Massive & Endless Subsidies Destroy Claim That Wind & Solar Cheapest Of All

In the ‘pigs might fly category’ sits the claim that intermittent wind and solar are the cheapest power sources, amongst all contenders. Were there even a shred of truth to that story, then renewable energy rent seekers wouldn’t be hounding policymakers at every turn to ensure that the massive subsidies they currently enjoy be guaranteed to outlast religion. The merest mention of a reduction, suspension or (heaven forbid) removal of mandated targets, guaranteed over the market contract prices, tax credits or renewable energy certificates has this group of well-practised leeches screaming blue murder.

Running in lockstep of those who profit directly from the greatest economic and environmental fraud in history, are groups of starry-eyed boffins and bureaucrats who think that the only thing standing between us and an all wind and sun powered future are a few mythical mega-batteries and the ability to store and transport hydrogen gas.

Among them is Australia’s CSIRO – the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

It was once revered as an organisation dedicated to advancing Australian industry through meticulous research and applied science. And when we talk about ‘industry, we’re talking about the type that drill it, mine it and make it; rather than the ones that import Chinese solar panels and wind turbines in order to wallow in renewable energy certificates, at power consumers’ considerable expense.

Now, as Terry McCrann details below, the CSIRO has become committed to the destruction of those very same industries – with an application of something between fawning religiosity and unhinged delusion.

CSIRO goes gaga with its GIGO analysis of renewable energy
The Australian
Terry McCrann
11 December 2020

Great news: our prestige science body the CSIRO has told us we can abandon all those mandatory targets for more and more so-called renewable energy and save taxpayers and consumers the $13bn or so — and rising — that we pay each year in direct and hidden subsidies for wind and solar.

That’s to say, we don’t need any forced targets for electricity generation; the industry will “go 100 per cent renewable” all on its own out of sheer greed, because that’s where the biggest profits are. Supposedly, according to the CSIRO.

Therefore we will only need carbon dioxide (and methane) targets for “everything else” outside electricity generation — from cement and steel and non-electricity generating gas to farting cows. And sheep? I actually haven’t seen any numbers on the fart quotient for the average sheep.

Here’s the headline on the CSIRO press release on Friday: “Renewables still the cheapest new-build power in Australia”.

Here’s the breathless money quote from someone identified as CSIRO chief energy economist Paul Graham: “Even taking into account these extra system integration costs, solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind continue to be the cheapest new sources of electricity for any expected share of renewables in the grid — anywhere from 50 per cent to 100 per cent.”

Those “extra system integration costs” he referred to are the amount of “storage needed” — batteries like former SA premier Jay Weatherill’s Tesla one and pumped hydro like former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Snowy 2.0 — and “additional transmission expenditure”.

My, my, that’s impressive. Previously wind and solar only seemed cheap when you didn’t factor in the cost of alternative power to switch in when, you know, “the wind don’t blow and the sun don’t shine”.

This analysis at least purports to factor those costs in; and even with them added, wind and solar are still cheaper than all the other forms of electricity generation and especially (wicked) black and brown coal. So, case proven?

So that, without a single dollar of direct or indirect subsidy or government mandation, we’d just naturally go all wind and solar? That you’d never get another coal-fired power station built, just like you’d never get flat-screen TVs made in Australia?

Because, just as the profit motive drives us to import all our flat-screen TVs from China, so we would only build wind and solar plants — and, of course, import all the solar panels and wind turbines from China as well?

Actually, no. Like everything promoting wind and solar, this analysis is — not to put too fine a point on it — utter garbage. Or, to express that in more polite academic terminology: GIGO, or Garbage In Garbage Out.

What the breathless press release did not say was that the so-called “proved cheapness” of wind and solar came with an asterisk — a very large asterisk. That the “costs” of coal and gas-fired generation included a massive and massively increasing carbon tax imposed on them.

To draw a rather timely analogy; that would be exactly like claiming detailed analysis has proved that it is cheaper to make those flat-screen TVs in Australia than to import them from China.

While leaving it for you to read in the fine print (and in the CSIRO report it is literally in fine print) that this analysis builds in a 200 per cent tariff into the “cost” of Chinese flat-screen TVs.

The CSIRO press release does provide a very indirect clue to the analytical — what’s the best word? Dodgy? Dishonest? Disgraceful? Pathetic? All of them and more? — definition of “generation cost”.

It refers to “costs reductions for technologies not currently being widely deployed, such as carbon capture and storage (CCS)”.

Hang on? What’s CCS got to do with an analysis of power generation cost? CCS doesn’t generate power? It’s not needed for power generation; only for preventing CO2 emissions? The only reason you would spend money installing CCS is to avoid mandatory payments for CO2 emissions.

So the “analysis” is all built on taking your choice. You can build a new coal-fired generator and double its cost — and the “cost” of its power generated — by adding CCS. Or you can pay a carbon tax (which the report, mindful of the misfortune of a former certain PM, calls a carbon price) that starts at $75/$100 an emitted tonne in 2025 and rises to $275/$390 a tonne by 2050. And so the “cost” of power generated is similarly dramatically increased.

The two figures for the carbon tax/price depend on whether Australia has a higher or lower “climate policy ambition”.

So there’s the basic analytical dishonesty (there always is, I would add, almost gratuitously): to wit, we prove wind and solar are cheaper than coal because we make coal artificially more expensive.

But in its own terms, even more impressive is the breathtakingly, almost bottomless, analytical stupidity. There’s not the faintest understanding that the whole analysis is entirely circular.

CSIRO starts with the basic requirement of reducing CO2 emissions from power generation to zero. It then calculates the carbon tax/price required to make coal (and gas) generation more expensive than wind and solar so that “the market” will build and use wind and solar to achieve those CO2 cuts. And then, miracle of miracles, it finds — it proves — that wind and solar are cheaper than coal and gas!

Those who built the CSIRO to our great national advantage and benefit through the 20th century would be turning in their graves.

The CSIRO of 2020 has got precious little to do with science, is anti-industry and produces research of this, ahem, quality.

It needs a name and acronym honesty update to CF-SA-IC-RD.

While on energy dishonesty, a shout-out to the greenies who recently trumpeted Tasmania “proving” you can go 100 per cent renewables — implying you can get there with wind and solar. Oh yeah? Tasmania still gets 90 per cent of its power from hydro. Are the greenies now really pro-dam, starting with the Franklin?
The Australian

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. I can’t believe our government is still subsidising this with my taxpayer dollars!! Its been over 20 years and we’re no closer to the green dream.. got to stop. Where can I find details of the subsidies being paid? Letter to my MP on the way.

    • Leroy1962 says:

      Help me out here people.. I want to chase this up with my MP, and need details of the windmill subsidies. What are they being paid and by who? Having no luck finding anything specific, where do you recommend I look?

    • It is my understanding ‘Leroy1962’ that the Pacific Hydro operated wind ‘battery’ of 2MW turbines at Cape Bridgewater, Victoria, Australia is receiving around half a million dollars per turbine per year in subsidies over the life cycle of the project. But that number increases year on year. This number also increases for larger turbines at other facilities like AGL’s Macarthur where I understand they receive closer to a million dollars per turbine per year. Now multiply that amount by 140 turbines!

      But as STT have stated, search their site as they have posted articles on this very subject, and in far greater depth than my comment here.

  2. Great analysis of the scam that is called renewable energy.
    All in the name of the greatest scam of all…’gerbil warming’.

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