A myth has been vigorously stoked by Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg that an irrational frolic with renewables has made the electricity grid unreliable, as demonstrated conclusively by the state blackout in South Australia in 2016. This is now being taken into actual policy by Angus Taylor and Scott Morrison with “big stick” penalties and government intervention to produce “fair dinkum 24/7” power.
This myth has now been thoroughly debunked by a Grattan Institute report Keep calm and carry on: Managing electricity reliability. Blaming renewables for reliability issues is “wrong and dangerous”. Continue reading Blackouts are not increasing, keep calm and carry on!
On the weekend Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg gently reminded the Coalsheviks in the LNP Coalition that they should not be flirting with the idea of coal-fired power, because
we have to factor in a “carbon-constrained future”.
He warns that they may be investing in what will become ‘stranded assets’ before they wear out.
Why doesn’t he tell them like it really is? Tell them to look out the window.
The heatwave in Europe this year has been assessed as ‘five times’ more likely because of climate change. The northern summer’s heat is being recognised as the strongest climate signal yet. Wildfires have raced through neighborhoods in the western United States, Greece and as far north as the Arctic Circle. Drought is threatening food supplies: Continue reading NEG policy disaster won’t fly
On September 28 we had the first anniversary of the dirty big storm the brought down the power pylons in South Australia causing a state-wide blackout, as the Heywood interconnector exceeded capacity and tripped.
Now the state want an apology from the PM. Energy minister Tom Koutsantonis: Continue reading Climate clippings 116
Last week AEMO, the Australian Energy Market Operator produced two reports on future of electricity markets. The Coalition government under Turnbull cherry picked the reports in a way that was almost infantile, going completely feral, politicising the energy policy, making clear that bipartisanship will be avoided at all costs.
On Saturday at the Country Liberals annual conference in Darwin, he said this:
“I mean, Blackout Bill, fair dinkum, as my old dad would have said, he is so hopeless he could not find his backside with both hands.”
The electricity issue has been folded into his “kill Bill” strategy. Continue reading Turnbull goes feral on electricity
Wind power, seen as inherently evil by our national government, was in danger of taking over in South Australia. So something had to be done to slow it down, right?
How about if the wind blows strong providing cheap power we mandate that the gas must be turned up as well, so the wholesale price goes up instead of down?
It seems absurd, but that is what has been done. Continue reading Australia puts the brakes on wind
The Murdoch media continues to lay the blame on renewables, a notion specifically rejected by AEMO, leading to a Twitter battle between SA minister Tom Koutsantonis and The Australian’s Adelaide bureau chief, Michael Owen.
Continue reading Climate clippings 200
A number of reasons are being given for what was a relatively minor power blackout in South Australia, for example in Giles Parkinson’s excellent article, dud forecasts, lousy software, failing gas plants. However, the reason is actually more simple than that – no-one gets paid for despatchable standby power, only power actually used. South Australia needed standby despatchable power when record demand was forecast, and didn’t have it.
In the AFR Mark Ludlow tells us that the second unit at the Pelican Point gas-fired power station has not operated since April 2015, so it was effectively mothballed. When the need for extra power became obvious and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) approached Engie, the owners of Pelican Point, there was simply no time for a cold start. Continue reading What really happened in the SA February blackouts
I can’t make up my mind whether Malcolm Turnbull’s brains have fried, or whether he is just plain evil. I think of Godwin Grech, and think the former. My wife is convinced it’s the latter, and she’s usually right about people.
Anyway politics reached a new level of absurdity last week, as Scott Morrison brought a lump of coal into the parliament, which ended up between a crazed Barnaby Joyce’s legs, while in Question Time Turnbull’s answer to every question about the omnibus bill to change social security entitlements (and save a heap of cash) was to rant about Bill Shorten, blackouts and dreaded renewable energy in South Australia.
All the while, fossil fuel generators are gaming the system, to extract more from electricity consumers, while the market regulator ends up splitting the profits.
Two politicians from South Australia, Premier Jay Weatherill and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis, are very angry, and they’ve had enough. Continue reading Politicians lie, while corporates game the electricity system
The Bureau of Meteorology says wind gusts up to 260km/h from a “supercell” thunderstorm and multiple tornadoes were recorded on September 28, destroying transmission towers and causing the state-wide blackout in South Australia.
That’s as strong as Cyclone Tracy, which flattened Darwin, and almost as strong as Cyclone Yasi. Continue reading Climate clippings 190
The Coalition government and the Murdoch press were already mounting a full-scale attack on renewable energy when the AEMO report on the SA blackout presented information in such a way as to cast further doubt on renewable energy. AEMO stands for Australian Energy Market Operator. That is AEMO is an operator in the game, not an independent watchdog. In fact an operator that may not itself have acted prudently.
On top of this Chris Uhlmann of the ABC has been virulently critical of the rush to renewables, using what turns out to be techno-babble to sound convincing. His views have skewed the ABC network coverage across all platforms.
So what happened? Continue reading Renewables under attack – again
1. Arctic sea ice volume collapse
The collapse of the Arctic sea ice volume has been even more dramatic than the extent, as shown in this graph:
It’s down from 16,855 cubic kilometres in 1979 to 4,401 in 2016, that’s an ice loss of about 74%. Continue reading Climate clippings 187
One of the more eye-catching comments on the SA blackouts was from AGL Energy’s CEO Andy Vesey telling the All Energy conference in Melbourne that a secure power system would be rooftop solar and batteries in a distributed power system with power being generated at the point of consumption. He also said that politicians were blaming the South Australian blackout on renewable energy because technological disruption was confounding their “mental models”.
Greg Hunt, a man clearly in a muddle, went in hard, as reported by Giles Parkinson at RenewEconomy:
In an opinion piece written for the Australian Financial Review, and reported as the front page lead “SA blackout could have been avoided” – Hunt claimed that a coal-fired generator could have kept the lights on in Olympic Dam and Whyalla and avoided much of the damage, and he also chastised the states for chasing unrealistic targets.
Continue reading After the blackout, a new dawn for renewable energy