Wind Energy Will NEVER Be Anything More than a Novelty Energy Source…

Wind Industry’s Bogus Claims about “Powering” Millions of Homes Scorched

lies

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The hackneyed myth that wind power “powers” millions of homes with wonderful “free” wind energy is taking a beating around the globe (seeour post here).

The idea that a wholly weather dependent power generation source can ever be – as is touted endlessly by the wind industry and it parasites – an “alternative” to conventional generation is, of course, patent nonsense.

If there wasn’t already a complete power generation system built around on-demand sources, such as gas, coal, nuclear or hydro – then a country trying to run on wind power would – unless it was keen to revisit (or remain in) the stone age – inevitably need to build one (see our post here). So far, so insanely costly, and utterly pointless.

At STT the term “powering” means exactly what it says: that when someone – at any time of the day or night – in any and all of the thousands of homes claimed to be “powered” by wind power – flicks theswitch the lights go on or the kettle starts boiling.

The wind industry never qualifies its we’re “powering thousands of homes” mantra by saying what it really means: that wind power might be throwing a little illumination or sparking up the kettle in those homes every now and again – and that the rest of time their owners will be tapping into a system of generation that operates quite happily 24 x 7, rain, hail or shine – without which they’d be eating tins of cold baked beans, while sitting freezing (or boiling) in the dark.

Glenn R. Schleede spent more than 35 years dealing with energy related matters in the government and private sector in the US. He’s put pen to paper numerous times on energy policy, and hammered the patent nonsense that is the great wind power fraud, just once or twice.

In this piece from 2009, Glenn belts the wind farms are “powering millions of homes” myth clean over the long boundary for an easy 6 – although in the US, wind power outfits apparently use the term “homes served” instead of “powered”. But, whatever the moniker, the bogus claim just hasn’t got the legs to withstand even the mildest scrutiny.

False Claims about “homes served” by electricity from wind
Glenn Schleede
4 February 2009

Anyone using the phrase “homes served” to describe the potential output from one or more wind turbines is demonstrating that he or she (a) doesn’t understand the facts about wind turbines, (b) believes false claims from the wind industry, or (c) is trying to mislead their reader or listener.

False statements about “homes served” by wind turbines are not the only – and certainly not the most important – false claims regularly made by wind industry developers and lobbyists. But they are annoying when politicians, naïve reporters, and others adopt and regurgitate them.

The concept of “homes served”

The concept of “homes served” has long been used in the electric industry as a way to give some idea of the amount of electricity that would be produced by a proposed generating plant without using such terms as megawatt or kilowatt-hours that mean little to most people. The concept is always misleading since residential users of electricity (i.e., “homes served”) account for only 37% of all US electricity use. [i]

Claims about “homes served” by a proposed “wind farm” or other generating unit are usually based on a three step calculation. Specifically:

  • Start with an assumption (i.e., a guess) about the amount of electricity that would be produced annually by a “wind farm” or other generating unit, in kilowatt-hours (kWh) or megawatt-hours (MWh). [ii]
  • Use an estimate of the amount of electricity used annually (in kWh) by an average residential customer in the area or state where their “wind farm” is located. [iii]
  • Divide the assumed annual production of electricity by the estimated annual average residential electricity use.

Concept can be useful when talking about reliable generating units

While misleading, the concept, “homes served” has some validity when used to describe the output from a reliable, “dispatchable” electric generating unit; i.e., one that can be called upon to produce electricity whenever it is needed. Such generating units are the ones that are counted on by the electric industry to provide a reliable supply of electricity for customers every day, at all hours of the day, year around.

“Homes served” is NOT a valid concept when referring to wind turbines and “wind farms”

Using “homes served” when talking about wind turbines and “wind farms” is both false and misleading for several reasons; specifically:

  1. No homes are really served by wind . In fact, NO homes are served by wind energy because wind turbines produce electricity only when wind speeds are in the right speed range (see below). Homes using electricity from wind must always have some reliable energy source immediately available to provide electricity when there is insufficient wind unless the residents are content to have electricity only when the wind is blowing in the right speed range – a condition that few in America are willing to tolerate.
  2. Electricity from wind turbines is inherently intermittent, volatile, and unreliable. Wind turbines produce electricity only when the wind is blowing within the right speed range. Wind turbines typically start producing electricity at around 6 mph, reach rated capacity about 32 mph, and cut out about 56 mph. Unless a home owner has an expensive battery storage system, such volatile and unreliable output wouldn’t be suitable for lights, heating,computers, appliances, or many other purposes.
  3. Electricity from “wind farms” is seldom available when most needed by home users. Again, the output of wind turbines is dependent on wind conditions. Depending on the specific area, winds tend to be strongest at night in cold months. However, electricity demand in most areas of the US is heavily concentrated during daytime and early evening hours. Even worse, wind turbines cannot be counted on to produce at the time of peak electricity demand which often occurs on hot weekday late afternoons in July and August. At the time of peak electricity demand, wind turbine output may be in the range of 0% to 5% of rated capacity.
  4. The electricity produced by wind turbines is low in value compared to electricity from reliable generating units. That’s because it is inherently intermittent, volatile, unreliable, and not available when most needed – as described in paragraphs 2 and 3, above.
  5. Not all the electricity produced by a wind turbine actually reaches customers or serves a useful purpose. Some electricity is lost as it is moved over transmission and distribution lines that carry the electricity from generating units to homes, offices, stores, factories and other users. The amount of electricity that is lost depends on distance and condition of lines and transformers.“Line losses” are a significant issue for wind energy because huge, obtrusive wind turbines (often 40+ stories tall) and “wind farms” are not welcome near metropolitan areas that account for most electricity demand. Instead, they often are located distant from the areas where electricity is needed and require expensive transmission line capacity which they use inefficiently. (Ironically, the lucrative federal tax credits provided to “wind farm” owners are based on electricity produced, not the lesser amount that actually reaches customers and serves a useful purpose.)
  6. Claims of “homes served” by wind energy are additionally misleading because of the high true cost of electricity from wind turbines. Claims that the cost of electricity from wind turbines is “competitive” with the cost of electricity from traditional sources are false. Such claims typically do not include the cost of (a) the huge federal and state tax breaks available to “wind farm” owners, [iv] or (b) the cost of providing the generating capacity and generation that must always be immediately available to “back up” intermittent, unreliable wind turbine output and keep electric grids reliable and in balance.

Claims of “homes served” should always be challenged

Any use of the “homes served” assertion in connection with a “wind farm” should be challenged, whether the assertion is from a wind industry lobbyist, other wind energy advocate, political leader, other government official, or reporter. They should be required to explain each of their assumptions and calculations, and admit that industrial scale wind turbines are useless unless reliable generating units are immediately available to supply electricity when wind is not strong enough to produce significant electricity. Almost certainly, their assertions will be false.

What valid claim could wind industry officials make?

As explained above, wind industry developers, promoters, and lobbyists – and politicians and reporters – should never use the false and misleading “homes served” metric. In theory, they could justify an assertion that the estimated amount of electricity produced by a “wind farm” – once discounted for line losses which are likely to be in the range of 5% to 10% – may be roughly equal to the amount of electricity used annually by x homes – after doing a calculation such as that outlined earlier. However, as indicated above, even this assertion would be misleading because it ignores the fact that the output from wind turbines is intermittent, volatile, unreliable and unlikely to be available when electricity is most needed.

Other false and misleading claims about wind energy

As shown above, “homes served” are not the only or the most important false claim made about wind energy. Other false claims about wind energy include the following:

  • It is low or competitive in cost when, in fact, its cost is high when all true costs are counted.
  • It is environmentally benign when, in fact, it has significant adverse environmental, ecological, scenic, and property value impacts.
  • It avoids significant emissions that would otherwise be produced when, in fact, it avoids few.
  • It provides big job and economic benefits when, in fact, there are few such benefits.
  • Reduces US dependence on imported oil when, in fact, it does not.
  • Reduces the need for building reliable generating units in areas experiencing growth in peak electricity demand or needing to replace old generating units, when the opposite is true.

Such claims as these have been made often during the past decade or more by the wind industry and other wind advocates. Only during the past 3-4 years have these claims begun to be demonstrated as false and misleading. The facts about wind energy are beginning to show up in the media but, unfortunately, have yet to be understood by most political leaders and regulators.

Endnotes

[i] According to EIA data, the percentage of total electricity use accounted for by residential customers in 2007 varied from lows of 16.3% in DC and 16.7% in WY to 44.6% in AZ and 51.0% in FL – with a nation-wide average of 37%. http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/esr/esr_sum.html

[ii] Assumptions about output from proposed “wind farms” start with the rated capacity of the wind turbine(s) in kWh, multiplied by the number of hours in a year (usually 8760) and multiplied by the wind turbine(s)’ assumed “capacity factor.” In fact, actual capacity factors can be known only on an after the fact basis. “Capacity factor” is calculated by dividing actual annual production in kWh by 8760 (hrs per year) times the rated capacity of the turbine(s) in kW.

[iii] Annual residential use of electricity varies widely. According to US EIA, average annual residential electricity use nationwide during 2007 averaged 11,232 kWh – varying from lows of 6,360 kWh in Maine and 6,960 in California to highs of 15,660 kWh in Alabama and 16,128 kWh in Tennessee. http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/esr/esr_sum.html

[iv] Wind industry officials have indicated that just two federal tax breaks account for about 2/3rds of the economic value of a “wind farm.”

hitting a 6

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Faux-Green Renewable Energy…..It doesn’t work!

Marita on renewable nonsense

Can you imagine that people are still straining to make renewables work–when they are such colossal failures.

Solar and the renewable idiocy are the focus of this essay by Marita

Link to: Solar Power propaganda vs. the real world

Greetings!

You know I have written on extensively on what I call Obama’s green-energycrony-corruption. I’ve addressed news stories such as the near-certain death of Cape Wind and exposed the criminal activity of the solar panel Abengoa. In December, based on a thorough report someone else produced, I wrote a column about the German renewable energy experiment. It got me thinking, what if I pulled all of my research, and others, together and produced a report like the German one on which I’d based my Germany’s “energy transformation” — unsustainable subsidies and an unstable system column?

For the past couple of months, I have been quietly working behind the scenes to put together my first “white paper:” Solar Power in the U.S.—intended to provide a comprehensive look at the impacts of solar power on the nation’s consumers. It has been planned to be released today! I know when we released it, a review of the content would be the topic of this week’s column. I just didn’t know how it was going to take shape. But then, someone on my newsletter distribution list sent me a link to a U.S. News and World Report blog. As I read it, I kept finding discrepancies, omissions and flat-out untruths. While the Blog posttitle is: Keystone isn’t about jobs, the author was really writing about solar. He has obviously bought into the talking points; the propaganda—but didn’t know (or chose to ignore) the real world implementation of solar power in the U.S. As I read it, I knew I had the structure for this week’s column: Solar Power propaganda vs. the real world.

I had fun writing Solar Power propaganda vs. the real world—especially since I’d just completed the report and had the content top-of-mind. I hope you enjoy reading it and will post it and/or pass it on. It introduces the new report.

Thanks to Solar Power in the U.S., there is now a handy (15 page) guide that offers the real view, rather than the fantasy version, of what solar power can and cannot do, how effective it is, and the impact its rapid implementation is having on consumers. It is my hope that both consumers and policymakers will read Solar Power in the U.S. before making decisions with long-term implications.

Because I already have the 900-word version ready, I am offer you both the full-length and the shorter version. Please use whichever is better for your readers. The full-length version is pasted-in-below.

Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, inc.

PO Box 52103, Albuquerque, NM 87181

505.239.8998

For immediate release: March 9, 2015.

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

Words: 1277

Solar Power propaganda vs. the real world

When a former “senior communications official at the White House” writes a blog post for U.S. News and World Report, you should be able to trust it. But when the author states that the Keystone pipeline (should it be approved) would create only 19 weeks of temporary jobs, everything else he says must be suspect—including the claim that our “energy infrastructure will be 100 percent solar by 2030.”

I contacted both a union representative and one from TransCanada—the company behind the Keystone pipeline. Each affirmed that the 19-week timeframe was total fantasy. The portion of the Keystone pipeline that remains to be built is 1179 miles long—the vast majority of that within the U.S.—with construction expected to take two years.

TransCanada’s spokesperson Mark Cooper responded to my query: “While some people belittle these jobs as temporary, we know that without temporaryconstruction jobs—and the hard work of the men and women who do them—we wouldn’t have roads, highways, schools or hospitals. We wouldn’t have the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge, or the Hoover Dam. So, I would say to these detractors: ‘It is OK if you don’t like or support Keystone XL. But let’s stop putting down the very people who have helped build America.’”

The premise of the On the Edge blog post is that we shouldn’t look at Keystone as a jobs creator. Instead, the author claims, the jobs are in “solar energy disruption.” He is frustrated that “GOP leaders almost universally ignore or disdain this emerging energy economy.”

He states: “A third of all new electric generation in 2014 came from solar. A new solar installation or project now occurs somewhere in the U.S.—built by a team of American workers employed in the fastest growing energy sector in the world—every three minutes.”

This may be true but, as you’ll see, it belies several important details. Plenty of cause exists for Republican lawmakers to “disdain” the growth in renewable energy.

If “a third of all new electric generation in 2014 came from solar,” there is reason for it—and it does not include sound economics.

First, efficient and effective base-load, coal-fueled electricity that has provided the bulk of America’s power is being prematurely shut down by regulations prompted by environmental lobbyists and promulgated by the Obama administration. It is virtually impossible to get a new coal-fueled power plant permitted in the U.S. Even natural gas-powered plants, such as the one planned to replace the Salem Harbor coal-fueled plant, meet with resistance from groups such as Grassroots Against Another Salem Plant, which “has pledged to use peaceful civil disobedience to block construction of the gas plant.” And, of course, just try to build a nuclear power plant and all the fear-mongers come out.

What’s left? Renewables, such as wind and solar, receive favorable treatment through a combination of mandates and subsidies. Even industrial wind and solar have their own opposition within the environmental lobby groups because they chop up and fry birds and bats— including protected bald and golden eagles.

The brand new report, Solar Power in the U.S. (SPUS), presents a comprehensive look at the impacts of solar power on the nation’s consumers.

Clearly, without the mandates and subsidies, this “solar energy disruption” would go dark.

We’ve seen companies, such as Solyndra, Abound Solar, and Evergreen Solar, gobankrupt even with millions of dollars in state and federal (taxpayer) assistance. I’ve written extensively on these stories and that of Abengoa—which received the largest federal loan guarantee ($2.8 billion) and has resorted to questionable business practices to keep the doors open (Abengoa is currently under investigation from several federal agencies).

SPUS shows that without the subsidies and mandates these renewable projects can’t survive. For example, in Australia, sales of solar systems “fell as soon as the incentives were cut back.” Since the Australian government announced that it was reconsidering its Renewable Energy Targets, “investments have started to dry up.”

Knowing the importance of the “incentives,” the solar industry has now become a major campaign donor, providing political pressure and money to candidates, who will bring on more mandates, subsidies, and tax credits. Those candidates are generally Democrats, as one of the key differences between the two parties is that Democrats tend to support government involvement. By contrast, Republicans lean toward limited government and the free market. The GOP doesn’t “disdain” solar, but they know it only survives because of government mandates that require a certain percentage of renewables, and specifically solar, in the energy mix, plus the subsidies and tax credits that make it attractive. Therefore, they can’t get excited about the jobs being created as a result of taxpayers’ involuntary investment, nor higher energy costs. There is a big difference between disdaining solar power and disdaining the government involvement that gives it an unfair advantage in the marketplace.

The blog post compares the “solar energy disruption” to what “occurred when direcTV and Dish started to compete with cable television. More choices emerged and a whole lot of new jobs were created.” However, those jobs were created through private investment and the free market—a fact that, along with solar’s dependence on incentives, he never mentions. Likewise, the jobs supported by building the Keystone pipeline would be through private funding.

The blog’s author touts this claim, from the book Clean Disruption: “Should solar continue on its exponential trajectory, the energy infrastructure will be 100 percent solar by 2030”—15 years from now. Even if state and federal governments were to continue to pour money into solar energy—which, as is pointed out in SPUS, subsidies are already being dialed back on a variety of fronts, there is no currently available solution to solar’s intermittency.

SPUS draws upon the example of Germany, which has led the way globally in solar and other renewables. Over time the high renewable penetration has contributed to residential electricity prices more than doubling. Renewables received favored status, called “priority dispatch,” which means that, when renewable electricity becomes available, the utilities must dispatch it first, thereby changing the merit order for thermal plants. Now many modern natural gas-fueled plants, as well as coal, couldn’t operate profitably. As a result, many were shut down, while several plants were provided “capacity payments” by the government (a double subsidy) in order to stay online as back-up—which maintains system stability. In Germany’s push for 80 percent renewable energy by 2050, it has found that despite the high penetration of renewables, given their inherent intermittency, a large amount of redundancy of coal- and natural-gas-fueled electricity (nuclear being decommissioned) is necessary to maintain the reliability of the grid.

As the German experience makes clear, without a major technological breakthrough to store electricity generated through solar systems, “100 percent solar by 2030” is just one more fantasy.

The blog post ends with this: “the GOP congressional leadership ignores these new jobs inside an innovative, disruptive energy sector that is about to sweep across the country it leads—in favor of a vanishingly small number of mythical Keystone ‘jobs’ that may never materialize. It makes you wonder. Why?”

The answers can be found in SPUS, which addresses the policy, regulatory, and consumer protection issues that have manifested themselves through the rapid rise of solar power and deals with many more elements than covered here. It concludes: “Solar is an important part of our energy future, but there must be forethought, taking into account future costs, jobs, energy reliability and the overall energy infrastructure already in place. This technology must come online with the needs of the taxpayer, consumer and ratepayer in mind instead of giving the solar industry priority.”

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column.

Economic Storage of Wind Power will Never be Feasible!

The Economic Storage of Wind Power is a Pipe-Dream

giant battery 2

The wind industry is the perpetual infant of power generation: always looking for the subsidies to last that little bit longer; always promising to improve its performance; always claiming it will outdo hydro, coal and gas – provided, of course, that the subsidies keep flowing. STT for one thinks the wind industry has had ample time to grow up and stand on its own two feet.

Like the brat that it is, the wind industry can’t be told what to do and, especially, won’t ever respond to demands from power users about when its product should be delivered.

output vs demand

It’s quite happy to produce plenty of power when it’s not needed at night time; and much less during the day, when it is (as seen in the graph above); and often, none at all during periods of peak demand: as seen in the graph below, showing the entire fleet of wind farms connected to the Eastern Grid (based in SA, NSW, Tasmania and Victoria, which in July had a notional capacity of 2,952 MW) producing 20 MW or 0.67% of total capacity, just as demand starts to peak – and see our posts here and hereand here and here and here and here and here and here.

JULY20

In it’s “quick, look over there” response to any inconvenient facts, the wind industry never concedes that wind power is “intermittent” – it prefers the term “variable” – which we showed to be a monstrous abuse of both the facts and the English language (see our post here).

When challenged about its consistent failures to match output with demand, the wind industry and its parasites respond by mumbling about “battery technology improving”.

The pitch is that – one day “soon” – there will batteries big enough and cheap enough to allow huge volumes of wind power produced when it’s not needed, to be stored for the occasions when it is. That way, the “variable” output from wind farms could be delivered when there might just be a market for it.

Of course, the pitch is made so the subsidies keep flowing to allow an endless sea of giant fans to be erected now – in order to take advantage of the (so far, elusive) storage technology that’s just over the “horizon”. Except that the “soon” is more like light-years and the “horizon” is a mirage.

Even if a technology was invented (STT likens it to the chances of finding a perpetual motion machine or alchemy turning lead into gold) to store large volumes of the electricity output (in bulk) from all of the wind farms connected to the Eastern Grid, say (which now have a notional capacity of 3,342 MW) – the economic cost would be astronomical – and readily eclipse the value of the power produced. Not that the wind industry has ever made any economic sense.

One way of analysing the economics (ie costs versus benefits) of storing, in bulk quantities, the electricity generated from wind farms is to quantify what’s called the “energy returned on energy invested” (EROEI). Put simply, that’s the amount of energy required as an input in order to return a given energy output. To be economically viable, a generation source has to produce a surplus of energy well over and above what was required to establish it.

In this article, Dr John Morgan – an Adjunct Professor at RMIT – comes up with the (not so surprising) conclusion that energy storage cannot (and will never) provide an economic solution to the intermittency of wind power.

The Catch 22 of Energy Storage
Brave New Climate
22 August 2014

Pick up a research paper on battery technology, fuel cells, energy storage technologies or any of the advanced materials science used in these fields, and you will likely find somewhere in the introductory paragraphs a throwaway line about its application to the storage of renewable energy. Energy storage makes sense for enabling a transition away from fossil fuels to more intermittent sources like wind and solar, and the storage problem presents a meaningful challenge for chemists and materials scientists… Or does it?

Guest Post by John Morgan.

Several recent analyses of the inputs to our energy systems indicate that, against expectations, energy storage cannot solve the problem of intermittency of wind or solar power. Not for reasons of technical performance, cost, or storage capacity, but for something more intractable: there is not enough surplus energy left over after construction of the generators and the storage system to power our present civilization.

The problem is analysed in an important paper by Weißbach et al. (1) in terms of energy returned on energy invested, or EROEI – the ratio of the energy produced over the life of a power plant to the energy that was required to build it. It takes energy to make a power plant – to manufacture its components, mine the fuel, and so on. The power plant needs to make at least this much energy to break even. A break-even powerplant has an EROEI of 1. But such a plant would pointless, as there is no energy surplus to do the useful things we use energy for.

There is a minimum EROEI, greater than 1, that is required for an energy source to be able to run society. An energy system must produce a surplus large enough to sustain things like food production, hospitals, and universities to train the engineers to build the plant, transport, construction, and all the elements of the civilization in which it is embedded.

morganesbox

For countries like the US and Germany, Weißbach et al. (1) estimate this minimum viable EROEI to be about 7. An energy source with lower EROEI cannot sustain a society at those levels of complexity, structured along similar lines. If we are to transform our energy system, in particular to one without climate impacts, we need to pay close attention to the EROEI of the end result.

The EROEI values for various electrical power plants are summarized in the figure. The fossil fuel power sources we’re most accustomed to have a high EROEI of about 30, well above the minimum requirement. Wind power at 16, and concentrating solar power (CSP, or solar thermal power) at 19, are lower, but the energy surplus is still sufficient, in principle, to sustain a developed industrial society. Biomass, and solar photovoltaic (at least in Germany), however, cannot. With an EROEI of only 3.9 and 3.5 respectively, these power sources cannot support with their energy alone both their own fabrication and the societal services we use energy for in a first world country.

morganesfig1

Energy Returned on Invested, from Weißbach et al.,(1) with and without energy storage (buffering). CCGT is closed-cycle gas turbine. PWR is a Pressurized Water (conventional nuclear) Reactor. Energy sources must exceed the “economic threshold”, of about 7, to yield the surplus energy required to support an OECD level society.

These EROEI values are for energy directly delivered (the “unbuffered” values in the figure). But things change if we need to store energy. If we were to store energy in, say, batteries, we must invest energy in mining the materials and manufacturing those batteries. So a larger energy investment is required, and the EROEI consequently drops.

Weißbach et al. calculated the EROEIs assuming pumped hydroelectric energy storage. This is the least energy intensive storage technology. The energy input is mostly earthmoving and construction. It’s a conservative basis for the calculation; chemical storage systems requiring large quantities of refined specialty materials would be much more energy intensive. Carbajales-Dale et al. (2) cite data asserting batteries are about ten times more energy intensive than pumped hydro storage.

Adding storage greatly reduces the EROEI (the “buffered” values in the figure). Wind “firmed” with storage, with an EROEI of 3.9, joins solar PV and biomass as an unviable energy source. CSP becomes marginal (EROEI ~9) with pumped storage, so is probably not viable with molten salt thermal storage. The EROEI of solar PV with pumped hydro storage drops to 1.6, barely above breakeven, and with battery storage is likely in energy deficit.

This is a rather unsettling conclusion if we are looking to renewable energy for a transition to a low carbon energy system: we cannot use energy storage to overcome the variability of solar and wind power.

In particular, we can’t use batteries or chemical energy storage systems, as they would lead to much worse figures than those presented by Weißbach et al (1). Hydroelectricity is the only renewable power source that is unambiguously viable. However, hydroelectric capacity is not readily scaled up as it is restricted by suitable geography, a constraint that also applies to pumped hydro storage.

This particular study does not stand alone. Closer to home, Springer have just published a monograph, Energy in Australia, (3) which contains an extended discussion of energy systems with a particular focus on EROEI analysis, and draws similar conclusions to Weißbach. Another study by a group at Stanford (2) is more optimistic, ruling out storage for most forms of solar, but suggesting it is viable for wind. However, this viability is judged only on achieving an energy surplus (EROEI>1), not sustaining society (EROEI~7), and excludes the round trip energy losses in storage, finite cycle life, and the energetic cost of replacement of storage. Were these included, wind would certainly fall below the sustainability threshold.

energy-outputs-and-energy-costs

It’s important to understand the nature of this EROEI limit. This is not a question of inadequate storage capacity – we can’t just buy or make more storage to make it work. It’s not a question of energy losses during charge and discharge, or the number of cycles a battery can deliver. We can’t look to new materials or technological advances, because the limits at the leading edge are those of earthmoving and civil engineering. The problem can’t be addressed through market support mechanisms, carbon pricing, or cost reductions. This is a fundamental energetic limit that will likely only shift if we find less materially intensive methods for dam construction.

This is not to say wind and solar have no role to play. They can expand within a fossil fuel system, reducing overall emissions. But without storage the amount we can integrate in the grid is greatly limited by the stochastically variable output. We could, perhaps, build out a generation of solar and wind and storage at high penetration. But we would be doing so on an endowment of fossil fuel net energy, which is not sustainable. Without storage, we could smooth out variability by building redundant generator capacity over large distances. But the additional infrastructure also forces the EROEI down to unviable levels. The best way to think about wind and solar is that they can reduce the emissions of fossil fuels, but they cannot eliminate them. They offer mitigation, but not replacement.

Nor is this to say there is no value in energy storage. Battery systems in electric vehicles clearly offer potential to reduce dependency on, and emissions from, oil (provided the energy is sourced from clean power). Rooftop solar power combined with four hours of battery storage can usefully timeshift peak electricity demand, (3) reducing the need for peaking power plants and grid expansion. And battery technology advances make possible many of our recently indispensable consumer electronics. But what storage can’t do is enable significant replacement of fossil fuels by renewable energy.

If we want to cut emissions and replace fossil fuels, it can be done, and the solution is to be found in the upper right of the figure. France and Ontario, two modern, advanced societies, have all but eliminated fossil fuels from their electricity grids, which they have built from the high EROEI sources of hydroelectricity and nuclear power. Ontario in particular recently burnt its last tonne of coal, and each jurisdiction uses just a few percent of gas fired power. This is a proven path to a decarbonized electricity grid.

But the idea that advances in energy storage will enable renewable energy is a chimera – the Catch-22 is that in overcoming intermittency by adding storage, the net energy is reduced below the level required to sustain our present civilization.
John Morgan
22 August 2014

John is Chief Scientist at a Sydney startup developing smart grid and grid scale energy storage technologies. He is Adjunct Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at RMIT, holds a PhD in Physical Chemistry, and is an experienced industrial R&D leader. You can follow John on twitter at @JohnDPMorgan. First published in Chemistry in Australia.

Brave New Climate Postscript

When this article was published in CiA some readers had difficulty with the idea of a minimum societal EROI. Why can’t we make do with any positive energy surplus, if we just build more plant? Hall (4) breaks it down with the example of oil:

Think of a society dependent upon one resource: its domestic oil. If the EROI for this oil was 1.1:1 then one could pump the oil out of the ground and look at it. If it were 1.2:1 you could also refine it and look at it, 1.3:1 also distribute it to where you want to use it but all you could do is look at it. Hall et al. 2008 examined the EROI required to actually run a truck and found that if the energy included was enough to build and maintain the truck and the roads and bridges required to use it, one would need at least a 3:1 EROI at the wellhead.

Now if you wanted to put something in the truck, say some grain, and deliver it, that would require an EROI of, say, 5:1 to grow the grain. If you wanted to include depreciation on the oil field worker, the refinery worker, the truck driver and the farmer you would need an EROI of say 7 or 8:1 to support their families. If the children were to be educated you would need perhaps 9 or 10:1, have health care 12:1, have arts in their life maybe 14:1, and so on. Obviously to have a modern civilization one needs not simply surplus energy but lots of it, and that requires either a high EROI or a massive source of moderate EROI fuels.

The point is illustrated in the EROI pyramid.(4) (The blue values are published values: the yellow values are increasingly speculative.)

morganesfig2

Finally, if you are interested in pumped hydro storage, a previous Brave New Climate article by Peter Lang covers the topic in detail, and the comment stream is an amazing resource on the operational characteristics and limits of this means of energy storage.

References

(1). Weißbach et al., Energy 52 (2013) 210. Preprint available here.

(2). Carbajales-Dale et al., Energy Environ. Sci. DOI: 10.1039/c3ee42125b

(3). Graham Palmer, Energy in Australia: Peak Oil, Solar Power, and Asia’s Economic Growth; Springer 2014.

(4). Pedro Prieto and Charles Hall, Spain’s Photovoltaic Revolution, Springer 2013.

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Wind Turbines Kill More than Birds and Bats……They Kill Jobs, and Economies!

Subsidising Wind Power: A Sure-Fire Job Killer

spain unemployment

As the wind industry gravy train shudders to a halt in Australia, the wind industry and its parasites are working overtime to garner support for retention of the completely unsustainable 41,000 GWh mandatory Renewable Energy Target.

One of the “pitches” being made is that winding back the RET will costs tens of thousands of jobs. Never mind that the wind industry has generated only a handful of permanent jobs in Australia; that the bulk of the jobs created were in fleeting construction work; and that new wind farm construction has more or less ground to a halt: “investment” in the construction of wind farms went from $2.69 billion in 2013 to a piddling $40 million this year (see this article).

When the “wind industry creates jobs” mantra is being chanted, what the Clean Energy Council doesn’t say is that every single job it’s “created” depends entirely on the mandatory RET and the Renewable Energy Certificates issued to wind power outfits under it.

The REC operates as a Federal Tax on all Australian power consumers – that is paid as a direct subsidy to wind power generators. The REC Tax/Subsidy has already cost power consumers over $8 billion and – if the current RET remains – will add a further $50 billion to power bills over the next 17 years (see our post here).

A subsidy paid to “create” a job in one part of an economy, means that a job (or jobs) will be lost elsewhere. A study by UK Versa Economics found that for every job created in the wind industry 3.7 jobs are lost elsewhere in the UK economy (see our post here).

One Australian study has forecast that the current mandatory RET will kill over 6,000 jobs (see our post here).

The idea of wind industry job “creation” is like robbing Peter to pay Paul, except that the thief has to filch $4 from Peter to end up handing $1 to Paul.

The Germans have worked out that their dream of “creating” thousands of sustainable “green” jobs was just that: a dream. The hundreds of €billions spent subsidising wind and solar have killed the German’s international competiveness, with major companies heading to the USA – where power costs are a third of Germany’s (see our post here). And, as renewables subsidies are inevitably wound back, the jobs they “created” are disappearing fast (see our post here).

The renewables subsidy story in Spain is no different. The Spaniards have thrown 100s of billions of euros in subsidies at solar and wind power, and have achieved nothing but economic punishment in return. The much touted promise of thousands of so-called “green” jobs never materialized. No surprises there. Instead, the insane cost of subsidising wind and solar power has killed productive industries, with the general unemployment rate rocketing from 8% to 26% – youth unemployment is nearer to 50% in many regions (see our post here). For an update on the Spanish renewables disaster see the study produced by the Institute for Energy Research available here.

A study undertaken by Gabriel Calzada Álvarez (PhD) of the University of Rey Juan Carlos back in 2009 – “Study of the effects on employment of public aid to renewable energy sources” (available here) summed up the adverse employment impacts of the Spanish renewables disaster as follows:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: LESSONS FROM THE SPANISH RENEWABLES BUBBLE

Europe’s current policy and strategy for supporting the so-called “green jobs” or renewable energy dates back to 1997, and has become one of the principal justifications for U.S. “green jobs” proposals. Yet an examination of Europe’s experience reveals these policies to be terribly economically counterproductive. This study is important for several reasons. First is that the Spanish experience is considered a leading example to be followed by many policy advocates and politicians.

This study marks the very first time a critical analysis of the actual performance and impact has been made. Most important, it demonstrates that the Spanish/EU-style “green jobs” agenda now being promoted in the U.S. in fact destroys jobs, detailing this in terms of jobs destroyed per job created and the net destruction per installed MW. The study’s results demonstrate how such “green jobs” policy clearly hinders Spain’s way out of the current economic crisis, even while U.S. politicians insist that rushing into such a scheme will ease their own emergence from the turmoil.

The following are key points from the study:

1. As President Obama correctly remarked, Spain provides a reference for the establishment of government aid to renewable energy. No other country has given such broad support to the construction and production of electricity through renewable sources. The arguments for Spain’s and Europe’s “green jobs” schemes are the same arguments now made in the U.S., principally that massive public support would produce large numbers of green jobs. The question that this paper answers is “at what price?”

2. Optimistically treating European Commission partially funded data, we find that for every renewable energy job that the State manages to finance, Spain’s experience cited by President Obama as a model reveals with high confidence, by two different methods, that the U.S. should expect a loss of at least 2.2 jobs on average, or about 9 jobs lost for every 4 created, to which we have to add those jobs that non-subsidized investments with the same resources would have created.

3. Therefore, while it is not possible to directly translate Spain’s experience with exactitude to claim that the U.S. would lose at least 6.6 million to 11 million jobs, as a direct consequence were it to actually create 3 to 5 million “green jobs” as promised (in addition to the jobs lost due to the opportunity cost of private capital employed in renewable energy), the study clearly reveals the tendency that the U.S. should expect such an outcome.

4. At minimum, therefore, the study’s evaluation of the Spanish model cited as one for the U.S. to replicate in quick pursuit of “green jobs” serves a note of caution, that the reality is far from what has typically been presented, and that such schemes also offer considerable employment consequences and implications for emerging from the economic crisis.

5. Despite its hyper-aggressive (expensive and extensive) “green jobs” policies it appears that Spain likely has created a surprisingly low number of jobs, two-thirds of which came in construction, fabrication and installation, one quarter in administrative positions, marketing and projects engineering, and just one out of ten jobs has been created at the more permanent level of actual operation and maintenance of the renewable sources of electricity.

6. This came at great financial cost as well as cost in terms of jobs destroyed elsewhere in the economy.

7. The study calculates that since 2000 Spain spent €571,138 to create each “green job”, including subsidies of more than €1 million per wind industry job.

8. The study calculates that the programs creating those jobs also resulted in the destruction of nearly 110,500 jobs elsewhere in the economy, or 2.2 jobs destroyed for every “green job” created.

9. Principally, the high cost of electricity affects costs of production and employment levels in metallurgy, non-metallic mining and food processing, beverage and tobacco industries.

10. Each “green” megawatt installed destroys 5.28 jobs on average elsewhere in the economy: 8.99 by photovoltaics, 4.27 by wind energy, 5.05 by mini-hydro.

11. These costs do not appear to be unique to Spain’s approach but instead are largely inherent in schemes to promote renewable energy sources.


Gabriel Calzada Álvarez (PhD)
University of Rey Juan Carlos

Well, that couldn’t be much clearer.

In Spain, just as here, the great bulk of employment in the wind industry involves fleeting construction work (once the turbines are up, there’s nought to do) – as noted in point 5 – of the jobs created:

“two-thirds of which came in construction, fabrication and installation, one quarter in administrative positions, marketing and projects engineering, and just one out of ten jobs has been created at the more permanent level of actual operation and maintenance”.

That the Spaniards had to stump up “subsidies of more than €1 million” to create each wind industry job; that each wind industry job thus created, killed off 2.2 jobs elsewhere in the economy; and that each MW of wind power capacity installed destroyed 4.27 jobs – is nothing short of an economic disaster.

Faced with an unemployment calamity, the Spanish government has moved to dramatically slash the subsidies to renewables: tearing up wind farm contracts; retrospectively stopping subsidies for wind farms built before 2005; reducing the insanely high rates paid for wind power (previously guaranteed for 20 years) – capping the (subsidised) profits wind power outfits can make at 7.4%, above which the outfit must sell at the (unsubsidised) market rate (see our post here).

Given the results of Spain’s disastrous wind power experiment, the Australian wind industry’s “fan-tastic” claims about an employment Eldorado at the end of the RET rainbow are little more than fool’s gold.

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Aussies Determined to Scrap the Renewable Energy Targets to Save the Poor!

Senator David Leyonhjelm: “Wake Up Clive!” – It’s Time to Kill the RET & Save the Poor

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STT hears that Tony Abbott is hard at work on his mission to kill off the mandatory RET – with the aim of bringing an end to the most expensive and pointless policy of all time. One of the cross-bench Senators the PM needs to help demolish it during this parliament is David Leyonhjelm – the Liberal Democrats Senator for NSW – and he gets it.

David has come out with a cracking piece published by The Australian – which is pitched squarely at Clive Palmer and his PUPs. The Palmer United Party’s 3 Senators – Glenn Lazarus (QLD), Dio Wang (WA) and Jacqui Lambie (Tasmania) – are the only obstacle that stands in the way of scrapping the mandatory RET during the life of this parliament. Big Clive and his Senators should consider David’s article a timely “wake up” call.

Ditch RET to set economy free
The Australian
David Leyonhjelm
27 August 2014

If Labor and Clive Palmer care about the poor they will stop subsidies for windmills.

ELECTRICITY bills are a huge worry for many Australians. In coming months a lot of people will receive the biggest household utility bills they have seen.

The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that in the five years to June 2012, Australia’s retail electricity prices rose by 72 per cent with even higher increases in Melbourne and Sydney.

The Queensland Competition Authority’s annual report revealed recently that 344 households were disconnected every week in the Sunshine State because of non-payment of electricity bills.

Senators and MPs, however, don’t need to worry about whether staying warm in chilly Canberra may send them broke. Perhaps if they had to pay for their own heating and airconditioning in Parliament House, it would concentrate their minds on the important discussion we need to have on the future of the renewable energy target.

The repeal of the carbon tax will help, but studies show that the RET has an even greater impact on the bottom line, reducing our living standards and the competitiveness of our entire economy.

The dramatic surge in power bills has been a major factor in the decline of our manufacturing sector and the loss of thousands of jobs. In a little more than 10 years the RET has rocketed Australia from almost the cheapest to almost the most expensive electricity in the world: Australian states occupy four of the top six spots beaten only by Denmark and Germany. These countries also are sapped pointlessly with punishing renewable energy policies producing small amounts of extremely expensive, intermittent power that has to be backed up by fossil fuel power anyway.

Contrary to claims by industry lobby groups and consultants representing Big Wind producers and merchant bankers, it is no coincidence that power prices went up so steeply when mandatory renewable energy targets were introduced. A report from the accounting firm Deloitte shows the RET will stifle the economy, cost jobs and drive up prices, and is a very inefficient means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It concludes that abolishing the RET would increase real GDP by $29 billion in net present terms relative to the RET continuation.

The chief beneficiary of the RET is the wind industry, which receives Renewable Energy Certificates worth about $30 for every megawatt of electricity it produces, on top of the price paid to it for electricity generated by wind turbines. The certificates are funded by electricity customers as a hidden charge on their bills. The net effect of this subsidy is to hand an additional $17bn of our money to these companies over 15 years for no measurable environmental benefit.

It is undisputed that despite being a mature technology the wind generation industry is not viable anywhere in the world without government or customer subsidies. It is just government mandated corporate welfare.

Grant King, chief executive of Origin Energy, one of Australia’s largest electricity retailers with extensive interests in gas and wind energy generation, has said that the RET would be the main driver of electricity price rises by 2020 and that renewable energy costs now accounted for 14 per cent of electricity bills, up from 2 per cent five years ago; for larger users it is 30 per cent of their bills.

If Labor, the Greens and Clive Palmer really care for social justice they will not allow working families, pensioners and the disadvantaged to be ripped off by wealthy wind generators and will back the abolition of the RET.

David Leyonhjelm is the Liberal Democrats senator for NSW.
The Australian

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When David talks about handing wind power outfits “$17bn of our money … over 15 years for no measurable environmental benefit”, he bases that figure on a REC price of $30.

While RECs are currently trading at $30, from 2017 – when the annual figure for the RET starts to increase dramatically – RECs will be worth at least as much as the mandated shortfall charge of $65 per MWh.

The total renewable energy target between 2014 and 2031 is 603,100 GWh, which converts to 603.1 million MWh (1 GW = 1,000 MW). In order for the target to be met, 603.1 million RECs have be purchased and surrendered over the next 17 years: 1 REC is issued for every MWh of renewable energy dispatched to the grid. The REC is a Federal Tax on all Australian electricity consumers.

The cost of subsiding the wind industry through the REC Tax is born entirely by Australian power consumers. As Origin Energy chief executive Grant King correctly put it earlier this week:

“[T]he subsidy is the REC, and the REC certificate is acquitted at the retail level and is included in the retail price of electricity”.

It’s power consumers that get lumped with the “retail price of electricity” and, therefore, the cost of the REC subsidy to wind power outfits.

Even at the current REC price of $30, the amount to be added to power consumers’ bills will hit $18 billion (David gets pretty close with his figure of $17 billion). However, beyond 2017 (when the target ratchets up from 27.2 million MWh to 41 million MWh and the $65 per MWh shortfall charge starts to bite) the REC price will almost certainly reach $65 and, due to the tax benefit attached to RECs, is likely to exceed $90.

Between 2014 and 2031, with a REC price of $65, the cost of the REC Tax to power consumers (and the value of the subsidy to wind power outfits) will approach $40 billion – with RECs at $90, the cost of the REC Tax/Subsidy balloons to over $54 billion (see our post here).

This massive stream of subsidies for wind power stands as the greatest wealth transfer in the history of the Commonwealth.

That transfer comes at the expense of the poorest and most vulnerable; struggling businesses; and cash-strapped families.

If Clive Palmer is serious when he says he is out to represent the poorest in society, he has a golden opportunity to put his money where his mouth is.

With thousands of Australian households living without power – having been chopped from the grid simply because they can no longer afford what used to be a basic necessity of life – and thousands more suffering “energy poverty” as they find themselves forced to choose between heating (or cooling) and eating – Australia risks the creation of an entrenched energy underclass, dividing Australian society into energy “haves” and “have-nots”.

For a taste of the scale (so far) of a – perfectly avoidable – social welfare disaster, here are articles from Queensland (click here); Victoria (click here); South Australia (click here); and New South Wales (click here).

Slapping a further $50 billion on top of already spiralling Australian power bills over the next 17 years can only add to household misery. So Clive, if you really do care about the poor? – then it’s time to muscle up and help kill the mandatory RET now.

Beyond the RET’s perverse impact on the poorest and most vulnerable is its wealth and job destroying impact on the economy as a whole.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) – the top body representing Australian business – came out with this press release in full support of the position taken by David Leyonhjelm – calling for the mandatory RET to be scrapped outright.

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
MEDIA RELEASE
WEDNESDAY, August 27, 2014

BUSINESS WELCOMES LEADERSHIP ON RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGET

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Australia’s largest and most representative business organisation, welcomes the leadership of Independent Senator David Leyonhjelm in calling for the abolition of the Renewable Energy Target (RET).

The RET is a major policy failure that drives up electricity prices and is a highly inefficient means of emissions abatement. Economic modelling by Deloitte Access Economics commissioned by ACCI makes a powerful policy case for the abolition of the RET. The modelling shows that persisting with the policy in its current form will cost the economy $29bn in lost economic output and more than 5,000 jobs.

“It is a matter of deep regret that a policy with such appalling economic foundations has remained uncontested for so long”, remarked Chief Economist Burchell Wilson.

“This insidious tax needs to be taken off energy users and is important step toward restoring the competitiveness of Australian industry.”

“The business community remains hopeful that the Palmer United Party after examining the findings of the Deloitte Access Economics modelling will reconsider their support for a policy that is driving up electricity prices, sending businesses to the wall and destroying jobs”.

While options for appropriate compensation for sunk investment under the scheme will need to be considered, it is clear that abolition of the RET is the best outcome for energy users and the economy.

At the very least the target should be wound back to a level consistent with 20 per cent of demand in the wake of the collapse in actual and projected electricity consumption over the past five years.

A robust Parliamentary debate in which all the facts are on the table is the first step in achieving that objective.
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
27 August 2014

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Time to Put an End, to the Renewables Scam!!! Aussies to Axe the RET!

Lost In Translation: How a CO2 Abatement Scheme Became “Corporate Welfare on Steroids”

subsidies

Time to remember the original aim of the RET
Australian Financial Review
Danny Price
21 August 2014

The RET was intended to cut carbon. Opening it up to more forms of efficient generation would help get that result.

The debate over the renewable energy target has ended up exactly where you would expect a debate on subsidies to end up. The beneficiaries of the subsidy are taking the high moral ground while those adversely affected by the subsidy are crying foul.

We see similar debates in the agricultural sector. Australian farmers complain they face unfair market conditions because the international farmers they compete with have the protection of subsidies, while our government provides none.

In this case, the coal-fired generators claim they are finding it hard to recover their costs on existing investments while the renewable generators who earn a subsidised return, claim their future investments are threatened.

Both arguments are founded on the same concept – investment certainty.

What has been lost in all this debate is the original objective of the RET. The renewable industry has focused on the benefits it brings to customers by suppressing the price coal and gas generators can charge customers. But as PJ O’Rourke once observed about the US health system, “If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.” The economic costs of lowering the wholesale price charged by thermal generators by subsidising renewable generators will be enormous.

The renewable energy sector has cleverly confused the concepts of economic costs, which are the costs of the resources used to produce renewable energy, with prices. They do this to disguise the real cost impact of the RET on the economy and to make themselves a smaller political target.

RET never about pricing

The goal of the RET was never about suppressing prices, but this is now the cause célèbre of the renewable industry because they know this will appeal to politicians looking to reduce electricity price pressure. The RET was aimed at encouraging a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by actively promoting the, then-fledgling renewable industry.

The debate about the RET really should be re-focused on how we can achieve our environmental targets most economically. If we can minimise the costs of reducing emissions, then it follows that we are more likely to reduce emissions further, which Australia will inevitably be pressured to do at the Paris round of climate negotiations in late 2015.

More recently the renewable generators claim they are now cost-competitive with thermal generators. While these claims are probably overstating the relative economics of the thermal versus renewable generation, there is certainly less need to continue to subsidise investors in renewable generators as the RET has done its job in developing a local renewable industry. It is now time for the renewable industry to face competition and this competition should lead to lower economic costs and lower consumer prices.

This could be achieved by progressively levelling the playing field between all potential sources of electricity supply and demand so that all technologies can compete to supply emissions reductions.

Recent analysis of the opportunity to reduce the economic costs and price impacts of the RET by making it more technologically neutral, for example by allowing gas generators to compete with renewable generators and create partial credits under the scheme to reflect emissions abated, has shown that this approach can simultaneously reduce the economic cost of the RET by more than $1 billion and reduce prices for customers by more than $50 a year. This cost could fall further if other forms of cleaner generation could also compete vigorously with gas and renewable generators.

Part of the reason that this cost and price reduction occurs is that it makes use of existing gas capacity that mostly sits idle that could compete with coal under a more technologically neutral RET. This approach of broadening the RET to allow a wider range of technologies to compete to supply emissions reductions, is one of those rare no-regrets policies.

Competitive pressure

If no technology is able to compete with the renewable technologies (for example due to the risk of rising gas prices) then the worst thing that would happen is that wind generators would continue to be built. The only complaint that the renewable industry could have against such a proposal is that they would be subject to more competitive pressure.

With lower costs and prices from such a transformation of the RET, the government could afford to leave the target where it is and rely on the transformed RET to do more work to contribute towards the achievement of Australia’s emissions reduction.

Unfortunately, the only beneficiaries from such a transformation of the RET are customers and the economy and, sadly, there is nobody to advocate for these stakeholders in the current RET debate.

Danny Price is managing director of Frontier Economics.
Australian Financial Review

When Danny Price says: “The economic costs of lowering the wholesale price charged by thermal generators by subsidising renewable generators will be enormous” he’s playing as the master of understatement.

As Liberal Member for Hume, Angus “the Enforcer” Taylor has repeatedly pointed out, the mandatory RET is nothing short of “corporate welfare on steroids” (see our posts here and here and here).

Putting aside the hidden costs of providing fossil fuel back up to cover the occasions when wind power output plummets every day – and for days on end (see our post here); putting aside the need for a duplicated network to carry wind power from the back blocks to urban markets (seeour post here); putting aside the cost of running highly inefficient Open Cycle Gas Turbines to cover wind power “outages” (see our post here), the cost of Renewable Energy Certificates and their bedmate – the mandated shortfall charge will add a minimum of $39 billion, and – if the price of RECs reaches $100 (as is forecast under the current RET of 41,000 GWh) – up to $60 billion, to power consumer’s bills over the next 17 years (see our post here).

As Danny Price points out, the original purpose of (and justification for) the mandatory RET was the cost-effective abatement of CO2 emissions in the electricity sector. So Australian power punters – lumped with the task of propping up near-bankrupt outfits like Infigen (aka Babcock & Brown) via the redirection of $40-60 billion of their hard-earned cash over the next 17 years – might reasonably ask just how much CO2 abatement “bang” they’re getting for those very considerable bucks?

It’s the very question that Danny Price has been grappling with over the last few months.

STT followers will be pleased to know that Danny Price hates intermittent, unreliable and insanely expensive wind power with a passion – and that he’s been tasked by the Coalition with coming up with a workable method of achieving least-cost CO2 abatement.

Danny’s mission is to amalgamate the entirely unsustainable REC Tax – filched from unwitting power consumers and directed to wind power outfits – into the Direct Action policy, under which an Australian Carbon Credit Unit (CCU) will be issued to anyone stumping up audited proof that they’ve reduced or abated 1 tonne of CO2. The CCU will be tradeable on international markets and the equivalent of European carbon credits, which trade around A$8. Under Danny’s plan, RECs will be replaced with CCUs – and the subsidy per MWh of wind power will plummet from a projected $100 to less than $10. For a run-down on the mechanics of Danny’s plan – see our post here.

While seeing their subsidy gravy train slashed by 90% might sound a little like “bad news” for wind power outfits, earning CCUs comes with a BIG catch: CCUs will ONLY be issued where there is credible proof that the applicant has reduced or abated CO2. For wind power outfits this means coming up with actual proof (not smoke and mirrors “modelling”) that they have in fact reduced CO2 emissions in the electricity sector.

As youngsters sceptical of their peers’ more ambitious pronouncements say: “well, good luck with that”.

The need for 100% of wind power capacity to be backed up 100% of the time by fossil fuel generation sources means that wind power cannot and will never reduce CO2 emissions in the electricity sector (see our postshere and here and here and here and here and here and here).

E.ON operates numerous transmission grids in Germany and, therefore, has the unenviable task of being forced to integrate the wildly fluctuating and unpredictable output from wind power generators, while trying to keep the German grid from collapsing (E.ON sets out a number of the headaches caused by intermittent wind power in the Summary of this paper at page 4). Dealing with the fantasy that wind power is an alternative to conventional generation sources, E.ON says:

“Wind energy is only able to replace traditional power stations to a limited extent. Their dependence on the prevailing wind conditions means that wind power has a limited load factor even when technically available. It is not possible to guarantee its use for the continual cover of electricity consumption. Consequently, traditional power stations with capacities equal to 90% of the installed wind power capacity must be permanently online [and burning fuel] in order to guarantee power supply at all times.”

STT is happy to go all out and say that in Australia wind power requires 100% of its capacity to be backed up 100% of the time by conventional generation sources. As just one recent example, on 3 consecutive days (20, 21 and 22 July 2014) the total output from all of the wind farms connected to the Eastern Grid (total capacity of 2,952 MW – and spread over 4 states, SA, Victoria, Tasmania and NSW) was a derisory 20 MW (or 0.67% of installed capacity) for hours on end (see our post here). The 99.33% of wind power output that went AWOL for hours (at various times, 3 days straight) was, instead, all supplied by conventional generators; the vast bulk of which came from coal and gas generators, with the balance coming from hydro generators.

For wind power to reduce CO2 emissions in the electricity sector it has be a true “substitute” for conventional generation sources. Because it can’t be delivered “on-demand” (can’t be stored) and is only “available” at crazy, random intervals (if at all) wind power will never be a substitute for conventional generation sources (see our post here). Accordingly, wind power is simply incapable of reducing CO2 emissions in the electricity sector

The wind industry has never produced a shred of evidence to show that wind power has reduced CO2 emissions in Australia’s electricity sector. To the contrary of wind industry claims, the result of trying to incorporate wind power into a coal/gas fired grid is increased CO2 emissions (see thisEuropean paper here; this Irish paper here; this English paper here; thisAmerican article and this Dutch study here).

STT hears that Danny Price is well and truly alive to all that.

With Tony Abbott about to go on the offensive in his quest to wind up the mandatory RET (expect to hear more from the PM this week) the wind industry’s wild and unsubstantiated claims about CO2 abatement in the electricity sector provide the PM with just another reason to bring the greatest environmental and economic fraud of all time to a shuddering halt.

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