Wanna Wreck Your Economy? Just Add Unreliable Subsidised Wind & Solar

Wind & solar subsidies deliver the new normal.

 

Australia’s energy system is a diabolical mess, largely thanks to the Federal Government’s Renewable Energy Target. But the Feds can’t take all the blame, in all instances.

A number of States – usually headed by Trotskyites, like Chairman Dan Andrews – are determined to destroy the last vestiges of their economies. What the Fed’s RET hasn’t already laid to waste with rocketing power prices and an increasingly weather dependent and, accordingly, chaotic and unreliable supply, Chairman Dan’s Victoria is set to deliver the coup de grace for every last energy hungry businesses and further punish its poorest households.

Blessed with abundant coal reserves and reliable, dispatchable coal-fired power plants, Victoria’s Labor government has demonstrated a maniacal obsession with subsidised wind and solar, only matched by its hatred of its only source of reliable and affordable power.

We’ll cross to Alan Moran for a couple of pieces on the brewing disaster in the People’s Republic.

Higher prices, lower competitiveness as Daniel Andrews goes it alone on emissions
Spectator Australia
Alan Moran
3 May 2021

Victoria has announced its intent to go much further than the federal government in requiring the substitution of renewable energy for the much cheaper and more secure energy that is provided from its endless supplies of high-quality brown coal. Compared with the national policy of reducing emissions by 26 to 28% by 2030, Victoria is opting for a 45 to 50% reduction. Not only does this introduce another variation on what should be a national energy policy but it consigns Victoria to further losses of industrial competitiveness and households to higher energy costs.

Victoria’s intervention in the energy markets is long-standing. The state’s brown coal reserves have formed the basis for its electricity generation for 60 years. Gradually that generation became to be seen as a means of providing jobs and the union-controlled power stations degenerated into overmanned and unreliable sources of electricity. Costs to the consumer were high.

To its credit, the socialist Kirner government in the late 1980s recognised something was wrong, perhaps forced to do so in the context of an economic crisis. That government went about downsizing the staffing of the generators and employment in the generators was reduced by about 12,000 from the previous levels of 25,000. Strapped for funding the Kirner Government also brought in private ownership for a new generator (Loy Yang B).

But it took the Kennett government to finish the job in privatising the industry and reducing employment to a lean 2,500 strong workforce, a reduction that also brought about vast improvements and reliability of the plants. A similar situation was seen with gas where the government’s Gas and Fuel corporation was massively overmanned and the unions effectively controlled the business. This also was reformed and privatised by the Kennett government of the 1990s.

But with ALP governments under Steve Bracks, John Brumby and Dan Andrews ruling over most of the past 22 years, the system has again become high cost. Whereas Victorians should, as they once were, be enjoying the lowest electricity prices in the world, prices are among the highest.

The latest government measures are billed as leading the rest of the country. They continue the Victorian ALP tradition of the past 20 years with attacks on brown coal and subsidies to renewables. These have included:

  • Funding campaigns to prevent new coal seams being used
  • Introducing with the Victorian Renewable Energy Target an additional subsidy to those offered by the Commonwealth for wind and solar
  • Subsidising the building of wind turbine factories that promptly went bankrupt
  • Dan Andrews tripling the coal royalty, an event that may have been the straw breaking the back of the Hazelwood Power Station which closed in 2016, amidst assurances from the Premier that there would be a negligible price effect (wholesale prices thereupon doubled!)
  • Purchasing agreements by the state for additional supplies of renewable power.

Not only do these measures adversely impact the profitability of brown coal stations but they have also meant substituting the more reliable power that coal brings. Exchanging this for wind/solar means additional expenditures to manage these variable supplies and new spending on transmission lines to gather their more dispersed generation sources. All of these additional costs are paid by the Australian electricity consumer and the taxpayer. The costs are also driving out major industrial users, with the pride of the state’s industry, the aluminium smelter at Portland, only being kept afloat by subsidies to counter the costs that other subsidies are bringing.

The amount of wind and solar in the system is even requiring the market managers to force roof-top facilities – all of which were built with subsidies – to be turned off at the increasingly frequent times when their supply threatens to bring down the whole electricity supply system. Just another piece in the crazy jigsaw governments have created in their energy policies.
Spectator Australia

Victoria setting new lows in energy policy
Catallaxy Files
Alan Moran
5 May 2021

I have a piece in the Spectator on Victoria’s  announced  intent to go much further than the federal government in requiring the substitution of renewable energy for the much cheaper and more secure energy that is provided from its endless supplies of high-quality brown coal.  Compared with the national policy of reducing emissions by 26 to 28% by 2030, Victoria is opting for a 45 to 50% reduction. Not only does this introduce another variation on what should be a national energy policy but it consigns Victoria to further losses of industrial competitiveness and households to higher energy costs.

The ALP in Victoria has a history of sacrificing the state’s brown coal reserves and their low cost electricity. Initially, the power stations were used to as union playgrounds and by the late 1980s their padded workforce was tenfold the numbers necessary.  Though the ALP started to slim this back it took the Kennett reforms and privatisations to bring them into best practice.   Over the past 20 years the ALP has again imposed costs on coal and on electricity users, this time in pursuit of the green vote.

Whereas Victorians should, as they once were, be enjoying the lowest electricity prices in the world, prices are among the highest.

Discriminating against brown coal stations has also meant downgrading the more reliable power that coal brings.  Exchanging this for wind/solar means additional expenditures to manage these variable supplies and new spending on transmission lines to gather their more dispersed generation sources. All of these additional costs are paid by the Australian electricity consumer and the taxpayer.  The costs are also driving out major industrial users, with the pride of the state’s industry, the aluminium smelter at Portland, only being kept afloat by subsidies to counter the costs that other subsidies are bringing.

The amount of wind and solar in the system is even requiring the market managers to force roof-top facilities – all of which were built with subsidies – to be turned off at the increasingly frequent times when their supply threatens to bring down the whole electricity supply system.
Catallaxy Files

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. 120 bpm says:

    Thanks for your thoughts Amos E. Stone. I am not anti coal as such, the UK government is, as is Australia. Watching the Victorian government dabble in the great wind, solar, battery experiment, is like watching a car crash in slow motion!

    Another point is that many things are carried around the world on ships Bon, including wind turbines! Not sure this is a good enough reason to shut down the Drax biomass operation. Mind you, if the ships were nuclear powered! Stephen Fry discovered in his program on North America, that the US nuclear powered submarines can travel for six months without stopping. The only limitation to this field of operation was actually related to how much food they could carry!

  2. Time to bury the terms black/brown, marketing suggests we call it GREEN COAL which is obviously more efficient and independent than climate changing propeller sky scraper bird shredders and black dark energy silicon panels that cannot be recycled into cement like the by-product of GREEN COAL fly ash can be repurposed efficiently saving tonnes of energy.

  3. John Shewchuk says:

    This won’t happen to China — they like coal and nuclear … https://newtube.app/user/RAOB/kf3DIEm

  4. 120 bpm says:

    The video below is of a recent cab ride, or ‘slow TV’ depending on your view, aboard a UK freight train. Why is this relevant to STT? Well the train in question is pulling empty fly ash wagons. Fly ash is a byproduct of the coal industry, and is used in the production of cement. However, there is another interesting fact about this train. It is heading to DRAX! Drax has a history of being the largest coal fired power station in the UK. But I was astonished to learn from this video that the facility is now run entirely on biomass! The fly ash that this train is heading to collect is from biomass, not coal.

    In my opinion, this begs the question, could any of the retiring coal fired power plants in Australia be converted to run entirely on biomass? I think this is a conversation we should be having, especially if it were to mean fewer wind farms! I know that some poorly run biomass operations elsewhere around the globe have been controversial, burning things they shouldn’t, like old tyres! But an efficiently run operation could perhaps play an important role in maintaining both a reliable grid supply, and a large number of jobs, as well as the existing primary infrastructure such as the cooling towers. For example, could Latrobe Valley be the first logical step, as a partial replacement for brown coal? If plantation timber from sustainable sources were brought in by rail, as well as additional materials from bushfire management projects around the country, such as the opening up of fire breaks and the council clearing of roadside vegetation, it would seem to be a potential win, win situation. Combining the two operations could be a major step forward in both reliable grid operation, and a greater fire management effort in light of the recent Black Summer bushfires. Of course, it would require strict management.

    If the bean counters were satisfied, and efficiency in electricity supply were maintained, then biomass should be under consideration as a partial replacement for brown coal in Victoria. Drax has been a monster of a coal plant in the UK over the years, but it is now run entirely from biomass!

    Biomass and HELE coal plants, that were located where the coal source is cleanest, as well as nuclear power, could provide this country with the baseload energy supply it needs to build cars, planes, ships, trains, tanks, missiles, submarines, infrastructure etc, etc. A vibrant and productive future could await us.

    And it could also mean fewer wind farms!

    Video published by DON COFFEY. The interesting stats about Drax are near the end.

    • Rafe Champion says:

      If you are a fan of biomass you had better view the doco film “Planet of the Humans”!

      • 120 bpm says:

        I have seen the film. But Drax would appear to be a more ‘professional’ operation. The train hoppers they use are covered in vinyl wraps to discourage graffiti, for example. And jobs have been retained, as well as the actual facility. I think this should be taken into consideration, as well as HELE coal and nuclear.

        Thanks for the reply.

    • Destroying forests in the US, converting them to wood pellets to be shipped by diesel powered ship to the UK for use as inefficient fuel in the boilers at Drax power plant doesn’t sound such a smashing idea to me?

      • 120 bpm says:

        Plantation timber is sustainable. Coal isn’t. I am only suggesting that a single biomass operation in Victoria, Australia might limit the damage the Dan Andrew’s government is about to undertake, when he shuts down another reliable coal fired power station, and replaces it with a battery! A biomass operation could keep that baseload supply in the grid, as well as a larger number of jobs than a ‘ruinable’ energy alternative.

      • Amos E. Stone says:

        Bon – surely you are right, If Drax power station was in Louisiana or S. Carolina or wherever those wood pellets come from then maybe we could believe in it. We can’t grow enough wood in the UK to supply Drax probably, though nobody reads newspapers any more? Shipping US trees here to the UK can’t make sense. But…

        120bpm – I reckon you are right too. If there is any country with room enough to grow enough trees to feed a power station, surely Australia is a contender! The technology clearly works. Right now we are getting more power from wood pellets (2.63GW) than we are from wind (2.4GW). Wind turned up last weekend when no-one needed it and today it’s gone away again, like it did for nearly the whole of April. Drax is consistently 2-3GW.

        Drax was built on top of a coal mine for a reason. Does it make economic sense to burn wood? Well, there’s another question… If the government imposes a tax on coal and hands out free money to burn wood…

  5. Rafe Champion says:

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