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Murdoch, Coalition go in guns blazing against wind and solar

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The Murdoch media and conservative Coalition parties have ramped up their attacks on renewable energy in light of the big spike in electricity prices in South Australia this week, saying that wind and solar are solely to blame for the state’s electricity problems.

Power prices spiked sharply again this week, but energy analysts say that wind and solar are not at fault, pointing out that gas prices have jumped to record highs, and the interconnector to Victoria was constrained due to delayed work on network upgrades.

pelican point gas

Pelican Point gas plant

But this has cut no mustard with the Murdoch media and the Coalition, who have used the incidents of the past week to renew their usually skewed attacks against the high levels of wind and solar in the state.

“SA’s reliance on wind and solar power is responsible for these absurd prices,” thundered The Advertiser, Murdoch’s monopoly daily newspaper in Adelaide, in an editorial entitled “SA power prices threaten future of economy.”

“The state’s electricity supply cannot be left at the mercy of the weather gods and erratic spot prices. Labor’s great green energy experiment will cost it ultimate power in 2018,” it threatened. The editorial makes absolutely no mention of the record gas prices, or the energy cartel that it is defending.

Murdoch’s position has been eagerly supported by the local state Opposition, which like all Coalition parties across the country – at both the state and federal level – is pushing back against any moves to increase the amount of renewable energy in the electricity system.

“The (South Australian) government’s complete and utter obsession with renewable energy has left us in a very vulnerable state without a workable energy strategy,” Opposition leader Steven Marshall said. Marshall also failed to mention the cost of gas.

“I mean continuity of energy supply is absolutely critical, and what we’ve done is we’ve driven out base load power in South Australia because of this obsession that the Labor government has had with renewable energy and we haven’t been able to put that certainty, that continuity into the equation.”

Actually, the state’s largest base load generator, Pelican Point, a 485MW gas-fired plant, has not been operating because gas prices are too high and it cannot make any money out of it, although it did agree to a government request to restart for a short period while the interconnector was repaired.

A similar situation exists in Queensland, where the Swanbank E gas-fired generator – like Pelican Point, one of the most efficient in the country – has also been mothballed because of soaring gas prices. Queensland, it should be noted, has virtually no large-scale wind or solar.

As RenewEconomy has pointed out on numerous occasions in the past week, the huge spikes in electricity prices are a direct result of increased gas prices, which have hit record highs across the country and in South Australia have been more than twice the price of other states, on occasions.

This is blamed on increased demand from the current cold snap, the need to supply the big LNG export terminals, and unexplained blockages in supply elsewhere in the network.

For more information on how the gas cartel works in a market with virtually no transparency, see this excellent report on MichaelWest.com.au, or this story How the gas market is holding the country to ransom from one of the same authors.

Indeed, even if there was little renewable energy in the system, South Australia would still be experiencing high electricity prices because it would still be reliant on gas – as it experienced for more than a decade before wind and solar was built into the system.

saddler spot plus wind

South Australia has always had higher electricity prices than the rest of the market, due to its historic (and pre-renewable) reliance on gas, and one of the reasons it has sought to increase renewables is to try to reduce its exposure to the volatile price of commodity-based fossil fuel generation.

The Clean Energy Council this week reinforced the point that the high prices in South Australia have been caused by the high gas prices, the cold snap and the network interruptions.

“Because renewable energy effectively has no fuel cost, it helps to keep power prices lower during periods of high wind and sunshine. Wind power provided a large part of South Australia’s power over the weekend and early this week, but with the price of gas so high, wholesale prices have jumped,” CEC’s Tom Butler said.

The ACT appears to have successfully hedged against the volatile nature of fossil fuel prices by using renewables, and targeting 100 per cent of its supply from wind and solar by 2020. It may, in fact, make windfall gains from its cleverly calibrated investment.

But the past week has seen an extraordinary sequence of events, starting with high gas prices, unusual bidding patterns, the loss of capacity on the interconnector, the continued sidelining of two of the most efficient gas plants in the country and, as if on cue, the announcement of a review by the Australian Energy Market Commission of “system security” in the country.

Many suspect this review will be used by fossil fuel generators for new subsidies known as “capacity payments”, or at least for a new “inertia” market, increasing the revenue that can be sourced by their gas generators. AGL Energy filed an application for a rule change on these inertia markets in late June.

At the same time, these very same companies are arguing against rule changes that could encourage cleaner, faster and cheaper alternatives, such as battery storage, to provide the same services.

That’s one of the big questions for regulators in Australia and around the world: the National Electricity Market rules clearly need changing, as the South Australian government has pointed out.

But will these rules be changed to reinforce the power of the energy incumbents, or will they be changed to facilitate and accelerate the inevitable and much-needed energy transition? As a new study released through Cambridge University this week highlights that the obsession, until now, has been with keeping business as usual.

“Business-as-usual carries on with incremental decisions, made in narrow frames of reference, that continue to build, and lock investments into the conventional fossil fuel infrastructure,” it says.

The major issue, it notes, is profiteering in the wholesale markets. In Australia, various studies have suggested that at different times, the big fossil fuel generators have gamed the market to the extent that more than $400 million was added to prices in Queensland alone in two separate examples in 2015.

Market operators suspect the same thing is happening now, despite the introduction of bidding in “good faith” rules that were introduced two weeks ago. As one energy market participant said: “It was as though everyone decided to bid higher at the same time.”

This is not just an Australian phenomenon. Last year, according to the Cambridge study, the US General Accounting Office noted that excessive profiteering in the regional markets had led to unfair electricity prices. It said consumers may have paid an excess $US12 billion in 2011 to generating companies that do not face genuine market competition.

The problem is not wind and solar, it is the absolute power of the incumbents and their high fossil fuel prices. That’s the true cost of a restricted market, where the regulators have been too slow to act.  

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  • Brunel

    I do not understand Murdoch.

    In USA the solar power industry employs more people than the coal industry and kills less people than the coal industry. The solar industry also lobby lawmakers.

    So why does Murdoch only speak for the minority who pollute.

    • trackdaze

      Centralised control.

      Quite the irony that right wingers profess small government/low intervention but peddle centralised energy.

      • DevMac

        The small government / low intervention types aren’t actually small government / low intervention types, they’re actually “give me the money instead of them” types. The “small government” line is just a façade.

        • trackdaze

          Figured as much, aligns perfectly with murdock then dont they.

    • Alan S

      Murdoch cares more about the coal industry owners rather than the workers in either the coal or solar industries. They’re the LNP donors, not the workers.

    • iampeter

      Given how much money is been pumped from productive industries into the solar power industry to make it such a large “employer” it would just be cheaper for all of these employees to be sitting on welfare.

      • trackdaze

        None can be more productive than the ones that capture and store free energy.

        Zero marginal cost wins!

        • iampeter

          I’m not sure I understand what you mean. Zero marginal costs?
          The alternative energy industry has consumed $100’s of billions of dollars in subsidies and handouts. It is nothing but costs. Anything these green businesses make/generate has to go to paying down that debt which will never break even as none of these businesses make any money and will shut its doors the moment subsidies stop.

          Alternative energy is potentially the single greatest miss-allocation of this earths scarce resources in history. Anyone truly concerned with the environment should be outraged by this waste.

          • juxx0r

            lol

          • trackdaze

            As oppossed to the 5trillionUSD in fossil fuel subsidies each year? Please.

            Zero marginal costs works like this. It cost nothing to run.

            Now compare that to if you need to generate it from a fossil fuel you need to pay something for the fuel for each unit of energy. You’ll need a heap of water that costs about $2 a kilo litre but also redirects this from much better uses like irrigation for food and drinking water to name but a few. No wonder india has shelved plans for 12gw of coal plants.

            In some good news the US generated just 25% (and falling )of its energy from coal in may.

          • iampeter

            Fossil fuel companies produce more than they consume – they are for profit businesses and that means they pay taxes. Some of those taxes come back to the company it was seized from. This is not a subsidy – this is a tax credit – basically it’s their own money coming back to them.

            Having said that, regulators are actively working to make fossil fuel business unprofitable in order to help prop up the alternative energy industry. Without these efforts the alternative energy industry simply would not exist. And principled fossil fuel businesses should shut their doors rather than accept handouts from the government that put them in the predicaments they are in to begin with (e.g. look at South Australia right now). Let those who voted or failed to take action against these gov policies reap what they sow and enjoy living by candlelight in the 21st century.

            What you aren’t taking into account is the regulatory burden placed on fossil fuel companies which is the cause of all their problems and at the same time not taking into account the complete lack of economic or business sense of the alternative energy industry, while arguing for more crippling of fossil fuel companies and more support for alternatives.

            The overall picture is:
            In a free market fossil fuels and nuclear would provide reliable energy cheaply while the “alternative energy” industry simply would not exist as it cannot produce energy at a cost anyone would pay. If we continue down the path of crippling fossil fuel we are going to transition to diesel generators for businesses and then homes and finally we will go back to candles and fire places.
            Solar and wind are a net consumer of energy and they will never provide base-load power even if the entire western world was to be impoverished in this suicidal effort.

          • Mike Shurtleff

            “This is not a subsidy – this is a tax credit – basically it’s their own money coming back to them.”
            No, it is the exact same as a subsidy, just easier to hide in numerous loop holes. The dollar amount “credited” to fossil fuels is far larger than what is given Wind and Solar PV, in the US, Globally, and I’m sure in Australia. Why should this be so when they have been in business for a century, 100 years.

            “the regulatory burden placed on fossil fuel companies”
            Complete BS.
            NG fracking companies in the US have been largely excused from regulation for a long time.
            Oil is the most profitable industry in the history of mankind, period, ever. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

            “In a free market fossil fuels and nuclear would provide reliable energy cheaply”
            No, nuclear is the most heavily subsidized form of energy generation there is …and it is still to expensive …because they couldn’t standardize their plants and they couldn’t build or operate them safely.

            “Solar and wind are a net consumer of energy and they will never provide base-load power even if the entire western world was to be impoverished in this suicidal effort.”
            Solar PV and Wind now have far higher returns on energy invested than oil. I’m not sure for coal and NG, but probably the same. This is only one factor in cost. Wind is lowest cost next to hydro in US, and Solar PV is getting there quickly. Same is coming to Australia, in spite of your stone age politicians. God please protect us from the same mistake in the coming US election.

            ” they will never provide base-load power”
            The State of Iowa is 30% Wind electricity and investment by Warren Buffet will bring them to 40% Wind in a few more years. They have not had to worry about loss of power or price hikes.
            Texas is rapidly expanding their use of both Wind and Solar PV. They are US leaders in amount of Wind. Two or three years ago they had huge price spikes during summer heat waves due to reliance on spinning reserves of coal. Not any more. You have the same thing going on in Australia now due to your reliance on natural gas from winter heat.
            The island of Kauai in the State of Hawaii is already at 36.6% Solar PV + Hydro. They are building another 5.2% and considering another 15.8%. That would total 57.6% of their electricity. They have high electricity prices and an excellent solar resource, just like Australia. Australia does not have the hydro for storage, but you do have plenty of Wind and with proper interconnects you can probably use it for baseload, same as Iowa does.

            The US has now started exporting NG. What is the Global price? What happened to the NG price in Australia after you started exporting? What do you think is going to happen here? History of NG is one of periodic soaring prices. That’s the SA problem …obviously.

          • Ben Wilson

            neo-con drones like iam will never be able to grasp that they will just keep repeating the same dribble the sheep feed off.

          • iampeter

            There seems to be a lot of confusion here around very fundamental concepts such as profit, tax, subsidy. On the one hand you say tax credits are ” exact same as a subsidy, just easier to hide in numerous loop holes.” but on the other you say “Oil is the most profitable industry in the history of mankind, period, ever.”
            So which is it – do you think fossil fuel companies like oil companies are profitable or subsidized?
            The rest is a lot of the same confusion with percentage and stats all of which fail to take into account that the alternative energy companies are a net consumer of energy as they can only function if subsidized. It’s just a fact.

            Overall the situation in SA today is one in which the alternative energy advocates have gotten exactly what they have wanted. All fossil fuel energy providers have been put out of business and the state is now relying on alternative energy for its base load power. Many articles in various publications have written about this over the last few months, singing its praise.

            The result has been a massive drop in the supply of energy and a skyrocketing price.

            Instead of drawing the obvious conclusion that alternative energy has failed to provide an affordable supply of energy this article and the commenters are detailing irrelevant factoids to try and explain away the evidence of their own eyes.

            E.g. “The interstate inter-connector doesn’t have capacity” or “Pelican Gas Plant is shut down” or “Gas prices are high”, etc.

            Aren’t all these things exactly what the alternative industry has been working towards?
            Shouldn’t this have made the alternative energy market in SA that much more favorable?

            It’s like if all fast food stores were to close in Adelaide except MacDonald’s and then MacDonald advocates started complaining that business is going badly because they have no competition – it makes no sense at all. If your product works – if solar/wind works, then SA today should have cheaper and more reliable energy, with a surplus they can sell to other states.

            You’ve eliminated all your competition in SA and are now complaining alternative energy isn’t working that great because your competition has been eliminated.

          • Barri Mundee

            Most coal plants were built by government instrumentalities. There have been very few coal plants built since, mostly gas.
            Since then many have been privatised. Doesn’ that tell you something. Answer: private enterprise won’t build large scale coal or nuclear in this country, without government funding or subsidies.

          • iampeter

            But Government funding has to come from somewhere. This is called taxes. Taxes can only be levied on profits. This implies that profitable business existed before it was taxed to subsidies unprofitable but politically connected enterprises (e.g. solar/wind). This implies energy existed before Government meddling or no profitable businesses could have existed, so no taxes would have been possible and no Government funding of any kind would exist.

            As of today this convoluted mess has been going on for so long that it’s hard to separate where Government ends and private companies begin in several heavily regulated industries – energy been one of them.

            We see this particularly with the Pelican gas plant which can no longer run profitably without subsidy just like solar/wind in SA.

            The crucial difference is that if all Gov intervention in the energy sector were to be untangled and rolled back (taxes, regulations, etc.), fossil fuel businesses will be able to do business again, providing affordable energy while the alternative energy businesses will shut their doors as they cannot provide energy at the same or lower costs.

          • Barri Mundee

            BS again! No the federal government is monetarily sovereign and it creates money as it spends. Taxes do not fund the federal government. Get educated. Taxes serve to control demand.

            http://itsthepeoplesmoney.blogspot.com/2014/03/money-myths.html

          • iampeter

            Wow Barri. Thanks for that link. I always appreciate a candid view of how the other side perceives things. Thankfully reality proves all of this to be wrong. Without derailing the topic of discussing this article, I will explain my position as briefly as possible.

            Before you can consume you need to produce. Excess production is profit. In a free market all individuals trade their excess production with each other and money is the medium of exchange in these trades. In this situation all goods and services go where they are required (i.e. to those who want and are able to pay for them).

            When we have a mixed economy like in Australia the Government intervenes and decides where some of that excess production goes, despite what people want and are able to pay for. This leads to shortages of needed goods, oversupply of unneeded goods, wastage all over the place and in the end the nation will collapse into something like what is happening in Venezuela today unless the intervention in trade is wound back. We are seeing this exact thing happen with respect to energy supply in SA right now.

            Ultimately if you care about human well being and the environment then you should oppose this wasteful government intervention and support free markets.

          • Barri Mundee

            No its you who is spouting neoliberal nonsense.

          • Barri Mundee

            No your comments about taxes only apply to state and local government. Not to the federal government. Government have to spend first before we can pay our taxes.
            That is reality though its obfuscated by neo-liberal economics.
            Do some reading.

          • john

            You should do a just a little bit off line with the idea please do a little bit of more study into the outcomes

          • Mike Shurtleff

            “none of these businesses make any money and will shut its doors the moment subsidies stop”

            False

      • Mike Shurtleff

        BS Fossil fuels still capture a far larger total sum of subsidies and tax breaks. Wind is now the lowest cost source of new electricity on the grid in the US (after hydro), utility scale ThinFilm Solar PV is next lowest. This would already be true in Australia, if your federal government had not been actively fighting it… maybe it is already true!

        What are the cost trends for Wind and Solar PV? Steadily down.

        What is the cost history of natural gas? Periodic surges in price.

        What is the best investment for any incentives?

        • Ben Wilson

          The feds are becoming irrelevant on the case of solar and wind, the Queensland Government is spending a few billion setting up base load solar for Brisbane and Sunshine Coast Council, they also have plans for a solar field in North Queensland. Theres also a few other states as well, wave generators are being set up in SA and Victoria where they expect wave force generators will provide up to 15% of power reqs.

          • Concerned

            How do you achieve base load solar in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast?

          • Barri Mundee

            If its CSP (solar with molten salt storage) it could well be achieve base load status.

          • Concerned

            Nonsense.On the coast ?Unworkable.

          • Barri Mundee

            If that’s you view fine. But you would have some credibility if you explained why.

          • Concerned

            Insolation levels.And it does not work in winter without gas backup,unless you increase collector areax4 ,which makes it totally uneconomic.

          • Alan S

            ‘Uneconomic’? The fuel’s free.

          • DoRightThing

            I think he subconsciously means that it makes fossil fuels uneconomic to compete. 🙂

          • Concerned

            Consult someone with a knowledge of economics and basic accounting procedures.

          • Concerned

            Nothing to do with fuel.Based on current debt and equity
            lending rates, the solar thermal electricity produced would
            have a LRMC of $250-$300 per MWhr.Nuclear approximately $135.Current coal a fraction of that.

          • solar thermal plus storage $125/MWh in South Africa, $100/MWh in Chile, aiming for $80/MWh in Dubai. No subsidies. Nuclear? $180/MWh in UK and heavily subsidised.

          • Concerned

            Ah,I thought I lived in Australia. And there are far more successful nuclear programs than the orphan engineering project in the UK.
            Even the intellectual Giants at BZE agree on Solar Thermal Cost.

          • No they don’t. Alinta did a big study into solar thermal and storage and suggested $A200/MWh, and they were looking to add as many costs as possible. Costs likely well below that.

          • Concerned

            Yes they did. http://media.bze.org.au/Repowering_PortAugusta.pdf
            And if you read the research by David Mills et al ,to make ST 24 hrs a day ,you would need 4 times the collector area than current proposals. So the costs would be even more.
            Or you need gas backup,especially in Winter,as shown with current efforts.

          • Alan S

            Yes you live in Australia – the country with more than double the insolation of Britain but zero nuclear power experience and can’t even agree about low level radioactive waste storage.
            Are you comparing solar thermal cost with that of nuclear with waste disposal or coal with proper site remediation? Perhaps not.

          • Concerned

            Groan.

          • Ben Wilson

            Its supplemental power and its only the first stage of advancing the network, the solar network is designed to power all of the city’s low level power requirements such as traffic control and water management. It will bring down the cost of electricity which ends up reducing the overall rates bill which then means people have more money to spend

          • Concerned

            What, at about $250-$300 MW?

      • Concerned

        Excellent point.REC”s cost the consumer and business about $3 billion a year.And I understand FIT’s have cost about $14 billion so far.

      • Barri Mundee

        BS! Its a growing employer of jobs in regions. Stop spreading lies!

        • Concerned

          Either you are illiterate or have some agenda.The figures are correct.

    • Mark Potochnik

      Fossil fuel money! They are scared. Go for a total FREE MARKET!

      • Mike Shurtleff

        Cut subsidies and tax breaks for coal, oil, and natural gas first, NOT last!

        • Concerned

          In Australia there are none,apart from R&D.

    • DoRightThing

      I₮’$ ₳ ¢o₥₽Ł€t€ ₥¥$₸€₹¥!

    • john

      That is not his central core client.
      They know they can tell the not so intelligent anything and get away with it.
      Blame someone else is the motto

  • Tim Forcey
  • Paul

    The high gas price in SA is not permanent and is simply the gas seller taking his opportunity to make a profit. It’s not driving the pool price. The pool price is being driven by the fossil fuel generators who have been pushed out of the supply chain and need to recover some revenue when they see an opportunity. Its not rocket science and it will happen again.

  • Geoff

    Think gas is bad now, just wait until China ramp up their appetite for gas in the coming years as they transition from coal to gas to curb pollution. Then we’ll have something to complain about as they drive up the cost. I’m just glad my electricity comes from 100% renewables and don’t foresee my prices rising anytime soon.

    • DevMac

      Yes, the ol’ gas central heating is due for replacement, and the earlier I get it done, the sooner the upgrade will have paid for itself.

    • Sunbuntu Ltd

      >Think gas is bad now, just wait until China ramp up their appetite for gas in the coming years as they transition from coal to gas to curb pollution

      You understand that internationally is at record LOWS. About half of $200 Billion spent on LNG plants is wasted and all the Asian buyers are dumping their gas, right…

      There is little / no demand for gas in Asia. The market is flooded with capacity. The prices have fallen from about USD 18.00 per MMBTU to about USD 6.30 per MMBTU. American has just started exporting and the US price is USD 2.30 per MMBTU

      No, international gas prices are not a problem.

  • phred01

    I can hear the shrill from here. It will even get louder when customers desert the grid in droves

  • Alan S

    On Adelaide ABC radio discussions yesterday and today about this topic both Stephen Marshall and Dan Van Holst Pelikan continued the hackneyed line of blaming renewables but would not (could not) say what the Libs would do about SA prices as they have no energy plan. The simplistic Murdoch line of knocking energy management without any constructive alternatives is wearing thin.

    • Ian Franklin

      The misinformation and political bias was bad enough, but hardly surprising from the Murdoch press. It was the uncritical regurgitation by the news reports, especially the ABC, that really annoyed me. Matt and Dave should know better.

  • MaxG

    This is what the Murdoch press does: propaganda!

    • lin

      Yep. Expecting Murdoch and the Libs to start telling the truth is like expecting a chimp to stop wanking and throwing poo.

      • Ron Horgan

        Now there’s a picture that sticks!

    • Concerned

      By the publishing of very low numbers of newspapers?Really?

      • MaxG

        Don’t care about published numbers in print; they are online too 😉

        • Concerned

          Evil bastards.

      • Barri Mundee

        The Australian loses money but then Murdoch’s greater priority is to push his ideological agenda.

        And the disgraceful rag the Herald Sun in Melbourne is pushed into cafes etc at a low price to advance the propaganda.

        • Concerned

          With a low circulation?Get real.ABC has a hundred times the reach.

  • Phil

    It’s amazing how you have all these variables affecting Energy prices. The market forces at work like them or not.

    So many variables in fact that it is almost impossible to predict beyond a 2 year range what energy will be up or down pricewise , in demand ,or have reliable supply

    One thing i can GUARANTEE for certain however is that 100% off grid energy systems will continue to drop in price and have longer lifespans.

  • Leigh Ryan

    Hmmm I don’t get a bill, I have solar and Battery storage and just in case a back up generator (still in the box) but might be useful for camping I hate the idea of wasting money I don’t understand these high gas prices with so much gas in Australia you would think our gas prices would be the cheapest in the world, maybe it has something to do with the fact that domestic users pay for the extremely heavily reduced energy costs to big industry someone has to pay so it might as well be those who have no brains and little money, you know those stupid people who believe you have to vote ALP/LNP to have a stable government those are the guys who sold their souls to big cash you know who they are, you get what you vote for people so suck it up

    • Mike Shurtleff

      Exactly! Use less fossil fuels and get lower electricity costs. It’s getting pretty simple to understand …and yet there are many dinosaurs among us.

      • iampeter

        If using less fossil fuels gives lower electricity prices why hasn’t that happened in SA?

        And why is the SA gov now scrambling to get fossil power from its local gas plant and from interstate if that doesn’t lower prices?

  • iampeter

    Why all the hate for Murdoch and the Coalition? It was the Coalition Government that got Australia rolling in this direction with the creation of the Australian Greenhouse office in 1998 – I believe one of the worlds first government departments to regulate the weather.

    And they’re current policy page “Protecting our Environment” reads like a Green manifesto of government handouts and support.

    In fact all of their policies read like any big tax, big spend party we currently have. If this was the party of limited Government and capitalism then it has not been so in a long, long time.

    Shouldn’t you guys be applauding the Coalition?

    • john

      mate if you honestly believe what you have read how about you look at the actual policy that has been done.
      Absolutely zilch nothing that is a smoke screen old mate.

    • Mike Shurtleff

      Seriously?
      “In fact all of their policies read like any big tax, big spend party we currently have.”
      That’s the point! You are getting ripped off by supporting big government in bed with big gentailers. They are both making big money and you are paying for it. Wind and Solar PV are lower cost sources of electricity. They will be even lower cost going forward. Read Leigh Ryan comment below.

    • Barri Mundee

      WTF!!!!

  • Marcus Gibson

    There is another layer to this story. Look at why gas prices went up in the first place: export terminals. Look at who built the export terminals: oil companies. They know renewables still need gas turbines for base load. For now. By hiking gas prices (LNG is a transitional fuel from fossil fuels to renewables) Chevron, ExxonMobil and Santos pushed up the price of the transition to renewable energy in Australia while also making fracking more profitable.

    • Mike Shurtleff

      Same will happen in US. Global price of NG says so. Result will be more Solar PV with more battery storage for night time use, better interconnection of Wind for proper baseload use, and more pumped hydro where feasible (more in US than Australia).
      i.e. Result will be more renewables that are less dependent on fossil fuel backup. Simple economics.
      Greed of Murdoch and fossil fuel companies in general will have it’s own reward.

  • stalga

    You’re a very good journalist Giles, one of the best.

  • Jon Albiez

    Swanbank E isn’t mothballed due to high gas prices. It’s simply more viable for them to sell their long term contractual supply than generate electricity from it. Smart business decision.

    • Ha ha. And why is it more viable to be mothballed and sell their gas rather than burn it and generate electricity? Because of high gas prices!!!!

      • Jon Albiez

        It was predominantly lower wholesale electricity pricing rather than increased gas pricing. With the return to service of units at Tarong with a lower operational cost there’s no need to run Swanbank. Braemar has a lower net cost despite being open cycle so makes more sense to scrap the intermediate load plant.

      • iampeter

        And why are gas prices high?

  • Ben Wilson

    Typical Murdoch lies and Coalition scum, but of course the brainless sheep will lap up every word.

  • Christine Brook

    Nuclear power – available 24/7 – build it!

    • Pfitzy

      The building part is the hurdle – we have zero nuclear power industry now, so getting it up and running will be tens of millions to get rolling, and billions for construction of even 1 reactor, with heavy subsidies in operation thereafter.

      I’m not against any of that if its a workable, 50-year solution, provided we do it with world-leading tech, like IFR.

      It will probably start to become a realistic option once we run out of options in refurbishing coal power stations, but then the political appetite for nuclear is low.

      • Christine Brook

        I agree Pfitsy. I just hope we don’t start to build them too late to avoid catastrophic climate change. When commercially available the IFR may be a game changer with the general public once they realise it can use waste piles and uses the laws of physics to shut down safely

      • Christine Brook

        Small Modular Reactors are probably the way of the future and several designs, backed by USA government funds are currently being researched, built and regulated. They are built in a factory, shipped to a site and can be installed underground.

        • They don’t exist! 20 years away at best. And like thorium, will probably always be 20-40 years away.

          • Christine Brook

            They existed and were ready to be built in the late 1980s until Clinton shut the program down after pressure from the coal lobby and green groups. The USA is now funding the program . GE Hitachi has a similar reactor ready to be built now
            http://gehitachiprism.com/
            Where are the references to support your opinions Giles? Without that your comments are just your opinions.

          • If they were ready in 1980s why didn’t Reagan build them? Clinton not in power till 1993. Would you like a link to support Clinton’s election date? Sorry, unlike you, i’m not a troll with a list of talking points/myths and links creating FUD like climate deniers. But i recognise BS when i see it.

          • Christine Brook

            The IFR research took place in the 1980s. The prototype was built and tested (you still haven’t watched that video have you?) at the beginning of the 1990s. Clinton defunded the programme in 199. How can what I say be bullshit when, unlike you, I provide the references for my assertions. The FUD re NP is being created by you and your ilk. It is exactly because of climate change that I have become a supporter of NP. I am just a 70 year old grandmother doing her best to solve the problem of climate change asap so my grandkids can have a great life on a viable planet. If that makes me a troll in your eyes so be it! What doe it make you?

          • No i don’t have time to watch all the video links people send me. But you said in your previous post that the IFR “existed” was ready to be built in the 1980s. Now you say that the prototype wasn’t even built until the 1990s. Please check your own facts.

          • Concerned

            Yes they do.About to be started in Saudi Arabia,the Smart Reactor from Korea.

    • DoRightThing

      I would rather the lights go out occasionally than forever.

      One could carpet the desert with wind and solar for the same cost as a nuclear power station and its infrastructure, and in a tenth of the time.

      • Concerned

        Maths and physics are against you.

      • Christine Brook

        The lights will go out forever if we don’t fix climate change. Renewables + Gas or Coal = Climate Catastrophe and that is what we have right now! Renewables plus NP = Climate Action. France replaced all its oil fired power stations with NP in 10 years and it has the lowest CO2 emissions of any first world nation as well as reliable, affordable electricity 24/7!

        • Yep, and France now facing up to the crippling cost of nuclear, which is why it has a 40% renewable energy target – much higher than Australia’s – wants 20GW solar by 2023.

          • Christine Brook

            France had to sign on to the renewable target because it was insisted upon by the EU for all its members not because it was crippled by the cost of NP. France actually supplies Germany with nuclear power when their renewables are not generating enough power. It is now becoming obvious the German’s flirtation with renewable power is a costly failure and GB has also come to that conclusion. Their Energy Manifesto, produced by energy secretary Amber Rudd, called for no more subsidies for renewables (off shore wind may be subsidised if proven economical) and for a fleet of new nuclear power plants to built over the next 10 to 20 years.
            http://notrickszone.com/2016/03/17/grand-debacle-germanys-renewable-energy-effort-turning-into-a-colossal-costly-and-senseless-failure/
            https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-direction-for-uk-energy-policy

          • Oh, please, France’s renewables target is double – double – its EU obligations. Its nuclear maintenance bill is now more than $100 billion for next 5 years and the main nuclear company is already debt ridden and can’t find the funds. Germany is reaching its renewable targets well ahead of time and its medium and long term targets are supported by both major parties. And how is the UK nuclear plan going? The Hinkley C reactor now estimated at Stg36 billion and rising. Needs massive subsidies from UK, French and China governments, and they still won’t sign it.

          • Christine Brook

            Please provide references for your statements.
            “France is behind in the targets set by the EU Renewable energy has never been France’s strong point. With its well-established nuclear infrastructure, the country’s energy producers have preferred to rest on their radioactive laurels.

            Nuclear power, which is carbon neutral and widely available, offers little incentive to invest in alternative energy sources. After making strong progress from 2005 to 2014, French investment in renewables has taken a big hit, as the European Commission had feared last June.”
            http://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/2020-targets-look-out-of-reach-as-france-cuts-investment-in-renewables/

          • Christine Brook

            Thanks. So it is a target, an ambition not a fact? Funny, just what you say about NP and plans to build that out in the 2020s.
            Chiefly, France is aiming to triple its solar PV capacity to 20 GW by 2023, with the tenders expected to hit incremental goals of 10.2 GW by 2018, and between 18.2 to 20.2 GW by 2023.

          • Concerned

            Should work well in the European winter.

          • Christine Brook

            Your second ref is from 2014! It didn’t eventuate!

          • The law was passed in April this year. http://phys.org/news/2016-04-france-renewable-energies.html
            sorry, i don’t have time for this.

          • Christine Brook

            Your first ref:
            “Chiefly, France is aiming to triple its solar PV capacity to 20 GW by 2023, with the tenders expected to hit incremental goals of 10.2 GW by 2018, and between 18.2 to 20.2 GW by 2023.”
            So it is just an aim, an ambition a forecast? Rather as you suggest the build out of NPPs to be.
            Look Giles I am not anti renewables rather I am pro all and any technologies which will enable us to decarbonise our economy and halt climate change asap. I have done a lot of research and taken a couple of open Uni courses my conclusion is that we need NP and renewables to avoid catastrophic climate change.

          • You are quite the troll aren’t you. France exports less to Germany than it imports. And it imports renewables from Germany when it needs it most, which is why prices from Germany are higher than exports from France (which usually occur at night when there is less demand ).

          • Concerned

            How rude are you.

          • To trolls? Very rude.

          • Concerned

            Ah,got it.

          • Christine Brook

            Troll – because I have a different view than you? Does that make you a troll too? Again I ask you to back you observations with references that demonstrate what you write is true. Unlike you, I will read the references supplied.

          • That’s great, you are the Mum of Barry who runs the nuclear boosting brave new climate web site. I simply do not have the hours in the day to respond to all the trolls and nuclear believes who bombard us with their nonsense each day.

    • Concerned

      And cheaper.

      • Barri Mundee

        Oh yeah? Tell me where it is cheaper to build.

        • Concerned

          Try Korea and China.

        • Concerned

          You obviously are unable to differentiate between capacity and generation .

    • Dennis Abbott..

      Our Sun – Nature’s Nuclear Fusion Reactor – dispatchable 24/7 – Concentrated Solar Thermal with storage – build it.

      • Christine Brook

        Sun and wind – intermittent, non-dispatchable, gigantic footprint, too expensive!
        CST not economically viable, not able to store enough power for an industrialised society. Renewables need back up – only NP and hydro can provide that free of CO2. Renewables plus gas ( a fossil fuel) or worse coal (Germany has replaced NPPs with more coal plants) = climate catastrophe. Renewables plus nuclear power = climate action.

        • Barri Mundee

          Storage, grid-scale, local is the answer to that; still expensive but coming down with scaling and learnings.

          Nuclear: expensive and becoming more so, lengthy build times, cost-overruns and delays. Unsolved issue with waste disposal with no long term acceptable plan. Depends on government guarantees before banks will touch

          Renewables, coming down in capital cost and now below coal fired. Fuel is free vs fuel is expensive and may be used for bombs and terror.

  • MrCyberdude

    The reality is that last year workers were made redundant at Pelican Point, so last weeks high gas prices are not at fault here, that’s what a National Electricity Market (NEM) was all about!

    The issue is that wind and solar are a fluctuating power source, when what is needed is a sensible proportion of base load generation.
    South Australia essentially only has Gas and Wind and then it all falls back to state interconnects.
    Nuclear is where the baseload push is, towards a zero(almost) carbon emission generating plant.

    It’s time that South Australia looked at changing legislature followed by building a Nuclear power plant for a “Just Transition” of those workers at Latrobe Power Stations and Mines like Hazelwood Power and its almost identical emitter Yallourn Energy Australia.

    Search YouTube for “Thorium” and “Minutes” and educate yourself.

    • Barri Mundee

      Grid and local storage will in time avoid the need to rely a lot on the inter-connected.
      Thorium is not a proven technology.

    • Tomfoolery

      Show me one company with a ready-to-market Thorium reactor. Anywhere across the world. And show me a new nuclear power project that would have electricity costs lower than new wind power in Australia.

    • Barri Mundee

      The report commissioned by the SA government showed quite clearly that the economic case for nuclear power in that state was not solid for many years to come.

  • Christine Brook

    The future is new nuclear power. Available 24/7! Dispatchable! Uses waste stockpiles and old warheads for fuel – we have enough to power the world for 1000 years without mining more uranium. Waste problem past and present is solved. Can’t melt down – uses the laws of physics and is not reliant on backup generators or even a human operator, to shut down safely.
    http://terrestrialenergy.com/imsr-technology/

  • Christine Brook

    Fukushima was not a new integral fast reactor. Read the link to inform yourself of the new developments in nuclear power and how they can claim to be melt down proof. Here is a YouTube video of a test run to shut down an IFR without backup power systems or operator.
    Watch the experimental shutdown from 1min 55secs. The program was shutdown by Clinton because of lobbying from the coal industry and green groups. It is now being funded again.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Sp1Xja6HlIU&autoplay=1

    • The nuclear industry is full of false promises. They said Fukushima would not melt down but it did. They say IFR won’t melt down, but how do they know, because IFR’s don’t exist.

      • Christine Brook

        FFS Giles you are beginning to look like a fool – watch the video I posted showing a real experiment of shutting down the IFR when the power was deliberately shut off. I gave you the YouTube link above. The experiment was watched by a group of scientists and politicians some of whom look rather nervous. Just in case you missed it here is the link again – watch from 1 min 55 secs
        https://m.youtube.com/watch?autoplay=1&v=Sp1Xja6HlIU

      • Concerned

        Yes they do,research in USA for many years,and now commercial in Russia.

  • Barri Mundee

    Its obvious the fossil fuel propagandists are out there in this article trying and failing to damn renewables, talking up coal and gas and of course, the fall-back position of these shills: nuclear power.

    We need carbon pricing so that the TRUE and substantial climate and health costs of coal and gas can be properly priced in and exposed and to put them on a more level playing field with clean, de-centralised and falling price of renewables.