Ongoing Renewables Investment “Crisis” in Australia


Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Aussie Greens are lamenting that banks are still unwilling to lend to green projects, because they are worried about the reliability of political support, and the continuity of the generous government subsidies which make green projects possible.

Confidence in renewable energy sector ‘evaporated’ after Abbott cut: Bloomberg

Investment in large-scale renewable energy in Australia remains stagnant almost two years after the Abbott government began a review of the sector, according to an annual survey by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Investors spent just $15 million since February 2014 on big wind, solar or other clean energy projects that were not otherwise supported by government programs such as the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

The Abbott government’s repeal of the carbon tax in July 2014 – which removed long-term price support – and a mishandled review that led ultimately to a cut of about one-fifth in the 2020 Renewable Energy Target (RET) meant “confidence evaporated” in the sector, said Kobad Bhavnagri, head of Bloomberg New Energy Finance in Australia.

“It can’t be understated that the actions of the Abbott government have destroyed confidence in the renewable energy market,” Mr Bhavnagri said. “Lenders in the market are almost all of the view that the political risks in the RET … have made it too risky to invest in.

The picture is not all gloomy, however, with the capacity of new rooftop solar photovoltaic systems rising in 2015.

Read more:

Even though Tony Abbott has been toppled by the much greener Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Abbott is still in parliament. Abbott still enjoys a lot of support. If Turnbull stumbles, Abbott could be back.

In my view, this tells us all we need to know, about the possibility that green energy will achieve grid parity with fossil fuels. The merest hint of a threat that green subsidies could be cut again, at an unspecified time in the future, seems to be enough to demolish confidence in green energy investment.

61 thoughts on “Ongoing Renewables Investment “Crisis” in Australia

    • The only way Tony could come back to the leadership (at this point), would be as a ‘safe pair of hands’ after a Turnbullian electoral defeat sometime between March & September.

      I do not see the many mistakes, you suggest he made – but did see the open hate directed at him by the media (especially government funded media).

      A PM that eats his own ear wax, well that’s accepted as ‘normal’ – but a bloke who eats a raw onion, well that’s an international embarrassment!

      • Many Americans (ME!) are ready to vote for D Trump….. and you are concerned with “onion breath?”

        Your crazier then me!

      • A major driver behind this was not Rudd, but Gillard, who promised immediately before the election, “There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead”, then introduced one immediately after:
        Australians won’t be lied to more than once by the same cabal.

        Same situation re: taxpayer-funded media – an illiterate crooked lawyer is lauded as Australia’s first female PM. Here are some of the classics I collected from the former Education Minister:
        – tenants (for tenets)
        – hyperbowl (for hyperbole)
        – “I am not going to stand here before you and pretend what is in this [agreement] is going to make some inedible mark on the worlds history …”
        – “I’m finding his, you know, sense of high dungeon very, very interesting indeed.”
        – Teleband (for Taliban)
        – free range (for free rein)
        – assification (for acidification)
        I’ll leave it to the reader to formulate the pronunciation appropriate to the context/content of the Anus Horribilis description of this last clip.

      • Alan Ranger, you seem to expect that politicians be at least somewhat competent, literate and honest. Where have you been for the past 30 years?

      • Trump’s mother was born in Scotland so I understand. Both parents have to be born in the U.S.

        Obama’s parents weren’t married so only needed one U.S. born parent, the mother, to become president?

    • This isn’t just about Abbot – whether he comes back or not. It is just cool, rational money policy. The gas is coming out of the balloon. Reality is winning – as always (if you wait long enough). In 10 years time we will look back and laugh at it all (except the investors in renewables – they won’t be laughing).

      • You’re dead-on, AndyE

        A re-post of an earlier WUWT reply:

        YEW FOOLS! Don’t Cha Know? Global Warming’s responsible for that dead-of-winter North Atlantic hurricane, earth’s cooling trend, recent earthquakes, tsunamis, frozen Thames, droughts, tornadoes, dust devils, rampant winds tumbling tumble weeds across parched landscapes, torrential rains, volcanic eruptions, snarling snow leopards terrorizing villages, towns tidal-waved by melting glaciers, polar bears paddling the Gulf of Mexico, and Swine Flu.

        SHAME, SHAME on that hacker and those independent climate scientists who debunked and broke the global warming hockey stick over Oscar Al and his Nobel pal’s heads as they tried to run a global warming scam on the world in Copenhagen. NO DOUBT ABOUT IT, you deniers! Global warming IS a scourge that MUST. . .BE. . .ERADICATED! Like the GREAT EBOLA BOOGEYMAN on his pale horse and exploding populations and starving hoards with spoon and bowl in search of genetically modified gruel and something to buy it with. YEW FOOLS! The world would be a better place if you would only listen to your IPCCs, AGWs, NGOs, WHOs, FAOs, MSMs, EPA’s, WTOs, PPs, TPP’s, POOs, and their clairvoyant fear mongering associates.

        BY ANY MEANS we got to shut down those coal fired power plants using an infinite supply of the cheapest energy fuel known. BETTER WE USE RADIATION to boil water to run generators to generate electricity. The boys at the rising sun will tell ya that and this whole “debate” could be moot before Fukaoshit! is over. Solar? Wind? You’d have to cover America with bird blenders. AND DISREGARD the fact they kill about a million a year including endangered whatevers. . .NOT TO WORRY THOUGH. . . they’ll always be robins to throw in the stew pot. CLEAN. . .ENERGY. . .WORKS! All you have to do is disregard Tesla’s research and the hydrogen-to-energy confirmation sitting in the vaults and just COVER THE GROUND in between the bird blenders with solar panels and lease Canada to extend the project and even that wouldn’t come close to supplying North America’s nor the world’s energy needs and did you know there’s no such thing as peak oil? THAT’S RIGHT! . . . EARTH REPRODUCES ITS OWN OIL. Can you say A-BIOTIC OIL?

        Peak oil like global warming, pandemics, WMD’s, police training exercises every time there’s a Sandy Hoax shooting, A-RAB terrorists that swooped in on America on 9-11 (right area of the world, wrong terrorists) were all pulled from the same flim-flamer’s hat.

        Beam. . .me. . .up. . .Scottie.

    • Abbot’s policies are working. He stopped the boats and almost emptied the detention centres filled to overflowing by Labor and the Greens. Look at the mess Europe is in now and thank heavens each day that Abbot stopped that happening here despite the acrimonious defence put forward by the Greens, Labor and media. Sarah Hansen Young of the Greens even went to the Mediterranean to help refugees. How well has that turned out?
      The same media that clamped down on reporting the sexual assaults in Europe are the ones barracking for CAGW.
      They are the ones who set out to destroy Tony Abbot. His terrible lefty crimes, wearing a blue tie, eating a raw onion in support of a farmer, wearing a bathing costume when assisting Life Savers, wearing a fireman’s outfit in his long term role as a volunteer fireman.
      Further, during all his political strife, he still made time to personally write notes to people who were desperately or assisted him, even in the smallest way.
      His sister announced she was gay, Abbot gave her wholehearted support. An army friend announced he was gay, Abbot backed him, yet the media relentlessly attacked him for being a homophobe.

      So for all his faults, he was and is a very decent man and the man we needed and probably still do.
      The current leader Turnbull and Abbot’s deputy white-anted him from the start.
      They could not wait to get to Paris to sign anything put in front of them and grandstand how marvelous
      they are. Turnbull was blocked, once again, by his own party.
      Abbot’s Direct Action plan for Climate Change has worked better than expected because it rewards farmers for retaining organic carbon in the soil. In fact it is regaining fwertility in our soils and recognizes zero till farming as part of the solution, which the Greens totally ignorted, since they loathe property rights for everyone but themselves.
      Turnbull will probably win the next election and try to white-ant his way around a carbon tax or similar but he was deposed from Opposition Leader for doing that and he will be again, when he tries.
      He has more than once categorically stated, he is not listening to sceptics.
      So his strategy now is to white-ant people who oppose a carbon tax and have them de-selected for their seat and put warmists in their place.

      His actions speak for themselves.

      • From a grateful kiwi’s point of view, Abbott was awesome and saved our (New Zealand) bacon too. It is a shame so many Aussies have swallowed the cultural-Marxist cool aid your terrible media put out. Every time I go to Melbourne (which is, a lot) I cringe. Queensland is a lot more sane, IMHO.

        Thanks very much to Abbott, Australia, and Australians (the sane ones, like yourself).

      • Yes, the good old evil immigrants meme is surely justified after the New Year. Thank goodness we have right wing neo Nazis to sort them out….

      • I would like to endorse the various comments pointing out the merits of Tony Abbott’s policies. My (very limited) understanding is that in return for their support of Malcolm Turnbull some Libs demanded and got a promise that all of Tony Abbott’s key policies would be kept. My greatest fear in this regard is that an election win later this year would free Malcolm Turnbull from the promise.

        Gamecock – re zero till farming : In the very dry Australian land, zero till stops the topsoil from blowing over to New Zealand.

      • Gamecock,

        Sorry for the typos above. Turnbull ridiculed Direct Action but it acknowledges that Australia with its farming practices and deserts, is actually a net CO2 consumer, not the fanciful Green net producer of CO2. To do that the leave out farmers and deserts and add in CO2 produced in China and India.
        There was a huge solar farm in Victoria, that went broke, Flannery received millions for geothermal power and blew up the pipes when the steam expanded more than the pipes could sustain. South Australia boasts it is full of windfarms, however when they run out of power they buy electricity from their neighbour state, Victoria, from a brown coal generator. They pay windfarm prices. South Australia has one of the biggest uranium mines in the world, Olympic Dam. But they blocked production and any nuclear power being generated.
        This is the state that tried to block a bridge connecting an island to the mainland because of Aboriginal secret women’s business that was fictional. And so S.A. wafts along.
        Typical of the company Turnbull keeps.

      • Janice
        January 16, 2016 at 8:32 am

        Well. You will have to do something about the reports from Sweden and Germany. Might want to include France as well.

  1. It’s not about Abbott.

    The green Zeppelin has been punctured by only one brief bit of sharpness.
    It won’t be the last wound, but the smart money is already disembarking for terra firma.

    Sky captain and The World of Tomorrow was only a movie.

  2. Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    Ironically, wind and solar need to be backed up 24 hours a day, by two things, in order to survive:

    1. Other-people’s-money and …..
    2. Coal-fired power.
    (cough, splutter, ahem.)

    How much more time and how many more tax-payer funds need to be wasted before politicians, the main stream media and arm chair eco-evangelists (the groupthink green masses) realise that intermittent, unreliable and costly energy – wind and solar – will always remain a dud-investment and a dud product when they rely completely on massive subsidies and 24/7 fossil-fuel backup power for survival?

  3. Banks will not lend to renewable energy projects without other collateral because they do not make economic sense without the subsidies that are too uncertain.
    My evaluation of a solar project in New Jersey proved impracticle even with the subsidies and was rejected. Do your own evaluation, the sales representatives for these systems are ignorant, or dishonest.

    • Banks will not lend to renewable energy projects…

      ..unless they keep getting taxpayer-backed government funding. It’s your and your childrens’ money they’re wasting and funneling, but mainstream media says, “meh”.planet they’re saving. Good job, “journalists”!

  4. The Solar Cells on our roof are only there because there was a government subsidy to cut their initial cost and a guaranteed buy-back price for the electricity that gave us a profit after 5 years.
    The cells are not there to combat ‘Global Warming’ or ‘Climate Change’ fantasies.

    • Rooftop solar power sounds like a good idea but they don’t work if they are dirty or covered in snow, this means you gotta climb up and clean them regularly, or pay someone to do it.

      In addition, they can be damaged in storms, they can cause roof leaks, and they inhibit firefighters from doing their job. All of these things can raise your home insurence premiums.

      And if they are old looking, rusty or dirty, they can reduce your homes selling price when it’s time to sell your home.

      Put solar panels in your backyard, not on your roof. Just a heads up.

    • the ultimate irony. the government paying reasonably well off people to install solar panels to help cut their power bills, using the tax money from less well off people. take from the poor to give to the rich.

      • Yes, the selective outrage of the Left only cares about the well-off taking advantage of the poor when it suits them. Is it just me, does it seem like the all issues the modern political affiliations push are backed by no principles at all, but rather random positions on issues? The core assumptions that inform these positions all seem to contradict one another. ” Freedom of expression and press except when we hate what you say! The rich are greedy except when they use our money to buy solar and wind! Government shouldn’t be supporting big business- unless they are the ones we want!” et cetera, et cetera.

        No political principles, just random, contradicting desires.

    • the guaranteed buy back price for solar is madness. the grid operates based on a variable price that ensures supply matches demand. when supply is high, the price can actually go negative, so that the grid is not overloaded.

      however, solar panels have no such controls. so when supply is high, and other producers are cutting back rather than pay into the grid, solar panels will keep on producing power if the sun is out.

      And the government will pay them money for this power, even though the actual market price of this power is negative. In effect the government is paying home owners for electricity, then paying the grid to take this power. And as more and more solar panels are installed, the situation will simply get worse.

      However, before anyone congratulates themselves, keep in mind where the money for this madness actually comes from. Sure the government pays you for the power, but then they raise your taxes to get the money.

      So in the end, if you install the panels you will not make any money, because the taxes will eat up your profits. However, the bloke down the street that doesn’t install the panels will be out of pocket because his taxes will go up as well. The madness of politicians.

  5. Economically viable technologies don’t need subsidies. Keep developing cheaper methods and bring them to market. As soon as it makes sense, people will buy them.

    So far it has been, ‘What we lose on the panels we make up with the subsidies.’. Build better storage, people will come running. But those windmills have to go – offshore at least and probably onto deep ocean barges. They are crazy on land.

    • What we lose on the panels we make up with the subsidies
      then the government raises our takes to pay the subsidies and we end up out of pocket once again.

      the more the government tries to help, the greater the tax pain.

      • Thomas Jefferson:
        “I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”

  6. Tony Abbott is a fine person with an experienced grasp of Australia’s future in the changing world. He has lived by and demonstrated high principles. Many voters were distressed to see his defeat in the party room. Many note that the coalition partners, the Nationals, were not part of the vote.
    Nationals, often being of non- city stock, some used to working with their own energy sources on farms, are rather better at seeing the financial lack of viability of the green types except in boutique situations.
    Now, they are seeing how finance for green energy backs off when subsidies are threatened. They, like many voters, see this as a danger signal.
    TA might not be voted back soon. He was subjected to sustained, vicious personal attacks starting well before he became PM. They seemed to come particularly from soft faculties at universities. The record of these in various issues of ‘The Conversation’, part funded by government money, was disgusting and reprehensible, not just to Abbott, but to the Office of PM.
    The tide has started turning. Voters can see rot when it is pushed at them.

  7. Have windmills created enough power to manufacture themselves yet?

    The first step in replacing an existing system currently in use, is not to dismantle the existing system. When we need to replace a highway bridge we don’t first dismantle the existing bridge, we leverage it to enable construction of the new bridge. If software engineers were to write a new C compiler that generates more efficient C code, they wouldn’t destroy the existing compiler first, they’d leverage it to compile the new code (and then use that to compile itself to get an efficient compiler).

    Why then are we dismantling our coal fired power facilities first? Windmills cannot both meet the current energy demands and generate the power required to build the new infrastructure needed to support themselves. If the goal is to replace our current power generation system, we should leverage it not dismantle it.

    • Why then are we dismantling our coal fired power facilities first?
      governments hate uncertainty. we know for sure the harm that will come from cutting off electricity today, but we don’t know the harm that might come from global warming sometime in the future.

      so from the governments point of view it is better to cut off the power today rather than take a risk on global warming sometime in the future. better to have a certain evil than an uncertain evil.

  8. For anyone really interested in the viabilty of renewable energy the King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project, KIREIP, is noteworthy.

    King Island lies between NW Tasmania and Victoria and has to be self reliant for electricty and has recently upgraded their power scheme incorporating diesel, wind, solar sources and batteries, all intregrated.

    Their max. use is about 1600 KW in the morning and in the evening it slowly drops off to about 1000 KW after midnight.

    With a wind speed fo 15m/s the turbines can produce over 2000KW which supplies the community and recharges the batteries, but less than 7m/s most of the electricity comes from the diesels. Not much comes from their solar.

    The website provides a live display of this scheme

    • Fine and dandy for the few% of the world that can afford it, that has enough wind/sunshine, not much industry to speak of, no access to “proper” grid electricity, and not much of a requirement for heating or air-con.

      If the electricity comes from diesels some of the time why not generate it that way all of the time? Don’t tell me, they want to “save the planet”, as long as someone else pays for it.

  9. Within the cavernous, echoing halls of the Greenie mind, you may search to the furthest, dimmest corners and you won’t find anything resembling logic. Even their goal of replacing our current power generation system makes no sense.

  10. If these people had a brain and were not being pushed by the eqiually brainless geens, they would realize that unlimited energy will shortly be available with the advent of molten salt reactors. Rushing and spending
    to establish an unreliable renewable power grid is just incredibly dumb, especially since the few years wait until the new reactors go commercial has zero significance with respect to removing human influence on
    global temperatures.
    No ability to understand power technologies of the future. Australia is just as stupid as the U.S.

  11. Even though Tony Abbott has been toppled by the much greener Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Abbott is still in parliament.

    Isn’t this the goal, though? To keep the fear theater at a boil so that funding continues without any resolution to the supposed crisis at hand? What is needed is a plausible excuse for continued (and hopefully increased) income streams.

  12. We keep hearing that renewables are making leaps and bounds and will soon compete without subsidies.

    That being the case, why wouldn’t we simply do nothing for 5-10 years and then buy these great 2025 model windmills? We can become carbon neutral and lower our costs. But we can’t if we waste our budget on this year’s rubbish ones.

  13. The obsession with “grid parity” seems to be a bit of a distraction from the main issue with solar PV.
    Inasmuch as – even if solar panels were free, they can never work at night.
    Or do future generations only need to cut carbon during the hours of overhead sunlight?

    Meanwhile big hydro, is already at grid parity and works on demand.
    Which surely explains why it is dismissed or ignored by the solar subsidy milking eco-zealots.

  14. The major problem with subsidies is that they stifle innovation. There is no incentive to improve the technology to make it economically viable in its own right if you are making a risk free profit
    We see that in the US with the ethanol subsidy. We are using corn, which would not be economic if it were not subsidized. Brazil is using sugar cane, which has a much higher yield.
    However, there are too many pigs at the green energy trough.

  15. taxpayer-funded ABC never lets facts get in the way. their audience is constantly provided with a completely different reality, whether on the CAGW science or the economics &, worse, they feel smug in their wilful ignorance.
    Buckley below is a favourite of theirs:

    August 2015: ABC Australia: Coal mining facing structural decline says finance analyst
    Big overseas coal companies are losing interest in Australian (coal) mines and the industry is in “structural” decline, an energy analyst says…
    Tim Buckley, industry analyst IEEFA (Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis): “The big energy companies are also investing tens of billions of dollars into renewable energy like wind and solar.”…

    Buckley’s Foundation-funded Institute:

    About IEEFA
    The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis receives its funding from philanthropic organizations. We gratefully acknowledge our funders, including the Rockefeller Family Fund, Energy Foundation, Mertz-Gilmore Foundation, Moxie Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Growald Family Fund, Flora Family Fund, Wallace Global Fund, and V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation.

    reality (setting aside Govt approval for Adani India’s coal mining interests in Queensland, Australia):

    12 Jan 2016: Bloomberg: Ben Sharples: India May Raise Coal Imports as 2020 Output Goals Seen Stymied
    Country seeks to double production to 1.5 billion tons by 2020
    Output (of Indian domestic coal) will expand to 810 million metric tons by the end of the decade, less than India’s targeted 1.5 billion tons, Matthew Boyle, Sydney-based principal consultant at CRU, said in a report Tuesday. This opens the possibility for an increase in shipments to the world’s second-biggest importer from countries including Australia, South Africa, Indonesia and Russia, the report said…

  16. I reviewed a solar project when working in Thailand. Even in a country with that amount of sun, the economics totally depended on government subsidies. Is there anywhere in the world where the economics stack up without subsidy?

    • Thailand is not “sunny.” It’s hot, but has a lot of cloud and rain plus the humidity and thick atmosphere that makes it hot reduces useable sunlight.

      And useable land commands a premium due to farming and mountains taking up a lot.

      The place to put them is Nevada, Saudi etc. Little rain, and the peak demand is summer daytime cooling.

      Incidentally I visited Thai Big Wind. There’s one windmill in Phuket so small they disabled it. And a windfarm full of toys. I assume a UN scam paid for it, but they’re 1/10 of today’s “commercial” size.

      I have some sympathy for the view that you give them SOME encouragement while the makers improve them, but why so much? Hundreds of $bn on stuff that they admit is uncommercial now let alone at 1/10 scale


    I have worked in the energy industry for much of my career.

    When challenged on this question by green fanatics, I explain that that fossil fuels keep their families from freezing and starving to death.

    Cheap abundant reliable energy is the lifeblood of society – it IS that simple.

    A few facts:

    Wind Power is what warmists typically embrace – trillions of dollars have been squandered on worthless grid-connected wind power schemes that require life-of-project subsidies and drive up energy costs.

    Some background on grid-connected wind power schemes:

    The Capacity Factor of wind power is typically a bit over 20%, but that is NOT the relevant factor.

    The real truth is told by the Substitution Capacity, which is dropping to as low as 4% in Germany – that is the amount of conventional generation that can be permanently retired when wind power is installed into the grid.

    The E.ON Netz Wind Report 2005 is an informative document:
    (apparently no longer available from E.ON Netz website).

    Figure 6 says Wind Power is too intermittent (and needs almost 100% spinning backup);
    Figure 7 says it just gets worse and worse the more Wind Power you add to the grid (see Substitution Capacity dropping from 8% to 4%).

    In my province of Alberta, intermittent grid–connected wind power is paid 20 cents per KWh, 24/7 even when there is no demand for that wind power, whereas reliable fossil-fueled power is paid about 5 cents per KWh. In reality, wind power is probably worthless due to its intermittency, so the subsidy is not [20/5]=400%, it is INFINITE.

    Same story applies to grid-connected Solar Power (both in the absence of a “Super-Battery”).

    This was all obvious to us decades ago – we published similar conclusions in 2002.

    Trillions of dollars have been wasted globally on green energy that is not green and produces little useful energy.


    The following numbers are from the 2015 BP Statistical Review of World Energy, for the year 2014:

    Global Primary Energy Consumption by Fuel is 86% Fossil Fuel (Oil, Coal and Natural Gas),
    4% Nuclear,
    7% Hydro,
    and 2% Renewables.

    That 2% for Renewables is vastly exaggerated, and would be less than 1% if intermittent wind and solar power were not forced into the grid ahead of cheaper and more reliable conventional power.

    This is not news – we have known this energy reality for decades. As we published in 2002.

    “The ultimate agenda of pro-Kyoto advocates is to eliminate fossil fuels, but this would result in a catastrophic shortfall in global energy supply – the wasteful, inefficient energy solutions proposed by Kyoto advocates simply cannot replace fossil fuels.”

    We also write in the same article, prior to recognition that the current ~20 year “Pause” was already underway:

    “Climate science does not support the theory of catastrophic human-made global warming – the alleged warming crisis does not exist.”

    I (we) now think naturally-caused global cooling will commence after the current El Nino runs its course, prior to 2020 and possibly as soon as 2H2017. Bundle up!

    Regards to all, Allan

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