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

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



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.


[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%.

[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.

[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

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


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


For immediate release: March 9, 2015.

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998,

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.)


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.


(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.


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:


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.


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

clive palmer sleeping

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

david leyonhjelm

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
WEDNESDAY, August 27, 2014


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

kate carnell

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”


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.


Etowa County Residents Ecstatic! Wind Leases Terminated, Wind Pushers Leave Town!

Wind energy company pulling out of Cherokee, Etowah County projects, opposition says

on August 19, 2014 
Oklahoma wind farm.jpg

CENTRE, Alabama — Groups opposed to a proposed wind farm project in Cherokee and Etowah counties say the company behind the development has informed them that it will not be building a wind farm in Alabama.

According to a document filed July 9 in Cherokee County Probate Court, Pioneer Green Energy President Andrew Bowman signed a memorandum terminating a lease to about 1,889 acres of property, slated to be developed for the project. 

Mitzi Gibbs Eaker, with No Wind Alabama, said a similar agreement was signed in Etowah County.

Charlie Stewart, the attorney for Pioneer Green, had no comment beyond the filed documents. Company officials referred media inquiries to Stewart.

Pioneer Green Energy announced last year it planned to develop wind energy projects in Cherokee and Etowah counties, and said land leases had already been secured.

Five Cherokee County residents filed suit in an attempt to stop the development, and a group of Etowah County residents also filed suit, opposing the project in their county.

Pioneer Green later announced the $40 million Cherokee County project, which called for seven to eight turbines, probably would not begin construction until 2015. Company officials said the larger Etowah County project, which projected 30 to 45 turbines costing $160 million, probably would begin no earlier than the end of 2015.

Residents said they opposed the project for several reasons – among them environmental and property value concerns, noise, the change to the landscape and the long-term prospects of the development. “No Wind Alabama” took its name from what it said was the reason why wind developments have largely avoided the South -because of a lack of wind energy to supply sufficient power.

Pioneer Green officials countered that wind energy technology has improved to the point where wind could be used in areas earlier thought unable to support it.

Ginny Shaver, a Leesburg resident who opposed the project, said the turning point was in getting legislation passed calling for design specifications, setbacks and other regulations.

“When we got the local bills, that was the winning moment in my eyes,” Shaver said. “We had so much support from residents, in our groups, and it was just good, old fashioned lobbying from the people. From there, it was contacting legislators, making trips to Montgomery. It was literally a David versus Goliath thing. We didn’t have money, but we had people, and it was just a question of getting information out and educating folks.”

Eaker, who said she opposed the project because it would have negatively impacted her parents’ property in Etowah County, said she never felt confident of the outcome until attorneys informed her of the documents today.

“The residents are ecstatic that they can get back to their lives as normal,” she said. “We never felt confident. We always wondered what they had in their back pocket. It was only when we learned that the leases had been terminated that we knew it was really over.” 


Aussie Politicians, We Can ALL Be Proud Of!!!

Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey & Mathias Cormann: Natural Born RET Killers

abbott, hockey, cormann

Tony Abbott has made no secret of his eagerness to do away with the most colossal corporate welfare scheme in the history of the Commonwealth (see our posts here and here and here).

And his Treasurer, Joe Hockey has pinned his colours to the mast as someone who can’t stand wind farms – and whose political mission is to bring the “age of entitlement” to an end, which includes the stream of subsidies directed at wind power outfits (see our posts here and here).

The Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann made his disdain for the great wind power fraud known by joining Hockey to prevent the Clean Energy Finance Corporation signing up anymore unsecured loans to wind power outfits (see our post here).

So it comes as no surprise that Abbott, Hockey and Cormann would team up as Natural Born RET Killers. Here’s the Australian Financial Review heralding the beginning of the end for the mandatory RET and, with it, the end of the great Australian wind power fraud.

Abbott’s plan to axe RET
Australian Financial Review
Phillip Coorey
18 August 2014

The federal government is moving towards abolishing the Renewable Energy Target rather than scaling it back in a move that will cost almost $11 billion in proposed investment and which is at odds with the views of its own Environment Minister.

The Australian Financial Review understands Prime Minister Tony Abbott has asked businessman Dick Warburton, whom he handpicked after the election to review the RET, to do more work on the option of terminating the target altogether. This was after Mr Warburton’s review leant towards scaling back the RET.

Sources said Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who advocated scaling back the RET as a compromise, has been sidelined from the process and is understood to be unhappy. They said Mr Abbott, Treasurer Joe Hockey and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann are pushing the issue now.

A government source said when the government announced its decision, possibly before the end of this month, it was now “more likely” the RET will be abolished under a so-called “closed to new entrants scenario” in which existing contracts only would be honoured.

Given Clive Palmer has vowed to block any change to the RET until after the 2016 election, it remains unclear when the government could declare the RET terminated.

Independent modelling commissioned by the Climate Institute and other environmental groups, and which will be released Monday, found that under the termination scenario, coal-fired power generators would reap an extra $25 billion in profits between 2015 and 2030.

There would be no reduction to household power prices and carbon emissions would climb by 15 million tonnes a year on the back of a 9 percent increase in coal-fired power.

Diminished investments

Abolishing the RET would diminish investment in renewable energy by $10.6 billion, said the modelling, conducted by consulting firm Jacobs.

Conceived under the Howard government, the RET mandated that 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity be generated from renewable sources by 2020. The Abbott government has been lobbied heavily by the business and energy sectors to abolish or water it down as renewable energy gained a larger than expected share of the electricity market.

When the RET was first conceived, it was envisaged 20 per cent of total power production by 2020 would equate to 41,000 gigawatt/hours of renewable energy produced each year.

Under the scaleback favoured by Mr Hunt, annual production of renewable energy in 2020 would be reduced to 27,000GWh. But this would still amount to 20 per cent of total energy production because forecast total energy production for 2020 had been downgraded due to the decline in manufacturing, especially the collapse of the car industry and the closure of two aluminium smelters. This is known as the “real 20 per cent” option.

The abolition proposal would reduce renewable energy production in 2020 to 16,000GWh.

It is understood Mr Abbott’s office was briefed on the recommendations of the Warburton review in late July. The review found the RET did not add significantly to household and commercial power bills, as its critics, including Mr Abbott, had argued, and that it should be scaled back to the real 20 per cent model as advocated by Mr Hunt.

With the government favouring ­termination, Mr Warburton was asked to give the option more consideration and his report is expected this week.

Energy oversupply

The government source said the market was oversupplied with energy and there was no longer any cause for a mandated use of any specific type of power. The source said while there would be investment losses if the RET was abolished, or even scaled back, investors “would have to have been blind to know this wasn’t coming”.

Miles George, managing director of renewable company Infigen Energy, said either scaling back or terminating the RET “would be devastating”.

He said the creation of sovereign risk would be significant and the very issue had been raised by prospective foreign investors, including Canadian pension funds which Mr Abbott sought to woo when abroad in June.

“Infigen’s shareholder base of over 20,000 investors has invested in renewable energy in Australia on the basis of a fixed target of 41,000 GWh by 2020,” Mr George said. “This is no different to investors in private public partnerships acquiring a toll road concession, or a port lease.

“If the Government pulls the rug from under institutional investors in renewable energy we shouldn’t expect those investors to come back to buy other infrastructure assets here, including the electricity networks and generation assets that the governments of NSW and Queensland are proposing to sell or lease.”
Australian Financial Review

The AFR touts the wind industry line about “diminished investments”, as if wind power outfits are lining up to make an outright, “no-strings-attached” gift of $10.6 billion to Australian power consumers.

On that spin, Australia’s power punters are meant to fear the “loss” and shed a tear for cowboys like Infigen (aka Babcock & Brown) who are, apparently, just itching to give their investors’ money away.

Of course, like every investment, those stumping up the capital will only do so where a juicy return is on offer; and, under the current 41,000 GWh target set by the mandatory RET, the returns promised to be very “juicy”, indeed. Until now.

So let’s have a look at just who ends up paying for the promised (or, rather, threatened) $billions in wind power investment: we’ll call it $10 billion for ease of reference.

Before we kick off, there are a few things to note.

First, is that around 50% of the value of the threatened “investment” will go to foreign turbine manufacturers in China, India and Denmark. So that sends at least $5 billion offshore; adding to Australia’s current account deficit.

Next, is the fact that the great bulk of any wind power “investment” is underwritten by all Australian power consumers via the mandatory RET – as detailed below.

And it needs to borne in mind that any “investment” in wind power generation capacity has to be matched with an equal investment in fossil fuel generation capacity (principally fast-start-up Open Cycle Gas Turbines) to provide power to balance the grid (the need for which increases – along with the need for additional spinning reserve held by base-load thermal generators – due to the wild fluctuations in wind power output – see our post here) and to accommodate routine, but unpredictable, collapses in wind power output (our posts here and hereand here and here and here and here and here and here).

The greater the amount of installed wind power capacity, the greater the need for highly inefficient OCGTs – the installation of which needs to be financed, allowing for returns to those providing the capital: a cost that is never included in calculations accounting for the costs attached to wind power generation (see our post here).

As noted by the AFR, the Australian energy market is oversupplied, which means any further investment in an unpredictable and unreliable source like wind power will simply cause further and substantial increases in retail power prices, additional grid instability and energy market chaos – precisely the circumstances the Germans now find themselves in, after years of runaway renewable energy policy (see our post here).

An “investment” NOT a “gift”

Any investor naturally looks for a return on a capital investment. Ideally, that return exceeds bank interest and – if there is any risk involved – accounts for that risk by way of higher returns. Investors in wind farm projects aim for a gross return on the capital invested in the order of 20% per annum.

That means that the investors stumping up $10 billion to build new wind power capacity will be looking to recover $2 billion from power consumers each and every year to achieve that level of return: returns on wind power investments can only be recouped via income received from power sales – there is NO other source of revenue.

So, rather than being the objects of $10 billion in wind industry largesse, power consumers are being lined up for an enormous, additional and – because there is already ample generating capacity to meet (declining) demand well into the future – completely unnecessary $2 billion hit in the hip pocket each and every year.

A fair slice of the $2 billion annual return on investment required by investors would be recouped via power bills in the form of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs): a Federal Tax on all Australian electricity consumers. RECs are issued to wind power generators and transferred to retailers under the Power Purchase Agreements signed between them (see our post here).

Which brings us to another furphy trotted out in the AFR piece – based on “modelling” by wind industry cheer squad, the Climate Institute – that the mandatory RET hasn’t had any significant effect on retail power prices; and that scrapping it would not result in any decrease in power bills.

As we’ve just pointed out, the $10 billion in threatened wind power investment would, alone, add $2 billion to Australian power bills each and every year: no return, no “investment” – simple as that.

The true cost of the mandatory RET

As is the style of the wind industry and its parasites, whenever they’re pitching about the “wonders” of wind it’s all done with “modelling” and never with real numbers. Smoke and mirrors stuff, using assumptions that never hold water – and always ignoring the terms of the legislation upon which the whole rort depends.

So – let’s forget about “models” – based on nonsensical and unjustified assumptions – and simply apply a little old fashioned arithmetic to the provisions that make up the mandatory RET.

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), for the purpose of this argument let’s just focus on the cost of Renewable Energy Certificates and their bedmate – the mandated shortfall charge.

Under the mandatory RET – retailers are fined $65 per MWh for every MW they fall below the mandated annual target: what’s called the “shortfall charge” – follow the links here and here. The shortfall charge is directed straight to the Commonwealth, ending up as general revenue.

The alternative is to buy RECs (which is done via the retailer’s PPA with the wind power generator) and surrender them as proof that the retailer has purchased a MWh of renewable energy.

Wind power generators are issued 1 REC for every MWh of power dispatched to the grid – and this deal continues until 2031: the operator of a turbine erected in 2005 will receive RECs (1 per MWh dispatched) each and every year for 26 years.

Since the RET began in April 2001, over 195 million RECs have been created – worth more than $8 billion – the cost of which has all been added to our power bills.

The cost of the REC is ultimately borne by retail customers and, therefore, constitutes a Federal Tax on all Australian electricity consumers (see our post here).

Time for a little arithmetic.

If no RECs were purchased, retailers would simply be hit with the $65 per MWh shortfall charge on the entire figure set by the mandatory RET legislation (see the link here).

That cost alone would add $2.665 billion to power bills annually from 2020 to 2031.

Alternatively, if sufficient RECs to satisfy the target were purchased at $100, say, the cost rises to $4.1 billion a year from 2020 through to 2031.

Year RET in MWh (millions) Shortfall Charge
(or RECs) @ $65
RECs @ $100
2014 16.1 $1,046,500,000 $1,610,000,000
2015 18 $1,117,000,000 $1,800,000,000
2016 22.6 $1,469,000,000 $2,260,000,000
2017 27.2 $1,768,000,000 $2,720,000,000
2018 31.8 $2,067,000,000 $3,180,000,000
2019 36.4 $2,366,000,000 $3,640,000,000
2020 41 $2,665,000,000 $4,100,000,000
2021 41 $2,665,000,000 $4,100,000,000
2022 41 $2,665,000,000 $4,100,000,000
2023 41 $2,665,000,000 $4,100,000,000
2024 41 $2,665,000,000 $4,100,000,000
2025 41 $2,665,000,000 $4,100,000,000
2026 41 $2,665,000,000 $4,100,000,000
2027 41 $2,665,000,000 $4,100,000,000
2028 41 $2,665,000,000 $4,100,000,000
2029 41 $2,665,000,000 $4,100,000,000
2030 41 $2,665,000,000 $4,100,000,000
  Total $36,483,500,000 $56,210,000,000


RECs are currently trading around $30, but, as the target starts to bite from 2017, the price is expected to reach $90 and is tipped to reach $100 beyond that.

The shortfall charge (as a fine) is a cost that the retailer can’t claim as a legitimate tax deduction, whereas the REC is – this places an added value on the REC to the extent that its face value can reduce the retailer’s taxable income. At a minimum then, RECs can be expected to trade at a figure at least equal to the shortfall charge. But with the tax benefit attached, RECs would be worth at least $94 – based on a shortfall charge of $65.

At the bottom end, this means the value of RECs surrendered (and/or the shortfall charge applied) will add over $36 billion to power bills over the next 17 years. At the top end, the figure (assuming RECs hit $100 by 2017) will exceed $50 billion.

These figures represent the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of the Commonwealth: a transfer that comes at the expense of the poorest and most vulnerable in society; struggling manufacturing businesses, real jobs and families. To call the mandatory RET obscene is pure understatement. No single policy has ever threatened to cost so much for nothing in return.

It’s these hard and fast facts that have united the PM, his Treasurer and Finance Minister with the intention of killing the mandatory RET outright; and the vast majority of the Coalition are right behind them. The sooner the Coalition axe it, the better. The mandatory RET must go now.


Scotland’s Energy Policies are NOT Feasible, Sensible, or Sustainable!

Brian Wilson: Storm clouds gather over energy

Hunterston B nuclear power station will not be replaced when its lifespan expires Picture: Donald MacLeod

Hunterston B nuclear power station will not be replaced when its lifespan expires Picture: Donald MacLeod

The latest self-indulgent waste of taxpayers’ money to emerge from St Andrew’s House carries the portentous title Energy Regulation in an Independent Scotland, prepared by an “Expert Commission”.


The clue is in the title. However “expert” these people might be, they were not entrusted with their own agenda. They were not invited to advise on whether independence makes the slightest sense in the energy context. Their remit was restricted to the hypothesis of Scotland having voted to separate.

At that point, their response becomes comical in its evasion of hard questions. Essentially, their conclusion is that everything should carry on as at present because it is in Scotland’s interests that it should. The inconvenient fact that the UK government insists the exact opposite would happen is simply ignored.

As with the currency, there is to be no “plan B”. The rest of the UK will continue to buy Scotland’s electricity output, no matter what it costs. Full stop. There is no consideration of what Scotland would be left with if they declined to do so which, in the view of my own “expert commission” is a racing certainty.

Let’s look at the Scottish Government’s existing energy policy which can be summarised as follows:

1. They hate nuclear power and there will be no replacement for Hunterston B and Torness until hell freezes over.

2. They neither know nor care what will replace the base-load from Scotland’s four thermal power stations, all due to close within a decade, since that’s tomorrow’s problem.

3. The answer is that it will probably come from England via the inter-connector but with a bit of luck the hated Hunterston B and Torness will keep going long enough to avoid that embarrassment for a few years yet.

4. English consumers will continue to fund Scottish renewables, via open-ended subsidy and infrastructure costs, regardless of whether or not we are living in separate states.

5. Er… that’s it…

The central conclusion of the Expert Commission that it would be a jolly good idea to retain a single market in electricity within our small island need not have detained them long. Who could disagree? Certainly not the English generators who will be delighted to pump as much electricity as we want into Scotland as soon as we are daft enough to have put ourselves in the position of requiring it.

Even the Expert Commission summoned all its courage to note this prospect, buried on page 34 of the report: “Under current forecast scenarios of high renewable generation installation in Scotland and closure of current coal and nuclear generation, Scotland is likely, at time of low renewables availability, to import electricity from rUK in order to continue meeting demand.”

For the past half century, Scotland has been an exporter of electricity to the rest of the UK, due mainly to our nuclear stations. Last year, we exported more than a quarter of what was produced. The triumph of Nationalist policy will be to turn us into an importer. That matters less while we are part of the same state and market but would matter – and cost – a great deal if we were not.

While importing base-load from south of the new Border, we would try to sell them our renewables. But why should they buy them? On this point, the Expert Commission is magnificent in its vagueness, dancing round the essential point that there would be no requirement whatsoever for the UK government to subsidise Scottish renewables. This was confirmed recently by the European Court of Justice in a case involving Sweden and Finland.

“An independent Scotland’s ability to maintain course towards the renewable targets and aspirations set by the current Scottish Government,” chunters the report, “will hinge on clarity as early as possible regarding continuity of current and proposed market mechanisms….”. Ah, what we need is clarity! But what if the clarity is summed up as: “No thanks – and even if we wanted to subsidise expensive Scottish renewables, our voters wouldn’t stand for it now that you’ve chosen to walk away.”?

Answer comes there none, but even the Expert Commission acknowledges there might be limits to the costs which “rUK” would pay. So what is their masterly answer to this multi-billion pound dilemma? Rest easy for the Expert Commission has sagely decreed: “These are questions which a robust agreement and strategic energy partnership between Scottish and rUK Governments will need to define”. Loosely translated, that means: “We’re sorry, we haven’t a clue”.

Casting around for precedent, the Expert Commission alights improbably on Ireland where there is a cross-border electricity market. But crucially, as they neglect to point out, there is no shared regime on subsidising renewables. All the Irish example does is confirm that Scotland would be left with a surplus of renewable energy – mostly from onshore wind farms – but without the subsidy base which currently sustains it.

I heard Alex Salmond sound-biting about Scotland as an exporter of electricity – shameless as ever, given that the surplus comes from nuclear – while England is “facing black-outs”. Ipse, they would continue to buy power from Scotland, he asserted. Well, they might buy power – they just wouldn’t subsidise our renewables, which is all we will have to sell.

England and Wales already import more power from mainland Europe than from Scotland. By 2020, the inter-connector between the UK and Europe will have doubled capacity. They will not need electricity from Scotland. Neither, according to National Grid’s evidence to the DECC Select Committee, do they need a low-carbon contribution since the biggest renewable energy projects now happening are offshore wind farms in the shallower waters of the south.

It is a pity that the Expert Commission did not break free of its shackles in order to tell the truth, which is (a) there is not the slightest reason to believe that UK Continuing would force its consumers to subsidise expensive Scottish renewables; (b) the only hope for the Scottish renewables industry is to remain part of the UK market, with subsidy to match; and (c) Scotland desperately needs a balanced energy policy rather than daft over-reliance on renewables.

I doubt if any member of the Expert Commission would disagree with a word of that. They should say so.

Incidentally, in the real world yesterday, Ofgem approved a £1.2 billion subsea link between Caithness and Moray. Anyone fancy funding that kind of investment, multiplied many times over, from within Scotland alone?