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How did Australia get this stupid about clean energy?

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Just when you thought that the public debate around clean energy in Australia could not possibly get any worse, any dumber, or any further divorced from reality, it did.

Conservatives have been railing against renewables and carbon pricing for at least a decade. So ingrained has it become in our national psyche that it is like a State of Origin contest between energy sources and their fans. “Queenslander”, shout the league fans. “Fossil fuels” screech the incumbents.

But it plumbed further depths this week. And it got really stupid and really nasty. Conservatives in the government and the media rebooted their attacks on wind and solar energy, and extended it to battery storage and vehicle emission standards, with the Murdoch media dubbing the latter as a “carbon tax on cars.”

Craig Kelly, the chair of Coalition’s energy policy committee, said renewable energy “would kill people”, a claim happily repeated by columnist Andrew Bolt.

Resources Minister Matt Canavan urged the Queensland government to “forget about climate change”, while the LNP in Queensland will this weekend consider a motion urging Australia to quit the Paris climate deal.

Worse, the conservatives started attacking individuals. The verbal assault on chief scientist Alan Finkel was launched way back in February when it was clear he would not toe the fossil fuel line. And even after delivering what many consider a “soft option”, the conservatives rekindled their attack.

“The Finkel report is a blueprint for destruction — of the Australian economy and destruction of the Liberal Party,” Murdoch columnist Piers Akerman wrote.

Then they added another target – the new head of the Australian Energy Market Operator, Audrey Zibelman. Broadcaster Alan Jones urged that “this woman”, who he accused of being a “global warming advocate and a promoter of wind turbines”, be “run out of town”.

On the same day, writing in Quadrant magazine, Alan Moran, the former head of regulation for the Institute of Public Affairs, described Zibelman as a “refugee from Hillary Clinton’s presidential defeat.” (Actually she worked for New York governor Andrew Cuomo).

“Alan Finkel’s otherworldly prognosis is bad enough. But toss in Malcolm Turnbull’s advocacy of renewables and then add an imported American chief regulator who would have been happier working for Hillary Clinton and where are you? The simple answer: thoroughly stuffed,” Moran wrote.

These attacks on Finkel, and now Zibelman, come in groups. It begs the question, are they co-ordinated? And if so, by whom?

But really, how did Australia get this stupid? And this ugly?

South Australia’s energy minister Tom Koutsantonis thinks it’s because the conservatives, or at least the Coalition, are in the pockets of the fossil fuel lobby.

“The only thing standing in the way of lower prices, improved grid security and meeting our carbon reduction commitments is a divided federal Liberal Party that is completely beholden to the coal lobby,” Koutsantonis said on Thursday.

He may have a point, because ideology alone does not explain the absurdity and ignorance of some of the remarks made this past week.

tele solar powerIt seems there is nothing about the clean energy economy that these people like. The conservatives and the Murdoch camp has been relentless against wind farms for years now and this week they turned its target to battery storage and solar panels.

One story focused on fires from solar panels, claiming 40 such fires occurred over the last five years in Victoria.

Context: Victoria has around 3,000 house fires a year, mostly from heaters and clothes dryers and electric blankets. Fridges cause one fire a week in London, including the recent tragedy at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington that claimed 80 lives.

The Murdoch media’s campaign against Elon Musk’s “bulldust boutique batteries” was actually kick-started by energy minister Josh Frydenberg, who made some ridiculous remarks about how a single battery could not power the whole state, or store its entire wind output.

(But it was 20 times bigger than the 5MW battery storage “virtual power plant” he was hailing earlier in the year).

No one is suggesting that this battery storage array can provide all of the state’s power needs: It is designed to help make up any energy shortfall, which occurred last year when the biggest gas plants sat idle, or when they unexpectedly tripped, and to help ride through network faults and generator failures.

And battery storage would have prevented, or at least reduced, all three major outages that occurred in South Australia since November 2015. It would certainly be smarter and quicker than the dumb, slow responding fossil fuel generator that did the wrong thing and extended the blackout on that day last November.

Battery storage is a threat to the incumbents, and their defenders, because it and other storage will make wind and solar dispatchable, will make more expensive gas peaking plant redundant, and eventually – with the addition of pumped hydro and solar thermal – allow the coal fleet to be entirely replaced.

The attack on proposed vehicle emissions standards was extraordinary. Australia has become a dumping ground for inefficient and polluting vehicles because of its absence of any such standards.

That is causing health issues and higher prices (it means more fuel consumption), but the Murdoch media had no hesitation in calling it a “carbon tax” on cars, and epithet that even Fairfax used to lead its coverage.

“Hands off our cars, warmists,” warned Andrew Bolt in the Herald Sun, echoing the extraordinary push back by conservatives against the idea of autonomous driving. “Don’t try and steal my pick-up, I’ve got a gun.”

One wonders: Do any of these people use modern technologies? Or are they still riding a horse and cart, sending telegrams and listening to the wireless, storing their beers in an ice box.

Of course, the clean energy industry doesn’t help itself – either too brow-beaten by the media or scared to offend the government. When I started writing about clean energy a decade ago, I was astonished by the circular nature of the mutual put-downs from the wind, solar, geothermal and biomass industries.

Last week, when the Murdoch media got their “scoop” on an issue well reported in RenewEconomy, the draft standards that may effectively ban lithium-ion batteries from the inside of homes, and bring a halt to the nascent household battery storage industry – a major threat to incumbent utilities.

The response from some of Australia’s leading battery storage developers? The promoters of vanadium and zinc bromine flow batteries hopped on to their soap-box and crowed about how their product was not affected.

No sense of a common purpose there. Sauve qui peux! Every man for themselves. The story of Australia’s energy industry.

Meanwhile, the fossil fuel push continues unrelenting. The Minerals Council producing yet another report claiming that “High efficiency, low emissions” coal plants could meet climate targets. To understand how preposterous that claim is, read this.

“Low emissions” is just another marketing lie. “High emissions, low efficiency” might be a more accurate description of HELE coal plants compared to the alternative smart technologies.

It is an absurd situation we find ourselves in. The public support for these new technologies is overwhelming, as it is in business (apart from those seeking to protect stranded assets), and among most politicians – even many in the Liberal Party, as NSW energy minister Don Harwin revealed late last month.

Yet here we are: Short-term policies; a patchwork of rules on energy efficiency; the worst building stock in the world; the most inefficient and polluting cars; and the world’s most expensive and dirty grid, soaring emissions, and rising temperatures.

And two years after obtaining power, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull is still defending policies he once describes as “bullshit,” too afraid to call out the nonsense spread by those keeping him in power.  

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  • trackdaze

    If the USA can power its vast economy on 30% coal and falling then Australia can move down from its 70-80%.

    • Mark Brown

      Ask how much renewable power they are using?

      • trackdaze

        Record amounts.

  • suthnsun

    I read the other day that direct injection (most modern) petrol cars are putting out more noxious particulates than dirty diesels. I think the ‘unhinged’ and frankly insane responses described must indicate sitting in traffic in a noxious fume coffin for too many hours per day.

    • Rod

      Yes, if we pipe exhaust gases into cabins we should sort the problem out in no time.

      • MaxG

        How creative! Love it. Like storing atomic waste in pollies garden :))

        • Peter Campbell

          Like when nobody could clean up the Mississippi until regulation required each town to draw its water supply from downstream.

          • Ian

            Seriously, that was very creative thinking. Working with human nature, to achieve a positive outcome.

    • Brunel

      Put a massive import tax on oil and build high speed rail.

    • Chris

      You may need to do some more reading.

      Diesel nitrogen oxides emissions are considered a major health hazard and particulates are also a concern. That is why some cities currently ban diesels from the city centre. A hybrid, around the city, may produce less than half the emissions of a conventional vehicle and have been seen as a transitory solution, but electric vehicles may in fact arrive as a viable solution before hybrids become dominant.

      A reasonable article on emissions is the following: https://theconversation.com/fact-check-are-diesel-cars-really-more-polluting-than-petrol-cars-76241

      But you might be right – there seems to be a correlation between those who enjoy the facility of a 6 litre V8 whilst sitting in traffic, and those who utter unhinged and insane responses.

      • suthnsun

        Have a look at this Chris and see if it stacks up https://www.empa.ch/web/s604/soot-particles-from-gdi

        • Chris

          Thanks for the link. It certainly makes for interesting reading. It does appear, from the article, that all ICE’s should have a particulate filter! I would need a lot of time before I felt informed enough to make comment about the reliability, but first glance does suggest it worth considering.

      • Peter Campbell

        If you get a hybrid, make sure it is a plug-in series hybrid with a decent amount of battery (Eg. Holden Volt or Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV). There are many flavours of hybrid. A parallel hybrid with a tiny battery and no plug such as a Prius is simply a petrol car made a little bit more efficient with some electric smarts – not a bad thing, but we can do a lot better these days.

  • DevMac

    Be the change you want to see.

    I’ve got solar panels, I’ve changed halogen down-lights to LED’s, I turn off lights and appliances at the switch when they’re not in use and have trained the kids into the same habit. Batteries are on the list for the next year or two, and my current car will be mothballed once the Model 3 reaches Australia and the queue has subsided.

    All the squawking and insult flinging is worth nothing in the face of real-world examples of how much those of us with solar panels are saving per quarter over those without solar panels. The minimum we can do is keep being progressive in our own backyards, and mentioning it to our friends and family. Rhetoric isn’t necessary, the raw numbers speak for themselves.

    My solar panels would have earnt as much as they cost within 5 – 6 years on electricity costs when they were installed. The more electricity prices go up, the sooner they’ll break even.

    Can’t argue with that.

    (This doesn’t touch on large-scale generation and grid-scale issues, but the war for people’s opinion is fought in their wallet more than it is in public infrastructure).

    • Chris Fraser

      While all readers must be responsible to reduce their load now and make progress towards energy nirvana now, part of me wants to fast-forward and have a little fun with Rupert’s hyperbolic headlines.

      • Roger Franklin

        Well the sun came up today and the batteries are fully charged – so another great day to have moved “off the grid”. I fear that this FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) game that is been played out in the political arena, has some way to go with no upside for the general public.

        • solarguy

          Yeah great feeling ain’t it. Re the former.

    • MaxG

      Why I have tried to leave the scene for good — somehow I am addicted to this forum; the last one I participate in.

      • Ian

        Max, don’t you dare leave, I’ll send a death ray to fry your solar panels if you do.

    • Vicki Stevens

      Good on you Devmac, you are right, we need to take charge of the situation ourselves in any way we can, but unfortunately with our government over the years so focused on ‘economic’ growth and therefore favouring boosting wealth of the wealthy, the ratio of home owners to home renters has reversed. Landlords aren’t in a hurry to spend money on minor maintenance let alone major upgrades such as solar installation. Leaves many of us wanting to do the right thing but can’t. There is an industry here, furthering the camping/ caravan / boating solar panels, portable home solar systems for renters.

      • Rod

        I offered a 5kWp system to a tenant for $10 a week but unfortunately they couldn’t see the value.
        Point your Landlord to Matter Solar. I haven’t used it but looks interesting
        http://matter.solar/

        • Vicki Stevens

          Well done Rod, one of the good guys, and thanks will take a look at Matter Solar myself – but know my landlord not at all interested, already asked.

          • Mike Shackleton

            I’m building a townhouse as an investment property at the moment and as soon as the completion date is firmed up I’ll be getting Matter to do an install on the roof. The recently doubled FiT in Victoria makes it a pretty compelling proposition.

          • Vicki Stevens

            Well done Mike, you are one of the few, future proofing your investment. As the owner of a NEW property you would be wise to have a 6 star (or above) energy rated property (don’t believe your builder that it is mandatory, unless you have a certificate from a registered NATHERS assessor – 6 star is NOT regulated – client beware). Your builder may tell you he is ‘compliant’ but without the certificate it is only words.

            If you want good, long term tenants than future proofing your building against high running costs is imperative, as tenants and owner/occupiers, both residential and commercial are looking for the buildings with the lowest running costs to invest their hard earned cash in.Energy efficient ‘green buildings’ will become the marketing tool norm when selling these properties on the rental and owner/occ markets.

            You are on the right track, just look after your investment if you want great long term tenants who will look after the property as if it was their own.

          • Mike Shackleton

            Thanks for the tip re. the assessment – worth doing as a final check of the building to make sure the building complies. If it doesn’t, I can beat the builder over the head with the report. I’m going through a reputable builder with an established business relationship with my wife so we’re in a good position not to be cheaped out on

          • Vicki Stevens

            PS re: FiT, ok, a great incentive – money drives EVERYONE unfortunately, but is it not better to think of it as doing something good for the health of the planet, ie lower green house gas emissions, and thereby doing something to help your kids (if you have any or intend to have any) have a safer more sustainable future.

            Who gets the tariff refund, the renter paying the bills or you?

          • Mike Shackleton

            Matter sells a system that allows you to sell the solar generated from an installed rooftop system to your tenant. The price is set at a maximum of the per kWh rate the tenant’s electricity supplier charges for grid electricity. You can elect to set this rate lower ie. if your tenant has a standing rate of 20c per kWh, you can set the rooftop supplied rate as 16 cents per kWh. Any electricity fed into the grid gets reimbursed to you at the mandated FiT. So, the tenant gets a 20% discount off the grid supplied rate, you get more than you would normally via the FiT. It’s a win-win for everyone.

    • Martyn Summers

      Sorry DevMac but I’m ahead of you: 10 kW’s of PV’s on the roof plus 30 solar tubes. 100% LED lights and insulation ranging from R5 to R10 in all ceilings and walls (the floor gets done in 6 months). I use the 10 kW PV’s to charge our electric Nissan LEAF car that covers about 95% of our driving. I will install power monitoring through the house in 3 months. I’ll use this to moderate our energy consumption behaviour and develop a specification for batteries due in 12 – 18 months

      • solarguy

        Good on ya Martyn!

      • Rod

        Stop it. I’m jealous. I’ve decided to stay on grid until my premium fit runs out and they stop paying me $1K a year.

        Props on the monitoring too. I used to think we were efficient but my Wattson identified about 30% savings.

    • solarguy

      You know I frequently hear on talk back radio when there is an anti renewable theme going on how many punters call up and state, I got 20 solar panels on my roof and I haven’t saved anything on my power bills. The host then uses this info as confirmation that solar is BS.

      Now are these people a fit up for the coal industry or is it that these people that claim solar isn’t reducing their bills, simply don’t have there solar connected to the grid. I don’t know how many phone calls I’ve received over the years from punters who complain and I go out there and discover that, that is exactly the case, talk about a laugh.

      The solar industry (CEC) has to wack these bad companies big time for not informing customers that they have to arrange a new meter and get connected to the grid, were only hurting ourselves.

      • Rod

        I can’t believe people don’t know how to read their meter, import, export etc. And most inverters have info?
        Even AGL has pretty graphs for those with smart meters.
        Another biggie is installers really should point out the importance of removing anything that would shade any part of any panel.
        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3fee3bc49d752820a11ace092a21fd6c0be19b58b3679f6698f71ba78d7eb2a6.png

        Sunny day in Adelaide mid Winter. That drop off in the arvo is an old flue that I really should do something about.

        • solarguy

          Mate I’ve seen some horror installs re shade from trees. Makes me wonder if their being informed and the customer does nothing about it or the company doesn’t give a shit, just after the sale.

          And yes meters aren’t hard to read.

          • Scottman

            Guys, I have PV – north, east & west. Love to have sun every second from sunup to sundown but I have trees to the left & right. I say any generation is better than none, another reason I got PV. Me & a lecky mate installed the 2 systems. Works great. & I love trees also.

        • DevMac

          Agreed. Spending $X thousand on panels warrants a small time investment in making sure they’re doing their job.

    • JohnM

      … And I urge all others to do so.
      With WA’s 47c FIT, my system was paid off years ago -and keeps on giving.
      The Tesla’s fun too!
      What I don’t understand is why energy incumbents can be so sour about rooftop PV when they make so much trouble-free gravy train profit from it.
      As renewable prices fall, so the screams get louder.
      Yes, we will all die.

  • CaresAboutHealth

    Another example of dirty energy and effective lobbying to further profits is the wood heating. Almost identical tactics (e.g. claiming people will die of the cold) whenever anyone suggests cleaning up woodsmoke pollution. Yet Launceston’s woodsmoke program had the opposite effect – it reduced deaths in winter from respiratory disease by 28% and cardiovascular disease by 20%. There was also a significant reduction over the entire year in total deaths of men – by 11.4%.

    Non-polluting alternatives such as efficient heater-air-conditioners have lower running costs than buying firewood, don’t damage our health, and cause less global warming, especially if offset by solar power! For a quick overview, see the 50 sec New Scientist video “Log-burning stoves are harming our health and speeding up global warming”
    see facebook .com/newscientist/videos/10155097669589589/

    The stupidity seems to arise when politicians listen to lobbyists from profit-driven industries rather than independent advice.

    • MaxG

      Well, I reckon your data is based on being ‘ideologically constipated’… just citing Alan Jones about Audrey Zibelman.
      (And for the ones pondering about my comment type: cynical)

      An here I go again: why blame politicians for being greedy, when most of the population buy a litre of milk for a dollar — it is the same thing, pure self interest without caring about any one else.

    • Mark Brown

      Damm our solar pannels are not powering our electric reverse cycle air conditioner!
      Dont worry grandma you had a good life.
      PS. SAPower Generation is now being powered by mostly gas.
      X 4 times more expensive than our original coal!

      • Rod

        Last I heard it was >50% renewables.
        Unless you mean, now this instant, then it is 25% wind.
        You do know that for years gas supplied > 60% of SA generation?
        Port Augusta was well past its use by date.

        • Mark Brown

          The facts speak for themselves! SA Labor rushed into intermittent renewables before they had secured any reliable baseload power source.
          Now we are paying the price in everywhich way.

          If you have any understanding of the world economy & business economics you would understand what a folly this all is.

          • Rod

            I don’t think you could handle real facts. Not alternative facts.
            What price are we paying? Around the same as every other State on the NATIONAL energy market.
            Nobody rushed. The market saw an opportunity and moved in. That is economics 101

          • Mark Brown

            I am sorry.
            Obviously by your replys you are still at primary or even high school & haven’t been out in the big bad world yet. I
            shouldn’t try to argue with a minor. Good Evening.

          • Rod

            That would be “replies” but that’s ok. Hopefully Gonski will sort that out for our future generations.
            Your take on my situation is about as close as your understanding of energy issues.

          • solarguy

            Another FF troll. Piss off.

          • Rod

            I quoted facts.
            You can only offer opinions.

  • Cooma Doug

    Eventually we are all going to wake up to one point.
    It is possible to have a bipartisan carbon tax. We can make it a political winner. We can make it a political certainty.
    We tax the emmissions where they are created. This eventually on all forms of carbon pollution.
    Then every quarter we pay the money to the consumer. So it is not the pensioner who suffers, it is the polluter.
    This is not some wild idea. It is a a detailed concept and is across the globe now in a position of inevitable introduction.

    • Ren Stimpy

      Agree.

      The carbon tax was just $23/tonne of CO2, destined to reduce to less than $10/tonne of CO2 just before Abbott the incredibly dumb SHIT axed it. Therefore he axed stable future investment that would have had our electricity price flat-lining – instead of escalating.

      • Marg1

        He doesn’t care – it’s all about winning with him – the low life knuckle dragger

      • Mark Brown

        The downward cost of Carbon Tax was only a suggestion by a desperate Kevin Rudd during an election.
        Gillards original CT was always increasing each finacial year.
        Look it up

        • Peter Campbell

          You look it up. It had fixed amounts in the first few years, just while everyone got their systems in order, then reverted to a floating price, whatever the market set, as a proper ETS.

          • Mark Brown

            This is my point with many of you not understanding world trade or business economics.
            Imagine the cost??
            You were not obviously around when we floated our dollar!

          • Peter Campbell

            By not pricing emissions there is a large subsidy to more polluting activities, which amounts to an unfair disadvantage imposed on less polluting activities. Put another way, imagine the cost of subsiding activities in proportion to the harm they do – that is what we do now.

          • Mark Brown

            Dont worry about carbon coming from Australia business. Our world High pricing structure will fix that.
            The stupid thing is we killed most of our business while China & India & eventually Africa will pump out more Carbon than you could ever imagine.

          • Joe

            Mark, per capita measurement is the global standard for international comparisons.and Australia is in the world’s top 10 worst for emissions pollution. It is only natural that India and China with populations of 1 billion each emit more emissions in total compared to the population of Australia with 25 million. So please keep things in perspective.

          • Mike Shackleton

            We’re in the world’s top 2 for carbon emissions per capita.

          • Joe

            Wow, we are really moving on up the “Losers Board” then !

          • Mark Brown

            Go to India & China & see some pollution. Our industries here in Oz haven’t been aloud to pollute like that since the late 70s. Dont believe all these reports etc. They are all manipulated.

          • solarguy

            No hope for you, better bite down hard on the glass capsule now.

          • solarguy

            Sorry Joe that comment was meant for the Neanderthal below.

          • Mark Brown

            Because much of your debate is ideological you always seem to emotionally lash out. I am just saying we have to keep it real & dont rush in.

          • Joe

            OK

          • Mark Brown

            The carbon we create in this Country in 12 months would’nt even compare to 1 week of China & India.
            But hey we are left with job destroying electricity prices.

            Well done all.

          • My_Oath

            “Business destroying electricity prices” that rose after carbon pricing was removed and is therefore nothing to do with the carbon pricing.

          • solarguy

            Understand this, black isn’t white, no matter how many times you try to tell that.

          • Mark Brown

            Dont care abour colour!

            Our Citizens whole care, health, welbeing & stability is based on strong economics.
            If you have spent time in 3rd world Countries as I have you & many others would understand. Thats why millions of 3rd W C Migrants risk their lives to leave their homeland.
            History shows us democracies & economics are should not be taken for granted.

        • solarguy

          Bullshit! Do you think we have all been living under a rock fool.

    • Megs

      Yes Doug. The “Fee and Dividend” as proposed by Dr James Hansen, supported by 350.org , similar to what Arnie has introduced in California, and refined and lobbied for by Citizens Climate Lobby is the most rational policy and is winning support from Republicans in the USA. CCL is going global at speed.

    • solarguy

      The LNP won’t allow that, as the PRIME MONKEY just stated were delusional.

  • Just_Chris

    I remember sitting talking about the “DEATH SPIRAL” of the Australian grid a few years back at the all energy conference. I laughed and laughed how stupid people where – I said “my god people have no idea, to make it worthwhile to go off grid electricity would have to cost around 40 to 50 c/kWh! There is no chance we’ll get to that in the grid. Not in my lifetime” thankfully I was only 50% right – I am still alive.

    The federal government have now reached a point where all they can do is make nasty comments. This is the end of the road, either the grid fixes itself or everyone goes bust. From the size of investment going in and the noise the electricity companies are making it looks like they have decided to live.

    • Roger Franklin

      Just_Chris
      When Telsa announce that they are building a Giga Factory somewhere in Australia (most likely in SA or NT) – all of the Polys will be queuing up to take the credit. In the mean time the only finance for a coal fired power stations will be the Government, and they need to go through the same planning and environmental process as everyone else. In a nutshell – that might take a while! In the mean time they will attempt to introduce/change the rules on batteries as that is the game changer for both home owners and commercial generators. Interesting times

      • Mark Brown

        Yet you say they can put some of the most pollutant & dangerous chemicals in this State to make batteries but not low level grade nuclear medical byproducts in a regulated storage facility. ( which by the way is now stored in many hospitals in our towns & Cities)

        No idea!

        • Roger Franklin

          Fair Comment!

  • Brunel

    Both sides of politics are to blame.

    And then there is the insanity of having both state and federal governments.

    The renewable energy target should be a state one not a federal one. Ditto the electricity prices.

    If one state is stupid enough to privatise the grid, another state

  • phred01

    who’ donation into the libs coffers…..u guess it dirty coal

  • bedlambay

    Have Abbott, Kelly, Bolt, Jones et al taken the dissembling manual from Big Tobacco?

    • Calamity_Jean

      “Have Abbott, Kelly, Bolt, Jones et al taken the dissembling manual from Big Tobacco?”

      Very probably.

  • johnnewton

    Yep, Merchants of Doubt. Required reading.

  • Tim Forcey

    Join in at My Efficient Electric Home and discuss how not to die at home this winter.

    See: https://www.facebook.com/groups/996387660405677/

    • Damon Schultz

      Looks like Craig Kelly just gave you a slogan, Tim 😉

      • Chris Fraser

        Yes, we need the likes of a Wendy Harmer or a Craig Reucassel to run with that. ABC top viewing ahead.

        • Rod

          Can’t beat Mad as Hell at the moment.
          Absolutely on fire last night.

    • Joe

      ….and send it to ‘Dr’ Craig Kelly as he is most concerned about the health and safety of the Aussie community.

    • solarguy

      Or perhaps die snug, warm and cosy cheaply and emission free. lol

  • MaxG

    You may hate me for saying this: but Australia – as in the majority – was always stupid; we did not get there. The fact is, the people get dumber by the day; simply look at the education system, where Howard said when he come to power “Australia’s education systems ranks top of the list in the 3rd world category. And we all know it: it got worse.

    This applies across the board, people do not stand up for anything, do not protest, do not care; do not know and do not want to know what is going on: other than what’s on the useless news. Look at all environmental topics discussed here; only a minority has a clue off what is going on; 6th extinction, climate, energy, over population; the growth myth; the ponzi scheme called fiat money — and what I stated many times: a populous which elects leaders which literally represent them.

    The has been polarised into haves – have not; yes and no; climate threat and hoax and the list goes on… I mentioned elsewhere that I lost a friend over these topics, and when he agreed with what I was saying, which shattered his world view (fell like a house of cards) could not cope, hated me for it; and instantly un-friended me on LinkedIn, fb, e-mail what not.
    Like I said: we cannot listen to each other, let alone, discuss things; or the unthinkable ‘admit we are wrong’; go protest for what it is worth, as we are too occupied to work for the man, chase the dollar, to spend it on things we do not need; then wonder about loosing sleep, which results in infertility, raised stress levels, related illnesses.

    I mean we can’t even feed ourselves properly, proof: the increase in obesity and diabetes — I stop rambling, because when you apply systems thinking, you realise how rotten humanity is as a whole… the wars we fight (and the banner under which we do it), etc.

    In conclusion: a crappy or total lack of energy policy is actually the least of the problems; and if you disagree here, then it is just another problem in the sea of problems we face.

    • Vicki Stevens

      Wow oh wow SOOO well said and so on the same wave length. So tired of immature, self centred career politicians whose strings are pulled by the purse strings of corporations who want control, while we all blindly go about our business as if it is not our problem. Seriously, wake up Australia, we need to fight for OUR rights and for our children’s futures. We need to make our leaders BE leaders, make them accountable for EVERYTHING they do, after all they are supposed to be putting our interests FIRST, not just the interests of the puppeteers.

      I too can’t talk to some of my friends and family about the REAL issues, as they are not interested or just don’t care, and have lost friends because I speak out, was even told to go get back on my soap box after I told some friends that I had been protesting and standing up for not just my rights, but the rights of ALL Australians.

      Greed, wealth and ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’ is too much apart of society, dog eat dog, the rich get richer, the poor, poorer. Makes me wonder, do our politicians, or do we as the general population just want the poor to mass suicide so the government and their puppeteers won’t have a problem anymore? If so, who among the rich becomes the ‘poor’ then. Maybe take some time to ponder that and put yourself in some one else’s shoes for awhile. While you’re at it – think back to highschool when you did biology and web of life science in Yr 7 and 8, where you learnt about ecosystems and food chains, how they have to be in harmony to remain healthy and survive – humans are apart of those ecosystems, we can’t dominate them!

    • solarguy

      Not your fault Max that your friend has a frail personality. Keep the rage!

      • MaxG

        Thanks for the consolation 🙂 Not in rage either… the example demonstrates the current issue with not being able to have a conversation / discussion / argument (in the positive sense of making a case) without people running away (do not want to hear), let alone change their stance — a result of the non-free press and the pollies and their polarisation approach.

    • Mark Brown

      Didn’t we have Australians most costly Education Revolution under Rudd/Gillard/Rudd. ?? You might be intelligent, by your accounts but by hell, you are forgetful.
      Best not to take sides, when criticizing modern day Policies, from any side!

      • Peter G

        Are you a shill Mark Brown?
        If not Giles article seems to have gotten under your skin given the dozens and dozens of comments you have made below. All I can see you doing is takings sides yourself, and somewhat obnoxiously.

      • MaxG

        🙂 My post has neither to do with cost nor with party. Neither do I take sides, other than my own. Those who follow my posts know that I was a an ALP voter; due to the lack of viable alternatives. I like Keating; no matter what we like, everything has two sides; we are good at some and not so good at others — just human nature; I included. What killed my support for the ALP was Keating’s privatisations run (initiated by the Hilmer report), further propagated by the labour states; e.g. privatising electricity… all these action I see a betrayal of the public, and as engagement in the same neoliberalism, which is the core foundation of the LNP agenda… trade agreements are just another outcrop of said neoliberalism.

        To come back to the ‘deserted’ friend: He got really thinking when I asked him why the public should pay for his private health insurance… he realised it is welfare (he so opposed), but did not like the truth about it. As for education cost: introducing study fees and student loans and removing the funding from public universities (and schools) yet funding private schools with public money is against the very social fabric we ought to embrace and strive for.
        As for “best not take sides”… see my stance above about wilful ignorance. 🙂

    • Mark Brown

      The rest of what you stated, does make a lot of Common Sense.

    • Calamity_Jean

      “…the increase in obesity….”

      It’s not entirely lazy people stuffing their faces. Even wild animals are getting fatter. Look at this article: https://psmag.com/social-justice/just-people-getting-fatter-65342 Among other things it says:

      “Body weight in male rats in Baltimore increased 5.7 percent between 1948 and 2006. Even rural rats have gained weight. Body weight of male rats trapped in the Maryland countryside increased by 4.5 percent.”

      There may be some general pollution that is disturbing the metabolisms of every mammal on the planet.

      • MaxG

        Fair enough, however, my reference was to obesity not weight gain… which is predominantly related to ignorance (what foods to chose; don’t care, don’t want to know)…

  • Radbug

    Trump, in Paris, just said “something could happen” re his Paris withdrawal decision. Wouldn’t it be incredible if the LNP decided to opt out of Paris and then The Donald decides to opt back in? The LNP would be left like a shag on a rock as the next State election approaches!!

    • Robert Comerford

      I think that thought bubble will only last until he is back on the plane to the states.
      But it would be good :>)

      • Chris Fraser

        Yes, a weathervane thought for the Presidential man-child …

  • Ken Dyer

    You know Giles, you have been writing similar pieces for years here:
    http://reneweconomy.com.au/why-the-murdoch-media-hates-renewable-energy-so-much-43022/
    and here:
    http://reneweconomy.com.au/murdoch-coalition-go-guns-blazing-wind-solar-74901/
    And more power to you. All good well reasoned pieces all.

    In that time, the price of solar power has more than halved and return on renewable investment has increased 100 fold. People are getting the message, and we see that every day. Now we are seeing blokes like Bernardi putting solar panels on his house.

    I am fortunate because I do not listen to Alan Jones, I do not buy The Australian nor do I pay any credence to anything Andrew Bolt says, nor for that matter to fools like Kelly, Frydenberg, Abbott and their fellow luddite politicians. They obviously do not have the interests of Australia at heart and merely use fossil fuels to advance their own narcissistic agendas. They really are ugly Australians, and it is fortunate that they are in the minority, despite their megaphones.

  • Robert Comerford

    Perhaps a bright side to this is they are squawking so much it must be a sign they know they will be proven wrong, that their web of fallacies is becoming unravelled.

    • Ren Stimpy

      Who the fuck are you talking about?

    • solarguy

      No battle is fought harder than the battle that is being lost!

  • Mark Brown

    The stupidity & Smugness from the “comfortable” Australians!
    This is ideology at its madness.

    The miniscule, almost nil benefit but with the financial crippling of our economy, especially for our Poor & Older Citizens is so SMUG & ARROGANT !

    Many of you do not understand world trade or business economics.
    So obviously many of you are young & presently would not survive in the real business World!

    I am not against renewable power but know the technology is still not fully developed yet.

    • Rod

      “I am not against renewable power”
      Oh, come on. Your mind is closed, Can’t admit that it is possible you could be wrong.

      • Mark Brown

        Again pro-renewables people never seem to answer with real life facts.
        I was working with intermittent wind & power generation probably before you were born. It is not new. The bush have been using then for over 100 years. What we know is when the wind suddenly stops & the sun goes behind clouds you need constant reliable back up power.
        At this time there is not any cost effective, reliable green baseload, back-up power.
        If there was they would be in use everywhere.

        • Rod

          You have heard of hydro then?

          • Mark Brown

            In SA.??? I rest my case.

          • Rod

            Soon. It is a NATIONAL grid.

          • Mark Brown

            Doesn’t that say to you, SA Labor rushed in with renewables?

          • Rod

            Nope. Haven’t seen any problems yet.
            You mean when 22 transmission towers were on the deck and some muppet blamed wind farms?
            Or when the most efficient gas unit in SA refused to start up because they said they had no gas?
            Or when a fifty year old coal station tried to blackmail the Govt into subsidising them $200 million to keep going for 2 more years?

          • Mark Brown

            You obviously don’t understand politics & I know you don’t understand world trade or business economics so I will stop wasting my time & let you Green Keyboard Warriors at it, living in La La Land.

          • Rod

            3 questions, no answer. I doubt you will be missed.

          • Mark Brown

            The questions are not facts but based on Politics & PR propaganda .
            When you drop the ideology, look up( not in any media or pr site) Government reports or ask managers in the industry you get a better understanding.
            I give a shit because I am concerned about the way Australia & its Politicians are slowly bringing our Economy down a dangerous slope.
            This will affect us sooner & harder than Climate Change will.
            Look at history & consider this.

          • Rod

            Ah ideology, the latest LNP catchphrase
            ideologies
            1 : visionary theorizing
            2a : a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or cultureb : a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culturec : the integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program

            History, what about that ozone layer bunkum?
            The World got together and decided to do something about it and AFAIK the hole is shrinking. And hey the economy didn’t collapse.

          • Mark Brown

            I have no affiliation with any Political Party now, through personal experience know how they all operate ( you obviously do by you weak political , cut & paste, excuses).
            Check your real science & find out about supposedly ‘dangers of the ozone layer hole’ in the 80s.
            Many of us lived it & paid financially for it.
            The leason many of us learnt is their is much we still need to learn & Mother Nature is still a hell of a force to reckoned with.
            Scientists are still learning about the worlds weather.
            As I stated before, younger generations still have some growing up to do.

          • Rod

            And I keep telling you SA didn’t rush into RE.
            Private companies built and own the assets.
            If any FF generator wanted to build a new generator in SA they would have been welcomed. Nobody is complaining about the TIPS A replacement.

    • solarguy

      Insolent prick. It’s your brain that isn’t fully developed and may never be.

  • Michael Murray

    When I was youngster at Marist Brothers College in Melbourne I had classmates who had parents who had friends who knew for certain that if the Labor Party won the 1972 election they would start putting people in concentration camps out in the desert. They knew become someone had seen the actual camps! This is 1972 well prior to the internet let alone the world wide web. The madness has always been there.

  • Vicki Stevens

    Tom Koutsantonis is right, these climate deniers in our government and in the media ARE being paid by fossil fuel companies that stand to lose when renewables take over. Pity these companies are so stupid they can’t see past their bank balances and high rolling lifestyles to actually future proof themselves by investing in new innovation and technologies. It is high time to end this fiasco though, with the people of Australia putting an ethical watchdog in our government to make them accountable for self serving ideologies, while making it illegal for any politician to receive donations (bribes) from ANY source. Social media is free if they need to market themselves and their ethical , moral virtues that will benefit ALL Australians. It is totally disgusting that politicians are puppets to wealthy corporations who don’t give a damn about anyone except themselves. Weak , spineless individuals !!

    • Mark Brown

      I listen to the poor & aged Vicki. They are suffering due to a rushed ridiculous Zero Carbon Policy that has done nothing for the planet.

      Not a Political Hack concerned about his own job.

      • Rod

        You have been duped.
        Think for a change rather than parrot

        • Mark Brown

          ???

          • Rod

            Parrot as in repeat every bit of fake news you have read in the Murdoch press or on the Andrew Bolt show.
            Think for yourself. I know it is hard but worth it.

          • Mark Brown

            Dont read papers or watch news on tv. Seriously.

      • Vicki Stevens

        Sorry Mark, but I too listen to (and am) poor and ageing, and all I see is immature, self centred career politicians out for their own gain. Zero carbon policy is a way to allow the planet to replenish itself without the mindless exploitation and excessive consumerism that humans have taken as their selfish, greedy right to do. We are supposed to be the intelligent species, yet we are more and more showing how stupid we are, with our cancerous evasive domination of the planet that is our life support system. We can’t kill the Earth, but it can surely kill us. It shouldn’t take a ‘Zero Carbon Policy’ to make us curb our destructive habits, it needs to be commonsense and respect for what is not ours to take for granted. I’m not sure how the poor and aged you listen to are ‘suffering’ from a rushed Zero Carbon Policy, they would be suffering from fools in government that are too easily bribed, therefore keeping the battles raging with no resolution. PS. Be lucky you have a job.

        • solarguy

          Right on, beautiful baby.

    • solarguy

      That’s right Vicki, they keep fighting the new because their blind to the new opportunities.

  • Peter

    To the question, “How did Australia get this stupid about clean energy?”, the answer is privatisation, leading to loss of control, avoidance of responsibility, and a shift from engineering management to cost management. All under the watch of the politicians and their neocon policies. Other examples are the breakup of the SECV and other authorities, the breakup of Telecom Australia done wrongly, leading to the NBN fiasco, the Transurban rent-seekers, the railways, etc.

    • solarguy

      So true, ain’t it sicking.

      • Peter

        Furthermore, politicising the public service and subjecting it to cost cutting has led to much the same thing: politicians pursuing off-the-cuff and often poor ideas rather than subjecting them to scrutiny by the public service.

        I remember a story told by someone, who worked in a state education department for a time, that when some issue came up in a school, and the minister asked for advice, the secretary would reach into his bottom drawer and say “Minister, we have thought about this issue, and we have a plan for you to handle it.” Maybe there were choices of plans, but they were thought out, ready for when they were needed.

        It is resilience that has been destroyed by the cost-cutting neo-cons. SA’s system black last September, was partly down to the AEMO not knowing about the settings in the wind-generators, running the Heywood link at capacity while ignoring the weather, the (apparent) absence of maintenance of the HV electricity towers in SA and so on. Again, Melbourne’s Metro rail shutdown on 13 July – what happened to the backup system? Apparently it was not manned and it is several km away – cost-cutting.

    • Cooma Doug

      Just an experience I had that broadens your view here…please consider this info.

      We used to control the grid with a view of practical things to keep the lights on. We watched the frequency and responded to serious swings in a practical logical manner. There were a few button pushes and a few phone calls and a bit of analysis and worry for a while. There were a few problems and black outs over the years and a follow up analysis. We were slow to improve in the control process.

      Then came the introduction of the market. Just prior to that time I had been looking at the methods we were using to control frequency, voltage and security. I came up with some horrific numbers of how we were dreadfully inefficient in virtually all we did. Efficiency was just not looked at. There are examples of waste in the millions of dollars. For example one large generation system was loosing 50 gigga watt hours per year simply because they were not looking at the efficiency details. The information on efficiency was not comfortable and I was told to stop messing around with the efficiency issue and focus on the introduction of the market. The market makes efficiency a non issue, I was told. “Wake up to yourself” was one angry message to me.

      The day the market began, the normal process of practical action based on our control information vanished. It was now all about the spot price and reacting to the targets that came. Initially we had to intervene as before to save the ship in the early adaption of the market control. But eventually we got to 5 minute targets and the system security was controlled by the market system to a far greater detail than we could previously ever hope to manage.

      After a few years of adjustment, efficiency options were adopted and used in the bidding process by various organisations.. More and more algorithms were introduced into the market system to observe, predict and manage security issues.
      We were getting decisions and action decisions via the 5min targets and eventually the FCAS market.

      The point to all of this now is that the eventual control action is calculated in milli seconds, in response to thousands of data inputs. The response info goes out to all the market contributors precisely adjusted for all the real time feedback info. When this process did include the carbon tax, price adjustments, the evolution was proceeding as necessary, safely, efficiently and at reduced cost, toward a totally clean energy system in this nation.

      When the tax vanished, so too did the market incentives to be clean.

      What I did learn from this job was that the market will best encourage renewable energy, reliability, security, efficiency and affordability if the design priorities are on a platform of what is required. The key thing here is cost. If that is not corrupted, the free market approach will quickly move to 100% clean.

      • Peter

        You say “If the cost is not corrupted …”, which is the point of pricing carbon emissions, as CO2 is a pollutant, because of its external effects on everything (global warming in this case). Markets do not achieve what the society wants if there is no price to pay when our wishes are ignored.

        I agree that conditions have changed and we may get what we want from the market, despite the failure to deal with externalities, because renewables now have an economic advantage over coal and gas, and with batteries, will achieve reliability as well.

        As for a Carbon Tax (or the like), perhaps its problems with voters can be avoided if the tax is paid as a dividend to consumers. But remember, it is we who are the polluters as we use the energy, so, why should we get a dividend?

        I am intrigued by a plant “losing” 50GWh/annum through inefficiency. How come? Do tell.

        • Cooma Doug

          The market bidding process can be complicated. To set up for the most advantage due to price swings is complex enough. Then you have an efficiency loss of 1 to 2 and sometimes 5 % due to the difficulties of combining efficiency with market opportunity. So getting a complex and detailed bidding process that follows an optimum efficiency route as well is not easy. When the numbers became clear and we were looking at many millions the numbers were crunched for the purpose.
          I can see after this experience how large wind farm owners will be looking at the virtual storage and load side options to pack up the value of their product. Products will shine brightly soon. We never thought we would ever sell spinning reserve or get money for a 30 second promise to generate, or the many other FCAS assets. We didn’t even think of them as products.
          Walk through your home or a shopping mall. They will be full of opportunity and FCAS products.

          All the while the large base load plant that has to buy and provide fuel as well as paying for the mess they make, has no value that can be merged with these little pieces of gold across the meter.
          Too slow, too far from load, too expensive and a shag on a rock.

          • Peter G

            I really enjoy our contributions Cooma almost as much as I enjoy Giles hitting his straps.
            The other issue is of course the transmission/distribution component. On the one hand, the fixed universal tariff approach did not send an timely market signal to all those people installing air-conditioning and, on the other the privatized generation market too readily cheered along the perverse incentive because they were selling more electrons. Might this have happened so unchecked under the previous arragement?
            Although is a punching bag nowadays I think the home insulation scheme is a great example of a off market government intervention that improved the market and also addressed some of Vikki’s Stevens equity issues above.

  • Michael Murray
    • Ian Franklin

      Even Mathew Warren, as CEO of the Energy Council, had a few (somewhat grudgingly) positive comments about the battery installation. Yet, all week, the Advertiser has published overwhelmingly negative letters to the editor about Tesla and the SA Government. Several of these have come from known deniers of the science of global warming, others have a track record of attacking the government on any issue. I am concerned, however, that others have accepted uncritically the lies and misinformation from the vested interests attacking climate science. With only one exception, all of the letters show no understanding of the role of the battery installation within the grid. Do these letters really represent a reasonable cross-section of readers, or are positive comments regularly culled? It is dispiriting that the only daily newspapers widely available to the SA public come from the Murdoch stable.

      • Mark Brown

        You may be surprised by some people have their own beliefs. Most by years of experience in many different sectors of private business, government, trade & economics.
        This is often enhanced by travel & living through various parts of an economic cycle which happens throughout ones life.
        Just because they have a different take on subjects, especially away from mainstream Media & PR driven
        Ideological, ‘Groupthink’.
        Smug or naive people feel this need to belittle them with some personal, demeaning lable.
        I have been many times rewarded in my life listening to successful wise elderly people.

        • Ian Franklin

          Of course I am aware that people have their own beliefs. I have met people who believe that the earth is 6000 years old, or have been abducted by aliens.

      • Olwen2050

        Don’t be dispirited. The Murdoch press in SA gives coal-loving, anti-renewable letter-writers unwarranted column space but it doesn’t reflect the public mood. Cheers, “one exception”.

        • Rod

          Back in the days of News PAPERS I used to send LETTERS to the editor. Mainly on subjects like cycling and public transport.
          The reason I did it was I was told pollies (or their minions) would scour the pages and considered every opinion printed reflected those of another 200 voters!
          I am pretty sure they are aware of the incredible bias these days but what can you do when one man owns the only show in town.
          Given we have seen poll after poll suggesting RE has high approval, the ratio of 10 to 1 anti RE to pro published is a joke.

  • Joe

    “Stupidity” or is it brilliant strategy from BIg Fossil Fuel. Just like Exxon, Big Tobacco and Big Asbestos.the game plan was never admitting the truth, hide the truth, just keep trotting out the lies and misinformation, anything to confuse the public discussion space all for the goal of prolonging the status quo. “Empty vessels make the most noise” is the saying and how right that is when you hear the constant squawking from the radio shock jocks, Rupert’s news rags and members of The COALition in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry. They think that they can wear us out with their constant rubbish talk but people power and business economics are winning. Us True Believers in RE may have been slowed down in the past but we are on an unstoppable roll now. The COALition will be gone at the next election and with it the boosters for Big Fossil Fuel.

  • Ken Fabian

    They still reject climate science.

    Views not greatly different to Senator Roberts abound within the LNP – but they engage in their group think behind closed doors whilst making what look like ironic kowtows to “political correctness” with “in principle” support for emissions reduction, excusing this brazen lying by pretending that they are forced to say stuff like that by some mythical PC thought police.

    They do that because they seek to avoid a debate that would make them look like the misinformed and irresponsible “leaders” they actually are, because their pro-fossil fuels agenda “works better” with truth avoidance than candid honesty. And because they are cowardly on this and don’t have even the honesty of Roberts, who at least doesn’t hide his irrational opinions behind the outwards appearance of accepting the expert advice.

  • Robin_Harrison

    Tesla are currently news service ‘GOLD’ in Oz. It would be great if they used that PR leverage to publicise the fire tests they’ve already done on their power packs and maybe do another on their powerwalls.
    Anything to sideline these BS fire regs.

  • RobSa

    One can only imagine what the management of these companies are doing. They will have recruitment challenges as nobody will want to carry the personal liability from potential litigation.

    “Those left holding investments in fossil fuel companies will find their investments becoming more and more risky over time.” – Michael Brune

  • Robert Comerford

    I think Malfunction’s comments in Queensland yesterday show he is now only concerned with keeping in power. Things he once considered (quite rightly) ‘bullshit’ are now part of his supposed belief system.
    Why am I not surprised!

  • Soooo many Australians are scared shitless of change, of possible loss of comfort zone, and thus have become too greedy and stupid. Probably a close second to the USA in terms of cultivated, aggressive ignorance. Even our Green politicians are impractical twits. No one seems to have a viable and worthwhile value set of any depth. Just wish lists and blametime, it seems, are called for. I have had a web site up (http://www.lifesupportinternational.org) for years, with a simple approach to a viable alternative. It seems to be a bimbo deterrent – very few people see it or download the content. Presentation is all for our marketed, simpleton, twit-powered society of feel-good consumers. More concerned about having someone in legislature make up for lack of honesty and foresight in gay relationships than to concern themselves with the practicalities of survival in a post growth economy, post consumer society on a dying planet. Totally self absorbed embarrassments – the Australian voter has proved to be.

  • Les Johnston

    Without a Federal ICAC, the money and benefits flow freely undetected between politicians and the fossil industry. When this is coupled with misinformation, the public is duped and fails to understand the reasons behind higher electricity costs, gas costs and inefficient transport.

  • Rob

    I agree with Koutsantonis. There is only one explanation for the COALitions totally absurd and destructive take on renewables and climate change action, and that is that they are totally beholden to the fossil fuel industry, lock stock and barrel. There is no other plausible explanation. The states will have to go it alone until we can chuck out these corrupt morons.

  • Don McMillan

    A letter in todays OZ an elderly gentleman Mr J Zajac wrote “My wife is cold, I am cold”. Yes it is stupid but it is going to get worse.

  • Roger Brown

    LNP and LTD NEWS ! That’s how nearly 50% of Australians Got Stupid !