Why Heavily Subsidised & Utterly Unreliable Wind & Solar Will Wreck Your Economy

The wind and solar cult will never admit it, but coal-fired power is the backbone of Australia’s electricity grid. Without it, this country would descend into Stone Age chaos in next to no time.

With the announcement that another reliable coal-fired power plant will be shuttered in a few years’ time, the response from our political brains trust is a mixture of infantile delusion and pixie-dust wishful thinking. Neither of which are going to keep the lights on.

Australia’s energy policy is a self-inflicted calamity driven by an obsession with intermittent wind and solar. Only a complete collapse of the grid will cause those who pretend to govern us to get a grip.

The Federal Energy Minister, Angus Taylor has been reduced to waffling about ‘green’ hydrogen and has been otherwise co-opted by rent-seekers, merrily profiting at the expense of every productive industry, business and household.

With a Federal election looming – against the backdrop of an unfolding power supply and pricing disaster – you might expect Taylor and Scott Morrison, his PM, to start advancing the case for nuclear power in this country. But these characters sound more like spin doctors for the wind and solar industries than champions of industry, business and trade. Neither of them is game to use the ‘N’ word in public, as if their Liberal party were chasing Green-held seats in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Pathetic doesn’t cover it. Treachery, just might.

Those that reckon they understand energy security, keep peddling the same hackneyed myth that, with a few giant batteries thrown in, we are well on our way to an all wind and sun-powered future. It is, of course, perfect nonsense.

Wind power is only delivered when the wind is blowing at a sufficient and constant speed, and solar is only delivered when an unimpeded sun is shining during the period between sunup and sundown. Sunset and calm weather are the reason why wind and solar will never amount to meaningful power sources. It’s that simple.

Faced with the hopeless intermittency of wind power, boffins and policymakers now talk about “wind droughts” like there’s something sinister about calm weather; some kind of fossil-fuel-backed conspiracy, as it were.

The wind and solar-driven disaster in Europe ought to have been a signal that it was time to ditch Australia’s suicidal subsidised renewable energy policies. But, not a bit of it. Instead, the notionally conservative Liberal/National Coalition are determined to visit rocketing power prices and power rationing on Australia, as if it was our natural destiny.

The Federal government’s Renewable Energy Target was designed to wreck reliable and affordable power supplies, in particular, coal-fired power and, right on cue, it’s doing just that.

Several states have also backed in policies designed to stream subsidies to wind and solar and destroy the profit margins of conventional generators. Adding insult to injury.

What these maniacal wind and solar obsessed policies are doing is not only wrecking the ability of coal-fired generators to remain in business, the resultant power rationing and price spikes will simply drive every last energy-hungry industry offshore.

Pretty soon, the only jobs left in this country will be flipping burgers and brewing up flat whites and skinny soy lattes. Mining, mineral processing and manufacturing are doomed, and people like Scott Morrison and Angus Taylor surely know it.

The Australian’s Terry McCrann lays out the causes and consequences of Australia’s self-inflicted renewable energy calamity.

Origin brings forward our future power shock
The Australian
Terry McCrann
19 February 2022

The scale and comprehensiveness of the utter electricity and broader domestic energy disaster we are sleepwalking into is not even dimly comprehended.

This was rather neatly captured in the headlines at the non-insane end of the media spectrum in reaction to the Eraring closure announcement.

That’s to say, the tiny sliver of media outside the entirety of the ABC, the Nine metropolitan newspaper duo, the Guardian of course, commercial free-to-air TV and radio, and the entirety of social media.

“Coal shutdown risks bill shock.”

“Plan needed for exit of thousands of coal workers: unions.”

“Electricity shock: transition to clean energy will be rocky.”

If only it was going to be that easy.

Consumers having to pay somewhat more to keep their aircons on. A few thousand workers having to, for want of a better word, re-skill as Amazon warehouse workers or learning to code. With just the odd bump on the road.

Err, what about permanent blackouts and rolling brownouts or some other form of sophisticated “smart meter” rationing? Indeed “electricity passports”, like you-know-what passports?

Furthermore, hanging over all that will be the near-certain implosion of the national grid, as states move to – try to – keep the lights on inside their state borders by keeping the power they generate within those borders.

We’ve now well and truly been there with Covid. The template has been established.

Now, it’s been states closing their borders to keep Covid out. It will be a seamless step to closing their (transmission) borders to keep power in.

That’s the future we are sliding towards, at an accelerating pace. And the really shocking thing that the Origin announcement on Eraring did was to suddenly bring that future forward to just three years ahead, 2025.

Yes of course we had started down the path, with the closure of Hazelwood in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley in 2017 and AGL’s proposed closure of Liddell in the early 2020s.

But both of those have been able to be managed – albeit, while requiring increasingly sophisticated supply interventions.

We still had enough – even, outside high demand periods, excess – real (coal) power generation capacity to mix and match with the fake power generation from solar and especially wind.

The closure of Eraring in 2025 will fundamentally destabilise that already delicate balance.

Despite the twitterings of the market operator AEMO, after 2025 we will not have enough firm 24/7 dispatchable power across the national grid – South Australia, Victoria, NSW, Queensland and Tasmania – and it is only going to get worse from there.

And even that is assuming that the wind does blow occasionally, and the ageing under-maintained remaining coal plants continue to operate with minimal time-outs.

Perhaps we should invite the powers that be at AEMO to put their money – their payouts, pensions and salaries – where their mouths are. The first blackout cuts them to zero.

The first thing the closure announcement did was to bring that future almost into our present: 2025. Before Thursday, we had the “comfortable” assumption that the future started around 2032, the previous planned date of the Eraring closure.

That gave us plenty of time to build big batteries, including Malcolm’s Snowy one. We might even have built Angus Taylor’s – solitary – gas peaking plant by then. And of course, thousands of useless – apart from bird-slaughtering – wind so-called turbines.

Throw in “something will turn up” – like blue or green or who knows what other colour hydrogen – and we’d be able to keep patching up enough electricity to stagger through each day; maybe even be able to stagger through other programmed closures of NSW and Victorian coal stations through the 2030s and 2040s.

Eraring doesn’t only fast-forward everything to starting in 2025, it also telescopes the likely closure horizon of all the other coal stations, for exactly the reason Eraring is being closed.

The insanity is bad enough, requiring base-load coal stations to operate as peak-loaders – backing off when the wind chooses to blow, having to fill in when the wind is sulking.

But they are rendered ever more uncompetitive as more and more wind “capacity”, with evermore of its all-but “free” electricity when the wind is blowing, comes into the market. Never mind the huge, multibillion-dollar, subsidies behind that “free” electricity.

The reality of today’s grid starts in SA. When the wind is blowing it can get almost all its power from that source. When it’s not, SA turns on its extension cords into Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, and directly and indirectly into NSW’s coal stations.

NSW and Victoria also share their surpluses and their deficits; and both draw power from Queensland’s coal stations and occasionally send power north.

Contemplate the future that awaits when the wind stops blowing right across southeastern Australia. That also points to the hubris and failure of our energy masters. Their argument has been that if you scatter the turbines wide enough geographically, the wind will always be blowing somewhere.

Untrue: frequently, it’s not blowing or not blowing much, right across the entire catchment.

In this wind-reliant, coal-deficient future – even with “batteries included” – when that happens the national grid will implode.

Either by deliberate action; by Victoria, say, cutting off the cord to SA – and indeed to NSW; or the cord will cut itself off automatically as intrastate supply falls to critical levels.

Up until recently this might have seemed fanciful: wouldn’t we – as in the states ex-WA – shut down and share the pain? Surely no state would cut itself off unilaterally in beggar-my-neighbour fashion from the rest?

Two years into Covid, it no longer looks fanciful.

Origin probably deserves our thanks – uttered, true, through gritted teeth. It has not only shown us our future but brought it forward to 2025.

Surely, surely, we would wake from our sleepwalking, to build a different lights-on future?

One built on a fleet of new 21st century stations, some mix of coal, gas and nuclear.

Somehow I think we will keep on sleepwalking.
The Australian

2 thoughts on “Why Heavily Subsidised & Utterly Unreliable Wind & Solar Will Wreck Your Economy

  1. “Only a complete collapse of the grid will cause those who pretend to govern us to get a grip.”

    I have been saying this for quite dome time now. The sooner it happens, the better. Only then will the idiots in charge gain some understanding of how ignorant they are.
    Don’t forget the majority of the population as well. They are either barracking for unreliables transition or apathetic in the extreme.

  2. “Energy “,this word means engineering ,technology ,not
    Known for the people who study social media, the politicians. They are so stupid as intellectuals.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s