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Will 2017 be last stand of clean energy technology deniers?

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(See also our year in review, with the top stories of the year, and the 2016/17 podcast with Giles Parkinson and David Leitch).

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It’s difficult, and probably a little bit pointless, to make predictions about the year ahead. But we are beholden to media custom at this time of year. The only question is whether to bury you in numbers, or simply outline the major themes.

Let’s go with the latter, because there are plenty of them.

Two major forces stand opposed in 2017. One is the falling cost of clean energy technology – solar, wind, storage and other smart controls – that is heralding what Alan Finkel calls an “unstoppable” energy transition away from centralised, polluting fossil fuel plants.

Western Wind Energy Corp

Solar now costs less than $30/MWh in many major economies, wind energy is about the same. As Bloomberg recently pointed out, this makes them cheaper than any new generation, and cheaper than much existing generation.

Battery storage costs have fallen 50 per cent in 12 months, and energy experts are freely talking about new energy systems with concepts such as localised and shared energy, zero marginal costs, and even “free energy.” Electric vehicles, inspired by Tesla, are also on the rise with major car makers investing billions in new electric models.

The other major force is political – funded, aided and abetted by the very fossil fuel interests threatened by renewables, storage and EVs. They’ve hit the jack-pot in Washington, and when Donald Trump moves into the White House on January 20, he will be accompanied by a cabinet notable for its collection of climate change deniers, fossil fuel lobbyists and billionaires. And with the Exxon Mobil CEO and chairman as secretary of state.

abbott climateIt is unthinkable, and it is potentially dangerous, but there it is. Clean energy technology will never have faced greater politics headwinds than Trump’s America.

Can you pick a winner? It’s hard to imagine any political force standing in the way of cheaper technology alternatives for long, despite what has happened in some hermit kingdoms. But you can bet that the Trump administration will seek to tilt the table to help incumbent interests fill their pockets as quickly and for as long as they can.

This will have an impact on Australia too. Australia finds itself at the cutting edge of this energy transition, with a huge natural and technological advantage, and even greater motivation (enormous electricity costs and a dirty inefficient grid).

But it also boasts a powerful fossil fuel incumbency. The Trump administration will encourage the climate deniers and vested interests within the ruling Coalition, and there are many.

The Frydenberg Review of climate change policies should be promising, but it has already been hamstrung by Malcolm Turnbull’s subservience to the Far Right.

The only hope will be that the review by chief scientist Alan Finkel will provide some clarity, and may actually be read by the government. Just how long will it take to sink in?

The first draft was promising, so much so that it could turn out that the South Australian blackout was the best thing that happened to renewables in Australia: it did not signal the death of wind and solar, as the media screamed, but it did highlight how dirty, costly and ill-fitted Australia’s ageing grid is to the modern era.

On the technology front we are going to see numerous changes.

The first is the concept of free energy: Elon Musk gave us a taste of the future when he unveiled the solar roof in November. No, it’s not the first solar roof on the market, and it probably won’t be seen in Australia for a few years.

But the implication is clear: solar generation built into infrastructure, thereby coming at no extra cost to consumers. Utilities and their economists are going to struggling to get their minds around this. It is diametrically opposed to anything that they had every considered.

santa solar

Battery storage: The economists are already struggling with zero marginal cost from wind and solar, and now this output can be stored cheaply. Energy is shifting rapidly from centralised to distributed energy – and battery storage will play a key role.

Australia, with its high electricity costs caused by greedy government network owners, will be at the forefront and lead the first mass-market take-up of storage.

Devices will get cheaper, more powerful, and easier to use. The price cuts will likely be visible from February or March when the Tesla Powerwall 2 arrives and its competitors are forced to cut prices or roll out more cost-effective models.tesla-powerwall-2-2

Expect to see more trials of the likes of AGL’s virtual power plants, the network offset trials by SAPN, Ausnet and others, and the power-sharing technology liberated by blockchain software and being rolled out by Powerledger and AO4 and the like.

Solar and wind costs will continue to fall. In Australia, that could be significant as the backlog in large-scale renewables projects finally breaks: expect to see numerous large-scale solar projects, many of them displacing second tier wind developments.

“Merchant” models will be the vogue for a while, before the big retailers wake up and lock in more projects on contract, particularly as consumers rail against the soaring cost of the “green energy” component of their bill, caused only by the retailers’ own failure to invest.

But it’s not the technology that is the major concern, it is the politics, and the potential for powerful interests to bamboozle politicians and encourage them to make dumb decisions about energy choices – or in the case of the Australian federal government, no decision at all.

The Finkel review will be critical to cut through the myth-making of technology deniers and myth-makers. But it will likely take time to sink in, presuming that anyone in the Coalition actually reads it.

The mainstream media could play a constructive role, but there is not much hope there. They seem completely enthralled by incumbents and completely uninterested in the potential of new technologies.

It is disconcerting enough that most energy market and pricing regulators seem to think that their primary role is to protect the incumbent over the consumer – see the way they protect network revenue, how they demonise renewable incentives as a “transfer of wealth from the generators to the consumers.

Consider the mainstream media response to our revelation that BHP’s Olympic Dam “blackout” in December wasn’t actually a blackout at all, but a contracted “load shed” over a three-hour period (70MW from the 170MW they were using). Most completely ignored it. “Splitting hairs” sniffed the AFR.

Don’t expect much from the ABC either. When the excellent Finkel review was published, chief political reporter Chris Uhlmann tweeted with glee, and then congratulated himself in subsequent tweets for his prescience.

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For some reason, as The Climate Institute’s John Connor quickly pointed out, Uhlmann completely ignored the next sentence in Finkel’s summary: “Fortunately, solutions are available to effectively integrate variable renewable electricity generators into the electricity grid.”

Finkel even put it in very big type later in the report so that even ABC political editors could find it.

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 9.36.05 am

It just goes to show, it’s going to be a long year. As Connor pleaded with Uhlmann over Twitter, “all we want is a mature debate.” The chances are that we won’t get it: Technology marvels on one hand, and Trump, post truth, ideology and media indifference and ignorance on the other.

Which is why we hope you will be back with us at RenewEconomy in 2017. It’s going to be a fascinating year – exciting and infuriating all at the same time. And we’ll be here to document it.  

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  • solarguy

    Giles and all,
    I don’t think Tesla’s solar tiles will be at no extra cost to consumers when compared to ordinary roof tiles, simply because you can’t get PV for nothing and trained sparkies will be needed to wire them up. But they could turn out to be cheaper?

    Thanks for a wonderful RE year and I wish you and all the authors and readers a very Merry Christmas and New Year. Looking forward to RE in 2017.

    • Robin_Harrison

      The roofs, including the solar cells, are cheaper than conventional roofs. That doesn’t include the ancillary electronics.
      So we now have roofs with the capacity for solar generation being cheaper than roofs without. A no-brainer on a new build.

      • solarguy

        But Robin what info are you going by, Mr Musk’s, if so don’t consider it written in stone. I’m not saying he’s telling porky pies, but it will properly come out later as cheaper than a new roof and solar panels installed after that. Something to contemplate over the holidays. As it is the Powerwall came in more expensive than what he stated in the launch back in 2014.

        • Robin_Harrison

          I wonder how long it will be before we can assume he isn’t bullshitting?
          In this case his reasoning was quite clear. The tiles and slates are lighter therefore less materials (basically sand) making them cheaper to produce and transport. Add to that the economic benefit of a level of integration in roofing production and supply not currently enjoyed by the roofing industry. Don’t worry, there’ll be competition from other manufacturers soon, just as the was with Powerwall.
          When that arrived there was storage available from others but it was expensive and difficult to integrate. Powerwall 1 radically changed that landscape almost immediately and Powerwall 2 is about to do it again.
          If this is bullshit, it’s making great fertiliser.

          • solarguy

            My current info tells me the Tesla tiles are more expensive than non PV intergrated tiles, go to gses.com.au go to resources, then click on tech articles. There you will get the good news on BIPV.

            As I mentioned before, the Powerwall 1 was only going to cost $3k according to Elon, but in reality cost was much higher and a pain in the arse to install. How do I know this, well I have a business that sells and installs PV grid connect, hybrid, stand alone systems and SHW systems. Plus I am a CEC accredited designer and installer and let me tell you there are issues with BIPV that require special considerations.

            Powerwall 2 will be better, but no one will get it for the price indicated.

          • Robin_Harrison

            It’s so unjust that tiles and powerwalls are much more expensive in Oz than Elon said they’d be in the states.
            I have 3 questions.
            I can appreciate they didn’t quite get it right first time but was powerwall 1 more or less a pain in the arse to install than the rather more expensive existing systems?
            Are you saying powerwall 1 didn’t change the energy storage marketplace?
            Are you saying powerwall 2 is unlikely to have a similar effect?

          • solarguy

            They are more expensive because he was talking about the battery price only, not adding the cost of inverter, installation cost. In OZ added shipment cost from USA, wholesaler mark up, freight to retailers, their mark up, inverter and install cost.

            Fact is there has always been cheaper systems than Powerwall better or equal and easier to install. And no the Powerwall didn’t really change the market place as such, but the marketing hype got peoples attention. As far as v2 goes there was already matches on offer.

          • Robin_Harrison

            Always been better offers around than Powerwall? Are they using some new silent and invisible marketing technique?
            Frankly you seem to be stretching the truth a little more than somewhat. What’s your agenda?

          • solarguy

            It seems in your mind if you haven’t heard of something, then it doesn’t exist, head in the sand kinda guy. Musk is very good at marketing and a lot of people like yourself have fallen for it. I’m not saying Powerwall’s are crap, but clearly you think it’s the only one worth talking about, so what’s your agenda Robin? My agenda is to open peoples mind to other brands,to tell the truth. But you won’t believe it, you can’t be told the truth. Perhaps you still believe in fairy’s in the bottom of the garden!

            Musk told us that his system could be used off grid back in 2014, but the truth was, if the grid went down, it didn’t work. However, there were already other systems out there that could.

          • Robin_Harrison

            You say your agenda is to open peoples minds to other brands but all you’ve done so far is bag Tesla.

            You appear to be saying that when Pw1 was launched there were better and less expensive systems available. Please feel free to name some.

            You appear to be also saying when Pw2 was launched there were better and less expensive systems available. Please feel free to name some.

            Go ahead and open our minds.

          • solarguy

            Easy, LG Chem, BYD and GCL. And I’m not bagging Tesla, never did.
            Go ahead and get a Powerwall 2 installed for cheaper, show me the receipt stating the price fully installed that isn’t part of some study deal by AGL or who ever. But that won’t happen soon, as there are no Powerwall 2’s in the country and won’t be for months to come.

            And what makes you think I’m wrong and your right. Why are you so anal about Tesla after all the solar tile has been exposed as not as cheap as you think it will be, sure it could be cheaper than retrofitting panels on a new build or will it? My educated guess is no at this stage, for the reason’s outlined by GSES, which I’m sure you ignored.

            Powerwall 1 was also found to be much dearer than everyone were lead to believe, but you don’t wish to acknowledge that do you. Why because your just a smart arse that likes to argue against the facts.

          • Robin_Harrison

            the systems you mentioned became available competitively with Pw1 after, and as a direct consequence of, the launch and also benefitted them because they sold more. The battery storage marketplace was radically changed for all makers by the launch of Pw1. The marketplace grew substantially. If you are in that business you know that.
            I’m not the least bit anal about Tesla and thanks for yet another gratuitous insult. However, if you haven’t noticed that Musk has caused profound change in the space, car and battery industries already, then you really aren’t paying attention.
            Going on his record there’s a huge chance he’ll do the same for both the roofing and solar industries.
            As for Pw2, you are focusing on the Oz market but the global effects are a bit bigger than that.

          • solarguy

            Your totally wrong, you live in a bloody dream world fool. If you knew anything you would have known that or researched it, not hard to prove.

            You have learned nothing, have understood nothing, but you believe your own bullshit. You are a troll, a pest! Now piss off and don’t bother me again on this subject.

            Oh, and Merry Christmas.

          • Robin_Harrison

            So we get more gratuitous insults with zero substance from you and I’m supposed to be the troll?
            Good luck with that.

          • Greg Hudson

            Let me guess… You probably reckon that ‘flow’ batteries are better ?

          • solarguy

            Certainly not a cost point of view, way to expensive and inefficient at low current draw. But it will get better and cheaper if Redflow can survive in the market place. Every technology has pluses and minuses.

          • neroden

            Well, you’re paying the “Australia premium”.

            The Tesla tiles are going to be cheaper *in the US* than tile roofs. I think Elon was exaggerating a bit when he vaguely said cheaper than a normal roof, because there’s no way they’ll be cheaper than asphalt roofs.

          • solarguy

            How could I disagree. Elon and people like him are changing the world for the better, but he shouldn’t exaggerate as much as he does.

          • wideEyedPupil

            If you’re pulling millions a year in taxpayer money to effectively steal tech from companies you refused to deal with who made superior product then you need to keep the positive stories (hype) flowing — big time.

            (A123 Batteries who both Tesla and Apple were found guilty in Court to be poaching engineers from — for one reason only).

            But at the end of the day Musk did something nobody has been able to pull of before him, force the morally bankrupt car companies to turn their back on a more profitable but inferior ICE technology and embrace electric motors. The announcements of a whole range of EVs within a few years inside all major automobile marquees in singly down to the Tesla effect (and Elon’s very effective hype machine).

          • solarguy

            Yep, he’s the master of hype for sure, a trail blazer. Tell me more about your opening paragraphs, sounds juicy!

        • Alastair Leith

          Yeah I’ve been thinking his comparison might be
          TPVR – EBS < Conventional Tile Roof

          Where:
          TPRV = Telsla Tile Roof with PV cost for a new 250 sq home
          EBS = Electricity Bill Savings from solarPV output you otherwise wouldn't have had over next 25 years.

          🙂

          But I do think PV will be trivially cheap within the next ten years to spray on or film onto almost any external building product (or hey, internal even). There's just too many researchers working on it and even more working on chemical storage in a vast array of technologies I can't even keep up with all the chemistries being trialled. And the learning curves if anything are getting steeper not plateauing.

          • solarguy

            Installing BIPV like Tesla’s solar tile may turn out to be cheaper, when considering a new house build or re-roofing an existing house and requiring PV. Perhaps. At this point in the game wiring the little tiles and there will be dozens of them needed for any meaningful output, it may be difficult and time consuming, read $.

            As far as solar PV paint goes, it won’t be a case of have a roof, need PV, then just spray it on. A lot of people have been thinking that, but consider this. Any electricity generation device needs a dielectric material to insulate against, well, yep you guessed it electrocution and the elements. Were talking lethal voltages here! So it will still be in panels or a film as you say, just sprayed on in the factory.
            In addition to this any PV material so far made looses power with increasing heat. BIPV doesn’t get the cooling that current panels get, so less power production. If they discover a material that makes more power with increasing heat, then problem solved!
            Even those researching battery chemistries, are finding things exhausting

          • wideEyedPupil

            I wasn’t suggesting PV sprayed on in-situ LOL. Even if the BZE radio show spike does have a sample of an American dude saying “solar in a can” and i’ve heard it a thousand times 😉 All economies of scale happen in the factor and with automation not on the Aussie building site.

            In fact when I left Architecture in early 90s one of my parting comments was that Architecture wont change a lot until buildings start being made like cars in the factory (with a lot of automation and sophistication) and assembled on site. I was wrong in a lot of ways but correct in one, the way we make domestic buildings in Australia is ridiculously slow, labour intensive and poor in terms of quality assurance and in thermal and energy performance terms.

          • Alastair Leith

            I wasn’t suggesting PV sprayed on in-situ — can you imagine! LOL. Even if the BZE radio show spike does have a sample of an American dude saying “solar in a can” and i’ve heard it a thousand times 😉 All economies of scale happen in the factor and with automation not on the Aussie building site.

            In fact when I left Architecture in early 90s one of my parting comments was that Architecture wont change a lot until buildings start being made like cars in the factory (with a lot of automation and sophistication) and assembled on site. I was wrong in a lot of ways but correct in one, the way we make domestic buildings in Australia is ridiculously slow, labour intensive and poor in terms of quality assurance and in thermal and energy performance terms. And the robots, well they are now amongst us…

          • solarguy

            Yeah mate I wasn’t sure as so many people think that. LOL with you. Anyway it kills 2 birds with 1 stone for those that had that idea reading this.

            On home building, I’m happy to say that I’m involved with a company that builds energy efficient, factory made flat pack housing. It’s called MAAP HOUSE! Go to maaphouse .com

            Each one includes an Edson SHW system and a basic 1.5kw PV system supplied and installed by my business. The customer can opt for a bigger system if they wish. The modular concept is evolving, and the first sales will be happening soon.

      • Brian Tehan

        It beggars belief that an electronic tile could be made cheaper than a lump of concrete out of a mould. Anyway, if it cost twice as much, it would be worth doing.

        • Robin_Harrison

          I couldn’t agree more, well worth it. However, lighter, less materials and only tiles pointed in the right direction need cells.
          Of course the savings in transport won’t really apply here in Oz.

          • Alastair Leith

            some people face panels N, E, W and South and oversize the system relative to the inverter.

        • solarguy

          It beggars belief because they can’t be made cheaper, sounds like your thinking Brian. If it doesn’t sound feasible, it usually isn’t.

        • neroden

          They’ll probably be cheaper than concrete tiles just due to the transportation costs (they weigh less). Cheaper than asphalt or tarpaper roofing? No.

        • Alastair Leith

          Well i’ve been saying for some time that PV will be added to most external cladding products at a trivial cost by manufacturers to maintain point of sale relevance as PV approaches zero cost to deploy. I just didn’t think it would be in 2016. Having said that, Tesla may be including “total cost of ownership” where the PV generation offsets electricity purchasing. Using Californian sunshine and electricity tariffs to make the comparison.

          Or perhaps they have a roofing system under the tiles that’s cheaper to make and install than F8 radiata pine trusses even including a very clever cabling system? Wish someone would tell us.

          Ray Kurzweil — who’s one of those few futurists who makes accurate predictions and invented a lot of his own amazing things — says the date will be ~2036 when PV is deployed at a capacity equivalent to current global energy demand and at virtually zero cost. You can do the iterations on 22% (2 decade trend) or 26% (last few years trend) cost reduction per doubling of installed capacity yourself. You’ll arrive at a similar conclusion.

          People say PV can’t keep getting cheaper, but as long as deployment keeps doubling every two years you bet it can, all consumer grade electronic tech does as the volume is exploding exponentially. And every time China makes a big order for panels new factories get built for a 18 month production run, at the end of it they just dump product at effectively subsidies prices. Keeps the market from ever catching it’s breath.

          • solarguy

            And that’s the monster problem right there. If your not competing with China on PV your cool, but if you are, then dumping of excess panels isn’t a good thing.

  • George Darroch

    Thanks for bringing the facts, reliably.

    • howardpatr

      Yes, Giles, you and the team do a wonderful and very professional job

  • bedlam bay

    Turdbull and Fryingberg are totally shameless in still claiming the SA blackout was due to renewables. All the media should be calling out their “Post Truth” (LIES).

  • howardpatr

    Is that first picture Cayman Turnbull done up in a Robert Menzies era suit? Turnbull has effectively had a bag over his head since he first became PM and capitulated to the demands of Abbott and the anthropogenic climate change and clean energy technologies deniers who still support the ex-monk.

  • Malcolm M

    Trump in the US is now a sideshow. The real action is in India and China where most of the world’s new power generation capacity is being built. Despite Trump in the White House, there are unlikely to be new coal power stations built in the US because of cheap gas, cheap renewables and incentives favouring renewables in some States. The decline in renewable prices came just in the nick of time.

    • Radbug

      India is definitely NOT where the real action is, or will be. Under Narendra Modi, India will fall to pieces. Malcolm, you’re falling into the old neo-liberal trap of believing that the money card trumps all. Not in that collection of Bengalis, Punjabis, Marattas and Tamils that the Raj once called India. Indians are not rational people, Malcolm. The 300 million middle class view the other billion with deep disgust. This other billion live in conditions of appalling poverty. Indeed, if that billion “Indians” had the same standard of living of sub-saharan Africans, they would be much, much, better off. Malcolm, 45% of all “Indian” children grow up stunted. The 300 million are still intent on sending probes to Mars!! This is the reality that Adani wants the Federal Govt to buy into. Adani’s coal mine idea is just a con to siphon money off into off-shore tax havens, never to be seen again!

      • I agree that poverty is an issue that is oft overlooked. Much more attention should be put to solving it. We need to fix up the way we live on Earth first before we try to colonise other planets. Or at least, we need to get our priorites right, including our investment priorities.

        • Brian

          Solar pv panels will help the poor more than almost anything else you can do.

      • Brian Tehan

        India seriously needs to get some control of its population. It has 50% more people than when I was there on an extended trip in 1980. Yes, the poverty is shocking, even compared to other poor Asian countries. There must be some way to persuade people to limit their families via financial incentives.

        • Alastair Leith

          watch any of Hans Rosling’s videos (many are TED Talks).

          it involves countries like Australia investing your money in countries like India, since their governments are usually more corrupt than our own and can’t be trusted to lift their own poor, just as we struggle to life our own poor (and many don’t want to help those they consider below them get a rung up out of fear and this competition thing we’re conditioned so heavily with).

          Without investment in child mortality, better female education (for poor not just middle class) and access to careers and business opportunities for women, affordable family planning then poorer families will continue to have as many children as they do. it’s there life insurance, superannuation/retirement plan and everything else rolled into child-birth.

          But these measure do work, as Rosling so effectively demonstrates with animated data visualisation using the Gapminder framework he inspired.

        • Calamity_Jean

          According to the CIA, India’s fertility rate is down to 2.45 children per woman, so they are clearly working on it.
          Source: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/fields/2127.html#220

      • Nassim7

        Thank you Radbug for a dose of sanity.

        The MSM is constantly plugging India as though they had something to teach the rest of us – utterly ridiculous.

        Their government is so corrupt that they banned the banknotes that are used in 80+% of transactions – so the poor are being forced to revert to barter with rice and suchlike.

        http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/south-asia/the-rupee-squeeze

        Sadly, you won’t find any of this in the Fairfax/Murdoch rags.

        • Radbug

          In the ’50’s, Germany had its wirtschaftwunder, India was MIA. In the ’60’s & ’70’s, Japan had its wirtschaftwunder, India was MIA. In the ’80’s, South Korea had its wirtschaftwunder, India was MIA. In the ’90’s & noughties, China had its wirtschaftwunder, India was MIA. Einstein said that the mark of insanity was to do something again and again, hoping for a different result … that something is hoping that India will have its wirtschaftwunder!

        • Alastair Leith

          India had a lot to teach me 🙂 One of the most amazing countries I’ve ever lived in.

      • neroden

        Um, that’s quite a lot of racism from you there.

        I know a lot of Bengalis and Punjabis and… there’s a lot of very very rational money men there. Sure, the government is corrupt and society is bigoted against the poor, who are a majority, but *that’s just like the US*, eh? They’re still going to build solar gung-ho.

      • Brian

        https://cleantechnica.com/2016/12/07/india-builds-worlds-largest-solar-power-plant-covering-2500-acres/ 648MWp 678M$ 8 months

        Yeah they are falling for the nuclear nonsense. but they also see solar and wind are the real solution.

    • There is some truth to that. Gas is not necessary. Local electricity trading will also help to make solar and storage more economical. Read, sign and share this petition to change the national electricity objective (NEO) to consider environmental impact and reconsider the change request to allow Local Generation Network Credits or otherwise facilitate local electricity trading:

      https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/The_AEMC_Reconsider_the_change_request_for_local_electricity_trading/edit

      • dorsett

        Gas is not necessary, but it’s pretty cheap in much of the US, and the centralized generation model supported by the structure of utility regulations in many US states (but clearly not all). But the relevance of Trump policies in some of the highest population US states (particularly California & New York) is almost nil- California has committed to a high renewables/low-carbon path, and New York has upended the utility regulation apple cart to allow (or even favor) distributed power & storage to compete with bigger poles & wires and the centralized generation model, with many details still to be worked out.

        In the middle of the country wind has ruined the business model of coal generators, and cheap solar has been successfully out bidding gas peakers in some places. The wind & solar industries are pretty strong in many of those states that voted for Trump, with higher employment numbers than the fossil extraction businesses. Shoving fossils down their throats simply isn’t going to fly.

        The as-yet to be confirmed Energy Secretary Rick Perry presided as governor of Texas during the massive expansion of wind power in that fossil extraction state, and likely has a sense of just how much heat they would take if they tried to stuff that genie back in the bottle. The utility biz in Texas (also a high population state) is a bit more competitive than most, and it’s a case of “Money talks, bullshit walks”, when it comes to favoring less-economic pet solutions, more so than in other states. Cheap wind and cheap solar have no problems competing in that sunny & windy state market on price alone, and would continue to be competitive even with federal policy support withdrawn. (The gas & coal generators in the midwest have been making that complaint for awhile now, particularly about wind.)

        • Mike Dill

          Yes, Perry has seen the future in Texas, where coal is dying very quickly and wind and solar are taking over. Even Rex Tillerson, the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, knows that new oil exploration and development currently is uneconomic at the present oil price. The economics are going to push this, even if ‘The Donald’ said something different during the campaign.

          • Brian

            Trump insist on solar pv on his hotels. Let’s hope he’s not a total fool .

        • Brian

          fracking is massively supported by gov breaks, and they still have 50% bankruptcy rate.

    • Mike Dill

      Not only is coal obsolete, gas is getting there very quickly. Except for one or two places where the government is even more corrupt than in Australia, there will be no new coal built worldwide. The last gas peakers are being built as we speak, and will be written off as storage will do that job and others for less.

  • Cooma Doug

    Giles
    Your efforts on this front line are the best in the nation in my opinion. We are getting well into the situation where the denial is just noise.
    I am coming to the site now thinking, I wonder what’s new. I used to also be thinking what are the polluters messing up now.
    As I said the denial is now just noise and the future getting clearer because of sites like this one.

  • Colin Edwards

    I think Chris Uhlmann must have all his investments in coal and gas

    • MrMauricio

      …or otherwise beholden to these interests-his partisan attitude as exposed here reveals him to be a disgrace to journalism!!!

    • Alastair Leith

      or just like a good choir boy knows how to keep the choir master with a smile on his face.

  • Sean Sweetser

    2017 isn’t the swansong. The writing is on the wall now, its over for the naysayers.

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  • brucelee

    How long till renewables are cheaper than fracked gas?

    • juxx0r

      about two years ago.

    • Alastair Leith

      in Australia they already are, easily.

  • hfrik

    The major thing missing in Astralia from my external point of view is that it needs a power transportation grid (which does not exist today, a single low poer conector to south australia is no connector if safe grid considerations (n-1) are applied), and interconnecors to the neighbours – sea cables are becomming cheaper too.

    • Brian

      That favors off grid solutions like solar plus overnight battery plus waste to fuels seasonal backup.

  • Nassim7

    It would be great if some town/city in Australia were to go entirely “renewable” as an experiment. And without any connections to the grid.

    Obviously, it would be a disaster in due course, but we could learn a lot from it. Words like “deniers” might actually drop out of the discussion.

    • solarguy

      Mate the whole ACT is going 100% carbon neutral by 2020. If a town went 100% RE it wouldn’t turn out to be a disaster if planned correctly.

      • Nassim7

        The politicians in SA are shitting bricks right now as they know that a real heatwave would put the grid out of action.

        If those in ACT are equally stupid, that is fine by me. The ones in Victoria are shutting down Hazelwood and that is a real concern to me. It goes without saying that SA won’t be getting any current on the interconnector from Victoria when they need it most.

        The stupidity of those profiting from the ignorance of politicians in all things technical is a sight to behold. They will all be kicked out in due course and the solarguys will have to pay for the backup coal-fired plants.

        • Brian

          Heat waves put nuclear and coal baseload out of action. didn’t ya know?

      • Nassim7

        After writing the previous comment, I saw this:

        “More bad luck for South Australia, yet another blackout, 300 powerlines down, 125,000 homes cut off”

        http://joannenova.com.au/2016/12/more-bad-luck-for-south-australia-yet-another-blackout-300-powerlines-down-125000-homes-cut-off/

        I guess reality is catching up with fiction a lot faster than I expected. 🙁

        • solarguy

          So, I see you got a new tin foil hat from Aunty Jo for Christmas. The queen of all you weak heads. You cretins disgust me, your a disease. The misinformation you bastards spread is astounding. The only fiction is the crap you try to spread and the truth is you can’t handle the truth!

          • Nassim7

            Thank you for the expletive.

            The difference between you and me is that I am a professional engineer – with many years of experience. The science is very clear.

            As for you, you are are flogging a very dead horse and hoping to find a buyer.

          • solarguy

            Most of you weak heads claim your an engineer. The only thing you and your mentally ill comrades engineer are conspiracy theories, lies and misinformation in the hope that other weak heads will run with it, spreading the disease.

            Your a professional bullshit artist and the difference between you and me, is I’m sane and your delusional. Your being used by very rich fossil fuel companies, their laughing at you, all the way to the bank, you moron!

          • Nassim7

            “your delusional”

            Spelling please!

            I know you don’t have the requisite brain cells. However, others may be interested to learn what working engineers from across the world think:

            “The Energy Return of Solar PV”

            http://euanmearns.com/the-energy-return-of-solar-pv/

          • solarguy

            Now your trying to correct me on a spelling mistake that isn’t one. With training you may get better, but I doubt it!
            What kind of engineer are you pretending to be?
            “Energy return on a solar panel is 2yrs” and always pays for itself.

            Now, listen up weak head! All fossil fuels don’t have an energy return. That’s the reality! Ya got it?

            And here is proof that your delusional, you come on to this website and spew your poison, hoping we will agree! Can’t get any more delusional than that, you sad bastard.

          • Brian

            The EROI for solar pv is at least 60 when the panels are recycled. Energy break even on solar is 6 months to 2 years. You repeat every fossils troll meme on the list don’t you? what’s next?

          • Indeed, the science is very clear.

            Sadly, Joanne Nova is on the wrong side of it, as demonstrated by Tamino, Skeptical Science and many others.

          • Brian

            You are an English major getting 7 cents per comment. That’s my guess.

        • Brian

          Powerlines down. Gosh, I wonder what energy sources caused that?

    • G’day Nassim7 –

    • wideEyedPupil

      Hepburn Springs and Daylseford region are already net 100% RE with two very modest turbines at Sailors Flat. And guess what, decades ago Victoria built all these things called poles and wires (fancy-pants word being transmission) and it can take the excess energy all the way to Melbourne, Ballarat, wherever,… and in times of energy deficit import power from other wind farms, rooftopPV off the network or (currently but not necessarily) coal in La Trobe valley.

      Amazing, it’s like they thought of everything when they made grids with HVAC transmission lines isn’t it?

      • Nassim7

        “poles and wires”

        I see. So they are unable to operate without a hefty subsidy from fossil fuels. Thank you for proving my point rather nicely. 🙂

        Just you wait till Hazelwood shuts down and then we will get the chance to see whether Melbourne or Hepburn Springs gets priority. As for the interconnector to SA – it will be going AOWL.

        The trouble with you guys is you don’t know how to spell the word “Intermittency”. It is not part of your vocabulary. Where you are, the sun always shines and when it doesn’t, the wind takes over. Complete jokers.

        • Bill Evans

          You are of course totally correct. Engineers are accustomed to building RELIABLE systems and what the ecofreaks don’t get is that intermittent supply from renewables invokes another concept called REDUNDANCY when things fail.

          We need redundancy for costly failures. That’s why airliners have more than 1 engine, triple redundant controls and double redundant hydraulics.

          The ecofreaks think a 2-3 day brownout or blackout is OK. But it is not acceptable in a modern society where meds/vaccines/food etc will be thrown out and industrial processes lose days of productions (many have elaborate restart cycles). There are huge economic and social costs.

          The ecofreaks think warehouses should purchase back up generators and industrial plants as well. Hmm so you purchase distributed redundancy rather than just another power plant for backup. So much for cheap renewables.

          In general the ecofreaks string together a long of chain of over optimistic assumptions to build systems that STILL require fossil fuel backup of the same scale you would build without renewables. Real engineers build for catastrophe not for pixie dust hopefulness.

          The pollution problem is really a population problem not a technical one. 1 Billion people could pollute like billyo forever.

          • Brian

            Same reserve generators for solar and wind as for baseload fossil.

        • Brian

          You fossils folks don’t get that baseload is a car without a throttle. It needs peak and load following reserve generators. Guess what?????? the very same genrators work great with predictable and intermittent solar and wind.

    • Nassim7

      Here is a great chart showing the relationship in Europe between the price of electricity and the amount of so-called “Renewable Energy” per capita.

      http://www.euanmearns.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/europeelectricprice.png

      German and Danish electricity is almost 3 times as expensive as Hungarian, Turkish and Polish electricity. I wonder why?

      What is clearly not understood by many people working in the “servants/ices sector” is that their whole livelihood is predicated on those working in the wealth-creating industries making a profit. High electricity prices mean that your kids can only work for foodora etc. as cyclists.

      • Bristolboy

        A chart which as I have explained elsewhere is completely out of date and deliberately misleading.

        It also fails to account for the varying costs of living in each country. Finally much of the wind and solar, particularly in Germany, Denmark and Spain, was installed before costs declined.

        • Nassim7

          Please yourself. The reality obviously displeases you and you have nothing better to present.

          Australia will learn – to its great cost – the idiocy of its political imperatives. When the people find out what a great scam they have been exposed to, they will kick out the current political class.

          • Brian

            Solar and wind are cheaper and you won’t get your 7 cent per comment from the fossils industry folks. You poor thing,.

      • Brian

        Another fool confuses price with cost. The price of Danish and German RETAIL electricity includes fees and taxes the people voted for to pay for renewable energy and many other things. WHOLESALE cost in Germany and Denmark are low. Cost are low. Germany and Denmark are the two most reliable grids on the planet. 5 times France, 10 times the USA. try again fossil friend.

    • Brian

      Why would it be a disaster? Micro girds need only solar and waste to fuels. The greater grid is not a god given necessity.

  • Alastair Leith

    Chris Uhlmann == “national embarrassment”.

  • No. Denial runs deep.

  • Brian

    Who said turn them off? fuel them with fuels from wastes.

  • Nassim7

    “The End of the Energiewende?”

    http://www.theenergycollective.com/energy-post/2395990/the-end-of-the-energiewende

    “a recent period of extremely low solar and wind power generation shows that Germany will never be able to rely on renewable energy, regardless of how much new capacity will be built.”

    It does look as though the Germans are returning to reality. They cannot afford undependable expensive electricity after all.

  • Brian

    The world market has already decided: over 60% of all new power installs are solar and wind. Waste to fuels is the backup, and we need to push that.