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Frydenberg says renewables not to blame for South Australia energy “crisis”

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Josh Frydenberg, the minister newly elevated to the combined energy and environment portfolio, says that renewable energy was not to blame for the recent energy “crisis” in South Australia, although he did deliver some mixed messages about how the government proposes to move forward.

Frydenberg delivered a series of interviews on Wednesday, the first since he was appointed to the new position in a reshuffle by the re-elected Turnbull government, and this included a “chat” with ABC personality Annabel Crabb at a dinner function at the Clean Energy Summit.

josh frydenberg cecAsked about the recent electricity spikes in South Australia, Frydenberg said it was a “complex picture” that included a reduced capacity on the inter-connector, a cold snap that spiked demand, a big shift in gas prices, and the “intermittency issue about wind and solar.”

But he also noted that in 2008, as RenewEconomy has reported, the price of wholesale electricity in South Australia peaked above $5,000/MWh more than 50 times. That was before wind and solar were in that state, he said, and noted there had only been three such peaks so far this year.

“People have to understand that this volatility is not a new thing. It was back there in 2008 …. so to say that (this price spike) is the fault of renewables is not an accurate assessment,” Frydenberg said, to the applause of the audience of around 400 people.

This, however, was not how The Australian interpreted events, who attributed Frydenberg’s comments about the crises in South Australia and Tasmania as a “wake-up” call about the problems created by wind and solar.

Tasmania, it should be remembered, suffered the highest wholesale prices in Australia last financial year because its electricity supply was restricted by the loss of the Basslink cable and much of its hydro capacity due to drought. Most analysts say it was its lack of investment in wind and solar that forced it to rely heavily on expensive back-up gas and diesel.

Indeed, in interviews with The Australian and the ABC, Frydenberg did not refer to past price spikes. He described the recent spikes as “huge fluctuations” caused by the intermittency of wind and solar.

And in those other interviews, Frydenberg indicated that some of the key messages from the fossil fuel lobby had crept into his language, as it has done in the past when advocating for Australian coal.

“(Wind and solar) is intermittent supply, meaning that when, you know, the sun’s not shining and the wind’s not blowing, it’s not supplied,” he said in an interview on ABC’s Lateline. “So South Australia needs back up and that intermittent supply meant that there was greater need for back up and that back up that was expensive.”

Still, the reaction to Frydenberg’s appearance at the Clean Energy Summit was mostly positive. At least he wasn’t Chris Back, the Liberal back-bencher who, like so many others, is so implacably opposed to wind energy.

Frydenberg appeared well briefed, non-confrontational, and recognised the growing role of technologies such as wind, solar and battery storage whose costs had fallen quickly and would continue to do so. He also appeared to be listening, people said.

The role of coal, Frydenberg accepted, is declining, and the transition to clean energy is inevitable. But he was reluctant to put any time frames on the inevitable move to zero emissions technology, apart from saying that a shift to 100 per cent renewable energy was not going to happen overnight.

But while his comments were soothing for an industry just regaining its confidence after being battered and bruised by the first term of the Abbott-Turnbull government and the key policy decisions of Frydenberg’s good friend, the previous environment minister Greg Hunt, his next moves will be scrutinised intensely.

There is great concern about a push by the incumbent energy industry, such as the Energy Supply Council to force state governments to abandon their individual state targets, a move that will be strongly resisted by South Australia, Victoria, Queensland and the ACT.

Frydenberg says he is still getting his mind around the issue, but he was particularly concerned by Queensland’s push for 50 per cent renewables by 2030. “They only have 4.4 per cent now. That is a huge jump.”

Concern was also expressed about Frydenberg’s promise to manage the energy transition by maintaining cheap, reliable and available power.

That is no bad thing, but many suggest that the best way to manage the transition is to have a long-term goal, and right now the government does not even have a renewable energy policy that extends beyond 2020, or a climate change target that matches the science.

And while Frydenberg acknowledged that gas played a key role in the recent electricity prices, his response to this is to try to make more gas available, criticising the blanket bans on fracking in Victoria and NSW.

On the role of coal, Frydenberg said: “It’s our second largest export behind iron ore. We don’t talk just about thermal coal. We’ve also got coking coal and you don’t build a wind turbine or a solar panel without coking coal and other forms of natural resources.

“So, it’s a very complex picture, but we have an optimistic story to tell in Australia. The transition is under way. Renewables are a critical part of that. Technology is going to really see a step up, a step change in the uptake of renewables.

“Australians have a great record, whether it’s in solar PV, on their roofs or whether it’s in large-scale renewable systems, and we can help lead the world in emissions reduction technology.”

The clean energy industry and the fossil fuel industry will get a better picture of the direction that Frydenberg is heading at the council of energy ministers meeting he has called next month, where issues such as the gas supply, the case for new interconnectors and who should pay for them, and state-based targets will be on the agenda, as will proposed market changes that seek to manage the transition to renewables and the exit of coal-fired generation.

How those rules are framed will be critical to the future of coal and gas generators, as well as new technologies such as solar, and storage and new business models. Fossil fuel giants such as AGL Energy are pushing for a shift to “capacity” markets dubbed by the EU and the UN as yet another fossil fuel subsidy, and fighting rule changes that could encourage battery storage to take on some of the roles now provided by peaking gas generators.

Another key point of interest is on climate policy. The Coalition’s targets are geared to 2030 and no further. Environmental groups and analysts are hoping that the 2017 review promised by the Turnbull government will offer an opportunity for a big leap into long-term and biting emissions reduction policies. But some interpreted Frydenberg’s remarks to media on Wednesday as suggesting it could just be a box-ticking exercise.

The challenge for Frydenberg, however, is to set down that long-term vision. Without it, the energy market will have to make it up as it goes along. And it still not clear just how far Frydenberg wants, or will be able, to diverge from the Coalition’s hard-line policy to date.

But they are already not happy. News Ltd described his comments as a major policy reversal, and the Institute of Public Affairs were apoplectic about his comments on the decline of coal.

“The two most important features of an electricity network are affordability and reliability, and renewables have demonstrated that they can’t yet deliver either” said Brett Hogan, Director of Research at the IPA.

“Batteries and interconnectors are a band-aid solution to energy shortages. They don’t actually generate electricity – they only store or carry the power that someone still has to produce.”

The Minerals Council of Australia also joined in, echoing the IPA’s support of “low emission” coal fired generator and also suggesting nuclear power, a former favourite of Frydenberg’ that he now sees as low priority.

 

  

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  • A1

    “Energy Supply Council”

    Is this a new name for SCER…?

    Reckon he’ll push nuclear, given non-profitable findings in SA gov’s enquiry?

  • RobertVincin

    Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg is correct in support of Coal industry and indeed consumers that should not have to pay for the serious wind and solar supplies when winds stop and Sun does not shine Coal burning is de-facto volcanoes the CO2e emissions are a critical part of CO2 cycle back to growing soil soil-carbon and elements. None of this Nature Science is taught in the education system in Australia.
    Other nations, apply the Australian Nature / Science of not only lowering mass CO2 into deserts to grow soil, food, fodder, forestry creating new industries such funded via UNFCCC -IPCC Offset trading. Here is model https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbI8YZmBP8g (1 min)

    PRC for example will lower 8Bn Tonnes CO2 pa by 2020 meeting UNFCCC 100-year rule. The offset trade to emitting industries meeting UNFCCC 100 year rules will to Bn$164 NPV. The perpetual regrowing soil will meet their pressing needs for food, fodder, forestry and a new industries. T. O. est Bn800 pa plus add-on industries and export
    The Howard Government and indeed Abbott government planned to replicate the PRC and now EU into AU. Abbott’s written instructions were to replicate PRC and build new industries to replace mining, manufacturing.
    So, Australia rather than be prime source CO2 offset trades can purchase such offshore. (Cost of Offsets will be 1-3 cents per apple at supermarket. Without prejudice Robert Vincin

    • MikeH

      “PRC for example will lower 8Bn Tonnes CO2 pa by 2020 …”

      Really?

      China’s total CO2e emissions are currently 11 billion tonnes per annum. 40% of that is taken up by the biosphere and by the ocean leaving 6.6 billion tonnes added to the atmosphere.

      If your claim was correct, China would be removing a net 1.4 billion tonnes from the atmosphere per annum.

      Sorry but while soil carbon does have a small but important role to play in decarbonisation, your claim makes no sense at all.

      They remind me of the eccentric Allan Savory who claimed that grazing cattle in deserts would solve global warming. His claims despite being fanciful rubbish were promoted by climate science deniers because they meant that we did not need to stop burning fossil fuels.

    • RobertVincin

      Where do you get your physical science research from the ocean data would excite the UN if it were so I guess whomever you are You have not studied UNFCCC-IPCC COP3 or indeed CO2 cycle or indeed where soil comes from. I would welcome a read of your published science papers special request about the ocean sequestration) here is what I sent the Minister https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbI8YZmBP8g (1 Minute) Let me give you a little insight One does not lecture at Peking Law Science Agriculture Forestry et al Universities or advise 7 Minister and be appointed Foreign Expert Guest and apply what I sent to the Minister for 8 years God help if I delivered what you “think”!

  • neroden

    So the evidence is that solar and wind are *stabilizing* SA’s prices by making the spikes happen *less* often.

  • John Herbst

    FTA: “Batteries and interconnectors are a band-aid solution to energy shortages.”

    Yes, batteries are much like the Band-aids of the Spot Price Market! They are cheap, available everywhere, and easy to use by small customers. They work for 5 minutes to stop a bloody mess!

  • Rob G

    Whatever you think of Frydenberg, isn’t it refreshing to see Greg Hunt gone! His silly numbers answer and non-sense just felt like you were arguing with a stone! Frydenberg – does actually consider the question and comes across as a smarter man. Here’s hoping.

  • JIm

    When was the last time a Coalition Government Minister made sense on any of this?

  • Giles, I’m not sure that you or your supporters know that Frydenberg, as well as being a supporter of renewable energy is also a supporter of nuclear power. And I am also a supporter of both as I see them as complementary and not competitive as I suspect does Frydenberg.

    • solarguy

      The only thing nuclear power is complementary to, is disaster.

      • Concerned

        How?

        • solarguy

          Fukishima, Chernobyl, 3 Mile Island. Of course you’ll say they where bullshit stories made up by the RE fraternity and never happened.

          • Concerned

            Current designs are a world apart regarding safety,and especially Gen IV.
            And there are far more deaths and injuries in all other forms of generating industry.

          • solarguy

            Gen IV reactors haven’t been built yet as no one wants to invest to prove theoretical concept.
            Solar and wind are cheaper by far, even coal.

          • Concerned

            Try Argoyne National Lab,where they ran for 30 years ,and included safety stress tests.
            Then try the Russian B600,and now in service commercial B800.
            You need to get out more.

    • john

      The only reason Nuclear was built, was to develop the bomb material not to provide so called at the time, free energy.
      Looking at the recent development with nuclear it has been a unmitigated disaster.

      • Concerned

        You must have bypassed Korea and China?

    • Yes, we know that, wrote a story about it when he was appointed. and made mention of his latest view of nuclear in this story – not a priority, he says. which not surprising given cost and time needed to build them.

  • RobertVincin

    to MikeH I am interested in your science source of how CO2 is sequestered into the biosphere and indeed the ratio of ocean take up. And your other science papers

    • MikeH

      Try reading the IPCC WG1 reports on the fast carbon cycle.

      This NASA diagram shows the fast carbon cycle with figures in Gigatonnes of carbon emitted and sequestered. Multiply by 3.67 to get Gigatonnes of CO2e.

      Look at the figures in red to see the amount emitted and sequestered in the oceans and biosphere.

      http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/CarbonCycle/images/carbon_cycle.jpg

      The fact that I have explain this to you suggests you don’t have a clue. Stop posting off topic nonsense until you do.

  • howardpatr

    Great start Josh – lets hope Turnbull has what it takes put News Corporation, the IPA, the fossil fuel industry and the many right wing religious conservatives in the LNP who have so much trouble understanding the sciences involved in anthropogenic climate change in their place.

    The fossil fuel resources of the world are needed not for energy but plastics, fertilzers, etc for future generations.

  • The only worthwhile renewable energy schemes for large scale energy production are continuous and reliable hydroelectric power and geothermal power. Biofuels, solar, and wind power do far more harm than good, and even the federal America’s National Research Council found that wind and solar reduce CO2 emissions to such a inconsequential extent they are not worth subsidizing. The NRC found that biofuel farming increases greenhouse gas emissions rather than decreasing them. Biofuels, wind, and solar schemes all have very low energy density, which means they produce large ecological footprints. Diffuse and weak energy sources require costly, monster sized machines to collect that dispersed energy.

    Global biofuel farming has raised the cost of fertilizer, farmland, and food all over the world. Malnutrition is the world’s #1 cause of avoidable premature death, and the #1 cause of avoidable mental retardation in children. Biofuel production has killed far more people worldwide over the last 20 years than all wars and acts of terrorism combined. Biofuels kill through malnutrition and related illness, not through bullets and bombs.

    For scientific details, please Google *The Renewable Energy Disaster* and *Moderating Climate Change Hysteria*.

    • solarguy

      Bugger off weak head! How could you be so bloody gullible.

      • Your eloquence and insightful scientific argument impresses me. That is the trouble with the renewable energy cult. It’s all about simplistic emotion, without any regard to the mathematics of energy production, and to the real world negative effects of investing trillions of dollars into energy systems that do not work efficiently. FOOD = ENERGY & ENERGY = FOOD. The higher we pump up the cost of energy with faddish energy schemes that do not work as promised, the higher we pump up the cost of food. China has recently given up on windmills and will no longer install them on Chinese soil, only sell them to wind zealots in other countries. In the USA, solar provides just .06% of our electricity after decades of development and billions of taxpayer dollars thrown down the solar storm drain. The renewable energy-climate change fad is now a religion, a false political cause, and a gigantic financial scam.

        • john

          I do not believe that China has given up on installation of Wind Turbines at all.
          The use of the word scam is straight out of the FF word play book and really not supported by evidence.
          The implementation of RE in every country has had the same effect it has removed the previous bell curve where large profits were made and lowered the overall cost of energy.
          The not so long ago inquiry here in Australia found that very same outcome and its aim was to find the opposite.

          • Google the news story, “China Stops Building Wind Turbines Because Most Of The Energy is Wasted”. The renewable energy fad has been a disaster all over the world. All it has done is raise the cost of energy and food and increase unemployment and budget deficits. Wind always needs fossil fuel backup, and windmills cause environmental damage by their very presence. It is better just to build more natural gas power plants until a safe nuclear solution is available. For that please read “The Fusion Revolution.” You need a very *high energy density* to replace fossil fuels, and you need continuous, reliable operation 24-7-365. California is skyrocketing its electricity costs with wind power and has lost billions on solar thermal power plants that only produce a fraction of their promised electricity. Wind and solar projects helped bankrupt Spain and Greece, and Germany wasted billions on solar panels that have an installed CAPACITY FACTOR of under 10%. It’s throwing money down a storm drain and it is all based on irrational emotion, false hype, and politicians gone wild. Google *The Renewable Energy Disaster* for the BIG PICTURE on energy. There are better carbon free solutions racing to the marketplace.

          • Steve159

            Easy to fix all those disasters — it has been calculated (you too can do the arithmetic) that around 1/2 the area of South Australia would be needed (solar panels) to fuel the entire planet (replacing all nuclear, gas, coal, oil, and hydro).

            As for transport — synthetic gasoline, pump sea water in, power to the planet.

            Easy.

            http://www.techinsider.io/map-shows-solar-panels-to-power-the-earth-2015-9

          • If wind and solar are so great, why do they always need mandates (bullying) and subsidies (bribes)? You are living in a dream world. How much solar and wind energy can we collect on a silent, windless night? You are not thinking. You are parroting the theology of a mindless, emotion based cult. Diffuse low energy density power sources don’t work, and especially if they are inherently intermittent and unreliable. Hydroelectric power works because nature concentrates the kinetic energy of rain drops into rivers, which gives us reliable, continuous high energy density power. Dispersed low energy density schemes require we build monster sized machined to collect that diffuse energy. That means very high cost and a large ecological footprint. People who believe in wind and solar are like Christians who see the face of Jesus on stains on walls. It’s religion, not rational thought.

          • Steve159

            “mindless, emotion based cult” wot? the US Energy Information Administration?

            Simple arithmetic. I would have though (vainly, it seems) you too could have managed to do the arithmetic. No complicated integrals involved.

            As to the intermittent silliness, clearly you’ve never heard of solar-thermal (molten salt, et al), that would power through the night.

            And other technologies that have barely begun to be commercialized.

            So sad. You show zero imagination, and insufficient grit to make reality of any dream (leave it to those who can. You should just sit in the grandstands and watch as others get on with it)..

          • Concerned

            ST uneconomical,impracticable,inefficient during winter requiring backup.

          • Steve159

            wot eva. ACT will lead the way, demonstrate 100% renewable 24/7 is doable, (and will soon enough be done).

            AND, according to recent data, ACT folk may even occasionally get their electricity for free (with excess exported, negative wholesale prices etc.)

          • Concerned

            ACT will never be 100% renewable,as it will be drawing power from other resources on a regular basis.

          • Steve159

            Dearest Christopher

            “People Who Say It Cannot Be Done Should Not Interrupt Those Who Are Doing It”

            Now, be a good lad, and go back to your normal state of … inert, feckless, inept do-nothingness

          • I don’t believe in doing nothing. I believe in terrestrial fusion power, not extraterrestrial fusion power. Hydroelectric, biofuels, wind, and solar schemes are all extraterrestrial based nuclear fusion power schemes. Our fusion powered Sun evaporates water to create rain, heats our atmosphere to create wind, and grows plants we use to manufacture biofuels. We need fusion power, but fusion power here on Earth so we can control it, turn it on and off at will, and have reliable power 24-7-365. There is no need to kill millions of birds and bats with costly, ugly noisy windmills, or destroy deserts with giant solar projects that only produce peak power at high noon and zero energy at night.

            Google *The Fusion Revolution* for the real future of energy. To satisfy 100% of New York City’s electricity needs with wind power would require impossible around-the-clock winds within a limited speed range, and a wind farm the size of the entire state of Connecticut. We need to do something real based in logic and mathematics, not based in emotion. Google my 7 minute musical YouTube video, *Windmills Kill Birds*.

          • Steve159

            I agree fusion power would be ideal — unfortunately, those well informed say “it’s always thirty years away”. With emphasis on the always.

            Solar is working now. As for destroying deserts? Seriously, you’re wanting to live in one, or farm in one, or spend your vacations in one?

            Next.

          • Steve159

            “only produce peak power at high noon and zero energy at night.” – jeez, you are persistent, I grant you that.

            Solar-thermal (molten salt, whatever) can be scaled to produce power 24/7 for the whole country.

            as per previous, fusion would be ideal.

            Here’s an idea — let’s keep building/installing solar (rooftops etc), solar-thermal (to cool some of those pesky deserts) and WHEN fusion is viable, you beauty, go to town with it. Knock yourself out with it. Whatever.

            In the meantime, solar. Go you good thing, go go go.

          • Concerned

            ST?Totally uneconomical.Way out of the ballpark.

          • Steve159

            Building an iphone is also totally uneconomical, 10 years ago.

            Short sightedness is obviously not in short supply among you lot.

          • Steve159

            Building an iphone 6 is also totally uneconomical, 10 years ago.

            Short sightedness is obviously not in short supply among you lot.

          • Concerned

            Your understanding of basic engineering construction would appear to be somewhat amiss. Moore’s law does not apply to steel, concrete, glass and copper.
            Those behind the fanciful proposal for solar thermal at Port Agusta, quote costs of between $250 and $300 per megawatt.
            Totally unaffordable and impractical. The other problem is that the technology is not efficient during winter and requires gas fueled backup as demonstrated in Spain.
            Extensive studies by Dr David Mills some years ago, regarding projects, on his move to the United States, showed that you would need a collection field four times the size of those being built today to provide somewhere near a 24/7 generating capability, making the whole project even more expensive than those proposed recently.

          • Steve159

            Moore’s law (doubling of transistor density every 2 years), requires significant engineering — same for any advancement in technology.

            Building an iPhone 6 10 years ago would have been uneconomical, insofar as the expense required to do it then! Still requires significant investment, irrespective.

            Same for any engineering project — invest money, efficiencies and improvements will follow.

            Short sightedness remains the defining feature of anti-solar folk.

          • Concerned

            You exhibit little knowledge of engineering principals and basic economic theory.

          • Steve159

            “four times the size of those being built” — nay, I suggest building them 10,000 times the size of those being built, and power the whole country. Snowy Mountain scheme for solar. Done.

            btw, since when was the Snowy “economical” — big infrastructure would never have been built with that short-sighted attitude.

          • Concerned

            The collector field has to be 4x,therefore not economic.
            As for Snowy Mountain scheme,no connection at all.
            As for your other suggestion,you obviously unaware of the physics and mathematics,and indeed the engineering involved.

          • Steve159

            “As for Snowy Mountain scheme,no connection at all.” Wot?

            That’s terrible. They’ve got no connection to the NEM, at all?

            No worries, extra wind and solar will substitute. All good.

          • Concerned

            Are you thick?

          • Steve159

            Dear me, my sincere apologies – sarcasm is lost on some. Too subtle?. My bad. But you’re right (gold star), “thick” may be the most appropriate descriptive in this case.

          • Steve159

            Simple, really simple, arithmetic (I would have thought anyone could do it, well most anyone)

            “678 quadrillion Btu (the US Energy
            Information Administration’s estimation of global energy
            consumption by 2030) = 198,721,800,000,000 kilowatt-hours
            (simple conversion) divided by 400 kilowatt-hours of solar energy
            production per square meter of land (based on 20% efficiency, 70%
            sunshine days per year and the fact that 1,000 watts of solar
            energy strikes each square meter of land on Earth) = 496,805
            square kilometers of solar panels (191,817 square miles)”

            = 1/2 area of South Australia.

          • Concerned

            This would be a good primer for you regarding maths and physics.https://www.ted.com/talks/david_mackay_a_reality_check_on_renewables?language=en

          • Steve159

            It seems I owe you an apology.

            For not having explained adequately.

            This site is a .com.au site. That means it’s belongs to a registered Australian business, and is (accordingly) focused on Australian renewable sector.

            Citing some guy talking about a high-latitude (cold, wet country with high density population) is not at all similar to our Australian circumstances, of having a great big thumping desert in the middle of Australia.

            Furthermore, if you’d paid attention, you’d have noticed he (David Mackay) cites Australia as a possible contender for export of solar energy (e.g. in the form of synthetic fuel, for ease of transport).

            So, that video confirms the obvious sense of Australia not only going 100% renewable (with our vast renewable-energy reserves), but also building the technology to enable us to export to places like Britain, and other cold, wet climes.

            Thank you for the video, and again, my apologies for not “spelling it out” for you, who I expect live somewhere else other than Australia.

          • Concerned

            Oh dear,it is the maths and physics,not the location.

          • Steve159

            No it’s bloody Australia, “you’re standing in it” — the “Saudi Arabia of renewables”. What is your problem? Why are you commenting here, when you’re obviously not from, or resident here?

            We can easily be 100% renewable AND export to the rest of the world.

          • Concerned

            Your understanding of basic maths and physic is sub par.

          • Steve159

            If you say so.

            The delicious thing is your comments won’t amount to a hill of beans difference — we’re heading towards 100% renewables (ACT in a couple of years, it seems). SA following, then the others.

            Tasmania is, generally, 100% (hydro, wind). They put themselves in a bit of bother recently by not installing sufficient wind to complement their hydro (e.g. when the link to mainland failed, they had to use expensive diesel gen sets. Ridiculously poor planning). Good in some ways — it’ll give them the giddy-up to install those wind farms held back by aforesaid laggards.

          • Concerned

            You really do not have any idea regarding risk assessment et al,do you.

          • Concerned
          • Concerned
          • For port augusta, try $150-$200, not 250-300.even alinta reckoned it would be 200. the gemasolar CST with storage in Spain does NOT have gas back-up

          • Concerned

            Those are the quoted figures.
            First, the less that balanced BZE.
            http://media.bze.org.au/Repowering_PortAugusta.pdf
            Second, the more balanced Ben Heard.
            https://decarbonisesa.com/publications/zero-carbon-options-2015-edition/

            And a lot of the plants in Spain do have gas backup.
            http://www.nrel.gov/csp/solarpaces/project_detail.cfm/projectID=40

            And as you well know,the plants built with collector fields suitable for summer,are insufficient for winter requiring gas backup.
            If they are built for efficient use in winter they must be 4x the size,and therefore the project is unaffordable.(Dr David Mills)

          • ben heard is a nuclear shill, he is hardly balanced, his reporting on renewables is about as accurate as the murdoch media. A lot of the plants in Spain? for a start, that NREL link is invalid. I’ve visited the only solar tower plant with molten salt storage and it has NO gas backup.

          • Concerned

            God ,you are funny.Why do you lie?

          • What am i lying about? The Gemasolar solar tower and storage plant in Spain, the first to provide 24/7 storage, has no gas back up plant.

          • Concerned

            No it does not.In winter it does not work at all .

          • No it does not what? Of course it works in winter, I visited it in January! In winter it’s record for working non-stop (24/7) is 12 days, achieved on several occasions. Stop making things up!

          • Concerned

            Work efficiently that is.I do not make things up.And I do not exaggerate .

          • Yes you do exaggerate. You said in winter CST does not work at all. Now, you are backtracking when i pointed out your error.

          • Concerned

            My poor choice of words only.I have corrected same.

          • Concerned

            It does not provide 24/7 year round.

          • Concerned

            I do not understand personal attacks.
            The person is obviously well educated and produces well written and referenced material.(I am a professional myself.)
            I would assume that if you disagreed with those figures you would provide a proper analysis.
            I have read widely regarding ST,and particularly starting with Dr David Mills many years ago.
            It is inefficient in winter if designed to run properly in Summer.If you increase the size of the collector field (4X according to Mills et al) to run it in winter,most power is dumped in summer.Therfore the economics make no sense.
            Regarding gas use,I note the current projects in the USA are dependent.

          • Concerned
          • Steve159

            Ah, yes, I see your page about fusion, with fission backup. Good try.

            Press release: “Oh, sorry, yeah, well, the fusion reactor is, like, down for a wee bit, so we’ve been running on fission for a while, like, uhm, the last 5 years, but we hope to get the fusion reactor running reeeal soon. Don’t you worry about that. Just trust us.”

          • JohnM

            I did.
            There was a dead bird.
            All the “facts” you cite there are dead too.
            Ever thought about collecting stamps?

          • iampeter

            But your not doing “it”. No base-load generation is or is ever going to be possible from wind and solar both of which are industries that just consume subsidy. They do not make any money selling energy. Therefore they do not produce any net energy.

            Recent example in alternative energy capital of Australia of SA, where in desperation subsidy was thrown at a fossil fuel company to help keep the lights on.

            Fossil fuels on the other hand have built our entire civilization.

            Amazing how much of what we have is so contemptuously taken for granted.

          • Steve159

            iampeter

            You appear to be a troll, working for the fossil fuel industry, either that or you’re woefully misinformed.

            The RET (Renewable Energy Target) which enables renewable projects to be more viable than might otherwise, involves ZERO … let me repeat, ZERO subsidies.

            All the RET does is require dirty polluters to buy certificates from clean energy providers. That’s it. No subsidy. If the dirty polluters were to go clean (i.e. change the power from coal to solar) they’d pay nothing.

            Try and keep up. There’s a good lad.

          • iampeter

            Are you saying alternative energy doesn’t receive subsidies? Do I really need to go and start listing out all of them, including credits, rebates and subsidies directly to the customers as well?

            And yes the RET is not a subsidy, it is just supporting legislation that is rendering fossil fuel business nonviable in this country.

            My point is that without subsidies in all their forms and supporting legislation alternative energy businesses couldn’t exist. And what are you counting on once the policies you support have driven fossil fuel out of this country – are you going to enjoy the standard of living equivalent to pre-industrial, off-grid societies?

            What seems to be happening is that most support for alternative energy businesses is predicated on a complete lack of understanding of basic concepts such “money”, “subsidy”, “tax credits”, “production”, “consumption” as well as causal relationships between these.
            Without grasping these basics lots of people think wind/solar are a no-brainer. In reality they are just net consumers.

          • Steve159

            $1,700+ PER PERSON — for each Australian, young, old, paid in fossil fuel subsidies EACH YEAR.

            Pray tell, to which renewable subsidies are you referring — try and be specific.

            http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/australia-still-subsidising-fossil-fuels-at-rate-of-1712-per-person-a-year-33164

          • iampeter

            This is exactly what I mean. In this case the confusion is between a subsidy (other peoples money you receive) and something like a tax credit (your own money you get back after taxes). The latter is what fossil fuel businesses receive. These figures have been misleadingly used in many articles to try to suggest fossil fuel companies get as much as or more subsidy than alternative energy. This is false.

            Also you have eyes don’t you? You can see the decades of no upgrades, the coal and gas companies shutting shop in SA. These are not the actions of a subsidized industry. Fossil fuel companies are been put out of business in Australia.

          • Steve159

            Pray tell, to which renewable subsidies are you referring — try and be specific.

          • iampeter

            Primarily wealth is redistributed into the alternative energy industry via the LRET as you yourself described via the use of certificates. You know I was wrong – this is absolutely a subsidy despite any games of semantics.
            Then there is the SRES designed for small scale, solar panels on your home stuff.
            Then there’s the Australian Renewable Energy Agency which provides $100 millions in “assistance”.
            Clean Energy Finance Corporation provides “investments”
            Then there’s the state based Feed-in Tariffs
            Solar Bonus schemes
            And probably many others – these are just off the top of my head.

            What was your point exactly? Are you arguing alternative energy in this country is not subsidized or legislatively supported? I think if you want to keep discussing this you need to actually explain how you think things work.

          • Steve159

            “via the use of certificates.” — correct. They are purchased by polluters, from clean energy suppliers. Nothing to do with government, taxpayer money, at all. There is no subsidy. Were they to get their act together (be clean energy providers themselves) then no money enters the equation. Well, not quite, they then receive money from the recalcitrants that are lagging in the 19th century. The laggards go out of business. Good. None too soon.

            Clean Energy Finance — making a profit! returning money into the government. What is your problem. They’re profitable.

            Where again are the subsidies??? (implicit in “subsidies” is that they are taxpayer funded).

          • iampeter

            Yes predictable. The usual evasions. Do you think that without regulations/subsidies/government intervention as we both can agree is happening regardless of what we call them, the alternative energy industry would exist? The answer is no. That means this industry SHOULDN’T exist.

            Then think about the words you are using and how you’re applying them.

            An industry that is very profitable (would be more-so in a free market), has lifted mankind out of horrible poverty and allowed us to attain today’s amazing standard of living (fossil fuels) is “polluters” and “laggards” to use your words. “Stuck in the 19th century”.

            At the same time an industry that only exists because of government fiat, that consumes more than it produces, that suggests using things like windmills to power a modern civilization – this endless waste and a return back to the age of sail is what you consider to be “clean energy” and the future?

            You have it all too backwards.

          • Steve159

            “Yes predictable. The usual evasions” .. wot eva

            Here’s the delicious thing — all your bleeting and blathering will amount to naught, nothing, ziltch.

            Renewables are replacing old, dirty polluting energy sources. And will continue to do so.

            And since we’re the “Saudi Arabia of Renewable Energy”, we will see 100% renewable energy supply in Australia, soon.

            ACT is on track to be 100% … that was slated for 2020, but it seems, they’ll get there sooner.

            SA a bit behind, but they’re headed there as well.

            The rest, like dominoes will fall in line, quick as, don’t you worry about that, sunny.

          • iampeter

            Oh I agree with you there.

            The only thing that worries me is where electricity will come from once we’re 100% renewable. An interconnect with Indonesia perhaps? That’s not something you worry about though right? You’re entire life when you’ve flipped a switch the lights just came on. It’s like magic to you isn’t it?

            You deserve a taste of pre-industrial living as you take our civilization for granted and don’t understand how it works.

            Me and mine don’t.

          • Steve159

            “where electricity will come from once we’re 100% renewable.”

            Please try and keep up — ACT is also putting out tenders for battery storage.

            With wind, solar, and batteries 100% 24/7/365.

            Easy. Done. Good bye coal (like horse drawn carts, soon no longer needed).

          • Concerned

            There are no subsidies for fossil fuels in Australia,apart from R&D.Consult someone with economic or accounting qualifications.

          • Steve159

            “Consult someone with economic or accounting qualifications” — International Monetary Fund, http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/australia-still-subsidising-fossil-fuels-at-rate-of-1712-per-person-a-year-33164

            $1,712 per person per year for every last one of us in Australia.

            What a rort. There should be a royal commission into this scam.

          • Concerned

            Oh dear,there is no subsidy.Glad for you to point out where they are.

          • stalga

            Tax free diesel for miners? This is very well known. Public money used for ports and railway lines is a subsidy to the fossil fuel industry is it not?

            Why do you champion the fossil fuel industry over the rest of the nation. We live in a bloody democracy, not a polity.

          • Concerned

            Your lack of knowledge regarding basic economics and accounting standards is awesome.
            You have no idea of what a subsidy is.
            I am not a champion of any sector.I deal with figures and facts.

          • stalga

            I am far from economically illiterate. I think you primarily deal in semantics. You restricted your reply to an ad-hominem and avoided rebutting my facts. You’ve talked yourself into a corner.

          • Concerned

            Ok,there are no subsidies for fossil fuels,s in Australia.

          • stalga

            Yes there are, OK.

          • Concerned

            Ok , list them.

          • stalga

            Fuel tax credit scheme ($2B) and accelerated depreciation.

          • Concerned

            Cobber ,you are illiterate .

          • stalga

            Don’t call me cobber dickhead, I’m not your friend,

          • Concerned

            Sorry,your understanding of the Australian Accounting Standards is appalling.

          • Concerned

            Actually the REC’s issued to support the RET cost the Consumer and Business $3 billion a year in increased electricity charges.,

          • Steve159

            The Warburton report found that keeping the RET will LOWER electricity prices, saving industry billions.

            http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/government-modelling-shows-power-prices-will-fall-if-ret-stays-20140624-zskbd.html

          • Concerned

            Here is a go.Tell me why?

          • Steve159

            Since you appear to have not read the article, which btw reports on Abbott’s mate’s conclusion, here:

            “If the target is removed, households and businesses will be exposed to more high-cost gas power, which most analysts are predicting will get increasingly expensive this decade.”

            With sufficient renewables electricity (grid supplied) prices will decrease (putting aside price increases due to gold-plating the network)

          • Concerned

            I tend not to take much notice of Newspapers.
            The reason prices will be lower is because of excess capacity,which will cause problems with future investment.
            Re gas,we all knew it some time ago.
            And in fact in fact a mothballed coal generator was reactivated and a gas generator closed.

          • stalga

            There is already over 7000MW of excess capacity in the system. What coal generator are you alluding to?

          • Concerned

            Tarong.

          • stalga

            Tarong was never closed, the plants were shutdown for major ovrhaul. One of the two plants has not been switched back on yet.

          • i think two units were placed in “cold storage” in 2012, due to solar pv impact and carbon price. then they brought it back on line in 2014 once the coalition had killed the carbon price, and took a gas power station off line cos the price of gas was too high. some units were recently sidelined for maintenance, adding to reliance on gas plants and helping push up prices across the country.

          • Concerned

            Oh my .

          • stalga

            Back to the point, there is already over 7000MW of excess capacity and coal prices slumped a year ago but prices haven’t fallen.

          • Concerned

            Oh my .

          • stalga

            Thanks, I only hit Wikipedia. A bit of confirmation bias on my part.
            When I read about the overhaul I assumed it was never actually mothballed.

          • Concerned
          • Concerned

            No,you are totally incorrect.

          • Concerned
          • JohnM

            As transition becomes more viable, more practical and more urgent, so the dirty boy’s opposition becomes more hysterical.
            Stop googling soot industry sponsored twaddle and have a look around.

          • Small minded people who do not understand the facts can only insult and throw out the same old hype, that anyone who opposes the insanity of spending trillions of dollars on energy systems that do not work efficiently and reliably are paid by the fossil fuel industry. This is all very childish as you would expect from a religion, not from a scientist. Science is about facts; religion is about emotion and false hopes.

    • iampeter

      The only thing I’d add to what you’ve said is that nothing needs to be subsidized. Period.

      If something needs subsidy (i.e. forceful wealth redistribution) then it should not be done.

      In addition to the disastrous consequences of subsidizing biofuel the banning of DDT is the other big environmentalist action that has led to a body count of epic proportions.

      Not to derail the discussion relevant to the article here but I just want to take the opportunity to point out that if even best case estimates of the preventable death toll of environmentalism is to be believed (in the 40 millions) then this makes the environmental movement the second deadliest ideology in human history after communism/socialism. Something for everyone to consider before blindly supporting green/environmentalist programs.

      • MikeH

        Its a tribute to Renew Economy’s popularity that it is now attracting far right climate science denier trolls.

        The off topic DDT meme is one of the calling cards of the hardcore anti-environment nutter. In fact DDT is not banned for malaria eradication – it is still used in Africa for example. The problem is that as well as having side effects, it became less effective as mosquitos in parts of the world became immune to it.

        e.g.

        >DDT is one of 12 pesticides recommended by the WHO for indoor residual spray programs.

        https://www.epa.gov/ingredients-used-pesticide-products/ddt-brief-history-and-status

        Find somewhere else to troll you ignoramus.

        • iampeter

          The WHO (among others) have quietly been walking back their stances on DDT since the early 2000’s. This is due to the overwhelming evidence of the body-count that was caused by the anti-DDT movement. Something which your post did not even acknowledge.

          The more I think about it, the more I realize that the DDT ban and the consequences are a good parallel to today’s alternative energy industry regulatory situation.

          A hysteria whipped up by pseudo-scientific literature leading to government regulators using force to put a stop to something that was greatly improving human life resulting in mass death. Am I talking about the banning of DDT’s in the 70’s or the banning of fossil fuels in current times?

          The only difference is we still have a chance to stop this craziness today before we cripple our industrial civilization for good, along with all the consequences that will entail for human life.

      • Geoff

        Oh so you think whaling in the southern ocean and IUU fishing is a good thing do you?

  • Neo Lib Yes

    So Giles, maybe common sense will prevail………

  • RobertVincin

    To MikeH I have just observed the visual your present as your science. 5 minutes of WWW “trees are a source not a sink.”. Repeating Trees rice cotton most grain vegetables grasses take biomass carbon from soil not atmosphere. Trees most valued contribution transpiring water to the upper catchments shelter for a host of vegetation and microbes birds and bees. Best is cinnamon and timber beauty. Ask a professional forester what chances of a second commercial forest in same site after clear felling first. They rest it for 20+ years for soil to regenerate. You have answered my question re your science papers/ credentials. The Earth and its lack of Global management is in serious trouble. If you are to add something into the public arena back it! Without prejudice Robert Vincin Mike H let me add PS. UN Founder invited me 1996-99 to help prepare what became Kyoto Protocol. The current Federal Government has no plans to lower CO2, reverse deserts, drought, poverty, unemployment. Abbott and Howard were planing to offset the global CO2e emission replicating PRC protocol. There would have been no global debt and full employment and money to upgrade infrastructure. God help the historians of tomorrow

    • stalga

      Dear Robert, I have studied agronomy, rangeland management and soil science to diploma level. In recent years this has helped me gain a sound understanding of the properties and effects of CO2 regarding global energy imbalance and the big picture on AGW.

      I must admit I thought you to be another crank but I googled you and learnt a little about you, though I’ve not looked into your ideas in depth yet. The main reason for this is your long-term relationship with the Liberal party and the carbon sequestration policy. This diminishes your credibility greatly, more so because you omit this fact in these posts despite spruiking your credentials.

      Robert, nothing grows without water and most grasses in the Australian arid zone are already C4 (themeda Australis for one). If your proposal was at all workable it could never be anywhere cost effective and would occur on a time-scale that would render it impotent. Whay you proposing is another huge external cost on top of the existing ones, when there is already a better way. Moreover, you are proposing altering multiple ecosystems which will certainly cause extinctions.

      Lastly, renewable energy is now cheaper than coal. Coal is fast becoming obsolete. The cheapest solution, the elegant solution is to switch off these “de-facto volcanoes”.

      Regards, Steve Gannon.