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ESB to use inflated costs for wind and solar to justify NEG

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The Energy Security Board is to use vastly inflated costs of wind and solar PV in its modelling for the proposed National Energy Guarantee, in a move that is likely to deliberately hide the benefits of having more variable renewable energy in the system.

The cost assumptions were circulated in documents put together by the ESB earlier this week, and continue a long tradition in Australia of using grossly inflated cost estimates for wind and solar.

Most of these reports have been used to argue that policies that encourage large amounts of wind and solar do not achieve significant cost reductions. It seems that this modelling for the NEG is designed to reach the same outcome.

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Frontier Economics, which has been commissioned to do the modelling that will be presented to the COAG energy ministers later this month, is factoring in costs of wind of $78-$90/MWh, and costs of solar of $90/MWh.

This is between 30 to 40 per cent above the costs of contracts for wind and solar this year, and what the industry says it is achieving. Frontier’s modelling assumes that solar and wind costs will not reach their actual current levels until 2030, in the case of solar, and 2040 in the case of wind.

(ARENA deputy CEO Ian Kaye told a conference earlier this year that, according to ARENA data, the cost of wind in Australia was averaging in the $50-$60/MWh range, while large-scale solar was averaging $70-$75/MWh.

This is borne out by publicly announced contracts for the last three big wind farms in Australia – Stockyard Hill in Victoria, Silverton in NSW, and Cooper’s Gap in Queensland. All three have costs of below $60/MWh.

ARENA should know the prices for large-scale solar, as it was responsible for the auction that underpinned many of these projects. Project developers put the costs of large-scale solar at around $70/MWh).

This, of course, is not the first time that grossly inflated wind and solar costs have been used to push a certain ideological line.

The Australian Energy Markets Commission, which is driving this process, and Frontier teamed up to use similarly inflated costs to argue against the renewable energy target, and again last year in a report on consumer prices. (Australia’s energy rule-maker hasn’t a clue about renewable energy).

And even the Finkel Review and modelling for emissions intensity schemes have fallen into the same trap.

See our stories Finkel modelling ignores new technologies, cheaper renewables; a potted history Modelling wars; moulding data to kill renewables; and what happens when more realistic cost assumptions are dialled in: Modelling from government advisor shows high RET may be cheapest option.

“Yet again it looks like the AEMC, and via them the ESB, are relying on badly out of date assumptions about the costs of solar PV and wind power,” says Tristan Edis, a senior analyst from Green Energy Markets.

30 October 2017 - ESB Modelling Assumptions for NEG

“We highlighted problems with the modelling assumptions in the AEMC’s 2016 analysis and they’ve thankfully been improved, but the market has advanced further down the cost-curve.

“We’ve got publicly announced information from both Origin and AGL of PPAs for wind signed below $60 per MWh.

“While they most likely represent the bottom-end of what’s possible, the market is capable of delivering far better than the range of $78-$90 assumed. In terms of their projections into the future for 2030 they really need to get out and talk to the wind turbine manufacturers about what they’re capable of doing with low wind speed sites.

“With Solar PV, they seemed to have caught up with where the market was at around mid 2016, but their 2030 cost projection is about  where the market is at now.”

The modelling for the NEG appears to be further distorted by assuming an extra 3 per cent to the cost of capital for new projects. At least in its “base case”.

This is being attributed to the policy uncertainty – caused by the government itself – but it favours incumbent gas and coal assets over new wind and solar projects, and it also means that modelling for a NEG – with policy certainty – will deliver a cheaper outcome.

Another assumption is that the Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro scheme will also be built and in place by 2024. Not only is this an ambitious completion date, the modelling does not appear to factor in the cost of the taxpayer-funded scheme. Apparently we are to assume it will come for free.

So what happens when you use inflated costs of wind and solar?

Basically, it hides the fact that using more wind and solar would actually reduce costs to consumers.

Combined with the other assumptions – a minimal emissions reduction target and no reliability issues (thanks to Snowy 2.0, the low level of wind and solar and the presence of solar thermal) it would justify a minimal increase in new wind and solar plants over the next decade.

Now, this might be a convenient ruse to fool the right wing of the Coalition, who appear to have the final word on any policy, but if the NEG is designed in a way that prevents new wind and solar, and is not scaleable to meet more ambitious emissions reduction targets, then it will be a significant danger to the wind and solar industry.

Already, new analysis shows Australia drifting behind even its own modest near term climate goals and well below the cuts needed to meet the long term Paris climate targets. The ESB has been instructed to assume no further cuts in emissions beyond 2030.

“These out of date assumptions are likely to misinform the government and general public about the cost and optimum pace of emission reductions,” Edis says.

“Given how badly the AEMC got their assumptions wrong in their 2016 modelling exercise about alternative emission reduction policy options I would thought they might have learnt something about the need to engage in a broad and open consultation with market participants that actually have some experience in wind and solar power projects. ”

RenewEconomy talked with several renewable energy and battery storage developers who were similarly dismayed by the modelling assumptions. “Looks like we are going to have to make yet another submission,” said one. “It’s just another merry-go-round of false assumptions.”

It’s not the only attempt to fool consumers about the true cost of energy. The Murdoch media this week published a story claiming a previously hidden analysis for the Queensland government had shown that a new coal-fired generator would be viable in north Queensland.

This, of course, is the main policy of the state LNP, and is supported by the likes of ex MP Barnaby Joyce and Resources minister Matt Canavan, who insist new coal will reduce prices.

But the Queensland Labor government released that modelling this week, showing that a new coal plant would not be viable unless the cost of electricity remained high, and that it would not be viable at all with a carbon price.

Fairfax reports that the coal-fired power plant is viable if wholesale electricity prices stayed at 2017’s average wholesale price of $93.12/MWh, but it is not viable if the wholesale electricity price drops to last year’s average of $59.99/MWh. So much for cheap coal.  

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  • Andy Saunders

    And no demand response, it seems…

    • RobertO

      Hi Andy Saunders, you can expect us poor pensioner to turn off our Air Conditioning just so we can save a few $, so we do not have to pay a $ billion to handle the top 5 peaks of consumption in a year. I will do my bit (I wish I could just say “Good By to the COALition”). Their maths must be 2 for you and 2 for me makes 5, good show and all accounted for!

      • Andy Saunders

        No, that’s not how it works. For a start, a lot is industrial loads, where some plant can be turned off without great trouble (often pumps, fans etc, or where automated processing can be done at another time).

        And it’s done for reward, i.e. $. No-one is compelled to do it, but if you were offered some payment to have someone else turn off your pool pump, or turn up your AC a couple of degrees then you might be inclined. If not you, then enough people may want to do it to make it well worth the trouble.

    • Roger Franklin

      Andy – you have clearly not understood the true meaning of “Demand Response”!! To me it is where Energy and Coal Lobbyists make demands on the FIFO workers in Canberra and then get a Response……. and by all accounts, it seems that they have got “Demand Response” working just fine. It does however seem that Demand Response is not working so well in some of the States these days…….. might be solved by more donations!

  • Rob Passey

    Interesting that they’re assuming the LRET will remain in place out to 2030

    • Carl

      It does, there’s just no change to the required generation

  • howardpatr

    When will the ESB, particularly member John Pierce, be made to justify these figures in a public forum?

  • Joe

    COALition modelling process …plug in the numbers that give the desired ‘political result’. Lovely picture that above of the high flying kite.

  • Roger Franklin

    Best not to let facts get in the way of a good story.

  • Jake Frederics2

    The question should be what will it cost to provide a constant 1MW for 24 hours with Eg solar. Suddenly you are looking at “$1000” per MWh

    • Tom

      Rubbish. Let’s do some numbers.

      Esco Pacific is looking at building a solar farm called Finley Solar Farm in Victoria – 170MW DC (let’s call it 136MW AC) at a cost of $170 million. That’s $1.25/watt.

      Being single axis tracking it could have a capacity factor close to 30%, but let’s call it 25%. That’s 300,000MWh per year, or $566/MWh/year.

      Let’s say it’s depreciated over 20 years (they’ll probably last 40 years) and it costs $5/MWh in ongoing maintenance costs (very generous – that’s $1.5 million per year for the solar farm), that’s $33/MWh in generation costs.

      That’s the variable power – now to store it. At $250/kWh, it would cost $4.5 million to store 18MWh (the panels supply the other 6MWh while charging) for 1MW for 24 hours. You would only need 18MWh of storage for every 4MW of panels (as the average constant output is 1/4 of the rated peak output, and the panels are supplying the grid plus charging the batteries for the other 6 hours). So that’s $153 million for the batteries. Let’s say you need to replace them after 10 years – that’s $306 million over 20 years – adding $51/MWh to the cost, bringing it up to $84/MWh.

      $84/MWh compared with your claim of $1000/MWh. And that’s assuming the ridiculous scenario that the solar farm should supply a constant rate of power. We know that “baseload” is just as useless as variable generation because it can’t adjust to meet demand.

      Whatever way you look at it – double the number of panels for winter and waste 3/4 of the power in summer – it still comes in at well under $1000/MWh.

      • Peter F

        You are too conservative, there is no reason to use 25%. When the batteries are replaced, all the wiring and most of the control gear will be retained and the batteries themselves will be around half the current cost. Discount that over 10 years and the NPV of the battery replacement is around 20% of the current cost. Taking all these factors into account the total battery cost is effectively $180-200m, 55-60% of power consumption occurs when solar is generating thus reducing the storage requirement further so the real cost is less than $55/MWhr delivered.
        In any case in an integrated system existing hydro will take on much of the backup role, as it can supply about 35% of demand when the sun is not shining again reducing the storage requirement by another 35%. Add in some wind to stretch the storage capacity of the hydro and $50/MWhr total cost is not too far away

        • Tom

          I totally agree. I was just using conservative estimates so that nobody could accuse me of talking it up.

      • Jake Frederics2

        Read “$1000” as in very high.

        1. Your $1M per MW installed capacity is too low. It is closer to $2.5M at the moment; but let us use $2M.

        2. Money is not free. @ 8% over 20y suddenly cost approx $80/MWh

        3. Let’s assume your battery cost is correct; in fact I think it is very realistic for large scale battery deployment. That will make it approx $75/MWh storage capacity.

        4. Last point is; you need ~4.96MW installed solar capacity to charge 18MW batteries (your calculation)

        5. 80×5 +75 = $475/MWh before you even start building transmission to connect or to add gas/diesel backup.

        I come from a viewpoint of designing saps (Eg crusher plant in the middle of nowhere). For a grid you can get away with a lot less battery backup to cover base load (plus wind/hydro, etc) but it is still an interesting calculation.

        “Let’s install 170MW solar. If the sun doesn’t shine for a couple of days they can get it somewhere else :)”

        • Mike Westerman

          Jake what proportion of customers are off grid in the middle of nowhere? Almost none. So irrelevant way to base a case. In SA we were offered solar at $40/MWh if we supplied the land, which we could, for one project. That project had budgeted pumped hydro to firm all the solar output at another $40, so firm at $80. Ok, exceptional project, but even the most expensive I looked at was $90 for a total of $130. So $1000 is just babble.

        • Tom

          Is “Jake Frederics” code for “Josh Freydenberg”? Because this bullshit sounds like JF. Luckily I’m almost certainly better at maths than you, so let’s dismantle these points one at a time.

          1) “$1M/MW too low – $2.5M/MW at the moment” Sorry. You’re using 2015 figures. It’s happening – and in Australia (although these are DC figures – take off 20% to convert to AC and it’s $1.25/MW).

          2) 8%?? LOL. Where can you get 8% these days – especially if you’ve got guaranteed revenue from a long-term PPA? State governments could build them themselves from debt sourced at 2.5-3.0% and blow these PPAs out of the water! They should talk to my SMSF – I’ll finance part of their debt for 5 or 6% – better than I can get from a bank and bloody secure.

          3) Where do you get $75/MWh from? Ooooh – I think you forgot that battery storage isn’t required while the panels are pumping straight into the grid as well as into the batteries. Hence only 18 hours of storage for 24 hours of power.

          4) DC to AC conversion as explained above? 4MW of panels at (conservative) CF 25% = 24MWh per day (1MW continuous). While generating 4MW for 6 hours, 3MW is charging batteries, while 1MW supplies the grid.

          5) “$80×5 + $75” – No, No, No you FOOL! You’ve mixed up power and energy (not for the first time). There is no “multiplied by 5” – this has already been accounted for in the capacity factor and levelized cost of energy. Get a pen and paper, draw a diagram, and start again.

          • Jake Frederics2

            Hi Tom. I made a type in the calc I used 4% which means over 20y it is $2.5017M per year for 170MW @ $2M/MW. $25M / 300 000 MWh/y = $83.3/MWh

            However, you are correct. I am going admit a mistake. :).

            Storage plus Solar Gen with slightly more overhead is still under $200/MWh. This raises a lot of questions for me………..

          • Tom

            http://finleysolarfarm.com.au

            $1M/MW DC = approx $1.25M/MW AC

      • Love your numbers Tom!
        It’d be great to turn your calcs into a widget!
        I know it’s simple to recreate, but would be great if you have Excel sheet for sharing

        • Tom

          Thanks ZENoosa,

          It’s a bit of a silly calculation – nobody’s ever going to build a 35MW, 630MWh battery so that a solar farm so that a 136MW solar farm can supply a constant trickle of 35MW into the grid 24 hours a day.

          If you spent up on 630MWh of battery, you’d probably want at least 300MW of power from it. Imagine the dispatchability and peak-shaving that you could achieve with that! Not to mention the synthetic inertia. A few of those dotted around and 99% of the energy network issues would be solved.

          • Mike Westerman

            What the foolish that talk about the need for 7×24 flatline supply ignore is that we have yet to even see the changes that will come about with very low daytime electricity prices, including progressively free power to charge cars in shopping centres. Thermal storage for heating and airconditioning is the low hanging fruit, followed by new designs for energy intensive process industries.

          • Tom

            @ MikeWesterman – Absolutely.

            Properly smart demand management will consist of increasing demand in times of power surplus as well as knocking the tops off the demand peaks. It’s going to be huge.

            I’m about to start building a house. It’s going to have about 8kW of PV mounted at 55 degrees to maximise winter generation at the expense of summer generation.

            I’ll have two hot water tanks – as big as I can get – 400L hopefully. One of them will be for domestic hot water, and can heat from heat exchange from the other tank, possibly with a standard element a back-up. The other tank will supply in-slab hydronic heating, and will be heated by a heat pump (and also from a wood fire).

            I’ll have a “Powerdiverter” or equivalent, so that before selling surplus solar power to the grid it will superheat my water tanks up to 20 degrees or so above what the thermostat would cut out at without surplus solar power.

            800L X 20 degrees (with a thermal element) = 25kWh. With a heat-pump it’s less, but it’s still a cheap battery.

            Just one example of your “thermal storage for heating is low hanging fruit”.

          • Mike Westerman

            Now that Tom, sounds like a lot of fun!

          • Ian

            Sounds like you are building in a cold area. Obviously your house will have optimum orientation and North facing windows with an awning to catch the winter sun and avoid the summer heat, and also you will have fantastic insulation in walls, roof and ceiling. What is the ground temperature of your site? Often this is a pleasant 16’to 20’ at 1m below the surface ( see BOM data for this in Victoria) . Tying your floor slab to the ground (ie without insulating it from the ground) may provide a very reasonable temperature to the inside of the house and give a huge thermal storage for your hydronic heating.

            In some countries, houses use thick masonry walls and have no floor insulation. They have thatch or other insulated roofs. During the day outside heat starts to slowly conduct through the wall only reaching the inside surface by nightfall and then at night the cold night air slowly cools the wall from the outside until the morning. As a result the internal environment of the house takes up the mean of day and night temperatures. This diurnal mean averaged over the whole year would be very similar to the soil temps at 1m underground.

            In a well insulted house with no heating or cooling but thermally tied to the ground you would expect internal temperatures to approach the soil temp. If this is too cold, then hydronic in-slab heating with abundant solar thermal and/or nice north facing windows may gradually raise the temp of the slab and its underlying soil to a pleasant temperature for the winter. It’s a big no-no, but East or West facing windows can allow a huge amount of solar gain which can be an advantage in winter but a distinct disadvantage in Summer. The summer heat can be shielded by external blinds , shutters or plants.

            In my mind the challenge is to build a house in such a way, using all sorts of Passiv Haus design parameters, that it self-regulates its internal temperature for all occupancies days and nights and seasons without the need to add or remove heat..

          • Tom

            @ Ian – building in Tassie. Despite what they might say, there’s no such thing as adequate passive heating in Tassie in winter.

            Our heated slab will actually be a first floor slab – a great big floating thermal mass. Yes, north facing windows (more by luck than skill), yes, well insulated (no choice these days – you need to meet the energy efficiency standards), and I’m hoping that this massive floating plate of warmth keeps the house warm for those horrible 5 months of the year.

          • neroden

            I remember the original passive house studies (from very cold regions). Basically there’s a certain square footage per warm body that you can heat passively, but if you have a larger house or are out of the house most of the day, you need a heating system.

          • yep sure the underlying assumptions were dumb. But recently I’ve been analysing the zone substation 1/2 hourly load data in our area. So I’m interested in the ball park economics of solar + battery matched to our current load profiles. If you’re up for an offline chat contact me [email protected]

      • Ian

        Nice calcs. You could rewrite capacity factor for solar as nameplate capacity for x hours/day ( assuming 365 optimally sunny days a year) 5hrs a day should then yield 5KWH per KW installed or a capacity factor of 5/24 %= 21% Similarly 6hrs/day capacity factor of 25%, 7hrs per day CF of 29%.

        The quoted yield for rooftop solar in Melbourne is on average 3.6KWH/KW installed ie a capacity factor of 15%.

        Is it reasonable to expect single axis tracking to double the output compared with fixed orientation of panels?

        • Tom

          I’ve done some sums (it took me a while), all for 42 degrees South (Tassie), so a bit different to northern Victoria at 35-36 degrees South.

          Assuming zero cloud, SAT will have 40% CF compared with 30 degree north tilt CF 33%, and “flat” (complete paddock covered) CF 26%.

          These sums were not quite optimised for SAT though – my assumption was that the panels have a maximum tilt of 60 degrees and smoothly move from East to West with the sun the same every day. However, I realised that sometimes this does not actually optimise solar collection, eg, 9am on the summer solstice (daylight saving ignored here), the sun is 57 degrees high, so an eastern tilt of 45 degrees is not optimal at this time.

          So you could probably get SAT up to 41 or 42% CF, again assuming no cloud.

          So it’s about 25% better than fixed north tilt.

          Cloud may disproportionately affect SAT over fixed tilt, as there may be more cloud in the early morning and late evening – or because the sun is so low it is easier for the broken cloud to intercept the sun’s rays. So it depends on the cloud pattern.

          Northern Victoria has a much better solar resource than Melbourne – at least 20% better. (Even North-East Tas has a significantly better solar resource than Melbourne). Check out this map from BOM.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d705e883cd3c482521d18102f9a7e73b41ebc5d664cde5b18560f2c43bcbba17.png

          1.25X1.2 = 1.5, so a SAT plant in Northern Victoria should produce 50% more energy than 30 degrees north tilt in Melbourne. That only brings us up to 5.4 hours/day or CF 22.5%.

          However, also remember that most panels in Melbourne are not going to have a 30 degree north tilt – 30 degrees is a bloody steep roof, and you’d have to fluke it that your roof faces perfectly North. So most rooftop solar is going to be somewhere between “optimal fixed tilt” and “flat”.

          Moree solar farm (SAT, and a slightly better solar resource than northern Victoria) is supposedly running at a CF of 29.5%.

    • Peter F

      Who wants a constant 1 MW. The grid certainly doesn’t SA for example varies from 680 MW to 3,100 MW.

    • Nick Thiwerspoon

      The NREL PVWatts website estimates that even in darkest Victoria, 6 kW of rooftop panels will produce 4743 kW of elec over the year, or 13 kW per day. You can install that for around $5000. A Tesla Powerwall battery will cost you $10,000 and has 13.5 kWh of storage. Assuming a 10 year life (extremely conservative–the panels will last at least 25 years, and the battery will still have 80% of its original capacity after 10 years) the total LCOE is 15,000/13/365/10 or 31.6 cents per kWh, i.e., $316/MWh which is way below your “$1000″/MWh. And the Powerwall is more than twice as expensive per kWh of storage as large-scale battery plants, and rooftop solar is more expensive than large-scale solar.

      It’s simply not possible that large scale solar with 18 hours of storage will cost three times as much as rooftop solar with 24 hours of expensive small-scale storage.

      As an aside, 31.6 cents/kWh is cheaper than most retail electricity, and that’s with *current* battery prices. When the gigafactory really gets underway, battery costs will halve and halve again. Meanwhile, thanks to the cretinism of our government, electricity prices are likely to go on rising.

      • Ian

        Nick why only 2KWH/KW installed for Victoria? solarchoice suggest 3.6 KWH/KW your calcs with this figure should then be 19c/KWH. Which actually looks very good. Brisbane fairs better 4.2 KWH/KW : 16c/KWH.

        You could imagine a business with a demand 5 times greater in the day as at night , installing twice as much solar as they would normally need. Batteries costing $1000/KWH installed, Depth of Discharge 70%, solar $1000/KW . 10 year useful life of the project , negligible finance cost: solar production in Brisbane per 1 KW installed : 4.2 KWH/KW. Storage for this output: 4.2/6/0.7 =1KWH. cost per KW solar $2000+ 1000×1 =$3000/KW installation cost yield over 10 years: 4.2 x 365 x 10 = 15330KWH/KW cost = 19.6/KWH.

        • Nick Thiwerspoon

          I used NREL’s PVWatts calculator:

          http://pvwatts.nrel.gov/pvwatts.php

          If output is higher as you suggest, then the numbers are even better.

          Remember that Tesla understates its batteries’ capacities to ensure that they are never discharged below 30%. That ensures that battery life is longer than one would expect. Some early Tesla Model S’s have driven 200,000 miles with less than 10% loss of battery capacity.Tesla is selling their Powerwall batteries for $10K including installation and GST. so that’s $740 per kWh installed. The only reason Musk hasn’t cut the costs of batteries again is that sales aren’t demand-constrained but supply-constrained. But when the gigafactory is completed, battery costs will plunge.

          And a battery-powered house or business won’t lose power during an outage:

          Powerwall can detect an outage, disconnect from the grid, and automatically restore power to your home in a fraction of a second. You will not even notice that the power went out. Your lights and appliances will continue to run without interruption.

          If you have solar and Powerwall, then solar energy will continue to power your home and recharge Powerwall. Without Powerwall, solar will shut down during an outage.

          We estimate how long your home will stay powered during an outage based on your indicated home size and the appliances you elect to back up, derived from national data. With solar, your Powerwall charge will deplete only when your home energy usage exceeds your solar power production. We cap our estimate at 7 days to account for the occasional cloudy day that may impact solar production.
          (from Tesla’s website)

          • technerdx6000

            Can confirm. Have Powerwall 2 and it’s damn amazing

  • Tim Buckley

    How come John Pearce is running the ESB? Was there not a committee of five appointed? Are the other four just going to accept this coal-peddling crap?

  • Ken Dyer

    We are seeing how deep the fossil fuel industry is embedded in the industry. They are all very frightened, and will stop at nothing to try and justify just a few more weeks, months or years before the whole industry falls over. One is now seeing the closure of coal plants in Europe that are less than 10 years old, and I think there is one case where it is only three years old. And let us not forget Adani’s Mundra cola plant. Just 5 years old, it has not and never will run at a profit despite the Indian Government propping it up.

    Lazard COE2016 shows that the UNSUBIDISED costs of wind and solar in the last 7 years have fallen 66% and 85% respectively. One expects that the 2017 report will continue that theme. This shows up the lying machinations of the ESB.

    • Mike Westerman

      And suggests this rabble pretending to be government are not long for this earth, and with some adults in the room, Australia might actually start planning for a great future based on RE!

  • Hettie

    Garbage in, garbage out.
    The ESB – Energy Security Board is to produce cost modeling for the NEG.
    But wait! Are the costs for wind and solar to be current? Based on actual prices now contracted for wind and solar?
    Don’t be silly. The figures to be used are from …. what, exactly?
    Who knows what hat they have been dragged from.
    All we can say is they are 30% to 40% higher than real current costs.
    As I said, GIGO.
    This means, of course, that energy policy decisions will be based on a pack of lies.
    What a surprise!
    This government has always been scrupulously truthful about everything.
    No, wait…

    • Mike Westerman

      Hettie we all should be angry, not least investors wanting to provide jobs and growth. Instead we get lies and incompetence beyond our worst nightmare.

      • Hettie

        You think I’m not angry?
        I’m seething with rage.
        If it were not for the news that soil scientists have found a cheap, easy way to sequester gigatonnes of CO2 in the soil, by innoculating crop seeds with a fungus (much as lucern seeds are innoculated to assist their capture of nitrogen), I would be in despair for the planet.
        Still lots of research needed to adapt the biotech for a wide range of soils and crops, but huge increases in crop yield already demonstrated.
        Soil C Project.

        • Calamity_Jean

          “…soil scientists have found a cheap, easy way to sequester gigatonnes of CO2 in the soil, by innoculating crop seeds with a fungus….”

          That sounds fascinating. Have you got a link?

          • Hettie
          • Calamity_Jean

            Thanks, I’ll check it out.

            We still need to stop burning fossil fuels, though.

          • Hettie

            For sure. We must reduce, eliminate emissions, but it’s essential to claw a great deal of CO2 back out of the atmosphere. It hangs around for centuries, after all. Gigatonnes sequestred wont be enough. Teratonnes might be, but the combination of close to zero emissions and gigatons of sequestration just might be the saving of us.

  • BushAxe

    Prices 10 years behind, sounds like pretty much everything AEMC does!

  • Ray Miller

    Assumptions are not made clear up front on most Government reports and modelling.
    If I would change just one thing, it would be that each report undertaken be proceeded with all the assumptions and terms of reference which are made and the authors interests and qualifications declared.
    Generally our professionals are not trained well to identify and understand our systems, which leads to significant resources totally wasted and misdirected. We continuously end up with major and on going inefficiencies. e.g. we over spend $100’s billions on energy infrastructure without robust planning and will not spend only fractions of this on our NBN delivering FTTH!
    The AEMC should be all sacked and then investigated for corruption! Something untoward with the AEMC has been going on for some time and a very big light needs to be shone on it. Everyone knows this and the AEMC seem to be protected for some reason and be untouchable.

  • DevMac

    Economists on leashes brandishing statistics. Three layers of potential corruption, obfuscation, and distortion of reality.

    Tell us what you want the results to show, and we’ll find the numbers that fit.

  • neroden

    Question about Australian law.

    In the US, if an agency uses blatantly incorrect cost estimates in a modeling study, any policy regulations or purchasing decisions which it implements based on that are null and void: the environmental groups will sue, and the courts will throw the regulations out on the grounds that they did not comply with the laws. The laws require that the regulations be based on accurate evidence, not fakery.

    (The *legislature* is allowed to do whatever screwy things it wants by passing laws, so it could implement stupid policies, and it doesn’t need to give a reason at all — but the *agencies* are not allowed to do this with regulations or purchasing; they have to give a coherent reason based on evidence.)

    Is there some similar legal principle in Australia? If so, the ESB regulations can be thrown out in a court case.

    • Hettie

      Nope.