The fake arguments against 100% renewable energy | RenewEconomy

The fake arguments against 100% renewable energy

UNSW academics compare campaign against wind and solar and high renewable energy scenarios led by pro-nuclear lobbyists to efforts by the tobacco industry to sow fear and uncertainty and delay action.

Wikimedia Commons


Wikimedia Commons

It might be tempting to think that the energy wars are being fought only on the political front, between left and right in parliament and on the front pages of mainstream media, and in the market-place between technologies old and new, dirty and clean.

But over the last few years a furious battle has also been raging in academia between those who say we can and should shift towards a 100 per cent renewable energy grid, and those who say we can’t possibly, that we should stop renewables in their tracks and choose nuclear (or “clean” coal) instead.

The battle between the academic “can’s” and “can’t do’s” over the issue of renewables has become increasingly bitter in recent years, and the coal industry has been watching on in quiet admiration, particularly as the false arguments often dominate the public domain.

The coal industry is satisfied because coal and nuclear share a common lack of flexibility, an attachment to increasingly redundant concepts such as “baseload” and a centralised grid, and until carbon is priced the coal industry reckons it can beat nuclear on cost, and so protect its turf.

But even though much of this academic battle has been fought out behind closed doors, and in academic papers and specialist journals, much of the mischief making has also crept into the mainstream.

It is often the basis of the conservative attachment to the concept of “baseload” as de-facto proof of “reliability” –  even when it isn’t – and their complete rejection of “intermittent” sources of supply of wind and solar.

The concept of a “flexible” and “dispatchable” grid is beyond them – either because incumbent business models would be ruined or because of an ideology, based around the refusal to believe that the Greens could not possibly have been right.

The latest salvo has been fired by two UNSW academics, Mark Diesendorf and Ben Elliston – the authors of a series of landmark studies since 2012 on how Australia could shift to 100 per cent renewables, and do so cost effectively.

That theme is no longer considered to be outlandish by most in the energy sector. The network lobby and the CSIRO painted their own scenario for 100 per cent renewables in Australia in 2016, and utilities like Transgrid say it is feasible and affordable. Even AEMO said it could be done.

Their latest paper –The feasibility of 100% renewable electricity systems: A response to critics”, published in Science Directseeks to expose and dismiss the “myths” it says are used by scholarly journals, popular articles, media, websites, blogs and statements by politicians to attack wind and solar.

“The rapid growth of renewable energy (RE) is disrupting and transforming the global energy system, especially the electricity industry,” Diesendorf and Elliston write.

“As a result, supporters of the politically powerful incumbent industries and others are critiquing the feasibility of large-scale electricity generating systems based predominantly on RE.”

Diesendorf and Elliston says it is clear that 100 per cent renewable energy systems – including those predominantly supplied by variable sources such as wind and solar – can be readily designed to meet the needs of reliability, security and affordability.

They say the main critiques of the idea contain “factual errors, questionable assumptions, important omissions, internal inconsistencies, exaggerations of limitations and irrelevant arguments.”

And it has ever been thus, they note, citing this quote below.

“We were once afraid of what would happen when wind energy generation reached 5% of the total consumption. We then worried about approaching 10% – would the system be able to cope? Some years later, we said that 20% had to be the absolute limit! However, in 2016, Danish wind turbines produced more than the total electricity consumption for 317 h of the year, and we barely give this any thought.” – Peter Jørgensen, Vice President Associated Activities,

Diesendorf and Elliston say that the principal barriers to 100 per cent renewable electricity are “neither technological nor economic”, but instead are primarily “political, institutional and cultural,” and the protection of vested interests.

The head of the world’s biggest utility, China State Grid, has said much the same thing.

The main targets of this study are a collection of papers lead-authored by the likes of Australians Barry Brook, Ben Heard, and Corey Bradshaw, all fervent critics of renewables and advocates of nuclear power in Australia.

It also draws into the raging and bitter battle between Stanford academics led by Mark Jacobsen, who has written extensively of the opportunities for 100 per cent renewables, and another team led by Chris Clack.

“Contrary to unsupported claims by pro-nuclear RE critics that base-load power stations are essential, several of the simulation studies achieve reliability with zero or negligible base-load capacity,” Diesendorf and Elliston say.

They also point to other misconceptions and myths commonly found in the conservative press and media discourse.

This includes a favourite of the pro-nuclear critics of wind and solar, including “biologists Brook and Bradshaw” who insist that each renewable energy power station needs to be dispatchable –  a myth readily adopted by the Coalition government in their campaign against high penetration of renewables.

The authors note that both simulations and practical experience show that this is unnecessary for a reliable generating system.

The other defence of nuclear over wind and solar is the assumption of an ever-ballooning demand for energy, which appears to ignore energy efficiency, or the fact that a unit of electricity from wind and solar uses three times less energy to produce than fossil fuels, and EVs half as much as internal combustion engines.

The paper goes on to dismiss the myths that renewables can’t power an industrial society, and criticises technical details such as the absurdly low capacity factors attributed to wind farms, and the false assumption that capital costs of wind and solar farms are ignored, and that large amounts of wind are curtailed in Australia.

Actually, it is little more than 2 per cent.

Diesendorf and Elliston go through the many false assumptions propagated by the pro-nuclear lobby. But they lament that this inadequate understanding of the engineering, scientific and quantitative modelling has found its way through to the political mainstream.

Credit: AAP Image

They cite the Australian Coalition government’s attack of Labor 50 per cent targets – both state and federal – as “reckless”, the UK government’s attachment for nuclear because of the “need for baseload”, and President Trump’s administration defence of coal and nuclear over renewables.

“Clearly political ideology and the capture of governments by powerful vested interests is a major barrier,” Diesendorf and Elliston write. “Critics of RE who misrepresent RE can be seen as part of that political barrier, giving support to politicians who are unduly influenced by incumbent industries.

They compare the campaign to that run by the tobacco industry to sow doubts about the serious adverse health impacts of their product and their (for a long time successful) attempts to delay action.

But they note that the rapid growth and declining costs of renewable energy are weakening the influence of such vested interests, as is the arrival and cost reductions in battery and other storage.

But resistance continues, from market designs that favour fossil fuel technologies, neoliberal economic rhetoric of “leave it to the market”, even in a system where market failure is endemic; and the efforts of utilities to cling to their traditional business models.

And there is also strong resistance from a few older power engineers, who remain attach to the concepts of base-load, intermediate and peak load power stations and … “cannot envisage a system that contains a large fraction of variable RElec and where demand can be modified almost instantaneously.”

“Electricity supply systems, operating on 100% renewable energy with the major proportion from variable renewables, are technically feasible, reliable and affordable for many countries and regions of the world,” the authors write.

“This is even true if future RElec is limited to technologies that are commercially available now. Regions with insufficient local RE resources will in future be able to import RE via transmission line and/or tanker carrying renewable fuels.

“RE’s environmental and health impacts are much less than those of fossil fuels and, within a risk fra- mework that recognizes low-probability high-impact events, nuclear power.

“RE contributes to community development and participatory democracy, and is compatible with a steady-state economy. A 100% RElec system can provide directly, and indirectly via renewable fuels, all future energy use, including transport and heat.

“The principal barriers that are slowing the transition are the poli- tical power of the incumbent fossil fuel, nuclear and electricity in- dustries, bolstered by misinformation disseminated by RE critics, and existing institutions such as market rules that are inappropriate for climate mitigation and discourage RElec and flexible, dispatchable power stations.

“The inertia against change can be overcome by the growing public awareness of the increasing impacts of climate change, the competitive economics of RElec, and positive visions of a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable future.

“However, because time is of the essence, community groups and the population at large must increase pressure on govern- ments to resist vested interests and transition to 100RElec and then 100RE.”



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  1. Brendan Laidlaw 2 years ago

    Is there a link to the report somewhere not behind a paywall?

    • Mark Diesendorf 2 years ago

      You can download the article free of charge until the beginning of July from

      • Caroline Kelly 2 years ago

        Hi Mark, it’s asking for a fee

        • Mark Diesendorf 2 years ago

          Disgraceful! Please email me at [email protected] and I’ll send you a free copy. That applies to everyone who is interested.

          • MaxG 2 years ago

            Thanks… much appreciated.
            It is a disgrace to have the leeches on research…

          • Joe 2 years ago

            Hello Mark. Thank you for your kind offer, I will email you for a copy.

      • ZeroEmissionsNoosa 2 years ago

        I also went to the link Mark but I couldn’t figure out a way of getting the article by not paying….

        • Mark Diesendorf 2 years ago

          I’ll send a free copy to anyone who emails me at
          [email protected]

  2. Jamie Blank 2 years ago

    an attachment to increasingly redundant concepts such as “baseload”

    How stupid do you think your readers are.

    • juxx0r 2 years ago

      Not as stupid as we think you are.

    • Charles 2 years ago

      “How stupid do you think your readers are.”

      You’re one of them so the odds aren’t looking good so far.

    • Simon Jowett 2 years ago

      Baseload in not a concept its a fact. It refers to the underlying constant electrical demand. What is changing is where that baseload can come from. Clearly a system solely based on wind or solar pv runs into issues on days of low wind or cloudy days. However, a correctly balanced system with a variety of RE installations in geographically diverse location WILL work. Add to this a distributed source of batteries (as prices also come down) and it becomes simple. The plummeting costs of grid scale PV and wind mean its also now cheaper to install this capacity rather than coal gas and nuclear.

      • Ertimus J Waffle 2 years ago

        Are you serious???? Do you understand transmission losses such as iron losses, copper losses and PF losses reactance, resistance. This argument is ludicrous you cannot transmit power ie electricity very far at all the losses make it totally prohibitive. I wont waste my time but your solution WONT work.

        • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

          Poor little Waffling fake has copied words from Google but has no idea what they mean – there is no such thing as PF losses. Aluminium conductors have no “iron losses” or “copper losses” for that matter. Power is happily transmitted from Cairns to Whyalla in Australia. Losses are well understood with conductors sized to limit voltage drops – you pay a few cents per kWh for transmission losses – negligible compared to retail margins.

          Run off an Waffle on a subject you would know well, like squeaky wheels and dog whistles.

        • Simon Jowett 2 years ago

          …sounds like an electrical rant with no facts. Yes, transmitting electricity results in losses – the same losses we have today shipping electrons from QLD to TAS and back again. A more distributed system with behind the meter solar & batteries will end up reducing losses not increasing them. BTW its aluminium used in HV transmission lines not copper, PF is dependent on the end user and nothing to do with the generation but you CLEARLY are not an electrical engineer there not much point continuing

        • Hettie 2 years ago

          Waffles, dear, do you have any idea who you are writing to? Any idea about the collective knowledge and expertise on these pages?
          Me, I’m just an interested grumpy old woman, but most contributors have a wealth of knowledge and experience in the electricity industry and market. So do be aware that you are coming across as a total fuckwit, and perhaps consider asking for information from those who know, rather than making such a spectacular display of your encyclopedic ignorance.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Hettie you have a wonderful way with words for a Waffler!

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            So glad you like it.
            I enjoyed myself enormously, writing it. Altogether a good evening’s entertainment. And I am looking forward to seeing him fess up about his credentials.
            Or not.

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            Sudden thought, do you think that Waffles (Ertimus, not Turnbull) could be a pseudonym for Matt Canavan? He makes about as much sense.

          • Warwick Sands 2 years ago

            I would love to buy you a beverage of your choosing, you deserve it.

          • Nick Kemp 2 years ago

            I love it Hettie – you are in fine form for an “old woman”

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            Thanks Nick.
            At 73 I hardly qualify for young, and fuckwits have always made me grumpy.
            But there is no convincing ideologues, or those who make up their minds about absolutely everything at age 20 and go through life convinced that they need never think again.😔

        • Peter Campbell 2 years ago

          Tell me about the fossil fuel distribution losses, please. How much fuel is consumed to ship crude oil across the globe then across the country to far flung petrol stations? How much of the fuel is consumed to do the refining? What about the 30% efficiency of an internal combustion engine compared with >90% for an electric motor?

    • Andy Saunders 2 years ago

      You do realise that “baseload” is actually a demand term, not a generation term? So nothing really to do with generation…

      • Chris Ford 2 years ago

        True, and the redundancy lies in its attempted use to support generators with flatter generation profiles, when the leftover demand after the lowest cost generation has been bought up isn’t flat though … oops …

      • Ian 2 years ago

        Baseload is a demand term. It is the minimum demand over a period of time eg over weeks. It also refers to the type of generator that can match this demand. As in the phrase “baseload generator” . The ironic thing is that in the past when only two types of generator where available, ones that had a cheaper but invariable output and others that covered the peaks but were more expensive, the demand baseload was artificially increased so that more of the “baseload invariable generator” capacity could be used. In the dead of night when load was very low the surplus electricity was used for water heating and other discretionary loads. This was the time when demand management was invented.

        With lots of new types of electricity generator available , the old regime of baseload and peakers with demand management, no longer applies. Remnants remain such as shifting hot water heating to the night, or giving priority to coal baseload-generators (or if this term triggers abject anger and brain freeze then the term invariable generator might be better ).

        The concept of merit order originates in the fossil times. It was to give cheaper coal priority over more expensive but more dispatchable gas. Nowadays, solar and wind have become cheaper than the cheapest coal plant. Who gets first dibs at the load market is really what the current FF vs renewables spat is all about.

        You could say that percentage renewables has very little to do with a. how much of this type of electricity generation can be tolerated before the grid gets unstable or unreliable, but more about b. how big a quota of renewables is allowed, so as to give the old fossil generators and incumbents a guaranteed place in the load market.

        This is the funny double-speak we hear. To fans of renewables, percent renewables means a. And they strive to adjust demand and juggle generators, interconnectors, and storage to maximise this percentage. To the old guard percent renewables means b. Quotas, how they can minimise the damage to their previous market dominance by restricting renewables.

        Actually if you want to increase the percentage renewables in the Australian market then the process is simple: turn off 10% of FF generators and you get a corresponding increase in renewables percentage. Turn off Liddell and you now can source some other generator, turn off all the fossil plants and of course you have 100% renewables.

        If you turned off all FF coal, gas and diesel, how stable and reliable would the grid be? I think that’s the point of this article. The answer is, with some effort, it would be fantastically stable and reliable. Lots of places already achieve this ( most of these are not short of hydro resources -but let’s not dwell on that)

        A lot of government talent is wasted on designing quotas for renewables instead of finding solutions to 100% renewables reliability issues. Love the NEG , it illustrates this point so nicely: a ‘fossils quota’ wolf dressed as ‘the answer to renewables reliability’ lamb.

        • Hettie 2 years ago

          Beautiful, crystal clear explanation.
          Love the final metaphor.

        • Andy Saunders 2 years ago

          Ian, I agree with a lot of what you say.

          But not all. The merit order dispatch system is technology-agnostic. But it is very volatile if there are large variations in the short-run marginal costs (typical of a system with lots of renewables) and the demand and/or supply is variable. As david Leitch points out, we’ll have to come up with some form of capacity market otherwise the merit-order pricing becomes a joke.

          There’s a degree of (lack of) correlation between widely-spaced renewables generators which gives more system stability/less storage requirement than perhaps many realise. For instance coastal wind in Australia is anti-correlated with solar.

          And of course storage is only one way to deal with stability – spinning reserve is another. When Kogan Creek is running, the NEM has to have at least 750MW extra running and able to be ramped just to cope with a possible trip (which is much more likely to come from an old NSW black coal or a Victorian brown coal unit). That reserve capacity is a waste (of $, CO2 emissions etc) and could be lowered in a future high-renewables system.

          As I said, we agree on most things.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Good additional points Andy. Understanding of the maths of signal transmission gives an understanding of the limitations of markets in sending long term investment signals from extremely short term (relatively) price signals. You can only dispatch what you have built but it is hard to extract a signal to build more capacity from signals that on average say there is already overcapacity.

            This is particularly true of any market in transition – the longer you allow legacy assets to “hang around” the more their written down value allows them to mess with signals to new more appropriate assets. That is what is so foolish about the current Fed policy – on the one hand putting money into a specific but limited asset like Snowy 2 but on the other leaving a market ill configured to pull thru a fast transition.

  3. Jamie Blank 2 years ago

    “dismiss the myths that renewables can’t power an industrial society”

    Showing your true colours. You’re a kaczynskite. You’re a terrorist. Go on ban me.

    • DevMac 2 years ago

      I guess Sanjeev Gupta must be as well.

    • Jo 2 years ago

      yes please (to ban, I mean)

    • Andy Saunders 2 years ago

      Kaczynskite? Maybe you’re a Perovskite…

    • Hettie 2 years ago

      Jamie, you display a mindset that I simply cannot fathom.
      An electron is an electron is an electron, whether it has been produced by photovoltaics or by magnets rotated by steam, by wind, or by falling water. Get enough electrons to the place where you need heat or movement, and you can do anything. Steel smelting included.
      You remind me of the people who told the Wright brothers that they would never get that thing off the ground.
      You are wrong.

    • Rod 2 years ago

      You may have to explain it to me. All I got was:
      “Primitivist Hyperstitions and The New Church of Anti-Acceleration”
      I would suggest that fits you and your ilk.

  4. Steven Gannon 2 years ago

    Our rapidly growing population will need to be factored in at some stage, it might be 40 million by 2040.

    • George Michaelson 2 years ago

      Yes. What’s the last time to build to a growth curve to 2040? It sure isn’t ‘do nothing’ and it might be do incremental things.. like deploy batteries, pumped hydro and more solar.

    • Andy Saunders 2 years ago

      Well, except the increases in energy efficiency roughly cancel out the population growth. So not really a factor.

    • Rod 2 years ago

      Abbott wants to drop immigration to 100,000 per year.
      With our birth rate, we would actually go backwards in population. And a few other areas.

  5. RobertO 2 years ago

    Hi All, New Zealand’s North Island would not survive with it’s PH system on the Waikato River system. I have always believed that we can go to 100% RE with the correct combo of Wind, Solar, Hydro, Pump Hydro, Batteries and the alternatives supplies of H2 and man made CH4 (both chemical and bio gas, not the stuff out of the ground and this is the last 1%). Demand Management, and Thermal Management (look at all the H2O water heaters that have a Pressure / Temperature relief valve at the top of the tank and drains hot water out, SA has the Pressure Relief valve at the bottom of the tank, and it is worth about 48 kW hr pa) has a sizable role to play as does the interconnects (which I believe some are need for better security). Produce Locally, Use Locally, Store Locally and ship in when shortages occur (last option). Some sites will have stationary FC as backup emergency generators using filtered H2 from the gas network.

    • Askgerbil Now 2 years ago

      And then there is also renewable energy like this: “Geothermal energy produces about 13% of New Zealand’s electricity supply. Most of New Zealand’s installed geothermal generating capacity of about 750 MWe is situated in the Taupo Volcanic Zone..”

      • Ertimus J Waffle 2 years ago

        And last time I was there it was getting less and less that much so that they stopped the local population from tapping into the reservoir and even blocking off a lot of the pipes bleeding steam from the geothermal reservoir. Thermal energy isn’t endless it is finite.

        • Hettie 2 years ago

          Oh please! I really do not think that the earth’s core is about to go cold any time soon.

          • Warwick Sands 2 years ago

            It may not apply to the NZ experience but one of the outcomes of some geothermal attempts in Australia was that the temperature of the well fell over time. Apparently it was considered to be too expensive to chase the hot rock every couple of years.

            I didn’t think this was an issue at Taupo because the magma(?) was closer to the surface and the intervening rock was somewhat more conductive.

            I agree that the earth’s core will remain “warm” for some time.

            And as Dr Who suggested “once the core cools, start looking at the momentum of the earth’s rotation as a power source”.

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            Yes. Magma. That whole region, Turangi, Tokanau, Taupo, through to Rotorua and the surrounding lakes, is one vast geothermal wonderland. Ruapeheu is of course a fairly active volcano.
            My dad was responsible for the land purchase for the geothermal power scheme, back in the late 1950s, and I have family still living in the area, so have a propriatorial attitude to it all, in spite of the fact that my actual knowledge of the scheme is nonexistent. It is beautiful country, and full of astonishing natural phenomena.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Warwick it is worth distinguishing between Australian experiments with “hot rocks” and NZ geothermal. Hot rocks – a bit of a misnomer – are hot because of slow radioactive decay in certain types of rock trapped their by a blanket of overlying sediment. Unfortunately the rate of heating is very low, even lower than the very low rate of heat extraction, which makes the whole exercise extremely expensive. As you point out, NZ geothermal is primarily based on ground water (including reinjection water) coming in contact with rock heated by conduction from magma where it is close enough to the surface for this to be exploitable. Many of the wells in NZ are a few 100m deep compared to the 4-6km deep for hot rocks.

          • Greg Hudson 2 years ago

            Dr Who didn’t take into account that once the core cools, there will be no more magnetic field enveloping the planet, which in turn means the solar wind and CME’s (Coronal Mass Ejections) will strip the planet of its atmosphere (making it somewhat hard to breathe). Just sayin’ …

        • Hettie 2 years ago

          Having just checked your comment history I am vastly amused to see that in over two years and over a great many comments you have received just one up vote.
          You must be so proud.

      • RobertO 2 years ago

        Hi Askgerbil Now, Part of the issues with Geothermal Energy is that they slowly degrade, as a school kid I went on a tour in the 1963 and they took us into the main generator room (had to wear ear muffs, hard hat, jackets and long pants with shoes , no one gets that sort of tour today as it too dangerous). The guide was saying that they were losing about 10% production per year. They refurbished the site adding more capacity and expanded the area in the late 80’s and early 90’s, but Iceland has also reported losing capacity, but they are also adding new capacity to adjust.

        • Hettie 2 years ago

          That is true in Australia, which is geologically very stable. Hardly any earth tremors, no active volcanoes. Thick, hard rock crust, magma a very long way down.
          Contrast with NZ, especially central North Island, but also parts of South Island, eg Hamer springs area, where geothermal activity is close to the surface.

          Boiling mud pools in Rororua, geysers, hot springs piped into homes for hot water. Earthquakes, volcanoes.
          The heat is accessible. What works, and will keep working there, won’t work here.

    • Ertimus J Waffle 2 years ago

      What was this a grade four assignment???? I can imagine the control room that would have to balance and run this unbelievable conglomerate of unreliable, uncontrollable and incompatible generation. It would be easier to hook up the warp drive engines on the star ship enterprise and ask Scotty for full power to the warp drive engines please Mr Spock.

      • juxx0r 2 years ago

        Another muppet for the ban list.

      • MaxG 2 years ago

        Yes, and imagine the job of separating all the different coloured electrons… insane.

        • juxx0r 2 years ago

          You can seperate them by gravity, remember that wind electrons are about ten times heavier, that’s why powerlines fall down in strong winds.

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            But seriously, it’s those hanging comparisons that cause all the trouble.

      • RobertO 2 years ago

        HI Ertimus J Waffle You are an idiot of the best order. There no such thing as progress according to you. When I was involved in building both Eraring and Wallerawang Power Stations the control rooms were using very dry compressed air as the main controls. The units had 4 tubes filled with 30 kW heater elements and a granular silica beads. They had two supply compressed being dried to – 200 degrees C on an 8 hr cycle and there was a bleed off from that supply to remove the moisture from the unit that were heating the moisture out of the silica beads. That bleed off also ran the air motor to control the timer (it was all mechanical). These units were about 1.3 metre square by 2.5 metres high. This was just to control the moisture in the the compressed air controls in the main control room.
        Guess what electronics have taken over and the same units are no longer required because they use electricity to do the same job
        In 1987 I was given a tour of the ARE exchange in Parramatta. The unit used a combo of electronic and mechanical to get the phone calls connected, Each rack held rows of numbers that the call progressed through and there were several rooms of these mechanical devices. The modern AXE exchange is a box about 1 square metre by 2 metre in height and has 10 000 phone numbers attached.
        Here is a sense of progress
        2 wires to a phone in 1940
        4 wires to a phone 1970 gave you phone smarts
        2 wires at 240 volt gave 30 simultaneous phone calls in 1980
        2 wire at 240 volt gave 1200 simultaneous phone calls 1985
        Optical fibre (two fibres) one frequency of light 5000 simultaneous calls in 1990 (2.5 Gbits /sec)
        Optical fibre (two fibres) 1000 frequencies of light (at 2.5 GBits /sec) in 2004 (telstra installed its first multi mode box with 8 frequencies of light per card with room for 8 cards in the box in 2005 near Armidale NSW)
        The current state of play is about 114 Trillions bits /sec on 1 fibre

        try this for an update

        Video for You Tube did you know in 2017▶ 6:12

  6. Askgerbil Now 2 years ago

    100 percent renewable energy for the electricity grid is a modest interim target.
    A more reasonable goal is 100% renewable energy for both electricity generation and all transport energy. In addition renewable energy should also replace all of Australia’s energy exports that are presently in the form of fossil fuels – oil, coal and gas.

    The renewable energy industry really needs to be more ambitious and stop getting side-tracked with small-minded objectors and their objections.

    The nuclear lobby can easily be put off by pointing out that solar energy is sourced from an naturally occurring nuclear fusion reactor.

    Only a slight change in perspective is required. The concept of “curtailment” is where the renewable energy industry is looking at the question from the wrong perspective.

    Note that with the current electricity system, peaking gas plants that only run for 10 – 15 days a year a rarely criticised as being “idle” for months at a time.

    There is little point in leaving a wind turbine or solar system “idle”. The fuel is free.
    An obvious solution is replacing the gas peaking plants with reversible fuel cells. Instead of being idle for 350 days a year these can be actively producing hydrogen. On the few days of a year when extra generating capacity is needed, they can generate electricity from either hydrogen or bio-methane.

    This addresses the reason Australia has such high electricity costs: the capital cost of a lot of idle gas peaking plants has to be paid for with high electricity prices every day of the year. Reversible fuel cells can produce and sell hydrogen for export when they aren’t needed to generate electricity. There is no “idle” months of overhead to be added to electricity bills.

    See for example “sunfire supplies Boeing with largest reversible solid oxide electrolyser/fuel cell system”

    • Cooma Doug 2 years ago

      Great words here.
      You are correct in all you say.
      Just to add, I have seen some gas plant run only maintenance hours and do well below 1% capacity factor over a year. But they empower the bidding enertia of the owner.

    • Ertimus J Waffle 2 years ago

      Yes but the wind doesn’t blow all the time and the sun only shines for half the day and even then only for a couple of hours if there isn’t any cloud do you get anywhere near the rated output of the solar panels. 100% is a joke.

      • Hettie 2 years ago

        Then how do you explain the fact that ICE vehicles do travel from place to place, and even pull heavy trailers, when they are only 17% efficient ?
        It just means that you need to produce as much energy as it takes to do the job, doesn’t it. 100% of energy being renewable is not at all the same as renewables being 100% efficient.

        Over the 8.5 months since installation, my solar system has produced a average of 5.4 time its rated power. 5.3 kW system, average output 28.62 kWh per day. That will possibly decrease a little , but I don’t think by much, as we have just had a month of unusually cloud weather, and the days will be getting longer from Friday.
        Now I know that 100% efficiency would see an average daily output of 5.3 × daylight hours, which here is close to 12, so 63.6 kWh, and that 28.62 is only 45% efficient, allowing for the fact that it makes no sense to expect solar panels to produce in the dark.
        But put all that aside. The fact remains that in spite of the rotation of the earth, and the vagaries of the weather, the generator on my roof produces nearly 27 kWh per day, and is returning more than it is costing. So in financial terms, it is 100 % efficient.
        And in 4 years will be producing a modest income.
        That is what is driving the transition to renewable energy. The economics of it. There are several ways to store the excess power produced at midday from solar, or overnight from wind, to cover the few periods when a widely distributed set of generators are all pretty much unproductive. Pumped hydro, batteries, hydrogen, molten salt, the list goes on.
        So in spite of the fact that, like coal and gas, wind and solar are not 100% efficient, they are most certainly capable of providing 100% of Australia’s energy needs, including for transport, into the clean future.

        • Ertimus J Waffle 2 years ago

          Where do you get the power from when the wind stops blowing and the sun goes down ???????

          • Chris Jones 2 years ago

            Aaah Polly, just woken up & decided to spit out the oldest of anti-RE arguments? Couldn’t think of anything more original this early in the morning?

            For those that don’t know, 98% of such events are covered by a widespread system of distribution (such as the NEM), pumped hydro, solar thermal, etc. The remainder can be covered by such things as RE generated hydrogen, ammonia, etc thermal plants.

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            Now he’ll come back with the four days in early June when all the windfarms around the NEM were producing a bit less than 30% of rated output, and claim that 30% is the same as zero. Just wait for it.

          • Ertimus J Waffle 2 years ago

            But wait so you say renewables are good when the wind blows but when it doesn’t you don’t need it any way. What a break through in the furtherment of civilization. Freud would be proud of you.

          • solarguy 2 years ago

            So they let play with the computer at the sheltered workshop do they. Sad, simple little man.

          • Ertimus J Waffle 2 years ago

            ROFL you should write for a comedian.

          • Chris Jones 2 years ago

            Not really Polly, but when the troll/ astroturfer makes so very little effort, it’s not worth even Benny Hill level quips.

            Of course a bit of education never hurts for those not in the know. I’m sure many have been bamboozled by such waffling.

          • RobertO 2 years ago

            Go away idiot

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            Oh FFS!
            Asked and answered, umpteen times in umpteen different fora.
            Go away little boy and stop bothering the grownups. Go play with your yoyo.

          • Gyrogordini 2 years ago

            Best snap-back I’ve seen in a long time. 😊

          • john 2 years ago

            Yes I am afraid the waffle seemed to make it a play to put up the most obtuse inane arguments. If they are his/her actual thoughts then he/she is in need of help indeed. However having said that with the likes of Fox and the Murdoch empire feeding FUD on a daily basis that is the outcome. Of course ably assisted by the jack mob in the federal parliament.

          • Hettie 2 years ago


          • Calamity_Jean 2 years ago

            Hettie told you at the end of the second to last paragraph, obviously you didn’t read all the way down. Here, I’ll quote it for you:

            “Pumped hydro, batteries, hydrogen, molten salt, the list goes on.”

        • solarguy 2 years ago

          Well said girl!

      • Nick Kemp 2 years ago

        Have you ever heard of energy storage? You know – like the batteries in a torch or a ball being at the top of a hill. Try engaging the grey matter a little

      • Nick Kemp 2 years ago

        Here is an example – take a look at Tasmania on this graphic – All renewable energy and has been for some time now.

        • charles frogg 2 years ago

          With all that wind generation why do we still need coal fired power stations?????

  7. Cooma Doug 2 years ago

    I recall being on shift soon after the carbon tax was introduced.
    At lunch we saw Abbott mention the 100 dollar roast. The trader having lunch with me in the control room did the numbers and the average home would have a bill increase of 3 dollars a month.

    • Andy Saunders 2 years ago

      Not having a go at you, but I believe it was Barnaby Joyce with the $100 lamb roast, not Tony Abbott…

      • Cooma Doug 2 years ago

        The lamb roast was on front page of the telegraph with Abbott. Perhaps a hand ball from The Barn.

    • Rod 2 years ago

      There is absolutely no doubt the price on carbon was the most efficient and affordable way to reduce emissions and encourage investment.
      It was working and was fully funded for households via tax cuts and pension increases.
      Abbott should be jailed for treason for this disaster.

      • Greg Hudson 2 years ago

        Sorry Rod, but the carbon tax was a sham. Once introduced, all the paying polluters did was raise the prices to their customers to pay for the tax, meaning that, no reduction in carbon actually took place, people just paid more. THEN, when the tax was eliminated, the offending companies pocketed the ‘tax’ money for themselves, and continue to do so.
        What a great tax that was (NOT)…

        • Mike Shackleton 2 years ago

          The carbon pricing scheme worked fine for people like me, who live in areas of Australia where electricity is deregulated.

          It was only every charged on Gas and Electricity. I avoided paying it on electricity from day one by changing to Momentum energy. That was the whole point of the scheme. The amount of tax that was bundled in your bill was clearly indicated, just like GST is. As a consumer you were empowered to make a choice by changing providers to avoid the impost of the tax. As a commercial operator you could lower your costs and increase your competitiveness by either doing the same thing, or investing in equipment that was more efficient.

          It wasn’t that hard, yet people preferred to sit on their hands and do nothing about it, complaining instead.

        • Hettie 2 years ago

          There can be no debate around the fact that for the duration of the carbon PRICE, emissions fell. And as soon as the carbon PRICE was abolished, emissions started to rise again, and are still rising, despite the huge increase in renewable sources of electricity.

        • Rod 2 years ago

          There is no doubt emissions from electricity fell during the CT and rose afterwards. There may be some argument as to why.
          We will never know, but in the long run it would have led to more investment in RE and hastened the demise of coal.

        • Gyrogordini 2 years ago

          Funny, then, how National emissions dropped notably, and have steadily risen over the succeeding three years.

  8. Phil Gorman 2 years ago

    The political, corporate and academic denialists’ propaganda is powered by the well oiled machinery developed by the tobacco industry 60 years ago. We don’t have 60 years, or even 6. It’s already far too late to avert catastrophe for millions. We must act now.

    • MaxG 2 years ago

      So, if it is already too late; why act at all?
      Look at our leaders: admiring a lump of coal… quite a scene.

      • Hettie 2 years ago

        Because although the millions living in places like the lowly in Pacific atolls, Bangladesh and the Torres Strait islands may soon be flooded out, and millions in Africa may starve, there are nearly 9 BILLION people on this planet, and it is just possible that urgent, drastic action to clean up our act may avert total catastrophe.

        • MaxG 2 years ago

          I probably should have added (sarcasm) to the post…
          Agree… the question remains though where the drastic action is coming from. I keep asking when 50 odd percent vote for the clowns, how is it all going to change?

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            Mm. The polls have been consistent for a very long time now. So many people are hurting and angry, angry at the denial of climate change and the cost of living. Angry that the rich are given ever more and the poor are ripped off. I don’t see how they can survive.

          • MaxG 2 years ago

            I sincerely hope you will be right!
            I say SA, Trump and the rise of right-wing, totalitarian, fascist governments in the west… I am an optimist, but also a realist; and as we know it, facts and numbers do not point to happy outlook for the planet.

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            If you watched Q&A last week, just Bill Shorten (with Tony Jones interrupting, talking over and Jonesplaining as he always does with any panel member except LNP men), you could not have missed the thunderous applause when he stated very clearly that a Labor Government would act swiftly to reduce carbon emissions, act on climate change. Biggest reaction of the night, and many answers to many questions were very well received.
            People do care about climate action. And power prices, and social justice. But staying alive, seeing a future for the kids and grand kids, clearly tops the list.
            It *must* be a major voting issue.

          • solarguy 2 years ago

            I thought Bill was very sharp on Q&A, he wasn’t fazed by Jones and all credit to him. I on the other hand would not be as cool and would not tolerate Jones frequent interrupting. And yes it was great to see the strong reaction of the audience to climate change.

            What get’s me is to why people think Bill isn’t Prime Minister material, the guy is as sharp as a knife and speaks a lot of sense

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            The Q&A audiences, by and large, are not stupid.
            The voters, by and large, are, to be kind, uninterested and ill informed. Thank you Rupert.
            The incompetent Prime Minister always has a poll advantage, because the LoOp has not been seen in the role. Better the devil you know, and all that.
            Add to that the kill Bill, the refusal to grant equal news coverage, and the outright lies – even the Guardian can’t print a story that is supposed to be about poor Gov’t performance without sticking the boot in to Bill- and it’s no wonder the punters don’t see how good he is.
            Do you remember the 2016 leaders’ debates, and how dreadful the moderates were?
            I always thought that in a debate, each speaker had a certain length of time to answer a question, and was heard in silence. Then the other side has the same time, same silence.
            Fat chance!
            Bring back those rules. Then we might see a change in public opinion.

          • Joe 2 years ago

            And the 40%’ers that also reckon Two Tonguer Turnbull is doing a great job as PM.

          • Nick Kemp 2 years ago

            “I probably should have added (sarcasm) to the post…” We definitely need emoticons or at least a comedy channel

        • Joe 2 years ago

          And when ‘The Climate Refugees’ come a knockin’ on our shores…off to the Manus and the Nauru for you lot!

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            Nauru will be under water too. And a good deal of Manus Island as well.

          • Nick Kemp 2 years ago

            A cynic might say that the LNP would consider that a problem solved

          • mick 2 years ago

            lots of high ground in kiwi land but

        • Ben 2 years ago

          That is a series of extreme, false and exaggerated assertions.

      • Nick Kemp 2 years ago

        I refuse to acknowledge them as my leaders. I take the helicopter view that they are just a temporary bunch of loons who will (very) soon be consigned to the waste bin of history.

      • Calamity_Jean 2 years ago

        It’s too late to avert catastrophe for millions. It’s not too late to avert catastrophe for tens of millions.

    • Umbrella Man 2 years ago

      I know it. How can these people even sleep at night? It just makes no sense.

    • Eric 2 years ago

      Lol. The assumption is that political arguments make a difference. The truth is that the only thing that will drive an energy transformation is economic interests.

      The real political and science arguments have already been won. The world accepts that climate change is real and that we have to take action. Hence the global agreements.

      Fortunately for the planet Germany, California and China as global economic and industrial leaders, saw an opportunity to seize the day and solve an existential problem.
      They will reap the benefits.

      For the rest of us, the global energy transformation will happen far more quickly than a politician or an academic could ever understand in real time.

  9. john 2 years ago

    As I see it
    What is needed is about 30 TW of Renewable Energy.
    Together with a large amount of PHES all over the Eastern Grid.
    Yes Battery Storage which will take out the Frequency Response Ancillary etc.

    How to move to this situation that is the question?

    Well considering that building a wind farm or a solar farm and being able to sell into the grid at below market prices I do not see a problem.

    Just build as many Wind Farms and Solar and Battery back up as will as putting in PHES seems the way to go.

    • juxx0r 2 years ago

      TW is a bit overkill. I’m happy to give you 300GW.

  10. Ken Dyer 2 years ago

    This article must be on the right track, it is attracting baseload trolls. Don’t get sucked in people, 100% RE is getting closer. RE powers over 25% of the World as I write, and it ain’t slowing down either.

    • Ertimus J Waffle 2 years ago


      • mick 2 years ago

        now now polly

      • Rod 2 years ago

        Gotta love a retort like that!
        By all means, provide some proof otherwise but “rubbish”.

        How old are you.
        PS. Hydro is renewable too.

    • Joe 2 years ago

      ‘Eric’ is here …posting down the page. Is he ‘Dee Vee’, ‘C Wilkins’ and the rest under a new moniker I wonder. He’s got the lock activated on his page…its gotta be the same dude with ‘Trolli’ picture on his profile page.

      • RobertO 2 years ago

        Hi Joe, I have just blocked that idiot. Total waste of time without a brain cells (the one he has must be lonely)

        • Joe 2 years ago

          Rob, good job.

    • Ertimus J Waffle 2 years ago

      1800 Hrs 20/6/18 total renewable energy generation in Australia less than 500 MW Total coal fired generation 20,302 MW. Yes not long now until renewables supply all of Australia. South Australia the leading state using renewables 103 MW Renewable 15012 Gas and diesel power generation. Yep not long until Australia reaches 10% renewables after billions of wasted subsided dollars.

      • Ken Dyer 2 years ago

        I do enjoy a nice bit of waffle, ertimus. You have confused your megawatts with your hours (hint – think about TWH)

        Check this out, straight from the Government website. And if you cannot trust the guvmint, who can you trust?

        In 2017, renewables accounted for just over 15% of electricity generation.

        And lets not mention the billions to keep the fossil fuel industry afloat, so they can continue to spew foul pollution into the atmosphere.

        • Hettie 2 years ago

          I’ve blocked the moron, but disqus sends me the comments anyway.
          He has carefully quoted renewables output at 18:00 hrs on June 20, the day before the winter solstice, so that means zero solar output. Sunset around 17:00 hrs or sooner, depending on latitude.
          We know he is intellectually challenged, but he seems to think we are too. What a dill.

          • Ken Dyer 2 years ago

            Hettie, dill he is. He has quoted the time as 1800 hours, an hour after sunset. Typical unsubstantiated quoting of alternate facts. Just another way of saying solar don’t work when the sun don’t shine, EXCEPT, when we use batteries.
            The North of Queensland is to get a giant solar farm and a pumped hydro solution – that will slow the yak about a new coal power station in the North.

          • john 2 years ago

            And in the middle of the state a 900 MW wind together with up to 400 MW solar with perhaps 200 MW battery backup not to be sneezed at.

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            Ken, I’m puzzled. Why do you need to explain to me what I just wrote about Waffle’s post?

          • Ken Dyer 2 years ago

            I am puzzled too. Must be confused about all those trolls. GLAI (Grinning like an idiot).

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            Apology accepted.

          • solarguy 2 years ago

            Yeah, if only we could legislate against stupidity.

        • charles frogg 2 years ago

          Are you that stupid generation is in Mega Watts total power produced over time is in MwH. Go and check it out before making a fool of yourself again.

          • Ken Dyer 2 years ago

            Are you a mate of Waffle, Froggy?
            If you want to dispute government figures, you go right ahead.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Frogg – megawatts is one word: the watts are not bigger, there’s just more of them. And energy is in MWh not MwH. Not sure we’re arguing about fools – more about specks, logs and eyes.

          • Joe 2 years ago

            Frogs are in decline around the world, one of the ‘canaries in the coalmine’ so to speak in highlighting the decline of the natural environment. Sadly for us followers in these very fine pages of Renew Economy we have to put up with the growing numbers of pests / Trollies like our man ‘Froggy’.

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            Foggy, for you to dispute one of the regular, respected contributers to these comments is a bit like arguing with a brain surgeon about the circulation of blood in the brain.
            All you do is show yourself up as an arrogant, ignorant idiot.

  11. Hettie 2 years ago

    Another question.
    How do the time to build and economics of electrolytic H2 production and back to electeicity production stack up against
    PHES, on a MW for MW basis?
    Probably poorly expressed, but I’m sure someone will understand what I’m driving at.

    • Greg Hudson 2 years ago

      I understand, and here’s my thoughts… When there is excess wind, and the NEM or AEMO or whoever says they must curtail their generation, the wind (and solar for that matter) could be used to produce hydrogen. Store it for later use (burning it to run a generator for example), when the sun isn’t shining, and the wind isn’t blowing. OK it might not be as cheap as batteries, but it should be doable IMO

      • RobertO 2 years ago

        Hi Greg Hudson, yes and or solar, or hydro that is overflowing the dam, they are all able to be set up top produce Hydrogen (will become normal after all other forms of storage are filled PHES, Batteries or other types). Rather than just store it onsite we have the Natural Gas pipe lines so it can be added to that system (up to 10% is not an issue). Then there are FC Cars and Trucks coming (more Trucks than cars) and they will need the hydrogen for fuel. Shipping Transport will also use vast amounts of Hydrogen (do not be put off by the number of people that say Hydrogen is too inefficient as it is profit that drives the system. They forget that if some idea is making a profit it will receive support, but if it not making a profit it will not receive any support. Notice efficiency is not in the statement. Fed Gov are they only people whom can support the idea that efficiency is more important than profit because it tax payer whom pay for that idea and Fed Gov do not care about profit because its tax payers money (and I as a minster of the crown can and will spend money on a new coal power station if the COALition are re-elected next term with an increase in both houses which is our biggest danger, never mind the billions of wasted tax payer money, or the number of people whom say “This can not happen, it no longer economically sound policy to do this”!
        Elections are hard to call and I worry that the lies told will cause the Australian public to return those RWNJ’s to power with more mates and control of the senate (I hope and pray not).

      • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

        Greg it doesn’t need to be as complex as that: thermal energy is cheap to store, and is almost completely undeveloped in Australia. Think storage of chilled water or ice for air conditioning, or hot water or steam for heating, powered by excess solar or wind. In the past this wasn’t done because the energy was expensive enough to kill the return on the capital investment. Now it’s not.

        • RobertO 2 years ago

          Hi Mike Westerman, H2 will be the last choice in most cases. All other forms of storage are more likely to be used first, unless it a transport choice, and all of these decisions will be made on profit / loss decisions, not on the efficiency ratings.

      • Hettie 2 years ago

        Yes, thanks, I do inderstand that the idea is to use otherwise unsalable power for the electrolysis.
        What I’m asking is how does the capital cost of the electrolysis plant, the storage tanks, the boilers and (presumably) steam powered turbines stack up against the costs of establishing PHES of comparable capacity?
        Does anyone know?

        • Askgerbil Now 2 years ago

          The Japanese Govt and industry has adopted a plan to get rid of reliance on imported fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas) and import hydrogen for power production and fuel cell vehicles.
          That provides an export market for hydrogen produced with renewable energy that would otherwise be “curtailed” – ie wasted.
          Several manufacturers sell electrolysers. They’ve been feeding hydrogen into Germany’s natural gas pipelines. Sunfire has developed a reversible electrolyser. It can run as a hydrogen fuel cell when electricity demand exceeds supply from other renewable generators. The hydrogen it produces at other times can replace hydrogen made from natural gas. Hydrogen is used to make fertiliser and other chemicals.
          For example: “Shell and ITM Power will build the world’s largest hydrogen electrolysis plant at Rhineland refinery, Germany.”
          “Canadian-based Hydrogenics has entered into an agreement to deliver a 2.4 MW PEM Power-to-Gas (P2G) system for hydrogen production using wind energy in Brunsbüttel, Germany.”
          “Sunfire GmbH has delivered the world’s most efficient steam electrolysis module (SOEC) in the context of the Horizon 2020 project ‘Green Industrial Hydrogen via reversible high-temperature electrolysis’ (GrInHy) at Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH.”

          • RobertO 2 years ago

            Hi Askgerbil Now NEL systems in Netherlands have been doing H2 electrolysis since 1927

            Note RE powered are design for 0% to 100% and range up to 2MW stackable systems.

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            So much information, Gerbil, but no answer to my question , which is, for the third time, how do the capital costs of the setup for making H2 with surplus RE compare with the capex for PHES?
            I realise that PHES costs will be site specific. Both processes require turbines, and where the hydro power spins the generating magnets directly, I think H2 must be burned to boil water for steam to turn the turbines so that end would cost more, but the PHES earthworks and piping is also a cost. And I am curious to know how the two storage systems on cost.

          • Askgerbil Now 2 years ago

            The cost of the Power-to-Gas technology depends on what the different suppliers offer from time to time and in different markets.
            We can expect the price will fall over time as sale volumes increase.

            An indication that the technology has already achieved commercial viability is the number of projects that have been financed and built.

            Pumped Hydro Electricity Storage only provides energy storage. Power-to-gas has more applications and is available for a wider range of capacities: small to very large. Which option is best will depend on the required scale and local feasibility of PHES.

            When used for the same purpose there is no need for additional capital outlay for electricity generation because the hydrogen can be used to replace natural gas in an existing gas power station. These run at 60% thermal efficiency. A steam power station rarely achieves 40% efficiency. The 60% efficiency for existing gas turbines is about the same as could be achieved by Pumped Hydroelectric Storage.

            Unlike PHES there are many ways to use hydrogen made from excess renewable energy.
            To put that another way, there is a substantial existing market for hydrogen gas – and the competing technology is natural gas, not PHES:
            For example:
            1. Replace hydrogen that is made from natural gas by the chemical industry – making fertiliser, ammonia, etc.
            2. Distribute with natural gas after mixing (hythane) to use in home appliances (space and water heaters, cook-tops, ovens…)
            3. Replace petrol and diesel motor vehicles, to power fuel cell vehicles.
            4. Use in place of natural gas in stationary fuel cells that generate electricity for a single business.
            5. Use to export energy from one country to another – for instance to replace Australia’s exports of coal and LNG Japan and China.

  12. Mal 2 years ago

    Giles thànkyou for the site i have ans am learning a lot. Hydrogen keeps popping up but often i read that it is to expensive to be useful any chance of an artical on the pros and cons?

  13. Ertimus J Waffle 2 years ago

    You really have to laugh at all the ill informed comments here by people without the slightest knowledge of electricity generation and transmission. If you want electricity at
    $100 a Kilowatt hour then go ahead and install expensive unreliable wind turbines and batteries . Once the coal fired generation in Queensland starts to shut down and be decommissioned Australia will only have intermittent power supply and all industry will shift to countries with new reliable coal fired power stations using all of Australias coal exports. How ironic the fools here who think you can use 16th century wind power to power a modern country, what a laugh.

    • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

      Won’t that be a joy then, when air heads like your fake self don’t have an internet coz there’s no power!

      • Roger Brown 2 years ago

        Don’t Feed the Trolls , you will never get rid of them. They will hang around like a bad smell .

        • Simon Jowett 2 years ago

          ….but Sir…..please….. its so much fun!

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            It will be interesting to see if he responds to my request for his professional credentials.

          • RobertO 2 years ago

            Hi Hettie, I am afraid that you will be left hanging. The idiot thinks that we need to go back to Pneumatic Controls and that we need a control room the size of NSW to run the NEM (we would do if pneumatic controls was the only way). Just the same way phones have gone, smaller smarter and longer lasting so have we progress in control systems. Standards Australia started automatic controls with standard 4777 for PV and Frequency and there are more in the system.
            Ertimus J Waffle is just a coal troll (or a very stupid idiot saying thing to stir people up, I have blocked him.)

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            Agreed, apart from the notion that he does actually think.
            Seems to me that he belongs to that monstrous regiment of people who are convinced that what they thought they knew 40 years ago is all they will ever need to know, and have never thought critically about anything ever since.
            But you are right. Blocking is the way to go.

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            Done. Bye bye, Waffles.

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            I’ve blocked him now, so wont see it even if he does come up with something like a cert II in fuckwittery.
            No doubt you or another of our friends will let me know if he does.
            I’ll not be holding my breath.

    • Simon Jowett 2 years ago

      $100/kWh…..hmmmm let me think. Yep, you really know how to nail the facts of an issue. However, I do think that GE or Vestas would have a bone to pick comparing their multi MW turbines to a windmill.

    • JWW 2 years ago

      Have you read the Deisendorf paper? No you have not. Because you don’t care about the facts.
      And now go back into your cave!

    • Hettie 2 years ago

      Ok. I’ll bite.
      Please tell us your qualifications and experience in electricity generation and transmission.
      If you claim that others here know nothing, you owe us that information, and perhaps a short account of your industry experience, memberships of professional bodies, published papers.
      And of course, your real name.

      • Nick Kemp 2 years ago

        Don’t hold your breath waiting for that Hettie

        • Calamity_Jean 2 years ago

          Yeah, if she holds her breath she could faint and fall over. She might get hurt.

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            Oi! That’s me you’re talking about. I may be old and grumpy, but I’m not silly!
            Jean, you are in USA, I think. Is that not a saying there? Don’t hold your breath? Meaning, don’t expect whatever to hapen soon?
            It is common usage here in Australia.

          • Calamity_Jean 2 years ago

            I was trying to be funny and obviously failing miserably.

            Yes, “don’t hold your breath” is a common saying in the US (where I am), meaning just what you said, don’t expect the event under discussion to happen soon if at all. My rather strange sense of (alleged) humor connected that sense of metaphorical breath-holding with the occasional practice of toddlers having tantrums that they hold their real breath until they turn blue. Before I retired I would sometimes need to tell my co-workers that something they wanted wasn’t going to happen. But I didn’t want to say “Don’t hold your breath, you might turn blue” to my African-American colleagues, because they are black, they’re never going to turn blue. So, I thought, what else might happen if someone really holds their real breath for too long? They might faint. So if someone asked me “When will {event x} happen?”, I would answer “I dunno, but don’t hold your breath.” [Pause.] “You could faint and fall over.” [Longer pause.] “You can hurt yourself doing that.” At which point I’d usually get a laugh.

            I find that a rich source of humor is to take a metaphor and pretend that it is meant literally. Another example: If someone needs a pen, I might take out one of mine and say, “If the pen is mightier that the sword, I’m armed and dangerous”, then strike a pose as if participating in a fencing match. Or this: “Gravity, it’s not just a good idea, it’s the law” as if any of us had the option of disobeying the law of gravity.

            Of course I am perfectly well aware that you are not silly enough to hold your breath until you faint. It’s a joke, one that clearly works better “live” than typed.

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            All is understood, all is forgiven.
            From you, Jean, that is, never from Waffles. Either of them.

    • My_Oath 2 years ago

      What a load of waffle.

    • Nick Kemp 2 years ago

      How ironic the fools here who think you can use 16th century wind power to power a modern country, what a laugh.

      Well I’m laughing – you just compared 16th century wind power which is actually 21st century wind power to millions of year old coal power. Combine that with the fact that proper business men are willing to spend real money on the renewable and more reliable cheaper alternative to coal and I can hardly type because of the constant giggling at your monstrously ill informed comment.

    • Charles 2 years ago

      “You really have to laugh at all the ill informed comments here by people without the slightest knowledge of electricity generation and transmission.”

      Yes, I do laugh at your comments.

      • Gyrogordini 2 years ago

        I think “laugh” is gilding the sad Lilly!

  14. Askgerbil Now 2 years ago

    “The fake arguments…” increased by a troll now peppered these comments.

    • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

      Isn’t it a pity the idiots who post articles like this know so little about the carbon emissions from cement manufacture, used by the 1000s of tonnes in the average nuke! SAD!

      • Askgerbil Now 2 years ago

        I was just highlighting the “Etimus J Waffle” troll who is very active in these comments – who has posted items for “Stop These Things” on previous occasions.

  15. Eric 2 years ago

    This article is extremely out of date. People were arguing around these themes 3-5 years ago.
    I don’t know what on earth is going on in academia but it sounds like people are right to question their validity and influence.
    Sadly, academics rarely understand what is happening when it is happening.
    Renewable has already won the argument it did it because it makes more money for investors. Hello academics..ever heard of the profit motive! I guess not.
    Government policy could disappear tomorrow and if you came back in 20 years you would be looking at a 100% renewable grid.

    Please stop writing silly articles and engaging in meaningless debates and follow the money.

    • PLDD 2 years ago

      I thought it was useful. These arguments still appear in articles about RE, comments by pundits and politicians and btl comments on various forums.

      It’s good to see well argued and researched rebuttals. I argue against many of the trolls on comment sites, as I feel it’s important to discredit their arguments.

      It’s repetitive but I feel it needs to be done in order to limit their influence. If you let their arguments stand there is a danger they become accepted wisdom.

      Mark and Ben’s paper will help me frame my arguments better.

      • Eric 2 years ago

        Right now, the killer argument explaining to the general public against fossil fuel, would be a rigorous academic analysis and breakdown of the flow of capital into renewable energy vs fossil fuel, then explain why.

        Fossil interests are using the ideological/political battle to sustain their interests. They are creating a team Left V Right battle which, articles like this sustain.
        The ideological battle was won when the world decided that global warming was a problem and that targets and taxes were necessary to reduce Co2.

        Capital will always flee from increasing taxes and regulations.

  16. RobertO 2 years ago

    Hi All, Misinformation will add 10 to 15 years delay if we let it go. It is important that you all talk to your friend and rellies about the lies being told by anti RE idiots. Keep it simple, about the costs of RE (how there is no fuel costs ever for solar and wind), how the prices of storage is dropping, and how much misinformation there is subsidies for RE. Remind them that if the COALition get re-elected we may see arguments on building a new coal power station costing tax payers billions. The business case will be hidden from everybody, as will the total losses endured by us taxpayers. Quote the NSW COALition Gov sold Vales point for $1 million and the current owner is trying to sell half a share in it for $330 million after 4 years ownership. Such lovely idiots!

  17. Alan S 2 years ago

    A ‘Mythbusters’ section on this site would be a useful resource to allow rebuttal of these daft arguments.

  18. Ertimus J Waffle 2 years ago

    1800 hrs on the 20/6/18 renewable energy other than Hydro less than 500Mw output for the the whole of Australia. For the Morons here who think renewable energy is any other than a pipe dream this figure proves it.

    • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

      Pretty clear that shows you failed Stats 101! But then who needs education when you can display your ignorance without it!

  19. Ertimus J Waffle 2 years ago

    1800 Hrs 20/6/18 total renewable energy generation in Australia less than 500 MW Total coal fired generation 20,302 MW. Yes not long now until renewables supply all of Australia.

  20. Ben 2 years ago

    Total wind output in Australia this morning is 180 MW.

    In SA it is 19 MW for demand of 1600 MW.

    • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

      So what? At noon 15% of demand is being met by solar + wind. 20% of yesterday evening’s peak was hydro + wind. The increase in solar and wind on the NEM has meant Snowy Hydro can maximise the value of their hydro. Overall the cost of supply on average to the NEM is falling.

      • Ben 2 years ago

        So what? That’s is a flippant dismissal to the core argument that intermittent wind power cannot replace scheduled generation. It’s irresponsible to say otherwise.

        • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

          Not at all flippant – it confronts the profound ignorance of assuming all continuous outputs require continuous inputs. Your car doesn’t need constant input power to maintain a constant speed, your air conditioner doesn’t either, nor does a power station boiler. Almost all energy systems include intermittent inputs, inertia, storage and hysteresis and variable outputs, with feedback loops to maintain stability.

          Your statement that “intermittent wind power cannot replace scheduled generation” is irrelevant: I don’t know of anyone who is proposing such a thing. Certainly the referenced article is promoting 100% renewable energy, which is a diverse mix of hydro, pumped hydro, solar PV, solar thermal, biomass and wind, some of which is scheduled and some not. Hence my response, so what?

          • Ben 2 years ago

            I’m sure you are aware the grid is a load with a large portion that operates mostly independent of weather.

            Solar and wind are sources that are dependent on weather.

            When the weather doesn’t match the load, and the flexible sources can’t make up the difference, the lights go out.

            Im sure you also know that a large percentage of new sources are wind and solar.

            The ESB, AEMO and AER reports all acknowledge this as future risks.

            Well the future is coming.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Wrong again Ben – almost half our energy consumption is strongly weather dependent. And you foolish ignore the significant amount of storage already in the system. More will be added as prices drive investment, whether in thermal storage, energy reduction thru efficiency to reduce the time linkage between weather and demand, or with electrical storage in pumped hydro and batteries. So I don’t share your shallow analysis of the situation.

          • Ben 2 years ago

            By referring to a grid that is largely “independent of weather”, in the context of wind power, I was attempting to highlight that wind power output does not always align with demand.

            E.g you don’t wait for the wind to pickup before using the toaster. Apologies if that wasn’t clear.

            By “significant storage” I guess you mean the 8 GW of hydro (16% of the total) and not the battery. I’m all for hydro.

            Regardless, nuclear seems like the best option to me. Some emissions in the creations of the asset, some in the mining and transportation. None from the operating asset itself.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Thanks for the clarification Ben. The reason I have emphasised these points is that a) our embrace of demand management in Australia has and is pathetic, made more difficult by lack of market support (it shouldn’t need “special arrangements” by AEMO) and b) we haven’t really seen how radically the energy consumption market will response to a major shift in peak pricing that will come with deep penetration of solar PV. Disclosure: I’ve always been strongly against nukes, but as Hinkley Point C is showing – horribly expensive, very long lead times, and in Australia, not necessary or worth the risks (mainly political).

  21. RobertO 2 years ago

    Hi All, Too many people fail to understand RE, It not about the idea the RE is intermittent but that it is variable. The way of the future is storage of RE to accominated the

  22. Radbug 2 years ago

    And by the way, Chevron’s Gorgon CCS project has failed. They hope to fix the faults some time in 2019, hopefully. In the meantime, according to the T’s & C’s of Chevron’s licence, they have to shut down Gorgon or … reveal that the Federal government’s climate change efforts are totally dishonest.

    • Hettie 2 years ago

      Wasn’t it Chevron that got into all kinds of trouble near Newcastle a few years ago for completely ignoring the pollution control regs it had signed up for?
      Corporate thugs. Heavily fined then and the operation closed down, I seem to recall.

  23. Ertimus J Waffle 2 years ago

    1700 Hrs 21/6/18 total Australian Renewable energy power production 440MW. Total Power produced by wind power 0.00000 MW.

    • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

      Sad – can’t even read a graph! 1700h 21/6/18: Wind on NEM 105MW, hydro 4500MW, Large scale solar 50MW, rooftop solar 200MW. Total RE 4855MW. Total demand 28,000MW.

      You can’t even waffle credibly!

  24. itdoesntaddup 2 years ago

    Here’s a little reality check on where the world and Australia got to in 2017:

    So you can see who is pulling their weight on low carbon generation, and what form it takes.

    Perhaps even more to the point is to look at the data in TWh, not percentage of generation:

    There is a very long way to go. It isn’t going to happen quickly.

    • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

      Yes – but considerable change in a short time. The only advantage I can see in prolonging the agony of change is if that is needed to allow impacted communities to adjust. However, I would think putting effort into that task directly and explicitly would be more effective, and more than offset by lowering the uncertainty of bouncing around on the political landscape!

      • itdoesntaddup 2 years ago

        I took a look: wind+ solar are up from 4.5% to 6.1% of generation between 2015 and 2017. That’s 0.8% per year. At that rate it would take 55 years to get to 50% penetration and 118 years to get to 100%. Meanwhile, subsidies for wind+solar installations have been knocked back in China & the US – and I suspect global installations are stalling.

        • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

          You can suspect all you like: most reports are showing you are wrong. Read the latest IEA (who have habitually under-estimated RE growth) report.

        • Hettie 2 years ago

          The key phrase is “At that rate.”
          Renewable energy sources are disruptive technologies. These disruptions do not follow linear growth rates, but once a tipping point is reached, growth becomes exponential, doubling every two years or even faster until absolute market dominance is reached.
          Thus, automobiles replaced horse drawn transport from a standing start in 1900, to complete dominance by 1913.
          Smart phones appeared in 2005, and by 2011 had captured the market.
          Digital cameras, invented by Kodak in 1975, became popular in the 1990s, and by 2012, Kodak, steadfastly refusing to accept that film was moribund, was bankrupt.
          And yet, digital camera sales peaked in 2008, and are now negligible, as smart phones and tablets, so much more versatile, have taken over from single function cameras.
          Market domination by new technology produces exponential falls in the displaced technology.

          The energy market is into
          the exponential growth phase of renewables. The inevitable corollary is the exponential decline in fossil fuel use. This time, although the economics are clearly in favour of renewables, there is the additional driver of the existential threat of climate change.

          The big problem of renewables has been their variability, but this problem is now being solved by the various storage technologies. Batteries, solar thermal, electrolytic production of Hydrogen for fuel cells, pumped hydro, which has the extra virtue of using the excess peak production of solar in the middle of the day, and wind in overnight low demand periods.
          The only way that this does not add up, is if YOU *can’t add up*.
          If you, like certain troglodytes in Canberra, refuse to look at the evidence, or privilege evidence that is ten years old. And in a disrupted market, ten year old evidence is utterly irrelevant.

          • itdoesntaddup 2 years ago

            Hettie, unfortunately we’ve a long way to go before storage can solve the problems of intermittency and seasonal variation of most renewables (hydro and some geothermal is an exception – you can see that Iceland provide 100% of their power from these sources that greatly exceed their needs, so they export some of it as smelted aluminium). Disruptive technologies are disruptive because they rapidly become superior. Again, that is far from the case for most renewables in most locations – they depend on subsidies and rigged markets. Perhaps they will get there, but my bet would be that we’re going to see a slowdown in renewables investment for 2018, and probably not much sign of recovery for a while at best.

            Meantime, ask yourself why in the Middle East, with some of the best conditions for solar generation anywhere on the planet, there is yet to be any significant contribution from solar to their power supplies.

  25. itdoesntaddup 2 years ago

    The Diesendorf and Elliston article appears to be a rant, with no citations and no references to support its arguments. That is not research.

    • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

      Be polite and request a copy from Mark, of the paper with extensive references

    • RobertO 2 years ago

      Hi Read the document and the last two pages are full of the references. But then again only your research matters. There are No references and NO citation on Researchgate so it a rant (very accurate FAKE NEWS according to my friend (NOT) Donald Trump.

      I am looking forward to you cherry picking the best on offer so that you can prove it s “unsubstantiated rant”

      By the way what happens to ice in water (or on land)? Do you boil the water first before you melt the ice, but then again if you put the water in a separate pot from the ice I sure you could!!!

      Sorry Mike Westerman but the guy is an idiot

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