fewer challenges, the 2009 Desertec Plan[15] for exporting solar-generated power from North Africa to Europe failed totally[16].

Australia has a highly educated parliamentarian, Rhodes Scholar the Hon Angus Taylor BEc, LLB, MPhil(Econ) MP. He bears the shameful title Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, which institutionalises Government war upon reliable energy and gives undeserved credence to the false tenets of the global warming cult.

The 29 July 2020 joint media release[17] attributes to Minister Taylor:

“As technologies change, we can capitalise on our strengths in renewables to continue to lead the world in energy exports.”

There are no strengths in renewables. Every increase in renewable energy inflicted on a grid weakens the nation, drives up electricity costs, impoverishes the poor and threatens the elimination of industry.

Also named in the joint Media Release is another well-educated parliamentarian, Hon Karen Andrews, BEng(Mech), CertMediation, GradDipIndRel, MP, Minister for Science and Technology. The media release admits that the intention is to spend abroad $14bn of the fictional figure $22bn, in attributing to Minister Andrews this statement:

“This project draws on Australia’s world-class solar technology and our high-tech manufacturing capability to export renewable energy on an unprecedented scale. Not only will this power link make Australia a world-leader, it will also create significant economic and employment opportunities here at home with about $8 billion of the $22 billion investment to be injected directly into Australia. It’s a strong statement to all Australians that despite the immediate challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic we will come out the other side stronger and industry is still investing in opportunities that will drive our economic recovery and create much needed jobs.”

I do not believe that either Minister uttered the statements attributed. Both statements were likely written in the Prime Ministers office and agreed to by staff of the respective Ministers. Nobody in any Ministerial Office bothered to check any of the invented and unsubstantiated propaganda which induced some negligent individual or group to bestow Major Project Status on this scam.

The time is right for these two ministers to join with other wise colleagues in telling the Prime Minister, among other things:

In the table below, columns two and three show a genuine CAPEX for the touted claims of AAPL, which despite the unacceptably high cost cannot ever deliver reliable energy. Three hours of backup for solar panels is risible. Columns four and five show a genuine CAPEX for what might work but must never be contemplated because of frightening cost.

Major Project Status was granted for a doomed project with a claimed capital cost of $22bn.  The Column 3 figure of $76.604bn exceeds $22bn by 248%. End the scam now.

Unauthorised Analysis of the intended Australian-ASEAN Power Link (AAPL)
AAPL UNCOSTED CAPITAL EXPENDITURE COMPONENTS CLAIMED CAPITAL EXPENDITURE A$ bn CAPITAL EXPENDITURE TO DELIVER 10GW RELIABLY TO SINGAPORE     A$ bn
Solar Farm 10GW nameplate Average production 3.478GW, minus 12% delivery loss. 13.041 Reliable 10GW delivery to Singapore with nameplate 32.679GW 42.618
Storage 30GWh (3 hours) backup. No hope of reliable delivery. 17.789 60 hours backup for reliable constant output 11.37GW, delivery 10GW 1,162.709
Transmission to Darwin 750km 1.401 750km 1.401
Undersea cable 10GW 3,350km 44.373 3,350km 44.373
Unlisted items include Approvals, Insurance,  decommissioning bond, marketing Approvals, Insurance,  decommissioning bond, marketing
Total 76.604 Total 1,251.101

In conclusion, here is a valuable extract from a recent letter from Saltbush Club[18] founder, Viv Forbes, who has inspired Australia’s defence against the destructive impact of the global warming cult:

The political war on carbon fuels has damaged the environment with forests of “green” power poles, flats of ground-sterilising solar panels, hills of bird-slicing wind turbines plus spider-webs of new power lines and roads. This mess produces unreliable expensive electricity, sterilises land, and wastes water to keep solar panels clean. And imagine the debris when a cyclone sails through a “farm” of panels or a “forest” of turbines. This expensive and unreliable power, plus green taxes and regulations, has destroyed much of Australia’s manufacturing, processing and refining industries – all for zero climate benefits. Gladstone aluminium refinery with 1,000 direct employees is a potential victim.

Abandon the climate war on carbon fuels and withdraw from the useless and destructive Paris Climate Agreement. It will never cool the climate, even if that was a sensible goal. Abolish all subsidies and taxes supporting intermittent green energy and legislate that any generator feeding into the grid must be able to supply 24/7 power, either from their own backup facilities or under contracts.

Economic recovery needs to encourage and fast-track sensible infrastructure and development proposals. We should also abolish stamp duty and capital gains tax and reduce income tax. Governments should prohibit real pollution of land, air and water, but allow farmers, fishermen, foresters, explorers, miners and entrepreneurs to get on with building and expanding their businesses.

Spread the recession pain to all protected government sectors. Cut taxes, and reduce the numbers and benefits for all in politics, bureaucracy, government media, academia and all able-bodied welfare recipients with no dependents.

[1] https://www.pv-tech.org/news/australia-grants-major-status-to-au22bn-solar-storage-and-transmission-proj

[2] https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/what-are-the-biggest-industries-in-singapore.html

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basslink

[4] https://www.in2013dollars.com/us/inflation/2005?amount=1

[5][5] http://suncable.sg

[6] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/greater-manchester-to-house-to-worlds-largest-liquid-air-battery

[7] https://electrical-engineering-portal.com/analysing-the-costs-of-high-voltage-direct-current-hvdc-transmission

[8] http://www.solarmango.com/ask/2015/10/26/what-is-the-installation-cost-of-utility-scale-solar-power-plant-mw-in-the-uk/

[9] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-voltage_direct_current AND https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desertec

[10] https://www.power-technology.com/projects/pavagada-solar-park-karnataka/

[11] https://www.americanmanufacturing.org/blog/entry/the-true-cost-of-chinese-solar-panels-part-3

[12] Op. cit.

[13] https://neutronbytes.com/2020/04/05/poland-counts-costs-for-new-nuclear-reactors/

[14] https://schlissel-technical.com/docs/reports_35.pdf

[15] https://www.euractiv.com/section/trade-society/news/desertec-abandons-sahara-solar-power-export-dream/

[16] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desertec

[17] https://www.minister.industry.gov.au/ministers/karenandrews/media-releases/22b-project-power-nt-singapore-given-major-status-boost

[18] https://saltbushclub.com/
Watts Up With That?

Sorry Singapore, nothing doing today. Maybe tomorrow.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak and commented:
    Australia’s energy policy is a joke, but a plan to send subsidised solar power to Singapore proves lunatics really have taken over the asylum.

    The Morrison Federal government has given major project status to a 10GW undersea cable to run from Darwin to Singapore over a distance of at least 3,350 km.

    The cost of the cable alone will be staggering. Then, considering the fact that solar panels deliver power around 25% of the time (on average), the cost of any electricity that occasionally makes landfall in Singapore will be positively astronomical.

    STT nearly choked on our porridge when we learnt that the notionally conservative Liberal/National Coalition was backing yet another massively subsidised renewable energy white elephant. Michael Darby must have suffered the same near-death experience. Here he is, suitably outraged about an outrageous waste of taxpayers’ money.

  2. Jacqueline Rovensky says:

    Just to add – there is a proposal in WA 200km East of Port Hedland for 5,000MW of Wind and 2,400MW of Solar with between 50-100 inverters. Details can be found on the EPBC site reference number 2017-8112.
    This requires massive clearing of land in sensitive and environmentally important areas with Ramsar Wetlands near the boundary. The ocean floor where the cabling will go is also a very environmentally important area.
    But then who cares? As we will apparently be making money “selling/exporting’ energy to Singapore via the cable to Indonesia then onto Singapore.
    The ‘we’ of course is implied to be Australia, though I wonder just how much will end up in Australian coffers and who will pay for the damage to the environments on land, the ocean floor as well as to all creatures who inhabit these areas – I expect that WILL be ‘WE’.

  3. Michael Darby says:

    Dear Stop These Things

    Your selfless devotion to the cause of reliable energy is awesome.

    I deeply appreciate being in alliance with you, and I am honoured that you have posted my article. The more we can work together, the better. You are correct in identifying windmills as the greatest and most harmful threat, which must be stopped

    After writing the version which came to your attention, I discovered that the proponents of the scam are purporting to send not 10GW but only 3 GW in the direction of the Singapore and ASEAN countries. This necessitated a rewrite with different numbers. I realised the importance of tipping the bucket on the ASEAN power link which intends to infest the coastlines of several nations with offshore windmills. I also needed to deal with the Snowy Hydro fraud and the hydrogen fraud which overlap with the windmill fraud and the solar farm fraud. In the course of this I enjoyed expert assistance from the splendid defender of real energy, Lord Christopher Monckton.

    The latest version is online at http://michaeldarby.net/Scam, and is also attached in word and PDF.

    The article mentions a parallel plan to flog unreliable wind and sunshine energy from the Pilbara to Vietnam, promoted by the WA ALP’s Alannah MacTiernan. In the course of one of my late night radio calls, a pro-unreliables radio presenter assured me that there is a third such plan promoted by an Aboriginal body, but I have not found any details.

    With admiration

    Kind regards

    Michael

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