Peak Stupid: Bizarre Plan to Carpet Australian Desert With Thousands of Wind Turbines & Solar Panels

In more proof that 2020 was the year that we reached ‘peak stupid’, renewable energy rent seekers have topped them all with a plan to convert chaotically intermittent wind and solar into hydrogen, then to convert that into ammonia for shipping, and then back into hydrogen for use in a market that doesn’t exist.

You couldn’t squander cash any faster if you were shovelling it into a furnace.

Then there’s the location; a vast tract of desert in the Western Australian Pilbara region, renowned for its searing heat, vicious dust storms and even more vicious flies.

Eric Worrall takes us into the wacko world that is Australia’s subsidised renewable energy scam.

AU $53 Billion to Service a Green Hydrogen Market which Does Not Exist
Watts Up With That?
Eric Worrall
14 November 2020

The Australian Federal Government has expedited approval for a $53 billion project and the devastation of 78 Sq KM of wilderness, to produce green hydrogen for an export market which does not exist. All to save the planet.

Green giants: the massive projects that could make Australia a clean energy superpower
The Guardian
Adam Mortom
14 November 2020

The Asian Renewable Energy Hub would have an energy content equivalent to 40% of Australia’s overall electricity generation

The world’s largest power station is planned for a vast piece of desert about half the size of greater suburban Sydney in Australia’s remote north-west.

Called the Asian Renewable Energy Hub, its size is difficult to conceptualise. If built in full, there will be 1,600 giant wind turbines and a 78 sq km array of solar panels a couple of hundred kilometres east of Port Hedland in the Pilbara.

This solar-wind hybrid power plant would have a capacity of 26 gigawatts, more than Australia’s entire coal power fleet. The hub’s backers say the daytime sun and nightly winds blowing in from the Indian Ocean are perfectly calibrated to provide a near constant source of emissions-free energy around the clock.

Most of it will be used to run 14GW of electrolysers that will convert desalinated seawater into “green hydrogen” – a form of energy that analysts expect to be in increasing demand as a replacement for fossil fuels in the years and decades ahead.

Though still five years away from construction, the hub vaulted closer to reality in recent weeks after the federal government granted it major project status – a designation that should smooth the approval processes – and the Western Australian government greenlit its first stage.

But most of the energy created will be exported. Because hydrogen condenses from a gas into a liquid only at very low temperatures (about -250C), it will be shipped as green ammonia, which is safer to transport and created by blending hydrogen with nitrogen.

One of the questions hanging over the project will be its cost, but Star of the South maintains it makes economic sense – that the technology is becoming cheaper and the generation patterns of offshore wind will complement, rather than compete with, onshore renewables. It is seeking environmental approval from the Victorian government and waiting on the commonwealth to complete a legal framework for offshore clean energy developments, but has a goal of starting to generate by 2025.

The Guardian

My question – if the “technology is becoming cheaper”, and the market is not expected to exist until 2035, why jump the gun? Why not wait a few years, until the costs come down even further?

The Asian Renewable Energy Hub plan has undergone several radical transformations since its inception. The original idea was an undersea cable to Asia, but this idea seems to have quietly died. Then it briefly morphed into a green hydrogen export facility but now seems to have evolved into a green ammonia production and export facility.

2017 CSIRO study suggested round trip efficiency for green electricity to hydrogen to ammonia and back to electricity is 25 – 39%, which means up to 75% of the already hideously expensive renewable electricity is lost just in the conversion process, without even considering shipping and distribution costs.

Ammonia production from fossil fuel sourced hydrogen is a mature industrial process, so you would have to be pretty optimistic to expect significant performance gains from that part of the process.

Any dramatic cost savings will have to come from cost savings in the manufacturing of the solar panels and wind turbines, but there is a limit to how far the price can fall. Wind turbine and solar panel production are very energy intensive industrial processes.

A final straw, somehow the project will need to source vast quantities of water, for washing the solar panels. The dust buildup in the Australian desert has to be seen to be believed. In the dry desert environment static charges build quickly, causing the dust to stick to surfaces. You can’t use unprocessed sea water to wash the panels, because heated brine is corrosive, leaves a residue, and is a very good electrical conductor – short circuits, light obstruction and corroded wiring in one easy package. You can’t use compressed air to clean the panels, because the dust particles are abrasive; compressed air would sand blast the panels. While there is ongoing research into using electrostatic methods to remove the dust, or gently brushing the dust away without water, Chemically pure water remains one of the least damaging cleaning agents.

But in the desert, clean water is a highly constrained resource.

So in addition to desalinating water for hydrogen and ammonia production, the project will need to desalinate vast quantities of water to keep the 78 sq KM of solar panels clean, by giving them a regular wash.
Watts Up With That?

About stopthesethings

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


  1. Crispin 120 says:

    I see in the media that November was ‘the hottest on record’ in Australia. If that is the case, then how come we are out of pocket for that additional load of firewood we had to order last month to keep us warm? How come shop keepers have been stating to me how wonderful the weather has been here in Victoria? If the weather has been getting hotter, then clearly nobody has told them or our regular woodman. In fact, in one word I would describe the November weather this spring as ‘Delicious!’

    Until now, I only thought the weather underground, err weather bureau were telling porkies. Now I know they are! Our winter fuel bill does not lie.

  2. The undersea cable that seems to have quietly died, is that the Sun Cable proposal that has Mike Cannon Brookes and Twiggy Forest as investors, with the carpet bagger from infigen energy as the managing director?

  3. Tom Harris says:

    I love your work. Might you want to publish our article as follows?

    Get Ready for Nationwide Blackouts under Biden

    Dr. Jay Lehr & Tom Harris

    The power disaster unfolding in California will soon occur across the country if Joe Biden gets his way. Just as the former Vice-President plans for America as a whole , the Golden State is sweeping away the forms of energy that have been reliable for decades. Power outages are now commonplace in California. Last summer, the state suffered its first rolling blackouts in nearly 20 years. Imagine if this happened in Chicago in the middle of winter.

    California’s trouble is explained by officials who now openly admit to an over-reliance on wind and solar power. The governor said there was not enough wind to keep the turbines going with cloud cover and nightfall restricting solar power. The Los Angeles Times reported:

    “… gas-burning power plants that can fire up when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing have been shutting down in recent years, and California has largely failed to replace them …”

    Consequently, the state has fallen thousands of megawatts behind its needs. Governor Gavin Newsom said, “we failed to predict and plan for these shortages” and took responsibility for the rolling blackouts. He wants everyone to conserve while they look for new sources of energy, likely fossil fuel-generated power from neighboring states.

    All this is happening whi

  4. And these Wind Turbines and Solar Panels are made in Australia, are they ? ? ..

    • Hahaha…
      Australia is fast becoming a green banana republic.
      The politicians obviously are incompetent and ignorant of the facts.

      • Jeff Walther says:

        Don’t blame on incompetence and ignorance what is explainable by corruption and cupidity.

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