Big Fat Liars: Mainstream Media Deliberately Conceal True Cost of Intermittent Wind & Solar

When it comes to the true cost of wind and solar, most journalists adopt the adage about people believing big lies when they’re told the same lie, repeatedly.

Every country in the world that’s committed to wind and solar has watched its power prices rocket and their grids become increasingly unreliable and unstable. Ask a wind/solar ‘powered’ Californian or South Australian or Texan about what it’s like to sit freezing or boiling in the dark when the wind stops blowing and/or the sun sets.

The panic that’s hit Europe’s Climate Industrial Complex after the Big Calm struck – resulting in plummeting and then non-existent wind power output for weeks – is palpable. However, the mainstream press has run very quiet on the power pricing and supply calamity that’s resulted from a starry-eyed reliance on breezes for power. A bit like the gambler that tells you all about his wins, but never about his losses, journalists will crow about a few moments when wind and solar are making something like a meaningful contribution, but clam up the minute the wind drops or the sun sets.

In the run-up to the Glasgow climate gabfest, mainstream journalists, spin doctors and propagandists are having to rethink their narratives and strategies, in the light of Europe’s self-inflicted renewable energy fiasco. To their credit, though, there is a form of discipline about their reluctance to reveal the truth about how hopelessly unreliable and obscenely costly wind and solar are.

The Australian’s Editor, Chris Mitchell is one of the few prepared to lift the lid in that regard.

Reporters find it hard to tell the truth about the cost of renewable energy
The Australian
Chris Mitchell
19 October 2021

Many environment writers today are in the business of hiding the truth about the costs of renewable energy.

Few are smart enough to work out the risk to modern democratic capitalism posed by the financial markets’ short-selling of fossil fuels.

It’s all coming home to roost ahead of the Glasgow COP26 climate conference starting on October 31. Yet many local media outlets are not reporting much about the northern hemisphere energy crisis, and the spiking prices for coal, oil and gas. The media absurdity peaked last week when the bible of climate panic, the Guardian, was forced to concede: “China’s plans to build more coal-fired plants deal a blow to UK’s COP26 ambitions.” This column has been reporting China’s coal expansion since 2016.

Climate writers should know intermittent energy from wind and solar cannot support grid-scale power 100 per cent of the time. It needs to be backed up with energy storage. This is why former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull launched the Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro scheme, the cost of which has blown out from less than $3bn to more than $6bn, according to Giles Parkinson at the RenewEconomy website.

Turnbull, in a piece for the Japanese English language website NikkeiAsia, wrote on August 22 about the need for more renewables. “But what is often forgotten is that we also need long-term, large capacity energy storage for when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine. Unless we address that challenge now, we will either fall back on fossil fuels or face blackouts. This need for energy storage is the ignored crisis within the crisis.”

That’s the patron saint of renewables Turnbull speaking, not a Murdoch conspiracist. But it gets better: “While lithium batteries can play an important role in storing electricity for a few hours, the only proven technology for storing electricity for longer periods is hydropower.” That is, pumped hydro.

Reporters here keep telling readers wind and solar are now cheaper than coal. Except the price of back-up will make total power costs much more expensive. Evidence around the world shows power prices faced by consumers rise as the percentage of renewables lifts.

Reporters often mistake the Tesla batteries – used here since South Australia installed one after the collapse of the state’s power system in September 2016 – for large-scale storage. But such batteries are designed to harmonise and firm the system rather than provide enough power to run the grid.

A study by the superannuation industry two years ago suggested a national grid-scale battery that could power the nation for 36 hours would cost $6.5 trillion, “or the cost of building 1000 nuclear reactors”, according to a report on ABC Online on June 26, 2019. This newspaper’s environment editor Graham Lloyd, reporting the same study, wrote that between 100 and 150 Snowy 2.0 projects would be needed to do the same job.

Admittedly, battery storage is becoming cheaper, but even last week a study from three UK academics suggested the cost of enough battery storage to run the UK’s power system for a fortnight, assuming 100 per cent renewables, would be £3 trillion – about 150 per cent of the UK’s annual GDP. Assuming 50 per cent renewables, the cost would be £1.5 trillion.

This column on September 13 discussed the flight of manufacturing from Europe to China in the 20 years since Europe began actively phasing out fossil fuels. It quoted the Guardian from 2019 saying: “Britain has contributed to the global climate emergency by outsourcing its carbon emissions to the developing world.”

The planet does not benefit from simply transferring emissions-intensive industries from one region to another. This is why some on the right of politics see UN climate action as a sly way to transfer power and money from the West to the developing world. In fact, the UN has always been upfront about demanding cash payments from the West, and the flow of industry to the developing world is driven more by labour costs than electricity prices.

Yet people who fear that democracy is losing out to totalitarian systems have a point. The positions of Russia and China ahead of COP26 makes clear why.

Russia is cashing in on Europe’s energy problems by ramping up the price of gas from its Gazprom state monopoly, probably with an eye to more than just short-term profits. It wants to pressure Germany, which has been silly enough to phase out nuclear power and most of its coal, to back a second gas pipeline, Nord Stream 2, under the Baltic Sea.

China was always permitted under its Paris Accord commitments to keep lifting CO2 output until 2030. That is why this column has argued COP26 is likely to fail. China’s CO2 rises between now and 2030 could exceed all the cuts made by the rest of the world.

Another Turnbull clean energy advocate, Malcolm’s son Alex, made the point in a piece on Substack on October 8: “China in a crisis tends to represent a command economy and … the commands are coming thick and fast.” Coal outputs domestically in China are ramping up fast, and “steel production is down 10 per cent year on year”, Turnbull wrote.

China signalled last week it might need to modify its emissions targets. The Guardian quoted a statement from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang: “It is important to build advanced coal fired power plants … in line with development needs. Domestic oil and gas exploration will be intensified.”

The big concern for the West is whether modern capitalism contains the seeds of its own destruction. As Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has admitted, Australia will face increased cost of global capital if it does not sign on to net zero by 2050. Reporters should not imagine bankers are doing this for ethical reasons.

Investors are short-selling the fossil fuel industry because they can make more money on taxpayer-guaranteed renewables. China, India, Russia and much of east Asia will not be following. While the West’s hedge funds will make a motza, hard power will continue to seep from Western Europe and the US. The West’s poorest consumers will pay more.

There’s also the issue of green hydrogen. The downside, at least with green hydrogen, is the need for more wind and solar to power the process that separates hydrogen and oxygen from water. Why downside? Wind and solar are low-intensity, inefficient ways to generate electricity. They require enormous amounts of land. The life spans of solar cells and wind turbines are limited: when rolled out across the planet they will present a mammoth recycling task when they need replacing.

Some environmentalists dislike the idea of covering tens of millions of hectares worldwide with this technology. Former Greens leader Bob Brown has criticised wind turbines for killing birds and affecting Tasmania’s natural beauty. He has likened a plan for Tasmania to be the new “battery of the nation” to the discredited Gordon-below-Franklin dam project.

Yet Australia, with about a third of the world’s uranium deposits, could be a real energy super power using nuclear technology that is not land-use intensive but is energy intensive and nonpolluting.
The Australian

 

You got me, but why change the RE narrative, now?

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. NIGEL DEACON says:

    Dear Team

    Excellent article. Keep up the good work

    Nigel Deacon, England

  2. South Australia electricity is as isolated from rest of continent as an island due to enormous distance (2000km) from closest coal power plants. Thence they put themselves in a deep sh… situation.
    Another hoax controlled state – Denmark – is the wind Holy Grail country and its enormous wind power capacity far overwhelms nation’s electricity peak power demand.
    But “fortunately” for them, it is embedded in Europe with several neighbors 10 to 15 times more populated: Denmark “enjoys” delivering most of its instable production to close-by Norway acting as hydraulic storage buffer (99.5% of their electricity production), but at close-to-zero prices because undemanded.
    Reversely, no-wind occurences force Den’s to buy stable high price Norway back electricity up to 45% of Denmark annual electricity consumption ! What an auto-imposed burden ! Balance of their needs is fed by bio-electricity (remarkable 25%) and Coal!
    Similar things for Germany, at a lower rate, nevertheless more than 50% of german wind production cannot be used and must be exported, sometimes at negative prices. And when german high voltage network cannot absorb/transport excessive wind power, concerned wind farms are disconnected for several days and compensated by € payment at maximum price (well over 150€/MWh) for a theoretical MWh amount equal to wind farm power plate rating for off-connected duration. These extra-cost for public network are charged to population energy bills under the shame name of “network balancing services”). For three years, these wind/sun extra costs were very fast growing to reach 16B€ annually, thence they stay flat and announced to “decrease” from 2022 !!! Of course announcement was made to help green lobbied electoral hopes last september: Now, Greens will enter in German Gov.
    What’s the used trick? German PM confessed that it became necessary to “hide climate extra costs” by charging most of them to the general State income (around 2000 B€/annum) without noise: Less roads, less schools, less hospitals, less help to single mothers….nevertheless.

    • Graeme No.3 says:

      South Australia is connected to Victoria (mostly brown coal fired) by 2 interconnectors and another is being built to connect to NSW (black coal fired).
      Yes, the over reliance on renewables causes trouble as the State has to run gas-fired generation for grid stabilisation even if renewables are actually generating enough for the demand. That extra is sent (at a loss) to Victoria. On the other hand as on June 27 this year gas was supplying 99% of demand, not for the first time.
      And SA has the highest electricity prices in Australia.

  3. Australia, South Australia State is the world’s most committed area to wind and Sun aiming at 50% total renewable electricity production: Go to the site “Stop These Things” (not easy to dig in due to abundant articles) and find a murderous graph showing that added-on wind/sun electricity – all compounded – is 15 times more cost expensive than conventional coal/gas electricity.

  4. I don’t think the MSM is deliberately lying about the real costs of renewables. I think they believe the LCOE BS. Good for Turnbull to highlight the need for storage and its costs.

  5. Rafe Champion says:

    Wind and solar can be described as cheap until you count the cost of backup or “firming” required from conventional power. Forget about pumped hydro and batteries to carry us through windless nights.

    https://newcatallaxy.blog/2021/09/25/the-real-cost-of-unreliable-energy/

    • Jeff Walther says:

      Don’t forget the costs of transmission. There’s an ERCOT item on my Texas bill to pay for West Texas transmission lines that adds about a penny per KWHr. If wind makes up 10% of Texas electricity, then if you concentrated that penny on actual wind KWHrs it would increase the cost of wind by $.10/KWHr.

      If 20% then $.05/KWHr.

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